Monday, January 24, 2011

Loving life in Lancaster--for one more week

Denford has been doing really well! We are preparing for his baptism and it should be great. I will be a new area by then, but I'm sure the Sisters will write me all about it.

Have I told you at all about Mr. Lesley Wilson? He is in his eighties and so humble! Most people at that age give up on changing their life or views...but not him! We met him tracting and he says he doesn't know why he invited us in (the Spirit....) but he's so glad that he did! He loves everything about the gospel but is especially touched that he will be able to see his wife again. He lost her ten years ago. We invited him to pray to ask if the Book of Mormon is true and the next day when we saw him he said he received his answer! He said, "I felt guilty asking Heavenly Father if what you were saying was true because it looked like doubt. But then I realised I had to do it because you told me to!" He made it through the dilemma and came out the other end with his own witness : D The Spirit is so wonderful. Mr. Wilson is planning on being baptised on the 12th of February (when we asked him he flipped through his calendar..."Yes, I definitely look free that day...let's do it!"). It has been a joy to teach him.

We have a new investigator, Taliesen, who is so genuine! He is eighteen has had a really rough life. When we asked him what it would mean to him if he knew God was speaking to a prophet he took a long time to answer and said, "It would just mean...well, everything to me!" He is determined to read the whole Book of Mormon and can't wait for a spiritual confirmation. He said he always knew there was a Higher Power ("I never feel like I'm alone...there's always someone watching out for me.") but it would mean everything to him to be able to feel contact from Him. I felt so privileged to be able to promise him he will get an answer! This message really is incredible.

I have absolutely loved this transfer! I never want to leave Sister Lau and Sister Shen! Or Lancaster! But this is all about sacrifice, isn't it? My sacrifice study will be continuing a bit this week and I think it'll be expanding to include sanctification. I'll include all of the above next week.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Lord Prepares the Way...

This week has been full of blessings! The sowing (i.e. finding) last week reaped great rewards for us (i.e. lessons) this week. It truly feels miraculous that we are accomplishing so much! We are teaching new people and really fulfilling our purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ.

We have, of course, faced challenges. Our investigator, Caroline, feels strongly that God told her in prayer to stay away from the Book of Mormon. She told us that when she made her decision to stop investigating she felt more peaceful and happy. We immediately realised that she is feeling undue pressure. We tried to explain that feelings of relief are different than feelings of peace from the Spirit. She said she wants to continue reading the Book of Mormon but she is somewhat afraid to. She agreed to keep it up and we will be going by again next week to check up on her. The Adversary is clearly working very hard on her.

On the flip side, we had a big surprise this week! There is a man from Zimbabwe, Denford, who Sister Anderson and I found during her last week here. In our first lesson he explained that he already went to our church in Zimbabwe and that he had been baptised. He has been coming to church for two months and the ward loves him though he is difficult to understand. We have been teaching him as a less-active and last week he sheepishly asked if it would be possible to be baptised into our church! The sisters and I were in a bit of a daze. We did a really thorough inquiry and found that he was only investigating the church in Zimbabwe. He was baptised as a child into a different Christian church. He didn't think he could be baptised twice but says he really wants to be baptised into our church. As you might imagine I felt simultaneous elation and guilt! I can hardly believe we've been working with him this long and never knew! Denford is planning on being baptised on the 5th of February.

We are also teaching an elderly man named Leslie Wilson. He is at least eighty and so humble! He lost his wife ten years ago and says that he just wants to know once and for all if God is there. Most people that age just give up and say they are too old to change, but not Mr. Wilson! He's an avid reader and we are really excited to see his conversion through the Book of Mormon.

Did I ever tell you about Katie Benson? She is a woman that we taught right before Christmas and then disappeared. She is so sweet and prepared and to our dismay we lost contact with her after the new year. Well, last night we felt prompted to be on her street tracting. We have stopped by her many times to no avail but I just had this feeling to try once more. She was in! She came to the door and just threw her arms around me! Her phone broke and she has all of these family issues come up. There are a lot of other things/people that were getting in the way but she was so happy to see us and we will be visiting her again tomorrow. She needs the Saviour's help!

