January 27, 2014

Super Amazing Awesome

Dear Mom and Dad,
Sounds like Hawaii is still pretty fun. I bet you're super sore at this point though.
This week was SUPER AMAZINGLY AWESOME. So on Monday we emailed and then went grocery shopping and cleaned the apartment and whatnot. Then we went to our first appointment, which fell through, so we knocked a bit and then went to our second appointment, which we got by phoning formers from the area book. They're an AWESOME couple, Tyler and Heidi, who were taught by sisters maybe about 8 months ago. The sisters passed them off to the Elders because they were in their area, but then they weren't very impressed by those particular elders and it kind of fizzled out. So we had a really good lesson. We taught the Plan of Salvation and Tyler was just LOVING it. He didn't have any belief in God until about 6 years ago when he started reading the Bible, and now he totally believes in God. What's cool is that all of his personal beliefs he developed from reading the Bible on his own are EXACTLY things that our church teaches and most Christian churches really disagree with. ("So if there's a Heavenly Father, where's Heavenly Mother? You know what I think? I think she's there, just kind of taking a back seat." "...exactly.") After that we had another appointment, but it didn't really work out, so we went back home and started phoning more people from the potentials sheets, since those haven't been updated in FOREVER and we have no idea who's been contacted or not.
Tuesday was Zone Training, which was really cool. President Leavitt and the Assistants did a training over Skype to all the Zones, which focused on four skills that he feels like we need to work on as a mission -- turning contacts into potentials, bringing members to lessons, getting people to church, and putting people on date. The getting people to church one was awesome for me because that's something I haven't been great at on my mission, and obviously if people don't come to church they can't get baptized. So after Zone Training Sister Broadhead (my co-STL) and I had a brief meeting, and then we went to a LA visit. It was pretty funny, but not because of anything really noteworthy...just one of those times when you visit people and you're like, this is bizarre. After that, we went street contacting at the Dieppe mall, and then we were just going home from dinner when the phone rang. Turns out it was a member asking if we were coming to our DA. Well, we had called the member in charge of coordinating our DAs and she'd told us it was on Thursday, but we apologized for the mix-up and went over as fast as we could. It was really good. After that, we went knocking for a bit in Dieppe before our correlation meeting with the WML. When we got there, it turned out he wasn't home yet because he was at a lesson with the Moncton Elders that went SUPER late, so Sister Vera and I went inside and practiced speaking French with Sister Depsres (Well, I think Sister Vera was just having a conversation, but *I* was practicing) while the Dieppe elders sat out in their car. Finally he got there and we had a pretty good meeting.
Wednesday was studying, and then we went to drop by a potential we got from street contacting yesterday. Turns out it was a fake address and was coincidentally the only house on the whole street that was a house converted into a little store, so that was pretty funny. We were going to go street contacting, but we were having a genuine BLIZZARD (seriously, it was the worst I've driven in yet), so we tried to visit some less-active members who are in the hospital, only to remember that you can't visit between 2 and 4 because that's "quiet time," so we went to Riverview and had a good visit with a LA member there. Her daughter is 8 and comes to church with her grandma and should be getting baptized soon, so we had a lesson about the baptismal covenant and what we need to do to keep it throughout our lives. Then we went knocking, in the blizzard, but nobody let us in. Then we got a call from a member who wanted to take us all out for dinner, but apparently there's a rule where multiple sets of missionaries can't go to the same dinner appointment, so we finally sent the Moncton elders to it. We went home and had dinner, and then we went back to Riverview to follow up on some potentials in the area book. We ended up contacting a potential that the sisters had actually been teaching, but her teaching record got lost from our area book at some point before we got here, so that was pretty great that we got in touch with her. Her name is Candida, and she's pretty great. She's going through a bit of a rough time with deaths in the family and such, and she also has a really strong faith in Christ.

