Monday, August 29, 2011

Wigan with a new companion: Sister Jack!

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.

Pioneer Style Baptism...

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

Tender Mercies

We just experienced a tender mercy! There was no time slots for us to
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!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Molly's new companion Sister Maughan

What a beautiful companionship!

One Year Done!

Well, yesterday was the 31st of July. A year out! It’s hard to believe. Time has flown.

It's surreal when I think of all that has happened since I sat on that plane at the front end of the biggest adventure of my life so far. I am overwhelmed with joy when I think of all of the experiences I've had since I first stepped foot, exhausted and jet-lagged, in the Preston MTC. I've been going through old planners this morning so I could give you an accounting of what I've done. I loved the letter Bapa wrote on his one year mark. Here’s my cheap imitation of his genius (which is okay because imitation is the best form of flattery):

Months in the field: 12

Companions: 10

Areas: 3

Miles walked in a skirt: roughly 2,000

Buses missed: must be more than that : )

Gospel conversations with strangers on the street and in buses: apx. 3,750

Rejections on the street: quadruple that (not bad--it’s because we are sisters and people are nicer to us.)

Appointments where we were stood up: 832

Lessons actually taught: 433

Times I bore my testimony: over 5,000

Prayers offered: innumerable

Prayers answered: each and every one in His timing

Baptisms witnessed: 7

Tender Mercies: too many to count

Miracles? Yes. Every day.

Growth of character and testimony: immeasurable!

As Bapa says, the fruits are evasive and difficult to measure, but as I reflect on the past year I feel triumphant. I can confidently say that, with the Lord’s help, the past year has been my life’s greatest accomplishment! The numbers really mean nothing to me. It is the memories and the strength and testimony I have gained that I am astonished and humbled by. I will never be able to repay the Lord for the gift this year has been. How grateful I am to have six more months (possibly seven and a half? Who knows?) to be His servant!

Sister Maughan and I had a humbling experience this week. The Lord reminded that although we can often feel the Spirit, it takes a lot of hard work to understand what it is saying. When we were planning for Tuesday we felt like there was something missing in the morning. We didn't have any appointments and so we had planned on street contacting in a neighboring town. We both felt unsettled, but nothing else was presenting itself. We prayed earnestly, searched all of our records, pondered, prayed some more, but we just couldn't put our finger on it! As we were getting on the bus to go to --- I had the impression, "Did you forget something at the church? Maybe you should go check." Well, Sister Maughan and I couldn't think of anything that we left at the church; so we got on the bus. A few minutes later we had a phone call from an unknown number.

"Hi. It's Hal ..." Hal...Hal.. "Hal Lewis. You met me near TESCO the other day."

Hal! We had felt the Spirit very strongly as we spoke to him. How could we forget?

"Hi, Hal! How can we help you?"

"I'm just wondering where you are. I've been waiting for half an hour and the church is locked."

We had an appointment to teach Hal for the first time! We were just kicking ourselves. We have that many contacts dodge us we just completely forgot. We promised we would be there in an hour if he could meet later. He said,

"Why would I go in an hour if you weren't here the first time?"

Really kicking ourselves. We just apologised and he agreed to come back. Well, he didn't. We went and set up and waited and waited and Hal stood us up. Giving us a taste of our own medicine, presumably. We were devastated! Now we were remembering how good we had felt about him when we stopped him. We were seeing how the Spirit was trying to direct us to the church but we were just too thick to get it. It was horribly frustrating!

However, knowing that we tried our hardest and the Lord works through our weaknesses, we prayed earnestly that we would get a second chance with Hal. The Lord let us be humbled for the night and the next day, Presto! Our prayers were answered! He answered his phone! We were able to teach him briefly about church and he came both to a ward BBQ on Saturday and church yesterday. He says he feels something there he's never experienced, which of course we know is the Spirit. We are teaching him the Restoration lesson tonight and we can't wait! His life is falling apart right now: family, job, everything. He's very humble and we are so grateful that he and the Lord both forgave us! Pray for him.

Moral of the story: the Lord is merciful!

Ralph needs your prayers! He is worthy to be baptised this weekend, but he's facing opposition from everyone in his life it seems. He wants it so badly but Satan is so against him. Due to several circumstances we felt it is best to push the baptism back. He has more light in his eyes, colour in his face and spring in his step. Truly wonderful to see! Please pray that he will be given strength beyond his own this week.

