Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 4 June 2008

Elder Pimentel downing a donner kebab.

Elder Empey downing a donner kebab.

Dear family,

Another good week in Manchester. The weather's been really warm, and although we've had some rain and damp this week it's beautiful today.

We're starting to teach a lot more members. Now that Elder Adams and I have our bearings and know who in the ward we need to visit (the other elders take care of the members in their respective areas) we've been setting up a lot of appointments and teaching a lot of lessons. I've really enjoyed getting to know some of the great people in our ward and hearing about how they joined the church and are doing missionary work of their own. One sister told us about how her family joined the Church because a TV repairman who came to their house once refused her mother's offer of a drink of tea or coffee. The TV repairman had to go on his way after that and nothing came directly from that conversation, but later on, when the missionaries came around, her mother was really interested to hear what they had to say. Another sister in the ward is confined to a wheelchair, and since she joined the church a couple of years ago she's had many opportunities to talk about the gospel with acquaintances from a Internet chat room focused on the needs of disabled people. Apparently 6(!) people have since joined the Church through her efforts.

One of the investigator families we are teaching right now is going through really rough financial struggles. All the trials seem to have hit in the week and a half after we first taught them, which I'm sure is not a coincidence. When we went by to teach them this week, the father sat down with us and explained the whole problem and how they're not sure how to sort out their finances so they will be able to pay for all the things they need. I really felt for him - it's an awful situation for a dad to be in. The whole experience also made me really grateful for the skills and attitudes I've learned about handling money from my parents. As I heard this investigator talking about the problem I knew exactly what Mom and Dad would do in that situation and also that they would never have gotten into it in the first place. It's kind of heartening to recognize that I know how to deal with problems like this in my own life. Unfortunately, we're not really in a position to counsel this family (the missionary handbook is clear about that), but it's really a compliment that they have chosen to confide in us. We're going to mention the issue in ward coordination and see if the ward can do anything.

A bunch of new ward missionaries have been called in the ward over the past two weeks as well as an assistant ward mission leader. They're all young people who are fairly recent converts and are really excited about missionary work. The assistant ward mission leader in particular is on fire. His name is Brother Tapa and he's an immigrant from Nepal. Sister missionaries in London GQed him a couple of years ago and he joined the church there before moving up here a few months back. He works at an Indian-Nepalese restaurant in Altrincham, and he's referred most of his co-workers to the Altrincham elders, who are teaching a couple of them. Brother Tapa and a group of his friends from work came to play football with us last P-day (but I forgot to get pictures! Next time . . . ) He also taught the Gospel Principles lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost last Sunday and did an amazing job. I was particularly impressed with a question he asked the class about why we give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands instead of, for example, just standing across the room from each other and saying the prayer. It helped me see a lot of significance in the specific way we perform that ordinance.

I went on exchange with Elder Empey on Friday. Elder Mitch Empey whom I served around in Blackpool, not the Elder Empey from Runcorn. He's our zone leader now. I stayed in Sale with him while Elder Adams went to Stretford. Elder Adams was pretty sad to go because during the week we'd set up a bunch of appointments on Friday and completely packed the day. The day ended up being about as good as we planned it: we taught several lessons to members and a great first lesson to a French woman named Nadira whom we'd met tracting. Brother Higson, our high priest group leader came with us to that one, taught the principle of the Restoration, and gave a great answer to one of Nadira's questions about why most religions seem to have such similar basic doctrines. I had a great time working with Elder Empey, because he's a fun person to be around especially because he's really good at bus contacting, something I've struggled with recently. I learned a lot on the exchange.

Friday was also a great day because Elder Empey and I got donner kebabs. I don't think I've mentioned those before - they are the fast food of choice among EMM missionaries. Kebabs are a lot like the shoarma rolls we got a few times during our stay in Cairo: long strips of meat are sliced off of a big vertical chunk of meat that turns on a spit, and you eat them in bread with salad and sauce on it. I think they come originally from Turkey, but here in Britain they usually serve them on Indian naan bread, which is really nice. It's a big British thing: everywhere you go you can find takeaway shops selling pizza, curry, and donner kebabs. Anyway, there's a lot of mission lore and mission tradition built up around kebabs. There was a really excellent kebab shop (Adam's Pizza House) about two blocks from our flat in Blackpool, and whenever Elder Smith and I had a rough day, or a tea appointment canceled on us or something, we'd go and get kebabs. : ) Adam, the owner, had gotten to know the missionaries and would give us extra meat and ask about how Elder Colton (who'd been transferred away sometime back) was doing down in Stoke-on-Trent. I'm still trying to find a good kebab shop in Manchester - the one Elder Empey and I tried on Friday was OK but not that great - because Elder Adams really wants to try a kebab.

I've got to run - we've got a zone activity this afternoon and Elder Adams and I have to get up there pretty soon. Plus I need a haircut really badly. Hopefully I can get back to a computer later this afternoon and send some photos of the zone activity. In the meantime, here's some pictures of me and Elder Empey eating kebabs.

I hope you're all surviving summer in Jacksonville. Ruth, enjoy your stay in Guatemala! Ed, have a great time at FSU!

Elder Pimentel

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