August 25, 2014

Zone Conference

Dear Mom,

We actually have an app installed on Facebook so that we can't see the Newsfeed. Once in a while I look people up on FB, but not often because it can be distracting. But I looked up Janie's photos and I agree, her dress is AWESOME. Those photos were sooo cute. Aah. Haha. Good thing Marissa's photo was pretty cool too to balance it out :)

Sounds like everyone had a great week. Good for Carmen for being careful. I agree, that's pretty cool that the same people who blessed Steven were able to ordain him. You've kind of mentioned how you cried in the van, but I haven't heard the rest of that, haha. 

So this week was pretty cool. I think we just did laundry and stuff on P-day. Took a nap. Then in the evening we had some people to stop in on and whatnot, and a few appointments fell through, and we ended up going knocking in Reserve Mines. It was kind of cool because I'd decided that week to focus on really having the desire to actually FIND someone when we went finding. So we were knocking, and it was pouring, and we found a GREAT potential family that knows a member! (Pretty much everyone we found this week knows a member. Member missionary work is SO important.) So that was some pretty cool success already. Then at the end of the evening, we decided to knock one last house, and she invited us in because it was raining so bad! I almost said "no" on autopilot just because I didn't want her to feel bad about the rain, then my brain kicked in and was like, "She just invited you in, go in!!!" haha. So we go in and it turns out to be a mom and adult daughter, Eileen and Krysty, who are Anglican. They've recently really been feeling the need to go back to church, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the Anglican church, they're just searching for something. (Golden!) And then knew a lot about the church from the Osmonds and the Shaytards and love it. They said they'd "very probably" be baptized when they knew it was true. Great end to the evening.

On Tuesday we went bike contacting in the morning, and it RAINED. It was one of those good/bad caught-in-the-rain moments. We stopped by Sister Parks on the way home and had a member visit, and then we had lunch. During lunch I put tights and rubber boots on, and then it didn't rain the rest of the day. Go figure. We went out to Glace Bay, but Marlaine cancelled our appointment, so we ended up stopping by a former, Ariel, who's boyfriend is a less-active member. It turns out the previous missionaries had pressured her a bit too much, she'd been anti'd, and she didn't feel like she could go to church if she didn't want to get baptized yet. But she wanted to find a church for her daughters. So we resolved all those concerns and picked her up as a new investigators. It's funny because she has BRIGHT red hair, like Ariel or Anne of Green Gables. And she has all the mannerisms of Anne. Funniest of all, her daughter is named "Cordelia" and has dark hair, blue eyes and dimples. Ariel claims to have never read the book. Haha. So after that I think we went knocking and then had dinner at Tim Horton's, and then we visited with a member, Cindy Demeyere, before going knocking for the last little bit of the evening. Both people we knocked into became potentials, so that was cool.

And then it was Wednesday and we had to leave at 5 IN THE MORNING to drive to Sackville, which is right outside Halifax, for Zone Conference. *sigh*. It was a pretty cool drive in the dark and with the sunrise though, Cape Breton is beautiful. It was a really good and uplifting Zone Conference. Sister Echols, Sister Lee and I did a last minute musical number -- I got to play the piece twice before we performed it -- but it was great. I was kind of nervous all Zone Conference though because at the end of Zone Conference, all the missionaries in their last transfer always bear their testimonies, and it was kind of a big "you're going home!" moment and I wanted to make sure I said the right things. It turned out really well though. I ended up sharing a cool experience I had where I was kind of frustrated with all my weaknesses over my mission and I prayed to ask if Heavenly Father could accept my mission anyways, and I just had this mental image of myself as a 3-year-old coming to him with a picture I drew, and of course it's a little 3-year-old picture that looks ridiculous, and like any parent, he didn't condemn me for not drawing it perfectly; he gave me a hug and said he was proud of me and put it on his refrigerator (using a magnet on stainless steel, the Celestial Kingdom's going to be awesome). And I could really feel that even though he recognized my weaknesses, he really was happy with my mission and knew it was the best I could offer at that point in my spiritual progression and that I had wanted to give him my best offering. 

After Zone Conference, we ended up sticking around because the STL's had a leadership meeting and we were going on visits afterwards, and Sister Lewis called from Charlottetown because apparently Stephanie's been working on Sundays and is now LA, which is sad. But it totally made my day to talk to Sister Lewis again! I love her. Then we went with the Cole Harbour sisters back to Cole Harbour, and the RS was having an activity that was basically "eat fajitas and way too much dessert," so that was our dinner. It was pretty fun since I knew most of the members there so I didn't feel awkward being at another ward's dinner party. Then Sister Howell and I went boardwalk contacting, which was ALSO pretty cool because it was in Eastern Passage. When I was in that area, I really never felt good about working in Eastern Passage, especially boardwalk contacting. Which was partly because it genuinely was a harder area and not where the Lord always needed us, but partly also due to just a lack of skill for that kind of area. So I tried to really exercise faith this time and it was a really great experience! It felt so different even from just when I went contacting there before the French temple trip a few months previous to that. We met a Pentecostal couple who were actually really open and recognized that their church wasn't perfectly true. But they're also pretty sure that because they went to Bible school and have so much more "life experience" than us, they didn't feel the need to really hear us out whenever we were teaching. So that was a bit frustrating. Hopefully they listen to the Spirit when they read and pray though. Then we went back to the CH apartment for the night. We found out that our phone had been off the whole time and Sister Howell had had the other car keys, so the sisters had to get member to drive them to their appointments. Oops. Yay for members.

