Monday, January 27, 2014

Hump Day, Waffles, and February Freeze

Gooooood morning, America!

Tonight I get to go back to my homeland for about 24 hours before returning to the Frozen North. I pray to see just one American flag there in Maine!

Quote of the week:

Well, to make sure false doctrine isn't preached on my blog, I will refrain from giving the entire quote. But suffice it to say, I am apparently a minion to my Mormon overlords. Enough said.

This morning, I was showering, just like any other morning. And then I saw something move. I looked up at the ceiling and saw a giant daddy long-leg walking back and forth.

Well of course, spiders always get on you, so I started walking around the shower too, making sure that I was never underneath the spider so it wouldn't jump on me or something. That was working, until suddenly it dropped about 6 inches and I realized it was making a web.

I started to panic because it was making a web right above the spot where all the water was, so I couldn't shower anymore.

I'm going to cut out the next few minutes because they're really embarrassing, but suffice it to say the spider is now dead and I have a giant bruise-in-the-making on my left elbow. Battle wounds. Rejection doesn't phase me, but spiders do. #missionaryprobs

For a while, Mother Nature really blessed Sister Gochnour and me. Sister Gochnour was introduced to a Canadian winter with weather in the positives, snow melting away, and sunny skies. Everyone was warning us about the "February Freeze," but we disregarded them and loved life. And then came a few snow storms and well, we're back to shoveling our car out every morning!

I'm slowly getting back to my waffle addiction. It's horrible. I just love them so much. Sorry, the quality of this e-mail is lacking.

I hit my nine-month mark last Friday, the 24th. My hump day is this Thursday. MY HUMP DAY IS THIS THURSDAY. I don't want this hard, fun, exciting, discouraging, perfect journey to end. The time is so short! I feel like I got here two months ago, not 9.

Sister Gochnour and I had a really busy week. We're trying to get a mall display started, volunteer at the hospital or food bank, get an article about us in the newspaper, create Valentine's gifts for all the women in the Relief Society, get visiting teaching running, visit all the fantastic people we're working with, and find! Investigators! It's been an exhausting week, but we were able to have a companionship fast for the area, which was needed. We love being in Fredericton.

Recently I've been studying a little in the book of Helaman. In chapter ten, we learn a great lesson about diligence. The prophet Nephi has just been preaching to the people who will not listen to him. The Lord speaks to him and says, "Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done, for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word unto this people... Because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever, and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed." Nephi then receives the power to seal families together for eternity.

I believe I've written about this scripture before. Unwearying diligence always precedes miracles. We witness great miracles when we diligently serve, no matter how much opposition we face.

Sister Gochnour and I talk to everyone we see, we're obedient, we make effective plans, we're diligent, we're faithful. And we are not baptizing the whole world. We are doing everything in our power. But I see the Lord accepting our efforts and giving us small miracles because we're sacrificing so much. I'm grateful for the Lord humbling us enough to see the small, tender miracles, and rejoice in them.

I love you all. The work is hastening!! 

Don't talk to me about how long I've been on my mission until I come home!


Sister L

"Okay now make a cold face!" (IT WAS FREEZING.)

The following three photos were sent to us by one of the senior missionary couples in Sister Lewis's area.  They said that Sister Gouchner was a delightful addition to the ward in Fredericton and she couldn't have a better trainer than Sister Lewis.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's a Hard Knock(ing) Life

Happy birthday to everyone whose birthdays I can't keep track of anymore! At the beginning of my mission, everyone told me that the longer you're out, the more forgetful you become. I am living proof of that. Forgive me!

Quote of the week:

Sister Gochnour (while knocking doors late one night): "Okay, I hate to bring this up right now, but I saw that we have some chocolate sauce in the fridge, could you make hot chocolate out of that, or is it just for chocolate milk?"

I have the weirdest companion! She's the best though. Sister Gochnour turned 19 in September and graduated from Olympus High in 2013. She's bright and confident and excited to be a missionary! We are one pumped up companionship and I love her to death. I'm pretty blessed to be training her:)

Last Monday, Sister Vera and I were knocking and we found a university student named Laura* who is in her mid-20s. We set up a return appointment with her and went back to see her with a member on Wednesday, and taught her the Restoration and got her on date for baptism on February 8! We are excited for her potential and look forward to continuing to work with her!

Sometimes, here in the wonderful Maritimes, we meet some very endearing people. Especially when the only place there are people is in the tiny, old downtown, or in their homes. Here are some conversations we've had in the past week while knocking and street contacting:

Me: "....Have you ever heard of the Church before?"
Woman: "Yes. Well, my own church."
Me: "Oh! Which church is that?"
Woman: "Do I have to give you that information?"
Me: "No, that's okay. I'm just trying to get used to the churches that around here in Fredericton because I'm pretty new to the area. Have you been here long?"
Woman: "I'm sorry, these questions are too personal. You're going to have to leave." (shuts door.)

