April 28, 2014

Blessings come just from really having the faith to ask for them.

Dear Mom,
We do the same exercise program, but President "doesn't want to embarrass us," so we don't have competitions at Zone Conference like the Elders do. It's nice because there are 6 charts and different levels on each chart, so I just hang out on Chart 2 A+, which is the one with normal pushups and situps before they get all weird. I like what Elder Bednar said in Lauren's Zone Conference, that is a really good thought and something I've been thinking a lot about too recently. We so often focus on how much we have to do for the Lord to do His work, and we forget that no matter WHAT we do, we are all so weak and incapable compared to what He does. Sister Lewis and I have seen so many blessings come just from really having the faith to ask for them, as compared to the blessings that come from us being righteous and doing our best. (Which is important too, but I didn't really need to gain a testimony of that in quite the same way.)
Last week...we were supposed to have a DA at the church during P-day, but then their son got sick and had to go to the hospital, so instead we stayed home and labelled the entire apartment with the French words for all the objects. It took basically all P-day. Then we went to a lesson with a potential and brought Stephanie, but it fell through. We tried to stop by some other investigators, but even though we got appointments, they still fell through. Soooooo we went knocking. It was pretty good, but I think that community was JW'd out, because everyone was kind of short with us. We managed to accomplish most of our goals though, other than teaching people, so it was alright.
On Tuesday, we had studies and then we drove to Miramichi to exchange with the Bathurst sisters. I brought Sister Vera back with me, and we spent the ENTIRE exchange speaking French. It was nice because I learned a lot and also got to prove to myself that I can express myself for pretty much everything, even though I probably still make tons of mistakes (she only had to ask me to repeat it in English once the whole time), but my brain got pretty tired, haha. We came into town and had a lesson with Judith. She's kind of an eternal investigator; her two teenage daughters joined the church last year. None of them have been coming to church for months. We had a great lesson with her where we just had a lot of silence. She finally admitted that while the language barrier and having small kids in church is hard, she knows God wants her to be there and it's the devil tempting her to stay home. She committed to come all on her own! It was awesome. It was kind of funny though because we got out of the lesson and Sister Vera was like, "Wow, we were so bold!!!" and it really wasn't a bold lesson at all. Then we went and taught Angie the Law of Chastity, which worked out pretty well as well. We tied it into repentance and how it would bring more peace to her life. She's a single mom, but she's been living the Law of Chastity for years, so it was more about repenting of past mistakes than having to make any current changes. After that, we had dinner, and Sister Vera made me tons of Venezuelan rice. (It's gone now.) After that, we went knocking, and then I promised her that if we could talk to 30 people, we'd stop by and see Ashley. At about 8:15 we had only 1 person left, so we drove to Ashley's and on the way we saw a guy on the street. We pulled over around the corner and street contacted him. He wasn't interested. Sister Vera thought I was kind of crazy, haha. So we visited Ashley and taught her about missionary work. She's just telling EVERYONE about the church and is basically the best member missionary ever without realizing how amazing she is! It's pretty great :)
Wednesday was studies, which was nice because we got to do it 100% in French and Sister Vera said my door approaches were really good. After lunch, we phoned all the potentials and investigators ever and got some member present lessons set up for later in the week, and then we tried to see a less-active. Nobody was home, so to meet the goal, I finally let Sister Vera go see Sister Karen, who's an interesting personality. It turns out she missed Sister Vera so much that she wouldn't let us share a message OR leave! She just wanted to talk with her! We finally got out of there about 2 hours later because I lied and said we had an appointment to get to. Gaaah. After that, we went and delivered a Bible to a media referral, and then we were about to go knocking, when the Elders called. It turned out that the address for the concert that night was wrong on all the invitations, so we had to go buy posterboard and sharpies to make signs to direct people. After we finished with that, we went and taught Joshua, the 7-year-old we're "teaching," about some of the commandments. We've managed to be late to that lesson a lot, so we showed up on time this time and they weren't home yet. Haha. But we finally taught that and then had a DA with Sister Leger, which was really nice. Then, since we were on the opposite end of Moncton from our area anyways, we were going to just head to the church and update our kijiji ads. But when we got there, the Moncton elders called for a ride into town from Riverview. THEN the Dieppe elders called and said, leave the Moncton elders there, you have to come help us hold posters! THEN President Leavitt turned out to be at the church, and he and Sister Vera needed to talk anyways, so we couldn't do EITHER of those. And basically there were a lot of expectations and it was frustrating. We finally found another ride for Moncton and went and held posters in the rain. After that was the BYU-I Sinfonetta, which was FANTASTIC. They played an arrangement of "Abide With Me; 'Tis Eventide" at the end that was AMAZING. They also took Beethoven's 7th and split up the movements, so they'd play one movement, then another song, then another movement, etc. It was great. The Bathurst sisters came to the concert and Sister Lewis and I exchanged back there. So the long and short of it is, in the whole day we got to talk to ONE non-member. Frustrating.
Thursday we were supposed to have an appointment with Justina, but she cancelled, and it was pretty clear she's avoiding us, so now she's off-date and dropped. On the plus side, we took Sister Pitre to stop in on a former from last time Sister Lewis served here, and we have an appointment with her, so that's nice. After that, we were going to go street and park contacting, but it was POURING rain, and nobody was home for knocking since it was the middle of the day. In addition, Sister Lewis has plantar fasciitis and was walking the whole day yesterday, so her feet were killing her. We finally tried the bus stop outside the mall, but everyone was just waiting inside the mall. So we went inside and talked to some people. Some were good and some were crazy, haha. We were actually doing a really successful job of contacting, talking to about as many people in an hour as we would at knocking. But then the next hour of it was basically super ineffective because we were just so tired. After that, we went to a DA with Sister Lutes, and asked if she'd help Stephanie with family history, to which her reply was basically, "Actually, I was going to start a family history class and invite all these recent converts, less-actives, and non-members I know." This is right after she finished organizing ALL the billeting for the Sinfonetta. I love members. After that, we stopped in on a few formers and then went to teach Marie. This was the greatest miracle ever. Last week, an inactive member who wanted no contact with the church called and asked us to teach someone in her home. So we show up, and Marie's like 80 or so, kind of deaf, and it was definitely rough at first. But as we got into the Restoration, we got to hear some really beautiful stories about how she came to want to follow Christ and have her heart changed. Then, as we taught about the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, and prayer, the Spirit was so strong and you could tell she was really touched. She told me at one point, "When you were telling me about Joseph Smith seeing God, it was hard to look at you because your face was so bright. There was light coming out of it." It was so cool. Then we committed her to church, and she wouldn't come unless this member came, and the member committed to come to church! Yay for the Spirit!!!!! We were really just SO blessed there.
