September 9, 2013

Family On-Date

Dear Mom,
I think the garage door looks pretty nice in and of itself, but I'd be interested to see a picture of it with the rest of the house. Carmen and Chloe look so grown up! It sounds like everyone's schedule is great, and that is really funny about them both being in Junior High. Congrats to Carmen on making the volleyball team!
It made me really happy to see your experience with the less-active member. The Lord places people in our path all the time. Sometimes we recognize them easily, but sometimes we don't. They're always there though. I know that the Lord sent you to her and that we have all taken upon us the name of Christ and can have the Spirit to say and do what he would have us say and do in his place, so I'm sure that whatever you share with her will be what she needs to hear. And of course I think having the missionaries over is a great idea :)
So the big news of the day...I got transferred! I'm going to Saint John, New Brunswick, which is an English speaking area, but my Sister Training Leader in Moncton is in a half English, half French area, and her companion Sister Lewis is the other sister who speaks French well enough to serve French-speaking, so I'm excited about that. I'm also really excited because I'm going to be training! My new companion is Sister Kimberly Coleman from British Columbia. I'm super excited! I don't know the address yet, so just hold off on mailing me stuff and I'll tell you the address next week.
This week was a fantastic week! On Monday, we taught a lesson to a potential that Sister Echols picked up on splits. We only made it to the Great Apostasy before her parents showed up and we left, but she was so prepared! She kept saying, "I've always wondered/believed/been bothered by that, that makes sense." It was so great! Sadly, she called us before our next appointment to cancel because she read something on that she really didn't like. She wouldn't tell us what it was or let us really get at the concern, so that was a major bummer.
On Tuesday, we went out to the moon again and stopped by a referral we'd gotten from knocking. We didn't have a lot of time, so we just did How To Begin Teaching and summarized the Restoration. Lynn was really interested and had great questions, so that was great, but sadly she didn't show up for the return appointment on Friday. I wish we could have taught her a longer lesson, but we had to go to our lesson with Lindsay and Steve. It was great, as usual. We talked about building faith to receive answers, and went over how to pray and why we read and pray. We also helped them see why it was relevant to them. They both said that they feel really good about having us over. Their kids were there, and we picked them up as investigators as well. Their kids are adorable :) Kolby drew me a picture of someone killing a zombie. His mom was kind of embarrassed about the violent picture, but I thought it was awesome :) After that, we had a member visit with a lady who converted about 3 years ago. She had a pretty cool story - she had an LDS friend in high school, and she loved being at their home and the feeling of family unity, but her family gave her a bunch of anti. But one day, years later, she was praying to ask God what to do and she found a Finding Faith in Christ card in her mailbox. She had the missionaries over, they resolved the anti, and she got baptized. She's a super sweet lady and really tries to share the gospel with her non-member husband and family. It was great :)
Wednesday was a total gong show. Sister Echols was sick, but she felt well enough to go out and work that morning, so we went to visit a less-active lady we hadn't seen before. Her house was totally adorable with all these stuffed animals and old-lady things...except for her husband's porn statue. Seriously. That statue was not "art," it was just inappropriate. So that pretty much killed the Spirit. I was just sitting there thinking, "We need to share a message so we can leave." It was the most scattered lesson ever. It basically went, "You like reading? How did you feel about the Book of Mormon the first time? Scriptures can help us get personal revelation. Sister Echols has a great analogy about this. Sister Echols, tell the warehouse analogy. Okay. Will you come to scripture study class on Thursday? Can we leave you with a prayer? Okay bye!" Meanwhile, Sister Echols felt super sick, so she's just sitting there out of it and during all my super awkward transitions she's sitting there thinking, "That was a great transition. Great job Sister Olson!" We laughed about it afterwards, but we don't think we'll teach her at home anymore. After that, Sister Echols went home to lie down for a bit, and then we went to a DA. It was so good! Except then we had our missionary thought and it turned into a really, really long discussion. She is very firm on "We need to strengthen the core of the ward, and THEN we can do missionary work." That's a really common attitude around here. What the members don't see is that missionary work brings blessings, it includes reactivation and retention, it strengthens testimonies, and it encourages people to be more Christlike.
On Thursday we visited with another less-active lady who has short-term memory issues. It was a pretty good lesson, and we decided we'd call her Sunday morning to remind her to come to church. (It didn't work). After that, Sister Echols practiced the violin for the musical firesides, and then we had call day. We also checked our mail since we were at the mission office anyways, and Grandma Norton had sent me a bunch of homemade cookies. It was pretty funny since she sent them in a Sunkist plastic raisin container, and at first I was just like, what? Why did she send me raisins? Haha. After that, Sister Echols had a doctors appointment, so Sister Leavitt and Sister Echols went to the doctor's and I stayed at the mission home with Sister Leavey, who has still been staying there. She totally spilled the beans about transfers to me, haha. It was actually less distracting than I would have thought, but I still think I prefer finding out last-minute. Honestly, I wish we found out the night before. Either you spend the whole week freaking out and not wanting to leave your area, or you're like me right now and you accept it, and then you spend the whole week not feeling like it's your area anymore. Anyways, after that we had a DA with another family, and it was pretty much the greatest thing I've ever tasted. They had kebabs with chicken, pineapple, avocado, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatos. So great. Then we went to scripture study class, which nobody came to, and had a member visit. We showed the "We Are One" clip from the Work of Salvation broadcast. The husband was pretty discouraged about missionary work because he felt like he'd never had any success, so we tried to help him see that success is in the invitation and I think he was softened towards the idea towards the end.
