Monday, October 27, 2014

Hampton - October 27, 2014

Dear Family,

We just got back from a helping someone move-in in Saint John. They are moving into an apartment. We had to pull up their couch from the ground using a pulley. It was really hard. I don't know if you've been following the weather here in Hampton (Saint John Area) but it has been raining all week long here. I even had to pull out the umbrella. It was just pouring.

On Thursday we went out knocking in the pouring rain in Sussex. And while we we're out knocking people would ask us what we're doing knocking in the rain, We should be inside where it's nice and warm. We had this one guy let us in because he felt bad for us. He wasn't interested in the Church at all; he said he was Roman Catholic and is pretty entrenched in that. I think he just felt lonely and was being nice to us. But we did knock into a potential investigator named Mikeala; she's a single mom who just graduated. She said she has gone back and forth from the church but right now is looking to come back. So we set up a return appointment with her this week. We are pretty excited about that.

Andrew has been smoke-free for over a week now. If he keeps it up, he'll be able to baptize Rhonda. That would be awesome. Last Tuesday we helped Bro. Bursey shingle his roof for three hours. He did give us some pizza for lunch so it was worth it. I mainly helped put away the scraps of the shingles. On Saturday, we helped with the Halloween primary party. It was fun. We mainly just showed the little kids around from room to room. The primary president is Sis. Bursey (Brother Bursey's wife); she's nice but she's always so serious all the time. So after the primary party one of the recent converts that we work with, Sis. McMakin, treated us to Pizza Delight. It was good.

Brother Urkhart is getting ready to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. We met with him last Tuesday and he asked about the difference between the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood. He sounded pretty excited about it. I really like Brother Urkhart; he's one of my favorite members in the ward. I just feel like I have a connection with him. 

So this Friday is Halloween and we can't work from 5:30 till the end of the night. We just watch Bible videos the whole time. It should be interesting. This weekend is also Stake Conference in Fredericton. We might not be going to the sessions on Saturday because it's so far away but on Sunday it's being broadcast to the Hampton Chapel. So we'll be able to go to that. Also on Sunday we get our transfer letters because transfers are next Thursday. So you might want to hold off on anything that you're sending me unless it;s just to the mission office address.

Have a great week!


Elder O'Brien 

Hampton - October 20, 2014

In Saint John, New Brunswick
Dear Family, 

It is a cold brisk morning here in New Brunswick today. The temperature right now is 6 degrees Celsius. As it is starting to get pretty cold and the signs of winter are here, I am going to need to get winter clothes pretty quick. So don't be surprised if you see a charge from New Brunswick on the credit card in the next two weeks!

This week was a busy week for me. I had two exchanges and visits with the Saint John sisters as I mentioned last week. It was fun. I got to go street contacting again which is something I haven't done since Halifax. I was a little rusty at first but once I got going it became easier. One thing I am learning from street contacting is the art of small talk. That's one of the main things I learned from exchanges. Sometimes I would just offer them a pass-along card, introduce myself, and then tell them about our message. Whereas I need to talk to them a little bit first like, "Are you from Saint John?," "Are you just visiting?," that sort of thing instead of being like a salesman. There are a lot of tourists in Saint John since the Bay of Fundy is like right there. We see big cruise ships every time we're in Saint John. It's pretty cool. Anyway, I got to see some of the people that the Saint John Elders are working with. On Tuesday, when I was with Elder Quinton, we saw a guy named Brenden O'Mahoney. He has been in and out of the Church for years. He has some major anxiety issues. He met with the Saint John Elders before but he stopped meeting with them because he didn't like one of the Elders that were here before. He sounds like a bit of a rough investigator. I think the Saint John Elders have their hands full with him. He said that he goes to a different church but still strongly believes in the doctrine of the Church. He doesn't go to the Ward in Saint John because he doesn't like the ward. So those two don't go hand-in-hand with one another. You can't have a testimony of the Church but go to another Church just because you don't like the members. Later on that night we went over to the ward mission leader's house for dinner. He is a really nice ward mission leader. His name was Bro. Cosman. They have a family of 10. They had a son who just got back from his mission in California. Then they have another son who's out on a mission right now. I really enjoyed working with Elder Quinton. He seems so focused and hard-working, 

Then on Thursday when me & Elder Allsop worked together, we got to do a family-history booth in the mall for two hours with the Saint John Sisters. It was cool. We had quite a bit of success. There were quite a few people who were interested in their family history. We had this one lady ask us about one of her ancestorsand then we showed her how to look it up. Now she's going to look more into it. It was great. 

