Happy New Year!
We have a spectacular view of the skyline from our (newly finished!) balcony, which would have been perfect to watch the lakeshore fireworks show buuuut we slept through our alarm haha. We had to be inside by 7pm (good thing too, because there were quite a few tipsy people on the buses already by 6pm). We were supposed to do weekly planning but we had just done weekly planning three days ago so we decided to make cookies! But then after we had already started, we realized we didn’t have brown sugar or baking soda…. so we asked our friendly neighbours 🙂 The cookies still tasted good, but they didn’t look very pretty so we gave them to the elders that live in our building 😛 They expressed their appreciation by throwing water balloons at our balcony…. punks.
I love New Years. It’s my favourite holiday. Usually because I love throwing fun parties and getting dolled up, but also because I super love setting goals. New Years resolutions are meant to be kept. So don’t just write them down and forget about them! Where’s your faith? Review them regularly. Put them in a place where you are constantly reminded of them. It was kinda weird setting resolutions for 2015 because I’ll be serving a mission for the first 7 months, and home for the rest! But I’m excited for 2015’s new adventures. Bring it on.
It snowed this week, and then the rain washed it away. But let me tell you, THE HUMIDITY IS REAL. It’s like walking on the floor of the artic ocean, except you don’t get wet. Brutal.
Remember how I love ESL? Well this transfer, I was asked to be the building manager again. Which means I basically oversee the ESL program, register new students, and make sure everything is running smoothly. I also give instruction to the teachers Saturday mornings. Its like a district meeting, but about how to make ESL a more effective finding tool. I was building manager in Don Valley, too. I’m super happy to be involved in ESL again, and it’s pretty fun, but being building manager means I don’t actually teach the classes. I wish I could teach =(
We continued on our hunt for the missing members this week. One guy we found was baptized in 2003. We invited him to our ward’s New Year’s Eve party, which we wouldn’t be at, and he went! It’s crazy to me how many people stop going to church because their priorities change, not because they’ve lost their testimony of Jesus Christ. This guy started going to school and got really wrapped up in his studies, and didn’t make time for Sunday services. Once his studies were done, he was already in the habit of not attending church, so he just stopped going. If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, then our first priority in our lives should be to keep his commandments. No excuses. There are no exemptions here. All the commandments apply to all of God’s children all the time. God has promised us that living the commandments are the key to true happiness, so I just don’t understand why anyone would think that they know better than God and choose not to follow them. Where’s your faith?
Anywho, a couple doors down was another family who hadn’t been to church in a while. The mother let us right in, even before we introduced ourselves! Her son is 11 and hasn’t been baptized which just blows my mind because he basically taught us the restoration. Such a cool family. We’re meeting with them again this week!
Sister LaPoint and I took turns being sick this week 😛 So we made a lot of phone calls to former investigators. It was actually pretty productive and we set up quite a few appointments! We were also able to clean up our records and get rid of a tooonnn of records with outdated information. Seems to be a theme of my time in Toronto….
One member of our congregation, Sister W, is a superstar and comes teaching with us a lot. She brought her friend L (this is gonna get confusing. We’re teaching two people whose names both start with L. This L is female. We’re still teaching the other L but I don’t have any stories about him this week), and she’s come to church at LEAST 18 times. We had to get permission to teach her though because she lives outside of the ward boundaries. We taught her once after church around Halloween and haven’t been able to see her since. Until this week! I was pondering a lot lately about why none of our investigators had been receiving answers to their prayers. I can think of two specific people who had been reading and attending church and praying for an answer from God if the message we shared was true. Neither of them felt like they have received an answer. I was starting to get a little frustrated because I was SURE that they had received an answer, but just hadn’t recognized it. We have been working so hard to help them recognize their answers that it started to waver my faith a little bit. Why on earth couldn’t our investigators receive a personal witness of the truthfulness of our message when it’s clearly promised in the scriptures that they will? We’re having interviews with our mission president on Tuesday and that was actually something I had written down to talk to him about.
Anyways, now that you have this background information, let’s fast forward to Sunday. So. We taught L after church, but she only had 15 minutes. We hadn’t been able to follow up with her or anything since Halloween. She had been to church pretty consistently since then, but she always ran off after sacrament meeting. So, we had planned to just do a quick follow up lesson with her to see where she’s at. She read the introduction to the Book of Mormon, she read the pamphlet we left with her, and she prayed about it. We asked her if she felt like she had received an answer, and I fully expected her to say she hadn’t. I can’t even describe how full my heart was when she said that she knew that what we taught her is true. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and the spirit was so strong. The whole time, she was just soaking everything up. It was a strong testimony builder to me that us as missionaries don’t really do much. We’re not the ones that do that converting. We’re just guides. We share what we know to be true, and the rest is up to them. God prepares people to receive His message. The whole rest of the lesson with L, I was just thinking “this is the way it’s supposed to be….” Having a testimony of the Saviour and the Book of Mormon is where it all starts. We can’t really move forward until those beginning steps of testimony building have begun. Everything else falls into place after that. If you ask “with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” If our faith is in the Saviour, and if we really believe that He has called living prophets to speak to us today, then our faith cannot falter. Nothing else matters because everything comes back to that. The best part of the whole lesson with L was when we invited her to be baptized, and she said, “I would be honoured.” God is real. He hears and answers prayers to sincere seekers of truth. It takes patience, pondering, and diligent effort. Joseph Smith didn’t just wander into a grove of trees one day and decide to pray. He did everything in his power to find an answer. And then he asked God.
I have to tell you another story. My emails are always so long so I don’t blame anyone for not reading them… haha.
D was a referral from someone we met on the street. Those types of referrals usually lead us to people that don’t actually exist, but we decided to show our faith and actually knock on his door. D is from Greece and loves his country. He’s very knowledgeable of the Bible and just loves talking about God. We brought Sister W and she recognized him! Turns out the missionaries had taught him a couple months ago and had brought Sister W along. We taught the restoration, and when we got to the part about the Book of Mormon, D stood up and in his thick Greek accent said:
“Wait. You’re telling me that Jesus visited the Americas? How did I not know about this?! But wait…. people didn’t live in the Americas 2000 years ago.”
all we said was, “Yes, they did.”
And he goes, “Oh yeah. You’re right. They did. And Jesus visited them??”
He sat down all contemplatively and said, “I believe that. I believe that.”
We explained that we could get him a copy of the Book of Mormon in Greek and he was so excited to read it! “I learned something new today!” He said. “Lesson number one. *claps his hands* I like it.”
He’s the coolest.
We gave away a Book of Mormon in Turkish this week, too. We recorded him saying the church’s name in Turkish, so hopefully if the file sends through and if my parents can figure out how to upload it, you can hear it too!
Thank you to everyone who sent me a Christmas card! I appreciate it so, so much. I wish you all the best in 2015. Love you all!