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

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