Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 1 of Transfer 10....Is this real life?!

This week was crazy. Lots of changes for the Moncton Ward. Elders Wolsey and Sloan went home, who were replaced by the zone leaders, Elder Roberts and Elder Jason. Elder Erickson left for Bathurst and was replaced by Elder Collett. Moncton is about to be knocked out, the new district is hitting the area even harder than before. I'm the least experienced missionary out of all of us. The district is comprised of zone leaders, sister training leaders, district leaders, and missionaries who have been out for more than a year. Bring it.

The quotes of the week are Elder Wolsey's and Elder Sloan's parting advice to missionaries that they left us with the night before they left--

Elder Sloan: "Missions are not intended to make you perfect, they're intended to teach you how to live your life to one day become perfect."

Elder Wolsey: "Keep your stick on the ice. Don't lose focus on your purpose."

Words of wisdom from the retired missionaries.

Sister Olson and I have been focusing (both in our companionships and with all our sisters) on what it means to work hard. I think it's sad how few people really know what that means and do it. Hard work isn't giving in as soon as you face opposition, like I talked about last week.

So we worked hard this week. There were some heroic moments and some weak moments. It ended up being a pretty successful week, and we felt pretty good about our efforts. We found 3 new investigators, we taught tons of lessons in French which really pushed us, we talked to lots of people, we did remarkable things. But there were also the weaker moments that we're working on overcoming.

Which is why Sister Olson and I have committed ourselves to make this week the hardest working week of our missions.

That's a hard thing to do. It's hard to do the absolute BEST you can all the time. But this morning I was studying La Sainte Bible (and I'm sorry, you'll have to forgive me because I only have French scriptures right now) and my eyes were opened to how that's supposed to happen.

I was flipping through, trying to find a different scripture, when 1 Corinthians 15 caught my eye. I glanced over a few verses and was suddenly sucked in by the following. Paul is writing to the people of Corinth, and he's talking about how he and the apostles saw Christ resurrected.

7 Ensuite, il est apparu a Jacques, puis a tous les apotres.
8 Apres eux tous, il m'est aussi apparu a moi, comme a l'avorton;
9 car je suis le moindre des apotre, je ne suis pas digne d'etre appele apotre, parce que j'ai persecute l'Eglise de Dieu.

So basically here he's acknowledging his weaknesses--he used to persecute the Church and was against it, and that's why he's not an apostle. He goes on to say:

10 Par la grace de Dieu je suis ce que je suis, et sa grace envers moi n'a pas ete vaine; loin de la, j'ai travaille plus qu'eux tous, non pas moi toutefois, mais la grace de Dieu qui est avec moi.

I find that so powerful. "By the grace of God, I am what I am." In other words, everything great about us is because of God. Without him, we are His enemies, but with Him, we are great. In other words, He is completely the works behind any good quality we have. It is really Him, not us, because we are naturally enemies to Him.
And then he bears his testimony about how he worked hard BECAUSE of God.

Sometimes, my companion and I will become really motivated and ready to work our hardest. And it's amazing. We see incredible miracles happen, and our area is excelling and we feel great. We worked as hard as we could, and Heavenly Father blessed us with His grace so that we could achieve those miracles and see more than what we thought was possible.

And then suddenly we're burnt out. It's hard and we're stressed and we're tired. And I guess I've always kind of wondered why that happens. Why just when people are on top of things in their lives, they burn out and become exhausted. And here Paul explains why: we start thinking that it's US who is producing those good things, not God. So for in our situation, sometimes my companion and I might start thinking, "Yes! Our area is doing great! Now the other sisters will be able to see the example! We're doing great!" or "Man! We're really figuring this out! The numbers for this week will really reflect on our capability and dedication!"

But Ammon teaches an important lesson about this in Alma 26:

"I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom. But behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing. As to my strength I am weak. Therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God. For in His strength I can do all things. Yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise His name forever."

And by taking these two lessons into consideration (and it turns our Sister Olson and I accidentally independently studied this this morning during personal study), it helped me to understand what God is capable of.

If we don't get prideful about "our" abilities, which are really the Lord's, then we don't burn out. Because when we see miracles happening and we're accomplishing more than we thought possible, that's the Lord's grace--the enabling power of the Atonement--working through us. And as soon as we become prideful and think that it's US who can accomplish so many great things, God's grace can't be there any more to strengthen us, and we feel physically and spiritually weak and exhausted. Because that's how we are naturally, without Him.

