Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015 - Kentville, Nova Scotia

Elder O'Brien with Kentville Bishop
Dear Family,

It has been a interesting week. Throughout the week, I was beginning to get the impression that my time in Kentville was almost over. I was hoping I was wrong but I wasn't. I am being transferred to Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. It is about a hour away from Kentville. I will still be in the same zone and in the same stake. I am going to be serving with Elder Nielsen. He is one of the missionaries I came out with. He's the district leader in Bridgewater. He seems like a funny, nice guy. I feel comfortable with him as my new companion. 9 missionaries are going home this transfer and 9 new ones are coming in. There will be no sister missionaries going home with me. It'll just be the group of elders I came out with. Right now since 2 went home early there's 14 of us. A Sister Missionary from the Calgary Mission named Sister Alverez who is from Toronto and speaks Spanish just got transferred to our mission last week. I don't know why or how long she's been out. All I know is that tends to happen sometimes. You can read more about it on the Mormons of Atlantic Canada Facebook page.This transfer there were a lot of changes made throughout the mission.Every companionship in this zone except for one got changed. Every zone got a new zone leader. Elder Hatch is staying here and his new zone leader companion is going to be Elder Funa who came out in May. 

As I said we went on a car fast on Monday and Tuesday last week. It wasn't too bad actually. On Monday, it was really rainy so we got a little wet. On Tuesday Elder Hatch knocked into a Christian who was trying to bible bash saying that there`s no need for prophets, we're already complete in Christ, we don`t need anything greater. You meet all sorts of people on your mission. 

I went to Sackville Tuesday night to Thursday night. While I was there, I met a recent convert who just got baptized a year ago. She struggles reading the Book of Mormon so we shared with her what helps us read it.Then we played volleyball again at the church on Thursday. Except this time there weren`t as many people. But it was still fun. Funny story, we exchanged back that night and in the exchange we ended up with both phones. So Sackville had no phone until Saturday night. They had to use the Church phone to get hold of people. They would phone us twice a day to see if they got any texts or calls on their phone. On Saturday, all the priesthood had breakfast at the Church and then we went over to Brother Collet`s to help him stack wood. So we did that for two hours and then he fed us lunch. It was fun. We have some pretty funny members in this ward.

Yesterday.. what a emotional day it was. Originally I was to be in Sackville. But I ended up staying in Kentville with Elder Dupin instead of Elder Hatch staying. I am so glad that I got to spend it in Kentville. When I read I was getting transferred it was like a stab to the heart. The ward here has meant so much to me and it has helped me grow as a missionary and as a person. I loved it here. This is a special area with special people in it. This is where I spent Christmas and New Years. This is where I met the McDonald`s. This is where I met the Drennan`s. This is where Elder Willougby went home. This is where Elder Dupin got emergency transferred. It`s tougher than leaving my other areas because I spent more time here. I got attached as you know I tend too :P. So of course they asked my if I could give a final testimony and of course I got emotional. Elder Dupin gave a talk. That`s why he was in Kentville yesterday. Sister Lybbert 1 is also being transferred to Saint John so she gave her final testimony as well. After Church, John Morrison told me that he was touched by my testimony. Tanya Massiah told me she`s going to miss me. Sister Bond told me that I was her favorite missionary and that she doesn`t usually write letters to missionaries getting transferred but she`s going to write one for me. In the letter she said `My quiet humble nature reminds her of how the Savior would teach.' Elder Dupin told me that I have a 'Powerhouse Testimony'. Pretty humbling stuff. After church, Melanie and her kids fed us lunch. Out of all the people I said goodbye to, they were the toughest. I was there for her and Madison`s baptism. I told Melanie that her family holds a special place in my heart.

I am starting to gain a stonger testimony of why I got called to this mission. The missionaries here fit me. The members in this mission fit me, The people here fit me. I was especially chosen to come to this mission for these people. It`s going to be the same for Chris wherever he gets called.

Even though I am sad to leave to Kentville, I know the Lord now needs me in Bridgewater. It was an honor serving in Kentville. But now I have been called to serve the people of Bridgewater and I look forward to starting new adventures and meeting new people. 


Elder O`Brien

January 19th - Kentville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

It has been a busy week for me. It is very windy outside today. The weather has been up and down all week. On Saturday it was very cold -16 but yesterday it was 4 and sunny. Our car needs some work done on it so we dropped it off this morning at a auto shop and it's going to take a couple days to get it fixed. One of the headlights is broken so they're going to replace it. So now we have to walk everywhere for today and tomorrow. It's going to be interesting. 

