October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Mom,
I liked your thoughts from the endowment session. I also thought it was totally cool how much new stuff I learned from when they changed the video. It sounds like the rest of your week was great too. It says something about RDL school spirit that I can still be really glad that the volleyball teams swept OJ even though I never played volleyball.
This week was a little interesting in retrospect, in that at the end of it we felt like we accomplished a lot of important things and didn't really have any regrets about how we worked, but we had low numbers anyways. It really illustrated the principle to me that there's an unlimited amount of good we can do in the world as long as we're not concerned about who gets the credit, as President Leavitt always says. I've been trying to incorporate this philosophy more because I REALLY like getting the credit, haha.
On Monday we basically went shopping all day. Sister Coleman needed winter boots and a winter coat. We didn't find the coat, but we did get new boots. We also went to Value Village and I bought several sweaters. The thrift stores out here always have genuinely nice stuff, which is weird because the poverty level is so high that I'd assume it would be all picked over. After that, we went out to Grand Bay, aka the moon, to go contact a referral. It seemed like a bit of waste to just go out there for 3 hours, but she was moving soon and we wanted to see if we could contact her. Well, she wasn't home, and nobody else really let us in, but we got an appointment set up and we spent a really long time talking to a less-active member on her doorstep. We feel like we built some trust there and will hopefully get in next time.
On Tuesday we went street contacting. Sister Coleman managed to get us talking to this guy about UFOs for a LONG time...one of those awkward situations where they won't let you end the conversation...which was pretty frustrating since we were late to an appointment. We brought a member with us, since we were trying to get more members to lessons, and then the appointment fell through anyways. Fortunately, Sister Raeburn is super happy to do missionary work and wasn't annoyed about it. After that, we had a long meeting with the Bishop about the less-actives and also about member missionary work, which was probably one of the most productive things we did all week. He agreed to let us teach a member missionary class during Sunday School, which we are super excited for! He also said that we're the kind of missionaries that he would feel good about introducing his friends to, which made us really happy. After that, we went finding for a bit and then stopped in on a less-active member. She gets really bad migraines because of her scent allergies. SO many people out here are severely allergic to scented products; it's really bizarre. We had a good visit with her, and then we had a lesson with Mohammed and Amina again, which was great. We spent most of the lesson trying to explain why we need Christ according to the laws of justice and mercy, and how He and Heavenly Father work together, and why God needs Christ in order to accomplish everything. Mohammed seemed like he was getting it, but Amina really isn't on the same page as him as far as spiritual progression goes, so it was hard to teach to both their needs at once. Especially since Mohammed speaks French and Amina speaks English, haha. We basically spent the first 40 minutes teaching Mohammed in French, and then ANOTHER 40 minutes teaching Amina in English. Their lessons always go super long because they're so enthusiastic and have so many questions.
On Wednesday we went uptown and browsed used bookstores to try to look for an Arabic phrasebook so we could teach more out of the Arabic Book of Mormon. We didn't find one, but I noticed this one girl who was kind of out of the way, and I wasn't going to talk to her, but I felt impressed to and also her baby was adorable, so I did. It turned out she was really interested in family history and also in church in general, so that was awesome. The Lord uses ALL of our attributes to help us find people, haha. Seriously though, not holding babies is pretty much the hardest part of being a missionary. Then we went to the East side and tried to visit some members, but nobody was home, so we walked to Loch Lomond Mall to do mall contacting. Turns out it was SUPER far away, and Loch Lomond Mall is pretty much the least busy mall I've ever seen, but we had a few good conversations on the way and got a return appointment, which was fun. Then we tried to buzz into some apartment buildings, which mostly resulted in awkward situations like one person letting us in, and then their spouse being super not happy about it and us having to leave before teaching anything. Haha. Then we went back up to Grand Bay for the return appointment we made on Monday, wherein they totally ignored us even though we could see them through the kitchen window. It was pretty funny, but also a bit frustrating since we had to drive all the way out there.

