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, 27 January 2014

Haggis, hats, hilarious highlights, and how to get a six-pack!

Have to start by saying HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!! I couldn't not give that shout-out to all my Aussies in the world. After almost 5 months of living with Aussies, I still feel very obliged to celebrate my heart out! Let's be real, my Aussies are the reason I get to eat my body weight in Tim Tams still (yay for generous companions)! That right there is reason to celebrate!

2nd Shout-out! My baby sister leaves on her mission this week!!! Give her some letter loving this week!!! I almost died of boredom after 2 weeks in the MTC. She has to do like quadruple the time that I did, and do it in Albanian, so I can only imagine how much longer it'll be for her! It wouldn't hurt for her to get some solid motivation and love from the outside world!!!

Anyways...on that note, the weekly highlight reel begins now!

Likening English People Unto Grumpy Cat:
Sister McD is seeing her country in a whole different light now that she is walking these mean streets with this Canadian! She realized this week that 90% of the people here walk around with a permanent grumpy cat frown plastered on their faces. I showed her my favourite activity to do when I'm having a down day and need some laughs.....I smile as big as possible, and with a big booming voice wish people on the street a wonderful day (with major emphasis on my N. American accents). Their faces scrunch up in this strange mix between ultra grumpy cat and a desperate attempt to not smile! The smallest moments in life truly are the best!

Haggis All Around!:
We had tea at our branch president's home last night. They are very Scottish. We had haggis! Luckily I've had it before, and there is a healthy dose of Scottish blood in me if you go back a couple generations so I was happy to have it! It was great! Cultural highlight of the night was our branch president! He gave the Selkirk Grace before we dug in, which is like a traditional Scottish prayer they say before eating (youtube it!). It was nice to have a bit of different culture and it was heaps of fun!

Cowboys in England!
So I had the most epic find the other day! It's a foreigners dream! I will describe it simply:
England Flag + cowboy hat= mind blowing
England Flag + jester hat= Canadian in England's dream!

Best part! I got them for only £0.25 each!!!!!!! (like 60 cents each!!)! Pictures are included :) We also got some cheap union jack flags, so the Union Jack now proudly sits upon the main wall of our living room! Commonwealth companionships are the best!

Dumbest Quotes of the Week:
1. Us trying to decide on what cereal to buy for the week. Pondering deeply and looking intently at each box:
S. McD: "Those Rice Snaps look good."

Me: "Look at the logos on the box, they are like little gangster versions of snap, crackle and pop. I bet their catchphrase could be "Ohhhh Snap!!!"."

Sis. McD: **palm to face!

2. Me stuffing up my words as always:
Sis. McD: Do you think we should bother buying dinner for tonight, so should we just have a snack and eat at the member's house later?

Me: "Nah! Might as well save the money. Lets just have a really good smack when we get home!"

3. American elders in England:
Elder: "I don't like English food. But surprisingly I really liked that mushroom thing that we had the other day!"
Us: "What are you talking about?!"
Elder: "That mushroom thing!!! Everybody has it with all their roast dinners!"
Elder's companion: "Ohhh! He means Yorkshire puddings!!"
Us: "How is a Yorkshire pudding anything like mushrooms!"
Elder: "Obviously they're shaped just like mushrooms!!"

4. Sis. McD: "If vegetable oil is made of vegetables, what is baby oil made of?!"

What six-year olds google in their spare time:
We were teaching a family (with the cutest kids on planet earth). Their little boy was sitting on the floor next to the couch we were sitting on, quietly playing on his dad's ipad. Sis. McD leans over, about to ask him what he is playing, when suddenly she bursts out in uncontrollable laughter. She just manages to squeak out: "He was on google and he was looking up how to get a six-pack!!". Possible one of the most random moments of my whole mission!!!

Phone Chats is Relief Society:
So it is common knowledge to any born and bred mormon, that every congregation has at least one crazy person (bless their hearts). You just come to accept it and be grateful that they provide you with umpteen opportunities to develop patience and Christ-like love, acceptance and service! Well Carlisle's sister took the cake yesterday in Relief Society.

