Monday, February 27, 2017

Time Flies

I don't know where the time is going. Every Monday I sit down to write
and it feels like it was Monday yesterday. So much stuff happens, but
it goes by so fast. We are crazy busy all the time, but it's awesome.

So you've been asking about my companion - yeah he is really good. He
is from Nephi, Utah and he is 18. He graduated from High School in
2016, and he started his mission last June. It's his birthday on
Wednesday though, so he's turning 19! He likes sports, and is a good
basketball player. He was in the MTC at the same time as Josh Cooper,
so they know each other. He's a really good leader and he helps our a
lot with training all of our district leaders in the zone. He is also
a really hard worker and we have a lot of fun together! He'll be on
his mission still a long time after I go home! He says to look him up
on Instagram: nolan_nielsen1

This week we've found a bunch of new investigators to teach, but we've
also taught a bunch of people who for various reasons just aren't too
bothered about learning. There's a few people, one guy named Andrew
from Scotland, and one guy named Robert from Kenya who referred
themselves on this week and we went and taught and invited
to church. Andrew is way cool, but his wife is not super happy about
him meeting with us, so that's a bit of a problem. Robert is cool too,
but he said he would come to church and then didn't, so we'll see
where that goes.

We're also teaching several Uni students. One is a lad named Alvin who
is from Malaysia, who is here on a brief stay for only about 5 months
studying renewable energy. He's way cool and he's come to church twice
now, but can't seem to grasp the concept of God answering his prayers.
We're going to play basketball with him and some of his friends this
Saturday though at Northumbria University - which I'm stoked about,
and so is Elder Nielsen.

We're teaching another Uni student named Gemma, who is from West
Yorkshire, actually pretty close to where I lived with Elder Kearl in
Shipley (she's from another town called Skipton) and she is studying
Law. She's way cool too, we just knocked on her door a few weeks ago,
and now she's been to church a few times as well.

Then there's Rory, who we also just knocked into while knocking a
heavily student populated area, he is from England but lived in New
Zealand for two years and knows some Mormons over there. We taught him
the first lesson this week and are going back soon to teach him more,
we'll see how it goes.

We also met a student this week named Heather, who has lots of health
problems and her mom meets with missionaries up in Scotland, so she
was curious to know what we believed, but then basically said that she
doesn't agree at all and sent us away haha. Well actually she was fine
with us coming back but she won't listen so we're not going to.

And then there was this guy this weekend that Elder Nielsen found when
we went on exchange this week (oh yeah we went on exchange, Elder
Nielsen went with Elder Lewis, who is the DL in North Shields right
now, and I went with Elder Anderson) they knocked on his partners door
and gave her a BOM. Later that night we got a call from him and he
said "I'm really interested in your book, when can you come around and
explain it more?" And we were like woah this is too good to be true.
And....     it was. He was kinda crazy, he believes that he's a
prophet, and basically the whole concept of a true church was beyond
him, and he had lots of crazy views. Unfortunately his partner was
actually genuinely interested but he was like nope nope nope, he
basically just invited us over to tell us we were wrong and to Bible
bash. It was low key really annoying.

Oh and it was Zone Conference this week! It was awesome!

Oh and Susan and Sophie went to the temple to do Baptisms for the dead
with the Ward on Saturday! They loved it! They are so well integrated
with the Ward it's so amazing!

And we ate a lot of McDonalds this week. We've been really busy and
our flat is on one side of town, and all the people we teach are on
the other side of town, and right near all those people is the
McDonalds - and so it's way quicker and easier to eat McDonalds than
to go all the way home and make food and drive all the way back. So we
have a jar of change and we've almost emptied it because of all the
McDonalds runs.

Ok. Spiritual time. I was thinking again about just how grateful I am
for the opportunity to come and finish my mission. I have really felt
since I've been here the love that Jesus Christ has for everyone.
Sometimes I meet someone and I think to myself that there's no way
they would ever change, but they can. Sometimes I am afraid to do
something bold, or to talk to someone who seems like a waste of time,
but "perfect love casteth out fear." We just do it. We just invite
everyone to hear the message if the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It may sound strange to someone who's never heard about Jesus, or
doesn't believe in God, but I know that Jesus Christ can heal any
wound, can cast out any burden, can make light any dark part of
someone's life. Through him we can find "peace in this life, and
eternal life in the world to come." The Gospel and the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the Priesthood authority, which is the
power of God, which can bless and heal any soul. God is real. He is
our Father in Heaven. We can pray to Him and He will answer us. Jesus
Christ is the Saviour of the world. If we learn about his life and do
the things that he asks us to do, we can be happy now, and be with our
families forever. There is no joy that can come into our lives like
the joy that the Gospel brings.

