Monday, July 30, 2012

Never been so busy teaching!

Hey family!

I'm writing this slowly in hope that I get an email from you half way through. This week ROCKED/was super sad. Sad part was Ashleagh moved back her baptism, and has gone a bit AWOL since then. But we're meeting with her tomorrow and will hopefully be able to get her back on track.

The awesome part was that our area is just taking off right now! We had a contest with our district leader to be the first to hit our goal for the number of lessons we taught with a member present, because we set the same goal, and we BLEW them out of the water and almost hit double our goal. So we'll be enjoying free McFlurries at district meeting this week :) and we hit the standards of excellence for the mission, which we've been working towards for a few weeks now, so it was an exciting week. I've never been so busy teaching in my mission, it's the best.

Yesterday was a crazy day, it was the Jensen and Williams show. We spoke in sacrament meeting, taught our gospel principles class, mingled and entertained during the ward potluck and cleaned up, ran home and tried to get a bit of companion study and training in, then headed off to Oshawa to sing at a baptism with our zone leaders, then went to a concert the YSA ward was putting on to again sing. It was not a good day to accidentally wear Sister Williams' name tag instead of mine....I got weird looks all day but no one said a peep until Sister Williams noticed at 8:30 at night! Ridiculous. But it was really fun, the girl who was baptized was this adorable YSA girl named Yan. She's from China and has only been here a little over a month. In her testimony afterwards she practiced the English the Elders have been teaching her by telling us she was "stoked" to be baptized and was "so pumped"! She was so cute, and when she talked about how because the missionaries taught her "how to prayer", she knows that God is real. The Spirit was strong, you could only understand some of what she was trying to say because her English is so limited but you could tell she believes so strongly in Jesus Christ and was so happy. It's been cool to meet so many people from China on my mission, including several missionaries, who have gone from not knowing anything about God to having such strong faith in him. Their testimonies are amazing, they're so inspiring! And Yan is a missionary machine, she was talking to everyone at the concert that evening. She was telling us excitedly afterwards that she met a Chinese couple and was able to bear her testimony to them. I'm going to try to steal her and bring her to Bowmanville.

Jeff and Christian and doing wonderful, they are as Sister Williams likes to say "of the golden variety" and "as white as anything, all ready to be harvested!" Jeff came to Yan's baptism and really enjoyed it, as well as the concert afterwards. Oh, and greatest thing ever, he wanted to give a Book of Mormon to his niece so we tabbed parts to read and wrote our testimonies in the front of one to give to her. He did, and gave us letters she wrote back. BEST THING EVER, she thanked us for what we wrote and said she was excited to read it to her little daughter. We're definitely going to get her in touch with missionaries in Toronto.

We also had someone named Brian come to church yet, we've never met with him so it was definitely bizarre. We didn't know anything about his religious background or faith or what he knew about us because we just OYMed him like 2 weeks ago and talked for like 2 minutes. We keep setting up times to see him and they keep falling through, but we invited him to church this weekend and he came! It was a good day to come too, because since it was the first Sunday with the new ward boundaries there was a big potluck afterwards, so if the Spirit doesn't draw him back the hope of food will! Just kidding, we're seeing him tonight and are really excited about him.

Well, that's all I got. Sorry I missed letters from you this week, I hope all is well. I'll talk to you next week, I'm excited to see what happens with transfers- it's the biggest transfer the mission has ever had, we have 25 new missionaries coming in and they keep warning us about being on time to travel locations and not packing more than the 2 bags limit. 3 members of my district go home, including my district leader and one of my zone leaders. (Actually 9 zone leaders are going home, and I think there are 11 zones. Wowzers!) So maybe I'll have lots of transfer news, or maybe not because they'll leave as many people in place that they can. Love you! Have a great week!

Photos of the week:

 Sisters Exchange with Sisters Beasley and Jungert!

P-day at the Oshawa beach!
 The whole group that came to play some intense beach volleyball

Monday, July 23, 2012

How I threw Sister Williams under the bus

Dear Texas,

First of all, I love that every teenage girl in Texas has a crush on Joe. HA!

