May 27, 2013


Dear Mom,

That sounds like a great week. I love all the pictures, especially the one of Steven covered in mud. I bet 1000 Paper Cranes was amazing, and the piano recitals are always great. That's hilarious about Dave's weird food.

So Sister Leavey would have me tell you she's doing fine. Last time she said that I found her passed out in a pool of blood a few hours later, and I'm not sure she's as fine as she insists she is, but she's been working really hard and she definitely has been doing better, even though the hospital visit didn't really yield anything useful. (They only did a CT scan, and she knows full well that CT scans don't detect her condition, but she didn't say anything because she didn't want a spinal tap because we wouldn't be able to go out and work for weeks afterwards. As much as I'm trying to dismantle her hero complex, she has a valid point that even if they WERE able to make a positive diagnosis, they wouldn't be able to treat it, so I guess it would be pretty useless to put her out of commission that way.) But yeah, things have been improving and she has been feeling somewhat better. Fortunately, she interprets my blatant insensitivity as me trying to motivate her forget herself and go to work ;) 

So on Monday Sister Leavey just recuperated all day, so I just hung around the apartment until P-day was over, and then I worked on the long-term plan President Leavitt wants us to make. He wants us to plan for 5 transfers, which is until January 16!!! It seems so crazy to think about that! But it worked out well, because there's a lot of allocating specific hours for specific activities per week, per transfer, etc., and math isn't really a group activity. I had a fun evening making tables and doing math. I came up with a really neat way to organize all the information, and all the other missionaries want copies of it :)

On Tuesday we had district meeting, and since I had been stressed out over Sister Leavey I hadn't slept very well, and then there was all this stress going on with this musical fireside thing, and it may or may not have been a stressful day. The weird thing is, now I don't even remember what happened on that day, so apparently none of it was really important, haha. But then that afternoon we were just like, this is ridiculous, we're just going to go knocking and be productive and forget about all this for a bit. So we went knocking, and at the last house, we found a new investigator! Her name is Kim and she has tons of questions of the soul! She's going into Grade 12 in high school. We couldn't teach a long lesson because we had a less-active appointment to get to, but we introduced the Book of Mormon and committed her to read and pray. It was great!

Wednesday was AWESOME. Elder Morin, one of the APs who is actually a French-speaking missionary, was up in Newfoundland all week. He's like a legend. Most missionaries get between 20 and 40 key indicators a week, and he used to get numbers like 120! So he came up to NL to prepare for a Senior Couple who are coming to St. John's, and then he also went on exchanges with everyone. The way that worked for the sisters is Elder Tait went to Carbonear, and then Elder Beckert (the DL) and Elder Morin would come with us. It was the greatest thing ever. Somehow everything just clicked, and we had a ridiculous amount of success this week. I think we were working hard and trying to follow the Spirit already, but we were just missing something, and then when we got it, everything just took off!

So that morning we painted a less-active's house, and then we taught Elizabeth. Then we met with the Elders and we did some training and roleplays. Sister Leavey made a joke that Elder Morin and I should do a roleplay in French, so we ended up speaking French for the first little bit, just the getting-to-know-you part of the "lesson." It was hilarious. It was also kind of weird to talk to him because every once in a while he'd say something Quebecois and I'd know exactly what it meant, but I wouldn't have heard that word since Junior High when we were learning more Quebecois-style French. Then after that he came back to our apartment to look at our Area Book and long-term plan. He said it's the best one in the mission :) He took out his video camera and made me show him all the stuff we were doing on video so he could show President Leavitt. 

Then we went to get poutine for dinner. On the way into the restaurant, he started speaking to me in French, but I'm not used to that and I just assumed he was on the phone and ignored him, hahaha. Then Sister Leavey pointed it out to me and I apologized and we had a long conversation in French, which was just super exciting. He asked if I would like to serve French speaking, and I said that I had really wanted to go somewhere French speaking on my mission, but I hadn't really wanted to go to Montreal. In the process of explaining why, I said, "Comment dit-on 'awkward'?" and Elder Beckert and Sister Leavey just burst out laughing. I guess from their perspective it was "blah blah blah blah blah awkward?" Hahaha. Anyways. He said that I was the best at French out of all the Sisters, and that he'd tell President! So basically, if they decide to create a French-speaking Sisters area, I'll be going, which is exciting. At the same time, I really do love Newfoundland enough that I don't think I'd be disappointed if it never happens.