Love you guys.

We went to Durham Cathedral this morning

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Week

This week has gone by so fast it's ridiculous!There was a bunch of stuff that happened and
I'll tell you about some of the highlights!

First of all, the Mission sets goals every year for the amount of
people that we want to baptise that year, and each Zone also has a
yearly baptismal goal. Sunderland Zone has a goal of 60 baptisms this
year, which equates to 5 per month. In January we had 3, and in
February so far we've had the 4 in Newcastle, and this coming weekend
there's going to be 3 more around the Stake, so that means that there
will be 7 total in February, which puts us back on track to hit 60
baptisms this year in the Sunderland Stake! So that's sweet.

We have an investigator named Alvin who is from Malaysia, a place
called Kuching Sarawak, which I believe is the place where my cousin
Brent served a lot of his mission! But he's way cool, and he feeds us
most of the times that we go over there! This week he fed us more
Malaysian food, and then when we went over on Saturday morning he had
to leave after the lesson, but his roommates made us a bunch of
crepes! So that was super sweet!

We had a couple of exchanges this week too. On Tuesday we went on
exchange with one of our District Leaders Elder Tervort, and that was
way good! Then a few days later the AP's Elder Mikola from Finland and
Elder Klingler from Idaho came up and went on a split to visit some
missionaries in the zone as well, and that was sweet!

Elder Iakopo and Elder Cunha, from Australia & Brazil respectively,
are the Zone Leaders in Leeds right now. Elder Iakopo was actually my
Zone Leader when I was serving in Bradford, and they are both such
homies. Every time there's a Mission Leadership Council, we drive down
and stay the night at their flat in Leeds the night before. This week
a Recent Convert in North Shields that was baptised by Elder Iakopo
when he was there, got married and sealed in the Temple! Elder Iakopo
got permission from President Turvey to come up for the wedding as
well, and so they stayed over at our flat and we all went out and ate
the next night in Sunderland! It was super fun, I'll send a pic. Those
guys are awesome.

Also it was stake Conference this weekend here! The whole Zone was
asked by the Stake Presidency if we would sing a few musical items as
a choir, and so we did, and it was really great! All the missionaries
did a really good job! I also got to speak to a load of members from
the North Shields ward that I haven't spoken to in a while. And Susan
and Sophie came as well! And they're going to the temple on Saturday
to do baptisms!!

There were loads of other things that happened as well this week, but
those were some of the major highlights! Love you guys!

Elder Iakopo, Cunha, Nielsen & I 

A Foggy Day in South Shields

Eddie our African homie gave us this weird drink - it was nasty and we ended up pouring it out

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Busy Week

This week has been ridiculously busy, but also super awesome! I'm just
gonna get right into it:

On Tuesday we had interviews with President, and we also ran a Zone
Training meeting in the morning for about 3 hours. It went really
well, Elder Nielsen and I planned it out and we teach really well
together! It was great because we have the same ideas of things to do
and say all the time, and so I can start speaking about a topic, or
ask a question about a subject, and then he can take over and keep on
the exact same train of thought that I had. In the afternoon while
more missionaries were having their interviews, we watched one of the
Mission President's training broadcasts from earlier this year. One of
the topics was about emphasising teaching YSA age investigators, which
was interesting because of what happened in the rest of our week!

Then after the interviews President and Sister Turvey took Elder
Nielsen and I out to a Toby Carvery in Sunderland! It was really nice
of them and gave us an opportunity to get to know them a bit better!

We also taught Susan and Sophie on Tuesday and Thursday again this
week, and we'll do the same for the next few weeks I'm sure too.

On Wednesday we went and taught Alvin, our friend from Malaysia who we
found last week and who came to church. We went over for lunch and he
bought us Malaysian food! It was awesome! And he biked to church again
on Sunday even though it was freezing cold and snowing! He loves the
church and Mormons and he's looking like he'll be baptised soon!

After his lesson we went knocking in the rain, and we met a girl named
Gemma who her and her roommates let us right in out of the rain! We
taught her on Wednesday and again on Thursday and invited her to
church. We honestly didn't expect that she was going to take us up on
it, and we texted her on Saturday night to see if she was coming, and
she didn't get back to us - but then the next morning she showed up!
And she really liked it! So we definitely hit the mark with teaching
YSA aged people this week!

On Friday amidst other things we went to Gateshead to do a weekly
plank with the Gateshead Elders (side note: one of them is Elder
Schmidt, who is John Schmidt's son) and then in the evening we went to
North Shields to go to the Elder's companionship Study!

