Monday, April 28, 2014

The weeks when you hands-down deserve junk food and mail from home!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY VERY FAVOURITE 17-YEAR-OLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote of the week:

After "visits" with our district leader, Elder Widdup (where you do the work together and he evaluates you), he was going through our planners--
Elder Widdup: "You didn't plan a back-up for Amanda's baptism?"
Sister Olson: "No. I was assuming that would go through. And if it didn't, I was going home and eating ice cream."
It feels weird that a year ago, I was on my mission.... What the heck!

It was definitely a LONG WEEK!!! Nothing really huge even happened. We had exchanges with the Bathurst sisters, had a concert, and had regular missionary work for the rest of the week... But we were wiped out for some reason. Through a lot of lessons of learning to rely on the Lord though, we were able to end it stress-free and with a lot of hope and readiness for this week.

-When you try to pull out your debit card, but pull out a pass-along card instead
-When your car is a mess because it's covered in law of chastity pamphlets
-When someone actually lets you in at a door and so you can't talk to as many people as you wanted to
-When your favourite apostate song comes on the radio at the grocery store
-When you accidentally introduce yourself as your companion
-When you don't care enough about what you look like because you're not available anyway
-When your favourite investigator offers you coffee
-When you realize you don't have much money for groceries because you spent your gift money from home on your recent converts
-When you realize you only have 5 minutes of personal study yet and you panic because you spent all your time reading the Book of Mormon in the language you're learning and didn't spend time preparing for your investigators' lessons
-When you get tired of people not wanting to talk to you about church, so you start stopping people on the street by asking if you can sing to them instead, and THEN they suddenly want to talk to you about church
-When you're out of finding ideas, so you just add the word "finding" to the end of your favourite activities so they seem legitimate... swimming finding; football game finding; fireworks, firearms, and other explosives finding; wearing jeans instead of skirts finding....

Every week, all the missionaries in the mission study the same topic. This week, it's repentance. Sister Olson and I had a great discussion about what repentance means... Because obtaining forgiveness for our sins is just the bear minimum that repentance covers:

1) Sins. We are able to be cleansed from all the things we do that are wrong. We don't need to feel burdened or guilty about them anymore. Heavenly Father forgives us and forgets our sins.
2) Weaknesses. We are able to turn our weaknesses into strengths when we apply the principles of repentance. Good becomes great. Weak becomes strong. We become better.
3) The fine-tuning. We are able to become like Christ. Things we don't like about ourselves that aren't even wrong can be changed. We become true disciples of Christ when we align every part of ourselves--even the parts that aren't necessarily wrong--to Him.

We've also been discussing a lot about faith. We've concluded that there are 3 different levels of faith:
Faith0: "Yeah, I believe in Christ." "Okay, will you [do this thing that will prove your faith]?" "I don't think I can."
Faith1: "I believe in Christ. I believe that doing this will help me. I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but I'll try it."
Faith2: "I believe in Christ. I have a testimony of this principle, because I put my faith to the test, and now I have received a witness that it is true."

I'm grateful for the first principles of the gospel and that because of developing a faith in Christ and applying repentance, we aren't only cleansed from sin, but we make perfection an actual possibility. I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who created a plan that enables us to have constant progression so that one day, when we're with Him again, perfection is attainable--perfection in ourselves, and also in our joy.


Sister Lewis

We decided we weren't learning French fast enough, so we labeled the whole apartment

I think I'm funny or somethin. Heh heh heh.

The cute blessings that come from knocking on the homes where cute French kids live

Some bon food, la

"Celebrating" my year mark on the 24th:'(

My ice cream was two-thirds gone too:'( :'( :'(

Elder Wolsey hit me in the face with a snowball (which was really an ice ball, embarrassing), so he gave me "repentance chocolate"... Favourite brand? Not complaining.

Sad day.  Maple syrup suckers.  Elders are nice.

(Here's the link to the referenced song in the video.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Love Easter, I Love Moncton Ward, and I'm tired of snow.

