Saturday, December 31, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
While at the mission home we were taught about charity and miracles. Guess what film we watched as a Christmas treat? 17 Miracles! Wow. Not only was it fun to see the Wadleys, Alex and Nate, but the stories were deeply touching. I laughed. I cried. It moved me, Bob. But honestly, they had so much faith! It really moved me to examine myself and determine the faith that I do or do not exhibit. I feel like each of us can have so many miracles in our lives if we simply put our faith to it! And many of us already have many miracles in our lives if we will just recognise them. As Moroni says:
19 And if there were amiracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he bchangeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
21 Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, awhatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this bpromise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.
This is what was going through my mind as we were stuck in a snowstorm on Friday morning after conference on the way to catch our boat home. There was a mix-up about which Elders would be taking us, so we had started off late and then we got caught in the only snowstorm of the season! The check-in was closing in five minutes and we were at least twenty minutes away. It wasn't the Elders' fault so I was trying to be pleasant and positive, but missing this boat would mean we would be missing the ward carol service that evening for which I was the sole pianist. That was one of the reasons the ward members didn't want us to sail the first time: they were afraid we would get stuck in England. The fact that the boat wasn't being cancelled was an answer to many prayers and imagine how frustrated we were that it might go, yes, but without us on it! We really needed to be there! As I looked at Sister Rothmund and felt her starting to panic, I had this peace come over me and I realised this could be a test of my faith. I said, "The fat lady hasn't sung yet, sister," (that's a phrase I recently taught her : ) she thinks it's hilarious) and we sped on. I was frantically ringing the port but they were not available for comment. We finally pulled in, ran into check-in, and experienced the 18th miracle! The boat was delayed! We were so relieved. We checked in fine and as we sat among disgruntled passengers in the waiting room I leaned over to Sister Rothmund and whispered, "I don't think they would be too happy if they knew we are the reason this boat is delayed." We giggled a little but felt such gratitude for the Lord's tender mercies and how he truly takes care of his own. We arrived for the carol service a little green but still had a great performance and warmed many hearts.
It's so special to be a missionary during this season! What an honour to wear the Saviour's name and declare his good news just like the angel to the shepherds. Sister Rothmund has been teaching me a German carol that has really touched my heart. The line I love the most is:
da sang ein Engels-Chor, 'die Welt ist nicht veloren!'
thus sang the angel choir, "the World is not lost!"
Doesn't that make you want to cry? I am just crying at everything lately! But seriously, what a message to bear: Do not distress! The World is not lost! A Saviour has come! We will be redeemed from the fall. All is not lost. Die Welt ist nicht veloren. That is the message I will continue to bear this season.
I love you all. To those I will not be speaking to on Sunday, Happy Christmas! May you find deep peace through the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I want to tell you what miracles we saw this week.
Two weeks ago, President Preston held a conference call with each Zone. In the call he explained to us that he has the keys over the missionaries but our bishops actually have the keys over missionary work in our area. He wants us to involve our Bishops more and as a first step asked us to seek from our Bishop a specific street to find people on. As we sat in the Bishop's office the next evening and showed confidence in his priesthood keys the Spirit of the Lord enveloped us. We knelt down together and the Bishop prayed fervently for direction. We sat in silence for a moment and then he looked up. With a big grin he said, “I’ve got the streets.” We pulled out the map and he pointed out four streets in Castletown. One stood out to me in particular and we’ve made it a priority. Well, this weekend we met and taught two families there!
The first was Matthew and Jill on Saturday morning. Jill is Manx and Matthew is from Liverpool. They are in their twenties and have a three-year-old named Ethan. Jill and Matthew are both Catholic and they had a feeling in April that they should get married (which, as you know, hardly ever happens here.) When we knocked on the door, Matthew said they were just about to go out but we could come by later in the day. We had other appointments but promised to stop by next week. We returned to tracting and not ten minutes later who was running up to us but Matthew! He said they had decided not to go out and they would really like it if we would come back. Amazing. Jill especially is so open and sweet. We have high hopes for them!
The second family is the Howards. We had tracted into them three weeks ago but Letham was the only one in and he was locked in. He told us (through the letter slot) to come back another time. Every time we tried the house was empty, but I just couldn’t shake this good feeling I had about the house. Yesterday, Sunday, they were in. Marylee opened the door, took one look at us and said, “Come on in!” We were dumbstruck! The Howards are a family of five. Marylee must be just thirty. The house is like the neighbourhood hangout. There were all these kids running wild! Which was wonderful! You can tell they have really big hearts and really care about all the kids. We had a short lesson with Marylee (Letham was asleep) about the Restoration, to which she was very receptive. She is excited to read the Book of Mormon and see us again. As we were leaving she also said she it had been a hard day and she was so grateful that we came. Perfect timing! The Lord really is in the details.
I have such a testimony of the organisation of the Church and priesthood power! I am excited to see the miracles that happen in this area. It will be a great harvest! Of that I am sure.
This ward is so amazing. I know I say that about every area, but seriously. I love these people! Their only problem is that they feed us so much! They haven't adjusted to having Sisters, I guess, so we are still getting Elder-sized portions! But it is such a blessing that we get meal appointments ("tea appointments") every single night. When we have tea with members we try to focus our conversation on missionary work and share all of the miracles we've experienced. We also leave them with a spiritual thought and always seek referrals.
This last week, we've centered most of our spiritual thoughts around the true Christmas spirit. You know the DVD On The Lord's Errand about President Monson? If you haven't seen it I would encourage you to! It's so well done. There is a story in there about the Guertler family who moved into Bishop Monson's ward at the end of WWII. They didn't have the money to rent a nice flat and when Bishop Monson saw the conditions they would live in he was heartsick. He rallied the ward around him and everyone volunteered time and means to fix up the flat. I'll let you see the ending ; ) but it's a really beautiful Christmastime story. As we have watched it with the members, I never cease to be amazed at how humbly dedicated Thomas S. Monson was in serving his whole life. He really knows how to put his shoulder to the wheel! He saw needs and just filled them without hesitation. He says, "I want the Lord to know that if He ever needs an errand run, Thomas Monson will do it." I want to be that way, too! I know that it is in the little daily sacrifices that we carve out our consecrated hearts and become fit for Heaven.
I love this work! In all the hubbub of Christmas preparations and festivities don't forget to truly celebrate by feasting on the words of Christ and
Monday, December 5, 2011
So, the weather here has been horrendous and none of the boats have been going... oh yeah, except for the exact two that we were scheduled to take! Literally. Two boats went all week and they were the ones we were scheduled for! Miracles!
When we come across we usually stay with the Liverpool sisters. We sailed Wednesday, worked the afternoon and night with them, did Conference Thursday, worked that night with them and then sailed back Friday morning. Sister Chuo (from Taiwan) just got a new missionary to train and we did exchanges! Sister Longmore is fantastic and I loved working with her. We had some really good talks walking to appointments and saw miracles together. We prayed fervently for the Spirit and I really saw our investigators being taught by him, not us. One that stands out in particular is Teresa, who is Chinese.
Teresa was an atheist two months ago when the sisters found her. Although she remembers everything, they have felt like it was not sinking into her heart. One of the first things I asked her about was faith – if she feels she has faith in God now. She said, “Faith is believing in things you can’t see. You know, there are lots of things in life that can’t be explained. Growing up in China my mom always explained these things with science, and it made sense. Now you explain it with God and it makes sense. Since they both make sense I choose to believe in God. I think it will make me happier.” What a good way to start of the lesson! There is nothing better than to see your investigator choose to believe; choose to be humble.
