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, 1 December 2014

Too much turkey, too much traffic, and the tale of a torn and trunky sister missionary!!

A note from her mother:  Erika returns home from her mission Thursday evening!  She will be home on Friday evening (December 5th) from about 6:30 pm until whenever for anyone that wants to come by and visit with her.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write her, send her care packages, send her money and do other things to make these past 18 months go so well for her!

Before I start: Happy Belated American Thanksgiving to all my American friends! I had a great 2nd thanksgiving dinner and ate way too much turkey!! (the beauty of being a Canadian in the midst of so many American missionaries! I got to have 2 dinners: 1 in October and 1 in November! Life is great!). 

I have never been so confused in my entire life! I can hardly believe that this is the last email I will ever write as a full-time sister missionary! I have absolutely loved this mission! It has been the greatest gift God has ever given to me. I have never felt love this deep in my entire life! I didn't know you could love a group of complete strangers so much! 

I will always have a incredibly deep love and allegiance to England! This country is beautiful and rich in it's history and culture. And though some may comment that the humour of the English is weird, I have come to love it :) ....maybe that means I am weird too ;)

I have become a tea drinker! (fruit tea of course.....just in case all the molly mormons were about to rent their cardigans and throw their casserole dishes on the floor in disgust) I love crumpets and tea cakes! I adore English chocolate (and unfortunately it adores me too much as well!) I love the old rickety buildings, the compact homes and narrow street ways! I will miss the good, the bad, and the ugly that has been witnessed in the views that I have beheld on the upper levels of literally hundreds of double decker buses! I will desperately miss all the cheap and delicious bakeries that line high street and I am even leaving the crazy 4-seasons weather on peaceful terms: we had a talk and the wind/rain/snow/sun cycle and I have agreed to disagree!) The country is beautifully sarcastic, wonderfully historic and the people here have hearts of gold! Once you make friends with the English, they will be a friend for life! I have been blessed with some brilliant friends!

Time to zap the PDA, cut the cheesy rambling and tell you about my last week in the mission field! It sure has been a crazy one!
E-M&M Strikes Again: 
Everyone has been literally BEGGING me to write one more rap before I go home! The only reason I hadn't responses to the fan requests was because I had not received the inspiration to do so! I can't just write on a whim: it needs to be inspired!

Well my stroke of inspiration came while we were locked up in a Manchester bus for 2 hours! Normally the trip home from city centre only takes us 15-20 minutes. Why were we on the bus for that long?!?! 2 words:

Manchester United!

Curse you aqua scum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fact: Manchester United is one of the most exciting and famous football clubs in the world.

Fact: The locals hate them because the world completely shuts down whenever there is a football match! Traffic stops completely! The streets are lined with rubbish and drunken men! It is very inconvenient for those who actually live in Manchester! And unfortunately I have discovered this first hand!

So there I was, sick (I've been battling the flu....yay!), tired, starving, and really needing to use the toilet (every mum's famous roadtrip phrase haunted me as I sat on the stagnant bus: "I told you to go before we left!!") 

In anger at my full bladder, my growling stomach and my unchanging position of imposition, inspiration came and I wrote a rap on the bus!

Manchester United Rap:
Today is the day where my anger is ignited
Because this bus ain't moving due to Manchester United.

Football is so stupid, it makes this city nuts
I want it to be over so this bus can move its butt

Everyone is flaming drunk unable to walk straight
A riot just erupted and a man just killed his mate

I need to wee so bad and my bladders gonna burst
Being stuck in post game traffic really is the worst

Everyone is wearing red and screaming really loud
They won't be cheering anymore, when I punch them: "POW!"

Men are walking everywhere in really girly scarves
It looks ironic as they walk into their manly bars

Explain to me why every match they get in nasty fights
Regardless of the final score the home team had that night

They must be daft to blow their cash on such dumb souvenirs
And pay a tenner for a tiny pint of nasty beer

My favourite part of every match is all the chavy ladies
They curse and swear more than the men and act like they have rabies

Football players make me laugh each time they fake a fall
Crying for their mommies so the ref will make bad calls

Red and yellow cards start to fly up all the place
It looks so wrong as grown men pull a whiny baby face

Regardless of my moaning, football ain't that bad
Its not the game but all the traffic that makes me so mad

So go United! Win em' all! I support your club!
As long as you can keep your crazy fans locked in the pub!

(The End)

Lock Down In Man-Town!:
The most random moment of our week was probably getting locked in our flat. Our house is one of those super old houses that they redecorated to make it look new.....but the reality is that underneath the new paint it is still super old.

The most recent thing (of many) to break in our home? Our front door! The dead bolt would not move and we literally could not get out of our home. Talk about claustrophobia! 

So what do two sister missionaries do when they get locked in a flat?! ...take selfies of course! 

I am happy to report that our zone leaders eventually came and unscrewed the door and helped us escape! So all is well in Zion (as always)! :) 

Feasting Upon The Words Of Christ:

We received the greatest gift yesterday. If you are a scriptorian, you probably automatically thought I was referring to eternal life (shout out to Doctrine and Covenants 14:7!) Not this time though! 

We received a Bible cake! 

"Brother Bob" (this is his nickname. He is so famous he doesn't have to go by his surname! The best celebrities only have to be referred by their 1st name. E.g. Beyonce, Christina, Justin, Oprah! See what I mean?!) is a man in our ward who is the greatest member missionary of all time. He is famous around our mission! Everyone wants to serve in Stretford so they can work with Brother Bob! 

He just had a birthday and they had the greatest cake ever made for him. A Book of Mormon and Bible cake!! Late last night we were surprised to get a knock on our door! It was our zone leaders holding a bible cake! Brother Bob had given it to them and had them deliver it to us. It was the 2nd cake leftover from the party and he wanted us to have it! 

It is amazing! Pictures attached!  

We were way too excited when we saw it (it's what happens when you are a missionary and your whole life revolves around church and the scriptures). We made many terrible puns, my favourite being that we were being very obedient by literally "feasting upon the words of Christ" (2nd Nephi 31:20).

