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, 24 February 2014

OH CANADA!!!! That awkward moment when your zone leader is a passionate hockey lover from Sweden and you are a proud Canadian :)

I was the happiest sister alive yesterday when I received a text from a member that the men's hockey team beat Sweden to take the gold! Double gold for our men and women! Nothing on earth can make a Canadian happier than that. Things got slightly awkward though when our Swedish zone leader called us to make travel arrangements for our temple trip. I had to break the news to him. I haven't heard an elder so devastated in a long time. I asked if I gave him some maple syrup as a consolation if he would forgive me. He’s going to think about it :P

I can always use some more laughs in my life! I'd love it if people could send me any missionary and/or church jokes they know! Consider it my birthday present for this year! It will make my month! Please and thank you :)

Highlight reel now!:

Sister McD's first KD:
Some members gave us the English version of Kraft Dinner. It is still made by Kraft, and looks almost the same, but has a different name and tastes not quite the same. Sis McD did not like it. I think I liked it because it was something somewhat familiar from childhood. I'll have to think about it some more and get back to you on my final consensus on it!

I discovered why we don't get tea appointments!!
We had a Filipino family feed us last week. They are AMAZING cooks! Funniest confession of the night from them: "We were going to make a proper roast with mash and everything, but we realized that Sister McD is English! We can't make English food for an English person!"

Bless them, they were intimidated to feed English food to a legit English person. So to make ourselves feel more loved, we are just convincing ourselves that the reason missionaries don't get fed here is because they are intimidated to feed Sis McD!

My worst pun of the week!
Sister McD actually wore her hearing aids this week (miracle!!). They sometimes irritate her though and she was going on about this...

Sis. McD: "I dunno what I'm going to do about these hearing aids. It makes it easier to talk to members but they annoy me so much!"

Me: "Guess we'll just have to play it by EAR!"

Womp Womp Womp! I'm waiting for Sis. McD to just start hurling tomatoes (pronounced the English way) at me one day!!

Confessions of a die-hard Beyonce fan!
Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE LOVE LOVE Beyonce! We were in the middle of teaching a pretty intense lesson to one of our recent converts. The member and I are going back and forth working through things. Then out of nowhere, her daughter (on her iphone) shouts out "Oh my goodness, Beyonce is in Glasgow tomorrow Sister Martin!!!!!!! Let's go!!!" Distracting much?!? That's one way to throw a missionary off her game-- just tell her that her music idol is within touching distance of her!

Despite this, we had a good laugh at this silly moment that busted the tension of the intense lesson. Just as we were getting back into the discussion, Sister McD shouts out "Oh my goodness!!! I GOT A KOALA BEAR!!!!!!!" She had bought herself a kinder surprise egg and I guess had decided to open it and eat it during the lesson. She just couldn't contain her excitement. Lesson gone again. We were in fits laughing. Safe to say we were ready to banish those two from the lesson for being so distracting! Good times!

English translation of the week:

Sister McD asked me if I wanted any Tommy K for my chips. Discovery of the week:

Tommy K= Tomato ketchup!

Apparently she and her siblings used to call it that all the time as kids!

I LOVE fish and chips!
We discovered the best chippy in Carlisle!! Seriously! It's only a 10 min walk from our house and has the best fish and chips I've ever had in my life! Even better though? They make deep fried Cadbury cream eggs and mars bars. So we plan to try them on my birthday! As the saying goes: when in Rome (.....or maybe England)!

Pondering things other than the scriptures:
We humans are strange creatures! The dumbest things go through my head sometimes. My strangest thought of the week as I was eating eggs on toast:

"This is the creepiest thing ever. If there had been a rooster around, this egg would have become a chicken. I'm eating a future baby chick right now. It's like an indirect form of chicken abortion. Ughhhh".

Safe to say I ruined my breakfast for myself! I'll stick to pondering the scriptures next time!

When spiritual lessons go wrong:
We thought it would be nice to watch the DVD Finding Faith in Christ with our recent convert family. Our discovery: when teenagers are involved, this is a bad idea!

My favourite comments of the night:
1. Jesus is walking on the water towards the apostles. 18 year old yells out "That is definitely a hashtag swag moment"

2. 18 year old girl: "Why are they not tanned?? Casting FAIL! Christian Bale played Jesus in a movie and he was tanned! He looked so much more legit than this Jesus! You think they would have thought to not cast a bunch of white people for a movie that is supposed to be about Jewish people in the Middle East!!"

