Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 2 Ajax

Hello Family, 

Well I've been in Canada for a week. What an experience it has already been. Where to start....

Happy Birthday to Nicholas today! I don't know if he'll ever read this, but happy birthday! Also, Happy Birthday to Sam on June 1st!

It's exciting that school gets out this week! I hope everyone kicks off the summer the right way! But be safe.

It has been quite cold here. It is really windy, so there is that wind chill. Even when the sun is shining, I have a coat on. I hope it warms up soon though! Also, our apartment is FREEZING! We always walk around in slippers with blankets wrapped around us. During personal and companionship study we basically sit there as a little freeze ball. It's actually pretty terrible. The worst is that the people upstairs control the thermostat, so we just have to deal with it. 

Did I mention I have a memory foam mattress? Yeah, it's probably the greatest thing about the apartment so far. I sleep like a baby each night, so there's a plus!

Tracting isn't the greatest thing in the entire world. But man, it's so necessary when you are whitewashing an area. Unfortunately, everyone in Canada seems to be perfectly fine with their church. Little do they know... hehe.

I've met all different kinds of people. Lots and lots of Muslims. Hardest of all, lots of African Americans. Makes me think of Ashy and Brynn. In fact, the ward mission leader is from Africa, and his little girl looks just like Brynn! I have also met a lot of Atheists. I didn't think there were that many in the world.. yup I was wrong. A lot of people's responses have been "How can you know God is there when terrible things happen every single day?". All I can think is, "How can you NOT know God is there?" Without God, we wouldn't even BE here. I wish more people knew that... time to go tell em eh?? 

We're teaching an amazing women named Angela. She has the strongest faith in Jesus Christ. She left her son in Jamaica to come here and take care of her brother in law, who is in a wheelchair. She wants to stop smoking so bad, so we gave her the "Stop Smoking Workshop" that the church uses. She is going to stop smoking next week, then next step - BAPTISM! Wahooo!

As we were tracting, we found a man named Syed. He is a devote Muslim, but he was really interested about us having a modern day prophet. He came to church yesterday!!!! He is such a nice man. He makes me feel like I'm making a difference in being here because he always says things like "We need more people like you in this world." It's comforting to know that the Spirit is touching people here in Ajax. He is coming to church again next week, and we are teaching him again this week. 

Something that I LOVE about being a missionary is teaching. Sometimes I say things that I wasn't even thinking, but it still came out and sounded perfect. I guess it is possible to have the gift of tongues even when you're speaking Canadian ;)

Here is the best story for the whole week. Some of you will laugh, and some of you will feel like I did - so uncomfortable. Well, we were visiting former investigators, and one of them was in the ghetto of Ajax. When we drove into the little subdivision, there was a group of teenagers hanging out there. Naturally, we went up and started talking to them. They were all so drunk and high. One of the guys, Dom, is only 17 and he kept telling us how "baked" he was. I felt so uncomfortable! Then, to make matters worse. Dom took his shirt off and started doing the running man for us. He then told us that he has a lot of beer for their party tonight and he wanted us to come really bad. He said that we were really cute girls and asked for our number too. Gah! I wanted to leave so bad. Long story short.. we ended up teaching them the restoration, gave several of them a Book of Mormon, and got 3 baptismal dates! Funny how God works, eh? We were with them for probably almost 2 hours. One of the girls, Xania pulled me aside and said that she is trying to change her ways. She has been reading the Bible everyday for the past couple of months. How cool is that! She couldn't come to church yesterday though because she had to go to her grandmas. We'll see how this goes! We have other investigators but nothing much has happened yet. 

The first Sunday in the field was really great. It was actually a missionary farewell, so of course I cried like a baby. The girl is headed to the Utah Provo mission, and she is really cool. Her dad also spoke. He talked about he hopes that the people of Provo embrace his daughter. He then when onto say that he encourages everyone to embrace Sister Stats and I, because he knows that is what our families would want. It was beautiful. 

Just a side note, we have dinner appointments almost every single night!

