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 there...it 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 Qu├ębec," 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.

Love
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:


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