Monday, June 1, 2015

May 18, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Elder O'Brien with President and Sister Leavitt

Dear Family,

Before I begin let me take you back a year ago on Friday. It started out as another ordinary day. Dad woke me up to have family prayers before he went to work and Chris and Mom went to school. In the days leading up to that day, I had been checking the mail constantly hoping my mission call would be there. My mission call was sent a week and half before. It had been about two weeks since it was sent. I had breakfast and watched a little television and checked my iPhone. At 11 o'clock, I went to check the mail hoping today would be the day I got my mission call. At this point I didn't have high hopes of it being there given my other friends didn't get their's until 3 weeks later. When I opened the mailbox, I saw a big envelope and then all of a sudden my eyes got really wide. I took out the envelope and there it was. I finally got my mission call. I was shocked.I then proceeded to call Dad in midst of the my excitement. I then phoned Mom and told her the exciting news that my mission call was in. She got really excited on the phone. After that I went back to the house and laid it on the kitchen table. At lunch I texted Julie to tell her that it's here and I told her to come at 8:30.  I spent the afternoon mowing the lawn as dad asked the prior day. I posted on facebook that my mission call was in. Dillon expressed his interest in watching me open my call. Michael asked when I was opening it. That night, I went to the Streetside Market to get some ice cream. Becca Dow was working at that time and asked me if I had opened my call yet and I said no not yet. On the way back Sister Dow see me walking back and stopped and asked if I had opened it yet. Taylor Barr also stopped and asked me as well. Everyone was excited for me and was anxious to find out where I was going. My friends were fairly early so we had some time to kill. Julie then drove up at 8:30. At long last I opened my call and read that I was going to the Canada Halifax Mission and the rest is history. My friends were excited for me and so was my family.

It is been a beautiful week here in Nova Scotia. The sun has been out and it's been hot. I just finished writing my farewell note to President & SIster Leavitt. A U-Haul truck is at the mission home right now and they are beginning to move their stuff back home. Six weeks from now President Leavitt will be gone and President Pratt will be in. The clock is ticking on President & Sister Leavitt.

On Tuesday, President Leavitt came for Interviews. In my interview with him, we talked about my mission so far. We talked about my companions and the areas I served in. 

Wednesday we had district meeting in Sackville. We talked about what our lives would be like without the gospel and compared it to our lives with the gospel. We likened that to tracting and meeting people who need the gospel in their lives. While we were tracting, we talked to these two Baptist guys who were very nice but was trying to bash with us. We were running late for a dinner appointment at the time so we had to go. Anyway, they ended up giving us each $20 for the work we do. It was so weird. I've never been offered money while tracting before.

On Friday, we had lunch at the Stake President's, President Evans. During lunch we talked about his calling and his experiences releasing missionaries. He said that he often asks a returned missionary what habit they want to continue after their mission but then a year and a half later they fall off the rails. He said it's important to keep the gospel habits you have when you're a missionary. It was a very nice lunch and it was very enlightening. 

Have a great week!


Elder O'Brien

May 11, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

I really enjoyed the conversation we had yesterday. I was very happy to talk to you all again. The internet worked for the most part. These next 7 months will go by fast and before you know it I'll be talking to you again.Thank you for your advice on the new mission president. I am sure that once I meet him, I will know he has been called of God. 

Wednesday was our meeting day. We had district meeting in Bridgewater this week. At District Meeting we talked about our contacting - how we need to be more real with people instead of being robotic. 

Stake Conference was so inspiring. Some things that stood out to me was the importance of a family counsel. They talked a lot about holding family counsels - how we shouldn't wait for a crisis to hold a family counsel. Elder Dunnigan gave a talk in the adult session about being accountable for our choices. He also talked about how Christ came to earth to pay a debt He did not owe. He talked about how the only thing that matters in getting a temple recommend is personal choice and personal worthiness. Singleness is only temporary when we keep our covenants. That was my favorite quote from his talk. 

Have a great week!


Elder OBrien

May 4, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

In front of an old church

Hello Family,
It has been a interesting week to say the least. We have been getting beautiful weather all weekend. On Saturday, it was plus 15. I look forward to talking to you all again. It doesn't seem that long ago I was talking to you at Christmas. 

On Saturday night, I was driving back from an exchange in Sackville when we got a call from President Leavitt. At first, I thought he was calling for Elder Sortomme since I was on an exchange. But no - he wasn't calling for Elder Sortomme, he was calling for me. He said he's been doing a lot of pondering and praying lately and he decided to make a mid-transfer adjustment. This mid-transfer will take place this afternoon.

On the call, he mentioned that he didn't get a chance to make all the changes he wanted to at transfers a couple of weeks ago. I was caught off guard when he called me. But such as with life, things happen for certain reasons. You will find that on your mission Chris.You will experience the same things I've experienced just in a different way. A mission is the best place to align your will with the Lord. That is one of the biggest things I've learned on my mission is submitting my will to the Lord. Accepting that even though I may not understand why certain things have happened on my mission, it was inspired. With a new mission president coming in July, the mission president may be changing but the one giving him inspiration and revelation isn't. The Lord is not going home. President Pratt will receive the same revelation with me as President Leavitt has. The same thing applies with President Evanson being released. It may be a new stake president but the Lord is giving him the same revelation as he did with President Evanson.
On Wednesday, we had zone training in Dartmouth with all the missionaries in our zone (The Nova Scotia South Zone). It was conducted by our zone leaders, Elder Funa and Elder McNabb. It was a good zone training. I really liked the emphasis on the Book of Mormon during zone training. That seems to be a big push right now throughout the mission. The Book of Mormon shed the most blood out of any book. If the Book of Mormon can be discredited, everything goes with it. I am on page 80 of the Book of Mormon challenge. My favorite parts so far has been Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 8. He tasted of the fruit which was desirable above all else and wanted his family to partake of it.
Talk to you on Sunday! Have a great week!
Elder O'Brien

