Monday, September 29, 2014

Sister Mlcochova and I. The town the sisters live in is called Brandon.

Elder Mitchell and Elder Nolan, my youngest sons.

​Our first born in the wilderness, Elder Brunstad. And that's Sister Jones, of course.

29 September 2014- This is it.

So this was a very interesting week, one where I saw the hand of the Lord in the work very clearly. 

On Tuesday we had zone conference in the Ipswich chapel. It was quite nice to not have to travel far for it. It was three zones together, and the theme of the day was the Book of Mormon. SUCH a powerful meeting. I learned so much and just generally strengthened my testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon. It is a miracle that we have it and it is a blessing to be able to study from it every day. Sister Jordan trained on how to teach investigators how to successfully study the scriptures instead of just say "Read it." President trained on the power of the Book of Mormon in conversion, and gave two really brilliant trainings on the translation process of the Book of Mormon and historical/geographical evidences that it is true. Mind blowing. The big take away, though, was that the truth of the scriptures will always remain in the realm of faith, and it is that way because God wants it that way. He won't force us to believe. I think that is a really beautiful part of His plan. 

After the conference, our investigator Colin, who is golden beyond belief, came to the chapel and President taught him with us. It was epic. Great lesson in which we got to apply the things we had just learned in the conference. All the missionaries leaving the chapel was sad because there are a lot that I will not see again. Pictures forth coming of me and my "sons". Well, 3 of them at least. 

Wednesday I went to Thetford for an exchange with Sister Mlcochova (can't pronounce it? Thats ok, no one else can either) from Czech Republic. This is her 2nd transfer. She is excellent! We had a fun day, and on top of all of that I got to ride around in a car all day because it is a car area, so that was nice. We helped a family from Texas unpack their boxes from moving. Later that night we went on the American military base to teach a lesson. Long security check process, and we weren't allowed to wear our badges on base, but it was a really neat experience. We taught an American in the home of some American members and it was well weird. I don't know how I'm gonna adjust to American accents all the time. 

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, our planners were filled up with appointments. We were booked solid. Except, although we confirmed all of them, every single appointment cancelled. Every one. Even the confirmed ones. How annoying is that? But it was all in God's wisdom, because we were really blessed to find some amazing people because of it! 

We had just been hosed in the park, by an investigator that has hosed us before, and so we went to finding. We approached this Chinese guy on a bench. His name is Simon, he's from mainland China, and only knows the name Jesus Christ but nothing about him. We took him to the nearest members' home and watched Finding Faith in Christ with him, he was well interested! He is a really nice guy, I hope we can at least help him develop faith in the Saviour in the short time that he is here in England. 

Sunday we got to an impromptu appointment early, so we tracted some houses. The second door we knocked, a young mother came to the door. She kind of believes in God, but is very on the fence after not having prayers answered. She was really open. And turns out, she has a 12 week old daughter born with a heart defect! So we kind of got to relate over that, and I was able to bear testimony how the gospel has brought our family peace in times where things seemed bleak. We will see her again on Friday :)

Well, this being my last official email from the mission, I guess I should say something special. But honestly I have no words. I love my mission. I love these people. I am so blessed to have my life touched by the amazing people of England. I want to thank everyone who has read my blog, because I wasn't really expecting anyone to. Hope it has entertained you. I am so sad to be leaving this amazing place and these brilliant people, but, as President Monson says, faith is always pointed toward the future. I have had this quote on my planner this transfer:
" In His plan, there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."- President Uchtdorf
I guess that is what brings me comfort, that it doesnt have to end, not really. As sad as I am to leave, I'm excited to be able to see all of you again! Talk to you next week! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

​Sister Oliveira, me, Liam, Lois, and baby Nicklaus out to lunch. They are such an amazing family, I love them!
Me and Shane, the great-grandson of our recent convert Eliza. He is adorable! 

Sister Abby Wright from Logan, Utah. In Norwich, obviously!

​Last district meeting! Elders Adrian, Toledo, Yeap, Neilsen, Pullig, Vecchi,  me and Sister Eastin

22 September 2014

I finally went to Godric's Hollow today! It was delightfully quaint little English village. Beautiful countryside driving out to it. I will miss that so much. England is truly beautiful. 

So last Monday night, we had a YSA FHE and took an investigator with us to watch the CES Devotional from D Todd Christofferson. It was epic. He said exactly what our investigator needed to hear at the time, I just hope his heart was open enough to get the message. It was a really fun night. 