I'm going to be a great-grandma!:

My mission family tree is growing again! This week my 3rd grandchild and 1st great-grandchild are being born! (When you train a new missionary, you say that they are your daughter...and so forth! You can work out the rest).

So I leave my mission with 3 daughters, 3 granddaughters and 1 great-granddaughter! Those poor girls! They are a part of the weirdest family ever! (Who can say that they have a rapping grandma?!?!)

Such an exciting and fun way to end the mission, knowing that I made a difference for my companions as they have made a difference for me! 

The secret to keeping the law of chastity:
We were doing an awkward role-play the other day in district meeting where we were practicing teaching people on the street the law of chastity using the missionary pamphlets we are giving as teaching tools. 

From that I came up with a firm conclusion:

If you want your investigators to keep the law of chastity, the solution is simple. Just show them the pictures in the pamphlet and they will never want to have sex again! 

The pictures are "gag me" cheesy! I cannot and do not want to even describe them. Pictures like a woman walking with a bouquet of flowers in her arms and a cardigan tied around her neck (apparently that is what a good date looks like haha). A family playing crochet (who plays crochet in the 21st?!?!). 

I joke a lot! The law of chastity is actually a great thing (keeps families protected and happy), but they need to update their pamphlets so bad! Barf!! 

The new Ben and Jerry's motto:

My companion and I have eaten a shameful amount of Ben and Jerry's ice-cream this week. At the conclusion of the week, I concocted a new motto for the companion based on our experiences.

Ben and Jerry's: "No bowl, no shame!" 

Nothing better after a terrible day than downing a tub of Ben and Jerry's and eating it straight out of the tub! Food therapy 101! 

Favourite cheesy joke of the week:
What do you call a woman with one leg?


Likening the Holy Ghost to......a banana peel:
We are teaching a wonderful lady right now! We are teaching her English as well as the gospel, so our lessons are sometimes interesting as we try to find unique and memorable ways for her to learn gospel words that are very new and cannot be found in a language dictionary. 

I was trying to explain how the Holy Ghost can warn us. She did not know the word warn. A hilarious moment we had had earlier that day sparked a great analogy that I was able to use to explain the word to her.

That morning, Sister Once had fallen really badly. We were just walking and BANG she was on the ground. I -of course- laughed my head off (so did she) and we brushed her off and kept walking. 

Warn: Sister Martin is walking down the street and accidently slips on a banana peel (BAM! Picture me dropping to the floor as I was teaching her this). Then Sister Once is going to walk the same street, so I WARN her about the banana peel! "Look out! There is a banana peel! Do not fall!"

I managed to get Sister Once and the lady nearly in tears! I may win for the most random and dramatic analogy ever to describe such a simple word :) 

The break-through secret to increased church attendance: 
I was talking with our bishop and his family in the car and they were asking me about what I would miss about England. The conversation- of course- drifted to food! I told them how I was grateful we have Yorkshire puddings back home so I would be fine there. 

Then we came up with a breakthrough idea!

We should change the sacrament so they bless and pass around Yorkshire pudding and custard instead of bread and water! Church attendance would sky-rocket!!!!

No wonder we struggle so much in the UK to get people to come to church! It was obvious all along! ;) 

Her last Sunday!

My Departing Thoughts:
This hymn caught me off guard in church yesterday. We sang it for the sacrament hymn and it moved me to tears as the words perfectly described how I feel as I finish this full-time mission. I have changed the words slightly to apply to me:

As Now We Take The Sacrament: Hymn 169 (verse 3)
As now (I) praise thy name with song,
The blessings of this day
Will linger in (my) thankful heart,
And silently (I) pray
For courage to accept thy will,
To listen and obey.
(I) love thee, Lord; (my) heart (is) full.
(I'll) walk thy chosen way.

I love the Lord so much! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church! Jesus Christ's gospel has been restored and brought back to the earth again- the exact same gospel he taught and established while he walked on the earth! I thank God everyday for the gospel! It has blessed my life more than words can describe! The greatest sacrifices bring the greatest blessings and I have truly learned this out here! I would never have it any other way! :) 

Love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly (ahh) for me!
Love Sister Martin :) 

 Pemberley (Actually Chatsworth House) - Mr Darcy's residence in Pride and Prejudice

Monday, 24 November 2014

My 11th companion and the top 11 silly situations of the week :)

Before I start anything I have to declare something:

Because I just got back from Mr. Darcy's house. For anyone who has watched the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (no shame! I proudly admit that I have probably watched that film about 20 times!), I just got back from Lyme Park in Manchester, where "Pemberley" is located! Breath taking! I believe that the UK is the most beautiful place in the world!!!

Ok! Back to reality!

So it is official. My lovely Sister Sant is home and happy and getting healthy now :) She did a great job and I learned so much this transfer serving with her :) 

So the big question everyone is dying to ask!!! Who is the lucky sister that gets to be my companion for the last 12 days of my mission?!? 


Sister Once from the Philippines :) 

For my friends who are not fluent in Tagalog ;) The Once is pronounced like Beyonce! Those who know me well know that Beyonce is my girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sasha Fierce was my last cd before I left on my mission :P ) So this clearly was meant to be :) 

As you are probably already picturing, our height difference is hilarious and people on the streets are just loving it! It's not everyday that you get a 6ft tall, white Canadian, and a 5ish ft tall Philippino hanging out together on the mean streets of Manchester! 

This just continues to prove the point that anything is possible when you are a missionary!

People find it hilarious that the last name of my 11th companion is Once (which means 11 in a couple of languages). The irony kills me! 

In respect for the significance of the number 11 this week, I will talk about my top 11 moments of the week:

1. The atonement really does cover everything!!

I bet you think I'm about to go on a "holier than thou", almost returned missionary spiritual rant! 

Not today!

We had a wonderful tea appointment last night with some of the best food I've had in awhile! About 3 hours after the appointment, Sister Once surprised me when she suddenly burst out:

"Sister Martin, a miracle has happened!"

Curious- because we had had no miracles that day that I was aware of- I inquired further and was mind-blown by her response:

"I ate prawns tonight and I didn't die!"