Thursday we had a lesson with Ashley and Sister Pitre, which went really well. She's the one with a lot of Mormon family back in Calgary. She's basically decided she wants to be Mormon, and has been telling everyone "I'm following the Mormon religion now so no thanks, I won't drink/smoke a joint/sleep with you," and she hasn't even been taught the commandments yet! But she wasn't so sure she wanted to get baptized. So we read from Mosiah 18 and basically said, if you're going to commit to all the standards anyways and believe in it, why WOULDN'T you get baptized and get all the blessings? So she's decided she wants to get baptized, BUT she wants to do it in Calgary so her family can be there, and she can't move out there until the summer. Understandable, but totally frustrating as well. Then we went home to have lunch and language study, and then we were going to visit some LA's, but we forgot to write down their addresses. (I'm used to just carrying a ward list in the car.) So we went to the church to print off a ward list, and then we went street contacting at the Université de Moncton, which it turns out is a French university. So basically everyone spoke French, which was fun. So far only two people in the whole week have ever switched into English while talking to me. One of those times was at the University - I got totally stuck, so the guy was just like, "tu es anglaise? Tu peux parler anglais." Haha, thanks. The last guy we talked to was the first person I've met who speaks genuine Chiak. Chiak is the version of franglais/frenglish they speak out here. (It comes from the town of Shediac, hence the name.) Je peux speaker le good Chiak, mais je ne want to parce que I pense that it serait completement useless to retourner fluently parlant Chiak because personne ne le speak sauf que New Brunswickers. So I'm trying to avoid throwing English words into my French as much as possible. People speak weird French here too. For instance, instead of "Ou est le stylo?" some people say "Ousqu'est le stylo?" (pronounced "OOHKS-est"), which is basically a really abbreviated form of "Ou est-qu'il est le stylo?", which is just bad grammar. (Where is it the pen?) After that, we were supposed to have a lesson, but she cancelled, so we tried to go to the hospital again, only to find out that the members had both been released either that day or the day before, so that was pretty unproductive. We went home and had dinner, and then we went knocking some more, where I got to try out some new phrases I learned. It went pretty well. Then we came to the church to do the scripture study class, but nobody came.
Friday was weekly planning, and then we had a meeting as a district to do MORE planning. Hypothetically we were going to figure out how to coordinate the areas too, but we didn't get that far. Then we had a member visit with this sister with spinabifida, went out for KFC (Mom don't even worry about it) and then we went to a lesson with a potential we'd called a few days earlier. Her name is Stephanie and she's pretty awesome. She's part Native American and REALLY wants to connect with her past, so we taught the Restoration, but we focused on the Book of Mormon through the whole thing, like explaining the Book of Mormon prophets during the Dispensations part, the Saviour's visit to the Nephites during the Earthly Ministry part, the destruction of the Nephites during the apostasy, etc. It was great. Then I got to read some verses from the Book of Mormon speaking directly to the latter-day descendants of the Lamanites, which was SO COOL because I'd never really thought much about it before, but it's really true that there are ACTUAL DESCENDANTS of these people that the prophets were ACTUALLY WRITING TO. It was great. Then we committed her to come to church on Sunday and she accepted it no problem, which was awesome because I probably wouldn't have extended that invitation right at the first lesson before that Zone Training.
After that, we went to a lesson with Tyler and Heidi, which gets it own paragraph because it was AMAZING. In weekly planning we realized we could TOTALLY meet all our goals for the week if we got them on date and brought them to church, so that was our goal for that lesson. We brought Brother Despres, the WML, which was a great choice. The last lesson, Tyler did basically all the talking, so we tried to focus more on Heidi this time. We asked her one simple question, "So Heidi, what do you think about all of this?", and it was just like, CONCERNS EVERYWHERE! But it was actually really awesome. Her concerns were basically, "Why do bad things happen to good people, how can it be true that God really never gives us more than we can handle if people commit suicide, why do little children die?" It all came back to the fact that she'd had a late-term miscarriage and was really bitter and angry at God after that. So we went over parts of the plan of salvation, and talked about how our families can be together forever, and I showed them my picture of the Calgary temple. It turns out that after our last visit with them, Heidi had a dream about her grandpa (who's passed away) and all their family being together, and also she's pregnant again, and every time we come over, the baby gets REALLY active. So we said, "Your family wants to be a forever family, and they're depending on YOU as the link here on earth to do that." And now they're on date for March 15 (because they have to quit smoking.) It was SO amazing. I'm just so happy and grateful to see how much the gospel can really bless these people's lives and how there are so many people who REALLY need this and are REALLY prepared and it's such a testament of Heavenly Father's love for them to see how he brings the gospel right to them when they need it.
After that, we were really late for our next appointment with a sister in the ward, who used to be LA because her husband was really against it and has only recently been able to come back, so she needs some support, but we called her and managed to go over for about half an hour before we had to go in. It was actually a really good lesson because it was really focused and to the point.
On Saturday we tried to call people and make appointments (since we got home too late on Friday to do so), but nobody was answering, so we just had to stop by. It wasn't super successful because Moncton is basically an area where you have to call and make an appointment if you want to see ANYONE. But we did manage to have a member visit, and a really good less-active visit with a sister, Angie, who was baptized by Elder Houle. So that was pretty cool since both Sister Vera and I know Elder Houle. We had a good visit there and left her with all of the pamphlets ever, since she basically couldn't remember anything about the church. Then we went to the church for the games day we were putting on as a ward unity/LA fellowship/finding activity, which was basically a bust, since the only people to show up was the Relief Society President's family, who were here to clean the church anyways. She has 3 young boys under the age of 7 and a newborn daughter, so we had a good visit with her and talked about the ward while her boys played. (Her husband had dropped them off at the church, so we didn't just want to leave and strand them there alone.) I got to practice my pingpong skills as well. After that we contacted a referral and dropped off a large-print Book of Mormon and the "Together Forever" DVD to Tyler and Heidi. Then we went knocking and knocked into this really cute old man (who was the other person this week who kept switching into English with me. Except this time I wasn't having trouble, he was just one of those French people who will try to talk to you in very broken English just because you have an English accent in French.) But he was one of those old people you just love. He wasn't interested, but it was just cool anyways.

