Thursday, January 10, 2008

Notes from Sam - 10 January 2008

Elder Pimentel in Downham (before it got really cold, but not before it got really wet)Also, Elder Pimentel's room with companion Elder Empey in the foreground

Dear family,

I'm at Liverpool Library again . . .

On Monday we had an exchange with the zone leaders. This time Elder Empey went to Wrexham and I stayed here in Runcorn with Elder Pinegar. Josh Evans (the recently returned missionary from the Sierra Leone Mission in our ward) also happened to have a day off on Monday, so he offered to go out with us in the afternoon and drive us around. Unfortunately, we didn't have any really solid appointments set up by Monday morning, and I was worried that we'd have a long, fruitless day of finding. Lately, instead of tracting, we've been visiting former investigators when we have no appointments; I've gone through our area book (which contains information on former investigators going back several years) over the past few weeks and written down a list of people we can try visiting. So after trying on a few of our current investigators (none of whom were available to be taught), Josh Evans, Elder Pinegar and I started visiting these past investigators. Because we had a car, we were able to visit a huge number of addresses, and to my happy surprise, it ended up being really effective. Three different people let us inside and we were able to teach together, and a couple of other people said we could come back and visit them another time. Then later in the day we were able to teach three more lessons, one to an investigator and two to less-active members. It felt really good to teach (that really is the best part of missionary work, I'm convinced), and I was able to learn from Elder Pinegar's and Josh Evan's teaching styles. The whole day was a good reminder to me that there are people in England who are willing to be taught, and that good things happen when we are obedient, exercise faith, and work hard. Especially when we have great members like those in Runcorn to support us.

Last week we had a great preparation day activity. Our entire district took the bus up to a place called West Kirby, which is on the beach where the River Dee runs into the Irish Sea. There are a couple of islands not too far from shore that you can walk out to at low tide, and we were lucky enough to arrive when the tide was out and there was a clear pathway out there on the sand. The islands were pretty small, but they'd been carved out by constant wind over the years so that they had really striking cliff faces and rock formations. We had a lot of fun climbing around on them and taking photos (I'll see if I can send some to you), and we found a beach area with some of the best skipping rocks I've ever encountered - probably a result of the wind erosion. Then we noticed that the tide had come in quite a bit since we'd come out there, panicked a little bit, and rushed back to the mainland. : )

This week on preparation day, I was in Moreton on exchange with Elder Ayers. We went into Liverpool and wandered around a little bit. It was a beautiful day, great for wandering. It made me feel really lucky to be serving in an exotic place like England where are there are really interesting and historically rich cities like Liverpool to go explore. We ended up going through part of Chinatown (one of the bigger ones in England, apparently) and visiting the giant Anglican cathedral. Someone had told me it was the biggest cathedral in Europe (I had been skeptical) - it turns out it's the second biggest Anglican cathedral in Europe, which is still pretty good. : ) It's very recent, though, not finished until 1978. When we went inside, there was a big ceremony going on for the opening of an Anne Frank exhibition which was being housed inside the cathedral. We listened to a bit of the service, including a really beautiful vocal number called "Lean on Me" (an old spiritual, maybe?) by a group of girls in school uniforms. It was an interesting experience to visit the house of worship of another faith as a missionary. I think a cathedral does some of the same things a temple does for us - provide a symbol of faith to the surrounding community, offer a place of sanctuary and teaching to church members in the area, etc. There was a good feeling in the cathedral, and it made me see how people from the Church of England might feel the Spirit to some extent in their worship and hence think they have the true gospel. So we have to find a way to help them recognize that there is a greater truth.

My exchange with Elder Ayers was supposed to end on Wednesday afternoon, but it ended up extending until Thursday morning. Elder Ayers and Elder Atwood had no appointments for that evening, so we went tracting for two and a half hours in the cold and dark and rain (the good weather we'd had that morning in Liverpool was gone). At first I was kind of dreading this, especially because tracting at night usually isn't very effective, but there wasn't anything better for us to do, so we went out and did it. By the end I felt really good that we had. It built my confidence to know that I'd gone out and done something so uncomfortable and inconvenient in order to do my best with my time and help others come unto Christ. And although it wasn't the most effective tracting session ever, we did make some positive contacts.

We were supposed to have interviews with the President last Friday, but he wasn't there - he was in the hospital having kidney stones removed! Fortunately, he's OK now. Sister Jacobsen did a training session with us in the President's place, and she also brought us cinnamon rolls that she'd baked. They reminded me of the ones Mom makes. : )

I got myself some disposable cameras this week. I think they will work really well for me and help me get photos in a reliable way. I also bought a jumper (British for "sweater") that I can wear under my suit coat to keep me warm as it gets colder.

The Stanford ward sent me a big Christmas card! It made me happy. They want a photo of me and a missionary scripture to post on their bulletin board. Mom and Dad, you have better access to mission photos of me than I do (now that I've lost that flash drive) - can you please pick a decent photo of me and send it as an attachment to [them]? Also, please tell her that the scripture I've picked is Mosiah 29:20. I'd prepare a message for you to forward, but I'm almost out of Internet time. Thanks!


[Ed. note: Mosiah 29:20 reads, "But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him."]

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