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.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Sorry for the late emails this week. It was a bank holiday on P-day yesterday, so the library was closed! (and it was delayed an extra day because Erika's Mom was away).  The email next week will be late as well as it is transfer week so P-Day gets moved to Wednesday or Thursday.

We got to go on the church history tour this week! It was so inspiring to go to all the places the 1st missionaries were sent to. We started in Liverpool-- we checked out a Maritime Museum there at the main docks. Liverpool is gorgeous!!!!! But the museum absolutely put me to sleep! I'm pretty sure I had drool running down my chin as I sleepwalked through the exhibits. Unfortunately my companion is a museum person (has to look at EVERY single exhibit! And read EVERY single description haha) so while the other missionaries were outside enjoying the gorgeous weather, I was being dragged around the museum staring at replicas of every single war ship known to mankind.

We then went to the River Ribble (the place where the first members of the church in England were baptized). The park around the river is so beautiful and the weather couldn't have been more perfect!! We went to Downham after (one of the first places the missionaries worked). We had a meeting in old chapel where the missionaries had one of their first meetings. It was the most beautiful meetings I've been to on my mission yet! The church was breath-taking (so old! The details were so incredible) and there was such a special spirit there as the hymns of our missionaries reverberated off the old stone walls. Our missionaries who will be going home next week bore their departing testimonies, and the spirit was so incredibly strong in that meeting. I've been having a really hard time with this companion, and that meeting gave me the strength I needed to get through another week.

MIRACLES!!! The church is true!! Heavenly Father is watching over me so much, and truly is blessing me for sticking it out with this companion. WE TAUGHT OUR 1ST FAMILY THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tanwaa-- one of our investigators-- is now having us teach her 8 year old son (Abdul) and 3 year old daughter (Bernice). She wants all 3 of them baptized, and told us to teach them everything they need to know to be baptized into our church. She wants her kids to grow up to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and said she trusts us to help her with this!!! Fingers crossed things will go well!!!!!!!!

I went on exchange with our sister leader- Sister Leslie- this week. She is so wonderful and I enjoyed it so much. I stayed in Telford for the exchange, so I spent the better part of the exchange on the train going back and forth between Chester (where Sis D went on exchange) and back. I ended up spending 5+ hours on the train, in less than 24 hours (FUN!!). Together we saw incredible miracles. I had the most amazing lesson with a lady during one of the train rides. Her mother has cancer and she's been having such a hard time coping with things. I was able to teach her about how families can be together forever, how the BOM helped me keep my faith strong during hard times, and I was able to share our family's experiences with dad's sicknesses and how we dealt with it using the gospel and family support. I was meant to meet this lady. My experiences were exactly what she neeeded! We were both in tears on the train. She eagerly took the BOM from me and is desperate to find comfort from it--- and she will!

We also had a lesson with our 19 year old investigator Estella. Her 11 year old brother is not baptized either, but their mother got baptized back in 2012. Estella has really connected with me! I've been helping her with her concerns--mainly the difficulties of being a young adult and trying to live the gospel in a world where people our age do not live good lives. She came to church this Sunday-- she hasn't been in over a year!!! Such a miracle. Estella has asked us to visit her weekly until she leaves for Cambridge in October!!!! I pray that she'll be ready for baptism one day- she has a sweet spirit, and is a very special and talented young woman!!

As Sister Leslie and I were running (literally) out of our flat to sprint off to catch our train, a man outside our flat stopped us. He has had some really huge trials in his life-- his wife nearly died, he saved a lady's life (she was drowning and he saved her) and then watched her die 3 days later, amongst other things. We ended up having a 1+ lesson with him on the spot!! We talked about eternal families, why we have trials and their role in God's plan for us, the BOM and how important it is in helping us come closer to Christ. The spirit was SOOO strong in that lesson. We were all in tears. We had a beautiful prayer together!!! Devon is interested in talking more with us-- but I wrote his phone number down wrong (AHHHH FACE PALM) so we're praying so hard that he'll call us back (he has our number!!!!!).

Sister Leslie and I took a few mins to have a gratitude prayer in the middle of a pub parking lot before leaving to catch the next train (we definitely missed our last train because of the lesson with Devon) and were just in tears! The spirit throughout all our lessons was so incredibly strong (think about the best testimony meeting you've ever been to, and that was how we were feeling for 24 hours straight!!). Heavenly Father is carrying me through this challenging time by supplementing with such incredible miracles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Church yesterday was insane. We had FOUR investigators at sacrament meeting!!!!!! FOUR!!!! Remek, Luke, Estella and Ellis!!!! And we are expecting 3 more to come next Sunday (Tanwaa and her family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Luke was in love with our family history center and is starting his own work this week. He's young- 24- we met him a month ago while street contacting and gave him a BOM. He just showed up to church on his own a month later!!! MIRACLES IN THE EMM!!!!! 

