Monday, February 27, 2012

It’s been a really great week here on the island...mostly because we didn't have any conferences to go across to! It’s beenbrilliant being able to work an entire week here and feel like we are putting our all into it.

We had the chance to teach an Anglican minister this week! It was so fun. We actually had the Spirit there, very little Bible-bashing, and he even accepted some of the doctrines that we taught him! He’d never seen the scriptures about baptisms for the dead in the Bible and he didn’t know what to make of it. He accepted the Book of Mormon and agreed to read 2 Nephi 28-30. It would be very ironic if he chose not to read it considering how much Nephi prophesies of those who will reject anything but the Bible. My hope is that he does read it and that it opens his eyes.

We also have a couple of new investigators that are fantastic! Lexi is the friend of a member who randomly stopped by when we were having tea and agreed to sit with us for a lesson. Even better, she agreed to another lesson! She is passionately Anglican and has served a few missions herself in India. She is intrigued by our beliefs : ) Can't wait to share more! The other, George, just moved in next to our ward mission leader. He recently lost both of his parents and wanted to start going to a church again but didn't know which one. It seems we tracted into him just in time. Miracles are happening, as usual : )

When we met with Shandre this week she had the greatest news! She has been trying to move back to England for three years (ever since her husband's death) and couldn't ever sell her house (still can't for that matter). She has commented once or twice on how that might have been so she could meet us : D I love how the Spirit teaches her. Long story short, she has been looking to buy a house in Cheshire and for over a year she's had her eye on one in particular. She was looking at it, yet again, on Google maps this week and saw something that caught her eye. Guess what is 300 yards down the road. A chapel! OUR chapel! And she thinks it's a sign, which of course it is. She said that she thinks she'll join the church but she's not sure when. SUCH a big step in the right direction! I'm so excited for her : D : D

There was a baby blessing of a less-active couple in the ward yesterday. It was really nice to know that their little boy is now a child of record and that he will be counted among the Lord’s flock and looked after. It was also great because many of the less-active couples’ non-member friends came to see it. I suppose a baby blessing is viewed by other as a sort of Christening and so at least twenty came to support them. We got to speak to a lot of them afterwards and there is one, John, who showed some interest : ) Hopefully we will be able to teach him soon.

I really feel Sister Doherty and I increased so much in unity this week! It was so great to be on the island the whole week and do so much work together. We really get along and a few members of the ward have commented on how they can see we are friends and we work well together.

Overall, I feel so blessed to be in the Lord’s service! I never want this time to end... President Bullock always said, "We drink from wells that we didn't dig and walk across bridges we didn't build." Now I am digging and building for those who will come next, and I'm doing it with my whole heart in gratitude for those who went before me.

I love you all SO much! Have a fantastic week!

Let us all press on!

What an inspiring week we had! I LOVE being a missionary!!

Sister Doherty is excellent as ever. She values the Spirit and leads our companionship in exact obedience in order to have it : ) Love her to bits.

We had the opportunity to teach a new investigator this week, Shandre, who is the daughter of a fairly recent convert. Shandre lives with her boyfriend and she just found out she is having a baby. They are engaged and she knows that they should get married, so we are really hoping that it happens sooner than later! Our lessons with her have been really great. She’s really bright and I think that now that she’s starting a family the Gospel is something she really wants in her life.

We are also spending a lot of time finding new investigators! We are focusing on praying that we find the ones that Sister Doherty and I are specifically meant to teach while we are together. Our transfer goal for baptisms is 2 and we are anxiously engaged in bringing that miracle to pass!

I absolutely know the extension of my mission was inspired! Remember at Christmas when I said I felt that I had one more person to train and that’s mainly why I offered to extend? It was true! I just know that the Lord wanted Sister Doherty and me together this transfer. In addition, we had another sister return home for medical reasons this week. If I wasn’t here they would have been down a sister and have to close an area for up to a month! There is nothing better than seeing your life unfold and realising that you are exactly where the Lord wants you. The joy of being used by the Lord to accomplish his work and glory is unparalleled. Our very own Heber J. Grant said, “I believe there is nothing in all the world that can compare with the joy that a man feels when he realises that he has been the instrument in the hands of the Living God of reaching some honest heart, inspiring in it a love of God and the desire to serve Him.”

We experienced a lot of mini-versions of that as we followed the Spirit this week. I think the entire week was a lesson to me in following those little promptings. We had many experiences with helping ward members at just the right moment, and I wouldn’t want to share the ones that are confidential; but suffice it to say that most of them are people we had no idea were struggling in any way but just felt drawn to at exactly the right time.

