Monday, March 26, 2012

Another great week!

Good morning my beloved family! It has been another great week, I'll see how much of it I can include in the next 20 minutes....

First of all zone conference was incredible! Elder Duncan of the 70 came and spoke to us, it was him speaking for 2 hours, lunch, and 2 more hours of him speaking. I LOVED IT! And, I scored a picture with him and his wife-

- I asked if it was okay to take one and he said yes but we had to sneak one fast so all the others there didn't start lining up. It was perfect timing- we took one and a group of Elders walked outside and he disappeared so fast!  But I'm so excited because it was an amazing conference, he talked alot about love and charity and how everything in missionary work and the gospel stems from that. So we talked about how to develop love and how to show love. He said the rest of our lives we're going to have a special love for Canada- we'll hear the word Toronto and our ears will perk up- because we're spending all our time serving and toiling here and so the love we develop for these people will be a special bond that will never fade. You could tell that was true for him, he served in Chile and got so excited when he found out one of the Elders there was from Chile. And he only calls the Sisters "Hermana", even his wife haha! My favorite quote from the whole thing- "The Lord doesn't ask for much from us, just our all- which really isn't much." Then we talked a lot about the ideal perfect lesson, and then how to actually make that lesson a goal every time you teach and how to do it. It was awesome because there's all these things you convince yourself you just can't do as a missionary, so it was a nice wake up call to realize it's really not that hard to do what you need to and are supposed to. So from now on I'm really trying not to limit what the Lord can do here in this area.

It was also super fun because Tuesday night we drove to Scarborough to sleep at the Sisters' apartment there- and Sister Beasley, my MTC companion was there! That was fun to catch up, and this Tuesday night we're spending the night at the Brampton Sisters' apartment- which is Sister Tuisku's area! And the Sisters conference on Wednesday I get to see all the sisters! So I'm super happy. We told the Elders in our district we wouldn't be at district meeting because we have Sisters Conference and they were really jealous- one asked where he had to go to sign up to be a Sister. Too bad son, you missed that in the pre-existence!

So I've been praying and fasting like crazy, and so hopefully next week I'll be sending you so baptism pictures! Our investigator is so so so close, we're just praying he sees it like we do and will be baptized this Sunday. I'm so excited!!

Mom, I loved what you said about how you're trying to prepare to receive revelation at Conference this weekend. Elder Duncan gave some great advice in zone conference that I'm going to try to apply to general conference- he said listen to and take notes on what you're feeling, not necessarily what you're hearing. Especially with General Conference, where in a month we'll get to read the exact words, we should be more focused on the Spirit than the person speaking, because that message is what we personally need so as we listen to our prophets speak we can receive that revelation- but only if we're intently focused on it. I get caught up sometimes in trying to write down their perfect wording that I can't remember why I liked it so much by the time I'm done writing, so this conference is just going to be a good talk with me and the Spirit. I'm so excited for it, Sister Arnold and I made up these awesome invitations that we've been giving out as pass along cards and I'm hoping some people really look at them and come! We went to a members home this week and gave them some invites and asked them to give them out, and I loved what Sister Arnold said- She said Thomas S. Monson isn't just the prophet for the church, he's the prophet for the whole world! When we invite our friends who aren't members or who don't follow our faith, we aren't inviting them to hear our prophet speak, we're invited them to hear THEIR prophet and the revelation they can receive and the spirit they can feel is amazing! So I'm going to try to get any investigators who aren't able to attend to watch it on afterwards, because what they are teaching is literally meant to be heard by EVERYONE!

I just reread some of that haha yes, in case you can't tell, I'm really excited about Conference! I really have a testimony of it.

I think that's about everything....I hope all is well at home! I'm glad Utah was so good. Erin, congrats on your play! Melissa, I guess congrats on BYU? Lol. Hope school and work is still going well for everyone. Love and praying for you all!

Oh, and Mom, I had the best conversation about art with someone and I wish you could have been there! She had the best ideas about fun art projects- like painting with string! It sounds so fun!  Either making it tense and doing straight lines or just laying it on the canvas and having curved, smooth lines. And I told her about you, and she said if you like mosaic and stuff you probably prefer acrylic paint and would really enjoy painting with a knife, I don't remember exactly what that term is but hopefully you know what I mean. So yeah, I hope you get some time to paint soon!

Love you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Missions rock!!

***For those of you who haven't heard, Rachel's Grandmother passed away last Friday.  Since I couldn't be there to hug Rachel, I have prayed a lot for her to recieve comfort and peace during this difficult time.  Her letter this week is an example of answered prayers.  We are so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that families are eternal and that one day we will be reunited with all of our loved ones again.  --Rachel's Mom***

I got alot of emails this week, which ROCKED, good job everyone, so real quick before anything else....

Erin- Glad you loved that picture as much as I do :)

Mel- Love you, thank you for that! And good luck talking to the principal this weekend ;) you're probably just going to be offered some giant scholarship so I'm not worried about ya, but I'll say an extra prayer for you.

