April 22, 2013

"So what do I do now?"

Dear Mom and everyone,

So this week I received a book of stamps from you, and someone else also wrote me a letter that included a self-addressed and stamped envelope for return mail. Don't worry, I get the hint, haha. I'm trying to keep up on my correspondence. Also, if any of my American friends are reading this, I don't know which of you have moved for spring/summer semester, so you should tell me your addresses, because I'm not writing you until I know.


I'm not sure I know this Elder Brownlee, but I feel like his brother was in my high school class. Is he in the MTC right now? Because I definitely ran into someone and I THINK it was a Brownlee, but I can't remember. I ran into a lot of casual acquaintances there. No, I've never heard of Rita McNeil. It's cool that Christine Liddell's in Halifax, although I probably won't see her anytime soon. I guess Sister Judd might see her - we called the mission office to order supplies today, and we unexpectedly found out that she's apparently flying to Halifax next Tuesday for something. It's not transfers. I think it's Zone Leader Training, which probably means she'll be one of the new Sister Training Leaders, but we don't know yet. Sister Nelson from Bay Roberts is also going, which probably means I'll be in a trio with Sister Leavy and Sister Keeler in my area for a few days, which I'm SUPER excited about. Sister Leavy's on her second transfer and Sister Keeler came out with me, so that will be fun to have all new missionaries. Haha.

I don't mind that you grew bacteria in my room, because I intend to move out after my mission :P 

Sounds like the Kenya thing was super fun. 

So on Monday we had an appointment with a Church Headquarters referral who's also a former investigator, Angela, but she keeps cancelling appointments and it's been really hard to set up a time for the past few weeks. Well, she called us AGAIN and cancelled, and we insisted on coming over for just 10 minutes. Well, it turns out she's already prayed and read the Book of Mormon and knows it's true, so 10 minutes turned into half an hour and I committed her to baptism! She's on date for June 4th, but there's a few problems with that. First of all, June 4th is a Tuesday, because we hadn't talked about a date, so I just said the first thing that popped into my head. So we'll have to move it back to at least June 8th. The second problem is that we were supposed to have an appointment on Saturday, but she didn't answer the door, and she didn't come to church on Sunday either like she said she would. She said she'd felt recently like she needs to come back to this church, but she clearly isn't making it a priority in her life, so even though we have someone on date, I'm not so sure about this. It was still cool though. Everyone's congratulating me for putting her on date, but really, she's felt impressed to join the church and she knows the Book of Mormon is true; I was sitting there in the lesson thinking, "If I don't put her on date, I'd be the biggest idiot ever."

On Tuesday we had district meeting as usual, and we planned to go sing hymns downtown as a finding activity. But it wasn't well-planned at all, so even though we went, it was brief and unsuccessful. After that we went to a member's house for dinner. These are the same members who ate up FIVE HOURS the one time. We deliberately scheduled a teaching appointment with the ward mission leader later in the evening to give us an out. We go teach him sometimes because he's only been active for like a year and a half of his life (the most recent year and a half). We brought Annie with us, who's one of the less-actives we're working with, but I'll get to her later.

On Wednesday we went to MUN, the university, where we have a table. It's technically in East's area, but it's too much for them to do alone and in theory there should be people from all three areas, although they get the lion's share of referrals from it. One guy came up to me and we started talking. I asked him where he was from, because he had an accent, and he's Iranian but spent a lot of time in France. So we started speaking French, and I understood everything! I was standing there thinking, it's a miracle! Then he left and I realized, it's not a miracle, he was just French and not Quebecois. Hahaha. So Iranian accents are officially easier than Quebecois accents in French.

On Thursday we went to MUN again. Sister Judd was really sick all week, so she spent a lot of time sitting in the back and talking to this one girl we've met there who isn't interested in such a way as to become an investigator, but who talks to us. She's from Nanton and her best friend was Mormon, but he died of cancer midway through his mission, so she feels like she has a connection to us. Anyways, while Sister Judd was out of the picture, people came up and started talking to me. Usually only the crazy people talk to me, so it was pretty awesome. (Although I still got a few crazy people. "That sounds like the teachings of this 15th-century mystic..."). One guy, Michael, came up to me and started asking questions right off the bat, then asked to buy a Book of Mormon! I was like, they're free, take one!!! And then I got his first name and address, but I forgot a last name and phone number because I was still so surprised by the experience of talking to someone who's actually interested, which made contacting him a bit difficult. But I'll get to that later.

Then we went and contacted a "referral" from the East Elders. They called us and said, "We were praying about a street to knock, and the street that came to mind is in your area." Um, pretty sure you can't get revelation from our area, but whatever Elders, we'll go knock it. We ended up knocking into a former who was previously in Central's area, but had moved. So it was starting to look pretty legit, but went back to visit them the next day and HOLY COW are we not teaching them. She's not really interested, she just likes talking to people and asking weird questions (which she told us straight-up). And then her boyfriend is one of those really smug atheists who thinks he's so much smarter than you just because he's not "hoodwinked" by religion. I find it so funny and annoying at the same time when people say condescendingly, "Well, believe in science." That's nice, so do I. So he kept interrupting with stupid things that he was just SURE would trip us up, like the fact that "psychology shows that the human mind created God." Well, I've actually read those studies, and what they actually show is that specific regions of the brain respond to spiritual influences. And that makes sense. Of course a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to know Him would create us with minds that are primed to seek him out, just like how babies can recognize their mothers before they're biologically capable of recognizing other people. We mostly just ignored him though. But he kept interrupting with dumb questions like that, so finally I answered another one of them, and he condescendingly shook my hand over the quality of my answer, which was clearly his way of shielding himself from the fact that my answer made sense. He kept thinking he has the upper hand in the conversation, but it was honestly really sad to see how blinded he was by pride. I found it interesting that all of his arguments were exactly like Korihor's - that belief is "the product of a frenzied mind." Despite all the "science" he thinks is backing him up, it's just the same arguments the devil has always made.

