Tuesday, March 6, 2012

End of Week 4 in Canada Mission Hill St. Albert

This week was insane! I don't even know where to begin...

Last week we had a mission-wide fast. Every ward in the Edmonton, Canada Mission boundaries fasted on the same day so that we could see missionary work pick up tempo. And it has really been working! Elder Kember and I witnessed so many miracles this past week because of that fast. We are still reaching 30+ lessons every week and still working hard.

On Monday we got a referral from some other missionaries in a different area. They saw a lady (Jackie) at church that just stopped by to see what church was like. So they started talking to her and found out that she lived in our boundaries. So they called us Sunday night and told us to go to her house and see if she wanted to learn more. We stopped by her house the next day (Monday) and knocked on the door. She answered and when she saw it was missionaries she said "no" right away and started closing the door. Right then Elder Kember asked if her name was Jackie. She then told us that we were at the wrong house and Jackie was two doors down the road. So we laughed and apologized for bothering her.

We then went two doors down and knocked on that door. A small 9 year old girl answered with a huge smile on her face.  She started to yell, "Mom, mom, the two men in suits are at our door! come quick! :)" Her mom came around the corner and instantly told us to come in. We asked her if her name was Jackie and she said "yes" with a huge smile. She told us to sit on her couch and asked us if she could get us water or juice or any kind of food. So we told her water would be nice! We then started talking about her life and asked what she believes in.

She's from India and her 9 year old daughter's name is Kateylnn.  She grew up in India but when she turned 19 she got married and moved to Toronto, Canada. She's now a single mother 14 years later and they moved here from Toronto 4 years ago. She grew up with in a Catholic family, so she believes in the Bible. We introduced the Book of Mormon to her and gave her the first lesson (the restoration). She was so excited and she wanted to learn more. She asked if we had dinner plans this week and we had lost our dinner calendar again so we told her we had none. She told us to come on Thursday and she would cook us India food and we would teach her the next lesson after we ate. So we said yes of course! She then said Friday as well? And we said yes! We then committed her and her daughter to be baptized by the proper authority if she came to know these things were true for April 7th. She said yes instantly! So we went back on Thursday and ate India Food and taught her, and then we went back on Friday as well!

She reads the Book of Mormon every day and she told us she's prayed and she knows it's true. Her daughter also has done the same! They are way prepared by the Lord and they need this in their lives now more than ever! They are way humble and it is such a cool experience to be a part of it! :) She was way sick on Sunday so we gave her a blessing as well! :) She has so much faith it's amazing to see her growing! So anyway,  that was Monday!