Then we came home and the Fiasco Of Finding People Rides started. Brother Despres was going to drive Tyler and Heidi and their 2-year-old son, but then his wife went into labour at about 9:30 at night. And the member who was going to drive Stephanie suddenly couldn't at the last minute. We called pretty much the whole ward. It was so stressful. Finally we found rides for everyone by about 10:15. Then in the morning, EVERYONE WHO WAS GOING TO GIVE RIDES CANCELLED ON US FOR VARIOUS REASONS. Aaaaaaaaaah. It was seriously so stressful. Don't do that to missionaries, everyone. Finally we called some members who we knew would just MAKE IT HAPPEN, even though it was really inconvenient for them, and we managed to get everyone rides TO church, but not home from church. At this point, we decided we were just going to try to rope people into it at church because it was like 9:20 and church starts at 10. But then several people called us back like, "Actually, I can drive them now!" so Heavenly Father gave us a break after all that we could do.
We got to church and the ward organist wasn't there, so fortunately being an impromptu organist is more relaxing than stressful for me at this point. Church was AWESOME. It turns out Heidi's aunt and uncle go here and she didn't even realize it, and both her and Tyler loved it, as did Stephanie. So that was AWESOME. After that, we had a good chat with one of the LA sisters in the ward. She was all like, "I'm avoiding you because I don't like talking about my problems or my feelings." I've come to realize on my mission that there are a LOT of women who "don't like talking about feelings" but really they want to talk about it, they just don't want to feel vulnerable. So I was all like, "Yeah, I agree, talking about feelings is totally stupid." Which invariably leads to them just telling me everything. It's this bizarre trick I've figured out. Then we went home and had the most awesome lunch/dinner I've made yet on my mission. I made a marinade out of Dr. Pepper, BBQ sauce, and garlic, and put pork chops in the slow cooker. Then when we got home, I made potatoes and sauteed some bell peppers and onions together in this Greek oregano-and-feta vinaigrette, while Sister Vera made dessert out of some stuff the previous sisters had left behind. Seriously, who needs DA's? Haha. The only problem was, I felt like I was in a food coma the rest of the day and it was kind of hard to work. We had some appointments fall through and then I started not feeling well, so we went home and called more people, and then we went to see the Umahoza family. The children are baptized but LA and the mom isn't baptized. We had a pretty good visit there, and then we contacted a referral and went knocking in the COLDEST WEATHER EVER. I was SO COLD. Then we went home and fortunately our appointments for Monday filled the whole day, because I had the conference call with the ZLs and DLs. One of the sisters I'm over found out her uncle has stage 4 cancer, so she's been struggling, so that took some time last night. But overall, it was an AMAZING week. We were blessed with SO much success when we came into the area with basically nothing. It was SO COOL.
Sister Olson

The angle of the picture doesn't show it very well, but the snowdrifts were taller than me again after a couple weeks of melting down.

January 20, 2014

Sister Training Leader?

