Monday, January 16, 2012

Stress? Me, stressed?

This week was so wonderful! We went Across for a Zone Conference and a Sisters' meeting.

I absolutely loved Zone Conference! I got to play Billy's violin. There is a couple over mental health for the missionaries in the European area, the Dearings, and they came and talked to all of us about stress and stress management. They also came to the Sisters' meeting the next day and went into more detail with us. Nothing like talking about stress for two hours to make you realise how stressed you really are! As usual, I’ve been in denial about it. At the Sisters’ Meeting I finally admitted that I have a stress problem and committed to stopping it. Sister Hoffman and I now call our hymn singing each morning Vocal Reverberation Under Missionary Pressure (you know,VRUMP?) We're learning how to breath deeply and just hand our anxieties to the Lord. It’s onwards and upwards from here!

In addition, I have begun a new study of diligence. I am specifically proving to myself (and the world) that one can be diligent without “doing one’s head in,” as the English might say, or running one’s body into the ground. It’s been great to feel the Lord’s gently nudges as I have discovered how to be kinder to myself.

So, guess where I got to stay during our time Across? Manchester! The Lord provided many choice experiences for us during our stay in Manchester. I had the opportunity to touch bases with almost all of my recent converts and offer them encouragement, as well as contact two former investigators and invite them to be re-taught. I felt so blessed! As for our exchange with the Manchester South Sisters, it was magical!

First off, Ode to Sister Howes: she is amazing. she is brand new in the field (two weeks) but you would never know. She is from East London, is 23 and has only been active in the church for two years. She basically considers herself to be a convert because she knew nothing of the Church growing up. I loved serving alongside her and feeling of her strength and determination. She is full of faith and hope. She is miles ahead of where I was at that stage and I have no doubt that she will work miracles in Manchester.

On Friday night, Sister Howes and I had an appointment fall through and I felt very specific direction about where we should go to street contact. We chose to walk instead of ride the bus and as we went along I had the feeling go, but not too fast. Talk to a few people. Okay, not too slow now. Keep moving. The Spirit was giving such specific directions and we just went with it. Well, the timing was impeccable as we turned the corner just to see P. M. on the street! We caught up with him and were able to have a wonderful reunion and even sit at the park and have a little lesson. The Sisters have been having a hard time getting in touch with him, so it was such a blessing!

We also saw the miracle of having a street lesson later that evening with an amazing Chinese girl, K. The Lord really did open the windows for us! It was great. I also got to have a meal with B. one night! He was so pleased and it was just like old times. He kept mentioning the family and how much he loved Max's letter. He apologises if it takes him a while to respond to your e-mails. He's still figuring out the whole technology thing.

It was so wonderful to walk the streets of Manchester and be able to testify to Sister Howes firsthand of the healing power of the Atonement as I gazed lovingly at even the street corners where I was yelled at... : D I know it sounds ridiculous but I love all of my memories there, the good and bad. Somehow the Saviour manages to totally take away the sting. What a miracle.

Manchester was lovely, but it was a relief to be back in our own area on Saturday evening! And Sunday, Sister Hoffman and I had an amazing time! Church was great and a recent convert came for the first time in two months! It was fantastic to see him there and see how the ward welcomed him back. He also brought a friend with him who wants to start meeting for lessons!

After church we went to the north of the island for a lesson. The lesson fell through and we just turned to the Lord and asked for specific direction. It was amazing what we experienced! We decided to drive into the country to contact a member referral. We didn’t have an address, only directions and the man who answered said we were at the wrong place. He pointed us towards a country road which we followed. We were coming in and out of forestry and hills (no referral in sight) when suddenly this little castle emerged ahead of us. It was like a fairytale! “Let’s see if they want to Gospel!” I said. We parked the car and entered the estate, walking up the long drive. The castled seemed to be vacant, but there was a cottage next to it which we knocked. A middle-aged woman answered. She was friendly and said she was not interested in our message but we could come in for a warm drink. We did and came to find out that P., from Vienna, was living in the cottage with her twin daughters (aged 9) for a year. She had asked Sister Kullick and Sister Rothmund for directions months ago in town and was impressed with their friendliness. By the time we chatted a little, she was interested in our message! We had a short lesson about the Plan of Salvation and she was mesmerised. We left her the pamphlet and promised to return. I can’t quite describe the feeling we had as we were walking away. It really was significant. We left literally feeling like we had walked out of a storybook (can’t tell whether it was the Ensign or Beauty and the Beast) and more importantly knowing that Heavenly Father had lead us straight to this little family. Is there any better feeling than knowing you have kept a divine appointment?