Friday was studying, then weekly planning, then district planning. We always do a little roleplay in District Planning, and I asked to be put with one of the other French missionaries so I could do it in French. So Elder Collett and I roleplayed the invitation to baptism, which was a little scarier in French but definitely a really great experience. After that, we went to see Stephanie, which was awesome as usual, and then we took the bus to Jayne's DA/lesson. We taught out of "His Grace Is Sufficient" by Brad Wilcox and committed her to read the talk. Her non-member son came in right before the lesson and actually stayed to listen to the whole thing, which was pretty cool. It was a really powerful experience. Then we got a ride from the Moncton elders up to games night. They had invited two non-member ladies they met while volunteering. Some people played basketball in the gym, and we played Jenga in the next room. As we talked, the game of Jenga eventually became "teaching the Restoration," which was really cool. Except it ended up being just Elder Sloan and I who were actively teaching, which felt surprisingly weird. We had good unity and transitions together, but "teaching with an elder" was just inherently weird feeling. She made an appointment with us for next Friday, so that was really cool.
On Saturday, we had the French companionship study over skype and the Zone Leader call, and then we skyped the Bathurst district leader to follow up on exchanges. Then we had a lesson with Angie, which was great except the member who we wanted to come couldn't make it. We taught the first half of the Gospel of Christ, and again, it ended up being really focused on Christ. I'd already been thinking about it, but ever since you sent met that talk on missionary work and the Atonement, I've been really thinking about it and trying to make it a Christ-centred lesson. I love teaching repentance. It's probably my favourite thing. It reminds me of Alma 29:10. We are really so blessed to be able to be clean and understand how to repent daily and have the Spirit, and seeing other people make those changes and come to that same joy they didn't even know was possible or that they were looking for is just such a special experience. After Angie, we went knocking for a really long time. We were super tired and stressed, for whatever reason, so it just felt irrationally hard to knock the whole street, but we did it. We met a guy who was wearing a whole Scottish outfit -- kilt, socks, shoes, knife in the socks, weird purse thing, waistcoat, etc. It was pretty funny. We also met a SUPER Catholic guy who was SOOOO close to the truth! But he wouldn't let us talk or let the Spirit testify, so he kept himself from it. I always find it super sad when people are so close, but then they get prideful and they miss out on the real version of exactly the thing they treasure. (In his case, the Priesthood and the One True Church that Christ established). Then we were supposed to have a lesson with a potential from the Moncton elders, but she was late, so we just went street contacting to get our last 6 contacts to meet our goal while we waited. She was really awesome! She's actually African French, and at first we were teaching her in English because we weren't sure if our French or her English was better, but the Spirit was like, no, teach in French. We basically just did HTBT and God is our Loving Heavenly Father, but somehow we managed to talk about the Godhead being 3 separate people AND that there's no "original sin" or need for infant baptism. She was SUPER Catholic and disagreed at first, but those two points were where the Spirit testified the most strongly and we were able to see she was really softened. It interested her and now we have an appointment for next week! After that, we went home and had dinner. Then we had "visits" with the Dieppe elders. Usually it's supposed to be all day, but since they were super busy this week, we just did it for an evening. We went knocking together in Dieppe, and knocked into the CUTEST young married couple. They weren't interested, but they were good people and just kept giving each other the "I love you" look while talking about how their beliefs are important to them, and it was adorable. Then our less-active visit fell through, so we just had interviews where he checked our planner and whatnot. We had the following amusing conversation:
Elder Widdup: "You didn't plan a backup to Ashley's baptism?"
Me: "If it didn't go through, I was going to go home and eat ice cream."
EW: "You should have written it in."
Me: "There are some things we just don't write down."
The next day was church. Judith didn't make it, but Jayne actually drove Angie and her son, which was awesome! After church, we taught one of the ward council members how to make a vision for themselves as member missionaries, and then we spent some time asking the Dieppe elders about various French things. After that, we went home for lunch, but Sister Lewis was just feeling really stressed out and overwhelmed, so we ended up having a long talk for a while, and then we had language study. Then the Dieppe elders called us about something, and she decided to ask for a blessing, so we went back to the church. During the blessing, I felt impressed that I should ask for one, so I did. It was interesting because I think it was mostly just Heavenly Father being like, "I want to tell you some things" rather than me being like, "I feel like I need a blessing." Some points that stuck out to me was that Heavenly Father is proud of my work and it is "great in his eyes," which was really cool to hear because I've really just felt like my whole mission has just been kind of average and not super great and like everyone at home is way prouder of me than they should be. Sometimes we get burnt out and can't accomplish EVERYTHING, but I feel like I should always expect myself to be at my best, you know? The blessing also said you were all cheering me on and that I was setting a strong example to you. It also told me to ask President Leavitt for advice more, which was unexpected and really interesting. I found that being told my mission was great so far has been really motivating because if it's been great so far, that just makes me want to continue and do even better. After the blessing, we were going to go knocking, but ended up talking some more about it, which was much needed, and then we finally contacted a referral and went home. So I guess Sunday was a personal growth day.
Sister Olson

The labelled apartment

The labelled apartment

Sister Vera and I saw this bird on exchanges.