Beautiful lesson (because it was missionary work!!!!). Great spirit being felt there. A sister is in the middle of telling a lovely story about a missionary experience she had lately with her non-member husband, when suddenly we are all surprised to hear this sister's voice from the corner. She is on her mobile phone in the lesson. And has it on speaker phone.

**The following conversation occurred in almost a shouting voice!**
Sister: "Hello???!!!??! Helllloo?! Hello what do you want"
Man on other end: "Hi how are you?
Sister: "Go away!!! I'm in church right now!"
Man: "Oh. Huh? But you called me!"
Sister: "Shut up and be quiet. I'm in church. Leave me alone right now"
Man: "Why did you call me then?!"
Sister: "Go away! I'll talk to you later" ...then she hung up

Never a dull moment in the mission life!! Funny part was that Sis McD couldn't hear very well and wasn't sure what was going on. After church as we were talking about it, I got to knock her socks off when I revealed that the lady was having a phone conversation in the middle of class. Sis. McD thought that she had just maybe turned Siri on or something!

And finally some miracles:
Email time is short this week (spent too much time type out all the silly stuff). But will share a quick miracle this week!

It has been a freezing, pouring rain kind of week, so our finding efforts haven't yielded the best results. On Saturday afternoon, after a couple of hours of freezing our behinds off, we were about to turn around and go home for tea. I decided to try and stop one more man before we left. I gave him a church invite card, and he said he was too busy. Slightly sick of having people say they're too busy to take 1 second to grab a card out of my hand, I awkwardly kept holding the card out and said (a little tired and frustrated) "It's just a card, it won't take your time". He grabbed it and walked off. We proceeded down the street and knocked a couple of doors of potential investigators along the way home. We noticed this man walked up and down the street 3 times (weird...but we ignored it). Suddenly he came up to me and asked "Sorry to bother you. But what is it that you do?". We explained who we were and what we do. He then shocked us and said he'd really like to talk to us and asked if we could come to his house in 2 hours. We came back and had an amazing lesson with him. He really wants to change his life and find some hope and motivation from religion. He's now a new investigator. It was a huge miracle after a hard week! Miracles always come at the right time!

Anyways! Another week gone! Time flies too fast!! Proverbs 29:18-- keep chasing your dreams and visions for your life! Keep choosing the right and enjoy all the blessings that come with it!! Life is way too good to waste! I love you all!! Keep loving your local missionaries! Send my sister some love!!!

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

Some views in Carlisle

Monday, 20 January 2014


I believe in miracles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No....really!!

After weeks and weeks and weeks of being super patient (anyone who knows me knows that Sister Martin and patient do not fit in the same sentence) we have hit a huge wave of miracles!!! MIRACLES EVERYWHERE (oh how I've missed my Nutri-grain commercial spoofs!!! Annnndd we are back!!!).

1. I Love Sushi!

I got to eat sushi this week! This is the 1st time I've eaten sushi since I've left home. I have been a sushi deprived human! I feel confident to officially say that there is a direct correlation between sushi intake and happiness! I should write a book about it! May blessings be poured upon the head of the YSA sister who was kind enough to pump this overexcited missionary full of sushi loving!

2. I Love Indian food (more fondly referred to as Brown food by my Indian friends back home!):

I got to eat Indian food this week! This is also the 1st time that I've eaten Indian since I've left home! Such a sad life!!!! How have I lived for the past 8 months?!!!!!! I think this proves that the way to a missionaries heart is through his/her stomach! After everything I've seen, I can testify that the church is fuelled by food! I think the spirit follows afterwards (everyone's gotta eat right?!).

