November 18, 2013

Sister Olson Likes Winning (who doesn't)

Dear Mom,

Really, instead of any big Christmas presents, I need a warmer winter coat. It was -2 the other day, and it felt like -15 does in Calgary. I'm serious, I was going numb, and I was layered up and everything. It was weird, I wore that coat when it was -20 in Calgary and wasn't cold. They have a really nice coat at Urban Planet that's rated to -20 and it's $100. I'm wondering if I could just buy that on your credit card? And then if you just want to send whatever for Christmas so I have presents to open, go ahead :) Infinity scarves would be high on my list.

Probably the most exciting personal news of the week is that when President Leavitt came to do interviews, they also had a big binder full of the media referrals for all the areas for the past year, which they wanted us to look through and make sure we knew about each person. Well, when I was looking through the binder, there was a tab called "Bathurst Sisters," Bathurst being an entirely French town in northwestern New Brunswick. I asked President about it and he said that whatever happens with French sisters will probably happen in the next transfer or two, so I'm really hoping to be called French speaking by mid-January at the latest.

On Monday the library was closed and everything else was closed, so we all went to the church to email. It was a pretty chill day because of that. After P-day, we dropped off a video to Karen, the excommunicated member we met last week, and then we went to a lesson with Val. She was really concerned about the 2nd coming, since a lot of other churches around here teach some pretty crazy stuff about it, so we used that to teach the Plan of Salvation. In the middle of the kingdoms of glory, she interrupted and said, "It sounds like a cult." "...the Celestial Kingdom sounds like a cult?" "No, at church on Sunday, when they passed around the little cups." Hahaha. So we taught the Sacrament and she feels better about it now. I love Val because her medication makes her drowsy, so whenever she zones out and then comes back into the lesson, she usually just flat-out says her concern no matter whether it's on topic or not. And then we resolve it.

On Tuesday we had a lesson with Heather really early in the morning, since she works night shift and she really wanted a lesson earlier in the week to prepare for her patriarchal blessing. We were really excited for her, she's progressing so well! After that, we had district meeting, which was mostly amusing. Then we went contacting for a bit, and we found a former investigator, Leslie, who set up an appointment with us for Thursday. After dinner we taught Val again to follow up with the Plan of Salvation, and then we had institute, which was great as usual.  After that, we went less-active contacting and got into a lesson with a lady who hasn't been active for probably about 50 years. She would NOT stop talking. She told us she'd had a hard time in the past 4 years, and we asked what happened, and then she proceeded to list every. little. thing. that had happened to her in the last 4 years. It got to the point where we were actively trying to interrupt her, and she just steamrolled over it and kept talking. It was pretty funny. We got home SO late because we just couldn't get out of there, short of standing up and leaving mid-sentance.

Wednesday was correlation, and then we returned to our apartment just in time to get a combination birthday/Christmas present from Brianna Cobb, which totally made my day! we went to some volunteer training for service at the hospital. They shared a really cool video where it showed a bunch of different people in the hospital, both patients and employees, and there were little words above their heads like "Fears they waited too long for this operation," "Just found out he's going to be a father," "Recently went through a divorce," etc. It was supposed to be about having compassion and empathy, but all I could think was, "And this is why everybody needs the Atonement and the restored gospel." After that we went street contacting and knocking and followed up on potentials, etc. We were SO cold street contacting, so we went to Starbucks and got a hot chocolate, and then we were nice and warm and enjoyed it, but nobody else wanted to talk to us anyways because they just wanted to get inside. So we decided that we should start a free hot chocolate stand, so that people would talk to us, so we went looking for supplies for that, and while we were at Walmart, we bumped into the Bishop of the Kennebecasis Valley ward, and he gave us $20 for dinner! We went to Wok Box and I got a butter chicken naanwich and it was awesome.

Thursday was the Sisters' conference call, and then we had service at the hospital. I brought my Classical Carols book and had a really good time. Then we went to visit a less-active, Amber, who we only recently discovered. She converted here about 7 years ago, but then she moved to Calgary, and she has apparently been living in Saint John for a year but hasn't come back to church. She's super nice and has a great testimony, just a lot of social concerns. She had a lot of hilarious stories about dating awkward recently returned RMs when she was a new convert and was still used to the non-LDS style of young adult interactions. Then we went to a lesson with Leslie, and her daughter Sam. We did a lot of establishing our purpose and trying to help them see the need for the gospel, but Sam has selective mutism and Leslie is also really quiet, so it kind of felt like we weren't getting through to them. Then at the end of the lesson, Leslie explained about the selective mutism and everything and assured us they were really interested, so that was a relief! After that, we went knocking for a bit and then had dinner before following up on some potentials and going to Old Testament Jeopardy at the church. Courtney, one of the ward missionaries who used to be 7th Day Adventist, got into an argument with Elder Davidsen about whether the Old Testament is relevant, so she planned an AWESOME activity to prove that it was. She invited a ton of 7th Day Adventists to the activity, and it was just really well done. We had several rounds, and I played in the first round and I won handily. We got a giant gift basket of various types of food, like unleavened bread, pomegranates, grapes, gummy whales, etc., all with a bible verse written on it. 

