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.

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