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, 30 September 2013

Tanwaa and Femi got baptized!!

I will start this week with an official declaration for my remorse over my last P-day email!! My friends: Keep calm and carry on....because you ask, I deliver-- I promise that this week's email will knock your British socks off, in comparison to last week! I feel terrible for sending such a pathetic email last week! I will make up for it this week!!! Please accept this letter as my apology for that sad excuse for a mission email!!!!! :)

Sooooo Remek got cold feet.....again. Sighhhhh! But I wasn't terribly surprised (I had a gut feeling that it was going to happen). We met with him literally 1.5hr before his baptism (we literally slipped home just to have our tea). He was feeling great and was super excited for his baptism. Then about a hour before the baptism he texted us and backed out! Luckily a Polish man from Newcastle ward (a ward that is on the other side of our zone) had come to the baptism (he was supposed to give a talk in Polish for Remek), so he popped over to Remek's during the baptism and they had a longgggggggggggggggggg talk together. Polish translator for the win!!!!!!!!!! So the reason for the cold feet is actually Remek's parents back in Poland. They are strong Catholics and appararently they went crazy when they found out he wanted to be baptized. Remek said he loves this gospel though and still wants baptism....he just wants to give his family a little more time to get used to the idea. We will keep working with him! He is great and will one day get there!

Tanwaa and Femi's baptism was beautiful!!! Everything about their conversion is beautiful! Their gratitude is so inspiring and touches my heart. They were SO excited to go into the font! Tanwaa kept saying to me over and over again that she thanks God everyday that Sis. Shchur and I found her and persisted. We found them through tracting on my 2nd week in the mission field. We had been tracting in a village super far away and I felt very strongly that we were meant to be there. I had a very strong prompting that we needed to go to a street that we had seen. The 1st day we met her, she was angry and told us (very grumpily) to come back another day. We thought that there was no hope (it didn't look very promising), but we came back a few times, and no one answered. Then one day (over 1.5months later), we were prompted to try Tanwaa's home again. She let Sister Shchur and I in and the rest is history. She had a lot of anger...... she felt that God had forgotten her; because of this she had stopped going to church, and was very resistant to the idea of coming to church. After WEEKS of urging her to go, she went. She said that as soon as she went to church and starting reading the Book of Mormon, the blessings were almost instant!!!!! She had never looked back since. Femi was so adorable!!! The primary president gave him a CTR ring, and we gave him the children's Book of Mormon reader, and he was SO happy!!! He kept showing everyone his new ring, and was so excited that Sister Riley and him and I have matching rings now! Bernice (Tanwaa's 3 year old daughter) was so cute-- she was so jealous that her brother was getting baptized and wants to be baptized too! One day!!!!! I realized from this baptism how much we take the gospel for granted! Tanwaa kept saying how blessed she was that she gets to be an official member of the church! She has been asking me how she can help volunteer at the church (she is looking forward to being a visiting teacher). She is especially grateful to have the power of the Holy Ghost in her home. She said that she needs this power to guide her family! I wish we remembered to view the gospel in this way more often!!!!!!! Such miracles!!!

Bernice, Sister Martin, Tanwaa, Femi and Sister Riley

These people Jamaican Us Crazy!:
Random silly story: So I was on exchange last week with Sis. Hansen's new companion- Sis. Barney (from Utah....of course!!!!!), We had a great time and met many great prospective investigators. One of these potentials is a Jamaican man named Joe. I've met him many times around town and he keeps asking me when I'm going to teach him more! So we set an appointment up for when Sis. Riley would be back in Telford. Off we went a few days later to meet up with Joe. We stopped on the way to chat with some local neighbours we talk to everyday, and suddenly Sis. Riley looks across the street. There was a man wearing a rainbow beanie, had proper dreadlocks down to his waist, and was wearing billowy, tropical clothing. She whispered to me: "Sis. Martin, is that our friend Joe?"........I died laughing because it wasn't! All Sister Riley knew was that we were meeting a Jamaican funny!!!

The Church of Les:
We have the BEST neighbours ever!!! We are very good friends with a man who lives near us named Les. Les is the most popular man I have EVER met. He's old and retired (probably in his early 70's). Very rough around the edges, but the nicest, most social person I've ever met! He lives in a tiny little rundown bungalow, and his porch faces the street. EVERYONE in Wellington knows him. He always has at least 3 people sitting with him on his porch, drinking a coffee or smoking a cigarette with him. It's literally a permanent block party. He is ALWAYS outside on his porch. We love talking with him!!! We know call his porch the church of Les, and he always teases us that his congregation is larger than ours. The regular members of the "church of Les" that we are great friends with are Nas (a local taxidriver...he is Muslim and is the smartest man ever! So educated about all religions, politics etc. We love talking with him. He is an amazing example that you can have different religions, and still have incredible friendship/respect for each other). Jess and Simon are 2 younger people who hang out at Les' all the time. Simon wants to start trying out church so there's great potential there!!! The other day Tracey (another regular) was bugging Jess about trying out church....saying it could help her sort out her life. We just sat, smiled, and let Tracey do our job for us! There is so much potential here! You just never know!!! :)