During our lesson we addressed her concerns about honesty. She felt like in order to succeed in this life you have to cheat your way up; since everyone else is doing it she thought that surely God would understand. I shared a personal experience and as I did I could see her staring off – deep in thought. She looked up and said, “Maybe we have to do things that will make us worse off in this life, but we will be happy later when we live with God.” Watching her take that step towards consecration almost brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy to be able to add, “But, Teresa, the beautiful thing is that if you make sacrifices for God, down the line you will find that you are actually happier in this life, too!” She seemed to accept that. The Spirit was so strong and in her closing prayer she thanked Heavenly Father and told Him how much she loved Him and us. It was really touching. I absolutely know that we were supposed to come to the mainland for conference and for that exchange.
The work rolls forward here on the Isle of Man, too! We have a new investigator, Teralyn, who Heavenly Father really wanted us to meet! We met her once on the street (she was in a rush), then last week her neighbour referred us to her house ("try that house. She could use God.") and we forgot to try it! Then we tracted into her accidentally and she let us in. She is struggling with a lot of challenges and addictions, but is so humble and willing to learn. Her life has been so painful but she has kept faith through all of it.
One of the families in the ward here, the Sayles, joined the church a little over a year ago. Brother Sayle has lots of family around the island and he is an antique restorer. Sister Sayle teaches hairstyling at the college. They are so dedicated and humble and wonderful. Their kids (Henry - 15, Hanna - 12, Jenna - 8) are equally wonderful. They had us over for a meal the other day and we helped them set up and decorate their Christmas tree. We'll be over at their house on Christmas Day, too.
Anyway, Brother Sayle's brother, Peter, offered to lend me a violin! Brother Sayle has been trying to get Peter and his family to meet with the missionaries for ages with no luck. Long story short, when Peter heard me play he asked if I could teach him a lesson. I said I could do, but only if we can teach him about the gospel, too... He agreed : D If Moroni used stratagem I figure I can, too! He's busy this week, but hopefully next week we can meet.
In Preach My Gospel it says,
"My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel, which is, faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end."
Every day my vision seems to expand on what it really means to invite others to come unto Christ. You know, that means that we must be one with Christ, otherwise we would be inviting them to “go unto Christ.” We have to be living the gospel in order to say, “Come.” I pray every day that I will be given more charity and a deeper understanding of the Atonement.
Love you all! Have a brilliant week!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Thursday (photo attached) and playing the "I am thankful..." ABCs
while driving in the car. So much to be thankful for as the Lord's
servant! I'm definitely thankful for my family and I am glad to hear
that all of you had a lovely time together at the cabin! Aren't we
blessed to have one another? Thank you for your e-mails this week and
the expressions of gratitude you shared!
We had a good week! A lot of lessons fell through, but I just see that as the Lord clearing our schedule so that we can find the elect. Sister Rothmund is wonderful and we are already working together in unity. It's great when in a lesson you are about to say something and all of the sudden your companion says it word for word (...that's the Spirit!) which happens to us all of the time. I told you that she is from Switzerland, right? She's twenty-four and went to BYU-Hawaii. She sounds totally American. I love her to bits, as they would say.
A nugget from personal study: I learned this week in the Book of
Mormon about motives. In Alma 43:45-47 we can read about how the
Nephites were stronger and fought harder because they were fighting
for the right reasons. There is simply no replacement for that desire!
The Lamanites simply could not fight like that because they didn’t
have the right motives. I realised that the same applies to missionary
work. If we work for the wrong reasons we may see good things, but we
won’t see miracles. Miracles require a kind of work that is humanly
impossible unless your motives are pure.
We have some wonderful investigators to update you on!
Tan: You heard a little bit about her last week, right? She's from
Thailand? She came to church and is really coming along in her
testimony, but we found out she is moving! She moves to Scotland for a
new job this week. We will miss her so much. Her member friend, Ning,
has the Gospel Principles book in Thai, so Tan studied the lesson on
Sunday morning before church and she contributed so well! She never
had a belief in God or Christ before, and during class she said
(imagine in a Thai accent), “I love Jesus Christ because He always
giving to others but no ask anyting back.” She loves coming to church
and she says she will miss everyone so much, but things are getting
worked out to send her info to the missionaries there. They are going
to be so excited to have her!
Brad: He is Polish and very Catholic. The Sisters "found" him on the
street and taught him once before I came. He must be in his late 30s
and lives on his own here. He is still learning English, but he is so
talkative and open with his comments, which I love! You always know
where you stand with him and what his concerns are. In our lesson
yesterday he said the most beautiful thing it almost made me cry. He
said, "I don't know, but since I've met you I feel something inside of
me stirring. I'm sort of...changing. I feel something in me changing."
We talked about the Spirit and the Truthfulness of our message. Those
are the moments that bring the JOY of missionary work! We had ordered
a Polish Book of Mormon for him that finally came. He is so excited to
read it and then tell us if it is true or not : ) he's great.
Noreen: she's a young mum of three children. The Sisters also met her
on the street as she was trying to push a three-baby pram up a hill.
They offered to help and ended up teaching her. She's not married to
her partner (which is normal here) and he's not fond of us. Even
though there is opposition there, she has said that she knows the Book
of Mormon is true and she identifies the Spirit as she reads and
prays. She's not plucked up the courage yet to come to church (doesn't
know what her partner will do) but she's getting there.
There are a few more, but I'm out of time! I'll keep updating you next week...
This is Thomas: he is Sister Radcliffe's cat but thinks he's ours :) he
wanders in whenever the door is open and likes to remind us that the
study desk is still part of his territory. Love him.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Just me today on the Quay. Give you a taste of the Island..
We are safe and sound on the Island and I’m settling in nicely!
It was an adventure, though!
You remember that the ferry was cancelled? Well,
the next day the Assistants were unavoidably detained and couldn't
take us to the ferry. We ended up going (with all my luggage and
Sister Rothmund's overnight bags) on an hour long bus ride to
Manchester (the Picadilly train station), then a train to Preston.
There we were picked up by the Preston Zone Leaders who drove us to
the dock in Heysham and there we caught the ferry! We had barely
settled down on the ferry when this lady came right up to me and
hugged me saying, “Hi, Sister!” Took me a little off-guard! It was
Tanya Dobbie, one of the members of the Douglas ward. She sat with us
for the whole three hours. She knows and loves Alex! I loved getting
to know her and it was good she was there because she had some
motion-sickness arm bands that came in really handy :) I didn't get
sick, just a little green. They say the more trips I go on the
stronger my stomach will get. We will see :) Anyways, we arrived
safely. The Clarkes (the WML and his wife) were waiting for us on the
docks and they drove us to the church where our car was parked. We are
the only sisters in the mission with a car and I feel so, so blessed.
The Lord knew my body was on the edge. Since I've been in the UK over
a year, I'm not allowed to drive, unless I get a UK license, but I
doubt the mission will invest in me - they'll just send me a young
sister that can drive next transfer. So, I get to be a permanent
passenger/secretary - and backer-upper (yes, Max, we actually do this
in the EMM :) but no orange vests! It was you that told me that
mission story, right?)
I assume you have probably researched a little bit about the Isle of
Man by now. The natives call themselves "Manx" (like "banks") and they
have a language (also Manx) that has celtic roots. Most of the signs
are written in English and Manx, even though no one really speaks it.
