Elder Russell on the phone in the Runcorn apartment.
Elder Russell and I have been trying to find new investigators lately. It's not always fun work, but it can be really rewarding. The other day we picked a street to tract. In the first fifty-three doors we knocked on, we got let in three times, including twice in the same day! A few days later, knowing we'd be trying to find new investigators that day, I spent part of my morning study time reading the "Finding People" chapter from Preach My Gospel, including the section on "Addressing the Importance of Family," which explained how the happiness we feel in our families comes from our relationship to God. Later that day, during the 30-minute walk to our tracting focus area, I stopped a man who was walking the other way and asked him about what brought him happiness in life. He told me it was his kids. I was then able to explain to him how his love for his kids comes from his relationship to God, and he ended up giving me his phone number and telling me we could come and visit his family. In total on that walk, Elder Russell and I got contact details for four different people. Exciting stuff!
As part of our finding efforts, we've done a lot of tracting. I think I've gotten a little rusty with door approaches over the last transfer, so it's good for me to get some practice. Tracting gives you a quick look at many different people's attitudes towards religion, which can be kind of interesting. The other day a man told us that he was a Catholic. A little later in the conversation, he also told us that he didn't believe in God. : )
I've also noticed that a lot of people seem to think that religious truth is relative - that what's true to them might not be true for someone else. It's a big problem because it suggests that you can believe whatever you want and be right, and that there's no need to look for God's true church because they're all equally true to the people in them. If Joseph Smith had taken that kind of attitude, he never would have sought or received the First Vision. I think it's really important to recognize that while everyone has a right to hold his or her own beliefs and practice his or her own religion, that doesn't mean that those beliefs and religions are correct.
Elder Russell and I are having a good time together, partly because we try to get on each other's nerves. When we were tracting the other day and an elderly woman answered the door, Elder Russell said, "My friend here has a beautiful voice, and he'd like to sing you a song." So I had to sing "I Am a Child of God." He's tried to do it to me a couple more times, but so far I've been able to get out of singing.
I need to get working on my driving license. The next step is to take the theory test (not too hard). Elder Russell has passed the theory test and taken a bunch of driving lessons, but he still needs a few more before he takes the practical. On Monday he had a driving lesson with a less-active member who is a driving instructor, and I rode in the backseat. It was pretty harsh - Elder Russell would drive for a bit, then the driving instructor would have him stop and tell him that he would've failed the practical test four times in the past few minutes. Then he'd have Elder Russell examine his mistakes, and he'd drive for a few more minutes before getting told how many times he'd failed again. It appears that the British driving test is going to be a little tougher than the one I took in Utah a few years ago.
We heard about Gordon B. Hinckley's passing on Monday morning, from our ward mission leader's family and then from our district leader. I've been thinking about Mom's story about being worried when David O. McKay passed away, because she didn't think anyone else could be prophet - although Gordon B. Hinckley hasn't been prophet for all of my life, he's been there speaking in conference as long as I can remember, and I feel a little bit the same way. I'm going to miss his talks in April. But the Church will still be true!
On Sunday, a member here gave a talk in sacrament meeting based on Henry B. Eyring's conference talk, "O Remember, Remember," where he talks about writing a journal of blessings received for his kids to have and read. In connection with the theme of remembering, this member mentioned that he and his wife would be celebrating their anniversary this week. It struck me that besides writing down the blessings you've received (which I suppose our family does, in the form of our Thankful Book), you can remember through family traditions, including holiday-related ones. I was happy to find such a sound doctrinal basis for the importance of good family traditions, which seems pretty intuitive to me.
Mom, I got your letter before leaving the house this morning and read the extended family news written on the back. Thanks for including it! I'm really excited for JaLeen and also for Leo. Grandma Bay had let me know about Uncle Phil's wife - I actually got to meet their family over Thanksgiving when I was visiting Nathan and Alicia. Also, I'd forgotten that Jon and Heather had any kids! When was Asher born? : ) You probably told me back when it happened and I've just forgotten.
[Ed. note: Cousin JaLeen is planning a mission, and cousin Leo is engaged to be married in the SLC temple. Aunt Joyce (Uncle Phil's wife) passed away after a long bout with cancer. Phil and Joyce lived in Oregon, and Sam met them when Annette's brother Nathan -- an anesthesiologist in Salem -- flew him up from Stanford to spend Thanksgiving 2006 in with them. Cousin Jon is a dad as of a couple of months; apparently, Sam's negligent parents failed to keep him adequately advised of these events. :( ]