Monday, May 26, 2014

26 May 2014

Happy Memorial Day! That's not a thing here, so it's actually pretty lucky that I knew it was Memorial Day. Good thing we sang the Star Spangled Banner for companion study this morning anyway :)

Not much to report on this week seeing as all my emailing time is eaten up by typing out my talk and sending a billion pictures. So I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. Sadly I didnt get a picture with Sister Davis on my camera, but she has one on hers. 

Highlights of the week:

- Members drove us around all day on Wednesday and Saturday because they were teaching with us and those just so happened to be the two days that it rained. #luckyducks

- Sister Davis and I concluded we are going to be plane buddies all the way to Vegas, which is great news because I don't want to be alone.

-I was in Chelmsford with two of my most favorite sisters ever, Sister Karyan from Armenia and Sister Gorniak from Tasmania. It was Sis Karyan's last exchange on her mission, it was an honor!

- I went to the doctor because the past few months I've developed some really painful sore type things on both feet that make walking like a real hassle, and I discovered that I have developed a few verrucas. Did I know what they are before? No. But I have learned from sad experience, and the doctor told me they kinda just go away AFTER A FEW YEARS. Bummer. 

-Yesterday was Sister Curtis's birthday! Yay! We had a very fun day full of fun things and fun presents and fun teaching and church. And I gave a talk which I've posted to the blog. Enjoy.

Ok so next week is moves, so I wont email until Tuesday. Fingers crossed Sister Curtis and I stay together here in Ipswich! We really are having a blast together. Love her. Ok, love you all! Have a great week! 

My sacrament meeting talk- 25 May 2014

So often in life when we or a loved one makes a mistake, we repeat the affirmation, "nobody's perfect." We have all come to accept that as fact. And it is true that the only person to ever live a perfect life was our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He knows better than any of us just how prone we are to imperfections. Yet we read throughout the scriptures His command to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt 5:48). Why would Christ give us such a direct command that He knows perfectly well we cannot fulfill? In the footnote to that invitation in Matthew, we get a better understanding of what is expected of us. It explains being perfect as being "complete, finished fully developed, suited, ready." To me, that is the Saviour pleading with us to become who Go wants us to be, and to use His Atonement to get there. So who are we now and who are we meant to become?

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord."- Mosiah 3:19

Our task is to become a saint, become perfected, through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. This verse in Mosiah goes on to give some good suggestions as to how we can do that, which the prophet Moroni sums up in the invitation to "come unto Christ and be perfected in Him" (Moroni 10:32). President Ezra Taft Benson said, "The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behaviour, but Christ can change human nature."
This change can only happen if we allow it to. Thats why Moroni's invitation is to come unto Christ, not wait for Him to come to us. We absolutely need the enabling power of His Atonement to make any lasting or positive changes in our lives. In the Bible, James says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:10). You can't do anything of eternal value of our own strength.
Elder M. Russell Ballard said, "It is only through the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ that people can overcome the consequences of bad choices. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it wouldn not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. Works- as good as they may be- are hollow unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Christ."
WE need Him. We are like a lump of clay. We can't become a sculpture or a vase or anything but a lump of clay without the Sculptor or the Potter molding us in His hands. So be humble enough to put yourself in His hands. We become trusting enough to put ourselves in His hands when we understand better His grace.

I meet a lot of really great Christian people that think we as Latter Day Saints don't believe we are saved by grace. It is definitely only through the grace and mercy of the Saviour that we are saved. We cannot earn salvation on our own. But what would be the point of reaching that salvation without being changed? The goal of the Father's plan is for us to return to Him better than we left Him. Maybe we should focus more on being changed by His grace, not just saved by it.
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that wemay obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
These invitations to come unto Christ, come boldly to the throne of grace, mean that Christ will not force His grace upon us. So when does His grace become sufficient for us?
"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength,then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God" (Moroni 10:32).
As we "deny ourselves all ungodliness" we avoid temptation and sin. When I was 13, I was learning to play French horn. My teacher would often tell us, "Practice makes permanent." If we make it our practice to give in to every temptation that comes our way, we may find ourselves permanently subject to the adversary. But if our practice is to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit," the changes we make in our lives to become more like the Saviour will become permanent. He has given us tools to work at this perfection He expects:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect" (2 Tim 3:16-17). As we study the scriptures diligently, we can receive the guidance we need to become perfected.

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry,for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12). Listening to and following the counsel of our prophet and priesthood leaders can guide us down the road to perfection.

"Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in [our] faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:10).  Praying and making God a major part of our decision making can help us make the decisions that will lead us to real growth.