The actual climate of the island reminds me of some of the islands in
Alaska when we went to pick up Max. It's a similar feel, as well,
where everyone sort of knows each-other and there are so many
connections. Sister Rothmund and I live in an apartment at the back of
a member's home (in England they call that a "granny flat" - oops, but
we are not in England. Make no mistake! This is the British Isles! And
no one's going to let me forget it : ) Any ways, they call it a
"granny flat" in the British Isles, too ). Sister Bradshaw must be in
her 60s and lives alone. She loves having us coming in and out and
bringing the missionary spirit with us. She has a black cat, Thomas,
who will be the closest I'll ever come to a pet on my mission (see the
white handbook) :)
Sister Rothmund is a great driver and this is absolutely gorgeous
little Island! The people are also very lovely. It doesn't surprise me
that Alex "loved it loved it loved it!" You are right, Mum, there is
one ward. The Douglas ward is extremely loving and welcoming. Case in
point: we received four referrals at church on Sunday, were recruited
into the Christmas choir and someone knows where I can borrow a
violin! There are also some connections in the ward to Lancaster and
Wigan, which is so fun. One member of the ward, Ning, is from Thailand
and her friend, Tiny, just moved over here. Tiny was at church and we
asked her if we could teach her later on in the evening. We had a
wonderful lesson together! She is Buddhist but loves church and is
open to learning more. We truly hope that she is a part of our White
Christmas. The miracles are starting. I am amazed, Mum, that you
fasted yesterday. Little did you know that it was our appointed to day
to fast as a mission! Every single missionary was fasting to be able
to achieve their baptismal goal...and you participated! I truly pray
that the Lord will pour out His blessings upon us that we may be
fruitful here in the Douglas ward. I know He wants to bless us!
Yesterday was Ward Conference, which was great. The Stake presidency
don't get the chance to come to the Island too often, so the Douglas
Ward was really excited. Wigan is in the Liverpool Stake so I already
knew most of the officers that came over ( "from across" as the Manx
would say...). They didn't know about transfers so they got a little
shock when they saw me here :) President Marshall told a story in his
talk that really touched me:
There was an English woman who went to a small Asian island to teach
English. During her last week there one of her little students went
missing! She was relieved when the day before her departure this
little student appeared. She was bearing a beautiful, rare shell that
was not found on that side of the island. It turned out that that girl
had walked for three days to find the shell to give as a gift to her
teacher. The teacher accepted the gift gladly but remarked, “You
didn’t have to walk all that way to get me a gift; a shell from this
beach would have done.” The little girl smiled and said, “Walk part of
gift. Walk part of gift.” As President Marshall told this I remember
all of the walking that I have done on my mission: between doors, on
the streets – sometimes it feels like that kind of work doesn’t bear
fruit for the Lord. But with President Marshall’s story came to my
mind an insight that I had earlier on my mission. My service is a gift
to the Lord, and maybe a night of tracting can feel pointles and is
not directly handing Him one of His precious children, but it is an
indication of my love and devotion. “Walk part of gift.” This transfer
I’m in a car, but I know that I can show my dedication to the Lord by
going the extra mile in other areas of the work. I want to give Him a
gift this Christmas. I want Him to smile at me and say, “You didn’t
have to do all of that...” so that I can say, “But it was part of Your
The time is far spent! I will give you bios on all of our
investigators next week!
Friday, November 18, 2011
But here's the shocker: Sister Jack has gone to Manchester South! They
have taken Sisters out of Wigan and left just the Elders! You should
have seen our faces during that phone call! The last three days have
been a whirlwind as we have prepared everything to hand our teaching
pool off to the Elders. Luckily, our area book was in good shape but
there were a lot of goodbyes to say and thank you notes to write. I
can't tell you how heart-wrenching it is to go and not leave there the
connection of a previous companion who you know knows everything and
will take care of the area. I was joking with Elder Rogerson at
transfers that he would probably find tear stains all over the area
book as we were so sad to leave. I think that gave him even more
motivation to take care of the people we love so much! The good news
is that the Elders that will be moving to our flat really are good
Elders and I know they will work hard. These were the busiest days
Sister Jack and I have ever experienced together. We had so many new
investigators and saw progression with so many that have been
stalling. They really are in for a treat! The area is on the verge of
miracles!! I’m so excited for them I can’t even contain it! I so wish
that I could be there to see it!
I think the hardest parting was David and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was pretty
upset. I love that little girl. Her 6th birthday is on the 4th of December and she told us on Tuesday night that she "simply cannot wait until I am eight to be baptised. I
just don't see how that is fair." She is such a little lady! She wants
to be a missionary, too! Bless her.
I remember feeling just gutted to leave Manchester but it does not
even compare to how I feel leaving Wigan; and something tells me that
this parting will be nothing to compare with my longing when I leave
the Isle of Man. I’m detecting a pattern here… This has more to do
with how I’m developing than the areas where I’m serving. As my
ability to love grows the goodbyes seem more and more bitter; but I
suppose that is directly linked to the greater sweetness I feel each
day in the work as well. I really wanted to end my time with Sister
Jack in crescendo and I know that we did. We were running everywhere
those last days! The Elders already have seven new investigators from
contacts Sister Jack and I made those last two days (as well as four
or five progressing investigators since they've inherited our teaching
pool.) I include numbers not because the number means anything in
itself but merely because it is evidence of the Lord's ability to work
miracles. Heavenly Father was really allowing us to participate in
miracles there at the end.
We cleared our flat of all femininity and Sister Brown drove us to the
Manchester South chapel with our luggage. It was there that I met up
with my new companion, Sister Rothmund from Switzerland! Sister
Rothmund came out at the same time as Sister Lovell. We are staying
with the sisters in Swinton (on the outskirts of Manchester) until we
can get a ferry over to the Isle of Man (which was supposed to be
today but there are storm warnings so the ferry was cancelled.) This
time in Swinton has been fantastic as well. Sister Rothmund and I are
getting along really well and we are so optimistic about the work in
the Isle of Man. We, too, will see miracles. The ward sounds
This morning Sister Rothmund and I found a wonderful new investigator
for the Swinton Sisters. We were street contacting near her home and
after a quick conversation she just invited us in to teach her. Katherine
(age 30) has had a really tough life (she grew up in foster care and
ended up with a bad crowd. She's was almost murdered once and had a
near death experience. Just crazy the other horrible things she's been
through) but managed to keep faith through it all. She just moved here
from London and is trying to get a fresh start in her life. You lot
aren’t going to believe this but she invited herself to be baptised…in
the first five minutes! We were just mentioning about covenants and
baptism at the beginning (to prepare her for the invitation to be
baptised at the end) when she said, “Baptism sounds so nice. I’d
really like that. How do you do that?” Can you just see our faces? She
accepted the date of the 17th of December. What a miracle! She has a
strong relationship with God and was so excited to hear there is a
living prophet. We have a really good feeling about her. I hope the
Swinton sisters keep us updated.
The work rolls forward and I’m doing my best to open my heart wide to
receive the Isle of Man. It must be like having children: you wonder
how you could possibly love another one as much as the first. You
think there is not room in your heart for two, or three, or four. But
then they come (new areas) and somehow your heart grows to hold them.
The Isle of Man is a coveted area among the Elders and they were all
devastated when President took Elders out and put Sisters on the
island. So many Elders came up to me at transfers telling me of their
good experiences there. I know I have a lot to live up to since there
are so many missionaries that would love to be there and I'm
definitely going to work hard! I think Alex McKenzie served there as
This week has been full of miracles!
First, the baptism. Everything came together smoothly, except that we got caught in a rainstorm right before. Sister Maughan was able to come back and David asked her to be one of the speakers. I played piano. Sister Jack conducted. We all did a musical number, "Baptism" from the Primary Songbook, together. Elizabeth said the opening prayer! She was so brave, even with Sister Jack prompting her a little bit. I know it meant a lot to David and it was a great symbol in my eyes of just how the Gospel is going to bless her little life! She really is adorable.