Mum: "Ya! Why do they never have black people in these movies! It's always a ton of white people in these DVD's! So racist!"

18 year old girl: "Duh, because there weren't black people thereeeeee!! Come on mother! They couldn't exactly just jet over to Jerusalem on a plane from Africa could they?! Common sense!!! There are too many white people in this movie, but it would be just as dumb to cast black people too!"

Never a dull moment in missionary life!!

Signs from God:
No. This isn't a miracle or a spiritual thought! This is another silly story!

So we got to our member's house last night and they told us they got a big sign from God! The sign?

Their 13 yr old was hoovering before church and the hoover completely blew up and is broken! They joked that it was a sign from God that they should stop breaking the Sabbath (by labouring: doing Saturday chores on Sunday). I love church humour!

Spritual thought for the week:
3 Nephi 15:22

In this chapter Christ is talking about how he told the Israelites that he had other people (John 10:16--"other sheep") that he was going to minister to. Through reading this chapter and chapters previous, we learn that Jesus was referring to the people in the ancient Americas (recorded in the Book of Mormon) when he said this. Because of their stubbornness and pride though, the Israelites assumed that Christ was talking about the Gentiles. They did not know that it was going to be them who would bring the gospel to the Gentiles.

Historically, Gentiles weren't treated equally by those of the house of Israel at that time. The Law of Moses established that these two groups of people had different duties. Pride and time though led to a bit of separation between the two groups-- converted Gentiles weren't allowed to enjoy full fellowship in the gospel, Israelites didn't really associate with Gentiles! Essentially the Israelites didn't treat the Gentiles very well at times. Pride is so dangerous! These people of the house of Israel thought that Christ was going to go and sort those people out. The Gentiles ended up being incredible converts after Christ's death!! Many were converted as a result of the apostles' missions! Turns out maybe the Israelites had more to sort out than the Gentiles did, because look how strong the faith of those Gentiles ended up being, while the people of the house of Israel rejected Christ who was literally standing right in front of them! We should never assume that the gospel is needed anymore by someone else than for ourselves first!!

We should never assume that the gospel or a gospel principle is not for us!! Instead of looking at other people and say "oh boy, they definitely need the gospel, they need a lot of sorting out, but I myself am doing fine!" then we are robbing ourselves of growth and conversion! Instead of looking at others faults, we should look to improve ourselves first! If you think you have no problems with a gospel principle, live it anyway, or strive to live it more fully than you currently are! You will likely surprise yourself by how much room for growth you still have! 

I bet the apostles had such beautiful experiences as they helped preach the gospel to the Gentiles! Those Israelites who left it to Christ and his apostles to share the gospel with those people, rather than do it themselves, robbed themselves of those blessed opportunities! Let us never forget that we need to first live the gospel ourselves. Stop worrying about other people and start focussing more on how you can become more like Christ! Life will be more fulfilling and happier as we do so!

Anyways! Have a wonderful week! Do something kind for someone! Be grateful for all the Lord has blessed you with!! He really does love us so very much!!!

And never forget that missionary work is the best!!!

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

Elder Johnson in the kitchen

Views by their house
Proof that sun does shine once in a while...

Monday, 17 February 2014

Helen Keller, Harry Potter, how to crumpit a crumpit and hilarious memories to last a lifetime

Hands down one of the funniest weeks of my entire mission! I spent half of my week stranded in Manchester because of the storms and the other half of the week sick in bed, so you know that some good stories has to come from such a crazy week!

The windstorm in Manchester...

The only part of the fence left standing is the gate!

 Elder Johnson after we were walking out in the storms
Commonwealth Sandwich:
Sister Burridge, Sister Martin, Sister McD
We had to be in Manchester for new missionary training and the sister training leaders who we stayed with kept saying they had a surprise for me when I got to Manchester. The surprise! My crazy, fun-loving Aussie- Sister Burridge! They were exchanging and had her stick around long enough for me to be able to say hello before she headed back to her area! I finally got my dream picture: COMMONWEALTH SANDWICH!!! Candian in the middle, sandwiched between a Brit and an Aussie!!! I got some new stickers this week as well and now also have a missionary name badge to match. Union Jack on the left. Australian flag on the right. Canada flag in the middle to represent my "babies" (sisters I've trained) in the mission! I love my commonwealth sisters!!