Dad- Good job making Erin prune, I love the pictures. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Sister Arnold and I wished you happy birthday, but we were probably a little too far away for you to hear it.

Mom- Thank you so much for allowing Erin to be ridiculous, that picture killed me. I'm sad y'all gave up on 49 candles!

Joe- Write me you bum! Lol love you!

So this week was FANTASTIC, because my investigator I've been teach for 3 months now FINALLY CAME TO CHURCH! And brought a friend! 4 nonmembers at church!! (That's the first time we've had more than 1 the entire time I've been here!) Sister Arnold kept laughing at me because I could not stop grinning all day, I told her my mission could end now and I'd be good because I got to see him in a tie at church. And then after church we went to a member's home and began teaching a new investigator, who had also come to church with them. So Sunday was pretty much perfect. I know it happened because, again, we're trying to follow President Scott's counsel on how to teach and use our time, and so the Lord is really blessing us.

President Scott called me Saturday and told me about Grandma. It's definitely been sad, but I've also been amazed about how okay it's been. I think it threw Sister Arnold off a bit, who was prepared for the companion melt down she's used to, but I really have just had peace about it. I love the story you sent about Marianne's dream Mom, I can see that 100%. Maybe it's because I've spent the last 3 months testifying to one of our investigators about how death isn't a bad or scary thing (because that's been his biggest fear about the gospel- the track record of prophets and apostles in the Bible dying is pretty grim) but I just know she's taken another step in her life and that it isn't the end- and now I have one more person I love helping me in my work up here!

Tonight I am making a 4 hour drive to Scarborough, we have zone conference tomorrow in Pickering at 7:30 so we're spending the night with the Sisters in Scarborough, which should be pretty stinking fun. It's Sister Arnold's first area so she's really pumped, we're leaving a little early in hopes of being able to do a bit of proselyting with them tonight. We also found out next week we are having a Sisters Conference in Brampton, which is so exciting- I'll get to see Sister Tuisku before she heads home to Finland the next week! And I've been super jealous recently because Sister Arnold knows something about every sister in the mission, so I'm looking forward to getting to meet them all- Owen Sound is a bit too isolated to be able to do exchanges or meet anyone really.

That's about everything with me. My life is good, my companion is amazing, my investigators are terrific, I love the work! Missions rock!! I'm keeping the whole family in my prayers, I hope everyone is doing well. Love you all so much and I'll talk to ya in a week.

Pictures of the week:

Loving our preparation day and the sunny weather! It's been incredible this week, we got up to 27 degrees!
There's a family in the ward who's building their house, so missionaries who visit there get to sign somewhere- I actually signed when i went with Sister Tuisku in February, but I finally got a picture when Sister Arnold signed! 
 We picked the main support beams, because they'll never be knocked down and they're getting painted over last, if they ever are. Score!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life in Owen Sound pretty much rocks right now

Had a weird surprise when I came to email today- my library card had expired! They only gave me a limited use one for 3 months, and I've officially been here longer than that so I had to re-sign up for one. Super weird....

So this week I learned that you should ALWAYS listen to the inspiration of your leaders. President Scott sent out an email last week ago with 5 things he wanted missionaries to focus on- setting baptismal dates, having kneeling prayers, summarizing the lesson before and after you teach, planning ahead of time, and praying that we would acheive our goal for number of baptisms in June. I read it, thought that's all good stuff, and didn't think about it much because in my mind we do all that. Then at district meeting we went through and talked about them all, and challenged us to focus on them, so we started really trying to do everything President said. I realized I actually do NONE of those things the way we're supposed to, which was pretty embarrassing for me. And we did everything he listed out in a first lesson with our new investigator, Tara, and who knew? It WORKED! We set a baptismal date and have a standing appointment with her wice a week every week until that date. It was like the ideal lesson, like something off the district, it was crazy. Then the one day we dropped the ball on the planning aspect (President talked about making sure you're thinking multiple days in advance and planning with lead time- and on Saturday we forgot to do our reminder calls about church and day light savings until 8 at night) we saw the fruits of that as well- only 1 out of the 4 people we were expecting at church came. So I have a testimony of the inspiration of our leaders, and the importance of following them! This next week is going to be a really intense week of making sure we do all those things every day and don't drop the ball again so I can make it a habit to be that diligent.

Another cool inspiration from my great mission president- there's missions where missionaries have began offering to leave blessings on homes as a finding method and had a lot of success with it, so President asked us to begin doing so. (Sisters and Elders do it, they just say they do it with the authority of the priesthood and we don't.) To be honest, I was a little hesitant about it because if I thought it was awkward asking strangers for their numbers so we can teach them the gospel it's only because I hadn't had the super awkward experience of asking people if we could come into their house and pray to bless it. But finally we sucked it up and started doing it when tracting, and once again, lo and behold it works! We've been able to go in to one home and pray for a blessing and we have an appointment to go back to another home this week. The couple we said a blessing for wasn't interested, but it was still really cool because they're very religious and normally would have shut the door on us but we got to go in and talk to them and explain what we do and pray with them! So who knows, that may have made the difference for missionaries in the future. And we have a really good feeling for the family we're going back to see.