On Thursday I went with Sister Howell to teach their investigator Debbie who's on date, which was a good lesson. It was about forgiveness since they also have her neighbour on date and they're enemies. Haha. It went well. Then we stopped in on a potential, and she let us right in, but when we got in it turned out that she's blind and didn't realize we were Mormons, and always would chase the Mormon missionaries away with her dog! Hahaha. It was cool though because her heart was softened as we taught and I could tell she was really feeling the Spirit and was willing to have us back, even if she doesn't fully understand why or that it means it's true yet. It was really neat to see the way the Lord prepared to get at her. Then we went home for a REALLY short lunch, since our plans went long since Debbie got a 15-minute-long important phone call in the middle of the lesson. (It gave me some career ideas though so that was cool.) Then I went with Sister Pizzey to teach their other on-date investigator, the neighbour, which was also a really good lesson, and then we ended up getting a call about organizing a musical number for a funeral on Saturday. So we went to pick up the music from the member, and it turned out that Sister Cosman, the WML's wife from Saint John, was staying there since she's related to the family, and she was in charge of the musical number! So that was cool. Sister Pizzey didn't realize how stressful it can be to organize musical numbers when she volunteered though, so we ended up getting a Diet Coke to de-stress her and then spending the rest of the exchange on that, haha. Then we picked up the elders and drove them back to Sydney. We got home around 10. Sister Curtis insisted on driving on the way back, which was slightly annoying, but whatever.

Friday was weekly planning, and then we went with the Eskazoni elders to teach a less-active, who was actually Elder Amaya's first baptism! It was cool because she's really just been sidetracked with work and school, and consequently a few bad choices, but she's so ready to come back. She had all her church books in a prominent place on her bookshelf and called it her "treasure." And she's stopping working on Sundays in a few weeks ANYWAYS. So that was a great lesson. Then we drove to Glace Bay for some appointments with potentials, but they fell through, so we went knocking and found some new potentials to make appointments with. Then we went to Subway, and the STL's were supposed to call to review our exchange, but they never did. So after dinner, we just did more knocking and met MORE great people, but then our appointment with Krysty and Eileen fell through. Bummer. But on their street, we found a less-active member that set up an appointment with us! That street is just bizarrely full of great potential. At the end of the day, we stopped by the Smiths to invite her to a lesson tomorrow and prep her on what we'd teach, and then we went home.

We did park contacting in the morning on Saturday, and then we drove out to Glace Bay. On the way we stopped at Tim Horton's because we were STARVING and I ordered a hazelnut white hot chocolate. But they made it with regular. So Sister Curtis said she's take it. Apparently not realizing it had hazelnuts. Which she wasn't sure if she was allergic to or not -- she went into anaphylactic shock over a mystery nut once, and there's tons of hazelnut allergies in her family. But then she drank the rest of the hot chocolate even AFTER realizing it had a hazelnut shot. *facepalm* *headdesk*. So we switched our plans around and decided to knock a street close to the Glace Bay hospital, just in case. I had kind of a mental image of where to stop, so we pulled over and started knocking. The first house we knock on, this YSA-age girl answers. It turns out she went on a trip to Nicaragua and EVERYONE else in her group was a bunch of LDS friends. And she started dating a Mormon guy, and she has a Book of Mormon with all their favourite scriptures marked in it. It was a miracle! So we got her information -- she's going to be out of town for a bit so setting up an appointment didn't work -- and kept knocking. Eventually I made her go back to the car so I could call potentials since her throat and tongue were swelling and I didn't want to have to carry her back to the car. So I got a few appointments set up and then the reaction started going down. Haha. This is how missionaries deal with health concerns.... After that, we had our lesson with Donald, who we knocked into the previous day. He's an old French guy who moved here from Montréal about 5 years ago. But he speaks really good English so we just taught him in English. He's searching for piece of mind and is pretty Catholic, but just because that's what he was brought up with and he loves Jesus. Sister Smith came with us and it was great. After that we were supposed to have a branch picnic, but it got cancelled due to weather, so we visited with Kerianna instead and talked some more about the Lord's guidance in making decisions. Then we stopped by Julie, but she wasn't home, so we went street contacting a bit before dinner. Then we checked a media referral. Turns out her brother-in-law referred her as a prank. It was pretty funny. We played it cool though and had a good conversation and I think it was a good seed planted. They offered to drive us home, and I really wished we didn't have our car so we could have said yes. After that we went knocking, but there were some people close by who sounded like they were on a REALLY freaky trip, and I didn't feel safe about it so we ended up going home before they got between us and the car. The STL's called us that night and had call night/reviewed the exchange, so we got to bed kind of late.

Sunday was church. We'd considered planning a backup plan for church because of the water problems, but decided not to. It turned out that the last 2 hours were cancelled again, but since it was Elder Amaya's last Sunday (he's going home early for school), everyone hung around and took pictures and it took even LONGER than we had planned. I was kind of frustrated. We went home for dinner...I mean lunch...stupid Québecois keeps mixing me up on those...and then tried to stop by a potential, but they had company. So we went street contacting, but we kept running into the Elders, so we stopped by Julie, who wasn't home, and I think we did a bit more knocking before going home for supper. After that, we stopped by the Jackson family, who are less-active, and they were just headed out but we got to know them and share a short thought. I think it was for the best since they hopefully won't have their guard up so much next time we go over. We managed to contact a part-member family we got as a referral, and then tried stopping by some members, but they were busy, so we decided to knock the street of the media referral from yesterday. We actually got let in to a Jehovah Witness' house! It was neat because the wife answered the door, and I could just tell they had some light in their eyes and it was a family. Then the husband came to the door and I just felt the Spirit as soon as I saw him. So we went in and they had another JW couple over, and we had a really good discussion. I ended up teaching the Saviour's Earthly Ministry through Pray to Know in their doorway. The one guy who didn't live their, Richard, was pretty respectful and appreciated our shared values on missionary work and morals, but he was also a bit Bible-bash-y. But the first guy, Luke, really just seemed genuinely curious and wanted to know what God wanted him to do. It was kind of cool because he actually showed me how natural member missionary work can be when you're one point he brought up their website, kind of, and I could tell it was really just because he genuinely loved his church and God's teachings and was sharing it out of love, and it wasn't offensive or awkward at all. So yeah, a JW is now my model for how to share the gospel naturally as a member. Hahaha. It was interesting because I managed to bring it back at the end to "So the only way to know which of us is right is to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it," in such a way that they couldn't deny that that was what they needed to do. And as soon as I did, Richard started being like, "Well it was nice to talk to you, it's getting late..." hahaha. The Book of Mormon and being willing to read and pray is the greatest litmus test for real intent ever! I really hope Luke can find his way to the truth though, I've been praying for him. (The wives got bored and were across the hall in the kitchen making something.)