This was a super good week, and we're set up to have another STELLAR week this week. First of all, best story ever about how I'm a terrible trainer and threw Sister Williams under the bus. So we met this guy Christian on the street, talked to him about the plan of salvation- turns out he also believes in the pre-mortal existence and agreed to meet with us. So we get to the church, along with a member we're bringing to the lesson, and sit there for 30 minutes. No show and he doesn't answer his phone. Finally we send him a text and HUZZAH! he answered saying he came and the doors he tried were locked so he left. We tell him we're still there and he comes back- showing up at the same time as Ashleagh and the member we were bringing to her appointment. Thankfully both members were girls, so we went on splits. We were teaching Ashleagh about the Sabbath Day with an object lesson Sister Williams had never seen and I'd only vaguely explained it so I went and taught Ashley and she went to teach Christian about the plan of salvation. An hour later we both finished and met back up, she tells me Christian has a baptismal date for August and I'm all excited for her, but she keeps giving me the strangest looks of terror so finally we send everyone on their way and drop the members off at home, and go park somewhere that I can hear the full story from her. Someday you'll have to hear it from here, but these were the highlights....

     - "I AM LITERALLY A BABBLING FOOL!" She said she rambled on about everything and definitely taught a lesson, not a person.

     -The member she was teaching with didn't say a word, except when she bore her testimony about something they hadn't taught yet and when she said she never read the book of mormon because she was busy.

     -She committed him for baptism and he said he didn't know why but he really wanted to, so she was obedient and did a calendar with him like she knows President Scott has asked us to, but we've only done one with each other once and haven't role played it since her first week here so she literally told him "I know this seems ridiculous, and I don't know why we do this, but we're going to make a calendar." Then as she goes through and puts the things on it we generally do, she kept asking "What do you think would help you prepare to be baptized?" And he kept saying "I literally have no idea."

     -She committed him to be baptized on a Tuesday on accident.

     -She committed him to read the book of mormon before realizing she hadn't explained what it was or given him one, and she didn't have one with her.

     -She said when he said he'd be baptized, she knew she was supposed to promise blessings so she said "I can promise that will bring you SO many blessings."

SO FUNNY! She was dying, she was so frustrated because she's usually a fantastic teacher but she said she had no idea how to teach entirely on her own. But it just goes to show 1) she's is a rocking missionary who can commit someone to be baptized on the first lesson even when her trainer has clearly not taught her anything, and 2) no matter how much we fall short of something, this is the Lord's work and he makes up for our inadequacies. The Spirit teaches people, not us, so even when we fail to be perfect teachers those we teach will learn the truthfulness of the gospel. So Christian is working towards baptism, we're seeing him again tonight!

Ashleagh is also doing really well, she's being baptized into the YSA ward this Sunday! We're really excited, she's being baptized along with a girl the YSA Elders have been teaching. It's funny how we keep finding all these YSA people (Ashleagh, her boyfriend, and Christian) so we're teaching all these people that we technically aren't the missionaries for. We did officially pass Josh, Ashleagh's boyfriend, over to the YSA because he lives in the same city as them, and we may end up passing over Christian as well but Ashleagh we're the one's teaching. It's hard when the YSA Elders technically cover our entire stake, so we find people in our area that are also their area.

And Jeff continues to be the world's most perfect investigator. He came to church this week, which was a tri-ward conference because they dissolved a ward and made 3 into 2 wards (every area I serve in has major boundary changes!) and afterwards he told us how much he LOVED it. I was sitting there worrying he found it weird, and he said he thinks it's amazing people are told to move wards and they just do it. Of course you love that Jeff, you love EVERYTHING about the church and the gospel! Sister Williams and I feel obsolete teaching him because he does not need us, he studies on his own and eats everything up. Best comment ever from him on the Book of Mormon- "I loved it, but then I got to Nefi 2" (we love the way he pronounces the books!) "and Nefi just starts bantering on about fire and brimstone! Really, it was depressing. I skipped it and read the Book of Mormon, since the book is named after it so I figured it had to be good. It was." HA! Love him. And he gave us another entire pie and a thing of ice cream.

