June 30, 2014

Good Bye Dieppe

Dear Mom,
Sounds like summer's going to be pretty fun for everyone. It's exciting to hear about Steve's mission prep and the awards the girls got :)
So this week on Monday we got to do a little bit of service for a member during P-day, and then in the evening we went knocking, which was a pretty average experience, except it was super hot. We finished off a really long street and decided to go to Tim Horton's and call all the DLs about a sister's skype training we wanted to hold, which probably wasn't the most effective thing to do for the evening hours, but it was still a pretty good day overall.
On Tuesday we had Mission Leadership Council, which was a really good one. They tried a new format where they had 3 meetings linked together by skype, whereas previously either we'd ALL travel to Halifax, or we'd all just skype from our individual locations and be lonely. One of the APs, Elder Layton, travelled out, and we would discuss things as a group over skype, and then break out into focus groups to develop trainings for the upcoming transfer on working with members. He assigned me to take notes on a laptop, which was a SUPER nice Macbook Air, and it made me remember how much I like computers. It was a really uplifting training and I felt impressed that I needed to stop focusing on myself so much and focus on the people more. We left really pumped up about the Doctrine of Christ and the importance of missionary work, and then we had dinner and went knocking for a bit before correlation with our WML. It was a sad meeting because he's been struggling with his testimony for the last few months, and today he told us he asked to be released because he doesn't feel like he can help promote the church when he doesn't know if it's true. Of course, when you tell 6 missionaries you don't know the church is true, they all start missionary-ing you, so hopefully we were able to help him out a bit.
On Wednesday we had a skype training with all the sisters in the Zone. We talked about planning effectively, prioritizing our efforts, getting referrals, and using roleplays to innovate and improve your skill. Then we had a meeting with all the Moncton missionaries to organize the 3rd hour fireside on Sunday, since our WML delegated that to us. After that, we had lunch, and then we went with the Dieppe elders to UdM to see what they have to offer for family history. Then we'd noticed a part of Dieppe we'd never really explored before when we took a different highway exit into town after Amherst last week, so we drove over there to figure out if it would be a good place to knock. After supper, we went knocking again. That evening we realized that one of our problems with using our time effectively is we plan knocking ALL THE TIME because we don't get enough contacts, but then we have so much extra planned that it makes it really easy to be uncommitted to it and come up with something to do in the moment. So we decided to start planning other good stuff during the day and then just be really committed to knocking in the evening. (Which I suggested weeks ago, but Sister Lewis really has to internalize things herself before she can start doing it.)
On Thursday we had district meeting, then we had lunch and went to Sister Pitre's house to say goodbye to Ashley before she flew out to Calgary. We were SO tired and we had planned to share a thought with her about missionary work and commit her to hand out pass-along cards on the way, but we got there and everyone else was exhausted too, so we basically all sat around in an exhausted thoughtless stupor for probably way longer than was effective, so eventually we just left so that we could go get stuff done. Then we went to the Moncton library to tour their family history facilities, which was cool, and then we delivered a Bible to a kijiji referral and might have done some knocking before dinner. After dinner we just went knocking the whole time and we were definitely a lot more successful in meeting our goals that day, plus we caught up on some other intangible things we've been meaning to do for a while, so that was great.

Friday we had visits in Tracadie scheduled with our FTLs, and on the way we had a lunch appointment with a part-member family that lives about an hour away. When we got there, she still had a LOT of cooking left to do, so it basically turned out super long and made us really late, but she's also a really nice member who never gets missionaries out and her husband's a non-member, so we didn't feel like we could leave. So we just talked and then shared the message we planned and tried to be as efficient as possible. It was worth it though because she told me on Sunday that her husband was very impressed by us and didn't feel pressured, but he was pensive all evening and might have felt "that" Spirit for the first time. So that made me feel really good. But we got out at the same time we were supposed to be IN Tracadie, and it was still a LONG ways away. And then there was construction in Miramichi. So we were super late and felt really bad. But we had a really good time -- we set up a lemonade stand and gave away family history cards, and got to practice having more everyday conversations, which is what we told them we wanted to work on. We skipped dinner since the stand was so successful and we were late anyways, so we got dinner on the way home and were pretty late getting back. We were SO tired on the way there too! Now that I think about it, we were pretty exhausted the whole week and I don't even know why. Eventually Sister Lewis let me drive the rest of the way home since I was more awake than her. It was pretty funny to come into our neighborhood at 10 on Friday night because it's quite different than how we usually see it.
On Saturday we had the usual French skype call and ZL call, and then we practiced our fireside. We did it on mormon.org and sharing the gospel online. After that, we got lunch and went to the Dieppe market during part of our lunch hour so I could buy some souvenirs. I think my choice was probably very influenced by the fact that when I told this one vendor I wanted to practice my French, she was very warm and friendly and had big long conversations with me about it, and the other one barely said anything and then spoke to me in English the next time I came around. Ha. After that, we tried going street contacting at the riverfront, which you'd think would be great because it was 30 degrees on a Saturday, but NOBODY was out. So we went to Staples and bought some supplies to print little labels to put on our pass-along cards with our number and facebook page. Then we went knocking, and it was SO hot and nobody was answering still! Seriously, the whole city of Moncton just packed up and left this weekend. Sister Lewis didn't really dress for the weather and she was dying. We came home for dinner and she changed, and then we had a lesson with Stephanie. It turns out she has to work the next few Sundays before they'll let her switch her schedule around, but she's super excited to pay tithing and said she's "adamant in making it to the end," so that was really encouraging. After that, we went knocking again. We went finding for 2 hours and 35 minutes that day and only talked to 15 people! Usually we can get about 12-15 an hour.
I felt really good all week but then on Saturday I randomly got super emotional which carried into Sunday, which made checking transfer letters way more difficult than it needed to be. I'm getting transferred to Sydney, which is in Cape Breton, and I'm going to be companions with Sister Hughes, a relatively new missionary. So at first I was just really sad to leave French and being an STL and Dieppe, because it just felt like I failed in the area since we haven't been seeing much success recently and in the ward a lot of people have suddenly started struggling that I wish I could have been more on top of somehow. But by the end of church I was feeling better about it and now I'm pretty excited to go to Sydney because I'm going to have so much TIME to do all the things that I could never seem to keep up on before. It's going to be good to be able to really focus on the work without any other distractions at the end of my mission. (I still with Sydney was French though.) After church, we had lunch and then we went knocking, which again was pretty empty as far as people at home goes. Then we had a lesson with Veronique, a less-active I really love. We came in talking about how this life is a time to prepare to meet God, and the best way we can prepare is to make a vision of where we want to be in the church and work towards it. She said she wants a temple marriage, but she can't because of her non-member boyfriend. So we talked about how the Lord had a plan for her life and wasn't going to let one mistake in the past trap her from these blessings forever, and that if she did all she could on HER end to be temple-worthy, she could trust that the Lord would help her. We were really surprised by how little she knew about what that meant or required. I think we underestimate how much LA's need doctrine sometimes. We went over the baptismal interview questions with her, since it's basically the same, and made a plan that Sister Lewis and Sister Coleman would come by weekly to teach those things more in depth. And we committed her to pray and ask God for his help, and she said she prays for that every day, and then she asked, "How do you fast?" Last Sunday when she was at church, a talk and the RS lesson were on fasting, and it was cool to see that made an impression on her. So we talked about that and basically it was one of the most productive LA visits I've had, which was awesome. After that, we had supper, and then Sister Lewis got a blessing because she's SUPER stressed out about being the senior companion when things have been really stressful recently for her even without that responsibility. Then we went knocking for the rest of the evening and checked some referrals. Sunday night was my last conference call with the Zone, which was pretty good.
This morning we did weekly planning in comp study because Friday was so crazy. /confessions. It was good though because it really motivated us to be efficient.
Sister Olson

