July 28, 2014

Dear Mom (and everyone)

Dear Mom,

I'm not feeling particularly prolific today so we'll see how this email goes.

Hmm. So on P-day we just did normal errands, and then we went biking around Sydney to stop by some potentials. I learned how to use the gears on my left-hand side and suddenly my life got a lot easier. We stopped by a potential we'd met a few weeks ago and his wife, Jennifer, was home instead. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and knowing truth for yourself and kind of summarized the Restoration. She was really impressed by our testimonies since she has a daughter our age. She really connected with the gospel blessing her family. So hopefully we'll be able to teach them -- we had a return appointment but they had to cancel. On the way home we followed up with some other potentials and got a lesson set up for the next day.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, and then we brought a YW, Kerianna, to the lesson and they weren't home! Seriously, people, we talked to you less than 24 hours ago! So we went and had a lesson with Kerianna instead since she's a recent convert. Then we went downtown and street contacted until dinner, and then after dinner we ended up going to DQ, apparently, and then we stopped by Julie and had a lesson with her. I think she legitimately wants to learn, but her life circumstances are so crazy right now that the stress and instability are making it hard for her. We sang a few hymns with her and had a lesson about different things we can do to bring the Spirit into our lives, and how if we do something daily to bring the Spirit, then God can direct us. 

On Wednesday we went out first thing in the morning to go street contacting, and it was awesome. One of the first ladies we talked to gave us 5 referrals! We talked to 27 people in just over an hour. After that, we were going to bike all the way to the church, and the last guy we street contacted told us our tires were low and that we could fill them up at Sobey's for free. So we did that and I couldn't believe how much easier it was. The whole way to the church I was thinking about how using all the gears was like getting the fullness of the gospel, and then getting air in the tires was like the gift of the Holy Ghost, in that you go about your life the same way, but it's so much easier! Then I started thinking about how dorky you get on your mission. Haha. At the church we had a lesson over Facebook with one of the elders' investigators who lives in Eskazoni, which is too far away for us to go just to teach her. And they don't want sisters proselyting on the reserve for some reason. After that we had correlation at the church, and President Kaine got all the missionaries pizza and ice cream, which was fantastic. Then we stuck around to see if Marlaine would come to ARP, but she didn't, so we biked home and contacted some more people along the way.

Thursday was more street contacting in the morning, and then we came home to have lunch and finish up the member records we've been making. After that, we contacted some referrals and then a member drove us to our lesson with Julie. She ended up being busy and asked us to come back in 20 minutes, so we drove around with the member. And then we ended up taking a walk to the park instead of teaching Julie in her home, so basically it was a long lesson, but we taught the Gospel of Christ and it was great. It was also really cool because afterwards the member told us she'd been considering making some bad choices, but when she saw how they'd affected Julie's life, she realized, what was I thinking? So that was really neat to see that inspiration, because bringing her was pretty last-minute and it was a really subtle prompting. I love it when you can tell you were inspired, but the Spirit didn't have to press too harshly to do so, because I think that indicates a little more progress in the following-the-Spirit area. :) After the lesson with Julie, we visited with the member a little bit just to strengthen her, and then our lesson with Jennifer's family cancelled so I think we biked around contacting more people again.

On Friday we had weekly planning, and then we were supposed to have a literal fireside with Sister LeBlanc and Kerianna at a beach somewhere, but it was raining, so we rescheduled to next week. Instead we went through the area book and found some likely looking people to follow up on, and then we went around contacting them. (We also went to Dollarama and bought chocolate bars, but hey...) We met a really cool lady who used to be Jehovah's Witness but isn't anymore, so hopefully that goes well. Then we had the feeling like we should go to the church to update our Facebooks, even though that's a much less practical bike ride, but we did, and on the way home, we met this girl named Emrys. She'd met members of our church in University, and had a conversation about the Word of Wisdom. At the time she thought it was restrictive, but the member testified of treating our bodies like a temple. Recently she'd been thinking about treating her body with more respect and was basically living the Word of Wisdom! She also was experimenting with Islam. So we set up an appointment for the next day. It was pretty awesome. Then we stopped by some less-actives and ended up stopping by this Chinese student, Elaine. She's taking an English literature course at CBU that's really hard for her, since she's just learning English, so I ended up explaining the history of colonial India and helping her make an essay outline. English AP payed off, apparently, since a lot of the themes were things Ms. Kim always talked to death. It was pretty cool. I actually kind of wished I could write the essay, haha, it looked interesting.

