FYI: This blog is being taken care of by Sister Martin's mom Sharon Martin - She is posting emails and pictures that I am sending to her each week.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Because we didn't have a full week between P-days, I don't have too, too much to write today! But I will muster up all my creative writing abilities and try and write something that is somewhat interesting.

We have 1 new investigator this week!!! Her name is Justina. She is actually the daughter of one of our members in the ward! Her mother and sister (who is less active) joined the church together, but Justina (who was an adult and involved in another church already) never did. We taught her the restoration. Surprisingly enough, she believes in the restoration, BOM and Jesus Christ....she actually struggles with believing in God. I have to admit, I've never heard that one before....usually it's the opposite problem (not believing in the BOM, restoration etc.). She loves having us over for tea and has always joined us for spiritual thoughts at her mother's home, which makes our job a bit easier. We will be seeing her Thursday and will start to study the BOM together! Fingers crossed all will go well!

Sister Shchur's b-day is coming up on Friday (Aug 2nd) and I have discovered just how hard it is to plan a birthday for a companion, who you have to be with 24/7 (literally!). Any chance I get (when she's in the shower, bathroom, etc.) I've been planning! Yesterday I was able to get away from her at church long enough to recruit the help of some of the ward missionaries.....I'm having them go to the store for me and put together a package of her favourite things! Another ward missionary is going to have us for tea that night, and we'll have a big cake for her! I've been sneaking out of bed after she falls asleep to make hearts that I'll be heart-attacking our flat with! I plan to write all the things I love about her on the hearts! I hope her b-day will be special! Though we are very different, she is the nicest person on planet earth, and deserves to have an incredible b-day!!!

We had a good old American-style BBQ at our ward mission leader's home on Saturday! Since 3/4 of the missionaries here are from N.America, he knew we probably were craving good old fashioned burgers. He bought jalapeno burgers, wings, salsa and chips, cream soda, and New York Cheesecake! Can I just say: BEST WARD MISSION LEADER EVER!! Brother Davey is wonderful, hilarious (very sarcastic) and is very enthusiastic! We all love working with him!

We had 4 hour finding on Saturday! On the 1st Saturday of each new transfer, all missionaries in the mission participate in 4 hours of finding (i.e. 4 hours of tracting, street contacting, bus contacting etc.) It was so much fun compared to the last time! Last time I was only 3 days in the mission field and had no clue what I was doing. Now that I am 100% confident in talking with people, it was an absolute blast! No major miracles came from it (yet)....just gave away a couple BOM's and had some nice conversations....but it was a confidence boost to see how I've grown in just 6 weeks. Example: We got on a bus and there was only 1 lady on it. I talked to her right away, and then my companion took over for awhile, and I decided why not just talk to the bus driver. So I yelled down the bus to him, and we were shouting back and forth down the bus (my companion thought I was crazy). I ended up standing beside him and we had a great conversation (he ran away to Indiana for 6 months once to get away from an we talked all about N. America vs. England and then the discussion led to how rubbish the world is becoming......Bam! Gospel discussion!). I am official friends with a bus driver now haha! If I had been on a bus 6 weeks ago, I wouldn't have even said hello to someone! So great to see how fast you can grow in such a short time-frame!

We still are unfortunately teaching the creepy man who's home smells like dead bodies and looks like an evil villains lair from a Bond movie or something! I'm hoping Sis S will come to her senses soon and listen to me, the elders, and our distric leader, and stop booking follow-up appointments with him. She's agreed that after Wed we can stop seeing him in his home and only meet him in public buildings. Thank goodness!!!!!

Besides this, really no major exciting things to share.

Random things:
Since Sis. Shchur is getting supported by the church on this mission, everything she buys comes out of her church bank card. The catch is though that she doesn't receive any more money than the rest of us, so this means that she has less grocery money to spend than I do. This means that at the end of the month, we have almost no money for groceries! I was sitting down, and planning out our meals for the week (so we knew EXACTLY what to buy so we could spend as little as possible) and told Sis S. that for Fri and Sat we were going to have air for lunch (we pretended to eat the air and season it with salt and pepper) and oatmeal+ cornflakes for dinner (our new FAV!.....not! hahaha). She just loved it (she somehow at least pretends to laugh at my never-ending stream of dumb jokes). Then she shouted out: "WAIT.....THIS WEEK IS FAST SUNDAY!!!!! WOOHOO WE DON'T HAVE TO BUY FOOD FOR THAT DAY" and gave me a big huge high-five! Oh the life of a missionary!!!!! I love these small, silly moments! Sometimes you just have to laugh at the sad situations we find ourselves in at times! :)

Anyways, that's all I really have for this week!!!

From the rainy again land of Telford!
Sister Martin

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Erika is staying in Telford for at least another 6 weeks

Random bits of news:
1st : I'M STAYING!! Sister Shchur and I both will be in Telford for the next transfer! I'm so glad for this. I'm getting really attached to this area- the members are wonderful...I'm actually starting to remember who everyone is.....and our teaching pool is growing fast!!!!!! I'll tell you more about that later! I'm so ready to work hard and watch the work explode over these next 6 weeks!

2nd: THE BABY IS BORN!!!!! To be honest, I could really care less about it, but having the royal baby being born has actually been awesome for missionary work. Every time I'm on the bus or the street, I just ask people if they have any news on whether the baby has been born/ if he has a name yet, and they start talking non-stop! Fantastic for this missionary! I love it! I've given away a billion cards from conversations that I started courtesy of Prince No-name!