Me with Ashley and Sister Pitre's kids.
The limonade stand.

Institutionalized chiak: "Un question de feeling..." What???

The district: Elder Widdup, Elder Collett, Elder Jason, Me, Sister Lewis, Elder Roberts.

The city of Moncton.

Stephanie and I.

Sharon and I. (YW in the ward.)

Sister Secord, Sister Drayson, me, Sister Robichaud, Sister Despres.

Veronique, Marie-Michelle, and I.

June 23, 2014

Transfer Foreshadowing

Dear Mom,

I did get the skirt on Friday, and it's great. I may or may not have worn it several days in a row because I've fallen behind on ironing my other skirts...

So on Monday, as I said last week, we went to Hopewell Rocks and it was great. It was a definite stress relief. The only problem is it took up like the whole day and we were really tired by the end of P-day, which resulted in Sister Lewis basically having a stress crisis, which took up a lot of the evening to resolve. We finished the day by contacting a couple of referrals by mail, since one lives super far away and the other has social anxiety, but both wanted some scriptures. We also had to mail Sister Leavitt's jacket for her that she left at the last Zone Conference.

Tuesday was a lot better. We had district meeting and practiced using the Spirit to resolve "tip of the iceberg" concerns, which was really fun. Elder Widdup unexpectedly brought pizza, juice, and ice cream bars for the whole district to have lunch together afterwards, which was really nice of him. After lunch, we basically went knocking for two hours or so until our dinner appointment with Sister Lutes, which was really good. We followed up on our commitment to pray for missionary opportunities using the Pray/Look/Speak/Invite message President wants us to focus on with the members, and we were able to discern what she still needs to do missionary work and teach her about how to discover people's questions and teach to needs, which was great because it was one of my more successful experiences in working with members. (It helps that she actually wants to do it, haha.) After that we went knocking for a bit and got a couple of family history potentials for the elders. We've been working on a door approach that starts off with family history and then transitions to the gospel, which works SUPER well in English but not nearly so well in French because we're really new at it, haha. It didn't help that all week, people randomly stopped being able to understand me. Seriously, I've been saying, "Je m'appelle Soeur Olson, je suis missionaire..." since January and this is the first week nobody could understand it. It was so weird. The evening finished by having correlation with our WML, which was a pretty average meeting.

On Wednesday, we were supposed to have a lesson with someone from kijiji, but she cancelled at the last minute, so we went knocking for a bit, and then we taught Stephanie a short lesson (since she had to leave for work). We taught the last half of the gospel of Christ and it really seemed to make sense to her, which was great. Then we just went back to Dieppe and did more knocking until dinner, and then we taught Kevin and Mandy. It was a really challenging lesson because we were trying to make a definite transition from Family History to the actual missionary lessons, but we weren't sure how they'd take it. Also we were super tired and that makes new things harder, haha. But it actually went really well. They are SO prepared and they just don't know it! I think Kevin would have accepted to read the Book of Mormon if Mandy hadn't turned it down first...the missionaries she met with in St. Stephen sound like they were kind of contentious and she's basically decided from that that she's already given our church a shot. But even though they don't want to read the Book of Mormon right now, they agree with a ton of church standards and they still want to do family history and have us over for a barbecque after their family vacation to Ontario (where they plan to gather some family history information), so we still think that if we can get them a great fellowshipper and get them into the church through activities and using the family history center, they'll be open to "trying out" our church and then we'll get them. It was also cool to see just how many ways you can transition family history into the gospel. After that, we went knocking for the rest of the evening, and we met an RLDS family! In the middle of New Brunswick! It was super unexpected. It was also super bizarre because bascially the guy didn't really understand the point of the Restoration and thought both of our churches were equally valid. He invited us to come back and talk to his wife "who would know more about this than I would, since she's a minister in our church." Um, what? Sister Lewis said later, "That's going to be a hard sell, she'd have to give up the Priesthood to join our church," to which I replied, "Well it's not like she has the Priesthood anyways." It was really cool to knock into them though because they actually kind of had the "Mormon look" and they read the Book of Mormon all the time and stuff, and it was actually just like talking to someone from back home, almost.

