Monday, January 30, 2012

Remember, remember, the month of December....

Hey howdy hey to all! Hope y’all had a good week, I look forward to my double emails next week :)

This week was super fun, for a couple of reasons. First of all Steve is in love with the Book of Mormon, he wants to tell us everything he's reading and he's studying Heleman and Moroni and the stripling warriors, he told us that Alma 53:20 (I think, the one about being faithful in all things they're entrusted) is his new life mission statement and he's being trying to apply it to everything in his life. It's just so cool to see how much he's grown since he started really applying the Book of Mormon to his life, it's incredible. Talking to him just brings back my basic testimony about the Book of Mormon, I get excited and feel like I'm on fire. Every since I've come on my mission there's so much stress and emotions in my life that I feel the Spirit but I almost forget sometimes how easy and happy this gospel is, and this week has just been a reminder of all that, I'm so grateful Steve was able to help me remember that. He has a new baptismal date and is just progressing like crazy, we love it!

We also had a day where we got to teach some kids and that was so fun! One of them is 7 and literally the most adorable thing ever, we went to his grandparents' house for dinner and he pulled out the chairs for us to sit down, kept insisting we get to talk first and dish up first and have the last chicken ball because even though they're his favorites we're the guests. He asked what we do as missionaries and before we could answers told us we're the luckiest people in the world because we have the best jobs. And Sister Tuisku is so lucky because she speaks another language and I'm so lucky because Texas is so close to the sun all the time and he loves the warm sun. I was dying, he was the sweetest little gentleman! He showed us his room and was so embarrassed it wasn't clean so we had to close our eyes and let him clean up. Then we taught him about Daniel in the Lions' Den, my favorite scripture story ever, and he thought Daniel was superman, it was so cute. He kept saying "Not Daniel! Daniel can't be tricked! Daniel won't stop praying! Daniel can't be eaten! He knows God, so not Daniel!" I didn't think it was possible for me to love Daniel more, but I do now! Then we sang follow the prophet with him and he acted everything out, and we sang As I Have Loved You and showed him the sign language, then he signed Martin Luther King's dream speech for us. By the time we left we were ready to just bring him home, I've never seen such a cute kid! It's been our goal for a while to find a family to teach but now I'm determined to find one because I love teaching little kids, they just get it! It made me think of you Mom, talking about how awesome your sunbeams are. I'm so helping you when I get back from my mission, forget singles ward!

On Saturday we went to the Boy Scouts Winter Camp and helped deliver hot chocolate to the volunteers. It was a sweet camp, the scout troops were doing this rescue run where they pretended one of their members had a broken leg so they had to bandage it, make a sled to carry them on, pull them around the woods and stop at different stations where they did things like tie knots, start a fire on snow and melt/heat snow, etc. They're luck they had the snow to do it on though, Thursday morning there was no snow on the ground but it snowed just enough the troops could use their sleds. It was cool to talk to the different troops, only 1 was from Owen Sound, a few were from the US. The ward's troop wasn't there but a lot of the leaders were volunteering, which is why we got the assignment to help with hot chocolate. One of the members was running a station where you used a 2 man saw to cut a log so he called us over and had us do it. We sawed all the way through in under a minute, which supposedly is a good time but I'm not positive he wasn't just being nice.

We have a new investigator! Her name is Marlene and she's awesome, we met her a week or 2 ago. She told us she was church hopping at the moments, so we taught her about the apostasy and the restoration and she was super interested. She took a Book of Mormon and gave one to her sister too, and has been reading it. This week she said she would pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and we're seeing her again on Thursday. She lives about 30 minutes away so she's a little harder to see than Chris or Steve, but she's so solid! And the best part- Sister Tuisku and I were role playing for her lesson and I was playing Marlene, and we knew almost nothing about her so I just made stuff up. I said I had moved from Collingwood, because everyone here and their dog seems to have some connection to Collingwood, and Sister Tuisku laughed and said if she was from Collingwood she'd buy me an ice cream. And wonderful Marlene is in fact from Collingwood, so she won me a McFlurry! (Btw, they have Smartie McFlurrys here- smarties are like M&Ms here, not like American smarties, but I was so grossed out when I saw that on the menu, and even more grossed out when Sister Tuisku ordered one. But then it turned out to be chocolate candy so it was fantastic, not disgusting.)

I found a new favorite scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, I think it's 88:4- basically it promises if we'll but open our mouths and speak we'll become as Nephi of old. So that's my new goal, our district focus this week is talking with everyone so I'm going to try to open my mouth and see what happens. So it should be a pretty awesome week! Hope everything back home is still well, love you all! Do missionary work!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Prayers, Stares, and Smiles

Wow, I need to guilt trip about emails more often, my inbox rocked today! And it's amazing how exact they all hit on things I've been thinking about so well done to all.