Awkward Autocorrects:
Considering that we have mobile phones that I'm convinced are as old as Fred Flintstone, I didn't think it was possible to have autocorrect fails on my mission. WRONG! My fav autocorrects of the week:

That awkward moment when:
- Your phone autocorrects "Hi Sister Brack!" to "Hi Sister Crack!"
- Your phone autocorrects "Brother Race" to "Rabi Race".

Old Nokia brick phone, you never cease to take my breath away (no....seriously....laughing that much makes your lungs hurt.. a LOT!).

My Cheeky Moment of the Week:
Was texting one of our YSA that we are teaching a mission prep class to. I was texting to confirm a time to come around for an appointment. Her lovingly sarcastic response: "What if I don't want you to come over?".

My cut-throat, even more loving/sarcastic sucker-punch response back: "Then we will come over anyways AND eat all your food as well (thus fulfilling our true missionary purpose!).

And THAT is missionary work in a nutshell!! Aft

er I had sent the text, it had reminded me of something Sister Riley told me once. She was teaching primary and they were talking about missionary work. She asked the kids what missionaries do. One little boy's response: "They come to your house and eat all your food!". Out of the mouth of babes as they say! ;)

We ate REAL meat this week! I love my mum! She should be translated and go to heaven this week for sending us real food! How to get missionaries to freak out and dance around like fools 101: Just send them a whole roast chicken!

I have been eating dodgy/cheap meat for 8.5 months! I can testify now that you appreciate the small things in life when you serve as a missionary! Tender mercies CAN come in the form of poultry! Amen!

Teenaged Boy Voice Cracking!:
That right there could pretty much sum up my week! I have been way sick for 4 days and have had the funniest voice on planet earth! Voice cracking up is an understatement! We made an interesting discovery the other day with my lovely new voice. Sore throats are the best for making epic chicken clucking!!

Why on earth would we be making clucking noises?! Duh! We received a chicken from my mother! *Refer back to How to get missionaries to freak out and dance around like fools 101* if you find yourself confused ;) Of COURSE we had to accompany/welcome our beautiful chicken to our happy home with happy chicken dancing! It is now official that female voice cracks are the equivalent to chicken noises!

My Awkward Harry Potter Fail of the Week:
So a few weeks back I told you how we spiced up our Harry Potter cupboard by placing a sign on it: "The Boy Who Lived". While we were sick and bored in the flat, we decided that we wanted to improve on the cupboard. Sister McD drew a picture of Harry so that his head is peaking out of the cupboard. We were trying to come up with a catchphrase that we could have him saying (old school talk bubbles anyone?!).

My brilliant moment of incredible intelligence:
"OH OH OH! We could have it saying 'Accio Wand!'". Sis. McD gave me a puzzled look as I pondered on the rubbish that had just come out of my mouth. That makes NO sense! How could Harry summon his wand if he doesn't have a wand to do the magic with! NERD FAIL!

We decided quickly that my idea was absolutely stupid and have now settled with "Accio Book of Mormon" instead. Much more intelligent....and not dorky at all ;) .

Speaking of Harry Potter:
We were in the train station on Tuesday and had an argument to settle. The elders have been having people tell them that parts of Harry Potter have been filmed in our train station in Carlisle. I was skeptical of this. I am a Harry Potter nerd and no part of our train station looks familiar to me! Plus, people like to poke fun at American people at times. I could picture some people hearing our elders super thick American accents and decided to lead them on with a bunch of pop culture rubbish. We have been arguing about this for 4 weeks! Our new (very) American elder finally decided to settle it. Out of nowhere he ran up to a staff member at the station and in the thickest American accents possible: "Excuse me sirrrr! But was Harrrrrry Potterrrrr filmed in this trrrrain station?!".

Now I have to illustrate for my N. American friends who have never lived in England. Back home, our accent sounds fine. However, the second you move to England and hear your accent next to English accents, everything you say suddenly sounds like you are permanently talking with your nose plugged. We were all in fits of tears as the man gave this elder the most ridiculous look and shut him down with a simple "nope" and walked away. So awkward but so funny!.