Joyeux Pâques!!!

Quote of the week:
While knocking in Dieppe last night (my door)--
Girl my age at door: "Ouai! Nous assistons à Sainte-Thérèse. On est catholique."
Me: "Ah, on est catholique?"
Girl: "Oh, okay!"
And since that didn't make sense..... Basically I asked her if she was Catholic and she took it to mean I was saying we were Catholic.... which got uncomfortable really fast. Woops.

Tip for future missionaries: Don't tell people you're Catholic if you're not.

The best compliment I received all week though was also last night when we were knocking.... It was my door again, and the lady I was talking to started struggling to find the right phrase in French. So she asked me, "Ummm.... Comprenez-vous l'anglais?" SCORE!!! Although I was told that my French doesn't sound American, it sounds French.... Which still means I have an accent to everyone I talk to, but at least it doesn't sound like English:)

What a crazy week! By Saturday, it was long already, between planning and executing Amanda's* baptism by ourselves (we realized that was why we weren't called to Mexico.... When you baptize a little more frequently, you don't turn into the wimps we did), knocking on doors in the ice pellets, and preparing for Easter Sunday. I was exhausted and uncontrollably happy.

The long week was capped off by church on Easter. On Friday, as we were planning for the week as a district, we realized that each of us had a part in the program without knowing it.... Sister Olson was playing the organ, I was conducting the music, Elder Sloan was confirming Ashley in a circle with all the elders, the elders were passing the sacrament, I was giving a talk (on missionary work), all the missionaries were doing a musical number, Elder Sloan was giving a talk (on Easter), Elder Wolsey was giving a talk (on the Atonement and missionary work), and Elder Widdup was giving the closing prayer. And then I got to give the Gospel Principles lesson on the Atonement and I just wanted to burst I was so happy for everything that Easter means.

Sister Nelson came into town for Amanda's baptism! She taught her for a couple weeks before she was transferred, and now she's been home for about 2 months. It was great to see her again (although I was a little freaked out by the jeans, the lack of nametag, and everyone calling her "Annaliese"...).

Amanda's baptism was amazing. I sang "How Great Thou Art" for a musical number, which was scary. The highlights were getting to hug Amanda immediately after the baptism and hear her bear her testimony about how she never expected to feel the way she did. Heavenly Father's love for her was just BRIGHT in the room.

Christina is on date for May 24 and Angie is on date for June 10. They are two single moms and we are so excited for their progression in the gospel. The last lesson we had with Sylvie was really special because it took a lot of question-asking on our part. She is a strong, amazing woman. She has lots of fears and concerns. There was one moment where she asked a question about a controversial topic. She wanted God's answer to be one thing and she started telling us her reasons for believing that way. We told her that it didn't matter what we said, or what anyone else says. All that matters is what God's answer was. We invited her to pray and ask Him sincerely. She started crying at that point and said, "I can feel that what you're saying is true. I know what His answer will be now that you say it, I just don't want to face it. I'll pray about it tonight." She ended up in tears again when Sister Olson asked her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and I invited her to be baptized. It was so special.

And on a lighter topic....:)

10 Things Not to Say When the Missionaries Take You to a First Lesson (dramatized for effect)
1. "I believe that you can't take the stories in the Book of Mormon or Bible literally.... They're just there to help you learn a lesson."
2. "Have you ever heard of baptisms for the dead before?"
3. "My favourite part of our Church is that I'll be able to have my own planet one day."
4. "I mean, if you can't read every night, that's okay, I don't read my scriptures every night and I still know that God loves me."
5. "The hardest part for me when I joined the Church was the word of wisdom! It's this thing where you can't drink coffee or smoke....."
6. "Let me tell you what I don't like about our ward."
7. "That's okay, I didn't pay tithing for years after I was baptized!"
8. "Wow. You're really going through a rough time. Have you tried moving out of your boyfriend's house?"
9. "I just know that it's not worth it to marry someone outside the Church."
10. "Evolution."

