Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cold legs. Warm heart.

The temperature has really dropped here in Lancaster and it feels a lot colder than it is because of the humidity! I've been layering three pairs of tights : S and it's supposed to get colder! Luckily we have really nice radiators in our flat that I can cuddle up to during meals. To answer your question, our flat is pretty nice. It's small and the carpet is really old and nasty but we have the nicest coach in the mission and a great kitchen : ) I feel blessed. I can take some photos and send them on to you next week.

My district is great. Remember that sweet Portugese sister we met on temple square whose brother had just been camping on his mission here? Haha well Elder Dantas is now my district leader! He is so full of faith and we think it's pretty fun that we have that crazy connection with his sister. I am in a district with the Elders serving in Preston (which includes the Zone Leaders), Blackpool and South Ribble. So, basically the most church history in England is in the boundaries of my district. Pretty cool. I am so grateful for the hard work the Elders in our district display. They really are a great example to me in word and deed, and to be honest, I don't feel like they are younger than me! I thought I was going to hate all the little Elders who would be so immature, but so far I've been very impressed. They are obedient, they work hard and they are very profession and kind to the Sisters. President Bullock lectures them frequently ... This is a great mission to be a sister ; )

Sister Anderson wrote this experience to her family and I copied it for you:

So the MTC missionaries come out and tract different areas in England as a way to have them introduced to missionary work (remember when I did it last September?), anyway, they came to our area and did some tracting. Well, they gave us like 35 referrals that we've been having to sift through, which has been a lot of fun. Mostly because a lot of people lie, and MTC missionaries believe everything that people tell them. So we've been able to have some really great awkward moments with people trying to pretend that it was their friend that the missionaries met and not them. haha. So, we stopped by this one house to see a university student named Joe that the elders had left a Book of Mormon with. His roommate Miles came to the door and said that Joe was out, so we left our card with him to contact us. As we were walking away, Sister Davis said, "how funny would it have been if the whole time we were there talking, Joe was hiding in the front room telling Miles to tell us that he was away?" then I responded with, "for all we know, Miles IS Joe."

It was classic! Sister Anderson and I had a hard week but we really laughed through it all. I love being a missionary and knowing that this work is the best thing I could ever be doing, even on weeks when people don't listen.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fishers of men...

So, wow, what a week! We are truly seeing miracles here in Lancaster. We feel so blessed. I want to tell you a story. The bus drivers in Lancaster have been nasty in the past, threatening to ban Sisters from riding and so forth. When I arrived, Sister Anderson told me it was good for us to not bus contact for a while and let them cool down. About a month ago I started really feeling a push from the Spirit to contact on the buses. I felt there was someone I needed to find. Bus contacting is scary to me in the first place and then extra scary because of the bus drivers, but I determined to dive in. As I have the Lord has blessed me with confidence and greater skill! There was one day two weeks back that I struck up conversation with a man who was pleasant but by no means enthusiastic. I didn't know how close our stop was and was about to ask for his information when Sister Anderson was getting off the bus! I quickly told him where and when church was and jumped off without leaving him with so much as a website card. Sister Anderson kindly explained to me the importance of keeping bus conversations short and to the point. I felt regret but this gentle thought rested in my mind: I am proud of you. Don't worry. If he is prepared, you will see him again. Well, guess who was at church on Sunday? Geoffrey! I almost fell over when I saw him walk in. We have met with him twice and he is really pure in heart. He says he is looking for meaning in his life and I have great hopes for him! The Lord truly works through us despite our imperfections.

Andrew's baptism on Saturday was such a spiritual feast! You know when the Spirit is so strong you feel like you are swimming in warm molasses (only not sticky)? That's what it was like. The ward showed a lot of support and love. I don't know how much I've told you of him. Andrew Collinson is in his 40s. He's had really rough things in his life which shows on his weather-worn, pierced face. He has an absolute heart of gold. We found him by the hospital and taught him a lesson on the street. What really changed him was understanding the Plan of Salvation and realising that he will be able to be with his mother again! He has met with us consistently ever since and never missed a church activity. Although his conversion process was longer than we expected, it was thorough. He had so much to change. By Saturday he was spiritually prepared for that sacred ordinance and he emerged from the water with tears streaming down his face. It was such a joy to witness! He cried for the rest of the service as well as sacrament meeting yesterday when he received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I think in that moment I finally felt the joy of missionary work! In that moment I discovered how sacred this mission really is to me. I'm sure as my sacrifices increase my understanding of the sacredness will deepen.

Another special moment was at church yesterday when Bishop Johnson called us into his office for a moment between classes and looked at us in amazement. With a big grin he told us that an excommunicated member showed up at church asking to be retaught and a less-active from Barrow (who just moved but was in hospital) called asking for a visit and a priesthood blessing. He had also noticed the two new investigators at church. He smiled,"I can't believe what is happening in the Lancaster Ward!" I am amused that he thinks it is because of us, when I know it is a combination of faith coming from many different directions. Though I cannot take any credit I can try to live up to the blessings of the Lord.

In short, this week was wonderful.