A mission president by the name of Lawrence Corbidge said, "You are the sum total of all that you have thought, done, said, seen, heard, and felt in this life and before. You change immediately with each good act, each good thought, every good word changes you for the better. When you willingly obey the principles of the gospel, you are changed by the Spirit of God to become incrementally more like Him. The degree of change with each small step of obedience may be small, but it is real and immediate."

I know as we consistently come unto Christ through the laws and ordinances of His gospel, we will become perfected in Him. This perfection will take time. And it won't be easy, because nothing worth doing is ever easy. In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord said, "Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected" (D&C 67:13). Be patient with yourself. His grace is sufficient for you as you put forth your best effort to be changed. I love the Saviour and this amazing opportunity He gives each of us to be changed and to grow into the person the Father wants us to become. I know He lives, and He has restored the truths and authority necessary for us to make the right changes through a prophet of God today. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

​Sorry not sorry

Sister Curtis and I on the massage chairs at the cinema this morning.

20 May 2014

So sorry I didn't email yesterday. Our PDay was moved to Tuesday this week because we had interviews with President Jordan yesterday. This week has been absolutely brilliant. On Tuesday I was in Southend with Sister Stewart from Hong Kong and Sister Alipio from Brazil. They were really fun. It was an especially good day because I had THE MOST FUN teaching. The investigators we taught were very open, but challenging. That's the funnest kind. One we taught in the evening named Ivan left a big impression. He had come across anti-Mormon stuff and was trying to corrrect us, bust as we continued to bear testimony and challenge him to ask God and not rely on what we or anyone else says, his heart softened. His countenance changed. He committed to read and pray. It was amazing. 

Wednesday I was in Romford on an individual exchange with Sister Ranieri from Italy. She is hilarious. And she is good friends with one of my MTC buddies, so thats way cool. We had a really fun time, and we did a lot of finding. We set a goal to have on street lesson in a half an hour, and we ended up having two so we treated ourselves to ice cream, and ended up having another lesson with the lady at the ice cream stand. Awesome! One thing I love about the Romford sisters is that they share in my love of nerdy things. When I got to Romford, Sister Ranieri handed me a Hogwarts letter with a bunch of Harry Potter stickers. Score. 

We found a lot of new people this past week. On Friday, a youth from our ward named Emily (who I am pretty sure reads my blog so....hi Emily!) came out with us, and we were able to find a lot of new people with her. She is seriously awesome! She always helps us teaching, and it was cool to give her her first finding experience. 

Sunday our investigator Rebecca came to church with a member family, which was awesome. We have mostly taught Rebecca over Facebook, and it has been really successful. We are able to talk with her a lot more than we would be without Facebook. And she loved church. She is seriously one of the best people I've ever taught. All her answers are mint. She feels the Spirit. We extended a baptismal invitation to her and she accepted! She is already teaching all her friends as school to pray. I can definitely see her going on a mission one day, and she will be a great missionary. 

Yesterday we were in Cambridge all day for interviews. I love talking with President Jordan. He has helped me so much to develop into the missionary and the person Heavenly Father needs me to be. And it is always so fun to see him and Sister Jordan. Sister Jordan gave us some trainings on the Book of Mormon which were absolutely epic. I don't think I can say enough how blessed I am to have such amazing people leading our mission! 

Today for PDay we are just shopping and chilling. I'm trying hard to get Sister Curtis birthday presents without her looking, but the whole sight and sound thing makes that difficult. We went and got massages in the massage chairs at the cinema this morning, that was fun. 

This week I'm on an exchange with Sister Davis from Las Vegas tomorrow. Yay! And on Thursday I'm in Chelmford. Essex, mate! I'm excited, should be a good week!

Monday, May 12, 2014

​The Cambridge zone. Back row: Elder Berenguer, Jensen, Taylor, Sister Taylor, Greenfield, Pauna, Curtis, myself. Front row: Elder Brunstad, Stevenson, Evans, Rea, Dickey, Green, Jensen, Pienaar, Da Silva, and Smith.

12 May 2014

I don't really have any super big updates this week. It has been a really good week though. Well, mostly.

On Tuesday we had zone meeting in Bury St. Edmunds. It was a really spiritual meeting, I was able to feel the Spirit really strongly there. Sister Curtis and I did a training on prayer which went pretty well. I actually really like giving trainings, I end up learning so much more. On Wednesday I went to Cambridge on an exchange. I was with Sister Greenfield from Sheffield, and Sister Pauna from Sydney, Australia. Sadly, I don't have a picture because we never got around to it. But it was exciting to be in Cambridge because I have always wanted to serve there. One thing I noticed was that there are SO MANY BIKES. Like literally every person in the city rides a bike. It was great. I had a great day with those sisters. They are both a transfer older than me in the mission, so it was a really cool experience to get to learn so much from them. And they are hilarious. We went to an American sister's house for dinner. This sister is probably my age, met and married a guy from England at the U and moved to Cambridge. She was really really funny. I forgot what it is like to be around Americans really. 