Saturday we had our apartment inspection and I finally got the clothes you ordered to the Moncton apartment :) I love them. Then we picked up Kerianna and went to the lesson with Emrys. It was a pretty great lesson. We taught the Restoration pretty simply and focused on prophets and dispensations and the Book of Mormon. Kerianna actually taught most of the First Vision without us assigning her to do it, because she'd been reading JS-H the night before by coincidence, so that was AWESOME. Emrys is moving to Halifax this week though, so that's a bummer. We also ended up talking about the pre-existance and the role of opposition, which answered a lot of her questions and really piqued her interest. After the lesson, we took Kerianna home and had lunch before the branch chapel cleanup/BBQ. Everyone helped deep-clean the chapel and there were hotdogs and hamburgers. I was SO tired. I've felt sleep-deprived all week even though I've been sleeping well. After that, we went to get Sister Hughes' bike fixed at SportChek, since her pedal was completely mangled, and they adjusted our brakes for us too, which was awesome, except they adjusted them too tight and now they're dragging on the tires a bit. It's nice to be able to stop though. Then we biked to Sister Power's house and had a good lesson with her, and she told us about some really cool spiritual experiences she's had. I think she really needs visiting teachers though because you can tell she's just craving adult conversation, and it's hard to get her to focus on the gospel. After that, we biked back to our car and drove home.

Sunday was church, and Sister Hughes and I ended up teaching an impromptu Primary lesson to the senior primary class. They gave us the BoM manual when I'm pretty sure it's Old Testament, but we ended up talking about the Armies of Helaman and putting on the whole armour of God. It was a good lesson even if it wasn't in the curriculum. I love teaching Primary :) After church, we came home for dinner and then contacted some referrals again before driving out to Glace Bay for our dinner appointment with the Desmonds, who are a pretty great family. Then we rode our bikes to Dominion and met a lot of great potentials along the way, and we ended up kind of getting let in to a less-active. She was just visiting her parents, who are active, and she and her girlfriend offered to let us in for a glass of water, but then were clearly uncomfortable we were there and managed to avoid us sharing a thought. Haha. After that we biked home and that was the week!

Sister Olson
I don't know how I ended up in a frozen yogurt store...oops...haha

Elder Amaya carries this little vial of salt around. Apparently it's a useful object lesson to "take things with a grain of salt."

On the way home

I think this is my "oh my gosh stop taking pictures of me!" face

Teaching primary - the kids were pretty adorable

I just thought this was a classic missionary pic...bikes :D I love bikes

July 21, 2014

Following the Spirit

Dear Mom,

Haha, yeah, that would have been fun. Oh well. It sounds like everyone's having a great summer. I like the picture of Steven's team too, it really does look like just a bunch of buddies. Especially since everyone else is standing all nicely and they're all making faces and whatnot. Haha.

So this week...on Monday we had a nice relaxing day of getting all our stuff done, which is my favourite kind of P-day. All the activities we do are nice and all, but mostly I just enjoy feeling like everything's in place and then having time to sit in my apartment and unwind. After P-day, we went park contacting for a bit and then we went to go contact a referral. To our surprise, he said his daughter told him we were coming and to come back tomorrow because he had questions. Sweet! So we spent the rest of the evening knocking a street, and we got 4 potentials, which was a lot more success than we usually get! One guy was involved in an AWFUL burn accident and he had such a strong faith in God that got him through. It was really inspiring.

On Tuesday we had district meeting, which was all about working with the members effectively. It was a pretty good meeting, nothing special though. After that, we went home for a quick lunch and then we went biking around downtown talking to people, which I remember absolutely nothing about. I think that might have been the day the JW's had a stand downtown because the cruise ships were in and so everyone thought we were JW's and were super uninterested. After that, we had a DA with the Boutlier family, who are super awesome. We talked a lot about helping the less-actives with them and they came up with some things they can do on their own, and then we talked about making a vision for yourself as a member missionary. Brother Boutlier is super enthusiastic but Sister Boutlier just isn't confident at all, so we worked to help her understand that "not being uncomfortable with missionary work" is TOTALLY a vision and also something that makes sense to work towards, so that you can stop feeing uncomfortable, and we committed them to do roleplays in FHE about sharing the gospel. So that was a pretty cool member visit. After the DA, we went to see the referral from Monday again, but they were busy, so we fixed a definite time for the next day and then went knocking. We met a pretty cool guy who was really old and Presbyterian, but seemed like he would have let us in if someone else had been there. He told us his wife died of anorexia at 42 and it was really sad. We sent the elders over later and they had a good talk but he didn't have any real intent in the end. After that, we stopped by some less-actives and managed to talk to Sister Jackson, the mother-in-law of some people here who's visiting from Scotland. Her accent was pretty awesome. She had a super sad story and basically didn't want to open herself up to dealing with it in order to return to activity, which was just super sad. I think so often, we go through something hard and all we see is the temporary difficulty of dealing with it now, instead of the eternal perspective that it's going to be worse to never work through those things. So basically no matter what we said, the Spirit couldn't testify because she'd already decided she wouldn't listen to it. Sad. We went home and planned and I was thinking about how to have more success and I decided I needed to try to follow the Spirit more, so I prayed and told the Lord I'd do what He prompted me to do and committed to try to ask for His opinion more, and the rest of the week has been really awesome since then.

