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 December 2013

Post Christmas and feeling as fat as Father Christmas!

Baby email this week. Our preparation day is shortened today, so we have make like a banana (pronounced the Aussie honour of Sister Riley!) and split!!!

Fun facts from this week:
1. If you put gummy bears in a bottle of Shloer filled with water and leave them a couple of days, they blow up to ridiculous sizes! We found this hilarious. Evidence that when you take away a 21 year old's tv, Internet, and any other form of worldly entertainment, the dumbest things turn into good ol' fashioned fun!  

2. When you have an Australian companion read "Eh!" on the shirt of the Canadian teddy bear you receive for Christmas, she will pronounce it "Ugh" instead of "Eh!". Fact: This is hilarious for a born and bred Canadian girl to witness!
- Sub-fact: I love my companion anyways!

3. I ate enough food this week to feed half of Africa!
- 5+ Christmas dinners over the course of 3 days! I never want to eat again (the ultimate weight loss plan!!).
- The most intense dinner we had? In one meal: Turkey, duck, fried chicken, pork, and ALL the fixings! With cheesecake (yummmmmmmmm) for dessert! Confession: I am slightly disgusted wtih myself for admitting that this was my Christmas! But it was a once in a lifetime experience!! I love England!

4. Huge miracles are happening in Carlisle!!!!

We were heading off to go and search out a less actives home (a specific assignment from the church to confirm if they had the correct address for the person). As we were street contacting on the way to the house it was proven that there are still people out here who are prepared to hear the message of the gospel. The first person we talked to commented on how he had met a missionary from another denomination in the past. This missionary told him that you can find the answer to any question you have if you study the Bible carefully enough. This didn't make sense to him, as he has found that the Bible has been changed too much (doctrinally and chronologically) for it to make sense to him all of the time. When we taught him about the Book of Mormon it made complete sense to him. He was eager to have us come teach him and his family as soon as possible. Literally after we left him, a woman stopped us on the street and asked us for the time. She saw our Books of Mormon and badges and asked what we are doing here. We were all in tears on the street as we taught her a bit about the plan of salvation and the experiences we have had with it in our lives. She said that she has a lot of problems and asked if we can try and help her; we testified that the atonement of Jesus Christ can help us through anything. It was so humbling as we offered a prayer at the end and she kept asking us to pray for so many people she knows in her life who are struggling. We take prayer for granted way too often!
The miracle continues though!! We spent so long teaching these 2 that we didn't have time to get to the actual house. So the next night we went to find it. The address turned out to be wrong (the person did not live there) but an Indian lady did. With no hesitation she invited us straight in. She immediately told us how she has such a strong love for Christ. She suddenly was in tears as she exclaimed that we were a direct answer to her prayers. Her mother-in-law back in India has multiple organ failure and is being admitted into hospital today. The whole family has been praying that someone would be sent to come comfort them. Her husband had to work that day, so she had to stay home and watch her young daughter instead of going to church. She said she had wanted to go so badly as she needed comfort during this trial and had prayed that morning for God to send someone for her. I was in tears as I realized that meeting the other two the day before was divine intervention from Heavenly Father. We were not meant to meet her until the next day (after she had prayed for us to come)! We taught her the plan of salvation and invited her to baptism and she accepted. Her brother and his family also live across the street and they are all struggling through this trial right now, so we hope to be able to share some comfort with all of them. This is a total of 3 families (and 1 potential family) from only knocking on this one door!

I literally wrote last week how I know with all my heart that the call for missionary work is now!!!! This is proof!!!! My faith will not waiver in this regard!! I have been fasting and praying so hard this transfer and have done the hardest work I have my whole mission. The work is about to explode in Carlisle! The harvest is beginning and I'm the most blessed person ever to be a part of it! Hard work and loads of faith can truly move mountains!!

Thanks for all the love I received over the holidays!!! I am a blessed person!!!

Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!

Sister Martin!! 

We had a wonderful Skype call on Boxing Day

Monday, 23 December 2013

Baby mama drama, orphanages, and Noah's ark.