So we went knocking, and at one of the last houses we knocked into this Catholic guy. I could tell from the very beginning of the door approach that he just wanted to bash, but Sister Coleman doesn't really have that experience yet, so she innocently asked if we could come in. Haha. Most frustrating thing ever. I think we did a really good job of only teaching in the spirit of love and not getting argumentative while still being bold, but he had such strong barriers up of both pride and fear that it just wasn't touching him. He basically said Joseph Smith was the antichrist because we teach that God and Jesus are separate people. At the end he was like, I know we disagree, but I hope that tonight I put just a chink in your armour, so that one day you can stop being deceived. I followed up by saying that we had to go, but would he pray to end our discussion. He was pretty surprised that we were confident enough to let him pray, haha. He gave a prayer that was full of dramatic irony, in that he prayed for all of us to be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and we left. So we went home that night and I kept thinking about how convinced he was that we were deceived and that if he read the Book of Mormon he would be "deceived" too. And obviously I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that nobody has been "deceived" by reading it, but I was also really annoyed by the chink in the armour comment and strengthening my testimony of the Book of Mormon just kind of seemed like the thing to do. "You want to weaken my testimony? Well, I'm going to strengthen it instead! So there!" Haha. So I stayed up a bit and just randomly opened the Book of Mormon and started reading. I don't really remember what I was reading - somewhere in Ether - but what really stuck out to me was just how happy I felt as soon as I started reading. It was a really cool experience, especially since most of my testimony-building experiences haven't come so directly to when I prayed and asked for an answer.
On Thursday we had breakfast/correlation, which as usual threw off our whole day. After that, we went to study at the church and then had a visit with a less-active member who suffers from depression and hoarding issues. It went pretty well, but we're pretty sure that the whole issue goes well beyond what we're capable of really helping with as missionaries.Then we went to stop in on some people, but nobody was really available, so we had dinner at the church and then we went uptown to an appointment, which fell though, and so we went contacting and knocking, and nobody was home. Then we got a phone call saying that President Webster wanted to pick our car up that night instead of the next morning. Our car had reached the 80,000 km limit and was being sold, so President Webster, who is in the temple presidency but lives all the way out here, was going to drive it to Halifax that weekend and bring our new car back. So we went home and cleaned out the car, and then we started walking to Mohammed and Amina's lesson. It turned out just Amina was there, which was awesome because she really needed some time where we could just teach to her needs. So we ended up teaching the entire Restoration (they lack such a basic knowledge of Christ that we hadn't even gotten to Joseph Smith yet) and after we taught the First Vision she asked, "So if Joseph Smith is a prophet, where's the book of scripture that he would bring forth as evidence?" and we were like, "THE BOOK OF MORMON!!!!" hahaha. Not sure how she missed that one when we introduced the Book of Mormon a week ago, oops. So that really strengthened her desire to read. Mohammed came home at the very end and he said he had a lot of questions for us, but since it was so late, he decided to wait until next time. We're pretty sure he's in 3 Nephi already though, which is AWESOME.
Friday was weekly planning, which was really good. We realized that ALL of our investigators had come through knocking, but all week we'd been doing street contacting for like 80% of our finding, so that explained a lot of the problems we were having with finding. We also set the goal to have 5 baptisms by the end of the year, since we want to baptize at least one of the families we're teaching by then. So weekly planning finished, and thennnn the gong show started. Not having a car wouldn't have been a problem if they'd given us enough notice that we hadn't planned appointments all over the city, but we had. So we got a member to give us a ride to the east end of the city, but then our lesson fell through after they drove away, so we we basically stuck on the east end. We'd planned to walk to McAllister Mall and contact there, but it was way further than we thought by foot, so it was pretty unproductive. Then the same member came back and dropped us off uptown, where we did have a pretty good time knocking and street contacting. We almost got invited for Thanksgiving dinner by a random street contact, but then the conversation went on a tangent and we felt awkward re-inviting ourselves, which we totally should have. Haha. Then we had a DA with Sister Raeburn, which was great because she owns a hostel, and the Elders are trying to teach one of the students living there. It was his birthday, so we had a bit of a celebration, and the Elders stopped by for cake. They drove us to the church for the volleyball activity we put on. It was poorly attended, but 3/4 of the people there were either less active or non-members, so that was great.