Sister Olson

I took a selfie of us driving to Zone Conference because this sums up so much of my mission experience...driving very long distances when ridiculously tired.

Awkward Elder/Sister photo with Elder Amaya and I.

Sister Jarvis and I, my middle child. She was supposed to be training this transfer, and I TOTALLY remember being in Zone Conference training Sister Coleman when Sister Judd bore her farewell testimony. Weird weird weird.

Sister Tegge and I. I was her STL for 4 transfers and I think she's great. She made a Facebook post about it and it was like a GOODBYE post. Seriously what is this I don't even.

Sister Echols and I. We always end up serving around each other.

I hadn't seen Sister Christensen since Newfoundland. All three of us. We served together at the beginning of our missions.

Elder Torrie, the AP. I whitewashed into his area. Note Elder Widdup photobombing and both of them being weird. 

(We actually tried to make it look awkward because elder/sister photos are the best that way.)
Street contacting on the Eastern Passage boardwalk:

Sister Pizzey and I. We're "half-sisters"...Sister Judd did my first transfer and her second transfer.

My picture wall.

The sunset on Sunday night.

August 18, 2014

New Companion: Sister Curtis

Dear Mom,

So this week was pretty interesting. After emailing we drove out to North Sydney, my first time being there, to help a less-active move out of her house. It smelled like someone had lived in it for years with several animals and alcohol and smoking problems. Eventually Sister Hughes got a migraine from the smell and we left. I actually enjoyed the service but I was also okay with going home and getting everything done before transfers. I ended up packing most of Sister Hughes' things for her because otherwise it was NOT going to get done and I was so not interested in using proselyting time to pack, haha. We did laundry too and then we had a DA with Sister Parks, which was really great. After the DA we were supposed to have a lesson with Vanessa in the park, and we brought Kerianna, but she didn't show up, so we went street contacting for a while and then we went back and had a lesson with Kerianna. We showed the "Wrong Roads" Mormon Message and talked a little more about her mission papers. Then Sister LeBlanc came in and we chatted with her for a bit before going home.

On Tuesday we rode our bikes around in the morning to talk to some people before grabbing a quick lunch and heading to the church to check President's reply to our weekly letters on the way out to Glace Bay. We had a lesson with a less-active member who just found out she's pregnant, and talked about how our agency can either make experiences into stumblingblocks or stepping stones and committed her to come to church. Then we had a lesson with Marlaine. She hadn't done the reading we assigned her because she lost the sticky note it was written on, so we read 3 Nephi 27 with her. She started crying during it because apparently it was exactly what she'd been saying to her husband just the other day and it just helped her confirm her testimony that it was true. It was pretty cool. After that, we tried to stop in on some potentials and did some street contacting. We met a guy in a wheelchair who actually wheeled a fair ways with us to show us where a street was, which was pretty cool, and we met an old lady and set up an appointment with her for the next day. We also tried to stop in on some less-actives but they weren't home. Then we biked back to our car and drove to our dinner appointment with Sister Demeyere, the Young Women's President. She's looking after her son's baby, so we got to enjoy that :) After that, we stopped by the Davisons for Sister Hughes to say goodbye, and then since Glace Bay is a little further out that was pretty much the end of the evening.

Wednesday was kind of slow just because we were leaving at 5 and it was hard to feel like anything would really be accomplished. The McKinnons took us out for breakfast and I ordered the breakfast poutine, which had sausage and bacon and peppers and hollondaise gravy, but it wasn't the best. After that, we did studies and then we went out for frozen yogurt with Kerianna and Sister LeBlanc for lunch, since apparently everyone wanted a break from the sugar fast, haha. They had some good questions about a couple of doctrinal issues that we got to discuss. After that, we were supposed to have the appointment with that old lady we met on the street, but she cancelled, so we ended up driving out to Glace Bay for nothing and didn't get a lot done. We eventually went down into Sydney to just street contact for the last little bit and got to meet some really prepared people, which was really cool. Sometimes I feel like we're not even doing our best and the Lord just blesses us for the effort we do put forth, and it's really humbling to see how much he wants to bless us. After that, we met the elders at their apartment to load all their stuff into the truck, but Elder Tait still wasn't ready, so we ended up going to correlation meeting without them and then we went back to get their stuff. Whereupon I drove us all to Truro. It was a really nice trip down since we all get along pretty well and I got to drive a pickup truck for the first time in forever. We stayed at the Truro sisters' apartment and Sister Fenn brought out nailpolish and we all painted our toenails, which was actually a bit frustrating because I was the only one who needed to actually prepare to plan the next day and everybody else wanted to have a slumber party. Haha.

