Elder Tomita and I are leaving Barrow! :( Last Wednesday we got a call from our landlord, Ray (who, though not a member, loves missionaries and has enjoyed participating in preparation day activities and chatting with us during the fifteen years he’s rented to us - "You are a league of gentlemen," he tells us) telling us that he’d heard from the mission office that we were leaving – later that night the mission president gave us a call and told us that no more full-time elders will be serving in Barrow for the time being. The Lukes (the senior couple here) will stay and continue working with the ward. Apparently this has been in the works for some time. It makes us (and some of our members and investigators) sad, but I’m sure it’s for the best – President Jacobsen has the right to receive inspiration about this kind of thing. And I’m excited to see and serve in a new area. I’m not yet sure where I’ll be going or whether I’ll be staying with Elder Tomita, but I should know by next Wednesday.
An important footnote to this new development is that mail should no longer be sent to the address at 2 St. Lukes Street. Instead, it should be sent (for now) to the mission office:
England Manchester Mission
Springwood, Suite G5
Booths Park, Knutsford
Last Thursday we drove down to Lancaster to be interviewed by President Jacobsen and get trained by our district leaders (something that happens every transfer). We’re lucky to have President Jacobsen; he’s a great leader with a great sense of humor. He also has a degree from Stanford (yay!) and mentioned Stanford’s amazing upset of USC in football to me at the end of my interview. :)
We also had two companion exchanges in the past week – once on Thursday with the assistants to the President and once yesterday with our zone leaders. Both were great experiences for me, especially my exchange yesterday with Elder Hvistendahl, who is the first full-time missionary from Greenland in recorded Church history. He’s an amazing missionary (at interviews in Lancaster, President Jacobsen suggested we all grow up to be like Elder Hvistendahl), and I was deeply impressed with the simple way he taught the message of the Restoration to people on the street in a minute or less and helped them feel and recognize the Spirit where only seconds before they’d been trying to get away from us. This is his last week in the mission before he goes home, so it was a privilege to spend a day working with him.
I finally had a chance to read the account of Thomas Green's life that Grandma (I believe) furnished me with before I left for England. It's a great story, and I learned all sorts of interesting things (e.g. that Thomas Green was probably baptized by Heber C. Kimball and certainly knew him reasonably well). The story mentions a number of towns that played a role in Thomas Green's life, and now that I've spent some time in the EMM (short for England Manchester Mission), these places mean something to me! Warrington, where his father was born and near where he was born, is in the Liverpool Stake, and one of the people we've been teaching here just moved down there. Runcorn, where Thomas' parents were married, is one of the areas that Elder Tomita has served in. So there's a good chance I'll be visiting or even serving in one of these areas that were significant to Thomas Green in the course of my mission. Kind of exciting!
In sad news, the investigator we committed to be baptized has stopped meeting with us. :( Hopefully he’ll eventually come back to investigating the gospel at some future time. In the meantime, we’re working hard with the other people in our teaching pool, especially in trying to get members to come to teaching appointments with us so they will better be able to work with the investigators after we leave. It makes me so happy to hear about you guys in Jacksonville working with the missionaries, inviting them over for dinner, and inviting them to teach investigators at your home. That kind of support means a lot to us.
I love you! Support your local elders for me!