Just wanted to reply to you, because you had a few questions and I just wanted to talk :)
Ok, first of all, congratulations on the job. That is so awesome, and really sounds like something you would enjoy. I hope you are still loving it, and that it keeps you busy.
As for the news about Ben, that is really sad to hear. I remember him from that trip, that was a long time ago. Ever since I've been out on my mission, death has become something that I really don't fear as much as I used to. Something about having a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation gives you a peace about it that is unattainable elsewhere. I trust that God will sort it all out.
I have also recently been reminded of how hard Satan can work at us. To make us feel worthless (which is a complete and total lie) and to put obstacles and obstructions in our path. I have had multiple investigators who, as soon as they begin to hear about or consider the church, just get railed on by Satan. It almost seems unfair, even though I know it's not. Loved ones die. Crises happen. In fact, the first time we taught FongLee, the next day he planned a trip to China to go to his father's funeral. Another recent convert here in Crawley who we are teaching the follow-up lessons met the missionaries then attended the funerals of three of her closest friends and that of her mother. Then she lost her job. Life is crazy like that, sometimes. When you come through on the other side, you recognize the hand of God in it all, but it is really tough in the midst of things. You have to trust God, and lay your mistakes and hardships before Christ.
I've found that for myself out here. It's really tough sometimes, and you're really stressed, and you don't feel well, and you've just dropped an investigator, and then you talk to the next person on the street anyways. And you know what they say? "Sorry, I don't have time." And then I'm all like, "For what?! Salvation? Do you have any idea what it took for me to muster the energy and Spirit to raise my voice and even stop you on the street!? For heavens sake, just listen with your heart for two seconds!" Yeah, that's the commentary that goes on behind the Christ-like smile and "Have a Good Day", in case you were wondering.
The only thing that upholds me is the Spirit and my companion. I feel like King Benjamin, who was so old and frail that it was the Spirit keeping him alive so he could speak with the people. All in all I take it pretty well. Better than most, actually. I have a really good companion when it comes to that. Elder Wright has a wise answer to most concerns (you have that when you can recite any scripture in the Bible). Also, praying and using P-day wisely allows me to recharge and ready myself for the next day/week. Reading the scriptures is essential. I put myself in every possible positive situation, and keep smiling. Sometimes Elder Wright and I just throw our hands in the air and go crazy for a minute. Because you can't be fully sane and be a missionary :)
Being able to use the Atonement and call myself to improvement has really helped. I never want someone's salvation to come against me when I am judged because I did something stupid or walked by them on the street. I've found that always striving for more gives me confidence.
Last week was just crazy. We had loads of people flog us (flog means to have an appointment and then miss it, even after an hours notice call). We knocked a lot, and that is always discouraging because you know there are more effective uses of your time, and there's always the chance of knocking on the door of someone who keeps us there for an hour and tries to destroy our testimonies and doctrine. We had that happen twice last week. Every time it happens it puts Elder Wright on edge and I always think about what we could have/should have said and generally over-analyze the situation. Not good. We've made it a goal to say a prayer after each door that happens at.
When I got on to email to begin the week, crazy stuff was happening as well. Mainly, it was just a tough week. It's like that sometimes. We need to be humbled and feel the most insignificant portion of what Christ did so we can be raised up in the next week :)
With regards to your study on Bednar's talk, you should take a look at the three Mormon Messages on it, called "Patterns of Light." They are really good. I think they are all from that talk you were listening to. My goodness, my study is so effective now, and yes, I definitely find the answers to the day's questions in the morning's study. It's really weird how that happens. I'm going through the Book of Mormon right now, with a focus on understanding the plot and connecting chapters to the Preach My Gospel lessons. My goal in the Book of Mormon is to memorize what each chapter is about. As I do so, I find strength in knowing that each thing I say is backed up in the book I preach about to people. When it comes to specific study for this week, I have been reading up on a bit of Church history and focusing on Joseph Smith. Recently our investigators have been exposed to quite a bit of Anti-Mormon material, so we're trying to get a good grasp on what the misunderstandings are and focusing on how prayer and the Holy Ghost are the only paths to truth.
Ok, now for the fun stuff :) The area work is booming. A much better week this week. And guess what! FongLee and his family accepted a baptismal date! I'm so excited! We need to teach him bunches more, but he is sooo nice and I love his family and they are so going to get baptized. The other Elders are seeing really great success as well, the area work is just going crazy this week. Tons of investigators at church (like 3) and a few baptismal dates as well :)
Meanwhile, my accent has finally moved to the midlands, where I would like it to stay.
A sister in my district wrote the best song ever, and has an amazing voice, which I will attempt to attach for you. It's becoming quite the mission hit :) Remix of Taylor Swift. [Note from Meredith: to hear this song copy this url to your search engine https://soundcloud.com/meredith-philips-foster/find-teach-baptise or link to it from my Facebook page].
I rearranged one of our recent convert's living room. Turns out I'm an interior designer.
We'll be traveling all around the mission pretty soon to do our YSA firesides on digital missionary work. I'm pretty excited :)
When we have to go home because it's too late, we always say to the kids "we have to go, or we'll turn into pumpkins!" We've had quite a range of reactions from that one. The kids in our ward just adore missionaries. I love going to families' homes for dinner. I got this very accurate drawing of me from a four year old. Imagine stick figure with lots of curls and giant ears ;) Oh, and I had a tie. My body was a triangle. Maybe I'm in better shape than I think :)
Oh Mom, the gospel means everything to me. I love it out here, there is so much good to be done, and so much to learn as well. It's incredible.
By the way, I just wanted to let you know one of my favorite memories of you. Whenever I would freak out at night (I have no idea why I remember this, it had to have been forever ago), you would sing "A Child's Prayer" to me. That is literally my favorite primary song, because of you singing it each night. I love you, Mom. You have made me who I am. I'm so grateful for your love and input, even when I seemingly didn't listen.
Alright, I really have to go. Hope that sufficed, it's been a great week.