On Thursday we had to meet the elders outside the Truro elders' apartment at 5:30 in the MORNING in order to make it to Halifax by 6:30. It was gross. But eventually we made it and then we did all the exchanging and stuff and I picked up Sister Curtis, Elder Tincher, and Elder Belmonte to drive back to Sydney. That ride was a bit more awkward since none of us knew each other and the two elders are brand new. But we still had a pretty good time and made it back into Sydney. We went home and had lunch and planned out the rest of the day, and ended up biking to Julie's. We got there and it was a really great lesson. We hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks, but she started realizing that she needs to make real changes that she can't go back on, and she's still been praying every day. We showed her the ARP website and committed her to start working towards all the changes. The Spirit was pretty strong and mostly we could both just feel Heavenly Father's love for her and that he wanted us to help her. It was pretty cool. Then we did some more biking/street contacting before dinner, and then after dinner we ended up getting a lot of inspiration for the things we want to work on this transfer and how we're going to work towards baptisms and reactivations, so that was pretty cool. We both felt impressed to set a goal of THREE baptisms AND THREE reactivations and we were just like, woooahhhh, no way, that's crazy. But then as we made some more goals and plans it occurred to me, this would be more than I've ever done before, how could we not be blessed with that kind of success? So that's the plan. We spent most of the evening working on that.

Friday was weekly planning, and Julie texted us to ask if she could get a ride to church on Sunday. Um, yes? Haha. After weekly planning we went biking and street contacting, and we did some Facebook at the library and then kept street contacting for basically the whole afternoon and talked to a TON of people. We talked to 60 people that day, and the standard is 30! It was nuts! After dinner we went out to Whitney Pier and tried to stop by some referrals and members and potentials, but nobody was really home that day. So basically, we did a lot of stuff on Friday, but it didn't really seem to come to anything. It was kind of weird. People were way less receptive than usual.

On Saturday we were going to do service for some members, the Olivers. It was kind of funny because EVERYONE was kind of trying to dissuade us from going because it would be "dirty" and we'd have to climb a ladder. It was kind of funny because Sister Curtis and I are pretty similar, and it really just activated the stubborn side of me so that if that service had been "carry this spider in your bare hands across a tightrope" I would have just been like, BRING IT. Hahaha. So we decided to spend half an hour in the morning working on the member book records so that we could take a longer lunch and shower afterwards. Then we had studies and then we went to go give service. We had to climb up a ladder into the 3rd floor attic, which really wasn't too bad, and then we were helping take out the insulation. I got to wear a face mask and I was just like, "I KNEW I should have packed my prescription safety glasses!!!" hahaha. They first had us taking out nails, which was TOTALLY the easy job *sigh* but then we got to help vaccum the insulation and whatnot. It was a good time. Getting out of the window onto the ladder to go down was probably the hardest part. So yeah, after that we went home and made Mexican food and showered, and then we went out to Glace Bay. We were SO tired and I eventually had to pull over in a Superstore parking lot. As soon as the car was in park I was asleep. I've just been so wrecked since transfers. I'm going to have a long nap today. Anyways, after that we went out to the McMullin's, a LA/PM family I've never met. She's pretty socially converted in her own church and he believes the church on more of a logical basis than because he's received an answer to prayer about it. They're going out of town for a couple weeks so it was totally inspiration that stopped by when we did. That took most of the time so we stopped by a potential or two and then came back home for supper. Then we went to a street we'd knocked in Sydney to follow up on the potentials. Holy grumpy people! If you don't want us to come back, then don't say "yes" when we ask if we can come back. Then we went to knock a different street for the rest of the evening, which was better. We had some good conversations and met some guy on the street who seems pretty interested. It was POURING rain all evening, though, my yellow shoes still aren't quite dry and I had them sitting in front of the dehumidifier and everything. I love knocking in the rain though, it makes me feel like a real missionary :)

Sunday was kind of unusual since we only had sacrament meeting, since there's apparently deadly levels of e coli in the well water, so they didn't want people staying there just in case someone forgot and drank some. But everyone hung around and socialized after sacrament meeting anyways since they had nothing to do, and then we met with the branch president about some families in the ward that need strengthening, so it basically took the same amount of time anyways. After church we had lunch and then we drove out to North Sydney to contact a referral. It was actually a member referral from the friend of a parent of one of the missionaries, so that was pretty cool. She's pretty busy but she said we could come by later and she if she's home. I think she'd just let us in out of obligation to her friend, or always be "busy," but it could also lead to something. Then we stopped by some families in the ward and some potentials, but everyone was busy or not home, so we went home for dinner. The Demeyeres had given us steak a couple weeks ago, so we cooked that and it was AWESOME. After that, we called all the branch council members to follow up on a commitment we left to seek for personal revelation. It was great. It sounds like we're basically going to focus on helping the members have more spiritual experiences, and working through the youth and primary kids to strengthen and/or reactivate their parents. One of the members also asked us for pass-along cards, and it just made my whole day. Seriously, if you want to make the missionaries happy, just ask them for some pass-along cards. So we made a sample pack of all the kinds and dropped it off to him, and then we checked on a few potentials and referrals and went knocking for the rest of the evening. I knocked into a French lady and got to have a door approach in French, which was cool because I really miss speaking in French. Except she wasn't very interested so we didn't get to talk much, haha.

So basically we worked REALLY hard all week but didn't find anyone for the first time all transfer. I really think the Lord wants us to just focus on working through the members and not personal finding, which is going to be kind of hard since that's just different than how I've done it and I'm not sure how to be effective. But we'll go for it! Also, we have to leave for Dartmouth at 5 am on Wednesday for Zone Conference. I'm going to develop an addiction to 5-hour energy. I tried one last week for transfers and it worked so well that it kind of freaked me out haha, because that's WAY too easy. So I'll just take my last one in the pack I bought on Wednesday and then quit, haha.

Sister Olson

Marlaine and Sister Hughes

I love babies

Breakfast Poutine

The pick up truck
 Doing Service:

August 11, 2014

Last Transfer

Dear Mom,

When does Marissa enter the MTC? Sounds like everybody had an AWESOME week.