....She confessed to me that she is really allergic to prawns. There was prawns in our tea that night. She told me that during the tea appointment she had prayed that she would be ok and wouldn't get ill. And she didn't.

So apparently the atonement even covers food allergies ;)

That being said, I will finish off this section with a quote that the President and Sister Preston put in our missionary health binder, which I think is wise and should be applied by everyone.

"Don't do dumb things, especially on p-days :) " 

In other words: please don't test this theory! I am not responsible for any allergic reactions that occur as a result from this story ;) 

2. Santa Claus isn't real in the Philippines:
Sister O was telling me how Christmas is so much better in England! Back home, kids freak out in the malls because Santa Claus is brown. She told me they used to cry to their parents and tell them that Santa can't be real because Santa doesn't have a tan! :P

She also described how they decorate little palm trees with ornaments in the Philippines and their version of reindeer is goats!

Safe to say, I will feel so lucky to be a Canadian this Christmas season. Having a cliche, cheesy Christmas makes enduring all the cold and rain worth it :)  

3. My new trunky voicemail:
I've been debating changing our voicemail this week. All of the missionaries phones have the same identical, scripted voicemail which goes as follows:

"You have reached the missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints, serving in the (*insert area name here*) area. Please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. Thank-you!"

After hearing the same voicemail for 18 months, it gets a little boring after a few hundred years!

Sister O and I decided that we want to change our voicemail to the following:

"WOOHOO I'M ALMOST DONE!!!! Sorry I can't get the phone right now because I'm too busy running to catch my plane and take a 15 hour nap, so don't bother leaving a message!! Thank-you BUH BYE!" 

In theory it sounds funny, but something deep down tells me I may need to save my sarcastic antics for another day ;) 

4. My favourite joke of the week:
My most awkward and hilarious moment of the week is brought to you by Sister Sant! We were having one of our bog-standard, normal boring/awkward nightly call-ins to our district leader. We didn't have much to report that night, so our district leader randomly burst out: "Tell me a joke!"

Immediately Sister Sant told the 1st joke she could think of:

"What is little mermaid's favourite subject in school?


She forgot that we were talking to a bunch of awkward elders before she told the joke! The response was soooo awkward! I was laughing because I though the joke was hilarious, Sister Sant was freaking out because she just realized that she had told an underwear joke to elders, and the elders were just awkwardly gaping like fish on the other side of the line!
I have come to just love the awkwardness of missionary life, and this moment topped off my week :) Just embrace the awkward, before the awkward embraces you! 

5. Asian priorities:

Sister Beyonce and I were talking about earthquakes (we both come from places that unfortunately are prone to getting nasty earthquakes). She told me about an earthquake that they had when she was a preteen. Her mum was helping them get out of the house to go somewhere safe when suddenly she stops helping them and leaves them to go and back into the house and rescue their rice cooker!

She said her mum was screaming out "I need to save the rice cooker!!!". Her dad stopped her mum and they just left and went to safety! To say that Filipinos love rice is an understatement! They literally eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! And this proves my point!

6. Mr. Bean transcends all cultures:

Last year in Carlisle I planned a cultural night and the theme was "Love transcends all cultures" 

I officially want to revoke this statement and change it:

"Mr. Bean transcends all cultures"

Sister O and I discovered that we were both raised watching Mr. Bean. (Our parents both love him!). We were talking about our favourite episodes (while simultaneously embarrassing ourselves as we imitated and acted them out) and realized that Mr. Bean is perfect because anyone can watch it. He doesn't talk at all, so it doesn't matter what language you speak! Anyone can enjoy it!
It was strangely beautiful to make this connection with my companion who comes from such a different culture from me! Proves that you can find things in common with anyone if you try hard enough! 

7. Funny pub names.....continued:
I have ranted many times previously about how funny I find the pub and chippy names in England. They are always random and always sound like they were selected by the drunk Englishmen who sit inside of them. 

Example 1:
I am emailing just down the street from The Old Monkey!! 

My favourite pubs/chippy of the week?:

Peter PAN and Captain Cook

They are both on the same street as each other, not far from our home! So clever!

8. Likening the gospel to .....tanning?!

We had a marvelous stake conference this weekend (the best I've honestly ever been to). The best part though was when a young returned missionary gave a talk and used an analogy about fake tanning. He talked about how the gospel was lots of work, just like when his mum goes tanning. You have to sit under the sun for hours! You have to endure the horrible heat, the indecent, awkward public exposure and all the sand that likes to creep into every single crevice. But the result is worth it! You are filled with light (big fat LOL) and look and feel great after. All that enduring was worth it!

HAHAHAHA! That's all I have to say about that.

The best part though was the fact that as he was giving this analogy about tans, I was sitting between a sister from Tonga, Fiji and my Filipino companion-- all with their beautiful dark skin. They all held their arms out and held them up to mine and started teasing me, whispering to me: "Palangi Palangi! You need to get a tan!"

I love being a missionary! It's fun being from different countries and being able to tease each other and have so much fun! 

9. Sneezing does NOT transcend all cultures: 
I wrote about sneezing wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back at the beginning of my mission! When I was a greenie, I learned that they sneeze differently in Russia ("aaaap-chi!)  haha :) 

Well the sneeze strikes again!

Filipinos sneeze differently too!!!

"Hah- ching!"

It sounds like kung-fu to me! So hard-core!!!! I am beginning to think that our sneeze is pretty week! We just sound like a bunch of choo-choo trains when we sneeze! 

10. Living Life: Gourmet French Style 
I was talking with a French elder the other day in the tiny bit of broken French that I could still remember from school. As we were speaking (and laughing about the funny Quebecois accent that Candians have), Sister BEYonce piped in that she knew some French. 

She was about to say whatever phrase she had in mind, when she suddenly forgot it and got all frustrated! She turned to me and said:

"How do you say cauliflower and cheese again?!"

I was useless because:
1. I'm rubbish at French, the only help I could offer her was "fromage"
2. I was too busy laughing with tears rolling down my eyes

Ce la vie! Just gotta roll with the punches and laugh at the random things like throws at you :) 

11. Choirs of angels:

I never had much of a testimony of music and hymns until this weekend. This weekend was one of the most touching stake conferences I have ever been to.....all because of the music!