Sister Gochnour: "Have you seen missionaries like us around Fredericton?"
Man: "Yes, I have, and you're just about as bad as [another church]! You're really getting on my nerves! Your missionaries keep stopping me!"
Sister Gochnour: "Oh, I'm sorry about that, that's just what we do as missionaries! What we believe makes us so happy that we want to share it with people."
Man: "Well I'm just not interested! But you have really nice teeth, and your friend here too. Did you two get a dentist back at home?"

So there's a little taste of what missionary work is like as a sister in the Fredericton South area:)

It can be discouraging at times, but I always remember my Saviour, and that He went through the same rejection (but worse) as I do. Except He was a PERFECT missionary, who always knew the right things to say. And the people still did not realize that He had the truth. But He wasn't discouraged or frustrated. He was just filled with a sincere love for the people He knew. And I'd like to think that despite some rude encounters, and being yelled at and laughed at, and despite the people who slam the door or who spit at my feet, and despite the times where the rejection gets to you so much you don't want to continue, I still have a sincere love for these people and want the very best for them. It's something I can always improve on, but I love the blessings that come from developing a charitable, Christ-like love towards people, even when they don't love me all that much in return.

I think my mission was the best choice I have made in my life.

My "hump-day"'s coming up. These last 9.5 months are going to be the best.

I love you all! (And keep the letter's coming, please:))


Sister Lewis

Casually street contacting in downtown Fredericton.  We had just got rejected by an old man who loved our teeth.

Just CHILLIN' in the Canadian snow....Get it?

Baby Shower!  Be careful who you invite...Sister Lewis may just win the clothes pin game.  (I totally did.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Know Who I Am

Helllooooooo, Utah/the rest of the world!

Quote of the week:

After district meeting in St. Stephen on Tuesday, Sister Echols cut her finger.
Sister Echols: "Does anyone have a bandaid?"
Elder Evanson: "No... But I have the priesthood!"

This week was fairly slow again, so I'll just briefly summarize.

1. We've dropped about 9 investigators, the other few are progressing very slowly.
2. It actually got warm this week!
3. But then it freezing-rained on us.
4. My biceps are getting really great from hammering ice off the car 6-10 times a day. That's not even exaggerating.
5. Transfer e-mails came yesterday and will take place Thursday.

Sister Vera is being transferred to Moncton to be the first French-speaking sister the area has ever had. My baby's leavin me! She tells me I'm putting her up for adoption since her next companion will be completing her training... but I still like her.

I will stay in Fredericton and will be receiving a new sister from the MTC to train. I have also been asked to serve as Sister Training Leader, working with Sister Sandberg for the New Brunswick sisters.

I am slightly in shock. And I am really excited and humbled.

An STL is a responsibility that's been created fairly recently ( You can read it there because they explain it way better than I can, but the gist of it is that I'll be working a lot with Sister Sandberg--keeping in touch frequently throughout the week to discuss the progress of the sisters we're over. We're over the St. John sisters and the Presque Isle sisters. We'll coordinate our efforts to train them with their district leaders and the zone leaders. Weekly we'll separately have "call nights" with the sisters we're over, which means we'll call them and talk to them individually to find out how they're doing and see how we can help them. Once or twice a transfer, we'll travel to their area and go on exchanges with them to blitz their area and give them some training. Once a transfer I'll travel to Halifax with the STLs and ZLs around the mission for Leadership Council, which is conducted by President Leavitt. Every week when I report to President, I'll include how each of the sisters I'm over is doing.

I feel kind of inadequate and really humbled. I am really excited to see the ways I'll be able to grow from it. I have a lot to learn and am grateful Heavenly Father is giving me this experience to learn even more. AND I LOVE THE SISTERS HERE, SO I'M REALLY EXCITED.

One of my favourite parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is having a sense of identity. I run into so many people on a daily basis who don't believe in God, or who don't know He's their Father, or who don't know what the point of life is. But I do. And that is a great privilege.

I know who I am.
I am a daughter of God.
I have unlimited ability.
I have purpose.
I am of infinite worth.
I am a daughter.
I am a sister.
I am a friend.
I know my potential.
I can shape lives.
I know my strengths.
I am confident.
I am creative.
I am strong.
I am faithful.
I am caring.
I stand up for my beliefs.
I follow Jesus Christ.
I know my Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I am committed.
I am thoughtful.
I am a seeker of truth.
I am forgiving.
I am prayerful.
I know my eternal value.
I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, who loves me, and I love Him.