Yes, it was transfer week. Sister Hughes is getting transferred to Presque Isle, Maine -- I'm super jealous of the cheap food she'll get -- and I'm getting Sister Curtis, who I believe has been out since January. I don't know much about her so we'll find out :)

Sooo last P-day was pretty normal. We bought a bunch of fruit to try to offset the sugar cravings that were already setting in. I didn't realize how much junk food I buy on P-days until I stopped. After P-day we headed back to the church to have a lesson over skype at 6. Well, she wasn't online at 6, so we waited a bit and called her, and her mom said she was just getting out of the shower, so we waited and she called us back, and then she said she wanted to skype but had to go to her friend's house to get internet, so we waited for her to get took all evening and eventually we left and tried to find somewhere to contact for the last little bit. It was SO frustrating. On the plus side, I had a pretty good Facebook lesson with a less-active in Moncton while I waited, but seriously. In retrospect, we probably just should have prayed about it half an hour in and probably would have gotten the answer to just go do something else.

On Tuesday, Sister Hughes woke up feeling super sick, because apparently there's MOLD in her closet (which I didn't know about), so I cleaned it up with Clorox. It was actually really cool, pretty much as soon as I sprayed it on it turned from dark green to orange and started disappearing! Chemistry! Also, why didn't you do this months ago?! Then we went to Shopper's to get some drugs and then we came back home and I read through the Area Book and picked some formers to follow up on while she slept. Then we went to Glace Bay to have a lesson with our investigator, Marlaine. It was AWESOME. We taught the Restoration, with an emphasis to how and why God has always organized His church (since she "doesn't believe in organized religion") and by the end of it she saw that the point of the Priesthood and the Church is to prevent all the problems she sees in other churches, while giving us the blessings of fellowship and ordinances and such. It was seriously just such a great Restoration, the Spirit was so strong and she finally had real intent for probably the first time since she started investigating years ago (she was a former). She said that a few years ago she was confused by the Trinity and prayed about it and got the answer that they're separate people, so that was super significant to her that we taught that. Which is cool because I think it was really the Spirit that got us to emphasize that so much in God is our Loving Heavenly Father. 

After the lesson (it was a long lesson since we had to go pretty in-depth and she's talkative) we checked some potentials, and then we went back into Sydney for a dinner appointment. We checked our LTPs on the way and I ended up having a lesson over Facebook with the girl who flaked out the day before while Sister Hughes took a nap on the couch. (This is one of "those" DA stories.) So Sister Hughes was feeling really nauseous, and I was at that point in the month where you just want to eat EVERYTHING and you're STARVING no matter what you do. Our game plan was that I'd just eat a lot and take enough second helpings that she'd perceive us to have eaten a normal amount of food, and I'd keep her talking so she wouldn't notice that Sister Hughes wasn't eating much. Well, we get there, and she has Spam, served straight out of the can cut into thick slices, and potato salad with TONS of garlic and some canned carrots and peas in it. That's all there is. I'm not sure which of us had it worse -- Sister Hughes trying to choke it down without triggering the nausea, or me being SUPER hungry and just feeling compelled to eat way more of that than any person should ever have to eat. Hahaha. After that, we basically just went home and I called a bunch of formers and old potentials and tried to set up some lessons, but nobody was really interested. It was nice to get the potentials organized though.

I can't believe this was our best week in the transfer so far. I guess things started picking up after that, haha.

On Wednesday she was still feeling pretty sick but we decided to bike downtown anyways to street contact. It was all downhill and Sister Hughes was wiped when we got there, so we went to the library and I updated my Facebook and then she just kind of recovered on one of the seats there until we decided to go out and do more things, so we did some more contacting and then went to Subway for lunch. After that, we kept street contacting, and we ran into Sister LeBlanc, who was taking a walk, and then all three of us walked to the Big Fiddle restaurant on the Boardwalk. Sister Hughes asked if I could play the piano, so I ended up giving an impromptu classical concert for everyone. It was actually really nice and everyone liked it, so hopefully it did something to raise our profile in the community. Sister Hughes played a bit too and then we biked home to grab our car and went to a visit with the YM President, since we've been trying to visit all the branch council members and commit them to seek for revelation on how to help their quorum or auxiliary do missionary work. So we had a great visit with the Hays, and then we had a dinner appointment with Sister Fennel, which was WAY better - hamburgers, hot dogs, and salad. After that, we went park/street contacting again until the end of the evening. I had a really great conversation with this old guy while she talked to some teenagers playing the guitar, and then we realized we still needed 1 more person to reach our goal. There was someone sitting on the park bench near our car so we went to contact him. The conversation was basically like:

"Hi, what are you doing?"
"Just thinking. What are you doing?"
"Well, we're missionaries. We actually help people think about God and their purpose in life."
"That's what I was just thinking about! It's kind of like, who am I? But actually, it's more like, why am I here? or what's my purpose in life? I just feel so unfulfilled and like something's missing because [personal trials, etc]."
"We have all the answers! Plan of Salvation summary! Return appointment!"
"Cool! My Grandma's actually a member of your church in Miramichi, she goes to your church every time she comes out here to visit."

Seriously, it was so golden that if I'd seen a video of it, I would have been like, "That's totally unrealistic, nobody's that prepared." Plus, his grandma's an active member in Miramichi??? The Miramichi branch has, like, 5 members!

Thursday was District Meeting, which was notable mainly because Elder Amaya made me teach him long division before he goes back to school this fall. Hahaha. Every role play we'd do, he'd ask me -- for instance, he'd be the bishop and I'd be calling him, and at the end I'd say, "Is there anything else I can do for you?" "Well yeah, actually, I'm going back to school in the fall..." Haha. After District Meeting, we had a meeting with Sister Lewis, the RS President, at the church and shared the same thought with her, and we had her offer a kneeling prayer at the end and it was AWESOME, so we decided to do that in all the meetings. Then we went home and grabbed our bikes and did more contacting downtown until 4:30, when we went to this volunteer dinner. Apparently all the missionaries had volunteered for this mental health awareness day at Crossroads, where Sister Fennel works, before I got there, so we all got to go to the dinner. There were a bunch of speeches and it was boring, so I started trying to figure out the thermodynamics of how Elder Kunz' eraseable pen works, and I realized exactly how much chemistry I've forgotten. "dG=dH-TdS. But how does spontaneity relate to activation energy???" The dinner was good though and we got a few potentials. Actually, we got TONS of potentials on Thursday -- we just met a lot of people that we were really supposed to meet. It was awesome. After that, we biked to Sister LeBlanc's house and she came to a lesson with John with us, the Chinese RC we're working with. She really enjoyed it and thought it was cool to feel the Spirit when he prayed in Chinese. After the lesson, it was getting pretty late but she wanted to pick Kerianna up at work since we were on that side of town, instead of driving us all the way to where our bikes were and back, so we got home a little late.

