Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hey Family

Hey how are you doing! Thanks for all the e-mail. Its weird that you got my release papers already... although I don't know what time they usually come. Although come to think about it I think my trainer's parents got his when I was with him which was at about the same time in his mission so I guess its normal. Everything is going well up here we are beginning to plan for next transfer's zone conferences and meetings so we are getting really well prepared for that. I'm going on travels for the next few days. Here I want to tell the story of an amazing lady that we taught the other day when I was with a companionship on travels. Its was in probably the most downtown area of the city, which includes union station (where they filmed parts of the first x-men movie) the CN Tower and the most major down town parts of the city. We met a lady at church who a week before had just come to ESL class (which the missionaries teach at the church) and asked to be baptized. They taught her the first lesson right there and committed her for baptism which she accepted. They couldn't meet until a week later which happened to be on the day that I was coming with them. This lady, Gulzar (pronounced gool-zar), was so amazing she is from Iraq and came to Canada on an educational visa but she did it really to get away from the country and would rather stay in Canada permanently. On this lesson the missionaries had planned to watch Finding Faith in Christ because she was Islamic and new few details about Christ. After watching it we asked her how she felt and she told us that she was so happy about her decision to be baptized. We then asked her about her immigration status. She told us that her visa only kept her in Canada until October. When we asked her about teaching her family more, because they had all come to church the week before. She said that her Husband was scared because of the retaliation of her family when they would be going back to Iraq in October. If anyone in her family in that culture converts to Christianity they literally cut their head off, it is the established punishment. She said however that it was her life and that she knew she wanted to be baptized into the church and did not care about the consequences. It turns out she had already told her family back home about her decision but she was so faithful and desirous of being baptized that she was willing to face whatever circumstances in order to receive the gospel (not yet knowing the church policy not to baptize people from arab countries who would be returning - because of the fact that that they will be killed). Since that time they continued to teach Gulzar and right now she believes that she has found a way to stay in Canada as a refugee although her husband may have return home to Iraq. She said that it would be another great sacrifice because they had worked hard to build a life in Iraq. She earned a degree in English language and linguistics as a native Arabic speaker in an Iraqi university and she has a very good Job. Her husband owns a business there and they have a large house with a comfortable lifestyle. However she said that she is willing to give it up and live in one of the worst parts of Toronto working as a very recent immigrant just to stay alive possibly separated from her family for long periods of time in order to receive the gospel. She even asked the missionaries if she could be baptized sooner, her date was for about a month after the day that she walked into ESL class. Now they are working on bringing the Farsi members (Iranians) to fellowship the family in hopes that the husband will also decide to stay in Canada so that he can also receive the Gospel. Gulzar will probably be the first Iraqi person baptized in this mission and possibly in Canada or even farther reaching because they would most likely come to Toronto first. Teaching her was one of the most spiritual experiences of my mission because the sacrifices that she was willing to make for the gospel were so drastic. It really made me think a lot about how important the gospel is to each individual.

Well that is pretty much all that is going on here in Toronto with me... I enjoyed hearing all the good news from Everybody except for that little bit about the release papers... anyway I'll talk to you soon.

Love Elder Josh Olson

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