It's the beginning of a new transfer period! An exciting time. Elder Smith has been sent to Wigan, and I'm staying here in Blackpool with my new companion Elder Webb. I've known Elder Webb for my entire mission (he served near and went on exchange with me when I was in Barrow), and he is a great person and a really motivated missionary. I was stoked when I found out we would be serving together. He's from Oak City, Utah, a town of about 600 people (James E. Faust's hometown, I believe), and has been out on his mission about nine months, six weeks longer than I have. He's also been called as district leader, which is good news for me because I get to go on a lot of exchanges. I am very excited about my next five weeks with Elder Webb and the great work and good times that will certainly accompany them.
Elder Empey also left Blackpool this transfer, and so we have another new elder in the district, Elder Prows from Bountiful. I believe he's a Woods Cross High graduate, so I'll have to see if he knows "Fight, you wildcats . . " : )
I'm feeling really happy about this transfer - although I got along really well with Elder Smith and enjoyed working with him, I've been getting a bit complacent over the past few weeks. Because so much has been going on in our area and we have so many good investigators, I've been falling into a very comfortable routine and lost some of my sense of urgency and excitement. Also, since Elder Smith has spent so much time in Blackpool (six months by the time he left), he knew the area and the people really well and it was easy for me to rely on his knowledge in planning our lessons and activities. Working with Elder Webb is going to push me to be more involved in our work and to change it to make it better. We've already recognized that we need to help the members trust us more, so we will spend a lot of time and effort visiting and teaching them.
Ian is really sick right now so we haven't been able to teach him lately. He's also had a relapse with coffee, so his baptism has been postponed again. He'll get there eventually, though.
General Conference was amazing! We went down to the Chorley stake center/temple/MTC complex (since there was no broadcast to Blackpool chapel), where we were able to watch all the Saturday sessions (including priesthood) and the Sunday morning session. The Sunday afternoon session was broadcast from 9 to 11 PM, so we had to go home to bed instead of watching it. I was pretty disappointed to miss both Elder Holland and Elder Bednar (two speakers I was particularly looking forward to hearing), especially since I hear Elder Bednar spoke on missionary work. But I'll get to read those talks eventually. Some of my favorite parts:
- Both of Elder Eyring's talks, especially the Saturday morning one about sustaining our leaders. I was fascinated by his explanation of the apostasy - even after teaching it to countless people here, I hadn't quite understood that it was the unrighteousness of the members at the time that caused the removal of priesthood authority.
- Elder Oaks' explanation of "two channels" through which God speaks to us. That's also very relevant to the message of the Restoration; many people I've taught, especially born-again Christians, seem to believe in only the one personal channel to God and fail to see the need for an organized church.
- President Monson's story about wiggling his ears at the boy in the sacrament meeting audience. I've never seen a general authority wiggle his ears at all, let alone the prophet himself from the podium during the priesthood session of conference. : )
Plus many more . . .
One evening a week or two ago Elder Smith and I were planning for the following day. We had some free time in the afternoon, so we prayed to know which area we should go to and settled on a certain neighborhood. We found a less-active member who lived in the same general area and decided to visit her first. When we got to her house the next day, she wasn't in, so we started tracting her street. Outside one of the houses, as we approached the door to knock on it, a lady got out of a Dog Warden van to knock on the same door as us. We chatted with her and found out she'd been taught by missionaries awhile ago! The people at the house weren't in, but we gave the lady a Restoration pamphlet. I would describe the story better, but I'm out of time!
Good luck to Ruth with her decision!