On Friday we had a visit with Sister Oliver, the Primary President, before weekly planning and shared the same thought, and she offered the most powerful prayer at the end. It was so cool. Then we did weekly planning, and during weekly planning, we had a miracle! We'd contacted a Chinese student on the street and set up an appointment, and it turned out she lived with a member family that hosts international students, so we were like, "Sweet! Built-in member present!" and set a goal for that. But then she texted us and said she didn't want to meet with us. So we kind of figured we wouldn't meet that goal. But then at the end of weekly planning, the elders called us. They were contacting in the park and a girl named Vanessa that we'd had an appointment with last week, which fell through, called them over and asked if they knew the sisters. So they put her on the phone with us and we agreed to meet in the park in 20 minutes. We started teaching and she is SO golden! She's had a hard life and a lot of people in her family passed away, but she has a really strong belief in God. She had so many great questions that it was almost hard to teach coherently because she just wanted to know everything. We basically overviewed the first 3 lessons. Then she realized she needed to be baptized, but since she didn't have a very deep understanding of the Restoration, she didn't quite get why it had to be our church and she had some concerns about if converting from Catholicism would disrespect her church or her family somehow. And just at that moment, Kerianna comes walking through the park, who is the perfect age to fellowship her AND just converted from the Catholic church last December! So basically, the Lord set us up a member present! So cool! We drove Kerianna home and then we drove all the way to Eskazoni for a dinner appointment with Sister Isaac, a recent convert. We got there and it still wasn't done, but it was good to visit with her since she lives all the way out there, and it was spaghetti and meatballs. We drove home and were supposed to have a lesson with Ed and Jennifer, but they texted us to say they wanted to look into the Catholic church for the time being, but that they were really impressed with our dedication and would definitely be contacting us again. So we ended up going to the church to do some Facebook proselyting since it was just off the highway anyways, and then we went to the park to contact until the end of the evening.

Saturday morning was our lesson with TJ, the golden contact from Wednesday evening. We were going to meet him in the park and brought Kerianna, but he never showed up (apparently a "family thing" came up), so we just went street contacting with her instead. Everyone was setting up for a gay pride parade and it wasn't too effective. After that, we had lunch and then went to the church to skype the office elders so Sister Hughes could get her Facebook account approved, and then we tried to stop by Gabriel's family, but they weren't back from Toronto yet, so we went knocking before heading back into Sydney to contact some referrals, who weren't home, and have another "lesson," but it was one of those ones we were pretty sure would fall through anyways, so we phoned some more referrals before having dinner. Then we knocked after dinner, and it was super awesome because pretty much everyone was home and had a great conversation with us. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, because the street turned out to be right by the park where they were having a concert to wrap up the parade. But anyways. We knocked into a Presbyterian minister and he was pretty nice. Then we left and had an appointment with Blair, a potential we met on Thursday after the crossroads dinner. We brought Sister Betts, who's this little old lady. It was a hilarious lesson. He's super smart but kind of to the point where  I think he has some sort of mental disorder. It turned out he was actually a former and he'd retained what he learned really well, so eventually to focus the conversation I had us all read 1 Nephi 13 together to go over the Restoration, and it was cool to see how it brought the Spirit and he was less all over the place. He was some crazy ideas though. We really feel like the Lord led us to him, so we'll teach him until the Lord wants us to stop, but his lessons are pretty interesting. We committed him to come to church, which was great. Then we filled up with gas before Sunday.

On Sunday we checked transfer letters, and the news was pretty expected since Sister Hughes has been here for 6 months, and since I leave next transfer, we figured he'd put a different missionary into the area instead of keeping her here for 2 more transfers or whitewashing next transfer. She sang a musical number in sacrament meeting, His Hands, and I accompanied, and it was so amazing. Blair came to church but Vanessa claimed to be "suddenly out of town," which I think was an excuse, but whatever. We also taught sharing time in Primary, which was AWESOME. The lesson was on FHE, so we played hangman to have them guess the topic, then talked a little about it, then did this object lesson where all the kids stood in a circle with their arms linked, and one kid tried to pull other kids out of the circle. It illustrated how family bonds keep us safe. It was super fun and all the leaders were impressed. (It was in the manual.) After church, everyone had to take a trillion pictures because Sister Hughes AND Elder Tait are being transferred, and they've both been here forever, AND Elder Kunz is going home. Elder Amaya is here for 2 more weeks and is training for those two weeks, which everyone thinks is super bizarre. I think President is just trying to give him enough responsibility to keep him focused. Elder Henderson is the new DL and is also training. Sister Kaine brought us all banana chocolate chip muffins, and I figured the chocolate chips were justifiable because a member made them for us without knowing and we're not going to keep them until September 12. Haha. After church we drove to Glace Bay to visit a few people who we found out at church might need our help, but we called them on the way and both were unavailable, so we ended up stopping by Brother Desmond, the EQP, and sharing the branch council thought, which was a great experience as always, and the Demeyere family and sharing a missionary thought with them. It was pretty awesome because usually Brother Demeyere doesn't stay for the thoughts but this time he did and I could tell it struck him. We shared the story of Ammon to get the kids involved and then talked about seeking revelation and the Spirit in the work, and we testified of the joy it brings to just be an instrument in the hands of God and know that we're doing His will and that he's pleased with us. 

