[Once again you are only getting one half of a two way correspondence. Sorry, folks!]
I don't have too much time, since it's not a real P-day. Forgive me if I don't get the chance to send a general email, it may have to come on Wednesday.
There were a few things that popped into mind when I got your last email, as well as a few things that I've been wanting to tell you specifically over the last week.
First, Green Eggs and Ham. [This was a modified version of the Seuss classic that I gave Stewart for Christms.] I can't even begin to explain how wonderful a teaching tool that is out here, especially with families (the kids just adore a message that starts with story time and pictures). Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you. You've given me something that I will use for the rest of my mission.
Second, transfers. We actually haven't gotten transfer calls yet, so I have no idea what's happening. If I were to give it a guess, I would say that I'm staying here and Elder Ganta is moving out. That will be sad, we'll find out today. If there is one thing that I've learned with Elder Ganta, it would be to love your companion no matter what. Time is so short out here, and you get to spend it with people who you may not have the chance to see again. If you share love with your companion, the Lord blesses you with power in all that you do. We do have word that we'll be moving house in March, so if I make until then, we'll get to do some flat searching and get out of this dump that I love to call home :)
Third, Temple matters. There are so many insights I wish I had time to share with you on my experiences in and study of the temple. But, that may have to be a matter for after my mission. And after I have access to a little more liberal library :)
Well, I don't have enough time to get the blog email out, but I'll make sure that it gets done on Wednesday. I love you, talk to you later.
February 5, 2014
Happy Chinese New Year!
You will not believe what happened this week...
First of all, Elder Ganta is gone :( I'll miss him dearly, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for all that He has taught me through that wonderful Elder. He's off to London, in Catford :) We nearly died of excitement.
Now, as for my new companion, it's an old friend... I was told that his name is Elder Wright, and since that was the name of my trainer [his first missionary companion outside of the MTC], I figured it was the other Elder Wright in the mission. It wasn't. I'll be killing off my trainer in Witney! [This means that he will be Elder Wright's companion when it is time for Elder Wright to go home]. I guess the training comes around, since I'm senior companion here and leading the area now. It should be a quick pick-up since we already know each other :) It's really quite weird and totally uncommon for that to happen, so I'll take a week to process that it actually did happen, then talk more about it.
Anyways, lot's of travel today, so sorry I can't give you a proper post, I just haven't had enough time. I'll talk about a few things then give you an actual update on Monday :)
Chinese New Year's screwed up our meeting with V :) *sigh* Well, we're meeting with him this week instead (with a member from Hong Kong), and hopefully extending a baptismal date. We are doing everything we can to bridge the gap between this man's background and the fact that there is a God who loves us. I'm so excited.
We had a Burns night last Friday as a ward activity! [For those unfamiliar with our Scottish heritage a Burns Supper is a Scottish celebration of the poet, Robert Burns. It includes a supper of haggis, poetic recitation, and usually some dancing to bagpipes, etc.] It was a riot, with our ward mission leader leading the whole thing as our resident Scot. Unfortunately, no piper. Only an Ipod. At least the Ipod was mentioned on the program :)
I finally learned how to make yorkshire pudding. There were some seriously specific instructions in order to get it right :) Otherwise, you end up with a lot of small, hard pancakes, ha. I'll tell you sometime, Mom. I told brother Sutton that giving me his recipe was a gift that would literally feed me forever. He definitely taught a man to fish that day.
We met someone named J this week, who we'll be meeting with tomorrow. We had actually found her about two months ago, but she was off to vacation when we met. We followed up when she said she would arrive home, and, once again, we got that suprized "you actually came back" look :) It's my favourite look in the world. Turns out, she's really interested and dying for something to read about the church. I know just what book to give her tomorrow.
With the experiences of the last couple of weeks, I've definitely learned a lesson of obedience and persistence. Just keep moving forward and don't let anyone slip through the cracks. Never forget someone or lose faith in them before you allow the Spirit to give them a chance. Because it's always their choice in the end; we're literally here to give them the chance to make it :) So, to all you missionaries out there, never pass up the opportunity to give someone a choice.
I love you all, and am so grateful for your support, letters, emails, and just for reading a boring missionary blog all the time :) I'll give you a better and more full update on stuff we've been up to and our investigators next week.
February 10, 2014
This email is going to be a hash of stuff, because I don't have enough time to send a normal email...again...sorry.
Let me answer your questions:
First, "leading the area" means that I am senior companion. It's not really an actual leadership calling, and normally it's just the missionary who's been out on his mission the longest, but in this case I'm senior companion because I know the area and have worked it for the last four months. I love, love, love this area. We've built so much from so little, and the ward is wonderful. I'll talk about that later...