Tuesday was my last district meeting ever. That is the weirdest feeling. I love pretty much every missionary meeting. And we have a fun district this transfer. Elder Pullig made brigadera (no idea how to spell it but thats how it sounds) for us, which was basically like chocolate sauce but thicker. Yummy. We went from there to the Pereira's and made a delicious navajo taco lunch for Sister Pereira, who is a saint and always does so much for us so we decided to return the favour. It was a fun lunch, and I really enjoy cooking for other people. Its relaxing to me. 

Wednesday I wen to Norwich and spent the day with a sister who is in her second transfer, Sister Wright from Logan, Utah. We had a blast! It was such a fun day, really. I love the missionaries in this mission. Such great friends. She apparently graduated in Garrett's grade, so that made me feel super old. We saw this investigator named Petya that for some reason loves me so every time I go to Norwich on an exchange we see her. She gave me Bulgarian sweets and a bracelet, so sweet! 

Thursday I was in the area with Sister Oliveira, a sister I've been on several exchanges with that is from Brazil. Every time I bring her to my area we have a day full of miracles, and this day was no different. The best little recent convert family every, the Stophers, took us to Costa for lunch. I love being taken out for lunch haha. We ran into several investigators in town, taught with a youth preparing to leave on his mission to Greece in about a month, and then took our really solid investigator Colin to the ward mission leader's house to teach him about the plan of salvation. As we were walking there with him, we asked if he had any questions from his reading and he asked about the origin of Satan and what happens to people that didnt get to here the gospel before they die. It made the plan of salvation have a lot greater impact with those questions in his mind. It went great! 

Also on Thursday we went to see the little Polynesian family we found last Sunday. Turns out they are a  BIG Polynesian family. We were sitting there talking to the mum that we had met, and then her mum walked in looking confused and slightly unimpressed that we were there. Turns out she was just really surprised because she had been thinking of going back to church all day! We came into their lives at the exact right time, because they are really ready to return to church and they have a 10 year old that isnt baptized yet! The Lord's timing is great!

On Saturday we met Mario's parents. They are from Italy. Thick Italian accents. And lots of hand motions. I love them, they are great. Mario is a really good influence in his home. And he got the priesthood yesterday!!!! Woohoo! I'm so excited that I will be around to see him pass/bless the sacrament :)

Sunday was a challenge for me. We only had set appointments in the evening, so we were finding most of the afternoon and EVERYONE said no. I am usually ok with this, but with all my pent up anxiety over how short of a time I have left and stuff, it was really frustrating me. We finally managed to have one good conversation with someone. And then in the evening as we were walking home, I was pretty much done with this week. But I told the Lord I was gonna give it everything I've got, and right in front of our flat we passed these two people. It was dark so I couldnt make out their faces well as we approached, but I decided to stop them and try for one more person that day. After I started the initial approach, I recognized one of them as this investigator named Tommy that was really really good last transfer but had just dropped out of existence. We've been trying to get in contact with him for ages! So that was a miracle, and I think it was the Lord showing me that it doesnt matter how many people say no, it only matters how many people say yes. 

This week is a busy one. Today we are playing nerf gun capture the flag again, then we have a dinner appointment with this huge Portuguese family. Tomorrow is zone conference, the topic is The Book of Mormon and I am beyond excited. I love zone conference probably more than any other missionary meeting. Wednesday I'm in Thetford on an exchange. That area is on an American military base, so I'll be hearing lots of American accents. Yikes. 

Love you all, have a good week!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Really great quote shared in sacrament meeting yesterday

"This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not creat the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."

C.S. Lewis

Our capture the flag team last week. We were the winning team 3/3 games. The losers didnt want a picture.

Mario's Facebook statuses make me happy!

​Sister Eastin, Mario, Tiago, and I. I'm trying to look taller, obviously.

Danie and Mario, happy with after-baptism refreshments.

​Hussein went to Egypt this week, so I won't see him again before I leave. He is great!

This is what happens when you leave your camera lying around at a baptism hahahaha. This is the Pereira family (minus a dad and a sister). I love them so much!

​Sister Ishizawa from Japan

Sister Welc from Brazil

15 September 2014

Crazy to hear about all the flooding in Moapa Valley! I hope the clean up is going well and those effected have been able to salvage some stuff at least. Although that much rain is not necessary, I sure am looking forward to the smell of the rain in the desert. It just doesnt smell the same here, although its far more frequent. 

