View from Runcorn Hill across the Mersey River toward Liverpool with the ICI Chemical Plant in the foreground; the Liverpool cathedral is supposed to be visible in this picture but I can't find it
Elder Russell and I started teaching a really golden investigator this week, a guy named Adam who's in his mid-twenties. We knocked on his door last week while tracting and he was really friendly and set up a return appointment with us for later in the week. We've taught him three times now, and every time he's been really involved and really eager to learn. He hasn't had much experience with any religion, but he tells us that he feels that there's an emptiness in his life that he wants to fill and that the gospel could be the thing to fill it. He's been reading from the Book of Mormon and is planning to come to church this week! At the end of our second visit he said a really humble and beautiful prayer. We're really excited and think he could get baptized pretty soon!!! We're having dinner with him tomorrow night and hopefully playing basketball with him sometime next week.
Last week we had tea with the Johnsons, an older couple in the ward. The Johnsons are one of those big "pillar of the Church" families - Brother Johnson is the stake patriarch, his daughter-in-law is our Relief Society president, and her son and son-in-law are Young Men's president and executive secretary (to name a few). It turns out that they were baptized by Elder Monte J. Brough (of the Seventy, emeritus now maybe?) when he was a missionary in England, and have since stayed in contact with him. They told us stories about their visits to his ranch in Wyoming and his visits to England, things like "So one day Monte called and told us he had three other general authorities with him [in England] and that they were stopping by later that day and could Norma make her trifle?" : )
Last night I went on exchange in Moreton with Elder Ayers. They had a great day set up with five appointments on Tuesday plus one this morning. Unfortunately, all three of the appointments that were with investigators got canceled, and all three of the investigators who canceled asked that the missionaries not come back. That's a pretty heavy blow to their area. : ( It made me grateful for the investigators we have in Runcorn, even if they don't always progress the way we'd like them to. Even with the cancelations, Elder Ayers and I got to make several visits and do some teaching, including a really great lesson with a member. We taught about listening from Preach My Gospel. Both the member and the fellowshipper we brought with us (it was a single sister, so we couldn't visit her by ourselves) had experience in counseling, and they contributed a lot to the discussion. We were talking about how to control a lesson when the person you're teaching rambles on and on about unrelated issues, and they told us about the technique of "reflecting", where you restate what the other person has told you and ask, "Is that what you're saying?" to help them figure out what they really think. By the end of the lesson I was making a much greater effort to listen effectively than I had been at the beginning.
For service this week we've been helping Rob, one of our investigators, to build a shed in his backyard. He had the materials already, so we just had to clear out the weeds from the back corner of his garden and nail the panels together, using some extra wood to support it where it had rotted away. It was a lot of fun! I actually haven't seen the finished product yet, since Elder Russell and Elder Atwood finished it with Rob while I was on exchange yesterday. We took a lot of fun pictures - I'll send you some when I get my hands on them.
I'm enjoying my mission! Elder Russell and I are having a good time here in Runcorn. I've noticed that Elder Russell is really good at getting things done in a simple way without worrying needlessly; in particular, he's good at inviting members to help us. I've always been a little frightened of asking members for help, worrying that I'll impose on or offend them. Since Elder Russell's gotten here, though we've been using our members a lot more, asking for lifts to our appointments and asking less-active families for tea appointments. And instead of offending members or hurting our work, it's helped us work more effectively and build trust with members. In general, I've recognized that I can relax in doing missionary work and enjoy talking to and working with the people I serve - not only does it make missionary work more pleasant, it actually makes me a more genuine, outwardly-focused, and effective missionary.
Thanks for your letters! I especially loved getting a letter from Ruth this week. Have a great week!