Tuesday, we were at Phil's house (the guy we just baptized last week) and we were teaching him the lessons again. It's required to teach investigators the lessons again after they are baptized. Anyway, every time we teach him we ask him to pray. He just says he isn't ready yet. But this time he volunteered and said the prayer! It was way cool to hear that and it really was an amazing prayer! So as we were teaching him the lesson, the front door opened. This lady (Phil's wife's friend) came in and slammed the door behind her. We asked her how she was and she said terrible. She told Phil that she might be living with them now and she no longer has a ring on her finger. She then went upstairs to go hang out with Phil's wife. We (Elder Kember, I and Phil) all looked at each other and said that this would be the best time for her to hear about the gospel. But we proceeded with our lesson until it got late and we had to be in soon so wrapped up the lesson and told Phil we had to go. Right after we said that, the Lady that came in earlier (Robin) came running down the stairs! She came so fast that she ran into the wall at the bottom of the stairs and almost destroyed it. She turned the corner and sat down right in front of us. She said, "I've read the Book of Mormon two or three times now, I know it's true, I study from in every day for at least an hour and it helps me through my day. So teach me, Please! I need this in my life. I didn't realize it was you guys and when I realized who you were I ran down here before you left. So please, teach me, tell me what I need to do."
Elder Kember and I were dumbstruck.. We thought it was a joke and we were waiting for her to start laughing.. But she was dead serious. We then showed her from the introduction of the book that if she came to know it was true then she would know that Jesus is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was the Lord's Kingdom once again established on the earth preparatory to the second coming of the Messiah. She said she knew that to be true. So we asked her to be baptized and she said yes. She picked April 14th because that is her son's birthday as well! She then said that she has a 11 year old son, a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. She said that they all have been reading from the Book of Mormon and they have been looking for this church for ever and that they all wanted to be baptized if that was okay. We told her that she and her two son's would all be able to be baptized on that date and we would need to teach them the discussions! She said that they would all love that! So we set up appointments!
I then felt like I needed to ask her a question, so I asked, "Robin, How do you feel that the Lord has been preparing you for this moment?" She thought about that for a moment and said trying to hold back tears, "As you know I am a single mom with three kids, and life has been hard. I have always felt that I had a hand on my shoulder leading me to things that I should do. It has been there to guide me out of those hard times, always helping me with every decision and guiding me which way I should go. And now that I am here, in front of you guys, That hand that has been on my shoulder, is now taken off. This is where God has been leading me to my whole life, this moment right here." We all felt the spirit as she was saying that and I had tears coming down my cheeks. Phil bore his testimony to her. It truly was a miracle. We then offered a kneeling prayer giving thanks for what we felt and the miracle which had just taken place. That was Tuesday.
We were on a spiritual high the next couple days and we kept thanking God. We taught Jackie on Thursday and Friday like I mentioned earlier. On Friday Jackie also told us that her daughter Katelynn is a shy girl like we can see but something about us made her way happy. She told us that Katelynn never gets excited about anything but she has been way excited to see us every time we come over and every time they read out of the Book of Mormon. She said that just in the past few days they have become so much closer in their small family than ever before. That really strengthened my testimony that this gospel strengthens families as we follow the example of Christ.
Then on Saturday we knocked on a member's home (the Fregene's, a Jamaican family). The kids answered the door and said that their parents were gone. But we noticed a guy in there that looked older (50's). So we started talking to him and he let us in. He is a guest of the Fregene's and is living in their home until he can afford his own. His name is Justice and he is from Nigeria and grew up in Greece. He told us about how Greece is a bad economy right now so he and his 20 year old daughter (Sarah) flew to Ontario, Canada to look for a Job. He left his wife and 5 other kids in Greece because they didn't have enough money to all come here. Their luggage was lost on the airplane so they only had the clothes that they were wearing and enough money to get a hotel for a night and eat. They are Christian and believe in the Bible and they are the most humble people I have ever met. They thank God for everything they have and they know that if they trust in him and follow his teachings, He will prepare a way for them. They came here strictly on faith in hope to have a better life for their family.
While they were in their hotel, they met the Fregene Family who was on vacation. Brother Fregene is such a nice guy that when he met this guy in the hotel, he offered to let them stay at their home in St. Albert (where I am now). Anyway, we showed them (Justice and his daughter Sarah) the Book of Mormon and told taught them the first lesson. They accepted it with full heart and they said they knew that there had to be more than just the Bible. We asked him to be baptized if he came to know if it was true. His answer was not what I expected. He told us that he had been reading the Bible this last week about when Christ was baptized. He showed us that in the margins of his Bible he wrote, "I want to be baptized". Then 2 days later, we knocked on the door. He said he knows it is God that lead us to him.
We were setting a date for him and his daughter to be baptized. We started asking about sometime in April and they both stopped us and said March! So we explained that they had to come to church at least 3 times before they could be baptized and have all the discussions They said, make it March 31st and we will be at church every week! We were again dumbstruck. We left that night and gave them Chapter 31 in 2nd Nephi to read for next time. They wanted us to come back Sunday morning at 10 am and teach them the second lesson before church which is at 1 pm. So we said yes and offered a kneeling prayer and Justice said it after we taught him how to pray. He said an amazing prayer and gave so much thanks for everything he has and is blessed with even though he hardly has anything.
We came back the next morning (yesterday) and taught them lesson two. They had already read the chapter we gave him the night before and had highlighted the verses we wanted to point out to him. And he pointed them out to us. He said he prayed about these things and he and his daughter knows that they are true! And that they need this gospel in their lives right now and God has led them to it. They were at church later that day and Justice got up in sacrament and bore his testimony in front of everyone and he was the first person to go up there! It was crazy! :) He has the strongest testimony. He said that he was so happy to find this gospel and that if he had never gotten on that plane, he would have never found out about Christ's Restored gospel and about Joseph Smith and how God has a Prophet today. It truly has been a miracle to see him grow and learn about this church. They are so excited about baptism. It truly is amazing!
So we found 7 investigators that all want to be baptized this past week. God has prepared them and led us to them. I have witnessed so many miracles this past week, it is amazing. I've never felt the spirit so strongly before. This gospel is true and it blesses families so much. Fasting really works and it shows God that you are sincere. I'm so glad to be His servant and to take this time to help bring these families to eternal life with help from Him.
I never told you about Melodie who is getting baptized on March 17th. She is an 11 year old girl that is way smart and her dad is already a member. We have taught her all the lessons and she knows them better than we probably do now! So that will be an amazing experience as well!
And also Austin who is in his 30's. He have taught him almost all the lessons and he knows this is true! He is getting baptized on March 24th which also will be an amazing experience!
Just so you know our Standard of Excellence is 300 baptisms for this year. That is the goal that the Mission President set for this mission. Last year we had 200 baptisms for the whole year so this year will be a lot harder to reach. That means that every set of missionaries will have to get 1 baptism every 2 months for this goal to be reached. In our area, the Mission Hill Ward in St. Albert, we had a total of 5 baptisms all year last year. So this year we now have Phil and 9 others on date so far..
This isn't to brag or anything like that.  This is to show you how the Lord is preparing his children and that miracles can happen. I have been so humbled through this last week with the power that God has. It truly is an amazing experience. I know that I am where I need to be. I wouldn't rather be doing anything else with my life at this time. I love you all and I miss you! I'll see you in 2 years :)

Love always, Elder (Jon) Stevens