Then Saturday was the big day! Susan and Sophie and the sisters
investigators Uzma and Huma were all baptised!! It was really amazing.
I baptised Susan & Uzma & Huma, and one of our district leaders Elder
Scheffner baptised Sophie! The service was amazing and Sister Berg and
I sang the same song I sang with Elder Iakopo at MLC. Susan has some
health problems so I had to baptise her a little differently than
people are usually baptised, I kind of just lowered her into the

Susan was so happy though! She was really excited and the next day at
church she was still so happy! I met her just over a month ago and
I've never seen her quite as happy as she was at her baptism and at
church the next day! It was incredible honestly and it made me so
happy too.

This week was so amazing, it's been so busy but I'm so happy to be so
busy! The time that I've been here in England is going by so fast
because of how busy we are, but we're doing so many good things as
well. People are coming unto Christ and finding the happiness that can
come from it! I love being here, and I can barely believe I have only
5 or so months left!

There's loads of other things that happened this week, I just can't
remember them all right now to write down! If you have any questions
about any of these stories, or anything else that I've been up to, or
you just want to send me a nice e-mail, please do it! My e-mail is!

Love you guys!

 Service project in Gateshead last week!

A Second Email from Last Week

The story of my interaction with Susan & Sophie:

On January 7th 2017, I was on exchange with a missionary from Texas named Elder Barney, and we decided that we would go out and knock on some doors, like you tend to do as a missionary in England. So we did what we usually do, we picked out a street on the map and went there. Before we started to knock we said a prayer, asking that the hearts of the people that we spoke to would be softened, and that we would be able to find someone that the Lord had prepared for us to meet.

Halfway down the street we met this family. Susan is 53, and her daughter Sophie is 14. They were really hesitant at first, Sophie later told us that she thought we were police so she went and hid. Susan was hiding halfway behind the door! But we got talking with Susan and soon (after hearing our accents) Sophie came and joined in the conversation too. They were just heading out to their friends house, but they told us we could come back and talk to them more the following Monday.

So on Monday I called Susan and she was happy to hear from us! We went over with another member on Monday night and we taught them about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Susan expressed to us her feelings. Her father had died when she was younger, and recently afterwards her sister died as well. This happened 37 years ago, and Susan told us that she hadn't been back to church once in that 37 years, and she'd stopped believing in God. 
But something in what we taught intrigued her and her daughter, and they agreed to start looking into church again. 

Sophie on the other hand was very interested in the church. When she was 11 years old, she'd decided that she wanted to get herself Christened, so she went to a local Anglican Church and got herself christened. She didn't keep attending the church because she didn't feel welcome. So when we invited her and her mother, she was very excited to come to our church. They have come every week since.

On our third visit with Susan and Sophie, we taught them about the Word of Wisdom, which is a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith that talks about how to keep our bodies healthy and pure. It talks about how we should abstain from addictive and harmful substances such as Tobacco, Alcohol, Illegal Drugs, Tea & Coffee. Sophie was fine with that, but Susan had been a smoker for most of her life, and drank up to 16 cups of tea a day. Recently her Doctors had been telling her that she needed to stop, but nothing they had said really stopped her.

Susan stopped smoking that day, and has never smoked again since. The tea was harder to give up, but within a few weeks Susan told us that she had run out of tea bags and was done for good. Now Susan has a few physical health problems that have arisen, and she is a little frail. Most of the time when we go to her house, it's difficult for her to stand up when we leave, and we usually help her up. But this last week, only a few days after she had stopped drinking tea for good, she told us that she felt better than she had in years, and when we got up to leave, she just hopped right up with us like it was nothing! 

There's a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that describes the blessings of keeping the Word of Wisdom, and one of them says this:

"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones" (D&C 89:18)

We read her that scripture and she said: "that's me!"

This last Saturday, that being February 4th 2017, was their baptismal interview. I went over there with one of our district leaders Elder Scheffner, and he interviewed each of them for baptism. Susan has a hard time praying out loud, but she likes to write down her prayers. She has a big notebook that she's started writing down prayers in. She showed me one of them when we were there on Saturday and this is what it said:

"Dear Lord, Thank you for bringing Elder Thompson and Elder Charman into our life so they could teach us to believe in you again as I stopped after my sister died and now I don't know why. As what we have been taught over the past few weeks has made me believe again, please could you bless them for what they have done for us. Amen"

And it made me tear up a little bit. There's another scripture that came to my mind when I read this, in Doctrine and Covenants section 18:

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:15)

And my joy is great. Susan and Sophie are getting baptised on February 11th 2017. This is a kind of joy that I've not really ever felt before, the joy that is bringing someone back into the knowledge of their God and Redeemer. I'm very happy.

2 Weeks Ago (I was in Mexico so I didn't post!!)

This week was absolutely crazy, but also probably the best week of my
entire life. I'm just gonna jump right into it.