On Wednesday we went biking around in the morning before lunch in order to talk to 10 people by noon (a zone goal), and then we biked home for lunch. We live on top of a hill about half an hour away from where all the people are, so the ride home is just one giant half-hour hill. After lunch, we were going to stop by a member, but Sister Hughes forgot that they live WAY too far away to bike, so instead we followed up on some potentials and stuff before coming back to drive to correlation at the church. That was a good meeting, as always, but it went super long so we stopped at Tim Horton's on the way to picking up a member for our lesson with Darlene and Murray, the referrals we'd been trying to contact all week. It was pretty cool because a few weeks ago we stopped by the member and resolved her concerns about hypothetically coming to a lesson with us, and it totally payed off because when we called her this week she was just like, "yeah sure!" We had a pretty good lesson. They sound kind of like eternal investigators, but they also have some pretty good intentions. Murray had all these weird questions where I could tell he'd been hearing a lot of anti, all about Kolob and whatnot, which was kind of frustrating, so I basically tried to direct it back to basic principles and we ended up getting to teach the Saviour's Earthly Ministry through the Book of Mormon and explained how it's the evidence that we have priesthood authority. But then we missed a TOTALLY golden opportunity because Darlene had to leave really suddenly at the end without warning us beforehand, and just then Murray was like, "Yeah we've been looking at getting immersion baptized," and that would have been a GREAT time to be like, "Well since you want to be baptized anyways, maybe you should see if there's church with the PRIESTHOOD while you're at it!" (Not in those exact words, but you know.) Anyways, they didn't seem like they were super interested in actually deciding if our church was true or not or anything, it was basically more of a curiosity thing than anything else for them at the moment, so we didn't really pick them up but we'll probably stop by in a few weeks now that we know what their deal is and see if we can build their intent to actually find out. I think they just don't want to open themselves up to the possibility of such a big social change by deciding to look into whether the church is true or not. After that, we stopped by this one LA family that we didn't know anything about, but Sister Hughes was feeling strongly about. Our branch president said he didn't know much about them and the elders said they always avoided missionaries, but somehow (the Spirit) things worked out perfectly so that we got to have a really long chat with Sister P on the porch. She has a son who's gay and even though she has a testimony, she's just really stressed out that he'll feel rejected or that other people will be rude. So we got to resolve concerns there and it was one of those really cool moments where you know you just followed the Spirit PERFECTLY and you were exactly where Heavenly Father wanted you to be, talking to exactly who He wanted you to talk to in that moment.

On Thursday we took some time in the morning to do some member records in the morning and work on the area book, and then we had lunch and went street contacting. It was SO HOT. And it was super windy. We had to pedal to go downhill, the rare flat parts felt like uphill, and going uphill felt like death. We went street contacting downtown and ran into an old potential who made a new appointment with us, and we stopped by a member's work that the sisters also used to volunteer at and talked to Sister Fennel and set up a time to see her later that evening. We had a member visit with this one lady who's active, but has some mental health issues (the branch president asked us to stop by) and we tried to stop by Joline, one of our non-progressing investigators, but she wasn't home. And we'd done street contacting and whatnot and we basically realized that somehow we had two hours for dinner and no solid plans, which was really weird. So the best thing we could think of to do was to go to Staples and get some supplies we needed for our records and stuff, but the mall was REALLY far away. We biked there anyways, and while we were there I got a bike carrier bag so I wouldn't have to bike with a purse on all the time. We ended up eating at the mall since we were STARVING and then we biked all the way home (literally across Sydney) and went to see Sister Fennel. We went over the Stop Smoking Program, since she was going to be Julie's member fellowshipper for it, and also offered to go visiting teaching with her, since she loves it but apparently her companions have made it difficult to get done. Then while we were there, another member who lives in the same apartment complex as her came outside, so we talked to Sister Parks for a bit and she said she'd been having computer problems, so I ended up getting to explain to her how to log into her accounts on the internet on her tablet, that the spinney circle means "wait", and I put an icon on her desktop for lds.org since she didn't know how to get to it from the internet. Then we tried to share a thought about member missionary work, but she was really talkative, so I'm not sure how much sunk in. That ate up a lot of our evening, and then Harold's lesson cancelled and I'm not sure if we got anything effective done then since we only had like 20 minutes.

Friday was weekly planning, and then we loaded up our bikes and drove to Glace Bay. We parked there and biked to the hospital to visit a member there who was recently reactivated, and then we basically biked around and stopped by potentials and knocked and whatnot. For some reason, we'd felt REALLY good about being in Glace Bay, even though it's a bit far, but we weren't really accomplishing much from what I could see. But then we stopped by this one former investigator, who I'll call Mary even though that's not her name. Both she and her husband were formers, but when we got there her husband was just on his way out. As soon as she left she just broke down crying. Apparently he's really abusive, and she'd been praying for help and we showed up the very next day. It was really special. So we got to uplift her and offer support and figured out some ways we could continue to meet with her and get her out to church things and whatnot to get away from it sometimes. It was really humbling to see that the Lord would trust us to be His hands in helping someone like that. After that, we had quinoa salad in the car and then we had barely any time left before we had to drive home, so we ended up going street contacting/getting ice cream (because super healthy food is vaguely unsatisfying). When we came out of the ice cream parlour, this man stopped us. Apparently he used to be a member and he'd seen us biking around, and he'd been feeling the need for something more in his life and he remembered how happy he'd been when he joined the church. It was another "right place at the right time" moment and we took his information to give to the elders. (I love it when "inspiration" and "getting ice cream" coincide.)