The ward has about 400 people, but only like 150 come. It's going to take some getting used to being in a small ward. Everyone knows everyone...

Sorry this email isn't as long as my one last week was. I have been spending more time emailing people individually, as I feel like that's what I needed most this week. Living here is Canada has definitely been an adjustment. I already feel like I've grown from leaning on the Lord so much. Without the Lord, I wouldn't be able to do this. It's some tough work. It's a tough world. 

The scripture that got me through this week was - D&C 121:7-9. 

"My son (daughter), peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends (family) do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands."

Although I'm going through my own trials and adversities at this time, God is with me. I have felt the loving arms of God wrapped around me this week more than I ever have in my entire life. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. I especially love the last verse that talks about my family standing by me. I feel so much love and support from all of you. You all shall hail me again with warm hearts and friends hands:) You aren't going anywhere. What comfort that brings me. 

I made a goal to read the BOM each transfer. I find myself reading all the time.. I can't put it down! Haha. I know that since it brings me so much peace, it can do that same for others. 

Did I mention that I gave away a Book of Mormon to a man on the street! He was so nice. He was just visiting Canada though, so we can't teach him. But at least the seed has been planted!

I love you all so much. I hope everyone has a good/safe week. Remember how much God loves us. He is watching out for all of us and blessing us. I hope you know that I pray for each of you by name every single day, multiple times. I don't have any pictures this week, but I promise I will next week! 

I'm grateful to be part of Helaman's Army. 

All my love, 

Sister Hardcastle

"Get on your knees and pray; then get on your feet and work"

Oh and family members that don't email me... EMAIL ME! Haha you know who you are. xoxo

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Week 1 Ajax

My dearest family, 

Hello! I'm in Canada safe and sound. The flying wasn't the best and by the time we got here I was SO exhausted. I'm not going to miss the airport for a year and a half:) I'm going to miss the MTC though. It was one of the greatest experiences ever. I'm ready for this new one though. I saw Austin several times.. I actually cheated and gave him a few hugs. It was nice to see him, a familiar face is always great. I'm going to attach several pictures. 

The night before we left the MTC we went to bed pretty late because we were packing. We got up at 2 to be at the bus at 3. Yeah, I was tired and sick. It was miserable. Lots of people in different groups didn't show up for the bus! So they missed their flight haha. The Elders from our District were waiting for us by the bus to help us with our luggage. It was so sweet of them! Let's just say.. hauling around 3 huge suitcases isn't the easiest thing I've ever done. The ones I checked were both over 50 pounds.. but the girl was really nice and just let it slide. Thank goodness! 

We made it to the airport kind of late, which is why I couldn't call for very long. But that's probably a good thing because hearing everyone's voices makes me kinda sad! 
When we got to the gate to fly to Texas, the lady told me my carry on was too big. They said I would have to pay 150.00$ to check it! I was like NO WAY! So I worked with it for a long time to get it down. They kept calling "Final Boarding" and I was still not on the plane. Haha, but a sweet man that worked there was helping me. I had to throw some stuff away though (Just cheap things like envelopes from the Dollar Store). It finally went down enough. Let's just say, American Airlines isn't as cool as Delta!

On the plane I sat next to a nice old man. He leaned over and said, "Do you know when Sister Monson's funeral is?" I had to inform him that I didn't because I've been in the MTC. He then asked me where I was going and was so sweet to me. When we got to Texas he offered me his phone to call you guys.. but I couldn't do it on the plane because I knew I'd just cry! Haha, that's too embarrassing. I'm glad that I got to talk to some of you again in Texas though. 

The flight to Canada was great. I slept the whole time. I woke up as we were landing. (Winner winner chicken dinner)!! Customs wasn't so fun though:( When the guy asked me why I was coming to Canada I told him it was to serve a LDS mission. I handed him all the documents he would need. He looked at me like I was crazy. He then went on to scold me about how I need to say Latter-Day Saints, not LDS. Great first impression of Canada, eh? It was discouraging. But then I went to get my visa, and the lady was really really nice. Then I met my mission president and his wife. President and Sister Scott are SO amazing. I feel so blessed. We took two big vans back to the mission home with the AP's. 