This week has been so. stinkin. busy. But it's been great and I've learned a lot. On Tuesday night, there was a special Europe area women's broadcast, with talks from Elder Texeira, Elder and Sister Hallstrom, Sister Kearon (wife of Elder Kearon of the area presidency), Elder Bednar and Elder Ballard. It was broadcast from Germany, and it was amazing. Such powerful talks about tying our hearts to the Saviour, and not lowering our standards for anything. Elder Bednar's talk especially hit home with me. He talked about the empowerment that comes from the Atonement. Gave the example of Nephi, when he was bound by his brothers, he didn't pray for something to happen to his brothers to make them free him, and he didnt pray for the ropes to magically become untied, he prayed for the strength to burst  the bands by which he was bound. Just like Nephi, we need to not pray to be acted upon, but pray for added strength and help to be able to act. 

Tuesday I was also on an exchange with a sister who has been out for just a few months from Japan. She is so sweet, but communication is SO HARD for her. I am so extremely blessed to have been called to serve in English, because I don't think I'd have the patience with myself to learn another language. She is doing really well, but it is a slow go. 

On Thursday we were in London all day long for a mission leadership conference. All sister training leaders, zone leaders, and district leaders were there to be trained on different aspects of leadership. I loved this meeting! And they fed us taco salad for lunch so double bonus! Sister Jordan had us STL's help with a training on how to work more effectively with sisters. It might come as a shock to you, but teenage boys sometimes struggle with the right way to communicate with women effectively hahaha. It was a hilarious training, started off by a really funny video called "Its not about the nail" Look it up on YouTube. There was also a training on how leadership assignments in the church are meant to give us an opportunity to grow and change, and if by the end of our service we are not changed, we didn't do it right. Its a great principle for any leadership position, not just for mission leadership.

Friday I went to Colchester with this sister named Sister Welc. She is from Brazil and she is AWESOME! We had a lot of fun. Colchester is the closest ward to Ipswich, so lots of the people there are either related to or friends with the members in my ward, so it was fun to interact with them. We taught this Chinese student named Vincent, and he is really solid! He committed to be baptized in October. I'm always so happy when I get to be just a tiny little part of the teaching process of investigators in other areas to help them get to baptism.

Saturday was the big day, Mario's baptism! He was so excited, I will send pictures of his FB statuses on how excited/nervous he was. The program did not really go as planned, but the water was hot, the priesthood was there, and the baptism happened and thats all that matters. That will very likely be the last baptism of someone I've taught that I will get to see on my mission. It was a special evening, and Mario is just really excited to get to pay it forward and baptize others :)

Yesterday we had Colin (the chap that disappeared for a while but now is back) and Danie at church, and it was great! They are both so good. I love the people we are teaching, I love the ward, and I just love all the missionaries I serve with. I really didn't understand what love meant until I came on a mission. But nowadays I am just filled to bursting with love for the people of England. It will break my heart to leave them. 
Also yesterday we were walking through town and I saw this really cute little Polynesian family in front of us and I was thinking, "They are so cute, I want to teach them." And before we could stop them, they were like "Sisters!" Apparently they are members that just moved here like a year ago and have not been out to church yet. I'm excited to get to know them and help them!

I hope everyone has a great week and sees lots of miracles! Go share the gospel!

Monday, September 8, 2014

8 September 2014

17 months of missionary work + really ridiculous chest cold = I am really really really tired.

So those are the two big things to have happened this week. I hit my 17 month mark and I have been sick pretty much all week. It hasnt been too bad though. I've had a really annoying cough/stuffy head, but it hasnt really made me miserable or unable to go out and work. So that was a blessing. The only time it slowed me down was Saturday morning because I had a really bad night Friday night, so we spent a few hours at the flat getting me rested up and downing lots of ginger and lemon tea (which is nasty, btw). I've still got the cough going on, but I'm on the mend I think. I hope. 

Even though I was poorly most of the week, we got lots accomplished this week. Found a lot of new investigators, and had a lot of success in helping those we are already teaching to progress. We will have a baptism this Saturday of a young guy named Mario who is absolutely brilliant. He is so faithful and wants very badly to do the right thing all the time! We are excited for him! His friend Danie, our investigator that introduced us to Mario, will be joining him in baptism in a few weeks from now. They are both excellent!