On Saturday we worked on the member book again, and then we had to race to get our 10 contacts before noon. We went to Wentworth Park, and the North Sydney elders were there, so we went downtown, and the Eskazoni elders were there! It was pretty funny. We couldn't get anything done. Haha. We biked around contacting some more potentials and whatnot, and then went back to the part to meet Sister Farrell, since Sister Fennel couldn't make it to our lesson with Julie. We went over the program with her, but then when Julie showed up she ended up telling us all about how her boyfriend was basically making her use drugs, and she knows what Heavenly Father wants her to do but it's really hard, and all her concerns about leaving him. It's been pretty crazy to see that as soon as we just commit to do whatever Heavenly Father wants us to do to help people the most in this area, He just starts sending us all these abused women. So Sister Farrell was great for that lesson, and she left committed to move out, which was fantastic. After that, our plans had been to stop by and visit Sister Farrell (since our member present plans changed that morning after we'd planned the day), so we had ANOTHER chunk of time unplanned, since the rest of the time was "bike to Whitney Pier and back and talk to people along the way." (Planning for bikes is just very different from what I've done before.) So we ended up stopping by some potentials, which I felt really good about, but none were home. We left sticky notes for them and finally went to Target to get some dividers for our member records, and we met some pretty cool people in that parking lot, which was neat. After that, we went home and had supper, which was fantastic since we never ended up having lunch. We ended up extending supper to plan our YW lesson and a musical number for an 8-year-old's baptism the next day, since we were SO sunburned and we felt like we needed to wait until the sun had abated a bit before we went outside. Then we went biking to the street we planned to knock, and inadvertently discovered the boundary between Sydney and Sydney River, where the elders live, so that was neat. We met a really cool girl on the way who was visiting from Victoria, and she said that she really appreciated that we were having conversations with people instead of being pushy, which was great since that's something our mission has really been focusing on in contacting. The street we knocked had hardly anyone on it -- the only real door approach we had was with a lady who was just in her underwear and smoking a cigarette, and claimed to be an active JW. I didn't even know what to say to that one.

Sunday was church, as usual, but Harold didn't come and Sister Farrell said that Julie didn't answer. Apparently her dogs didn't even bark either, so maybe she left already. The Eskazoni elders had a family come, which was cool. Sister Hughes taught Gospel Principles and then I taught YW on what it means to take the name of Christ upon you. It was kind of improvised since we never got the printer to work, but it ended up being really good. After church there was the baptism. We sang "Lord, Accept Into Thy Kingdom" to the tune of "In Humility, Our Saviour." The elders ended up joining in last minute, so we ended up with an a cappella quartet. It sounded SO GOOD for not really rehearsing it. We had to transpose it up because the bass was a little low for them, and I'm not sure when I got okay at singing in public or singing that high. So that was neat. After the baptism, there were refreshments and whatnot, and then we drove out to Dominion and started biking. For some reason it was just SO HARD that day, like my brain got tired of all the effort of biking and was just like, "Nope, no matter how much we exercise, I'm not making any endorphins to go along with it." We started knocking but the first house gave us a referral for somewhere else in Dominion, and somehow without even discussing it Sister Hughes and I both knew we were just going to leave the street and head over there. On the way we ran into some members, who invited us inside for some water, and we ended up sharing a thought with them. It took a WHILE since they were clearly used to missionaries hanging out, and usually I'd have felt bad for how long the visit took, but for some reason I just left feeling really refreshed and edified and motivated, so I guess that's what we were supposed to do. We went to check the referral and the address wasn't very exact, so we ended up contacting people by tracking down the referral, and in the process we got another referral who turned out to be a pretty cool potential as well. We finally met the original referral, who wasn't interested. The interesting this is, the elders had just knocked that area a week ago, and I think it was the Lord's way of getting us to follow up on some seeds planted there. So then we went to check a member referral, but they were busy, and so we had more quinoa salad in the car before trying to track down a LA. She didn't live there anymore, so we ended up feeling really good about stopping by another member family. We ended up having a GREAT discussion on praying for missionary opportunities with real intent, plus they fed us crackers and cheese and cookies and candy. Haha.

So basically, it was a pretty great week as far as following the Spirit goes. Now we just have to exert ourselves and do all that's required to get some baptisms :)

Sister Olson

Us biking

My helmet hair

After Sophia's baptism with Sister Davison and all the missionaries

Me trying to figure out where we're going. (This happens about 20 times a day)
A cool sunset on Saturday night

Me with our bikes on Sunday

July 14, 2014

Doing the 'Reasonable Thing'

Dear Mom,

HEY that is my favourite dress! Haha. (I can't believe Carmen fits into that dress. I wore that to the Winter Waltz at BYU!) Speaking of Mark, I had a weird dream a few nights ago that he became a minister for a different church, and we were all really worried about him, but he kept insisting that he was still Mormon and being a minister was "just his job." Hahaha. That's awesome about Carmen's Bronze Cross! Way to go! And is Chloe wearing makeup? Eric is soooo cute!

