Monday, March 20, 2017

Basketball and more

This week was awesome. So much stuff happened. I'll try to write lots,
but I definitely won't get it all.

Monday we organised a talent show for the Zone, mainly just to get
everyone together and have fun, and it actually was so much fun! When
the whole Zone gets together there's lots of energy and people really
enjoy each other's company, so that was sweet.

Also on Monday there were two missionaries in our Zone who finished
their missions, and so we organised for them to catch a train down to
Leeds that day, so for that whole day until the next day around noon
when one of the Elder's new companions arrived, we had Elder Ramirez
come with us. Elder Ramirez is a missionary from Toronto. He was
having a bit of a rough time with his last companion so we wanted to
make this night really good for him, but all of our plans fell through
right before the end of p day! So at 5:45 I called Alvin, and then we
went and saw him, and then after that we called Gemma, and went to see
her, so it turned out to be really good!

Cool thing though, we taught Gemma this week several times and one of
the times we taught her in a room in the Law building of Northumbria
University, so that was cool. We also taught her with the Senior
Couple, and once at the Library. She is getting so close to being
baptised! There was a Christian seminar thing at the Uni this week and
she was telling us about how when she went in they asked her what her
religion was and she said "Mormon" and then was like "I mean I'm just
going to the Mormon church... for the last two months..." and she
realised it had become who she was. She still has some concerns, but
she'll get there eventually.

On Tuesday it was transfers, so once again Elder Nielsen and I
organised all of the missionaries coming and going and all their train
times and everything etc. Then we waited in the train station to greet
all of them, while they came in. There was one sister who got off her
train and had been told by the previous missionaries to "DON'T MOVE"
when she got off the train. So she was like passed the barriers and
across a bridge, and we were waving and waving but she didn't see us,
so after a few minutes of trying to get her attention, the barrier
guard was just like "just go get her" and let us through the barrier
haha. Everyone got where they needed to go safely!

So for transfers we only had one brand new missionary come into the
Zone - and she's going to serve in Durham. Her trainer went to a
meeting that lasted pretty much all day on Tuesday in Leeds, where
they did a bunch of stuff. Long story short, they didn't catch a train
back to Newcastle until like 8:15 or so in the evening, which meant
that they didn't get back until like 10, and then we picked them up
and drove them home. So that was a bit of a late night for us - but it
was fun!

On Wednesday we went on exchange with some of the Elders serving in
North Shields, and that was really good. We taught some interesting
people that we'd found last week, a few who turned out to be right
crazy, but it was fun.

On Thursday amongst other things, some members asked us if we could
help them clean the Chapel, so we did and when we got there this guy
walked up to us in the church parking lot and asked us if we knew one
of the previous missionaries who had served here (which I did, because
I know pretty much all the missionaries who served here in the last 2
years) and then told us he wanted us to come over and teach him again,
so we were like ok. Pretty cool.

On Friday our investigator Alvin, who is studying at Northumbria
University, booked one of the courts at the Gym and invited us to come
play basketball with a bunch of his friends! It was so much fun, plus
one of his friends was from Hong Kong and speaks Mandarin, so we
referred him to the Chinese speaking Elders and they taught him and
he's super interested in coming to church and everything! We also got
the contact information for one of the other guys who came as well! It
was so sweet, plus it was really fun to play basketball again!

So on Saturday we were dead, because we were both super sore from
playing basketball haha. But it was still a really good day, lots of
knocking on doors! Love it.

And Susan and Sophie are my favourites, they love church. Alvin came
too, but Gemma was going to be late and so she decided to turn around.
We called her after to ask what happened and she told us and we were
so disappointed. She totally let satan trick her from coming. But it's
okay she'll come next week.

Love you guys!

Walker, at dusk

Newcastle in the background

We went to St Mary's lighthouse

And had fish and chips

And this random place we stopped at on our way home

Monday, March 13, 2017

One More Week Finished!!

This week is transfers, so just like last time Elder Nielsen & I found
out about transfers a few days before and made all the travel
arrangements for people moving tomorrow. And the news this time is
that Elder Nielsen & I are staying together in Newcastle! This is the
first time that I've had the same companion two transfers in a row
since Elder Boswell, and the only other time that happened was when I
was with Elder Jaeger when I was being trained a few years ago. But
we're really excited!

This week has been so good though! We went on two companion exchanges,
two days in a row (Thursday & Friday) and they were such a blast. I
learn a lot from missionaries when I take them on exchange, and I know
that they learn a lot from me as well.