Last night was amazing as well. I've been really frustrated with the pace of the work lately! Last night the FHE we did ended way earlier than planned, so we found ourselves with 1hr 30mins of nothing to do. I really wanted to take full advantage of the time (I hate coming into our flat even a min before 9pm) so I suggested that we say a prayer and then just walk the streets (trying to find people) until it was time to go home.  Right before we had to go home, we met a lady on the street. Her son had died a few years ago, and she really has been working on increasing her faith in God in the past few years. We were able to have an incredible lesson with her and leave her with a BOM!!! Heavenly Father made me wait til the very last second of that finding time, but he did answer my prayer!!! And he always will!!!!!

We got to go to the temple yesterday!!! AND SEE THE NEW MOVIE!!!! All we needed was popcorn and it would have been perfect!!!!!! Alison Hoar (a wonderful lady in our ward) drove us out!!!! So grateful for that! I needed to go so badly (the spiritual boost was so badly needed!!!!!!!!!!!).

Today was sad as it was our last meeting together as a district! We have the silliest, BEST district ever (even the very experienced missionaries in our district have said that this is by far the best district they're ever been a part of!!). We are the goofiest bunch ever, and everyone of them are such good missionaries! I've made some lifelong friends out here and am sad to see this district change (one of the Elders hasn't moved in over 6 months, and the other in 4 so we know there's a 99.9999999% chance that they will be moving to new areas). Change is sad, but change is also good! Hopefully our new district will be just as fun!!!!!!

So much more I'd like to write this week, but unfortunately email time is shorter this week.................library is packed after bank holiday, so couldn't book as much time to email :(

Remember always:
- Heavenly Father always answers prayers
- The atonement can get you through ANYTHING 
- I love you all to death!!!!!!!!!

Hope that the time goes fast for you and slow for me,

With love,
Sister Martin

Monday, 19 August 2013

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger!!

So I'll just get the crazy/bad news out of the way now…

Remek's baptism was supposed to happen on Saturday. The font was filled, refreshments set out, programs printed, members had all arrived........and then 20 mins before it was supposed to start, I get a text message from Remek that only says: "sorry, I'm not ready. Remek". Then his phone was turned off. We had no clue where he was. What was wrong. Everyone was looking to me for answers. I had none. We had literally had an amazing lesson the night before with him (the spirit was strong, tears all around the room), and he has not expressed a single concern at any point. No crazy promptings from the spirit saying that something was off. So we sat around awkwardly forever, praying he would show up. He didn't. So we proceeded to bless the refreshments, stuff our faces in sorrow, and then go home. Heavenly Father has been holding me up this week. This week has been horrendous! I normally would have probably curled up into a ball on the floor and just cried. But I was blessed to have an incredible amount of comfort from the Holy Ghost that night. I stayed so calm it was scary. Everyone was coming up to me, asking so many questions: did Sis S and I neglect to pick up on a blatant concern that was there the whole time? If Sis S hadn't left, would this have happened? Where was Remek? blah blah blah etc. etc. I stayed soooo calm, it was strange. Heavenly Father truly does watch over us. Luckily Remek finally did reply to me. He did not go to church on Sunday which was so weird (he has attended for 2 months straight before this). We had a LONG meeting with him last night. I can't tell you what we talked about. Basically though, the poor man is WAY too hard on himself! He loves God and Jesus Christ SOOO much, and does not feel worthy to be a part of Christ's fold. He is probably the most faithful person I have ever met. He has the sweetest countenance of happiness around him. Our members LOVE him, because he makes everyone smile. I pray that we can work through his concerns. Sister S leaving did not help. He was devastated (we all cried together at impacted him that much), and it broke my heart to watch him feel so sad about our companionship being broken up so suddenly. I know he will be baptized one day-- maybe not while I'm still here in Telford-- but I have no doubt he will get there soon.