This week I was originally supposed to go on a 2-day exchange with Sackville but it ended up being 5 days because there was a matter in Bridgewater that had to be taken care of. So Elder Hatch and Elder Dupin had to go on a 3-day exchange with Bridgewater after they were together for two days. This week there is going to be two more exchanges with Sackville. One from Tuesday night to Wednesday night; the other one from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. It's been a lot of back and forth. But we get transfer letters this Sunday and transfers are next Thursday. Elder Dupin goes home that Friday. So all this back and fourth will end in a week and a half and then things will go back to normal. It has been a memorable transfer to say the least especially for Elder Dupin with it being his last transfer.

Anyway, last Monday we met with our investigator and watched the Restoration video. Bradley is a little bit of a rougher kid. He said he wanted to come to Church yesterday. Bradley said he felt happy as he watched the Restoration. So those are good signs. He came to Church yesterday and he felt the Holy Ghost as he went to Church and watched the Restoration. We started teaching the discussions to the Morgans on Monday. They are an older couple. Brother Morgan is the stake patriarch. So we talked about giving blessings and what it's like to give one. It was interesting. He said it can be scary at times to say what he's inspired to say. He said he sits at the Church two hours before he's going to give a blessing to get himself spiritually ready. On Tuesday, we helped Sister Redden shovel out her driveway. In the afternoon while we were street contacting we ended up helping a man walk into a building. He had a broken hip and it was really difficult for him to walk on uneven surfaces. His wife had an appointment that was supposed to be 5 minutes but it went over by an hour so he wanted to walk over to see if everything was okay. It was a humbling experience to be able to help a man who needed help walking over to the Service Canada building (which was just across the street from us). He was grateful for it too.
In Sackville, there not teaching anybody right now. Their only investigator just got baptized a week ago so we did a lot of knocking while I was there. On Thursday while we were knocking we knocked into this one lady who said that she was having a BBQ. I found that a little odd. I've never heard of anyone having a BBQ in the middle of winter. Then later on we actually knocked into Brad Marchand's (an agitator on the Boston Bruins) grandfather. That was really cool. He was an atheist though and he said he needs proof that God is real and that he'll believe it when he sees it. Elder Hansen tried to bear testimony but he wasn't having any of it. 

On Thursday they had a volleyball night where anybody in the ward who wanted to play volleyball could come and play, It was fun. We were actually a little late because we were at a dinner appointment before that. So we didn't have time to change into our gym clothes. There were about 11 people there including us and the Sackville sisters. The week before there was only 7 people there. On Friday, we visited a  member family named the Wright's. Brother Wright is into sports. So we talked about football, and hockey. We also talked about his mission. He served in France. But it was so nice to able to talk about sports again with a member. I really connected with him. 

On Saturday, we don't usually carry a Book of Mormon with us but we decided to that day and we ended up giving it out that afternoon, We knocked into a catholic couple that let us in and was very friendly. We gave a simplified version of the Restoration. They were particularly interested in the Book of Mormon and how it was different from the Bible. So we offered them the copy that we had and they took it. It was cool because I was the one that asked them if they wanted it. I felt inspired to offer it to them. We both felt inspired to have a Book of Mormon with us. It was a neat experience. Their names were Donna and Daley Dill. We gave them a card with our number on it and so did they. But she said to give them time before we follow-up on it. That night I met their recent convert Emile Pineau. We had dinner over at their house. Brother Hass came with us. Brother Hass is the father of the seminary teacher in Raymond, Brother Hass. The one that wears a bow tie all the the time. Small world. He thought it was pretty cool that I knew his son. So yeah he's in the Sackville ward. Anyway, Emile is a nice man. We mainly talked about the Priesthood because he wants to learn more about it since the Bishop has talked to him about receiving the Aaronic Priesthood.
Yesterday was ward conference in Sackville. The Bishop (Bishop Johnson) talked about having faith in Jesus Christ. and our Stake President (President Evans) talked about trials. They were good talks. Funny story though right after Church a little boy took my scripture case by accident because he had similar one. So he mixed it up for mine. So I got kind of worried for about an hour there. But luckily I tracked it down and picked it up last night. So it was all good.
Have a great week!