The choir clearly has been preparing for a long long time! I have never heard such enthusiastic singing from a choir and congregation in my life! Everyone was putting their heart and soul into the hymns and I could swear that there were angels singing with us! I was just in tears and so touched at the power of music! 

Too often we shy away from singing praises to the Lord, out of fear that our voices aren't beautiful enough! We just need to forget ourselves and remember who we are singing to! I have not felt a spirit like that in ages and it was powerful to stand with my brothers and sisters and sing praises to our Lord! 

A random thought of the week to consider! 

Phew! Rambling done!!!!!!!! Cherish the weirdness everyone, because in two weeks it will all be over :( 

I love you all so much and continually encourage you to look beyond yourselves and see how you can be a blessing in the lives of others! Serve! Love! Laugh! That is the secret to happiness! 

Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
With love,

Sister Martin xoxoxoxoxo 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ape's, awkward handshakes, and delicious milkshakes!

Another short and sweet email this week folks! My companion is still sick, so we have been inside a lot! Therefore I don't have too much to report!
Missionaries are a bunch of apes! 
If you have had a tea appointment with your local missionaries, you may already be nodding your heads and tossing in a healthy dose of "amens to that". But that is not what I am talking about.

Envision with me, the following. 

The well-groomed, happy, spiritual missionaries of the Manchester zone all gathered together to be spiritually instructed and edified! What do they talk about?!

How to be apes!

APE: Is actually an acronym that our zone leaders created to represent the principles we will be focusing on in our work this transfer. 

How did they teach us the acronymn. Just telling us! No way! That would be too boring! Instead they just threw peanuts at us until we guessed the right answers! You think I'm joking, but I'm not!

All I can say is that our zone leaders are nuts (pun intended) and are hilarious! :)

Go Beet Diggers!:

Fact! The mascot of my companion's high school is Digger Dan. And their team is called the beet diggers! No joke!!!!  

I think the reason for it was that apparently it's a really old high school, and back then beet farms were a main source of income for the people in that area

Random! But too funny!

Just imagine an adrenaline pumped, American football game! People cheering, screaming and shouting "GOOOO BEET DIGGERS!!!!!"

This is the funniest thing I've ever heard, and I'm so mad that my mascot wasn't this random! I would love to wear a beet diggers jersey! You could probably guess what their team colours were ;) 

May The Force Be With You:

Most awkward moment of my week you ask?! Well let me tell you!!

In missionary life, you learn many weird, random handshakes. One of them is called the star trek handshake. (Shake hands making the star trek hand signal, awkward and hard to explain via email, but that's elders for you!!)

An elder went up to me to give me the star trek handshake and I accidentally scratched his hand really bad. As I went to slide my hand into his, my nail cut him all the way down his index finger. Want to see an elder scream! Just scratch him with your girly nails! Thank goodness I didn't break a nail ;)  Serves him right for trying to get me to do weird, awkward handshakes! :P 

My New Addiction:

I am officially convinced that Archie's milkshakes on Oxford Road are more addicting than cocaine!!! My favourite of the week is the billionaire milkshake (a ferrero roche milkshake). Excuse me while I die and go to heaven....fat and happy! ;) 

Well I only have 3 minutes left, so I will wrap this up! Sorry for the short email!! 

Only 2 more weeks everyone! You are doing great! 

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

Love Sister Martin 

A note from her mother! 
Erika's flight home arrives at 4:54 pm in Vancouver (she flies here via Frankfurt and Calgary) on Thursday, December 4th.   If you live in the area, there is an open invite to come over on Friday, December 5th to see her anytime from about 6:30 pm on.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Marvelling Over Manchester!

Current number one reason why I love this city!

1. I am emailing from Central library in Manchester: this library is over 500 years old! It looks like a castle and a museum had a baby together and this beautiful, breath-taking, magnificent building was the result!! Stained-glass, marble columns, statues and crests everywhere! There is a chamber choir singing music in a chamber of the library down the corridor. The music is echoing everywhere and is hauntingly beautiful! I love my life!!

I am at awe at the architecture of Manchester! This city is gorgeous! I can barely handle how much I love it here!

So I don't have much to write. Things have been a bit uneventful as my companion has been dealing with lots of illness. We have spent lots of time in the flat doing nothing, so I will just write as much as I can about my experiences in Manchester and the random quirks of my day-to-day life!

Deep Questions of the Soul:
It always seems that Harry Potter weaves himself into at least one of every 5 of my emails! I was holding a wand in a member's home and suddenly Hagrid burst through the fireplace on his motorbike and declared: "Sister Martin, yer a witch!"

Just kidding......I wish! (Nerdy childhood dreams!!!)

After I had pretended to do a couple of spells on my companion (Ridiculous!) I wondered out loud. Could a wizard commit suicide, or would the wand not allow him to do it because the wand chooses the wizard (is the wand like your friend/soul-mate because it chose you?! Would it let you do something like that to yourself?!) You may laugh at my weird ponderings, but you have to admit that now you are curious too!!!!

Likening the scriptures to.....Twilight?!

We were playing a game with our district where we randomly would flip open to a page in the scriptures and we would have to relate the scripture we found to a favourite movie. My Tongan friend decided to use Twilight. I was doubtful at how this would work, but I was very impressed when I realized that the concept of Vampires and eternal life fit perfectly together!

Mind. Blown.

I'm still not a huge Twilight fan, but I had to give her credit for finding the link between eternal life in heaven with our resurrected bodies and perfect vampires that never die.

Canadian Invasion:

This week I got really excited when I started noticing Canadian poppies appearing around the city. (English poppies are different. They wear paper ones, whereas we wear the nice velvet ones with the pin in it). I asked someone if they had gotten it from Canada and she excitedly replied- these are new ones! They just stared selling them!!!!

