October 21, 2013


Dear Mom and everyone,



Backing up...I don't remember if I told you about President Leavitt's goal for the mission to have 50 baptisms by the end of the year. But he does, which basically works out to one baptism per companionship. So he asked all of us to prayerfully set a goal for our companionship, so we prayed about it and felt impressed to set a goal of 5, which seemed crazily high, but we weren't exactly about to say, "No way Heavenly Father, we think we'll just ignore the Spirit and aim low." Haha. So we told our district leader, and Elder Jensen was like, "Just to be clear, this goal is supposed to be between now and December 31" and we were like, "Yes...our goal is to baptize at least one family." Haha. So President Leavitt organized a mission-wide fast, which was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we had meals scheduled for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so we got permission to do it on Thursday. And ever since then (or maybe even before then, but we've REALLY noticed it since then), we've just had appointments from 11 in the morning when we're done studies to 9 pm when we return home. Sometimes we don't even have time for meals except a peanut butter sandwich. And when we DO have time to go finding, we find ANOTHER new investigator. I'm really, REALLY happy, and also kind of freaking out at the same time because we have to take care of ALL OF THEM???

So I'll give you a rundown of the week so you can see what I mean.

On Monday we emailed at the church since the University library was closed for Thanksgiving. After that, we had a meal with a partly less-active family for Thanksgiving dinner. Which was really nice of them. It would have been nicer if their adult son had showered recently and/or was sitting further away from me, but we really did appreciate them having us over, haha. After that, we went contacting formers who looked likely to be single, since people get pretty defensive about their holidays around here and we were tired of knocking into people's Thanksgiving dinners. We found one former, Jackie, who was just headed out the door but was willing to have us back, but other than that we didn't get much done on Monday.

Tuesday was district meeting, where we practiced How To Begin Teaching and Elder Jensen gave a long discussion on having faith, and how faith is really an expectation, so we can EXPECT to accomplish our baptismal goal. It was really awesome. After that, we practiced a musical number we're planning to do in Sacrament meeting. We're going to sing "Go Forth With Faith" to the tune of "Abide With Me; 'Tis Eventide." I wrote an accompaniment in my head that starts out in C major for the first two verses and then modulates to the original key for the last verse. It's going to be pretty cool. (People think ad-libbing accompaniments is more difficult than it is; I just make the left hand into alberti bass or arpeggios and then I move the right hand up an octave.) After that, we didn't have time for lunch, so we went to an appointment with Carey. She's on date, but she's really busy (we can basically only meet with her between 1 and 2:30 in the afternoon about once a week) and also a little flaky. But she LOVES the Book of Mormon. She says that every time she thinks about it she just feels so calm, and all these things in her life are going better and she doesn't get upset or worried about things like she used to. So we focused on helping her recognize the Spirit, and we kind of went over the Restoration and also talked a lot about the structure of the church. She really loves the sense of community and the idea of things like home and visiting teaching. And then it kind of morphed into talking about what the gospel would mean to her, and she said she hoped it would help her quit smoking, so we taught an impromptu Word of Wisdom lesson, which went really good and she totally accepted to live it! I was really glad because I've only taught it once and Sister Coleman has never taught it, so it was cool to see how the Spirit really took over and let it flow well. (Since then, Carey cancelled her next appointment because of work and we haven't been able to meet with her, which is stressful.) After Carey, we were going to try to squeeze in lunch, but we didn't have time because it was a pretty full lesson. So we went straight to Michelle's. She's still really sincere, but she has a lot of trouble understanding the Book of Mormon and is still really concerned about how to get an answer. So we went over Alma 32 with her and then assigned her to read some verses about the Holy Ghost and wrote out a specific plan of praying, reading, writing, praying, re-reading, etc., to help her learn how to study it. She's one of those people who's really smart but basically just gives up the second she doesn't understand or things get challenging, so we're trying to help her acquire a spiritual work ethic. After that, we had to rush to our lesson with Phoebe. We nearly dropped her, but then her life got settled down a bit and she started committing to things again. She'd read the Book of Mormon chapter we assigned her, and she said she found it helpful and thought it agreed with the Bible! She kept talking about how she needs to re-build her faith and when we asked how, she said by reading the Bible AND the Book of Mormon, which is huge progress! So we think we need to start being more bold with her and really help her see that she needs to make a choice of whether or not she needs to join the church. 