So life in Owen Sound pretty much rocks right now. It's weird because when we first came up here, one of the sisters we were replacing told us about how this ward was basically family to her and I remember trying to to think about how crazy that sounded, and trying not to think about how I knew I would never feel that way here. And now, I'm in love with this area, there are families in the ward who are almost family at this point, which is CRAZY considering most of them I only see at church! I could happily spend my whole mission in this area! And the people I teach are becoming a part of me, it's not even funny how much I worry and think about them. Who knew I'd get so attached to a random little spot in Canada?

One last cool thing- one of the members yesterday told us that at the last ward temple trip, they were told that Owen Sound would one day have a temple because their members were so faithful in attending the Toronto temple. Owen Sound only has 22,000 people in it! And it's way out of the way, it would not be a good place to put one for surrounding areas to use. Just goes to show you receive temples due to faith and it's something decided by the wisdom of the Lord, not the logic of man.

I started to chastise you for my pathetic inbox this week, but I realized Mom sent me an email as I wrote this so you're forgiven. Glad you're enjoying spring break- here it's referred to as March break, because it is NOT spring yet. (it is coming though- the geese are coming back and I didn't have to wear a coat today, just a sweater and scarf! And the sun has been out 3 days in a row! I'm ridiculously happy.) Hope you enjoy Utah, say hello to everyone for me. I think I'm going to try to everyone send some packages soon, maybe some Easter packages, but no promises. Love you all, talk to ya later. Have a great, warm, allergy free week!

Pictures of the week:

 2-25-12:  The snow banks after 1 day of snow.

Probably my favorite picture ever of Sister Arnold and I

Super secret snow shoveling agents!

So excited to tract in the snow! (the snow on the windsheild has all collected in just the time it took for us to get out of the car and walk to the other side...
It was a CRAZY snow storm! It was hard to walk straight with the wind.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's one of those weeks I don't even know what to write

Hello again!
Mom, your letter was hilarious. I kinda wish I'd been sent the gibberish before you noticed :) Glad you've had at least some fun in Chicago, don't work too hard! And I hope yall make it to Utah soon and the merger doesn't totally prevent that. Glad to hear every one's doing well at home, and as always Grandma is in my prayers. And it's awesome to hear updates about the missionary work- that's amazing about the Gomez family! And you're right, it amazes me to hear people's sorties of how they joined the church and what it was that sparked their interest, you never know what you'll share that will touch them. And that story goes to show also how important the actual step of inviting people is- if Gabe hadn't brought someone to scouts and he hadn't then asked his dad about the missionaries, it wouldn't have gone anywhere. We can talk about the gospel all the time but very little will happen until we offer people a chance to do something.
It's one of those weeks I don't even know what to write. Sister Arnold and I decided we need to focus alot on finding, which is a bit of a shift from what I've been doing in Owen Sound because Sister Tuisku and I felt strongly about visiting less actives. So we've spent a good chunk of time tracting and such and we're already seeing results! We're teaching someone new, Tara, who we tracted into. It was really odd because we have no idea what we said that interested her, she invited us back almost immediately. Sometimes I think I have to say something really intriguing to catch someone's attention long enough to really get them to listen, but it amazes me that sometimes just the fact that we're offering a chance to learn about God and have the spirit is enough for people to recognize we're sharing something important and want to learn more. And I'm realizing there's no wrong way to find, Sister Arnold says alot that where ever your faith is the miracles will follow, and I'm really seeing the truth of that.. I've been able to teach people we found through tracting, OYMing on the street, dropping by former investigators, and member referrals. It's amazing the different ways God works for different people!
This week I've been thinking so much about families this week/month. There are alot of part member families in the ward and our 2 main investigators are both single dads, so we discuss how much the gospel blesses families aLOT. I want so badly to help these people share this with their kids and families because I look back on how having a family centered on the gospel blessed me. In gospel principles we were teaching about scriptures and ended up talking about family scripture study. I know we've never been exactly perfect at that, but I have so many memories of sitting and listening to dad read the scriptures, and even when I didn't listen at all that affected me. I talked about waking up on Saturdays and coming down stairs and seeing Mom studying in the living room and how that really affected me. And I can't even begin to explain how much Joe and Melissa serving a mission helped me to go, because when the prompting came I didn't even really have to think about it because their stories of deciding to serve how taught me that there's really no reason to not serve if you're supposed to. So this week we've gotten to have some really great discussions with people about inviting their families and I'm praying so much to be able to help them do that!
Well, that's really all I can think about this week./ Sister Arnold and I continue to be fantastic! Owen Sound is even more amazing that when I first got here! Love you all and will talk to you next week!