Christmas as a missionary is officially the most incredible experience anyone can ever have! This has been one of the hardest and funnest weeks of my life!

Likening my weight unto a yo-yo:
So Carlisle is a beautiful place, because it is a massive area (one of the villages in our area is apparently 35 miles away) and it has the worst bus system known to man (buses are almost non-existent out here). In missionary terms, this equals weight loss! So I've finally started slimming down again, just in time for Santa to slam the sweets on the sisters. Carlisle branch is full of the loveliest people ever! We have been spoiled sick!!! We received the largest Christmas hamper I've ever seen in my life!!!! Filled with food, toiletries and sweets; not including all the individual gifts and cards we've received! So my official prediction is that plan cut-down the pounds in Carlisle will be sabotaged quickly! Thank-goodness I have the comfort of knowing that no matter what, Jesus Christ, and my mother will still always love me ;)

Speaking of Weight:
We went to the mission home on Wednesday for our Christmas training. Amazing! We are blessed with the best couple on planet earth to lead this mission! President and Sister Preston pulled out all the stops for us, and as far as I'm concerned I think they should pretty much be translated and carried up to heaven (Enoch style) for everything they did for us this Christmas!!

This bag was handmade and embroidered by Sister Preston and her sister. They made over 240 of these for each of the missionaries serving!  
Our district received all our Christmas packages that day as well. Because we were going on exchanges with our sister training leaders and they were giving us a lift back to Carlisle, we offered to take all the elders packages home so they wouldn't have to carry them on the trains. As we departed, the car seemed quite sluggish and we were confused why it couldn't go over 20mph. I guessed maybe there was something wrong with the car; Sister B and I both wondered if it was simply in the wrong setting. Our sister training leaders were convinced that the weight of all the packages must be too much for the car. Sis. B and I were making faces at each other as they said this, because it was a new car with automatic transmission so that made no sense to us. There are human beings heavier than the packages that we were carrying. So in cliche, Molly Mormon sister missionary style, the car was pulled over and we offered a prayer, asking for a blessing to be on the engine (we were all snickering through the prayer....couldn't quite believe that we had just prayed for an engine). Trip resumed. 3 seconds later, it was declared that the car was too heavy, and we had to return to the mission home and make the elders carry their packages. We pulled in the drive to the look of confused elders, as the sisters yelled to them that the load was too heavy. Right as they said that, the driver discovered that (as Sis. B and I had guessed) the car was in drive+ (equivalent to putting it in gear 2 for hills back home). The windows were rolled up fast, and embarrassed, we zipped away before the elders could realize our dumb mistake.

Baby mama drama:
Strange things happen when you are stuck coordinating and organizing records with elders for hours on end! I have been pushing forward a new way of doing the work in Carlisle. I cleaned out our house when I first moved in, and found piles of old records of people that missionaries met, but missionaries never followed up on. As far as I was concerned, I had pretty much found our next 20 baptisms!!! Hundreds of names, never touched!!!!! So it has taken crazy coordination to sort it all out. As we were looking at some of the records, with no surprise there were some hilarious/bizarre stories & descriptions of people missionaries have met over the years. One story reminded one of our elders about a story he heard. Apparently once upon a time (I doubt it's true but funny nonetheless) there were 3 people dated for baptism, who didn't get baptized because they were all caught (literally) by elders have a messed-up, threesome triangle affair. As this story was being told, I was doing map work and discovered the most hilarious thing ever. There is a place called Knockup-worth Farm in Carlisle. In our immaturity, we found the timing of this discovery (in the middle of the story) hilarious. We started trying to guess what kind of place this would be; what do they grow/raise there?! My guess was that it is actually an orphanage! Instead of raising animals, they raise children!!!

So decided that we should offer to be their new advertising managers. "Knockup-worth Farm......We raise them babies for you! Yee Haw!!!"