I laughed and felt proud! I told her how those are the poppies I have been wearing my whole life. She was amazed and said that everyone has been thinking that they are these brand new models that have just come out! That was my 2-second patriotic moment of the week! Seeing the Canadian poppy all over the city :)

The Curry Mile:

This is my new favourite part of Manchester! So on Oxford Road in Manchester, there is a famous part of the street known as the Curry Mile. It is literally a whole mile of nothing but Indian curry houses and Indian clothing and jewelry stores. There has to be at least 60 curry restaurants in that one mile! So crazy! Something unique I thought you would find interesting!

I wonder how these curry shops stay open though with all the competition! That may be the new 8th mystery of the world!

Lame joke of the week:

What do dinosaurs make their hot dogs out of?

Jurassic PORK!


Your weekly kick in the trousers:
Next time you are complaining about being too tired to go to the gym, just think of this next thing that I am going to tell you!

There is a 94 year old lady in our ward, and she must be the strongest old lady I have ever met. She gets up and down from her chair faster than me!!!!!

This lady climbed Mount Snowdon (the highest peak in the UK I believe) 2 years ago!!!!!

Seriously! That would be like a 92 year old going out and doing the Grouse Grind!!!!

Some food for thought next time you are too lazy to walk 5 seconds down the road to pick up your milk from the corner store! Amazing!!

My new rapper name:

Yes! I know! I had a whole discussion a few months ago about what my rapper name was. But I have an even better one now.

I can't believe it took me all these months to realize how perfect this name was for me:

So all the elders constantly joke and call me Eminem (pronounced like the candy M&M). For those who are not educated in the rap world, Eminem is a famous rapper. Famous mainly because he is probably the only white person ever to have a rapping career.

My light bulb moment of the week. My first name starts with the letter E.

My new rapper name?


(EMM= the acronym for the England Manchester mission)

Yup! That just happened! Let your mind be blown!!!!


Anyways! That is all I have to say today! I'm off to go shopping and take 2 trillion pictures of this beautiful city!!!!!!!!!

I love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
(Gulp! It really did go quick for you! Where did my mission go?!?!?)

Love Sister Martin :) 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Short and sweets!

Well the subject heading does not lie, this email will be a short and sweet one! (Definitely sweeter than my Halloween was! They don't really celebrate it here so my Halloween was quite quiet and calorie free!!)

We had a very quiet week so unfortunately there is not too much to report on!

So after having had a brand new, American companion for a total of a week (or so) I have concluded the following:

1. I have converted to the English ways! I hadn't realized how many English words I had adopted until I was placed next to a companion who was fresh off the plane! My lingo and accents are funny and it makes for weird moments of reverse culture shock for me on a daily basis.

2. I love England!! The end!!!!! I have felt like a glorified, sanctified, tour guide this week! Manchester is an incredible city! Apparently there are more languages spoken here than in any other place in the world! That's how multicultural it is! I love it! The busy streets! Massive buildings! 20 different languages and cultures everywhere you look!!! What a beautiful place!

3. I'm old! Time is a strange concept! I feel like I just stepped off the plane, but in reality I will soon be stepping back on the plane! I have just loved and cherished all of the experiences I have had out here! No doubt, serving as a full-time missionary was the best decision I ever made. There is nothing more fulfilling than serving other people!

Thought of the day:

This quote comes from the best member missionary in the world (a member in our ward). We were talking to him about our day (we had had a rough day) and he was telling us how he and the elders had a tough day too. He summary of it all:

"Well, when one door closes.......another ton of bricks then falls on ya too!"

Wisdom! With a pinch of English humour!

As my mum often says: "Life stinks, get used to it!".

But it's true! And there's nothing wrong with that! I was reflecting back on the past 17 months out here and I realized that I could barely remember the really hard times that I have had. My mind only highlights the funny and uplifting experiences of this adventure! I think we are designed to focus on the positive (clearly, or else our brain wouldn't be so good at forgetting vividly the pains of the past) and it is only us who interrupt this natural way of thinking! Take those lemons! Make lemonade, cake, or whatever lemon thingamajig you'd like!!!! That is the fun of life! Taking something that is ugly, hard, unattractive and use all that God has given you to make it beautiful! A little willpower and positive thinking goes so far!!!!!!!!!!

That is the end of my short thought this week!

I love you all!

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

Sister Martin xoxoxoxo 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Purse and scrip is for wimps!

So it is only the 3rd day of this new transfer and I have already heard about 25 lame trunky jokes and have experienced the most crazy situation of my entire mission!!

Disclaimer before I begin:
Due to the psycho circumstances of the last 2 days, this email has to be short (I only have a small slot of time to email before I have to run off and deal with more stuff that cannot wait).

Disclaimer over.

We are in Stretford! 

You know you live in the heart of Manchester when... you live a 15 minute walk from Manchester United FC! Yup! My life now revolves around making sure we do not get caught in the middle of a football riot! Wow!!

Manchester is incredible!!! Million of people to talk to is a "dying" missionary's dream! All my areas have been so small and quiet so it is crazy to be experiencing something! We just spend all our time talking to people on the street! It is terrifying (since all my areas have been small with barely any opportunities to street contact) but exhilarating! 

 So we have literally been the definition of a missionary with no purse or scrip!

We arrived to our flat the first day with all our luggage everywhere, and to my shock we could not get into our flat!

Turns out the letting agent gave the mission office the wrong keys! The best part!? Transfers were on a Saturday-- and the agency is closed on weekends-- so we were suddenly homeless.

We ended up waiting a couple of hours before we were able to get rescued by some missionaries who had a car. We got taken over to stay with the Manchester YSA sisters until today. (This was fun, because Sis. Riley happens to be serving here-- we have been separated since I finished training her a year ago, so it was a strange full circle deja vu thing as my 1st and 3rd mission children were altogether in one flat). 

So I was given no map, area book, ward directory and our phone came from an area in a completely different area so we had no phone numbers for anybody in our area. Literally no "purse or scrip"! We finally just got all our supplies a couple of hours ago! I have been wandering around Manchester with my brand new companion- fresh out of the MTC- with no map! We have gotten lost about a billion times! It has been crazy! And certainly an adventure! I think things can only get better from here!