Politically Incorrect Hilarity of the Week:
We were at our international food night on Saturday (which went amazingly!!!!!!). We were wearing the £0.25 England flag cowboy and jester hats that I have been raving about since I bought them! Bless her heart, Sis McD's hat was a little too big for her and kept covering her eyes. She was talking to a sister in the branch and the hat kept sliding down and blocking her vision. The sister's bold and hilarious remark:

"Aye! That hat keeps covering your blooming eyes. You already can't hear! Now you can't see! How are you going to be able to do anything Helen Keller!?".

I'm glad I was raised on sarcasm or that comment would have been sooo offensive. Luckily my companion was as well. We were both in fits laughing. I love the humour here! No boundaries and the humour is drier than the Sahara!

 Elder Kissell making "American food" (hot dogs!)

Canada or France?!
I got a letter in the post this week (miracles happen!) and Sis McD was staring at the envelope in amazement (which I found very strange and told her so). Explaining her amazement she exclaimed: "Woah! You got a letter from France?!?!........oh wait....right...never mind...Canada!".

Typical Canadian moment! She saw all the Canada post markings etc, which of course are bilingual (shout out to my English AND my Quebecois peoples!), instantly saw the French and thought I got a letter from France. Hilarious moment! I got to tell her how in Canada we all can speak cereal box French (lets be real here: any true Canadian grew up eating breakfast while reading the French half of the cereal box for entertainment!) because of our mandatory bilingual marking on all our products.

My Dumbest Comment of the Week:
Lets Set The Scene:
Me running around. We have to leave the flat in 30 seconds. I haven't eaten yet. Essentially, another day in missionary life. I pick up a crumpet and don't know what to do with it. My brilliant cry for help to my English companion?: "Ahhhhhh! Help! I have 30 seconds to eat and I don't know how to crumpet this crumpet!".

Enough said. I am a fool......Oh well. I'll just embracing it I guess! ;)

Speaking of Chickens Again:
Hilarious moment for me. Sis. McD was moving our eggs from the carton to the egg holders in the fridge. As she picked up an egg there was a giant feather attached to the bottom of it. It completely freaked her out and surprised her and she screamed out (in almost a high pitched, squawking chicken voice) "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh IT'S A CHICKEN!".

Funny for me! Not so much for her (she was slightly traumatized!).

Cheesiest Valentine's Line of the Week:
YSA to me: "We missed you like the Bible missed the Book of Mormon during the great apostasy!".

Meanest/Funniest Sarcastic Quip of the Week:
The elders and our branch president came over to give me a blessing. Upon hearing my messed up, non-functioning voice, our branch president's words of comfort to me: "Woohoo! You lost your voice! This is a huge blessing to the break! We get a break!".

Once again! England. Humour. Dry like Sahara! But I have to give him credit, anyone who knows me knows that I never shut up. Lets be honest! It's true! Embrace it!!

I Ate Borsh This Week. I am now happy. The End.

Strangest Quote of the Week:
Sister McD was looking at her poor, beat-up feet from the miles of walking we do each day in the bus-less, massive area. She sadly cries out:

"Oh my feet make me want to throw up! ARGHH! I just need fish to eat my feed!"

Translation for men who don't know about pedicures:

"All this walking is making my feet look gross. Cracking/dry skin everywhere. I need a fancy, super posh pedicure to make them all better"

Russian Moment of the Week:
We have a new Russian elder in the mission. Bless him, he is struggling with the English (I don't blame him, having ESL companions has made me realize that English is the dumbest/most confusing language ever). At the new missionary training, the assistants to the president asked the whole group what they expected to learn/gain from the meeting. They PROMISED that all these expectations would be covered in the meeting. One by one the missionaries said typical things ("I want to be better at bus contacting" "I want to learn how to better work with members" etc etc). Then we get to Elder Russia. His answer (with a stern, serious Russian face): "ABRAHAM.....I want to learn about ABRAHAMIC COVENANT".

I guarantee that the AP's have NEVER had that one come up before. But they promised. They looked completely flabbergasted. They clearly had no idea how they were going to incorporate that into the meeting. But they managed to in the end. They taught a small workshop on how to have more effect personal study. They then told us that we would apply what we just learned by studying Genesis 17 as a group! Clever! And Hilarious!