Taylor Swift: A new missionary finding tool!:
So we have permission from leaders to listen to Christmas songs sung by people like Michael Buble etc. as long as they're appropriate Christmas hymns (e.g. Silent Night, Away in a Manger). Sis. B has a song by Taylor Swift that sings about the need for Jesus to be the center of Christmas. The main line says "Here's to the birthday boy who saved our lives". My exchange companion blew my mind as we were talking to a man on the street. Companion: "I heard someone once describe the real meaning of Christmas, by saying Here's to the birthday boy who saved our lives...etc. etc.". I found this hilarious! It took everything for me not to laugh! As we were driving to Carlisle the night before, we were all listening to it full blast in the car! Never in my life would I think someone could manage to insert a Taylor Swift quote into a street contacting situation! 1st time for everything!

It is Noah's ark out here:
After living in Carlisle for almost a month, I have decided that I should be a weather woman and that I should be allowed to redefine meteorologist terms using the following English scale I've created:

Brilliant = sun
Alright= cloudy with sun/bits of rain
Poorly= rain
England= lots of rain with flashes of cold wind....i.e. just another English day
Mary Poppins= hello wind-storms!
Noah's Ark= Floods mixed with Mary Poppins and pigeons getting pulverized by the wind
4 seasons= all of the above, occurring in the space of 1 hour!

Call Mark Madryga and tell him he's out of the job! This Vancouverite has changed the face of weather forever!

That awkward moment when you sit on an elder's lap:
So generally English people are much more reserved and quiet than we are! EXCEPT (as I discovered on Sat) at Christmas parties! Our little branch Christmas party was the best church party I have ever been too!! Instead of stressing about having a gigantic spread, they just told everyone to bring stuff (no bishopric members stressing over cooking a giant turkey, and no RS president stressing about making sure there is stuffing, mashed potatoes and anything else you can think of). There were mostly finger foods and way more desert than food, but it was fine. No one was bothered and everyone was having a blast! Let's be honest, during Christmas most people want to mainly eat artery clogging deserts anyways! We just put real food on our plates to be polite! The decorations were also amazing! Tinsel, paper chains, trees, mistletoe, Christmas table clothes everywhere. It was like Christmas got sick all over the cultural hall! Christmas music booming in the background. These people know how to party!

What made it great though was that they actually play GAMES at their Christmas parties. Pass the parcel, musical chairs, musical statues etc. (if it wasn't obvious yet, I'm hinting that people back home should read this and use it for next year's Christmas party! No point in beating around the bush).

Pass the parcel here is the best ever! Each round that someone takes a layer of wrapping off the present, the person has to do something (99% of the time it's super silly) that has been predetermined and is written on a list. Most rounds included the person having to put on a silly wig. Some people had to sing a song. Some had to ride a toy pony and gallop around the circle of people etc. etc. etc. So much fun!

Musical chairs! If you want to see an awkward sandwich, just watch a sister accidentally sitting on an elders lap as they both dive for the same chair. Yup. That was me. We both flew off the chair so fast that it was like two magnets repelling each other. Then I realized that he had dived off the chair, and proceeded to sit back on the chair before he could! That's a strategy I would have never thought I could use before to win! All in all, so much fun! Highlight of the night though was seeing a skinny, ginger Santa Clause with a Scottish accent (our branch president) hand out the presents! Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime for me!

After playing Pass the Parcel

Time for a spiritual tidbit for the day (*drool...the word tidbit just reminded me of Timbits and I suddenly just had my 1st Tim Horton's craving since I've left Canada):

I have been having amazing studies the last month! I wish I had time to just write for hours about all the mind-blowing things I'm learning from the scriptures! I'll highlight one thing though that really stood out to me!

So I have been reading Mosiah/Alma for the past 2 months. The beauty of these books is that they are packed with missionary experiences, so reading them out here is a billion times better!

Alma 26: 5-6 So we often hear missionary work being compared to a harvest. We've all heard those scriptures a million times where words like sheaves, wheat, harvest, thrust in your sickle etc. etc. are used. I was curious to see how many scriptures there are of this nature. I went to the index and looked up all the key words in this scriptures.