I’m so grateful to be a missionary and to have Sister Hoffman as a companion. I know that her purity of heart really allows us to experience miracles!

Ironically the Spirit helped us get to them but not get back : ) and after bumbling through the hills and valleys of the Island with sheep on either side and no road signs in sight for an hour the enchantment had worn off a little. We got to practice our new stress relieving tricks as we were half an hour late for our tea appointment : S Luckily Sister Hoffman has a great sense of humour (she kept me laughing) and so did the members!

Overall, the weeks has been very eventful and fulfilling and so will the week to come, I am sure!

It's only a failure if you don't learn from it

It’s been a great week on the Isle of Man! Sister Hoffman and I have really been striving to follow the Spirit, especially in our finding, and we have made some very good contacts. Equally as significant is that I feel Sister Hoffman is also building good relationships with the ward. She's easy to love. And the members of the Douglas Ward are easy to love!

We spent Saturday tracting on the North of the Island (Side Note: the landscapes just take your breath away! Unreal beautiful.). We feel really good about the countryside there. Several members have suggested that we tract up there and we just really feel drawn to it. It’s not as effective number wise (it takes time to get from house to house) but I have a feeling we are going to “strike gold.” Someone out there is praying for the gospel. We have met a few people who’ve invited us back already. We fasted yesterday to find a family (I don't know how you do it, Mum! every time : )) So exciting to be a missionary! I always feel like we are on the verge of miracles and, of course, I'm right. The future is as bright as our faith.

In Relief Society this week we learned from the teachings of George Albert Smith. One of the things he said was,

“What a fine thing it is to feel that we belong to a church that is or should be composed of saints. It is not sufficient that we have our names upon the records. It is important that we live the lives that entitle us to be called Saints, and if you will do that, you will be happy.”

It reminded me of something Sister Hoffman and I experienced Saturday night which involved the Clagues family. The Clagues own a little party centre (with laser tag, playgrounds, etc.) called the Fun Barn. They have always told us that we can come in anytime for a meal as they also sell hamburgers, sandwiches, chips, etc. We found ourselves without a meal appointment Saturday evening and decided to take them up on their offer (for the first time since I’ve been on-island.) Well, it just so happened to be the night the Jehovah’s Witnesses had booked the Fun Barn for a party : D : D What are the chances? The thing that really amazed me is that as soon as Brother Clague saw us come through the door he was all smiles, “Hello, Sisters! Come have something to eat! Guess who else is here tonight? (with a grin...)” All of his customers were looking at us a bit funny (naturally) but he just rolled out the red carpet and treated us like queens. He really could not care less what they thought, even if it would mean losing business (which it didn’t, luckily). I so admire him for his integrity and the way he lives his faith! He and his family are worthy of the title "Latter-Day Saints" and I'm determined to continue to live my life in a way that I am, too.

I find it fascinating that there is never a dull day as a missionary. I am constantly faced with opportunities to learn and grow. I think life in general is this way if you can only recognise those opportunities as such! The biggest thing I've learned on my mission so far is this simple phrase taught to me by the Spirit,

"It's only a failure if you don't learn from it."

It sounds simple enough, but since it was taught to me by the Spirit it has really become a part of me and it's seen me through many challenges. When we really view life as a laboratory for learning it seems easier to forgive ourselves and others of shortcomings. I’ve found it especially interesting lately as I have become increasingly aware of my motives. I don't know exactly what it is, but I seem to take a little more time to make decisions now and I've been given the gift of discerning my feelings. Earlier on my mission I might feel resistance to doing something out of my comfort zone but then duty or fear would kick in and off I would go. Now, the fear is gone and I find myself continuing to do the same things but I do them more consciously out of love of the Lord. It’s a wonderful feeling. This really is between me and the Saviour and the whole experience is so sacred to me.

I had the opportunity to bear my testimony in church yesterday. I am so filled with joy as I consider upon the truths that I know. I always knew that the church was the Lord's Kingdom on Earth, but now that I have been involved in building it up I have seen and experienced firsthand how involved He is and what power there is at the centre of it all. I love the Lord and I love His Work.