Second, I have not got my package [see photos below]. Ha, you have to realize I'm quite a ways away from the mission office now :) I won't get it until the 21st, which is the next Zone Conference.
Third, transfer calls. We got our transfers while we were in Brother Sutton's car (we were on the way to a service project with him). He said it really took him back to mission life :) Anyways, I was told I would be serving with Elder Wright, but the Zone Leaders didn't understand which of the two Elder Wright's it was. We assumed I would be follow-up training the Canadian one. That didn't happen! Must be more the Lord needs us to learn from one another.
Fourth, Olympics. Oh my goodness, I didn't even know that the Olympics were happening! There's both rugby and cricket cups happening over here, so that's what everyone is focused on. Sounds like fun, I'd love to see the ceremonies.
Fifth, investigators :) Our teaching pool is exploding. Let me explain quickly:
I - He's literally receiving answers like crazy. Some of the experiences we've had in his home have just been ridiculous. He'll ask questions and get them answered in the next second by an apostle in a video or talk. We'll discuss something he's been having trouble with, and it will be the message we prepared. But, he's still unwilling to accept those instances as from God. What are obviously divine answers when viewed by us can be a lot harder to see by someone who is still struggling to believe in God. He keeps commitments, though, and comes to church (that's why he receives answers). Now we're working on how the Spirit functions, and knowing what/who it works through.
V - We had a miracle teach with V. He's from Taiwan, is married, and has one boy. We brought a member from Hong Kong on a teach with us and it was the best thing we ever received inspiration to do (you have no idea how many things we moved and canceled to get that member there). Amazing teach, with a perfect background and testimony from the member's side. V will be coming to church this week.
T - I'll tell you about her when we meet with her more. She's a loving, Christian lady who just let us in one day. We're having our second appointment this week.
J - I've never seen an English person in England so excited when we came to her door. She's about 60 years old and took anything we had on us that she could read before she went on a 2 month vacation. She just arrived home and now we're meeting with her again. It's going to be awesome, I can feel it.
We're pouring a lot of faith into these people. I love each of them sooo much. That's something I've really been praying for lately. Anyways, moving on. A quick miracle. We were following up on people in our area book one night, and ended up getting a sweet return appointment with a man named R. We realized it was a miracle when we returned home, looked at the area book and saw we had knocked the wrong street, but the same number. The people living at the residences both had the same name :) Puts a little more meaning when two missionaries come to your door, address you by name, say they have an important message to share, and you've never met them before :)
Lastly, the area...oh the area. I was told yesterday that it will be closing and we will be moving to Reading. The following is the letter that I wrote to the Mission President (this will give you an idea of how great our week went as well :)
"The area...I cannot believe that the area is closing. That is a real disappointment to me. I can't even express my love for this ward and the people we are working with in the area. Taking away the Elders in this ward is going to be rough for them, I think. Elder Ganta, DeBry, and I worked together to build this area from almost nothing, and we were able to bring a wonderful and solid person into the ward; their first baptism since the ward came into existence... And now seems to be the time of harvest for Elder Wright and I. The relationship we have with the members is phenomenal, and we've been slowly and steadily increasing our member present possibilities and especially our teaching pool, which over this last week has grown from 1 progressing investigator to 3 progressing and 7 separate set appointments with other investigators. I am really sad that this transfer will be the last, and quite worried about how our investigators are going to be looked after. It's not affecting me to the point that I don't want to work anymore (quite the opposite, actually), but it does make me sad... I don't want to leave this area without bringing a new family into this ward. All of our plans have become centered on getting those who are progressing connected with the ward ... we just thought we would have more time to find and build for the future."
After sending this letter I got a funny call from the Mission President. I think he's trying to teach me something about leadership. Actually, I think that he is always trying to teach me something :) He told me that the closing of the area wasn't official, and was based on location and flat problems (understandable, really). Then came the crazy part. He told me to inform the Bishop, Ward Mission Leader, and any other auxiliaries I thought appropriate and hold a council on how we would handle the situation.
A million thoughts entered my head about what to do, and as time has gone by, they've gone through the process of disappearing and reappearing, ha. I don't know what to do. I guess I'll be doing some praying in preparation for tomorrow's correlation. Let you know how it goes next week...
Alright, that's all the time that I have. There's so much to do right now, I apologize for making you do all the hard editing work of making sense of the mash I send home :) Let me know if you have any thoughts. I know that I didn't really ask questions or seek for specific council, but I'm sure you have some. It was nice to write it all down, it was a really insane week.
I love you, so much,