Prepare to have your mind blown! Scriptures about missionary work (being compared to a harvest) are only found once or twice in the Book of Mormon, and they are only (generally) found in Alma and Mosiah. The next mention of such scriptures are once again very little, and when they are mentioned again in the BOM it is in 3 Nephi, where Jesus is talking/prophesying about the future (our times).

I have loved to compare this part of the BOM to our times. In this part of the BOM, Christ's birth is right around the corner. It is here that there is a call for the work to move forward. The missions of Alma, Amulek, Aaron, Ammon, Omner and Himni are the most inspiring records I have ever read. They bring me to tears. These men baptized THOUSANDS!!! 6 people! Went to go preach to the most hard-hearted, hostile, wicked people of that time and after enduring every trial possible, they baptized THOUSANDS and watched these people become indescribably happy and righteous.

Here is where I was shocked and inspired. In the index, where there is only 2-3 harvest scriptures in the BOM, there are 10-15+ in Doctrine and Covenents (the scriptures and revelations of OUR day). If thousands were baptized at a time where the call for missionary work wasn't that great, how many has the Lord prepared at this time?! How much greater is the call for missionary work today?! How many more TENS OF THOUSANDS has the Lord prepared!!!!! As I read through the account of Alma and the sons of the Mosiah, there was reference to the Lord preparing the hearts of the people to receive the word. His spirit was travelling throughout the land. It is all a matter of FAITH! Do we believe that now is the time?! Do we believe that God is who he says he is; a God who can use us- his imperfect children- to be instruments in his move mountains if needed! Do we believe that branches can become wards? and wards can be divided to form new ones? If we aren't doing missionary work and are not ACTING, then we do not. If we truly believe in the power and divinity of our father in heaven, then we know that anything is possible, and that NOW is truly the time for His work to happen! The men in the scriptures never gave excuses. They put their trust in the Lord- even though I'm sure they were terrified and had no clue how it could happen- and courageously did as He commanded them.

Alma 26:6-- the Lord is calling for the work to happen NOW because later is too late! Think about the BOM in late Helamen/3rd Nephi. The people were so hard-hearted! You see the missionary work go to a halt (in comparison to Alma's time). Satan had too much of a hold on the hearts of those people. The Lord needed his missionaries to do all they could before it was too late. The Lord is making that same call again! He wants as many of his children as possible to return to Him. He NEEDS us to do our part to make this happen! The Saviour's coming is right around the corner! We must share the love of Jesus Christ. We must firmly witness that he is real, and stop being ashamed of it. Christ was never ashamed of us. He never gave up on us, even though this came with the ultimate price. He loves us. How much do we love him? How much will we sacrifice to help his gospel move forward! Now is the time. There will be no later. I truly believe this with all my heart!

Anyways, rant over. If you couldn't tell, I'm only slightly passionate about missionary work ;) Most exciting Christmas of my life! Even more exciting is the fact that I am going to watch Brave on Christmas, when I'm only a few mins from the Scotland border (how amazing is that?!). I'm so grateful to be a missionary and to be doing the Lord's work during this time of the year!!! I couldn't think of a better way to spend this time of my life! I pray that everyone has a blessed Christmas season and that many wonderful family memories are made at this time! May the Lord bless everyone with his love, as we celebrate his birth and his incredible life!!

Heaps - a good Aussie term "heaps of fun"

Is it popcorn popping...or mushrooms

Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
<3 Sister Martin 

Monday, 16 December 2013

A week of droppings.....of the investigator and temperature variety

Guess what?! I still love being a missionary! For some reason I don't think that will shock anybody, but I just love having the opportunity to publicly announce that as much as possible!! It has been a strange, strange week. I feel like I'm bad luck! We had our 2 baptisms, and then the few investigators that they did have went and all dropped us this week. So the way luck has it, we have nobody to teach right now. But with enough faith and miracles, that will be changing this week!!!!

