Sunday, August 29, 2010

Andrew Update - 29 August 2010

Another week - 16 August 2010

Well, we had an emergency transfer today.

Nothing because someone got hurt, but a missionary went home a few weeks early to start with school, and my comp took his spot in another sector. So now me and the other two missionaries are in a trio. I am in a TRIO. Weird. And one of my companions is ending his mission in three weeks, and I think after he dies, the sector is going to go from 4 missionaries, to two. Elder Carpio and I. And my other comp is called Elder Abrams. So Elder Gomez is gone, and does not live with me anymore. So no more worries about arguing with him! Sweet! But this next change, if I am with Elder Carpio, he will be my third comp straight, of latinos. At the end of this next change, that would mean 7 and a half months of living with a latin companion. Wow.

Well this sunday, we had more investigators in church that ever in my mission. 9. Not counting the two that got confirmed, because technically that would be 11. And we had an investigator that was going to go, but got called to work, and she has a baptismal date, so there´s another, plus a few other investigators that usually go, didn`t. But what was sweet, is that we had an ENTIRE FAMILY THERE. An atheist Dad, Alez, (who is changing lots, and is beginning to progress actually) the Mom, Maria, (Who was hardcore catholic who prayed to the virgen, and did weird stuff, and constantly reminded us she is never going to change, but she has changed her mind on a lot) two daughters, Angeles and Katy, and the nine year old son, Felipe. Plus The friend of Angeles, Kena. This whole family is going to get baptized within a few weeks.

So I loved your Hallmark Cards! I was laughing here alone, because nobody around me understands English, So I was here cracking up and the rest just stared at the dumb gringo. Ha. Speaking of english, my english class is still going strong! I love teaching, and I am getting better at teaching it! We play games, do stuff on the board, and always bring treats.

Dianna, you always have some kind of story to share. I wish I could do more knocking. That is the only thing I do not like about this sector, is that we can never hardly do knocking, because we have knocked everywhere thousnds of times, and nobody wants to talk to us, and pretty much have horrible thoughts about the missionaries, and do not want anything to do with us. But that`s alright. I am glad I am not having to deal with bees and bugs like you, or humidity. I just worry about the dogs chasing my bike, and making sure my bike works. Speaking of...

Bikes are amazing here. Ok Dad, Mom, Dianna. Think. If you needed to replace the axel on a bike, and the ball bearings inside, how much do you think it would cost to have a person:
1: Take the bike, and dismantle it.
2: Find the replacement part, and instal it for you.
3: Put the bike back together.
4: Fix up the brakes, and grease up the chain, and joints.

How much do you think that would all cost? Hm? Any ideas? I will tell you how much it costs here. Are you ready? Three dollars. For ALL of that. THAT IS NOTHING!! If you have a BIG problem, like missing parts, and really broken pieces, the most you would spend is about 10 dollars. SO CHEAP!

Well I hope everything is going well at home. I heard that Mom needs to take 4 trips a day just to get the girls to school.. Where is this school at? Ya I sure you can get some kind of carpool set up, or maybe they will get busses, or I am sure something is going to happen, to make life easier for you guys. I hope members do something for my birthday, since there are a few with birthdays this week too, even one on the SAME day as me. Maybe I will finally make that coffee cake Mom sent me to make! I cannot believe I still haven`t made it! I just never have the recipe when I am shopping, because we have to shop out of town. Sad huh? We have to take a bus for 40 minutes just to go shopping. We live in nowheresville.

To end, Mom, did you get my suggestion about how you can read the Book of Mormon? About how every time, get a new paperback copy, and highlight everything you find in of one topic, for example, all the prophesies(?) and quotes from Jesus, next time, Faith... Dad! You should totally buy a regular paperback copy of El Libro de Mormón! Because in the back, there is something that doesn´t exist in english! It´s like the bible dictionary, with the topical guide put together! In every subject, there´s a definition, the churches view on the topic, and other useful information, followed by referencias from all 4 books of scripture. It is amazing! Well my time is up, gonna watch my hallmark cards again, and head out. Love you all, Chao chao!

-Elder Nicholls

Wow - 9 August 2010

We have misters??? WHAT!?!? What other rich people things do we have? We have a word for that here in Chile, cuico. It means that we have fancy looking things, kind of like bling bling in English. What other additions have been made to the house? How are my things? Mainly my guitar... Where did it get put? Who is using my speakers? Haha. Just curious. My english class is doing well, and I have regulars, and they really enjoy coming and playing games, and learning REAL english. Because I can actually PRONOUNCE the words correctly.

So this week has been really cool, because we found a lot of investigators. Way more than usual, because we are applying other methods into our work. We teach a lot in the doorway, and at the gate, because people are too stubborn to let us in. We have had a lot of progress with one family in particular. Maria the Mom, her husband Luis I think (He doesn´t listen much, just eats with us sometimes, and goes to activities, but doesn´t learn the gospel) The daughters Katy and Angeles, the son Felipe, and the friend of Angeles, Kena (Maria Eugenia). Katy is 18 years old, Angeles 14, Felipe 9, and Kena 15. We have to be REALLY careful with these people, because the girls are snakes sometimes. That means they do not care about the message, just want to flirt and be around the gringo missionary. It started off like that, but now they are beginning to understand the difference of this church, and that it really blesses their lives. But since they come to church, participate, and always receive us into their house, we can´t just drop them. But we are working on helping them understand the difference between members and missionaries. We tell them ALLL the time, they just don´t get it. Patience, love, and prayer. But do not worry about me, my focus is all on the work. But this family is incredible, because they always invite us to eat, or have family home evening, come to church, and read the Book of Mormon. I can see all 5 getting baptized, leaving the Dad out, because he is very stubborn, and we have to let him be, or he gets mad. Que porfiado! But whatever.