.....but seriously, there is a real, legitimate miracle linked to this! We got the strangest prompting that I've ever gotten in my entire mission (and I've certainly gotten some crazy ones!). We got dropped by a family this week. They were content in their current faith (fair enough....happens all the time) but were super nice and invited us to come around anytime to share scriptures and chat. The husband manages a local Indian restaurant. Thurs night, we both felt prompted to go there (I wondered if my love for Indian food was fuelling this prompting and not the spirit, but turned out Sis. M had the same prompting so we went for it). We came in and the place was almost empty. This gave the husband tons of time to chat with us as we ate. We talked more about our beliefs, our role as missionaries etc. Then in the middle of the meal, the cook suddenly came out from the back kitchen to talk to us. He said that the manager (the husband) had told him to talk to us. The cook told of how he has been looking for a place to worship and for comfort: his wife recently found out she has lymphoma (the same cancer my dad has beaten twice). I was shocked. I was able to talk a lot with him about how my family dealt with it, and how the gospel played a massive role in our ability to endure the difficulties of that time of our lives. He immediately expressed the desire to come to church and be taught. He came to church yesterday but could only stay for some of sacrament meeting. He was sad to leave and wants to stay for all of the meetings next week. He said the manager (the one who dropped us) said he is going to come along next week as well. The Lord works in the most incredible ways! The man we have met is so humble, and so accepting of the gospel.

3. Surprise referral!!!

What?!?! Referrals?!?! I have spent 8 months desperately seeking out referrals and finally they have come with a fire!!!! We have 2 recent converts who have been fighting different struggles, but have been working hard to make good choices in the midst of hard temptations. They literally cheered and jumped up and down with excitement when we asked if we could reteach them the missionary lessons. It's those moments that make all the hard days so worth it! It touches my heart to see people so grateful to be taught by us, and to see them so hungry to grow and learn in the gospel and to change their lives. We asked them after the 1st lesson if they knew anyone we could teach. One of them quietly mumbled that she was thinking of one girl, but then her and the other friend both said they thought she'd not be a good person to teach (too far gone to change her ways now). I was very persistent with them and reminded them that they were the same way before missionaries met them. I invited them to pray about this person and reconsider their initial thoughts. We showed up to teach these girls last night again. As they opened the door, they were grinning and said they had a surprise for us! Turned out they had prayed about it and felt good about the answer, because sitting on the couch was their friend. And it turns out I've met this girl before....I would have never guessed her to be one who would be interested from my experience with her in the past. You truly never know who is ready!

It was one of the most spiritual lessons of my whole mission. All 3 of these girls were so into the lesson. You could tell they felt loved by their Saviour. The testimonies of these recent converts-- who are fighting hard battles-- was so motivating. Very simple, but powerful testimonies of how loved they feel. This girl accepted the invitation to be baptised! It was so amazing to see how the spirit works in peoples' hearts. The friends literally cheered as their friend agreed to work towards baptism. I am so overwhelmed at the love of the Lord for his missionaries and his children!!! We really have no idea who the Lord has prepared! It has been proven to me that it often is the one's you least expect that end up developing the most incredible faith!!

5. Textbook Hastening The Work of Salvation!!

We were planning on doing a mormon messages movie night with this same group of people tonight! Yesterday after church, they came running up to us all excited about this idea they came up with. Instead of holding the movie night at the chapel, they chose to move it to the home of one of the recent converts, so her 2 nonmember family members (whom she's been hoping to get us to work with soon) and another less active recent convert can join us! This is hastening the work of salvation at it's best! I'm so grateful for the efforts of the recent converts in this small branch!! They are making all the difference!!

4. What?! More referrals?!?!?!

As I was typing this email we literally just got a phone call! We were very direct with one of our families this week and invited them quite boldly to invite all their friends to an international food night that we plan on doing soon at the chapel. I guess this sparked their thoughts because the mother just called us and said her friend is interested in doing scripture studies with us!! I'm so overwhelmed by the miracles that are hitting Carlisle. The harvest is beginning here, and the love of Christ is ready to break all barriers and reach those waiting for relief and love!!!

5. Just call me your local English teacher.....again!

I'm so grateful for the experiences I had with Remek!! And I'm so grateful that Sis. Shchur was bold enough to volunteer me (as a spanking, brand new, terrified missionary) to teach him English! He is such a wonderful man, and I learned so much as we taught him English for all those months in Telford! I've been able to use these experiences to help with the work here! I've met 3 Polish people this week! I've been able to us my broken Polish and the Polish BOM that I carry with me everyday to invite them to take English lessons with us. We met a lovely man on the street who we will be starting lessons with this week!!!! The knowledge we acquire is truly so precious! There is a reason that we are commanded to try and learn as much as we can! It is our knowledge that stays with us, even after we die! And I truly learning out here that you never know when you'll be given opportunities to us the skills you acquire for good in this life!!!!!