Paul goes on to testify about the resurrection, and why that's the most important thing to have a testimony of:

14 Et si Christ n'est pas ressuscite, notre predication est donc vaine, et votre foi aussi est vaine.
In other words, if Christ doesn't live today, everything we do is in vain. Nothing comes of it.
17 Et si Christ n'est pas ressuscite, votre foi est vaine, vous etes encore dans vos peches,
18 et par consequent aussi ceux qui sont morts en Christ sont perdus.
If Christ doesn't live today, everything we do is in vain, and we stay an enemy to God forever. 
We can't overcome anything, we are lost to death. We are weak and we are tired and we have headaches and we wonder how we're ever going to get through this and we just need a nap and we need this day to just be over and we need a break from our kids and we need someone else to take care of our responsibilities for once.

Because that is how we are without His grace. We can do absolutely nothing.

It is only because of His grace and His power that we can do anything.

When we push aside our pride and remember the most important testimony of all: that He lives, we are blessed with his empowering grace, which helps us become more than our natural, tired, stressed man.

I've been studying Elder Christofferson's last general conference talk, "The Ressurection of Jesus Christ." He says:

"...We have the incomparable ministry of the risen Lord to ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere. In the land Bountiful, He descended from heaven and invited the assembled throng, some 2,500, to come forward one by one until they had all gone forth, thrusting their hands into His side and feeling the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet."

I think about how much time it would've taken the Saviour to let 2,500 people receive personal witnesses that He lives. It must've been worth standing in front of them for hours and hours while each one finds out for themselves. A personal testimony of the Resurrection must be important for us. He goes on to say:

"Consider for a moment the significance of the Resurrection in resolving once and for all the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth and the great philosophical contests and questions of life. If Jesus was in fact literally resurrected, it necessarily follows that He is a divine being. No mere mortal has the power in himself to come to life again after dying. Because He was resurrected, Jesus cannot have been only a carpenter, a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. Because He was resurrected, Jesus had to have been a God, even the Only Begotten Son of the Father."

I know that Christ lives. I am sure of it. I can feel it within myself. "O, that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God... I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy."

I'm grateful I get to bear witness that Christ lives. That it is because of Him we are able to do any small, good thing. I feel blessed that I've received that personal witness for myself--that I know He is resurrected. I love the Lord. In Him my soul delights.

And hey, I guess I love you too:) Have a good week!

Sister Lewis
Isabelle back in Moncton :)

The Elders being awkward about Sister Olson sitting next to them haha.

I call this the "Missionary Trap."  We were knocking, and this was the porch,which was super sketchy and I felt like it was gonna break.

Mother's Day flowers

J'aime L'Acadie

Ugh!  I hated this moment!  We were knocking and I saw a live worm being attacked by ants on the walk-way up to a house and so I bent over to save it and put it in the grass just as the guy answered the door and I had to explain that I was saving a worm to him...In French/English.  And I felt so stupid.  Never, ever, ever do that.  I'm never getting over that.  This is true repentance.  Godly sorrow.

My lovely Moncton

Some guy's cool yard

The old Dieppe Elders.  Miss this companionship :(  (Yes, we accidentally street contacted at the same time in the same spot again...sorry elders)

Cutest kids.  I taught them how to make the ugly face.

My French tag finally came!!!!  Unfortunately, the elder one came, not the magnetic ones I wear... :(

I had a craving

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy Victoria Day!

Quotes (both funny and good) of the week:

1. While street contacting a man named Paul who doesn't have a lot of hope in humanity, who used to be an atheist but is now trying to find his faith--
Paul: "I think the world is desperate for you and what you have."

2. In district meeting, discussing the skill of LISTENING--
Me: "So what do you do when you're listening to an investigator, and afterwards you and your companion just have absolutely nothing to say? Just nothing."
Elder Wolsey: "Well I guess it depends on if the Spirit's there or if it's just awkward. If the Spirit's there, the silence will be good, and if it's awkward, it's probably something they shouldn't have brought up in the lesson."
Elder Widdup: "And maybe it just means that it's a problem the investigator needs to sort out on their own."
Elder Sloan: "Yeah, like how we're not supposed to counsel investigators. We can't give them counsel to solve the problems they need to solve on their own."
Elder Erickson: "Or it usually just means the missionary doesn't have any skill."
(dead silence)
Me: (jaw drop)

Then all of us died laughing. The end.

This week was super crazy in every way! Everything happened!

Monday. Conducted a companionship study over Skype with the Bathurst sisters so we could monitor their goals and roleplay with them. All 3 of our appointments fell through. Knocked the entire night, but it was pretty warm, so it was fun! Got a million referrals.

Tuesday. Conducted a companionship study over Skype with the Summerside sisters so we could monitor their goals and roleplay with them. All appointments fell through again. Every single one. Contacted at the riverfront, contacted at the mall, knocked all day. Got a million more referrals.