The ward showed a lot of support and it was beautiful to see the room just packed. When they opened the curtains to the font they realised the glass had been fogged up. He and Brother Aspey just laughingly rubbed the steam out and everyone chuckled. Even with his usual humour, you could tell David took it seriously and we really feel that he is a convert that deserves the title “convert” (to coin a phrase of President Kopischke.) He bore his testimony afterwards and it was really touching. Now we just need to find him a wife so he can be the next Wigan Ward Bishop!
Miracle no. 2: remember Peter the organist? We felt prompted to send him a letter about family history and he called us! We went over with Brother Barrington (the FH Consultant) this week and taught him about it. I could tell that although he is scared of his vicar (who told him off for reading the Book of Mormon) he enjoyed feeling the Spirit with us again. Moreover, he wanted to come to the Mission Home Fireside, which he did last night! And guess who else was there? Burt! That room was so full of joy! Burt thought that I might be there so he brought a bag full of fresh vegan baked goods for me :) Bless him! Sister Babbel and I did an impromptu musical number (Consider the Lilies) on violin and piano. I also saw other recent converts and acquaintances from exchanges I've done. It really was a little taste/glimpse of heaven. I’d imagine there will be so much love, joy and excitement in the Celestial Kingdom as we reunite with loved ones! It’s those glimpses that I believe the Lord grants us to help us endure to the end.
We attended ward council last week (I LOVE this Ward, by the way.) We told them about President Kopischke’s visit and “the experiment.” We showed them that we feel loyalty towards accomplishing the 2011 Wigan Ward Mission Plan baptismal goal and they expressed the desire to support us. They came up with idea of doing a 40-day fast leading up to the New Year with a different member fasting for the goal each of the 40 days. We are so excited! We feel their enthusiasm rising and we know that with their faith we will accomplish the goal the Lord has given us.
I also got another exchange with Sister Gong this week. In the EMM we set goals and come up with expected miracles before the exchange. Whilst in Liverpool we were able to see three out of the four miracles they wanted! We taught both their dated Chinese investigators, Nicholas and Niles, tithing (and they accepted it) and we saw a real change of heart in one of their progressing investigators, Taralyn, who’s still struggling to accept the existence of God. It always inspires me to teach these Chinese! I feel the Spirit of the Lord working in them and I just know that they will become a great strength to the Church someday.
We had Stake Conference in Liverpool yesterday and so I got to see them all again. President and Sister Preston spoke at Stake Conference. We drove with two single sisters from Wigan, Sister Clark and Sister Wilson, and they could not say enough good about the Prestons on the way home. Truly, those two have been called for a reason and they are building so much enthusiasm in the members.
Our teaching pool is dwindling a little bit. No one has dropped us, but they also aren't progressing so we will likely be dropping them. It's in the Lord's hands but this week we are praying for many new investigators.
NOTE: Molly and Sister Jack dressed up as each other for Halloween... :D
This week was one, giant revelatory experience!
President Erich Kopischke came to "tour" the mission. He held three Zone Conferences (to cover the seven zones...we each only went to one. I wish I'd been at all three!) and a special zone leaders' council. Sister Jack and I were so lucky to be representing the sisters at Zone Leaders' Council at President Kopischke's request. Elder Kopischke is so inspired and inspiring. If I had time I would just make this e-mail an "Ode to President Kopischke." It was so uplifting being with him! At Zone Conference he spent the majority of the time asking for our questions and then expounding from the scriptures. He started out by coming down off the stand and getting on eye level with us. These were his words, "We are now on eye level, okay? I am not anything more than you are." He said, "The agenda today is you." He wanted to know our questions and our concerns. He invited us to be taught by the Spirit. We had a few minutes at the beginning to write down the questions we had. He promised us that we would have answers from the Spirit. He wanted our experience together to be revelatory. Looking back, I think his whole approach was teaching us to teach ourselves.
President Preston spoke to us a little about how he is expecting a "White Christmas," meaning, of course, many baptisms before the new year. He said that his vision is for every companionship to have at least one baptism before the year is over. President Kopischke spoke to us about faith and miracles. We read Ether 12:19 and he explained that we feel true joy when we see with our own eyes the things that we pictured with the eye of faith. He took each of us back to the day we opened our call letter and read "England Manchester Mission." He asked, "What were your dreams?" He encouraged us to keep those dreams. "Do not bury your dreams," he said, "you will be dead the moment you do." In reference to viewing things with the eye of faith President Kopischke suggested that we run an "experiment." He wanted each of us to be personally committed to a white Christmas. Each companionship found a quiet room and prayed for a baptismal goal from the Lord. We were not to come out until we had both had the witness and were united and excited. We were not to come out until we had had a profoundly spiritual experience. We were praying for a number, but President Kopischke said, "This is not about numbers. This is about increasing your faith in Jesus Christ."
This experience opened the door for one of the most profound insights of my mission. To understand why you have to know a little bit of background.
About four months ago, at the very beginning of my transfer with Sister Maughan, we both received separate, unsolicited revelation that we would see three baptisms together. You might remember it. I remember writing about it in my e-mails. I still clearly remember sitting across the study desk from her and saying, “What do you feel our transfer baptismal goal should be?” I didn’t want to tell her that I was thinking three because it just seemed too far-fetched! When we both came out with it we felt the Spirit truly confirm it to us and we went to work! You might remember me telling you in my e-mails that Sister Maughan cut out a big “3” and taped it to our window. Every day we would see it and ask ourselves what more we could do to achieve it. We bled, sweat and cried. We worked our hardest. Because the goal came from the Lord we knew that it would happen! And then it didn’t. The transfer came to a close and we had witnessed just one beautiful baptism: Ash Houghton. We thanked the Lord for our blessings, but were a bit confused. The week after transfers she came back to see another of our investigators enter the waters: Hayley Parrish. That was still only two. I tried to just shrug it off, but never really felt closure. Why did the Lord tell us three if He knew it wouldn’t happen?
Fast forward. Elder Kopischke sends Sister Jack and I (and all of us) off to pray about a baptismal goal. We both feel four! I immediately doubt. Why should I trust the Lord this time when it didn’t happen last time I had a profoundly spiritual experience like this? I just pushed my nagging doubts to the back of my mind. The rest of Zone Conference carried on brilliantly. We had a fab musical number (a multi-lingual version of the Spirit of God which I was glad to direct). I received many other revelations and answers to many other questions. I soaked in the Spirit that was there; just lapped it up.
That night as we stayed over in the Swinton Sisters' flat I faced my doubts. I struggled and prayed for understanding and nothing really came. The next day at Zone Leader Council I knew that I was commited to work for it, but out of obedience not true desire. I couldn’t really put my heart into “the Experiment.”
It was that evening that the revelation finally came. As you know, David Anderson is an investigator that Sister Maughan and I found together. He was a slow mover and Sister Jack and I are so happy that he will be entering the waters of baptism this Friday. The night of Zone Leaders' Council I rang Sister Maughan to invite her to the baptism. We rejoiced together and as I hung up the phone I had the epiphany: three. Brother Anderson is number three. It happened in the Lord’s timing, but we truly had three baptisms! It’s as if I heard the Saviour’s voice in my ears, Oh ye of little faith. I dropped to my knees and repented of my doubt. The revelation was real and the Lord was in control all along, which means I could trust the revelation at Zone Conference. I ran up the stairs shouting to Sister Jack, “We’re going to have four baptisms!!! It’s going to happen!” It’s going to happen.
It will be in the Lord’s time and in His way, but I have all the confidence in the world that someday I will look back and be able to say: four. There is number four. And just as Elder Kopischke emphasized, this is not about numbers, this is about faith. My faith in the Lord has been strengthened this week. I am so grateful that President Kopischke facilitated this for me! He is truly inspired.
The Zone Leaders' Council was equally as revelatory. Some Kopischke-isms that you might like:
"If we do not set goals it shows we have no desires - and we will be judged according to our desires."