We found a bunch more investigators to work with this week, at the
beginning it's always hard to see if they are going to pan out the way
that we hope, but we'll see how they progress from here.

One of our investigators Gemma is doing really well. She had a debate
competition for Northumbria University this weekend in Liverpool, but
she still fasted with us! We had a few really good lessons with her
this last week, and she said the other day that the whole going to
church and reading the scriptures and praying and meeting with us has
become part of her routine, and that was a big step for her. She said
the prayer in our last lesson as well, and it was very spiritual - so
things are going well.

Alvin, our other Uni student investigator from Malaysia, is doing ok
as well. This week he came across someone at Uni who is quite anti
Mormon, and gave him some articles to read written by people who left
the Church - so that was not so good. But we took the senior
Missionary couple to a lesson with him and helped him overcome some of
the concerns that that article brought up, so that was good. He's
taking us to Northumbria University this week to play basketball with
him and his mates as well, so that should be fun, and a good
opportunity to find people to teach that's not knocking on doors!

Most of the missionaries nowadays graduated from High School a year or
two years after me. I went on exchange this week with two
missionaries that graduated the same time as my brother Sam, and are
around his same age, so that is kinda strange. But the exchanges were
really good! I'll send some pics!

Oh, also there is a guy that one of the Missionaries from South
Shields contacted on the Metro who we then met with this week at Costa
Coffee shop, who then came to church with us on Sunday! He's an
interesting one though, I'm not sure if he's all the way there. His
name is Robert and we're meeting him again on Wednesday, so we'll see
how it goes I guess.

I really love being a missionary though. I realised the other day that
it's only about 4 months until I'm done for good, so I need to use
every day wisely.

Oh, another thing. We met up with this inactive family in the
Newcastle Ward this week, and it was one of the saddest visits I've
had in a while. The family told us of how much they love the
missionaries, but how much they are offended by the members of the
Newcastle Ward. They told us his big story of all this stuff that
happened that made them not want to come back to the church, and it
was so sad. We're not sure what we're going to do with this family,
but we want them to come back so badly. It makes me really sad that
people get offended by people in the church and leave for those
reasons. It's all about pride - and I wish everyone could just forgive
each other and be nice to each other and be friends.

Also - about Pride - I don't know how you knew to send that, but it was what I needed to hear. We met a few families and people this week who have fallen out of the church because of pride, and it's such. A good reminder that I need to keep myself humble forever, and just do what god needs me to do. I was reading the Ensign this week, and I came across a talk given by Elder Quentin L. Cook called "The Gospel and the Good Life" and it was really inspiring as well. Your example, and the words of prophets, and the words of scriptures, and the example of other faithful members of the church, and the examples of people's lives that I've met on my mission, has given me a very strong desire to live a gospel centred life, because I know how much good that will do for me and my family, and those that we serve. 

I know that God lives, and that Jesus Christ is the Saviour, and that
his church was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith,
and that there is a prophet on the earth today. I know that by keeping
the council of the prophets and abiding by the commandments that God
has given us, we can achieve a fullness of happiness in this life. I
hope so much that no matter what happens in my life, that I'll never
let my pride get the best of me. I will continue faithfully in my
Covenants and endure to the end.

Love you guys

District Meeting on Wednesday

Studying with Elders on exchange

Elder Hardy from Utah

Elder Schaffner, a District Leader in our zone, also from Utah

Susan and Sophie

More Elders on exchange

Elder Lyman.  Where from?  You guessed it, Utah!

Matching flower ties

Dropping off Elder Kalolo at the train station

This is the Newcastle United shirt that Susan's son Neil gave me a while ago.  I wear it most P Days

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lots of Pictures from Newcastle

The biggest thing I learned this week is that little things add up to
great things. I already knew it but it stuck out a lot to me again. We
do so much in a week, but a lot of it is really little things.