Last Monday after emailing we went to the coal miner's museum as a district. Our tour guide was just an average person from Glace Bay who worked in a coal mine back in the day. It was really sobering to see the kinds of things people had to do just to survive back then, and also inspiring to get a glimpse into this man and see the inherent worth and strength in everyone. They took us on a tour of a mine and there was also an interpretive center. I learned a lot of things about coal mining. I feel like every museum I go to on my mission has a display about tectonic theory and I love it. (I was also thinking about the Zoolander movie a bit haha). That took basically all day though so we scrambled to get our grocery shopping done. After that, we went knocking. That was probably when we knocked into Harold. More about him later.

On Tuesday we had to leave by 7:30 am to go to Zone Training in New Glasgow. It was a pretty fun drive. Although at one point Sister Hughes told me to take an exit, so I did, and then we turned left and right and left and right etc until we finally got onto a highway...the same highway we had been driving on. That one incident kind of sums up Sister Hughes, haha. I love her, she's so humble and Christlike, but she's like Amelia Bedelia's twin sister haha. We had a really good Zone Training on working with the members. I was surprised to see that basically all of my notes from Mission Leadership Council last transfer became a part of the final draft of the trainings -- President Leavitt made little booklets for everyone about working with members. After we got back, it was pretty late, so we had dinner and then I think we went knocking for a bit before the end of the evening.

Wednesday we went park contacting, but there weren't a lot of people so we walked downtown and went street contacting. We talked to 31 people before noon, it was crazy! I love street contacting. Then we had lunch, and then we were checking on some referrals and I kept thinking about the Zone Training from Tuesday, and I thought of a member we could stop by. We went in and almost immediately into our visit she burst into tears, which I felt bad for for her, but I was also like, "Yessss! Inspiration followed!" She's going through a hard time right now and we were able to strengthen her, and then we had a lesson with Chris and this member couple, the Boutliers. It was a pretty good lesson, but we just can't figure him out. He seems to have real intent, but we can't figure out why he's interested. It was kind of funny. He was enthusiastic about reading and praying though, so that was good. After that we were late for correlation with the branch president (who is also our branch mission leader) (because out of the 5 people in the lesson, I was the only one who stayed on topic) so we hurried to that, and then that went long, so we came home for supper and knocked a bit before our recent convert lesson. The sisters recently baptized John, the father of a Chinese student who got baptized a little while ago. He came from China to learn about the church and get baptized. He's super solid and it was a pretty cool lesson.

Thursday we had studies, and then we went bike contacting. The Zone Leaders challenged us to talk to 10 people before noon every day, and we had President Leavitt interviews at noon, so we decided to just bike around and find everyone walking their dogs and such. It was raining when we left, but we went anyways and shortly thereafter the sun came out and we had pretty good success. We came home for lunch and then we had interviews. It was a rather unusual interview because President apparently finally hit his breaking point with missionaries "not taking enough thought," so the whole thing was about the Area Book and how to use it to take more thought and work with members and formers better, and about doing the "reasonable thing." It hit kind of close to home because in Dieppe I just felt so much pressure from the Zone Leaders, my district leader, and even Sister Lewis to just get as many contacts as possible and do nothing but personal finding and lessons that I really felt like I wasn't allowed to innovate and do the reasonable thing, which I think is one thing that made me so stressed there. So after President left, Sister Hughes and I worked on the area book for a bit and talked about some ways we could implement that, and then we tried to stop by a former before our dinner appointment. It was a super effective DA, we spent the whole time talking about how to work with the less actives and missionary work, and we were out on time, so that was awesome. After that, we were supposed to meet Julie in the park -- Julie being an investigator who used to be on date, but who I hadn't met yet. She wasn't there when we were, so we did park contacting and eventually found her and taught a pretty good lesson. Her life has been crazy recently but she's been cutting back on smoking even without our support and she'd already picked a new baptismal date since she knew she'd missed the first one, so that was encouraging. After that, we went to the university for our lesson with Harold. He's a Chinese student studying engineering. He also brought his friend Jessica, who's also a Chinese student studying public health. We taught God is Our Loving Heavenly Father, the Atonement, Book of Mormon, and Pray to Know. It was pretty great. They just soaked it all up. At one point, we were sharing personal experiences with the Atonement (because when you tell Chinese students "the Gospel of Jesus Christ will help you with personal challenges and concerns," they ALWAYS ask for specific examples), and Harold said, "This must be why you do this. You want to bring other people to God and let them have those experiences." It was so cool to see how it was just SO OBVIOUS to him that of COURSE you'd want to share the gospel when you'd experienced it yourself. His conversion was just so fresh that it made sense to him. So they both committed to come to church and that was an awesome end to the evening.