Despite all the stress though, I am just adoring Manchester! Where has this place been my entire mission?!?!?
My new companion:

Sister Sant is officially my last companion, AND my first ever Utah companion! She is lovely! Excited to work hard! It will be fun being able to train and help make the magic happen in this area! She is tall like me so it is funny to see how people react to us on the street! So far so good though!

The last note before I have to run (sorry everyone! Lame! I know!):

I was asked the other day a deep, life-changing question:

If you could whitewash into anywhere in the world, and with anyone, who would it be?

My first reply:
I would whitewash into Mexico with Nacho Libre!

Then our district decided together an even better scenario! I officially am going to whitewash into Gotham city with Batman and Robin (because I can say from experience that trio companionships are the best!)

Anyways! Off I run to deal with the chaos and craziness that is my life! :)

I love you all!

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

Sister Martin 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Selfies, Stretford and the normal silliness!

Before I type anything else! Transfer news:
....Duh Duh Duh!
I am leaving Chorley and will be whitewash training a brand new missionary in ......STRETFORD!

(For non-missionary friends. Whitewash means neither one of us has every been there before, so essentially we are both going into the area blind! Not knowing anything or anyone! It's just going to be us, a map and a lot of prayers and asking for directions!)

Stretford is literally in the heart of Manchester (for the googling purposes of my friends at home, places like Manchester Piccadilly and the Trafford Centre are where my area of care covers). All the places I have served have been tiny little market towns, so this will be unlike anything I've ever experienced before! So exciting! :)

Today I must start by saying how grateful I am for Scouser's! (UK to Canadian translation: Scouser= a Liverpudlian!) I had the BEST thanksgiving! There were no Carvery's in Chorley that we could get to by bus (to be honest, besides the temple, there literally is nothing else in Chorley), so we went to this incredibly posh restaurant on the outskirts of our small village. We came in and immediately the host apologized and said they were closed (it was their prep break between lunch and tea). We asked him if we knew anywhere else we could try and get a turkey dinner-- explaining that it was Canadian thanksgiving and I missed celebrating it last year. 

...He suddenly told us to wait and left us...

 A couple of minutes later he showed up with the head chef (clearly by his accent he was from Liverpool). The chef said normally they only do roast dinners on Sunday, but because it was my thanksgiving he would be happy to make us a special turkey dinner! 

And oh boy he did! 

It was the most posh thanksgiving I've ever had! The food was delicious and so well cooked! I was so thankful for that kind act! And I stand by the fact that Liverpudlians are the nicest people you will ever meet! 

Happy Thanksgiving to me indeed!!

Reverse the Racism!:

The day after thanksgiving my companion was analyzing the thanksgiving card that my mum had sent to me in the post. She started jokingly commenting about how racist the card was because it had the turkey dressed as a pilgrim and the pumpkin he was holding was dressed like an Indian. (She was mainly teasing me because we are so politically correct in Canada and I have occasionally gone on rants about how they are Aboriginal or First Nations people and NOT Indians...they are not from India).

I could not help but immediately respond: "Well.....awkward for you because the card was made in America!"

Earlier on in the day we had been laughing about how it was ironic that my Canadian thanksgiving card had been made in Ohio! So it was priceless when I turned the table on my companion! We had a great laugh :) 

The Atonement for Dummies:

No! This is not an instruction course! This is just a fact.

As usual, my companions and I were being weird as always. In the middle of one our ridiculous laughing sessions, I looked up (with tear-filled eyes) at the large picture of Jesus that was on our living room door. I made the mistake of thinking out-loud as I observed:

"I can imagine Jesus watching us right now! He would probably be like 'I can't believe I atoned for these three ding dongs!'"

Well I'm sure glad that despite how weird we are, Christ still loves us and laughs with (and also sometimes probably at) us! :) 

The Raging Obesity Epidemic!
No.I am not referring to the weight that us UK missionaries gain as we serve in the land of yorkshire puddings, custard and cream on everything, and the best chocolate known to man! 

I'm referring to Japan!.... ???

A member was teasing my American companions with the same old "American is so fat" jokes. They then told us that they recently read somewhere that surprisingly, Japan is reported to be the 4th most obese country in the world (I still won't believe that one until I see it!).

My companions burst out in disbelief and started babbling about how there's no way that this could be true.

The member's response was classic!:

"Common! I mean, look at Kung Fu Panda! Now he's a big lad! Enough said!"

True indeed! Enough said! 

If there can be obese animated Asian pandas, there could just as easily be obese Asian people. Though I'm still a little doubtful about that!

Questions of the Soul:

One of my companions was impressed and shocked to hear that we have HP sauce AND A1 sauce in Canada (truly the best of both worlds! We are a healthy mix of England and America!). 

She then wondered out loud:

"Which came first? The HP or the A1?"

My lame logic: 

1, If we were to alphabetize it, then the A1?

2. Wait! Just kidding! It's the queens sauce! The monarchy of England has been around WAY longer than America has! Therefore, the HP came first!

Commonwealth victory!

X's and O's:

Nope! No kisses and hugs here! I mean, common, I'm still a missionary here! Gotta keep things PG! ;)

I'm talking about the childhood game. 

So fun fact of the week: in England, they do not call it "x's and o's"

They call it crosses and knots :) 

Sister Cross and I were discussing how we like this name and then she suddenly burst out:

"OH OH!! I want to make a version of that game where all the crosses are pictures of me!!"

So now it's definitely safe to say that Sister Cross prefers the English version of X's and O's over the North American version!

Where Utah's Mormon Swear Words Come From:

Attention! Attention! 

I've made a discovery!
Utah members may thing their preschool swear words are original!

I am here today to smash this myth!

It is official: They come from England (like anything that is white and cheesy)

How do I know? 

The favourite outburst in Chorley is: "Flipping heck" (pronounced "flippin' eck!)

So next time your LDS friend burst out with "Flip!" or "Oh my heck", just take a moment to pay tribute to the queen! 

The New Method of Performing the Heimlich:

Well, before I start writing this I will include the commentary from the members that are with me as I'm writing this blog post.

I turned to one of them and asked "How on earth do you spell Heimlich?!"

Her response (caked in sarcasm and cheekiness): "H-i-n-d-l-i-c-k?"