After that, we stopped by Gabriel's family, but only Scott was home and I don't think he quite knows he's an investigator so it was a bit awkward, since he was kind of just sitting in while we taught his grandparents, and checked a referral. Then we had dinner, and biked down to the street we were knocking. We met a French couple here on vacation and I got to have a street contact in French and give them directions, which was SO FUN, and then we went knocking and it was pretty great. We got a good potential, totally guided by the Spirit on that one, and knocked into some JW's, who were surprisingly nice. They said they'd seen us knocking yesterday and were waiting for us, since they know how hard knocking can be. They weren't interested though. Then we biked up to Whitney Pier to stop by another branch council member, but they weren't home, so we just checked a referral and ran into ANOTHER French guy. But this guy wouldn't let me talk to him in French, even though he had a way thicker accent than the first guy. He was super open though and would have talked to us more, but his cruise ship was leaving. We asked if he went to church and he said, "No, nobody goes to church in Québec," which I thought was funny. I think he legitimately will look it up when he gets home though. I think he was thrown off by my Acadien accent. (It's actually great because whenever I pronounce something weird, I can blame it on serving in Acadie. Even though it's mostly just because I didn't really get to practice enough to get good at French.) We tried to stop by a less-active, but they weren't home, so we stopped by the McKinnons to say goodbye, because Sister Hughes and Sister Christiansen used to live under them in their basement apartment. Then we biked home.

I don't know if we're going to really have a P-day today because I think we're doing service for a LA and we have a DA during P-day, so we'll have to do laundry and packing somehow.

Sister Olson

At the big fiddle restaurant:

We took some silly goodbye pictures:

We were all supposed to make a "serious face." Some of us succeeded more than others:

I thought the list of "what causes fear" in District Meeting was amusing. Elder Kunz has a legitimate fear of groups of kids after the primary children beat him up and locked him the in the maintenance closet one Sunday:

This painting was totally in my price range but not my suitcase capacity. I don't know what my deal is with umbrellas:

August 4, 2014

Exchanges: Cole Harbour

Dear Mom,

Looks like a great weekend. I'm not sure if I recognize the lake. I've seen so many "trees and water" landscapes on my mission that they're all blurring together, haha. Seriously, like when I first got to Sydney, first I wanted to take a bunch of pictures, and then I was like, "All my mission pictures are lakes and trees."

So on Monday we basically spent the day doing laundry and napping. We left P-day early to go to a dinner appointment. It wasn't done when we got there, and once it was done, we discovered that they'd made THREE main courses -- kebabs, hamburgers, and fish -- and about fifty trillion sides. It was delicious but a lot. We then ended up spending a while looking up a piece of sheet music online that one of the members wants Sister Hughes to sing in was a little hard to find so it took awhile. The advantage was, it's a part-member family, and so we sang "His Hands" by Kenneth Cope and then shared a great spiritual thought about praying daily to find out what God wants you to do that day, and promising Him you'll follow his impressions. It had missionary applications for the member and "come into the church" applications for the non-member. The Spirit was super strong and it was great. After that, we went and stopped by Raylene, a lady we met the previous week. She was a little hesitant and we basically ended up having a really long door conversation. She tried to back out like "Well I was born Catholic, so..." and I finally just asked, "Can you help me understand this? Everyone seems to be unwilling to change from Catholic even though nobody goes. Why is that?" We had a great conversation about how the purpose of our lives is to prepare to meet God, and if He wants us to be a specific religion, we should probably figure that out NOW instead of getting to the other side and being like "oh, shoot!" She saw the sense in that and made a return appointment, but then she skipped that one. It's sad how some people don't want to change. I wish I could just get people to see that it's about FOLLOWING GOD. It's not about becoming part of "my church." It's "What does God want me to do?" Maybe it's just me, but it just seems like if you believe in God, you might want to know what He wants you to do? (And that applies to members as well as non-members).

Tuesday was district meeting. We had a really fun roleplay that was about turning the dinner appointment conversation back to missionary work whenever someone tries to bring up unfocused topics. It was fun because it was legitimately useful practice, but the person being the member got to be pretty funny. I was roleplaying with Elder Kunz, our DL, and there was kind of a funny awkward moment where he said "Thanks for having us over for dinner Brother and Sister Olson" and then he kind of hesitated and you could see him thinking, "Wait...that wouldn't be her name when she's married...awkward." He felt awkward but I just thought it was funny. After district meeting we rode our bikes from the church to downtown and contacted a bit, then we went to visit this one less-active member. She wasn't home, but we met this other person in her apartment with cerebral palsy and his worker, and they talked to us for a while, even though they weren't interested. It was totally the Lord because just as we were leaving the building, she came in, so we got to go in and have a lesson with her. Her husband lives in the States and he just got shot, and she's really worried about him. She's only LA because the church isn't handicap-friendly and she's in a huge wheelchair, so it was a very spiritual lesson. Even though we were so tired during it that I almost fell asleep while Sister Hughes gave the closing prayer. After that we biked to Sister Oliver's to try to have a member visit, but we ended up helping her non-member husband a bit with a construction project and then sharing a thought with her mom, since she wasn't home. Then we checked some referrals and had dinner before biking back to the church to pick up our car. On the way home we stopped by John and Elaine and shared a message with them about bearing their testimony on Fast Sunday.