The Sinfonetta

It was Sister Lewis' year mark on Thursday, so we got ice cream. She found it to be a hard day. That evening, she tackled me and forced me to hug her until she felt better. It was pretty funny.

More Jenga

I don't know what Sister Lewis' thing is about taking pictures with food when she's sad. But after the blessing, Elder Widdup gave us these bizarre maple syrup suckers. She actually looks sad, but I'm having a hard time making a sad face because I thought it was so funny that he gave us candy, plus I wasn't sad in the first place.

April 21, 2014

Ashley's Baptism!

Dear Mom,
Sounds like a pretty good week. I think one of the advantages of RDL is how often it makes you "pull yourself together" and work. It's a great example for the rest of life. I think if I could have gone straight from RDL to BYU I would have such a better work ethic. High school kind of killed it for me.
So this week was pretty crazy. Emailing took super long on Monday for some reason. After that, we went knocking, which was a pretty average experience. Sister Lewis and I actually really enjoy knocking. After that, we had a lesson with Ashley, which ended up being a total gong show. She really just needs visiting teachers. We ended up just chatting for way too much of the lesson. On the plus side, she was hilarious. The weird thing was, usually I'd've felt guilty about chatting that much, but I think the Spirit was really just like, "No, this is what she needs." It was kind of weird. She really was just so past where most investigators are that what she really needs is member support at this point.
On Tuesday we madly finished cleaning our apartment because it was getting inspected that day, and then we had Zone Training. It was SO warm outside! So I went bare-legged. Then I realized, I'm going to be SUPER AWKWARD when I go home. I felt so immodest all day! Everyone can see my calves...Hahaha. It was a really good Zone Training though. Elder Roberts, our Zone Leader, gave a really good training on "not dying" -- whether that's on your mission, being in an area for a long time, or in a companionship. He said he was stuck in this little town, New Glasgow, for 10 and a half months, and he'd knocked literally every street in the town. But it was in the last few weeks that he got a baptism. He said something I thought was really powerful -- Jesus' Atonement was at the end of his mission. If he had done all the wonderful things he did through those three years, but then "died" and didn't finish the most important part, how many souls would have been lost? What would that return to Heavenly Father have been like? I thought it was really good. We have a couple Elders in our district who are in their last transfer and I've decided I do NOT want to "die" at the end.
After Zone Training, we were supposed to have our apartment inspected, but the Senior Couple decided to "run to Costco" first, despite the fact that we had a lesson at 4. So we basically waited around in our apartment for a while and they didn't show up, so we called them and went to our lesson. Justina, the girl we got on date, forgot about it, but we brought the member, Thomas, to stop by Angie, which was pretty good. She hadn't done the reading, so we just read with her. After the lesson, we came back and had our apartment inspection. We passed, mainly because they didn't know what it had looked like 8 hours earlier, haha. After that, we went to see Ashley again before her baptism. She was REALLY sick, and so were her boys, so again, it wasn't the lesson we wanted, but everything worked out.
Wednesday morning was Ashley's interview. She passed, yay! Then we went home to have language study and get some last-minute things organized for the baptism, and then we went to see Denise. We'd already been stressed out over the interview and organizing the baptism, and that lesson wasn't super helpful haha. She basically was going all hardcore race/class/gender theory on us and Sister Lewis was getting pretty offended. (English AP prepared me so well for my mission, it turns out.) At the end, I managed to drive home the point that none of these peripheral issues really matter, nor do our opinions about what truth should look like; it's about asking God what HIS truth is. So after Sister Lewis said the closing prayer, she asked for a different chapter in the Book of Mormon to read. Sister Lewis was basically ready to drop her, haha. After that, we didn't have much time before seeing Stephanie, so we just picked up a package for me at the post office. Grandma and Grandpa sent me fudge and popcorn! It was awesome. Then we had a lesson with Stephanie, which was actually super great! We taught about temples and family history, and she was REALLY excited to do it. It turns out one of her uncles already traced one line back to the 1600's, so it was really cool to see how much the Lord was preparing her family. With her Native heritage, I really feel like there were a lot of people on the other side who wanted to be brought back to the gospel. Then we went to teach Joshua, the 7-year-old we're teaching, but most of the lesson actually ended up being us talking to Sister Leger, the RS President. There was some ward drama going on that we were frustrated about, and it was kind of a nice validating moment :) After that, we drove to Grand Digue, which is about an hour away, for a dinner appointment, because Sister Nelson (who had gone home last transfer) came to visit for Ashley's baptism and was staying with some members. It was nice to see her, but suffice it to say that due to a variety of circumstances beyond my control, it took up the rest of the evening and was super frustrating that way. I went home and ate some much needed fudge and popcorn while we planned.
Thursday we studied, then ran to Walmart for some baptism refreshments. We had a cool experience. We were walking in and I wasn't feeling super excited to talk to everyone, so I kept walking past people but then feeling guilty about it. Finally, I had the impression to talk to some lady smoking outside the entrance, so I went for it. (Sister Lewis told me later she was glad I did, because she'd had the same impression but was feeling similarly unmotivated.) So we did pretty much the lamest street contact ever, asked if she'd be interested, and she said, "Yeah, I'm French Catholic, but I've actually been thinking of changing my religion recently!" So we replied, "Well, what we do as missionaries is act as guides to help people choose a church," and boom, return appointment! It really felt like such a miracle considering how stressed out and unmotivated we were at that point. I don't think we deserved it. Then we were going to go knocking, but remembered we'd forgotten to turn on the hot water heater, so we had to turn around and do that. Then we went street contacting at the university for a bit, but it was finals so we only talked to like 6 people. Then we went back to the church and filled the font! Sister Lewis and I also wrote an arrangement of "How Great Thou Art" while we waited to perform at the baptism, since we didn't like any of the ones online in the right range. Stephanie showed up early and helped us make cookies. I think that was actually one of my favourite parts of the baptism -- seeing Stephanie come and help out and sit with the members and just be a member. It was cool.