The best moments out here are when you find those golden investigators that pretty much fall in your lap (it rarely happens, but when it does, you have a smile plastered on your face for weeks afterwards). We were on our way to Estella's for a late evening appointment. She's a 35min walk away, so we usually get many chances to meet people on the street when we walk to her place. Richard stopped us!!!! He has seen me walking around Wellington for months, and wondered what exactly I was doing. He was born in Jamaica, but has lived here all his life, so he knows almost everybody who lives here. We told him about our missionary work. He was extremely interested. He has faith in God...just trying to find the right religion. He has met many different people of different faiths, and has found that no one has been able to answer his questions. Well.....guess who had the answers! The restoration made sense to him...he was always confused about how there is supposed to be one gospel, and that it's supposed to be the gospel that Jesus established...yet most churches teachings don't line up with Christ's original organization. Golden!! And the bonus: he is normal!! Anyone who has served a mission knows what I'm talking about: for every 100 people you meet, maybe 5% will be normal...the rest are a bit strange to say the least!! We love teaching Richard! His questions are amazing and we have great back and forth discussion with him!!

We had to say goodbye to Estella this week as she left for Cambridge! She's our first baptism, and we have become very close friends, so that was so hard for us! She did something so special for us though: she got us all matching star bracelets! They are so cute, and have such special meaning to us. I wear mine everyday, to remind me of my new, wonderful friend, and to remind me that there are more Estella's out there!!!!

Funny/very disturbing discoveries:
1. So I've been sick all week. And because I love my companion so much, I thought it would be thoughtful to pass it on to her (sharing is caring...right?!). So we have had nasty, raspy voices all week. We discovered one day, as we were sick in bed, that we can make really good dolphin noises because of the way our sore throats cause our voices to crack. Called to Serve in dolphin noises anyone?? 

2. Sis. Riley has a strange, yet awe-inspiring talent.......she can do a perfect impression of Spongebob's laugh!!!! My love for this sister has grown even more!!!! Clearly we have the same, strange sense of humour, so we were obviously meant to be together!

3. I love drug tea! The Benson's (one of our fav families!) gave us a boat load of cold/flu meds!!!! I'm talking like enough drugs to support all of East Hastings street! There is this amazing herbal tea, that is full of paracetemol and other tylenolish stuff! So good! I would like to take a moment to dedicate this week to Testco's drug tea....without it, the work in Telford would not have moved forward!! ;)

4. There is nothing more disgusting and sad than Sis. Riley and I singing hymns in the morning with our nasty, crackly, dolphin voices! Everyday before comp. study, we sing a hymn. Worst hymn of the week: The Daydawn is Breaking. On the bright side, it certainly gave us a great laugh!!!

5, Word of Wisdom oops! So Sis. Cleary made me some crazy herbal lemon tea for my cold. It tasted nasty, but she swore it would help.....Right after I finished the tea, her husband walks in and goes "Dawn, what, don't you know that stuff has a whole-whack of caffeine in it?!!!!! Missionaries can't have that". She thought it was herbal tea, but guess it wasn't haha. Awkward!!! But it was too late. I can now say I know what caffeine is like haha! That being said definitely would never purposely choose to consume it! :P

President Preston:
- So I think I may be the first person in history to ever get the following counsel from her mission president: "Sister Martin: I order you to take a nap. You must take a nap. Schedule a time in your day to take a nap! If you don't take a nap, I have instructed your companion to tattle tale on you!". I've been working super hard, and we think that's why I've gotten sick. President and I had a good laugh as he lectured me 2 billion times to have a nap! I think it was fun for him to deal with this kind of problem, versus the other legitimate intense problems that he probably deals with, with other missionaries!!

Quote of the week: I think it summarizes my life out here:
"A little craziness every once in a while perpetuates sanity!". I put it up on my wall, and placed silly pics of my friends and family around it! The craziness is what I live for!!

Nanaimo Bars:
Fun fact: English people CANNOT say Nanaimo! It sounds hilarious! So with the help of Dawn Cleary (my sick hands, plus baking for other people= NO GO!) we made Nanaimo bars for our all sisters meeting in Manchester!!! They were gone in like 2 seconds flat!! No one knows what Nanaimo bars are!!!!!!! Only the Canadians knew!!! Everyone was going bonkers for them! They were all asking me what they were and how to make them! I think I just found the new fav dessert of the EMM (england man mission!).

