Monday, July 28, 2014

Charlottetown finally stole my heart


I don't know why, but I got emails from several different people this week about my last letter, where I described what PEI is like! So here's more of a description for those who wanted one:

When you go far enough south in Charlottetown, past downtown, you come to a boardwalk. On one side of the boardwalk, there are green hills, and on the other side, there are big red rocks for a few feet until they hit the ocean, which is dark blue in the day and silvery-blue and yellow in the evening. When you walk down the boardwalk in the evening, you face the orange and purple sunset and a lighthouse (I'll have to take a picture of it sometime). There's often fog and wind, but it's warm and sunny.

Downtown Charlottetown has an older style. There are lots of stands on the side of the road--hot dogs, gourmet grilled cheese, ice cream, etc. A few evenings ago, we were contacting downtown and as we walked, there were a couple teenagers playing guitar and singing on one corner. We crossed the street to the other corner and a man was playing a bagpipe (he often plays in the middle of a flat, green park in the evenings). We kept walking and farther down the same block, on Victoria Row (or "Vic Row") were the groups that do the jazz improv all the time. As soon as they were out of sight, we passed a man who often comes into the soup kitchen we volunteer at, playing the violin with a huge crowd around him. On a lot of the buildings downtown, there are little cartoon-style mouse statues (if you can call them that--they're a few inches tall) attached to the building near the ground. I'll have to take a picture sometime.

The church is located in a subdivision called Sherwood, and there's a statue of one of Robin Hood's merry men across the street.

That's good enough for this week:)

This week was pretty full, as usual. We had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders (weird to say), and so I got to go spend a day in Moncton! Haha. It was an interesting experience... Actually a lot of things happened and some things were really serious, so the exchange was also accompanied with a long talk with the mission president, and it affected the rest of the week. When I got back to Charlottetown, I was really sick, but I couldn't handle being in the apartment, so we've just been working. I'd like to say that just because I pushed through and worked, I had all these great experiences and really loved the work, but I'll be honest, I was pretty miserable working through it all. The week was capped off with a really powerful spiritual experience that answered a lot of prayers and questions I've had for years. And then we had an evening of miracles last night while contacting at the boardwalk--we found lots of young, single men who are interested in learning more.... Who the elders will get to teach haha! We're struggling to build a real teaching pool, but have been blessed with a lot of tender mercies and small miracles as we've depended on the Lord to help us.

I am grateful for a living Church that encourages asking questions because we are dependent on revelation. Because we know answers will come. Because we're confident in our knowledge of God and the reality of the doctrine taught in James 1:5. I've been faced with a lot of questions I don't know the answers to in the last few weeks. But Heavenly Father is a loving and patient Father, and He's been answering me despite my imperfect faith. I'm grateful for the evidences He's given me of the truthfulness of this Church, because I'm able to depend on my own testimony when I develop questions and get a little weakened.

Last night as we were talking to people at the boardwalk, we stopped man who knows a LOT about the Church. He doesn't believe that we're true Christians and threw a lot of arguments at us (in fact, that's been a pretty big pattern this week--people wanting to sway us from what we believe and know). I ended up having to say, "I don't know the answer to all your questions. But I do know that Christ is my Saviour, and He's yours as well. I know that He died for us and that He lives today." He definitely has doubts about our Church still, and has a lot of really negative feelings towards it, but I hope that even if he doesn't believe we're Christians still, he could at least feel the reality of my testimony. Because I know it. I am completely convinced that Christ is my Saviour and that He lives, and I try to live true to that.