The baptism was really great. It started super late since we were going to skype Ashley's family in, but different people had heard different things about the policy, and then people started bickering a bit, and then technical difficulties on top of that! I just sat up front and played fancy prelude music and didn't get involved, haha. Blessings of being the pianist. But eventually it started and there was a great spirit. In the font, Ashley was just trying as hard as she could not to cry, and then finally after she was baptized she just sobbed in the bathroom, which was pretty touching since usually she puts on this really tough face. Then we went back in and she bore her testimony, and her inactive dad watching over skype had his heart touched and said he wants to come back to church! So there were definitely some miracles there. It's really cool with both Ashley and Stephanie to see how true it is that we can't be saved without our family, because there are so many ways that their family is really interconnected with them and a big part of why they're getting baptized. Then after the baptism was over and we put everything away, we had to practice our musical number for Easter, so it ended up going super late. We got home and another miracle! We had a voicemail from an inactive member who told us she didn't want any contact with the church. One of her friends who lives in her building knocked on her door and basically asked to take the discussions in her home. So we're going over on Thursday! It was so crazy! We just get so blessed even when we're being totally lame on our end. Sister Lewis and I really don't feel like we're serving in the same mission anymore. A couple of weeks ago, at Mission Leadership Council, we really committed ourselves to be a baptizing companionship, and it has been an entirely different experience since then. I've come to the conclusion that the most important aspect of missionary work is to just ask with sincerity and real intent.
On Friday we did weekly planning, and then we were supposed to have a lesson with the lady we met at Walmart the previous day, but she'd forgotten she was going out of town for Easter weekend, so we rescheduled. It was kind of a bummer because we brought Stephanie and she couldn't come to a lesson, but we're having it tonight instead and we're pretty excited. So then we went to the church to finish weekly planning, which was followed by district planning. After that, we still had planning to finish up since we took that break for the lesson, and then we didn't have a lot of time before Sports Night, so we decided to try to contact along the riverfront in Dieppe instead of our usual plans. We had some pretty great conversations. The best part was, we met an Acadien lady and we understood EVERY SINGLE WORD. It actually made me think she must be from away, so we asked and she was just like, "No, I just used to teach French so I speak GOOD French." So we're still not understanding the "average" Acadien, but we're getting closer. Then we went back to the church and played Jenga with Ashley, Thomas, and the Despres family, since nobody really wanted to play volleyball. We get super into Jenga, it's crazy.
Saturday started with the French conference call and then the Zone Leader skype call in the mornings, as usual, which were pretty average. Elder Nz, our FTL, decided we're going to focus on family history a lot more with the Acadiens. Which reminds me, could you send me some pictures of all my grandparents and great-grandparents? After that, we went to Pita Pitt for lunch, and then we were supposed to have a lesson with Angie and Thomas, but it fell through, so we took Thomas to see a few other potentials and finally got in to see Judith, our eternal investigator. It was a pretty good lesson, but not a ton of progress was made. Then we tried to get a less-active visit in, finally stopping by Sister Karen, who is one of those eternal-semi-less-actives, but we had a good lesson. I went out on a limb and got kind of bold with her, and I know she didn't get offended, because at the end of the lesson she complimented my outfit. Which was super weird, because usually if it's not super matchy-matchy, she hates it, and even I didn't think my clothes matched that day. So I think she felt cared for when I was bold instead of offended, which was really good. After that, we parked the car at home and took the bus out to Dieppe to do some bus contacting. We then ate at Dairy Queen, since Mark and Ortensia sent me a gift card, and then we went knocking for a bit. All the stuff that had happened that week combined to make us SO unmotivated, so it was pretty hard, but we did it and had a decent day.
Sunday was studying, and then we practiced our musical number at the church. The members who were organizing it ended up having their son in the hospital and they weren't there, but we managed to pull it together without them. It ended up being a very missionary Sunday - 3/6 of the missionaries were speaking, we did one of the three musical numbers, Elder Widdup gave the closing prayer, and I played the organ. I went all MoTab on the last hymn and changed the stops around according to the feel of the verses, it was really fun. Ashley got confirmed that day too, so all in all it was super spiritual. After church, we tried as HARD as we could to get another less-active visit in, since that kind of fell by the wayside during the week, but it was hard because it was Easter. We finally got in to see a lady we'd never met before, Wanda, who Sister Karen suggested we see. We had a really great lesson with her. Neither Sister Lewis or I could put our finger on it, but we were teaching differently or something, and there was a really sweet spirit there. We got to talk about the Atonement a lot and it was very fitting for Easter. Then we stopped by Angie's, and had a great lesson about the Plan of Salvation. She really puts thought into everything we say and asked great questions. She had a HUGE concern about the homosexuality thing because her daughter's bi, but after committing her to pray about it, Sister Lewis had the faith to ask her to be baptized anyways, and we set a date for June 10! It was really awesome. Then she basically told us she knows what the answer will be when she prays, she just wished it was the answer SHE wanted. So we talked a bit more about trusting God's will and that he only does things out of love for his children. It was also a very Atonement-focused lesson. It was really great. Then we went home for dinner, since were STARVING since we'd been fasting as a district to each baptize a family by June 10. After that, we were supposed to go knocking. And we did, but we were just SO tired and it probably wasn't as effective as it could have been. We did have some really great doors though. One Acadien lady asked Sister Lewis if she understands English, so apparently her accent is really good. (She learned French when she was super young, but not a lot of it, so her accent vastly outpaces her vocabulary.) Meanwhile, everyone is still telling me "You speak French so well! *pat on head*" and I'm the one who knows how to say everything, haha.
This morning, we got a headquarters referral on a street we knocked. We checked our knocking record and we definitely talked to that lady, but she said she wasn't interested. So we're super excited to check it out!
Love you!
Sister Olson

