We had a great experience while teaching a less-active sister this week. She is from "down south" (what everybody in this part of the country calls Southern England) and moved up here a few years ago with her several children. She'd like to come to church, but two of her daughters, one about 12 and the other about 14, don't like to go. She doesn't like to leave them home, so they all end up just staying. It's been a pretty tough situation for us to deal with. We went over and taught them on Sunday night - since we can't visit a single sister alone, we brought a great couple from our ward, the Waltons. Sister Walton is a really friendly and wonderful person who visits many of the sisters in the ward. After the Saturday session of General Conference in Chorley, she came up to the four of us Blackpool missionaries and got us all to come with her to visit a less-active sister in a nursing home and give her a priesthood blessing (a very appropriate post-Conference activity, especially for the conference where President Monson gets sustained). She and Brother Walton contributed a lot to the lesson. Then, right as we wrapped it up, Sister Walton asked if she could say something. She spoke to the 12-year-old daughter (the 14-year-old wasn't there), and boldly but lovingly explained to her that she was selfishly keeping her mother from attending church, and that the Spirit had prompted Sister Walton to tell this to the daughter. She told the daughter that she was supposed to be in Sister Walton's Sunday school class and that she wanted her to be there. She asked the daughter to think about how she could show her mother that she loved her by coming to church with her. Then Sister Walton asked that we all kneel and she said a prayer, asking for Heavenly Father to bless the whole family. It was wonderful to be there while that happened - I don't think either Elder Webb or I could have addressed the issue so well and with such a measure of the Holy Ghost.
We have been teaching a couple of recent converts who were baptized in February, a young Nigerian man named Jacob who is here studying business at a local college and a single mother named Danni who has a really smart six-year-old son. Both Jacob and Danni are really strong in the gospel right now, and I feel really lucky to get to teach them and be around them. Jacob is really excited about sharing the gospel. He has a copy of Preach My Gospel which we have been discussing with him. He has also started attending Institute in Chorley every week and is taking the Mission Prep class. This week, he told us, he and someone else in the class will practice teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (lesson 3), and he's pretty excited about it. We've been teaching him how to give away a copy of the Book of Mormon too. I guess it's always fun to teach someone how to do missionary work, but somehow doing it with a recent convert is especially wonderful.
Here's that story I didn't get to finish telling last week:
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. [new part starts here] She was at the house to pick up a stray dog that the houseowner had picked up. While we waited for the owner to come to the door, Elder Smith started talking to her and we got into a conversation about the Church. It turns out she lives near the church in Lancaster and was taught last year by missionaries up there. After we'd talked for a while, it was pretty clear that the owners of the house weren't in, which really confused the dog warden, since she was there to pick up a stray dog that had been found and the person who had found it had called her about ten minutes ago and said he/she was at home. We continued talking while she walked back to her car, and we could tell that she was interested in what we were saying, not just waiting for an excuse to leave. Then she got a phone call from the person she was supposed to meet and realized she'd gone to the wrong street. Before she drove away, we gave her a Restoration pamphlet and she said she'd read it (although she didn't give us her contact details - she said she knew where to find the Church if she needed it). I was really struck by the sheer coincidence of the whole experience - the fact that we happened to be in that certain area (where I'd never been before) knocking on the door at the exact same time, and not even the right door for her. Things like that help me know I'm being guided by the Spirit.
I went on exchange with Elder Prows yesterday. Elder Prows is 6'6", the same height as Elder Russell. He's a good missionary, very patient and relaxed, and I enjoyed working with him. I think he and Elder Carter will work really well together. Elder Prows been out for twenty months already, so this might be his last area.
Elder Webb and I are getting along great. I'm getting to know him a little better - it turns out he has 15(!) brothers and sisters. The other night we were looking at each other's pictures from home. Elder Webb looked at the photo of Dad and that giant UN helicopter and said, "Your dad looks like a movie star." : ) Elder Webb has actually been in a movie himself: Baptists at our Barbecue, which I think some of you have seen. He's an extra - the good-looking one, apparently. : )
I'm feeling really tired this afternoon, so sorry if I'm not writing as much or as clearly as usual. I've been a bit sick over the past couple of days with some kind of throat/sinus cold and I think that's why. But I've been taking a lot of Vitamin C and decongestant and that's been getting me through OK. I should be over it by the end of the week, I'd guess.
This morning we went to the sand dunes by the sea (kind of like the ones in the Hague, only not as grassy or as numerous) with the North elders and tossed Elder Webb's football around. We're going back there in two weeks to play Capture the Flag with the whole zone, which should be a blast. While we were there Elder Webb picked up fifteen seashells, one for each of his siblings (I guess seashells can be kind of exotic when you live in rural Utah).
Elder Prows (an experienced missionary) told us about these really good toffee-filled doughnuts that you can get really cheaply at ASDA (the Wal-mart of England, where we did our shopping today), and so Elder Webb and I both got some. I'm excited to try them tonight.