Sister Lewis

Last summer, a 19-year-old girl from Halifax (Clara Hodder) was preparing to serve a mission in France. Her MTC entrance date got pushed back, and she couldn't stand the wait anymore (no kidding), so she served a mini-mission in Hampton, NB--not far from where I was serving in Riverview. Sister Hodder served with Sister Rust and Sister Thompson (my current companion), and my trainer was their sister training leader, so we went on exchanges with them ALL THE TIME. I loved Sister Hodder and still hear from her weekly. This Sunday, the Charlottetown Ward got a special visit... Here is Sister Thompson, Sister Hodder's mom, Sister Hodder's little sister, and me. We were all so excited!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

To all the 40-year-old women who were jealous that I was getting called to the mission with Prince Edward Island... this one's for you.

Quote of the week:

While street contacting, I stopped one girl while Sister Thompson went on to contact someone else--
Girl: "....But I'm not from here."
Me: "Oh, me neither! Where are you from?"
GIrl: "Ontario. I'm just up here for the summer."
Me: "Just to visit, or...?"
Girl: "Umm no, I'm actually Anne." (points at giant poster of Anne of Green Gables downtown)
Me: "Uhhh.... Wait what?! Really?!"
Girl: (laughing) "Yeah."
Me: "Oh wow. So, do you go to a church here then??"

Hahaha you know you've been a missionary for a while when you meet a celebrity and the one question you HAVE to ask them is what religion they are.

This week was a great one!

Welcome to Charlottetown, where...
-it smells like the ocean.
-there's always a breeze.
-there are foxes everywhere.
-seeing people downtown dressed up like they live in 1867 is normal.
-everyone downtown has an ice cream cone from Cow's Creamery.
-everyone is a redhead.
-most people outside aren't even from Charlottetown.
-you swallow a mouthful of water whenever you breathe.
-the dirt is red, the fields are green, the skies are blue.
-there are huge, old trees that make it feel small-town and relaxed.
-we're not the only girls riding bikes in dresses.

It's beautiful here. At the beginning of my mission, I wanted to serve in PEI during the summer, and here I am! It's paradise.

Best Moments of the Week
1. A conversation we had with a couple from Halifax.
Me: "...And so we know that Christ's own church is on the earth again today--"
Man: "You really believe that, don't you?"
Me: "I do."
Man: "I can tell. I can feel it."

2. Charlottetown Ward's annual Strawberry Social.
Fresh strawberries on top of biscuits and homemade whipped cream. 35 adults and kids playing a giant soccer game all evening. Tons of mosquitoes. Blue and yellow sky. "Pass it to Elder!" "Stay on Sister!" "Elder, pass!"

3. Searching for new investigators.
A text we received from a single mother this week who we are having a really hard time getting in contact with:
"I have been really wanting to get together and talk about Jesus, but with a single parent of three kids my time is spent. I do have Mondays and Fridays off. Can we try again?"

There are really people out there looking for the truth. The field is white, already to harvest. I know that. And I'm gonna go harvest this week. I love it.

Sister Lewis

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lewis Family Reunion 2014

While the entire Lewis family is vacationing in Oregon, I'd just like to say that Austen and I had our own reunion over e-mail that none of you were invited to. And it was fun. Ok?

Quote of the week (from Elder Ryan, who is from China and was just baptized in January in Halifax, who is on a 4-week "mini mission" here in Charlottetown)--
Elder Ryan: "I am about to go back to China. In my city there are one million people. In those one million people, there is one Mormon. That's me. I can't go to church. But all I know is that no matter what everyone else is, I'm a Mormon."

Things that happened recently that were notable/boring/out-of-the-ordinary:
1) There was a "hurricane" in the maritimes. I was in Moncton. It rained and was a little windy.

2) I finally ate at Cow's:)

3) President Leavitt came and visited Charlottetown and gave a fireside to the YSA here about preparing to leave on missions. It was amazing.

4) I left my Nutella in Moncton and now I'm sad and hungry.