The highway got flooded out.

 Ashley's Baptism:

April 14, 2014

Stephanie's Baptism!

Dear Mom,
Sounds like a pretty full week! I haven't read that talk before, but it looks good. That's so great the Marissa is putting in her papers!!!
So on Monday we had a mission-wide fast for President Leavitt. Turns out P-day is really boring when it doesn't involve food. Then we were supposed to have an appointment with a potential, but she called and cancelled, and then Stephanie moved her appointment from Monday to Tuesday night, so we basically just went knocking all night. I think that was the first night where I did a whole door in French AND got a potential out of it, which was causing some minor internal freakouts towards the end because I couldn't remember any of the vocabulary for setting up appointments or getting contact information at all, so I felt like I was making it all up, haha. It was a good night though. We've been really focusing on being more warm and friendly in French, and people are being really nice and kept complimenting our French all the time instead of switching into English. It feels like those "pat on the head" compliments instead of really sincere ones, haha, but at least we're improving enough that people want to try and make us feel good!
On Tuesday we had a lesson with Ashley, where we tried to get her more firmly committed to tithing, but no dice. Her member fellowshipper is really nice, but always gives her a way out when we try to extend commitments. Then we went to see a less active member, Tammy, who has a crazy dramatic life, so we managed to focus on prayer and scripture study really well instead of getting drawn into it, which was great. I really do just feel bad for her, she lives in a really bad area of town and just gets drawn into all the issues going on there. After that, we were supposed to have a lesson with Denise, but she had to take her husband to the dentist since he'd broken his tooth, so we re-scheduled and tried to go knocking, but it was the middle of the afternoon and nobody was home. It was also ridiculously rainy, and Sister Lewis' boots are full of holes. So we went to Mark's Work Warehouse and got her some really cute rubber boots. Then we tried to contact a little more before dinner. We were fasting again on Tuesday, this time for the baptisms to go through, so dinner was really nice. Then we had a skype call with all the STLs in the mission to prepare for the upcoming transfer, followed by a lesson with Stephanie before her interview. We brought a member and taught fasting and reviewed the interview questions. It was good, but she didn't seem as prepared as she could have been in some areas, so we left her a commitment to pray and really ask for forgiveness. Later that night, she texted us about it and said, "Is it normal that, sometimes, you wanna cry? Cause I'm wiping tears as I finish asking for forgiveness." It was just one of those really awesome moments where you're just so grateful to Heavenly Father for helping them progress so much. It was awesome. We finished off the night with correlation with the WML, which went pretty well as usual.
Wednesday was a pretty good day too. We had a lunch appointment with this family that lived outside of town, and we managed to teach a pretty good lesson. Then we drove home, took the bus to the mall, walked to Gaspe street, and had time to knock literally 3 houses or so before rushing back for our appointment. We missed our first bus and were a bit late, but it was with a member, so she understood. We're teaching her 7-year-old the lessons in preparation for his baptism, so we taught the Plan of Salvation with little visual aids. After that, we had a dinner appointment with them, and then went knocking before going to Stephanie's interview. It was kind of this surreal moment to me that JOSH WIDDUP was interviewing my INVESTIGATOR for BAPTISM. So weird. Stephanie passed the interview questions, but Elder Widdup still had some concerns about whether or not she was ready, so we were going to monitor the situation and see how she was later in the week. This is the part where Sister Lewis and I's differences come into play. When Sister Lewis isn't upset about something, she doesn't want to talk about it. When she's a little upset, she wants to talk about it. When she's REALLY upset, she doesn't want to talk about it again! So basically, it's impossible to tell if she's not upset at all, or if she's SUPER SUPER upset. I asked her how she felt about Stephanie getting baptized, and all she said was, "I just have all these doubts," and then didn't want to talk about it. So of course, I thought she was REALLY stressed about it, which then caused me to second-guess everything, which made me really stressed out. But when I'm stressed out, I want to analyze it to death. But she didn't want to talk about it!!! Gaaah. I almost died last week, I'm serious. It turned out later that she wasn't too worried about it! But I didn't know that! I thought she was really stressed out, but then she didn't want to take any initiative to FIX THE PROBLEM (since it turns out she wasn't stressed), so basically it was just stressful. Gaah.
Thursday we went to the church in the morning to unlock it for transfers, since everyone always meets in Moncton. We dropped off a few things that were supposed to make their way to various missionaries in the mission, and then we went and taught Ashley. We went over the baptismal interview questions with her. Tithing and modern prophets were still an issue, so we committed her to watch the long Joseph Smith movie on lds.org and pray about it. Then we had our lesson with Denise, which was really good. We resolved her concerns about women in the church and managed to start talking about how baptism by authority is a universal requirement in a way that really emphasized the equality of it, so she really liked it. Then we went to a lesson with Sister Karen, a less-active. I was still so stressed out at this point, and it was PERFECT, because she's a little crazy. Sister Lewis started asking her about this story she told her last time Sister Lewis served in Moncton, about how she had a pet leopard and was a security office/bounty hunter with it. It was so funny. She kept asking all these questions with a totally straight face. "Everyone knows you can't feed a leopard chocolate!" Quote of the day. Then we went knocking a bit before dinner, and then we had a lesson with Stephanie. It was so great! We'd felt really impressed to bring this member who's probably like 40 years older than her, but it turns out they both are/want to be computer teachers, and they both love cats, so they hit it