"It you miss the fun you miss it all."
"There is no reason to be discouraged when you are on the errand of the Lord."
"Do you honestly think that the prayers of agents will not be answered?" (pray like an agent, not an object - i.e. "help me do this" as opposed to "do this for me")
"You know, you get your £125 each month and you get to sleep in until 6.30 every day! What do you have to worry about?"
"Life is to make mistakes. If you ever think you can live without mistakes it is a sign of pride and arrogance. Joseph Smith never tried to cover his mistakes."
"Some of these promptings will bring you right out of your comfort zone. Okay! That is what we call an adventure!"
"When the Spirit rebukes it is never devastating or discouraging."
"Let your investigators teach you. As he teaches it, he will embrace it."
So there you go, President Kopischke in a nutshell : )
Monday, October 24, 2011
I’ve had insights this week into the way the Spirit works with our investigators and us. It all started with the words from our fellowshipper, Jill Turner (who I adore), in a lesson with Michael. She explained that the Holy Ghost always prompts us to do things in a way that makes us want to do it. That is so true! I think of Moroni 7:13, “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” However He does it, He brings that desire out in us.
We, too, must try to evoke desire in people by inviting and enticing; we should try to emulate the Holy Ghost in our teaching. It seems a mammoth task! So, in the end I feel very blessed that if we are living right, the Holy Ghost can actually be there and teach with us. To quote Brother Matt Richardson in our latest General Conference, “All parents, leaders, and teachers have the responsibility to teach ‘by the Spirit.’ They should not teach ‘in front of the Spirit’ or ‘behind the Spirit’ but ‘by the Spirit’ so the Spirit can teach the truth unrestrained.” Who wouldn’t teach by the Spirit if they knew it was an option! I’m so grateful for His support and place in our companionship. I know that in my quest to get people to desire the gospel, the Holy Ghost is my best ally.
I’m also grateful for His support of Michael who picked a baptismal date! Remember how we walked home with him from church last week? One of the things we shared with him was D&C 9:8-9, explaining how when seeking guidance from the Lord we have to choose first and then the Lord will confirm our decisions to us. That struck a chord with him, and using that method he felt a very strong answer from the Spirit that he was to be baptised on the 4th of November! Again, the Holy Ghost gives us desire. Ever since that moment no one has been able to sway him from that date (and trust me, Satan is trying). He’s faced a lot of opposition this week, but he’s getting through it. In one of our lessons this week Rachel (his daughter) helped us make invitations for the baptism. She drew technicoloured temples and angels on the front :) SO adorable. The funny thing is, I'm not sure who was more excited to hand them out at church, Rachel or Michael!
The ward has been so supportive of him; he really is a part of the Ward already. In Nanny's e-mail this week (I hope you don't mind if I quote you, Nanny!) she perfectly described how Michael’s conversion process has been. She wrote, “Bapa used to say that all we needed to do was to bring friends to the fire, they will feel the warmth and know that they are home at last. I guess that's what being a missionary is all about and you do it so well as you love the members and then bring those looking for the truth close enough to feel the love/warmth those members feel.” He really does feel the warmth of the gospel from the saints here. What a joy! He continues to face the pressures of being a single father. On top of it all, this house he moved into last year is a "fixer-upper" and he's had no time to work on it. Knowing that this is a source of stress for him, we offered to help him a bit. We are excited to serve him with other ward members and help him carry his load!
We have been offering service incessantly to members for the past four weeks and it’s finally catching up with us! So many people approached us at church to ask for help with little things. We are so happy that they trust us and feel how much we love them and desire to help them. We did singing time in Primary yesterday and I can safely say all of the children in the ward love us now : ) And we love them! What fantastic children!
The work continues to move forward! We now have three french-speaking African investigators you can pray for: Fraser (40s) and his son, Lucien (17) from Senegal; and Nicolas (30s) from the Congo. All very sincere! Exhilarating to use French. We also met with a lovely young woman, Nicole, last week who we hope to see progress. She grasped onto the message really well and she's happy to meet, but with her two jobs the only time she's available is 8 am : ( which is not ideal for us. Is it allowed to pray for someone to lose a job? : ) We'll see how it goes this week.
I love you all! Keep up the good work and remember to serve the Lord! It's so fun!
Monday, October 17, 2011
I have just taken such joy in Sister Jack’s progress and achievements this week. We had service and tea with a part-member family this week and we had planned to teach Elder Uchtdorf’s recent talk “Forget Me Nots” and direct it towards Sister Harrison (the member) since she missed the conference. The Lord had something else in mind. I was asked to give the opening prayer, and as I did I heard myself say, “Grant us the Spirit as we speak of the Gospel…” and immediately I knew what we really needed to teach. Sister Jack was a bit shocked when I put down the talk and said, “Tonight we are going to read a chapter of the Book of Mormon together and speak of the Doctrine of Christ.” She looked at me with big eyes, but then smiled and just jumped right in. We read and expounded 2 Nephi 31, one of the most beautiful sermons ever written (in my opinion.) The spirit was so strong! Both of the Harrison were focused and I know they felt it. As we neared the end of the lesson, I thought to myself: we need to invite Brother Harrison to be baptised. Guess who beat me to the punch? My amazing companion! It was so powerful and touching as she told them of her baptism and the example of her sister. I was blown away as, with tears in her eyes, she invited him to be baptised. I think he was blown away, too! He declined, but explained that he would continue to put some deep consideration towards it. As we left the house he told us to keep up the good work. I could tell that he was very touched. I don’t know how long it will take him to be baptised (he has a lot of concerns related to family) but I know that we made one massive step forward that night. I am so proud that Sister Jack bravely followed the promptings she received! She’s fantastic.
During lunchtime a few days ago we popped in some old conference talks and I was really touched by the words of Elder Eyring in his talk “Watch With Me.” He speaks of our roles as shepherds of his flock. As I considered on this symbol, I thought of the words of the Saviour in John 10:11–12: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. I had to ask myself, have I developed the heart and mind of the good shepherd or am I serving like a hireling? Ultimately, we will only have the strength to accomplish the task at hand if we take upon ourselves the desires and attributes of Christ. It is charity alone that will keep us on guard when the wolves come!
Steven Howard takes baby steps forward every day in gaining faith strong enough to pay tithing. The ward has helped massively. He has so many questions, and the members have really been the ones answering! There have been two times this week that it was time for us to leave the lesson, but the fellowshipper stayed with Daniel to talk over his concerns. Wigan is incredible! We walked home with him from church yesterday and talked things over. He's determined to pray about a date and then just go with it and let the chips fall! Amazing, Mum, that you mentioned Brec's three month challenge because that's basically what we issued Brother Andrew :) He's going to try it for a couple of months and then see how it goes. I know the Lord will bless him.
We have so many other people I would love to tell you about but haven't the time!
Sorry that this week is a bit short! The library is packed and time is running out.
Keep up the great work!
This week in my study I was really struck by Ezekiel 33:8-9. It actually reminded me of the words of the Lord to Nephi in Heleman 5:3-5. The people ignored him, but because of his efforts the Lord could bless him beyond measure. I came on my mission to help others, but I learn more and more every day how this work is ultimately between the Lord and me; no one else. He called and I responded. No matter the decisions of others, if I am “all in,” as Sister Lovell used to say, He is pleased and I can be satisfied knowing I have done my best! On the other hand, if I do not do my best, I will be held accountable for the sins of those in my area whom I failed to warn! Frightening!