Bonjour ma famille!
Sounds like Hawaii is pretty sweet.
Last Monday we did our laundry and then we drove out to Rowley to teach Kiera and her family. We planned a lot of fun object lessons to re-teach the Restoration, and it went over really well. We also contacted two referrals a member gave us that lived way out there, and one of them became a potential, so that was really exciting. Because travel time took so long, that was basically all of Monday.
On Tuesday we were supposed to have a trainer's skype call, so we went to the church only to discover the Internet didn't work. I spent a stressful half-hour trying to fix it, only to find out that I wasn't supposed to attend after all, which was a last-minute change that nobody told me about. So then we did studies at the church before going to visit with Val and Tracy. When we got there, she unexpectedly wanted to talk about quitting smoking, so we kind of dropped our lesson plan and talked about that. We went on the Addiction Recovery website and she realized that her problem is that she wants to be baptized, stop sinning, and be healthy, so she wants to quit smoking, but she doesn't have that desire just for quitting smoking. So she offered a REALLY powerful prayer during the lesson asking to have her heart changed and have that desire to quit. It was AWESOME. Then we went to a lesson with the people who phoned us last Sunday at the church. It turns out he used to be a member, and was a temple worker in Idaho and everything, and then he got offended and had his name removed. He's on his second marriage, and his wife isn't a member, but was investigating in Moncton. So we taught about forgiveness and committed both of them to read Alma 5 together and pray about it. Then we went to see Courtney one last time, and that was a really great lesson too. She's been receiving personal revelation from the Book of Mormon recently, so I was pretty excited about that. She made homemade chocolate cream puffs, which was pretty much fantastic. Then we were supposed to have a DA with the Crilleys, but Sister Crilley got called into work, so we met her at the hospital and she bought us Tim Horton's. Then we were going to go contact a referral, but Sister Jarvis was trying to micromanage my packing in advance, because she gets really stressed out by packing, so that was stressing me out, so I decided we just needed to go home and get everything packed so she'd stop worrying. Then we had a lesson with Sister Atwin. I let Sister Jarvis drive because she's going to be the designated driver with Sister Echols, and I thought it would be good for her to practice before I left. Plus it was raining, and she doesn't like the way I drive in rain, so that was more stress management right there. Haha. We showed up and Sister Atwin had like 18 boxes of used books all around her living room, which she'd gotten off kijii. It was pretty funny.
Wednesday was correlation, and then studies, and then we ran some errands like getting my prescription filled and stuff. Then we had a lesson with Sandra, which was pretty much the most personally cool lesson I've had so far. Sandra's one of my favourites, and I was sharing a thought with her from D&C 18. When I got to verse 15 about "and if it so be that you should labour all your days..." I unexpectedly got really choked up and basically couldn't read the scripture anymore and Sister Jarvis had to finish it. Finally I just told Sandra, "I want to see you there!" I don't know, it was really cool. I just love the people of Saint John so much and I can't imagine anything happier than having a Saint John reunion in the Celestial Kingdom. After that, the Elders asked us to come to a lesson. She lived SOOOOO far away but it was totally worth it! Her name is June and she's in her 70's. The Elders got a call from a member in Ontario referring her. Turns out, this member is one of her good friends, and she's been having a hard time recently, and the member bore his testimony to her over the phone of how the church would help, and she was SO prepared. She's super talkative, so at first the How To Begin Teaching was getting really off track and Elder Torrie kept catching my eye and almost laughing. But then we settled into teaching the Restoration and it was awesome. I got to teach the First Vision and she was just nodding the whole time, and when Sister Jarvis committed her to read the Book of Mormon and pray, she said, "Oh, I already know it's true!" Then Elder Jensen gave her the church address and she said, "I would have come last week, but I didn't know where it was yet." And then the Elders started wrapping up the lesson without even challenging her to baptism! I was just like, whaaaaaaaat? So I brought it back and obviously she accepted it no problem, so now she's on date for February 15th. It was so cool. After that, we went and stopped in on Jackie, which was nice because I got to see her one last time, but she's still stuck on authority and I don't know how much longer she'll be taught. Then we had a DA with the Walkers, an awesome member couple, and then we had a lesson with Muzammil. We had to play catch-up since he'd been in Ottawa and then he'd been sick, and it was a bit frustrating because I think he regressed a lot back into thinking Islam is true, which was a bit disappointing.
Thursday morning Sister Sandberg dropped off Sister Echols and drove with me to Moncton to drop me off and get her new companion. So we went up to Moncton, arrived super early, went to Tim Horton's, and then the other missionaries started showing up for transfers. All the sister missionaries in the New Brunswick East zone started coming up to me like, "Hey, you're my new STL!" and I was like, "Um...no I'm not?" We talked about it and guessed that President probably changed his mind before he told me, but after he told them, so we decided I should just ask him about it in my email on Monday to double-check. So I met Sister Vera and then we went back to our apartment building. The Call's, the senior couple who used to be in this ward, lived in the same apartment building and all their stuff needed to be moved to Saint Stephen, so a lot of the elders came along to help out with that, and then we moved in and unpacked. Then we sat down and made some long-term goals for the area, using the Vision/Goal/Plan/Monitor cycle that President Leavitt is a big fan of, and then we started calling various ward leaders and asking if there were any less-active members we should go visit. Well, instead of LA's, they just told us about a lot of active members who are going through one thing or another, but we decided to visit some anyways, so we went and saw Sister Poirier, whose husband just passed away. Her daughter Diane Poirier was there visiting, and it turns out she was in Grandma and Grandpa's old ward in Lethbridge! So that was pretty cool. Then we went to Walmart to pick up some essential things the apartment was missing (like pillows...?) and that was Thursday.
Friday was weekly planning, aka "trying to make sense of the area book since we're both new," and then we had a meeting with the Elders in the ward to correlate some things and try to get a little more settled in. That basically took FOREVER, so then we went home and had dinner. During dinner, Sister Broadhead called like, "Hey, you're my co-STL!" So I told her I hadn't heard anything about it, so she offered to call some people for me, and eventually she called back and it turns out I'm an STL. Not gonna lie, my first thought was "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy????" Haha. Whitewashing, new language, and STL with no idea how to be one. But I quickly just decided I was going to just do it and not waste time worrying about if I could do it. After dinner, the Dieppe elders called and asked if we wanted to go street contacting by the mall. Street contacting was pretty much the last thing I wanted to try in French, but Sister Vera was all like, "Sure!" so we went to that. It was probably good because I got to kind of jump in head first. Turns out I know enough French to do a street contact. I love serving in French, every time I have a conversation with someone I'm just really excited afterwards because I actually MADE IT THROUGH THE CONVERSATION, even if they rejected us in the end. Haha. So that was really fun. After that, we tried to stop by another investigator, but it turns out the Sisters didn't tell her they were getting transferred and she was pretty upset, so we'll see how that goes.Then we went around delivering some cards from Sister Lewis, who previously served in the Moncton ward and was Sister Vera's last companion. This one lady invited us in to talk, and as we were chatting, I mentioned that we were French-speaking missionaries. Her eyes lit right up and she said, "You're French-speaking?! Your English is so good!!!" Hahahahahahahahahaha. It was SO funny. She kept going on about how poorly most of the French missionaries speak English. I just smiled graciously and said "Thank you!", and managed to contain my laughter until we got back out to the car. I think that was my favourite moment all week.
On Saturday morning the ZLs called a skype meeting with the STLs and DLs, so that was pretty interesting, and then we went home to finish studying and have lunch. After that, we went street contacting for a bit while we waited for the bus. (We have a car and also bus passes.) We took the bus out to Riverview, which was the English sisters' area. Elder Widdup -- by the way, Elder Widdup who used to be in my ward is serving in Dieppe and is my DL, he says hi -- didn't want the area to just be empty, so we decided we'd split Dieppe and Riverview between the elders and sisters. So we tried to stop in on some LA's in Riverview, but nobody was home, so we basically just walked around for FOREVER, and then took the bus back. Then we had dinner, and then we went by a RC/investigator family. They're from Rwanda, and the two daughters, who are 15 and 11, got baptized, but the mom did not. We had a really great lesson with her, and we went from "I don't see why I need to be baptized again" to "I think I will be baptized, but I don't know when." It was awesome. Sister Vera's worked with a lot of African investigators in Fredericton, so she and Sister Lewis had figured out that explaining the baptismal covenant to them in such a way that they understand that it's a lifelong thing makes a big difference to them. So we explained the sacrament, and she exclaimed, "That's what that means?! I thought it was just to teach us to share." Hahaha. After that, we went to a lesson with Ashley, who is far and away our top investigator right now. Most of her family are members in Alberta, but her dad married a nonmember and then went LA when they got divorced, so she didn't get baptized or really grow up in the church. She grew up in the Pentecostal church and basically found it super freaky. So we had a pretty good get-to-know-you lesson with her. She's SUPER interested, but we realized she's basing a lot of her conversion off of the Internet and talking to family members, which is okay, but the missing step is reading the Book of Mormon daily and praying about it. So we covered that, and it went surprisingly well considering the crazy environment. She has two young kids, and this big black dog about the size of Flex, but a different breed. The dog was going CRAZY and jumping on us and basically licking us to death the entire time. At one point I thought it ate my earring, but I found it on the couch afterwards. It was pretty funny. Afterwards, we tried to do some more stopbys, and we knocked on one house that turned out to be a wrong address. But the lady there, who was French, was super interested and it was totally meant to be. It was a pretty cool experience for my first door approach in French. Then we went home and arranged a ride for Ashley to go to church.
Sunday was church. It's a bilingual ward, so how it works is they have a French translation for Sacrament meeting, and then separate Gospel Doctrine classes. It's kind of a small-ish ward as far as active members go, but not really that much smaller than any other ward in the Maritimes. Ashley came, which was really exciting, but also a bit stressful because it was only her 2nd time, but we didn't really know where to go or introduce her to either, since it was our first time. Fortunately, it was Elder Widdup who found her originally, so he came up and talked to her. I overheard him ask about her Book of Mormon reading, and she explained she'd just been reading the chapters the sisters assigned previously, but that she'd started 1st Nephi last night, which was basically AWESOME because that basically means she started keeping her commitment right after we left. Probably the most noteworthy thing about church is that my piano skills were in high demand, and Sister Vera and I basically spent all of third hour going back and forth from RS to Primary. I literally didn't get to hear any of the RS lesson or Primary sharing time. Haha. After church, some of the members were having homemade chicken noodle soup at the church, and they invited us to join in, so that was really nice. After that, we went home to get some warmer clothes, since it started snowing, and then we went street contacting and talked to SO MANY PEOPLE. I love serving in a city. Then we went knocking in Dieppe, and I got to practice my French door approaches. I can do it, but only just barely, so it kind of feels like being a greenie again. Then Sister Vera's foot started hurting really bad, so we went home for dinner and then we made a bunch of calls and tried to set up appointments. We got a LA appointment for 8 that night, and also some appointments with formers, so that was really great. We went to the LA appointment with Sister Wood, who basically loves cross-stitching, needlepoint, and quilting even more than Grandma Olson does. After that, we went home and tried to cram daily planning in between all the calls I had to make. They decided that STLs would report the numbers for the sisters, so I had to call them, and then we had a conference call at night with the ZLs and DLs, which I really enjoyed, but I think I'm going to have to go buy some Dr. Pepper if I'm going to be an STL. But I wouldn't trade all that's going on for anything. Having to rely on the Lord makes the work go so much better.
Love you all!
Sister Olson
Val, Tracy, and I
Courtney and I

