Saturday, December 26, 2015

November 30, 2015 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,
It is nearly December and the Christmas season has officially began. For us and the sister missionaries here in Bridgewater we kicked it off with a parade on Saturday. Sister Harlow organized a float for the ward. It was a nativity style float. Sister Harlow had us make invitations for the Ward Christmas Party on the 12th and attach a candy cane with them. Then she had us and the sisters walk beside the float and hand them out to people along the sides. It was a fun time. We got to wear Santa Hats for the parade. Except we were behind a dental float that was blaring hip hop music the whole time. We tried blocking it out in our minds but no matter how hard we tried we just couldn't. Admittedly all the missionaries started dancing to some of the music. But it was appropriate uplifting music so that made it a little better :). I never felt so worldly my entire mission than when we were behind that float. Overall the parade went pretty well. There were a lot of people there and we got to pass out all of the candy canes. They were mostly little kids too. The weather was nice. It wasn't too cold and it lasted for about an hour and a half. After the parade we had hot chocolate at Sister Harlows. It was great way for us to get into the holiday spirit.
We also had zone conference this week. At this zone conference we discussed the year that the mission had and this upcoming year. This year statistically for the mission was one of the worst years as far as convert baptisms go. It was annualized to be 52 for 2015. In years previous it was between 70-116 annually. But it wasn't just our mission that had a bad year. All the missions in North America had a decline in convert baptisms this year. There could be a number of contributing factors to it. So President Pratt raised some of the standards for the new year. Every week we need to have 15 hours of proselyting and 180 contacts. Originally it was 10 hours of proselyting and 140 contacts a week. The mission's goal for baptisms in 2016 is 135. In order to achieve that every companionship needs to find 1.5 new investigators a week. Each zone needs to have at least 24 new investigators a transfer.

To kick start these new standards and goals, this week we are doing a "Tour De Faith" competition between the Elders and the Sisters. We need to get 300 contacts and 30 hours of proselyting by the end of the week. Each day there is a daily competition. Today it is organizing a family home evening with a member with investigators and less actives. Tomorrow it is extending the most baptismal invitations. Wednesday it is the most creative contacting method. Thursday it is the most short restoration lessons. Friday it's handing out the most copies of the Book of Mormon. Sunday it's the number of Church Invitations. Whoever gets the most amount of contacts and hours plus the daily competitions wins a grand prize at the Christmas Zone Conference. So this week is going to be a fun-filled competitive week. It's also going to be very grueling and exhausting. But I have faith that the Elders can win :) haha. I'm excited for this competition.
Anyway, getting back to zone conference. President Pratt presented these new goals and standards to us for the year of 2016 and we all sustained him in them. I have no doubt that this mission can reach the convert baptism goal. The mission is in its prime right now and the missionaries are getting old and more experienced. 2016 is going to be a good year for the mission. These new standards/goals will also help the missionaries become more converted and will see less missionaries go home and become less active. 

At Zone Conference we also got trained on following-up. In this mission we don't follow-up as much as we need to. President Pratt said we have two measurements of time: A Transfer and A Week. It is true sadly. Sometimes we wait a week before we contact our investigators/less actives with no follow-up in between. President Pratt said we need to have daily contact. He said we should have at least 5 interactions between us and our investigators in between visits. He said it would be better if the members followed up with them.
Overall I enjoyed zone conference. I came away from it with an increased level of motivation and a better work ethic. These are inspired goals from the Lord and I know the Lord has confidence in us and is expecting big things from this mission in 2016. I fully sustain President Pratt in these.
These week we also picked up 4 new investigators. They are both couples.One I actually found when I was here the first time. We knocked on his door and he was having a really rough day. He let us in and we talked about the Atonement with him and how God loves him and is aware of his situation. He was really grateful for that visit we had with him. He said it made his day. He still remembers that and is very fond of me. He actually gave me a pocket knife as a "welcome back" gift. He is very humble and very down to earth. While we were eating dinner with them, we talked a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and some of the Restoration. But by the time we were done eating we were late to Ward Council. So when we got out of their place, we sped to get to the Church but unfortunately we got pulled over and got a $230 speeding ticket. But don't worry I wasn't driving. That was the first time I ever got pulled over on my mission. Needless to say we are being extra cautious now.
I went knocking for the first time on my mission on Saturday morning. I was skeptical of it at first but to my surprise more than half the people answered. But two of the people that we knocked into were in bath robes so that was a little awkward. But one said that we could come back. The other one said she felt uncomfortable :P.  But it went better than I expected.
We had institute on Thursday. Only one person showed up so we ended up Skyping into another institute class. At institute we talked about Matthew 8-9 and each of the miracles Jesus performed. Then the question I got asked:
1. What miracle do I need in my own life?
2. What am I going to do to get it with the Lord's will?
I have pondered that for the last few days and I still don't have an answer yet. What about you guys? I would encourage you to read those chapters and answer those questions yourselves.
Elder O'Brien (the Older)

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