Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A move to Wigan and a new companion: Sister Maughan

What a week it has been!

Burt is doing so well. We gave him a study journal as a baptism gift and he has been studying and using it diligently. Helen is also studying so well! I'm so pleased! After the talks about welfare last General Conference I determined not to just help others, but to help others help themselves. That's what I see happening with Burt and Helen. They are finding answers to their questions through the Spirit and through the scriptures. Burt had been struggling a little bit with receiving the Aaronic Priesthood. He felt that he was not ready. We had a powerful lesson with him about it and the last thing he told me was that he made a decision. He'll be ordained this Sunday! He gave me the sweetest goodbye note. I laughed; I cried; It moved me.

Sam's goodbye was really tough! He bought me the most beautiful little locket to say thank you. In his Sam voice he said, "I thought you could put a picture of your mum or your dad in it...or Jesus!" It was really cute. He also insisted that I take the violin with me! It's not really allowed, so President Preston is keeping it at the Mission Home and said I can use it anytime I need to. President and Sister Preston are wonderful! If I had more time I would go on and on. Sam is one of my best friends! It was hard explaining the no-contact until after my mission policies to him, but I think he took it well. Bless his heart.

I had some shocking news this week. Leslie Wilson, the sweet elderly gentleman that was baptised in Lancaster, passed away. He had a heart attack. Sister Lau rang to tell me. I never, ever thought that someone I taught would die. In many ways I am so happy for him, though. He was always talking about how much he missed his wife, Dora, and now they are together! And He had the Gospel in his life! I don't think it could be more perfect for him.

Normally missionaries do not go to funerals, but because of our close association with Brother Wilson, President gave Sister Lau, Shen and I permission. The funeral was Monday (two days ago) and it was a great experience. It was a joy to be back in Lancaster! How I love that place. It made it that more acute that in two days I would be leaving another place I love so much. Anyway, his closest family are his two cousins, who never really got to know the church. Considering the circumstances, they decided to have it at the Lancaster Crematorium and it was led by a Church of England minister. He had never met Brother Wilson and just did prayers and readings. It was quite impersonal. He was charismatic but brought home to me again the power of the priesthood and how grateful I am to have the priesthood in my life. I also feel so grateful to be a part of this church where people are so giving and caring. Where no one is payed and everyone contributes! This really is the true church of Jesus Christ! There is no doubt in my mind.

Even though the funeral was a bit odd, I had a very significant moment. There was a congregational hymn, "Abide with me." As we sang, the Spirit enveloped me and I got this vision of Brother Wilson throwing his fist into the air triumphantly. With a smile, I thought silently to myself "Hurrah for Israel." We beat 'em! We found Brother Wilson just in time and he did it! He was passing the sacrament as a worthy priesthood holder on the Sunday just the day before he died. Now he is with his dear wife, who has been baptised in the temple. Not too long from now, the Lancaster Ward will do their temple work and they will be sealed together. What a miracle! They have no children and few friends. There would have been no one to do the work for them in the future! We really needed to find him that day. The Lord truly needed us to knock on his door! And we did! This battle is rigorous, and there are many times it feels that Satan is winning, but in that moment I felt a victory! We really won that one. Hurrah!

It's been really hard saying goodbye to Sister Lovell! She has been a blessing to me. Just thinking of how much I love her brings tears to my eyes! I am very emotional today. The sister coming to Withington is Sister Allison from Nottingham, England. Sister Allison came out the transfer after me and we had an instant connection. She is an incredible woman! We've done exchanges together that have changed my life. Sister Lovell and Sister Allison are going to work miracles in Manchester! I am so excited for them! The only thing is that I feel kind of like the little brother that didn't get invited to the party! I feel so connected to the people there and it breaks my heart to have to leave, but I know they will take very good care of the area; and I am so excited to be in Wigan!

I've always wanted to serve with Sister Maughan and I think this will be a wonderful transfer. I felt there was a change on the horizon and I am excited to get to work! Sister Maughan is from Cache Valley, Utah. She came out two transfers before me. She has a very pure heart and is gorgeous (I'm seeing a theme in my companions...). This is her fourth transfer in Wigan and we both feel that it will be a one-transfer-wonder (another theme? Sister Anderson is the only companion I've had for over one transfer!).

I know nothing about the area (I've literally been here for two hours) except that it is between Manchester and Liverpool and there is no University. It's my first area without students! I don't know what I'll do with myself! The ward here is supposed to be incredible. I hear so many good things about it. Also interesting: they have several French-speaking investigators! So I'm excited to dive in and get to work.

I love you! Go team family! Pray for me and my adjustment to Wigan!

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