My comp and I are getting better, because that p-day, he just ignored me ALL day, even when working, only talking to me in the lesson. Then after 2 days of that, I finally got fed up and called the zone leaders to talk to him and set him straight. They told us to do comp inventory on this specific problem, and he just yelled at me, and told me to recognize my errors, and change. But he always complains about my personality. About my sense of humor, or how I talk, or how I think, or things that have nothing to do with him whatsoever. Always tells me to change things, because it bugs him that I do something a certain way. But to be honest, I do not want to change, or can´t change, because it has to do with my personality. He tells me "If you don´t change on the mission, you will never ever ever change to be better in all your life!" But, it doesn´t matter! I am going to have friends that LIKE my personality, and going to marry a woman who LIKES who I am. But he really doesn´t understand it. So the zone leaders had us go on divisions with the other elders in the house. I went with another gringo, and he went with another latino. That way we could talk in our own languages and figure things out. Hey! Felipe, the son of that family, just came up from behind me and scared me! I just talked with him a few minutes, and we are going to pass by in like 20 minutes now. Because their cat peed on my backpack, so the mom is cleaning it, and I am using a briefcase they lent me. So ya. So me and Elder Abrams talked and talked, and figured out some ways to solve the problem. We returned, and me and my comp talked a lot, and decided to erase everything, forget it all, and start over again with love. And now we are a way better compañarismo. Then afterwards, Elder Abrams told me that him and his comp were listening the whole time while we solved our last problems. He said I had handled it in the best way he thought was possible, and that skills like that are what´s going to carry me into leadership positions, and in solving future problems. All in all, we all agreed, except for Elder Gomez my comp, that Elder Gomez is the source of the problem. Because it really is like that. He gets mad because he doesn´t listen to me when I talk, and when we leave to do something and he has no idea what´s going on, He says "Why didn´t you tell me before!" And I say that I did, and he says no, yes, no, yes.... And he gets mad and doesn´t talk, or says bad stuff about gringos. Whatever. I love him anyways.

Well I got like 10 dear Elders this week, but haven´t had much time to read, because we have been getting home at like 10:20 this week, super late. Too late, but our lessons have been making us do that. But next week I will respond. I love you all, and Dianna, have fun with those dogs! Keep up the hard work, and buy yourself a sweater! Or maybe I´ll knit you one, because I learned how, and am making scarves for my investigators and members... Love you all! Chao!

-Elder Nicholls

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Andrew Update - 24 August 2010

Chepicano - 2 August 2010

Thank you Dad for your email!

Even though it was short, I was so happy to hear that you had shared the gospel a bit this week! Sweet! I actually almost cried! I have no idea why! I can not wait to get home, so I can go on splits with the missionaries! Woo hoo! I know I was terrible at not going out before the mission, but I am so repented now, and the members here inspire me so much! Story:

The family Salinas. The Mother, Ines, pronounced e-nez, like e-mail combined with pez candy, e-nez, leaves with us all the time to appointments. She RIDES HER BIKE with us to appointments. She is so awesome! I cannot even believe this lady! She is totally a missionary still, even after being home for 30 years from her mission! She gives us so many references, and always asks US if she can join us in lessons, that I gave her a present. A missionary agenda. I filled it up with the dates, a bunch of appointments, and marked it in the back where she can put her references. She has already put in like 7! She is into politics, so she knows almost everybody in Chepica! ALLLL the time in contacts, people always so, "Oh ya, I know la hermana Ines. She is my friend." ALLL the time! And her son, Felipe, leaves with us all the time to work too. That family, along with her nephew Michael, all help us all the time.

For Hermana Ines, I am going to make her a scarf. I learned how to knit, or something. How do you say tejer in English? Because I can do that. So I am tejiendo Hermana Ines a scarf, and am building her a door for her house. She lives poor, and her door is made of that super thin wood, I cannot remember what it`s called in English. Cartón. Plywood! I remembered! So I am making her a real door out of 2 by 4`s, and nails, and good hinges. She`s going to be so surprised! I want to serve her, because she always serves us! Since she only likes us, she feeds us lunch sometimes, and bought me a beanie, and buys me egg bread.

