Monday, February 27, 2012

It's incredible to see how the Lord works

Dear Houston,

So I realized with my transfer news last week, I didn't tell you anything about the changes in Owen Sound! Apparently they're pretty historic, so here's the deal for y'all to be jealous of my exiting historic mission! They rearranged the stakes here and created a new Barrie Stake. It's interesting, because they changed 4 stakes...and ended up with four stakes. The area authority who was explaining said the felt like it was shuffling deck chairs on the titanic, but that's what they and the first presidency felt prompted to do so they did it. I guess the members here have been talking about the day the Barrie stake would be formed for about 20 years now, so everyone was really excited. The stake conference they announced it at was awesome, they explained the new boundaries and then had various members either being released from or receiving a stake conference bare their testimony. Our bishop was called to be the new 2nd counselor for the Barrie Stake, and gave an amazing testimony about how the Lord makes us able to serve the callings we're given. The spirit was so strong, I loved it, and it made me even more excited for general conference in March! 
This also means I'm in the new Barrie Zone and in a new district, which has been fun. Along with keeping my tradition of international companions, I also seem to be setting a trend of always having an Elder from my MTC district in my district- I had Elder Jensen the last 2 transfers, and now I'm with Elder Kenning! Of course, this means we have an even longer drive to district meeting- instead of an hour to an hour and a half, we now have 2 or 2 and a half hours to drive! At first they said we'd only be able to go once a month, but we got permission to continue going every other week.
This week has been pretty exciting to see things happen. You can tell Sister Arnold and I are the ones who are supposed to be here this transfer, because all the people Sister Tuisku and I felt strongly about but have been trying for weeks to get a hold with no success suddenly became available and we've been able to see! It's incredible to see how the Lord works, it's so clear that this is His work and NOT ours- if we ever plan to teach something that He wouldn't have us teach or bring members who aren't supposed to be there, appointments fall thru until we admit that we're not listening to prompting and change our plans- then we start seeing them again. And now, when we were trying so hard to see people before we got split up we failed, but now that Sister Arnold and I are working to contact it manages to happen. It's just reaffirmed to me that we have so little to do with this work, it will go on with or without us, but when we strive to remain worthy of and listen to the spirit we're allowed to assist in the work.
And Melissa, I feel your pain about showing an area, I have gotten lost several times while trying to direct Sister Arnold. I really got used to just letting Sister Tuisku drive and zone out thinking about things and I'm now regretting it because I'm back to staring at maps trying to remember where everyone lives.
I had the most embarrassing moment so far of my mission! We were walking down a street towards this couple, so we stopped them to OYM (already this most awkward thing in the world, right?) and I took a step back so we wouldn't be too creepy and stand in their bubble. So right as I'm explaining that we're missionaries, I step on ice and just eat it! I landed flat on my butt and this couple just stared at me, I probably looked like a lunatic. Sister Arnold tried to save the conversation but there was no way. And then we had to go OYM someone else who had obviously watched the whole thing go down- epic fail. Now one of my investigators has been lecturing me on how to take care of the sore wrist I caught myself on and I feel like Dad is here in Owen Sound, so that part is actually pretty fun.
Well, glad all is well. Sister Arnold has a pretty back track record of her companions having family crisises while she was assigned to them, so be extra careful for the next 6 weeks please. Especially avoid horses it sounds like. Love you all and will talk to you in a week!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Transfer town, Canada . . . .

Hello America! Greetings from the great city of......OWEN SOUND! No, I wasn't transferred, but Sister Tuisku was sent to Brampton for her last transfer so I am now here with fantastic Sister Arnold, from Australia and England so I'm keeping my international companions going. Yesterday was crazy because they combined transfer day and p-day because of Family Day on Monday. So we woke up at 5, because Sister Tuisku had no time to pack the day before, left Owen Sound at 7, arrived at the Brampton Stake Center at 10 where Sister Tuisku promptly left with her new companion and I waited for the 11:00 transfer van with Sister Arnold on it, then we made a trip to the mission office and got lunch and hit the road. We got back to Owen Sound around 4, had time to do laundry and plan out our night, and at 6 p-day ended and we went back to work. So this is probably the most exhausted I've ever felt, which is probably pretty sad to say only a few months in.

It's super weird how fast you love new companions! Sister Arnold has been out the same amount of time Sister Tuisku had when we were put together and is a total pro. She was in her last area for 8 months, this is only the 3rd place she's served, and she's been with every one of her companions for 2 transfers so I think I'm going to be in Owen Sound a while longer! Whoo hoo! It's also super weird being the young, junior companion and yet at the same time being the old companion from the area. It's good for me because anytime I didn't really know what to do I would just rely on Sister Tuisku to decide things and I can't let myself do that anymore because Sister Arnold doesn't know the people yet. So while thankfully my prayers were answered and I'm not training (hopefully that will be pushed off another year), I am being forced again out of my comfort zone- which is super good for me.