6. The seeds have been planting! The harvest has begun!

I'm so thankful for all of the work that the previous EMM missionaries have done here! We have finally organized all of our old potential investigator forms and started working through them on the weekend. We booked 5 appointments in less than an hour!! We really do not know what impact our efforts make for the future! We have literally hundreds of untouched names to work on, so this is only the beginning of something incredibly great!!! Keep praying for your missionaries! Prayers and faith are what make the difference because that is what leads to the motivation to act!

Ok! Miracle rant over.

Favourite lines of the week:
Sis McD has been doing a great job at cutting out the slang. Some new missionaries were accidentally saying some slang words at a meeting. I jokingly yelled out to her: "Ahhh! Cover your ears.......oh...wait!". I'm too sarcastic for my own good! It just slips out! I'm so grateful that she has an incredible sense of humour and is able to laugh at herself!

Accent Reversals!:
We've been having so much fun laughing at each other's accents! We mimic each other so much it's crazy!! We came up with a clever idea! Fact: Sister Missionaries are SUPER cheesy and most of us set up our voicemail so one sister reads the 1st half of the greeting and the other reads the other half (companionship unity cheesiness!). We have decided to do that as well, except we will be doing an accent reversal for it! It is hilarious! We are going to see how well our colleagues know us and see if they can pick up on it!!

Gypsy Blooper:
We were walking to church when suddenly we saw a horse and buggy flying up the street ahead of us! Sis. McD was going on about how there was a good chance that it was gypsies (travellers)-- they are known for travelling around by horse.

I suddenly blurt out-- look, it's Susie (NAME CHANGED), she's rushing to get to church. Annnnnnd my sarcasm wins again! I had Sis. McD nearly in tears! The elders met a super interesting Gypsy (since they are newer to England..... bless their hearts they couldn't tell that she was a Gypsy) and were all excited as they invited her to church. We have been laughing and making jokes about this all week! We kept joking after that, that we would be proven wrong and when we turned the corner to get to the chapel that we'd find a horse tied up in the car park!!

Anyways! Time always flies too quickly!!! Email time is up! Life is great! The work and trials are constant! But I wouldn't have it any other way!! There is nothing better than missionary work!!!!!!

Love you all!!

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

Building in Workington that Erika goes to for District Meetings
 - it was a mansion that is now used as a church building.

Area just outside the church building in Workington

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

A week of accent fails!!!

My new companion is absolutely lovely!! Wait.....I'll reword that and steal a bit of her lingo: she is an absolute treasure! I am training Sister McDonnell! She is from England (What?!?! I've still had no American companions yet?! Shocking!). It's been fun for us, because she grew near Birmingham (in Woster.......YES! As in Wostershire sauce!!!!!! MIND BLOW!), therefore she was only a stones throw from Telford and knows loads about it. She is very humble and so willing to learn! We are having loads of fun together and get along great! I am so happy to be training again! It is going a million times smoother this time! It makes such a difference that I'm not a baby missionary this time around (blind leading the blind), and I knew exactly what to expect this time! Big thanks go to Sister Riley for being my guinea pig!! Thanks to her, there is a better chance that I won't scar/corrupt my trainee for life this time ;)

What's a village?!:
We have 2 missionaries being trained here. The new elder is from Vegas. He is very American! He reminds me so much of myself when I first started the mission! At complete awe at everything here! Just gazing 24/7 at all the English looking streets and buildings, and just loving the funny/different English words and phrases. I have been quite white-washed-- I turn more English by the second in terms of the way I speak-- so Sis. McD and I have had so many laughs listening to this elder ask hilarious questions in his thick American accent. Fav question?: "What's a village?!" (*insert thick American accent here). Our definition for him: "A collection of homes and a pub!". I love England!!!

