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, 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!! :) 

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