So.....I am pretty much a trainer. My new companion is only one transfer ahead of me, and she is still afraid of street contacting, tracting, making phone calls....pretty much taking any leadership role at all. So I'm working on helping her be able to approach people on the street (for every 5-7 people, she'll talk to one and I do the rest). I'm helping her feel more comfortable with teaching. She literally said to me that I am her second trainer..........who would have thought I would find myself in this position only 8/9 weeks into my mission. I'm grateful for the leadership and teaching positions I've had before my mission that I now know were preparing me for this moment of my mission! Most missionaries at this point in the mission are still not comfortable talking to people, teaching etc. I'm lucky that I got over my apprehensions by week 3/4 so that I can handle this huge jump in responsibility. I'm also lucky that Sis S let me take the lead so much during out time together, so that I'm comfortable with the daily routines of missionary work.  I'm under so much stress, as I've barely finished my training (YAY!!!!! I finished my training program 2 weeks early!!!) and now I'm leading out in a white-washing area! But I'm somehow keeping it together!!! Barely!! What doesn't kill you makes you stronger right?!

My stress levels have been extremely high this week, but I'm somehow hanging in there. I was reading Alma 26 this week, where Ammon is reflecting on how they had a point in their missions where they were so depressed that they wanted to quit. Even our superhero, Book of Mormon missionaries had times where they thought they couldn't do it! They prove to us that if we keep pressing forward that we will find success, because the Lord always blesses us when we endure faithfully.
 I'm just grateful that Heavenly Father has sustained me during this insane week! He has sent me angels to lift me up: Sister Cleary (who has been like my mother out here), my beautiful Stafford Sisters (I will sob the day I have to go home and be separated from these incredible women who I love to death!!), and our own mission president! I picked up the phone Monday night and it was the Stafford sisters....singing one of my favourite hymns- How Firm a Foundation. Sister M remembered me telling her that the last verse is my favourite and always makes me cry. It was exactly what I needed right then. I was literally about to fall apart and then they called me. Heavenly Father is so aware of me right now, I feel it so much this week in all the small moments where I have been encouraged and given hope! I feel blessed to be serving here amongst such righteous, young people! I have made the most incredible friends out here, and if I had the option I would be a missionary forever!

Sacrament meeting was amazing this week. Ironically enough (the night after our baptism flop) the elders, myself, and our ward mission leader all were assigned to give talks on the topic: "The work will go forth from this place". We laughed sadly after the baptism, as we drowned our sorrows in our leftover KFC that we were eating earlier while the font was draining, and realized how pathetically ironic it was that we would be giving those talks the following day!  But it was incredible. I had prayed hard about that talk and felt inspired to share a talk that was so bold that it shocked pulpit pounding bold! I normally would not be inclined to be that intense, or blunt....but I was.....I laughed so hard as after sacrament meeting our ward mission leader Brother Davey (he is incredible! Convert of about 8ish years. Wife and daughter not members! He is so faithful and enthusiastic!) said that he had originally wanted to do an intense, pulpit pounding talk too, but decided it wasn't a good idea....but then when he saw that myself and the elders had been inspired to do so, he said to himself "what the heck, I'm going in!" and went for it as well! So funny! Our congregation was in tears! The spirit was so strong. I feel that their hearts were changed in that meeting. I have so much respect for the elders I am serving with here! Their talks were amazing! Their faith is strong, and I pray for the greatest blessings to come their way. Such valiant young people here!

Highlight: after that meeting, the bishops daughter (7 years old)- who has taken quite the liking to me- came up to me and gave me a card. She had drawn a picture of me. It was adorable. All it said was, "To Sister Martin. From Sarah". It is now taped up on my wall with my other pictures! Those moments are what makes being a missionary so worth it! Brother Davey issued the best invitation I've ever heard: He has invited the ward to live one day like a missionary (i.e. to follow the missionary schedule). Families are lining up to book FHE's and tea appointments for us to tell them about our schedule and have us help them figure out how to make a modified one that will work for their "real lives". We are having FHE with the bishop's family soon: we will sit with the kids and make a schedule for them. Their parents are actually going to arrange for the kids to go to a tea appointment at their grandparents, and share a spiritual thought. They will do a service project. Some kind of missionary work, exercise. The whole deal! I'm so excited for this! SOOO MUCH FUN!!!!!!

Miracle: Working with a dear sister in our ward! We have been working relentlessly with her to build her faith. She has not been reading, praying, going to church. This week we had an amazing meeting with her. I felt inspired to commit her to read scriptures (even if it's 2-3 verses only) daily, AND call me and tell me what she learned that day. It has been working. I saw her later in the week and she said that she is "feeling the fire again". We've been talking relentlessly about how we need to APPLY principles to build our faith. She finally gets it! As soon as she started to read and pray again, almost instantly her hunger to learn more and follow the commandments just exploded! MIRACLES!!!!!! It took 9 weeks, but we finally had a breakthrough!

