Monday, August 25, 2014

This Great and Marvelous Latter-day Work


Quote of the week:

Elder King: "...That's why I did it, I was like, 'yolo,' ya know?"

...greenies. Sigh.

Well, we have 5 WONDERFUL investigators on date for baptism! September 6, September 20 (but she's moving to Fredericton this week:(), two on October 5, and one on November 8. We're getting pumped!

I talked about it a little bit last week, but here's Preach My Gospel's definition of hope, which I've really tried to apply recently:

Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement.

It's natural for people, when things get hard, to be discouraged. I've written about that a lot over the course of my mission. But that's not God's way. When we're stressed, and it's impossible to find a solution, and nothing's working out like it's supposed to, we're facing it wrong. We're supposed to face our trials with a bright confidence, with enthusiasm, and without discouragement.

And so that's what Sister T and I have really been working on ever since we got together. We were struggling to find anyone to teach, the investigator we were teaching to bring to baptism wasn't progressing well, almost no one we stopped would listen to us, we couldn't even find less active members to work with. It was just rough, we had the desire and energy and willingness to work, but nothing was coming from it. But we buckled down and we made the really hard choice to be happy about it all and work with an enthusiastic attitude, without getting discouraged. And we really, truly believed that the Lord would bless us for our efforts, one day. And it stopped mattering when that was.

Well it's really been starting to happen and the Charlottetown missionaries are on fire! With the elders, we have a total of 8 people preparing for baptism all in the next 3 months, and we couldn't be happier. It's a great time to be a missionary. I'm grateful to be a part of this great and marvelous latter-day work. I know the value of making the hard choice to choose to have a good attitude.

Love you. Still, congrats to all my friends who are returning with honour. I feel overwhelmingly grateful to be a part of the lives of some of God's best servants.

Sister Lewis

Blurry picture...Julia* (recent convert) came out contacting with us last night. You could feel the missionary spirit oozing out of her. This is a typical view of the boardwalk in the evening...two happy girls in skirts talking to a couple with a dog.

My last zone conference ever! Sister Wilkinson. I LOVE HER.

Charlottetown (technically the view of Cornwall from Charlottetown).

I like Wendy's.

Sister Jungheim and me. I was her STL for a few transfers before she left for Newfoundland, and she just got off the rock, so I got to see her again!

The Amherst sisters!!! Sister Smith and Sister Spencer. I was Sister Smith's STL from the beginning of my mission until I got released, and I love her.

Elder Trent and me (awkward elder/sister photo haha) We served together when I was still in training, and we just saw each other for the first time.


Some things never change

Canadian chip flavours...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Travailler, travailler, et travailler.

HAPPY 10TH BIRTHDAY, MALCOLM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you!!!!!

And congratulations to my little sister who submitted her papers last night!!!!! Welcome to the hardest, longest, craziest 10-17 days of your life. You're gonna go nuts by the time it finally comes.

And lastly, congrats to all the returning missionaries at home.... Austin and Bailey! Returned with honour. Nailed it.

Quote of the week:

Elder Dudley (after I read out loud a few sweet comments from people who've read my letters home): "Sister Lewis, even if you're not touching hearts here, you're touching hearts at home."


This week was incredible! Sister Thompson and I have been DYING for new investigators since our companionship started. Dying. We've been talking to hundreds of people every week and it has been rough. I have never fasted so much in my life. And this week, we ended the week with 3 people on date (hopefully it will be at 4 next week, we'll see), several people at sacrament meeting, new investigators, tons of member visits, lots of finding hours... We learned a big lesson on patience and hope. When we have hope and expect that the Lord will fulfill His promises to us, He always blesses us... in His own time. When He wants. I'm grateful for a Heavenly Father, a companion, and a district leader who have helped instill that expectation in me.

Sister Thompson and I have been making more room for the Spirit in our companionship. Here's a story we read recently that was told in Conference in April 2004 that illustrates something very special to me:

"Years ago, my adventurous son Jeff and I found ourselves on an old bus bouncing along on a dirt road in Central America at 1:00 A.M. We took the early, early bus because it was the only bus that day. A half hour later, the driver stopped for two missionaries. When they got on, we asked them where in the world they were going so early. Zone conference! And they were determined to do whatever it took to get there. At 2:00 A.M. two more elders boarded the bus and enthusiastically hugged their fellow missionaries. This scene repeated itself every half hour as the bus climbed the remote mountain road. By 5:00 A.M. we had 16 of the Lord's finest as fellow passengers and were basking in the Spirit they brought on board.

