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 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