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.

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