So on Monday we didnt end up getting to go to Lavenham (Godric's Hollow). Still on the schedule for sometime this transfer, but it was better that we didnt go on Monday because it was raining a bunch and that wouldnt be very fun. Instead we went to dinner at the home of this family that just moved here from Arizona and their house is EPIC. Its this 700 year old little English cottage, with a massive garden and an ancient wood burning stove and stuff. Really cool. Their daughter Carissa is most likely going to be at school with me in January, so we got excited about that. She plays fiddle, so we are forming a band haha. 

Most of the week went pretty standard, just finding and teaching. I read a talk about being a "testifying and challenging" missionary, meaning making the focus of each lesson bringing the Spirit by testifying and then challenging them to act on that Spirit with commitments. It really makes a difference. There is a lot more power in a testimony than in an intricate explanation of a principle. 

Saturday we had the best miracle EVER! It is one that I have been praying for for about 5 weeks now. So last transfer we started teaching this guy that was absolutely golden. He is just finishing his masters degree, he is super intelligent and very receptive. He even asked if he needed to go on a mission after baptism, explaining that it would not be a problem he just needed to shift his life plans around a bit. Like, the investigator that every missionary dreams of. But then he hosed our 4th appointment with him. And didnt answer our calls or texts. We genuinely thought he had died. Sister Formica and I were so sad. We kept trying him and kept praying for him all last transfer, but no word from him. Saturday night I tried calling again because it had been about a week, and he actually answered! He said he would come to church with us in the morning, but when the morning rolled around he didnt show up and didnt answer his phone. 
At that point I was really rather annoyed. I think that is the only thing that really gets to me, is when someone tells you they will be somewhere like less than 24 hours before, and then when it gets to the actual time they stand you up and arent even considerate enough to call or text to say nevermind. I think people think they are being nice when they say yes and dont show up, but they are really being more rude that way. So I was a bit annoyed. But then on the way home from church we got a text from him apologized profusely an saying we could meet up that afternoon. And we met up and it was brilliant! Apparently he ran into some anti- Mormon literature, which is bound to happen at some point in life, an it made him have doubts. But he felt really touched by our persistence in calling him, like we actually care about him and that we feel our message is important for him, and thats what made him decide to meet up again. He is a really nice guy, and I love teaching him, so I'm really excited he's back. Pray hard for him, he is really trying to find the right spiritual path for himself. 

So today for PDay we are doing a big game of capture the flag at the chrurch. With nerf guns. Its going to be really really fun. We have an exchange tomorrow and then on Thursday we are in London all day for a meeting. On Friday I go to Colchester for another exchange, and then Saturday is Mario's baptism! Should be a jam-packed week! 

Love you all, hope you enjoy your week and see lots of miracles!

Monday, September 1, 2014

1 September 2014

It's been a great week, not much to report on. Wednesday was my last moves, and it was kind of sad because I was hoping to see a lot of people I need to see before leaving but none of them were switching at the station I switched at. It was sad to leave Sister Formica, but I was excited to pick up Sister Eastin. 

Sister Eastin is from Pheonix, AZ. She's about my height too, so I'm finally back to having a short companion :) She loves all things nerdy, like me, so we have a lot of in depth discussion on the deeper meaning behind Harry Potter story lines and stuff. Shes great! She is my youngest (in the mission) companion I've ever had, she just hit her year mark last month. So that's pretty cool!

On Thursday we went back into London for MLC. Best part of the month really. It is always such an inspirational and uplifting meeting. That took up our whole day on Thursday. 

The rest of the week was finding, finding finding. Not because we don't have a teaching pool, but because they are all out of town this week. So we are working on finding new investigators. It wasn't extremely fruitful, but we did find a few good people. 

On Sunday, President and Sister Jordan came and spoke in our ward. It was so excellent. I just love listening to them speak! They also taught the 5th Sunday lesson on retention, and I think it helped a lot. This ward is so missionary focused, and it was a good refresher on how to help the people that come into the church stay there. Shanice was asked to bear her testimony in sacrament meeting. That always makes me so happy, listening to her talk about how the gospel has impacted her life. 

Our investigators Danie and Mario, the two young men preparing for baptism next week, are doing excellent! I love teaching them, they are excellent. Its a bit like teaching Primary children, they are just really accepting and wanting to do the right thing. They are excited to be baptised next week!

Today for PDay we are going out to this village called Lavenham which is apparently where they shot the scenes for Godric's Hollow in the 7th Harry Potter film. It is going to be brilliant!