The best part was the next morning! We were at the sisters flat (we got stuck in Manchester an extra day because of the bad storms...trains all got shut down) studying in the morning. Obviously the night before we had told them all about this funny moment. One of the sisters whispered for my attention. I look up and she is holding up a giant ensign article, with a huge time-line on it. The title? "ABRAHAMIC COVENANT". She just simply whispers to me: "They could have used this yesterday!". That was enough for me to be in fits of laughter! I love missionary life!!

My Favourite Moment of The Week: My Friend From Alaska!

One of the sister's that we stayed with in Manchest is a really good friend of mine. She is from Ukraine and has a very unique accent. The elders, the sisters and ourselves were all at McD's for dinner and our super green and super American elder in Carlisle suddenly came running up to me in the line as I was ordering my food and asks "Where is your friend from?!?!?!".
He couldn't figure out where she was from and her accent was driving him mad with confusion! It took me all of 2 seconds to confidently reply "America". He was so frustrated with me and ran back to the table with the others. No joke, we managed to convince him she was American. We had him going for over an hour. The sisters left for a meeting and afterward we all started giving this new elder blatant hints as to where she was from (we were starting to feel bad for him). He still wasn't getting it.

By that point he had convinced himself that she was Canadian because we were such close friends (he reckoned that we knew each other before our missions). My final hint to him: "Think further away from Canada and closer to UKRAINE!!". He sits there pondering and suddenly got this "I have a HUGE epiphany!" look on his face and goes "Ohhhhhhh!!! Duh! ALASKA!".

This definitely made the top 5 funniest moments of my mission!

And Finally Some Spiritual Goodness:
Spiritual thought of the week. While I was stranded in the house sick for 4 days, I had plenty of time to read the scriptures.

One insight in particular really built my faith:
I came across Matthew 17: 14-21, where the apostles lacked the faith to cast evil spirits out of a man. Jesus rebuked them for their lack of faith and then went on to heal the man. I was pondering on this. How often do we fail to have enough faith to perform a miracle in the mission (or in everyone else's case: life?). Or fail to be "perfect" in everything we hoped to be? I appreciate these moments in the scriptures where the prophets and apostles show us that they are human too! That they try and fail. As I thought, it was reaffirmed in my heart that it is not our moments of weakness that matter, but what we choose to do with them! What did the apostles go on to do? These same people who lacked faith at times became some of the greatest missionaries in history! Their recorded testimonies are so powerful and I have drawn so much strength from them! They didn't let their moments of weakness stop them from trying again! This all came from recommitting to live the gospel with every ounce of their being! We need to recommit every day to be the best we can be. It is the act of recommitting and trying again that defines and refines us. Not so much the act itself.

This story then reminded me of Alma in the Book of Mormon (Alma 8) when he went into Ammonihah. Alma faithfully went into the city and was torn apart by those people! The people completely rejected him. Alma was discouraged and was ready to turn around and move on to another city. How much faith must it have taken for him to turn around and go back?! It required immense faith to go in the first time. It would have required even more faith to go in a second time, having already tasted "failure". These are the moments that define us. When we go in a second time- continually recommitting to stand fast in our faith in our Lord and Saviour- the stakes are so much greater! There is that much more potential for our faith to grow, because we experience Gethsemne and feel that much more love and devotion to our Saviour. With this love and devotion binding our hearts, we grow and are enabled to take courageous steps forwards! This is how I feel about my mission. I have taken falls. But I am seeing immense changes in myself. I am so determined to keep being diligent and faithful because I am seeing what the gospel does in my life! My ability to endure and do well becomes greater! My capacity to love has expanded! It is truly beautiful how Jesus Christ's atonement transforms people. People who were weak and scared, suddenly were able to perform miracles and change lives. Let His love and power change your life today!

Anyways! That is all my misadventures of the week! I love you all!

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

Sister Martin <3 

Great signs at the train stations...
At the train station in Manchester...

Famous Burnley Cricket Club

With Sister Bevans from Cardston, Alberta
With Sister Toley (a fellow Canadian)

Monday, 10 February 2014

Bunk beds, borsht and breathing easy (...maybe not) in Burnley!

This has been a hard week! This has been a fun week! But as always it has been a week of learning and growing!

