Friday, September 26, 2014

Halifax - September 22, 2014

Elder O'Brien and Elder Knowles

Yesterday morning we received a group transfer letter in the missionary portal. As it turns out, I am getting transferred to Hampton, New Brunswick. Elder Knowles is staying in Halifax with one of the missionaries I came out with, Elder Patten. My new companion will be Elder Bodine; he's from Arizona and he's been out for about for the same amount of time as Elder Knowles. Elder Knowles said that he's pretty laid back as well (Even more than Elder Knowles) and that I'll need keep him working. Yeah for some reason I seem to be getting laid back companions to start my mission. Maybe that's because I work hard and I can motivate others to work hard as well. But I accept the challenge with a positive attitude and a willing heart. When I read that I was being transferred to a new area I was like "Huh?" I've only been in Halifax for one transfer and I'm already getting transferred to another area?" I was prepared to stay in Halifax for at least 3 months. I was beginning to like it here. But that's just the way missons go sometimes. You have to able adjust accordingly. 

Last Sunday while we were doing our new missionary Skype training call, President Leavitt offered some counsel on how to deal with transfer week. He said we can't waste transfer week worrying about our new companion or new area. He tells missionaries that are going home the next transfer that he'll send them home a month early if they die on him during their last 6 weeks. So he doesn't settle for missionaries slacking off (getting excited for their new area or stressing out about a new companion, or lamenting because they still have the same companion during transfer week)
So yeah, I have to pack up everything by Wednesday night. Then I have to be at the mission office at 6 a.m. in the morning. Then I'm off to Hampton which will be about a 4 or 5 hour drive from Halifax. Hampton is about a hour outside of Saint John by the way in case you're wondering. You'll probably have to look it up on the map to find out more. I think it's pretty close to Maine. It's gonna to be a long day to say the least! Haha. I just have to remind myself that this is what's supposed to happen and press forward with faith knowing that the Lord has a purpose for me in New Brunswick. Missions are a very good place to learn how to deal with change. I pray that I'll be able to make a smooth transition and that all will go well. 

During this transfer there will be 15 new missionaries and only 4 to 6 going home. So as a result there is going to be a lot of threesome's. And i think that's part of the reason why I'm getting transferred so early. So no I won't see Grant and Connie Nelson, and the McClenaghan's sadly. I must be barely missing them.
Anyway, I've been rambling on way too much about transfers haha. Shows you that I'm a little stressed about it, which is normal, but it'll be fine as I said. So I don't when I'll get my birthday package. I'll have to let the mission office know that there was a package coming for me before I leave on Thursday. Then we will see what we can do. Hopefully I'll still be able to get it around my birthday. 

So you'll never guess who I saw yesterday at Church.. President Evanson! I wasn't too surprised since I knew Regan was going home this week. But it was good to see him. I've seen quite a few people from back home at church in Halifax during my stay here. He gave me a hug right when he walked in. And I thought he said he didn't want to see me again for two years, Turns he did see me again. He just asked how I was doing and that he promised mom he would give me a hug for her if he saw me. 

As far as last week goes, I knocked into my first potential investigator while we were knocking one night. Unfourtantely, it was a college girl so it'll be for the YSA sisters. But it was still a good feeling. Yeah I just introduced myself and then I shared a message about Joseph Smith. Then I asked if that would that be something she'd be interested in and she said "Yeah" I was a little shocked since we're not used to people being interested while knocking. I didn't know how to handle someone saying they're interested. So after she said yes, Elder Knowles stepped in and helped me out. Then the next day we role-played that situation.
Well I have really enjoyed serving with Elder Knowles. He and I got along well. He was a good trainer and was a good example to me on how to talk to people. Even though he was pretty laid back, I really enjoyed serving with him. I was able to be myself around him. He was comfortable around me, I was comfortable around him. It was a good learning experience. We're placed with certain companions for certain reasons and i  hope I've provided him with enough of a push to help him get through his last couple of months.
Wish me luck in Hampton on Thursday!
Elder O'Brien