April 27, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Hello Family,
It has been a very rainy week here in Nova Scotia. It rained most of the week but on the weekend it was nice. This week has been very exhaustive. I am exhausted physically, spiritually, and mentally. Our teaching pool has gone from 3 investigators to 11 investigators. It has been the most tiring week of my mission so far. We have been doing a lot of planning and a lot of phoning. Before I start, Mother's Day is fast approaching. I have been thinking about phoning/skyping home and while President Leavitt hasn't said anything about the length of the call I was wondering if it would be okay if I skyped home at 2:00 my time? We have stake conference in the morning which will be broadcast at the chapel in Bridgewater and possibly a correlation meeting right after.
After P-Day was over we went knocking. While we were knocking, we knocked into an atheist. He told us that we have been indoctrinated and that we have been brainwashed by our parents. He said there is no evidence at all that there is a God and there is no way that Noah built an ark. He gave us a bunch of names of scientists and comedians that talk about religion and a talk show where a bunch of religions call in and express their reason why there is a God and every time they try to convince them that there is a God they get "slammed" and proven wrong. He says that religion is a joke. He wanted our e-mails so he could e-mail us a list of comedians/professionals that prove there is no God. Anyway, he was quite the atheist. He told us that he should be the one converting us. After that we went to the church and gave a blessing to a young couple from Grande Prairie. The husband's mother lives in Nova Scotia and is about to pass away so he wanted a blessing to help him through that. When I said I was from Stirling, they mentioned they know quite a bit of people from Southern Alberta.
Tuesday was very rainy and muddy. We had a correlation meeting with the sisters before going tohelp clear some wood off of a path to a member's oil barrel.
Wednesday, we had a mini-district meeting with the sisters to talk about last transfer and this upcoming transfer. We talked about the need to be balanced and using our leaders for help. This transfer was good; one of our less actives is progressing really well. We got dropped by a couple of our investigators but the area got a baptism this transfer. Overall, I thought it was decent transfer. This transfer we have high hopes with number of investigators we have and some of them are on-date for baptism. This should be a really successful transfer. We met with one of the sister's investigators before bishop's correlation meeting. She is 17 years old.  She is a really nice person. Very open. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ and Sister Shannon put her on-date for baptism for June 27th. But that is tentative; she agreed to work towards that date. So that is exciting.
Thursday was another cold, wet day. We gave service at the hospital in the morning, This week we got to read a letter to a old lady. It was in cursive and she has bad eye sight. It was 6 pages long and we had a difficult time making out some words. But it was a nice experience. It made me feel good inside knowing that I helped someone in need. It reminds me of the scripture "When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are in the service of your God."
Friday, we had weekly planning only this time it actually took 3 hours instead of 2 because of all the new investigators we now have, We actually forgot the Area Book at the church from the night before so we had to go to the church in the morning and get it. While we were, I saw some members from Kentville. They were cleaning our chapel. They are the cleaning crew for the stake. It was so nice to see them again. They told me they miss me and that the ward is doing good. It was the highlight of the day. While we were tracting, we knocked into a Jehovah's Witness. She was a older lady. She was really nice to us and talked to us about their beliefs. We offered her a card but she wouldn't take it unless she gave us theirs. So we accepted. Their pass-along cards are almost identical to ours. On the back of theirs it quotes Matthew 5:3 as "Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need." When in actuality it says "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for their's the kingdom of heaven." So I thought that was interesting.
Saturday, we went to Liverpool again. We helped a member with his car. Elder Beckmen is a mechanic so he was the one that helped him with that. He still won't drive to church because he can't afford gas though.
Sunday, we watched the Canada-Wide Broadcast. At least I thought it was Canada-Wide.. None of you mentioned it in your letter and all the members said it was Canada-Wide so now I'm curious. Elder Kacher spoke along with Elder Hales, Elder Andersen, and Sister Reeves. Elder Kacher spoke about a muslim friend being converted to the gospel and how we need to ask ourselves if we are truly converted to the gospel. Sister Reeves spoke about the Plan of Redemption and repenting. Elder Andersen spoke about being a light to the world and Elder Hales spoke about the number of teenagers who believe in Jesus Christ and how it has dropped in the last 4 years. The theme was families. Elder Hales, in particular, spoke a lot about how parents need to teach their kids about the simple doctrines and principles of the gospel. It made me think of Mom & Dad. You have helped develop a lot of gospel habits. I remember every time we went to a fireside you would ask me what I liked about the fireside. I now write down what I like about every fireside and share it with my companion. It was Elder Beckman's 6 month mark last week so we burned one of his ties that night. I decided to burn a tie as well even though I am 3 months late. It was hard choosing a tie to burn since all my ties are so nice. I like all of them. Sadly one of them had to go.
I am beginning to take things a day at a time. With the amount of investigators we have and the work and stress behind it, I am taking things in segments rather thinking of the next 6 weeks I need to take everything a day at a time. It's like shooting a half court shot in basketball all at once; you're not going to make it. But if you use your options, pass the ball, and take a good shot, you'll be successful. Same thing with missionary work. You have leaders that will help you and resources. Just need to take everything a day at a time rather then thinking "How am I going to get through these next 6 weeks."  Life and missionary work is a lot less stressful if you focus on a day at a time.
Fun fact - did you know in D&C 87:1-7, Joseph Smith prophesies of the civil war.
Have a great week!
Elder O'Brien