December 23, 2013

Christmas Zone Conference

Dear Mom,

So I'll probably Skype you at 1:00 our time, which should be 10:00 your time. I figured that would be early enough to not conflict with whatever else was going on that day.

It is so hard to remember what happened this week.

On Monday I think we stopped in to see Shawna and she was actually home and available! So we got in contact with her again and got to begin teaching her some more. We basically did a how to begin teaching and started again because it's been so long and Sister Jarvis has never met her. So that was really exciting. After that, we went to teach Muzammil with Sarah, a YSA member, and I think that went well too. I don't remember anything from that long ago. When I tell you about the rest of the week you'll see why.

Tuesday was Zone Conference. The Saint Stephen sisters drove to our apartment and we drove the rest of the way, which was really fun because Sister Sandberg came out with me and Sister Echols was my companion in Cole Harbour, so we got to hang out with them. Zone Conference was really great. We had a training in the morning, and President Leavitt decided to show us clips of Apollo 13 and then use it to illustrate gospel principles of how we react to adversity, make plans, problem solve, etc. It was pretty much the coolest Zone Training ever. After that, we had a Christmas dinner, and then in the afternoon, we had a white elephant gift exchange. There were some pretty funny gifts – someone bought a goldfish, someone else gave a Barbie (which an Elder unwrapped. Hilarious.) and Elder Jensen took a bunch of glamour shots of Elder Davidson, put them into a picture frame, and Elder Hunt got that one. It was hysterical. Then Elder Clark dressed up as Santa and Elder Nzojibwami (the APs) dressed up as an Elf, and the Elders had a great time sitting on Santa's lap in a variety of hilarious ways. (The Sisters posed awkwardly beside him.) We all got a small gift basket. I got a slinky and some sugar cereal in my white elephant gift, so that was pretty awesome. Then Zone Conference totally went longer than it was supposed to, so we got back pretty late. The Saint Stephen sisters were going on exchanges with us, except President Leavitt has changed it so that both companionships stay in the same area to reduce k's. So that evening, Sister Sandberg and Sister Jarvis went to teach Val and Tracy, which was apparently a really good lesson, and Sister Echols and I went to visit Nancy, a LA.

We got a ridiculous amount of snow Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, so after studies, we split off and decided to go shovel contacting. We parked on the road, but as we were getting out of the car, I realized that (1) you could only park on the other side of the road and (2) there was a snowplow coming down the street. So I told Sister Echols to get back in the car, but instead she just shut the door, probably expecting me to pull around somewhere near. Well, there was nowhere near to pull around, as I knew full well, because the street was too narrow for U-turns, the snow was too deep to pull into someone's driveway without getting stuck, and the next side street was probably about 50 houses down. But there was nothing I could do, because I was being CHASED BY A SNOWPLOW!!! So I drove waaaaaaaay down the street, pulled over on the first street I could, got out of the car, grabbed my shovel, and started RUNNING through a foot of snow back to Sister Echols. (I got winded about halfway through and walked the rest of the way, but hey, I tried.) Fortunately, Sister Echols is a pretty common-sense sort of person, so she just started shoveling while she waited for me instead of freaking out or anything. Her and I shoveled the driveway of a member family that's been sick, and then as we were walking back to our car, we stopped and helped another guy on their street who was shoveling. It turned out he was a former, and we taught him the Restoration while we shoveled. Afterwards, he insisted on giving us a gift basket of oranges, minced meat, powerade, and sparkling juice. 

After that, we exchanged back and Sister Sandberg and I went to visit a recent convert, Gabby. She's actually Sister Sandberg's convert, but then she moved away, Sister Sandberg got transferred, and she only recently came back, so they had a really good time reconnecting. Then we went knocking, and then the Cosmans wanted to take us out for pizza because Sister Sandberg was here. But things got a little crazy, and we ended up tracking down a church key before finally eating the pizza at the church, so it took a while. Then we exchanged back, and we went to teach Shawna again. She's been going through a really hard time with her addictions but she seems to be improving, so that's good.

