September 8, 2014

18 More Days until Jaclyn is Home!

Dear Mom,

Aww. I loved that part that you said about us being righteous. When I was at sisters' conference last year, I was one of the first into the Celestial room and I watched all these sisters come in that I loved so much, and it made me think of being in Spirit Paradise and the Celestial Kingdom and watching people enter, one by one, that I would want to be there. I realized how anxiously I'd look for certain people and had a small foretaste of the joy I'd feel. I remember thinking I understood, in some small measure, how you must have felt to see me come through. I think one of the things I'm most excited for coming home is to go to the temple more frequently, with you and Dad, and to do family names and have Carmen teach me how to do geneology.

Who is Carmen's English teacher?

So this week was pretty good. On Monday we spent the whole day deep-cleaning the apartment. It felt really good but I was also really disturbed that I hadn't done it sooner. I'm not sure if my advice would be "never deep-clean a missionary apartment" or "very first thing when you get to a new apartment, clean the heck out of it!" Hahaha. It seriously felt so nice all week though. After that, we stopped by a potential who wasn't home, so we kept knocking the street. It was interesting because Elder Henderson had recently said something about exercising faith, that if we felt impressed to knock a street, we KNOW there's a reason to knock it. But I'd kind of been losing faith in the street because we found out it had been knocked recently. Anyways, I thought about that while knocking, and a few doors later, we knocked into a long-lost less active who's not on the branch list! She let us right in and showed us her baptismal certificate, which she keeps folded in her wallet. It's yellowed by smoke, but still precious to her. Sister MacKenzie is 74 and homebound because she's in a wheelchair and her house has stairs leading up to the only entrance. She can't even go see her daughter who lives down the street...who is ANOTHER LA member that we're stopping by tonight! She also gave us a referral for her non-member granddaughter. It's going to be hard to help her quit smoking because she's stuck inside with nothing else to do. After that, we got lost a bit and biked around, and I ran into some guy who'd recently moved here from Québec. We had a fun conversation about the difference between Acadien and Québecois, and he told my my accent was understandable. Haha. We also had a pretty good gospel conversation, but he wasn't interested.

The next day was Tuesday, so it was district meeting, which was pretty good. After district meeting, I had a lesson over Facebook with my former from Moncton, Nick. It turns out she struggles with same-gender attraction, which she didn't feel comfortable telling the sisters in Moncton, but Facebook was easier for her and we got to have a really good discussion and I think it really helped her work towards resolving that concern. It also answered a lot of questions I had about why things worked out the way they did with her, because I think we were so convinced this was the answer to our prayers about our baptisms goal that we would have overlooked that. After that we went street contacting, and I had a funny experience. We get a lot of cruise ships coming in with people from different places, many from Québec because that's where the cruise starts. I street contacted an old lady and she said in a thick accent, "I only speak French." So obviously I just switched into French. But she kept trying to respond in English! Seriously, lady, you refuse to talk to me because you only speak French, and then when I speak French you refuse to talk to me in French? Haha. But I persisted and eventually she realized I could actually have a conversation and we had a nice chat about apostles. After that we drove to Glace Bay and ended up going knocking in the middle of the afternoon, and this girl Sasha answered the door right out of the shower. To our surprise, she invited us in without us even doing a door approach and went upstairs to get changed. So when she came back down I basically did the door approach sitting down in her living room to verify that she was actually interested, haha. But she was, so we launched into the Restoration and it was a great lesson. After that, the lesson we DID have scheduled cancelled, so we went around trying to see less-actives and we stopped in on this part-active family, the Porters. It turned out Sister Porter is super defensive about being less-active, so not much happened there, but it also turned out that Brother Porter was going to be called as our new branch mission leader, so we ended up coordinating with him about all the OTHER less-actives, and Sister Porter was perfectly happy to suggest ways that we could reactivate them. So that took up the rest of the evening.

We had "visits" with the elders on Wednesday, which was super weird because they're in a trio, so it was basically 5 missionaries going around accosting people on the street, haha. But we got to street contact on our own for an hour while they did 12-week, so that was awesome. We met some members from Utah on a cruise, which is always fun to see people HAPPY to see you. I think I also met another French lady from Chéticamp, who was super excited that I was learning Acadien French, but as soon as religion came up she was like "J'ai ma propre religion!" and walked away. #everyAcadiencontactever. So then we met up with the Elders and did some street contacting, then got lunch at Subway. After that we went to the park and were going to review what had been learned so far, etc., but some random guy I've street contacted before came up to us and kept talking to us, and it was basically a really unproductive conversation because he was trying to "prove" that we "couldn't reach him," but it gave us all the opportunity to basically practice teaching on someone, so it was alright. Then we went knocking and taught the Elders' investigator, Murray, who Sister Hughes and I actually found, so that was really fun. Then we went to the church for correlation and President Kaine brought us pizza and ice cream. Then we tried to stop by Kristy and Eileen before branch council, but they were still "sick" (Facebook stalking reveals that they're not sick) and then we had branch council, which was a really good one. I was on exchanges during the last one, so it was interesting to see how it worked here.