So yesterday we started the stop-smoking with Andy (Rhonda's husband). So if he does stop smoking, then he can baptize Rhonda. That would be amazing if he could do that. He has been smoking since he was 11. So it's going to be a little harder for him but I have faith that he can do it. Were going to follow-up with him every day to see how things are going. At church yesterday we had a potluck. The Kennebecasis ward holds a pot-luck right after church every other month. It was really good. They had mainly finger-foods and desserts. 

Last Monday night, while we were at the Downey's, Brother Downey offered me a wool suit. He wore it on his mission. So I tried it on and it fit pretty well so I took it. The pants are a little loose but I'll just have to wear a belt. 

Tell Papa thank you for the birthday card! It got here last Tuesday.

Have a great week!


Elder O'Brien

Hampton - October 13, 2014

Dear Family,

Thank you so much for your birthday packages! I got them on Saturday night when President Leavitt came to do personal interviews. I'll be sure to make those brownies you send me soon. Most of all thank you for the birthday cards you sent me. Those were really nice of you.

While we were knocking last Monday night we ran into a lady that was a member but hasn't gone to church in 12 years. She was kind enough to let us in. She said that she left the church because of hypocrisy. So we just sat down and explained to her that the doctrine of the church is perfect but the people aren't. We also taught her about the message of the restoration. She said she was going to the Church in Saint John before she left. She also had questions about the Book of Mormon, and the plan of salvation. She seemed pretty receptive but she still has issues about some of the doctrine and the members. Her name was Lorna Graves. She wouldn't give us her number. But she told us to stop by whenever were in the area next. We didn't get chance to stop by this week but we're going to try and see her this week. She lives in Quispamsis and we're only there two days a week which makes it a little hard for us to come and see her.

Later on this week while we were knocking again in Hampton on Thursday, we ran into a man named Dan Reed. He was also a member of the church but hasn't gone too church for 3 to 4 years. He didn't tell us why. He was pretty busy when we ran into him. So we didn't get to talk to him for long. But he did tell us to come by whenever we're in the area next. He was very nice to us about it. At Church yesterday during Ward Council, Bishop Russell said that before he didn't want anything to do with the Church. He said that he wouldn't allow home-teachers to come by before. So the fact that he invited us to come by another time is a huge step.

So this week we ran into two less actives while we were knocking that haven't been to Church in years. I'm starting to think that maybe the Lord wants us to bring these people back. It made me thing of my setting apart as a missionary.

As far as our investigators go, Rhonda Fox is still smoke free. She hasn't smoked in 8 days. So we're feeling pretty good about that. Now we just need to teach some of the commandments and she should be good to go for baptism. But her husband Andy who is a member is smoking sadly. The really sad part is that Rhonda wants her husband to baptize her. But he can't baptize her if he's smoking. We offered to help him stop smoking but he declined. He is a really nice guy. He comes to Church every week and everything. He just has a problem with smoking.  It's funny because every time we go over there they have these cats that like to crawl up on my lap. They seem to be really attracted to me. When we leave their apartment there have been a couple of times where I have been covered with cat hair on my tail-bone and also on my legs. But i'm usually fine . I don't get an allergic reaction at all. Anyway, Andy actually referred us to his sister Cathy Fox who is a less-active but her husband is anon-member and then she has her niece there. They were really nice to us. Her niece is in a wheel-chair actually. So we just kind of introduced ourselves because she was busy with dinner. They told us they want to quit smoking. So that was really encouraging. We did have an appointment with them yesterday but it ended up falling through. But we're going to  reschedule for another time this week.

President Leavitt, in my personal interview with him on Saturday, said "Ya know what, you're exactly obedient aren't you Elder O'Brien?"  He also asked if I was a good student in high school. He said let that continue on into my mission. He also asked if we did companionship inventory and I said no.. we don't :/ He then told me to start doing companionship inventory every Friday during weekly planning. It makes a difference. During the interview I told him that I was working in an office for a year. He asked if I would be comfortable working in the mission office in Dartmouth at some point and I told him I would. So we'll have to see what comes of that. It was a really good interview I had with President. At the end of the interview though when he was getting ready to leave we asked him about the "Meet the Mormons" and he said it's likely that we'll be able to see it once it comes to Canada. 

