Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week 7 - No longer a "Greenie" :)

Hello Family and Friends,

A few things -

1. I'm no longer a greenie! I can't believe how quick that first transfer went. Wow.

2. I'm staying in AJAX! I'm so relieved. I did NOT want to leave. Looks like I'm needed for at least 6 more weeks in this amazing area. :)

3. Canada Day was on Monday, so they switched the P-day to today. Canada Day isn't as big of a deal as July 4th is in America. Everyone just sits outside, smokes and drinks. Haha, did I mention that everyone here smokes and drinks? Man, I love Canada.

4. Happy 6 months to my favorite twins!!! I love you Brig and Beck. Your aunt Rinney sends kisses to you!

5. Happy 2 months to my sweet Eli today as well. You're growing up to fast E!

6. Happy Birthday to Naomi tomorrow. All the fireworks are for you Nai!!

7. Remember our goal for 60+ baptisms in the month of June here in the Canada Toronto Mission? Well, WE HAD 78!!! Such a miracle. It was such a great feeling to know that we were able to contribute to that with finding Katrina.

Last P-day we were able to go to the beach and play volleyball with the other missionaries in the zone. It was so much fun. I have pictures that I'll send to ya. :) We also stopped by Angela that night, and she braided our hair - it was so fun.

I have a lot to say and I'm not sure how to organize my thoughts (what else is new) haha. I must be turning into a Canadian.

Sister Stats has still been pretty sick. For a few days we thought she may have Mono, then she got the flu.. it's just been a whole bunch of craziness. Haha, so we did do a lot of "resting" these past few weeks. Well, she rests, and I study. I finished the Book of Mormon in just over 3 weeks. I had a very special experience with it actually. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and I've known that for years. However, in PMG it says that we should continue to build our testimony of the Book of Mormon. So once I finished the sacred book, I kneeled down, and took Moroni's promise. I sincerely prayed to my Heavenly Father and asked Him if the Book of Mormon was true. I broke down in tears, the Spirit was so strong in my heart. I will be forever grateful for that experience that I shared with my Father in Heaven. Everyone, the Book of Mormon is true. Read it. Daily. Please! It will help you with ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you are going through. The Book of Mormon is the best medicine for the soul, that I am convinced of. Read read read the Book of Mormon.

Our Zone Leaders were able to come to one of our lessons with Angela to give her a blessing of strength to stop smoking. As of today, she's on day 3 of not smoking. :) We go over there every single day to check on her. She says she can't wait to be a "Mormon". Haha, it's so hard to get used to the culture here. You see so many steeples, but none of them are LDS chapels. No one that you see on the street is a member of the church. That's why there is SO much work to do here. I just simply need to remind myself that God is preparing people for the Gospel here in Ajax. Luckily, we have some amazing investigators that we are working with. However, we're trying really hard to find more people to teach right now. There has been SO much excitement about Member Missionary Work. Unfortunately, members aren't too thrilled to do that. Patience is key on a mission, that's for sure.

We're really excited about Jasani. He's really busy, so we only meet with him about once a week. This last visit that we had with him, we brought a member who has only been a member for about 10 years. She bore a very strong testimony about her baptism. By the end of the lesson, we were talking about "when" he would be baptized, not "if" he would be baptized. We are thrilled for him. He deserves the greatest blessings that come along with baptism. We look forward to hopefully teaching his wife. He brought up an article that he saw our church published about the huge increase of members in Jamaica. He was really excited about that, because he's from Jamaica.

This is a funny story. We went to visit a member, Sister Payne. She is 85 years old, and everyone else in her household are Anglicans. She is a sweet sweet lady, and she is so funny. She said, "Oh Father Girl" over 50 times (I counted) in her accent. It was hilarious. So now, Sister Stats and I say, "Oh Father Girl" all the time.