So Saturday we celebrated pioneer day. We did a pioneer trek! for like 30 kilometers I don`t know... We left the chapel in chepica at 5:30 am, traveled for half an hour, went up a big hill, had a big fire, devotional, I walked with a guitar, and we sang hymns on top around the fire. (I can play like 6 hymns on the guitar now, I am so proud!) Then we walked and walked in mud and rivers until 3:30 in the afternoon all the way back to Chepica. I took lots of pictures. And 3 of our investigators went, and had a blast! More of our investigators wanted to go, but their parents wouldn`t let them... lame. I also made this thing called a manto. Like a big blanket coat. All the huasos wear them here. A huaso is like a cowboy kind of dude. They wear big sombreros, and stand on street corners in their cloaks, and do nothing all day. Just stand and salute people, or ride horses all day. So I made one of those cloaks and wore it while I played guitar, so I could be more Chepicano. Ha. It was lot of fun. We got to grow really strong relationships with investigators, because before, they did not really trust us that much, or liked what we do. But after spending 12 hours straight with them, they realized how awesome we are. Being all girls between 14 and 18, they complained a lot. That sounds bad doesn`t it? That 3 teenage girls spent all day with us. But don`t worry. We were in a group of like 30 people. But we talked a lot, and they complained a lot, and I helped them get through a lot of tough challenges. Climbing over barbed wire fences, and getting stuck in deep mub, I had to pull them out. It was really funny, and I got a lot of good pictures. Haha. MY shoes came off once, and I had to dig them out of the ground., It was a classic movie scene. I even laughed, even though it was really lame. But now they really trust us, and want to follow this gospel, because they can see the difference between the member that went, and the investigator.

Afterwards, we had a fireside in the chapel, and Pres. MacArthur came to speak! The mission pres! Sweet! And the School orchestra came and played a few hymns. It was a realy good experience. We had them play, because we teach two members of the orchestra, and the director. Funny huh?

Well I am totally out of time now, and need to go shopping. I love you all! Thank you for your love, prayers, support, and being MY family. I am so proud of my family, and tell stories about you to everyone I know, especially the families I teach. I want everybody to have a family like I have. I hope my converts serve a mission, and I try to support every single person I talk to, whether they are a member or not. I know that my efforts have changed this branch I am in, because a few members that usually are not active, I have helped respark their interest in going to church, and not attend regularly, and bear testimony in church, and give talks. Well I love you all THIIIIIIIIIIIIS MUCH! (With my arms spread wide open) Chao familia!

-Elder Nicholls

Here I am - 26 July 2010

I want to respond to a few DearElders I got a few weeks ago...

Mom: It is true, we have been learning about the temple since we were about three years old. How important must it be then to recognize the importance of it? Also, it is really important to really search for the right spouse because it is a selection for an Eternity. Being a Mom, you really have taught me a lot of how a Mom should be. I realized over these last few weeks that you and Dad NEVER yelled at each other. Sometimes you bickered and disagreed and were disappointed with each other, but you never let it out of control. That is an incredible example for me. Happiness really IS knowledge that all is well, like you said. What do you mean "You JUST talked like a year and a half ago???" That is forever! I give talks like ever 3-4 weeks in church! So what are the callings of everybody in the church? Mom, Dad, Jenn, Sam... I cannot remember, and do not know if anything changed.. I really wanna know because a lot of people ask me, and I do not know... Yes it is super sad to see converts stop coming to church. My old companion Elder Rodriquez came here to Chepica on his last p-day, and it was a very sad experience for him. Because all of his 7 converts from here are not active, nor do they want anything with the church. They told him that they do not want anybody coming back to their house. I felt so bad for him. I cannot even imagine the pain. But, he certainly did his part, because they have their free agency, and understand their sins.

In a lesson this week, the husband of a lady returned home in the middle of the lesson, and said stuff like "Christ never existed, all this is false." Then went on in a little speech trying to destroy my hopes, and asked me something like "So what happens if all this is fake?" And in this moment, I remembered what Jeffrey R. Holland said once, or at least I think is was him... But I said something along the lines of "If all this is fake, then billions of people have been misled into a path of happiness success, family unity and peace, when really the life is made to be miserable, fight, and always question the truth." Then he shut up after that, and we both testified of the existence of the Savior, and the Book of Mormon. I was really proud of myself. But after the lesson, the lady told us not to come back anymore, because even if she received a testimony of this church, she will not stop being Catholic, because it is a tradition in her family.

This week has been really cool, because for a while in every single contact, even if they yelled at me to leave, I mustered up the best spirit I could, and testified of the Savior and the Book of Mormon. And in every contact like that, they left to go inside quiet, not yelling, and changed. They left their house with the intentions of rejecting me, but entered like a puppy with it´s tail between the legs. Testifying of the Book of Mormon really is the best weapon I have in fighting the evil here. It sounds weird talking like this, that I make it like a video game. But it really is like this. We have weapons, and so do they. We have a certain amount of energy, and they do too. I am going to employ using the Book of Mormon more often in contacts this next week, to see how I do.

Well until next week. I love you all so much, and hope all is well. Chao!

-Elder Nicholls

Chepicano Soy - 19 July 2010

Well Family, hello.

Well to start of, I want to say I love you all. And secondly, has anybody seen the video from the church "By small and simple things"? Because the main actor in it, the boy who receives the Book of Mormon, and in the end gets baptized, I know him. He was my EFY counselor one year, and he gave me a nickname, and was so cool and unforgettable. But the other day I chose that video to show in a lesson we had in the chapel, and when it started, I recognized him, Jason, and strangely missed him. I wanted to see him again, talk to him more, know him better. Weird... But I told everybody I knew who he was, and they were all impressed, including the other gringo missionary in the branch. Ha.