Love Elder O'Brien

January 12, 2015 - Kentville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

It has been a much better week for me. I have settled into more of a routine now and have adjusted to the situation. I just have to more faith and not get too stressed out about it. We all get stressed in our lives. Even Elder Hatch said he felt stressed. I have been drinking more water lately and that seems to have helped. I kind of feel bad for Elder Dupin though because he's a zone leader and he's in a new area but he still comes to our area once a week, He's going home in two and a half weeks. He has a lot on his plate.

When I was in Sackville this week, it got really cold on Tuesday. I wore my thermals that day. When we knocking that day, some people saw how cold we were and let us in to warm up for a bit even though they bluntly said they were not interested. One said that he agrees with our beliefs but doesn't like how we believe that those who aren't members are godless. He said he read it in a one of our pamphlets. I think it was a misinterpretation though because we don't believe people to be godless if they aren't a member. I met a return missionary from the Sackville Ward who just got home from his mission while I was there. He served in the Toronto mission and he said he knew Nathan Sparks and Bradee. So I thought that was pretty cool. His name was Dallin Hicks. I went to their District Meeting this week as well. It was really good. Elder Nielsen made us take off our name tags and just look at them for a couple minutes and then imagine if it had our first names on it. I was just kind of like "wooo." It just wouldn't be the same. The two biggest things that stand out on our name tag is our name ELDER O'BRIEN and JESUS CHRIST. It was a spiritual moment for me. It reminded me who I am representing and that He has called me to this mission to represent him to these people. It was definitely one of the most spiritual district meetings I've been to. 

I liked being in Sackville for a couple days. I am going to have to get used to it since I'll be there once a week. It's a good area. I'ts a lot bigger than Kentville. We do quite a bit more knocking. Anyway, even though quite a few people let us in to warm up, people were not receptive this week. We had quite a few people slam the door on us and tell us never to come back, or to remove them off our list. We told them that was no list but they wouldn't have any of it. But I just shrugged it off and continued on. Everyone has their agency.

We didn't have Church cancelled on us this week. We had all three meetings. So there was quite a bit more people this week. Our former ward mission leader got released yesterday and now Brother Collet, who just moved in from BC in November, is the new ward mission leader. I think Brother Collet will do well as the new ward mission leader. He served a mission. He is a really nice guy - really humble and he knows a lot about who we work with and he wants to help. 

I don't know if you got the chance to watch the CES devotional or not but it was really good. If you haven't seen it I recommend reading it. It was by Brother Randall L. Ridd, Second Counselor in the General Young Men's. You might remember him from when he came to Lethbridge. He shared a story of when he was in the military for a year and then went to a year of college. One day his professor asked why he wasn't serving a mission. He said that he felt like it was too late. Then the professor told him no it's not too late. After that he thought to himself there's lots of reason why I shouldn't serve a mission - I'm shy, I don't know the Book of Mormon, I have a girlfriend. He then prayed hoping that the answer he would get is that he shouldn't serve a mission. But that's not the answer he got. He felt like the Lord wanted him to serve a mission. So he decided to serve. He said that before he wasn't seeking to do the will of the Lord; he was seeking to do his will. Often times we say to the Lord I'll go where you want me to go, I'll do what you want me to do only if it's where I want to go, only if it's what I want to do, only if it's what I want to say. He then gave three simple disciplines that if we do them with real intent seeking the will of the Lord, we will draw closer to the Lord. They were Remember him, reading our scriptures, and praying. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. 


Elder O"Brien

Sunday, January 11, 2015

January 5, 2015 - Kentville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

It has been a very interesting and a stressful week. Last Monday night after P-Day was over, we got a call from President Leavitt saying that Elder Dupin would be emergency transferred to Sackville. A missionary from Sackville who came out 6 weeks after me was going home early the next day for personal reasons.So Elder Dupin would then replace him. That night we dropped Elder Dupin off and It was a kind of a weird feeling as I saw a missionary who was about to go home early. It was kind of awkward saying goodbye to him because I didn't really know what to say. But the interesting part is that Elder Hatch and Elder Dupin are still zone leader companions; they're just not serving together. I'm Elder Hatch's proselyting companion and Elder Dupin is his zone leader companion. So now our two areas are merged together. Sackville is only an hour way. Elder Dupin was originally supposed to just be there for the week but then President Leavitt decided to keep him there. So they have been in constant contact with each other all week as you can imagine with zone leader stuff and questions about the area. So now we have to do weekly exchanges with Sackville so that Elder Dupin and Elder Hatch can correlate their zone leader efforts and so that Elder Dupin can still be around. Elder Hansen is the other missionary in Sackville. He seems chill though. Elder Knowles and I took him out his first day. I have felt some stress since Elder Hatch is still really new to the area and I've only been here for a month and a half. So it puts some weight on my shoulders. But in a way its been good for me to be able to take more of a leadership role in taking the lead for the area.