So at the conference this Sunday, one of the counselors of the stake presidency gave the best talk. He said "In a meeting like this in olden days, it would go more like this: 'This half of the room, follow Bishop Walcer and go to Bowmanville, and take some lumber because the chapel isn't completed yet. Oh, except you two, prepare to serve a mission in Russia. This half of the room, stay here in Oshawa, except go out this week and find people to fill the seats vacated by those going to Bowmanville.' Brothers and Sisters, I am serious about that last line. That is the purpose of these changes. We're creating a position of strength in these wards so you can go out and find those who are supposed to be in this room with us, so we can meet again and redivide these wards into 4, or 6, or 8. That is the vision the Lord has for you." AMAZING! I could have high-fived him. That night we had a dinner with a member who talked about how it reminded her of in the Book of Mormon when the people gather together to protect from the Gaddiantion robbers- the Lord will never leave us to struggle, but he gathers us to higher grounds to find safety and strength from the adversary, and draw others in with us. After dinner we taught the plan of salvation to their family and committed their kids to invite friends to church, and the parents took us over to meet one of their neighbors. MAN I wish more members did that! It was so casual, so simple, not uncomfortable at all! We explained our purpose, talked about his beliefs, invited him to meet with us and learn more. He said no but if he was interested he'd talk to them about it. Everyone left happy. Why do members not introduce us to more people? Why did I never introduce anyone to missionaries? Next time missionaries come to dinner, either invite someone to dinner or take them to a neighbor after! It makes your day, the missionaries day, and the neighbor's day.

Oops, that turned into a member missionary rant. Oh well, not taking it back haha!

I hope y'all are having another good week. Erin, good luck with the rest of work. Stick it out as long as you can, you'll appreciate it at school! Good luck with the job hunt Dad and enjoy living life on stand-by Mom :) talk to you all in a week! Love you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Busiest week everrr!

Dear familia,

This letter has potential to be super lame, because so much happened but I feel like I have nothing worth writing about. So we'll see how this goes.

Busiest week everrr! We had 6 hours of church on Sunday, because Ashleagh is YSA age and we began teaching her boyfriend as well this week. Problem is that they're in different ward boundaries so they can't go to the same ward like they want to, so we took ashleagh to Bowmanville ward and then went with her to meet Josh at YSA. YSA was an...interesting experience as a missionary. I'm so glad I'm in a family ward. Worth it though, because they both really enjoyed it and are both working towards being baptized on the 29th. (Coordinating details with YSA ward for that is already exhausting haha.)

We also started teaching someone named Jeff this week, who Sister Williams and I LOVE so much! We tracted into him last Saturday, and we met with him 4 times this week and he came to church. He is one of the most sincere people I've ever met, Sister Williams and I now set goals to go out and find so many new Jeffs each day. He really put off making any solid commitments at first, but the more he learns the more he wants to act. We taught him the word of wisdom and he wouldn't promise anything about living it or not, but when we went by last night he pulled out all the herbal teas he bought to make sure they were allowed. Love him! He also set a baptism date, he kept saying he'd been baptized before so he'd have to learn alot more before agreeing to be baptized again but we talked about how we wanted him to prepare and find answers as well and he agreed that he'd set a goal of baptism on a specific date and try to find out his answer by then. I think he thinks that's some special deal he came up with, and has no idea that's what we invited everyone to do that we challenge to baptism haha. He's seriously the best type of human. ALSO, he gives us food all the time. He's British, and thankfully I taught Chris in Owen Sound who was British and taught me that it's rude to turn down every offer of hospitality like something to eat/drink/etc., so I accept when jeff offers us something. THANK YOU CHRIS, because Jeff gives us the best pies and lemon loafs ever, makes my day.

We had a surprise sisters exchange with an area outside of our zone, and guess who Sister Williams got to go serve with? Sister Beasley, my MTC companion! Crazy! Sister Jungert, who was partially trained by my companion Sister Arnold, came to work with me in Bowmanville. So it was a clash of all my mission memories. It was stankin fun.

Sister Williams is obsessed with Jui Jitsu like nobodys business! She is terrifying, it's so much fun except when she throws me she almost gives me a concussion. We really entertain the instructors.

I love that story you sent me Mom, it amazes me how the Lord uses us to answer people's prayers. And how he helps us to do so, He communicates so personally with us that he gives us feelings like a desire to spend more time with our family and manages to make that desire a blessing to not only you and your family but also those you come in contact with. CHESS MASTER.