The work is moving forward in Wigan. Brother Hallister continues to blanch at the prospect of tithing. He's budgeted it out and figures he can be baptised after Christmas : S We pray constantly that the Lord will grant him the faith he needs! He is wonderful and I know that the challenges he faces now will make him a truly strong member after his baptism, whether it takes place this month or in ten years. ]
The weather is turning! Sister Jack and I are increasing in unity as we laugh through the weather! We were tracting in a hail storm the other night, just laughing and singing "there is sunshine in my soul." This youngish couple answered one door and the husband, laughing, asked, "Are you mad doing this in this weather??" Through the horizontal hail I said, "Funny, I was just asking myself that! But, no, we just know our message is true!" They said we could come back in the day time : ) Whether or not they were touched by our talk of eternal families, they were definitely touched by our dedication. I love the opportunities we have to prove to the Lord, to the world and to ourselves that we have a conviction of this work!
Right, the time is far spent.
This is definitely the Kingdom of God on earth once more. Joseph Smith was undoubtedly the Prophet of the restoration. We are indebted to the Lord in ways we cannot comprehend or even imagine, let alone repay. Yet we can take satisfaction in knowing we carry out his work with our whole hearts!
Your commitment if you choose to accept it: Do something to strengthen the Kingdom this week (think 3 fold mission of the church) and report back to me in e-mail. Will you do that? I promise you that as you actively participate in this work (whether that is to perfect the saints, preach the gospel or redeem the dead) you will feel the Saviour's love for you.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Here just a few of my notes:
Richard G. Scott:
Nanny hardly needed to fast!
We need to be using the Bible more in our teaching.
I should memorise Moroni 7:41-48 as long as I am reading it each day : )
Can I please just be her when I grow up? I love her!
The Holy Ghost can fill our emotional needs; Eliza R. Snow is proof.
ANOTHER PROVO TEMPLE!?!? Amazing! My jaw dropped!
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
This talk was the answer to my conference question.
Tad R. Callister
No notes. I was too transfixed! Loved it.
Elaine S. Dalton
I do truly cherish the memories of being with Dad in the temple.
I did have a worthy priesthood holder for a father, and he protected me very well. I'm sure he still it protecting me. How grateful I am for the sealing power!
Remember this when looking for the father of my daughters.
That's just a taster. I was filled! We get to see a re-broadcast of the General Relief Society Meeting tonight so I'm sure you'll hear all about that on Monday. There's nothing like the Spirit of Gathering. I always feel a special connection to you, as well, knowing you are hearing the same inspired words.
We have seen great progress in our Alfred Stone since last time I wrote. He has been really struggling to commit to tithing. It has been hard to see him struggle but I know that it is making him stronger. His scripture study and prayers are much more heartfelt and intent; his relationship with the Lord is growing stronger and he is recognising the Truth more and more. He drove us and Sister Higham to Conference on Saturday and really enjoyed it. I think he took more notes than I did! After conference we sat by the temple and answered his questions about the Spirit World (of which he had many.) The Spirit was so strong. As we spoke about missionary work on the other side, Brother Stone (as he already likes to be called) said, "Hey! That means, Sister Davis, that your dad could be teaching my dad the gospel!" I hadn't really thought about it, to be honest, but it really touched my heart when he said it.
We taught him last night and he wouldn’t let us start the lesson until he had taken us through all his notes from the Priesthood Session as well! Helen, his 5 yr old daughter was there last night. She loves us, but last night she loved our fellow shipper even more! Why? Because Sister Sharples brought chocolate! And let Helen parade around in her big fur coat. As we spoke last night, Brother Stone was finally able to identify that Satan is the one that wants to keep him from paying tithing. Now that that light bulb has gone on I have no worries for him. It's just a matter of time.
Another choice experience we had this week proved to me the truth of Ether 12:27. We were on our way to an appointment and ended up on the wrong street (my navigational weaknesses.) We knocked at the alleged house number to be greeted by a bubbly older woman, Susan. Once we realised it was the wrong house we said something to the effect of, “You aren’t Fran? Well, God loves you, too! May we share this message with you?” She laughed and declined. A little bit more chatting revealed that she is doing up her garden and she did accept help with that. The weather has been uncharacteristically balmy of late, which was to our advantage! We returned and had a lovely time hearing her life stories and gardening with her. She is dealing with a bout of colon cancer and her only family is in Australia. She lives a Buddhist lifestyle but has Christian tendencies as far as her beliefs. She doesn't dare believe in an afterlife--she couldn't bare it if she were disappointed.
After an hour she got us each lemonade and then sat us down and said, “Right, ladies. Tell me about Mormon.” So we did! Although I would say we told her more about Jesus Christ. It was a great lesson and we’ll be seeing her again soon. The Lord's lesson to us? He can use our weaknesses; even bad map reading! What a relief that is. Just another message from Him that my imperfections aren't going to kill the work.
We have a lot of new investigators which I will tell you about on Monday when I have a bit more time. Thank you for your prayers and your constant support! Looking back over the transfer I am really satisfied with the work Sister Jack and I have done here in Wigan. I know that we have worked our hardest. We have great hopes for next transfer and everything we can improve and accomplish!
I got to teach a new member lesson to a young woman, Jolene, who I met at the Chinese meeting months ago. Do remember how when I served with Sister Gong we had a Chinese meeting at the Mission Home where all of the Chinese investigators came from their separate cities and were able to meet and mingle and share testimony? Well, Jolene was there. She was an investigator then and very shy. I hardly recognised her when I saw her again! The Gift of the Holy ghost is so real. There is light in her eyes and her countenance has changed. What a miracle! It was just fantastic. It renewed my conviction as I remembered what missionary work is all about. She is actually married and her husband and little boy are coming to England finally next month! She is so excited to teach them the truths that she has learned. She expressed a lot of excitement at teaching them how to pray. "They can pray every night now like I do!" What a miracle in her life.
We are also seeing more and more changes in the mission under the direction of President Preston. Our specialised training was all about working with the members. We are a "Forever Finding" mission and have been since the help of President Bullock. There is such an emphasis on speaking to everyone - having Quality Gospel Conversations - that our baptisms from street contacting have tripled the last couple of years.
Now, President Preston is trying to keep that aspect of the mission strong while simultaneously making member referrals an emphasis. It is so wonderful to hear his point of view on obtaining referrals. He was, after all, a member in the mission only a few months ago! He knows exactly what it's like. The funny thing is that everything that we were trained to do with members are things Sister Jack and I have been doing! It's always great to know that your spiritual impressions are aligned with your leaders, though. Now we can put that much more energy into it! We are excited to get better at doing the Lord's work in the Lord's way: through the members.
We are also getting so excited for Conference!! We simply cannot wait! As a missionary, General Conference is like Christmas! Times ten! And Christmas is like...well, it's just odd as a missionary. But that's another story : )
I had a major personal milestone this week: we experienced trials and I found it in my heart to be grateful for them in that very instant! This is something I never, ever thought I would experience. I've heard people talk about it, and I understood the concept, but to actually experience it was amazing.
I think it all came together when we received a message from Joshua right before sacrament meeting. His vicar strongly advised him to stop meeting with us and Joshua chose to take his advice despite his spiritual witnesses of the truthfulness of our message. I was gutted on the phone. I felt such anger towards Satan. I felt frustrated and depressed that we failed. But then there was a little voice in my head that said, “Have you really failed?” Joshua had used his agency, but in many ways that had nothing to do with me. That matter was settled, and the battle was now inside of me; I could choose the outcome in my heart. I prayed for hope and patience. My heart was calmed and I felt hope. I was comforted and persevered through the rest of church with a genuine smile on my face. I was the Master of my soul in that instant and in just a few seconds I became more like the Saviour.