off. It was actually a hard time to get them to stop chatting. And then we re-taught the Gospel of Christ and it really strengthened her faith in Christ. At one point we were talking about Christ's Atonement and asked how that made her feel about Christ, and she said, "It just makes me want to give him a big hug!" And she really understood the responsibility and the commitment of baptism. Then at the end we pulled out D&C 20:37 and asked if she felt like she was qualified for baptism, and she said no, and our hearts just broke! But Sister Lutes, the member, was really able to discern that it was because of Stephanie's own self-confidence issues and not that she wasn't ready, so she just testified SO boldly and powerfully that Heavenly Father loved her and would help her, and we could tell she just really wanted Stephanie to be baptized. And then Sister Lewis asked if Stephanie felt like Heavenly Father wanted her to be baptized on Saturday, and she was just like, "Yes!" with total conviction. It was so great! It was really humbling to see that the member, not us, really made the difference. We just facilitated that moment happening.
Friday was weekly planning. During planning, we called Ashley to follow up on the commitment to watch the feature-length Restoration movie. One of the first things she said was, "I cried like a freaking weirdo." As soon as she said that, I knew she knew it was true! Haha. At the end of comp inventory, Sister Lewis and I had a good laugh over all of our misunderstandings and she finally said, "I'm never getting married!" hahaha. Then we had district planning, followed by a lesson with Angie with Sister Pitre. We ended up being late to that because Sister Pitre missed her bus into town, but we had a great lesson! We finished off the Restoration and she asked really great questions that showed that she really understood the concept of authority and only one baptism being valid. Then we had a DA with our investigator. She's Acadien French and was telling us about blood pudding and head cheese last time, so she had some for us to try this time. It was surprisingly not gross while I was eating it. Especially the head cheese. It really just tasted like really salty, cold meat pie. (So next time Dad says we're having brains for dinner, I've already done that.) The blood pudding was all right too. Not gross, but not something I'd have any reason to eat again. It was only later, when I could taste blood in my throat all night, that it was really gross. Sister Lewis was way more grossed out than I was, haha. We had a really good lesson and managed to uncover some concerns that centered on not understanding how much God loved her and really wanted her, as an individual, to make it back to him, as well as a lack of confidence in her own ability to do it. I love lessons where you get to really testify to them of Heavenly Father's love for them :) Then we went to Sports Night. Ashley brought some family and friends and we ended up playing that game we have at home where you try to flick the little discs into the 20 that's on the back of our chessboard. It was really fun. After that, we cleaned the baptismal font!!!!
Literally all of Saturday was taken up by the baptism. We got to the church at 9 for our French skype companionship study, which was really good. We focused on the HTBT points. Then we had a skype call with the ZLs for all the leadership. Then we got lunch at Pita PIt, and then we went to the store to buy things for the refreshments. Then we went home and made cherry slice, mars bar squares, and this coconut cake thing that Sister Lewis made, while calling people to make some last-minute arrangements for giving prayers and such. Then we came to the church, started filling the font, and worked on the program. Part of the way through, we had an interview with a student at a Christian university, who's writing her paper on "The Mormon Experience." The paper mostly focused on cultural things and modern-day "issues" like homosexuality, but I managed to teach pretty much the whole Restoration while giving context to my answers. Haha. That took us right up to the baptism. It was so great. Sister Lewis and I did a musical number called "Stand in Holy Places" and Brother Despres and Sister Lutes gave the talks. We'd gotten a last-minute ride for Ashley and she walked in literally just as Elder Sloan started to baptize Stephanie. It was a miracle. During the changing of clothes and whatnot, we played the John Tanner story, which I think was really good for Ashley to see. Afterwards, we had some great refreshments ;) and then we cleaned everything up. Day over.
Sunday was really good as well. Stephanie and Mark got confirmed and it was just really great to see. Ashley couldn't come because her son was sick though, so that was a bummer. I was SOOO tired because I hadn't been sleeping well all week, first because of stress and then because of excitement. (Like, I think I got about 2 hours of sleep on Friday night because all I could think was BAPTISM BAPTISM BAPTISM. Like seriously, just the word running through my sleep-deprived brain.) And then Elder Widdup asked me to teach Gospel Principles last minute. It felt really disjointed to me, but everyone said it was really good. It was about the life of Christ, so I made a timeline on the chalkboard and extended it a bit to talk about his relevance to us today for Stephanie and Mark. We were talking to some French members after church about how hard the Acadien accent is and they said, "Non, c'est right easy!" Hahaha. Chiak quote of the week. After church, we had a skype call with the DLs so set some expectations for this transfer (ie actually telling us what's going on) and then an appointment with a potential the elders had found for us. Her name's Justina and she is so prepared! She's a 21-year-old single mom here for school. She had GREAT comprehension all through the lesson, and since we did a great HTBT and emphasized baptism the whole way through, she accepted the commitment for May 24 without any "I'm already baptized," even though she's French Catholic and all. It was so great! It was really humbling to realize that ALL our investigators get found by the Elders though. Haha. Then we went home for dinner, and we knocked the rest of the evening. We didn't get in anywhere, but we had a lot of really great teaching moments at doors where you could tell the people felt validated and listened to and also felt the Spirit. It was really great. I feel like even though we still haven't found anyone in French, we're progressing and Heavenly Father really knows what we need in order to be ready to have some French investigators.