We had our last lesson with Ashley on Thursday before she moves out to Chestermere, which was pretty good. She'll definitely be missed here. I think I'm only okay with it since she'll be a whole lot closer to me once I actually get home, haha. After that, we met up with the Dieppe elders to discuss how to work with the library to put on a family history workshop, and then we volunteered at the library by cutting out pieces of cardstock to make craft kits for kids, which was pretty nice. The library looks like a good place to volunteer because everyone who works there is French and hopefully we'll get to practice speaking French in more "normal" settings. Then we went knocking, and in the middle of knocking this HUGE thunderstorm started really quickly and we got soaked to the skin. One guy let us in to chat while it was hailing, so that was nice, even though he wasn't interested. We got back in the car and tried to get ahold of our dinner appointment, but she wasn't answering any of her phones and based on the situation, we guessed (correctly) that she probably forgot, so we just went home and had dinner. We knocked for the rest of the evening again, which was good, but knocking was just starting to get boring. We know that using family history is inspired, but it's also a lot more indirect and there's something more exciting about just directly testifying of the gospel that makes knocking ALL THE TIME a lot more fun. (Also, Sister Lewis didn't talk to me all day on Thursday, so finally that night she told me a long list of things that were bugging her. Which were actually pretty easy to solve once she actually mentioned them.)

Friday was weekly planning. At the end of weekly planning, Kayla texted us out of the blue, apologized that she'd been so busy, and asked if we could come over tomorrow morning! It was a small miracle. Then we had district planning, then the ZLs wanted to talk to us about how to help the Zone work with members better, and we did Facebook. Sister Lewis had to go through all her Facebook photos and hide anything that wasn't in keeping with a missionary image, so I had a lot of spare time. It really just made me realize how shallow and worldly 95% of the things are on Facebook, so hopefully I find better things to do with the rest of my life. After that, we had a choice between eating dinner and going knocking, so we went knocking since we otherwise wouldn't get to proselyte at all during the day. We just finished off a little cul-de-sac and went back to the church for Games Night. It will probably be the last one since nobody really comes other than Ashley and some of her fellowshippers, and Ashley's moving. It was a fun time though. We played chair soccer. I mostly watched because we forgot to bring sports clothes and my shoes were falling off my feet, but the soccer ball was pumped way too full of air to play with bare feet.

Saturday we had French companionship study, and I had to lead a discussion on Elder Cook's talk "Roots and Branches" from last Conference, which was pretty stressful since I only know how to teach the Restoration in French. Haha. Then we had a skype call with the ZLs, which ended up going way over time and we ended up having to reschedule with Kayla. The only time she could do was Sunday morning, so we ended up committing her to come to church instead. (Fine by me ;) ). Then we drove to Amherst because we decided to give those sisters some extra help. When we got there, we still hadn't had lunch and Sister Lewis was super tired, so we had an antisocial moment and went to Tim Horton's for lunch instead of joining the sisters. Haha. Then I worked with Sister Spencer in Amherst for the rest of the day, which was great, because I got to apply all the things we've been working on in English for once, and it turns out our ideas are awesome. Stupid language barrier, haha. It was encouraging though to see that we're on the right track and as we keep working on our French, we'll start seeing a lot of success. The Elders had a baptism that night so we went back to Dieppe to hopefully work at the end of the evening, but by the time we parked on the street we were going to knock, and walked to the next houses we hadn't knocked yet, it was so late that we had to just turn around and go home, so that was a bit frustrating.
We had ward council on Sunday, which is gradually becoming more and more missionary-oriented (or at least "help the LA's" oriented) which was encouraging. Kayla didn't show up to church, which was a bummer. It was a really good church service though. The High Councellor was there and gave a great talk on fasting, and then since the RS teacher didn't show up, the first counselor in RS expounded on that talk and the sisters ended up being inspired to fast as a Relief Society in July for the sisters who are LA. We also had a few less-actives come to gospel principles, and I was teaching on baptism, so I basically focused it on the blessings of renewing your baptismal covenant, which was really good. Stephanie didn't come to church either, which was weird, so we're trying to get a hold of her. After church, we basically spent forever coordinating knocking records with the Dieppe elders because it's started to get to the point where a lot of them have been knocked, and then we had kind of a lunch/dinner combo meal before going out finding for the rest of the evening.
THEN during the ZL conference call, Elder Layton, one of the APs, called and asked if I'd bear my testimony in the upcoming Mission Leadership Council on Tuesday. Which is basically code for "you're getting released from STL-ship next transfer." So we're pretty sure I'm getting transferred to Bathurst, which would be great in a lot of ways, like getting to work on my French more and spending the end of my mission devoting all my attention to proselyting and not just leadership stuff, but I'm also sad to leave Dieppe and not be an STL, because I really felt a lot of fulfillment in helping the sisters. Plus Sister Lewis is the best companion ever. I'm mostly just worried he'll send me somewhere English though, because I think I'd be a bit disappointed by that. Although, again, it just comes with the advantage of fewer obstacles to just inviting as many people to Christ as possible at the end of my mission, so I guess the Lord will know what He's doing regardless.


Sister Olson

Sister Lewis and I being sad that Ashley's selling all her stuff to leave us.

The Elders found this HUUUUUUGE spider while cleaning the font in Amherst and left it on the programs as a prank for us. It mostly just disturbs me to know that these things exist where I live.

