Bonjour tout le monde!
What a week! A lot has happened! We had transfers, dinner appointments, lots of knocking and lots of snow, birthday parties and hospital visits!
On Monday I got the best surprise I could have asked for! Elder Howard, one of the senior missionaries who I've grown to love, asked me if he could speak to me out in the hall for a while. I thought something was up and he started off by giving me a big hug and told me, "That was from your mom!" He explained a bit and then it became pretty obvious what he was talking about! He had gone back to Utah for family matters and had the chance to meet my Mom! He gave me a package from her that had the best chocolate chip cookies ever and some nice letters. (Oh and a super nice backscratcher that I love! Thanks, Mom!)
Tuesday was Elder Baker and I's (I don't think that works in English... oh well—) last day together so we had a bunch of lessons planned with our investigators so that he could say goodbye to everyone that he wanted. It was planned that way... but, I've learned that often the only thing you can plan on is a change of plans. All of our lessons dropped us so we had a lot of knocking and didn't find much success. We had brunch at Tim Horton's. Okay, I don't know if I've ranted and raved about Tim's yet or not but seriously, if there is one thing that the States are missing out on, it's Tim Horton's. I absolutely love that place! It's like Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks but way better and really cheap! So we decided to eat out and celebrate the last two transfers that we had spent together. Then that night we had a dinner appointment with Phil and his mom. I always love spending time with Phil at his house for dinner appointments. They are so nice and always so welcoming. His mom only speaks Spanish and French so I have a fun time showing her how much I've improved between our visits. We shared the Family Proclamation with her and she loved it! I am so grateful for my family. I enjoy hearing what's going on back home and love getting little letters from my siblings.
Wednesday was a different day for me. So many emotions and so many things going on! First off, my brother, the other Elder Ellis (Austin) turned 21! I honestly cannot believe that he is that old now! So Happy Birthday to him! He is such an amazing example to me—both as a missionary and as a brother. He is so kind and sincere to everyone which has, I'm sure, brought him much success in Oregon. We had transfers today so I helped Elder Baker finish packing and I cleaned the apartment again for my new companion (so we could set a bar from the beginning!) I gave myself a haircut for the first time because I didn't exactly want the same thing that had happened last time! It actually wasn't too hard! I just imagined, "What would my mom do?" And the rest is history! At noon we took Elder Baker's bags to Berri-UQAM (a metro stop where all of the missionaries meet for transfers.) It was so great to see all of the missionaries all in one place. (I saw Elder Keenan (my MTC companion) again. That was fun and funny! He was a great companion and had so much energy, sometimes it was hard to match him! That morning his companion had bet him that he couldn't give him a haircut in under 5 minutes and he ended up shaving his whole head because he "forgot" that he didn't have a guard on. Oh Elder Keenan... Gotta love him!) A number of them have become life-long friends. I don't think I've written much about Elder Bell or not, but he has become one of my closest friends. He has been a true friend to me since the day I got here. He lived in the same apartment building as us and served as a Chinese missionary because he already speaks French. It was extremely difficult watching him get into the mission van and drive away because I didn't know what emotion I was feeling. It was sad but happy and confusing and I don't know... I've learned that missionary work brings men of God together like nothing else can. So I picked up my new companion, Elder Osorio, and we dropped off his stuff at Laurier and went to go get some poutine with the other elders. Elder Osorio was serving in the YSA my first transfer here with Elder Smith and then left to Lavalle. And now he's back! He is from St. George, Utah and speaks English, Spanish, and French. He is Latino and loves to cook! We're already really good friends! So after poutine we got a call from a member of the Lasalle ward saying that someone had asked us to visit her in the Douglas Hospital, a mental institution. It would take a while to get down there (it's on the southern shore of the island almost 45 minutes from where we were) but we decided that we needed to go. We got there and found Lourdine! It was so good to see her again! She kinda disappeared for a while and we weren't sure what had happened to her! We had a good visit and she asked us to come back for her birthday on Saturday. On our way back we missed the bus by 30 seconds and it wasn't coming for another 30 minutes! So we had to walk up this road for a while and tried to hitchhike to make our way back downtown for an appointment. It was a completely new experience for me! We finally got back downtown and met at Laurier to play volleyball with the YSA.
Thursday was my first full day with Elder Osorio. I'm so happy to be working with him! He has a lot of courage and is excited to talk to everyone in the metros. It is very helpful when you have a companion who supports you and encourages you to speak with everyone. It can get easy, working downtown being constantly surrounded by hundreds of people, to justify not raising your voice and talking to as many people as possible. But we aren't here to do something easy. I knew it would be hard from the start and so I'm glad I have someone who takes the hard work and makes it easier by throwing out all fears and adopting pure faith. He is great! We had district study and talked about the Light of Christ in our lives and in the lives of others. It is amazing what it is possible when you help someone realize that Light in their own lives. We had lunch as a district and then got a call from Sister Cannon. She needed some help with some of her pictures so she and President Cannon came to pick us up and took us back to the mission home. Elder Osorio said that he hadn't been there since he came into the mission a year and a half ago and was excited to go back. I told him that he would love being with me because we often get invited there! We had dinner with them and a great conversation about missionary work. I got everything straightened out with her computer and helped her figure out how she wanted to organize her photos better. It is pretty funny each time I help her because I honestly feel like I'm working at Apple again!