The rest of the week we worked really hard in our own area. We had a lot of success teaching with members. We had a lot of lessons on Facebook too! That part was pretty cool. I was a fan of that. Online proselyting is such a miracle, accomplishes so much in a much shorter amount of time. 

On Saturday there was a homecoming party for a guy in the ward that just got home from his mission. That was pretty fun, and this ward knows how to throw parties with good food. I think Mormons in general do really. 

Sunday we taught Gospel Principles, that was fun. I was asked to talk in sacrament on the 25th about Moroni 10:32. I'm excited for that, I've never actually been asked to speak in church my entire mission except for like intro testimonies. It should be fun. 

This week I am going to Southend tomorrow on an exchange and Romford on Wednesday. Essex, mate! Should be a party. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 May 2014

Happy Cinco de Mayo! It has been a really great week for us. I am having an absolute blast in Ipswich, it is a blessed land!

So last Monday after emailing, we went and got fish pedicures. Like where the fish eat your dead skin. It felt so weird! My feet were definitely softer afterwards though. Cool experience. Todays Pday plans include going to the cinema where in the lobby there are massage chairs and getting a massage kind of hahaha. We were there the other day seeing how much it would cost to rent out a screen and show Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration as a community activity outreach thingy, and we spotted those chairs. And then we are going to go home and chill. It will be splendid. 

So this past week has been amazing because we started it by having 0 people on date for baptism. We ended the week with 3 people having dates for baptism, all in the month of May. Miracles! On Thursday we had MLC in which President Texeira, the area president, came and spoke to us. We set a mission goal for 50 baptisms in May and he talked to us as the leadership that in order to own our mission wide goals, we need to be leading from the front and being significant contributors to that goal. Its possible, and with the Lord on our side and putting for our best efforts theres no way we cant do it. Our God is a god of miracles!!! It really was an inspiring meeting, in which my testimony was strengthened. But like any church meeting, if you sit and listen and think oh thats nice but never do anything about it, nothing good can ever come of it. So as soon as we got back from it we got to working harder, praying harder, and believing harder. At MLC, Sister Jordan gave us each rock taken from the river Ribble, the site of the first baptisms in England, which took place just 8 days after the first missionaries got here. I carry it around with me everywhere to remind me whose team I'm playing for and that that team is 100% guaranteed to win. Every time. 

As we walked out of MLC at Hyde Park, I turn the corner and see Arthur standing there in the visitors centre. It made me so stinkin happy! He was there for the employment centre. I got to chat with him for a few minutes, he is doing so well! He is just the greatest, so good to see him. 

So we are teaching this family of Romanians, like a whole lot of them, that dont come to church with us because they say they go to the Romanian Pentacostal church down the street from them. So we told them we would go to their church if they came to ours. They didnt come to ours this week, but we went to theirs last night and it was quite an experience. I didnt understand a single word being said because it was in Romanian, but they sang catchy songs. It was a cool experience to have, really. Glad we did it. 

So this weekend was stake conference, and 5 of our investigators came! It was all about hastening the work of salvation, member involvement in missionary work and whatnot. It was really great, and I think all in attendance were inspired to not just increased faith, but increased action. A big principle that has been pushed with members here is the Breadcrumb theory, that instead of shoving a whole loaf of the gospel at our friends, we lay breadcrumbs to get them interested and then eventually invite them to eat the loaf. Well, it is an understandable dillema that lots of members get stuck at the breadcrumb stage and never get to the invite. So one RM that spoke told us, "Man cannot live on breadcrumbs alone. There is no conversion without action." It was very powerful. I love stake conference!

Coming up this week, I am in Cambridge tomorrow for zone meeting and again on Wednesday for an exchange. I'm excited, it will be my first time going there, and I'll be with sisters I absolutely adore and I know I'll learn a lot from. And then we've got lots of miracles awaiting us throughout the week. It should be a good one. Love you all!

​In Great Yarmouth, this lady walks past us with this pink poodle. Seriously.

​Sister Oliviera and Sister Schubert on our exchange in Great Yarmouth. They are both from Brazil.

Fish pedicures last PDay. My face describes how weird it felt.