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!