Friday, November 27, 2015

November 9, 2015 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Hello Family,

It has been a long hard week. I am glad that this week is finally over. It has just been one of those weeks I guess. We had three people drop us and the sister of an investigator told us to never come back. The other people that dropped us were an investigator that felt pressured and her sister. A less active in Island Falls told us to stop coming because her husband felt like she was being too involved with the Church. This surprised both of us because whenever we would visit she would be so welcoming and friendly.
On a positive note we have four potential investigators that we have lessons with this week. Hopefully at least one of those will turn into a new investigator. We also had the Primary Presentation yesterday and the kids in it did a great job. Although there weren't very many funny moments from it. They all were very reverent during the whole thing. None of them did anything that caught my attention or was noticeable. But they were robotic as they were doing their parts.

Today marks the beginning of Transfer Speculation Week. We get transfer letters on Sunday morning. All the missionaries it seems are anxious to find out where they will be spending Christmas and who they will be spending Christmas with. I personally am very excited to find out where I'll be for my 2nd and final Christmas on my mission. The results of Sunday's transfer letters will determine if I will have a Thanksgiving this year or not.

We went on exchanges this week with the Caribou Elders. I went to Caribou with Elder Alger. On the exchange we had a dinner appointment with some members in Caribou. When we got there we said a prayer before we went in. During the prayer instead of saying "Please bless us as we eat with them" Elder Alger said "Please bless us as we eat them". We both busted out laughing in the car for about 5 minutes before Elder Alger finally got through it.

Also during the exchange we went to Institute. But only 2 YSA's showed up so it was just us and them and the teacher there. The class was on Elder Holland's talk "None Were With Him" given in the April 2009 General Conference. We went to the food pantry in Caribou Thursday Morning and helped carry boxes of food to people's cars.They ended up giving us a ton of leftover food that we could take home with us including some cheesecake. We picked up a new investigator that afternoon. He was a potential that they raked leaves with that invited them to come back. We had dinner with this awesome family in Caribou. They give them a ton of referrals and are very strong in the ward.

Yesterday at church we had 3 people show up that were trying to Anti some of the members. One of members said they told her she was going to hell and she needed to be saved. They came up to us and started going into Joseph Smith and his 11 wives. It was pretty sketchy. One of them was taking recordings during sacrament meeting. President Peters ended up telling them to leave after sacrament meeting. It was pretty weird. 

Anyway I need to get going but have a good week! Have a nice Remembrance Day!


Elder O'Brien (the older)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 2, 2015 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by and it is November. Christmas is only a month and a half away. For that reason.. Me and Elder Steimle have begun listening to Christmas music to help bring in the Christmas Spirit to our days. Before you know it we will all see each other on a screen and will be talking to each other vocally. I am excited for that Skype. It'll be fun to have a group Skype.

Yesterday was daylight saving's and as much as I tried to get an extra hour of sleep in my body wouldn't let me. It kept telling me "It's 6:30 you need to wake up". I tried to tell it "No it's not you can sleep for another hour." This was disconcerting to me. It makes me wonder how my body will respond when I can actually sleep in past 6:30. But I have a while before I have to worry about that :P. At least that's what I've been telling myself. "9 months is a really long time.. I don't have to worry about going home yet."

My week was pretty uneventful. We went to Island Falls on Tuesday and tried visiting some less actives out there but some of them fell through so we ended up doing some finding instead. There is one less active in Island Falls that stopped coming to Church 7 years ago because a member that is still fully active offended him. What's even more saddening is that he has stopped reading the scriptures and praying completely because he got offended. He is a really nice guy and everything but he is just hard to talk to.

President Pratt came to our district meeting on Wednesday. It was fun having him there. He had a lot of nice input. The mission's focus right now is working with the YSA Less Actives and helping them come back. The whole reason behind this YSA push is because the active YSAs in the Maritimes are few. President Pratt want us to reach out to and help the YSA program become stronger. They are the future generation for this area of the world and they need to be treated very seriously. I personally am a huge fan of this focus. With YSAs they are our age and it is easier for us to connect with them.

