Wednesday, March 8, 2017

O CANADA (Aislin)

This week
has been
the longest week
of my LIFE.

For reals, it seems to have lasted much longer than my three weeks in the MTC - which, by the way, I miss SO MUCH. The field is so different from the MTC. Really, the only similarity seems to be that we teach the Doctrine of Christ every day, but the people, the area, the food, the companions, the weather, etc., etc. are all so very, very different. Hopefully I'll have time to tell you everything about it because I have 2 hours to email! Yay! I feel pretty spoiled in this mission to be honest.

Sunday was our last Sunday in the MTC and it was bittersweet. We sang as a district in Sacrament meeting and it sounded pretty sick, Sister Haughawout and I taught a BOMB district lesson on having faith in Jesus Christ and the atonement - everyone was crying (JK, that was mostly me) and I learned so much from hearing everyone's testimonies. We listened to a devotional by Jeffrey R. Holland that really got us all pumped for the field. Then we had one last district prayer and a brief testimony meeting of sorts. This time, everyone really did cry. We were all emotional wrecks. Afterwards we walked back to our residences and said goodnight and shook all the elders' hands roughly 4 million times 'cause hugs aren't allowed so handshakes and high-fives it is.
Monday morning, Sister Ward and I woke up around 3 AM to help the Portland sisters and Sister Sage get all their luggage to the travel office and on their bus. We said more goodbyes and weren't back to our rooms 'til nearly 5 AM. Yay for sleep deprivation. When we woke up just an hour later, we were both so tired that we completely forgot about service that morning! EEK! Bad missionaries. We just prayed for forgiveness and knew that we'd have plenty of time in the mission field for service. THANK GOODNESS. 
Tuesday was a pretty somber day for all of us. We were missing the other half of our district so much, I feel like our studies were a little less effective than they should've been. But we still had a great time together, cramming in as much as we could before heading out to the field the next day.

 Wednesday morning, we were at the travel office by 4:30 and on a bus at 5. Then on a train, then the Trax, then - FINALLY - on a plane. That plane ride was a lot more fun than my first experience. It felt a little more like a Disneyland ride rather than an elevator/death trap, so that's good. When we landed in Toronto, the American missionaries had to go through customs which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Except the guy who was helping me with my paperwork laughed at me when he found out that for my first excursion out of the states, I had chosen to go to the North-Eastern coast. For a minute there I was wondering what on earth I was getting myself into if it was worth laughing about. After that was over with we went get some food and find some payphones so we could call home! That was glorious, and I'll pretend I didn't start crying when I heard Mom's voice on the other end. Sorry I had to hang up before you got home, Mom. There were only three phones where we were and I wanted to make sure Elder Willoughby had a chance to call. 

While he was on the phone, I turned around to see an old woman sitting in a wheelchair by the doors and I decided to go talk to her. I asked her if she was waiting for someone and she replied yes, but whoever had wheeled her over there had taken her to the wrong doors, so she was worried that she'd miss her ride. So I offered to wheel her over to the other set of doors. After bringing her and all her luggage to the right set of doors, I talked to her for a while and we started talking about family (since that was on my mind after the phone call home) and I told her about our church's belief of eternal families and I gave her a card before I had to rush back to make my flight. Her name was Ina and she was so sweet! I loved her! Missionary work is so easy, guys.

 After talking to Ina, we were on our way to the gate when I realized I didn't have my scriptures! Obviously we couldn't leave without them so we ran back and retraced our steps and looked EVERYWHERE, then we said a prayer and someone told us that a security guard had picked up my scriptures and taken them somewhere. So we ran to the info desk to ask after them. By this point, we were 15 minutes late for the plane, I was hyperventilating and crying and stressed that we'd miss our flight. But I've had those scriptures for 11 years and they mean the WORLD to me, no matter how marked up and worn they are. Those 11 years worth of markings had been to prepare me for my mission and there was no way I was going to make it the next 18 months without them. The lady at the info desk said she hadn't seen them, but I could tell she felt really bad as I stood there with silent tears running down my face and unable to speak for fear of completely losing it. Good thing Elder Bringhurst was there to do the talking for me. He got a number from the lady who told us to call when we could and if they found my scriptures, they'd do their best to send them to me but they would have to hold them for at least 30 days for security purposes. 

We thanked her and solemnly made our way back up the stairs and towards our gate. I'd resigned myself to the idea that I would have to try and make it a month without my scriptures. BUT. Prayers are answered! On our way to the gate, sister Dawson grabbed me by the arm and pointed out a security guard who, along with the leash of a security K9, WAS HOLDING MY SCRIPTURES. I ran over and tearfully explained that they were mine and he just handed them over with a very confused look on his face, probably because he imagined that the little floral bag of old scriptures belonged to some heavily religious, crazy old woman and not some tear-stained, equally heavily religious, 19 year old girl. I told sister Dawson how grateful I was that she was paying attention to what was going on around us because I probably never would have seen him since I had been walking with my eyes on the ground. She just told me to be grateful that the security guard had a dog, otherwise she probably wouldn't have noticed either! Haha! Tender mercy

 Anyways. By this point we were at least 25 minutes late for boarding time, so we ran to the gate where I got stopped because I couldn't find my boarding pass. In the desperate search for my scriptures, my pass had been shoved to the bottom of my bag and I was on my way to print out another one when Sister Ceron told me to look through my bag again. FINALLY I found it and we rushed through security and ran - now all of us exhausted, sweaty, and extremely stressed - to our terminal where they told us that we had just made it on time! The plane had been delayed and they had only just started boarding! AH! We all laughed and hugged and high-fived and then said a quick prayer of gratitude. WHEW. Prayers are answered, people. We even had the chance to share the gospel with the lady next to us who was confused at the group of kids praying together. So that was awesome.