Friday! President and Sister Cannon came to our apartment to interview me and inspect our cleaning. They were very impressed with how clean it was! Elder Baker and I have worked pretty hard for the past few p-days getting everything really clean. I was glad that that they got to see our hard work. They loved my photo wall, especially all of the Christmas cards! Nicole sent me a picture of her with Sister Dalton from the General Young Women's Presidency which I have on my wall and they were very interested in the story! The interview went great—President Cannon is an amazing man! He is such a great teacher and an amazing leader. He has helped me to understand so much about missionary work and our role in the Plan of Salvation for others over the past few months. Weekly planning went well and I got to tell Elder Osorio about each of our investigators. This is the first time that I have a had a real companion change since coming out of the MTC so it was a bit a challenging trying to teach him about our area. President Cannon came by as well to tell me that I would have to be especially patient with Elder Osorio because he tends to forget a good amount of things that you tell him. It has been difficult but I am entering this transfer looking to learn and improve and develop my patience! It made planning a bit difficult because we covered the same things multiple times but I just kept praying for patience. We did a few pass by's to introduce Elder Osorio to our investigators and then came back for soup with the YSA. We invited our friend Samire to have soup with us. He's from Algeria and immigrated here a number of years ago seeking a better life but got into some things and lost all of his money. He was homeless for a while and then started selling magazines for a company called L'Itineraire whose objective is to get the homeless off the streets by having them sell their magazine about improving your situation in life and giving them commission on each copy that they sell. So he sells in the metro that we use and we always stop and talk to him for a few minutes each day. He was so happy to have soup with us and told us that it was the nicest thing that anyone has done for him. Institute was great, we had a wonderful lesson and Dustin came to listen. The message seemed to be directly geared for him and it really made an impact! He asked if he could come with us tomorrow and help us with whatever we had going on.
So Saturday we met Dustin at Tim Horton's. We bought some Timbits (doughnut holes) to take to Lourdine for her birthday at Douglas. We metro'd and bused all the way out there and the whole time Dustin and I had a great conversation about the Plan of Salvation. He likes to go pretty far out and talk about deep doctrine which I don't mind, but I wish he would understand that the point of all of the deeper doctrine is the application of simple truths in our lives. We are here to develop and to become the people that God knows we can become. That takes a lot of faith and extreme amounts of trust to let Him to take you and shape you best. He's reluctant to that shaping process and I figured the best way to help him understand it is by having him help us bring others into that process and back to the Church. We had a great birthday party with Lourdine and sang songs and talked about family and ate Timbits! I wish I could have taken pictures but my camera died that morning. We did a lot of knocking later that day and found some great new people to teach! I kind of had a numbers complex and got all stressed out about our numbers for that week for some dumb reason. We weren't doing so well on the number's side of things but had been working as hard as we could. I had a realization that sometimes it just isn't up to us. Everyone has their agency and can choose whether they want to listen to us or not. It isn't up to us. We can only do our best and then it's up to the Lord and the person on the other side of the door.
Sunday was great! I have been trying super hard to get more help form the leaders in the branch lately and I brought up some concerns and we made some real progress in our Branch Council and correlation meetings. We invited almost all of our investigators to come to church throughout the week but sadly none of them came. We will just have to keep trying and finding ways to get them to come. In the middle of the Gospel Principles class, Samire walked in the church and asked if he could talk to me. Someone came and found me and told me that he was here to see me. So Elder Osorio and I went down and to see him. He said that he had prepared his best couscous for us and he wanted us to come over to his apartment for dinner. We left right after church because we there was a meeting for all of the priesthood holders that night at 7 clear over at the Angrignon chapel. We walked with Samire and talked to him and learned more about his story. He is an amazing man! He's brilliant but has been cheated out of so many opportunities and has been (in his words) "dealt a bad hand" all of his life. He was so kind to invite us over and we knew he had been working and saving all that he could to have us over to eat. His apartment was small and dirty but you could see that he had cleaned for us just so that we would be comfortable there. We huddled around his small kitchen table and offered multiple times to help him prepare the food but he insisted that we let him serve us. He kept saying, "Tonight you are kings in my palace!" I don't think I'll ever be able to show him enough gratitude for what he did for us that night. The rest of the night is dull in comparison to the kindness that he showed.
This week was wonderful! It was exciting and full of opportunities to serve! Look for as many chances as you can to serve others this upcoming week! Find someone who is in need and do everything you can to make them feel like a "king". I love you all!
|Samire and me|