Sister Atwin and I

Sandra and I

Jackie and I

The Walkers and I

I was drinking herbal tea on Thursday morning, and this is what the teabag said.

Sister Jarvis and I

Sister Vera and I (the map of Dieppe in the background was unintentional, but I like it)

January 13, 2014

French Speaking!

Dear Mom,

I'll just get the big news out of the way...I'm getting transferred to the Moncton ward! The ward covers Riverview, Moncton, and Dieppe, and I'm supposed to focus on Dieppe, because I'm going French speaking!!! My companion, Sister Vera, has been out for one transfer. She's Latina and moved to Montréal when she was 5, so she's fluent in French, which is a really good thing. Part of me is really excited, and part of me is like, "...crap, why did I tell him I speak French?" haha.

So on Monday we picked up Andrea, one of the Laurels in the ward, to come with us to a lesson, but when we got there, her mom said she was in the bathtub. So we went to try to check on some other potentials, none of whom were home or available, so we drove back to Charis' house, sat outside for a bit, and then went to the door to see if she was now available. She was, which was awesome. We read Mosiah 4 with her, and it led to her sharing about how she likes doing nice things for people because it gives her a warm feeling inside, which we of course pounced on like, "THAT'S WHAT THE SPIRIT FEELS LIKE!!!!" (Seriously, I love it when investigators have already had experiences with the Spirit. It makes things so much easier.) So then we explained about how the gift of the Holy Ghost allows us to have those feelings all the time, and how when we try to do what God wants instead of what we want, we feel the Spirit more, and also how reading the Book of Mormon can bring the Spirit. She hadn't been keeping her commitments to read the Book of Mormon, but she really liked the chapter we read and understanding that there are more ways to feel the Spirit seemed to really interest her, so that was a really exciting lesson.

Tuesday was district meeting, which was awesome as usual. Elder Jensen asked us to come with questions real investigators had asked us, which we could then use in roleplays about resolving concerns with the Book of Mormon. I came with, "I don't believe the Holy Ghost is a person, I believe it's an energy of love and knowledge. I am totally not okay with believing he is a person." Elder McMullin just looked at me and finally said, "Seriously?!?!" hahaha. (That's pretty much how I reacted inside when Val asked me that too.) It was pretty funny. But he went to the Topical Guide, like I did, and managed to find a good scripture about it. After district meeting, Sister Jarvis took a really bad fall on the ice (it was 10 degrees on Monday and then everything re-froze on Tuesday, so the entire town was basically thick, smooth-but-also-uneven ice). She was laughing and upset at the same time. (I only mention it because it becomes relevant in later stories.) Then we went to Val and Tracy's lesson, which was kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, they really enjoy the Book of Mormon and we've been focusing on reading with them, but on the other hand, Val doesn't feel like she'll be ready to quit smoking by her baptismal date, and she doesn't want to work towards a new date. She still wants to meet with us and work towards quitting smoking eventually, but it was a bit discouraging. After Val, we went to see Sandra, which was a good visit, and then we stopped by Shauna really briefly before her dinner appointment. She was drunk when we showed up, and it basically confirmed the impression we'd been getting that she's not really in a stable enough place to meet with us right now. Which is really too bad, because she was really excited when we first started meeting with her, and I know she'll be really great someday. After that, we had a DA with the Woodruffs, who are totally awesome. She always teases me because she makes a lot of sugar-free food, and obviously I have a huge sweet tooth, but I actually like her healthy DA's. Then we went to check on some potentials and do some finding, but nothing really exciting happened.