So, want to know something weird? Ok I have never really been that good at the piano, but the mission lent me an electric piano, to practice for sacrament meetings. But instead of playing the piano, I play the organ. I put it on the organ function, because it doesn`t have a pedal. So we have an ORGAN in church, and I can play a lot of hymns now. I am so impressed with myself. I cannot believe how good I am getting at piano, especially because I can only practice about 10 minutes a day, if that. But, cool!

MOM!!!!!! I love you!!! I read that talk you gave me from Sister Lant in the conference, and did as you said. I felt inspired to share it with a family that has been investigating for MONTHS. The Mom does not want to get baptized, but the children have gone to church like 25 times, gives talks in sacrament meeting, read daily, and go to seminary. But the Mom will not give them permission to get baptized, because they "Are not ready". But after prayfully reading this talk with my companion, we decided to enlist the help of a Sister in the branch, and we shared the talk with the family. And the Mom gave us permission! After months of asking for it and being denied, she finally decided to hand over the authorization! Wow! I really feel like I was the missionary needed in the conversion of these youth. Now I cannot talk too much, because the baptism is not until the 8th, so the Mom can still withdraw. But we are working hard to encourage her in her decision, and remind her it was the right thing to do. Because like the talk says, the parents have to allow that the children act, or when they leave the house to live, they will not be able to make good decisions, because they do not have the experience.

Well 6 investigators went to church with us yesterday, so we are definitely having some good progress. We do not find so many news, but we teach a bit with members. And the Engligh class I had this Saturday, like 15 people went. And we set an appointment with a lady called Genesis, and she is so awesome and smart and nice. That appointment is tomorrow, SUPER far. We have to ride our bikes like 30 minutes just to get to her house. Or even longer. Because we do not know exactly where she lives.

Well I do not know what else to tell you guys. Well yesterday we had a confirmation, and the lady asked ME to do it! I did not do it, really because I was not prepared. I did not know what to say, because there are certain things that must be said, and I did not know. Because the branch president always does it. I felt bad, but in the end, everyone agreed that really the leader should do it, or someone from the branch. Well we still give blessings to the sick, and it is so awesome, because it´s out of this world, literally! Well I am looking forward to getting an email from you guys this next week, because today I did not get anything. I hope the letter I send home today with my memory card reaches you quickly without problems, or anybody stealing them. Well I love you all! I hope you don`t forget who I am or what I am doing! Because I think about you guys daily!

-Elder Nicholls

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dianna Update - 8/20/10

Random facts about my life - 18 August 2010

So, I told you that I had 2 more stories from last week. The first one happened just before 5 am on a thursday morning. We were awakened by a VERY LOUD beeping. We checked out our smoke detector and our kitchen and stuff, nothing there. Then we checked our carbon monoxide detector. The green light was still flashing saying that all was well, but we were scared because we were positive that was what went off. I don't know if you've heard, but 2 missionaries somewhere in Europe died from CO and 2 other missionaries are brain damaged from it. Because of these instances, every missionary apartment (I'm told, I know at least my whole mission has them now) has a CO detector. The missionaries who are brain damaged had woken up to the alarm, thought the sound was obnoxious, turned it off, and went back to sleep. So this story made us paranoid because CO is odorless. So we decided to be extra safe and called 911 for an extra opinion. They sent someone over, he drove up in his truck, wearing an official looking jacket. He came in, looked at everything, told us that there was nothing that could be emitting CO at the time, assured us we were fine, and he left. In the meantime, a firetruck had shown up. They had their lights on but no sirens, THANK GOODNESS! I think I would have DIED if they turned on their sirens! He just waved them away when he left. That was a scary experience but I'm glad that we decided to be safe rather than sorry.

The second story is that we had an 18 year old girl, Ali, come and be a missionary with us for a day. It was totally her idea, and we loved having her with us. She came at 6:45 am because her mom was going to work and that's the time she could drop her off, so she had studies with us in the morning, went to an appointment with us, she even went knocking for a couple hours with us!!! She said she'd do anything we were doing. We tried to make it an easy day because we figured she wouldn't want to knock all day, so we had 3 appointments, BUT she really got to experience a true day in the life of a missionary, 2 of those appointments cancelled! She was sad to find out that we were going to replace those appointments with more walking and knocking. She got really lucky though because we had a supper appointment with the coolest family in the ward! They had us stay for FHE too (our appointment for a different FHE had cancelled so we figured this was PERFECT) we taught the lesson and then we played some fun games with them. I wish I could be part of their family. Not that I don't like you guys, they just make a perfect substitute while I'm so far away.

We had 2 baptisms 2 sundays in a row! Don't get too excited they were both 8 year olds. The first one, Rebekah, was so sweet. She had stage fright just before she was going to be baptized, so they had the doors closed until she got in the font. The Branch President, who is also Rebekah's grandpa, went back to encourage her. When he came back he said that Rebekah had asked her parents "What's this warm feeling I have right here?" pointing to her chest. That was the sweetest thing ever! The second baptism was the coolest baptism I've ever been too. It was at the ocean! Yes, I got to go to an ocean baptism. What made it even cooler was that it was that family we had FHE with that I'm already in love with. :) We all just sat on the rocks (it's not a sandy beach) and had the program there. The music was played by his, Kimball's, 9 year old sister on her violin and his grandpa on the guitar. It was a very nice ceremony. The water was really cold, but was really worth it they said.