Highlight reel begins...................NOW!:

I now write plays:
That's right. You heard it. Me: the most uncreative, unartistic person on planet earth, has spear-headed a skit! I'll pause for a minute so those who know me well can quickly pick up their jaws...................ok..........We have our mission home Christmas party this week and each district has to perform a skit. The instructions were that we must make President Preston laugh and be entertained. Challenge accepted. I had remembered a youtube video that I had seen before the mission, where boys play out a scene as if they were girls and vise versa (video is by Harvard sail team if I remember correctly). So that inspired our coming skit: If elders were sisters and sisters were elders. We have a district with 6 elders and ourselves. Our elders are all crazy, and therefore this could be the most genius thing ever. So many bad jokes! Pretty much I have created an open floor for us to completely insult and imitate each other!!! This should be good!!

Harry Potter and Hoovering:
So we were doing service for a senior sister. I was happily hoovering away, minding my own business when suddenly I locked eyes with Voldemort!! AHHH! She has massive Harry Potter figurines in her china cabinet! Ewwww. They were so realistic and I literally screamed. the center of her display was Hagrid and Voldemort (but there was no Harry, Ron, or Hermione........what is up with that?!). Creepy. Just another day in the mission.

Spotlight night:
So we have a spotlight night in our district where we all get to ask one person a question each. This week's spotlight was priceless. Highlights:
Question: "Elder G. You are between a rock and a hard place. What direction do you go?"

Question: "Elder G. Would you rather kick a cat, or a 14 year old chav?"
Answer: "Can I kick the cat into the 14-year old chav?!"

I have a man jumper!:
So before my mission I promised myself that I would never turn into one of those "fuddy duddy", frumpy sister missionaries that has completely let go of herself and does not care how she looks. Sadly, I think I have finally turned into one! I bought a man sweater last week! It is starting to get really cold/wet/rainy, and I noticed that men's jumpers are 12 times thicker than women's ones. So I bought the most feminine looking one possible and now wear it 24/7. I use it almost like a lining for my coat! No shame! I am the warmest missionary in the EMM now! Take that fashion world! I may be frumpy, and fat, and tired, but on the bright side I have rock solid calves (helloooooooooooo walking), a rock solid testimony, and a rock solid self-esteem that does not limit my choice in jumpers. .....................that being said, if anybody loves me, they'll get me a gym membership next Christmas so I can shake the mission weight asap!!! Not fun!

Our new, genius game-plan:
The elders had a breakthrough this week. We will just relate everything in the gospel to star wars and lord of the rings. Apparently we are going to baptise all of Carlisle now. My favourite analogies:

The force= the spirit
Light-sabre= the BOM
Gollom= Cain ("he just walks around being all creepy and weird and doing bad stuff)

I refuse to share anymore. I can't bring myself to do it. Too many bad jokes. Have to admit that Gollom was my favourite analogy!

Edna from the Incredibles came to church!:
We had a community choir perform at our chapel Sat night, and we spent the whole week going door-to-door inviting all the neighbours to attend. A couple of neighbours actually showed up. Even more exciting?! One of them looked exactly like Edna from the Incredibles! The elders and I found it hilarious!!!!!!! Another lady at the event also looked and talked exactly like Professor Umbridge....the elders were kind enough to make me laugh at inappropriate moments as they did impressions of her. I love finding random, inappropriately timed connections/symbolism in church. Keeps things exciting!

That's all I've got this week. We pretty much spent the whole week walking, and walking, and walking, and walking from cancelled appointment to cancelled appointment. This means that this week is going to be great though!! (what goes down must come up!) I'm so excited! What a wonderful time of year to be a missionary! I am blessed!!!!!!!!

Hope the time goes quickly for you and a slowly for me!!
XX Sister Martin

Erika finally sent another batch of pictures from the last few months....

What happens when we're broke at the end of the month :)

One seater car...

View of the Wrekin (the mountain/hill near Telford)

What Erika could see from her flat in Teford

British yogurt is the best!!!

Aussie Companion = Vegemite


CORSE spotting....

Best District ever....3 of the elders were in the MTC with Erika