After that, we went to a lesson with Mohammed and Amina, where they dropped us. It was so sad. They were all like, thank you so much, we love you, you're like angels, we appreciate you making us look more into our religion, but we know the Coran is true, we want to keep in touch, etc. Mohammed bore his testimony of the Coran to us and kept saying, "I know if you read this after your mission, you will know it's true. I know you will be Muslim." I think we're genuinely going to be friends for a long time, but it was sad to lose them as investigators.

On Friday we did weekly planning, and then we went to a lesson with Jackie. It was a good lesson, we focused a lot on the Holy Ghost and about prophets. We brought Sister Walker with us, and she was just testifying every chance she got. Members are the best. After that, we went back to the apartment and finished weekly planning while we waited for Sister Nelson and Sister Dougherty to come down for exchanges. President Leavitt has changed it so that you both work in the same area, to cut down on k's for travelling back and forth, so Sister Nelson (the STL) went with Sister Coleman for Friday evening, since it's more effective and she needed the experience more. Sister Dougherty and I went uptown to pay a parking ticket (we totally paid for parking, but when we closed the door, it blew the stub off the windshield) and while we were there, we ran into Michelle, our investigator we haven't been able to get in touch with, and a less-active member we didn't know about! So, that was awesome. After that, we went to a DA with the Woodruffs, where we got halibut and cod. I get so much less seafood here than I'd like to get. Then we went knocking, and we tried out a new idea from Sisters' Conference call, where we go to card aisles in stores and talk to the people there. The theory is, we look for people who are going through life events like birth, marriage, death, etc., so they'll be in the card aisle! But nobody was at Walmart, so it was just turning into standing in the card aisle reading mushy Christmas cards. Someone told us everyone was at Target, which had just opened, so we went there and talked to people while we looked to see if they had a card aisle.On Friday we were texting Michelle, and she was telling us how her baby wouldn't stop crying (it had been about 4 hours) and she was really stressed out. And I just felt really impressed to tell her we'd pray for Zoey to stop crying right now. So I did, and then I told Sister Coleman, and she was just like, really? But we did, and when we ran into her on Friday, she said Zoey stopped crying right away! It was awesome!

Saturday morning, Sister Nelson had a Skype call with the other STLs, so I got to sit in on that. It was really nice, for the somewhat selfish reason that they were all like, "We're so overwhelmed and have no idea what we're doing!!!" and I was like, okay, so the more experienced sisters feel this way too. Haha. Then we went store contacting, since Sister Nelson is really good at it and I'm not. It turns out all you have to do is figure out a way to add the phrase "...because I'm not from around here" into whatever you say to people, and then they ask where you're from, and then you explain you're a missionary. Then we went back to the apartment because President Leavitt had arrived early to interview us, like I mentioned before. Then we went and stopped in on Barry, a former investigator, and picked him up as a new investigator. He's really old and tends to ramble a lot, so it was kind of frustrating because everything he said was like, "Apostasy therefore need for a restoration! Questions of the soul!" but we could never really get there. So we committed him to do some readings before we came back. We think he's going to be someone who will really only be converted through really making good commitments and following up with them. Then we had dinner, knocked for a bit, and taught Val the first half of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After that, we were going to have a lesson with Muzammil, but the member we brought was trapped behind the Christmas parade, so we kept knocking his street. We knocked into this couple that let us in, but it was just anti out the ears. At one point he was trying to explain the Trinity, and we weren't having it, and he kept insisting it was only because English isn't his first language so he couldn't explain it properly. So he asked what his first language was, and it's Arabic, and it turns out he's from Egypt and is Christian, but is obviously very familiar with Islam. So I said, maybe you can help us, we're teaching some Muslims and are trying to get them to believe in Christ! Total 180 in his attitude. When we left, they were all like, come back any time, we'll help you any way we can! Haha. Then we went to Muzammil's lesson and taught about prophets, more about Christ, and the need for prayer. The member we brought, Sarah, was super into it. The first question he asked, she was just like, "Old Testament cultural context! Doctrine! Bam!" and we're just sitting there like, yesssssss! At the end of the lesson he said, "I'm kind of disappointed because I don't feel like I've really challenged your scriptural knowledge - everything I say, you have an answer to." That's because it's true, Muzammil.

Sunday was church, obviously. Val came for sacrament but wasn't feeling well and went home, which was too bad. We taught the first lesson in our member missionary class, which should be pretty good, and then after church we had choir. The usual pianist wasn't there, so I filled in, which is my favourite. Except I'm singing alto in this ward's choir, so I was actually kind of disappointed because I've been enjoying improving my harmonizing skills. Then we had lunch at the church, which turned out to be pointless since we had to run back to our apartment anyways to get something for ward coucil, and then we had to drive all the way out to Grand Bay for a dinner appointment, before rushing back into town for Ward Council. So Sunday basically turned out to be a lot of meetings. We had appointments set up, but they all cancelled on us in the evening, but as we were on our way to one of them, we met three random guys on the street. They totally did not look like people who would be interested, but they ended up being super interested! One of them grew up in the church, but his mom left when he was really little, and the other two had some really great questions. (I love it when people ask "Well what makes your church so different than any other church?" because they think it's going to stump us, and we're like, "That's exactly what we want to tell you about!") They identified really strongly with the idea of asking questions and gaining a knowledge for yourself. So, we set up an appointment to come by on Wednesday, so that's exciting.

Today is the rainiest and windiest day I have ever seen in my life. It's supposed to be gusting to 80 km/h!

Sister Olson

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