My companions are such great examples to me and I am loving our time together! I just wish it could last forever. I have felt more joy and satisfaction in the work the last three weeks than I ever expected to. Sister Lau is a perfect example to me of...everything really! I think she just might be perfect. I thought I was being exactly obedient but we've really brought the standard up a notch. I am trying really hard to acquire her traits before this transfer is over! Particularly, I hope to coming away with more dignity, more diligence and more love for the Lord. Sister Shen continues to amaze me with her diligence and focus. She really remembers the needs of particular people and you can tell she knows why she came on a mission. I told her about Julie Wang and she wants to know where she lived in Taiwan. Do you know?

I've been able to play violin at church two weeks in a row! It's been really great. I haven't lost as much as I thought I would. I have full confidence the Lord is blessing me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Still Lancaster, but better!

This week was a miraculous one in Lancaster. We are building up our teaching pool and our finding has been literally ten times more effective. It seemed that every night as we were adding up our numbers our jaws would just drop at how many people set appointments with us! I am sure it is attributed to several things, not the least of which being the incredible faith of Sister Shen and Sister Lau! I just want this transfer to last forever because I am enjoying it so much.

I had a bit of a revelatory moment in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. I was having a hard time focusing and I realised I was feeling irritated. When I examined my feelings my closely I discovered that I was feeling urgency! I realised I would have rather been out finding people to teach - to really teach - than sitting in church. Of course church is vital and there is plenty of missionary work to be done there, it was just the first time I've realised how much my heart really is in this work. I just have this desire to change lives! I'm really feeling urgency to share the gospel. I recognise that this is a blessing from the Lord. It is driving me to seek more earnestly for the elect. We must be right on the verge of finding them.

We found one of them yesterday, actually! Her name is Caroline. We were right on time for her first lesson and no one was in. We wrote her a note and should have gone straight home for tea, considering how hungry we were, but for some reason we stayed on the street to knock by a couple other potentials. Five minutes later this boy came running after us. He breathlessly said, "Come back - my - - mom - is home - - now!" Caroline had been late and when she found the note she sent little Joe after us to bring us back. We sat down with her and had a miracle lesson.

The family just moved in at Christmas. They are "gypsies" but have decided to settle down. There are a lot of "gypsies" in this area. Omit the gold hoops and tambourines from your mind. They just call themselves that because they are a bit more nomadic. They live in trailers, typically, and their children still go to school and they still have jobs, etc. Caroline is a type of Born-Again Christian and she believes strongly in miracles. She loved what we told her about the Book of Mormon, agreed to be baptised when she receives an answer (by the 29th if she has an answer by then) and invited us back three times a week! She has often wondered why there are so many different faiths, how she can know who God really is and how He answers our prayers. We were able to address all of those questions and will continue to on Tuesday! Caroline was a great gift from Heavenly Father at the end of our week.

Sister Shen's English is coming right along and she continues to be hard-working and faithful. For part of language study I work with Sister Shen on pronunciation while Sister Lau does Chinese. It is good fun being involved! I've also picked up on a few things in Chinese. I can say, "My name is Sister Davis," "I speak very little Chinese," and "We are sharing a message about Jesus Christ." Hopefully I'll be able to do a prayer soon. I'm really loving it. They have also cooked oriental food for me, which is fabulous. I'm really spoiled to be in such a good companionship.

The University students are expected back this week, which is very exciting! I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store with these Chinese students. We are anticipating miracles.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Two of my favorite sisters


On New Year's Eve, our dear friend, Alex Mackensie dropped in for lunch with Molly and her companions. Molly had no idea she was coming so you can imagine her shock! Alex actually served in the Manchester England Mission so she was even more thrilled to see the work going on first hand. She took photos which I will post here. In the first one, left to right: Sister Lau, (who is from London and spent some time at BYU-Idaho) Sister Shen (who is from Taiwan and is brand new in the mission), beautiful Sister Davis, and gorgeous Alex Mackensie.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Threesomes and Obedience

The trio is settling in quite nicely! Sister Lau is such a great example to me of dignity. She is always professional and considerate no matter what we are doing. I feel that we are just as dignified in the flat as we are on the streets, which I love! It helps us to maintain the Spirit throughout the day.