For the 1st time since my 1st transfer, I got to go on exchange with a sister who is the same age or older than me. Strange! I have been senior companion since my second transfer and all my non sister training leader exchanges have been with younger missionaries. I got to serve in Burnley with a CANADIAN sister from my MTC group! It was so much fun to be able to reunite with one of my originals and a fellow Canuck!! I have been a bit isolated in the mission (I have been on the south/east and north border of the mission for my whole mission....therefore I don't get to see a lot of other missionaries too often) so to just talk and catch up on what everyone is up to was a nice break for me!!

In the morning I'm making.....borsht?!
We are having an international food night for the branch this weekend! I was inspired yesterday! Time to break out the borsht! I've been wanting to make it so bad, but keep forgetting about it! I haven't had it since I was Sis. Shchur at the beginning of my mission! I pictured feeding our Scots a big bowl-full of borsht and was in fits laughing! I'm excited to see how this goes!!

Random accent jokes that I will only probably appreciate:
Earlier in the week Sis McD was telling me about how she played a game called Farm Yard Explosion when she was an EFY counsellor. Me-- clearly demonstrating a great level of maturity and listening skills as I completely ignored the story and very brilliantly pointed out. "WOW! For once there is a phrase that sounds better in N. American than in English". Think about it! Farrrrrm Yarrrrd Explosion (*insert posh sounding accent here), sounds so much less and intense and way more boring than "FARM YARD EXPLOSION!!!" in a thick American, sport announcer voice!! 8 long months and finally my accent is vindicated!!

The most mind-blowing scriptural insight of my entire life!!
We were in our gospel principles class with a couple recent converts. We were talking about Adam and Eve and discussing how strange it was that God chose fruit to kick off mortality. Then our conversation drifted a bit and ended up on the topic of the weirdest deep fried food we've ever heard of (don't ask how we go from talking about eternal salvation to deep fried food in the space of 3 mins! That is missionary life in a nutshell). Our recent convert then proceeded to blow our minds:

"Maybe the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil was deep fried! I wouldn't blame them for eating it! It would be impossible to resist eating that stuff!". True story. The End.

Exchange Adventures in the Big City:

It was SO nice to serve in an actual city for a couple of days! It was even nicer to serve with an experienced missionary so I could kick back a bit and enjoy serving without heaps of responsibility!!

I'm a Bunk Bed Burn Out:
So the Burnley flat has bunk beds. Normally that is no problem for me. I'm tall. I can easily hop up into a bunk bed. I had a top bunk as a kid. I had top bunk in the MTC with no issues. Essentially I am a seasoned pro when it comes to bunk beds....EXCEPT, when they are flimsiest bunk beds I've ever seen in my life!! I set one knee on the top bunk and felt like I was going to break the bed. My companion is lovely and compact, standing at a massive height of 5'2''. All I pictured was that scene in the RM where the Tongan is on the top bunk and falls on top of Jared and breaks his neck!! I reminded my companion of that movie scene and adamantly refused to sleep on the top bunk! No ukuleles or broken necks please and thank you!!

Quintessential Canadian Dessert!:
We had a tea appointment!!! I have almost forgot what those are up here!! But that was not the highlight! The highlight was that we were served ice-cream and MAPLE SYRUP for dessert! The member had no idea that I was coming on exchange, so it was such a beautiful coincidence that this dessert happened to fall on the day that 2 Canadians were serving together!! Happy Canadian in da house!!!

The Sights in Burnley (or maybe it was my asthma) Took My Breath Away!:
So I am blessed to have some solid asthma attacks now and again. Me (being the smart sister that I am) packed too quickly for my exchange and forgot to toss my rescue inhaler in my overnight bag. All was fine until the last couple hours of the exchange. Pouring rain, wind and freezing temperatures (cold air is what makes for unhappy lungs) and we were running behind schedule. My companion was newer to her area and was unsure of how to get to the train station. Long story short, we got some rubbish directions and RAN (literally) for 45 mins in a giant circle (lucky me, I was doing this with a heavy overnight bag on my shoulder). Just as we turned the 45 min corner and realized what had happened, my lungs were shutting down for business. Before I knew it, I was seeing stars and blackness and collapsed. The police came. They were trying to call an ambulance. It was awkward. We had a train to catch (there were no other trains that would get me home that night). So we told the police I would be ok, prayed and ran for the train. Prayer works! My attack settled itself very quickly after the prayer. Our train was 20 mins late so we caught it. It was a miracle! The second we got on the train, we burst into laughter/tears (and coughing/wheezing fits for me) from the craziness and stress of it all.