First of all, Dad- yes we have a ward mission plan but it doesn't really talk much about how members will work with the actual missionaries, I wish it did more. We have an amazing ward mission leader, Brother Parsons, and his wife is a ward missionary. They do a ton of teaching with us, we really appreciate them. We also have 2 priest age young men who are preparing for a mission who are ward missionaries, but unfortunately we haven't been able to utilize them much. They both live at least half an hour away and work, so it's been hard to coordinate with them. We're hoping to start bringing them more though, because we only ever have sisters with us at our lessons and we think bringing some priesthood holders to meet our investigators would help them. Other than that, there's a few people in Owen Sound we bring consistently, but most of the ward doesn't live in the city so we haven't had much success bringing them to appointments. So I'm super grateful you went teaching with the missionaries, yes hearing things from members can definitely make a big difference.

Mom, sorry your trip was so crazy! I'm glad you made it safe though and hope y'all are having a great time in Utah. Grandma and Grandpa are in my prayers, I hope everything continues to go well.

This week was really interesting. We had a pretty amazing lesson with Chris, he basically explained to us how he sees the great apostasy going on all around him and we were like, well yeah that's exactly right, that's why the Lord needed to restore His original gospel through another prophet, and he was like, yeah I know. We were super excited, everything we taught him about the plan of salvation he just thought about for a second and then said "I already believe that, I just wouldn't use those words to explain it. Are y'all the only church that teaches this?" Unfortunately, our lesson ended abruptly because his daughter came home and he needed to go help her with something, but he is SO ready for the gospel, I'm super excited to invite him to be baptized this week. Steve on the other hand was a harder situation, he hasn't quit smoking yet and said he isn't ready to be baptized. So we're moving his baptism back and are really praying for help with helping him quit smoking. He's developing an awesome relationship with the Holy Ghost though, which is cool to see. He told us about how he had what seemed like a really good opportunity for him that he should have taken in a heart beat, but he just had a nagging feeling not to and he prayed about it and decided he needed to pass on it, that he would do more good staying where he was even though he didn't want to. He also came in to one lesson really excited about the chapter he read in the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 17, and said he can just relate to everyone and that was the first time anything in it really struck him. So pretty much, our investigators are amazing!

This week has been ridiculous weather! In the morning it will be raining and 5 degrees, then at night it will snow 6 inches and be -15. Then two days later all the snow will be gone again! I left my camera, but I'll send you some pictures next week so you can see how bipolar the weather here is. So I've learned I prefer tracting in the snow over tracting in the rain- for some reason it's just a happier experience, AND when it snows everyone goes inside so we get to talk to more people! I also had some OYM experiences where we just stopped people on the street, and get was kind of fun! It wasn't terrifying and stressful and awkward and hard, at least not every single conversation. We talked to one guy, I think he said he was 19, who at first was really not thrilled to be talking to us because he said he's talked to missionaries before and they're all rude, then 5 minutes later he was telling us his life story. he stopped and said "Wow, I don't usually tell people that...weird...What church do you go to?" He wants to meet us this weekend. So cool, that almost never happens here!

Well, that's all I can really think of from this week. 2 of my favorite quotes from this week....

-Chris was looking for something on his computer for like 10 minutes and couldn't find it. Finally Sister Tuisku suggested he pray. 30 seconds later, he found it. She asked if he had said a pray and he said "Maybe a little....oh the power of prayer and your stare!"

-Steve described our lessons as "You guys just stare and smile. Which one is it time for now?"

So I guess that's missionary work- you pray for people, stare at people, and smile at people. I love it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teeth and tiaras girls, teeth and tiaras!

Well I was going to apologize for emailing later than usual, but since I didn't get an email this week (except Dad, thanks for the family history story!) I guess I don't have to! Hope everyone had a good week, especially Grandma and Erin, I hope y'all are feeling well.

So I've started having princess dreams, seriously I've had 3 this week. I'm not sure what to blame, but it does mean I've had lines from that Barbie princess training movie running through my head all week. You can tell she's a princess..... It's made me miss my sisters quite a bit! So has the fact that a few times this week Sister Tuisku has told me "I just want to squeeze you!" so it's like Melissa is here.