3rd: ELDER HOLLAND AND ELDER NELSON ARE COMING AND SPEAKING TO OUR MISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In a few days, the first ever church pageant happening outside of the USA is happening in Chorley (at the temple that is in my mission). Our mission is so privileged to have these apostles come and speak to us for a 2-hour mission conference. None of the other England missions are getting this...just us! I feel so blessed to be here at this time! I'm so excited for the pageant as well. We are taking an entire less active family, their non-member friend and our investigator Remek. It will be amazing!

Anyways, there ends my random bits of news.

My week:
So this week has been really, really hard. Lots of tears and frustration! I pretty much spent 99% of my week on my knees, praying my face off to Heavenly Father. Prayer works!
I decided in the midst of all of this frustration that I would focus on something I learned from a talk by Elder Bednar, called The True Character of Christ. It talks all about how Jesus Christ always looked outwards (not worrying about himself, but caring and serving for others) during his times of greatest trial and pain. Read it! It's an incredible talk. We watched this talk in the MTC and it stuck with me! I decided to do just that! Look outwards instead of inwards! I decided to focus all my energy on our investigators and members, and stop sulking about my own issues. I decided to increase the time I spent praying and studying the scriptures. The miracles we saw this week were absolutely incredible!!

The resulting miracles:
1. REMEK IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!! SKGJAJFAOGHAHEHSJGAEKHGFWH!!!!!!!!! Remek will be getting baptized on August 17th! And I'm staying in Telford, so I'll get to be there for it! He is so prepared for the gospel, it is absolutely ridiculous!!!!!! We also found a Polish fellowshipper (Bartosz) for Remek! He is a less-active member in the ward of our neighbouring area (Wrekin ward). This is also a blessing for the Elders in Bartosz' ward, because this is already proving to be a help in re-activating Bartosz as well! Bartosz and Remek got along amazingly!!! Bartosz was able to help us teach the law of chastity and word of wisdom (we had no Polish pamphlets for these lessons, so getting Bartosz to help translate was a miracle!) Remek has been living these commandments already for the last 4 years- because of a bad experience he had in the past that motivated him to clean up his life!

And I repeat..... SO PREPARED FOR THE GOSPEL!!!!!!!! We just love Remek! We always leave his home grinning ear-to-ear! He trusts and loves us so much! We see him 3-4 times a week, and our lessons are always fabulous and so spiritual! Bartosz told us that we don't have to worry that Remek is not understanding...Bartosz said Remek's prayer was so beautiful, and that he has the most incredible testimony! Bartosz was very touched by Remek, and the things Remek shared during that lesson!!

2. We found 3 new investigators this week! 3! In an English mission, 3 is equivalent to like 200!!

Adolf and Jose: We met Adolf while tracting a few weeks back! He is from East Timor! He was so thrilled that we got an Indonesian Book of Mormon with him! Because of the missionary rule where we cannot teach a man without having at least 2 other men, or 1 woman with us, a huge door opened up for us. I called Adolf and told him about our rule and asked if he had any friends that could join us! Turns out he lives with like 7 other young men- all from East Timor. 3 of them joined us for the lesson, and they all asked to get Indonesian BOM's too!! 2 had to leave early in our lesson because of work, but Adolf and his friend Jose stayed for the whole lesson! We taught the restoration. The spirit was insane! Adolf and his friend both declared that they believed our message was true and that they believed in the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith! Adolf was almost in tears. They were so grateful to know we still have prophets. They wanted us to teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation right then and there, but we had to go to another appointment! Their faith is unbelievable!!! I can't wait to see the miracles that will happen in this household of faithful, prepared young men!

3. Tanwaa:

We also found Tanwaa tracting in the first week of our mission. We decided to try her home again and success! We taught her the restoration and she too, felt it made complete sense. She is an incredibly intelligent woman, who has worked incredibly hard to move her 2 young children to England from Nigeria. She is almost finished her diploma in human nutrition, and has fought so hard through trials to give her kids a good life. She expressed her frustration in her years of never-ending trials, but told us that she always prays to God no matter what. She knows that God sometimes makes his most faithful children wait for relief, because they will become stronger from their experiences. She trusts that one day God will take care of her, and strives to live her life in a way that would not anger him. SO PREPARED (I think that will be my new motto for the Telford area!) She is eager to study the Book of Mormon! We are seeing her again in a few days.

4. We also have another progressing investigator now........ I'll be honest...he is actually super potential axe-murderer kind of creepy! We are bringing our elders with us to our next lesson with him, and likely will be passing him on to them to teach in the future, but progress is still progress ha ha! We taught him the restoration and are meeting him tonight to teach the plan of salvation! It's so incredible to see our whitewashing finally begin to pay off!

5. We had to go into Manchester for new missionary training last week. Sis S and I had done a language study on the train and then she fell asleep. It was a long train ride (2.5 hours) and I decided I might as well talk to someone and make the most of my time. I noticed that the man across the aisle from me had a Canada/Union Jack pin on his suit jacket. I asked him about it, as I showed him the back of my missionary tag- which had a Canada sticker that I had received from my mom in the mail, literally 2 seconds before I ran out the door to catch the train. He nearly wet his pants; he was so excited to meet a Canadian. Turns out he's never been to Canada, but his dad was born there and he's always been fascinated with our country. Neil and I had a 2 hour conversation on the train. The 1st 45 mins was just us talking about our lives. I then got to teach him the entire restoration on the train! We had the most incredible discussion! So many great questions! He loved the message I shared and wanted to learn more! My companion was so confused as she woke up right at the end of the lesson haha! I gave him a BOM and he gave me all his contact info- address, post code, phone number.......that NEVER happens on the are usually lucky if you can get a phone number from someone (and that it isn't a fake phone number!). Now the sisters in Manchester have a new investigator! MIRACLES!