I found the perfect place in our flat to scare people!! I discovered that if I just wait right outside the door of the toilet, when your comp opens the door and your creepy face is right in the crack of the door, you can scare them to death!!!! So now Sis. Riley and I have been finding creative ways to scare each other!!!! We are having fun!!

Cute moment of the week:
We were walking down the street one day and saw this old, frail man struggling to pull a weed from a crack in his driveway. We offered to help him. He said no (he's stubborn and still wants to do the little he can on his own). But we talked to him for probably 45 mins. Bill is a widower who is 88 years old. Lives on his own. It's so sad...he sits by himself ALL day and just watches people walk by his house! He is so lonely! He says he tries to talk to people and no one stops. We told him we'd come back to see him. We came 3 days later and when he saw us in the window, he was grinning ear-to-ear. He didn't think we were going to come back. This is what this mission is all about! I get so much joy from connecting with my brothers and sisters. He just sat and babbled on about all the cars he's had in his life (he loves cars), his grandson, his late wife etc. It was so cute! We made his day!!!! I love being a missionary!!!

Anyways, as always, email time is wayyyy too short!!! I love you all!!!!!!
Hope the time goes fast for you and slow for me!!

Love Sister Martin

Monday, 23 September 2013

Estella got baptized and yes Erika sang at it!!

OK!! Spent way to much time responding to emails today, so this will be a quick one!

ADRIA'S GOING ON A MISSION!!!!!!!! That was the absolute highlight of my week. Nothing more pathetic than me soaking Sister Cleary's floor with my tears of happiness! (Erika was able to watch Adria's mission call opening on Wednesday) I'm so proud and happy that my sister will soon be on the same continent as me, and enjoying the best work that a person could ever do!!

BAPTISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Estella got baptized!!!!! It was beautiful!!!!! In classic missionary style, I had to give the baptismal talk with (literally) 3 minutes notice, because the person assigned to give the talk bailed very last minute. I'm glad God blessed me with a gift for gab---- I was able to give a 10+ minute talk, with only 3 mins to prepare. I literally picked my 3 favourite scriptures of the week, and just improvised on the spot!!!!! I sang......the windows didn't shatter and everyones' eardrums did not rupture, so that's a good sign!!!! It truly was so beautiful! I can't describe the joy I felt!!!! S. Riley and I were in tears together as Estella was baptized!! I'm so sad that Estella leaves for Cambridge this week! We have become such good friends! I have gotten so close with her family! It's been truly beautiful to see a part-member family become more unified from this event! Now we just have to get Estella's younger brother to get baptized (he wants to be baptized so bad, his dad just won't give day it'll happen!!!!!!!). I dream of this family being sealed together in the temple one day!!!!!!!!!!!!! With lots of faith and work, I know it can happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Official count of banana bread: 9 loaves!
We have perfected and memorized our recipe (the final product now has nutella mixed into the batter....enough said!). We are becoming the favourites of many sweet-toothed members out here!!!!

More bananas:
So we went to Manchester for a day of workshops!!! We did an activity at the end of the day, where we were given random items and had to use them to extend a baptismal invitation a role-playing partner. We switched items and partners every 30 seconds, so you had to think so fast on your feet!! So during lunch that day, I had told a bunch of sisters the whole banana mix-up! They thought it was hilarious!!!!!!! Well, Sister Lau was running to find a partner to role-play with. Without looking up and realizing it was me, she ran up to me with her plastic banana! She looked up, and we both burst out laughing.....we literally were in tears for about 3 minutes!! I love this mission! Everyone has the best sense of humour!!!

Our ward mission leader should be American:
Seriously!!!! Our missionary meeting this week consisted of us chomping on salsa, chips, a bunch of American sweets, and hot wings. Our meeting began after we talked about hockey and american football for 45 minutes......It's so entertaining!!!

Sick of being sick:
So I've been sick as a dog for the last 3 feel free to send some prayers my way. I was SO irritated that we had to lose proselyting time because of it! We have been so busy teaching that the thought of cancelling lessons made me more sick than my sickness!!!!!!!

Exchanges: We had exchanges with Stafford Sisters this week. S. Hansen's trainee- Sister Barney from Utah (big surprise there!). Sis. B is just as sarcastic as me, and is a total fireball! No fear! I decided to take advantage of this and take her out for 4 hours of finding!! We got 5 solid potential investigators, and one new investigator!!! Amazing!!!!!!! It was a quick exchange, but wonderful!!!!

Australian phrase of the week:
Don't feel like going to work, so I'm calling in sick.....TRANSLATION.......chucking a sicki because I have a heado.        I love discovering these Australian phrases everyday!!!!!!!! Sis. Riley has started making a list of phrases that I say ALLLLL the time.. we are keeping track of them on an official paper, which now is taped up on our wall. I'll share them with you next week :)

So terrible, but I have run out of time!!! I was so behind on answering some important emails today! Next weeks email will be better!!!!!! 

