She takes after Grandma Norton and opens her presents early.
So on Monday Mason and I decided to stop direct communication for the foreseeable future, but to continue to copy each other on our weekly emails. We both independently received promptings that it would be best for us, and while it wasn't a feeling that we HAVE to do this, in his words "I would rather we follow the Lord's counsels even when they don't come as commandments than say, "Well Heavenly Father, that's a nice thought, but I'd rather continue my own way instead of going with what you think is better."" Ha. So that's kind of the big news from Monday. I think the other things that happened are we found an AWESOME sale at Fairweather where the most expensive thing was like $15, so I bought a new skirt and Sister Coleman bought a lot of clothes haha. Then we had a DA with an older couple in the ward, which was great, but after that our investigator Melissa cancelled on us and wouldn't make a return appointment, which was kind of a bummer. So we did a lot of finding on Monday but nothing really happened. Except for this one less-active that we tried to contact, at the request of her sister. We stopped by at 8 at night, so it was dark, and she lives uptown in one of the houses that have been divided up into flats. The light on the landing was out, and her sister couldn't remember what apartment it was, and even though the situation was probably totally fine, it just felt sketchy because it was so dark. We were actually pretty glad nobody answered either of the doors on the landing, haha.
On Tuesday we had splits with our Sister Training Leader, Sister Nelson, who was actually my STL in Newfoundland as well, so that was cool. She got transferred out here one transfer before me. In the morning, Sister Nelson did 12-week with Sister Coleman so that Sister Lewis (her companion) and I could do language study together! Sister Lewis is the other French-speaking sister in the mission, and she's 100% convinced that we're going to serve together some day. It was pretty fun to do language study. After that, I went with Sister Nelson and we did some street contacting uptown and discovered the Pedway, which is basically the +15 of Saint John. It's going to be a contacting mecca in the winter, so that was exciting to find. After that, we had a lunch appointment with Courtney, who works with Bishop Ross and is a university student. He's got her really interested, so we got to know her, did how to begin teachings, and shared part of the restoration. It was really cool, but it's a bit frustrating because she kind of seems to view it in the mindset of "I'll just keep going to church for an indefinitely long period of time and kind of dabble in it." She's really cool though and I think she will join eventually. We went to a deli uptown and I had a Montréal smoked meat sandwich for the first time since we went to Montréal when I was 14. I was pretty happy about that. Then we went to a lesson with Carey, but she wasn't there, which was disappointing, so we did a bit more contacting and then we met up to switch companions. Sister Lewis was really hungry, so we had an early dinner. I think my favourite part of exchanges is being able to talk to other missionaries and help them understand how they're feeling and what they can do about it. I'm seriously leaning towards becoming a psychiatrist. After that, we went knocking and contacted some formers before exchanging back at the end of the night.
Wednesday was breakfast/correlation with the Ward Mission Leader. He makes awesome food. It's kind of inconvenient though because then we have to study later in the day and it just feels unproductive and kind of throws off your whole mindset. After studies, we had a visit with the Hurtado family, a less-active family that is originally from Chile. Sister Coleman speaks Spanish fluently, and I'm really enjoying being able to pick up phrases here and there. We mostly teach them in English though. We decided to focus that visit on the kids, and it went REALLY well. We think they're going to be really key. After that, we tried to contact some people we met street contacting (who weren't interested), and we had a DA with another older couple in the ward. They were really awesome – they made a delicious dinner, they gave us homemade bread to take home, AND they really took thought and had a referral for us. I find it interesting how the members who give referrals still have the same initial reaction of "Oh I don't know anybody/I've already sent the missionaries to everybody" – the difference is, they take thought and really search for someone to send us to. So we went and tried to contact them, but they weren't home. After that, we were supposed to have an appointment with our family on-date, but they have been sick and/or avoiding us, which is sad, so we kept contacting out in Grand Bay.
Thursday was interesting. I was having a pretty bad morning, since the combination of not writing Mason, hitting my 6 month mark, and some things President Leavitt said in his Sister's Conference training were combining to make me really reflect on my purpose and if I was really being committed and living up to what I could be doing and being motivated by love and whatnot. Which was probably a good self-inventory to have, but then it was just getting kind of negative and frustrated with myself inside my head. And then someone knocked on the door, and my birthday package came! I totally forgot it was my birthday. Probably because it wasn't for another week yet :P But that totally cheered me up, especially the T-Rex earrings, since I'd completely forgotten about those. Then we tried to do some contacting in the morning (since President Leavitt wants us to try to make a goal of talking to at least 10 people before noon every day in order to kind of jump-start our day), and we ended up having a conversation with a Jehovah's Witness. Actually, the JW's have been all over the city last week, it's pretty funny. We've enjoyed the conversations we've had though; it's interesting to see how many people get SO close to the gospel and then are led away at the last minute. After that, we made lunch and dinner at the same time, since we had to be in the west end of town and decided to take dinner to the church and microwave it there. Then we stopped by Carey, the investigator who missed our appointment on Tuesday. It turned out she's been called into work last-minute, and she's actually super solid! We were just asking her questions and doing how to begin teachings, and then teaching to her needs with parts of the Restoration, and she basically said, "I want to join a church, but I want it to be the true church, and I want it to be one I'm involved in and that helps me change my life. And I don't want missionaries who come and hang out; I want missionaries who know their purpose and teach me according to my needs. And I want to be given commitments and have people follow up on my commitments. Also, I really want to consciously make the choice to be baptized. Does your church re-baptize people who have already been baptized? Yes? So can I be baptized?" I think we might have skipped the baptismal invitation and gone right to putting her on date, hahaha. So then that just totally made our day and we were REALLY happy. After that, we did more contacting and had dinner at the church. The Elders were having dinner there at the same time, and it was rather amusing to see the difference in our diets, haha. The reason we were both at the church is President Leavitt was doing Skype interviews for the whole New Brunswick zone. So I get into the interview and he starts off with "Sister Olson, could life be any better? You have four people on date, your companion is musical and speaks French, the ward members like you..." etc. And I was just like, he's right, this is awesome, what the heck was I being so negative about?