More random bits from my week:

1. I get to teach RS again soon! The presidency told me that they're going to ask our mission president if they can call me to be a teacher (apparently it has happened in the past, where missionaries are given ward callings when there is a desperate need for extra bodies to help!). We'll see what happens there! Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE teaching RS, and would happily do that for the rest of my church life if I could!

2. Sis S and I hit a whole new level of pathetic this week! Our food situation got pretty desperate by the end of this week, and we were sick of eating toast and potatoes for every meal. We had oatmeal for dinner last night, and suddenly I saw Sis S putting cornflakes into her oatmeal. Yes, we were that desperate for some flavour. Well.....I joined right in. Cornflakes + milk + oatmeal + sugar! Meal of a champion missionary right there! Luckily we finally have some tea appointments this week, so we should not starve this week :)

3.  Did you know that people sneeze in different languages!!! I had to sneeze really bad the other night, but couldn't. Sis S looked at my distorted face and proceeded to say "ahhpchi??". I proceeded to ask her what on earth she just said. I thought it was some random Russian word. Turns out, she was asking if I needed to sneeze. They say "ahhh-ppchi" in Russia when they imitate a sneeze...not "achoo". WHAT ON EARTH! Well this tired, exhausted missionary found this hilarious for some reason and before you knew it, we were rolling on the ground laughing. I love our language bloopers we have here! To prove that I was right and she was wrong. I made our entire district during a conference call do an impersonation of a sneeze. They were all American, so Sis Shchur lost this battle! Sneezes go ACHOOO. Not aaaahpchi! :)

Anyways, that is it for this week. I love you all dearly! While I was praying my face off this week, I of course was praying for you! I love telling everyone about home! I love being here though too!! Miracles are happening in Telford, and I can't wait to tell you more about them next week! Thank you for the emails! It makes me week so much better!!!!!

Lots of love,
Sister Martin!

Erika has been having issues getting the photos off of her camera and hasn't had time to deal with getting a flash drive.  She keeps promising to do it, but in the meantime here are a few picture that other missionaries have taken:

Sister Shchur and Sister Martin at boxing medal ceremony
(see Erika's blog post dated  June 24th)

The District

The District again...

Sister Martin and Sister Shchur

Sister Martin, Sister Shchur and Sister Telefoni (Sister Shchur's previous companion)

Monday, 22 July 2013

This week is transfer week so Erika won't be writing until Wednesday or Thursday.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Erika's Comfort Zone Challenge!

OK! Here we go! Rapid fire emailing begins NOW!

So after such a miraculous week last week, I knew that this week was guaranteed to have some trials...and I was right! BUT thankfully Heavenly Father ALWAYS compensates in some way, and he certainly managed to embed some miracles into this week.

We had a zone meeting this week! Zone meetings are officially my FAVOURITE! I love seeing all my dear missionary friends at these meetings. I honestly have made some best friends out here. There's a 99.9999999999999999% chance I'll be sobbing when I have to leave them all and say goodbye to some of them forever! They will have to literally drag me onto the plane when it is time to go home! I just love being a missionary so much, it hurts! The only word that comes to mind when describe this week's zone meeting is EPIC. We did a preach my gospel version of a scripture chase, where the 4 districts competed against each other BUT here's the catch. It was scripture chase mixed with JENGA! The 2 losing districts of each round had to pull a block from the Jenga tower. Long story short, we had a 45 min game of Jenga! I have NO IDEA how that tower stayed up! It was practically standing on one block. It was insane. Everyone was screaming and cheering like it was the most exciting thing of their lives (and lets be honest, it probably was. We are missionaries. I've learned being here, that the simplest things can amuse a bunch of 20 year olds when you take away their internet, tv, and free time. Gotta love the missionary life!).

This week we have officially initiated the comfort zone challenge! I came up with this idea (I was actually inspired by it from hearing about how my family was challenged by our missionaries back home to find a person to teach by a specific date!). What we're doing is going to members' homes, and sitting with them and determining what missionary actions they are comfortable with (e.g. posting a mormon message on fb, mentioning church in a conversation etc.) We then help determine a step that is ONE step out of their comfort zone. They select a date they will do it by, a person they have in mind to try it with, and then write this down and sign it. We will follow up with the members after the 'due date' and see how it went. If it went well, we'll take another step out of the comfort zone. If not, we will figure out what we can do to help them succeed. So far it has been going great!!

Remek is STILL our continuous miracle! As his English improves (it is rapidly improving!) he is able to tell us more about him. Remek is like a puzzle that we get the pieces to as his English grows. We found out an incredible story about him this week. So it turns out he was hit by a truck back in Poland and was in a coma. While unconscious, he had a dream where he saw his deceased family members in heaven and then he heard Heavenly Father's voice telling him he needed to change his life and move to England. 3 weeks after his recovery, with pure faith he quit his job and moved to England. He realized that we were the reason he needed to be here! CRAZY! He is accepting the gospel with such faith! He is touching the hearts of our ward members as they join us in lessons with him. We got Polish pamphlets FINALLY so we've been able to officially start the discussions with him. We taught him the entire restoration. We will be teaching him the plan of salvation this Wed. He has already learned the gospel of Jesus Christ. If all goes well, by the next time I email you, we are praying that he will have a baptismal date set! So exciting!

