Friday, March 18, 2016

March 7, 2016 - Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia

Dear Family,

The first snowstorm in about a month came on Saturday. The snow began late Friday evening and it continued till Saturday afternoon. About 10 cm of snow accumulated by the time it was over. The wind was 60 km/h and we were snowed in to our apartment until it stopped in the afternoon. After the snowstorm had passed we went out to work as usual. The first thing we did that afternoon was knock. As we began knocking we noticed a young gentlemen struggling to get his driveway shoveled out so we offered to help. He graciously accepted and that led to a nice friendly conversation about the Book of Mormon and a basic Restoration lesson. He is very open to learning about other religions. We grabbed his name and phone number. You gotta love it when an act of service leads to a potential investigator. After we shoveled that guy's driveway we got a phone call from a member referring us to shovel another member. So we went over and shoveled this older lady's driveway.

I came to an exciting realization this morning. I realized that general conference is only a month away from now. I'm starting to get excited. I am especially looking forward to hearing the 3 newest apostles' first official general conference message. I do sustain Elder Ronald A. Rasband, Elder Dale G. Renlund, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson as prophets, seers and revelators. That is going to be a great weekend. Although General Conference won't fall on Easter this year it will still be just as good. 

We learned this week that this transfer is officially a 7 week transfer to compensate for the extended MTC schedule. The transfer after this one will be a 5 week transfer to make up for the 7 week transfer. There was some speculation among us missionaries here that everyone in the mission would get a 1-week extension because of the 7 week transfer. But that is not the case. Everyone going home this year will go home at the same time they were scheduled. But the missionaries going home at the end of this transfer get an extra week. Lucky Elders and Sisters :P.

It was a emotional Fast Sunday yesterday. To start, my fast this month was for strength in mind, strength in body, strength emotionally, strength to overcome temptations and distractions, strength to stay focused, strength to stay motivated, strength to see my mission through to the end. This was a tough fast physically on me. It was the hardest fast I've done in my entire life. In the morning I felt fine. But as I went through the afternoon my body was getting weaker and weaker and I was losing energy fast. I struggled to get through choir, I struggled to get through correlation with the Sisters, I struggled as we were meeting with the Ward Clerk to discuss the ward list, I struggled when we were teaching a lesson. After the lesson I felt like my body was going to collapse but then this happened.. After the lesson, we had about 20 minutes before supper. We planned on street contacting in that time. We got into the car and I expressed my doubts that I was going to be able to street contact for 20 more minutes. Elder Steimle suggested we try 2 loops and see how I felt. I said "well okay.. but if I start feeling like I'm going to throw up then we gotta run" He said "okay that's fine just let me know". We said a quick prayer before we started street contacting. I offered the prayer. When we got out of the car the thought came to me "Wherefore I will be on your right hand and on your left and mine angels shall be round about you to carry you". We proceeded to street contact; I still felt weak but as I began talking to people, I felt strength beyond my own. We managed to do 3 loops and I testified with every fiber of my being to people. We got back in the car and went back to the apartment. I broke my fast. I grabbed some water as fast as I could. I ate some food. Then I was fine.

In those final few moments of my fast I had to dig deep. "Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." I sacrificed my physical desires and all the strength I had left. It's like the Lord was trying to test me saying "How bad do you really want it?, "How dedicated are you to this fast?" I felt joy and satisfaction in myself after the fast was over. Knowing that I didn't give in and that I stuck it out. It was the most excruciating and agonizing fast of my life!

Yesterday was an emotional day for another reason. We walked in the chapel and we saw the stake presidency sitting there. We thought "okay.. what's going on here? The stake presidency doesn't just come to a ward because they're bored :P." Sacrament meeting began and Bishop Johnson conducted. After the sacrament was over Bishop Johnson turned the time over to the stake president. The stake president got up and said "We release the following individuals from their callings. Bishop Brad Johnson, and Brother John Bosewell as the second counselor in the bishopric.`` (Gasps filled the room). "It is proposed that we sustain Bishop Peter Nelson, and Brother Aaron Wright as 2nd counselor in the bishopric." Bishop Johnson is very similar to the former Bishop Nilsson. Bishop Johnson is an amazing man and he had a huge heart for the ward. Sister Johnson is also identical to Mandy Nillson. Very loving, very sweet, very charismatic person. I found myself tearing up as they were giving their testimonies. Afterward I felt silly for getting emotional that the Bishop got released when I had only known him for 4 weeks. He made a quick impact on me. I cause it kind of just hit home for me because he reminded me so much of Bishop Nillson. 

Something remarkable is beginning to happen to me. I am beginning to see myself and my potential through God's eyes. Last week I saw myself being assigned to be a zone leader before my mission was over. This week I saw myself being called as a newly called Bishop in a ward that I will someday preside over. That impression came to me as I was sitting in sacrament meeting watching the stake president call a new bishop. In my patriarchal blessing it says to prepare myself to be a leader in the callings that will come to me. I am catching small glimpses of that.

I feel like that the Lord has been sending me a message through a series of impressions I've gotten over the past couple weeks through a series of experiences I've been facing. The message he is trying to send to me is related to me going home soon, the rest of my mission, my future after my mission. Some of the impressions I've been getting is "You're gonna be okay, you're gonna be alright", "You need not worry about your mission coming to a close soon; there is still a lot in store for you in these last couple of months", "I will help you deal with emotions of leaving your mission when the time comes", "I have grandeur things in store for you for the rest of your life", "You will someday be married and the love you have for these people will be magnified 10 fold for the woman you will someday marry", "Your mission is just the beginning", "You have grown so much". These impressions and experiences have confirmed to me that the Lord is mindful of me at this moment.

This week I had the opportunity to prepare a doctrinal discussion for district meeting. Elder Steimle assigned me to do this on Friday and after much prayer and pondering I decided to do a doctrinal discussion on BEING HAPPY IN OUR MISSIONARY WORK. I stayed up late to prepare this doctrinal discussion in the 2 nights leading up to District Meeting. I thought of the right questions to ask and the right scriptures to use. I posed the questions:

What makes you happy as a missionary?
What gets you down or makes you unhappy as a missionary?
Why was Laman & Lemuel so unhappy?
Read 1 Nephi 17:17-19
How can we become happy as missionaries?

I focused on Alma 26 for most of the discussion. I also focused on how our attitudes reflect our mission and how it's all about looking at the eternal perspective. I also focused on our life on earth and the trials that we go through on our missions will make us even more happy in the good times. 

Being happy is a strength I have and it's a talent I wanted to share with the district. I think they really benefited from that.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the older)

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