March 31, 2014

Second Marathon Exchange (2 weeks in a row)

Dear Mom,

I'm pretty sure building 25 was Mason's building, so that was a little weird. I can vouch for the fact that it's a nice building though. Sounds like everyone had a great week. Sister Lewis is also completely sick of the snow and wore short sleeves, a light jacket, and shoes today. I'm wearing a cardigan, a winter jacket, and boots, because I like not freezing to death.

So last Monday we had to wait for FOREVER to email at NBCC instead of the church since people were actually using the Family History Center for family history. Preposterous. It made P-day kind of short and non-relaxing, especially since our "senior STL," Sister Broadhead, was coming, so we had to run around trying to make the apartment look nice and organized. After P-day was over, we basically went knocking until Sister Broadhead arrived. We got a couple of really great potentials and met our goal for referrals and contacts, so that was pretty nice. Then we attempted to find the Greyhound bus station, which was really complicated because even though the address is on Main Street, you actually have to go down this other road for a while and turn into what appears to be the Sobey's parking lot. Haha. We finally found it and picked up Sister Broadhead and Sister Starkie, an STL in Nova Scotia who was acting as her companion. 

I'm just going to preface the story of the marathon exchange by saying that it was SUPER STRESSFUL. It basically felt like being audited or something, plus we were SO TIRED both physically and emotionally from the previous week's marathon PEI exchange and cramming our whole week in our area into the weekend. Sister Lewis are both introverts and so being around so many extra missionaries for like a week straight was just really tiring. So yeah. I'm not going to complain the whole time I tell you about it, but just read it knowing that basically even the simple things we did we a lot more overwhelming feeling than they should have been.
/pity party

Soooo on Tuesday Sister Lewis went with Sister Broadhead and I went with Sister Starkie, since I've worked with Sister Broadhead before and we knew Wednesday would be less effective due to the MONSTER MOTHER OF ALL STORMS. (I'm getting ahead of myself). So Sister Starkie and I took Sister Pitre, a member, to teach Ashley the 10 Commandments and the Sabbath Day in preparation for her baptism, which was pretty great. The only snag was that it sounds like the Bishop has given her some weird advice about tithing, so hopefully we can get that cleared up so she's not getting mixed signals. She probably just misunderstood him. After that, we had lunch, and then we drove to the mall and went to the bus station and talked to all the people waiting for the bus. After that, we had a lesson with Denise. It was a pretty hilarious gong show. She's super talkative and also Buddhist, and Sister Starkie was just having a hard time in the lesson because Denise would just talk over her and not let her say anything. For some reason, Denise would listen when I was talking, so I ended up teaching most of the Restoration myself, despite my attempts to bring Sister Starkie in. The good news is, we managed to really clearly explain the idea that all religions have truth, but the point of the Restoration is to gather ALL the truth, which really piqued her interest in the Book of Mormon, which she previously hadn't been super committed to reading. After that, we went knocking and had a really cool conversation at the door with a single guy (since we couldn't go in), and then we went to Riverview to try to see some less-actives, but nobody was home. We came home for dinner, took the bus to Dieppe, and went knocking for a bit before busing back. It was kind of interesting since Sister Starkie doesn't speak any French whatsoever, but it worked out okay. She was super impressed with my French and I guess that was kind of gratifying :)

Meanwhile, Sister Broadhead and Sister Lewis showed up an hour and a half late to an appointment with a less-active due to the bus schedule, met some cool potentials on the UdM campus, and then had a great lesson with Danielle. They showed up to find out that she'd invited a member to the lesson all on her own, which was cool because we had a goal of two member presents but couldn't seem to find ANYONE for the second one. Best investigator ever! She was super excited and had tons of questions, and they basically overviewed all the commandments.