We had a random miracle on Thursday. Every Thurs before our weekly planning session, we have 1 hour where we go finding (tracting, street contacting etc.). We found Jenny during this hour! She had actually met with elders a couple years back, but was intimidated having to meet with so many men, so she stopped lessons with them. She was thrilled to talk to us and booked an appointment on the spot (and gave us her phone number AND address- which is rare for missionaries to get on a 1st meeting). She likes the idea of meeting with other girls! I pray that our appointment will result in miracles!

So a few weeks back we met a man named Gena and gave him a Latvian Book of Mormon. Well, turns out 'Gena' is actually named Roman. Roman is Gena's twin brother. Roman was semi-interested in our message, but decided it would be fun to mess with us and book an appointment for us to meet his identical twin brother Gena. So we showed up, and obviously no one was home. Well Heavenly Father works in strange ways. We had an appointment fall through (1 of 10,000 that fell through this week), so we felt strongly that we should go check up on Gena again. Gena's wife Eleina answered the door. She explained that Roman had played a trick on us! (Roman was hoping that Gena would be home for that day he booked the appointment, so Gena and ourselves would be super confused about what was going on). She felt so bad that she invited us in. She was super curious about the Latvian BOM we had given Roman. She really wanted to know what we taught, and we ended up teaching the entire 1st discussion to Eleina and Roman right then and there (talked for over an hour). It was wonderful! We pray we will see growth in their faith in the coming weeks! We laughed as we realized that Gena really does have an evil twin! :)

I went on an exchange this week with our sister training leaders in Chester. I set foot in Wales for the 1st time since getting here! It's beautiful and it's neat seeing all the signs in English and in Welsh! I was with Sister Milbin from Edmonton! It was nice to be with a fellow Canadian and hear a familiar accent for once! Our exchange was extremely quick (less than 24 hours) but lovely! Sister Milbin is a pro at street contacting, and I learned a load from her! To be honest, it was a pretty average exchange so I don't have much to say about it! We did manage to teach a lesson on the train on the way to Chester though. It was a 20ish year old girl, travelling back home after a term of university. She was super excited about the BOM and was wanting to share it with some friends back home as well. We got all her info, and I'm sure the missionaries in Wales (where she lives) will be thrilled at our meeting with her!

Though we had a million frustrations this week, on the bright side we found 5 really solid potential investigators this week- 2 which are families with children! We are so excited at the potential that lies here! This work is so rewarding! I am happy ALL the time!!! It's all completely worth it!

Random silly things that happened in the week:

I HAD BORSCHT FOR THE 1ST TIME YESTERDAY!!!! Sister Shchur made me borscht yesterday (a traditional Russian/Ukrainian dish). It was AMAZING! She's going to teach me how to make it so I can make it myself (it's so cheap to make, delicious, and it makes a HUGE pot full-- essentially the perfect missionary dish!).

Language study blooper: between my 12 week training program, language study for Sis S, plus our regular personal and companionship study, we spend a total of 4 hours a day studying! So naturally we are bound to have silly/going insane moments from time to time. Usually I just study my own thing while Sis S does her language study. During this time, she just asks me questions if they come up. Yesterday she asked me what the saying "You can't have your cake and eat it too" meant. I struggled to explain it. We gave up and continued doing our own quiet study. She suddenly said: "I think we have a Russian proverb that is like that saying". She wrote it down and then translated in her head to English. She asked me "do you know what a tit is? Do you have tits in Canada?". Well, obviously, because I am so mature, I was rolling on the floor in tears laughing. She was confused. She is not familiar with the slang meaning of this word in English. I was laughing too hard to explain, so she looked it up in her dictionary and DIED LAUGHING as she suddenly understood as her dictionary said "tit: (vulgar) word referring to breast". I laughed even harder as I saw the English translation of the proverb written on her paper "a tit in hand is better than a crane in the sky". The 1st part of it made me DIE laughing, and her as well. I love our random language study bloopers!

I came up with a genius way to do missionary work! We have worked our rear ends off to find a handful of investigators, but getting members to come on our appointments has been like pulling teeth. Because most of our investigators are male, this means we've had to cancel a ton of lessons! Really upsetting and frustrating. So on the way home from church yesterday I came up with a knew way of inviting members to get off their rear ends and stop making lame excuses. I'll just say "Hi Brother (insert name here): Do you love Jesus? Then FEED HIS SHEEP. Do youuuuuu love Jesus? FEED HIS SHEEP!! I said do you love Jesus? (in a baptist, happy clappy preacher voice). Then PLEASEEEE FEED HIS SHEEP!!!!!!" I am convinced that this guilt trip would do the trick!! The church will thank me later when fellowshippers go up 2,00000% ;)

It's transfers this coming week, so possibly no email next week. My p-day will be on WED, NOT MONDAY for that week. It's unlikely that I'll be transferred, but there are 25 new missionaries coming in next week, so apparently we have to be ready for anything!