Sebastian is set on being baptised the 12th of August! He'll be great. His testimony is just blossoming!

I totally love this work!! Obviously this week has been a time for a bit of reflection, and I feel so grateful that the Lord has enabled me to become so much of the missionary I know I can be. It's a blessing. There is always a long way to go, which I recognise, but I thank the Lord for how far I've come.

3rd Week in Wigan--learning about Charity

This week I've learned the value of listening to the Spirit and remaining positive! We are facing challenges with Ralph and particularly his testimony. We do have hope he's still going to make it, we just recognise that it is a bit out of our control (D&C 123:17). He is living the Word of Wisdom (miracle!) and he still wants to be baptised on the 29th but he isn't really wanting to get involved in the ward. It is a big life change and he's just resisting a little bit. We moved him to the 5th of August. We are praying that he has the desire to really commit to the Lord.

On the other hand, Jonathan is progressing rapidly! I didn't tell you too much about him last week. He tried a career in acting and since that isn't panning out he wants to join the army. He's never really had faith in God but the prospect of going to war has motivated him to find faith. His testimony is growing and he loves that we are following up with him each day with his Book of Mormon reading. On Sunday at church he seemed to be expecting us to ask him something. I finally asked, "So, how did you enjoy chapter 12 last night, Jonathan?" He beamed and proceeded to rehearse a verse that he liked! He memorised it and gave it like a dialogue. I could just see the trailer for the next Book of Mormon film (deep epic voice: "Jonathan Hillborough as Nephi..." Jonathan: "I will go and do the things the Lord has commanded..."). Guess you'd have to know him to see why that was so funny in my mind! He is beginning to identify the Spirit as he prays and reads, which is what we have been praying for. Wonderful!

Tom Lewis came to church and enjoyed it! We think he'll be making progress this week.

Sylvester is changing and softening. It's a miracle to see the gospel change people!

The work is brilliant! We had lots of funny moments this week. The days seem to come in themes:

Tuesday was bus-drivers-love-us day.
Wednesday was are-you-from-Finland?-day.
Thursday was bus-drivers-hate-us day.
Friday was dog-slobber-day (don't ask).
Saturday was every-member-that-ever-married-the-elder-that-taught-them-come-up-and-tell-us-in-front-of-our-investigators day (they were the first three people that have told me that on my mission and they all came in the space of an hour; so much for trying to explain rules and regulations to our investigators!)
Sunday was the-Wigan-ward-is-simply-wonderful day.

Sister Maughan and I are discovering that we are incredibly similar! We are joyful!

This week my studies have been revolving around charity. There were two scriptures that have always puzzled me a bit. Paul teaches us in 1 Cor. 13:1, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

How is it that we could do all of those good things and we are still nothing without charity?

Moroni says the same thing, though, in Moroni 7:46-47, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."

Again, though we may do many good things, without charity we are nothing. As I pondered on this I discovered the key in the last phrase of Paul's: it profiteth me nothing. Surely doing all of those good things without love behind them will profit others and further the Lord's work, but it will leave us empty. We can be obedient to God's commandments, but unless we are doing it out of love, unless we have pure intentions, the service cannot be fully effective. Without charity it cannot change us; we cannot become like Him.

It reminds me of Elder Bednar's talk "Clean Hands and a Pure Heart."

Also, our previous mission president gave us a document he had compiled titled "The Sacred Missionary Document." It describes three categories of missionaries: social, honourable and sacred. We are all striving to be a sacred missionary. A social missionary doesn't work (dirty hands), an honourable missionary works but perhaps with the wrong motives (clean hands and impure heart) and a sacred missionary works with charity driving her (clean hands and pure heart.) In the end, the sacred missionary is the only one who was truly happy and truly changed from her mission because her heart is in it. She learned to love God and love the work. The honourable missionary does good works and she can make an impact on others but her actions don't make an impact on her because she wishes she was doing something else. What she did was honourable and the Lord is very grateful, but He wishes for her sake that she had really consecrated herself. She has become as a tinkling cymbal. As Elder Bednar says, "Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire for sin."

As I look back on my mission I realise that it became joyful and natural when my desire caught up with my actions. I think the most beautiful part of this is that the desire to be obedient, the love that will drive you to action, is only a prayer away. From the mouth of Moroni, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure."