Love Sister Martin 

PS:  Erika sent a few pictures that refer to experiences in previous blog entries so they have been added (Smores, trip to the pageant, etc).

Monday, 16 September 2013

We are going bananas here is Telford!


Let's just kick this email off with the mother of all miracles!!

WE HAVE 4 (yes, this is not a typo) INVESTIGATORS GETTING BAPTIZED IN THE NEXT 2 WEEKS! 4!!!!! DID I MENTION THE NUMBER 4?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

 Estella this Saturday; Tanwaa and her son Femi, and also Remek the Saturday after!!! All of our investigators are doing incredible!!!! They are so faithful! They are keeping commitments! Our lessons knock me off my feet!!! The spirit is so strong. I love them so much, and I feel their love back!! The gospel really does change lives!!!!!!!!!!! It's a blessing to see all the hard work we've done yield some results! Sister Riley is excited for us to find a new investigator together (she feels "like she's eating someone elses left-overs)! I'm excited for all the potential that lies in this blessed area!!

We also got in contact with OUR FIRST REFERRAL EVER and he's seriously interested in what we have to teach!!! Exciting prospects!!!!!!!!

 Besides this, this week I plan to share more silly random moments, than spiritual ones since my last letter was overload spiritual (lots of what Erika sent last week was not put on the blog because it was of a more personal nature)......good to have some fun too! :)

We are going bananas here in Telford: 
So Jonna (THANK YOU JONNA) ordered us groceries----seriously the biggest blessing ever!!!! (Editor's Note:  One cool thing in England is that the grocery stores all have online ordering and home delivery - it has been fun to send Erika and her companion food and treats a couple of times in lieu of mailing care packages). With that grocery order were 4 bunches of bananas. Well anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a banana monster!!!!! So we already had 2 bunches in our flat for eating, plus a frozen bunch (for bread etc) in our freezer. Official count after grocery delivery: more than 50 bananas!! So we are cranking out banana bread like it was going out of style!!! The ward is going to love us! We have perfected our banana bread!! The bad news is that both of us have a major sweet tooth, and cannot resist the urge to test every loaf to make sure it's not poisoned (we do it because we love our ward....can't have us giving out rubbish banana bread!)

I am officially committed to this work:
Anyone who knows me knows that I was not born to sing. I am verrrrrrrrry self-conscious about singing. I will never be a sololist. Well, this news proves that I would do the unthinkable for my investigators. Estella asked me and S. Riley to sing a hymn for her at her baptism. I reluctantly agreed because she reallllllllllllly wanted us to do it. So S. Riley is the soprano and I am the alto (thank you Jenna Mattie for teaching me to sing alto while we were in YSA together). I am seriously going to need a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into before this baptism--I will be more nervous than Estella.

Yes. You read this next subheading correctly. So Sister Cleary was so kind to point out to me during a tea appointment that someone we know is a spitting image of Chewbacca (unfortunately.....though I hate to admit's true). Yup. I had some major repenting to do that night, as I begged forgiveness for laughing myself into tears. Well, unfortunately the story gets better. The next day I took Sister Riley out to go tracting for the first time ever. We picked a random street.....well what are the chances! We managed to knock on Chewbacca's door. It took EVERY ounce of self-discipline to not burst out laughing as we were talking with her. After we left, Sister Riley (who didn't know the person before, and therefore couldn't appreciate the comment at the tea appointment) right away asked: Chewbacca?  We died laughing. Once again, this missionary has some MAJOR repenting to do. Oh dear!!!!!!

 Camping in England:
So there is literally almost nowhere you can camp out here in the Midlands (too many people on too small of an island), so we do what we can. I had told a less active girl we teach about graham crackers (because I wanted some for Nanaimo bars and couldn't find them---they don't have them here). She ordered a box and we decided to make s'mores (will probably have her order some more so I can make those Nanaimo bars I've been craving to no end!). Well, no camping, therefore no camp fires, so we did the next best thing: turned on the gas stove and roasted marshmellows over the tiny hob! BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love s'mores! I was in heaven! The best part was when our little intimate moment was corrupted by me, and turned into a melted chocolate and marshmellow fight. Messy and delicious! It was also a special day because I got to make Sister Riley her FIRST s'more ever!!!!!!!

 I love missionary work YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?:
Fun fact: everyone in this part of the Midlands says the phrase: "You know what I mean?" allllllllllllllllllllll the time. It drives you crazy after awhile.You know what I mean? Well, one less active we teach literally says it at the end of EVERY sentence she says. You know what I mean? And Sister Riley is about ready to quit life because she can't deal with it. You know what I mean? Just wanted to share that random bit of English culture with you. You know what I mean? ;)

 Weird and creepy fact:
Australians can change accents REALLY easy. It's a really subtle accent, so the switch isn't terribly hard. Sister Riley can switch from N. American to English to Australian flawlessely. She can't stand how I pronounce some words, so she's working on converting me by the end of this transfer (HAHAHAHAHA she can try her best, but I think this accent is ingrained into me!)