Awkward moment of the week: For tea appointments this week, I invited my companion to share her fav scripture so the ward can get to know her better. She chose 1 Nephi 3:7. At a tea appointment, during the spiritual thought she suggested that we sing the primary song Nephi's Courage with the young boy (3years old). His parents said he could march along to the song as we sang. As we were about to start, she says "Oh, I don't know the song. I meant that you can just sing it Sister Martin". Talk about throwing someone (who does NOT sing solos ever) under the bus. But the little boy was standing right in front of me, reading to march on the spot, looking up at me with the biggest, blue eyes......I could not say no. UGHHHHH! I sang it. So embarrassing! But if this little boy grows up to be a troublemaker, no one can say that I didn't do my part in teaching him the gospel! HAHA

MIRACLE: A veryyyyyyyyyyy less active 21 year old girl who we've been working with for a while has read up to 2nd Nephi!!! In like 2 weeks!! And she wants to go back to church (she actually desires to be able to serve a mission one day). She hasn't smoked in 4 days and hasn't drank in 2 weeks (she has some bad addictions...partying got her into trouble not long after her baptism). MIRACLESSS EVERYWHERE!!!!!! We have been faithfully coming to her home and doing scripture studies with her, and obviously it's paying off. Her non-member room-mate has also been reading the BOM and now is showing interest in letting us work with her as well!

 REPORT FOR GRANDMA MITCHELL! I'm sorry it took me so long to answer this request. My food intake in England. To be honest, it is not much different than home. We get fed a TON of roast dinners! Something different is that people tend to like having custard dishes (hot or cold custard) for pudding (in England, dessert is called pudding). I've been given nothing weird yet- all the food has been delicious. One thing I liked that is different is having mushy peas with fish and chips (very English thing to have!). I would have never guessed that dipping chips in mushy peas could be yummy! Something VERY English: whenever we go to peoples' homes, 99% of the time we get offered a drink (either squash, fruit tea, or fizzy drink). People here all have nice beverages stored away for when company comes. So I guess the whole "English people always offer you tea" stereotype is actually quite true. Maybe we're just rude in Canada, but I never noticed anyone doing that back home.

 Fun fact: ICE CREAM LAURIES IN ENGLAND ARE EVIL!!!! The ice-cream trucks in England are like on steroids!! The music is 20x louder than back home, and 20x more annoying. And rain or shine, the ice cream truck drives by our street at least once (if not multiple) times a day. It always seems to come by too, whenever we get the rare chance to take a break. I am plotting the murder of our ice-cream man!
 I have nothing else exciting to report. It's been a tough week, and a good chunk of our week was spent running around introducing Sister D to all the members. So sorry for the lack of miracles this week!!!! Here's hoping I keep my sanity during this next week. Tomorrow will be exciting; as I get to do the England church history tour with our zone and I will see all my friends from other areas.

I love you all and as I always say, I hope the time goes fast for you, and slow for me!!!!!

Sister Martin <3

Monday, 12 August 2013

Goodbye Sister Shchur...

Sad news this week. My companion is going home early. I'm just so devastated that it's happened and that I'm losing my wonderful trainer! I literally found out on Thursday afternoon, right before our mission conference in Manchester. It all happened so quickly. Found out Thursday, we were running around like crazy Fri/Sat to prepare everything for me to take over the area and her to leave, and she was gone, and my new companion had arrived by Sunday evening. I literally did not see this coming. It was 100% a blind-side. Sister S and I got along so amazingly and have become very, very dear friends over the past 8 weeks. I've come to love her like my own literal sister, and we were starting to become so incredibly unified as a companionship!

I've learned so much from this wonderful woman! She taught me so much by example! She is the most patient person I have EVER met, and taught me patience by being my example. Kindness is an understatement when you talk about Sister Shchur. She is so loving and concerned about everyone she meets, and I also told her that I believe that she is the definition of quiet dignity! We have seen so many miracles together, and it was the hugest blessing that we were put together for my training period! I am so devastated to see her go, and to know that I will probably never see her in person ever again! I'm even more upset that she just is going to miss Remek's baptism. That was the saddest part of all....Remek was almost in tears, he was so upset when we told him she was leaving. That just broke my heart! 