June 16, 2014

Rough Week, Fun P-Day

Dear Mom,

Aah, no, you should totally send me the skirt. I have clothes, but I've been wearing a lot of the same clothes for 15 months and I just wake up every morning and look at my closet like "What is this I don't even." Haha.
So this week...on Monday we did all our P-day stuff pretty fast because a member offered to teach Sister Lewis and I how to play the ukelele. So we got 1 hour of ukelele lessons and by the end I could play a few simple songs. It was pretty fun and I'm totally buying a ukelele when I get home. Then we left for Charlottetown for visits, which was a good time. I didn't realize how much I missed street contacting in ENGLISH on streets with significant amounts of people. Sister Thompson and I got to work together, which is fun since we were MTC companions. We went street contacting in the evening and then we were going to stop by LA's, but since we were walking instead of biking it took longer than she thought to get from person to person, and the only people we passed by weren't home, so we basically ended up just walking around, but it was okay.
On Tuesday Sister Thompson and I did service at a library, which wasn't terribly effective for finding since we were just sorting library books for a book sale in a basement all alone, but on the plus side, I love alone time and organizing things ;) The only problem was the temptation to read the books! After that, we checked our replies to President's letter and then we walked home for lunch. We were supposed to have the bikes, but she couldn't remember the code to the bike lock since usually Sister Burton does that, so we ended up walking. After lunch, we switched companions and I was biking with Sister Burton. It's my first time biking on the mission and I loved it. Although I haven't mastered the art of biking in a skirt, so it was a good thing I had shorts on underneath haha. We stopped by their investigator and ended up getting her on date, which was awesome, and then we stopped by a LA and had a really bold lesson. It was supposed to just be Plan of Salvation, but we ended up talking about why God gives us commandments and how she needs to repent to see her son again. (She went LA because he died as a baby.) It was super bold but still loving and that always brings a good spirit. Then we went knocking for a bit and I taught her how to get more referrals at doors, and then we had supper before going home. We were seriously dying to go home, they're lovely sisters and it was a great exchange but the apartment was so messy. I was sure I was going to get some weird disease before we escaped. We drove to Moncton and pulled right off the highway into the church parking lot right on time for WML correlation.
Wednesday was Zone Conference. We had Elder Snow come and it was a really good one. He did something interesting where he asked all the missionaries to prepare a 5-minute talk on faith, and then he asked a few of us to give it. We then offered feedback on their public speaking skills, both so that we'd give better sacrament talks and because many of the same things apply to teaching. So it was like roleplaying but also a doctrinal discussion at the same time. After Zone Conference, we had exchanges with the Amherst sisters. Sister Smith and I were in Moncton and I took advantage of having an English missionary to train with me to go street contacting in Moncton, which wasn't our usual proselyting area. Seriously, I just love street contacting in downtown areas. Then we were supposed to have a lesson with Nick, but as we were driving to it we saw her walking, so we yelled out our car window and rescheduled for later in the evening. Haha. So we went knocking and THEN we taught nick the first half of the gospel of Christ, which was really good. She always just has such a light in her eyes and is the most golden person I've ever met in my life.
On Thursday we went to see Ashley, who's actually moving out to Chestermere in a few weeks! Then we went contacting along the riverfront, followed by lunch, and then more street contacting on Main Street, where we got hardcore yelled at by some totally normal-looking person, but it was okay because we got good potentials too. After that, we went knocking for a bit and contacted some referrals, and then we were supposed to have a lesson with Rhonda, a potential, but it fell through, so we knocked for a bit before going back to Amherst. It was basically a lot of contacting since we're low on investigators right now. We got Harvey's on the way, but then when we met in Sackville to exchange back, Sister Lewis was still starving from dinner, because apparently we eat a lot more than any of the other sisters we go on exchanges with. So we had to get her food, plus Sister Leavitt made us go to the hotel to pick up her jacket she left there at Zone Conference, so we only had a bit of time to knock and try to stop by some of our flaky non-progressing people to try to either teach them or drop them.
On Friday we had a sisters' conference call with the mission in the morning, and then we were supposed to have an appointment with Arlene, but it turns out it was her anniversary and her husband passed away recently and she wasn't handling it well, so we rescheduled and then we went home to do weekly planning and figure out how to de-stress a bit from all the exchanges. After that we had district planning, which was just more stressful because everyone in our district has a lot of ideas, so on the way home we were basically super stressed. Then Nick's dad called to tell us we couldn't meet with her anymore. It was so upsetting. I don't think I've ever been that upset by someone dropping us before. So we went home for dinner and it was really, really hard to get back out to work again. But eventually we did, and actually had some small miracles happen because of it -- we contacted a referral for family history who set up an appointment, and had a friend in Utah who is Mormon, everyone was SO nice to us despite our French being way worse than usual, and best of all, a less-active in the ward who's refused to work with us really opened up to us over the phone and we made a ton of progress there. We felt better after just going out to work after it seemed impossible, which I think is an eternal principle. Partly because we had fun reverse-translating our door approaches to each other between the doors in ungrammatical, highly-accented English. It was pretty funny.
Saturday was still pretty depressing in the morning. We went to French skype study and the ZL skype call and I just didn't have my heart in it. Sister Lewis and I had a good talk at lunch though and that really turned it around for me and I started feeling better. We were going to street contact outside the Dieppe market, but it was closed when we got there, so we just ended up going knocking and trying to stop by a former who wasn't home. So we did some knocking until we went to see Stephanie, which was a great appointment since we were able to really refocus her on consistent scripture study, prayer, and making it a priority with her new job to establish never working on Sundays (or in the very least, not working during church), and she's really progressing, which was a relief. She's really malleable, so we just have to follow up constantly. Then we had supper, and after supper was supposed to be knocking, but judging by the contacts, I'm pretty sure some time was spent talking in the car, since Sister Lewis always has kind of a delayed-reaction to emotional events. Which works out okay because usually I can be upset and then after I get over it she can be upset and the other person can help out.
Sunday morning I wrote my talk for church that day, which was pretty enjoyable. I also ended up playing the organ. I spoke on the Restoration, starting by giving a summarized version of the Savior's Earthly Ministry through the First Vision. The chapel just went completely still when I recited the First Vision and it was really cool. Then I went to President Uchtdorf's talk "Are you Sleeping through the Restoration?" mixed in with stories of miraculous growth of the church in the latter days throughout the world, and talked about the need for member missionary work to let the miracle of the Restoration unfold here. It was really good. I love speaking in church because I always end up getting really intense spiritually. After that, we had Gospel Principles, which was great because it was on repentance and a couple LA's who we've been meaning to talk to about that were there, so we just directed our comments at them and it was awesome. But then we had RS, and the lesson was on the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. I don't know if it's an everywhere thing or just a Maritimes thing, but every RS lesson on the Priesthood gets REALLY contentious. There aren't even people arguing, everyone just starts going off about how they're not oppressed just because they don't have the priesthood and people shouldn't be trying to get women the priesthood...even though nobody said anything about it! Seriously, EVERY time an investigator is in one of those lessons, they just come away feeling really confused and like something must be wrong. Why can't we just have a lesson ON THE PRIESTHOOD and learn the DOCTRINE without getting sidetracked? I actually think that's what would be needed to just resolve these concerns...study simple doctrine and let the Spirit testify of its truth. So I kept making comments to try to bring it back and bring the Spirit, but it didn't really work. Aaaah. After that we had a Linger Longer, which was good.