"Suddenly, we stretched to a halt. A massive mud slide had buried the road. Jeff said, 'What do we do now, Dad?' Our friends Stan, Eric, and Allan had the same concern. Just then, the zone leader shouted, 'Let's go, elders. Nothing is going to stop us!' And they scrambled off the bus! We looked at each other and said, 'Follow the elders'" and we all sloshed through the mud slide, trying to keep up with the missionaries. There happened to be a truck on the other side, so we all hopped aboard. After a mile, we were stopped by yet another mud slide. Once again the elders plowed through, with the rest of us close behind. But this time there was no truck. Boldly, the zone leader said, 'We will be where we are supposed to be even if we have to walk the rest of the way.'"

I love the power in the last line- "We will be where we are supposed to be even if we have to walk the rest of the way." I have a testimony of work. I have a firm belief that work solves almost any missionary problem, because I've seen it solve mine--homesickness, negative attitudes, fatigue, discouragement, lack of motivation, stress... The solution for me has always been work.

I have a testimony of overcoming fears about work. I've heard a lot of people's fears about missionary work over the course of my mission, and I've had all the same fears: I don't know how to bring up the gospel, I've talked to everyone I know, I don't want to embarrass them, I don't want want to come across like I think I'm better than them, I want to respect them, I don't want to argue, etc. But I know that when we forget ourselves and go to work, the Lord helps us overcome those weaknesses. When we become what President Leavitt calls a "window person" (someone who looks out towards other people) and [stop being] a "mirror person" ("I feel awkward, I don't want them to think I'm weird"), we're able to be effective tools in the Lord's hands. I have a strong testimony of forgetting ourselves and doing the Lord's work. I have a testimony of not letting my weaknesses get in the way of His work by overcoming them to the best of my ability, and by letting Him make up for my shortcomings. If someone doesn't hear the gospel today, it's not going to be because I didn't work hard enough.

I love you! GO GET A MISSIONARY EXPERIENCE THIS WEEK! And then you can feel the spirit that comes from the attitude, "We will be where we are supposed to be even if we have to walk the rest of the way." Because I can promise that the feeling that comes from being a determined servant of the Lord is better than anything I've ever felt. I've experienced being in a group of missionaries being determined to do what we need to do, and the feeling of forgetting ourselves and overcoming our fears is priceless.


Sister Lewis

If you stop and talk to them, they have accents and think they're living in 1864....  Impossible to teach them about the restoration.
The district  :(

Saying goodbye to Elder Horner...  He went home on Friday!
More with Elder Horner

It was pouring rain the other day....  Pouring.
Alexander*!  An 11 year old boy in the ward who reminds me of my little brother Calvin.  We have a special friendship.
Companions  :)
Service with a family in the ward, choppin wood!

Barges, I would like to go with you...

Random pictures Sister Thompson sometimes takes of me when I'm not expecting it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Day That Changed My Life

Quote of the week:

Sister Thompson during companionship study, telling me what she learned in personal studies--

"And then I studied about the statue of liberty. I love the statue of liberty."

(meaning the title of liberty:))

This week has been pretty emotionally draining, I'll be honest. It was full of lots of fasting. Sister Thompson and I have been sacrificing everything we can think of... Meals, sleep, the hour of free time we have right before bed, even time during preparation days. We've been praying to find opportunities to sacrifice during our days, and then praying for the desire to sacrifice it, and then the strength to follow through. Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. And here's a little bit of why we're so urgent right now.

Yesterday, we got transfer e-mails. Sister Thompson and I are both staying in Charlottetown. They were the last transfer e-mails of Sister Thompson's mission. The next ones she reads will be the final transfer, meaning she has 4 days left of being a missionary.

For anyone who's been paying attention to my entire mission so far, here's the significance of Sister Thompson going home... 2 of the sisters who came out with her who are going home with her in 6 weeks are Sister Sandberg and Sister Olson, two of my previous companions and some of the ones I've become the closest to. It's surreal that they're leaving, especially because they were still being trained when I came on my mission.

And so Sister Thompson and I have been facing a lot of hard reality this past week. This is the last transfer of her mission and she expects miracles. When her group goes home, I'll be in the group of the most experienced sisters in the mission. We're determined not do "die" (to get trunky and stop doing missionary work), and after a lot of prayer, we've decided that the way to avoid that is through sacrifice.

And it's all a big deal to us because we're completely heartbroken that it's ending. I now have as much time left on my mission as I did when I was being trained at the beginning. I'm in the last few metres of the 100m dash, and I'm tired, and I've sprinted so far, and this is the place where it's easiest to slow down. But I'm not going to because of everything my mission means to me.