I'm going to miss Sister Shchur! We just spent our days laughing and joking around and just enjoying every second in Telford together! I pray that the Lord will bless her so much for all the lives she touched through her service. I know that this mission was so hard for her-- English was a struggle for her and she had to overcome her shyness as well-- but she was so faithful and dilligent every second that we were together! I pray that I can follow her example! I've been so touched to have her in my life!

I've been hit with such a huge load of responsibility! I'm in a white-washing area, and now I have to lead out in this companionship when I'm not even finished my training. We have a baptism to plan this week, and our teaching pool just shrunk due to 2 key investigators dropping us Friday night. My new companion is Sister Dargyte from Lithuania.

I love this ward SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much! Telford is the most amazing ward ever! I would seriously take a bullet for them!! I plan to give them every ounce of energy and love I have to give! I want the work to explode in Telford! I will serve until I have nothing left in me!!!! This is terrifying, and I am WAY out of my comfort zone, but I know that there is so much potential for me to become a better missionary and to really develop my relationship/trust in the Lord over the coming weeks! What a blessing/opportunity I have now!

I'll get my other bad news out of the way as well and then send some positive vibes your way (sorry to be such a downer this week with all this crummy news!). Adolt and Jose- 2 really solid investigators- dropped us this week. They called Friday night and said after talking with their house-mates (who are all Catholic) they do not want to investigate anymore (we were literally talking about setting up their baptisms last crazy how fast that happened!). Their friends told them that because the Catholic church already teaches about God and Jesus, that we have nothing more to offer them. I was devastated!!! So heart-breaking! Plus my stress level rose another 2 billion degrees, because not only did I have to show a new companion the ropes, and have to plan a baptism with no experience, but now also our number of investigators just plummeted! So now I have to take the lead and we have to hit the streets hard to build up our teaching pool again!! AHHHH!!! The joys of missionary work!!!!

On a less depressing note....time for me to share some highlights/miracles! If you ignore the whole Sister Martin's "life got flipped turned upside down" (shout-out to Will Smith for the most perfect rap line to describe my week), this week was INCREDIBLE!!!!

PAGEANT!: TRUTH WILL PREVAIL!!!!! That is the name of the pageant, and what an accurate name that was! It was all about the history of the church in England! It was breath-taking! I felt the spirit so strongly as I watched of the early missionaries who laboured and built a foundation for the gospel in England! I was so motivated to carry on this legacy here in the EMM- the place where the latter-day missionary work began! I am so blessed to be here at this time. We took Shawn and Dawn Cleary (wonderful members in our ward), their non-member friend Aaron (who was incredibly touched by the pageant....we are praying he'll let us teach him because of it) and Remek. Remek loved it! And lovedddddddd seeing the temple!!!! The temple was so beautiful all lit up in the night!  Sorry I don't have more time to go into detail about it!

MISSION CONFERENCE: HELLOOOOO APOSTLES!! I found out about Sister Shchur going home literally right before the conference, so I was quite a mess (crying all over the place), and not happy that this sad news was going to taint this incredible conference. But turns out it was so perfect the timing of it all. Heavenly Father was watching over me so much! Everything that was said was SO PERFECT for me in that moment, as I had so many fears about the responsibility being placed on me, and about the coming weeks. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote to President Preston regarding my thoughts on the conference:

"In a way, finding out this shocking news right before mission conference was such a blessing. Everything that was said was such a help and comfort to me. Heavenly Father was looking out for me! The words of Elder Holland resounded strongly with me! I cannot afford to waste time dwelling in the past and lamenting the loss of my friend. I need to roll up my sleeves and work twice as hard so that I have no regrets whenever the day comes that I leave Telford. I love this ward so, so much, and they deserve my absolute best...and they will get it!

I am sad to lose a friend, but I view this as a chance for me to really develop myself (especially my patience) and apply everything that I learned from Sister Shchur's wonderful example to me! I don't remember who now, but one of the speakers at mission conference talked about making the most of the situations we are placed in (Lehi did this in the middle of the wilderness, in a tent). This was what I needed to hear! I will not wait for a perfect companion, a perfect area, or for myself to be perfect! I will just be exactly obedient, and work the hardest I ever have! I'm excited and nervous for the coming weeks!"

The speakers were phenomenal! Elder Holland spoke with such passion and intensity to us. He himself served in the British Isles, and was in tears as he begged and pleaded for us not to waste a second of this mission! He knew exactly what we were up against here in England! I drew such motivation and comfort from all that was spoken by these apostles and their wives! What a unique blessing it was to sit at the feet of apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, and hear their testimonies. I drew so much strength from that crazy day!