Friday morning, Sister Echols and I went to the hospital so she could get some blood work and chest x-rays done, and then we drove out to the moon. Lynn didn't show up for our appointment, as we said before, so we had our studies in the car (since we went to the hospital that morning instead of studying) and had lunch. Then we went to visit Holly, the less-active YSA we had a great experience with. She had bought a skirt for church, watched a bunch of Mormon Channel videos, and was really excited that we brought her a Book of Mormon and a Bible. Transportation is still an issue, which is really too bad because she's totally ready to come back. After that, we had a funeral for one of the ward members, which was held all the way out in Musquodoboit Harbour since a lot of his friends out there are really poor and wouldn't have been able to come out to the Cole Harbour chapel. Sister Echols and I sang "Abide With Me" as a duet. It went a lot better than I expectted. Apparently I'm getting better at singing. We had a lot of really cool missionary opportunities come out of the funeral as well, so that was pretty great. After that, we did weekly planning, and then we taught Linday and Steve the Plan of Salvation. We made some cutouts to make a map and got the kids involved. And then we committed them to baptism and they're on date for October 26!!!!!!!!!!!! Having a family on date is the most exciting thing ever! Steve committed himself to come to church, which was cool. He works night shift and so it'll be really hard for him to come. But he said, "It's one of those sacrifices that bring blessings" and we were just like, yep, that's what we were going to say. Haha. We also put their daughter on date as well, but their son left the lesson before we got to that part. He's only 8, so that's understandable. We're going to try to put him on date tonight as well.
On Saturday we finished weekly planning, and had a skype meeting about advertising the musical fireside concert that's coming to the Metro in October. Then we went to a member visit with this older single lady in the ward. We really only intended to come by for half an hour and share some stuff about member missionary work, but when we got there she had what can only be described as a tea party set up for us. There was apple cider in a golden teapot, breaded shrimp and dipping sauce, salad, and rolls. There were all these adorable little plates and teacups and the most delicious chocolate cake ever, with classical piano music in the background. It was just adorable. That's the only way to describe it. She also has a totally awesome conversion story and faith in Christ, so it was super spiritually uplifting as well. After the thought she gave us a referral for her sister, and you could tell it was totally by the Spirit, and it was great. Then we taught a new member lesson to a recent convert. His parents are both members who converted a little over a year ago. He's one of those 10-year-olds who are super mature in a way that's adorable because of how young they are, and it was really fun. Then we had a dinner appointment with another member, which was great as usual. For some reason, I was super tired that day, and by the time the lesson with the RC and the DA were over, I was doing that thing where my brain basically turns on a really lame version of autocorrect and my words get all mixed up, so we decided to go home and work on paperwork since lessons were apparently not going to go well that evening, hahaha.
On Sunday LINDSAY AND STEVE AND THEIR FAMILY CAME TO CHURCH AND IT WAS SO EXCITING!!! The kids absolutely loved it. After it was over they said, "Can we come here every Sunday?" and their parents were just like, yep! :) They also really liked it. It was so great. Then we had a great meeting with the bishop. He has totally had a 180 on missionary work and is so gung-ho. It's super cool to see that change in the space of just one transfer. Then we went down to Eastern Passage to do some contacting, had dinner, and did some more contacting in Cole Harbour. We had a pretty cool conversation with a former investigator, who was basically really offended when the Sisters got removed from the area last time and elders were brought in. We were able to really follow the Spirit in testifying and explaining it to her a little more, and at the end she said she still wasn't interested, but she'd keep reading and praying and reconsider. So, that was great.

Oh, it was also Sunday morning when I found out officially that I was getting transferred. Sister Echols is super upset. I didn't feel like it was right to tell her before then. It's kind of a bummer to be transferred right when stuff in the area is really picking up and we have a solid family on date and everything, but on the other hand, the area and my companion are way too solid and perfect for me to have any personal growth if I continued serving here. I mean, I'd do it and love it and be happy, but I know the Lord really wants me to be somewhere else. And I was struggling with not really feeling challenged here or like I I had the ability to live up to my full capacity when so little was required of me, so I'm kind of glad to go re-open an area and train and stuff. (I'll probably feel differently when it's 3 weeks from now and I'm stressed out of my mind, but whatever.)
Sister Jaclyn Olson

Sister Nelson, one of the primary teachers, baked cookies and the kids gave them to us. Sister Echols had sworn off sugar, so I heroically ate all of them at once to remove temptation.

It was SO RAINY. We pulled over.

We set up an appointment with a potential and she wasn't there, but this was on the door. It was one of those moments that really restores your faith in humanity.

Sister Echols and I took this this morning.

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