J'aime Pâques. Il est l'un de mes vacances préférées. Je sais que le Christ vit encore. Il est mort pour nous. Je suis heureux que notre Père céleste aime ses enfants imparfaits qu'il a envoyé son fils à mourir pour nous. Je suis reconnaissant parce que Pâques signifie que je suis capabled'avoir la force par le Christ.

Avec mon amour,

Sœur Lewis

Monday, April 14, 2014

This week I ate blood pudding and pig brains.

I was blessed this week to be able to celebrate Lydia's baptism with one of our own--Simone Quartier*. It was an incredible experience, particularly as we worked really hard this week to make sure she was ready for Saturday.

After her baptismal interview (which she passed), there were a few things Elder Widdup asked us to go over with her before her baptism, which had been concerns of ours while we'd been teaching her. So two days before her baptism, we taught her a lesson and it was incredibly intense. Before the lesson, Sister Olson and I really had to accept the fact that we might have to push the baptism back and not have her get baptized on Saturday, which was difficult to accept. But we were willing. In the lesson, there was one point where are hearts broke as Simone started crying and said she wanted to be baptized but didn't feel ready. But the amazing member we took with us started testifying and the Spirit was strong. Then I said, "Simone, the ward needs you and wants you to be baptized. We want you to be baptized more than anything. You want to be baptized. But what all of us think doesn't matter one bit. All that matters is if Heavenly Father wants you to be baptized on Saturday. Do you think He wants you to wait?" There was a pause, then I asked, "Do you think He wants you to be baptized on Saturday?" She immediately said, "Yes," with no doubts and no hesitation. And so we moved forward, totally confident in Heavenly Father's will and pushing aside our own feelings. And what a blessing it was to see her make her first promise with her Heavenly Father. Phil Donaldson*, the elders' investigator, was baptized in the same service. Both of them bore their testimonies after their baptisms and I think if it was possible, I would've been glowing. They were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday and received the Holy Ghost. What a humbling experience.

Sometimes I just make up my title because I can't think of anything interesting that happened throughout the week (AKA "Today I rode a camel," etc.). But this time I'm dead serious. This week I ate blood pudding and pig brains at a dinner appointment. The pig brains... it's actually called "head cheese" but it's just that. Let me explain how these are made.

Blood pudding. After the pig is killed, you slice it open and hang it from the ceiling to drain the blood into a bucket. When it's done draining, you season the blood. You then take the lining of the intestines out of the pig and clean them out so it's just the lining and nothing else. You then put the seasoned blood into the intestine lining and let it coagulate. Then you cut up the intestine (kind of looks like a thick sausage) into slices, fry it in butter, and eat it. Some people don't like the texture of the intestine, so they take it off and just eat the blood.

Head cheese. This is made of everything inside the skull of the pig. So it's mostly brain, but there's some meat in it. First you get it all out and you cook it. And after something fatty is cooked (like a ham), you have the gel-like leftovers around the edge, right? So you mix it all together and it's kind of like this jelly meat pie. Then you take a cheese cloth and press it so all the excess juice comes out. What you have left is a block of head cheese that you can spread on sandwiches or put in salads or just eat plain. You chill it in the fridge and it's meant to be served cold.
They actually didn't taste bad. I had the head cheese first and it wasn't bad at all, but guys, there was a HUGE GROSS FACTOR. It took a really long time to actually get it in my mouth. Then I had the blood pudding.... And if you know me at all, you'll know that I have a really hard time with blood. Blood, needles, hearts.... Anything that has to do with blood. So that was hard. I cut the pudding up into quarters and ate the first one, which I just ate as fast as I could so I could get it over with. Then the second quarter, I slowed down so I could actually focus on the taste and texture. It was good. Then the third one, I was eating it slowly again when my brain suddenly started yelling "YOU'RE EATING COAGULATED ANIMAL BLOOD" and I gagged it all up and couldn't finish. C'est la vie.
And we tasted blood in the back of our throats for the rest of the night, which was really gross.
I've been serving here in Moncton: Round 2 for 6 weeks now and am about to start transfer 2 here! So it's time to see what la vie is like here in Moncton. The quotes I chose from these people basically describe them in a nutshell.