Wednesday. Conducted a companionship study over Skype with the Montague sisters so we could monitor their goals and roleplay with them. Mission Leadership Council with all the ZLs and STLs over Skype. It was good and uplifting, also hot and hard to stay focused on! Elder Waldie and Elder Roberts came down from Charlottetown to be there for it. We left feeling really inspired as to how to help the sisters, who are all really struggling in different ways right now.

Thursday. Had district meeting. 1 of our 3 appointments fell through. Contacted at the riverfront and knocked all day. Had really great conversations with the people we talked to.

Friday. Spent the day in Tracadie, an all-French area that just opened up by Elders Nzojibwami and Collett! It was really fun, we were there with the Bathurst sisters and I spent the day working the area with my baby Sister Vera (WHO'S NOT SUCH A GREENIE ANYMORE BECAUSE SHE'S A THIRD DONE WITH HER MISSION, WHAT ON EARTH). It was really fun and I couldn't understand their accents and they couldn't understand mine and it was about 28 degrees!!!

Saturday. Had a Skype call with our zone leaders and the district leaders in the zone to discuss the progress and problems of the areas in the zone. The last of our investigators dropped us. So we have a teaching pool of one excommunicated member right now. All our appointments fell through, everyone we stopped in on didn't want to see us. We knocked and street contacted all day until we randomly dropped in on an inactive family (who was active last time I was in this ward) and worked on resolving concerns. Basically she told us that her life got so busy and overwhelming that something had to give, and that it was church. We were really bold with her but tried to do it lovingly:) They are going to have us come back regularly to work with them and help them make church a priority again.

Sunday. Got transfer e-mails. The Moncton elders (Elder Wolsey and Elder Sloan) are going homethis Thursday, and the zone leaders for our zone will take their place and now be stationed in Moncton. Elder Erickson's going BACK to Bathurst (crazy!) to be a district leader there! So he'll be my future district leader. We picked up several new companionships of sisters to be over. Went to church. In sacrament meeting, both Jessica* and Simone* got sustained to be ward missionaries!!! I taught the Gospel Principles lesson on the organization of Christ's church. All our appointments that evening fell through. We went knocking all afternoon and all evening. It rained in the evening and I think I might've been slightly too bold at a door, hopefully he's not offended, woopsD:
Anyway, it's been a rough week, and we're working on keeping our faith up. My theme for this week has been the following:

"Consecrated missionaries are willing to give up any negativism or sarcasm. Instead they are optimistic and positive. They have a 24-hour smile. They live the invitation of the Savior, 'Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.' There is not a negative bone in their bodies. There is no rejection at the door or on the street that can dim their enthusiasm. They are willing to pay the price of repeated rejection for the hope of a single conversion. Whatever the world throws at them, they throw back with a smile."

And that's the key for me to keep going. It's really hard not to feel discouraged or negative when your life gets into a rut, because it's a temptation to feel that way. The adversary wants us to feel like we can't help the situation, like we're inadequate, that it would be better and easier if we stopped trying. And he eats away at our weaknesses and even our strengths. He wants us to worry and feel despair.

On the other hand, Heavenly Father wants us to feel inspired when we get into life ruts. He wants us to have confidence in ourselves and find the motivation to keep going, even when all circumstances are telling us not to. Quitting is unacceptable. Doing less than our best is unacceptable. Failure is not an option. We can succeed, and He will help us. He wants us to exercise faith and trust Him. That is how He wants us to feel.

I'm not the greatest at getting rid of the negative thoughts and not thinking them or believing them. In fact, I'm really pretty lousy at it. But one thing I take solace in is that Heavenly Father's always on my side, that He always wants my righteous desires to succeed. And when I'm in the car, and we just finished praying to find someone before we'll get out of the car and go knocking for a few hours.... In that split second, when the exhaustion and discouragement and weakness hits me.... That split second makes me either stronger--when I choose to speedily obey and get out of the car immediately despite the way I feel--or it makes me weaker--when the adversary helps me rationalize to stay just a moment longer and think about myself.

The lesson we had with the less active family this week really affected me. She was talking about all these horrible things that are happening in their lives right now (which I connected to... "We have no numbers for our area, all of our investigators are dropping us, none of our investigators are progressing"). Then she said that because all those hard things got overwhelming, it made sense that something had to give (which I connected to.... "I just need to take 5 minutes for me right now, I just need a break for a minute, I'm not going to stop to talk to this person"). And people naturally let the adversary take over and tell them that they need to focus on themselves, when in reality Heavenly Father sometimes legitimately wants them to push through, EVEN IF you're tired, EVEN IF it's hard, EVEN IF your feet hurt, EVEN IF the rain's freezing, EVEN IF no one will listen to you. I think it's in those moments where it's very difficult to push away real concerns that great, consecrated, heroic people are made. Sometimes it's unacceptable to "take time to think about me right now". Sometimes it's unacceptable to give in "because it's really hard and I'm completely exhausted." Sometimes we need to push our carnal desires out of the way and do it anyway.


