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, 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

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