We have a winner! I have found the perfect companion for a Mitchell girl:
So anyone who knows my family (the Mitchells) well, knows that Mitchell women can talk your ear off at a million miles a hour (literally....we talk realllllly fast. Sometimes people don't understand us. It makes for a whole lot of awkward at times!). Well, I now have a solution for the problem! My new companion is deaf!!

Sister McD is partially deaf in both ears, and it makes for the most hilarious moments!!!! She can read lips, but I have to repeat myself 90% of the time so she can read me properly (I just talk too fast!!) My family thought my accent had changed during our Christmas skyping?! Well I think I am going to knock their socks off at mother's day after I spend 3 months with Sister McD! She obviously grew up reading an English accent, therefore it's easier for her to understand me when I speak in an English-ish accent. So that's what I sometimes do to make it easier. Luckily I was already in a solid accent limbo when she arrived, so changing up my words hasn't been super hard!

She says I have the strangest accent ever! She could instantly tell I was not American. Before she had a chance to find out where I'm from, she thought that I was either a foreign missionary from some kind of Eastern European country, or else that I was from a different part of England. I guess that is what you get when you stick a Canadian in England for 7.5 months! Safe to say, I'm going to be experiencing some more accent changing in the next 3 months! This should be interesting!

On a side note, it was interesting when we both realized how amazing it is that we are together. I have had to make changes/adjustments to behaviours/lifestyle for my dad who has blindness. So making slight adjustments in behaviour to help with our communication was no big deal for me! Kind of neat how that worked out!

I Am Now In Sister Riley AND Sister McD's Ear:
I think I told you about Sis. R's locket earrings. If not, 2 second recap! Sis. Riley bought some earrings and discovered on the mission that they are also super-mini lockets! So us (being the ridiculous people we are) took a realllllllllly tiny picture of me, and stuck it in her earring locket. The bad joke behind it is that she could always have her trainer in her ear that way!

Well we have done the same a different way! Bus contacting is always hard for new missionaries, but we realized that we can use Sis. McD's lip-reading in the most brilliant way to help her with it. We got on her first bus and suddenly realized that I could sit in a different seat and whisper to her what to say to start a conversation with the person beside her. So I was whispering away and she was immediately repeating it to the person next to her! Worked like a charm! So in a kind of different way, I can always be in Sis McD's ear too (as long as she is within sight of me!).

The Boy Who Lived:
So I never paid too much attention before, but when Sis. McD arrived to our house, she noticed something mind-blowing! We have a Harry Potter cupboard! It's exactly like Harry's cupboard under the stairs!!! Sis McD is a HUGE HP fan, so it was hilarious to see her excitement! I came downstairs this morning and saw a sign on the cupboard: "The boy who lived!". I officially love Sis McD even more!! It made my day!!!! We plan to one day take pictures of us in the cupboard, with lighting bolt scars drawn on our foreheads!! Good times in jolly old England!!

I'm getting Russian Lessons!!!!!!:
I started working on a bit of Russian with Sis. Shchur during my training. After she left, I continued to study for the transfer after she left, but once the Aussies started coming in, I lost my language study time. I have missed it so much so I was so excited when I found out that one of our recent converts has a couple of Russian speaking friends. I officially start my Russian lessons with them this week! I am over the moon!!! Win win! Missionary opportunity for me, plus I get to do something that I love and have missed!!!

Anyways, that's all I got this week! Mostly travelling and training this week so not tons of proselyting craziness to share!! After all the laughs and lip-reading/accent fails that we have had this week, I'm sure I will have loads of hilarious stories to share next week! I love you all!!! Keep being brilliant! Keep loving your missionaries! They love you!!

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

Monday, 6 January 2014

I'm expecting again!! Baby #2 here we come!