Please pray for your local missionaries! They work so hard! I never understood it until this mission! If they ask you to go on a lesson with them DO IT! The spirit is soooo strong, and you will leave with the biggest, fattest smile on your face. We pretty much worship the ground of anyone who helps us out! You have NO idea how much it actually means to the missionaries if you offer to go on lessons with them. And don't forget to feed your missionaries!!!!!!!! I've learned that everyone assumes that someone else is feeding them. Take this advice from someone who knows. The honeymoon phase is officially over in Telford and the feeding of the missionaries stopped about 2 weeks ago! Do me a big, fat favour and feed the Vancouver missionaries! They are WONDERFUL and think and care about you ALLLLLLL the time!!!!

Can't wait to report more miracles next week! Love you all so much! 17 months to go (hopefully they go slowly for me, and quickly for you!!)
Love Sister Martin <3

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fun times in Stafford and yes Erika has had a shower

We have a district activity today (we are going to a town called is called this because the 1st Ironbridge ever built in the world is located there!), so we only have an hour to email. Unfortuntely this means that I will have to print all the emails I received and read them later (meaning, I won't be responding to emails this week).

This week was PACKED with miracles.


I went on exchange to Stafford this week! I am officially convinced that Sister M (my companion) and I were best friends in the pre-existance. I have not laughed that hard, or talked that much, in a long time (since I was with my best friends- Adria and Jenna- back home!). I love Stafford! It is beautiful! If I could compare Telford and Stafford in English terms, I would say that Stafford is a little more posh than Telford (I still adore Telford though! They have a solid hold on my heart!!). On Wed we had specialized zone training in a town called Crewe. I got to have my 1st interview with our President since entering the field, and I have to say that I love President Preston!! We spent half the interview just laughing our heads off! He is so wise, and has so much incredible advice to give me. I could have stayed with him and soaked up his experience and knowledge forever!!!! After our training, Sister. M (for the sake of typing, from here on she will be called Sister M) and I got on the train, and off to Stafford we went. We literally stopped at our flat, threw my suitcase on the bed, and then RAN (literally) to our tea appointment with the Mansfield family (KRISTEN DELL you need to read this!). They are amazing!!!! Their son served a mission in Winnipeg (MATTIE FAMILY, sound familiar???) and we talked a ton about Canada. Their family is so funny, and so sweet!!! We then left right after to attend branch council right until 9pm and then we were home. Sis M and I both LOVE to talk, and we are literally like the same person!! We stayed up half the night just gabbing away about the mission, home, life etc.

The next day was PACKED! It started with our regular 4 hours of studying in the morning and then we were off to a lunch appointment with the Dean family. They are an older couple, with a couple of children in the Stafford area (and a couple who are not). We then went off to our appointment with our investigator- John. This was the most sacred experience I have had thus far on my mission. Sis M and Sis Hansen met John the previous week when knocking doors. He wanted to talk more and booked a follow-up appointment. He has struggled with drug addiction for 30 years, and enters rehab (for 5 months) today. When the sisters met him, he had been 3 weeks clean and realized that he needed a change in his life. He was unhappy. He wanted to know how other people were happy. He believes in science, and felt that science disproved religion, but through his trials his heart has been softened and he is open to trying something new. We taught him the restoration. The room was exploding with the spirit. All of our questions and comments were truly inspired. He was so into the discussion. He kept saying how everything made so much sense. He really desired to know more. To start a journey on the right path to finding happiness. Him and I talked back and forth about happiness for a long time. I promised him that there is such eternal happiness in store for him. I expressed how happy I have been from the gospel. I can't really put this discussion into words. I won't try. It was very sacred. The spirit was strong. He kept saying to me, "you look so happy. That must mean something". He said this again as we left and thanked me. He eagerly took a Book of Mormon, and requested pamphlets to study as well. He will not have any internet, etc. in rehab, so he said he would like to study the BOM extensively while there. He promised to read and pray about it. I pray that he will find happiness. I know that the gospel is where this happiness comes.

After John, we ran off to an appointment with a man that KRISTEN DELL converted- Stuart. I didn't realize it, but I had met him the night before at branch council. I just didn't know who he was, until Sis M said on the way home: "Stuart was a man that was converted by sister missionaries. He was their post man". I completely freaked out when she said this, as I realized that Kristen had told me all about him. I was so emotional as I got to teach him his temple preparation lesson for his endowment, which he is getting in a couple of weeks. I kept thinking what a blessing it was that I am preparing this man for the temple. This same man that Kristen taught and prepared for baptism. It was beautiful to see a continuation of the Lord's great missionary work in this way. He is the nicest man ever! Incredible testimony! He also gave us a HUGE grocery bag full of goodies for the 4th of July. Sis M and I laughed so hard: I can now say from experience that a Ukrainian and a Canadian celebrating 4th of July together is quite funny and entertaining.

We then ran off to a tea appointment with the Notts. The wife is a member and the husband is not. We acutally had an incredible gospel discussion on the restoration. He participated. One of the best parts of the day was after when we met Claire and her family. Another convert of the one and only KRISTEN DELL! Claire is an angel! So funny! So sarcastic (so obviously, we got along amazingly). We had the best gospel discussion about the restoration, which then turned into a deep discussion about how the BOM has changed our lives. We shared favourite scriptures, that we found during tough times in our lives. Claire is amazing!! It inspires me to see converts doing so well in the gospel!

The amazing part of all our appointments is that Sis M said that every single appointment we had that day were all changed very last min (they were all supposed to be on different days- when I would not have been there). By chance, I got to meet so many of the people that Kristen worked with. They all loved her so dearly, and were so thrilled to meet someone that Sister Dell knew from home. What a miracle and blessing that was!

