Elder Pimentel with Elders di Iulio, Kimmerle, Turner, Tomita & Hvistendahl
Happy 2008! The fireworks woke me up at midnight.
We've started teaching a new investigator named Danny (sp?) - when we arrived at the field for our weekly investigator football activity last week, he was the only one there! We canceled football but walked partway back home with him and had a good chat during which we scheduled a teaching appointment. Danny is from Hungary and is working as an au pair in the home of a member family. He's actually been attending church for several weeks (in a different ward) and reading from the Book of Mormon and the Gospel Principles manual, so he already knows a lot, and he feels good about what he's seen so far. We just have to help him understand that this isn't just another good church with good people and principles in it, but the one true church with priesthood authority and the fulness of the gospel.
Last week we were walking down the street when I spotted a cell phone lying on the ground. It looked very new (and, as Elder Empey noted, was much nicer than our mission cell phone). Elder Empey looked on the phone and saw missed calls from someone called "Mum," so he called back and told her that we'd picked up the phone. When she met up with us to get it back, Elder Empey left her a Restoration pamphlet and got her contact details so we can go and teach her sometime.
We had to be in our flat or at a member's home after 4:30 PM on New Year's Eve.
On New Year's Day no tracting was allowed, so the zone leaders organized a zone meeting instead, with a white elephant gift exchange between missionaries in the zone afterwards. It was a wise move - everything apparently shuts down completely on New Year's Day here. When we got off the train at the little Welsh town of Shotton (near the chapel where were having the meeting), it was about 9:30 AM and the town was completely silent and deserted. Elder Empey had accidentally left his white elephant gift in Runcorn, so he had to buy a new gift at the "Bargain Booze" liquor store, the only open store in the town's whole shopping district - fortunately, they stocked candy in addition to alcohol. : ) Ironically, Elder Empey's candy was one of the best gifts there, since many missionaries had brought pretty lame presents, including one companionship who wrapped up materials left in their apartment by the sister missionaries who had lived there previously (bubble bath, sugar-free sweets, a book entitled "365 Things to Make and Do" with entries including "Dairy Drinks" and "Seaside Jewelry"). I gave a chocolate bar and a bag of balloons shaped like giant bugs and ended up with a Wales mug (which isn't too tacky) and an apple. Not too bad.
Gift exchange aside, the zone meeting was really good. Elder Atwood gave a particularly insightful training presentation about how we can and should talk about the Atonement more often in our discussions. He noted that discussing the Atonement is particularly conducive to the Spirit and that people who attend other Christian churches feel the Spirit in their meetings when the Atonement is discussed, even if other doctrines they practice are not correct. So we need to make sure that we talk about the Atonement with people we meet and teach to show them that we too can help them feel that Spirit.
Last week, in sad news, I accidentally left one of my flash drives at the library after doing emails and it disappeared. : ( Fortunately, I don't think there was much if any important information on it - mostly it had photos on it, and I think I've sent you most of the photos that were any good anyway. I still have another flash drive (which I'm now being extra vigilant about hanging onto), and I should be able to keep new photos on there. But please save copies of the photos I've sent you already. Thanks!
I'm enjoying my Christmas gifts. The electronic dictionary is great - I've been able to use it really easily without even looking at the directions, and it has tons of information in it, including a whole dictionary of quotes by famous people (none by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, though : ) ).
Thanks for your great letters! I liked hearing about the gingerbread-house-building party and seeing the photos of it. I think it's a great family tradition too. I'm glad that the mommy and the little boy who lost each other on the train platform are OK, too, and that people in Jacksonville were so concerned and ready to help them out.