 Meghan's restraunt:
We had a gourmet dining experience at our tea appointment the other night. The 5 year old non-member grand-daughter of a family in our ward loves us coming over. She opened a restraunt for us, where she took our orders (even made a menu) and served us a wonderful selection of cold garlic bread, doughnuts, water, fizzy drink, and apples. It was adorable. She even had a cloth draped over her arm like the legitimate servers do!!!! I love cute missionary moments like this!!

Email time is short this week, so that's all I can do for you today!!! I love you all! Your emails and letters keep me going!!!!! It's hard work out here, but every second is so worth it! I still LOVE training! We see miracles together! It's been a humbling experience!! I wouldn't trade it for the world!!!
I hope time goes fast for you and slow for me!
Love you all to the moon and back!

Sister Martin

PS:  Erika sent a 2nd email outlining what a regular P-Day looks like for her.  P-Day is preparation day.  One day a week (usually Monday) the missionaries take care of things like emails, laundry, shopping, cleaning and sometimes try to squeeze in some fun (this is the day they would visit touristy type things in their mission area, do an activity with other missionaries, etc.)

P-day= Crazy:

6:30: wake up exercise
7-8: get ready/eat
8-9: personal study
9-10: companion study
10-10:30: clean the flat
10:30: go to library and pray that we can get a computer (the computers are dodgy here and it's sooooo hard to get time on's always so busy and the cue is massive!)  2 hours emailing....
approx 3-6 (all the waiting for computers takes a ton of time). Run to the store, shop as fast as possible! Walk home with groceries as fast as possible.
5-6: madly eat, and try and squeeze in a letter or power nap.
6: p-day over and back to business!

 Essentially P-day is insane!! We run around like mad trying to get everything done before 6 haha. To be honest, it's not the most relaxing day (if we had cars, it'd be a different story, but because we walk everywhere, errands take much longer).

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Life is Beautiful!!!

Life is beautiful!!!! Why? Because I have the Lord on my side. And also because he has been nice enough to throw a huge amount of blessings my way over the past week!!!!

 Sister Riley is wonderful!!! We get along soooooooooooooooooo well (emphasis on the ooooooooooooooooo). We have very similar senses of humour (sarcasm with a slight occasional hint of sick and twisted) and both have a ridiculous sweet tooth and a love for all food (especially spicy curries!). Safe to say, we have committed to running everyday so that we will not gain 20billion pounds during our time together (every day I like to declare as we wake up to our alarm: "WILL YOU follow the example of healthier, better-looking people than us, and go running in the pouring rain/wind with me. I promise that as you do, we will not get too fat and ugly that no one will want to marry us when we get home"......................any return missionary will recognize/appreciate that this is textbook commitment pattern right here!!). We laugh too much! At everything! Weird fact: more than once now, we have had people ask if we are BOTH Americans-- I get them asking me, but seriously, I don't get how they think her accent is American!

Sister Martin and Sister Riley
 Highlight of her week so far I think was me shocking her when I talked on the phone to get train times. You call a number and it's an automated computer system, where you talk into the phone and the computer gets train info for you.....the catch is that the computer does NOT like N. American I switch my accent when I call in for our trains. I forgot to tell S. Riley this, and she almost died when suddenly I was babbling away in an accent. She had no idea why I was doing it until halfway through the phone call! I do have to brag a little bit, I am getting pretty good at tricking the computer!! My impersonation of an English accent improves each day

 I'm officially a local! The local taximan (Nas) knows me by name and always pulls over to chat with me. A local neighbouring family spends 24/7 out in their front garden and always stops me to chat. I have gotten on good terms with some of the bus drivers here and some of them don't even charge me fare anymore (my favourite thing is to try and get the bus driver to have a conversation with me on the goal is to one day convert a bus driver!). The librarians all know me, and 2 of our local crazy/strange people (Steven- the old man who sings Catholic hymns every time he sees us because he thinks we're nuns, and Percy- the Jamaican who is fascinated by ants) know me too well. Life in Telford is good (knock on wood----- there is no such thing as comfort zone out here, so I'm bracing myself for some challenges to come up haha).

 Sister Riley and I are in such unity! Teaching with her is sooooo easy!! She is extremely talented at teaching (we both find teaching very easy, and teach in very similar styles)! We have had the most touching appointments together so far. The spirit is strong and we and our investigators are feeling it!!!!!

