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.

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