Friday was weekly planning, and then we went street contacting for about an hour before coming back home and working on making member records in the area book. Then we went out on the bikes and ended up stopping by a less-active, Mary, who lost her leg to gangrene and can't come to church because it's not handicap accessible. We had the good luck to catch her right as she was going outside so we sat outside and taught her. We also ran into Chris downtown which was kind of cool, since his friend was being super negative about the church and he was just like, "Hey, is there anything else going on I can help out with?" and totally not acting ashamed of it at all. We went home for supper and then we checked a few referrals and went knocking before heading up to Whitney Pier to try to drop in on a member. She wasn't home, so we dropped by a LA, who was like, "I told the church I'm never coming back!" (sad), then we stopped in on some other members. They weren't home, but their non-member mom was, and she let us in and gave us juice and a wagon wheel (which was great because I was STARVING) and we had a good conversation with her and I think it built her trust and the members' trust when they heard about it, since they told us on Sunday that she really enjoyed our visit. So that was cool inspiration. It's really neat to see how the Lord can send you so many inspirations once you just decide that something is an option. Like dropping by members.

Saturday was kind of blah because I just work up with very little drive to DO things, and then all our plans got messed around. So usually when I feel like that I just make myself stick to our plans, but this was more of a "do many things of your own free will" situation and my free will was MIA. We tried though. We had a skype call with the whole zone at 10 where President kind of went over the same things as from the interview, and they presented the Zone vision for the next two transfers, and then we came home and had lunch. After that, we were going to bike to a RC lesson and then bike/street contact, but she texted us and asked us to come help paint instead, so we ended up getting changed and then driving there. I really enjoyed the painting, but it took longer than just a lesson, so we drove to our lesson with Chris, but it fell through, and then all our plans were "bike around and talk to people" but we had our car. So we tried street contacting, since he lives right downtown, but apparently nobody goes to downtown Sydney on the weekends, so we tried to stop by Joline, but that didn't work, so we went home and had dinner. We confirmed with FIVE investigators that they were all coming to church, so we called members to greet and sit by all of them, which was super productive. After dinner, I was just feeling distinctly unenthused about our evening plans, but it felt more like the Spirit and less like me just having an off day, so we prayed about it and we felt really good about going to this one street we were knocking and following up on our referrals there. So we were going down the street contacting referrals and knocking on everyone who wasn't home the first time, and we get to our last referral. They'd actually been referred to us twice -- once by the lady across the street and once by their neighbours. We knock on the door of what's supposed to be a young family, and instead we get an old Greek guy who's EXACTLY as eccentric as all the old Greek guys you see in movies. He invites us in, has us sit down at the kitchen table (where the extended family is finishing up dinner) and tells his wife to get us some "good Greek food" and listen to us "preach about Jesus." Well, his children and grandchildren cleared out of there, and they fed us AWESOME Greek food. Then he asked us lots of questions about our missions and we got to teach about the Apostasy and whatnot. It turns out that he lives in Sydney, his ex-wife was visiting from Greece, and his daughter who lives there wasn't even home! Then they fed us cake, and while they were feeding us cake one of his other daughters came in with the daughter who lives there on Skype and introduced us. (I'm sure the conversation in the other room was "Dad's crazy! He let the JW's in and the're just sitting in the kitchen eating! Come look at this!" haha). At the end of it all we got his address and gave him a Restoration pamphlet and the church address. So that was super cool. I think sometimes the Lord allows me to be unenthused about the day because it pushes me to figure out what we're actually supposed to do.

On Sunday only one investigator actually came, Harold, but that was a great experience for him anyways. I taught Gospel Principles about Work and Self-Reliance, and then after church we taught him the Restoration. We were just super simple that no other church has God's power, and that the way to know is to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it's true. We went over how to pray again, and without us even asking he just started into a prayer about it! It was such a sweet and humble prayer. In his hesitant English, he said, "Dear Heavenly Father. This is Harold. I am here to ask you some questions..." It was so great! He said he believes it, so we said, "The next step is to choose to live in harmony with the knowledge you have" and put him on date for August 16! After that, we had dinner at the church, and then we drove to Glace Bay. We parked the car there and unloaded the bikes. Our plan was to bike around Glace Bay and Dominion, dropping in on referrals, potentials, formers, and members, while bike contacting along the way. In reality, due to the lack of a map, nobody being home or interested, and Sister Hughes always thinking we have to go the opposite way we should, we basically spent the day going on a 20 km bike ride up and down every hill on earth in 30 degree weather. Haha. We contacted a lot of people by asking for directions and we had a pretty cool experience with one lady where she turned out to have just lost her husband, and we taught a bit of the Plan of Salvation. She was crying and it was a really special moment. (She also pointed us in the opposite direction and we ended up riding all the way to Gardiner Mines before we realized our mistake, but whatever.) We finally found the members we were trying to see, but they weren't home, so we stopped by their neighbours, who are formers. Sister Hughes had already tried with Sister Weaver, but it sounded like the kind of situation where it could have been lack of skill on their part rather than lack of interest on the investigators' part, so we tried again. They're not interested, but they let us in and gave us Gatorade, which was awesome. After that, we stopped by one last member who's been struggling in the past, and she's doing better now, but we still were able to provide a lot of help there too, which was really nice. When we got out it had finally cooled down, so we biked all the way back into Glace Bay. Just before we got to our car, a police officer stopped us. He said he could tell by our demeanour that we were with a church (or maybe because nobody else would take that intense of a bike ride in a skirt haha) and had a long conversation with us. It was so cool because we could tell the Spirit totally prompted him to approach us, and that never would have happened if we'd been in our car. Then we loaded the bikes back up and drove home. We didn't eat dinner all day because of the riding and I was STARVING so I had lasagna at like 9:45 at night, haha.