Sister Jarvis woke up SUPER sore on Wednesday and basically had the mobility of a 90-year-old woman, so I had to tie and untie her boots every single time we entered or left someone's home. It was pretty funny. We had correlation, as usual, and studies, and then we went street contacting. I think it was actually above zero, which means people were actually on the streets, which meant we actually got to talk to a large amount of people for the first time ever, which really set the tone for the whole day to feel super productive, which was a pleasant surprise, since the way correlation disrupts studies tends to make it feel like kind of a blah day for me a lot of the time. After street contacting, we re-taught Kiera the Restoration at her grandma's house (since Sister Coleman and I did a pretty non-9-year-old-appropriate job of it the first time). We bought a puzzle and put it together, and then took pieces away to visually demonstrate the analogy for her. It went over pretty well. We also gave her a "prayer rock" – which you put on your pillow and on the floor to remind you to do night and morning prayers – which she really liked. I forgot how much 9-year-olds tend to like rocks. After that, we went knocking. We made the strategic error of picking a street on a hill, with steep driveways, when it was still RIDICULOUSLY icy, so it probably took at least 2 or 3 times longer to knock than it should have. (I'm proud to report that I haven't fallen once on the ice. I think it's because walking without tripping takes enough concentration for me normally that it's not difficult for me to remember to pay attention to the ice.) Then we had a DA with the Walkers, who are pretty much the awesomest family that doesn't realize how awesome they are. Seriously, they told us about one time when their branch president about 20 years ago asked the members to all go knocking, and they went knocking for like a month! Who does that??? They're awesome. Then we tried to do more finding in the evening, but nobody really let us in.

Also, at some point on Wednesday Muzammil texted to cancel our lesson because he was sick. Then he texted, "So I just Googled my symptoms and it turns out I'm pregnant." Then he followed up with, "It's probably a food baby," and "With the way I eat, it's probably triplets." It was hilarious.

We were supposed to do service at the hospital on Thursday, but I was feeling kind of feverish and I didn't want to infect all the old people with whatever mysterious microorganism makes you moderately sick for pretty much a whole transfer (I feel better today now that the transfer's almost over, so don't worry). So we got the Elders to go instead, and we stayed home and did 12-week, which turned out to be totally inspired. It was the week to focus on the "Revelation through Prayer" fundamental, which came in handy later. After that, we went street contacting again (I love street contacting. Never thought I'd say that.) Then we had another lesson with Val and Tracy, and then we only had about 15 minutes, so we went to the post office to mail a package of stuff I want, but not until after my mission, home. (Pres. Leavitt says doing small errands when you only have little pockets of time in order to give a pass-along card to the cashier is acceptable, so I'm not being disobedient, don't worry.) Then we had a visit with Sister Martin, a less-active member. We've been focusing on what Elder Davidson calls "CPR" (Church, Prayer, Reading) with the LA's, so our Ward Mission Leader has asked us to read the Book of Mormon with them in appointments. So we read Ether 12 with her, and discussed it, and it was really cool to see her receive personal revelation for why she has to make more of an effort to come to church. I love it when that happens because it's so much more meaningful when the Spirit says it than when we say it. After that, we had a lesson with Michelle. We decided to re-teach part of the Restoration lesson, from the Saviour's Earthly Ministry to the Restoration, and be super bold about how EVERYONE needs to join the church. We started out with a Book of Mormon scripture, ended up going back a little more than we planned into Prophets and Dispensations, and then taught a simple, but powerful lesson. We ended up going more into the need for a modern prophet than into the First Vision again, which was awesome, and we showed her videos of President Monson and committed her to watch parts of last General Conference. It was awesome. At the end, we'd been talking that morning in 12-week about how we need to get her to pray with us, and Sister Jarvis totally nailed it and after some initial resistance, Michelle prayed to know that President Monson was a prophet. It was awesome. And then she committed to come to church. Awesome. Once in a while, you have a lesson that just makes you think, "That could have been on the District!" and it's awesome. So after that, we basically slayed our k's by speeding the longer-distance-but-significantly-faster-time route to the opposite end of our area for a dinner appointment, but it was totally worth it. After dinner and during the spiritual thought, I started feeling SO bloated for no particular reason (I'm beginning to suspect the Saint John water significantly disagrees with me), so that was uncomfortable, but also completely hilarious once we escaped to the car and I unzipped my skirt. Many laughs were shared. 

Friday was weekly planning, and Sister Jarvis felt really sick. I also felt more feverish than Thursday, but not as bad as her. So we tried to go to Charis' lesson, but she wasn't home, so we came home and Sister Jarvis just went to bed. I ended up having a lengthy text conversation with Charis later – her boyfriend is getting arrested on false charges and the whole "why does God let bad things happen to good people?" question was causing a serious crisis of faith. It didn't really get resolved, which is discouraging. I also watched "Together Forever" and "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" on our mini DVD player for the first time. They're both REALLY cheesy 80's church videos. The first one was cheesy in a way that made me cry, and the second one was cheesy in a way that made me laugh at a lot of parts that weren't supposed to be funny. (Why is he on a horse???) I told Sister Jarvis about it the next day and she was like, "Wait, you cried???" hahaha.