The best part of the whole exchange was being with Sis. M. I don't know if I've laughed so hard ever in my life. I don't have time to share all my experiences. I wish I could. I just love her so much. Her and I are the same person. She has the EXACT same struggles as me. She's 6 months into her mission, so her and I were able to have a longggggg discussion on our struggles. She shared how she has been working on hers, and gave me some incredible advice. I've never connected with someone like that before. She understands exactly how I think. I thank Heavenly Father for sending me her! It was so helpful to be able to work through my issues, and just talk. I felt like I had received a free therapy session. My time in Stafford was so blessed. I pray that her and I will get to serve together again.

Miracle #2: REMEK! Oh Remek. He has attended church 2x now and is finished 2nd Nephi (in less then 2 weeks). We see him 2-3 times a week. He is so sweet. Everytime we come, he gets so excited, and has an entire spread of Polish treats for us (like PLATES of candy and drinks! So funny! I love him!) I don't have time to write about him, so I just copied what I wrote about him to President Preston this week.

I have to start by expressing how thrilled and inspired I have been by our progressing investigator- Remek. We continue to work hard to teach him English, but what is even more amazing then his improving language skills is his development in his relationship with Jesus Christ. I was almost in tears on Sunday, when in our gospel principles class he described (in very broken English) the changes he has experienced since he has met us. It went something along the lines of this:

"Before, Remek was not happy. Remek had no job. Then Sister Martin and Sister Shchur met Remek. Taught Remek English. Then Remek got job. Sisters Martin and Shchur taught Remek about God. And they taught Remek about Jesus Christ. They taught Remek that sin is bad. Remek now go to church. Remek prays to God. Remek read Book of Mormon. Remek now happy. Remek now have job. Sisters Martin and Shchur make Remek very happy. God listened to Remek. Now Remek understand God and Jesus Christ make him happy." ...I'm already an emotional person to start with; it's safe to say that, that nearly did me in! Remek is our miracle! How we found him was a miracle. How he has managed to learn about the gospel with virtually no English skills (simply pure faith and humility) has been a miracle. I have honestly learned more from him, than he has from me. It warms my heart, and does nothing but increase my faith in the way our father in heaven directs his work.

Miracle #3 INVESTIGATORS. We have found more investigators this week.
#1 Gena: We met Gena our 1st couple days in Telford. He is Latvian. We finally found him again (after we thought we had lost him) and were able to give him his Latvian BOM. We had a long discussion about blessings and God. He didn't believe that HF is our father. He kept asking/joking around that God doesn't bless him. He said he prays to win the lottery to make his 2 little children happy, and God doesn't answer that prayer. We joked around a lot, and it was hard to get him to be serious, until I finally bore a testimony to him. I promised him that there were blessings far greater than a million dollars in store for us. That God loves us more than we can comprehend. Once again, I can't put words to describe what I say in these moments, and won't try. Things just changed. He suddenly got really serious, teary-eyed. He told us to come back and teach him more. I look forward to his progress. Him and I connected really well. He LOVES Canadians, and badly wants to move there soon!! He and I had fun joking around.

#2 Adolf. We were tracting and found him at a door. I don't remember what country he's from, but it's somewhere in Africa. He believes in Christ, but hasn't been going to church because he has felt that there is a better direction he needs to be taking. He was very interested in the BOM and wants us to come back to talk more about it.

#3 Silvester. Sis Hansen and Shchur met him street contacting. I'll tell you more next week.

#4 Holly. She is a 17 yr old mom, who the elders met and taught the restoration to when tracting. She wanted to learn more, and the elders passed her on to us, thinking that we'll be able to connect with her better. Sisters Hansen and Shchur had a lesson with her. We have another one coming soon.

#5 We have a TON of potential investigators who show so much promise. Pray for us! Things are looking hopeful.

Other intersting facts.

Sister Shchur and I continue to work on my Russian! I now know about 8-10 phrases (most are snarky, sarcastic and silly....just the way I like it). It was HILARIOUS to use them on Sister M. We just laughed our heads off! I still love Sis. S to bits! Her and I become closer friends everyday, and spend all our time just laughing. I taught her what a punch buggy is, and now after a week, she is better at finding them than me! Not good for me, since she was a professional boxer for 5 yrs! (Gulp!).

We had a wonderful RS bbq wayyyy out in the countryside. The property was massive and gorgeous, and the roads were so narrow, the car could barely get through....good ol' England!!  We had a beautiful view of the Wrekin (their 'mountain'....I teased them that, that 'mountain' was nothing but a speed hump! (aka a speed bump). I love the dry humour here! I can be snarky, and sarcastic, and it's normal!! :)

I got to teach RS yesterday! Anyone who knows me well knows that I was in heaven doing this!! I love teaching RS. I obviously taught about missionary work. It was great and I think the sisters are more inspired to start helping us move this work along. Anyways! Time is up!! I promise I'll get some pictures up next week!!! I wish I had more time to write. I didn't get to share any of my funny/random experiences this week. Next week! The miracles were so much greater than what I got to write about.

 I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! I'm the most tired I've ever been, but I'm the happiest I've ever been! I can't describe how fulfilling it is to help people come unto Christ, and to dedicate every second to serving others. I never want to come home!

Love you all,

Sister Martin!