You guys are going to have to look up Canada's version of Extreme Home Makeover next month. I don't know what it's actually called but I hope you can find it online. I found out yesterday that Elders Park, Millar, and Clayton, are on it. They are a trio in Windsor. Elder Park was my district leader when I was in Wolfville. They were walking by when the house that was being renovated and they were looking for volunteers so they asked them to help out. AND they interviewed them while they were wearing their white shirts and ties AND name tags! That is the coolest thing I've ever heard of! I really hope that they air the interviews, but you should keep your eye out for them!

I don't remember if I told you or not, but we have a Native American talking stick. So when we have companionship inventory each week we take turns holding it and sharing any thoughts we have about the companionship. It's not very big or heavy, but when Sis. Ferrell went to pass it to me she decided to spear throw it at me. Being the chicken that I am, I flinched and covered my head, but the stick managed to beam me in the part of the forehead that wasn't covered! I couldn't believe it! And by the look that was on Sis. Ferrell's face, I don't think she could believe it either. It didn't hurt at all but we both were surprised and remembered that Sis. Ferrell had asked Sis. Rowe (she was the psychologist who gave it to us) if we could use it to hit each other when they weren't listening, and she said no. But Sis. Ferrell ended up doing it anyway and I WAS listening. We laughed that off, but things only got better. The next day we were walking by this house that creeps the missionaries out because it has a GIGANTIC white cross in the back yard. I'm not even exaggerating a little bit, it is taller than the house. We, without thinking, always stare at it with a weird expression on our face when we walk by. This particular day though, there was a man outside mowing the lawn. I decided that I was going to be friendly, so I lifted my hand to give him a wave and a smile but he turned right at the same time. Also at the same time, there was a horrid sound that came from the mower and a sharp pain on the side of my neck! A piece of bark had come SHOOTING out of the mower and nailed me right in the neck! Sis. Ferrell saw it and her face was shocked, I'm sure not as shocked as my face was! That hurt! There's no bruise or blood thought, that's good. What makes this story even worse, or better depending on how you look at it, is that he didn't even notice! We just kept walking. I couldn't believe my luck. I'm so grateful though that there hasn't been any more hitting accidents since.

So, I got to really TALK with a JW with week. She was REALLY nice and she "warned" us where all the other JW's live. (She was actually just telling us about different people from church and pointed out where they live, so now we know where the "higher ups" live, so we can either avoid them, or be prepared.) I'm surprised at how much we have in common. I'm glad she turned out to be nice because we were worried when we were greeted with "Is that your Bible? I'll go get mine." That's never a good sign. But we enjoyed a lovely 2 hour conversation with her in which I got to share about the Spirit World. I've never been able to share anything with a JW before, it was great!

Alright, I should go. I love you all!
Sister Nicholls

P.S. We actually had an investigator at sacrament meeting this week! The work IS moving forward here in Nova Scotia!

MOOOOOOO TWOOOOOO - 11 August 2010

6, That is the number of hamburgers that I ate this week. Only once did I have 2 at once (and I was forced to, no joke). That means that on 5 different occasions I was fed hamburgers. WHAT IS WITH THIS?! It's a good thing that I LOVE hamburgers. I think everyone is conspiring against us or something... Also, along with those hamburgers we are served ice cream, but, I'm not going to complain about that. :)

Knocking experience: We had 3 weird houses IN A ROW.
House #1: bees. Like most houses here in Nova Scotia, there is a front door that no one uses and is usually blocked off, in this case there was a flower pot on the front steps, and a side door. We walked over to the side door and noticed that it was surrounded by flower bushes and SWARMING with bees. We thought about it, and decided to try the front door. There was no way that was going to happen. So we trudged back over to the side door, said a prayer in our hearts and knocked on the door. A sweet German man opened the door. We ended up talking to him for 30-45 minutes and he even stepped outside! We were hoping he would invite us in instead, we even pointed out the bees and he just thought it was cool. Our conversation was amazing and no one was stung. I'm feeling so blessed.
Then we head over to house #2. We go to the side door (actually it was the back door) and we ring the door bell. While we're waiting for an answer, we hear this scratching sound coming from the thing that hangs over the door, roof thing (sorry, I can't think of a name for it at the moment.) I don't know how to describe the noise other than it sounded like a GIGANTIC spider crawling across the top. Sis. Ferrell and I looked at each other and walked away as fast as we could without looking back. We usually knock or ring twice, but we didn't at this door.
House #3. They had a long, gravel driveway with weeds growing in it, but that's common so we didn't think much of it. But as we were walking grasshoppers were hopping up EVERYWHERE! It was like a plague. I was hoping a bunch of seagulls would show up and eat them! It was funny and disgusting feeling at the same time. I just couldn't believe my eyes! There were way more grasshoppers than you can even imagine. I don't even know how to make it sound dramatic enough. Luckily, it was worth the trip. The guy at the house was really nice. :)

Random bit of information: Growing up I remember thinking, What would happen if I dialed 765-4321 on the phone? Who knew that if I had the right area code I would reach a member here in Kingston, NS!!!!!! (sadly, they just changed their number and everyone is mourning the loss).