Once at the mission home, we had the best dinner I'd eaten the whole time. Homemade mac and cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers, salad.. ahh it was so yum! We were all interviewed by President Scott. He is so nice! He asked about the family and why I'm on my mission. He said he got chills when I told him how I dreamed about serving in Toronto, Canada. We then had a testimony meeting. It was great. Then we went to a hotel! The next morning we went back to the mission home and had lots of orientation meetings. It was really overwhelming. We got our health cards, debit cards and tiwi cards (for the cars). By the way Dad, I'm covered on the church insurance, so I won't be using the insurance card you sent me with. 

We then went upstairs and met the trainers! They all bore their testimonies to us, and the assignments were then made. My trainer is Sister Stats. She is 22 and from Centerville Utah. She has been out for 5 months and has been training since her 5th week here. Just goes to show how amazing she is! We are whitewashing an area called Ajax. It is a beautiful city outside of Toronto. It is right off of Lake Ontario, but I haven't seen the lake yet. Haha, I've only been here for a day:)

We live in a basement apartment. I'm not going to lie and tell you it's nice.. but it's okay! It has a washer and dryer, so there's a plus! Also a tub with jets.. that I won't have enough time to use :) but that's okay. We had a dinner appointment last night with the Tunney's. They are incredible. They have the missionaries over every single Tuesday. They are both converts. We had curry.. I hated it.. but pretended to like it! THEY SAID EH AFTER EVERY SENTENCE! Haha, and my companion says it all the time. It's already rubbing off on me. Canadians are crazy. 

After dinner, we knocked on doors for about 2 hours. Lots of people were super nice, but weren't interested at all. My trainer would do the first couple doors, then she let me do them. Then we switched off. It wasn't scary at all! Everything just came naturally. We gave out a lot of cards. Side note, we have already received TWO referrals from Technology is great! Anyways, we got one appointment after all those hours. Her name is Lindsay and she looked pretty young. She said she would have her friend or mom there. We'll see how that goes on Friday. We saw a guy mowing his lawn, so we talked to him. He tried to convince us that God isn't real because he's taken psychology classes and humans are too scientific to have been created by God. It was ridiculous. We gave him a card though. We talk to everyone. Pretty exciting, eh? We then saw another guy on the street. I approached him this time. We got his number, then my trainer repeated the number back to him to make sure it was right. As we were walking away she said, "He gave us a fake number". I asked how she knew that. She said that when we repeats it back, she'll change a number on purpose to see if they gave us the right number. Man, I'm learning so much from her already. 

I had to use the washroom really bad so we drove around trying to find the church. Oh did I mention that we drive a 2013 silver Chevy Cruze? IT'S SO NICE!! Anyways, we got lost for a long time. We finally found the church, and there were a couple of cars in there. We went up and started talking to one of them. Turns out, he's not a member, but his friend it and they play basketball every Tuesday night at the church. He's a very nice man named Anthony. He said that his wife is super religious but he would want to know more. So we are meeting with him this weekend. TENDER MERCY - Getting lost so that we could find Anthony. Love it!

By the time we were done at the church, it was time to head home. We got home safely and unpacked. I'm so glad I brought a comforter and everything. My pooh bear was great to cuddle with last night. Did I mention that my companion collects pooh bears? Meant to be, eh?

So, I'm still really sick. I was coughing all night! My poor companion! We just stayed inside to work out this morning because I can't breath outside, haha. We went shopping today.. I bought a lot of things :( (Sorry mom and dad). I bought a new jacket because it was on sale. Then a few random things. It was fun to hang out around the shops with Sister Stats. We're a LOT alike. She's a goofball. I'm a goofball. It's so great. 

