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

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