Today, my stomach made a hungry noise and Sister Hughes said, "Oh my gosh, I thought that was an airplane!" hahaha. I'm not used to how much more I have to eat on bikes.

Sister Olson

I don't even know what this wheel is, but it was outside the museum so we all got pictures with it.

Us in our hard hats and capes. (It's damp underground so they provide capes.)

The mine.

Canary in a coalmine.

Underground garden.

Sister Pizzey, Sister Sandberg and I -- we all came out together.

All the sisters...and the Zone Leaders, who insisted on being in the picture.

Posterity picture -- I did the first half of Sister Jarvis' training, Sister Echols did the second half, and then she finished training Sister Fincher.

Elder Bodine and Elder Henderson also came out with us.

Zone Picture

July 7, 2014

Hello Sydney

Dear Mom,

Is Carmen wearing my Garage capris in that one picture with Avery? haha. That's funny. Sounds like you all had a great trip though!

I forgot my planner at home since it's a new transfer, so I'll have to go by memory for what I did each day, so I might forget stuff. On Monday I finished packing all my things so that we'd be able to work effectively for the rest of the week. You get no personal time after 9:30 as an STL so it had to happen then. It was SO hot in our apartment and Sister Lewis and I had to keep putting ice packs down our shirts because we have no air conditioning or fans or anything. Haha. I'm pretty sure Monday was just knocking since it's not a very good day for visiting members. It was SUPER hot even though it was the evening. We contacted the RLDS family again and made an appointment for Thursday evening, which was disappointing because I would have loved to be in that lesson.

Tuesday was Canada Day. We had a lunch appointment with the Secords and they had hamburgers and hot dogs, which was really fun. Except it was all outside and I was dying. Then we went to Centennial Park since apparently that's where everyone goes on Canada Day, but people were exclusively using the water park and it just felt really awkward to contact all these naked people so we went knocking instead. It was like 40 degrees and super humid. At the end of every street, I felt as overheated as if I'd just done the most intense workout of my life. So the pattern was knock a street, blast the AC, knock another street, blast the AC...it was brutal. In the evening we had a DA with the Demarchi family. They took us to Blue Olive, a Mediterranean restaurant. I got lamb kebabs, couscous, and two types of salad. It was SOOOO good. You know when you eat delicious food and you're just blissed out? That was the rest of the evening. They were also very impressed we shared a message, because apparently the ZLs didn't on Monday during their DA. *facepalm* *headdesk* *thatshouldbethebareminimum*. Then we had correlation all by ourselves, since we have no WML, and that was the end of the evening.

Wednesday was still hot. We went street contacting along the Riverfront and that was tolerable because of the breeze on the water, but nobody was out, so it was also ineffective. Then we went to see Sister Doiron and try to help strengthen her a bit -- she's active, but she just needs some extra support right now. She had AC and so when we got out I was STARVING. I just lose my appetite when it gets hot and all I can eat are fruits and vegetables and it's like accidentally dieting or something. We stopped at Wendy's and then we went knocking again, I think. Same deal as Tuesday except there was a breeze so it was nicer out. After dinner, we knocked a bit more. My last door in Dieppe was an English lady who refused to talk to us because she had a "no solicitors" sign. Haha. Then we had a lesson with Trish, a girl in the ward who got home from her mission and kind of went off the rails. It was a really good lesson and we set up a really good framework for the sisters to meet with her in the future.

Thursday we had studies and then went to the church for transfers. The transfer van was so full that Elder Torrie, the new AP, sat on the floor in between the two front seats, which was super funny. The van was full of elders going home and it was kind of weird. I heard a lot of great mission stories though. Then I got to the mission office and met Sister Hughes. Her previous companion, Sister Christiansen, says her spirit animal would be a puppy, and it's totally true. She's just happy and enthusiastic in almost a really innocent way, and she's super obedient and just wants to please everyone. She laughs at EVERYTHING. It's adorable. It's like tickling a baby every time you tell a joke. She just loses it. We had an enjoyable drive back to Sydney. It's a 5 hour drive and it's SUPER long. Crazy. We got back with about an hour left in the evening so we went to a park to contact people. We met some people on vacation from the Czech Republic and then we met this guy named Chris in his 20's. He's had a hard life but he's in school now and kind of getting on the right track. So it's a sweet spot where they're humbled but not off the rails. We set up an appointment for Saturday and committed him to come to church on Sunday. Then we went home...apparently they'd just moved apartments a few weeks previously. It was SO MESSY. I was LOSING my MIND. Aaaah. I can handle mess, but on Thursday I learned it has to be MY mess. Haha. So we planned for the next day and it was a bit frustrating because Sister Hughes is just not an organized or sense-of-direction person, but we got through it okay and then I unpacked some of my stuff before bed.