We had correlation on Thursday morning instead, but then it turns out it was Thursday for lunch, and the Elders forgot to tell us, so we ended up stuck at the church on Thursday morning with nothing much to do. So we studied at the church until the Elders came. THEN the elders were like, "You know you have to drive yourself up right?" The Cosmans live pretty far away, so usually they pick us up, but apparently they weren't this time, and the Elders had something they wanted to do in Grand Bay afterwards. Well, we weren't very impressed with the complete disregard for our k's, so finally Elder Jensen called the Zone Leaders to see if they could get special permission to drive us up, and then the Cosmans would drive us back. They got permission, but with the stipulation that we weren't allowed to talk to each other in the car. So we got in the truck, and Elder Jensen turns to Elder Davidson and says, "So Elder Davidson, I was studying [gospel topic] this morning and was wondering about [doctrinal question.] I wonder what Sister Olson would say to that if she were here?" I turned to Sister Jarvis and said, "You know, Sister Jarvis, if I were allowed to talk to Elder Jensen right now, I would probably say something along the lines of..." etc. It was pretty funny, and made it hard to stay mad at them. So we get to the Cosmans, and Brother Cosman wanted us to test out a family history presentation we're thinking of doing to ward members on their family. Which took a while, because they were trying to fill in the WHOLE FAN CHART while we were there. We finally made it back to Saint John, and decided to buy shovels and go store contacting to talk to people. Then we went knocking before our DA with the Crilleys, which was great. Sister Crilley is a total sweetheart, and I don't use that word easily. After that, we had a lesson with Michelle. She had a bunch of questions, one of which was "What's adultery?" So we taught a single mom living with her boyfriend an impromptu Law of Chastity lesson, which actually went really well because since "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is one of the 10 Commandments, she accepted it pretty easily on that basis and committed to work towards living it! Then we had to RUSH back to our car because the lesson was pretty long. When it snows a lot in Saint John, they call a snow ban, where you can't park on the streets anywhere in uptown after 7 pm. All the parking lots that are paid parking during the day become snow ban lots, and people park there instead. So we had to park pretty far away.

Friday was weekly planning, and during weekly planning Muzammil started texting us about the Atonement again. We basically ended up teaching him a lesson over text, and at one point he said "Hopefully I'll be able to understand and accept the concept," so that was really exciting. Then we went knocking a bit, had dinner, and taught Val and Tracy. We put Val back on date for January 25, which is exciting, and then we went knocking some more. Friday was a pretty chill day.

On Saturday we taught Shawna, and Sister Jarvis totally followed the Spirit and started teaching her the Vision/Goals/Plans/Monitor cycle President Leavitt always uses with us, and I think that's really going to help her. We committed her to memorize Ether 12:27 so she can call on it when she's tempted. Then we went street contacting and then we taught Michelle again, where she basically tried to avoid the topic of the Law of Chastity by asking if we could talk about Christmas. So we taught the Christmas story and tried to apply it to her life as much as possible, with the individual responsibility to seek Christ and whatnot, and we recommitted her to read the Chastity pamphlet. Then we went over to the East side and saw Jackie, which was a pretty great lesson. She still believed authority didn't matter for baptism, so I showed her some clear examples in the Bible of where authority comes from and how much it matters, and then I bore a testimony along the lines of "I know that the Bible is true and teaches us how Christ wants us to follow Him." She totally couldn't argue with that in any way, it was awesome. Then we went to Wok Box for dinner, and for once I branched out and got Jungle Lemongrass instead of the Butter Chicken Naanwich. It was really good too, but the Naanwich continues to be my favourite. Then we tried to stop by a less-active, but she wasn't home, and then we went knocking. It was SUPER icy because we were having freezing rain, and everyone's driveway was REALLY steep, so we had a lot of fun with that. We also had fun walking on top of snowdrifts and then suddenly breaking through the ice layer and plunging into them. It was great.

We woke up to a THICK layer of ice on Sunday, which I found completely bizarre since we don't really get a lot of freezing rain in Calgary. Sister Jarvis apparently was used to it from St. Louis, and I think she enjoyed being more adjusted to the weather for once. So after much chipping, we managed to get our windows un-frozen and went to church early to practice for the Christmas program. Then it turned out a lot of people in the Christmas program weren't going to make it due to the rain, so I ended up playing the organ for all the hymns and also improvising a piano solo of "Angels We Have Heard On High" to flesh it out a bit. Val came to church and that was super awesome. And then in Relief Society, Sister Clark (the 1st counselor, who was the only one there that day) called both us and the Elders up and gave us HUGE gift bags. They literally came up to our waists and were filled with presents from the ward members. She gave this really touching speech of how missionaries represent "everything good about the world." I love the ward. Then we went to see Sandra, a less-active, and while we were there, some guy with a snowplow totally sideswiped our car in the parking lot and wouldn't confess to it, so we have to take our car in today to get an estimate. I was so annoyed. Then we drove all the way out of our area to go to a dinner appointment. (We got special permission because it was a family dinner and a lot of the family were in our ward, including Kiera's family). It was a fun icy drive. Then we came back and contacted a referral, and while we were doing that, Michelle texted us and said she was reading 1 Thess. and was "shocked and confused." So we went over and cleared up some misunderstandings about the Resurrection, and also taught more clearly about why authority is necessary and about repentance, so we're getting pretty close with her I think!

I love you all!
Sister Olson
Elder Clark and Elder Nzojibwami

I forgot to tell you -- someone in the apartment complex keeps smoking in the building and the fire alarm went off Tuesday night with the other sisters, and again on Thursday morning at 6:30 am. We just sit in our car and chill.

An example of what we wake up to on an almost daily basis out here.

Some pictures of the ice from Sunday

Our bounteous load of presents. We are really blessed here.

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