 Family Day was really fun, we dropped by a few of the less actives we were close with so Sister Tuisku could say good bye and share a last message. It was cool because she was extra bold and everyone was extra willing to agree to do things since it was her last day, so the Spirit was so powerful the whole day. We had dinner was a less active woman who's husband is in the Philippines, we called and asked when would be a good time and she said "Come over for pizza Monday night, you girls can be my family!" It was super cute, she's so sweet. No mom, I was not served any cookies or hot chocolate, though I was offered ginger ale in every home I think. Ginger ale seems to be the soda of choice in Canada (yes, everyone drinks Canada Dry) and I've never craved ginger ale EVER in my life but since coming to Canada I honestly want it all the time...super weird... Also good that I like it, because the other popular drink is Pepsi....

Glad to hear everyone is doing well. Mom have fun in Chicago, that is sweet! How do you have the best job ever? Hope everyone in the ward is doing well, I get letters and emails occasionally from members and it's always a super sweet surprise. Also, thanks to the Stays for the hugs and kisses package, so cute!! I'm looking forward to it being warm enough to wear the cute new scarves :) Hope Grandma Jensen continues to improve, as always you're in my prayers. Love you all and I'll talk to you next week!

New favorite scripture: 3 Nephi 17: 20....Our Lord's joy is our faith, and what better way to exercise faith in Him and His gospel then by sharing it with others?

Sister Tuisku and I at the Tornoto Temple right next to the stake center where we had transfers
My new companion Sister Arnold
 Love my city!
I've wanted to take pictures with this sign since the first day we came to Owen sound.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A week of visiting members

Hello my fabulous family! First of all, I think there's been some confusion about mail, so real quick...

-Mom I got you Valentine’s Day package this morning and it's AWESOME!! I read the customs description before opening it and promised Sister Tuisku we'd give all the candy and cookies away and not eat anything, but then when I saw it was dove and lifesaver mints and girl scout cookies I reneged and told her we're eating all of it! You always put together awesome boxes, I love the sweater and JB cards :) (Justin Bieber Valentine cards) And the stationary had perfect timing, I was planning on buying cute paper and stuff today! Did Erin add in the glowsticks? It seems like something she would do, too fun! I love the family history folder Dad, I'm going to keep my pedigree chart and patriarchal blessing with it. Thank you all! And thanks for sending me those pictures of Erin, they're AWESOME.

-Megan Hanlon, I did NOT lose your letter with the ring in it, no worries! I sent a reply letter, hopefully you get it soon, but I've also gotten your letter where you resent your blog, so I'll send you another letter too.

-Megan Hurst I'm so sorry I haven't been getting any of your emails! :( but I got the package and various letters from Megan, Shannon, and Madison, I love y’all, thank you! The homemade cards and JB valentines made me just about pee myself laughing, I loved them! And that President Monson block is too cute, thanks :)

-Carly I got you letter as well, thanks! Love you and I'll write you soon!
I think that's everything, thanks for all the love :)

This week was really good, it was a week of visiting members. One of the most memorable visits was to a family in our ward who is building their own underground house so inside it looks like a normal home but the outside it looks like a hobbit house in middle earth, it's built right into a hill and all you see is the garage and front door! They've been working on it for about 10 years and still aren't totally finished, but she said they love it. Her only complaint is that sometimes they have ants chew through the ceiling and they're still trying to figure out how to stop that. We got to sign the house on parts that are unfinished, the walls are COVERED with signatures and messages. It was weird to see the names of Elders that are all over the area book on her wall. But Sister Jensen from Houston Texas will forever be a part of that house :) It was also memorable because she told us about her conversion story, and said something I loved. She talked about Elders that visited her about 5 years before she started investigating the church, they left her a pamphlet but that was about all. She said she wish they knew that she eventually joined the church and they played a part in that even though to them it seemed like just another rejection while tracting. Pretty cool to be reminded of the roles we often play and don't realize, she could name 6 encounters she had with church members before she actually started investigating the church.

Cool thought for the week- we were talking to a man who asked us what we thought the universal language was when we die. Sister Tuisku said she had no idea, but she did know there was a universal language the Lord uses and that's the Holy Ghost. Later that day a member from Chile was telling us about a time she walked into a barn and heard a voice in her head say GET OUT, so she immediately turned around a left. About 30 seconds later, a huge beam fell where she was standing. Then she said "You know what's interesting though? It was like hearing a voice, but I've thought about that experience over and over and cannot tell if I heard it in Spanish or English. It was just a communication I knew!" I don't know how the Holy Ghost works exactly, but it's amazing that it can communicate with everyone, no matter what language, country, race, nationality, or anything. It reminded me of one of my roommates in the MTC talking about how she loved how praying in Spanish was praying to the same God as praying in English, she felt totally different but it had the same power and same Spirit to it.

