April 15, 2013

Valiant Effort

Dear Mom and Everyone,

Jeremy's talk sounds like it was really great, and it's cool to see how much a mission has blessed him and changed him. It will be interesting to run into him when I get back.

So you and dad both talked about Life of Pi and the metaphors, but you didn't actually tell me if the movie was any good, haha. I must admit, when I read the book I didn't really bother to look for metaphors, I enjoyed the story on the surface level, and even though I knew there were supposed to be a lot of metaphors, I wasn't reading it for English class and I don't think I ever really discussed the book with anybody, so I had a rare moment of intellectual laziness there.

That's a super cute story about Elianna. She's just adorable. Teaching Primary is like the best calling ever. Our Ward Mission Leader here always jokes that the reason he does a "bad job" on this or that is so that he gets released and he can work in nursery.

This week's been pretty good. We ended up spending all of P-day with the two sets of Elders in St. John's, since we didn't have our car, and the East Elders had to get their car serviced, so Central drove us all around in the van all day. We spent forEVER emailing home, because Elder Diodadi types really slow. Then we went downtown to Smoke's Poutinerie, which they were all raving about. It was good, but I wasn't super impressed; I've made poutine just as good last semester. Then after that, we went and tried to look up some formers, which didn't really pan out, but one of them gave us a couple of referrals that might be promising.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, which was pretty fun. The Zone Leaders came up from Grand Falls to participate. Then we went on exchanges. I went to Bay Roberts with Sister Nelson and Sister Leavy, and Sister Keeler stayed in Mt Pearl with Sister Judd. It was an...interesting...experience. I learned the importance of good planning by counterexample, I guess. I did make it into a nonmember's house for the first time, and we taught the Plan of Salvation. She accepted all of it, but the thing is, everybody here is a "Strong Catholic" or a "Strong Pentacostal" because their family has been that religion for generations, but none of them know what their religion actually teaches. So they agree with and accept everything you say, but then they say "But that's what my church teaches. Your church isn't any different than my church, so I'm going to keep going to my church." And I'm just sitting there thinking, seriously, go ask your pastor if that's what you believe, okay? And people here are REALLY resistant to change, so they refuse to really consider the fact that the restoration means that their church isn't true. And if people don't have real intent or if they shut their eyes to the truth, then we're not going to convince them.

On Wednesday I came back, and then Sister Judd and I tried to contact some people, and they all did this thing where they act like they're being really nice even though they know they're being really rude, which I think is more annoying than when people are just flat-out rude. It's okay though because even though the referrals fell through, the member who gave us the referrals was really positive when we told her because she had basically just been afraid of people saying no, and now she faced that fear and she sees it isn't so bad, so now she feels a lot more comfortable with member missionary work, which is great.

We got our car back! It was one of the greatest moments ever!

We've been working with a less-active member named Elizabeth. She speaks Spanish as her first language, and then she lived in Montréal so French and English are both kind of her second languages, so there's a bit of a language barrier. Her husband is also a member but is totally against the church now, and her children haven't been baptized. Her husband said we couldn't teach her children, but we've been working with her. She basically doesn't want to acknowledge that she's getting an answer right now, because she knows that then she'd know she needs to go to church and become active, and she doesn't want to bring contention into her family. But we watched Elder Holland's talk with her and she was really touched by it. Eventually she broke down crying in the lesson, and we were able to comfort her and she gave a really great closing prayer and then she came to church on Sunday! It was awesome. I was playing the organ and she had come in late, so after I finished the opening hymn I looked out over the congregation and saw her sitting there, and I was just so happy :)

That evening, we went and looked up a referral from a family in our ward, and she said we could teach her! So we called the members and they said they'd call her and set up a time for us to teach her in their house, which is pretty much the ideal situation, so hopefully that pans out! 

Afterwards, we went and looked up another referral, and she actually let us inside, which is the first time I've made it into someone's house in my own area, and it was also my first "first lesson." Too bad she's crazy. Well, she's not legitimately crazy, but teaching her was a total gong show. She believes very strongly in Jesus, but she also believes very strongly that you don't have to go to church, and she was jumping all over the place from topic to topic about her mom and her first husband and her common-law boyfriend who's Buddhist, and all this stuff that happened in her life, and we could barely get a word in edgewise. It was becoming pretty clear that picking her up as an investigator would be the wrong choice, and we were both kind of giving up on trying to teach a lesson. She's one of the sweetest people I've met, but not prepared.

But then I remembered this dream I had once in high school. I was in the Spirit World, and I was with my family and friends and it was all happy and whatnot, just like you'd expect. But then someone came up to me, and as soon as I saw them, my heart sank. It was someone I'd known on Earth (not in real life, just in my dream), and I had avoided sharing the gospel with them for all the usual little reasons we don't share the gospel with people in our lives. And as soon as I saw them, I felt guilty for that, because they'd obviously accepted the gospel. They came up to me, and with the most profound look of hurt on their face and in a tone of complete betrayal, they said, "Why didn't you tell me???" I just wanted to crumple up and sink into the ground. I thought of all the reasons I didn't share the gospel with people, and they all seemed so weak and trivial that offering those as an excuse just felt completely feeble and useless. I had absolutely nothing I could say to them, and I just stood there speechless. I don't think I've ever felt so utterly in the wrong in my life. I wasn't humble enough for an apology to be my instinct then, but if I had that dream now, all I would have been able to say is, "I'm so sorry."

Well, all the sudden this dream flashed to my mind, and I could totally see her saying, "Why didn't you tell me?" in the next life. And the Spirit was just like, you have to tell her, even if nothing comes of it! So I made what Sister Judd later called a "valiant effort" to get her on topic long enough to teach the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, and Pray to Know. She really quieted down for the first vision and I could tell she was really touched by it, but as soon as I paused for breath, she tried to change the topic. And she successfully changed the topic before I could challenge her to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, so it wasn't a very powerful challenge. So yeah, I taught my first First Vision and placed my first Book of Mormon in the biggest gong show situation of my life, haha. 

Then on Friday we were supposed to do weekly planning, but President Leavitt was up in Newfoundland, and he randomly decided to drop in on the meeting we were having with the Elders about finding idea. President Leavitt is very talkative, and then we each got interviewed, so that took a LONG time. We ended up doing our weekly planning into Saturday. Then we taught Lisa, a less-active we work with who's mentally disabled, and tried to contact a referral the East Elders gave us. Apparently they'd thought part of our area was in their area, so they'd just gone knocking and they had a few potentials. But she wasn't home.

Then yesterday, we managed to teach Annie again and committed her to pray specifically about how she can move out of her boyfriend's apartment. Her immigration status is complicated right now, so she can't work or leave the country, so that puts some extra challenges in her way.

We also went knocking on this one street we felt really impressed to go to. We got a really solid potential, who took the initiative to set up an appointment herself and everything, which NEVER happens, but everyone else was hilariously unfriendly. We had one guy tell us in the warmest, most welcoming voice that he "doesn't believe in harassing people with this Christian nonsense." From inside, we could hear a woman say, "Now Jack, be nice." Haha. We also had our first gay household. That was interesting.

The mission has been great so far! I love you all!

Sister Jaclyn Olson

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