We had fried chicken with an investigator this week. After dinner we had a lesson with him. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and used Jeremiah 1:5 as one of the scriptures. The lesson went well. He was very receptive to the lesson and was very involved. He had some good questions about the Pre-Earth life that we were able to answer in a simple way. He is going in for surgery today and we are hoping for a speedy recovery for him. 

On Saturday it was Halloween and it was a pretty quiet Halloween for Woodstock. Not a lot of kids were out and the streets were pretty bare. For Halloween we got into our apartment at the right time and did our weekly planning like we usually have for the evening. It was a pretty uneventful Halloween for me this year. Which is a good thing.

On Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting. The testimonies were good. There were a couple that were story-monies but every testimony meeting has those no matter where you are. After Church we had a very heart-warming dinner appointment with some members. They are a fun family. At the end of the dinner appointment, the wife got emotional and sincerely asked us to contact her if we are hungry and have nowhere to go for dinner. It really got to her that no one fed us Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner this year. She said that if it were her child she would be very upset. They are a very fun-loving family and they make me feel at home whenever I go over there. There is always those members in every area that passionately care about the missionaries and we feel close too.

Have a good week!


Elder O'Brien the older

Friday, November 6, 2015

October 26, 2015 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Hello Family,

The weather here was cooler than last week but we didn't get any snow this week so that was a plus. One week from now it will be November and it will continue to get darker earlier and earlier. This takes me back to the good old days in Kentville last winter when we would go knocking at 6 o'clock at night and it would be really dark out already. As far as tracking at night during the winter goes, we generally knock till 8 o'clock at night. But if the houses are dark and now one's answering then we don't knock. But if the lights in the house are on late at night then we can go ahead and keep knocking.

This Saturday is Halloween. For Halloween we have been instructed to be in our apartments by 5 o'clock and stay in for the night. Instead of doing weekly planning on Friday when we usually do, we will be doing weekly planning on Saturday night instead. This makes a lot more sense to me. Rather than missionaries using that night to relax and watch movies.

This week we met with one of our investigators; I was on an exchange with Elder Stratton. Brother Seaboyer also came to that lesson. The lesson went great! The spirit was so strong during that lesson. We taught her about the Restoration and recited the first vision to her. Brother Seaboyer bore his testimony of converting from the Anglican Church to our Church. Then we asked her that when she finds out if it is true if she'll get baptized and she said yes. We met with our top investigator as well. Brother Robertson came to that lesson. We read Moroni 10 with him and then we invited him to be baptized. He said he wants a more solid confirmation before he commits himself to that. We had a good discussion about Moroni 10 and the Book of Mormon. He has a bad back and he has a hard time sitting for a long period of time. Yesterday he came to sacrament but left early because his back was in pain.

This week we went on exchanges with the Caribou Elders. I was with Elder Stratton in Woodstock. This was the 3rd time I worked with Elder Stratton for a day. He has a high work ethic and is very missionary minded. On the exchange we saw some less active members. We had 2 cool experiences when we were together. The first one was while we were street contacting and we ran into someone we talked to a week before at the Hot Chocolate Stand. So we stopped him and ended up teaching him the First Vision and the Book of Mormon to him and then we set up a return appointment for Saturday. He was very easy to talk too and very receptive. We basically had a lesson with him on the street. The other cool experience was when we were going to see a less active member in Hartland. When we walked in her grandson was there. He is 23 years old. He's not very active in his own Church (Baptist). He has met with missionaries before but he moved away when they started teaching him. Anyway he is very interested in our Church. Originally we were going to teach a lesson to the less active member but we ended up teaching the Restoration to him and he said he would ask his dad if he could meet with us. We were both really excited about that afterwards.

The branch had a Harvest Supper on Friday night and it was a great turnout! There were tons of people that showed up. It was the most people I've seen at the Church since I've been here. They were mostly less active/non-members too. We had a good fellowship with them and with the members that were there. All and all it was a great event put on by the branch.

Yesterday we had the opportunity and blessing to administer the sacrament to two less active members. Because of old age/health problems they cannot come to Church. So we were assigned to take each of them the sacrament. This was a humbling experience for me. I have had the opportunity to take the sacrament to a less active member many times on my mission. It made me think of Christ when he administered the sacrament to his disciples.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the older)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

October 19, 2015 - Winter Round 2 - Woodstock, New Brunswick

Hello Family!