Friday, September 19, 2014

Halifax - September 15th

Dear Family,

I am feeling a lot better today. The toothache lasted for about 3 days until it went away. I had a fever for about two and a half days as well. I phoned Sister Leavitt on Tuesday because I felt like I was coming down with a fever as well. Sister Leavitt is in charge of the medical stuff. She told me to try taking some Advil and drinking some apple juice. So I tried that, along with getting some extra rest. By Wedensday, I felt fine again. So I didn't need to see a dentist or a doctor fortunately.

On Tuesday, we did exchanges with the zone leaders.I was with Elder Dupin; he's another missionary from Utah. So we spent the afternoon doing some knocking and street contacting. When we went knocking most of the people didn't answer because it was the afternoon. But there was one lady that did answer. She was Roman Catholic so she wasn't really interested but she did tell us that she was very grateful for our service. So it was neat to see that even though some people who belong to other churches aren't interested in joining our church they're grateful that we go around and share a message about Christ because they believe in Christ as well.

After the exchange, we had a dinner appointment with the Smith's. We usually get like one dinner appointment a week in our ward. So we have to make our own meals ourselves mostly. Elder Knowles does most of the cooking luckily but I do help sometimes. We have pretty simple meals like pizza, or chicken fingers with fries, grilled burgers, mac'n cheese, that sort of thing. I know that I'll probably have to do the cooking myself at some point but yeah I can do simple meals I think. So I don't think that'll be a problem when I do have to do the cooking. The Smith's fed us really good; they gave us taco pies for dinner and then a apple strudel for dessert. We actually have two dinner appointments this week with the Vanderput's tonight. They recently moved into the ward which we helped move in the first week I got here and Millie on Thursday night. She was out of the church for a year then recently came back. I don't know the complete story. But we'll have to find a priesthood holder to come with us on Thursday since she's single. But yeah we can get one more dinner appointment then we usually do this week so that'll be good. Less money we have to spent on grocries haha.

Most of the people that we ran into that are Catholic usually don't want to move. Catholics seem to be pretty set being that way. So we don't get much luck with them. We also have run into people where we tell them who we are and what our message is and then they tell us that there is only God and why does it matter what religion we belong too. Like with this Nun I contacted at a bus stop. She sat down, then I introduced myself to her and who we are. She actually said she's never heard of us before which I found very odd since she is a nun haha. Anyway, she said she wasn't interested but does believe in God and she said God doesn't want his children to fight. So I just told her that God does love all His children and that He wants us to draw closer to Him.

There was a experience that we had on Friday when we were going to bus-stop contact. There was three people who stopped us and said "Hey, maybe our mormon brothers can help us out." So we turned around and they asked us if we could pray with them because the guy that was there said he's been struggling with anger issues and wants help from God. So we said a quick little prayer for him. Afterwards, him and his two friends told us that wasn't a coincidence that we ran into them at that moment. They seemed to have a firm believe in God but don't believe in a particular religion. But it was interesting to see they recognized us and who we were and that they recognize that they can count on us to do something like that for them.

Yeah we ran into a lot people who say "There's only God, why does it matter what religion we're a part of. With those people we just encourage them and let them know about the restoration.

This weekend we had a ward activity "The Corn Boil" on Friday night at the Dingle. It's right by a big lake. It was a beautiful view. It was fun; we had hamburgers with corn on the cob, along with some flavored popcorn. It was really good. Although I did spill some of my hot dog on my white shirt so I'll have to bleach that out. How do I get bleach stains out again? Most of the ward was there and I got to know some of them a little better. The one's I know pretty well now are Brother Dent (he's the second counselor in the bishopric) Bishop Wentzell, the Nilead's (they just moved in during the summer from Utah). They're a family that came here for a year because Bro. Nilead is finishing up his dentist degree at Dalhousie University. Apparently Dalhousie has a really good Dentist program. They have a cute little baby that I really enjoy haha. Some of the other members I know fairly well now are the Worth's (we actually gave their son a ride to the corn boil), the Smith's who I talked about earlier, the Hooder's, Brother Smith who is a ward mission leader, Brother Palmer who makes me think of  Chris because he leads a orchestra haha, Brother Lund, and of course Jessica (Layton) Walker and her husband.