 Sad news: We had to bump Remek’s baptism forward again. Hoping to have his baptism in 2 Saturdays from now! Ohhhh Remek! He got a blessing though and sent us a text saying how much it is helping him. I have no doubt he'll get baptised......I'm sure it'll happen while I'm still here (it's just a matter of when). AND WE GOT OUR FIRST REFERRAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We NEVER get referrals here! Remek gave us a solid referral! He's been talking to a friend from work about us, and the book of mormon etc. and the friend wants us to come teach him!!!!!! BAZINGA!!!! What a blessing!!!!! After endlessly asking everything living thing that breathes for a referral, we finally got one!!!

Estella's baptism is still looking good!! :) If all goes well, that will happen on the 21st.

Tanwaa, Bernice, and Femi!!!! They want to be baptised badly! THEY FINALLY CAME TO CHURCH!!!!! And seemed to love it! We are hoping to set baptismal dates for Tanwaa and Femi this week!!!! We're praying we can have them baptized by the end of the month!!! Our zone's goal for baptisms this month is 3! Our ZL's are telling me that Sister Riley and I are looking like the only hope for getting this goal completed. It feels so nice to start seeing the fruits of our labours!!!

I got invited by our zone leaders to attend our District Leaders Council Meeting on Saturday! It was so nice! And super strange that I've been here long enough that I can actually have LOTS of opinions on things! It was great to be able to discuss a ton of different things and really mind-blowing that I actually seem to know what's going on now! Craziness! I still really can't believe that I'm training!

Luke: he dumped us (sad face!!!). It's common for investigators to drop missionaries.....but I must say that this was the most harsh/sadly hilarious dumping I've witnessed yet. We got home from church yesterday to the craziest voicemail on our phone. Went along the lines of: "I will not be seeing you tomorrow. I don't want to stop giving in to my temptations- I don't think we're meant to. You're nice people and all, and the Book of Mormon is a great book, but I can't be bothered to see you again because this is all so crazy. By the way this is Luke."  --- that is the watered down version of it. It was so crazy, S. Riley and I actually looked at each other and then laughed our heads off. It's really not funny, but sometimes things are so sad that you just have to learn to laugh at them! Good times! I hope one day Luke will change his mind. All we can do is hope and pray!

A joy of being a missionary: missionaries with such thick accents that you cannot understand them. We CANNOT understand our new district leader. He is from Italy, and his accent is ridiculously thick! S. Riley and I have to team up to do call-in reporting to him every night. It's a giant guessing game every 3rd word. FUN!! It makes for good entertainment! Bless his heart! (or as my English friends would so "oh bless!"). 

Miracle this week: the 1st Sat of every transfer is what we call 4 hour finding (literally it means we do finding activities for 4 hours of the day!). IT'S MY FAV!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 hour train miracles:

- SISTER RILEY IS DOING AMAZING! She had her 1st train convo! And HAD A LESSON ON THE TRAIN!! She talked to a man a bit about the BOM and Joseph Smith!! She was too scared to ask to give him a BOM but that's ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The fact that on her 1st week she talked to someone on the train was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

- I literally burned through about 30 cards in 2 days! Talked to soooooooo many people on the street!!!

- Meeting Peter on the train! So I was on the phone dealing with appointment stuff as I went on the train. I was carrying 20billion pounds of stuff and was struggling and a man helped me! I sat next to him and we had the best conversation During our 1 hr train ride together!!! He is hilarious!! And a classic Englishman (was on the train because he follows his football team to EVERY game....literally....his life consists of him following the team everywhere!). Super outgoing and loved my sense of humour (sarcasm for the win!) He asked me a billion questions about the church and about missionary work! I was able to teach him the entire 1st Preach My Gospel Lesson and give him a BOM for him and his mom, and about 4 pamphlets for him and a friend!

- Met an amazing woman on the 2nd train ride. From Sri Lanka originally. Just became a doctor here in the UK. She really wants to move to Canada but was unsure about it. I was able to tell her all about it and she was excited. Got to talking about faith and she really wants to have more faith! Was very excited to hear my beliefs and check out

Random fact: I've gotten SO awkward out here! I didn't realize it until I was paired with Sis. Riley, and I realized she was so embarrassed as I talked to everyone who crossed our paths (on the street, the store, the bus, name it and I'm approaching them and talking to them). I have come up with a theory on missionary work: doing missionary work does not get less just get more awkward, and therefore stop noticing how awkward talking to strangers is!! I tease S. Riley that I can't wait to watch her become as awkward as me over the coming weeks (ONE OF US, ONE OF US!!!). Hahaha!!!! I really do love this work!!!!!

Anyways, email is booting me off soon.

Hope time goes fast for you and slow for me!! <3

Always with you!!

Sister Martin


Thursday, 5 September 2013

Erika's a trainer now...