It amazes me how comfortable you become with your companion and how well you get to know them with out actually getting to know them ever. Sister Tuisku and I went to the mall because she's in desperate need for some clothes, and I bought this skirt that I LOVE and she looked at me odd and said "You're funky. I didn't know that." It was super funny. I was also telling a couple we had dinner with about ice blocking (which everyone thought was super awesome and extreme sounding, they were very impressed) and she stared at me and said "How have I not heard about this?? You're crazy!" Also, it took me 7 weeks to learn Sister Tuisku doesn't like bugs. We went out to a farm where one of the members lives and he showed up his barn where he raises bugs. Seriously. He grows beetles, breeds them, and sells the larvae to the pet stores. He had rows and rows of trays with THOUSANDS of bugs in them! And he would just stick his hand in and pull a handful out while he
 talked about them! Sister Tuisku's eyes went wide and she went quite and I thought she was going to have to leave, she was so grossed out. (In her defense, it was pretty gross, and the smell was TERRIBLE! But I told her about cockroaches in Texas and she just about died.) And yet I probably know her better than anyone should, we're probably way to comfortable with each other. (She keeps telling me she's going to get transferred because she's made me unholy so we won't be allowed to be companions anymore. If only she knew that me being unholy is NOT a new thing....)

This week has been the coldest so far, and it's also the week we've really started tracting. Not the best timing, but thankfully it's ONLY gone to -15 C. I've been told it should be in the -20s and -30s this upcoming week, and we're going to try to tract an hour a day soooooo that will be interesting. This week has also been the most...testing I guess. We didn't have anyone at church, Steve got the flu and Chris has rehearsals for a play he's in in February, so he's probably not coming for the next 3 weeks or so. Steve is also really struggling to quit smoking so it's a little worrying. And we had no new investigators this week. So it's been stressful, but it was still a good week. We got to visit a lot of members we haven't had a chance to see yet, which was nice. 2 of them said they'd love to go teaching with us, which was much needed because we call the same 3 families or so all the time.

The thing I really have noticed the last 2 weeks or so is how much stronger my testimony has become about Joseph Smith. Not that I've ever really doubted that he was a prophet, but my testimony about him has mostly been based on the fact that I know that this church is Christ's true church on Earth so he had to have been a prophet. But Since coming on my mission, every time I've shared the first vision, even is I'm just role playing with Sister Tuisku, I feel the Spirit so strong! It's amazing what a powerful experience it is telling someone about how he actually saw and spoke with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and I know that's an event that really happened. I love teaching people, it's still nerve wrecking at times but I love how I feel sharing with people about the Book of Mormon, I love that book! I wish I'd had the nerve to do it more back home, that's probably why I was sent on a mission- so I would learn some courage and quite being a pansy.

Anyways, that's just about everything new with me. I love y'all! Talk to you in a week!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hello Houston!

Hello Houston! Glad to hear from you again, glad most of you had a good week. Erin I hope you get better soon, but since you basically wished you were home sick every day before I left you better take advantage of the days you're home from school. I'm super jealous yall went to the temple this week, you're right Mom, I can't go I'm not in Toronto but we've been talking about about temples in the past few days and I really wish I could. The ward is planning a temple trip for February and I wish I could tag along, but I guess I'll stay here and work....

Can you believe I'm finished with my first transfer? Sister Tuisku and I are staying in Owen Sound, which we knew would happen, and I'm super relieved because I do not want to start over again yet! Still, I'm getting pretty stinking old, if time could please slow down just a bit I'd be grateful.

So, since I'm going to be here at least 6 more weeks, let me give you a little taste of where I'm living. First of all, Canadian squirrels are terrifying! They're black and when the stand up they're probably knee high, I'm pretty sure they eat birds and rodents, not nuts. Every time I see one I freak out a little bit. Secondly, I learned about something called tent caterpillars, they're super common here in the summer. Look them up, one of the ward members was telling us how they spin these nests and breed like thousands at a time, the nest can engulf the entire tree and it almost always kills the tree. They have to light them on fire! I hope I'm here when it's warm enough to see them. Also, my weekly correlation meeting with the ward mission leader is fantastic. Each week he writes on one side of the board everything we need to talk about, and on the other side the hockey scores from Canada, Finland, and the US that week, it's hilarious! I guess some big tournament was going on, so he wanted to let us know who got the gold. You know you're in Canada when.....

This week was good, per usual! Sadly I didn't quite finish the Book of Mormon in a week, I slept through the alarm to wake up and read for an hour yesterday and Sister Tuisku didn't realize I was sleeping in on purpose. So when I finished this morning it took me exactly an hour to finish, I'm still kicking myself that I came so close! But I finished this morning, and technically when we first set the goal the plan was to read from p-day to p-day so I technically did it. I'm going to try again sometime though, but not until I've had a chance to catch up on my sleep. But it paid off, we found a new investigator this week! We tracted into him on Thursday, his name is Dustin and he was super interested when we said we taught people about God, he wanted us to teach him right then. We had an appointment though, so we met him the next day and talked some about the plan of salvation. He really liked that we teach about missionary work after we die and we didn't think he was going to hell because he wasn't Christian. Saturday we took him on a tour of the church and invited him to come Sunday, it was awesome BUT THEN he slept through it! Super disappointing, but we're seeing him tomorrow. The only thing is that he's moving to Vancouver on the 16th so we can't teach him very long, we're basically just preparing him so we can pass him off to the missionaries there. Steve did come to church this week, so he officially has a baptismal date! We're super pumped, he's awesome. Chris went to Toronto this weekend so he didn't come, but we're praying all 3 are at church this weekend. Lynda is really sick so we still haven't gotten to see her unfortunately. We also have 2 kids of less active members who are old enough to be baptized that we're hoping to be able to begin teaching this week, which is great, they've been trying to get missionaries teaching them for a long time!