Then we tried to go find another referral from the East Elders, who had accidentally been working in our area. It's a brand new development, and the street wasn't on any maps, so we totally couldn't find it. But we looked up a current map of the area on the meetinghouse locator, so we'll go see it later. The East Elders are really funny. They're so enthusiastic, but they do all these WEIRD things. We definitely need them in our district though, they inject creativity and enthusiasm into the district. 

Then we had another Headquarters referral, so we ran up to Paradise to contact her. She met us at the door and was like, "Do you have the rosary beads I ordered?" Um, no. It was weird. But Sister Judd was like, we should knock this street! So we did, and on the third door, we asked if we could come in, and the lady said, "Yeah, sure!" I've never had that happen before, so I was like in shock for the entire lesson. We taught Roseann the Restoration, and she's great. She's Catholic, but she's never been to church, but she and her husband pray every morning and night together, and she has a strong testimony of prayer. We could tell she was so excited to read the Book of Mormon. It was great. Her husband was out of town on a fishing trip, but we're going to teach her again tonight and hopefully we can pick up their whole family! Then we tried to contact Michael, the awesome guy from MUN, but he wasn't home.

On Friday we went to Bridges to Hope, a food bank we volunteer at. We're not sure we'll keep volunteering there, because it's not a great finding activity, but I really enjoyed it. Then we went to visit a less-active named Elizabeth. She's been making a lot of progress. Usually she's super tentative in responding to commitments, but that time when we asked her to read the Book of Mormon and come to church she was like, "Oh yes," very emphatically. But then she didn't come this Sunday, and she'd been coming consistently. Her husband was super against the church, and when we left her 9-year-old daughter kept talking about how she wanted to come to church this Sunday, and I think that caused problems. But it was a great lesson. Also, my near-encyclopedic knowledge of Spongebob totally lets me bond with 9-year-olds. Sister Judd was like, "How many Spongebob episodes have you seen????" and I was like, "..."

After Elizabeth, we taught Annie at Sister Cooper's house. Sister Cooper is soooooo awesome. She's been having us teach Annie at her house and combining it with dinner appointments, and she's an awesome cook and an awesome fellowshipper. She used to be so afraid of coming on missionary lessons, apparently, but since having Annie in her house, she's warmed up to it and even came to the lesson with Angela we had on Saturday! Which fell through, but still, it's huge progress that she was willing to come. Anyways, we taught Annie and it was great. She has this huge love for the scripture now, and only a few lessons ago she was having trouble reading. And she has a huge trust in prayer, and just a few weeks ago she was complaining that she didn't know what to pray about. Her sister's inactive and she was telling us about all these objections her sister brought up, and she said that she said, "You know what, none of that even matters. Just pray tonight and ask Heavenly Father if it's true." She has such a strong foundational testimony now. The only thing holding her back is moving out of her boyfriend's place. On Sunday we talked more about that and committed her to decide to move out soon and pray about her decision, so hopefully it will work out. It's kind of sad on our end, because the last thing she needs to do will send her back to the States and we won't be able to see her anymore, and we just love her so much.

Then on Saturday we tried to take Annie to contact Michael, since he's a single guy, but that fell through, and the lesson with Angela fell through, as I said previously. We did manage to teach Lisa, a mentally handicapped less-active we work with. She's so nice. I love teaching her, because it forces me to really look and simplify things, and she has such simple childlike faith. We asked her why we need to be obedient, and she said, "To show God we love him." She's so amazing.

Then on Sunday after correlation, we brought a member, Juliet, who served a 3-month mission in New Brunswick with Sister Judd because of an unexpected dearth of Sister missionaries, to visit Michael. And he was home! He's geophysics student from Zimbabwe. He is SO prepared. He's been earnestly searching for the truth for about 3 years, and he knows things about the Reformation and stuff that I don't even know! It's probably prideful that I was surprised by that, haha. But we were teaching him and he was really excited by all of it and had sooooooo many questions. At one point he just said, "So what do I do now?". BEST QUESTION EVER. We probably could have put him on date, but his roommate was with us, and he was weird. He wanted to call a soothsayer from the Dominican Republic on his iPhone. We were just like, no. But we have an appointment with him on Wednesday and we are SO PUMPED.

So that's what's going on right now. We've seen an explosion of success, which was super cool. What's interesting to me is that none of it really came by our own efforts - it was all Headquarters referrals and people just coming up to us and asking questions and stuff. But I feel like it was a reward for working hard.

Give the missionaries in your ward referrals. It's so frustrating to have meagre member support. I think it was Elder Anderson who promised that as you pray, names and faces will come to your minds.

Love you all!
Sister Jaclyn Olson
PS - Some other random tidbits:

When we tried to contact Michael with Annie, our car wouldn't let the key or the wheel turn afterwards. Sister Judd and I both tried and it wasn't working at all! We had to call Central to come rescue us. Elder Beckert just turned the car on. Why do boys have magic car powers?

We tried to contact a referral yesterday, and the woman had EIGHT DOGS in this TINY LITTLE HOUSE. I feel like missions let you really see the depth of human weirdness. It was insane. She couldn't hear a thing we said because of the dogs barking. We're not going back.

Sister Leavy wants Steven to know that she was his EFY counselor. I showed her the family pictures Mom sent me and she was just like, I KNOW THAT KID!

Anyways. Love you all!

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