Meet the Companionship
After Sister Olson got a new, bright pink camera--
Sister Olson: "What should I name my camera?"
Me: "Umm.... 'PINKY!' Heh heh heh."
Sister Olson: .......

While driving through an intersection, there were 4 churches on each corner--
Me: "Hey Sister Olson! Do you know why this street is called CHURCH Street? Heh heh heh."
Sister Olson: .......

After companionship inventory on Friday [where you talk about your strengths and weaknesses and talk out all the issues you have with your comp... basically a DTR haha]--You know that companionship inventory was a success when...
One of us (hopelessly): "I'm never getting married."

Meet the District
Elder Erickson. Dieppe, French-speaking. Out 10 months. From UT.
Commentating a game of Jenga at Ward Games Night--
Elder Erickson: "Well Bob, this is it. If she can pull this move off, she'll be coming to the 2015 Jenga World Championships in Shang Hi."

Elder Widdup. District Leader. Dieppe, French-speaking. Out 14 months. From AB.
We were sitting in the chapel at General Conference. I had a bag of a bunch of different kinds of chocolate (Lewis family tradition). He asked for it so he could take some. He went through my bag and was looking at each individual bag of chocolate to choose some until he finally pulled out my baggie with a half-eaten PB&J sandwich--
Me (dying laughing): "You're choosing that of everything in there?!"
Elder Widdup: "Well.... sorry..." (puts the sandwich back)
Me: "Umm, no, I mean, if you really want it, you can have it..."
Elder Widdup (giving me the bag back, embarrassed): "No, it's okay..."
Me: "........Wait, are you being serious?"
Elder Widdup (awkwardly looking at me): "Sorry, you can have the sandwich..."
Then we sat there weirdly uncomfortable because turns out he was serious and it was awkward for some reason.

Elder Sloan. Moncton, ex-zone leader. Out 23 months. From AB.
We were playing volleyball at Ward Games Night. Which turned into Elder Sloan jumping like a weirdo trying to play ward Foosball. Just take a moment and imagine that.

Elder Wolsey. Moncton, ex-zone leader. Served with him in Fredericton. Out 23 months. From AB.
I was out for a minute during Ward Games Night eating chocolate because my stomach felt gross digesting the blood and brains and I couldn't get the taste out of my mouth.
Elder Wolsey: "So I have a gift for you since I threw that snowball at your eye... And that basketball.... And my head....... Sorry."

Meet the Investigators
Simone Quartier*. 20s, French-speaking. Baptized 4/12/2014.
After her baptism, while eating--
Ward Mission Leader: "Did anyone lose a phone?"
Simone (gasp): "Is it purple?!"
Ward Mission Leader: "No, it's black."
Simone (gasp): "Purple and black?!"

Amanda Peabody*, 20s, Dieppe. To be baptized 4/17/2014.
On the phone, following up with her on some commitments--
Us: "So did you get the chance to watch that movie we left you?"
Amanda: "Yeah and I cried like a freaking weirdo."

Christina Black*, 21, French-speaking. To be baptized 5/24/2014. Found and taught yesterday.
In the lesson, after teaching about the restoration of Christ's gospel--
Us: "So what do you think of all of this?"
Christina: "I know your church is true."

Elise Short*, 50s, French-speaking. Used to be Catholic. One of the most Christ-like people I've ever met.
After asking her to pray in a lesson for the first time--
Elise: "Okay, I will."
[bow our heads]
Elise: "But.... the thing is, I don't say memorized prayers anymore, I pray from my heart."
Us: "That's okay Denise, that's the correct way to pray."
Elise: "And I don't pray to Jesus anymore, I pray to God now."
Us: "That's perfect. That's how we should pray."
Elise: "Also I pray in French."
Us: "Perfect. We speak French!"
Elise (in the middle of the prayer): "... et je te remercie de mes deux anges...."