Love you all, talk to you soon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello Lone Star

Hello Lone Star,

Glad to hear everything is good and normal. Hope work continues to rock for everyone. I'm waiting to hear that Mom and Dad decide to put in mission papers instead of job applications. And no Mom, I did not know that about Lauren, way cool! )I feel like I should put in a barbed comment about how she needs to write to me so I know, but I'm so behind on letters I guess I can't really harass anyone. Other than the fact that I KNOW they have time living in the land of endless p-days and I don't.)

I feel like it's been about a month since I wrote, I can barely remember the last week, which is funny because it was a shorter length between p-days than usual. My Independence Day was surprisingly awesome, it consisted of one of the most elaborate flag cakes I've ever seen (I'll send a picture) and belting out American pride songs with Sister MacDonald while all the Canadians in the room laughed and rolled their eyes.  Sister Williams now thinks I'm crazy but is really just jealous her country lacks so much pride.Everyone joined in the last chorus of God Bless America though, so they clearly felt the Spirit as well. Twas grand, though i agree, next year 4th of July in DC!!!!

Teaching Ashleagh has been great, she's working towards baptism at the end of the month. When I was told I was training I started praying really hard to see a baptism in the month of July for my trainee's sake, because it's such an amazing experience to see someone progress in the gospel and I wanted her to see that in Bowmanville the same way I've been able to, and I think Ashleagh was definitely an answer to that prayer. And her fiancee is considering baptism on the same day, so we may even surpass that original goal of mine! We're also teaching some really cool guys, one of whom we found tracting this week. Sister Williams HATES finding but we decided to tract for an hour before dinner and she suggested the street. We had a very unsuccessful half hour, and then knocked on Jeff's door. He immediately said he wasn't interested and wouldn't share anything about his beliefs but he stayed in the door so we kept chatting. After about 10 minutes he started asking about prophets so we were able to share our belief that God continues to call prophets today just as He always has, and shared the first vision. He didn't seemed too stirred by it, but then he started asking about what we believed happened after death because he'd seen a program years ago on Mormons and remembered there was something different about us. So we taught about the gospel continuing to be preached to people after they died and about the 3 degrees of glory, and he asked for the pamphlet and our number. We're going back next week and are really excited.

President Scott has been making some mission changes, including adding a new key indicator to track and changes the standards of excellence (basically mission wide goals). He said he wants to work towards every companionship hitting standards every week, and Sister Williams and I are really close to hitting them so I'm stoked. We should be seeing some cool stuff happening soon!
Sister Williams has the best talent ever- she brings the CRAZY out of everyone we meet! We have the most insane appointments ever since she came by. Dinner with the members have turned into nightly "gong shows" as she describes them. One of my favorite moments- we were reading the Book of Mormon to an elderly, less active woman and a nurse and her daughter came in freaking out about her lost teeth. The more upset they became, the HARDEr she laughed about having lost her teeth. Her daughter kept asking when she had them last, and she laughed. She told her she'd been digging through 10 bags of garbage, and she laughed. Finally, her daughter asked "How are you going to eat?" and fantastic Agnes said "I'll gum it" and laughed. We were dying of laughter but trying so hard not to because everyone was so distraught over it. I want to be Agnes when I grow up. We also had a dinner appointment with a part member family where a friend was over. The wife and friend were going off on the most awkward, random stories and the dad and sons kept giving Sister Williams looks and mocking them. I mentioned that Sister Williams had worked for Lululemon, this big expensive Canadian workout company, and the friend instantly went off on the reason she liked them is they make her butt look good and she picks up guys. We just stared at the floor avoiding eye contact. Funniest hour of my life, I want to photocopy Sister Williams' diary entries about all these crazy nights because they way she rants about them is unreal.

I want them to make a district video series about me just so all those moments can be captured on film. They wouldn't be able to use any of the footage, but I would but it from them.

Love you all!