Thursday we biked and street contacted in the morning. I just had the thought pop into my head to take a different way into downtown, and we met a great potential almost right away. Then we biked past the elders, who were park contacting, and continued into downtown. Sister Curtis had the thought to stop by Sister Kennedy, who wasn't home yesterday. We got in to see her and it turned out she was sick, so we called the elders (who we knew were right there) and they came right then and gave her a blessing. As soon as we finished, a health care worker showed up. Divinely orchestrated timing. It was super cool. After that we kept street contacting and we met this one guy who kept saying to Sister Curtis, "Look at the light coming out of her!" It was weird but kind of cool. Then we had lunch and worked on our member book for a while, and then we biked to Amy's and met a really cool guy visiting from BC who's read the Book of Mormon before long in the past. It was a great conversation and I think we convinced him to look into it again and pray about it when he goes home. After that we had a lesson with Amy. We ended up talking about the armour of God because of some personal things she's going through, and then led that into the Word of Wisdom and baptism. She breaks basically all of it so it was big for her, but she said she'd pray about a baptismal date without us even committing her to, and she also asked for a ride to church, so it was a pretty decent lesson. Then we biked home and met the Ranglacks at our apartment. They're a senior couple that served with Sister Curtis, and since they're getting transferred to NL they were in Sydney to catch the ferry. So they took us to dinner at Swiss Chalet and then we went knocking and finding in the Pier for the rest of the evening. It was pretty unsuccessful but at the end of it we FINALLY managed to have a member visit with Sister Farrell, who is super hard to get ahold of since she works two jobs, and she gave us a can of homemade peaches.

On Friday we started studies early to get a bit of weekly planning done before doing service at Sister Oliver's house. We helped her get rid of the blown-in insulation in her basement because they're getting some people to come and re-insulate it. It's super messy. I'd never seen an old basement with stone walls before though, so that was cool. And it was honestly pretty enjoyable service. After that, we went home and had a shower, and all our lessons either cancelled or we couldn't find 3rd sisters, so we ended up just staying home and finishing weekly planning. After that, we decided to go to the church to work on printing out giant wall maps that all the apartments are supposed to have. Let's just say that technology is the worst. It took all evening and we didn't even get it all done. It was super frustrating. So a lot of Friday felt pretty unproductive.

We had a companionship study over skype with the STLs on Saturday, since they were showing us this new street contacting approach they developed where you basically teach the First Vision with the pamphlet right then and there. After that was a Relief Society activity, which was super fun. It was all about setting goals and developing yourself in all aspects of your life, and a LOT of things they brought up were how we set goals as a missionary, plus I could actually apply everything they said to when I got home, so it was pretty cool. After that were homemade Viatnemese rolls and sugar cookies. It was awesome. Then we drove out to Howie Centre to see Dawn, the potential from Thursday, but her address didn't exist, so we just knocked down there and then came up to Sydney and park contacted. While contacting, we met this guy Kyle, and he was interested, and thanks to the companionship study from this morning, we just sat down on the park bench that was literally right there, and taught him the Restoration right then! It was awesome. He wasn't sure if he believed in God or not because he'd never gotten an answer, but he was super excited to get an answer and come to church. Then we brought Kerianna to a lesson with Scott, who had called us. It turned out Scott was pretty crazy, so he didn't become a new investigator. I felt kind of bad for Kerianna because those lessons can be a little freaky until you get used to being let in to crazy people. Haha. So then we tried to contact a few referrals and then we went out to the Mira and contacted a less-active family, who we made an appointment with. Then we stopped by the Silversteins for a member visit, and they were literally just sitting down to dinner, so we got a DA out of it and it was pretty awesome, since I'd just been thinking to myself, "dang I had a super small dinner and we're fasting tomorrow!" hahaha.

Church on Sunday was pretty eventful. John, our recent convert, said the opening prayer in Chinese, which was cool, and it was a spiritual testimony meeting. Brother Desmond, the EQP, shared an experience where he basically contacted a guy in a grocery store, had him over, taught him the Restoration by himself, and invited him to church. So he basically has his own investigator. On the other hand, we had 4 people solidly committed to church and nobody came, which basically dashed all hopes of getting anyone baptized before I leave. The reason quickly became apparent, though, as Gospel Principles was full of false doctrine. Apparently, many members are under the impression that green tea and decaf coffee aren't against the Word of Wisdom. So we made some phone calls after church to straighten that out. Ha. In Relief Society Sister Hay bore a really cool testimony about how she never used to do missionary commitments, but she and her husband have been having missionary experiences recently (Sister Hughes and I visited them and committed them to pray about it), and how much she loves it, and she's been giving out pass-along cards. So that was awesome. Kind of a yo-yo of emotions at church. After church, we stopped by some referrals and got let into this one girl, Kerri, who I'll admit, I did NOT expect to be interested. It was kind of weird because she didn't have any reasons for wanting us over, she just let us in. So we didn't have much to work with. But I could feel the Spirit as we testified to her about why she should want to learn about it. It was a short visit since she was on her way out, but hopefully it goes well. We stopped by Amy, but she wasn't home, and the Jacksons, but only brother Jackson was home, and then we had dinner. After supper, we basically went knocking for the evening. The very first house was this Jewish/Christian couple. It was fun to testify of the gathering of Israel and have them actually get it. I had a really good feeling about the wife and she asked great questions about modern prophets, but then she had to go and the husband was super uninterested. But we kept knocking. And we got a few potentials and like 4 referrals, which was crazy! So it was a pretty okay end to the week. We got home and were going to eat some muffins a member brought for us that day, and discovered they were moldy. Ew. So glad I didn't go for that to break my fast because I was so hungry I think I might not have noticed. Haha.

Sister Olson

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