So here's the reason it means so much to me.

I remember as a little girl, hearing stories from my dad's mission in Paris--stories about elders doing crazy things, and about baptisms, and about elevators getting stuck between floors, and about flying down the streets on bikes, and about being in leadership positions, and about baptismal interviews that changed his life. I heard made-up bedtime stories about a little rat who lived in my dad's mission apartment, and more bedtime stories about vigilant elders. I heard MTC stories and heard about all the sacrifices my dad made the summer before his mission, and I heard his family's conversion story. So it was no wonder that from a young age, I have old journal entries about wanting to serve a mission. Missionaries were my superheroes, and it was my dream to serve a mission.

Then I got older and started to realize that missionaries required a lot of hard work. And despite receiving a blessing when I was 15 that made it so obvious that I needed to serve a mission, I wondered if I would actually get to. 21 was a hard age to leave--I could be almost done with school, and I had no idea what circumstances I'd be in at that time. I started to be unsure about serving a mission.

I went through high school and at the end of grade 12, my guy friends started preparing to serve missions. And I really am going to respect their choice to serve missions until the day I die, because when I saw them start to prepare, I started feeling the missionary spirit again so strongly. In fact, in letters to missionaries and in journal entries, I started writing about how much I wished I could just leave and serve a mission.

I committed to a university I had no interest in attending. I got a couple of jobs to save up for school. I was disappointed to find out that the school I didn't even want to go to wouldn't let me start school until January. So I had a lot of time to save up for school.

I started to get very frustrated. My friends were either moved out to go to school, or actually receiving their mission calls, and I was stuck, feeling like I had no direction, because I didn't even want to go to school, which was a righteous desire. I was confused and felt like I was in a rut. I lacked purpose and Heavenly Father wasn't answering my prayers for guidance or clarity. I was just working my jobs and waiting around to go to school.

Then General Conference started getting announced in church and I remember realizing that that was probably the answers to my prayers. I remembered my parents and church leaders teaching me growing up to write down the questions I have before General Conference, to pray about them, and watched them get answered. I started prayerfully creating a list of the questions I had. It was quite the list--it took up an entire page. Here are a few of them to give you a sample:

1) What am I supposed to do about school? I don't want to go and don't even feel good about going.
2) What does Heavenly Father want me to be doing for the next 5 months until I leave for school?
3) How will I earn enough money for my semester?
4) What are Heavenly Father's plans for me? What does expect me to accomplish before I leave?

The Saturday morning session of General Conference came, and I obediently sat down on the couch between my parents with my notebook of questions and a pen. The session began.

Before any of the talks started, the prophet got up to speak.

I sat up in my seat a little bit and paid closer attention because I knew he'd be announcing the new temples. He announced which temples have been dedicated, and even announced one to be built in Tucson, Arizona--where I was born! We were all excited.

Then President Monson started talking about missionary work. I was obviously interested. As I kept listening, I realized that it sounded like he was about to change the age that boys could serve missions. Suddenly I got this jolt in my heart that I can't quite describe, and I was filled with an intense anticipation as I leaned closer to the TV.

"I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19."

I glanced at my younger brother and was vaguely aware of my family being excited for him, but my eyes were glued to the television screen because my spirit was telling me that there was more. I knew there was more. It felt like deep down inside of me, I was being reminded of something I knew would be a part of my life before I even came here. I could feel it.

I stared at the screen, and I felt adrenaline pulsing through me. I covered my mouth and whispered, "What about the girls? What about the girls?" Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw my parents turn their attention towards me.

"As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve."


"Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21."

I jumped up and was standing in the middle of the room. BAM, the Spirit hit me unlike anything I've ever felt before. I felt it so powerfully I immediately started crying and said, staring at the prophet, "I'm going on a mission!"

My parents stood up and hugged me and were crying too. My phone started buzzing over and over again as my friends texted me.

Before the first talk had even begun, every question on my list had been answered. I texted in between sessions for an interview with my bishop, started my mission papers after my interview that Tuesday, and submitted them on the earliest possible date: November 18, 2012 (exactly 4 months before my date of availability--my 19th birthday).

I got my mission call at the beginning of December to the Canada Halifax Mission. I left for the Missionary Training Center on April 24, 2013.

I met a sister missionary here who was in the MTC when the age-change announcement was made.

The entire MTC was watching General Conference together, and when they lowered the age for sisters to serve, on TV you see the full conference center whispering excitedly to each other. At the MTC, thousands of missionaries jumped out of their chairs and cheered.

