September 22, 2014

Instrument in the hands of God

Dear Mom,

Haha, you did sort of unleash something, but that's okay. I haven't exactly been avoiding telling people I'm going home, but I have only brought it up if it's necessary for some reason. I just didn't want everyone like, "What are your plans after? are you excited? Do you have a boy waiting for you? Etc Etc etc?" the whole time I was here. (Like Elder Amaya.) So that was a good way for everybody to find out before this Sunday without me having to tell them. Haha. I thought the video was cute.

Friday plans sound good, thanks for letting me know so I don't have to wonder :) I think I forget sometimes that it's a really good thing I did because I'm just surrounded by a bunch of other people who did the same thing haha.

So this week was pretty good. On Monday we just had a pretty chill P-day, because that's my favourite kind. We got our laundry done in time to go to a DA in North Sydney. It was probably the most "normal" DA I've been to in that they had normal food, we had a normal conversation and got to transition to talking about missionary work, we shared a normal thought, we left in under an hour...the only thing was all the pet hair. Hahaha. After that we went knocking for a while, which was interesting because it was like old-people-ville. We haven't worked out in North Sydney much since that was traditionally the Elders' area. But we had a good time and we were pretty bold with people and just went right into the First Vision and it felt great. Definitely gave them the best invitation possible and got a few potentials. After that we tried to find less-actives, but everybody was either not home or no longer lived there. Our last family we looked up had apparently moved, and the house was empty. We tried asking the people across the street if they knew where they'd moved to, and they tried to sell us the house. Hahaha. It was pretty awkward. After that we took a break to gas up and were trying to decide whether to knock for 20 minutes or do something else, and we noticed we were right by Canadian Tire, and we decided to buy little nails to hang our map. Then we stopped by the Oliver's on the way home to borrow a hammer and ended up chatting with Sister Oliver and Otto for a while before we went home. The missionaries used to hang out there all the time and it's a part-member family, so you end up with that balance of trying to be obedient and effective without cutting them off cold turkey and making them feel like you don't like them anymore. I love Sister Oliver though, she's like a mom and a best friend in one person somehow.

On Tuesday we had a skype call with the STLs to roleplay the new door approach thingy a little more, which was great, and then we tried to work on the map. Gong show with technological difficulties. Gaaaaaaah. Finally I just left a frustrated voicemail on the office elders' phone asking them to make us a map of North Sydney. Haha. We went to Sister Mercer's house to do service -- she had to move apartments very suddenly and needed help packing. Well, we show up, and who's there? DONALD!!! Our investigator who was busy last Saturday because he was getting a new tenant! What are the odds?! Especially because it's so random for Sister Mercer to move from Sydney to Dominion, of all places. So that was cool. We didn't have very long to do service though because we had a lesson with Elaine. We actually ended up helping her make an essay outline, haha, but that took about 10 minutes and then we shared D&C 130:18-19 about how the kind of knowledge and intelligence God cares about is the kind we gain from diligence and obedience. (Like many Chinese students, we're trying to help her not prioritize school over church). After that we went out to Glace Bay for a lesson with Ariel, but she wasn't home while we were there. So we sat in the car calling people and ended up getting sidetracked by a conversation about doctrine, and she got home and came and knocked on our car window. Ha. So we re-scheduled for Thursday and then just had the feeling that we needed to go see the Demeyere family. So we stopped by and it turned out that Sister Demeyere was having a really hard time with some of the members and we shared a thought from John 15 and 16 about being in the world and not of the world and having peace. She said she could tell that was directly sent from God and really helped her, so that was pretty cool, especially since I didn't really know what to say and just kind of shared that scripture on a limb. I love moments like that on my mission where I can tell that I really was in instrument in the hands of God, that I just did exactly what He prompted me and needed me to do for that person and I played some small role in His plan for them. (Then we ranted about members all the way home. Seriously, sometimes I think people are trying to make people go LA).

On Wednesday I woke up feeling super sick, just really stuffed up and with a sore throat. But we went street contacting and there were tons of people out, so that was great. On the way home we met this girl, Cheryl, who we have an appointment with today and I really feel good about. Last contact! Then we had lunch and worked on the map some more, which was really great because we got it all hung up and got a lot done, and then we were going to bike downtown, but Sister Curtis was having back problems and so we ended up driving and contacting a bit more before our DA with Sister Bauer. Last time she served us some pretty weird food, but this time she had hamburgers and french fries and celery and orange pop. It was a total tender mercy because I don't think I could have choked down anything weird. After that Sister Curtis was feeling sick too though, and I felt REALLY out of it, so we sat in the car for a bit and then we knocked for a while and then we went home and kept working on the map instead since we both felt so sick. We managed to talk to 67 people that day though, and the standard is 30, so that was pretty awesome seeing as we were sick, plus it totally made up for not getting any finding done on Tuesday.

We had district meeting on Thursday, since they move it from Tuesday to Thursday in week 5 since we don't have it week 6. It was a pretty average district meeting. I had a really good roleplay though where I ended up putting Elder Tincher on date, which was funny since the roleplay was just supposed to be teaching about Christ through the scriptures. I always figure that means you did something right. After district meeting, we had lunch and then went street contacting a bit before a chiropractic appointment for Sister Curtis. It was kind of funny because it was a SUPER small waiting room, so you had to interact with the staff, and the atmosphere totally reminded me of the lab at Sanjel, and I didn't feel awkward at all, but I could tell they thought I was being awkward, and I didn't even know what I was doing to be awkward, so be forewarned. Hahaha. After that I think we street contacted again before our DA with Sister Fennell, which was good, and then we drove out to Glace Bay and knocked a bit before Ariel's lesson. Sister Demeyere (the older one, not the one from Tuesday) cancelled last minute, which was stressful because our lesson plan had kind of depended on her conversion story, but we went in anyways and found Ariel's mom, Gloria, there. She's been pretty anti and is one of the big things holding Ariel back. So we talked with her and ended up teaching her most of the Restoration and part of the plan of salvation and resolving tons of concerns and even committed her to read the Book of Mormon. It turns out the issue is she knew one of those really out-there members like 20 years ago who gave her weird ideas. So that was a HUGE turning point and we could tell it was really meant to turn out that way. It took most of the evening though so I can't remember what we did after that. I think we might have contacted a referral or something.

