Greetings from CANADA!!!
First of all, you know you're in Canada when:
- restroom's are called "washrooms"
- you have to take off your shoes every time you enter a house
- you see Asian men wearing kilts shoveling snow
- you can practically shovel off your windshield
- you think anything warmer than -10 C is nice (That's 14 degrees Fahrenheit!)
- when you can wear tights, leggings, 2 pairs of socks, and multiple sweaters
- you learn to account for at least 10 degrees worth of wind-chill on a regular basis
- when people really do say "eh"
I guess I could keep going.... :)
Anyway, hello everyone! There is so much, I will just have to give you the highlights. So, on the 24th when we left for Canada, I discovered what it's like to fly on a tiny rickety plane, and how fun going through immigrations is :) When we arrived, we were greeted by President Nicholas and his sweet wife, and spent the evening at their home. (BTW Mom, what the Leavitt's (in Sarah's home ward) said is true, Brother Palmer does help out. We met, and it turns out his son is the awesome ward mission leader in my assigned ward - small world).
On Thursday we got to go to transfers, where we were picked up by our trainers. I have been assigned to the Arbour Lake Ward in the Calgary West zone, and my companion is Sister Milius, who is a fantastic human being! We get along famously, and seem to have really similar personalities. So far we also get each other's references. (She kinda reminds me a lot of Joy:) Also, Sister Milius and I have discovered that not only do we have a lot in common, but so do our various sisters, especially the younger ones.
Anyway, over the last few days not only have I discovered a new definition of cold (everyone here keeps getting a kick out of me saying this is more snow than I've seen in my life), but I have also met a ton of incredible people. We have a really good ward, and live with a sweet lady named May Way. We have a really involved ward mission leader who served in Vegas BTW. Oh, and we share a vehicle with two sisters from another ward (so this coming week I will be walking everywhere while they have a turn); we drive a silver 2015 Chevy Colorado truck, and we call it "little boy."
We have gotten to do a ton of service (mostly cleaning) for a couple of families who are moving in the ward, and that's been fun. (BTW, joy will think this is funny - but at the MTC we had a few days of service, and guess who got stuck with bathrooms/toilets EVERY TIME! Even after custodial, apparently I cannot escape ;)
So, while we have a really solid ward, there are a ton of less actives or part member families, so that is where we get to concentrate our efforts. As of this week our only investigator dropped us :( BUT we have done a ton of visiting, some tracting, and have found four potential investigators! It's gonna be exciting.
On Saturday we took the train downtown to do some contacting. The city is beautiful, and I fell in love with the little streets and shops, and park with an ice rink. Someday I would love to go exploring more. But we ended up talking for probably 45 minutes with a homeless man, and got to hear his hard life story. I felt so helpless, because there was no way for me to begin to understand his perspective, and I had absolutely no idea what to say. That's when the Spirit took over, and we learned the power of inspired questions. Nothing we could say would have helped, but the Lord knows what would, and if we are trying our best, the Spirit can talk through us. We were able to give him a Book of Mormon, and leave him with a renewed hope. I have never grinned so much in my life- as we walked away I felt like this is what makes the mission worth it.
Sunday was fun, and the chapel is one of those beautiful old buildings. We spent the evening tracting a neighborhood, and discovered an assortment of attitudes... I can now check off having doors slammed in my face. But that is also when we discovered some wonderful potentials :)
I love you all, and am so grateful to be out here, (I think it's finally starting to sink in ;) There really is a special feeling that goes with wearing this nametag. The important thing is, however, that no matter what I do or how hard I work, it means nothing unless I have the Spirit there, because it's his job to do the converting, not mine. My purpose is simply to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It is by the mouth of two or three witnesses that the gospel goes forth, and in this case, we really have three in the companionship - two imperfect sisters and the Holy Ghost.
I love this gospel, and I love the happiness it brings. I never realized how much of a difference it makes until you talk to so many people who live with no idea it exists. We are so blessed to be a part of the gospel, and to have access to the power of the Atonement in our lives, to be able to receive comfort, hope, and renewal through His mercy. I know that this is the true Church, and it not only is there to teach us, but to enable us to endure to the end through covenants, ordinances, and a ward family which fulfills the promise of standing with one another as disciples of the Savior. I am so grateful for the sacrament and the sacred privilege it is. It has taken on layers of new meaning not only after going through the temple, but also being a missionary, one who literally takes upon them the name of the Lord. I know of the reality and power of personal revelation - Heavenly Father truly listens to our prayers, even when they are just the pleading in our hearts. He loves each one of us - I have felt it, and it makes me sad to think that so many don't yet feel it as well. I cannot count how many times already since being out I have had a personal witness of His power and love, and have received answers to prayers. Just the other day, I was explaining the concerns in my heart, and within the course of a few hours I received the same answer in three different ways. What a powerful witness that He is aware of me, just as I know He is aware of each of His children. I know the Book of Mormon truly testifies of Christ, and within it we can find the answers to the desires and concerns of our hearts, we can find direction and guidance for us and our families, and we can find hope for the future.
Moving forward with faith,