Funny things that Sis S and I did before leaving: We went out with a BLAST!!!!

- I CUT HER HAIR AND STRAIGHTENED IT!!!! Sis S is the least girlie girl I hair-dos, make-up, clothing etc. BUT she let me do her hair and make-up for her!!! IT LOOKED SOOOO PRETTY!!! She seemed to REALLY love it too! She then asked me to cut her long beautiful hair....I proceeded to absolutely refuse, but she begged me to do it (she hasn't cut it in FOREVER and it was soooo long and damaged). So with my hands shaking like a leaf, I cut her beautiful hair to shoulder length. I have watched my sister cut hair 2 billion times, so I tried to replicate what she does! It turned out ok I think. I'll send a pic next week (not much time to email this week unfortunately).

- Sis S and I had like a 10 min pine-cone fight in the middle of the street. We were coming away from a cancelled appointment, and I kicked a pine-cone at her to be silly. She kicked on back.......then IMPROMPTU PINECONE WAR!! We were laughing like little kids! I love that girl to bits and pieces!

- I taught Sis S the "fish and chips and vinegar/ one bottle pop, 2 bottle pop, 3 bottle pop........ song. She thought I was nuts! I remembered this song as we were eating fish and chips together (she wanted to have her last ever meal of proper English fish and chips).

- I've been trying to tell Sis S what perogies are the whole time we've been together. I found some in a Polish shop, freaked out with excitement, and then she smacked her forehead and exclaimed that she actually did know what they are. They just have a different name in Russian. She could have helped me find them weeks ago. FACE PALM**

- We have eaten enough chocolate to feed an army of fat, cake-eating children!! By some miracle (Heavenly Father must really love me and be blessing me for this missionary work) I've lost a decent chunk of weight! HOW?! I really don't know! We been eating a steady diet of chocolate, with more chocolate on the side, for the past while. That plus all the custard people try to force feed us after tea, I thought I was gaining weight! At zone meeting a couple people asked if I lost weight and I laughed and thought they were just poking fun at me! But then I tried on a cardigan that was too tight when I left for my mission, and now it fits me a bit loosely.....hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....weird things happening in the EMM

- I found the strangest sweet ever! They're called Crunchums: they are pretty much chocolate covered bugles (you know those cone shaped crips). Strangely enough I actually kind of like them.

- I started learning my Russian alphabet last week. I'm so upset that Sis S left so suddenly, so we didn't get to finish. She left me behind her Russian-English dictionary, Russian PMG and a million other Russian church pamphlets. I'm going to keep practicing. Russian is beautiful, and I have come to love it so much!  I'm going to keep working on learning it on my own.

- Only good part of Sis S leaving is that I inherited some great stuff from her! She's SO good at drawing, and has made some amazing lesson cut-outs, so I got to have all her visual displays for different lessons, and a ton of other very useful things!

- I found a store in town center today called the "Last stop weave shop". I think that name is legit! I laughed sooo hard! An entire store full of weaves!!! Only in England!

- Sis S and I mourned together, because we remembered that we would never realize our dream of having a moped (how on earth do you spell that?!) together! There's a big hill that we have to walk up every day to get to our flat (we walk this hill at least 4x a day) and we always joked about how funny it would be to buy a moped and see the Russian and Canadian missionaries squeezed onto it, flying up the hill! SHATTERED DREAMS :(

- At an appointment, a lady was telling us about her ex-boyfriend who had 8 hamsters. She told us this like it was supposed to be really impressive (she likes hamsters a lot). My brilliant, awkward response: "Wow.......that's a lot of hamsters"........what else are you supposed to say in response to that??!!??!! Sis S had to dive under the table so they couldn't see her laughing so hard. She was in tears as she tried to stifle her laughs! I love making her laugh at inappropriate times!

- I have officially had a terrible influence on Sis S. During tea, we were given English equivalent to mini Ritz crackers. I held them up to my eyes when the members weren't looking, and was making silly faces. Sis S then started doing similar things back to me. Normally it's just me being the goofy one and her she joins in! SUCCESS!! Love that girl!

- I taught Sis Shchur to play chubby bunny today! We did it right before she left for home, as we waited in our flat for the AP's to come. We also played the minute to win it Oreo game using cadbury chocolate buttons. We just laughed and laughed and got some great pictures!!!

I'm seriously running out of time to write! I have so much more to say this week!!!! But I guess I have to cut it off for now! I love you all to death!!! As I always say, I hope time goes quickly for you, and slow for me! I love being a missionary! It truly is the greatest blessing ever (even the difficult times! They are all blessings from the Lord- opportunities for me to come closer to my Saviour!)