Then we went to our lesson with the family we met on Friday who was interested in family history. It was really cool because they're both SO prepared spiritually, but we could also tell they'd totally never let us in any other way. We've never actually taught about how to do family history before, but we just decided to follow the Spirit and it worked out really well and we picked them up as new investigators! We're working on figuring out how to more fully transition to the gospel and get them a testimony of that, but it's been really cool so far and we're having a great time with it because it softens people's hearts SO much, plus it really drives us out of our comfort zone and it kind of feels like being a new missionary again and having to rely so much more on faith and the Spirit. The rest of Sunday was pretty hard, just because it was POURING rain and nobody wanted to have their Father's Day interrupted and we were still pretty emotionally exhausted anyways, so we kind of alternated between knocking and calling various sister missionaries and members to uplift them or coordinate things, since we figured it was a good day to get those kinds of things out of the way. And apparently hard days are contagious, because a bunch of the members have been having a hard time recently.

This morning we went to Hopewell Rocks and it was AWESOME. We went with the other missionaries and a member family drove us out. But they're older so they didn't come down to the rocks with us. Then afterwards they fed us lunch and such, which is why we're emailing late.

Love you!
Sister Jaclyn Olson

The Hopewell Rocks

Sister Lewis being a weirdo

The mud

The elders demonstrating their lack of common sense

The "flowerpot" rocks

Sister Lewis and I by the ocean

 The best part was the interpretive centre! With fossils and things about Pangea and continental drift!

June 9, 2014

The work goes on

Dear Mom,

Man, I don't even have to tell you anything, you already know everything that happened!

On Monday Sister Lewis and I were going to go finding all evening (since Chancelin cancelled), but she was dealing with some personal things and we ended up having to take time to talk about that, and then we ended up going to see a less-active YSA girl who just had surgery. It was a pretty good visit as far as helping her become more open with us, but she still doesn't really want to make life changes, which is sad. I find that visiting with less-actives really helps me be more anxious to do Heavenly Father's will myself, even when it's hard, because it's just sad to see the results of not doing so when carried out to greater extremes.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, which was pretty quiet because the ZLs were out of town, so it was just us and the Dieppe elders. After that, we drove to PEI for exchanges with the Summerside sisters. President asked us to do multi-day exchanges with them, through Thursday evening, because one of the sisters was struggling with attitude problems and the other one just wasn't very skilled because she's pretty new and all her companions so far have had some personal issues getting in the way of the work. So Sister Lewis went to Summerside with the skill-needing missionary, and I got to spend a lot of time with Sister L. Longest, silentest car ride home EVER. We got home earlier than we'd planned (Sister Lewis didn't believe me that it's not a long drive), so we stopped by Nick. We'd gotten a phone call earlier in the day saying that she changed her mind about coming to church, so we were worried, but it turns out it really was just because she was nervous, so we resolved that concern (Sister L's background as a convert came in handy) and ended up putting her on date! It was so awesome. After that, we stopped by a bunch more of our investigators, and ended up seeing Ines. Sister L speaks Spanish, so the whole lesson was in Spanish, and I could actually follow along better than I expected! We decided to let that situation slide until Ines' life gets less crazy. So then we had dinner, and after dinner we went knocking for a while. I felt kind of weird doing so much English in Dieppe...basically, we started out in English unless they actually only spoke French. It was SUPER warm and Sister L was dressed for Summerside weather. Then we went to correlation with our WML, which was really good.

On Wednesday, we actually had one of the best days I've had in a while. I think the Lord was blessing us in preparation for the fiascos of the weekend. We had studies and then we stopped by a few members, finally getting in to see Sister Boyce. We actually managed to share a really nice, short thought and got a referral from her! Except I think the lady has dementia. Haha. But it was our first member referral in WEEKS so that was good. After that, we brought Sister Pitre to Arlene, a former of Sister Lewis', and picked her up as a new investigator. We think she could actually progress quite well, and that a lot of the problems were just from inexperience the last time she was taught. It was kind of weird since Sister Lewis wasn't there, so we just got to know her and answered some of her questions about the Book of Mormon. After that, we brought lunch in the car, and Sister L finally started talking to me. (My strategy had been "ignore the emotional stuff and just do missionary work until she actually talks to me, and it worked!) So that was good and then we just had normal conversations through the rest of the exchange. We went to teach Nick the Restoration after lunch, which was super easy since she already read about it online and believed all of it, and then we went street contacting, contacted a referral, and went knocking until dinner. After dinner, an appointment with a potential fell through, so we went knocking until it was time to pick Sister Despres up for Koumba's lesson. It was all in French, which Sister L was super grumpy about, but there was really nothing else we could do. I taught the Restoration basically on my own, with Sister Despres for personal experience and language support, haha. She did a really good job, actually. We actually managed to get Koumba to accept the soft commitment to baptism, which has NEVER happened with a Muslim I've taught before...BUT she's moving to Africa right away! Dang it! But she promised to read and pray anyways and we told her how to look up missionaries in Africa. And she's on Facebook :)