So this week I'll be spending four days in Saint John from Sunday-Thursday. We're doing exchanges with the Saint John Elders tomorrow and Thursday. Tomorrow I'll be working with Elder Quinton; he's from Magrath and be's been out for about 5 months. On Thursday I'll be working with Elder Allsop; he came out with me. But in case you're wondering we're going back to Hampton tonight for dinner and then Saint John elders are coming up later on to do the swap tonight. So I'll have three companions this week. It should be a good experience. 

Tonight we're having thanksgiving dinner with the Downey's. So that should be good. Brother Downey is the 
second counselor in the bishopric. 

I am thankful for my family, I am thankful for their such loving support for me, I am thankful for the way they've 
raised me, I am thankful for their examples to me, I am thankful for being a missionary, I am thankful for the new area I am serving in.. I am developing a Christ-Like love for the people in my area, I am thankful for the atonement. I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, I am thankful to be able spent a part of Thanksgiving e-mailing my family, I am thankful for the missionaries in this mission. They've been so supportive and have made me feel comfortable. Elder Jason actually phoned me the other day to see how I was doing.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Elder O'Brien

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hampton - October 6, 2014

Elder Bodine and Elder O'Brien

 Eating apple crisp for his birthday

This last week I had a lot going on. On Wednesday, we had zone training in Fredericton where all of the New Brunswick West Zone met together to discuss goals for this transfer. We were also trained on teaching skills. Our zone leaders (Elder Davidson and Elder Waldie) conducted the meeting. The Sunday before zone training our zone leaders asked our district, the St. John District, to prepare a 5 minute talk on hope and then chose a random member of the district to give their talk. So during Monday and Tuesday I wrote a talk on hope using Preach my Gospel and the scriptures. I felt I was prepared if I was picked on to give my talk. In the morning they trained us on using the how to begin teaching points, and being warm, friendly and  genuine with people as we're  contacting them. They would split us off into role play groups with other missionaries in the zone and then practice these things. So we did that for the morning; then in the afternoon our zone leaders picked a missionary from each district to give their 5 minute talk. I wasn't picked again haha; Elder Quntion from St. John was chosen. But even though I wasn't picked I felt like I learned more about hope. I learned that hope is something that we yearn for, it goes hand in hand with faith, having hope leads to having faith. When we have hope, we have hope for things that are not yet seen. We also went over the goals for the zone this transfer. The focus for this transfer is teaching skills. Like one of the goals is having 12 lessons involving a member each week per companionship. Also, having a 5% increase in sacrament attendance, . At the end of zone training all the missionaries that are going home at the end of this transfer bear their final testimonies.  I enjoyed zone training. It was nice being able to meet together with the missionaries in the zone and discussing goals and the vision for this transfer. During zone training, I got to see Elder Craig.. He's in my zone now. It was cool being able to see him again. I haven't seen him since the MTC. He's training a new missionary right now in Woodstock; his name is Elder Wilson from Lethbridge. I know that if there's anybody that can train a new missionary 6 weeks into the mission field it is him. He truly was a great leader for us in the MTC. 

On Thursday, it was my birthday. After companionship study, Elder Knowles and Elder Willoughby (My zone leader in Halifax) phoned me and sang me happy birthday. So that was really nice of them to remember me and my birthday. Elder Knowles said that one of the investigators we had in Halifax misses me; his name was Matthew. He was Maye Carson's brother. Elder Knowles said that Matthew said "Where's Elder O'Block?" Haha "I miss him; he was just starting to come out of his shell." So I would say that made my birthday knowing that I made an impact on an old investigator in Halifax. Matthew was a funny guy to have at lessons, he would always make funny comments that weren't bad or rude in anyway, they were just funny. He made one comment "Why would I believe that Noah built a boat and put animals in it, I want to pick up this rock and throw it at you." He wasn't talking to us, he was talking about when he talked to a bishop one time cause he used to go to church at one point. Not so much anymore as you could probably assume. He always had a lot of questions and would go on rants about the Word of Wisdom, Joe Smith. He had an accent too. Later on, on Thursday Elder Bodine took me out to dinner at Pizza Delight in Hampton. I had hot wings for dinner and then apple crisp for dessert. So that was really nice of him to do that for me. I appreciated it. He even paid for the dinner as well. 