5) On my first day here in Charlottetown, Sister Thompson took me to visit a family in the ward from Haiti. They speak French, Creole, and Spanish... And no English!:) Sister Bissette* has been wanting to bear her testimony in sacrament meeting for almost a year, but doesn't know how to in [English]. She knew a French-speaking sister was being transferred in, and when she opened the door, she immediately started excitedly speaking to me in French. When I responded in French, she got really emotional and hugged me. We visited for a while, and she asked me for help to learn how to bear her testimony in English. Then she fed us some Creole food... Fried bananas (tastes like potatoes with a different texture) with chicken in a spicy sauce. It was so good!

6) Continued to use French whenever possible while finding... Met a girl from France who was atheist, a lady from Campbellton who was Presbyterian, another lady in the ward who's Acadian (! yay!) who used to be Catholic, and lots of other people from around the world. Charlottetown is full of tourists, and I'm grateful I get to speak French and not lose it.

7) I still miss being an STL. I have so much more time on my hands than I'm used to. I'm trying to find ways to direct my extra and energy and time towards something worth it. It's so weird. I hope this isn't what it feels like to get off my mission.

Sister Olson and I were knocking during our last couple of weeks together. It was the first time we were working together, in our area, speaking French, for about a week. We had just had monster exchanges with lots of other sisters in the zone and we were super tired. We could barely speak French as a result of being really tired and having served with English sisters in English areas all week. This was the result (I'll translate it into English, but leave the accent in for effect:).)

Me: "Hi, how are you doing zees evening?"
Couple: "We're doing great! How are you girls?"
Me: "We are well, thank you! My name ees Seester Lewis, and behold Seester Olson. We are meeseeonaries for zee Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ees eet zat you have ever heard of zees church before?"
Couple: "Yeah, we've heard of it!"
Me: "Zat is good! In fact, tonight as missionaries, we are in zee process of inviting zee people here to learn about zer ancestors through zee genealogy, or zee fameely 'eestory. Ees eet zat you have ever... umm.... have ever... (looking at Sister Olson for the word)..."
Sister Olson: "Done?"
Me: "Yes! Done! Ees eet zat you have ever done your fameely 'eestory before?"
Couple: "Oh no, we actually haven't."
Sister Olson: "Well for me personally, I have done my fameely 'eestory! In fact, I have went to Ireland for to see zee gravestones of my dead ancestors. I saw zee cemeteries and zee castles and something like zat, and eet was very eenteresting."
Couple: "Wow! How neat, girls."
Sister Olson: "Yes. And as missionaries, we teach zee people here about how to begin zer fameely 'eestory for to connect with zer ancestors. Ees zat something zat we can share with you and your fameely at a better moment?"
Couple: "Well, that sounds very interesting, but probably not today, girls."
Me: "Well maybe I can leave you weeth a card of our website? Our church has zee largest online, free database for zee records about zee fameely 'eestory... zee records of zee births, and of zee marriages, and of zee deaths too."
Couple: "We would love a card! Thank you so much, girls. You are so brave to be doing this."
Sister Olson: "Zank you a lot. Zank you for your time."
Couple: "You are welcome. Feel free to stop by any time, girls."
Me: "Zank you!"
Sister Olson: "Goodbye!"
Couple: "Bye, girls!"
Me: "Are you having a good evening!" (Yeah I accidentally asked if they were having a good evening instead of telling them TO have a good evening.)
Couple: "You too!"

I love missionary work.

In fact, my thought is once again missionary-oriented (surprise, surprise). One of my favourite quotes from Elder Holland that I've studied recently:

"If we do right and talk right and reach out generously with our words and our deeds, then, when the Savior cuts short His work in righteousness, says time is no more in this last dispensation, and comes in His glory, He will find us doing our best, trying to live the gospel, trying to improve our lives and our Church and our society the best way we can.

"When He comes, I so want to be caught living the gospel. I want to be surprised right in the act of spreading the faith and doing something good. I want the Savior to say to me: 'Jeffrey, I recognize you not by your title but by your life, the way you are trying to live and the standards you are trying to defend. I see the integrity of your heart. I know you have tried to make things better first and foremost by being better yourself and then by declaring my word and defending my gospel to others in the most compassionate way you could.'