It has been a cold weekend here in New Brunswick/Maine. Yes, we had our first snowfall of the winter on Saturday :/. There was quite a bit of frost this morning on our car as well. It's safe to say that winter is back. I am grateful that you sent me my winter clothes as it looks like I got them just in time. They say that New Brunswick winters are a lot colder than Nova Scotia's and if that's the case then I am in for a long winter. It might be worse than last winter.

This weekend was stake conference. The adult session and the Sunday morning session were both broadcasted to the chapel in Houlton. In both sessions, they talked a lot about Ward Councils and the importance of women speaking up and reaching out to others. Overall Stake Conference was enlightening and edifying. During stake conference, we learned that on November 22nd they will be broadcasting the dedication of the Montreal Temple to Caribou, Charlottetown, and Saint John wards. We are supposed to go to the nearest church building. So that would be Caribou for us. This took me a little by surprise. I didn't think that they would be broadcasting a dedication of another temple that's not in the Maritimes to us.
Yesterday I had a rough day. As President Straight spoke about his mission, he told a story of how good it feels that those he influenced on his mission are staying faithful. That hit home for me in a bad way because most of the people I've taught on my mission aren't staying faithful. I had a good influence on M and now she has fallen away. R in Hampton has now fallen away too. So doubt and darkness filled my mind and my heart yesterday as I began to question the impact I've made on the people I have worked with. I had some pretty dark thoughts as well. This continued until this morning when I received the impression, "They have their agency." This impression dispelled all the feelings of darkness and doubt I felt yesterday. I know it was Satan trying to put me down. He is good at making me feel inadequate. But if the Lord didn't need me on a mission then he wouldn't have called me. 

I have a funny story for you this week.. While we were knocking on Wednesday night, we walked by this house and inside we saw that they were watching the Blue Jays game. Before this we had dinner at a member's and they informed me that it was Game 5 of the series and it was the deciding game. So of course I volunteered to knock on this person's door. So I knocked on the door and did the standard knocking approach. He wasn't too receptive at first and said he wasn't interested. So I asked for a referral and he said he doesn't know anyone. Then as he was closing the door I said "Just before we go.. I noticed you were watching the baseball game and I'm an avid baseball fan myself. What is the score of the game?" Then he all of a sudden perked up and said "6-3 Blue Jays.. Bautista just hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the 7th". He still wasn't interested after that but that seemed to have softened him up. I know we're not supposed to talk about sports with people but when I saw that he was watching the baseball game my natural man took over and I couldn't help myself but ask him what the score was. Plus it showed him that missionaries are real human beings too; we're not just there to preach at them. We are also told to be real with people. I was simply being real with him by asking him what the score of the baseball game was. I think his view of missionaries changed after that too. So that was a cool moment experience for me.

We had zone training in Fredericton this week. At zone training the first training was on the YSA. In the training they talked how the young college/university students are a lot more open minded and not set in their ways. They called them "The Millennials of the Church." The older people are more set in their ways and. Whereas Millennials are much easier to talk to and more willing to talk to you too. Each area was given the list of the YSA age members of the unit and we were instructed to pick out some of the YSA's and present them to the Bishop and discuss how we should work with them. During the training we were also to contact the local university/college and get a list of clubs/societies from them. Then plan on setting up a booth one day of the week. It is a new method of finding to implement. It helps us focus on the younger people and help them in their conversion. We were also told to get in the habit of testifying "Why?" when we're talking to them. "Why are we on a mission? Why are we giving up 2 years to do this? Why does this matter to us?" That sort of thing. When we do that our testimonies will move them and they will want to learn more.

We met with our investigator Timothy twice this week - at dinner and at a regular meeting. We talked about the Book of Mormon and The First Vision in these lessons. He read the introduction to the Book of Mormon and accepted everything very well. He even came to stake conference yesterday morning. We are planning on putting him on-date this week so hopefully all goes well with that and he will commit to baptism in the near future.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the older)