If life is a training ground, a place to learn, that means that the only failure is when you don’t learn from an experience. Every hard experience (whether you are a missionary or not) it makes the future manageable no matter how daunting it may seem.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Miracles this week: amazing support from the Wigan ward as we taught triple the lessons with a member present than a normal week! Someone at church snuck homemade cookies into my bag. I truly feel so blessed to be serving here; the saints are wonderful!
We had a great exchange with the Liverpool sisters. My beloved Sister Gong came to Wigan to work with me! She has grown and strengthened so much since our transfer together! Especially her testimony and her love for the Saviour and those around her. I felt charity exude from her as we worked together. She is seeing blessings in her family back home; she's so strong! I know I've grown a lot since then as well! We just couldn't stop talking about how fun it was to be together again and witness those changes.
It also made me more aware of the changes going on in the mission. I didn't realise just how much I have incorporated "teach people, not lessons" into my work. It's been a focus in the MTC and in missions around the world for a year now and we're finally seeing it take hold here in the EMM. We are seeing more fruit as we do it and the Spirit comes into our lessons more powerfully. In addition, it makes the work much more fulfilling personally because I feel I have the permission to connect with people! Which reminds me, Mum, you'll be happy to know I can now get the life story out of the grocery teller in 30 seconds flat : D just taking after you.
The exchange also helped Sister Jack and I appreciate one another's strengths and hit the road with new found enthusiasm! Sister Jack never ceases to amaze me. She's a gem! (banister ; ))
Just to interject: This is an ode to Martin, the library worker. We've made friends with him and last week we mentioned how this is our only day to e-mail our families. He was so concerned! Suffice it to say, he loves us and we get special treatment now : ) We always get just a bit more time even if there is a que to use the computers after us. So, if you are enjoying the longer e-mails, thank Martin. (THANK YOU, MARTIN!! from Mum)
There were a few stressful moments this week as we tried to support our two dated investigators who are both wavering. Jim is just getting cold feet in general and Alex is struggling with tithing. I've learned a lot from it. It came to the point last night where I knew we had done absolutely everything we could. I turned to the Lord in prayer and realised that it has been a long time since I've actually asked the Lord to do something for me. I have learned to follow Nephi's example of prayer, "Okay, that's what you want me to do? Where do I go? How should I do it?" But last night I knelt down and just felt helpless. I had done everything in my power. I didn't need revelation or information; I just needed help. As I prayed that the Lord would take care of our investigators I was reminded that they are His children first. I was calmed by the Spirit and these words flooded my mind: Be thou humble in thy weakness and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answers to thy prayers. I have learned to love humility. When I am humble I feel safe; I feel the Lord's relief at being given permission to support me. I do feel his arms around me when I am humble. I don't know what the future holds for Jim and Alex who I love so much, but I know that I am right with the Lord, and I suppose that is what counts.
We have continued to teach Harold this week. He's mildly enthusiastic...he's only read up to ALMA 29!! In a week! He knows the Book of Mormon is true : D now our goal is to help him connect that knowledge to his actions. It will be difficult for him to leave his own church. But the Spirit has moved in his heart. Keep him in your prayers.
I've continuously been struck this week by the word "minister." I've found its meaning has morphed in my mind. It used to mean to me a pastor or a teacher. Just lately I've thought of it more as a spiritual nurse, or nurturer. Almost like someone "administering" spiritual treatment. In the scriptures, ministering angels not only teach, but they console. They lift and encourage. I feel that my "ministry" can be that, too. As the Spirit attends our lessons, our investigators are consoled! And as we anchor all of our teachings in the Saviour and the Atonement they are ministered unto. It's beautiful to be a part of.
Here's a picture of Molly from a few weeks ago...
Monday, September 5, 2011
What a wonderful week it has been! As part of the new training curriculum they have said that the new missionaries are supposed to be trained in such a way that they are ready to train by the end of their twelve weeks. Well, Sister Jack is ready now : ) She is honestly such a wonderful missionary! Yesterday in Gospel Principles (the class for investigators and recent converts) we learned about talents and it just struck me how the Lord put us together because we compliment each other. Her talents make up for my weaknesses. It's really great to see. I have a testimony that the Lord does transfers. One thing that I loved was a question that she asked last night:
"Sister Davis, even though tomorrow's P-Day, are we allowed to speak to people about the gospel if we want?" Yes! She's caught the vision. She is both feet in the work. We are already teaching with greater unity and feeling the Spirit.
We had the beautiful baptism of Trish on Friday! The Spirit was very strong. There was a miscommunication on the programme and it was announced that I would do a musical number. When Brother Aspey said it, Trish looked back at me so excited: A surprise! Well, it was a surprise to me, too. Thank goodness Sister Maughan had come back for the baptism and so, with a bit of pantomiming in the back, we were able to wing an impromptu duet of “I Stand All Amazed.” I think we actually pulled it off as well! The speakers were great and the Spirit of the whole thing was that of love and fellowship.
Trish is so dear to me; kindred spirit. She was so happy and nervous all at once! She has a fear of water and but she did great. The Lord actually really tested her courage as her knee wasn't fully immersed the first time around and so she had to do it again! But she was willing and it all came out fine. She felt so triumphant afterwards and so happy. She kept saying, "I just can't stop smiling!" She will be a great strength to this ward. Her little Conner (18 mos.) means the nursery workers will actually have something to do! He is full of energy : ). She was also talking to some of our other investigators afterwards and encouraging them. The ward showed great support and they are all very excited at the missionary work going on. There were several testimonies from ward members centered around it yesterday [in fast and testimony meeting], actually. I really know that the good things that happen are because the ward is prepared and willing to welcome new people in.
We went on a tour of the church history sites as a Zone Conference this week. I saw them in the MTC but it was really wonderful to see them again. The Church History tour also cast my mind back to our progenitors and inspired me in the work the rest of this week. They truly braved the storm as they sacrificed for what they knew was right. I am so grateful to have that heritage to be true to!
I wanted to briefly share an experience I had at tea with a member a few weeks ago. Her name is Judy Sutherland. She must be in her forties and she's this gorgeous little thing with a big heart! She was hit in a cross walk as a young adult and suffered brain injuries and all sorts. Her recovery has been miraculous but there are still traces of brain damage. As we were teaching her a lesson after tea she started speaking and just bearing her testimony. The Spirit was so strong! She was more on topic than she ever has been in the past and she suddenly looked at me and said, "And the thing is, Sister Davis, your family is praying for you." When she said that, my mind was caught back to all of the miracles I've seen lately. No sooner had the Spirit said to me, and it's working, Sister Sutherland continued, "...and it's working!" It was a powerful experience. I feel your prayers often and I am so grateful for them.
Yesterday was fast Sunday. When I awoke this morning I had this overwhelming sense of peace and protection. I just immediately knew that someone - perhaps several people - fasted for me. It didn't surprise me at all, Mum, to hear you say that. Thank you!
And thank you for praying for our dear investigators who have been handed off to the Elders. We have hope that they will be able to help them! Joshua and Anson are both progressing : ) We need a bit more time to teach them before they make the covenants one does at baptism. Right now they are both looking at the 16th of September. Pray for them! And also pray that we find the many more humble gospel-seekers that are in Wigan. I've come to realise that humility is really the only pre-requisite to learning the gospel!
First thing to report on: Sister Jack. She is wonderful! She is full of desire and she was ready to just hit the road running. I think of all of the Christ-like qualities, she most exhibits diligence. I'm re-learning that the Lord provides miracles for first-transfer-missionaries. My favorite this week is that whatever we role-play in the morning, it seems the Lord gives us an opportunity to use it during the day. Sister Jack faces her fears head on. We just got off a bus where she was moving around, speaking to everyone; what a gem. Sister Jack is full of good ideas for the area and she's not shy about sharing them, which I love. I know that the Lord must really have miracles in store for Wigan because He sent her to them. They will soon see how lucky they are to have her. I feel lucky to have her! We definitely compliment each other.
