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.

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