Oh my goodness I almost forgot! We have District Meetings in Preston every Tuesday. Last week, Sister Anderson and I were walking through the town center to catch our train back to Lancaster when we heard, "Sisters!" THERE WAS A RELIGIOUS STUDIES TOUR GROUP FROM BYU-IDAHO! Fifty some odd students thronged us! We were like celebrities! They found it very amusing that I was from Rexburg (I only knew one of the teachers, Brother Allison) and I was just asking if anyone in their group was from Rexburg when I hear, "MOLLY!!!!" It was Elizabeth Zenger! It was so trippy first of all to hear my NAME (so weird...) and then to see her! It felt like the Twilight Zone! She got a photo, so when she gets back from Europe you'll have to see it! Such a tender mercy. As I saw all of the students I remembered how fun it had been to go to Europe with Max, Annie, BJ, Carlie, Renee and the Geddes. It reminded it's just fantastic that I'm living in England! AND it made me realise how truly important this work is when compared to touring. My head just kind of snapped back into place and I thought, "Pull yourself together, Sister. You are having an amazing experience!" As Sister Anderson and I rushed off to get our train we both had the distinct impression that this clandestine meeting was very carefully planned by the Lord and not just for our sake. There was a girl in that group that has been wondering about a mission and she is going to go because she saw us. I feel that very strongly. SO cool.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Working with unwearyingness always pays off.

I got my new scriptures and have been marking them up! I am marking them according to the lessons in PMG and the color code matches the color of the lessons. I underline the verse in the appropriate color and then bold the key word ("atonement," "fall," "obedience," etc.) with a very careful hand in black...It's great because the word really pops out! Now when I am in lessons and I want a scripture on resurrection, for example, I just flip through looking for orange (Plan of Salvation) and the word pops out at me. It's great fun : )

We did exchanges this week and I had Sister Holbrook with me in Lancaster. She is from Wasilla, Alaska, but doesn't remember Max. I had the chance to experience what it feels like to essentially be the senior companion was very humbling. I have so much to improve on: logistics, member relationships, following the Spirit. Basically name anything that has to do with missionary work and I need to improve it! Sister Holbrook is incredible and taught me so much by example. Even though I was supposed to be the "area expert", I really knew I could lean on her. She is so strong in her testimony! Finding with her was like clockwork. She has urgency and such a sense of duty: two things that I really want to keep up! She really is an example to me of a missionary who has jumped out of the boat with both feet. We really experienced miracles on Thursday. We did a lot of finding, which is typically street contacting in the busier streets and bus contacting (Yes on the red doubledecker buses. I always pictured myself as a tourist on one, so it's funny being a missionary contacting on them). I worked harder than any day yet and we were literally four times more effective in setting up appointments than the average day here in Lancaster! AND we taught four lessons! The other amazing thing is that all last week I was praying for appointments on Thursday and Friday so that I could learn how Sister Holbrook teaches. On the first day of the exchange we taught Restoration, Gospel of Jesus Christ and Plan of Salvation. Isn't that amazing! The Lord really provides when we express the desire to learn.

Sister Anderson and I have seen some encouraging progress with our YSA investigator, Liam, this week! He has slight learning disabilities and we've wondered how much we were getting through. We have been praying that he will begin to understand and really love the Book of Mormon. The last two lessons he suddenly seems on fire and has so many questions. He is also calling us at least twice a day to confirm future appointments! It's pretty incredible. I love being a missionary during those moments that you see the spark of a testimony beginning to catch! It's the best.

Andrew is scheduled to be baptised this Saturday! Pray for him!! Satan is working very hard on Andrew and he really needs prayers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

General Conference provides the needed spiritual boost...again.

Conference WAS joyous. I expected to be so depressed because whenever I watch Conference away, I miss home, but I left feeling so renewed. THERE IS POWER IN GATHERING! And there was such comfort in knowing that however far away you are, the whole family was watching at the same time! I kept thinking of you, Mom, and the parts you were loving most. I could almost hear the tapping of your keyboard! And when they announced that the opening hymn was "Let Nauvoo In Her Beauty Rise" I just heard you say, "Oh!! Nauvoo!" ... That hymn is where the tender mercies started for me. The second tender mercy (Nanny nailed it!) was when President Monson thanked the Sister Missionaries. The very first message he gave, and it was on missionary work! That just set the stage for the rest of the revelations and support I received throughout conference.

Wasn't Elder Holland's talk so tender? And Elder McConkie's was AMAZING! I kept switching between, "This talk is for Mom! She is loving this!" and "This is perfect for missionary work!" Because missionary work is all about teaching. I loved the phrase, "We could have warmed our hands by the fire of his faith." I wish I had time to go through all of my insights, but suffice it to say, all of my prepared questions were answered. I felt that there was a general emphasis on agency and the power to choose for ourselves. I have the opportunity to choose how this mission will be, and the Lord expects me to act, not be acted upon. Also, every person we speak to has their own power to choose and we mustn't be discouraged by their choices when we are doing the best we can. I've needed guidance on how I can find the strength to keep pressing forward and serve the Lord "with unwearyingness" and the answer to that came in President Monson's talk: GRATITUDE. He quoted Joseph F. Smith saying something like, "For the grateful man the good outweighs the evil." I must become a grateful missionary. I LOVED "To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven." YES!

This week has been full of hilarious moments, but I haven't the time to write them! I promise I'll dedicate a paragraph next week to funny missionary moments...

We are still teaching Andrew, Liam and Kyle. They all have their own struggles and we have been praying very earnestly to know how we can help them. I've learned a lot this week about our role. As missionaries we do not force others to Christ; we do not profess to be their Savior; but rather we gently and insistently invite them to the Savior. His power to heal is infinite if we desire to be perfected. It's that desire part that you can't force on anyone. Which, I will admit, is frustrating. I pray every day that our words will be inspiring and empowering and that others might find that desire within themselves on account of the light we bring.

I pray that I have a testimony burning so strongly the people of Lancaster will be able to warm their hands by it! With the turn in the weather, they will need warm hands soon ;)