On Saturday we realized too late that the bus schedule runs differently on weekends and that we had no way to get to our 10 am appointment. We started calling members, and one of the couldn't give us a ride herself, but promised to find us one. It ended up being the same sister who drove us on Friday, which we felt super bad about, haha. But our lesson with Heather went really well! She used a study journal, read with a question, and did all the things we committed her to do, and she totally got answers! It was so awesome. I love those moments when people keep their commitments and then they get blessed. It made us really happy. After that, we walked uptown and got lunch, and then walked for over an hour to get to our appointment with Heather and Philip. When we got there, Heather was like, oh, we were just about to go grocery shopping, sorry. Sister Coleman totally gave her puppy-dog eyes and said, can't we just come in for 5 minutes? It was so funny, and I was also really glad she did it because Heather totally let us in. It was our first lesson with her husband, Philip, and it was really important that we had that lesson. Heather's ex-husband had been giving her kids anti material, so we resolved some of that. Fortunately, Heather thinks he's an overzealous nutbar, so hopefully if we keep following up it shouldn't be too much of a problem. Philip had reservations about us, and didn't really think it was possible to choose one true church, but we taught the Restoration and he said, "I guess it's kind of like Moses - when Moses came down from the mount, people just had to have faith that the commandments he gave were actually from God and that he wasn't making it all up." So he agreed to read and pray, and when we offered to give them a church tour the next Saturday he said, "Sure, and then we can go to church the next day!" It was great.
After that, we basically took the bus ALL afternoon, since we managed to get on a bus that would take us near the church EVENTUALLY (after going to the other side of the city first), and we didn't want to risk getting off and not being able to catch another bus in time, haha. We had some good conversations with people though, so it wasn't too bad. Then we went to the church and looked up transit routes and taxi numbers just in case we couldn't get home any other way that evening, and got some family history stuff for Michelle's lesson that night. After that, we walked to a DA with a less-active family and helped their kids write their talks for the primary presentation. We managed to find a member to take us to Michelle's lesson, which was a big deal since she lived in a different part of the city than our DA and we wouldn't have been able to get there any other way. It was a really good lesson. Michelle is a young single mom, and even though her baby was acting up the whole time, she was really focused and you could tell that she really wanted to learn about it. She was really concerned about how she'd know it was true, and I promised her that since Heavenly Father knows her, if she prayed He would send her an answer in a way He'd know she'd recognize. She promised to read and pray that night and said "I'll probably take some notes too." We also talked about baptism and she said she'd probably be baptized. I love getting new investigators :) Then we got driven home and our car was there! It's a 2013 Subaru and it's awesome.
That night, we got a text at 10 pm saying "Heyyyy what's up?" Haha. Obviously a wrong number. But I decided I was going to try to turn it into an opportunity to share the gospel. Well, it turned out to belong to some guy named Kyle, who is in the military and is worried about having broken commandments because of it. So I explained what our church believes about military service, and also testified of the Atonement and repentance for any other sins. (This was all over text, by the way.) He started asking a bunch of questions about the church's standards, so I asked if he'd be interested in meeting with us, and ended up committing him to come to church the next day! Sister Coleman and I were both freaking out, haha.
So Sunday was church. Kyle didn't come, which was disappointing, because he honestly sounded super solid and that would have been awesome. I think he probably second-guessed the witness he had in the morning. After church, we went contacting for a bit, but nobody had time to let us in since it was Thanksgiving. We went park contacting and knocking a bit, and then we came back to the church for a Thanksgiving dinner that a lot of the members were holding together. After that, we tried to contact a referral. The member who gave it to us gave us really bad directions, so we just ended up asking random people in the area if they knew where these people lived until we found their house. We knocked on the door and the son was really nice and let us right in, but then the mom came up and was super mad at us and kicked us out. So we knocked the rest of their street because Mohammed and Amina cancelled our lesson until Thursday, which is a bit worrying. I'm hoping it's because it's apparently a sacred Muslim feast on Tuesday and they're busy, and not because they're falling off.
Today for Thanksgiving we have a DA with a less-active family, which is really exciting, and we're also going to see if anything is open to run our usual P-day errands. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sister Olson

Us at Jusdeep's birthday dinner

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