Saturday was pretty busy. We taught Sister Orford pretty early in the morning (since she works nights), and then we had a lunch appointment with Sandra. She made us pizza and fries, which was basically the last thing I wanted in my stomach after being sick, so I felt pretty gross for the rest of the day. After that, we went by Val and Tracy's to read in the Book of Mormon with them, which was a pretty short appointment. We were supposed to go street contacting, but it was SO rainy. Seriously. I think Saint John got about 50 mm of rain. The mall and the Walmart on the east side were totally flooded. So instead we sat in the car and texted Michelle, who must have read something on the Internet that upset her or something, because she ended up dropping us without ever explaining why, despite our best efforts to resolve it. So that was pretty much the most depressing thing that's happened all transfer. Then we tried to go contacting inside the Pedway, but apparently the inhabitants of Saint John were afraid the rain would melt them, because basically nobody was outside or in the Pedway. So we went to stop by some potentials, had dinner, and then we went knocking in the pouring rain, in the dark, trying not to slip on the ice. It ended up being really fun, actually.

Sunday morning we got transfer letters, which was exciting. It turned out the Elders drove to the Metro early for transfers and weren't there on Sunday, which was a surprise, so the whole time at church was basically really weird. We printed off a ward list and spent some time going through it together so I could impart all of my knowledge about the area to Sister Jarvis and she could make notes. While we were there, someone called the church asking to meet with the missionaries, and I picked up, so it was basically AWESOME. We set up an appointment for Tuesday. We're really excited about that. I didn't have my planner when I sprinted to the phone, but there happened to be a piece of chalk nearby, so I wrote their info in chalk on the wall temporarily, haha. Then we tried to contact a referral, but she wasn't home, and then we went to a DA with the Bishop's family. They showed us their family mission plan, which is fantastic. All of their goals are specific, and then they have blanks like "Friend's name ______ Date ______" or "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9" so they can check off their progress as they go and monitor it. It was great. Bishop Ross also gave us some pretty bizarre tasting herbal teas (piña colada???), which was amusing. Then we tried to contact a few old potentials from when the previous sisters were here, in our efforts to clean up the area book, but they weren't home, so we went knocking. We knocked into a JW for the first time, and I ended up having a half-hour conversation with him at the door. I really enjoyed it, but I think Sister Jarvis got pretty bored of standing there in the cold. Finally, we went to visit Sister Neilsen, one of the less-active members, before going home. The transfer news stressed Sister Jarvis and I both out, which manifested in me as "foot in the mouth syndrome" all day and manifested in her as "especially sensitive even without me being stupid" all day, so today's been fun. But I guess it's going to be a good learning experience.

Sister Olson

(Everyone in the maritimes is so short and it makes me feel like a giant every time I get my picture with people, haha.)

Myself and Sister Orford

Sister Raeburn and I

Myself and Gabbie
Sister Findlay and I

Sister Woodruff and I

Me and Bishop Ross' family. The kids, from oldest to youngest: Eleyna, Duncan, Julianna. You will notice that Julianna held my hand in all the pictures without me even asking her to, because she's adorable.

Myself and Sister Hofmann

January 6, 2014

This week

Dear Mom,

I don't have a reading schedule with me; he said 17 pages per day, so I just sat down and counted by 17 and wrote them all down in a row. I think the website ldsscripturetools.com should still be in existence, and you can print off a reading schedule there if you want. Sounds like you had a fun week in Whitefish. The sound of a whole week without working is filling my mind with phantom guilt, haha. I'm going to be so awkward when I come home. Just warning everybody now.

On Monday I still had a cold that I'd had since the beginning of the transfer, and Sister Leavitt called, so I mentioned to her that I was sick, so she sent me to the doctor. It was pretty much the fastest doctor visit ever, which is weird in Atlantic Canada. He prescribed me antibiotics, and then we pretty much just went home and chillaxed on P-day. After it was over, we had a lesson with Val and Tracy, where we taught the Plan of Salvation to follow up from Sunday School the day before. They really enjoyed it, but like many people out in the Maritimes, Val had what I call "hellphobia," so the doctrine is taking a while to sink in. After that we had a lesson with Charis, where we ended up deviating from the lesson plan and teaching about the Atonement. It was really powerful and the Spirit was super strong.

Then on Tuesday...hahaha. Tuesday was a gong show. We'd agreed to help Michelle, one of our investigators, move from uptown over to the east side. We figured it would take maybe 2 hours or so, and the Elders came along to help. Well, it turned out that neither of them have a car, so we ended up taking 5 trips EACH with our cars full of stuff to move them. Billy took a taxi to the new apartment and Michelle stayed in their old apartment. That's a total of 10 car/truckloads stuffed to the brim! It took from 9 am to like 4:30 pm. On one hand, we felt so bad for roping the elders into it, but on the other hand, we really needed them. I was SO tired afterwards. So then we tried to go contacting for about an hour, but it was pretty ineffective since it was New Years' Eve. We went back to our apartment and made calls for the last half hour, and then we were supposed to be back in by 6 pm anyways. The Cosmans had invited us over last-minute for seafood chowder/New Years' celebrations (since we ended up not having a New Year's Eve DA), and I really wanted to go for the seafood, but we were just so tired. We appreciated the time to get it together.