Some pictures taken by Sister Dawn Cleary that she posted on Facebook (Sister Cleary is one of Erika's favourite people!)

Sister Martin on the way to the pageant

Sister Martin, Dawn Cleary, Sister Shchur

Monday, 5 August 2013

Miracles Everywhere and finally lots of pictures!!

MIRACLES EVERYWHERE!!!!!! (Picture me saying that in the voice of the lady from that nutrigrain commercial............ BABIES EVERYWHERE!!!)

We have been so busy we pretty much are having to schedule time to breathe! No joke! We only had 1 cancelled appointment this week! That's a MIRACLE! MIRACLES EVERYWHERE! We pretty much leave our flat at after lunch, and then don't get back until 9:30pm (and we literally sprint from the bus back to our flat!). CRAZY! I love it so much!!!!!!!!

Miracle 1:
Remek's English is getting SOOOO good! We are now able to have 40-60 min conversations with him before we actually start our lessons! His English is still very broken, but we are understanding him wayyyy better and he is learning fast! He also has completely given up coffee (that was a big struggle for him- he was drinking 3-5 cups a day before). He's been off coffee for almost a week!!! Remek is still our beam of sunshine in the middle of rainy/windy Telford! Always so kind to us (I swear he is trying to make us gain 50lbs off of the chocolate and candies he gives to us every time we come over) and loves seeing us! He loves church and loves coming to all the ward activities! We are taking him to the British pageant (along with the Cleary's-- a less active family-- and their non-member family friend). I'm so excited!!!!

Miracle 2: Adolf wants to be baptized!!!!! He is our investigator from Eastimor! His faith is mind-blowing!!!! He just doesn't feel worthy to be baptized, so we are working with him to feel confident in himself and the power of the atonement. He expressed this desire to be baptized in only our 2nd lesson! We are now working on getting him out to church, as his testimony of the BOM and Joseph Smith and the plan of salvation is extremely strong already!

Miracle 3: Tanwaa wants to be baptized and also wants her 2 little children baptized!!!  She has struggled to have the faith to go to a church (she feels like God has forgotten her) but said she is ready to go back. She wants her children to have nice clothes before she takes them to church (we tried to tell her it doesn't matter, but she respects God so much and wants to give him her best), so it'll be a couple weeks before she will start attending). She was a Muslim when she lived in Nigeria, but converted to Christianity in England. She really wants her family to have the gospel, and has asked us to start teaching her 8 yr old son- Abdul- the lessons as well. Her children are ADORABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to start teaching them, as I have never had the chance to teach children yet!!!

Miracle 4: We found a less active family that we have been trying to find since the 1st day we got to Telford!!!!!! We took a bus out to their village (40 mins away) and THEY WERE HOME!! They were so friendly and were happy to book an appointment to have us come back (they were excited that Telford has sister missionaries!). They have 4 kids- all of them are not members of the church- and the parents are absolutely lovely there is HUGE potential here!!

Miracle 5: Like I said, we had only 1 cancelled appointment this week, and even this led to a miracle. Because Remek's appointment fell through, we were able to stay longer at the Badger's home after tea. They are a part-member family (mother is a member and children--19 yrs and 11yrs old-- are not). We got to have a really long talk with them and they REALLY opened up to us.....the elders have been struggling to get them to open up and work with them, so this is a miracle. I particularly connected really well with the 19yr old daughter, and she asked if she could meet with us sometime just to talk! We will be doing a scripture study and a FHE with them soon, so hopefully that'll strengthen their faith!

Miracle 6: I can proudly say that I'm super sneaky! So Cindy (21 yr old less active who we found and met with last week) is a new Avon consultant. I plotted and told her I'd loveeeee to order something from her. The real truth is, I really never cared that much about Avon (it's fine, but I'm perfectly happy buying whatever cheap, drug-store rubbish I can find) but I knew that if I ordered, we would be guaranteed 2 more appointments with her: 1 to order the product, and another to pick it up ;) BAZINGA! It worked. Our 3rd appointment with her (to pick up the cheapest hand lotion that I could find in the Avon booklet) is this Saturday! Who knew me being such a girly-girl would help in missionary work! Cindy is doing well- we had a scripture study with her, her boyfriend and her house-mate. Turns out the house-mate's sister and nephew are Mormon and she's been really interested in learning more. She loved scripture study and took a BOM. She is now our new investigator!!