Things in Moncton right now are the best. Being a missionary is the best. It was a humbling week and I'm grateful I've been learning how little I have to do with the work. I'm learning to just not get in the way of Heavenly Father working through me, and because I'm getting better at it, I'm happier. I'm learning to serve others and not myself. I'm not perfect, but I'm getting better. I love the overwhelming bursting feeling that comes from knowing you're doing exactly what Heavenly Father wants you to do.


Sister Lewis

La Belle Soeur Olson (on the first springtimey day we've had yet!)

Saying goodbye to Sister Broadhead  :(  Went home on Friday.

head cheese

Trying to psych myself out and just eat it already

The intestines on the side


Sister Lewis, Sister Olson, Simone Quartier, Elder Sloan (baptized Simone), Phil Donaldson, Elder Widdup (baptized Phil),  Elder Wolsey

Cute little Richard (2)--one of Amanda's sons.


Monday, April 7, 2014

The family is the pattern of heaven.

And no, I'm not trunky:)

I don't know if I'm just really inefficient at writing e-mails or what, but it usually takes me about 15-20
minutes to write the big letter home. So because my computer crashed for about 15 minutes last week and I didn't get to write the main letter, I've got a couple weeks to catch up on.

First of all.... Happy birthday to extended family and my [BABY?!] sister?!?! Who's 6, what the heck! And I feel blessed to be celebrating my other little sister's baptism this weekend with one of our own, about 5 hours apart.

On the 26th, we had a giant snow storm that was the worst Moncton's had in years, apparently. It was horrible! And because we had Sisters Broadhead and Starkie staying with us through it, we went on a life-threatening journey to Sobey's to buy supplies for cookies, which we made in the apartment after knocking the building and inviting everyone to a concert we threw for them later that evening, with fresh cookies as refreshments! It was fun, we just threw together a bunch of piano and vocal pieces. The last song was "Souviens-toi," a French hymn which Sister Olson accompanied. There was an Acadian woman who came and cried through it because it reminded her of the lullabies her mother used to sing to her. Neat experience!

Last week, on Tuesday-Wednesday, we had Mission Leadership Council in Halifax.... And getting there alive was a serious miracle. It was horrible weather and if we hadn't all been fasting, I don't know what would have happened. There was one point where we and the elders completely lost control of our cars and were seriously miraculously safe through it. The Leadership Council was a completely humbling experience, as President Leavitt is going through a big personal challenge right now and was still working hard as ever through it. The STLs and ZLs all received a lot of training and inspiration to become better leaders.

Simone*'s baptism is this weekend. It has been stunning to see her growth and progression and change. We're excited for her to make such a special promise with Heavenly Father. The missionaries in Moncton are fasting tomorrow that her baptism, and Phil*'s (another investigator), will go through. We'll be making phone calls to invite the ward to do the same.

General Conference was uplifting and needed, like it always is. I love watching my questions get answered and the questions of our investigators too. Heavenly Father knows His children. I loved the overall theme of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, even when it's hard. One of my favourite talks was by Elder Corbridge, who said that family is the pattern of heaven. And I'm a missionary right now, and that's what I've chosen to devote my life to for the next little while. But what he said reminded me of my testimony of family. I know that the family is ordained of God. I know that this world is patterned after the old one, where family was central to God's plan still. I'm grateful for familial support and for the blessings that living our faith brings to our families. My family means everything to me, and I'm grateful that I get to live with them forever--and that family is the pattern of heaven, and not anything else.

Love you all! Soak up some vitamin D for me.

Sister Lewis

The kitchen when you first walk in the door to the right.


living room/dining room

Saying goodbye to Elder Thunot, who went home last week  :(

What our district meetings are like...  I actually took this picture because we needed what was on the board.  But this just about describes all our meetings.

At game night we were playing Jenga...  When Sister Olson found THIS gem!

One of my friends in the Moncton Ward

Elder Widdup and I traded glasses between sessions of conference.