Wednesday we left at 7 am to have exchanges. I got to go to Cole Harbour with Sister Pizzey, which was awesome since we were in the MTC together and it's my old area. Without really thinking about it, she'd planned to go to Lake Echo (one of my favourite parts of the area) and look up old potentials and formers, so I basically got to recontact all the people. It was a really neat experience. We ended up finding someone I hadn't taught, Dwayne, who is super prepared. We started our door approach and he said, "But the question I have is, why are there so many churches?" Well...ha. So we sat on his porch in the rain and taught him the Restoration. And he doesn't even live there! The only thing is he's too prideful to just believe based on what we said, but he did say he'd pray and ask God about it. He kind of wants to do things "his way." But he has a strong belief in prayer so hopefully he'll listen to God even if he doesn't listen to us. We also stopped by a former of mine, Mary. We never really got anywhere with Mary because she's super Baptist and believes the true church is in your heart. We had a really bold lesson this time...1 year more of skill!...and she, too, said she'd pray about it but wasn't totally convinced. I think she got the point of what we were trying to say better this time, and I don't think I've ever issued a more clear call to someone "The Lord is calling you to be gathered into His true to church to prepare for the Second Coming. If you don't heed His call, you will not be prepared." It was honestly kind of nice to see that a lot of things I look back on and say, "Dang, I messed that up because I had no skill" were probably more like "That person wouldn't listen to the Spirit." We also got to stop by an old potential, Kaylie, where it was kind of the same thing. One of my favourite parts about the day though was our dinner appointment with the Stewarts. When I was there last, they were totally inactive and we only got in to see Sister Stewart once. Now they're active and he's the WML. It was so cool! I also heard that one of the LA's is now active, and they brought her to a lesson with Sister Bishop, an LA I really worked with, and it was amazing and she might come back to church! It was just really nice to see that I was playing a role in the Lord's plan. Elder Evanson once said something I really like, "I don't care how many people I baptize; I just want the Celestial Kingdom to be full when I get there." And little glimpses like that give me hope that I'll see a lot more people there than I'd expect.

On Thursday we left at 6 am...brutal. I got back to my area to find out they didn't plan the day. I was just like, "Whatttttt?" Aaaargh. So we ended up stopping by the branch president's farm on the way home, since he lives really far away and we never get to go out there. Then we came home and had a quick lunch before going to CBU because member from Halifax who served a mini-mission here was visiting and wanted to say hi. Then we planned the rest of our day and decided to go out to Glace Bay. We stopped by Marlaine, and her daughters were both there and asked us lots of questions. The youngest daughter was interested last time missionaries were over, but apparently the other daughter has never been interested in religion before and Marlaine thought it was a miracle and was moved to tears. After that, we had a dinner appointment with Sister MacLean, which was the fastest DA I've ever had, and then we went knocking before stopping by some members and LA's. We stopped by the Demeyere's and their LA son stopped by, so we got to share a message with him, which was kind of a miracle since we don't have his address.

Friday was weekly planning, and we got some great revelation about what to do for the branch in terms of working with members. We had lunch and then stopped by Raylene, who ditched out like I said, and then the elders showed up to have "visits" with us. All four of us went to a lesson with some potentials we met, Gabriel, Scott, and Margaret, who are from Nigeria. We had a really great lesson and they asked the best questions, like "How can we compare prophets in the Bible with prophets in our day?" "THE BOOK OF MORMON!" Haha. It was seriously so good. They want to come to church every week...the only thing is they were in Toronto this weekend. Apparently Scott's brother is getting baptized. I'm secretly hoping it's into our church ;) Then we went to a lesson the elders had set up, but it fell through, so we went to the park and tried street singing, which was INEFFECTIVE AS ALWAYS (not a fan), so we did some street contacting and it was pretty good. Then we went home for dinner and biked to Whitney Pier to stop by some people and then we biked home.

On Saturday we went biking in the morning before lunch, and then we brought Kerianna to a lesson, but it fell through, so we went back there and shared a lesson with her and her mom, since she's an RC. After that, we called some potentials (while getting ice cream) and then drove out to Glace Bay again. Our lesson we had set up there cancelled too, so we ended up knocking for a while and stopping by some potentials through the rest of the night. While we were knocking, we knocked into this lady who was SUPER old, like 90. She let us in and gave us yogurt and gingerbread. It was super cute. It quickly became apparent that she had some memory problems (she asked us the same questions about ourselves like 5 times), but it was really nice of her. We sang her "Nearer, My God to Thee" and said a prayer with her before we left.

Sunday was church, obviously. It was actually a really spiritual testimony meeting, which is always a relief. Our investigator from Eskazoni, Alannah, came with a friend, so that was awesome, and Kerianna did a great job of fellowshipping them and bringing them to YW. After church we had a great meeting with the Branch President that was super spiritual, and then we drove out to Glace Bay and finished of the street we'd been knocking the day before. That took way longer than expected, so we basically just biked to a few potentials and met some great people on the way, and then we loaded up the bikes and came back into Sydney for our dinner appointment. They weren't home when we got there, so we called all the branch council members to try to set up appointments to meet with them while we waited. Then Sister LeBlanc got home and she was super annoyed because she'd invited the elders over too, but they failed to tell her they couldn't come since we'd be there until after she'd bought all the food and a cake for Elder Amaya for his birthday. So there was a TON of food, and we had a fire on the back deck and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. We totally ended up staying too long, which I feel bad about. Towards the end of the visit, Sister LeBlanc and Sister Hughes ended up making a pact to not eat any junk food for 40 days, and then Kerianna and I ended up joining in, so yeah, no junk food until September 12! We decided the penalty is that we have to hold a spider if we break it. Hahahaha.

This morning I got onto Facebook and one of the excommunicated members I was working with in an old area is getting baptized this week! That was super exciting.

Sister Olson

The drive into Sydney...there's a huge inland sea in Cape Breton and the arms around it are called the "Bras D'Or"

We helped Sister LeBlanc and Kerianna clean out their tent after YW camp. They didn't want to set it up again to sweep it out, so we just held it for them.

We got into a discussion of what it means to "indicate" and to express my thoughts, I first had to explain the role of phenolphthalein in acid-base titrations.

The food from last night. BEST POST-FASTING MEAL EVER.