So I'm still in Telford......and I'm sitting next to my new companion who is 1 day out of the MTC! HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?! We had no sisters leave the mission this transfer, and had 10 new ones enter the mission field yesterday, so President Preston had a massive group of sisters to pick to be I've concluded that either Heavenly Father has a really good sense of humour, I have a lot of things to learn from this experience, or I must be actually be doing a semi-ok job out here. From past experiences, I'd say it's a healthy dose of all 3!

So I'm training Sister Riley. She's from Adelaide, Australia. She IS AMAZING!!!! We get along so incredibly! We are like the same person! She's 21 as well and ended up going on a mission in a similar way to me (had planned to just fly through school, get married one day, etc. and suddenly last summer had a crazy prompting to start preparing to serve a mission). She has the most wonderful attitude, an incredible testimony and knowledge of the scriptures, a great sense of humour, and seems to be ready to work really hard. Bonus: she's a girly girl like me! My last 2 companions haven't been into any of that kind of stuff at all and I've been CRAVING girl talk, and just doing girly things!!!! I have an incredible feeling about these next 12 weeks! This companionship is so right! We are going to see so many miracles together!! And there is no doubt that we are going to be amazing friends after our time together! We already are, and we have barely been together for a day!

So this means that there's a 99% chance that I'll be in Telford for another 3 months (they try not to switch trainers mid-training if they can help it). I love Telford, so that is perfectly fine for me. I was so nervous about transfers, because I've made incredibly friends in my zone and was sad at the thought of losing them. I kept some and I lost some. Sister Hansen is also staying in her area, and also training!!!!!!!!!! I'm thrilled to know that I'll still have her to talk with and go to for support. Sister M is our new sister training leader-- I wasn't terribly shocked by this (I had predicted that this was going to happen). This means she will be in a different zone (sad...won't get to see much of her), but the consolation is that I will probably get to go on exchange with her this transfer so I'm excited for that!!! She is going to change the lives of so many sisters out here! I'm glad that she has been given this new calling- she will do amazing!!

Highlights from the last while:
MIRACLES EVERYWHERE (I'm officially making that the motto for Telford area):

- Luke: we had an INCREDIBLE couple of lessons with Luke. He is young (24 years old), wants to believe in something, and has been searching for relief from the burdens of mental illness. We had a 2 hour lesson on the restoration with him. He had so many incredible questions. He is sincerely seeking for truth in his life, and relief from those burdens that he didn't know where to get help from to deal with them. He literally said to us that he could feel the power that we carried (the Holy Ghost) in his gut. He was nearly in tears. He asked to have a Book of Mormon and pamphlets to give to his mom. He asked to book a time to start his family history ASAP. He wanted another lesson ASAP. Our 2nd lesson on the plan of salvation was similar! He was so into it! He said his first prayer ever and it was the most humbling experience I've ever had on my mission. He finished his prayer and was grinning ear to ear. He said it felt so nice, and relieving, and was excited to continue to pray on his own and to also keep reading his Book of Mormon. I pray he will be baptized in the future!

- We got to teach her, her two kids, and her 3 nieces and nephews. It was so much fun!!!!! She is going to be back in town this week and plans to attend church! Highlight of our lesson with them: I pointed to our cut-out drawings that represented the 3 kingdoms. I asked the kids which place they wanted to go to. One of the girls answered: "this one (pointing to the Telestial Kingdom), because I love stars (this drawing had stars on it); they are pretty and are my favourite thing." I laughed so hard and responded: "Ok, well if we know that God and Jesus live here (pointing to the celestial kingdom) where would you want to live now?" Her response "Oh, I really want to live there." Then all her cousins and siblings started shouting "Me too, me too! I want to live with Jesus!" It was adorable!!!

Tea at Sister Bensons: We had a pizza night at Sister Benson's! It was so much fun!! She is very kind to us and has us over for tea at least once a week. Her daughters (one is less active and one is a non-member) both really like us (they are in their 20's) and are making progress in their faith as we teach them. Gemma (the younger daughter) has not been to church for ages and hasn't accepted missionary lessons, but we met with her on Saturday and had an amazing appointment with her. She said she'd be fine with us doing scripture studies and other lessons with her to help her build her faith. She is a wondeful girl, and I'm excited to see what changes will come with time!

Ok....brace yourselves for these next miracles:

After a veryyyyyy long appointment with Remek, which consisted of me firing 2 billion inspired questions at him for over 2 hours, we got to the root of all his concerns and resolved them all easily. He on his own requested to be baptized in 2 WEEKS!! So he will be getting baptized on Sept 14. We had a similar couple of appointments with Estella (our 19 year old investigator who is leaving for fashion design program at Cambridge in 3 weeks). Her mom was baptized in 2012. She took discussions but never got baptized. Her and I have really connected (we will definitely stay good friends, even after my mission is done). She is so genuine and caring and really desires to follow the Lord. She just had some concerns that were never discovered by previous missionaries (e.g. she had thought that the 116 pages that Martin Harris had lost were rewritten by Joseph Smith from memory and were in our BOM now). They were concerns that were the result of some learning gaps from the lessons she took back in 2012 (some things were not explained as clearly as they could of been). Once I realized her concerns, they were so easily resolved and she expressed the desire to be baptized before she leaves for she is set to be baptized on Sept 21!!!!!!!