Every monday we have FHE with a single mom (a recent convert) and her 3 young kids. A couple weeks ago we read the story of Samuel the Lamanite out of the Children's Book of Mormon and we had them act it out. It was HILARIOUS! We had Seth, 7, play Samuel. We tied a blanket around him like a cape and he chose a light saber to be his stick. As we narrated he acted it out and stood on a chair as the wall. Then we had Noah, 5, through waded up newspaper at him. I just have to say, Noah has never had so much fun reading a scripture story. The next week, we talked about Joseph Smith getting the plates. Seth is SO smart! He told the entire story, not missing ANY details. Then we had hidden our own scriptures. We had written on an index card "I know the Book of Mormon is true" in that code we used as kids during sacrament meeting. We gave them directions on how to find it and when they found it they couldn't translate it, but then we gave them the code to be able to read it. It was a fun correlation.

Transfers: Transfers are this week and guess what?!?!?!?!? NOTHING IS CHANGING FOR ME!! Woohoo! This is the first time in the history of my mission that I am not involved in transfers! I'm so excited, but I'm also kind of sad because it's over. I can no longer tell people that something for me has changed every 6 weeks. Oh well, I'm over it.

I have 2 more stories but no more time. I guess you'll have to wait. Here's a preview of one: calling 911.

Sister Nicholls

That's right, I whipped out the tights! - 4 August 2010

I can't believe it. It's cold. WHY?!?!?!??!!!!!! For the past 2 weeks I've been wearing a sweater. There have also been a few mornings where I didn't want to get out of my warm bed. I was sleeping with 2 blankets on!!! IT'S JULY!!! (well, I guess NOW it's August, but that doesn't make too big a difference.) I actually wore tights instead of nylons the other day because it was THAT cold. Of course, I'm the freak around here too. I'm the ONLY one who is cold and wearing a sweater. We had zone conference recently and Sis. Simpson commented on the fact that I was wearing a sweater and I told her (and Sis. Ferrell confirmed) that I'm ALWAYS cold. She FINALLY is showing sympathy for me. In the winter everyone complained of the cold and no one believed that I was colder, but now she believes me. I saw her again yesterday and I, again, was wearing a sweater and she just shook her head. My fingers are usually cold and I'm resisting the urge to break out the gloves again. This is getting ridiculous. When we knock on the hotter days people sarcastically ask us if we're enjoying the heat and I honestly answer with a resounding "Yes!" and Sis. Ferrell gives a moan. I don't think very many people actually believe my yes. Oh well, I'm an honest person. ;)

It's about time for more knocking stories. Dogs are the topic this week.

Dog #1: Mandy, an English Sheep dog. She lives in a HUGE yard and is bound only by an invisible fence. The first time we went to this house, she was inside so we only heard her bark. We had talked to the Mother of the house for awhile and she said we could come back. When we came back, Mandy was outside. We decided we would be okay because she was barking but backing away. So we slowly approached the door while she barked (she has a REALLY loud, deep bark). We were almost there when the man of the house, who we had yet to meet, came out and yelled at us to back up and called the dog in. By this time the dog had come right up to us, was baring her teeth and making small lunges at us. I was SCARED TO DEATH. This dog is BIG! The owner yelling wasn't very helpful either. He finally got her to go inside and we were scared he was going to tell us to get off his property. Lucky for us, he came out and was very pleasant and told us that Marilou, the mother, wasn't home and we should come back later. He also was kind enough to tell us where the invisible fence was and that if Mandy was outside that we should wait behind the line and he would come out when he heard the barking. This was comforting to know, but also, it scared us enough that we haven't gone back yet.

Dog(s) #2: I forgot their names, I'll call them Lulu and Bob, English Mastiffs!!!!! Again, another HUGE yard. This time with a steep driveway. We are about halfway up the driveway when we notice Lulu and Lulu notices us. She stands up, we FREEZE. (They must be called Mastiffs for a reason.) We notice she is on a leash and deem it okay to proceed. Lulu starts to bark. By the time we reach the top of the driveway Ross, the owner, comes out to see what all the hubbub is about. He, too, is a big, rather hairy man. Sis. Ferrell has a mini freak out on the inside and doesn't go any closer. I figure, well, we're here, it would be weird to just walk away. So, I say "Hi! How are you?" Introduce myself and ask his name. Turns out, He is the NICEST man on the face of the planet! He calmed down Lulu and went to pet her. We noticed that when he went to pet her, she cowered. It turns out that Ross rescued this 170 pound dog from an abusive owner. After some chit chat we discovered that Lulu is small next to her brother, Bob. Bob came to the glass door, thankfully he stayed inside. He is 200 pounds and his face is almost 3 times the size as mine, no joke. He too was rescued. I can't even describe to you the size of these dogs. I'm just so relieved to have walked away from that house safely.

Mom, I guess I should tell you that my mail has all caught up to me now and I'm back on schedule it seems. I got a letter yesterday and learned that you guys have finally put up a mister on the patio. Woohoo! Also, it sounds like Liam had a lot of fun with those water balloons. I wish I could have seen him! Sis. Ferrell is curious, what's the name of that movie about the teacher with Turrets? And what is Despicable Me about? People ask us all the time about recent movies and it's fun to hear their reactions when we tell them we haven't seen any movies or previews in a LONG time. About Carolyn's arm and the scar tissue. I understand, I think. When I cut my finger back in November, after it healed, it really hurt to bend it. They told me to rub it every once in a while to break up the scar tissue. I guess she just has a bigger version of that. If that's all it is though, she'll be fine eventually.