On Friday we had weekly planning, which was helpful for getting oriented to the area, and I also used every spare second to unpack and clean the apartment, because SERIOUSLY. After that, I don't remember exactly how everything went down, but basically we checked on uncontacted referrals and went knocking a lot. We found a new investigator, Joline, who was a potential from before I got here, and she seems pretty good. She used to be very Catholic, like most people here, but a combination of getting busy and the whole things with the priests turned her off, but she wants to raise her kids in a church. We mostly did HTBT and committed her to come to church, but I could tell she wasn't super committed and even though she said yes to baptism, I didn't feel good about extending a date until she showed a little more commitment to other things. We got a call from a member asking what time we were coming over for our DA, which Sister Hughes forgot, so we said 5 and then we went to the library to get directions and then we went to the DA. It was taco salad and I was super happy about that. Except she was still cooking when we got there, so it started 40 minutes late. Aaargh. We got a great referral though, which was super weird for me after being in Moncton where we don't get member referrals, and then we came back into town and went knocking. We were checking a referral, who lived on such-and-such street in a house with green shutters. #seemslegit. So we went knocking all the houses with green shutters. This one house belonged to a 90-year-old woman who thought we were JW's, and let us in because SHE's a JW! It was so funny and so awkward!!! Haha. So we got out of there and eventually found the referral, who wasn't interested, so we just kept knocking the street.

Saturday was supposed to be a "hurricane," but really it was just super windy and it rained once in a while. We spent the morning making necessary calls and then took the bikes out to knock a bit before lunch since we figured nobody would be in the parks or streets for contacting. So I guess I can say I've ridden a bike in a hurricane, haha. It was basically super ineffective because on the way home, we were trying to go uphill against super strong winds and basically standing still. Sydney is FULL of hills so basically by the time I come home I'll either have super attractive legs or super overdeveloped, gross thigh muscles. Haha. We had lunch and then took the car out for the rest of the day, which was basically knocking and checking referrals again. We couldn't get a member to come with us to Chris so we had to cancel, but we did get a ride for him to come to church anyways. The members here are super helpful and the people are super open and it's like key indicators just fall out of the sky or something. I didn't feel like Dieppe was a hard area until I got here and saw the difference! In the evening we went to visit a RC who got baptized in Cole Harbour (after I left, so I didn't know her) who's living here for a month before she goes out to Calgary. She's super solid and it was so cool to see the joy in her face. It really made me want to get more baptisms so I could bring that joy for someone else. It was the first time where that's really the ONLY reason I wanted a baptism -- usually I've been motivated more by a sense of wanting to please Heavenly Father and do what he called me to do, because it's hard to have this vague love for someone you haven't met yet. So that was a cool experience.

We had church on Sunday. Joline didn't come but Chris did. He was super nervous. I got the elders to sit by him and they got along great with him. The branch president talked to us after and said he seems super prepared and was participating in Priesthood and said it all made sense to him, and he volunteered to come to the branch service project! The only thing is, he also found out that Chris has some charges against him right now (which he claims to be innocent of), so we'll see if we're allowed to keep working with him. Major bummer. Chris texted us after church and thanked us for bringing him to such a great place where people all want to help each other. He seemed to really connect with the lessons on sacrifice, service, and tithing, which happened to be the theme that Sunday, so that was cool. After church we went knocking again, and we met a guy who told us a pretty cool story. He was in the army in Hawaii in the 60's and there was this guy in his barracks, John Taylor, who came up to about his shoulder (and this guy wasn't tall either) and was pretty quiet. He used to spend all his time reading a book and just didn't fit in to army life. The book was -- surprise surprise -- the Book of Mormon. But despite how quiet and small and bookish he was, John Taylor commanded a certain kind of respect. There was less cussing in the barracks when he was around and when they'd go out on Saturday night, they'd send John home on the bus before they got too rough, around 9 or 11 at night. They found out later that he was actually a champion boxer and could have taken any of them in a fight, but he never needed to because he was so respected. He signed up for the Regimental Boxing league, and was against a black soldier in another regiment. Usually all the black soldiers at the time, regardless of regiment, cheered for the black soldiers, but this time ALL the soldiers in their regiment cheered for John Taylor, because he was that respected. The guy who told us this story wasn't interested himself, but he said, "So you keep going, because maybe you'll find someone and make another John Taylor." It was a really great experience.

Sister Olson

It was SO. HOT. Sydney's much nicer :) Even if the weather was the only reason I got transferred, it was totally worth it.
I tried to start packing, but Sister Lewis got in my suitcase and started fake-sobbing (which she does a lot when she's actually upset but doesn't want to admit it.)

French White Handbook. There's a lot of English words in there and we think it's funny that the handbook is really written in Chiak.

I knocked about 100 streets in Dieppe. It was 76 a couple Sundays ago, but we knocked a TON since then.
Sydney is really pretty, but like the rest of the Maritimes, it's "water and trees" pretty and I'm actually getting kind of tired of taking pictures of it. Haha.