After that we went knocking for a bit, and we found a bunch of potentials and referrals. None of them actually worked out, but we learned SO MUCH. I think the biggest thing we noticed is how chill Elder Morin is about everything. It really makes a huge difference.

Then on Thursday morning we took Annie to a lesson with a potential, Doug. And he became a new investigator! He's one of those people who's very curious about things and kind of believes all religions are true, but is a devout Anglican at the same time. It was a pretty interesting lesson. He's a bit difficult to teach because he's very Newfoundlanderish in that he talks a LOT. He's in his 60s, and he has some sort of neurodegenerative disease, so we couldn't set up another appointment until June 6, so we'll see what happens. The good thing is, he gave the most solid commitment to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it that I've ever seen, so it was great.

Then we went finding and stuff, and then we met a less-active we hadn't visited before, Nicole. She's a young single mom. We were on our way to a dinner appointment and decided to stop in, so it was also a short lesson, but she was very welcoming, so we think we'll try working with her. She's recovering from kidney stone surgery, so the next day we stopped by in the early morning to put her garbage out. After our lesson with Nicole, we went to a dinner appointment with Tina and Russell, who are less-active. She fed us homemade pea soup. It was very Newfoundlander-y. Her son Russell is kind of hot and cold as far as whether or not he'll want to learn about the gospel, and this appointment he wasn't really interested, but we had a great lesson with Tina. We watched the John Tanner story, which is probably my favorite church movie ever.

Then we went knocking, and proved that we actually learned stuff from Elder Morin, and our success wasn't just him on Monday. We got 11 key indicators on Thursday!!! Two weeks ago, we got 11 in a week!!!!!!! It was so crazy! We were just so blessed!

Then on Friday we had correlation with the other missionaries in St. John's, and then we checked a few potentials and did weekly planning. Companionship inventory was pretty emotional, but in a good way, because of all the stuff that happened that week. At one point I was talking to Sister Leavey and I said, "I just love you so much," and I started tearing up and I thought, huh, that was weird. And then a few minutes later we were talking again and I started tearing up again and I interrupted myself with, "What the heck are you doing to me Sister Leavey?!?!" Hahahaha. She nearly died laughing. It was great. Really though, we're such great companions. It's just been fantastic to work with her. Then we went to a dinner appointment, which was a bit awkward because she fed us dinner and didn't eat anything herself, so it felt kind of weird. 

On Saturday we had exchanges. Sister Nelson, the STL, came up, which was really nice. It's weird because she and Sister Leavey did not get along at ALL when they were companions, but I get along with both of them. It was a great day; we did a service project! I was super proud of it because we got good potentials, had a few gospel discussions, and got future service opportunities, we did service, we got to wear the Helping Hands t-shirts, and it was high-profile enough that people we knock into are recognizing us from it! And Sister Leavey and I came up with it. Just saying. Haha. It was a city cleanup initiative in Mount Pearl, where everyone got together and cleaned up the park areas. All the St. John's missionaries came out for it, and then there was a BBQ afterwards, which was just a bonus.

After that we went to visit a less-active. She said that she doesn't come to church because she prayed about it and feels like her path is to legalize marijuana in Canada, and she knows that she's separating herself from the Church by doing so. And I said, "Do you think you can separate yourself from the Church without distancing yourself from God?" and she said, "No." Then I asked if she thought God would put her on a path that brings her further away from Him, and she said, "no." But I couldn't seem to get her to see the disconnect. Ironically, we had planned to teach from "Come, Follow Me" from President Eyering from last conference.

