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:

No comments:

Post a Comment