 From all of this came my new mission motto:
"Pray your face off and then laugh your face off!"
Learn it and love it! I have now found my new catchphrase out here! Tried and true, this is the reason that I have had such a life changing mission! I wouldn't have it any other way!!!

Sorry for the short email this week! Will write with some more love and care next week! I love you all! Keep loving life! Keep loving the Lord!! I love you!

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

Xx Sister Martin

Monday, 3 February 2014

Sister Martin: Saving England, one dog(?) at a time!!

Another rainy week of hilarious mishaps and precious tender mercies! England is still beautiful. I still love being a missionary, and my love for Christ continues to grow daily!

Dog Hero!
I'm saving lives out here......but apparently not in the way you would expect! I have saved the lives of 2 fluffy little dogs in the last week and a half!! English people love dogs more than they love complaining about the weather, so they should just start making those hero medals for me now ;)

We were walking to the chapel one day and suddenly heard this lady shout out "please grab my dog". Bless her heart, she was standing in her doorway in a bathrobe, too embarrassed to run out to get the dog. Lucky for her, I have tons of experience in this department.

Anyone who knows my family well knows that our dog Teddy is an absolute moron! He loves to sneak out of the house and frolic up and down our street. As neighbourhood kids, it was a game for us to all chase him up and down our street Scooby Doo style:

Scooby and Shaggy run.....zombie/monster/ugly creepy whatever chases after. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. (*with catchy music running in the background). Just liken Scooby and Shaggy to my dog, and the monsters to us meddling kids, and you have my childhood in a nutshell!  Dog saved. All was well! Bazinga! SUPER MISSIONARY!

No joke, a week later we were walking to the chapel (again) and we see this tiny puppy just running by itself on the road. No sign of human life anywhere. I dove and snatched it up, and struggling we started knocking doors to find the owner. Squirmiest dog of my life!!!! Holding that puppy was like trying to hold a bar of soap in a bathtub! We eventually found the owner and all was well.

Forget knocking on doors! I think we should just start stealing puppies and "return" them to their owners! People are so much nicer! We joked that if we started tracking number of dogs saved per week, instead of number of baptisms, then we would be the most successful missionaries in the UK!

Quotes of the week:
1. A newer sister missionary zone conference:
"Sister Martin, I hope I can come to love my mission as much as you love yours. You always say that you're scared that you'll wake up one day and your mission will be over. I'm still scared of waking up every morning!"

2. They had some missionary companionships play the "shoe game"  at zone conference. For anyone not familiar with this game, it's a common wedding reception game. The couple sits back to back so they can't see each other. They get asked different questions like "Who is the better cook?". Each person puts a shoe in the air of the person who they think best fits the question.  

Best question of the game!!!! The Chinese speaking sisters were playing. One companion is American (learning Chinese), and other one is originally from Hong Kong (i.e. is legit Chinese). They are both absolutely hilarious!

Question: "If you had a car, who would be most likely to crash it".
Chinese sister: "Seriously! So not fair! You totally set me up! This is such a racist joke!!!"  Anyone from Vancouver-- (especially if they have driven around in Richmond)-- could appreciate the humour!

3. We were having a conversation about food with a member: what is acceptable and what is absolutely, just plain wrong. Sis. McD commented on how she thought it was gross that the Americans in the MTC would put syrup on most of their breakfast food. I had to pipe in that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having syrup on your bacon, sausage, eggs, etc. The member kindly supported me with the best quote of the night:
 Member: "I do think it's gross, but I have to say that it's acceptable for her to do it! She's Canadian! They're allowed to put syrup on everything! Hello! Maple syrup! Canada! It's just meant to happen. The Americans shouldn't do it though...that's just wrong!".

4. My bad pun on the week!:
We were getting permission from our branch president to organize an international food night activity for the branch. After he approved it, I couldn't help but toss in one bad joke to seal the deal:
"We are so excited about this activity! We have been cooking this one up for awhile!". Har har. Kneeslap! I really am shocked that my companions put up with all my terrible jokes! I hope they get blessed for their patience and unconditional love!