On Wednesday, there was supposed to be a huge storm, but nothing was really happening in the morning. We decided to prepare for the storm anyways by deciding to have a concert in the community room of our apartment building that night, since everyone would be stuck inside. We made invitations out of index cards, and knocked our whole apartment building to invite everyone, which was a unique opportunity since we can't proselyte in the building. We met some great people and even discovered that we have some French-speaking-only neighbours. After that, we all went out for sushi as the storm started to hit. It was Sister Starkie and Sister Lewis' first time having sushi, and it was pretty funny. (I think we have sushi every time I'm with Sister Broadhead). It was REALLY storming when we came out, but we decided to drive to the hospital anyways to look for service opportunities. We ended up singing hymns to surgery patients for about 45 minutes. When we came out, it was IMPOSSIBLE to see ANYTHING, so we cancelled all of our appointments and drove home, first stopping by Sobey's to get cookie-making ingredients to make refreshments for the concert. The afternoon was spent making cookies, practicing songs, and doing a little bit of roleplaying. (Sister Lewis and I decided to film ourselves in English and then translate it into French). We then had dinner, and then had the concert. Not a lot of people showed up, but we still had a pretty good time with the people who did come. It was kind of cool because we ended with Sister Lewis singing "Souviens-toi", a French hymn, with me accompanying her, and one of the ladies there was French and she was completely in tears by the end of it because it reminded her of her mother. So yeah, despite the ridiculous amounts of snow, it was a really great and productive day where we did many creative things. Don't ask me why it felt like the most stressful thing ever, haha.

We found out later that the Elders spent Wednesday jumping off the roof of the church into the snow, and then turning their beds into four-level bunk beds. *eyeroll*

Thursday was sunny and reasonably warm (probably not higher than 5 though, don't get any ideas), so it was super slushy everywhere. Sister Starkie left for Halifax on the Greyhound in the morning, and then we went to a lesson with Ashley, where we taught Follow the Prophet. Turns out she's still not feeling 100% on the idea of a modern prophet, so that was perfect timing because General Conference is coming up. We were both so tired in that lesson though, like I have no idea what I said. I just vaguely remember that the back of my mind was going "I have no clue what I'm saying, this is probably not going well and I should stop talking." Haha. So I'm sure Sister Broadhead got a great impression of our teaching skills. After that, we came home and had interviews, which was basically just frustrating because it confirmed that the whole exchange was a gong show, and then we drove her to the bus. After that, we were supposed to drop our car off for the Moncton elders and take the bus to do the rest of our work, but it turned out that Sister Starkie had my bus pass, so we couldn't just leave them the car; we had to wait for them to borrow a bus pass. But they were in a lesson. So by the time we got the car, we didn't have time to do ANYTHING, so we decided to just walk all the way home and street contact along the way, since most of the route home was on one of the biggest streets in Moncton. All day, we were walking past piles of snow that were waist to head height that were DEFINITELY not there before. It was pretty crazy. On the way home, I just kind of had this epiphany that really, I am so lucky to be on a mission right now, and missions are the best thing ever, and the gospel brings so much joy to people, and really, the worst day on a mission is still a really awesome day because we get to spend ALL our time just serving people and doing the Lord's will. So then I cheered up and stopped feeling so exhausted and the rest of the week was pretty good. We were supposed to have a dinner appointment with an investigator, but she'd forgotten, so we just went home to eat and then took the bus to Stephanie's. That was actually a really good lesson. We followed up on the Word of Wisdom and taught with ridiculous amounts of unity and she committed to live it really solidly. (Why couldn't Sister B be there for THAT lesson? Haha.) Then we took the bus home.

