Friday, February 26, 2016

February 15, 2016 - Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Hello Family,

Transfers have taken place and all the sister missionaries I came out with are officially all home. Now the sister missionaries that came out after me will slowly transfer by transfer go home as well. That will be weird for me. Leaving Bridgewater the 2nd time this week wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was still hard but it wasn't as hard as when I left the 1st time. This time I kinda slipped under the radar and left. The first time I was very vocal that I was leaving Bridgewater and I did a lot of member visits and good-bye visits. But since I said good-bye already I didn't do as many of those visits; rather I did more work this week. 

Before I continue I want to share a scripture with you:

Jacob 5:62-64
62 "Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard.
 63 "Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time."
 64 "Wherefore, dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more, for the last time, for the end draweth nigh. And if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow."

The reason I wanted to share that with you is because: As I begin the last quarter of my mission. As I preach the gospel in the Maritimes to these people for the last time. As I teach them the gospel for the last time. As I work with President Pratt for the last time. As I work with the members here for the last time. As I serve with these missionaries for the last time, I will work with all my might and give the Lord EVERYTHING I have got left. Using Elder Holland's words in a MTC talk ``It's not over till it's over!" Whether I have 6 months left or I've been out for 1 month, it really doesn't matter. Until I step off that plane I am the Lord's missionary and I am working for him. My focus level is still the same and my motivation level is still the same. I have got a fire under my belly right now and I want to use that fire to work really hard. By the end of these 6 months, I want more than anything to have become the missionary God wants me to become and to be the man God wanted me to be. 

My time with Elder Sturko is being short-lived as the Church has gotten his visa and he will be leaving Wednesday for his own mission. After that it will be just me and Elder Steimle in Sackville. But even though the Church has gotten his visa he hasn't gotten his hard-copy visa yet. For his sake I really hope that he can leave on Wednesday because he was called to that mission for a reason and I want him to be with the people God wanted him to be with. 

MONDAY: We had a snowstorm come through in the afternoon right after I e-mailed you. We were blacksmithing at the Nilisons at the time. I was making a hook. We got about 25 cm of snow that day. 
TUESDAY: We went to the library in the morning to do service but the library was closed so we just worked on the curriculum for the Pilot Program instead. In the afternoon we went to Lunenberg and visited Brother Aulenback. Brother Aulenback is the organist in Bridgewater and is very famous for his music. He started playing the piano when he was 7. He showed us some of his musical credentials over the years and taught us a little bit of piano.

THURSDAY: We had to wake up at 4:30 a.m and then we left at 5:30 to be at the mission office by 7. We dropped Elder Evans off; then me & Elder Quinton worked in Sackville. We went knocking in the morning and the very first door I knocked on a lady with just a bathrobe answered the door. I felt very uncomfortable and said "Uhh... could we just pass you on a Card.". No introduction or anything; it was pretty awkward :P. The doors following her were people in their bathrobes too! We picked a bad time to knock that day. Elder Quinton picked up Elder Ray at the temple in the afternoon and we picked up Elder Steimle. We went and did some service at the food-bank in the evening. Then we had a nice visit at the James's. Brother James is the high priest group leader here and his wife is in the stake young women's. They said they like to see missionaries out and about in the community.

SUNDAY: It was my first Sunday in Sackville; it was also Valentine's Day. For Valentine's Day the bishop`s wife (Sister Johnson) made us a bag of cookies . We also got some cupcakes. The ward mission leader had us over for dinner and he fed us stir-fry. 

Sackville is a smaller ward. But it has a lot of youth and return missionaries. Missionary work is hard to do in this area. It's not as big as Halifax but it's bigger than Lethbridge. Overall, it's a perfect fit. I think this area has a lot of potential.

Have a good week!

Elder O`Brien (the older)

Friday, February 19, 2016

February 8, 2016 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

This morning we received the transfer letter and as I was expecting, I am getting transferred. I am getting transferred to Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. Sackville is a part of the Halifax Metro area. I will be serving with Elder Steimle again in a trio training a new missionary that has just been out for one transfer. The new missionary's name is Elder Sturko. He is from Edmonton. I went on a exchange once with him once this transfer. He is only in this mission temporally. He is a visa missionary that is waiting for his visa to go to the Utah St. George Mission. So I'll likely only be with him for a few weeks before his visa arrives. But if it's at all like Elder Evans then I'll do just fine with him :). Plus I get to train for the first time and I think that will be a good experience for me. I think me and Elder Steimle will be good examples to him. 

I don't know what it is lately but for some reason President Pratt seems to like putting me in an old area and putting me with old companions. This transfer I served with Elder Evans again in a trio after being with him for 2 transfers in Woodstock. Next transfer I will be serving with Elder Steimle again. At this rate I won't have a completely new companion again :P. But I wasn't with Elder Steimle that long. So I am excited to be with him again. We were beginning to form a good companionship in Woodstock.

I have learned a lot of lessons from Bridgewater and I have formed a lot of memories here. Not many missionaries can say that they've served in an area twice; I'm fortunate enough to say that I have. I feel very blessed that way. I feel that I have learned the lessons that I've needed to learn here and I will apply what I have learned to Sackville and to the rest of my life. I have grown to love these people. Bridgewater will always have a special place in my heart. Serving here has been one of the highlights of my mission.