After that, we were STARVING, but it was nearly time for our dinner appointment, so we drove over to the East side and then we made some calls to set up some member present lessons later in the week. Then we had our DA. I was SO hungry, since we hadn't had lunch, but then she didn't offer seconds like she usually does, so I didn't ask, and then during dessert her husband was like, "Why didn't you offer them seconds?" and she said, "Well, they never say yes!" and I was like, DANGIT. Haha. After that, we went knocking and found a really good potential right around the corner from the institute teacher's house, which was really cool because we told them about it at institute afterwards and how the girl, Sabrina, said she knew her neighbours are Mormon. I think it helped them see that there ARE people in their lives who would be interested if they'd look for them. Then we had institute, which was great. We watched the video about Martin Harris' testimony of the Book of Mormon, and Sister Wetmore provided TONS of movie treats, so I was finally full. This one young mom was there and of course I loved her baby, and she saw me looking at it and was like, "Oh, are you the one who loves babies?" Haha, apparently I'm making a reputation for myself.

Wednesday probably our least successful day. It was supposed to be correlation/breakfast with the ward mission leader, but he cancelled at the last minute, so we just had studies, which I WAY prefer. So we studied and started working on making a DVD of videos from everydaymissionaries.org to use in our member missionary Sunday School class. Then we had lunch with the Relief Society President, and talked about how the ward is doing and which members we could help. She's really discouraged because the ward is totally in a funk about activities. They've been really lame for a while, so nobody comes, so nobody puts on good activities because nobody comes. So we tried to brainstorm ways to help with that and also just to encourage her. Then we went street contacting, which was okay, and went to UNBSJ to see about setting up a booth in the student centre, but the guy in charge of that wasn't there even though it was his office hours. Then we went to Superstore, since we couldn't go grocery shopping on Monday, which turned out to be good planning because it was raining like CRAZY. After that, we stopped by a less-active member for a short visit, and had a dinner appointment. I love this family in the ward, and they do so much for missionary work, so we were really excited. We get there, and Sister Hofmann is like, "I hope you don't mind we're having breakfast food." Then she says, "I hope you like bacon." Then, "We're having waffles." Great... "They're pumpkin flavoured." Hahaha. If you know me well, you'll know I don't like ANY of those things. But I was so hungry at that point that I didn't even care. I just loaded it up with peanut butter and I could barely taste the rest of it. After that, we didn't have the k's to get out of Milledgeville and there is nothing to do in Milledgeville except knock, so we went knocking for about two hours in POURING rain. I felt so bad for Sister Coleman because she didn't have a raincoat; she basically had a really upscale hoodie. And we didn't really find anyone when we were knocking. I didn't really mind – it was basically like going finding in Newfoundland, with bad weather and everyone being unreceptive – but I think Sister Coleman found it to be a pretty horrible day.

Thursday is when things got AWESOME. (Tuesday was awesome too. But Thursday was AWESOME). We were supposed to have correlation (no breakfast, because fasting), so we studied at the church and kept working on making the DVDs. After that, we service at the hospital, wherein I got hit by a bowling ball. Haha. We work in the dementia ward helping the old people bowl. They have this bowling ball and pin set that's covered in foam, but still reasonably heavy. So it's kind of like a padded medicine ball. They have this ramp they can set on the patients' laps, so they can sit down and bowl. Sister Coleman was at one end setting up the pins, and I was at the other end helping them bowl. So after every try, she'd toss me the bowling ball (catching it over and over was a pretty good workout). This one time, the old lady who was bowling said something to me, so I turned aside to talk to her just as Sister Coleman threw it, and I totally didn't see it until it hit my leg. I wasn't really hurt, at least not permanently, so I mostly just thought it was hilarious. The patients were really funny too. This one old lady kept leaving every time a doctor or male nurse went by because "she was going to go catch a man." She kept complaining about the Elders not being there, haha. But she also kept telling us we were beautiful, so don't ever change. They're adorable. I love the old people we work with at nursing homes and hospitals, but honestly it kind of makes me want to die young before other people have to bathe me. Anyways. After service at the hospital, we went for a LA visit. It ended up having to be really short, but that was actually really good because it stayed really focused and spiritual, whereas usually she gets off on tangents. We talked about prayerful goal setting and encouraged her to prayerfully write a plan to use for her scripture study, and also to apply this to her hoarding issue. After that, we tried to get a member present lesson but it fell through, so we went and stopped by a few people, who weren't home. So we went and picked up Courtney, one of our ward missionaries, and went contacting potentials. We stopped in on Jackie, the former from Monday, and she let us in! We taught an AWESOME lesson where you could totally see her receiving personal revelation about prophets and why authority is important. It was so great! We really need to keep working with her on understanding why this should change her life, since when we asked what would change for her if she knew the Book of Mormon was true, she said, "I don't really think it would." But she also totally gets that that's why she hasn't received an answer yet. Then we went to another lesson with Phoebe, but that fell through (it turned out we missed her by like 5 minutes -– she got home late), so we dropped Courtney back off and tried to go mall contacting. I'm still not sold on it. We're trying to make it something we're good at since NOBODY will be on the streets during the winter, but I don't like it. 