The weather continues to be crazy. We had 3 days of spring, to the point flowers were starting to grow again, and then we were hit with 3 days of snow so now I have to kick the car door open if we park by a curb because the snow is so deep and heavy. Other than that it was a pretty normal week. We have a new investigator, Harmony. She's the daughter of an inactive member and is super sweet, so we're really excited about that. We're praying for some more investigators soon, because we don't see Marlene often and so are really just teaching 2 people right now. But we're so grateful we have that many!

Love you all, hope you have a great week and a good Valentine’s Day!
Photos of the week:

 Proof that I can shovel snow!

With our fantastic ward mission leader & missionary, who were both released this Sunday :(

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bonus pictures!

These are some trees on the way to a meeting...

...this is about the same area after the meeting, maybe 6 hours later.

You would never guess but I'm standing on a road.

Canadian weather be cray-cray!

I'm good, life's good, my mission and area are good!

Hey familia!

Mom Sorry I didn't get your email last week, that's super weird it sent to dad but not me, but I did enjoy all the emails this week so Thanks! :)

Dad I'll definitely let the boy scouts know about the wimpy Texas requirements, they'll die. I'll send yall the picture Brother Hindle printed out for me of Sister Tuisku and I cutting a log, the snow is pouring down and it'll give you a pretty good idea of what an easy warm year looks like here.

Joe I hope you're doing better and healing up! I just about died when I read you had an ulcer and couldn't figure out why no one had told me, but then Mom's letter talked about it and I realized I just had the timing off, your letter was only a day old not a week, so all is forgiven. But I'll work extra hard to catch a polar bear to ride for you so you'll have something to cheer you up while you're sick!

Mel I hope you're totally recovered as well. Of COURSE Byu has the worst application ever, if it was easy you know you're doing something wrong and are probably actually applying to USU. Hopefully you figure out that terrible, terrible website soon!

Erin congrats on getting into the pre-med program at UT! Don't forget to send me your shirt when you decide where to go :) Also, I'm STILL waiting for a picture of you in your play in your ugly stepmother makeup! I'm glad fiddler on the roof went well though, that picture does look awesome.

So my miracle of the week has to do with less active work, this area has really taught me the importance of working with less actives, which I've never really understood before. It sounds terrible, but my attitude has always kind of been that they know the church is always open so when they're ready they'll come and then we can support them as they return. Last year at school my stake was really big on emphasizing "the rescue mission" we all have for less active members, but I didn't really know anyone who wasn't active that I felt comfortable enough inviting back to church. But I'm seriously repenting of that, cuz in this area we have a LOT of less actives and as we've been visiting them I'm realizing more and more than just assuming they know they're welcome back anytime isn't going to help them, they need support and encouragement. But this week, about half way through sacrament meeting Sister Tuisku nudged me and pointed out a less active sister we'd been visiting who hasn't been to church in YEARS who had walked in! And then, she got up and bore her testimony! She said she'd never done that before but she knew that the church was true and that was in her core essence, and even though most had never met her because she didn't come she encouraged everyone to keep learning about the church until they know in their core it's true. Afterwards we ran and caught her before she left and she hugged us and thanked us, saying we were the reason she had borne her testimony because we had helped her feel the Spirit. It was the best part of my week, I'm so glad we were able to help her, especially when we had talked multiple times about how we weren't sure how to help her or if our visit were doing her any good. It was so cool!

So cool thing that happened in the mission this week, President Scott has started what he calls the Mission Training Plan. I don't remember if I told you this, but the church has started a new training program for missionaries for the first 2 transfers which is supposed to make you able to be a trainer yourself by the 3rd transfer (notice I used the word supposed-Sister Tuisku keeps telling me I'm training next transfer, but I'm praying that WON'T be that case lol!) So President Scott made some changes in how we plan and set goals as a mission. It brings us more in line with Preach My Gospel, because we've been setting monthly goals and goals as a district and zone, but PMG says nothing about those kind of goals so we're getting rid of them. Instead, every area is to totally focus on weekly goals for just their area, backing them all up with names and dates as much as possible, and then as a district and zone we're just supposed to support each area in achieving that. It makes a lot of sense, since we have very little control over what our district accomplishes but a lot of control over what we accomplish. The mission is also going to start focusing each week on a different fundamental covered in the training program- revelation through prayer, revelation through church attendance, the holy ghost's role in conversion, ect. So it should be cool to see how those changes, which don't seem to be a big adjustment but that have been really strongley impressed to President Scott need to be made, can make a difference in our mission!

That's about it. I'm good, life's good, my mission and area are good! I'm loving Canada and surviving the winter (which is actually pretty easy, I think it was above 0 this whole week!) Love you ALL, thanks for the emails again! Talk to ya next week!