Transfers were today. Elder Empey got transferred up to the city of Blackburn. Some of you may know of it from the Beatles song "A Day in the Life": "I read the news today, oh boy/ Ten thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire . . . " It's a bigger place than Runcorn, and is also heavily Muslim. Elder Empey's been in Runcorn since he left the MTC, so I think he was glad to get to go to a new place, but he was still pretty sad to leave. He's really gotten to love people here. We spent time yesterday visiting members and investigators so he could say goodbye to them. One of these was Danny, our Hungarian investigator. I actually said goodbye to him too, since he's leaving tomorrow to move to Ipswich (near London). Danny's a funny guy - he asked where we lived in the States so he could come visit us when he is a millionaire someday, and invited us to visit him too ( something like, "In Central Europe, there is a very nice little country. It is called Hungary . . . "). Hopefully he'll get baptized down in Ipswich before he has to go home to Hungary.
Usually on transfer day you go to a chapel in Manchester to meet your new companion, but this time I didn't have to go there - Elder Turner, who's in a neighboring area in Wales and also got a new companion today, came up to Runcorn and hung out with me while we waited for the transfer bus to come by and drop off our new companions. Elder Turner was in my district in Barrow, and I had a great time chatting with him. I'd been feeling a bit apprehensive about getting along with a new companion and being a happy missionary this transfer, but Elder Turner built me up a lot and helped me feel really positive about where I am and what I'm doing. Having seen a little more of the missionary world, I realize now how lucky (I mean, blessed) I am to have been surrounded by such a great district in Barrow.
My new companion is Elder Russell, who's coming up on his one year mark. He's from Ogden, Utah. He's also 6'4"; we need to borrow an Allen wrench from our ward mission leader tonight so he can remove the baseboard of his bed or he won't be able to fit into the bed. Everybody I've talked to who knows him seems to love him, and I think we're going to have a fun transfer together. He told me he's set a resolution this year not to eat any chocolate. Unfortunately he's come to our flat, which is full of leftover Christmas chocolate, and to top it off he just received a package from home that contains a big Ziploc bag full of homemade turtles (chunks of chocolate-covered caramel with almonds or pecans or something - mmmboy). But he's remaining firm in his resolution, so I may just have to eat them all for him. : )
A couple of times when I've walked through Liverpool recently I've noticed advertisements for Blood Brothers, the show we saw in London in the spring of 2005(?). The Moreton elders even had a less-active member invite them to go see it (it would've been against mission rules to go, unfortunately)! Blood Brothers is by Willy Russell, the same playwright who did Educating Rita - I'm pretty sure he's from Liverpool and that his plays are set in or near it (in places like Runcorn, perhaps). I've thought about Blood Brothers a number of times since coming out. It's probably one of the most evocative portrayals of Britain that I received before my mission. I think I'm going to have to read more of Willy Russell's work when I get home. I owe Ms. Marinus for introducing me to his writing in high school.
Through visits to and conversations with members and investigators, I've heard inklings about the US elections. Is it true that Mitt Romney lost the Republican primaries in both Iowa and New Hampshire? Keep me posted on what's going on election-wise - I'm pretty curious.