Then we did 12-week in the car for a bit, since we keep not having time for it and Sister Coleman deserves to actually get trained, and we went to an appointment with a lady named Val. I forgot to tell you about finding Val! I don't remember when, but a couple of days before, we tried to stop by a potential from street contacting. They were busy, but on the way out, we met Val and gave her a pass-along card. She asked for a Book of Mormon, so we gave her one, and then I set up this appointment with her. I could tell Sister Coleman was just thinking Sister Olson what are you doing, since she had a HUGE lesbian pride pin on the front of her shirt. Hahaha. Anyways, Val had unexpected company and rescheduled for tomorrow, so we stopped by Veronica. Veronica is this lady we met on the street while knocking uptown about a week ago. She was taught by missionaries before when she lived in the Hampton elders' area, and she talked to us for like an hour that night and almost invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. So we stopped in on her, had a short lesson, and picked her back up as an investigator! She has a lot of concerns about the early church, and I think she needs help understanding authority, but she definitely understands Apostasy. She was very involved in the Anglican church, and then some stuff going on there with child abuse and whatnot basically turned her off organized religion. She knows her Bible SUPER well, which I always enjoy in an investigator. Then we went to the scripture study night (which nobody came to, again), and tried to schedule some appointments. Then we went to a lesson with Mohammed and Amina, who are still awesome. They still have a ton of questions, but they've both been reading and Mohammed's been praying. (I had a really cool experience with that, but I don't think it's appropriate to put on the blog so I'll send it separately). The reason they put off meeting for so long is because Amina's super busy, and Mohammed was like, well why can't I meet with them when you're not there? And she was like, No, that's not fair! Haha. That made me happy. The Hofmanns were there, and they offered to have them over for family home evening, so that's going to be awesome. During the lesson, they kept trying to offer us tea (since it's part of hospitality in their culture), and eventually we were just like, okay, we'll just teach the Word of Wisdom. So we taught ANOTHER impromptu WoW lesson, and they LOVED it. Totally unexpected. 

On Friday we did weekly planning, and even that went smoother and more effectively than it usually does. After that, we tried to call some people and set up a member present lesson that afternoon, but nobody was really available. So we ended up calling basically ALL the members, because once we gave up on that, we had to call people and invite them to Board games night, and then we had to find a ride for the Dallings' church tour the next day. (Dalling is the last name of Heather, Philip, Cody, etc.) We had the hardest time finding them a ride. It was so stressful. We ended up getting Sister Cosman to do it, but she had to drive all the way out from Grand Bay and back and we felt so bad because she ALWAYS gives us rides. (We tried to give her a thank-you gift on Sunday, but she wouldn't accept it because she said she does it for her son, who's on a mission. In the New York mission, apparently members just drive the missionaries to and from EVERY appointment). So then we went to our lesson with Val, which was super awesome, except she's a chain smoker and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get lung cancer by the time I'm done serving in Atlantic Canada, haha. But she was really focused and the lesson went really well. She's been living celibately for 15 years because she's not sure what God's stance is on homosexuality and she doesn't want to offend him. I think if we told her our church said it was okay, she would have joined immediately, but as it is, she's still willing to read and pray and you can tell she's seriously considering joining. She has doubts about Joseph Smith, but I think that might be more of an excuse. After Val, we went and got fast food before the board games night, which was a total flop. Only one family showed up. I think in some ways that was more awkward than if nobody came at all, hahaha. But we were able to use that time to come up with more activities to really get people to come out, and in the course of calling people we identified some key breakdowns in the chain of communication that were probably preventing a lot of people from knowing about activities, so that was good.

Saturday was another crazy day. We had a lesson with Sister Orford, one of the less-actives we're working with, which continued to go as well as it always does. She's seriously so great and we're really happy about her. We talked a lot about recognizing the Spirit and how we can bring it more into our lives. She kind of wants a big "aha!" moment, so we talked about why that doesn't always come. Then we went to the church and did 12-week and had lunch and prepared for the Dallings' church tour! Cody, their son with spinal bifida, wasn't feeling well enough to come, and their daughter Moriah was working, but Heather, Philip, and Olivia came. They loved it, obviously. And then we taught the Plan of Salvation and they accepted it really well. They really like how the church teaches things way more in-depth than other churches and encourages you to ask questions and seek things out for yourself. Heather's major hangup is that Moriah lives with her biological dad, who is a pretty hardline Pentecostal, and so Moriah's getting all this anti and she doesn't want it to divide her family, so she's just tying herself up in knots and is afraid to move forward and find out it's true. Philip is more okay with moving forward at this point, but he's just not really spiritually hungry, so he's not driving it either. And then Cody and Olivia are both just being kind of passive about it at this point – we need to focus more on them, but it's hard to teach to so many people's needs in one lesson! So we focused a lot on how following God right away will ALWAYS bring more blessings than putting it off, and how it will bless her family in the long run, etc. They also have some concerns about the temple, mostly because it's so new – we've managed to resolve all of their concerns, it's really just the family thing and an unwillingness to change getting them to not read and pray so that they can have an ANSWER and these problems will STOP BOTHERING THEM. It's the saddest thing to see people struggling with something and have the solution right in front of them, but they've convinced themselves that doing something about it will make it worse, not better. They committed to come to church, and then called a couple hours later to cancel for totally weak reasons. But we have a lesson scheduled for Tuesday where Moriah will be there, so hopefully we can resolve her concerns and get the family on the same page so that that concern won't be an obstacle.