The highlight of Friday was probably that Sister Lewis and I accidentally wore the exact same striped t-shirt from Superstore (which we independently bought before becoming companions) and didn't realize it until it was too late to change. She was super embarrassed about it, but I thought it was hilarious. (Besides, the Elders always match, and nobody thinks THAT'S weird. Haha.) We had weekly planning, which basically just felt like the best thing ever since we'd never managed to finish the previous week's weekly planning with all the exchanges, and we got to just get everything under control and stop feeling so stressed about it. After that, we had district planning, where we managed to come up with a REALLY great idea to visit all the ward council members and have them make a vision of themselves as member missionaries and goals to accomplish it, and then to come back and teach them principles from the Power of Everyday Missionaries to help them out. It ended up going super long though, so we ended up having to give the Dieppe elders a ride to Dieppe to go knocking, and then we only got to knock for like half an hour before picking them up again to go BACK to the church for a DA. (The church is on the opposite end of Moncton from Dieppe.) On the plus side though, this one family we knocked on had the most ADORABLE little grandchildren I've ever seen, and it was pretty awesome. So we had our DA, which was great, and then Sports Night, which was also really fun. One of the families that came wanted the missionaries to practice this Easter musical number, so we did that afterwards, and it was a really pretty song, so it was a pretty good day, despite the fact that it was snowing AGAIN.

On Saturday we had our French companionship study via Skype, which was a really good meeting as far as figuring out how to ask more questions while contacting in order to not just get into robot mode with the vocabulary I actually have. Then we had a conference call with the Zone Leaders, and then we quickly went to Burger King for lunch because I was craving chicken fingers. Then we contacted a Headquarters referral, and then we went to an appointment the Elders set up for us. Her name is Angie and she's a single mom. It was pretty cool because I shared the How To Begin Teaching point about baptism, and then the whole lesson basically just became about how baptism and repentance help us let go of our guilt and fear towards God (she's Catholic). She didn't commit to baptism, but she was definitely interested and accepted to come to church! Then we went to see Sister Karen, a less-active member, and then Sister LeBlanc, another less-active. Both of those were mostly just giving spiritual support so that they'll keep coming out to church occasionally; the situation makes it hard to really work with them effectively. Then we went knocking for a bit before finding out the Elders had already knocked that street, so we had to switch to a different street. After that, we had dinner, then went back to contact a few referrals before our appointment with Mario, our investigator from a few weeks back who is super busy. Turned out he wasn't home, but we met his wife, and she seems interested too, which was a relief since she's Pentecostal and I was afraid she'd be anti. So we're going to come back later this week. Then we got gas in the car and some movie treats before watching the RS Broadcast. They decided to not broadcast it to the church, so we watched it on the Family History Center computer by ourselves. I thought it was really great. I really noticed how there was this theme throughout the whole thing of unity amongst the sisters, and all the examples they gave of sisters being unified and blessing and lifting each other even in small ways.

Sunday we had studies and then church. Angie and her kids didn't come, but Jayne, Ashley, and Stephanie did, which was great. We had ANOTHER snowstorm on Sunday, so hardly anyone was there and we just had Sacrament meeting. We ended up taking the TWO extra hours to practice the song again, which was kind of exhausting, but it's a really pretty song, so it was worth it. After that, we basically just went knocking for a while. We were getting snow mixed with freezing rain mixed with ice pellets. The ice pellets were these perfect balls about 3 mm in diameter that were getting whipped in our face at 70 km/h, so I was glad I was feeling happy about missionary work again, because that would have been miserable otherwise. It was actually a pretty good time though. We had a really cool conversation with one guy who was snowblowing his driveway. Then we went to stop by some LA's, finally getting in to see the Umahoza family, and taught them about prophets in preparation for conference. Then we had dinner, and we both fell asleep by accident and got out a bit late. Oops. After that, we had a lesson with Angie and taught the first half of the Restoration, which was kind of average. Sister Lewis was getting really stressed and it definitely impacted the lesson a bit. So afterwards, we were supposed to check some referrals and go knocking, but she still hadn't de-stressed from the past couple of weeks, so we ended up just having a long conversation in the car. I actually really like being able to talk my companions through things. It's one thing that I always feel really good at as a missionary. Plus it was still ice pelleting outside, so she picked a good day to be overstressed.

This morning we had a call with the Bathurst district leader at 7 am and we'll probably spend our P-day preparing for a conference call with the Sisters in the Zone. Hopefully naptime can fall in there somewhere :)

Sister Olson
(who is having a much better week so far so don't worry too much Mom)

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