We drove Sister Despres home and on the way, we saw an ambulance, but thought nothing of it. We were planning and all the member started texting us about what was going on to make sure we were home (of course we were, it was 9:45). It was really interesting to me because since we followed the rules, we were 100% safe. We were home anyways and nowhere near it (by Moncton standards, it was across town, but that's about 4 km away). But if we'd been out late, or if we'd been lazy and at the church to do "online proselying" during less-effective hours, we could totally have driven through that point of town at that time of night...we drove right through there around 9:15 the previous night because correlation went late. It was an interesting testimony to me of the protection of obedience.

Thursday morning, the members were telling us about the lockdown (I had to remind the WML to tell the elders too, haha) and President called us and told us to stay inside. But I knew which companion I wanted to be trapped in the apartment with. Plus, I didn't want to be on lockdown all morning, exchange that evening, only to possibly find out that by evening the lockdown was ended and have to drive during that time instead. Plus, I figured the safest thing to do would be to NOT be in the city with the crazy guy with a gun. So, we drove to Summerside early and did a bit of street contacting there before meeting up with Sister Lewis and her companion. We all went for lunch at the senior couple's apartment and had delicious seafood chowder, and then Sister Lewis and I drove home, stopped by DQ, and spent the rest of the day trapped in the apartment. It was SOOOO boring. I eventually took a nap just because there was nothing to do. Then we did weekly planning early. Then we went to bed, but since we'd done nothing all day and taken a nap, we were wide awake.
On Friday, we met up with the Bathurst sisters and drove them in to Halifax for the French temple trip. President wanted us to leave first thing in the morning because of the shooting, so we ended up in Halifax super early with nothing much to do, because all of the Metro sisters were busy. We went to the mission office and did some Facebook proselyting and President called us several times about the multi-day exchange. It was pretty funny because one time we were rushing to find a private room and I slipped on a wet floor and had pretty much the most ungraceful fall EVER. After that, we went for dinner at a restaurant in Dartmouth's area that I'd always wanted to go to, and then we just went to Cole Harbour, my old area, and tried to do missionary work. We stopped by Betty, who was just baptized when I was there a year ago, and had a nice lesson with her (I'm not sure if she relapsed with smoking or not, so we just taught something that would be helpful if she did) and then we went down to Eastern Passage to street contact on the boardwalk. But I forgot how much I dislike proselyting in Eastern Passage because the people just feel hardhearted. So we left Sister Lewis and Sister Coleman, who wanted to sing hymns on the boardwalk, and Sister Vera and I stopped by another less-active, but it wasn't a good time so we just chatted a bit and came back. Then we started driving to the temple, but we got lost on the way because I tried to take a scenic route, and Sister Lewis was really stressed because she'd forgotten her recommend and had to talk to President before the session started haha.

We got to the temple and it was really great. I really enjoyed the time we were able to spend reflecting. The experience with Sister Lewis' recommend really just drove home to me what a blessing it is to have a recommend, and how sad it would be if I didn't have one. It was a really great experience to go through in French. I found I visualized things much more vividly and it really helped me ponder and reflect on things that usually just pass through my mind. I think the biggest thing I got from it was right at the beginning. It suddenly just really hit me that Heavenly Father is a real, physical person. Obviously I've always believed in God and the church's doctrine that he has a body, etc., but I think in a lot of ways it was more an intellectual belief about God. Until you learn a doctrine by the Spirit, it doesn't really change things for you. All the sudden, I just knew that there was a real, loving, physical Heavenly Father who was actually living somewhere, watching over me and waiting for me to come back to Him. I knew it just as surely as I knew that you lived in Calgary and loved me, even though I can't see you right now either. It was really cool and I just spent the whole session reflecting on the love Heavenly Father has for us and the relationship we'd had with Him and have now forgotten, and how to develop that relationship. It made me see more clearly how Jesus Christ helps us learn about Heavenly Father and what His role is there. And it also helped me realize how having a love of Heavenly Father and a desire to please Him motivates us to keep the commandments. It also occurred to me that in a way, forgetting our pre-Earth life is such a blessing, because if we had a perfect memory of Heavenly Father, I think we'd just miss Him so much and be so sad about it our whole lives. It made me think of how hard it must have been for Adam and Eve to be cast out of His presence, and how it would have made them so anxious to just be exactly obedient in order to return to Him again.

The session started at 8 so we got back to the mission home at 10, and Sister Leavitt had milk and cookies for all the missionaries and members staying there, so we got to bed super late. The next morning was interesting with all the people trying to shower too, haha. We had a second session at 9 and it was really good too. Except towards the end, I started getting really bad cramps and I was like, nooooooo! So I didn't get to spend as much time pondering in the Celestial Room as I would have like to, haha. Afterwards, we had a French fireside with Elder Allaird over the phone, which was really good. Then we drove back. We were SO tired. The three other sisters in the car ended up falling asleep, and armed with Advil, Mountain Dew, and M&Ms, I tried to drive back to Moncton. I managed to stay awake, but it was pretty hard. It was nice to have some quiet time to reflect, even if my mind wasn't quite up to all the reflecting I would have liked to do.

We got home and had dinner and planned the rest of the day. We had a lesson with Nick and taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation, and she'd already read through to 2 Nephi since last Saturday! She's seriously just so golden. After that, we went knocking for a bit, but we were just SO tired and it wasn't super effective.