For both of these appointments, I felt the spirit so strongly!! I was asking so many questions.....many of them seemed so random to me, but they lead to me discovering concerns that I would have never guessed these people would have had. I am realizing that Heavenly Father has blessed me to be able to feel the spirit extremely strongly.....I often pick up things that neither of my previous companions would, and get extremely strong promptings very frequently (from my observations, more frequently than others do). I am striving to expand on this be even more obedient to all the mission rules so that I can feel the spirit as strong as possible. It is the spirit that is converting these people. I LOVE the feeling when the spirit is so strong in my heart (to the point where I feel I'm going to burst) and I know that they are feeling it too!!!!! I aim to be able to be a vessel that can carry the spirit to all the people here! I want so badly to be so obedient! I desire to keep expanding my workload! To push harder and harder! I'm addicted to my mission! I love being a missionary!!! I never want this mission to end!! The thought of going home literally makes me cry sometimes (I promise I love you's just something about being a missionary...the love you feel is so much greater than anything else in this life- Christ-like love!)

Philippa Davies: she is the superrrrr old widow that we visit weekly. She is hilarious. There's another widow in our ward who visits Philippa sometimes. This sister is extremely negative, always griping and moaning about being a widow, about aches and pains, about how unfair the world is etc. So funny! Sister Grumpy Pants (don't worry mom, this sister doesn't use computers so no chance of her going on the internet to see this hahaha) called on Philippa in the middle of our appointment with her, and joined us. Every time Sister Grumpy pants made a negative, complaining comment (which is every 3 seconds), Philippa would literally roll her eyes at us, and literally tell this sister to "stuff it and stop ruining her day". I wish I could be old so I could be so blunt. It was HILARIOUS!!! I was dying laughing!!!!

Sleepover in Manchester:
I had the most amazing last 2 days!!! I had to be at the mission home for Train the Trainers meeting, so I got to go on exchange with Sister Hansen for the evening (Sisters Dargyte and M were paired up while we were gone). Sister Hansen and I had hours as we travelled to just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. She is one of my best friends here, and it was the biggest blessing to have that time to share miracles, vent, and just talk. She is the most amazing sister, and will be an incredible trainer (she is SOOOOO patient and kind!!!!). I love her to bits and pieces. After our training, we went back to a sisters flat in Swinton, where 10 sisters were sleeping over!! Crowded!!!! BUT SO FUN!!!!! We played a really silly game where we had to write a time, name of person, an event, something they said etc. so that it made a story. Trick was that you would write a word, and then pass the paper on so we don't know what the others are writing. I was the target of many of them and some of the stories were hilarious!!!!! I forgot the papers at home, but I'll share one or two of them next week!!

I got to spend the whole night with Sister Hansen and Sister M! I made another INCREDIBLE friend that night- Sister Lyman. I had talked with her here and there before, but hadn't had much chance to spend time with her. She is SO FUN! We bonded over that sleepover!!! Sisters M, Hansen, Lyman, Eickhorst (from my MTC group...another good friend) and I all slept in one room and just talked and laughed for a solid couple hours! The rest of them fell asleep and then Sis M and I stayed up for another 1+ hr and talked away. I needed that after these last 3 weeks. Heavenly Father has blessed me with the BEST friends out here! These sisters are all incredible! Their testimonies inspire me, and their desire to be obedient and serve the Lord is amazing!

Random things I found weird or interesting this week:
- we saw a lady this morning walking her CAT......I've never seen such an unhappy looking cat in my life. Sister Riley asked me if that was normal in England......NOPE! haha
- we then later in the day saw 2 girls (probably in their 20's) walking through the cemetery by our flat, in footy pj's and bathrobes with pacifiers in their mouths. Sister Riley asked me (sarcastically this time) if that was normal in England....NOPE!
-Me accidentally dropping my hair elastic on Sis. M's bottom (she was lying on the floor as I was walking past) and her screaming and jumping because she thought "it was a butterfly or something" (she is scared of butterflies)...............
- the fact that I'm training! Where did the time go!!!! 
- playing minute to win it oreo game....faceoff between me and sis. m! The flat was so hot (body heat from 10 girls) that the chocolate got stuck to our foreheads....epic fail!!!!!!!!!!

ran out of time to write the rest of the silly things that happened this week....more on Monday :)