It has been very cold this week. We have been getting quite a bit of snow. More snow then we got all December. On New Years Eve, we helped Brother Collet move tree brush for about an hour. Then he fed us lunch. Later on we met with Stephen one of the recent converts we work with. He showed us this app called "LDS Scriptures Rockband" where it sings the scriptures to you. I thought it was kind of odd but he says he listens to it all the time and it helps him pay attention. Whatever works, right. Then we had dinner at Fred and Bonnie Bond's. Fred Bound is the founding member of the ward. After that, we had to be in our apartments by 7. So we just relaxed. I ate some of my Christmas stocking food. We talked to Elder Dupin and Elder Hardesty on the phone for about an hour because we eventually got bored. Right before I went to bed, there were fireworks that we could see outside our window. So at least we had some sort of New Year's Eve celebration. 

For New Years, we cleaned the apartment for 4 hours. Since there were only two of us, it take a little longer. Plus Elder Dupin's stuff was still there and we didn't know what to do with it. So that made it a little difficult. But we got most of the cleaning done. It's not as cluttered as it was before. Then Sister Mollis had us over again for New Year's dinner. It was mostly the same stuff as for Christmas Dinner. That night we we met with Shannon Hirtle. She said she had been struggling this week. She hasn't prayed as often or read the scriptures as much as she did before. She mentioned that she may have torn her menisci snowboarding. She asked for a blessing to help heal it.  We gave her the blessing  and she felt better after. But we challenged her to bear her testimony in a couple of weeks and she did yesterday so that was a good sign that all is well.

On Friday Night, while we were out knocking, Cathy Drennan gave us someone that we could stop by that is also a cop that works with her husband. So we stopped by and she told us that she's had missionaries stop by before and that all she tells them is that she is not interested. She told us to go stop by the Drennan's since they're Mormons. Anyway, later on that night we got a text from Cathy Drennan saying that she made a post on Facebook asking "Who keeps sending the Mormons over to my house?"

Yesterday morning, we had a snow storm.  A bunch of areas in the zone had church cancelled because of it. Our ward only had sacrament meeting. There were only like 50 people there. So for the areas in the zone who didn't have church, we had a conference call testimony meeting for about an hour to make up for it . Alll the missionaries who would like to bear their testimonies could. It was a good meeting. Even though we still had our sacrament meeting, we listened in on it because Elder Hatch is one of the zone leaders. I felt the spirit as I listened to other missionaries bear their testimonies. One of the testimonies that touched me was by Elder Evans in Annapolis Royal. He testified that even though our friends or our family may not believe in us, the Savior does and He has specifically called us to represent him and to stand in His place in that area - to minister unto those people He has sent you. 

Another thing I liked about the testimony meeting that missionaries kept bringing up was that a mission is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We need to take it more seriously than anything else in our entire lives. The mission experience causes a transformation for us and that we shouldn't return home the same.

On the downside this week, one of our new investigators Cody dropped us because of his health issues. So we were pretty sad about that. We also tried contacting Shawn but he hasn't gotten back to us. We had three lessons with the McNairs this week and they all fell through because they kept cancelling on us.

Melanie and Madison seemed to be doing pretty well. We haven't visited them as often as we did before. But she's a hard time accepting that Elder Dupin got transferred since she got really attached to Elder Dupin and Elder Willoughby. So that has been hard for her especially since they left so close together. With Elder Dupin it was just out of the blue. No one was expecting that at all.

Hope you have a great first week back at work and school! Good job on starting your mission papers Chris. 


Elder O'Brien

December 29, 2014 Kentville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

It was so nice being able to talk to all of you on Christmas Day. Speaking to my family was the best part of the day. It is good to know that I haven't really missed anything big yet. Sorry if I seemed a little shell-shocked at first. It was weird actually talking to my family verbally instead of on a computer. But it was good to have a normal casual conversation with my family again just like we always used to. I miss those conversations that we would have. 

