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.

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