Then we went and met with the branch mission leader, since the Bay Roberts branch doesn’t have one and Sister Nelson wanted to get some advice. And thennnnnnnnn…we had a lesson with Michael! We had decided to stop by one last time earlier in the week, and he said we could come back! So we brought Sister Wood, who is AWESOME, and had a lesson. I went into it with no idea what was going on, and I was super nervous about it. It turns out, we just did a poor job of explaining the importance of the commitment to him, and he’s just being your typical 20-year-old guy about commitments. We had the most amazing lesson. He was like, “I didn’t read very much,” and we were disappointed, and then he said, “I just read this sermon by some king teaching his people…Benjamin?” And I was just thinking, HOLY COW YOU’RE IN MOSIAH??? And then we answered all these questions he had. I love teaching him so much because his brain works exactly like mine. I really have to stretch to my fullest capacity to teach him. It’s like, “Obscure Old Testament Verse. Quote from my Religion 121 class. Teaching of the premortal existence combined with the apostasy somehow leading to the baptismal commitment. Brief overview of lesson 3. Jump back to lesson 1. Teach kingdoms of glory. Come back to baptism.” It’s just insane. With everything else we’ve done, I really can see how the skills I’ve gained have made a difference, but he’s the first person we’ve taught where I feel like my natural talents that I brought to the mission are really important or indispensible. We had such an amazing lesson! We'd explain something and he'd say, "Ohhhhh...that's wonderful!" And he has such a great understanding! For instance, I taught the premortal existence with the Bible, and then he was like, "But the Bible doesn't explain this clearly. So the importance of the Book of Mormon is that it fills in what's missing from the Bible!" And we were like, "...Yeah!" And at one point Sister Nelson tried to go into the Restoration with him, and he taught the First Vision to her, completely perfectly. Then he basically started teaching us the third lesson: "So salvation comes in steps. First you have to have faith. Then you have to turn to God. Then you're baptized and confirmed. And then you have to keep keeping the commandments." And we were like, "...yeah!" So we put him back on date. And it was great! We were so pumped up! And I was just so happy! It was like, "This is why I got called to Newfoundland; because he really needs MY talents to teach him." It was so cool!

And then he didn't come to church. Nobody came to church. We had 5 really solid commitments, and nobody came. He was going to get a ride with Brother Lindsay, and apparently when he called he was totally awake, and he just said he wasn't coming. It's weird because church is so often the worst 3 hours of my week - we work so hard, and then church is like the really big thing that shows if we really got to anybody, and then people don't come. Buuuuuuuuuuut, there's a bright side! During the last hour, a non-member just SHOWED UP to church! His name is Mostafa, and he's that Iranian guy who lived in France I met at MUN! And I had that French conversation with him!!! And I had given him a Restoration pamphlet, and a pass-along card with the church address and service time on it, but since I was really new, I only got his phone number, and then I was just awkward about it and kind of avoided calling him for a bit and then forgot about him, because I'm not ALWAYS a good missionary. And then he CAME TO CHURCH last week! It was INSANE!!! I know the situation is a bit more nuanced than "I had a conversation with him in French and then he came to church," but that's how it happened in my head, and it made me really happy.

Then we had a really long mission correlation, and in the middle of it we got called to do service, but we were in our skirts! So we cleaned out someone's shed in our Sunday best. It was great. Then we had a fireside for the members, and hardly anyone showed up, but we still got like 10 people to make profiles, which would have taken ages had we visited each of them separately, committed them, and then followed up, so it was great. After the fireside, we had 36 key indicators, and we really wanted to get 40 this week, so we went finding. We had some initial lack of success, which was discouraging, but then we got in to teach a lesson! It seemed like a miracle! But then they weren't really interested, although we had a good chat. It was a bunch of roommates, and we were teaching mainly to one guy, but afterwards, a few other roommates requested cards, so we planted seeds. What's cool is he said that we were the first people he ever let in, because we did the door approach so much better than any of the Mormons or Jehovah's that had come by. So it was cool to see that our skills count for something. Sister Leavey thinks I've gotten really good at door approaches, which is cool because I remember being really really frustrated by being bad at it at the very beginning of my mission. And then at the last minute, we got two referrals on the street and contacted them, so we made 40! A couple of weeks ago it just seemed so unattainable. It was amazing. Despite some of the crazy stuff that happened this week, we're really happy at the moment.

Sister Jaclyn Olson

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