I have a request for you, Dad you'll probably enjoy this the most: can you send me family history stories? I have my pedigree chart and know random names I'm related to but I know very few genealogy stories. Especially if you could send me some good pioneer stories, that would be awesome!

I hope you have another good week, love you all! Grandma is always in my prayers, I hope that continues to go okay. Talk to ya in a week!

P.S. I got my first missionary lotto ticket from the Stewarts! Tell them thank you so much, sadly I haven't scratched it off yet because Sister Tuisku hasn't been convinced yet it isn't breaking the rules to scratch it off. I'll let you know next week if I won anything!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Happy New Year! The first time Sister Tuisku and I had to write down 2012 we just stopped and stared at each other, I can't believe December went so fast! And to ring in the new year right we have had snow DUMPED on us! So I was very grateful for the green Christmas but I think my time of "warm" weather is very much over.
Yes your celebration was rather different than mine. We had to be back in the apartment at 6, so we had a fantastic meal of steak and mashed potatoes to celebrate and then I wrote in my diary and fell asleep around 9. Best new year ever, though i did miss year old dip with Melissa and sparkling cider, we totally forgot to pick some up.

This week was interesting. I had a moment yesterday when I was shoveling out the car when I realized that if I had really controled my life, Owen Sound Ontario is literally the last place on Earth I would be. I'd probably be living in Austin, with only 1 year left till I finished my degree in who knows what, enjoying the heat and having no clue what it's like to live in snow. But I'm not in control, I let Heavenly Father pick my school, my degree, and send me on my mission. I also realized it's super super weird that I was raised in Houston Texas in preparation to serve a mission in Canada, that makes zero sense to me! And yet here I am, freezing cold and wading through snow halfway up my shin, and TOTALLY happy. It makes no sense, but I'm grateful the Lord knows me better than I know myself and has directed my life.

We did not get to see Lynda this week, but we had some aMAZING talks with her on the phone. The only time Sister Tuisku has ever answered the phone and I wasn't in the room to hear it, she called to tell us that she prayed about Joseph Smith and had this amazing sense of peace wash over her and she knew he was a prophet. I came out of the bathroom and Sister Tuisku was at the table almost in tears and just beaming, I was so sad i missed that call! But I'm thrilled for her, she's awesome. The only problem is we haven't gotten to talk to her since, so we're praying we get to see her soon. Steve and Chris are both doing great, although neither came to church this Sunday because of New Years. So we're really really praying all 3 of them can come this Sunday, that would be an incredible miracle and blessing! We also might have a new investigator, his name is Ross. He's someone we contacted from the former investigators list in the area book, yesterday we went in and talked with him for about 30 minutes and were able to share the first vision with him. He agreed to read the introduction to the book of mormon and pray about Joseph Smith and said we can drop by sometime next week, so that's exciting. And we actually have 3 appointments this week with potential investigators, which is amazing! One of them we OYMed on the street and 2 are from the formers list. They all seem really sincere, and one of them was super adorable! She hugged us and said she has her own religion but she'd love to hear our point of view so come by as soon as we can, so we're looking forward to seeing her.
This upcoming week Sister Tuisku and I decided to torture ourselves and read the entire Book of Mormon. We started yeasterday, and when I write to you next Monday I'll be done. We wake up at 5:30 and read for an hour, and then try to read anytime we have a spare moment in the car or at meals. It's actually so far hasn't been as bad as I thought, we only have to read about 76 pages a day. I just finished Words of Mormon so I'm on track to do it, I just have to read 3 more chapters today. But we've decided that we could really use the power that comes from reading it this week, Sister Tuisku knows some Sisters who did it once and had miracles just pour out that week, so we're having faith that we'll see the miracles we need too. I really like reading it nonstop, it really solidifies the history andorder of stories in the book, which wasn't something I expected to get from this challenge but it's been helpful. It's also hard though because I want to stop and really study some thing I'm reading and I can't, so I'm making a list of chapters to go back and study next week.

I think that's about it! I'm cold but I'm not sick, my awesome ward mission leader lectured me about zipping up my coat so I'm being well watched over.I don't know if you're going to make another attempt at heading to Utah, but have fun if you do. I'm sorry I didn't get to send pictures last week, I really will this time! I love you all and hope you have a great week!