"He will certainly add: 'I know you weren't always successful with your own sins and with the circumstances of others, but I believe you honestly tried. I believe in your heart you truly loved me.'

"I want to have something like that encounter someday as I want nothing else in this mortal life. And I want it for you. I want it for us all. 'Israel, Israel, God is calling'--calling us to live the gospel of Jesus Christ personally in small ways and large ways, to reach out to those who may not look or dress or behave quite as we do, and then (where we can) to go beyond that to serve in the widest community we can address."

I know that as members of the Church, we have the responsibility, honour, and privilege of making a difference. I'm grateful for that. I know that we have power as members of Christ's church.

Sister Lewis

I'll try to name anyone.... Elders left to right, then sisters left to right.

New elder, new elder, Elder Penitch, Elder McMullen, Elder McKenney, Elder Duddley, Elder Ryan, Elder Horner, Elder Gibb, Elder Collett, Elder Skinner, Elder Erickson, Elder Fortier, Elder Woodbury (the second), Elder Waldie, Elder Jason, Elder Nzojibwami, Elder Viennot, Elder Hill.
Sister Tegge, Sister Johnson, Sister Spencer, Sister Smith, SIster Thompson, Sister Burton, Sister Coleman, moi, Sister Vera, Sister Christiansen, Sister Viennot, Sister Hill.
New Brunswick East Zone

Monday, July 7, 2014

I'm trying really hard to focus on this email right now and nothing else.

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

I have to hurry up and pack tonight.

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

I'm leaving tomorrow.

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone at church yesterday.

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

I've never served anywhere outside of New Brunswick.

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

This is emergency transfer #3 on my mission!

I am writing this e-mail to people from home.

I have no time to pack!!!!!

Yep.... basically that's everything in my head today. Haha not a whole lot, but my thoughts are racing. I'm headed to Charlottetown, PEI tomorrow. Just found out an hour ago. Ahhhh!!

So I love my new companion! Who will not be my new companion anymore this time tomorrow.... It was a wonderful 5 days though haha. My new new companion will be Sister Thompson, who I actually know really well and have worked with a lot. She came out with Sister Olson, so she goes home in about 2 months.
Quotes of the week--yesterday after church:

Bishop MacGougan: "Two peanuts walk into a bar. One gets a-salted."
Bishop MacGougan: "I got a job crushing pop cans. It was soda pressing."
Bishop MacGougan: "I saw a kidnapping today. But I decided not to wake him up."
Needless to say, I spent a lot of time laughing after church yesterday. Great Bishop.

Well since this week was spent knocking, getting Sister Olson ready for transfers, knocking, saying goodbye to Sister Olson, knocking, getting my new companion, and knocking, there's not a lot to update you on. More than 20 hours of knocking. It was a long week, but a good one.

I know the power that comes from sacrifice. I've seen again and again the empowerment that comes to those who give up something that they love for something they love even more. I've seen the change in people.

I've seen the change in me since I gave up what I had to come here. And I keep witnessing changes in me as I work towards being more perfect in giving up my will. There is something very humbling about sacrifice. I'm doing it a little differently than most people do it--I live out of 2 suitcases and don't have much to my name right now, and it's really humble circumstances. But sacrifice makes me more grateful. I have so little in the terms of material possessions, but I'm so much more grateful now that I've sacrificed those things, because now I'm more rich in terms of eternal possessions. I am happier, I feel lighter, and I feel confident. I feel strengthened and empowered. I know the power that comes from sacrifice.


Sister Lewis

Said goodbye to Elder Widdup at transfers.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Transfer 11... Here we go!


We received the letters of transfers yesterday! It's crazy. Sister Olson has been by far my longest companion (3 transfers). She's being released as sister training leader and will be going to Sydney (Cape Breton). My new companion (as of this Thursday) will be Sister Coleman, who's been out for 9 or 10 months. She's French-speaking and from BC. We'll be co-STLs together here in Dieppe. By the end of our transfer together in Dieppe, I'll have been in the Moncton ward for a total of almost 11 months.... Crazy. Not complaining.