Also I thought I would give you a layout for what a typical missionary
day looks like. Take Tuesday for example:

So we wake up every morning at 6:30, and then we exercise for 30 mins.
Then we shower and get ready. Then we study the scriptures for an hour
from 8-9, and then we plan out our day from 9-9:30. We then get ready
to go and leave our flat at 10. That morning we had an appointment set
up with a lady named Dory in the morning who lives in a place called
Byker, so we went over there at 10:30 but she wasn't in, and didn't
answer her phone, so we went and knocked on a few doors and then had
lunch instead. Then afterwards we had an appointment at 12 with a guy
named Paul who lives in Heaton, and that was super interesting, we
gave him a Book of Mormon and a Bible and invited him to come to
Church and be Baptised and read the Book etc. but we're not sure if
he's going to commit fully. Then we drove out to a recent convert's
house named Ken, and knocked on some doors near his house while we had
a little bit of spare time before that lesson at 2. After that we went
back to Heaton and talked to people on the streets of a busy road for
a while before our next appointment with some University Students at
3:30. After that appointment we knocked on some doors in Heaton until
we went over to Susan and Sophie's house in Walker with some members
of the ward as well and had a lesson with them at 5:30. After that
lesson we went back and taught a guy named Robert, who lives around
the corner from their house, so that lesson started about 6:30. Then
after that we drove over to North Shields to participate in a
Companionship Study with the Elders over there. We got there about
7:40 or so, and went and got some pizza with them (cause we were
hungry) and then did the study until 9, and then we drove home. Then
when we get home we follow up over the phone with each district leader
(so that's 2 each every night between Elder Nielsen & I) and then we
finish with that around 10 or 10:15 depending, sometimes it's earlier,
and then we get ready for bed and are in bed by 10:30.

So that's just an example of a typical day. Sometimes there's less
lessons and more knocking on doors, sometimes there's some meetings or
service projects in there, sometimes there's more time for eating in
there, it just all depends.

Oh, so on Wednesday it was Elder Nielsen's birthday! He just turned
19...  crazy. So most of the missionaries in the mission nowadays
graduated from High School in 2016 and were born in 1998, just like my
brother Sam. So basically all of my companions etc are the same age as
my younger brother. Weird.

But his birthday was sweet! We went to a members house for tea, and I
secretly warned her that it was Elder Nielsen's birthday, so she had a
cake and stuff ready! He was embarrassed but it was really good.

On Wednesday morning we had the whole Zone get together to do a big
Service project in Saltwell Park in Gateshead again, so that was
really sweet. I'll send a pic.

On Friday we had Mission Leadership Council in Leeds, so we drove down
on Thursday night, and stayed with Elder Iakopo and Elder Cunha again,
and then went to MLC all day the next day, and only got back around 7
that night. Long days, and I've gotten very used to driving here in
England on the other side of the road, and driving on highways lots.

On Saturday we had more lessons and then in the evening there was a
musical fireside at the Chapel, and it was quite nice actually, plus
there were a lot of members from the North Shields Ward that came to
it, like Sister Thompson and the Millington's and the Johnson's, all
who I haven't seen very often since I've been back up here, so that
was nice!

On Sunday instead of regular Sacrament meeting, there was a broadcast
from Salt Lake City that went out across all of the Europe North Area.
It was really interesting and inspiring! Luckily it was held at the
Newcastle Chapel. Every week Elder Nielsen and I sit in church next to
Susan and Sophie, and then any other investigators that we bring with
us. This week we sat and watched the broadcast and we had Susan and
Sophie to our left, and two other investigators Alvin and Gemma, both
University students, to our right! Funny story about those two, they
actually live like one street away from each other, and go to the same
University, but they had never met each other before. Now both of them
have come to church about three times and they have become friends!
It's pretty cool. They like text each other to see if the other is
coming to church that day and stuff haha.

Also Gemma is the funniest. So she came to church last Sunday and then
after church she like hustled out and went home. Then after church we
texted her - no reply. Then we texted her a few days later and called
- no reply. Then finally on like Friday she calls us out of the blue,
just like "oh hi, I'm in Wakefield visiting my family today." And she
wasn't sure when she was going to be back - so then on Saturday we
text her and ask her if she's still planning to come to church,
because it will be earlier than usual, and she just texts back "thank
you." And we were like "what the..." and then the next morning she
shows up to church again, but she'd forgotten her glasses, so she
couldn't really see the screen! She is so funny. She's actually really
really smart and she's going to make the best member once we answer
all of her many many questions about the Gospel and the Church.

Oh small miracle/recognition of spiritual promptings. We went to go
get pizza one day at a takeaway place, and we weren't carrying
anything, but before we got out of the car I was like "I should grab a
Book of Mormon" and then we went into the pizza shop and ordered
pizza, and them this other guy came in and ordered and then noticed
our name tags and asked us about them and we had a great conversation
and gave him the Book of Mormon. Sometimes you receive spiritual
promptings for a reason!

Anyways this week has been really good! Lots of little miracles keep
happening and we are trying hard to keep the zone working hard and
being in good spirits! Love you guys!