Last week we did a lot of contacting former investigators. Sadly, we didn't find a lot of success from former investigators that would be interested. Some of the former ones we tried contacting had the wrong address as well so that didn't help our cause either. But I had a cool experience on Saturday. In between conference sessions we went to a candy shack in Hampton. To you know just buy some candy for conference. :P  When we went in we introduced ourselves and said we were just stopping by and then going to a Church Meeting. He said that he's heard of us before and that we're well known in a positive way. He asked how we knew the Church to be true for ourselves. Anyway, he said he wasn't interested but really admires us for sharing our message with him. So that question kind of made me reflect on how did I know this Church to be true. It wasn't by anything dramatic, it was just by going to Church every Sunday and doing all the little things that made me know the Church to be true for myself. It was also cool that even though that we weren't there for that purpose, we still turned into a missionary opportunity. 

On Friday, we stacked wood for three hours for a friend of recent converts in our ward. His name is Bro. Urkhart; he got baptized in May. He is an older man, who we meet with at least once a week because he's a recent convert. So anyway, the friend we helped stack wood was Mary Kay. By the end of it I was pretty exhausted from moving all that wood. But at the end she gave us a dinner and then we talked a little bit about general conference. We told her that she's more than welcome to come. She said that she was raised Catholic but never really went to Church. 

For conference this weekend we went to over to the church for all the sessions. Right before the priesthood session, we had a Ice Cream Social for all the priesthood holders. Then we watched the priesthood session at 9. My favorite conference talk was by Elder Bednar yesterday on why we are so anxious to share the message of the restoration with non-members. While we were trying to contact one of our former investigators, we ran into a lady at a house. We told her that we're  missionaries and that we go around and teach people about Christ. Then she said "I have my own personal savior and redeemer thank you very much." So that talk by Elder Bednar reminded me about that lady. How he talked about if you already have those beliefs then why not test them out and learn about our message. Also, the reason why we want to share our message is because it has helped us in our lives. I really enjoyed the story he shared about the little boy. Another talk I liked was President Uchtdorfs talk in the priesthood session. "Lord.. Is it I?",  the parable of when Christ says "One of you will betray me" to one of his apostles I think. Then everyone asks "Who is it?." They don't think of themselves. They think of others. I liked that because it's easy for us to diagnose others around us imperfections and their faults but that we never think of ourselves as being the one who's imperfect. I also really enjoyed that Swedish Seventy's talk on taking responsibility for our lives. I also really enjoyed the MTC choir for the priesthood session; it made me think back to the MTC and what a wonderful experience that was. There was such power in that gym when we all sang together as missionaries.

I thought it was curious how two or three apostles in a row talked about following the prophet. Made me wonder if something's gonna happen, ya know. The other thing that stood for me in conference was receiving personal revelation in our lives. Another theme was making decisions. There was a a lot of really good talks this weekend. Hopefully next month we get an Ensign so I can study them more. In between conference sessions yesterday, we went over to teach Rhonda Fox. She's on date to be baptized on Nov. 8. She has a problem with smoking but wants to stop so she can be baptized. So yesterday we gave her a stop-smoking program that's  for 7 days. It involves grapefruit juice and cinnamon toothpaste. By the end of it, she's supposed to be smoke-free So we presented that to her and we're  going to  follow-up with her every day to see how things are going. We were actually late for the opening song and prayer of the last session.

So what do you guys think of some seventy's giving their talks in their native language? That was new.

This weekend the Graef's fed us breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They seem to really like us. The Graef's are like the Nelson's of Stirling. There are a lot of them in the ward. Except there not farmers. They are a really nice family. 

So starting tonight Elder Bodine is the new district leader. Since Elder Edmond is going home on Wedensday.  Things have been better between Elder Bodine and I. He can be a little unfocused at times and kinda rude. But this week I've really gotten to know him and he's a pretty good guy. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hampton - September 29th

Elder Torrie, Elder O'Brien, Elder Jason

This last week has been a bit of a crazy week. In the days leading up to being transferred to a new area, I really wanted to leave my mark on Halifax before I left. So I set a goal to contact more people than I usually do. I felt like I did contact more people than usual. I talked to this one guy at the bus stop in Halifax who was a Baptist. I stopped him on his way to his bus and offered him a card. He said that he was a baptist and wasn't interested. But a couple minutes later he came up to me and asked what time our church was. So that was a cool experience before I left. 