After that, we went to a Pentecostal Bible study. We had been street contacting in the park the week before, and we ran into a Pentecostal couple. The wife seemed interested and understood the point of reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, and I think we would have been able to commit her to do it if her husband wasn't SUPER contentious. We asked him why he wouldn't give it a chance and he said, "Well, you wouldn't read my book." "We read the King James Version of the Bible all the time." "Well, I bet you wouldn't come to my Bible study!" "We'd love to! When is it?" Haha. Well, we prayed about it and felt good about going, so we went. It was a pretty bizarre experience. It wasn't contentious at all, since everybody basically just sat there and listened to the pastor, so there wasn't any discussion. It almost felt like a parody of a Bible study – he had a Southern accent, at one point he whipped out his guitar and started singing Christian rock songs, there was a random spontaneous prayer with a lot of "Hallelujah!"'s, etc. The weirdest thing though was how totally empty the room felt. It was just...empty. The Spirit wasn't there. (Maybe that's why he was talking so loud?) We're not sure why we felt it was the right thing to go, but it did give us some insight into teaching people who are strong in their beliefs – we concluded that we need to ask inspired questions to get them in a mindset where they're open to the Spirit, and THEN we can teach the doctrine.
Friday was basically just a bunch of appointments cancelling and a lot of contacting. We showed up for our DA and they forgot they were feeding us, so they made pasta really quick, which was a bit awkward, haha. We had games night at the church, and at first hardly anyone showed up, but finally some people came and it ended up being really fun. We played Quelf, which is officially my favourite game ever. It's basically like Curses and Cranium, but a lot more random. Haha.
On Saturday we had our apartment inspection, and then we went park contacting in Rockwood Park. We had some great conversations, but nothing came of it. I think the saddest thing is how SO MANY PEOPLE totally get and recognize the Apostasy – but instead of looking forward to the Restoration, Satan has just convinced them to be disenchanted with all religion and they won't understand that what we have is DIFFERENT, in fact it's EXACTLY what they're looking for! So we need to figure out a way to communicate that. After that, we went mall contacting, which was a good experience to try, but I don't think either of us enjoyed it all that much. It's basically like street contacting, except more awkward and distracting. Haha. Then we stopped by Melissa, which was super awkward because she was really defensive, which we weren't expecting because we got along really well last time. And at one point she called me "cupcake" and I exercised a lot of self-control to not react in an annoyed way. Haha. So we talked to the Elders about that, since Elder Dubyk knows her really well, and I think we have a better idea of what's going on now, so we're hopeful about resolving that. Then we stopped by Heather's, our family on date, and she and her kids weren't home, but we met her husband, which was really great, since we think he felt a bit weird about his whole family committing to baptism without him. Hopefully we'll be able to teach them all together soon. Then we went out to Grand Bay and went contacting. At one point, I felt impressed that we needed to visit a former investigator, but we didn't have a lot of time and she was like 10 minutes out of the way and it wasn't a really strong impression, so I was kind of doubting it. And Sister Coleman was like, why don't we just do it? So we went to visit her, and she was clearly not interested, and I started to feel frustrated because it was like, why did we even come out here, was I just making that impression up, etc. But then she spontaneously started talking about her neighbour who's going through a hard time, and we were like, "...so can we go visit her?" and we got a referral. It was really cool. She wasn't home, but it was clearly why we were sent there at the time, so I was glad we followed that impression after all and I decided to be less doubtful next time. After that, we went to the church and planned before the Relief Society Broadcast. It was so great. I felt like everything it said was exactly what I needed to hear, which is always awesome.
Sunday was cool because a guy named Jeff showed up to church like, "I've been reading the Book of Mormon and I've decided to investigate the church and probably join some day!" which was great, since the Elders have really been struggling to find and they deserved a miracle like that. It was Fast Sunday, and something someone said got me thinking, you know, the Lord didn't have to send me to an LDS home. He could have had me born in any other circumstance too. And all the sudden, it was like I could see the non-Mormon version of myself, and I REALLY wanted this hypothetical version of me to be introduced to the church and accept the gospel. But I realized that this version of me didn't KNOW it was important, and I wondered if she would accept. And then I realized, that must have been exactly what the Pre-Mortal Life was like. We ALL knew that we wanted the gospel and it would be the best thing for us, and we probably ALL wondered if we would accept it in this life. Any of us who would be born into non-LDS homes would have really hoped that missionaries would go to their future selves and tell them about the gospel. I thought, man, I am SO blessed to be in the church! I can't believe my luck! And all of the sudden, the idea of going throughout life without doing all I could to bring others to a remembrance of the gospel they ALREADY decided they wanted seemed like the most selfish and small-souled way to live I could possibly think of. We have been SO blessed and how could we POSSIBLY not help everyone else who hasn't been as lucky?
After that, we had a few appointments with less-active members and a dinner appointment, which were all really good. We really just felt all day like we were fulfilling our purpose and helping people come closer to Christ, and we have high hopes for one less-active in particular who we think we can really help to become spiritually self-sufficient. So even though a lot of weird stuff happened this week and a lot of appointments and stuff fell though, it ended on a really good note and we're really looking forward to this week too!
The delicious smoked meat sandwich.
A gorgeous view of the ocean from the Hurtado's house.