OOPS! Miracle #1,254 (at least it feels like it was that many this week):

OUR SHOWER RANDOMLY STARTED WORKING AGAIN!! After almost a month of no showers, this was the greatest blessing of all!!!!

But.......the lights in only 1/2 of our flat all stopped working at once! So we have no light in our kitchen or the 2 bedrooms. Yay! Being a missionary is the greatest! :) Gotta appreciate the humour in things I guess!! :) 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Yes it is true...Sister Martin hasn't showered in 3 weeks!!

Ok! Time for rapid fire emailing! I could go into a career as a typist after this mission (tender mercy of the Lord.......maybe that's a bit of a stretch!)

Yesterday was the BEST DAY EVER! We had an investigator come to church. We had just given up on him coming (there was about 3 mins until sacrament meeting started), and then suddenly he came in and sat down beside us literally 3 seconds before the Bishop stood up to start the meeting! I almost screamed I was so happy! His name is Remek- the Polish man that Sister Shchur volunteered me to teach him English. Turns out, teaching him English has been my favourite parts of the week! It's absolutely a riot! We love comparing Russian words, to Polish words, to English words. Example: pen in Russion and Polish are super long. So Remek says: adfjasdklfj Sister Shchur says: akjfbnrehaw and I went: pen. We were dying laughing at how unintelligent I sound in comparison to them :) Remek is incredible. He dove right into his Polish BOM and is reading quickly. He LOVED church and is so excited to come next week! Even though he barely understood the words, our choir happened to be singing 2 songs that day and he kept saying "beautiful, beautiful!". I'm one of the few women in a tiny choir. If anyone knows me well, they know that anything that involves me singing is not beautiful! Proof that the Spirit is strong enough to overcome anything! ;)

Kalid: Well, we lost Kalid! We were scheduled to teach him the second discussion and he was a no show. A little bit shocking, considering how excited he was during the 1st discussion. We stopped by a couple of days ago, talked to him and rebooked another appointment. No show for the second appointment. We left him a note to call us, and will just pray that whatever is going on will be resolved and he will one day contact missionaries again. It happens. It certainly won't be the last time it'll happen, so I'm just staying positive and plan to push myself 30,000x harder so that we can find those who are ready for the gospel.

We had a temple zone conference this week. It was wonderful. Our President did a mini demonstration with us that had a significant impact on me. He started listing off the names of zones within our mission and asked those who had served (or are serving) in those zones to stand as they were named. He then at the end asked "if anyone has ever served in the comfort zone, please stand up". Obviously no one did! It was a wonderful reminder that it's perfectly ok that I don't feel like I know what I'm doing 90% of the time. All that matters is that I'm working hard, being obedient, and that I strive every second to follow my Saviour and have the spirit with me!

So we met our first anti-mormon this week. Unfortunately for him, he messed with the wrong missionary! He was going on about how Joseph Smith was a criminal, fraud etc. blah blah blah and how we are crazy for worshipping him. BIG MISTAKE! He got a big ol can of testimony from me right then and there! My relationship with Jesus Christ is the one thing that anchors my entire testimony. It's the most important thing to me in my life, and that's the one thing that I can’t stand for people messing with. I bore my testimony of my Saviour, and how I do not worship Joseph Smith, but that I believe in Jesus as my Saviour. To be entirely honest, it was pretty intense. I never felt a fire like that in my before (I can't lie- I was pretty firm with him). Shocking moment: it actually shut him up completely! We ended up having a really nice conversation about Jesus Christ and his ministry, and shared our love and belief for him. This man will certainly never convert to the church ( never know), but I was grateful that the spirit was able to guide me through that moment!

Awkward moment of the week: We were visiting a less active lady this week and she asked us if missionaries ever fell in love on their missions and got married. Laughing, I politely explained that it does happen sometimes, but that as missionaries we do not focus on that (i.e. we don't come out to find a husband/wife). She then said: "I just ask because you seem like a really lovely girl. It would do one of our boys here good to have a girl like you". She then proceeded to tell me all about her son and show me pictures of him and express how she wants nothing more than for him to find a nice church girl and get married. She kept asking me if I thought he looked like a nice boy and asked me if I would go and meet him. Awkward!!! I was quite red in the face to say the least.

I have to write about Saturday night before I continue! This will be one of those epic return missionary stories that I'll tell so often that people will be sick of me! So our ward was asked to participate in a community Christian music festival at some community center. The idea was that different churches would come and sing hymns together. Nice idea! So we all arrive at this address we've been given, and we are in the sketchiest place I've ever seen. Like seriously! Graffiti everywhere, very rough looking characters hanging around, staring at us like we're crazy, barred up convenience stores and knocked over rubbish bins.  And no one from this festival is anywhere to be found (the community center where it's supposed to be held is all locked up). Finally the man in charge shows up 20 mins after the whole thing was supposed to start. Sister Cleary (one of my favourite members here! She's an AMAZING cook and just as crazy as my family! She would fit right in with us!) said to him jokingly, "the only way you can make this up to me is by giving me chocolate. Chocolate fixes everything". Well, this man is from Africa and his English was pretty good, but not good enough to understand sarcasm apparently, because suddenly he turned up with a shopping bag with about 15 chocolate bars in it! He took her literally and went and bought us chocolate!!