Ashley's supposed to get baptized this week, but she still needs to commit solidly to tithing, so if you could all pray for it to go through, that'd be great!
Sister Olson

This picture describes perfectly how I feel about Moncton sometimes.

We committed Stephanie to pray about forgiveness and this is the response.

Blood pudding and head cheese.

Filling the font!


We thought it was a dead fly at first. Then it was a spider! I was going to take it out anyways. Then it was a LIVE spider!!!!!! It was crawling up the paper towel towards my hand!!! Then I squished it. Sister Lewis started taking a video, but most of the screaming was over by the time she got it going, so it's not as funny as it could have been. Also, it's too big to email anyways.

Stephanie with us, the Elders, their convert Mark, 

and Sister Despres.

April 7, 2014

Staying in Dieppe and Conference

Dear Mom,
I seem to remember that there used to be a lot of female teachers on Staff Stompers, so I guess just none signed up this year? That's awesome that Chloe got second at regionals! My whole family is just so talented, seriously, Steven getting nominated for the all-star team and everything. The picture of you sleeping made me laugh, that's me in the car all the time.
So transfers came and Sister Lewis and I are staying in Dieppe! We're pretty excited because on Saturday STEPHENIE IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!! We're so happy! We were REALLY stressed that one of us was going to get transferred though, haha.
So, I have to apologize for spending your money on Monday. We were getting ready to go to Mission Leadership Council on Tuesday and I was getting stressed about it, which manifested as I have nothing to wear all my clothes are terrible and I have no nice shoes what am I going to do...etc. And then we were still getting the ice pellet storm from that Sunday and most of the city was out of power, so the only places open were Walmart, Target, and Reitman's. I bought a black shirt at Reitman's and a pair of black high heels, and then I bought a maxi skirt at Target, which I hemmed to be a shorter skirt. Looking back, it was a total overreaction, but I was just really stressed out. It was kind of crazy because our side of our street was the ONLY street in our whole neighbourhood that had power. We were really worried we were going to lose power and not be able to shower before MLC the next day, but the Lord was merciful to us. But yeah, not much got accomplished on Monday.
On Tuesday, we met the New Brunswick West STLs at the church, and us and the Zone leaders drove to Halifax. We somehow forgot our phone, too, so we had to use the other STL's phone the whole time whenever we wanted to talk to anyone. (The ZLs were in Charlottetown's car and the STL's were in St. Stephen's car.) It was CRAZY. We were getting a HUGE snowstorm. Everyone was supposed to fast that all the missionaries would make it there safe, but somehow Sister Sandberg and Sister Echols didn't get the memo, so we got in two spinouts, one for each of them that didn't fast ;) The first one was pretty minor. Sister Sandberg was being kind of cocky about being from a small town deep in the mountains of BC and was driving a little fast. We hit a patch of snow and started fishtailing and nearly hit the rail before we stopped. We were only going 60 though, so each of us just looked at the spedometer as soon as it happened and remained completely calm. So I got out in my new high heels and helped push the car out of the snow, haha. We'd moved it about 3 feet but then the ZLs pulled over and insisted on doing the rest of it. After that, the ZLs insisted on driving in front to control the speed. After a while though, their caution wore off and we started going pretty fast again. At one point, we were both passing this semi truck when the ZLs hit a huge patch of snow and disappeared in a puff of snow. Unbeknownst to us, they spun out and hit the rail at 90 km/h. Miraculously, the car was somehow undamaged. We had just gotten past the semi and came through the snow pile to see the ZLs at a dead stop about 20 feet from us, and we were also going about 90. At the same moment, we hit the same patch of snow and lost control of our car. Somehow, Sister Sandberg managed to fishtail the car between the semi, the ZL's car, and the barricade on the side of the road. I think we would have flipped if we hit anything. It was a total miracle. Meanwhile, Sister Lewis was on the phone with a conference call with all the sisters in the Zone that we were holding for training purposes. She had us on mute while one sister was bearing her testimony through the whole thing. She closed her testimony just as we got the car back under control and Sister Lewis took it off mute and said, "Yeah, so the Spirit..." like nothing had even happened. The sisters still don't know. Haha.
Lest any of you worry too much, I actually felt completely safe through the whole thing because I knew the Lord was protecting us.
After we got into Nova Scotia, the weather calmed down and we arrived safely in Halifax. It was a really good leadership meeting. We talked a lot about being more accountable to the Lord than to the mission president, and what makes a good leader. Just before dinner, President Leavitt started shaking uncontrollably. We all went to Boston Pizza without him and got back to find out that he was in the hospital with a blood infection. The Assistants finished the leadership training and Sister Lewis and I went to the Cole Harbour apartment to stay with Sister Keeler and Sister Pizzey, which was SUPER fun because it's my old area AND they were in my MTC district. We came back to the mission home the next morning and President Leavitt still wasn't feeling well, so we continued the meeting without him. At the end, he came down and gave a shortened version of his training about speaking the truth with love to the people we lead, and then we all went to the temple. It was SO nice to go to the temple again! It was just a really good spirit. And it was really cool because the session was mostly missionaries. Then we got lunch and drove back home, which was a much more uneventful ride. It was kind of crazy to see all the cars in the ditch from the previous day though. We got back at a little after 7 pm at night and didn't have time to do much before our appointment with a LA, but then that fell through, so we stopped by a bunch of less-actives to invite them to the pancake breakfast before conference. We managed to get in to see Melodie, who Sister Vera and I saw once last transfer, and it was a really good lesson, so that was great.