There is this family in our ward, the LaFrance's. They are the picture perfect family, and they had us over for dinner last week. It was so much fun. The dad is in the Stake Presidency and they have 5 kids. All of the kids are planning on serving missions. The little boy, Ryan (he's 5) wants to go to Brazil so bad. I told him how my brother went on his mission to Brazil and his eyes lit up. He got SO excited. He asked me so many questions about you, Landon. He asked, "Did he see lots of pretty birds?" Haha, I just said yes because I assumed that was the case. Anyways, we had a great dinner and the kids asked us questions about being on a mission, it was fun to talk with them. I was grateful to be in their home for just a short amount of time, the Spirit was so strong there. Makes me want to go find families!

So this past Saturday, we tracted for 8 hours. You think I'm kidding? No, I'm not kidding. We needed new investigators badly. We have picked up this new form of tracting though and it's GOLDEN! We use the Questions of the Soul Survey, and it really get's people talking. I had a really special experience doing this actually. We have been advised by President Scott to tract in newer areas every Saturday. He has promised us that we will find more families to teach. So we went to this super nice new area, and we found Chinese couple on their porch with a baby. Turns out the baby was their granddaughter, and they didn't speak any English. So they got their daughter, who was probably 25, and spoke really great english. After talking for awhile, we found out that she had gone to visit Salt Lake and Temple Square not too long ago. I was able to get in a deep conversation with her by bringing up how I had gone to China about 4 years ago. It was so much fun to be able to talk about my experiences in China and really connect with her. Long story short, she is going to read the Book of Mormon, and she is now investigating the church. We are also going to teach her parents English. We'll see how that goes... hahaha

These past 6 weeks have been a roller coaster. I can't believe my first transfer has come and gone. When I look back and think about who I was when I first got on my mission, I just smile. I've come SO far. I have the Lord to thank for that. Every single day, He helps me get through the day. The more I'm out on my mission, the more I realize that this isn't just for 18 months. This is how we should live the rest of out lives. We should always be sharing the gospel and standing as a Witness of Christ. I don't want to come home and just be a "Returned Missionary" but I was to be a "Forever Missionary". I'm grateful for all of the hard times I've had so far. They have made me stronger, made me be a better missionary, made me realize my purpose. I didn't come out on my mission for myself, but I came on my mission to serve others. Along the way, however, the Lord is helping me so much. This whole experience is priceless and I LOVE being a missionary. It's incredible the deep amount of love you gain for God's people here in Canada. The investigators that we have been blessed to teach have such a big place in my heart.

Canada Day was pretty good. Sister Stats had the flu, so we didn't do much. We did teach Angela and I had time to decorate my new planner. Did I mention how much I love the missionary planners? I would die without it. I'll probably use a planner for the rest of my life now hahah. Did I mention how our neighbors are like our best friends? Well, they invited us over for a BBQ with them. So, naturally we went because free food rocks. They were all drinking and smoking, while we talked to them about the church. I'm not kidding, we talked about the gospel for well over an hour. It was so amazing. One of the guys there has some really good friends that are LDS. He told us that the Mormon people are the nicest and most sincere people he's ever met. It was one of the biggest compliments I've heard about us so far being out here.

We were able to be with Katrina for a couple hours yesterday. She came teaching with us. We were able to talk with her more about her conversion. We asked her why she listened to us when we first knocked on her door. Her response gives me chills. She said, "I'm not sure why I kept listening, but something inside me told me to just listen." She is now such an amazing member of the YSA ward. She is bringing so many friends into contact with the missionaries and she's just thriving.  :)

Being on a mission is the HARDEST thing I've ever LOVED to do. No doubt. I love it. Every single day is hard. Every single day my faith is tried. Yet, every single day WORKS OUT. Thank you so much for the prayers. I feel them. I feel all of you here with me. I love you all so much. As much as I miss you all, being here is worth every single second. This journey that I'm on with God and the people in Canada is truly remarkable.

Happy 4th of July to everyone tomorrow! America is the greatest country ever! Be safe!

D & C 33: 8-10

8 - "Open your mouths..."

9 - "Yea, open your mouths..."

10 - "Yea, open your mouths..."

Get the point? :) Open your mouths and declare this perfect Gospel. Make it great week! I love you all!

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Live Like His Son, Help Others on Their Way"

Sister Hardcastle

Beautiful Beach!

Sister Stats and me :)

Angela - after she braided our hair  :)

Most of our district

The other Elders in our ward

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