Here are some of the weird/cool things about Canada so far, 
-There are squirrels everywhere. They are about the size of a cat. I'm not joking. And they are black. They're freaky. They are outside of our apartment all the time. 
-The milk comes in bags. Yes. Bags. And it's so expensive. 
-Tim Horton's is on EVERY CORNER. 
-They spell center, centre. 
-They're in the metric system. It's super weird. We'll be driving in a residential area and it'll say "Maximum 60" and I think wow that's fast. Then I have to remember it's not miles per hour. haha
-Food is so expensive.... gahh
-Canadians are super nice. Last night when we kept getting rejected, I told Sister Stats that even when they're mean they're still being nice! They were all super respectful and kind. They would say, "Have a good night eh?" haha I love it!
-It's just been raining the whole time. Last night we knocked doors in the pouring rain. No joke, there were literally puddles all over the place. 
-The city of Ajax is beautiful. Big trees and quint houses everywhere. 

I'm going to love it here. I already do. I love being a missionary. I love having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I love talking to people and hearing about their lives. I love that I am involved in the Lord's work. I know that I cannot do this without Him. I'm grateful for my Savior, and I know that He lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is real and that it can change people's lives. I know that our Heavenly Father is looking out for all of us. I hope you all know how much I love you! I will email again on Monday, and that will be my P-day from now on. Pray always, and carry on!

Have a great week everyone. I love you all.

Sister Hardcastle

P.S. I can only attach one picture at a time... SO yeah. Here is me being as happy as ever  :)
OH! Write me! And send me stuff  :)
30 Wright Crescent - BSMT
Ajax, ON
L1S 6S6 Canada

Good thing I bought an SD card reader. I'll attach some links of my voice on Monday. Sorry I don't have time right now. Love you!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

First and Last Pday in the MTC!