Sunday morning, we drove to Sister Gauvin's house so she could follow us to Nick's, because we weren't taking any chances on her ride falling through. We had church, which was great. It was a good fast and testimony meeting and Nick loved everything. We ended up having to teach Primary and couldn't spend the last two hours with her, but afterwards, she had ALL the YW materials EVER and the YW leader told us Nick told her she wants to serve a mission someday. Awwwwww! Then we tried to go park contacting, but there was this weird bike thing, and it made it awkward to contact since it felt like we were crashing an event. Then we went knocking, I think, and then we had another short lesson with Nick to finish the Plan of Salvation and follow up on church. She's seriously just the best part of my life right now. Then we knocked a bit, had dinner, and then went knocking for a lot of the evening. We were SOOO tired and I could barely form coherent sentences at the English doors, let alone the French ones, haha. We ended off by stopping by Sister Crossman, a less-active member. It was really sad because she told us she decided to leave the church, and even though I feel like we did our best to testify boldly and resolve her concerns, she wouldn't really let us talk and we couldn't change her mind. Then we came home and had our Sunday conference call with the Zone.

Sister Olson

Nick and I...don't remember if I emailed this last week.

This super weird front porch that felt like it was going to collapse under us. We dubbed it "The missionary trap."
One day I was wearing Acadian flag colours.
Some pictures by the ocean at Eastern Passage:

Us acting scared to drive back into Moncton on Thursday.

Us being super bored on Thursday.

Us being super bored on Thursday.

The flag at half mast.

The French Temple Trip:

So Sister Lewis emailed me a few pictures and myldsmail offered to translate it from Afrikaans into English. #racistmyldsmail ? (She's half black). Hahaha.

June 6, 2014

Comfort in Tragedy

The internet told us last night

Dear Brother & Sister Olson,

Just a quick note to let you know that the police incident that we made you aware of yesterday in Moncton New Brunswick, has now been resolved. The individual has been arrested and is now in police custody. He was not located until ten minutes after midnight so the City was in lockdown mode for all of yesterday. The Missionaries apartments were very near the area where the shooting took place so they were confined to their apartments for the day.

All of the road blocks have been taken down now and the city is returning to normal and breathing a sigh of relief.

Best regards,

Brian D. Leavitt
Mission President
Canada Halifax Mission

June 5, 2014

Letter today from President Leavitt

Dear Brother & Sister Olson,

Just a quick note to let you know that there has been a number of shootings in one of the cities in our mission. It is in New Brunswick, a city named Moncton. A deranged man in comoflage carring a rifle has shot and killed three police officers and has wounded two others. Residents of the city of about 100,000 people have been asked to stay indoors until further notice.

We have been in contact with the six missionaires in that area and they are all safe and in thier apartments. The police feel that they have the area locked down where the person is located and are using all of their resources to locate him.

I will send you a note when more information is availabe and this matter is resolved.

This is a very rare and isolated incident and we are not concerned for other missionaries within the mission.