At Lake Ontario. I really did NOT appreciate the great lakes before living in Canada!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America!
So Canada day was so disappointing. We could barely see any fireworks from our apartment and other than that pretty much nothing happened. However, I still like it because now back home I have an excuse to shoot off fireworks nonstop from July 1-4 to celebrate my two great countries. At least July 4 will be awesome because an member from Utah invited us over "So we can be American together without offending anyone" haha! Flag cake baby :)
This is the first week in like 2 months the computers are letting me email home pictures, so I sent a few emails of pictures. ISN'T MY NEW COMPANION ADORABLE?? Haha one of the other sisters at the office for transfers was like "She's sassy, I want her!" Her name is Sister Williams and she stinking rocks. She's from Calgary, so I finally got myself a Canuk! Carrying on the tradition of every companion from a different country. I guess Calgary is also referred to as Northern Provo, since Alberta is the Utah of the great north. She was the only sister coming in this transfer so when she saw me she ran over to hug me, she was so sick of being around all Elders for 2 days.
Training is so fun, basically because I'm not training. She's got guts man, and she knows her stuff. I keep telling her she'll be training in 6 weeks and she keeps threatening to throw up if that happens. She so could though, it's been a fun week.
We're teaching someone new named Ashleagh, who is awesome! She set s date for July 22 to be baptized, she's not sure about it but she said she should know by then if it's what she wants to do and the 22nd is her lucky day so she was pumped when we challenged her to that date. We talked to her and her boyfriend on the street, and he's planning to come to church with her with week. Technically he lives in Oshawa, but we'll just steal him. We're also teaching an investigator from another area who's house sitting in Bowmanville for a few weeks. She's been meeting with missionaries for 9 months so she's fun to meet with, we read from the Book of Mormon and talk about it. I think we're going to reteach her the lessons for practice this week.
So get this- we set a goal for 65 baptisms in July and we hit 56. Awful irony huh? It was still the best month we've had in a long time, President's email talked about learning from it and how next time we'll need to raise the bar fully to hit our goals. I loved this story from his email though...
 "Some years ago, it was proposed to send logs from Canada to New York, by a new method. The ingenious plan of Mr. Joggins was to bind great logs together by cables and iron girders and to tow the cargo as a raft. When the novel craft neared New York and success seemed assured, a terrible storm arose. In the fury of the tempest, the iron bands snapped like icicles and the angry waters scattered the logs far and wide. The chief of the Hydrographic Department at Washington heard of the failure of the experiment, and at once sent word to shipmasters the world over, urging them to watch carefully for these logs which he described; and to note the precise location of each in latitude and longitude and the time the observation was made.  "Hundreds of captains, sailing over the waters of the earth, noted the logs, in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Mediterranean, in the South Seas-- for into all waters did these venturesome ones travel. Hundreds of reports were made, covering a period of weeks and months. These observations were then carefully collated.... and discoveries were made as to the course of ocean currents that otherwise would have been impossible. The loss of the Joggins raft was not a real failure, for it led to one of the great discoveries in modern marine geography and navigation.  "Failure is one of God's educators. It is experience leading man to higher things; it is the revelation of a way, a path hitherto unknown to us. The best men in the world, those who have made the greatest real successes look back with serene happiness on their failures.....  "Failure is often the turning-point, the pivot of circumstance that swings us to higher levels. ....Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it. "There is no honest and true work, carried along with constant and sincere purpose that ever really fails. If it sometimes seems to be wasted effort, it will prove to us a new lesson of "how" to walk; the secret of our failures will prove to us the inspiration of possible successes.”  SO GOOD!
Sorry this email is so late, we've had an awesome p-day. A member took us to pick strawberries at a berry farm by the church. It was her and her 4 daughters, we got rained on for a bit but that just cleared out the farm so we could find all the big ones for ourselves. Then Sister Williams and I went out for Chinese food. She was sad because she'd been told it was so good here and it was pretty typical, albeit delicious, Chinese restaurant. I told her she probably needs to actually get in Toronto to notice a difference, and it may cost more than 6 bucks. So fun though!
That's pretty much everything....Thank you SO much for the emails, I heard from everyone in the family this week (well, if dad and mom are the same person lol), best week ever. Dad happy early retirement haha I flipped when I read that, crazy! Someone’s moving to Utah soon.... Glad everyone had a good week! Thanks for the photos! Love you!
Pictures of the week:

The sisters at zone conference
Sisters exchanges!

Most of my zone on p-day at a farm


 Josh's baptism

Gettin my hair did on p-day at a member's home.
The 9 year old daughter was super proud.
My trainee!
Picking strawberries with Sister Williams today
With a few of the kids we picked berries with