Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 9? I lost track...

Hello Family and Friends,

Here is a little insight into the life of a missionary - it's very humbling. This week was full of very humbling experiences that taught me A LOT. Before I talk about that though, I want everyone to go read "Happily Ever After" by President Uchtdorf. I don't care if it's aimed at Young Women, it applies to us all, haha. Life is hard. We are in our "Once Upon a Time" right now on this earth. We will only have this experience ONCE. Now, think about all of the major fairy tales. Cinderella endured SO much hardship before she found her Happily Ever After. Think about Tangled and Rapunzel being locked in a tower for 18 years. Uh, yeah that would suck! Yet, she persevered, and found her Happily Ever After. No one, absolutely no one, is exempt from trial and hardship. Those are the things that make us grow and in the end, give us our Happily Ever After. I was reading this talk last week and I had about 184923 thoughts running through my head. 

The Spirit directed me to another talk, and of course I can't remember the name of it right now. But it was talking about trials. It said, "If I can't remove it, I guess I'll improve it." We can't take away the trials that we are given, but we can turn them into opportunities and make them triumphs. That's something that I'm learning more and more. 

Real quick, back to the Happily Ever After talk. I was thinking about how my mission is my "Once Upon A Time..". How do I want my mission to end? With a Happily Ever After? Just something I've been thinking about....

We had the PRIME example of member missionary work this week. We had dinner at the Caughill's (this awesome family in the ward - the dad looks like Mr. Incredible) and they brought their non-member friend. She had been to church a few weeks back, and has wanted to come back ever since. Her name is Cassandra and she also has two girls (15 and 9). The girls weren't with her when we taught her, but we had a very powerful first lesson. When I was talking to her about the first vision I told her to really pay attention to how she feels when I tell it to her. She gathered tears in her eyes, it was so powerful. Anywho, we committed her for baptism on August 18th, and she is solid. Want to know what is even better? Her girls want to learn more as well, and we will be teaching the whole family again tomorrow with the Caughill's. One problem though, they don't live in our area. But they want to come to our ward, and we got permission to teach them (WHICH NEVER HAPPENS). Miracle right there. 

Remember when I mentioned Trevor last week quickly? The one who called us! The one we met walking out of the restaurant because our dinner appointment bombed us? He's golden. We taught him last Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He came to church yesterday, and we taught him after church as well. The very first night that we taught him though, we did a church tour. He hadn't even stepped into a church since he was 6 years old, and he is now 29. He was so nervous, but we had an amazing lesson. The pictures around the church tell the restoration story, so that is what we did. We had the Struck's (a young couple in the ward) come with us. They have completely taken Trevor under their wing and fellow shipped him. It's perfect! We set him for Baptism on July 28th. We asked him to say the closing prayer, and it was the first time he had ever prayed in his life. The Spirit was so strong, and I was in tears (I know what you're all thinking - me crying? hahaha) He's since expressed to us that if we haven't talked to him, he may not be on this earth anymore. It's honestly that most peaceful feeling to see him have that hope in his eyes again. I asked him how he felt after church, and all he could say is "happy". Oh, and after the second lesson, he went home and through out all of his cigarettes and dumped out all of his beer. He was simply SO PREPARED. Okay, here is where it gets a little creepy - he bought us flowers! hahahaha they are beautiful, but we aren't sure how we feel about them. (See the pictures). 

Another humbling thing that happened this week, is I felt so sick for about two days. One morning I woke up and my body wouldn't move. It was honestly like I had gotten hit by a truck. I stayed in bed all morning, worked during the day and then went to bed early for two days. It made me realize that I'm still human and I can't do everything...

A couple funny stories that you will all enjoy - 

#1 - We taught our neighbor the first lesson. It went well. Except his dog. Oh my goodness. His dog! She is the ugliest dog I've ever seen and she sheds SO MUCH. She was jumping on me, licking my legs, getting into my bag. She even ate one of my papers that had a referral on it. I was honestly so mad the whole lesson, but I kept my cool.. We were so covered in dog hair that we had to go change after because it was THAT bad. Jaclyn, you would've died! 

#2 - We had dinner with a less active on Friday night. She is Chinese and guess what we had for dinner? Rice and peas. Oh my goodness I hate peas so much. It was hands down the worst meal yet. When I saw it, I just said a prayer to please help me get it down. I felt so sick to my stomach the whole time... but I got most of it down. Ugh it was terrible and I feel sick even writing about it, haha. Peas suck! That story is for you Katie!