On Wednesday I got to street sing one last time before Sister Turner and I left for our new areas (Sister Turner was one of the STL's in the district who's going to Cole Harbor.) so that was fun. I actually kind of enjoyed street singing. It was a fun way to help others feel the spirit. We always had people staring at us, taking pictures of us, and laughing at us. We got a lot of attention. But no it was fun; even though it was a little uncomfortable at times I enjoyed it. Later on that day Elder Knowles and I took 2 of the new missionaries out proselyting (Elder Wandlass and Elder Hansen) in downtown Halifax. They were both really nervous so we kind of took the lead. It was neat to see how they were looking up to us for guidance on how to street contact. I was with Elder Wandlass while we were downtown. So I talked to the majority of the people that walked by because he's the new missionary and I've been out a transfer. So then I let him do a couple of people. He was struggling so I had to step in a couple times to help him out. But it was a good experience for me because he was the new missionary and I had to teach him how to contact. It made me realize how far I've come since I've been out here. Not too long ago I was the new missionary being taught how to contact. Now I feel comfortable about it, I don't get nervous nearly as much as I used to.
Elder Evanson was there on Wedensday as well. And he got to stay the night with us. It was really nice seeing him before he left. He sounded pretty excited to go home. He asked about his dad being there on Sunday and he said that that would've been weird haha. I meant to get a picture with him before I left but I didn't get around to it. Oh well. You'll have to ask him about his mission when you see him next.
So with transfers - how it works is that there is a transfer van that the Assistants drive. It takes all the missionaries in the metro area that are going to a new area in Nova Scotia/New Brunswick; then there's stops along the way where the missionaries in different areas come on the van or hop off the van. Like we stopped in Truro first, and then we stopped in Moncton. During those stops there are missionaries there to take them to where their area is. The farthest they go is Moncton where I was dropped off and Elder Bodine took me to Hampton. On the way back they take all the missionaries that are going to Nova Scotia that were serving in New Brunswick back. I hope that make sense haha.
The past couple days have been an adjustment - new companion, new area, new apartment, new ward. Elder Bodine is definitely different than Elder Knowles. His personality is a little more edgey than Elder Knowles. He's more outgoing and more assertive. He can be kind of hard to get along with just because he doesn't hold anything back at times. But he means well. We haven't really found anything in common with each other yet but I am going to try harder this week to work on just being myself around him. I've found during my mission that every companion has been different so far in one way or another. Like mom said before I'll have lots of sorts of different companions on my mission. I've just got to learn how to deal with it and make it work.
So the Hampton area covers three towns (Sussex, Quimpamsis, and Hampton) They are all pretty small. Hampton is the smallest. So because the area covers three towns and they are all divided up, we spend at least two days a week in each town. Our ward is called the Kennebecasis Ward. It's called that because all the towns are in the Kennebacasis Valley. We do a lot of knocking because there's nowhere to street contact.  But yeah the ward here is awesome. Yesterday, I had some of the members come up to me and introduce themselves to me. During sacrament meeting the Bishop (Bishop Russell) asked me to come up and bear my testimony. I was nervous but I gave my testimony slowly and clearly. My nervousness kinda showed but I was fine for the most part. That's something I'll have to get used is having to bear my testimony every time iIm in a new area. So I'll be a pro at it by the time I'm done my mission haha. Another thing about this ward is that we got 4 or 5 dinner appointments this week. Like last night we got invited to a member's family dinner. They're called the Graef's. The only day we don't have a DA this week is Thursday. I think I am really going to like the members here. They've welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable. They're also really engaged in missionary work. Like last night we got 2 or 3 referrals from Brother Graef.
The fall colors here are beautiful. Don't worry I'll be taking lots of pics this month while I'm here.
So this weekend is my first general conference on a mission. I am getting pretty excited about it. We do get to stay up late for the priesthood session which is at 9 because I'm 3 hrs ahead of you. So needless to say I may be a little tired the next day. Hopefully I don't fall asleep during the session. I'll be sure to get some winter clothes this month and put it on visa.
Have a great week!
Elder O'Brien