Trisha is all set to be baptised on Friday. She is so excited! We showed her the font on Sunday and that put her mind at ease. She has a fear of water, but the Lord is giving her courage. We taught her about tithes and offerings this week and the Spirit was so strong! She is very humble; very teachable. When she read in the Book of Mormon about Lehi and his family leaving their riches to go into the wilderness she immediately related it to her life. She says that since she has left certain things behind, tea and coffee in particular, she knows the Lord will lead her to a promised land. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels when your investigators are being taught by the Spirit! We also have two others who are working toward baptism on the 9th of September: Joshua (age: 36) and Anson (age:20). How blessed we are to be teaching these wonderful children of God! We're focusing on building up our teaching pool so that when we hand these over to the ward as recent converts we still have a few to work with!
Other developments: They just put a set of Elders in the ward with us. Elder Hanchett (former ZL) and Elder Reedy (in training). They were put in a brand new flat in West Houghton, which is way out on the edge of the area. They are starting from scratch and bless them they are doing a fantastic job. The hilarious thing is I've only been here for a transfer and now there are three missionaries that are depending on me to be the know-all. They'll learn soon enough : )
I feel so much hope for the Wigan ward. They are fantastic at sharing the gospel! So I've been taking every opportunity to tell them so; and last week at coordination I saw the fruits of my labours: ) Brother Aspey turned to all the new missionaries and said, "Don't we have a friendly ward? They are great at missionary work," and he meant it! I couldn't help but smile. People just do not give themselves enough credit.
We had the opportunity to attend the temple yesterday. I asked the Lord to give me a vision; a theme for the transfer if you will. He did: Sacrifice. I am prepared to sacrifice more than ever for the Lord, and for Sister Jack, in these coming months. We'll see how it goes!
Monday, August 29, 2011
So MUCH has happened in the last ten days. Start with transfers.
I am staying in Wigan and I am training again! Her name is Sister Jack. She is from Massachusetts (we both have Boston in our blood) and went to BYU for a degree in Math Education. Nanny probably knows her grandmother, Elaine Jack - the former General Relief Society President. Just one more to add to the list of companions who have changed my life : ) She really is wonderful and we already get along so well.
So, you know that there is a new programme for training new missionaries now? I am so excited about it! Especially because I have seen both sides. It's so inspired and thorough, I feel like after a year I am finally being trained! I've been batting around the idea of asking them if I can just start over my mission now since I feel I finally know how to be useful to the Lord - do you think they'd buy it? Well, in any case, we had a special meeting as trainers to learn the new programme. The Training for Trainers meeting was fantastic! We went to the Mission Home where Sister Preston made us a gorgeous meal. We went through the curriculum together with the Assistants. I especially loved how the whole meeting left me with a Spirit of love and excitement, not fear.
One of the changes is that we get an extra hour of companionship study, and it is fabulous! So useful. This morning was only the first time, but I am already feeling a distinct difference. This would have worked wonders for Sister Lovell and me! At the meeting, Elder Gallacher (one of the Assistants) compared training to a toothpaste tube: we should squeeze out everything we've got. Every time I use my toothpaste now I think of that. It was genius of him, really. I can't brush my teeth without thinking, "Am I squeezing everything out of this opportunity?" A great reminder.
Our dated investigators are all progressing so nicely! Brad has hit a bit of a roadblock with tithing; he accepts it, but he just doesn't accept that he can actually do it-- money is that tight. We have the feeling though, that as he continues to read the Book of Mormon and feel the Spirit, his faith will increase. He is very sharp and understands things so well, but having faith in them takes practice (John 7:17). Pray that he will take that step of faith.
Elizabeth is right on schedule and just so excited to make this covenant. The 2nd of September is her date. She rings us to set up appointments! I hardly know how to take it! The Relief Society sisters in the ward have really taken her in and I think she feels right at home.
There is one more now: Jacob who is twenty and comes from a very rough background. We taught him the Law of Chastity last week. The next day on the phone he told us that he had gone through all his movies and music and binned the inappropriate ones. Hurrah for Israel!
This is a wonderful area and we are being wonderfully blessed. Jacob is shooting for the 9th of September.
I am so committed to being 110% this transfer. Time stops for no Sister Missionary and I want to seize the transfer! We are on the verge of miracles. Thank you for your constant support. You are all very strong. I know the Lord is with you.
Remember Alma 26:12.
What a miracle week! We had a baptism and we have two new investigators who are amazing! Stephanie is the girlfriend of a member in Preston. She's 23 and has a little boy, Edgar. She's smart, funny, so sweet and faithful. One of those kindred spirits. Harrold is a thirty-something recent divorcee who is now the mother and the father to his perfect six-year-old, Missy. He is a joiner (builder) and is just very humble. They were both mistaken for members at church yesterday : ) So funny. They fit right in.
Gordon's baptism was flawless. Well, almost. The boiler was broken : D so he got a good ol' pioneer baptism! It's a fun story for him to tell now. The ward stepped in and just took care of everything (including supplimenting the ice-cold font with thier own bucketfulls of hot water as much as possible. It was well-attended (by investigators and members) and the Spirit was so strong. Gordon is such a dependable, quietly conistant young man. Sister Maughan and I were discussing it, and we realised that he never cancelled a lesson! He was spot on every time. The ward loves him and he loves the ward. His mother came to support him as well. She doesn't understand why he would leave their family religion (Church of England) since she sees religion as more of a title/tradition than actual lifestyle. She's slowly starting to get it, and I know she felt loved at church. He will do great things in his future! We feel so privileged to be able to teach him.
Things are well. This week will have to be short, but I love you so much!
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
do e-mails and I was going to have to sit down and write you in
literally two minutes. I was typing frantically!! Anyways, the nice
library man just came and told us he worked some bookings so we could
have thirty minutes! The Spirit was working on him. Do you know how
great this job is? The Lord is the best boss ever. He takes care of
Alexander will be baptised on Friday!!! He is prepared. He's excited. He's
worthy. He's so great. He sacrificed a medieval fair (where he was
supposed to dress up in chain mail and act like a knight) to come to
church yesterday. What a champ. We also took him to the mission home
fireside. The Spirit was so strong there and he came away on top of
the world. There were three recent converts who spoke about their
conversions. Their love for the missionaries was touching. I think
President Preston has made it his personal mission to ensure that each
missionary in this mission knows how loved we are. He made everyone in
the room who loved the missionaries raise their hands and then said,
"See? See? Everyone loves you! You're so great!" It was cute.
The area is thriving!
We had a special Sisters' Meeting this week where they "enforced" the
new dress and grooming standards. They encouraged us to start dressing
fashionably again. It hasn't been hard for the Sisters in the mission
to embrace. Everyone's really excited and I think it is helping each
of us to express ourselves again. It's easy to become a mindless,
emotionless, gospel-sharing robot, believe it or not; but those days
are over! We are now lovely, dynamic, personable young women with
strong personalities accompanied by a strong spirit. To coin a phrase
from President Bullock, we are being ourselves, just the best selves
we can be.
I just finished the book of Alma this morning. I don't know if I'm
just emotional this week or what but the stories have been moving me
to tears all week! The people were so courageous! Moroni is
ridiculously valiant! And the army of Helaman; don't get me started. I
was just so humbled as I read about their examples of faith and hope.
They trusted their mothers. What a tear-jerker! I see so clearly the
parallels of war between them and our day. We are in a war. We are on
the front lines, but only if we chose to be. We can be courageous and
fight the good fight. None of these are new insights but they
definitely hit home differently than ever before this week.
I really do joy in serving the Lord! Thank you for your support!