DISCLAIMER: Wow, we ended up sitting at the office most of today, so I just kept periodically writing things in here, and it ended up being a huge email. We're working on a ton of projects for the Christmas season in the mission, especially with the new Christmas Initiative "Share the Gift," which I'm pretty sure I talk about later on. You can pop whatever you want from this onto the blog.
Let me respond to your last email, there were a few things I read through that I remember you asked about:
Papa's gift - Yes, I just got that the other day, and no, I haven't opened it yet :)
MOTRAV - It's finished :) It was one of the most creative and fun finding ideas we've been able to follow through with in our Zone. I was so happy with how it turned out. Funny story, actually; the other day, I found out that every fireside ever done in the Visitors' Centre is recorded and archived, so remind me next week and I'll try and get a hold of the ones that I've sung in.
As for the picture, are you talking about the one of us in glasses? Ha, that turned out pretty good, didn't it? :) One of my favourites of the VC. Those are all of the Sisters in the VC, who also make up a large portion of the MOTRAV group. They are also a part of the Zone that Elder Blair and I lead.
Travel - Wow, I don't remember you telling me that. That sounds like it's going to be insane. Ha, I was just thinking about driving in the states the other day. It's going to be a scary event. Whenever I imagine the Accord, I can only see it with the wheel on the right side of the car...
BYU - Ok, just keep me updated. I still don't really know what to do when it comes to classes; we need to counsel a bit on that one. Actually, it would be wonderful to speak with an adviser on the subject, but I don't know how that will fly with President. Maybe send me a message that is separate from our normal conversations next week and we'll start a brainstorm on the topic.
Christmas - There isn't really anything else that I need. And I'm really bad of thinking of things that I want. If there's one thing that the mission has taught me, specifically from serving with certain companions, it's that material things don't matter much. We travel "without script or purse" and are sustained by the Lord. All you need is yourself and a companion, and Christmas will be the best ever :)
Jump Drive - Yeah, I still haven't gotten around to sending that. I'll do that right now.....................................ok, I just franked it, so it'll be on it's way in a day or so.
Andrew - Hey, let me know what the website is so I can take a look at it :)
Let me highlight a few things from the most insane moves week I've ever been a part of during my time at the office :)
Roger - Roger is an investigator we've been working with for a while now. Because he's so busy, we're only able to see him every two weeks or so. But, this last teach with him was soooooo good. It really was inspired, in quite a few ways. First of all, the member that we ended up bringing really hit it off with Roger. Secondly, Roger explained to us after we talked that he "felt like a fog of misunderstanding has been lifted from my eyes. It all seems so simple, just as it should be from a perfect God." Truly he is an amazing man. We're praying for more time with him, and that he comes to church.
Chinese Fire Drills - We were coming home from a service project (another shed to add to my collection of things built on the mission) and needed to be in proselyting clothing for a teach about 20 minutes down the road. Well, we had about 20 minutes to get there, so we changed in the car. I won't give all the details, but it was quite the event if I do say so myself. We made it on time and looking good :)
Chris - We're teaching many, many people named Chris right now, so we've begun to differentiate them with labels, as in days of yore. This Chris is Chris the Christian, because he's the only Chris who was Christian when we met him :) Anyways, he's working hard to help his family situation work out. His mother is not really for the Church, and is giving Chris quite the hard time about it. Chris is a quite the champion, though, he'll make it through. He had to drop his baptismal date for now, until his family situation settles down a bit.
Road Trip! - This moves we had to drive all the way to Teignmouth, down in Plymouth stake. Be-a-utiful countryside, we even went through Weymouth on the way. I love boats-on-the-water-type cities. About a 14 hour round trip, with a 6 hour meeting in the middle of it for new missionary training. Exciting stuff, we stayed in a small town called Yovell on our way home to break it up.
Insights on Missionaries - We work with and talk to missionaries throughout the mission on a very regular basis, so we get to know the missionaries pretty well :) Add that to meeting and introducing new missionaries into the mission, and I've been given a lesson to learn: never judge a book by it's cover, especially books that are still being written. Every missionary truly has something wonderful to offer. In some, their talents are still latent, and they haven't found themselves yet; yet, the Lord still has a work for them, which will lead them to those abilities He has blessed them with.
I experienced an interesting circumstance, in that I served in a district with the VC sisters at the beginning of their missions, and then served with the same sisters at the end of their missions. When I came back, they were different people :) Not that their personalities had changed, or that they were unrecognizable, but instead that their grasp on Christlike attributes had increased. They had become reliable, skillful, competent, and trustworthy. They were more loving and patient. They were missionaries that you wanted on your side not only as teammates, but as friends. I find the best way to learn about Christ is by watching people, including yourself, grow their talents and become like Him.
Rony and Gary - An amazing miracle happened on exchange the other day, as always. We met two men right out of the 60's; they were the well dressed mobster type :) In one of the most amazing street teaches I've ever been a part of, these two brothers, as it turns out they were, had a change of heart and accepted baptismal dates. We're now teaching them and hopefully will get to see it through to the beginning (not the end :: 2 Nephi 31). I'm so excited for them :)
My Arm - So, funny story, as we were loading all of the mission's post into the back of our van (that in and of itself could be a story. Handling 270 missionaries' post during Christmas is no simple task. We may rename Big Ben, The Sleigh for a while), my arm got caught in the boot closing. President took a look at it and told me it's not broken, which is good :) Just an injury to one of my upper arm muscles, which, in the words of President Millar, will "just hurt a lot until it gets better." My scarf just became more useful than ever as a sling.
Early Christmas - Ha, the funniest thing happens in England. It's an interesting phenomenon that only occurs because of the distinct lack of a holiday. No Thanksgiving means the Christmas season starts absurdly early. We were in central London about a month ago, early October, and it was decked out for Christmas. The tunes started playing about a week ago. No wonder people get tired of and angsty about the season, ha :)
New and Old Missionaries - It literally broke my heart to see the missionaries of our Zone leave for home. Seriously, I think one of the reasons the Lord has put me here is to get over my over-sentimentality, ha. They are seriously some of my best friends. Sister Walmsley put on her final concert, which consisted of all the music she had composed over her mission, and it was good. Really good. Sister Stewart and Watt headed for home in the states on Wednesday, and Sister Walmsley is off to tour around with her family before flying back to New Zealand.
It's a nice balance to pick up the new missionaries as well as take the dying missionaries through their departure process. The new missionaries have this wonderful breath of new life about them; they're so excited, which is more uplifting to be around than you would think. The old missionaries are experienced and sometimes jaded, but they're also incredibly refined and Christ-like. It's weird to think that I'm in the older generation these days :)
He is the Gift - The new Church initiative is incredible! I love, love, love the way that Church media is inspired. Check out christmas.mormon.org for more info on it. We got the inside scoop the other day in Mission Leadership Conference, it's going to be quite amazing. I'll talk to you more about it when it actually goes public, but in the mean time, if you want a sneak peak, check out this website instead ;) mormon.org.uk/christmas (I told you Christmas started early in England :) ).
Elder Quentin L. Cook - He'll be coming to speak to the mission tomorrow :) Should be exciting, plus we get to go to the really nice Hyde Park Chapel and Visitors' Centre up in London. We just finished the travel plans to get the mission up there, it's going to be really good.
Well, that turned into an essay quick. This P-day has been quite relaxed comparatively to our week, so I had a bit more time. Ha, this thing is huge.
I love you, and we'll get to talk pretty soon here :)
Love, Elder Foster