Elder Widdup (district leader) got called to be a zone leader in Cole Harbour. Elder Roberts is going home. We have some great new missionaries coming in, it should be an exciting transfer.

We had another week full of knocking. We had Mission Leadership Council on Tuesday and spent Friday in Tracadie working with the Bathurst sisters (Sisters Coleman and Vera) and Elders Nzojibwami and Waldie. It's a completely French area, so it was a great immersion experience.

Yesterday the missionaries were in charge of the third hour at church!!! One of the most exciting things for missionaries. We showed the ward and taught them of the importance of creating profiles on it and sharing the gospel with their friends. It was really inspiring, at least for the missionaries:)

So my thoughts today are all centered on member-missionary work.

One of my favourite talks was quoted in the June Ensign. It's by Elder Bednar. He says:

"We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is a request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as lifelong missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!"

Now, basically all I've been doing for the last several weeks is knocking on doors and street contacting (which I actually enjoy a lot of the time) and hardly any teaching. And that's fine because that's the most I can be doing with my time right now (even if it is 32 degrees when we do it!:)).

My favourite part about being a missionary, though, isn't the act of knocking on doors or walking down the street, but it's the joy I get from inviting people to learn about the Saviour.

Before my mission, I was a good little Mormon girl. Except I basically NEVER shared the gospel with anyone! So I wasn't letting my light shine, which means I wasn't fulfilling my basic responsibilities as a full-time finder.

I wish that someone had told me what my responsibilities were back then. I wish I could've felt this great joy for the 19 years before my mission, instead of having to wait until now to know what my job was.

The fact is exactly what Elder Bednar said: YOU are full-time finders. YOU are responsible for securing the blessings for yourselves that come from sharing the gospel. YOUR responsibility is to find those who are prepared for baptism. YOUR responsibility is to invite others to come unto Christ, as much as it is mine. Members do that through finding, missionaries do that through teaching.

President Monson said (and I've heard this so many times I have it completely memorized), "NOW is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labour in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him."

Now is that time!! It's happening! There are almost 90,000 missionaries in the world right now! Today there are more missionaries out than there ever have been! And we're completely at the disposal to the 15 million members worldwide. We want to teach the people YOU find so YOU can feel what we've been feeling our whole missions. I don't want it so I don't have to knock on doors anymore, so I don't have to pass out in the middle of the street it's so hot (seriously guys, I thought I was gonna DIE hahaha). I want it so YOU can be more converted, so YOU can feel the way I've had the privilege and honour of feeling for the last 14 months.

I know that this is Christ's Church. It is His. We are in the tiny minority of all the children of God who were blessed enough to be reminded of His truth early on. It's our responsibility, but more than that--our blessing--to bring this to His other children.

"And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God.

"And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.

"And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.  

"Now behold, we can look forth and see the fruits of our labors; and are they few? I say unto you, Nay, they are many."

This scripture doesn't have to be about full-time missionaries. It can be about YOU. I feel honoured that this scripture describes the work I'M doing. Does it describe you?

End overly-passionate e-mail about my favourite thing in the world:)


Sister Lewis

Did a lemonade stand in Tracadie on Friday! Handed out family history pass-along cards. Limonade gratuite!

The District. Elder Widdup & Elder Collett (Dieppe), Elder Jason (Moncton ZL), Sister Olson & me (Dieppe), Elder Roberts (Moncton ZL). I love them!
Jessica moved to AB this week:( Saying goodbye to her and her boys. The one in glasses is another boy in the ward.
Elder Waldie

Elder Diodati

Zone conference a couple weeks ago (with Elder and Sister Snow). I got to see tons of people I haven't seen in ages. Elder Woodbury.