I have learned a ridiculous amount this week. So many things have happened, and I don't have enough time to get them all down. Hopefully we can get through the list of things I recorded in my planner :) It's gonna be a long one. For you missionaries that I know don't have too much time, feel free to skip to the end to read about my experiences this week. But, if you do have time, read the sermon that comes before :) It's pretty missionary applicable.
First, things that I learned. We had some wonderful conferences this week, including a Stake Conference dedicated wholly to member missionary work and the Work of Salvation. It was a dream come true for missionaries :) That, some really good personal study, and a district meeting resulted in the following list of thoughts:
Goals into steps - Taking goals one step at a time allows us to actually achieve things. We set monthly goals for baptism as missionaries, however, baptism is something that is the end result of soooo many steps. So, instead of setting a huge goal and just expecting it to happen, we focus on smaller goals each week, such as church attendance and Book of Mormon reading. Things we know we can help others accomplish, but are also on the road to larger achievements.
Perspective - Remember Alice in Wonderland? The Cheshire cat? Well, he said something wise: "It doesn't matter which road you take unless you know where you are going." The daily toil is aimless without a destination. I've found myself doing missionary work that is aimless. Always know where you are going, and the steps you take will become meaningful.
Shortcuts to bypass fear - Ha, this one is my favourite. We all try to take shortcuts to avoid our fears. A common fear in missionary work, which I definitely share, is finding. Yet, as we try to skirt around this fear, it continually compounds into something that we eventually have to face. If you don't find, your investigator pool lessens and lessens to the point that you have to spend every minute of your day finding :) So, face your fears upfront, and I promise you will be blessed and upheld in doing so.
Obedience, an insight into the laws of heaven - There are few passages of scripture that address the laws by which the heavens operate. One of those, however, is found in the Doctrine and Covenants (130:20-21). It speaks of the law of obedience, and that for each act of obedience, God is bound to bless us. He is bound. It is not a "maybe" promise, the blessings of obedience to the commandments of God are guaranteed. This is something that is always constant, and I'm so grateful for that, because I can always know how to receive divine help, or grace: through obedience.
Language of prayer - Talmage, in his wonderful book Jesus the Christ, explains that prayer is made up of "heart throbs" and a language that is not necessarily bound by words. I can attest to that as I have knelt down at night and just let my heart pour out the feelings and burdens of the day. Remember that your Heavenly Father already knows what's in your heart and mind; prayer is us showing our willingness to ask and receive. And you will receive :)
One thing that I can truly say about missionary work is that your mind is expanded and your vision enlarged. Anyone who has been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost by someone holding the proper authority has the privilege of having a personal tutor as a constant companion. And this ain't your high school intellectual either. The Spirit has access to all of the knowledge and experience of God. Being edified by the Spirit is literally the best way, and only way, to "know all things" (Moroni 10).
As for this week's experiences, there are quite a few I've been putting off that were definitely worth recording. Often times I find that I'm waiting for some big event to teach me. When you do that, you start to miss all of the little, wonderful miracles that are answers to your prayers. Mainly, this weeks miracles were in learning and being uplifted as a missionary. So, on that note, I've dedicated this section to some fun stuff and culture :)
A proper fox hunt - That's right, with horses and everything :) Look up the green eggs and ham movie and you'll know what I mean. An entire team, on horseback, and with dogs crossed the road into the field to find the fox. Crazy fact (for those of you who are fox and the hound lovers, I would suggest skipping this next section): having the dog kill the fox is officially illegal in England. So is owning a firearm, practically. Therefore, hunting the fox is a little more difficult. The team leader carries the only pistol in the group, and the dogs sniff and chase out the fox. Then, the riders surround and pin the fox, and the team leader shoots it. The American in me says something to the effect of "too complicated"...there are easier ways.
On your bus driver's team - Let me give you a small discourse on proper English bus etiquette. In England, if you take a bus, the moment you step onto the bus, you immediately become a part of that bus driver's team. Therefore, no matter the contentions within the bus, nor the drunkenness of the upper floor after 7pm, you all consent that the decisions the driver makes on the road are correct decisions. In effect, this means that if the driver honks at someone or almost hits a car, the other car is immediately at fault and the next two minutes of conversation must be dedicated to speaking about the "crazy bloke" behind the wheel of the other car. It is unspoken law :)
Mrs. Bus Driver - Speaking of bus drivers, there is a specific Witney bus driver who absolutely loves us. She honks her horn when she see's us, flashes her brights and let's us cross the road, and always has a smile on when we get on the bus. We've only been on her bus a few times, if we're lucky enough to catch her on shift, but when we do we have a right good time. Last time we spoke about what we are doing in England and were able to give her a pass-along-card. Now we're on the hunt for an appointment, we just need to pray for the right bus :)
Downton Abbey - Ha, good times. For all you Downton Abbey fans out there, I have been tracting around what I just found out is the main filming sight for most of the series. Practically the whole town is ancient, and it gets blocked off every once and a while when the filming crew comes in.
Postman Pat - Lastly, I saw the intro to postman pat the other day, and all of the comments of the similarity I bear to him were confirmed as truth...*sigh* (Seriously, look up a picture of this guy, and make the nose a bit smaller). Well, I guess I'm destined to a life of Royal Mail service :)
Well, all I can say to finish all of that off is that missionary work is wonderful. I remember promising that I would say what I most loved about missionary work a few weeks back, so I'll close on that:
It's being able to speak about the Savior. I am not a masterful speaker. I'm much better at thinking and writing (if you've ever met me, you know I don't speak like I write) :) However, there is one thing that I can speak about, and teach masterfully, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I make Him a part of my every day, and as I speak about His ministry and love, I am made mighty in speaking through a power beyond my own. That is what I love most about missionary work: testifying from my heart of things I know to be true, and seeing the power of those words affect others.
I love you all, and leave you with this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.