Have a miraculous week : D and I will, too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A brand New Year--simply stated on the Isle

This week has been great! Half of it was spent in Whitefield (outskirts of Manchester) where Sister Hoffman and I had the chance to acquaint ourselves and do a lot of finding! Sister Jack and Sister Low (both previous companions) are serving there now, so it was so great to stay with them and catch up in the evenings. The boat ride over was relatively smooth : ) and we’ve just been from appointment to appointment since then.

Sister Hoffman has been given the “gift of stick” (think “gift of tongues”) with the car. She is doing so well for never having driven a manual before! I told her that this has got to be the best place to learn because the Lord will be magnifying her. It's fun for me to play driving coach. It reminds me of the days when Dad was teaching me to drive stick. I have also been blessed to remember directions as much as I do after only six weeks. Oh the magnificent mantle! Sister Hoffman has already met many of the members and she seems to fit right in.

Our teaching pool is getting a bit stagnant. Though no one has dropped us we aren't able to meet with any of them often enough to see progress. We've made a point to find as much as possible this week so we can widen our circle of influence and touch some more lives!

I have many goals and improvements this transfer and I am excited to stretch myself in new directions. I really want to see growth in the members and their ability to share the gospel. It’s going to be great! There is definitely a special feeling that comes with the New Year. It’s in the air!

Ode to Sister Hoffman:

I love my new companion! She is 24, and from Simi Valley California. She is very nurturing as she is the eldest of nine children. This is her third transfer out and I'm her second companion. She knows What's Up Doc? better than I do! We don't sing unapproved songs or quote unapproved movies in the mission field, but every once in a while she lets one slip (Me: "Which street is it?" Sister Hoffman: "Vale know, with hi-fen?") and it has kept us in stitches all week. She values cleanliness and order just as much as I do (and I do, Mum! : ) This is probably one of the ways I've changed the most on my mission).

The two of us spent some time on New Years Eve just doing Feng shui in the flat and it feels so much nicer! Great to start the year off right. One thing that I really appreciate about Sister Hoffman is that she really has integrity. She is the same person no matter who she is talking to. She is also very pure in heart. She really wants to see others come closer to Christ and facilitate their families being sealed for eternity. It’s so refreshing for me to see the Gospel from her perspective. I am sure this is going to be a great transfer!

Love you all dearly! Keep up the good work.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Peacemaker vs Peacekeeper

Dear Mum, Max, Gabe and Nanny,


It was so wonderful speaking to you on Christmas! Transfers have come and I am e-mailing you from the Mainland where I am picking up my new companion: Sister Hoffman! From California.

Today we are in a mad rush, so I'm going to e-mail you what I wrote President. I love you all so very much. I promise you a more detailed report on Monday : )

Dear President Preston,

Christmas was sublime. No words to describe all of the love and peace I felt from the members of the Douglas ward and from Heavenly Father to us as His servants. People always say Christmas on your mission is magical and I can safely say that this year is was! Sister Rothmund and I were sad to see her go, but she knows she needs to move on. We have grown very close this transfer. I will always love that woman!

When we were in Swinton yesterday we ate tea with some members and one of them, Sister deCoeur, had this amazing insight that blew my mind and supported one of my goals for 2012. She asked if there was a difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker. Now, on the outside they look like synonyms but they aren’t! Someone who keeps peace avoids conflict of any kind at any cost. They are non-confrontational and settle for what may seem like peace but is, in reality, just shoulder-shrugging acceptance. Someone who makes peace, on the other hand, will endure the discomfort of conflict for the greater good. They understand that to accomplish real peace they might have to fight for it. Christ was a peacemaker. The fact that he died on the cross is evidence that the peace he brought came at great cost. His kind of peace isn’t the kind where you justify everyone’s actions so they all get along with you. His mission was to fight injustice. We must be willing to also! (see Matt. 5:9)

I am a natural peacekeeper. Sometimes I accept immediate, counterfeit peace (eg. avoiding to point out a companion’s lack of obedience in order to have the spirit with us that day) instead of seeing the bigger picture and fighting the injustices I see. This applies to all aspects of missionary work, especially in persistency with potential investigators, and it is my goal this coming year to be a peacemaker! I am going to be proactive in establishing peace wherever I am.

We’re going to have a great transfer! Sorry this is a bit hurried : ) speak to you soon!

Much love,

Sister Davis