Friday was our last weekly planning. It was surprisingly non-weird. I think that was partly because my exit interview was over Skype at 1 pm though, so it was a lot of motivation to stay focused and get stuff done, haha. PL likes to do them ahead of time so that they can be longer and more quality, apparently. It was pretty good. We talked about all my companionships and then he asked me, if I were to serve another mission, what would I do differently? My answer basically boiled down to focusing more on things that matter most and not feeling overly accountable to leaders above doing the right thing, which he then applied to the rest of my life. I also found out that he's pulled missionaries out of Moncton for the next transfer at least, which on one hand made me feel a little better about how stressed out I got there because apparently it wasn't all in my head, but on the other hand, I hope I didn't break Moncton. Haha. After that we went to CBU to teach a less-active Chinese student, and she brought a friend! It's pretty awesome because she's had like no contact with the church for at least a year, but she's still been praying daily and apparently doing member missionary work. Her friend doesn't want to meet with us yet, but she teared up during the First Vision and said that Zoe's helped her to believe in God, so some day. After that we went out to Glace Bay and were going to see Sister Toomey, but she wasn't there, so we ended up having dinner early at this chicken place. After that we were going to knock in Glace Bay, but it was unexpectedly 9 degrees and hailing, so we decided to go home and change into weather-appropriate clothing and then knock in Sydney, which is what we ended up doing. We contacted a media referral and ended up getting let into a few old people who weren't interested, which is always amusing.

On Saturday we went street contacting in the morning, but it was SUPER windy and nobody was really keen on having a good conversation. After that we came home for lunch and ended up getting the map completely done, other than North Sydney, which was AWESOME, and then we did some more contacting before a lesson with Kerianna. Her mom wasn't there, and I wanted to be able to teach her/say goodbye, so we were waiting around for a while, and then she ended up never coming, so that was a bit frustrating. We knocked for like 20 minutes before dinner, and their dog was following us around and it was pretty funny. Then we had dinner and tried to stop by some members, who weren't home, so we went knocking for a while. Except then Sister Curtis turned to me and said, "I think we need to go back to the house. I really really REALLY need to use the washroom." Somehow I knew it was one of those moments where you don't ask questions and just drive really fast. Haha. So we spent the rest of the night inside and called formers. But we got a few people say we could call them back, which was pretty cool! And managed to just barely meet our contacting goal.

Sunday was church, which was pretty good. Everybody found out I was going home. Haha. We did a musical number, "The Olive Tree," and then I got to bear my testimony right afterwards, which was a really great experience. The YW brought cookies and had a mini party for me at the very end of YW, which was really cute. I didn't get to take any pictures after church though because we had correlation with President Kaine and then with Brother Porter. After that we went had lunch, went contacting for a while, and then knocking, and then we had dinner, and then we did more knocking. On the last house, we ended up knocking into someone who had spent some time as a substitute preacher in Montague, PEI, during February and March. Sister Sharp and Sister Smith had made an effort in that time to visit all the churches in Montague and get to know their beliefs better, and I was an STL, so we immediately had that connection. He invited us inside and we ended up jumping into the First Vision and Book of Mormon. He recognized Biblical prophecies of apostasy, but he saw it more as individual apostate leaders than a church-wide apostasy. But he said he'd always tried to keep himself open to the Spirit to know if he was ever being taught something falsely. He'd obviously run into doctrinal anti before, so we talked a bit about the role of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and the Trinity vs. the Godhead, and then I ended up sharing a scripture from Acts 28 about how many Jews had heard the church spoken against, and instead of just believing it, they went straight to the source and asked Paul. I pointed out that any Jews who were brave enough to do that gave themselves the opportunity to accept Christ as their Saviour. Similarly, what he needed to do was read the Book of Mormon and pray about it himself. I got to bear my testimony about doing that to him, which is something I've been working on because I think I have such a testimony of the things I'm teaching that I feel like I'm bearing my testimony the whole time, and I forget to really testify at the end. It was cool because you could really feel the Spirit testifying and you could see him struggling with that vs. the sacrifice it would be to accept it. We ended up just leaving him a Book of Mormon with Mosiah 3, 3 Nephi 11-26, and Moroni 10 marked for him. So he didn't become a NI, but it was a really great contact and was really meant to be. The cool thing is I learned that scripture in Acts 28 in NL to deal with anti, and I've never had the opportunity to use it until right now, at the end of my mission. But the Lord knew I'd meet Scott and that I'd need that scripture. After that we had a member visit with Sister Parks and that was the week.

I'm looking forward to seeing you on Friday! I love all of you!

Sister Olson

On Saturday, there was a street hockey tournament. The entire main street downtown was completely shut down with little rinks set up, like 10 of them. It looked like there were a variety of age categories, kids and adults. There was a cruise ship in too so people probably felt like this was the typical Canadian experience haha.
The map, completely correlated with members, less-actives, and formers.
It was really windy yesterday.

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