And I don't say that to tell people I'm some great person or something--I'm aware of my weaknesses. But I'm just grateful that having the complete gospel of Jesus Christ emphasizes my strengths and teaches me that I'm not a young, lost, teenage girl. I am one of His divine daughters.

Have a great week:)


Sister Lewis

Monday, January 6, 2014

Moose, Mouse, Mousse

Good morning from a balmy winter morning in Canada--it's only -1 today!

Quote of the week:

The four missionaries were grabbing a quick lunch in the kitchen after a meeting earlier this week. The elders had made us run to the store to grab lettuce for Cesar salad chicken wraps. Then they made us actually put the dressing on it (either my mission has made me lazier or a better worker. Sometimes I can't tell). So I was thinking about how lazy the elders were when Elder Wolsey decided to diss me. Well, that was the last straw, so as he turned away, towards the sink to start washing dishes, I started glaring at his back while the others laughed at how rude it was. Then...

Elder Wolsey: "That's right. Go ahead and glare at my back."

HE KNEW I WAS GLARING AT HIM AND HE WASN'T EVEN LOOKING AT ME. Haha I was astonished to say the least.

Ok, that was a dumb quote, but he was feeling pretty good about his capabilities, so he told me to write that experience in my journal (not gonna happen). And then Sister Vera just suggested I write home about it instead. So there ya go.

We're working with a Brazilian family right now who speaks Portuguese. We visited with them last night and they fed us this amazing lime mousse. We started a Sportuguenglish discussion about the pronunciation of the words "moose" and "mousse". This resulted in the verdict that they are going to begin teaching me Portuguese if I'll help them learn English (the ward had a fast for the mother, Samara*, to learn English).

One of the Muslim families we're teaching right now is here from Iran. They are an adorable family and we love them. Omid* is the father, Sadaf* is the mother, and Parviz* is their little 8-year-old son. Because they don't have a Christian background, we devoted a lesson to teaching about Christ's life. It was a powerful lesson. There's a big language barrier since they speak Persian, but because we were all working so hard to concentrate and communicate, we all depended a lot on the Spirit and it was incredible.

A little more than a week ago, Sister Vera and I visited with a member of the ward. He is a sweet older man with an even sweeter testimony. We asked him for his conversion story and felt the Spirit so strongly and were excited to go do missionary work afterwards.

But the thing I remember best about what he was telling us is this:

"I've seen a lot of people walk away from the Church. But I think that there comes a point of no return. There comes a point where no matter what happens, you could never leave. I could go to church next week, and the members could all suddenly betray me--walk all over me. They could be rude and tell me never to come back. They could be completely unaccepting and show me I'm not wanted or needed... But I would still know the Church is true, and I would still go back."

What a powerful testimony.

There are lots of people I downright adore--people I respect and love and look up to--who have "walked away from the Church." And it doesn't change how much I love them, but I remember it affecting me a lot as a little girl because I saw the two sides of people. I saw each person living what they knew to be true and saying they could never deny it, and then I watched them stop living what they knew to be true and then later deny it. And I could see a complete change in them. They were different people. It made me sad to think that someone could be convinced of the truth and then go back on what they believed. It was as if they couldn't control it because one day they would say "I know this is Christ's church, and I can't deny it," and the next day, the Church wasn't His anymore. It was like inactivity happens to people, like they don't actually choose whether they're active or not.

I've become convinced that this is Christ's Church. And I think that I've passed the "point of no return." In fact, I know I have. I have seen too much to deny it ever.

But now I am sure that I won't "walk away from the Church." I can be sure of it because I know I won't stop reading my scriptures, I won't stop praying, and I won't stop going to Church. And those are things I can control.

I have become very grateful for trials because they convince me of the truthfulness of this gospel. I've learned to depend on God through them which has confirmed my faith over and over without fail.

On a different note, all 140-ish of the missionaries in the Canada Halifax Mission are reading the Book of Mormon in the month of January. The Bible is a good book and I love it and read from it often. But there's something about the faith required to read and believe the Book of Mormon that makes its words precious and powerful. I firmly believe that there is real power in its words--that by reading it sincerely, people receive mighty changes of hearts and become closer to their God. I'm grateful that God loves us so much to give us the tool of the Book of Mormon to be closer to Him.

I hope that with this new year, we can each have increased testimonies of the Book of Mormon, and becomeconvinced that this is Christ's church, whether the imperfect people in it are accepting or not.

I love you all!

Sister Lewis

Sister Lewis' camera is broken!  So she didn't send any photos this week.  But the senior sister in the below photo did.  The sisters were teaching her how to wear scarves.