If you find that you are doing what the Lord wants you to do, but deep down you want to do what you want to do, pray and ask the Lord to educate your desires. He will. I know because I've experienced it!

Miracles are happening here; and Satan is doing everything he can to keep us from accomplishing them! But I know he will not succeed as long as we remain humble and obedient.
Thank you for your prayers! We both feel them.

Molly and her Favorite Violin Maker

2nd Week in Wigan

England is rainy again. It's been "chucking it down" as they say, all weekend!

The Wigan ward is wonderful! I was so warmly greeted at church and everyone is so willing to help out with the work. They greet our investigators and are more than willing to fellowship. Sister Maughan and I really feel that there can be miracles here through the ward members. The organisation is there! They are doing things the way they are meant to be done. I pray that the Lord will inspire us because I really want to reap the harvest that we can see in this ward. We continue to speak to everyone we meet and find investigators on our own, but you know and we know (and President Hinckley knew) that the real miracles happen when the members find investigators! We'll see how it goes.

Our most progressing investigator right now is Ralph Stewart. He is twenty-two and lives on his own. He was married and divorced before the age of 18; no children. We haven't asked too much about that. He was raised casually Catholic and his favourite thing about going to mass was confessing. He said it always felt good to get things off his chest. He really identified with repentance when we taught it. The thing that really draws him to the church is that when we repent we aren't just confessing but we actually want to change. We are becoming new. He wants to become new. He met sisters on the bus the day that he resolved to change his life and saw it as the hand of the Lord (which it was.) He's trying to be baptised by the 29th of July. He's come to church twice, and the ward (which is predominately older folks) loves him. We went over with the Ward Mission Leader, Brother Aspey, after church and he and Brother Smith gave Ralph a blessing. Before the blessing we talked about prayer and faith in Christ. Preach My Gospel says that if you have faith in Christ you trust Him completely; if you have faith in Christ you are confident that He loves you. I asked Ralph, "Do you trust Jesus Christ completely?" He said "Yes; enough to turn his life around." I then asked, "Ralph, are you confident that Christ loves you?" He hesitated. I could see an internal conflict ensue. He screwed up his face and said, "I guess he loves me as much as any other person." It was not very convincing. Sister Maughan and I glanced at each other: bingo. He is trying to bear this load on his own because he feels guilt and he is unsure of God's love. Brother Aspey was so inspired in his blessing! He told Ralph how much the Lord loves him. The room was filled with the Spirit! Ralph was told that the Lord has great intentions for him and that through joining the church he will be able to strengthen and develop talents he never knew he had. He told Ralph that he would accomplish things in his life he never thought possible. The Spirit truly testified to me that that is true and that Ralph is a valiant son of Heavenly Father. I feel so honoured to be teaching him! The battle has only begun, and we know that, but we are committed to stick with him to the end. He's going to be okay. But this is between him and the Saviour. Please pray for him!

Others you can pray for are Sabastian (from Africa: speaks French) and Jonathan (English YSA: he's hoping to be baptised the 5th of August.) And pray that we find those that are prepared! I know they are here, it's just a matter of finding them!

It is such a comfort to know that the Lord is the head of this work. The miracles I'm seeing lately, especially with Ralph, are just completely out of my power! I know that He is doing it! I've really identified lately with D&C 123:17. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. Yes. Be cheerful. Work hard. Trust that the Lord will make for our inadequacies. As true for you civilians (as I like to call you : ) ) as for us missionaries.

Sister Maughan is wonderful! She works very hard and with a pure heart. She knows why she is here and works accordingly. I feel blessed to be serving with her! We are quite similar and already feel we are teaching in unity. We've also seen miracles in our finding. People have been quite receptive since I got here. We have many good conversations each day and set solid appointments. Sister Maughan is also a fast walker! I used to be faster but I think my body is starting to protest. My setting apart blessing counselled me to listen to my body and so Sister Maughan and I are trying to work smart instead of just working hard. We take buses whenever possible and allow more time to get places so instead of just ploughing through we can speak to people and be kinder to our knees. It's working out well. We have set some transfer goals together and both of us feel very strongly about setting the goal for three baptisms! We've told the Lord we will do whatever He asks to accomplish that.

The area is thriving but I intend to leave it better than I found it. I truly love this work! Love and adore the three of you. Thank you for your prayers. I really feel them!