Monday, August 3, 2015

July 27, 2015 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Hello Family,

It has been a very cool week here in New Brunswick. It rained for most of the week and we hardly saw any sun. The cool weather is putting a damper on the summer. So hopefully we start getting more sun this week and for the rest of the summer.
I was excited to learn of the new "My Plan" program for all prospective and returned missionaries that will be coming out in August. I think it will be a great way for missionaries to apply the life skills and attributes they learned on their mission and apply them to the rest of their lives. I am grateful for this new program. You can be rest assured that I will start using it when it comes out. Although I wish it would have came out before my mission. Better late then never I guess. I am glad that Chris will be able to use it for his whole mission though. It seems whenever something associated with the Church happens or comes out, missionaries are always one of the first ones to find out about it. That is one of the perks of being a missionary. You get a inside scoop on everything that goes on in the Church.
A year ago today, I was sitting on the stand at the church in Stirling getting ready to give my farewell talk in front of all our family and friends. I remember that day perfectly. I remember feeling sick in the morning because I was nervous that the spotlight was on me that day. I remember Dad giving me a blessing that morning so that I could give my farewell talk with no troubles. I remember going to church and having everyone come up to me and shake my hand. I remember looking out from the pulpit and seeing people back to the gym. I remember feeling in control when I gave my farewell talk. I remember feeling confident. I remember feeling the spirit. I remember lots of people complimenting me on the talk I gave. I remember people telling me that it was the best farewell talk they've ever heard. I remember feeling overwhelmed with love and support of all my friends and family. I remember the amount of people that came to my open house that afternoon. I remember Chris being more nervous than I was that he wouldn't see his brother again for 3 years. I remember him being very emotional that day. I remember when President Evanson came and set me apart. I remember the powerful spirit that was there. I remember giving everyone a hug that was there (including Shawn). What a sacred day that was and one that I will never forgot and you'll never forget. I remember saying goodbye to Julie the next morning. I remember her giving a heartfelt prayer for me that morning. What a weekend that was.
This morning I read over my farewell talk and my setting apart from President Evanson. Yesterday, I looked over all the farewell cards I got from family and friends that day. I shed some tears as I was doing so. Realizing the amount of love and support I have back home. I experienced flashbacks to that day.
A year later, I now find myself sad that I hit my year mark on Thursday. As I have had the most fun I've ever had in my entire life and the most happiness in my entire life in this past year. I have grown the most in this past year than I have in any other year alone. At the beginning of my mission, I was scared of the next 2 years. Two years seemed like forever to me. But now I find myself wanting more time. I've realized that 2 years is an incredibly short amount of time and it goes by way too fast.
I thought a lot about this past year and what I have learned. Some of the skills I've developed are planning, working with people, the importance of follow-up, how much people matter, patience, open communication, talking to people, discipline, organization, cooking, communication, studying. There's probably more skills I've developed but I just can't think of them right now. 
I have also thought about if I were to write a homecoming talk what experiences I would share. I think I would share about how I learned the importance of being obedient early on in my mission when I was in Hampton. I would share the experience I had in Kentville with giving M** the Holy Ghost and baptizing her and her mom. I would share the memories I had of the winter shoveling roofs. I would share the experience I had coming to Bridgewater when there wasn't much happening at first. I would share the experience I had with a companion there and how open communication helped me love him and now he is one of my best friends. I would share how I ended up having the most success with Elder M** out of any of my other companions. That is a summary of what I would share if I were to give a homecoming talk one year in. 
My week was much better than last week. I have gotten settled in and I am feeling much more comfortable now. Although as far as the work goes, it was a rough week. Things fell apart on us and our week was all over the place. The work has been stagnant here. This is proving to be the hardest area I've served in so far. The work is going at a slow moving process.
It was branch conference yesterday. So we got to hear from the Stake Presidency in Sacrament. The stake presidency consists of President Spragg (SP), President Elliot (1C), and President Straight (2C). President Straight spoke about the organization of the Church. He spoke on how we as human beings naturally doubt revelation that we receive. President Elliot spoke on the difference between a sheep herder and shepherd. A sheep herder pushes the sheep along from the back. A shepherd has the sheep follow him. He related that how we are all shepherds in the Church. We are all leaders. We all have a circle of influence and we need to have the people that we influence follow us. President Spragg spoke about facing trials with confidence. He also said in his talk that he thought of missionaries as being shepherds. He said that he has a son that is going on a mission. He is going to the Edmonton Mission and will be reporting to the MTC, August 12th. So when you go to the MTC Chris watch out for a Elder Spragg. In Sunday School, it was combined with the Priesthood and the Relief Society. The Stake showed us the first part of the training that the Quorum of the Twelve apostles and the First Presidency gave at General Conference to all the area seventies on "Sabbath Day Observance." They talked about making Sacrament more of a meaningful experience by being to sacrament meeting early. They went in depth about each part of the sacramental prayer. Elder Holland spoke about the frequency of the sacrament and how it is the most repeatable ordinance in our Church. They talked about that we do everything "IN THE NAME OF CHRIST".
After Church we had linger longer.Everyone brought food items and then we all ate it. It was really good food. We ended up with a bunch of leftovers that the members gave us including bread, chili, cake, lasagna and more. Overall I really enjoyed branch conference and got a lot from it.
We had zone training on Wednesday in Fredericton for the New Brunswick West Zone. The STL's gave a training on teaching for understanding with the plan of salvation. In the afternoon, we got a training from the zone leaders on "Observance" and asking inspired questions. It was pretty good overall. I didn't really learn anything new but it's good to review.
We did a lemonade stand with the Houlton Sisters on Thursday. We had quite a few people come up to us and get some so it was a good success. But it began raining really hard after a while so we had to shut it down quickly.
On Friday we visited a new convert. We taught him about missionary work. He is really enthusiastic about the gospel right now and we want to teach him how to use that to his advantage.
One of the members here I have really connected with. He reminds me of Uncle Jason. He is very sarcastic and has a sense of humor like mine except he's like that consistently. He is just so funny and I got a kick out of him every time.
On another funny note.. lately my companion has been sharing spiritual thoughts with me in his sleep. Like the other day, he shared a scripture with me from Moses and Isaiah. Then he invited me to have faith in Isaiah. In my head I'm thinking "Kay sounds good Elder, thank you for the spiritual enlightenment in the middle of my sleep."
And the other night he said a prayer for a former investigator.
Have a good week!
Elder O'Brien

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