Oh, Fred Layton was up here visiting Jessica yesterday at church. So it was nice to see him. He came up to me right after sacrament meeting and was excited to see me. But yeah every Sunday after Church, we do choir with Sis. Hooder which I don't mind even though I'm not much of a singer. She's really into her music haha. But we do get cookies after every week. So that's a little extra incentive for me. I've started to become more and more acquainted with the ward. They seem really friendly and genuine. At the Corn Boil, the Morphy's came and they seemed to have really enjoyed themselves. Their two girls met some kids their age and seem to really hit it off. On top of that, they came to Chuch yesterday. But they only stayed for the first two meetings. Better than nothing though. So we're seeing some pretty encouraging signs with their family.

Anyway, I have to get going pretty soon here. I still have to do my laundry today. As far as other thing go, last week we got to give a mother of a sister of our ward a blessing . Her mother isn't a member of church but was okay with us giving her a blessing. She is in a coma, and is on a oxygen machine to help her breathe.

Yesterday all the missionaries in the Halifax Metro area went over to the Mission Home to watch the CES Broadcast. Some things I really liked from it was to be not ashamed of the Savior, determine to follow him everyday, make your whole life dedicated to the Savior. "For whoso loseth his life in the service of the others shall find it."

The fall colors are starting to come out. It has been really nice this week. People here were saying that it was snowing in Calgary this last week is that true? It did rain for a couple of days here in Halifax but the rain  is really weird; it's more like misty kinda rain. It's more humid. It's kinda foggy. Something that I'm not really used to.

So next week is transfer week. We will be getting our transfer letters (which every missionary gets regardless of whether things stay the same or things change) on Sunday; then transfer day is on Thursday. I'm pretty sure I won't end up getting transferred since I've only been here for about a month and the missionaries here have been saying usually you spend 3-4 months in a area in this mission before you get transferred. But Elder Knowles probably will be getting transferred since he's been here in this area for about 5 months now. But we'll see; ya never know what can happen. But Elder Knowles is the district leader so if he leaves I wonder who the new one will be. Since it's us, the Assistants. the YSA sisters, and the family sisters. And they can't call one of the Assistants to be a district leader, and they don't call sisters to be a district leader.  So yeah by next P-Day i'll know what's gonna happen. Things have been going really with Elder Knowles by the way. We seem to feel comfortable with one another now. Our personalities have started to come out. He does have a pretty laid back personality but he does do what's asked of him.

Talk to you all later!

Elder O'Brien

Halifax, September 8th

Dear Family,
This morning, I woke up with a toothache and I have a headache too. So needless to say I'm not feeling that great today. So sorry if this letter is a little short this time. Good thing today is P-Day; otherwise I don't think I would be able to make it.
This week was a good week for us. Elder Knowles seemed a lot more focused this week. We've been doing a lot of tracting this week because we're only teaching two investigators. 