Sister Shen is a great example of diligence. Her head is always buried in some book! She never takes a break or complains, and she is already a forever finder! When we give her the reins she truly stops everyone. I was so nervous to be in a trio, but I already love it! It's great to have one more support as well as one more person to serve. I've been really happy with these two. They really are incredible.

Last night we had roughly an hour and a half to tract together and we saw tremendous success! I've never had a night of tracting like this one! We had really good conversations with fifteen people and six of them invited us to come back. I think the Lord was blessing Sister Shen for her sacrifice because it was the coldest night she's ever experienced in her life : ) The University students come back in a week, which we cannot wait for! The work is just going to explode, especially with Chinese speakers!

This week's study on obedience yielded great fruit as I came to the realisation that without it, none of the other attributes of Christ are attainable. Faith, hope and humility lead us to obey. As we obey with patience and diligence the Lord can bless us with knowledge (strength of mind), virtue (strength of spirit) and charity (strength of heart). Feeling stronger increases our hope in the future and our faith in the Saviour. As we recognise the true source of that strength we are humbled and desire to obey His teachings. Thus the cycle continues and we become ever more like Him. Obedience is so key! The joy we experience in serving the Lord really does depend on where our heart is!

I love you and I love this work! Hurrah for Israel!

Monday, January 3, 2011

She's STILL in Lancaster with two Chinese companions!

Transfers went smoothly. We had Sister Snell all packed up and the flat clean and welcoming in plenty of time. The Office had to rearrange our apartment and put in an extra bed. The bedroom is a bit small and so the three beds are lined up right next to each other. It's like a slumber party every night for five weeks!

My new companions are Sister Shen from Taiwan and Sister Lau from London. Sister Shen just got here so she is being trained by Sister Lau. Sister Lau actually went to BYU-I before her mission! She studied political science so we don't know if we ever met (you know me: Snowed in) but she had a fit when she saw my box of Florence's chocolates! She thought is was the funniest thing! Amazing how the Lord keeps giving me companions that I have so much in common with.

Sister Lau is so patient. I'm constantly taking mental notes of things to remember for when I get to train! She seems to just think of everything and always makes sure Sister Shen is in the know. Such a great example. They've taught me a bit of Chinese in down time and so far I can say, "Hello," "Good bye," "missionary," and "story." Just give me a few days and I'll be inviting people to be baptised! It's good fun and I'm really excited to witness miracles this transfer.

Twenty four hours and Sister Shen has already changed my mission. She is just learning English and she is the most positive, humble, lovely person. I keep choking up when I think of all the additional fears she is facing. She is concentrating so much on being a useful instrument to the Lord that she doesn't have time to be distracted by discouragement or doubt. It has taught me a lot. I may know English and be able to teach lessons but I'm far from being the best instrument that I could be. If I focused on sharpening my skills in listening to the Spirit the way that Sister Shen focuses on English I can't imagine the miracles that I could facilitate!

Last week as I was studying diligence I read Elder Eyring and something he said really jumped out to me. He said, "You will become more diligent as you feel the magnitude of the trust God has placed in you." I began to pray for a greater understanding of the magnitude of our calling and the Lord has been giving it to me. Brother Appleby (a recent convert - the first baptism I saw) asked us what role the missionaries are supposed to take in the ward. I explained that once someone is baptised the ward takes care of them. "So, the ward takes care of each other and the Sisters take care of everyone else in Lancaster?" That one caught me off guard and made me think, am I really caring for everyone else in Lancaster?

We were talking to the coach driver on the way back from transfers and he asked how many missionaries there are in Lancaster. When we told him we were the only ones he was shocked. He said, "You're in charge of telling everyone here about your church? You better get to work!" He is right. There is no time to waste when there are so many we are responsible for! There is far to much work to be done to feel doubt or apathy.

The Lord is strengthening me! I feel it so tangibly since my new companions came. I love being a missionary because that strength comes whenever I am humble enough to ask for it! He never fails to fulfill His promises.


I loved hearing about the new auditorium! Incredible what the Lord is doing in Rexburg.