We met this super cool family last week and have been there a couple times now. They're fascinated with the fact that we're from the states. The mom asked me to send her something from AZ. I told her she'd have to wait awhile and she said that's fine. But then I realized I still had a bit of your toffee left so I brought that over and they ALL FELL IN LOVE!! Carson, the 11 year old boy said that you have to come here and teach them how to make it because it's the best toffee in the world. Chelsey, 19, also agrees. I'm so spoiled to have you as MY mom.

Well, I should go. I love you all too much.

Sister Nicholls

Lack of interesting title... - 28 July 2010

Well, today we hiked Cape Split again but this time it was just 4 of us girls. It was WAY fun and we didn't get lost. Sadly though, my camera died halfway through so I didn't get some pictures, but I did get some really good ones.

I have some REALLY happy and some REALLY sad news... I'll start with the happy. Daylen, an investigator I had in Wolfville is getting baptized on August 21st!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited for him! I've discovered that I'm definitely the missionary that does the sowing. I do a lot of finding and planting seeds and then people come behind me and finish off the job. I did do a bit of reaping in Montague though. That was just a short time though so it's hard to remember to count that. The sad news is that Sam, another investigator I had in Wolfville no longer is getting baptized and her boyfriend is going to have his name removed from the records.... None of us saw this coming and we still don't understand why that's happening. It's so sad.

Yesterday we had exchanges and Sis. Peaden came here to Kingston with me! It was fun to have her back, I missed her. We did a lot of knocking and received 5 potential investigators from it! We're so ecstatic! That rarely happens! It's funny because one of them actually came up to US! and another one we only had 15 minutes so we walked down a street and we only talked to one person, but it was the right person, we have an appointment with him on saturday! Missionary life is so exciting! (sometimes)

So, we had zone conference and my mission president announced that, worldwide, we will only be having zone conferences quarterly, so only 4 times a year! It's not just your mission Andrew. It's sad because this means we won't get mail here either. President said that he'll try to have mail distributed at transfers but he can't make any promises. I really hope that my package makes it to the office before transfers and that I actually get it, otherwise it WILL be snowing before I get it. The next zone conference isn't until NOVEMBER! Also, at zone conferences they sing happy birthday to the missionaries who will have a birthday before the next zone conference, so they ended up singing to me, along with about 10 other missionaries. They sang to Sis. Peaden too, her birthday is in October. It's going to be so different, and weird.

Hodge Podge. Have you ever heard of that? It's a soup/stew thingy. It's made with baby vegetables and potatoes(whole) in a cream sauce of your choice. I've had it twice now and it is REALLY good! You actually eat it on a plate with a fork so it's not really soup like but it looks like a soup and you ladle it out, but when you cut/mash the potatoes on your plate, they soak up the creamy liquid and it's really good.

I'm going to have to keep this email short because our hiking adventures pushed us WAY behind schedule, but I LOVE you all, and I'm glad Becca is now happily married and that there was a mini Swegle family reunion. I hope you all had a chance to enjoy the festivities over all the stress that I'm sure was involved.

Have a good week! Travel safe to Snowbird (that's your next stop right?!).

Sister Nicholls

MOOOOOOO!! - 21 July 2010

Steak anyone? This is the season for BBQing! No one in the Maritimes has AC, so they don't like to turn on the oven, or dryer. So clothes are always on the line (which is really cool actually) and they're always cooking outside. So 3 times this week we were fed steak. It's a good thing I like steak. I'm tired though of cutting so much, it's hard work to eat one of those things. I shouldn't complain though, that stuff's not cheap.

This week I got to pick raspberries! We were visiting this older couple and they were outside picking raspberries in their backyard and they TOLD us to pick and eat some. Let me tell you, they were SO good! I would have stood there eating them all night if I could! It was quite a fun experience. Nova Scotia is fun and lively in the summer, I'm sad that I'm only going to have 1 summer here.

We aren't teaching very much these days because our investigators are gone on vacation a lot. So we've been doing a lot of finding. For 2 weeks in a row we spent 21 hours finding! That's almost 1 entire day out of 7 spent knocking on people's doors! This, sadly, isn't bring the desired results either. I'm getting slightly discouraged because it's almost to the point where I can't even bear my testimony. The hearts and minds of the people here are closed and stuck in the traditions of their fathers. We're doing all we can though to help them learn about the restored gospel. I love finding those people who are willing to listen and even more ecstatic when we find someone willing to make changes!

This past Sunday and Monday were really exciting. Sister McQuivey, a missionary who went home in January, was here visiting with her mom. She served here in Kingston just before she went home and she really loves them and they REALLY love her. It was fun to visit with her, I had known her as well. What was really fun was that she came and taught someone with us on Monday. We are teaching someone who she had taught when she was here so we brought her along and she was SO surprised and happy to see Sis. McQuivey! The lesson went well and Sis. McQuivey told us that Peggy, the investigator, has really progressed so to keep up the good work. That was good to hear because we were debating dropping her because she has been taught for about a year now, but we have found renewed hope in her. :)

Mom, I got your talk. Good job! I like the things you mentioned about Sis. Lant's(?) talk. Also, you made me almost want to cry. You made me sound like a perfect child, which both you and I totally know is NOT true. I'm grateful though to know that you still see the good in me. I guess that's why (or because) you're the mom. Mom's are good at that.