I have been to Sackville many times on exchanges during the time I've been in Bridgewater. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. I'm not a city person and there's a reason we moved from Calgary to Stirling. But Sackville isn't near as big as Halifax so it won't be nearly as bad. I am already kind of familiar with the area and the ward. There are challenges that lie ahead for me in that area but I will face them with confidence and endurance. This will be my second time serving in the Halifax Metro area. I started my mission in Halifax and I enjoyed being around the metro missionaries. There are a lot of perks of being close to the mission home. It is going to be a fun transfer. I am excited.

Tuesday: We started giving service at the local library. We shelved books for 2 hours. By the end of it my knees were bright red from kneeling. I got about 4 rows done. I had to arrange the books in order of the Dewey decimal system. The whole time I thought of Mom when she had to shelve books from time to time. I also thought of all those work experience students that had to shelve for more than 2 hours. It's safe to say that I now feel for those students and for Mom when they had to shelve. We picked a potential investigator. He is a older man that lives at a nursing home. When we stopped by we weren't sure if he wanted to meet with us because he's just lonely or if he's legitimately interested.

Thursday: We went to Liverpool and got two solid member referrals from Sister Malone. One of them that we contacted seemed very interested. She said the only reason why she wouldn't want to meet would be because of her health. But the Sisters are going to start working with her once her health improves. We had a dinner appointment and they fed us deer meat. It was really chewy and to be honest I didn't like it that much :P.

Friday: We did a day trip out in Lockporte/Shelburne since we're never out there because it is an hour and a half away. Sister Harlow made us sack lunches/dinners. We spent the day stopping by less actives in Shelburne and former investigators. Unfortunately only 1 former investigator answered but he did tell us to come back. None of the less actives were home in Shelburne. Then we went to Lockporte and had a lesson with a less active. The only reason why she doesn't come to Church is become of the distance. She is a very active less active. We taught her a short powerful Restoration Lesson and the spirit was really strong. It was one of the more powerful lessons I've been a part of. We all bore our testimonies about the Restoration and it touched her. After the lesson we headed back to Bridgewater. Even though not many people answered and it was raining all day, our presence was felt in that area.

Sunday: It was fast and testimony meeting. In anticipation that I would get transferred I bore my final testimony to the ward. It was a nice and simple testimony. I also complimented the youth that they have in their ward and thanked them for their willingness to do the right thing and for being good examples.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the older)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

February 1, 2016 - Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

It has been a pretty uneventful week here in Nova Scotia. We did get another snow storm on Friday though. By Saturday afternoon all the roads were plowed. So people didn't really have any excuse why they couldn't come to Church yesterday.

Our ward mission leader's house burned down last Monday. His wife was getting their kids ready for school and when they went into the garage there was a big hole in their garage and there was smoke everywhere. They don't know what the cause was for the fire. Now they are currently residing in a hotel for the time being. We usually have correlation at his house and we joked about having correlation in his hotel room. It would be a funny mission story to tell when I got home. But we decided having correlation in a hotel room with 5 missionaries and him, his wife, and their 5 kids probably wouldn't be the wisest thing to do so we are having correlation at the Church instead. You'd think that they are pretty shaken by all this but they are being champs about the whole situation. They didn't seem phased that their house burned down and will probably have to get a new one. They are being really upbeat about the whole thing. 

This Sunday is TL day (Transfer letters). Transfers will take place next week. This transfer letter will be very significant for me and it will impact the rest of my mission a great deal. If I stay here another transfer then I will likely have only 1 more area. If I get transferred then I have 1 or 2 areas left. But I am on the chomping block this week. I know when I got transferred back here that I would only be back for a shorter amount of time. Over the span of the last 9 transfers, 6 of those have been in Bridgewater. I have been here for almost a total of 9 months. That's a long time! That's almost half my mission in one area. I feel like I have done almost I can in this area and I have exhausted a lot of work here. If I leave next week I will be sad to leave again but I will leave knowing I've done what I got sent back here to do. It has been such a joy to serve here. 

On Monday and Tuesday we went on an exchange with the Sackville Elders. We saw a less active family that evening and they have two daughters that don't have a lot of gospel knowledge. But the mom and the brother know quite a bit about the gospel. So we taught them the Restoration and committed them to read their scriptures every day.

On Thursday President Pratt came down to Bridgewater and gave a training on member missionaries to the bishopric, the ward mission leader, us, and the ward missionaries. In the training President Pratt stated that members aren't doing a good enough job at doing member missionary work. He said that they need to do better. He talked about implementing Pray, Look, Speak, and Invite and about having the missionaries work with selected families and teach them those principles and help them overcome their fears. We will meet them weekly until they become a reliable source for referrals. 

Saturday, nobody was on the streets, nobody was answering their door, nobody was answering their phone. It was just one of those days. But we were able to meet with one of our less actives that we haven't seen in a long time.

Have a good week!


Elder O'Brien (the older)