Monday, September 19, 2011

Wigan Ward is Wonderful

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

Prayer changes things.

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!

Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven...

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!