Saturday, December 31, 2011

She's extending!!

We had a glorious hour on Skype with Molly on Christmas Day. She simply glows with the gospel. She's happier than she's ever been. And she's not coming home until March 15th. I am delighted she will be able to serve just a little longer. Hopefully she'll be training a new sister! We are looking forward to having her influence nearer to us in a few months. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

All I want for Christmas Lindor from heaven!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! More Christmas Miracles...

This week we had the opportunity to go Across to a Christmas Zone Conference at the mission home. Obviously they can't fit the whole mission in there so each zone has gone one at a time. We're in the Liverpool Zone and we really wanted to attend our conference, however, the weather on the island was so bad that they considered moving us to the next week (to go with the Manchester Zone or something). If we went the following week we would miss the ward caroling at a local nursing home (which is tomorrow) and we really didn't want to do that. So we put it into the Lord's hands! Even after all the boats were being cancelled, we decided to be at the ferry terminal on time and just see what happened. And the boat went! It was one of the only ones of the week and because of the storm it took 10 hours (as opposed to the normal 3.5) BUT we got there!! And we had a great conference.

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.

More miracles on the Isle

Unreal that it is P-Day again. The weeks are flying!

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

Miracles have not ceased--on and off the Isle of Man

I cannot believe it is already Monday! The weeks really do fly by. This week especially as we were back in England ("Across") for half of it. We had a special Zone Conference in Chorley where we all attended the temple! It was so wonderful!! I feel extremely blessed to have a temple in my mission and to have been able to attend so often.

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!