Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Dear Family,
It has been a much more sunny and hot week this week. We had hardly any rain and the temperature stayed above 20 degrees all week. Thursday was a bit of a hard day for me. I had flashbacks of when I got dropped off at the MTC and saying goodbye to you. At times during the day, I had a hard time focusing. But I was able to get through that day. I was able to commemorate my 1 year mark on Thursday by burning one of my white shirts that I got pen marks on by accident. So it wasn't good to wear anyway. It was a good burning.
They say when you go on a mission it is the passing of an era and that you start a new life. Elder Holland talked about it in a talk he gave at the MTC, "Feed My Sheep." He said that we can never go back to the people we were before our missions. That hour we entered the MTC, we began a new life. He talked about Peter and Jesus asking him to leave his net To quote what he said, "When I asked you to be a missionary, it was for forever! When I asked you to be an apostle, it was for forever! When I asked you to feed my sheep, it was for forever! You must never go back to your nets Elders and Sisters." It is very common among missionaries to be scared to go home and get back into old habits and turn into the person they were before their missions.
When we go home we will have to live on our own, we will have to find a career, we will have to date and get married, we will have to support a family, we will have to find a new job. It makes you want to be a missionary forever when you think about it. So it is easy to be discouraged about going home and facing all these new life pressures that we didn't have to worry about when we were on our missions. It is something I am getting scared of myself. But we as missionaries just need to remember that the Lord has great things in store for us and a mission provides experiences that will help you deal with things that you'll face in your lives. Elder Holland said in his talk that every meaningful thing that has happened to him in his life is because of his mission. He said that a mission is supposed to create a lasting change within us.
Some of the things I want to work on in the 2nd half of my mission is being more bold with people (with companions, with investigators, with less-actives, with members, with proselyting, etc.). Far too often I find that I am too timid and passive.  I want to be better at listening to people. I want to take more notes during my personal study. I want to write in my journal more. I want to memorize more scriptures. I want to increase my teaching ability. I want to take the initiative more. 
I got to go to Caribou, Maine on an exchange, During the exchange, I got to ride a bike for the first time on my mission. We went and put up posters around town. We also gave service at a food bank in Caribou. We got to take boxes of food to people's cars. It was a good workout. Those boxes weighed a lot and were quite heavy.  We also mowed a less active's lawn for about an hour and a half. She had a very big yard too and the lawn mower was short so I had to bend down every time I had to turn it around. It was very tiring. She is allergic to grass so that's why she has missionaries mow her lawn. But she fed us dinner afterwards. So between carrying boxes, riding our bicycles on up hill roads and mowing a less-active's lawn, I did a lot of labor on the exchange.
A new change came out from the mission this week. We will no longer be counting finding hours and contacts on Sundays to meet the finding standards. To quote President Pratt, "Sunday is a day to observe the sabbath, not to rush to meet standards." Right now a big focus in the mission is to make the sabbath day more of a personal experience for missionaries. On my mission, I have found that Sundays feel like just another regular day. They don't feel different like they did back home. So that is something that President Pratt is working on changing right now and I think this is a good first step. I also had my first interview with President Pratt. In my interview he wanted to get to know me more and my background. He asked me about my family, about my mission, what I did before my mission, etc. He also asked me about my personal study and our companionship studies. Then I asked him if key indicators will still count on Sundays and the answer was yes. Just not the number of people we talk to or the number of hours we knock. He then thanked me for making this transfer work. He said he knows it's been a harder one but he appreciates me making it work.
Thursday was my one year mark. We gave service in the morning and then we did a lemonade stand with the sisters in the afternoon in Woodstock. We had lots of people come up and talk to us.
Saturday we did another lemonade stand with the sisters. Except this time it was supposed to be in Houlton but we need a permit to do a lemonade stand in Houlton so we ended up doing it in Woodstock again. Not as many people came this time though. We were able to visit our investigator that evening and we picked her roommate up as a new investigator. She was asking us a lot of good questions about the bible and requested a Book of Mormon, Meanwhile her roommate was asking us questions about the Plan of Salvation. It was awesome. We were able to get into a teaching situationafter teaching her the stop-smoking program.
Have a good week!
Elder O'Brien

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