One situation that didn’t have to do with the ward was Saturday morning when we were getting ready for the day. I had to call President for something and I thought to myself, "That can wait. No need to do it now." But something whispered, "You should ring him now." So I did. He told me about this sister who is going home and said it would be good for me to talk to her, too. So I did and we ended up having a really good, long talk together right before she left to go home. The Lord wanted us to have that conversation and for her to have a chance to tell me what she was going through. It was so inspired and I am so grateful for the way the Spirit leads and guides us!

The best moment of the week, though, was at Zone Conference where I organised my last zone conference musical number. We sang a medley of "For All the Saints" and "Press Forward Saints." It's kind of hard to describe how amazing it was but I'm going to try. As "For all the Saints" drew to a close we arranged it so that the Elders sang that Alleluia and then the sisters emerged with the Allelulias from Press Forward Saints. And then, as they finished, Elder Hopper started a tenor solo, "Press forward saints with steadfast faith in Christ.." joined by Elder White, "With hope's bright flame alight in heart and mind..." joined by two others (spreading exponentially : )) "with love of God and love of all mankind" the whole choir "Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!" Well, I completely lost it. I couldn't sing the second verse with them. With tears streaming down my face I turned around so that the whole Zone Conference could join in on the last verse and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life. People were just weeping as we bore our testimony in song of the divinity of the message we bear. "Thus, saith our God, Ye have eternal life!" Whew, I'm tearing up here in the library. It was so amazing. And then I got to stand up immediately after and attempt to bear a departing testimony to my fellow missionaries. I'm not sure they understood any words I said between the weeping but I'm sure they got the feeling behind it : ) It was truly moving and I will never forget how powerfully I felt the Lord's love for those Elders and Sisters.

This work is TRUE! And we will have eternal life as we press on enduring in the ways of Christ. The way wasn't easy for Him and it certainly won't be easy for us, but He's with us every step of the way. I know that to be true.

Love you all! Press on!

Miracles and more miracles

Wow! There is so much to catch you up on! A few more details about this transfer to start:

Sister Doherty isn't the only one transferred to the island; we also got one of my favourite senior couples, the Canons! I served alongside the Canons in Manchester for over four months, so it has been so fun being with them again. They already love the island, especially because they have ancestors from here. Like me, the Canons finish their mission in five weeks.

Sister Doherty is adjusting very nicely. We get along well and have lots in common (like our favourite colour: tiffany blue : ) She almost died when I said that! so fun)

They had all the new missionaries give their testimony at church. Sister Doherty’s testimony was so perfect and I know everyone just loves her already! She talked about how she was first introduced to the church by a friend from school. This friend has a gorgeous family, apparently, and Sister Doherty told her, "I don't know what it is, but you Mormons are just always so good-looking!" Her friend later gave her a Book of Mormon that said in the front, "Your key to being good-looking." She made a few more friends at church and then started seeing missionaries everywhere. It didn't take too long after that for her to accept lessons and after two months she was baptised. She is so excited to give back to the Lord by serving as a missionary. That was sixteen months ago, and we worked out that by the end of her mission she will have been a full-time missionary longer than she's been an ordinary member!

It’s always great to bring a new sister to the ward because it is like seeing it with new eyes again. I love this ward so much and I can see how we have impacted them positively. Every time I got to introduce her to a ward-member I was just overwhelmed by how much love I feel for each of them! Truly the greatest miracle I've seen on my mission is how my capacity to love has enlarged.

Yesterday, Jane Whitmore brought her YSA daughter to church and we were able to set up a lesson with her! We’ll be seeing her tonight and I’m so excited. We saw Corinne and she’s coming along slowly but steadily. She looks up all of the cross-references in her dusty old Bible and she has connected that since she started meeting with us she feels a lot better emotionally. She loves the Spirit and it is slowly healing her heart. She is scared to come to church, so please pray for her! We also taught a former investigator, Karl Bronfield, who we hope will begin to progress. Other than that, we have made several good contacts while tracting and we are hoping to see miracles. We have been praying and pondering over a baptismal goal for the transfer! Can’t wait to see what it is : )

Speaking of miracles, I've made them a topic of study this week. What would you do if someone told you they believe in God and the Bible, but they don't believe that those kind of miracles happen today? What would you do if a member of the Church told you that? Unfortunately, I have known it to happen. Moroni saw our day and he saw these people. You have to read what he says to them!