Greetings from one of the happiest places on earth (besides Disneyland/world)! I have so much to tell you! I'm glad you have been getting my letters. It is tough to only write on Pdays... so I'm going to get a lot of letters written today! I can't believe that I have been here for over a week. Man, so much has happened. I can't even believe how much I have grown. I feel like the best way to get everything written is bullet points, so bear with me.
  • Yes I did join the choir. AREN'T YOU ALL SO PROUD?! I joined it because you get way good seats at the devotional on tuesdays. Yeah.. so guess who was the speaker for that devotional?! Elder Russel M. Nelson!! I was super close to him. One of the coolest experiences of my whole life. He said some of the coolest things. His wife spoke also. A lot of it had to do with family history. His wife said, "Pray to be led to those whose ancestors are praying for you". She also said "Pray for angels to be with you.. Pray for them by name". It was just so amazing! Elder Nelson said that he wanted to shake all of our hands and hear all of our stories but that wouldn't be realistic so we got to virtually shake his hand over the pulpit.  :)
  • So everyone in my district talks in their sleep. One of the Elders (Elder Mo'Unga) apparently in the middle of the night said, "Come on man, the church is true!" Hahah I love my district. So there are 6 sisters and 6 elders in my district. 4 of us sisters are headed to Toronto Canada. The other two are headed to Carlsbad California. 1 of the elders is also going to Toronto, and the other 5 to Carlsbad, Cali. I've come to the conclusion that life is full of saying goodbyes...I don't want to leave them in 3 days!
  • So, since the crazy amount of sister missionaries in the MTC, they have made leadership roles for them. So my companion and I (I'll talk about my companion soon) are the Sister Training Leaders. So that's basically Zone Leaders put into girl form. It's been so fun! We just met the new missionaries last night, and they all seemed so scared.. I hope I wasn't like that.  ;)
  • So yes, it's true. I did get the flu. It was the worst night here by far. I slept on the bathroom floor of the MTC and got a grand total of probably 2 hours of sleep. The next day was sunday though and I didn't want to miss our on all of those things, so my some miracle I felt good enough to do everything. A few nights ago my companion got sick too!
  • Which leads me to the food here. It's like a 14 year old boys DREAM. I eat a lot of salad :) The best part is the chocolate milk. Then every wednesday and sunday there is ice cream!
  • Soooo my companion. Sister Dyer. She is the BEST! She is from Idaho Falls. She knows Grandma Ida and Tanner! She is super cool and really is the perfect first companion. She is twenty and has been at BYU. She helps me manage my craziness :) I love teaching and working with her though. Having her as a companion has truly been an answer to my prayers! We laugh all the time, yet know when to get things done.
  • My teachers are Brother Terry, Brother Smith and Brother Mosley. They are incredible! Which leads me to our investigators. One is Aaron (A-A-RON) hahahah. He is our teacher (Brother Terry). So yea, we teach our teacher. It's been a really great help though because he gives us a lot of feedback. Then there is a thing called TRC where it's volunteers that come in and act as investigators. So we've done that twice. I know that they are actors, but it really makes me so happy when I teach and they agree to read the Book of Mormon or accept to be Baptized. I can't wait for real life!
  • Mom, could you find me the talk entitled "Character of Christ" from Elder Bednar? Thanks!
  • So I saw Austin last night! I tracked him down for hours and I finally saw him! But we can't hug.  :(  He looks great and super happy.
  • GUESS WHO CAME ON MOTHER'S DAY?! Janice Kapp Perry (She wrote like half of the children's hymnbook). So I feel like all the cool people are coming when I am here! She also wrote "As Sisters in Zion". It was so cool because she made a new version called "The Sisters of Zion" and the Relief Society was the first to ever sing it. It was amazing! Mother's day was the hardest day here. All I could think about was all the amazing mothers in my life. My own mom, my grandma's, Katie, Jaclyn. Gahh the tears were flowing. But I know that all of you are doing great and that's a great comfort to me.  :)
  • So here are my flight plans.. get ready for me to call you super early on Monday morning. American Airlines flight 436 leaving SLC @ 6:00 a.m. We arrive in Dallas/Ft Worth @ 9:40 a.m. From thereit's American Airlines flight 684 @ 10:20 a.m. we head to Toronto Canada and get in at 2:20 p.m. I wont have time to call you in Texas.. so salt lake it is! I would plan on me calling around.... 4:30 in the morning?
  • Thank you so much to everyone who sent me packages and has written me. Some people in my district have yet to recieve mail and I think that would be so hard! I have another temple walk on sunday at 3.  ;)  ;)
  • So I see Hailey Gardner in the bookstore like every single day! It's so nice to see a familiar face!
  • Mom.. that blanket we got at costco has SAVED my life. The blankets here are cardboard.
  • So something really hit me during zone teaching one day. Our teacher said, "The only time the Savior ever stopped his feet from being on the ground was when He was nailed to the cross dying for YOU". How incredible is that. I think about how tired I sometimes am, and then I remember that. I can't ever stop working! I love this work. It's already made me happy, and I haven't even gotten to my mission yet.
  • My companion and I came back from a lesson that didn't really go as planned and one of the teachers said, "Keep your head up, you're successful in God's eyes". That also really hit me because I need to realize that there is only SO much that I can do.
I can't believe it's been a week. Time is so weird here. When I'm sitting in a 3 hour class I feel like time is never going to end.. and now.. I'm scared that my mission is going to go by too fast! I love how much I have grown in just a few short days. I'm not going to lie and tell you that I haven't been sad at some points. It's tough, and it's only the MTC. I start to look at pictures and think about home and that's just not a good idea. I can feel your prayers and I hope you all know that I am praying for all of you too. Here are some pictures of my marvelous adventures so far. I love you all. Next time you hear from me I'll be in Canada!! I can't get the voice recorder thing to attach on these computers.. and I don't have time to make it work. Oh hey!! My first Pday in Canada will be next Wednesday.

I love you all so much! Get ready to answer the phone nice and early! Keep the letters coming! I love every second of being a missionary, and I've already seen the blessings! I hope you all know of my love for you. God be with you til we meet again.  :)

With love,

Sister Hardcastle