Best regards,

Brian D. Leavitt
Mission President
Canada Halifax Mission

June 2, 2014

Golden Potential

Dear Mom,
This week was pretty great. We followed through on our committment to work as hard as the Zone Leaders, and what's funny is we got almost exactly the same key indicators and contacts as last week, but we had way more miracles and real growth, I think.
On Monday we had like no time for contacting, so we just tried to be super efficient and not let lessons go long and such, so that we could squeeze it in between appointments. So we did a bit of street contacting before a lesson with Chancelin, a lady from Africa that the Elders found for us. We did the ENTIRE thing in French again, which is only my second time where it hasn't drifted into English at one point, and it was super awesome even though it was way harder and scarier. We just did a "How To Begin Teaching" lesson, where we use the HTBT points to teach simple doctrine and really establish our purpose. Then we had a bit of time to knock before our appointment with Koumba, which fell through. The good news was, we'd accomplished all our other goals by then, so we really had the freedom to decide by the Spirit whether to knock or stop by other investigators. We felt better about stopping by some others, but they weren't available, so eventually we went back and finished knocking for the last 15 minutes. When we got there, the elders were knocking the other side of the street! It was pretty funny. The Mormons are attacking the neighbourhood! That's probably what everyone was thinking.
On Tuesday we had district meeting, and then we had a lesson with Kayla and Sister Pitre. It was a great lesson -- she knew the First Vision was true immediately and wanted her boyfriend to learn too! We would have committed her to baptism, but her boyfriend is Pentecostal and we wanted to teach him first so that he wouldn't freak out and anti her or something. The only downside is her kid was being crazy and then we had to drive Sister Pitre to Riverview, so it kind of ate up the next hour since the lesson was so long. After that, we went knocking, and then we dropped by Sister Karen, this one less-active who's not really "progressing" and really just wants to chat, but we stop by every few weeks. We did it RIGHT before our DA so we'd have an excuse to leave, haha. Then we had a pretty good DA with Sister Lutes, who is kind of one of those quiet giants. She said, "All my friends are members," and I was just kind of getting frustrated inwardly because that shouldn't be an excuse, you should just meet people. But to my surprise, that's exactly how she finished her sentence, "...so that's why I've been joining more community things to find more non-members." Finally someone gets it! After that, we just went knocking on this super long, kind of country-ish road, which was nice except that the houses were really far apart so it wasn't really an efficient use of time in some ways.
By Wednesday we were pretty tired already and I wasn't in the greatest mood, and then we had kind of an awkward chunk of time in the mornings that wasn't really long enough to do things, but too long to just not schedule something. Sister Lewis suggested going to the bus stop to contact, and I agreed, but I was pretty sure we were just going to find a bunch of non-accountable people, as usual. #debbiedowner. So we sit down, and nobody looks promising, but I strike up a conversation with the person next to me. She wasn't interested in talking until I said, "...because we're missionaries for our church blah blah..." and she turned to me and said, "Really?" (Nobody does that!) "Yeah, why do you ask." "I've been researching religions recently and I've looked into yours." "Cool. What others have you looked at." "Just yours, actually. I wanted to go to church, but I was too scared to go alone." WHAAAAAT? So we got her info just before the bus pulled up, and the Lord rebuked me for my bad attitude by blessing me. Haha. Then we had a lesson with Stephanie where we taught the first half of the gospel of Christ, which was great, and then we just went knocking a bunch until our appointment with Judith, which fell through, so we stopped by Ines, this "French" investigator Sister Lewis picked up. She actually speaks Spanish with a few French words thrown in, but it was surprisingly easy to understand. She wasn't really interested in learning more though, so we went home for dinner, and then we had to go to the church for Sister Lewis to get her facebook all set up over skype with the office elders. That ended up eating most of the evening, but on the plus side, I managed to teach a lesson over Facebook chat, which was kind of a weird experience. I think we found a bit of time to knock or something before the end of the day.
On Thursday, we drove to Miramichi and I went to Bathurst with Sister Coleman. The focus of the exchange was basically, "Just work as hard as possible and remind them what it actually feels like," so she pulls up at the apartment to drop off our stuff and I'm just like, "Why???" So we went street contacting for like three hours, and it was 30 degrees when they told me 15, so I got a huuuge sunburn. Then we checked on a potential before going knocking, but she let us in, so we taught a lesson. I think it's the first time there's been a significant language barrier -- this lady was like 60, probably deaf, had zero education and spoke this super bizarre backcountry dialect. She couldn't understand us and we couldn't understand her, haha! So we just did our best and made an appointment for Sister Vera to come back and try to fix whatever we probably taught wrong, haha. After that we had dinner, and then we had choir practice and bible study, which I thought was kind of ineffective, but it was cool because only active members showed up to bible study that time, so it turned out to be a discussion on member missionary work.
In the morning we exchanged back, and Sister Lewis and I did weekly planning in the car. We got back just in time for district planning, which is still super frustrating because a couple members of the district all have very strong opinions and it takes FOREVER. It's actually making me less and less committed to my own ideas because I just want to agree with whatever gets us out of there the quickest, and everyone's ideas probably have good points anyways. We finally got out and went to a lesson with a potential, which fell through, which was good since the Elders set it up for us without really knowing our schedule, and we didn't really have time. We drove straight to this DA out of town, which was really good, and then we went allllllll the way back to Moncton for games night. Elder Houle was in town visiting, which was super weird to see him in non-missionary clothes. He was like, "Seester Olson, I 'ave seen your boyfriend like three times!" and I was like, "That's great, we're not having a conversation about that." Haha. Why is it that as soon as people go home, they forget what's distracting or expected from missionaries? Haha. It was a good games night though. Except we got home feeling like we'd accomplished almost nothing all day despite being so busy.
On Saturday we had our usual skype calls, and then lunch, followed by combinations of checking referrals and knocking. We went to bring Stephanie to a lesson and it fell through, so we went to see Nick, the girl we met on Wednesday. (It's short for Annika.) She's pretty much super golden and has already converted herself on mormon.org, and is super excited. We would have put her on date too, but we told her to ask her dad first. So fingers crossed he's okay with it! She said she already asked him about going to church and he said it was fine, so hopefully it's all good. After that, we went home and had dinner, and then we knocked for the rest of the evening. It got super cold by the end of the evening but it was like 25 degrees at the beginning, so we weren't really dressed for it. It was weird.

On Sunday we met the Amherst sisters at the church and drove them to Stake Conference in Fredericton. It was really great! I had so much fun seeing all the members from Saint John! One of the less-actives I worked with is active and drove another RC/LA who's now active, and one of the elders' investigators who dropped them when I was there is now baptized and the Sunday School President! I was sitting in the choir looking at all of them come in, and getting a new thrill every time I saw a member from Moncton too, and I just remembered again, "How great will be your joy in the kingdom of my Father." That scripture just hits me so powerfully every time I think about how much I love Saint John, like really I wish I had 6 hours afterwards to talk with each of them! I had to pull one of the sisters aside after Stake Conference and give her some straight talk (we talked to the DL about who would do it and I ended up with the assignment), but that went okay. Then we drove the Amherst sisters home. We were STL-ing them and roleplaying in the car, meanwhile the Elders in the next car were being super immature and not letting us pass and throwing banana peels out the window like it was Mario Kart.

We got back to Moncton and had to call another set of sisters about exchanges. We felt really strongly that we should schedule them next week, but we knew they didn't want to because they had a baptism, and one of those sisters is always mad at us, so it was stressful. But it turns out their investigator fell off date, which is super sad, but also shows why the Lord wanted us to schedule exchanges anyways. Then we went to the hospital and dropped off a Book of Mormon someone ordered. Turns out he's in the psychiatric ward and is probably going to be there for a while. I've met a couple people like that on my mission, who aren't accountable but who want a Book of Mormon and can really just feel the Spirit anyways, and there's always something really sweet and kind of special about moments like that, where they are just being prepared for the next life and your role is just to show them some Christlike love and compassion. After that, we dropped a Book of Mormon off to Nick (since we had run out of English ones) and then our lesson with Kayla and her boyfriend fell through (SUPER disappointing), and by that point we were just super overstimulated emotionally from the great talks at Stake Conference, seeing members from our old areas, dealing with some sisters, the guy at the hospital, etc. So we had to take a pause and just talk about all of it, good and bad. Then we went knocking for the rest of the evening, which was pretty much the hardest thing we did all week since we were just SO wiped out in every way. But we found a great potential for the elders, which was worth it since the Elders have been having a hard time finding investigators for themselves -- all of their potentials end up being single women that we teach. We went home and planned really fast so we could do the Sunday zone conference call with the Zone leaders in our pajamas, haha.
Love you
Sister Olson

A picture of my training on creating companionship unity. Using Bell curves. Haha.

Sister Echols at Stake Conference