And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles. Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God? Who shall say that it was not a miracle that by his word the heaven and the earth should be; and by the power of his word man was created of the dust of the earth; and by the power of his word have miracles been wrought? (Mormon 9:15-17)

So often we are oblivious to the miracles that are happening all around us. I have to agree with Moroni! Who is to say that the creation of the Earth is not a profound miracle? Or the fact that the planets are in perfect orbit around the sun as to enable life to exist on the Earth? Or the fact that we can put a seed in the ground and it grows into a tree?

The Bible Dictionary says, “Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher... they are [only] wonders, marvels, because of the effect produced on those who saw them.”

We have the choice to see miracles in our lives and many times that choice is simply acknowledging them. But on top of acknowledging the miracles that we already have, Moroni teaches us that our faith has a direct effect on the miracles we experience.
And if there were miracles 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 changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles 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 trust. Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth. (Moroni 9:19-21)

And neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God. (Ether 12:18)

Even when He was on the Earth, Christ could not work miracles that superseded the faith of those involved. This was most apparent when he returned to his “own country” where it is said, And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. (Mark 6:5-6)

God has not changed. His power is still real in as much as we allow Him to work in our lives. I truly know that. There are so many people in the ward at the moment with health problems it breaks my heart. We had a funeral last week of the still-born baby of one of my favourite members. She was seven months along and they have no idea what happened. We had permission to go as I am the acting ward pianist and it was so special. I am so, so grateful for our knowledge of the Plan of Salvation!!

As we have shared our thoughts about miracles with the families of the ward one by one we've really seen a light come back to their faces. We are doing everything we can to uplift and encourage them. I know that we cannot ask the Lord for miracles that are against his will, but better to ask for too much than live so far below our spiritual privileges. And besides, even if we were to overstep our bounds, we would be in the best company, even that of the Saviour who asked for His own miracle but submitted to His Father’s will, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Let each of us resolve to have the faith to see miracles this week. Let us bring our Father joy as we allow Him to bless us!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

He leads me along...

I don’t know if you remember two weeks ago that I said, and I quote,
“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.”

Well, we struck gold this week!

We felt so strongly about this road in Andreas, and we went to it,
despite it being so far away and quite illogical. We weren’t very well
received, until Peggy answered the door. She is this spunky
sixty-something-year-old who lost her husband two years ago and still
finds herself mourning. When we said she could see him again, she
started to well up and then just said, “Right girls. This is what I
want to know. Prove it to me, please.” We asked if we could prove it
indoors (out of the cold) and she let us in. As we sat around the
kitchen table of her lovely home she cried and told us of how she has
been asking all of the pastors in the area and none of them can really
tell her what happens after this life; they just vaguely say that she
will probably be with him in some form or another. Well, we had an
opening prayer and then laid the scriptures before her and taught her
the Plan of Salvation. By the time we reached the three kingdoms of
glory she looked at us in amazement and said, “That makes so much
sense!” I want to cry here in the library just thinking about it. The
Spirit was so strong and it was such a beautiful moment.

We met with her two days later and she had read the entire pamphlet,
answered all of the study questions, looked up all the scriptures and
come out with a list of questions herself. IT WAS AMAZING! She made it
very clear that she doesn’t want to be pushed into any religion
(Sister Grimshaw, our widowed recent convert, came in very handy at
that point) and at the end of the second visit I said, “Well, Peggy
(sigh) it has been very nice getting to know you…” and she said, “Well, are you coming back again or aren’t you??” : D Of course we are! This time we are meeting at the church so that she can get a feel for it. I really have good feelings about

I feel so blessed to know the Truths of the Gospel. It is a privilege
to teach them to sincere seekers like Peggy. In the end, the
knowledge we have of the Plan of Salvation is the only thing that
pulled me through after Dad's death. Everyone needs it, and I am so
glad that some are humble enough to receive it!

We’ve also been blessed to have seen many less-actives this week and
four came to church! We are really helping them come unto Christ. Our
Ward Mission Leader, Brother Holden, taught Gospel Principles and he
just tailored it exactly to each of their concerns and challenges.
Mostly he taught about how our faith strengthens when we exercise it
and obey the commandments.

I feel so blessed to be serving here at this time.

Hurrah for Israel!

Fairytale tracting

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 Paul 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 hold of 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, Kate. The Lord really did open the windows for us! It was great. I also got to have a meal with Billy 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, Tony Duggan 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 castle 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 Pauline, 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 mesmerized. 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 Pauline.

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 Pauline 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!

Love you all so much!