Kristen and Carolyn, thanks so much for writing me! I loved hearing all about what you're up to this summer. I hope you had fun in Knott's Berry Farm. Also, I can't believe that you've shaved your legs! You're not allowed to be that grown up yet! You're still 10 to me, too. Carolyn, do you really think you'll have braces before I get home? That would be cool. I know you guys said something else that I wanted to comment on but I've forgotten, sorry. I just want you to know that I REALLY love when I get to hear from you too. I love you two!

Well, I wish I had a cool story for you this week, but my well is dry. I will tell you this though, we play games with a group of old ladies every other week. They live in a house that someone bought and takes care of them in, and the owner is gay. It's a fun time when we go there. 3-5 (depending on how they're feeling that day) old, hard of hearing women, 2 young Sister missionaries and 1 middle-aged gay man with a lot of energy and spunk. I love my life. :)

Well, until next week, LOVE YOU!

Sister Nicholls

Fun with Sister Ferrell - 14 July 2010

Good morning Family!

So, we haven't been teaching much of anyone these days. Our investigators are all on vacation and we're having trouble finding new investigators. But we're dedicated and we spend every minute we can knocking on doors and walking the streets. This week we spend 4 1/2 hours knocking on this one street. It's a country road so we had a lot of time to walk between doors but they were being especially friendly that morning (we knocked from 10 am to 2:30 pm, we didn't break for lunch because we didn't want to lose the good streak we were having). At one house the man who opened the door told us immediately to come in and we did and met his wife and niece and nephew who were visiting for the summer. We talked for over an hour. The woman had met missionaries recently and had a lot of questions about what the others had shared so we got to answer those and after about 30 minutes the niece, who's 7, went and got a box of string and beads and started working away at something. I eventually asked what she was doing and she said she was making a bracelet for Sis. Ferrell. She made this cute bracelet that said FERRELL on it and beads with butterflies and hearts. When she finished and had tied it on her wrist and everything she wanted to make me one too, but there wasn't enough string and not enough letters. She contemplated just spelling my name NICHQLS but we convinced her to just make a key chain that said SISTER. So, we're sporting the latest Taylor creations and are proud of it. She's so cute. We left the woman, Karen, with a pamphlet about the restoration and Taylor goes and takes it and starts reading it! We're so excited to go back and share more with them! We're thinking of something to give to Taylor, if you have any ideas, please share.

That same "morning", we met this older couple that welcomed us right in as well and at first they weren't willing to talk about religion, they just wanted us out of the heat, but when they told us what church they went to, we recognized it as one that a member of our church's husband goes to. We told them that relation and they, for some reason, were more willing to talk about the gospel. I guess when people notice how UN-close minded we are they are more willing to talk. I bet a lot of the reason why people avoid talking religion with us is because they think we're going to shoot them down and tell them their wrong, which isn't how we work. That's the way another religion goes about it, but not us. That's not Christ-like.

We had the opportunity to help out with a Branch service project this week. We painted the exterior of a members house. We, amazingly, were able to do the entire house, including scraping, in 4 1/2 hours! (We only stayed for 3 of the hours) The members of this Branch are amazing! They are SO dedicated in serving one another, it's not even funny. It's their life.

While knocking one day last week we had gotten really far from our car and when were walking up to our last house before we headed back and it started to sprinkle (we had our umbrellas so we were prepared) but as we were talking to the uninterested lady at the door it started to POUR! She had us step inside to wait and see if it would lighten up. Maritimers are SO nice. This woman, totally uninterested in our message still saw us as human beings who needed someone to look out for them. After a few minutes of small talk and even heavier rain, she offered to give us a lift back to our car. We accepted and this woman ran out to her van, took our the stroller in the back so she could put up the back seat, waved us to come, and she drove us. She got soaking wet just to help us out. We are eternally grateful for her kindness. We feel so blessed to have met her at the exact moment we needed her. She has earned extra brownie points for the next life. :)

I was reading the June Ensign the other day and guess what! I know someone in it! She was in my cast team at Pageant! She opened her mission call on the Hill Cumorah too. She, her mom, and her grandma are on page 39 (or somewhere there). That was a funny experience to see. :)

Andrew, I'm in my 4th house. My mission has transfers every 6 weeks, so every 6 weeks there is a chance you or your companion might change. And so far, EVERY transfer, me or my companion has changed! Transfer 1-Halifax with Sis. Moss, 2-Halifax with Sis. Olsen AND Sis Moss, 3-Halifax with Sis. Olsen, 4-Montague with Sis. Ferrell, 5-Wolfville with Sis. Hamblin, 6-Wolfville with Sis. Hamblin AND Sis. Peaden, 7-Kingston with Sis. Ferrell (again). I'm half way done with my mission and haven't had 2 transfers that were the same. I'm hoping that it will happen sometime soon. We also have Zone conference every transfer, so that must be about 9 times a year, same as you.

Well family, I still haven't heard from you, but I did hear that I got a letter and a package in Wolfville, I probably won't get that until the 23rd or so. I know you still care, and guess what?! I still care too! I love you all lots! Have a good week!

LOVE Sister Nicholls