We made it to the mission home around 11, ate some dinner and then were in bed around 12:30 (probably the only time we'll ever have the President's permission for that to happen). President Pratt even let us sleep in 'til 8! It was pure bliss. Then, after our new missionary orientation the next day, we got to take a 45 minute nap since some people were falling asleep at the table.  We spent all day Thursday in the mission office, learning about vehicle safety and eating poutine and cookies while we listened to the mission nurse lecture us about eating healthy. Oh, the irony.  I got my Canadian driver's license! My photo actually looks decent and not like it needs a heading that says "WARNING: Escaped convict." So that's nice.

Thursday I spent nearly all day in the car to get to my little area of St. Stephen. It's right on the border of Maine and actually, half the town is in the US and it's called Calais there. So we get to cross the border to Maine a lot. My trainer is Sister Andersen and she's pretty awesome. She's also pretty old, mission-wise. She's been out for 15 months! I also have a second companion, Sister Buchanan who was going to go home last week but got permission to extend 10 days so she could stay for a baptism we have this Saturday. That's right, I've been in the field for barely a week and already have a baptism! Ten points to Gryffindor. We actually had to go pick up Sister Buchanan in Moncton on Friday, which was another 4-5 hour car ride for us. This mission is HUUUUUGE and as a result, I've spent the better part of my mission - thus far - in a car. I've only driven once, mostly because I don't know the area at all yet, but also because, due to the soporific effect of the combination of the apostle's voices and the Sunday Mornings With Bach CD (some of the only things we're allowed to listen to here), I spent a lot of time in the car fast asleep. So yeah. Whoops.

After we picked up Sister Buchanan, we went to Maine where we volunteer at a food pantry for a few hours every week. That's where we get most of groceries too, because at the end of the day, when they're closing up, they allow us to take whatever we want so they don't have to throw too much away later. As a result, our own pantry is positively STUFFED with food. Granted, most of it is past the expiration date or at least not far from it, but it's still good. My first thought when I saw the kitchen (and the whole apartment really. It's pretty nice.) was, "Wow Kegan and Rhys are going to think I'm the most spoiled missionary ever." which is probably true.

Have I told you that we're allowed to do sleepovers? 'Cause we are. Like I said, our mission is pretty big. We had stake conference on Sunday and Zone Conference on Monday (which is why I didn't email yesterday, btw. But Monday is my regular P-Day) and since most of the missionaries had to drive 3-4 hours to get to either of those events, President Pratt has us all stay with other missionaries. Saturday night, I and my two companions, along with one other companionship stayed with the Fredericton Sisters for Stake Conference. Then that night we all drove over to Amherst to stay with 4 other companionships in one apartment. It was a lot of fun and I'm impressed that we all managed to be in and out of bed on time, and be ready on time since we only had one bathroom between us. 

Zone Conference was AWESOME. And I got to see Sister Ceron and Elder Willoughby again! Elder Meurs of the 70 came and talked to us. As a mission we're focusing on helping our investigators come to church and encouraging our members to be better at member missionary work. All the towns in our zone are pretty small - St. Stephen actually reminds me a little of Del Norte. Just with more trees. None of our branches are very big and the number of inactive members we have is pretty high. So we're working on that. Zone Conference lasted from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM. WHEW. That's a long time! I also forgot my notebook in St. Stephen so I had just a couple pieces of scratch paper to keep both my notes and my doodles on - SO MANY DOODLES. We drove back to St. Stephen that night and taught Danny a lesson! Danny is the investigator who is getting baptized this Saturday. We just went over the baptismal questions with him and he seems pretty ready. I'm so excited for him!

Anyways. It's about time to go. I love it here. The people here are great.  The accents are great, some sound almost Irish and others I can't even begin to understand. I don't even know if it's English sometimes. It's bitter cold sometimes but it's an adventure. The sky is always really clear and the stars are beautiful. The shooting stars especially. Also, weird thing. Everyone here apparently spied on my FB page before I came out. The bishop came up to me the other day - before I even knew he was the bishop - and he said something about how excited his son was to have a Star Wars artist in the branch. All I was thinking was, "Wait, who the heck are you and how do you know me???" So yeah, word got around pretty fast about me being a Star Wars nerd and an artist. Cool.

I have to go! I love you lots!!! I will print up emails and read them over the week!!! And I'll get better about organizing my, emails too. 

Love you!!!!!!! 

- Sister Enright

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