And I guess that's why this means so much to me. That day changed my life. And as I enter the last stretch, I remember the way I felt--completely humbled and grateful that the Lord would qualify me to serve Him, and like I was waiting for that announcement to be made.

The Blessings of Heaven We Saw This Week
We finally got a new investigator, after talking to thousands of people to find her.

We finally got someone else on date for baptism, after a very bold lesson.

We got a call from a family of potential investigators we thought we'd never hear back from again, asking us to teach them.

We were able to surpass our goal of people to talk to by 30 (set a goal of 200).

We filled the back of our planners with the names and contact information of people who said they'd like to learn more.

I'm grateful for a living prophet who hears the will of the Lord and listens. I'm grateful for the Saviour who prepared a way for the most simple of girls to be qualified for His great work. I'm grateful that I'm involved in the greatest and most important work. How great is my calling!

Sister Lewis

"Sister Lewis?  I'm going crazy!"  "Why?"  "No really.  Everything's green and purple."  I looked over and saw this.
Cow's ice cream
Trying Cow Chips for the first time.
(Potato chips dipped in milk chocolate!)
The Lighthouse

Making 20 pizza's worth of pizza dough in preparation for YSA conference.

Ma collegue missionaire

Monday, August 4, 2014

The hills are alive....With the sound of Mooormons

Quote of the week--every person we stop to talk to ever:

"Yeah, I just talked to your people yesterday!"

"You stopped me last week."

"Your boys knocked on my door earlier today."

"Whenever I see you, you're on your bikes or talking to someone!"

"Is this all you do?!"

Meet MaryAnn*.
MaryAnn is 49. She has one son. She is preparing to be baptized on the 23rd of August.

She smoked every day of her life from the time she was a teenager until about 6 weeks ago, when with the help of the missionaries and the Lord, she quit.

She got into basically everything bad that you can get into. I'd make a list but suffice it to say, she's had a ROUGH past.

Besides bringing some of her trials on herself through her poor decisions (like we ALL do), there were some that Heavenly Father gave to her to make her stronger. And she's had more of those than most people I know. She's ridiculously resilient.

We had a lesson with MaryAnn this week about Christ's atonement. We read with her the first 13 verses of Alma 7, which testify of the Saviour.

We got to verse 11 and it went right over her head. We took it apart phrase by phrase for her and explained each one.

First phrase. "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind..."

Second phrase. "...and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people."

And then something very special began to happen.

We started the next phrase, and the Spirit began to enter the room very powerfully.

"And he shall take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people..."

Explain. Testify. Next phrase. "...and he will take upon him their infirmities.."

Explain. Testify. Read. "...that his bowels may be filled with mercy..."

"...according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

Stop. Pay attention. Feel. Listen.

It was my turn to explain. I defined the word "succor" for MaryAnn: "to run to". She was staring at me.

The Spirit was thick, and it became difficult to talk. She stared at me as I quoted Elder Bednar:

"The Saviour has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Saviour did not experience first. The Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor--literally run to us--and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us  to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power."

Pause. I took a deep breath. MaryAnn was staring silently. I testified to MaryAnn of the love the Saviour has for her. Then there was silence.

And then MaryAnn said some key words: "I wish I had known how much Christ loves me and how much He could've helped me if I let Him. I wish someone told me sooner."

I live for moments like that special lesson with MaryAnn. That moment makes me overwhelmingly grateful that God told His prophet He needed a larger force of missionaries. I feel blessed that the Lord has decided to qualify me to be the person to tell MaryAnn about her Saviour.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said to all members of the Church:

"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel."

And I know--I have seen--that because it is the "greatest and most important duty," it brings the greatest and most important blessings.

Sister Lewis

PS. MaryAnn made me quote Elder Bednar again two more times. Powerful.

The Boardwalk!!!

Sailboats remind me of my dad
Sister T and me about to leave after contacting for a few hours
Ultimate "lunch".. Vanilla ice cream in front of the fan.
The Elders backed their cars right up in front of ours.  
Which meant I had to back Sister Thompson out.  Not impressed.
Visiting one of the members in the hospital.  She asked us to sing her "I am a Child of God" and write it for her on the board.
Oooooo Caaaaanadaaaaa
Our apartment isn't necessarily the nicest.  This week, one of the windows let about 30-40 flies in.  So we masked up to poison them.
We got to move the ward mission leader and his family!!!  WE GOT TO WEAR JEANS.
The boardwalk at sunset

The dainty sister missionaries eating a light Saturday night supper.
Fried chicken wings and potato wedges.
The JWs had just knocked the same street as us. Haha.
Kept finding their fliers everywhere ;)
One of the maritimers with one of the merry men