Wednesday was supposed to be correlation, but it got changed to Thursday at the last minute, so we had regular studies, which is nice. But it also means my planner doesn't accurately reflect what we did that day, so it's a bit hard to remember. It was a statutory holiday, and apparently in Saint John that means the city is like a ghost town. Tracting would have been the best idea, but it was REALLY cold and Sister Jarvis wasn't too keen on it, so we ended up trying to talk to people in the Pedway, putting up posters, having conversations in Tim Horton's, and trying to stop in on people. We got really creative with how to start conversations with people, but it wasn't the greatest day as far as the work goes. We had a DA with Sister Raeburn that night, which was really good, and then it went super long because she kept going out to collect the rent (she manages several apartment buildings), and we couldn't leave without sharing our spiritual thought, so that was a bit frustrating.

Thursday started to get more effective. We had correlation meeting, and then we went to Staples to pick up a large-print pedigree chart. It was SO cold. It was -28 without windchill, and something like -35 with the wind chill. We'd planned street contacting, which was stupid because nobody in their right mind was outside, so then we went inside to the pedway/Brunswick Square mall and tried talking to people in there. After that, we had a less-active visit with the Hurtados, who we hadn't seen in a while, and then tried stopping by several people before dinner. AFter dinner, we were supposed to have a lesson with Val, but she called and moved it to Saturday, so we wrote thank-you notes for everyone in the ward who gave us food, gifts, etc. over the holiday season. Then we went to our lesson with Charis, who had forgotten about it. But we had a really cool experience anyways – her neighbour was just going inside, and it's one of those old homes that's been split up into apartments, so there's a door you go inside and then two doors for each apartment. So we talked to him in the entryway, and he's been hearing a lot about our church from various media sources and has favourable impressions, so we got a pretty sweet potential. It was totally one of those moments where Heavenly Father's like, "Here, I'll make this work out for your good anyways." I can't remember what we did instead of teaching Charis. I think we called a bunch of formers.

On Friday we did weekly planning. It was Sister Jarvis' turn to lead it for the first time, as per the 12-week training program, and it turned out being really good and focused, so I might just let her lead it every time :) It's totally throwing me off to not be the better planning/organizing companion, but not in a bad way. Kind of this weird mix in my mind between "Hey that's my talent!" and "It is SUCH a relief to not feel like I have to be the only one worrying about this anymore," leaning more towards the latter. During weekly planning, the postman knocked on our door and had a package for both Sister Jarvis and I! Mine was Mason's Christmas present to me, which turned out to be a scarf he knitted himself. It made me really happy, it looks awesome and it was really thoughtful. I attached a picture to this email for you to see, since it's my only picture this week. After weekly planning, we went store contacting. We made specific plans of how many people to talk to in each store, and it turned out pretty effective. Then we stopped by Jackie and had a brief lesson with her, where we basically recommitted her to the reading we'd assigned her last time, since she'd forgotten about it in the holidays. Then we went to Pita Pit for dinner, which was delicious because I got falafel and enjoyed my Middle Eastern food. But then we went to a lesson with Courtney, and my digestive system was all like, "Remember how the antibiotic knocked out all your bacteria? Why did you eat ethnic food???" So fortunately we have a good relationship. It was a really good lesson though, and that was pretty much the end of the night. Courtney gave me some licorice root herbal tea to take home, which turned out to be the first and only herbal tea I've ever liked in my life. So I started drinking tea on my mission. Yep.

Saturday is a special day, it's the day we get ready for Sunday...just kidding. (That's a Primary song, for those of you who didn't catch it.) After studies and lunch, we called some more formers and then went to a lesson with Val and Tracy. It turns out daytime lessons are waaaay better for them; they're way more on track. We uncovered a couple of concerns about the Holy Ghost and the Book of Mormon, plus we watched the Restoration video, so it was pretty long and intense, but also really good. Then we went store contacting again because it was still super cold, and then we had a dinner appointment with the McKenney family, who are super awesome. Except they made sweet potatoes, so that part was not so awesome. (Don't worry, they couldn't even tell I abhor them.) After that, we had a lesson with Gabbie, one of the recent converts in the ward, which also turned out really well, so Saturday was pretty much a great day.

Sunday was Val's first fast Sunday, which I was a little nervous about, but she ended up going home after the sacrament anyways because she'd had surgery on Friday and wasn't feeling very good. Which was a shame, because church was super spiritual and it was one of the best Sundays in the ward so far. Brother Cosman told a really good story about opening his mouth on a work-related phone call and the guy being interested in meeting with the missionaries, and then Sister Cosman taught a great Relief Society lesson about becoming a "holy woman" – that each temple says "House of the Lord, Holiness to the Lord" on it, and what can we do in our lives to make that true of us personally? The thought struck me in church that we check transfer letters next Sunday, and what if I get transferred and I go away without putting all I have into this area? So then I was really pumped up to go find people to teach. After church, we had some 12-week stuff to do on the computer, and then we went to visit the McLaughlins, a less-active family we hadn't visited before. It was super awkward at the beginning, just because some people don't really communicate well whether or not they're okay with you being over, but then we settled into it and it ended up being a super powerful lesson and we also got a referral out of it. (I am so bad at getting referrals.) After that, we went knocking and got ANOTHER referral. Then we had a DA with the Hofmanns, which was awesome, because Sister Hofmann is a really good cook. She also goes to great lengths to try to get Brother Hofmann to eat his vegetables, because she's a doctor, and it's pretty cute. After the Hofmanns we went knocking some more. It was only -4 on Sunday and we were just like, LET'S DO ALL THE KNOCKING WHILE IT'S WARM OUT!

Today is a high of 10 degrees and raining. A few days ago was Saint John's record low EVER. Everybody's freaking out. It just feels kind of like a Chinook, which obviously they don't get, but I'm okay with it. (Oh hey, that explains my headache...*lightbulb moment*)

Sister Olson