On Thursday we had a district meeting, which was also good. We roleplayed inviting people to be baptized. After that, we had a lesson with Angie, but it fell through, so we took Sister Pitre to stop by our other investigator, Denise. She had all these crazy concerns about women and race and stuff, but not even the normal concerns people come up with. She actually reminds me a lot of Miss Kim from high school, which was funny to see how many random life experiences prepared me for my mission. It was a decent lesson though, and then we drove Sister Pitre home. We only had about an hour and a half to go finding all day, so we walked around delivering more invitations to less-actives and street contacted on the way. We met a guy who had met Mormon missionaries all over the world (he likes traveling), including in Japan, so that was cool. Then we drove WAAAY south to Hillsbourough for our dinner appointment. After that, we picked up a member, Sister Despres, to come with us to Stephenie's lesson. It was so cool because Sister Despres had never come to a lesson with us before, but she had a GREAT personal experience about tithing, and Stephenie committed to live it! (Previously, she liked the idea of tithing, but she wanted to only pay 2% at first and work up to 10%). We walked out of the lesson and I realized, THAT'S ALL THE COMMANDMENTS!!! Her baptism really started seeming real to me in that moment and it was really exciting. After that, we had a lesson with Ashley, which was okay. She's still just facing a lot of spiritual opposition. What it comes down to is she just needed to get baptized sooner, but wouldn't commit to any earlier date.
Friday was weekly planning, and then district planning, which was just WAY too much talking about the work and not enough actually doing the work. We only had a bit of time to knock in Dieppe before our DA, which was frustrating. Then we had a DA with our investigator Jayne, which was great. I'd been really craving fried chicken and she had chicken wings for dinner. After that, we had Sports Night, but since they were setting up for the pancake breakfast, we ended up playing Jenga in the Relief Society room. It was the craziest game of Jenga ever! Somehow it just DIDN'T FALL. The Elders started commentating like sports announcers and everyone had a lot of fun. We started building the base in unusual ways every round, but we still lasted for FOREVER.
Saturday started out with French companionship study via skype, which was just REALLY good, and then we had the pancake breakfast with the ward. We had a pretty poor turnout, but all 3 of our really solid investigators came, which was awesome. And Jayne gave Stephenie a ride, which I loved. Conference was so great! Even if the WHOLE THING was about marriage and families. Well, if I had to pick one theme from Conference, it would probably be about pointing everything in our life back to Christ, but it just felt like a lot of families and not very much missionary work. The only talk from Saturday that even touched on missionary work was Elder Scott's, and his talk was the most distracting of all! "I met Jenny and then I served a mission and then she served a mission and then we got married." And we all know from previous conferences that they had the cutest marriage EVER. Haha. In between sessions of Conference, we stopped by the Umahoza family, who are LA, to make sure they watched the Saturday afternoon session, and then I think we had dinner. (The afternoon session starts at 5 pm here.) After conference was over, we went knocking in Dieppe. We had two super awkward doors in a row. One guy was sitting in his car outside his house, so we came up to him, but he wouldn't roll down the window for the longest time. The next lady had just gotten out of the shower and answered the door in just a towel. It was pretty funny.
On Sunday, transfer letters were coming, so we went to the church to check them after companionship study. But they weren't there! So we had language study at the church so we could listen to French on the computer, and then we went knocking for an hour before conference. Finally, Elder Ballard gave a talk on missionary work, but he still started it with "3 days after we got home I met my wife." It was just funny at that point. We were also having some technical difficulties, so it was a pretty amusing session for us. After that, we didn't have a lot of time before our DA, so we basically just went to that. It was with a part-member/recent-convert/less-active family, but we didn't get to share a message because of the non-member husband, so that was disappointing. We then came back to General Conference, and also checked our emails again, but STILL no transfers! We were both so stressed out because we did NOT want to get transferred before Stephenie's baptism! The Sunday afternoon session was probably my favourite. I've been thinking a lot recently about how on missions, it's really such a blessing to be able to spend all your time serving other people. And it had been kind of making me sad to realize how many things when I got home would just be about me again, and I also don't want to get caught up in trivial mundane things again. But something about Elder Corbridge and Elder Teh's talks really gave me some personal revelation about that and it reminded me of Jacob 2:18-19 where it talks about seeking for the kingdom of God before seeking riches. And that's like our missions, where we seek the kingdom of God first. And then when we come home, we'll obtain "riches," which can also mean education, relationships, etc., if we seek it, because we'll have the maturity and life skills and partnership with the Lord to do so. But it says, "when you seek for riches, you will seek them with the intent to do good." Not if, but when. Basically, missions should produce the change of heart so that when you do all the same old things you wanted to do, it will now be pointed back towards Christ and helping other people, instead of just wanting it for selfish reasons.
After conference, we went knocking and had our conference call with the Zone Leaders. We checked our emails this morning and transfers were finally here, and as I said, we're staying! Which I'm totally happy about. I'd serve here for the rest of my mission, I love it!
Love you all!
Sister Olson

The most ridiculous game of Jenga at games night on Friday.

This is how we watched the first half of the Sunday morning session of General Conference. The satellite wasn't working, so finally Ashley pulled it up on her tablet and we put a microphone behind it to connect the sound to the speaker system.