Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Two Months!

Dearest family and friends, 

Can you believe it's been two months?! I can't believe it! Time is flying by. When we get home each night, I just can't believe how fast the day went. It's exhausting... but I love it:)

This will probably be a shorter email this week, but I don't have much time. This morning, we spent part of the p-day teaching Syed. His baptismal date was scheduled for next week, but he is going to be out of town for a month. Kind of a bummer, but we will be baptized - that I'm sure of. He is going through a really hard time in his life, and since the day we met him, you can physically see the change in him. He's happier. It's the Gospel. I love it!

The Fourth of July was great here in Canada! We decided to celebrate the holiday by going to that Imperial Buffet for lunch. I made a "Hardcastle" of myself and had LOTS of shrimp and Macaroons. :) I didn't feel so good for the rest of the day though... Luckily, the dinner we had that night at the Burnett's was very light :) I also was able to have 2% milk for the first time on my mission. Did I mention that the milk tastes better here? Well, it does. I love the Canadian milk! 

In District Meeting this week, we talked about diligence. Elder McMullin pointed out a lot of really good things. Diligence is something that I clearly didn't understand. I thought that diligence was just DOING the work. And doing the work is easy. I can go through the motions. I can knock on 100 doors a day. The work is easy. But, it's about LOVING the work. Loving those you meet, those you are blessed to teach, and the members. Love the hard times, rejoice in the good times. Love the work. Love getting up at 6:30 and going outside in the most humid air of all time and running. Love spending 3 hours each morning studying and training to be better missionaries. Love getting the door slammed in your face, because you know that something so much better is just around the corner. Love when appointments fall through, because God is going to lead you to someone else - and it always happens. Love getting home when the sun is down, and finding the energy to plan for the next day. Love updating the area book and writing in your journal. LOVE IT ALL. That is something that I'm really working on. Not just going through the motions, but being emotionally involved. 

This isn't an easy mission. We have to go out and find every single day. But I have faith and I KNOW that God has prepared people here in Ajax. Sister Stats and I have been SO blessed to be able to find and teach so many people. Not all of them will be baptized, but simply helping them increase their faith, or helping them know that God is there, is worth it. It's amazing to me how I can look at our plans for the day and be so overwhelmed and insure how I'm going to make it through. Yet, every single night I'm happy, because miracles happen each day and you see the hand of the Lord moving His work forward. It's amazing. 

Speaking about appointments falling through because better things are going to happen... COOLEST STORY. We were going to head up to Unbridge on Saturday night for dinner and to teach Alecia and Eric. Well, around 4 they texted us and cancelled. We had been tracting for 4 hours already that day. So, yeah we were super bummed. But we decided we would go to this restaurant we'd been wanting to go to for awhile now. It was sooo expensive (woops) but so worth it, you'll see why soon :) As we were walking out, these two men were behind us. Picture thing - tattoos, piercings, grungy clothes, big beards, etc. We handed them an invite to a Music in the Park thing we were having the following day. We didn't think much of it, and we went our separate ways. Well, attached to the invite was a card and the "Questions of the Soul" survey. About 20 minutes later, we got a call from one of the men. He ASKED us to meet with him. He CALLED us. We were in so much shock, that when I asked him if he wanted to learn more about our church and he said yes, I didn't say anything. Sister Stats and I just looked at each other with the widest eyes. I almost started to cry. We set up an appointment with him on the phone right there, and he committed to come to the park the following day. His name is Trevor, he is 29 years old, and he has been through a lot of things in his life. He had a friend in elementary school who was a Mormon, and so he kind of knew who we were. Last night at the music thing, he showed up and we were able to talk to him more. He. Is. So. Prepared. Sister Stats and I still cannot believe it. We have a church tour planned for him on Tuesday night and I'm just so excited. He is the biggest teddy bear of all time! He is such a miracle. What if we had gone to Uxbridge that night and hadn't gone to that restaurant? What if we hadn't given him a card as we were walking past? Man, God has a plan. 

Last night at the Music thing we also found a young man named Roy. He is 22, so we passed him off to the YSA elders. He's so prepared as well. We gave him a Book of Mormon and marked Alma 36 for him to read before he met with the Elders. He was so kind to us and thanked us so many times for talking to him. He was with a bunch of his friends who were smoking and drinking. We asked him if he wanted to stay with us, and he said yes, while the rest of his friends left him. The Music in the Park event last night produced the perfect environment for miracles to happen. It was a zone-wide event, and almost every single companionship found someone from it. So exciting! 

So some funny stories - 

#1 - We went tracting on Dent Street for about 30 minutes. We got rejected at EVERY single door. Which is normal, but these people were so mean. This one door in particular - he just opened it enough to stick his hand out, grab our card, then shut the door. I had just recently read the conference talk about "Come What May and Love It" and it talked about laughing about terrible situations. So that's what we did. We just had to laugh about. But we decided that Dent Street really put a dent in our hearts :( hahaha

#2 - We were tracting another street, and this man opened the door and the first thing he said was - "COME ON IN!" with this huge grin on his face. Two thoughts went through my head. Number one, he's a member and we just don't know it. Or two, he's completely psycho. Turns out, his wife was having lots of girls over, and he thought we were there for the party. It was so hilarious. But wait, it gets better, when we told him who we were - he shut the door. Crazy crazy people. 

Miracle Story - 

Yesterday the weather was SO terrible. We were all a little stressed out because we knew the Music in the Park event was that night. Everyone had gone through so much effort to prepare and let people know about it. When it rains here in Canada, it rains. The raindrops are HUGE and they just don't stop coming. We had fasted that day that the event would be a success.. and that all the hard work would pay off. Well, the event started at 7 and went until about 9. I'm not kidding you... It stopped raining for those two hours. The sun was out, and the weather was beautiful. When we got in our car to go home, it started to rain. I couldn't believe it. Fasting works. Prayer is real! I love being a missionary! Did I mention that Katrina performed last night? It's so fun to see her so involved in the church. She's amazing!

Oh, another quick story -

On Saturday, after we'd been tracting for a couple hours - we were so tired and so thirsty because it was SO hot. Well, we knocked on a door, he didn't want anything to do with us, but he gave us cold bottles of water. PRAYERS ANSWERED. Seriously though, it gave me the energy for tract for so many more hours. 

Did I mention that we have 12 return appointments from tracting on Saturday? We're REALLY excited for this week. We have a dinner at a member's house tomorrow night and they're bringing their non-member friend who just can't wait to join the church. Then we have zone training (those rock). Then we have appointment after appointment after appointment. It's excited. 

I'm so glad that everyone had such a great time at the cabin. For those of you who are still there - soak it up! I miss being up there. We're truly blessed with everything that we have. But as insane as it sounds for me to say - I'd rather be here than there. Being a missionary is an honor. It's incredible. It's a battle every single day. Every single day that I wake up, I have a battle with myself. I used to wake up and think of all of you. I also used to go to bed thinking of all of you. I'm training my brain, and it's working, to go to bed and wake up thinking about the work here in Ajax. So, I only think of you all when I email you (at least I try to only do that). Haha, helps me stay focused. I know that you are all going to be the same when I get back anyways ;) haha

I hope that everyone has an amazing week. I hope that things go well these next few weeks with all the changes going on. You are all in my prayers every single day. :) 

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

All my love, 

Sister Hardcastle

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