So I opened Steven's advent calendar message today and it says, "Happy Birthday. Kill it. Steve." Hahaha. It made me laugh. Our apartment has also gotten decorated for Christmas. The Cosmans offered to chop us down a Christmas tree, and Sister Coleman was like, "A Christmas tree?! What the heck are we going to do with that?" Haha. So after we made fun of her for being the Grinch, we got it, and she's been saying "I told you so" all over the place for how inconvenient it is. I think it would be fine if we had a tree stand and didn't come into the front room every morning to find it had fallen over again. We were trying to feed it through capillary action for a while, but I established a control to see if the water was actually getting through and it wasn't, so now watering it is another challenge. It was a fun science experiment though.
I got the sweaterdress and it's awesome. I kind of want to ask you to buy another one so I'll still have a non-worn-out one when I get home :)
So transfers came and I'm staying in Saint John, which makes me REALLY happy. Sister Coleman is going to Halifax to finish Sister Jungheim's training. Sister Jungheim is from Columbia, and Sister Coleman speaks Spanish from being an exchange student, and apparently they have a bunch of Spanish investigators. I'm training again, a new missionary named Sister Jarvis from St. Louis, Missouri. Transfers happen on Thursday, so that should be fun.
I am having a major case of writers' block.
Monday we had a DA with some members who live way out in Grand Bay. We had to rush to get back for a lesson with Val. She had pneumonia and was really sick, so not a lot of teaching got through, so resolving concerns didn't really work out too well. She kept falling asleep in the lesson, but she really wanted to talk to us, so it was a bit of a gong show. She really wants to do the right thing and figure it out though, and we just felt this love for her even when we were trying not to laugh. Then we went knocking and met this adorable Asian lady, Lily, who didn't speak any English. She goes to one of those evangelical churches that teaches we're all going to hell, and we couldn't get past the language barrier enough to explain why not, but she was just SO genuinely concerned for us and you could tell she really just wanted to help us and just didn't know any better. She offered us homemade slipper and promised to pray for us. I have NEVER wanted the gift of tongues more in my life. But we had to content ourselves with getting some Mandarin pamphlets from the Elders and leaving them in her mailbox a few days later. She kept saying, "It is important to check," and we were like, yep, that's why we pray and ask God if these things are true!
Tuesday was district meeting, which was awesome. Elder Jensen (not Connor) is a great district leader, and I always leave feeling really pumped up. He focused a lot on asking questions and creating an environment where the Spirit can testify. He said, we can't force spiritual experiences; all we can do is create an environment where they're likely to occur. He said he felt really impressed to teach that, and it totally changed and saved our day. We went street contacting for a bit, and then we went to teach Jackie. We really applied that and asked her questions and she admitted she hasn't been as open to change as she should have been, and she prayed with us about baptism! Except it seems kinda like she just did it because she knows she was supposed to, and not because she has real desire. I think she's really afraid of commitment because of her depression. After that we went to see some potentials, and then we had a lesson with Leslie and Sam, where we were basically like, look, we know you were on date to be baptized last time you were taught, what happened? It was pretty bold and they committed to working with us to develop that testimony and relationship with God, which was great. After that, we had dinner, and Val called and tried to drop us! She sounded a little more awake this time, and I was feeling the Spirit strongly enough that day to talk her out of it. I really felt like it was pushing me to try harder to keep her and say the things she needed to hear, so that was a little miracle. Then we went to stop by Shawna and drop off some shirts that Sister Findlay gave us that were really more age-appropriate for her. And she tried to drop us too! And again, the Lord blessed us to have the perfect day to be in tune with the Spirit and resolve her concerns. Basically, she's just afraid of failing and not being able to overcome her addictions. I think it's really sad how Satan is so good at convincing people that they're not good enough to succeed anyways, and so they might as well not try so they don't fail. And that's the only reason why they fail. Some people don't trust God enough, and some people trust Him, but they don't trust themselves, or they think they have to be perfect, instead of realizing Heavenly Father's plan accounts for our weakness. It's so easy to confuse "giving your best effort" with "doing everything you should be doing in theory, even those things which are actually beyond your capacity."
Wednesday was correlation at the Cosman's. After that, we had an appointment with a potential, but that fell through, so then we went to eat lunch, and then we saw Shawna. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. She's so great; everything we teach, she's like, "Wow. That's AWESOME." Yes, yes it is. Then we had a visit with Sandra. We try to limit how much we visit her, since she likes seeing missionaries more for the social aspect than she should, but I just felt impressed to plan to see her when we were planning on Tuesday night. It turns out she had the worst weekend ever - her best friend died and some other stuff happened - so that was cool to see how the Lord really does use us. Then we were supposed to go street contacting, but the entire day was a ridiculous rainstorm -- 50 mm of rain and 50 km/h winds -- so nobody was outside, obviously. So we went store contacting instead, and then we had a DA at the Clayton's. After that, we were supposed to have a lesson with Jeremy, but he cancelled at the last minute, but then it turned out Val thought we had an appointment with her, and she lives right by him, so we went to her place. She was a lot more alert this time and we managed to resolve the concerns for good. It helps that pretty much everyone has been giving us this food that we can't eat fast enough before it goes bad, so we know the Lord really intends it for her as she's working towards tithing, and it's really building her faith that she'll be able to do this. So that was cool. Then we went to Sabrina's, but she wasn't home, so we tried more store contacting, because the wind was literally blowing us off our feet.