We did find one potential investigator but unfortunately it's a potential for the family sisters not us. Those two investigators are Maye Carson and the Morphy's two little girls. We talked to Maye Carson last week and she said that she doesn't understand why good things happen to bad people. She kept on going on why do people who are jerks get away with it. That sort of thing. So we kept on telling her that those people who are bad in this life will have to pay for it in the next life. At the end we asked her if we could teach her the discussions and she said yes. So hopefully she is receptive when we begin teaching her. With the Morphy's, the two little girls are investigators but the parents are members but are less-actives. So we taught the two girls the law of tithing and following the prophet this week. The Dad is a smoker but says he is trying to quit. The family in general struggles with going to Church. They said they would go to Church yesterday but didn't end up coming. Hopefully they start coming again next week. They are a family that used to live in Calgary until 3 or 4 years ago. The mother said she had a bad experience with the Church in Calgary so that is why she is less-active I think. We're working on getting them back though slowly but surely.
Anyway, I don't really have any energy right now so I'm going to have to tell you more later when I'm feeling better. Our zone leaders are coming up today and spending the next couple of days with us. That'll be good. I've talked to them a couple times already. Their names are Elder Willoughby and Elder Dupin. Elder Willoughby is Kelsey's brother. So we already know each other. Which really helps. Yeah the zone leaders, or the assistants visit every district leader of each zone once a transfer.
As far as birthday gifts go, you could send me a gift card, a rain coat, or a Sidney Crosby shirt, haha. Gotta support Cole Harbor; it's only 20 minutes away from here. Again, sorry for the short letter this week. I want to write more but yeah i just don't have the energy right now. Next week I promise I'll tell you more!
Elder O'Brien

Monday, September 1, 2014

Halifax - September 1

Dear Family,

It's hard to believe that it's already been a month since I entered the MTC. This month has been so fast and it feels like just yesterday I was e-mailing you. It seems like every P-day comes up faster and faster every week. It's crazy! Haha before ya know it I'll be home. When people and missionaries going home (Elder Layton) would tell me it goes by so fast, I had a hard time believing that, because ya know two years it's a long time. But I'm starting to realize that two years isn't really that long.

As for this last week umm, well Elder Dupont went home to Edmonton on Friday morning. So now it's just me and Elder Knowles for at least another three weeks until next transfer. I was grateful to be able to have Elder Dupont as my trainer for about two weeks. He was really persistent and focused. He really knew how to talk to people with confidence and plus he was really chatty too. Haha He actually did the majority of the talking when we were doing contacting or teaching lessons.  But now that he's gone Elder Knowles and I have to step it up a little bit. Elder Knowles actually told me the night that Elder Dupont left that I'm going to have to try and keep him motivated. He said that Elder Dupont was really good at that but now that he's gone he needs someone to help him stay motivated. It's not that he's lazy, I think it's because he only has 5 months left and he's getting wore down and thinking about home. Another part of it is that he keeps talking about stuff that he's gonna do once he gets home with another elder in the area. So I don't think that's helping his cause.Another thing is I'm the first missionary that he's training after being out for 19 months :/ So it's a new learning experience for the both of us. He's not a bad companion though; that's not what I'm trying to say. He is really nice and we've been practicing every day during companion study

Oh and I forget to mention this last week but I met Dad's trainer from his mission, Elder Ranglack. It was so cool that he still remembers training Dad after that many years. It's such a small world these days haha. That goes to show you that you'll always remember your trainer at the beginning of your mission for the rest of your life.

So today for P-day, we had a BBQ at the mission office for Elder & Sister Wiebe before they leave for Calgary on Saturday. It was fun. I'm happy that I was able to spend about three weeks serving around them. They are both so genuine and friendly as you & Dad probably remember from being in their ward in Calgary. Next time you guys go up to Calgary, you'll have to visit their ward and ask them about their mission. Oh, and I guess we'll have to wait to get groceries tomorrow since it's Labor Day today and all the stores are closed. We actually had to eat out on Saturday because we are low on food so we just ate at A & W to celebrate me being out 1 month and Elder Knowles being out 19 months.

Anyway, hope you're all enjoying your days off today! Watch the Labor Day Classic (Football game between Edmonton and Calgary) today to remember me for being out 1 month. Let me know how school goes this week. And I'll definitely let you know if I continue to have problems with anxiety. 

It's been a summer to remember forever. I want us all to take a moment today and reflect on our feelings and experiences that we've had this summer and maybe even write them down so that you can look back and see what you had to say about the summer of 2014. And yeah i'm sure I haven't really missed much since i've left.