Transfers have arrived and oh boy have they arrived in style this time!!! So Sister Burridge and both of our elders are leaving......leaving me alone as the most experienced missionary in Carlisle (after only 6 weeks!!). AND.........................Sister Riley is going to be a big sister because I'm training again!!!! I was a bit shocked to be training again so soon (only had a 6 week break from training), but training last time was the most wonderful experience so I'm excited to get to do it again!! She is the only sister entering out mission this transfer, so it will be interesting to see how it will be this time around (won't have other sister trainers around me this time to compare notes and ideas with). Maybe I'll finally get my first American companion in the field??!?!!! Time will tell!

The scary part is that I'm going to be the oldest missionary in the area. An elder from Sister Riley and Burridge's group is going to be training a missionary in Carlisle (we'll have 2 new missionaries out here). I'm starting to feel a bit old in the mission. I trained the trainers group and the trainer's trainees group. That probably sounded like gibberish......i.e. time is going wayyyyyyyyyyy too fast out here!!!

Besides that I hate to report that this has been a boring week. No weird stories or crazy loaves and fishes type miracles! Our week mostly consisted of holidays (we didn't work much over New Years), eating wayyyy to much food (I feel like I'm working on food baby number 12 after all the holiday dinners...cheaper by the dozen anyone?!), packing, more packing and me being on an exchange in Preston for a couple of days!

Funny Vancouverite Joke:
A brother in our branch served in Vancouver on his mission and told me that there was a scripture in the BOM about Vancouver. I love studying the history and geography of the BOM, so I found this surprising as this made absolutely no sense to me (I couldn't recall any reference that would lead me to believe that west coast N. America was an area in the BOM....certainly South American and southern parts of N. America....but not our neck of the woods).

Alma 17:26......"as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus....."   

It took me a minute but then it clicked. Sebus......Sea Bus!!! Har har har (knee slap!!).

Preston is a blessed place:
I was blessed to go on exchange to Preston last week! I love being there! There is a special feeling there as I remember how much history was made in this great city! This is the place where the first baptisms happened in England in the River Ribble. This is the place where thousands were converted, and a major area where the church began to establish itself in its infancy! I had a wonderful time serving there! I got to serve with a fellow Canadian (from southern Alberta of course!!!) and we had fun talking about cultural similarities and differences and sharing our Christmas Canadian chocolate! (Caramilk and Eat More= heaven!!!)

Highlight of my exchange was visiting the home of a family from Spain, Bolivia and a handful of other Spanish speaking countries (they moved a lot). They are active members of the Preston ward and the sisters read the BOM with them to help them work on their English!! They were convinced that I had to be spanish as soon as I walked in the door! As soon as they saw my name-badge, they got so excited! "You have a Spanish name! Who in your family is Spanish?!?!". They then asked my first name and got even more excited "Your first name is so Spanish too!!!!! You must be spanish!! You don't look white enough to not be Spanish!!!". Hilarious! I had to disappoint them and tell them I'm about as white as you can get (a healthy blend of Scotland and England all the way back to forever!).

I also received the most wonderful compliment of the week. The father was telling us about his mission and talking about sister missionaries. Back then, obviously there weren't many sisters, and the ones who did serve were often strange in some way or another. He was telling us about this Tongan sister who was so big that she broke all the beds in the flats and made the elders look like babies. Him and his wife then told me that I am so skinny and a wonderful height in comparison to the Tongan's they've met. I almost cried! After 700 Christmas dinners, that was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me ;) lesson I'm glad I've learned-- Can't change it so embrace and love it! I love being the tall girl! :)

Hope everyone's' New Year is full of miracles and wonderfully failed weight-loss goals ;) But seriously! I pray that the love of Christ can touch the lives of all this year!! And for real, I hope this year is full of motivating, successful goals that involve helping your local missionaries ;) ;) ****HINT HINT***

But SERIOUSLY!! Happy New Year!!!! I love you all so much!!!!!!

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

Some pictures of Carlisle...

Carlisle Cathedral

Carlisle Castle
House on the Scotland Border - proudly claims to be the 1st house in Scotland
....also proudly claims to be the last house in Scotland (depending on if you are going in or out of Scotland)
....lots of people like to get married here
Proof that Scotland is literally on her doorstep

River near Scotland border that is flooded

Gotta love this sign!