Then the other member laughs and pipes in: "Noo! That's what you do when you want a raise at work!"

I've said it once and I'll say it again! I love the snarky UK humour!!

Andddddd we're back!

Yesterday an elderly sister in our ward (who-- fun fact-- is Marjorie Pay Hinckley's doppelganger!!) started choking during our Relief Society lesson. She was fine! It was just the awkward half choking (not choking enough that you are in distress, but enough that you keep awkwardly coughing non-stop for ten minutes).

All the sisters were fussing over her and running to get water, and to cut the tension another sister leans over to her and shouts out: "Excuse me, but could you please choke more quietly!?" We all were in fits laughing and it was perfectly timed as we were having a lesson on charity!


That awkward moment when....... get busted taking MTC selfies by a general authority!! 

Yup! Only would this happen to a missionary!
We were taking a couple of selfies in front of the MTC after church (since the first letter of our last names make the acronym MTC, we just HAD to get a picture in front of the MTC sign before we got transferred out).

Right as we were doing it, Elder Charles (of the 70) and his wife (who both had spoken in our ward that day) came up behind us and caught us. We proceeded to sheepishly explain why we were doing it and then stick our feet in our mouths!

They were great sports and just smiled and laughed and made a bit of small talk before they went into the MTC. 

Shut Your Pie Hole:

I was telling some members the other day about a weird experience I had had while serving in Wigan.

Their response:

"I'm not surprised at all! They're a bunch of pie eaters!"

It honestly sounded like one of those 5-year old playground insults you would use in school (e.g. you dumb-head, stupid face.......pie-eater!  ...?)

She then said: "Seriously! Wigan's favourite butty is 2 pieces of bread with a meat pie in the middle!" 

I wonder what people say about kooky Canadians. They're a bunch of syrup slurpers?!? 

Payback as sweet as maple syrup!:

For the first time in my entire mission, someone was ragging on my country, and not my American companions'. 


Don't ask me why, but a lady (we know well) starting bagging (*insert Canadian accent here*) on Canada the other day (because her friend had a bad experience with a Canadian....therefore all Canadians must be like that...right?!)

I didn't mind! It was kind of funny and I watch my American companions endure this mass labeling on a daily basis so I figured that if they have to deal with it daily, then I can survive the awkwardness of it just once! 

You know those moments where in hindsight you wish you had thought to respond in 20 different ways than you actually did?

Well that certainly happened to me, and it's not what you think (no, I didn't snap back at her!). I responded by just laughing and saying I'm sorry to hear her friend had such a hard time when she visited Canada.

I kicked myself later that night when in hindsight I wish I had said: "Well! Jesus was Canadian so take that!!"  **If you are confused, refer to my previous blog where I explain how I know that Jesus hung on the cross in Calgary and not Calvary** ;)

A New Catchphrase For The End of My Email?!?!:

No! Don't worry y'all! I think I'll keep my cheesy, standard catchphrase ("hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!")....but this one made for healthy competition!
For when I have to say the heartbreaking goodbyes to my dear friends in the UK: "If I don't see you in the UK, I'll see you in the CK" (celestial kingdom!)

Spiritual Thought of the Week:

Today's thought is brought to you by Isaiah!


Don't run away! Come back! I promise it won't be too deep or confusing! 

Isaiah for dummies!

 Isaiah 60:22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.

So I have absolutely loved this scripture this week! This concept is so simple! With God our small efforts can be magnified and can result in great things!!

Now let me explain this in more detail with some analogies. For some reason I found 2 key analogies to this scripture and water:

Water has the potential to be so powerful in 2 different ways.... as does God and Satan

You can compare Satan to water that seeps into the tiniest cracks of a strong concrete foundation. All that is needed is one crack, and the liquid can seep in and destroy the entire home that is built on it. 

God can be compared to the currents of the ocean, with rip tides so powerful they can take a life in seconds. They can be used to generate energy. They are the home of so many beautiful creatures. Their useful purposes are endless. When many small drops of water combine together to form great bodies of water, a power that cannot be achieved by one drop alone is seen!

The following scripture explains this concept well:
1 Corinthians 3: 6-9
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.

Each of us has small bits and pieces to offer. But without God we will only get so far on our own. As we become converted to the gospel, and then unite as children of God (spirit brothers and sisters) in the same cause, these united and combined efforts stretch far beyond our individual limitations!

Now taking my example of God's form of water and applying it to Corinthians. Think of irrigation channels! How do so many crops get watered at once! We connect our channels together, and then connect them to a great source of water! Thus, all the crops are continually nourished and thrive, with way less effort on our parts than would have been originally required if we had been nourishing the crops without the help of others. 

When we connect our channels (work together and united in the same righteous causes) and then use the well of Jacob (symbolically- John 4) as our source of water, these living waters of Christ, which overfloweth and never run out will provide greater power than ever seen before!

And when it is all said and done we will find ourselves proclaiming with joy!

Isaiah 52: 7 ¶How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

 8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

 9 ¶Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

 10 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

Pitching in and working together to make good happen is always worth the time and effort! Never let petty things stop us from connecting our "irrigation channels" and working together! It just is not worth it! This attitude will only limit us to the power of Satan (small drops of water that seep in) rather than enable us to tap into the powers and love of God (great mighty waters that empower all living things). There in no greater joy than serving God in his united causes! Go and do something good this week! Feel the joy of it!
Now that wasn't so bad was it?? :) 

Until next week

Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
Sister Martin :) 

Monday, 13 October 2014

"Faithening My Strength" And Expanding My Waist!

Speaking of expanded waistlines: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Eh!?!

Today is a beautiful day! Why? Because as soon as I finish writing this email, I am off to Preston to have a big, fat turkey dinner at the carvery with 4 of my favourite American sisters! :) My American friends have been very supportive of my desire to celebrate this year (who wouldn't be supportive?!! If it meant an extra turkey dinner than I would be game too! Lets be honest!). I didn't get Thanksgiving last year, so I was extra determined not to miss two in a row!! Bring on the stretchy skirts and full belly! 