On Thursday we had service at the hospital, and then we went street contacting. It was our best street contacting in a long time, and we met some pretty great potentials, but we're going to give them to the Elders since they're all single guys. Then we were supposed to have a lesson with Jackie, but it fell through, so we tried to see some potentials and then we decided to make a field trip out to Rowley, since we had a ridiculous amount of k's left and it was the end of the month. We get 1700 per month, so my strategy is to try to keep it to 50/day, so we have 200 left over for unexpected fiascos. But we didn't have any unexpected fiascos, so we decided to go to Pluto and visit all the LA's that we can never get to go see. We discovered that this one LA family, who are LA due to work and distance more so than testimony, have a 9-year-old daughter who isn't baptized! We asked her mom, "Is there anything we can do to help your family?" and she was all like, "No...well, Kiera's 9 now so I guess she needs the discussions before she's baptized, but there's not really anything." And we were just like, "WE CAN DO THAT!!!" So we have an appointment with her on Wednesday. The only problem is, now we have to deal with having an investigator on Pluto. After that, we stopped by another LA family, and the teenage daughter said she has a bunch of questions she's never been able to get answers to, so we promised her that if she read the Book of Mormon every day this week with those questions, she'd find answers, and that we'd come back next week to answer anything she couldn't find on her own. After that, we went to the Relief Society Christmas Dinner. Val came, and she got to know some members and she really loved it. I'm constantly being reminded of how crucial fellowship is for converts. It's probably the thing I expected the least about missionary work -- yes, they need to be taught the doctrine, but so much more important are the commitments and the fellowship. When that happens, teaching the doctrine is EASY. But if you just teach the doctrine, they won't progress. After that, we had a really late-night lesson with Michelle, and she had a bunch of further questions from the Book of Mormon. She's done Mosiah now! Which is blowing my mind, considering that when we first tried to get her to read, she didn't understand a word of Alma 32 and was quite discouraged by it. She says she's really been thinking about baptism, but she wants to wait a little while longer before she decides. Again, it's mostly social issues for her -- I think she has trouble envisioning how it would change her identity. There is SO much potentially great fellowship for her, but she just won't commit to coming to things to meet people so she won't be nervous about coming to things.
Friday was weekly planning. After that, we were supposed to have a lesson with Leslie and Sam, but they skipped out on it, which was a bummer. We might have to drop them soon. After that, we went to the church to try to look up the addresses of some LA's online, and I think we found a few of them. I couldn't remember if we'd checked President's reply to our last weekly letter, so I checked mine while I was at it, and he'd sent transfers out early (which he NEVER does), so I accidentally found out about it early. Oops. We had dinner, and then we had another lesson with Shawna. It went well again, but we can tell she's going through a pretty hard time right now. She has been seeing a lot of blessings in her life though -- she had a great experience with the Spirit where it really gave her discernment and kept her away from some bad choices. She was super excited about getting baptized and confirmed after we taught the gospel of Christ. Then we stopped by Val's briefly to keep up the support, and then we went knocking for a bit before going home.
On Saturday we had an appointment with Heather, as usual, and she's still doing great. Then we went store contacting, and all our effort to develop that skill finally started paying off! We managed to have a few really good conversations, give out some pass-along cards, and we definitely met a few people who were placed in our path. None of them wanted to give us their contact information, but it was still a really cool experience. After that, we were supposed to meet the Elders at the church to work on the ward mission plan, but they cancelled on us, so we went to teach Val. Sister Raeburn was supposed to come with us, but something came up, so we ended up teaching her by ourselves. It was a really good lesson -- we decided to just go over the 10 commandments and obey the law, so she'd have something she was familiar with and give her that sense of comfort that way. She seemed really on track again and says she likes the church more every time she sees more of it, so that was a huge relief. We got home from planning and I told Sister Coleman about transfers, since the fact that we were training affected out plans on Sunday since there was a skype call for trainers. Also, at some point on Saturday Michelle cancelled on us for church again, which was a bummer.
It snowed overnight, and on Sunday morning we got a last-minute phone call from the members who were supposed to drive Val and Shawna. Val was still interested in coming, but the member who was supposed to drive her didn't have snow tires and wasn't coming to church. We called everyone we could, but we couldn't find her a ride! I was SO upset. It snows every winter, people! It's an oddity of Atlantic Canada that things grind to a halt every time it snows, despite the fact that they get a LOT of snow. Fortunately, Val understood. Also, Shawna apparently didn't want to come to church. So we went to church, and Muzammil showed up late, which made me feel a lot better. I had remembered during companionship study that I was supposed to do a musical number, so I played "Away in a Manger" medleyed with "Le Cyne" from my Christmas Carols book, which went over fairly well. It was fast Sunday, and all the testimonies were pretty good, so that was a relief. Fast Sundays make me nervous. (Testimonies are supposed to be testifying of truth, not listing all the recent trials in your life while sobbing on the pulpit.) We had a really good gospel principles lesson, and we found out that one of the members used to be Muslim for a year and half and knew Muzammil from the mosque, so that was cool. After church, we basically went knocking a lot, interspersed with a DA in Grand Bay, and a bit of ineffective time used when we thought the Skype meeting for trainers was Sunday night, when it was actually this morning.
So then on Sunday night Sister Coleman started packing, while I continued to work on the Christmas Tree science project. We went to the church early this morning for the Skype call, and now I'm emailing you!
Our Christmas tree, before half the lights burnt out and it started falling over on a regular basis.
I decided to curl my hair on Sunday morning because there was no working out OR breakfast, so I needed something to distract me. Then I realized the weather would destroy it, so I took a before/after picture to illustrate that.
Sister Coleman's watch strap got destroyed by Phoebe's dog a couple months ago, so I got really crafty one P-day and made her a bracelet watch.