This week was the never-ending stream of less active and member appointments! Highlights:
Philippa Davies: 78 years old going on 20! She reminds me soooooo much of great-grandma Gall! Her mind is sharp as a tac! She looks so frail though that if you blew on her, she would probably fall over! She faithfully tottles off to church every Sunday and sits right in the front row! I love her! She literally just talks your ears off the whole time and it's so hard to leave her home (she tries to keep you as long as possible....poor woman is very lonely). She is hilarious and so easy to talk with! I would happily visit with her all day!!!

Our members are crazy! It's been such a struggle this week to get out of appointments on time. All appointments are going like 45-70 mins overtime, because they all just want to talk and talk and talk and talk!! Sis Shchur and I joked that we should start picking our noses, or plugging our ears and screaming "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU" to see if that'll help get us out on time!! At least we know that all of this talking is helping them in some way to come closer to Jesus Christ, so we'll take what we can get!

Sister Shchur's birthday: I was so determined to make her birthday amazing. So I snuck out of bed after she fell asleep and hard-core heart attacked our living room and wrote her a massive letter about why I loved her. Then I made her breakfast. Then I made her a cake. Our entire zone sang to her over the phone, then the assistants sang to her, and then our sister training leaders also called and sang to her.

I made huge secret plans for her, and it all went perfect!! We had tea at a members home, where they had tons (like 6) presents for her and a lovely cake (their daughter is on a mission, so they knew what missionaries like to get). Then at our ward sport night, our district surprised her with a cake and a card from us. Then Rachel Bridgewater (a member who leaves on her mission to France next month) came with a gift basket that I asked her to arrange (all Sis S's favourite things- nutella, chocolates, flowers, etc.). Then when we got home another member (Sis Benson....amazing lady!!) came by with another bouquet of flowers!. We now have about a 2 years supply of chocolate, and a 1 yr supply of shampoos and lotions! Sister Cleary gave both of us the cutest matching handbags (we call them purses in Canada haha). She LOVED her b-day, and I think she felt so special!!!!!!!!!!! I sent a picture home of all of Sister Shchur's bday gifts.     ......We are going to get SOOOO fat from all of this chocolate!! HAHA

I have so many more experiences to share, but not enough time!!! MIRACLES EVERYWHERE!!!! I'm soooo exhausted, and just want to die, but I am so happy! It's so rewarding to be so busy and to see the work just exploding in Telford!!!! Our district is so close, and we are working in such close unity with our elders here. Sis S says we have a very special district.....compared to other districts she's been in, these elders are particularly kind, diligent and are amazing missionaries!! I just enjoy every second of this mission!!!

Fun note! It has been realllllllly windy this week!!! I have now officially started to experience sister missionary skirt mishaps! I'm pretty sure my skirt has been blown up past my head about 50 times in the past week! Good thing I always wear spandex shorts under my skirts haha! Good ol' England (have I mentioned yet that I LOVE England........maybe 50 times?? Well, another 12 times won't hurt! I LOVE ENGLAND!!!!).

I'm sooooo excited!! This week we have a zone meeting (THESE ARE MY FAV!! I get to see all my wonderful friends here!!!!!!), the pageant, AND WE GET TO LISTEN TO APOSTLES!!!! I cannot wait to tell all about it next week!!!!

That is all for now!!!!!!!!! Until next week!!

From the realllllly rainy/windy Telford
Sister Martin :)

A bit of Canada...

Downtown Telford - High Street (3 pictures)

 Finding old cars (almost as fun as finding new investigators!!) A new project that she has undertaken.

Erika's shoe tan!

She's even trying to convert the dogs...

 Serious Missionaries...

Sister Martin, Sister Shchur, Elder Greaves, Elder taylor

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Some pictures!!

A bonus post because Erika mailed us a letter that had pictures!!

Erika still hasn't gotten things sorted out with transferring her pictures from her camera onto the public computers that she gets to use so in the meantime she mailed a few to us which I have scanned.

Sister Martin and Elder Pace at the MTC June 12, 2013
The background story:  Elder Pace is the grandson of a couple, Ken and Margaret McLean 
that Erika's Grandpa Mitchell helped teach the gospel to when he was about Erika's age.  It was
 exciting and so full-circle to learn that their grandson and Erika would be serving in the same
 mission and actually both reported on the same day - May 30th. 

 Erika eating borscht

At Ironbridge

On Canada Day

Sister Martin and Sister Shchur

 Sisters Martin, Wolfe, Klemm, Hubbard and Hansen