Heads up: this email is a little short of experiences of my life. We have been sick with the flu all week so life has been a bit quiet and boring for us! 

Flash Mob: Babushka Style!:  
Before I start this story, my disclaimer comes from my favourite "I'm A Mormon profile"  (watch it! You will laugh and this will suddenly make sense!): "Hold on to your Babushka's!"....literally!

Our assistant ward mission leader is a wonderful man! But my favourite member of his family is not him! It is his 90-something year old mother-in-law (Nana) who lives with them! She says the most hilarious things and is the old lady I dream of being one day! She can say and do almost anything, just because she's old and can get away with it! My dream!

We were at their home for tea after church and the most hilarious thing happened. We were chatting in the lounge with Nana before tea until we got called to come into the dining room to come eat. In response to the dinner call, Nana-- who was lying reclined in her chair-- suddenly kicked her leg literally straight into the air, and by doing so, was completely flashing us all (she was still wearing a dress from church). Her son-in-law in shock, told her to put her leg down and stop flashing her granny knickers at us and her unashamed response:

"Sorry, I forgot I wasn't wearing trousers" (picture it being said in a frail, old lady voice)

She had obviously put her leg up to help herself build momentum to be able to sit up to get out of the chair. So there was a valid reason for the random 90-year flashing, but oh boy was it funny! 

I can't wait to be old so I can do anything I want and have nobody care! That is the true meaning of happiness!

Sister Cross is allergic to me:
Since yesterday Sis. C has been sneezing up and down the wazoo! It didn't start until I walked up to her yesterday morning to ask her a question and as soon as I was next to her she sneezed about 7 times in a row. She has been in sneezing fits since! So we have concluded that she is allergic to me! Poor her! What a tragedy to not be able to be near me all the time ;)

Random English Fact of the Week:
There are no crows in England. I think I have seen about 10 crows in the entire 16 months I've lived here! 

Spiritual Thought of the Day: How To Faithen Your Strength!
So anyone who watched conference I'm sure chuckled when that poor man got tongue-tied in his prayer and asked that we could have our "Strength Faithened" (instead of having our faith strengthened). So I thought, why not make a spiritual thought on that today!

But seriously! We so often focus and obsess on how to strengthen our faith, but how often do we reverse the process? Do we often enough seek to use our faith to increase our strength?

Well to understand how to "faithen our strength" I first need to explain the base of how we strengthen our faith-- because you cannot easily do the first until you have done the second. 

Followers of Christ on a daily basis do the small things to strengthen their faith: pray, searching the scriptures, repenting daily, keeping the commandments, serving those around them, learning at church etc etc etc. How do these things strengthen our faith?? Whats the big deal about it?!

Well-- to start-- all of these things are actions that require a risk-- the risk is that we are following Christ's example, even though we do not have perfect physical evidence that He is literally there. According to logic and common sense, we could easily be wrong and the Bible could be the world's most successful and sensational fiction ever written! The scriptures describe it well: “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)

Christ doesn't literally walk with me as he did in the times of the Bible. My choice to follow him is one of complete faith. I trust and have confidence in the written witnesses/testimonies in the scriptures of those who saw him for themselves. I hope that it is true. As I act on that trust and hope over a long period of time-- hoping that these testimonies are true-- eventually (change rarely happens overnight) I will see my heart changing. I will feel the spirit of God grow stronger within me. I will develop a deeper desire to do good to all my brothers and sisters. I will become more like Jesus Christ (his follower). 

That change in myself then becomes the evidence that he is real! The things that I hoped for (my hopes that these teachings of Christ will help me to be be a better overcome my struggles etc.) will turn into sure faith: My changed life becomes evidence that Christ's promises and teachings are real! He promises I can change, that my sins can be forgiven, that my weaknesses can be overcome through Him etc. I act on that promise and indeed I change. 

This is the cycle of faith.

So what about when we have diligently strengthened our faith! What a waste to just let it sit there! 

Too often, we forget to use that faith to help ourselves work through the bigger things! We get so caught up in the routine of doing the small daily things to build faith, that we forget to use this reservoir of faith in times of need! 

How do we use faith to strengthen ourselves?

We act! 

Now I just said that action was how we strengthened our faith, so what is the difference between strengthening our faith and using faith to increase our strength?

The answer is simple.

Daily faith building is not too strenuous or scary or difficult. A simple prayer, a few minutes of reading the scriptures, a small act of kindness for a friend here and there, and taking the sacrament on a Sunday. Normal, everyday things that are not too hard.

When we aim to use faith to increase spiritual strength, we are dealing with heavier loads. We do something that we didn't think we could ever do before! Maybe some serious self-reflection and goal setting will be involved. Major change is about to happen. You will be shocked how far your faith can carry you beyond your limitations! Whether you struggle with patience, have fears of reaching out to others due to shyness etc. Whatever it is, we do something that is one step out of our perceived range of ability. That built up faith will give us the needed stamina to push. 

Just like when you go to the gym! You lift 10 kg for weeks and weeks and eventually that weight is easier to carry. The same with faith. You build and build your faith, but eventually you will plateau. Your strength will stay at the same level. You will get no stronger until you use all that previous work to go to a new level (to increase your weight/load)! As you increase the load (step out of that comfort zone), the weight will be heavier and more uncomfortable at first, but you will be surprised that you are able to lift it!! Weeks earlier this would have not been possible! Your faith has caused you to become stronger! 

Elder Bednar's talk on spiritual traction is another version of what I have just talked about!  His analogy is simple, but teaches how we "faithen our strength!"

So moral of the story! If you faith has not been strengthened enough yet, go out and do the basics you currently aren't doing! Do you go to church? Do you pray daily? Read the scriptures everyday? Do you LIVE Christ's teachings? (not just believe them).

And if you faith has been strengthened and you are not struggling through trials, then you are ready to "Faithen Your Strength". Take that built up faith and CHANGE! Become stronger! Become better! Push yourself a bit! Pick a bigger thing that you haven't tackled yet! This is what life is all about! Your goal is that by the end of your life, you have experienced huge changes-- changes fueled by the small stuff! That is the beauty of the gospel!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all!

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