So we get into the center and there's a bunch of chairs set up with tambourines, and a whole whack of instruments at the front. The "festival" starts and it's just us, and one black lady and her 3 children at the front. The pastor begins, as someone pounds away at the drums in the background. And he starts SCREAMING a sermon into the microphone at a million miles an hour (he could honestly have a career as an auctioneer). I mean like SCREAMING. He does this for about 30 mins (we were supposed to have sung almost 45 mins earlier). We have no idea what to do. People streamed in throughout that time. They were dancing around. People would randomly get up and sing as loud as they could into the mic in very off-key voices. The pastor was screaming gibberish (speaking in tongues). Members of the congregation were convulsing and screaming out Hallelujah! Amen! Praise the Lord!!! Over and over and over and over. And we were just sitting there like deer in headlights. Sister Cleary leaned over to me and said "on the bright side, we've got chocolate" and proceeded to dish out the chocolate bars. So we sat there, confused, uncomfortable, nibbling on our chocolate. My poor companion was so confused. She kept asking me: "Sister Martin, is he speaking English". It was so hard to explain to her what was going on with a straight face. My row of members decided to make the most of the whole thing and we shook our tambourines together and I used all my willpower not to burst out laughing. My companion looked stunned the whole time. It was the funniest thing I've ever experienced. The best part was when we finally got to go up and sing. The congregation looked like they were being put to death. They were so bored by us. No hallelujahs. No shrieking out AMEN! No off-key screaming into the mic. We then made a very quick exit after that, saying that we had to go. Us and the elders went to the Cleary's home after and ate the cake she had prepared for us after and laughed our heads off about the whole thing. I do have to note though, the members of that church were super nice and welcoming! I love them for that!

So I go on exchanges for 3 days this week to Stafford (if I remember correctly KRISTEN DELL should be excited about this). I know the sister I will be companions with very well already. Her name is Sister Mauirmikova (don't even bother trying to pronounce it. I've been practicing her name all the time for the last 2 weeks in preparation for exchanges and I finally can say it properly). She's from the Ukraine, but also speaks perfect Russian because her mom is from Russia. She has got a HUGE personality. Very loud. Very outspoken. She and l love joking around and teasing each other ALL the time. So Sister Shchur and I decided it would be epic for me to learn some snarky, sarcastic Russian phrases to say to her during exchanges- just to mess around with her and get a good, dramatic reaction from her! So Sister Shchur has taught me the following:

Be silent
Yes my queen
Hurry up
English please
You are what you eat
And a couple others!

Sister Shchur and I have been dying laughing as we imagine the reaction I will get when I use these on Sister M. It will be incredible!! My favourite phrases are be silent and yes my queen. During the Christian music festival, I leaned over to Sis. Shchur at one point and whispered as I pointed to the pastor "Be silent" (in Russian obviously). She almost peed her pants laughing! That same night, our district leader would not stop talking on the phone (it was already almost 10:00 and we were supposed to be all finished with things by 9:30)...he's just really enthusiastic! As she hung up the phone, she muttered "Be silent". I almost peed my pants. These Russian lessons have been so hilarious! We just laugh all day now.

On that note, my week with Sister Shchur has been wonderful. I finally found a sense of humour deep down in her. She's just so shy that it took awhile. I had so many return missionaries tell me that if you struggle with a companion, that you should find every opportunity possible to serve them. I did just that and the results were insane! We have bonded so much this week it has been wonderful. We literally laugh all day together, as we make stupid jokes (in English and in Russian)! I'm grateful for this lesson learned. It's still not easy (we are still two very different people), but it's great that we have become wonderful friends despite the trials of the day to day life. 

So random note, but exciting announcement (many may know already) but this year missionaries will official be viral! Yup, we're getting the internet. Somewhat scary, but if used righteously, this could have an incredible impact on the work!

Oh! Another random note. I have the most EPIC foot tan ever! White toes and dark, dark brown feet. It looks so ugly it's hilarious. The members love teasing me about my feet when I go to take off my shoes during tea appointments!

So this is probably a "too much information" kind of moment, but our shower has been broken since we have arrived to Telford. Yup. We haven't had a shower in 3 weeks! We have been having to bathe by filling a mixing bowl with water, standing in the empty tub and dumping it repeatedly over our heads. Our landlord has not been responding to us. Totally lame. We are so frustrated; so what do you do when you're frustrated. You laugh of course! So I started making up imaginary phone messages that we really wanted to leave with her (not very nice ones). Then it turned into poems that we could leave on her voicemail. Here are the ones I came up with:

I smell like rubbish,
Yes I do!
Now fix my shower,
So I don't smell like poo!

I hate to smoulder
My investigators with odor
So please fix my shower
So my scent does not overpower

Things that would be brilliant:
Not having to bathe in deodorant
If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then this should be a sin.
Please fix my shower, so I can stop smelling like the bin!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Please fix my shower!!!!
I smell like shoe!

Ohhhh dear....what a sad life us missionaries live, that poems about showers have become our entertainment ;) :)

Oh! You should all be proud of me! I have officially stopped saying me first name! I now am Sister Martin 100% of the time- no slipping up. Even in my head I am thinking in the name Sister Martin now! I think this officially means that I really am a missionary!

Anyways I shall wrap up this email! To sum up! WE HAVE BEEN BUSY! Not many investigators (grand total of one....I love Remek!) but we are just running around like crazy all day. Whitewashing two wards is difficult (I don't know if I mentioned last week that we got assigned to cover another ward last week). But so rewarding! I go to bed happy everyday! I love being a missionary! I love England with all my heart!! 

Love Sister Martin