Sister Lewis

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fête des Mères


The weirdest thing that happened all week was the sentence that came out of my mouth at the end of Skyping with the best family ever: "I guess.... I'll talk to you again at the Salt Lake airport."


Luckily I've created a plan to make sure I deserve a good homecoming when that time comes. Because where there is no vision, the people perish! I refuse to "die" at the end of my mission. I'm going to endure to the end.

Anyway, it was a great week! Full of eating hash browns, filling up the font again, having conference calls with the sisters (and companionship studies via Skype with them), finding dead animals on the ground, seeing spiders on doors again, warm days, snowy days, being sick, walking back and forth between Moncton and Dieppe, and talking to everyone. It was a great week.

On Mother's Day, I sat in sacrament meeting with the Blanchaud* family (3 boys and a baby girl) to help take care of the kids. I was surrounded by adorable, French-speaking blonde kids and was basically in heaven, until all the talks were about how great mothers are, and I was split between being grateful for my own mom and all the moms who treat me like their daughter, and hating the missionary handbook rule that we can't hold children haha. It was horrible. But I survived and came away just mostly feeling grateful for mothers.

One of my favourite talks is one given by President Monson. He says:

"The hour has come. The personal earthly ministry of the Son of God moves swiftly to its dramatic conclusion. A certain loneliness is here. Nowhere to be found are the lame beggars who, because of this man, walk; the deaf who, because of this man, hear; the blind who, because of this man, see; the dead who, because of this man, live.
 "There remain yet a few faithful followers. From his tortured position on the cruel cross he sees his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by. He speaks: 'Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!'
 "From that awful hour when time stood still, when the earth did quake and great mountains were brought down--yes, through the annals of history, over the centuries of years and beyond the span of time, there echoes his simple yet divine words, 'Behold thy mother.'"

And I have. I've spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about my mother.

I'm really grateful for a mom who prayerfully decided to bring me here.

Basically I cried a whole ton for two years and then she decided to bless me with a baby sister who became my best friend.

And then I got happy and quiet and so she rewarded me with 4 brothers who made me tough and who I can tackle to the ground now.

Then my mom blessed me with another baby sister--really, a princess. And then one more, who I have a special, special friendship with.

And thanks to my mom, I got to grow up in a strong, faithful family, and I got to be a part of a big family who I love with all my heart.

And because my mom was a source of family strength my whole life, she inspired me to want to be, for someone else, everything that she is to me.

I know the world today really down-plays the role of mothers. But because of my mother, I don't. I know it's a divine role.

"May each of us treasure this truth: One cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one."

So yep, Happy Mother's Day to my perfect mom, and the rest of them too:)


Sister Lewis

Came home hungry... 10:00PM "snack"
A few of the reasons I love Canada

James's* baptism
We kept accidentally "stealing" all the Dieppe elders' finding... Whenever we contact somewhere, they show up ten minutes later. Sorry.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Once Upon a Time... a far away land named Dieppe, there was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her name was Sister Lewis.

Sister Lewis loved Dieppe because it was beautiful and French.

All the people there were nice.

But she hated all the snow that kept coming in May.

She had lots of fun...

But her favourite part was serving the Lord.

One day, she was reading in the scriptures.

She was reading in the New Testament, looking for scriptures about how to strengthen herself and push herself farther, even when it's difficult.

She read about her Saviour's Atonement. She read: "And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
She learned a lot in that scripture.

First of all, He went a little further. He was already doing the hardest thing of His life, but He went a little further.

He fell on His face. He hit the ground because He had gone to His very limits. He couldn't bear it anymore, so much so that He fell down on His face.

Then He prayed. He pushed Himself as far as He could go, and the natural next step for Him was to pray to His Heavenly Father.

Then He said to His God, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." He realized that sometimes, when it got difficult enough, He just needed to pray that His trial would pass, that He could be relieved of it. Sometimes the opposition got too much for Him to bear.

Then He said, "Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." He wanted the trial to be removed. He didn't want to have to go through it anymore. It seemed "too hard". But He was willing to do what God thought was best, even if it was difficult for Him. In fact, it was the most difficult thing anyone in history has ever gone through.

And so Sister Lewis learned a great lesson that day. She learned that Christ had gone through all her trials--and the trials of all of Heavenly Father's children. And she learned that if she wanted to live happily ever after, she would have to go through her own trials.

And so Sister Lewis closed her scriptures and found a new determination to do more, to be faster and stronger and better, to be more like her Saviour in the face of her adversity.

And then she'll live with her Heavenly Father happily ever after.

The end.

Love, Sister Lewis