Something great that happened this week! On Tuesday, Sister Snell and I were hurrying to an appointment and, in our usual friendly manner, said hello to an older gentleman. After a few seconds he turned back with a puzzled look and loudly inquired, "Who are you anyway??" He must have been thinking he knew us! We've never had that response and I haltingly responded from a distance, "Uh...we're missionaries!" He grumbled and waved us away. We set off again, quietly laughing between us at the absurdity of the situation. After thirty seconds we heard this, "Hey! Excuse me?" We turned to see a bright-eyed, brown-haired, thirty-something year old man running after us. He asked, "Are you evangelising?" I was a bit on guard as I said, "I wouldn't call it that exactly...but we are sharing a message about Jesus Christ..." He sensed my wariness and assured us that he loved evangelising (he actually said that, "I love when people evangelise!" When do you hear that?). He had been on his mobile phone but heard me shout that we were missionaries and ended up running after us (the Spirit was prompting him, I know it.) He introduced himself as Will, the chaplain of a high school down the road from us. He told us briefly of his own discovery of God as a teenager and also how he travelled with some Mormons in Norway years ago. He knew we read the Bible but had not heard anything about the Book of Mormon! The Spirit was so powerful as we taught and testified of it and of our Prophet. We set up a time to see him after the New Year. I can't quite describe the epic feeling I had as we talked to him, but it was powerful! The Spirit just whispered to my heart, "Yes. This is why you're here." I love being a missionary when people are receptive!

My study of humility this week was based mainly on the words of Alma to the poor Zoramites. He teaches them that we can be humble without the Lord compelling us when he says, "because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?" He later elaborates, "or, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God and is baptised (or repents) without stubbornness of heart."

I want to trust the Lord so much that I go and do whatever the scriptures say without being compelled! It is difficult to keep your heart soft for the Lord to mold, but easier than letting it harden and the Lord break it up again! I love the story of the Current Bush by Hugh B. Brown (we have it on CD and we just listened to it this morning! We must be on the same brain wave :) ). Doesn't it increase your trust in the Lord? That any pain He allows you to feel is for your good? That's what it does for me.


I could write volumes on what the Lord taught me about patience this week! The insight that seems to have had the biggest effect on me was this: indifference is not patience. Too often when I don't get something I want now, I convince myself that I don't care. (for example: an investigator doesn't come to church, or an investigator doesn't read the Book of Mormon, or an investigator falls back into bad habits, or an investigator drops problems seem to all have the same ring) I avoid irritation, anxiety and anger by not really putting my heart into it. On the outside that looks like patience, but inside you are losing the growth that comes from continual yearning and the power of faith. Patience is painful, but as James E. Talmage said, "In mercy, the Father sometimes delays the granting that the asking may be more fervent."

Patience is not simply waiting, either. As Elder Uchtdoft said, "Patience requires actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results don't appear instangtly or without effort." We must not get discouraged or lose faith as we continue to work toward our goals with delayed results. Easier said than done, of course : ) but isn't everything about the Gospel?

We have the most amazing new investigator! Sister Snell and I stopped James McKenzie in the street in the evening last week. He opened by saying that he didn't want to talk and he'd just really had a bad day. (This is why it's good to be persistent!) I don't remember how we kept the conversation going, but he agreed to have us over. Neither of us knew what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised. He is a twenty-year-old scaffolder and one of the most humble people I've met. The lesson went smoothly. He really felt the Spirit as we spoke of Joseph Smith and he offered to be baptised before we even invited him! We were explaining how in the Book of Mormon we learn to have faith, repent, be baptised by-- and he cut us off. "Yeah! My cousin was christened last week and I've been thinking I should get baptised. Where can I do that?" We were amazed. He is so willing. Last night in our lesson we discovered that he works for his uncle who is very, very demanding. He calls James in at odd hours and doesn't give him the time off that he promises. James is exhausted and we felt prompted to share with him about keeping the Sabbath holy. Rachel, an amazing twenty-something in the ward, was with us and she pulled out Mosiah 4:27. When he heard, " is not requisite that a man should run faster than he have strength..." his jaw dropped. He told us that answered all of his stress. It was so amazing to see him feel the peace that Heavenly Father wants him to take a break! It taught me how practical the Gospel and the commandments really are. In his prayer, James told Heavenly Father that he was "definitely going to start reading this book properly." That was his third lesson and he thanked us for always cheering him up when we come. He says he just can't help but smile when he sees us smiling! What a joy. The Lord is blessing us.