After the Skype call we went over to Sister Mollis`s for Christmas dinner. The food was good. Although our Christmas dinners at home are better, it was still a satisfying meal.

For Boxing Day, it was back to work. I had some lingering stomach aches from all the food and treats we got for Christmas but it wasn't too bad. We ate at the Walkers for Boxing day dinner where they had a bunch of people over (The Ross's, Ben Sanford, Wolfville Sisters). It was a full house. After that, we all just visited, played on the piano, played on the drums. Then after all that was over they put some fireworks off. Sadly, we weren't able to stay for the fireworks since we had already been there for an hour and 20 minutes.

We had some pretty chatty doors that we knocked into this weekend. This one guy was Christian and said he thinks that one day all the churches will merge into one. He also kept saying that there is only God and one faith. Then he talked about the world we live in now and how confused it is. He was a friendly guy. He didn't give us much breathing room to talk. Then we knocked into a couple that had O'Brien as their last name. They invited us in and we had a very social conversation with them. The husband did most of the talking. Nothing about religion though. He says he loves talking to missionaries and he likes how friendly we are. He did invite us back though to talk more about what we believe. We don't know if they're interested or not so we'll just have to wait and see.

We met with our new investigator Cody. He is 19 years old. He has some health issues that he suffers from. He has met with missionaries and was about to get baptized but then he started to get into smoking. So then he decided not to get baptized because of his smoking. We actually found him through Facebook using the area Facebook page. We were going through the friends list and we saw his name and we were like hey who's this. So we messaged him and then the next thing you know we set up a lesson with him. So we had the lesson with him. Anyway, he said he remembered the stuff the previous missionaries taught him. He has read Alma 32. He knows about the sacrament. He told us that he wants come to Church and he also told us that he wants to be baptized once he gets rid of his smoking addiction. It was really cool. He seemed very prepared and wants to change his life around. Unfortunately he didn't come to Church. 

We got another new investigator named Sean. He was Wolfville`s investigator but they passed him on to us because we're elders.  We watched the restoration video with him and discussed it a little bit. We're still not quite sure on his sincerity but time will tell. 

At Church yesterday, I saw people from all three of my areas. I saw Mark Carson who is Maye Carson`s (investigator in Halifax) brother that served a mission in Calgary. I saw Bishop Ross (Brother Ross`s brother) form the Saint John ward that I would see every time we went to e-mail at UNB for p-day. So it just made me have flashbacks from all my areas so far. It was weird. Especially with the new year coming up. 

It has been quite the year for all of us. We spent January and February wondering if I could go on a mission. Then we found out I could go on a mission in March and I started my papers. Then I sent my mission papers in in April and I got a mission call in May. I left at the end of July. During that time I mainly worked for Dad saving up money and me and Dad went to Denver to get aptitude tests for me in March where I met Asher (cousin's son) and I got to see my Denver cousins before I left on my mission. That`s kind of the general timeline of the year. I have been thinking a lot about some meaningful goals for me as a person and as a missionary. I haven`t quite thought of all the goals I want to set but I have a pretty good idea of what some goals I want to set for myself. By the end of the week I want to have my goals written down in my journal.

I have loved Christmas as a missionary. There was the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, the ward Cantata, the ward Christmas Party, Melanie and Madison`s baptism, 12 days of Christmas packages, Christmas zone conference, going to the temple, sharing the "He is the Gift" Cards while tracting, teaching about the birth of Jesus Christ during Christmas, saying goodbye to Elder Willoughby, teaching the discussions to the members of the ward council, Elder Hatch, spending Christmas at member's houses. But speaking to my family on Skype was the cherry on top of the cake. I was a little homesick for a couple days after but I have been able to refocus. It has been an amazing Christmas.

This week President Leavitt has been talking a lot about principle rule missionaries and rule missionaries. How sometimes we just ask about a rule and not about the reason why we're asking about a particular rule. He explained that there is a principle behind every mission rule and that we need to focus on the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. 

So for New Years, President Leavitt is making every companionship do a mandatory deep cleaning of their apartment for at least 3 hours. So that`ll be fun :P. 

Happy 2015!

2014 has been very memorable for all of us.

Have fun with your New Years Eve activities!


Elder O`Brien