Greetings from Runcorn! It’s been a good week.
[Editor's note: As Sam observed in an earlier communication, Runcorn is the town where Thomas Green's parents were married.]
My new companion, Elder Anderson, is from Bethesda Maryland! He was in the Bethesda Ward and attended Walt Whitman High School. He knows the Fullers, but none of the other people I managed to dredge up from my memory. He’s also a very talented soccer (or rather, football) player and was a member (I believe) of the US national team before his mission. He and a previous companion used to do “investigator football,” playing football with local kids as a way of finding investigators, and since I arrived a couple of strangers we’ve met in our goings-about have recognized him and complimented on his “footie” skills. We’re hoping to start investigator football up again this weekend, something I’m looking forward to.
Elder Tomita and Elder Empey are in a newly-rented apartment across town (4-missionary flats have been phased out in the EMM), but we still see them a good bit and have gone on exchanges already. Elder Empey is originally from Alberta but more recently from a small rural town in Nevada just northeast of Las Vegas. He competed in professional rodeo as a teenager, in cutting and two different roping events. He also apparently resembles Donny Osmond – someone pointed this out while I was tracting with him, and he says he gets it about once a day. Apparently the Osmonds can be an effective lead-in for us missionaries among the right demographic here in England.
Runcorn seems like a nice place. It’s a very residential, almost suburban city (I think many people commute into nearby Liverpool or Manchester), and it has a shopping mall in lieu of the traditional pedestrian-only city-center shopping district – since we’re not allowed to street-contact in the mall as we would do in a city center, we focus more on tracting. Runcorn is officially a bike area, but the current bikes are not in good repair and so we do a lot of walking. It’s a big change from a car area like Barrow, simply because we have to invest more time in travel. But it will be good for me – I’ll have a chance to get good exercise, be more effective in the time I can devote to proselytising, and talk to more people on the way to and from our destinations.
The Runcorn ward is apparently really great. This week was stake conference, so I didn’t get to meet a lot of the ward yet, but we’ve had tea with a few member families already, and they seem generally both solid in the gospel and excited about missionary work. Apparently we get 110-120 people attending every week. Unfortunately vandals burned down the Runcorn chapel a few weeks ago, so the ward has to meet in a conference center for the time being. We’ve walked by the burned-out shell of the building a few times, and the damage looks pretty extensive – apparently it may take a couple of years to rebuild. But the whole thing has caused a lot of sympathy for the Church in the local community, so hopefully good things will come out of it all.
I’m running low on time here – I’ll finish quick. At transfers, I met a Sister Wassenaar from Den Helder who remembered me and Ruth from stake activities in Holland (and sang in the stake youth choir that I played the piano for in stake conference). She asked how Ruth was doing.
My study of Preach My Gospel is improving. I didn’t really appreciate it before my mission, but there’s good stuff to be found in there.
Happy Halloween and take care of yourselves!