#3 - Traffic outside of Toronto is a joke. We were driving to a dinner appointment at the wrong time of day. It should have taken us about 10 minutes. Guess how long it took? About 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are so many people here! I guess that just means more work ;)

#4 - We were going for a walk one morning, and we saw these two ladies setting up their yard sale. We went over and asked if there was anything we could help them with. Turns out, one of the ladies mom was a Mormon. They were so nice to us and asked us if there was anything that we saw that we needed. Guess what they ended up giving us? BIKES! They gave us two cute bikes with baskets and all! We won't use them, but we're probably going to give them to the Zone Leaders. It was so sweet of them. But when we were asking them if they wanted to learn more, they said - "No, you Mormons have too many rules." Haha, I guess they don't understand that the "rules" are for our salvation. Haha

Oh Jaclyn, this is for you - Last monday night we had an appointment with this lady named Vanessa. She doesn't want to learn more, BUT guess what her 5 month old daughters name was! Neveah! I thought you would love that:) I told her that my sister is going to name her first girl that, and she just smiled. :)

Saturday was another hot day of knocking doors. We knocked SO many doors and NO ONE wanted anything to do with us. It was seriously so frustrating. It was probably over 100 degrees plus humidity and I was so tired. We went to get drinks at the gas station, and people in the gas station didn't even want to talk to us. I started to wonder if I was stinky or something. Seriously, there was absolutely no success that day. We were just about to head to our dinner appointment and we started talking to this guy on the street. Turns out he is very familiar with the Mormon religion. He didn't want to meet with us, but he gave us so much encouragement. His name was Danny and he explained to us how amazing it is that we are doing that we're doing. We talked for about 15 minutes, and we came to find out he is in the Army and had been to Afghanistan more than once. After talking to him, I gained some hope back, haha. I never lost hope, but the faith was definitely shaken. It's hard going forever knocking on doors in the blistering heat and having no luck. But it's okay because Saturday night was amazing. We had dinner with the Sharma's (cutest family ever) and they brought friends! The Pintos. Faith Pinto is a less active and her husband, Ryner is a non-member. They have two adorable kids. They have met with missionaries a bunch of times in the past. We clearly told him that we didn't care that he had met with missionaries in the past - this time was going to be different. It was such a powerful lesson. The Spirit was so strong. He committed for Baptism for August 4th. The wife, Faith, was just crying the whole time. It was so powerful. They live in a different area though, so other missionaries will take it from here, except they'll be coming to our ward. It's confusing, but it will all work out!

You're probably wondering about some of the other investigators that I haven't mentioned in awhile. Well, Angela will be an eternal investigator unless she begins ACTING on her answers. Jasani is so busy, and so hard to get a hold of. Xania decided to work in a different city throughout the week and go out of town every weekend. Syed decided to go out of town for a month. It's tough, but I have faith that things will work out the way they are meant to. They always have, they always will. God has a plan for each of His children. My plan isn't His plan. It's all about faith. 

I just have one last request for everyone - go watch the Mormon Message - "Moments that Matter Most". It will give you a lot of perspective on life. Please please please go watch it! We watched it last night with a family in the ward and I was in tears yet again. This life is beautiful. We are so blessed, and when we look around and notice the little things, the blessings are almost overwhelming. I encourage all of us to remember the moments that matter the most. (I just realized that I think I've talked about this in one of my emails before - Oh well, sorry!)

I would also like to say that to anyone who is reading this email, and who is struggling with anything, think about this - When we cannot take anymore and we are hurting so badly, let the Savior pick you up. Let Him help you because He knows exactly how you feel. He knows how to help you. But, He can only help you if you LET HIM IN. Jaclyn was so sweet to remind me of that about a month ago and I think about it often. We have a Savior who died to every single one of us. We have been given the greatest gift of the Atonement. USE IT. It's not just for repenting, but it's for any trial or struggle you can possibly think of. When I feel at my absolute loneliest, I know that someone understands. That someone is my Savior, and your Savior

The knowledge that we have of the Gospel is incredible. We have the Gospel, and the tools needed to get back to our Heavenly Home. Let's make sure we strive to get our brothers and sisters back there with us. Share it! I love you all so much! Have a great safe week! Just know that Canada is treating me well:) 

"Have Faith, Have Hope, Live Like His Son, Help Other's On Their Way"

Sister Hardcastle

Ignore the awkwardness of this picture, it was on a self-timer :) haha

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