Tuesday was transfer day. I spent some time last weekend sorting out
all of the logistics for travel for all the missionaries coming in and
leaving the zone, and organising with the other Zone leaders around
the mission what would happen. Then on Tuesday morning we got to the
train station at 6:45 AM, and I was there sending missionaries on
their way and making sure they all caught the right trains, and then
greeting missionaries as they came in and sending them back to their
areas until about 12:30 when my companion Elder Nielsen arrived. It
was so crazy actually. I had like 3 phones and sets of keys on me and
I kept having to call and rearrange things and it was crazy but really
fun, and everybody got where way needed to go eventually - so it was
all good!

On Wednesday morning we moved district meetings to be early, like
8:15, because afterwards we brought the whole zone to do a service
project in a big park in Gateshead called Saltwell Park. Everybody
loved it and the work we did was really appreciated! It's fun to be
able to organise things like that - and it was really great for the
whole Zone to be able to come together like that. It was nice. I'll
send a picture later.

Also in our zone now there are four new district leaders and Elder
Nielsen is a new Zone Leader, so they had a meeting down in Leeds for
most of the day. So I organised all of their travel information and
sent them all on their way, and I went on exchange with a brand new
missionary named Elder Minnich, who is from Fort Worth Texas.

On Friday we had MLC in Leeds, so we actually left Newcastle at about
7:30 on Thursday and drove down to stay with the Elders there in
Leeds. The next day was MLC and it was actually so good. I feel like
this time I spoke a lot more than last time, probably because I feel a
lot more confident in my calling as a Zone Leader now. It was actually
a really productive meeting, but we found out that we are doing a Zone
training tomorrow morning - so it's a bit of short notice, but it's
gonna be awesome.

Ok also, on Wednesday Elder Nielsen and I went to try by a lad that
had told us to come back, but he wasn't in. The next street over was a
street that I had felt like I'd wanted to knock last week but just
hadn't had the time because of our schedule, so we were like 'perfect'
and we went and knocked that street. We met this guy, an Australian
guy who was here on a research program, and had just moved there with
four housemates 2 days previously. He was not bothered at all, but he
wasn't sure about his housemates, so Elder Nielsen and I wrote our
names and phone number on a card and left it with him for them. We
kept going and didn't think anything of it - actually we didn't even
remember it all day. Then at like 8:30 PM we got a text from this guy
named Alvin, who was the housemate of the Australian guy! Alvin is
from Malaysia and has been studying in this same program. They just
moved here from Holland and he had been going to institute with a
friend of his over there. Last Sunday he decided to go to church for
the first time in Holland and loved it, but then he moved countries
the next day, and then we knocked on his door 2 days later! He was so
excited to meet us and came to church with us on Sunday! He biked all
the way there too (like a 45 minute bus ride). He is really awesome
and we're excited to work with him! Also - tell Brent, this guy is
from Kuching Sarawak, where Brent served his mission! I'll send you a
selfie we took with him and the Stake President.

On Saturday we went and filled the font for a child of record baptism
that was being held in Newcastle for the Alnwick Branch. We met a
bunch of members of that ward which was great.

Then on Saturday as well, we had a bunch of baptismal interviews! Next
Saturday we are having 4 people baptised in Newcastle! 2 of them are
Susan and Sophie, whose doors we knocked on this week. I'm actually
going to send another email about Susan and Sophie, telling their
whole story - so read more about them please, because they are such a

We also interviewed a lady called Uzma and her 18 year old daughter
Huma who are getting baptised on Saturday as well. They are both super
prepared and ready. So that was great.

Also on Sunday it was ward Conference and I was asked to sing. So that was good.

This morning we went out to the coast! I went back to Tynemouth and
Cullercoats for the first time in 2 years, and we got some fish and
chips and went and looked at some of the sights! Like the priory and
the pier. It was really cool, it's been a while since I've seen the
ocean! I'll send pictures.

I'll end on the most spiritual highlight of the week, which was the
prayer that Susan wrote and showed to us:

"Dear Lord, Thank you for bringing Elder Thompson and Elder Charman into our life so they could teach us to believe in you again as I stopped after my sister died and now I don't know why. As what we have been taught over the past few weeks has made me believe again, please could you bless them for what they have done for us. Amen"

It made me cry a little. But don't tell Susan. This is why I keep doing missionary work. It actually changes people's lives and can bring them a lot of peace, remembering or gaining a knowledge that their Heavenly Father is really there watching over them. I know that He is there, that He is real, that He watches over all of us, and that He loves us. That's the testimony that I want to share with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Driving to Leeds with Elder Nielsen

MLC - Feb 3rd 2017

Elder Nielsen, President Spencer, Alvin and I

Tynemouth lighthouse

Fish & Chips