5. Random rant from a member in our branch: "It's so stupid how English people talk about the weather all the time. Don't they have anything else better to do than to be like "Blah it's raining. Blah it's not raining. Blah it's raining again. Blah it's too hot. Blah it's not hot enough...blah blah blah. American people are fat, but you don't hear American people talking about food all day. We need to be more like them. Our weather sucks, but doesn't mean we need to talk about it 24/7!!"

 Possibly the most random rant I've heard in awhile, but also one of the funniest! I do love my English friends! They do complain about the weather a lot, but I find it very endearing! You just can't take the UK loving out of me!!

I am Maid Marion!
Only people who have served in English missions may fully appreciate this! My umbrella died a month ago, therefore I have been soaking wet and freezing lately! My beautiful, wonderful mother shipped me the BEST UMBRELLA EVER! It folds up into this little case, that has drawstrings that allow it to be worn like a backpack! We carry so much rubbish all day, so to not have to carry an umbrella in my hand is heaven on earth! Unfortunately, Sis McD can no longer take me seriously anymore because of it. She says I look like Maid Marion (from Robin Hood) or Joan of Arc when I wear it. The case kind of looks like the cases that they would use to hold arrows in. So now whenever we run for the bus, I reach behind my back and pretend to grab and shoot arrows at things as we run. It makes Sis McD laugh even harder and then she can't breath and we have to stop running!

 The Selkirk Grace:
I mentioned it last week! A lovely member (the one who made us the Haggis) got us the words to it so we can learn it. I came up with a painful, but hilarious, idea. Before we start eating at the international food night, I'm going to have the American elders and myself say the Selkirk Grace for the food.....emphasizing our nasally N. American accents as much as possible! Can't get more foreign than that....right?!

Selkirk Grace:
"Some hae meat but cannae eat
an' some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat
an' sae the Lord be thankit."

she gave us this as well!
Scottish Toast:
"May the best ye've ever seen
Be the worst ye'll ever see,
May a moose ne'er leave yer girnal
Wi' a teardrop in his e'e,
May ye aye be hale and he'rty
Till ye're auld enough tae dee,
May ye aye be just as happy
As I wish ye aye to be."
- Robert Burns

I love the Scottish accent! Never in my lifetime will I even begin to get close to being able to impersonate one, but safe to say that when I get home and am homesick for England, I'll be watching Brave on replay so I can feel like I'm in Carlisle again!

Dumb fact:
When my English companion tries to yawn and talk at the same time, it sounds like a seal barking.

Dumb Fact #2:
Napoleon Dynamite quotes are so much more impressive and hilarious when done by an English person. "Tina, you big fat larrrrrrrd"

Spiritual Tidbit of the Week:
It's hard to write about the miracles and lessons over email without getting too personal, so I'll keep trying to share with you my own scripture insights that I get throughout the week!

D&C 11:12-14; 27:
 12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

27 Behold, I speak unto all who have good desires, and have thrust in their sickle to reap.

These verses really touched me this week! How often do we desire to do great, life-changing things, but find ourselves feeling like we are not good enough?! I have felt this way so often! We feel like we do not make a difference. I realized this week, that most of us will never be called to be great leaders in the world. We will quietly live our lives and by the world's standards, will have no influence/power on others. I have seen that the world is wrong!

As I have followed the counsels in v. 12, I've realized how much joy and satisfaction I have had with my life because of it. I have been able to influence the lives of my companions. The members I work with. My family. No. I have not been called to be some great "official" leader. That is because there is no need for that. We are all called to influence the lives of others for good daily. We CAN do this. God places the right people in our paths daily! It is up to us to make good of those "small" opportunities he gives us.

I have experienced that joy that is described in v. 13. As I have simply sought to draw closer to Christ, I have been given so many chances to bless the lives of others. My scripture studies become more deep and meaningful. In turn I feel of His love more, and as I do, my desire and the opportunity to share that love with my brothers and sisters grows. As I have those small daily moments with individuals, I see my life and others change, and then my original desires (to change the world) happen! I pray we can seek more for those daily opportunities to do good. To lift others up. To come closer to God. On this plain of living, we see miracles and lives changed. We gain a deeper purpose in our lives. We find unconditional happiness and satisfaction!

Anyways, I really do love you all! I feel so much love and support as I serve, and I am grateful for that! Keep praying! Keep doing good!

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

Sister McD from Woster with Wostershire Sauce
Sister Martin eating yummy Indian food

The rest of the photos are taken around Carlisle