Anyways. After that, we had a lesson with Phoebe since we missed her on Thursday, which was quite good again and really just reconfirmed what we'd concluded about her last time. We taught Sabbath Day and started trying to really commit her to coming to church. She's an LPN/phlebotomist at a nursing home, so it's hard with her schedule. After that, we went to the mall to get Sister Cosman a thank-you gift and try mall contacting (unsuccessfully again), and then we had dinner before trying to contact a referral. She wasn't home, so we went knocking. The first street we knocked didn't have anyone interested on it, but one guy just HANDED us a referral without us even asking, which was cool. Then on the next street we knocked, we met a guy named Justin who was just heading out the door but was interested, and we got another new investigator, Samantha. She's had a pretty hard life, and lost her faith in God at one point, but she gained it back and now she has that experience and is really open to learning more. We taught a pretty smooth Restoration and I had this moment where I realized, I'm totally comfortable with this now! I remembered getting into my first lesson with Sister Judd and just being like, "I have no idea what I'm doing, I'd totally fail at this if she wasn't here," and now I'm the one training a new missionary! I don't know, it was cool. We got home that day to find that we'd accomplished ALL of our goals, with the exception that member present lessons were other lessons because we didn't plan ahead as we should have. That's never happened before, so it was cool.

On Sunday we checked transfer letters, and we're both staying in Saint John. Elder Dubyk got randomly transferred on Saturday instead of next Thursday like everyone else, so we have a new elder in our ward, Elder Davidsen from Edmonton. Church was the Primary Presentation, which was COMPLETELY ADORABLE. This one little boy was totally tone-deaf and just yelling the words instead, it was so cute! During Relief Society, the sisters were discussing how many people would be at the trunk-or-treat, since they were all concerned about having too many treats. So I said, "You can just donate any leftovers to me," which everyone thought was hilarious. I was serious, but whatever. Haha. After church, we went to a lesson with Michelle, but she didn't realize it was already 1:30, so we postponed to 4 and stopped in on Justin instead. He let us in and was basically like, "Yeah I've just been curious about it for a long time but haven't had time to let you guys in before." He's newly married and is a semi-practicing Catholic. He doesn't really understand why he needs to change – he's one of those "All religions are good" people and is comfortable as a Catholic – but he's clearly been prepared by the Spirit and hopefully we'll be able to work with him. Then we went home and made a quick peanut butter sandwhich during the only 15 unscheduled minutes we had all day. Then we had a lesson with Val, which was basically homosexuality/Bible prophecies of the Restoration/what baptism will do for her. It was a really good lesson. I'm just concerned that she's more focused on "finding proof" than "having faith," so hopefully we'll be able to work with her on that next time. Then Michelle cancelled on us (we can tell she's genuinely interested, just flaky), so we did 12-week at the church before ward council. I love our ward council – it's probably the most effective one I've seen so far in all 3 areas I've been in. The Bishop is really excited about our member missionary class, which is awesome. When that was over, we went to check a referral again. It turns out she doesn't live there anymore, but her neighbour was SUPER interested and we have an appointment set up with him next week. (So we can have 17 investigators?!) Then we were supposed to have a visit with Sandra, a recent convert who is going through some health problems, but she got the times mixed up and that fell through, so we ran through all our backup plans and none of them worked out, so we went home to have a very late dinner and work on the member book. I wish we'd gone knocking or something and stayed out even though we were hungry, since Sandra called us when she THOUGHT our appointment was, and it would have been nice to go and see her. Oh well. 

To summarize, our investigators are: Mohammed, Amina, Jackie, Veronica, Phoebe, Barbara, Val, Samantha, Justin, Heather, Philip, Moriah, Cody, Olivia, Carey, and Michelle. (Part of me just wanted to make sure I could do it, but I also want you all to pray for them.)

Sister Olson

A really cool rainbow we saw yesterday at the church

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