Elder O'Brien

Week One in Halifax - August 25th

Dear Family,

Sorry I wasn't able to e-mail home this morning. Right after companion study all of the missionaries in the zone went over to temple and we got to clean it for two hours. Elder Dupont and I had to clean the font area like the ox and the walls. It was fairly easy nothing too extreme haha. But we had a hard time getting the ladder into the font so that we could clean the windows. Right after we all had some pizza with the temple workers. It was a fun time.

Anyway, last Tuesday was zone conference. Where all of the missionaries in the zone (which happens to be Nova Scotia) meet together from 10-4. We're given instruction on how to be better missionaries. There's talks, musical numbers, scripture recitations. That sort of thing. Oh, and at the end of the conference they pick two random missionaries to give a 5-minute talk on a topic that Pres. Leavitt has given to us to wirte on a week before zone conference. It keeps on our toes haha. Luckily, I wasn't asked to give my 5 minute talk on repentance but they did ask another new missionary that was in my travel group to give his talk. But I did have a talk sort of prepared anyway just in case. I know one of these time their gonna pick on me to give a 5-minute on whatever topic is given a week before. So I best be ready when that time comes. 

At lunch there's a 5BX challenge with 5 elder's. 5BX is the exercise program that we have to do every morning. It includes toe touches, superman's, sit-ups, and jogs.  Then we're given more instruction in the afternoon.At the end of the conference all the missionaries that are going home next transfer bear their testimonies.  This zone conference we mainly talked about how to use area books. Keeping records of all the investigators in the area. My favorite part of the conference was Elder Torrie's talk about having faith to find. I liked how he said that two years isn't that long. So we need to have no regrets. Having faith that the Lord will help you every step of the way. It was a good zone conference. I was able to meet some more missionaries in the zone which was good; it helps me become more comfortable. They all seem pretty nice, and friendly.

For the rest of the week, we taught some of our investigators. Their names are Andrew Diggle, Maye Carson, The Morphy's, Joe Stacy, Bro. Maytherway.  The lesson I liked the most was Andrew because he seems like he is open to us the most. He has a dark past so he wants us to help him turn his life around. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We also told him of the meeting times at church. We also taught him about the Restoration. After we gave him all that, he said he would take some to think about it.. So I guess we'll see what comes of that. 

Elder Dupont, Elder O'Brien, Elder Knowles 

On Friday, the Family Elders and I  volunteered at a Multi-Cultural Event. We helped the Blood Donor Clinic with getting people to donate blood. It was pretty fun except the chairman of the event didn't like the fact that we're missionaries talking to people about their ethnicity and how that has to do with what type of blood you can donate. I dunno, something like that haha. I'm starting to warm up to the members here. Last week we helped two families move. And both times I was able to introduce myself and get to know them, Also, both times we moved those two families, there were practically the same members helping move. The two families names were Sis. Wilson and the Vanderparts. On Sunday, I got to help pass the sacrament. It felt good to do that again. I haven't passed the sacrament since I left home. And of course I saw Brother & Sister Bennett. It was really nice to be able to see someone I knew back home. It reminded that even though i'm on the other side of the country we're really not that far apart spiritually.

So after about a week, I've learned that I don't like the alarm in the morning haha.  At all. I need to write in my journal more. I am getting more and more comfortable with Halifax. The missionaries here care about me. I am never alone. I need to take the intiative more. Don't be shy when it comes to talking to people about the gospel.   There were a couple days where I was missing home. But I was able to refocus and remember why I'm here. Halifax is beautiful. Don't be discouraged if I miss home or I'm not perfect at teaching a lesson or talking to a investigator. It will take time to adjust. And time flies haha.. It's already been a month.

Love you all! Good luck with getting ready for school, Calgary, and the new couch! Good to hear that Chris gave a talk yesterday. I'm sure he did great! Service is a good topic to talk on.

Elder O'Brien