Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 16 July 2008

Dear family,

Short note today - Manchester libraries are on strike (Elder Adams has something go wrong with his plans to email EVERY week, it seems), so we're just now getting 20 minutes towards the end of our preparation day at this little Asian Internet cafe we found in Chinatown right by city centre.

On Friday I went on exchange with Elder Phillips in the Wythenshawe area. Elder Phillips is a great guy, really smiley and happy all the time. We volunteered in a charity shop (British for thrift store) for three hours as part of our weekly community service, and I spent half of it working the till (the first time I've ever worked a till - I screwed up quite badly once but otherwise it was OK) and the other half wandering around and tidying their very good selection of books. It was a bit difficult to be around all those books because it made me miss reading a little bit - I also struggle a little bit around the Manchester University campus because it reminds me a little too much of Stanford, another thing I enjoyed a lot in pre-mission life - but only a little bit. I'll have plenty of time to read when I get back, but my time to be a full-time missionary is now!

Later in the evening, Elder Phillips and I were tracting and an African woman answered one of the doors. Elder Phillips started talking to her and she answered in French! So I told her I spoke a bit of French, and she invited us right in! It was pretty cool. I asked her a few questions (in French) and found out she was a really devout Christian who attends a local church and was interested in what we had to share. So I got to start teaching the Restoration in French! I was quite scared at the beginning and while she was saying the opening prayer I prayed silently for the gift of tongues so that I could teach her. I must have received it because I was able to help her understand the basic principles up to the Restoration and find the words I needed to get it across! It was really cool. Not so much for Elder Phillips, I'm afraid - he just sat there a blankly for most of it. Then right after I'd told her that Joseph Smith was a prophet, she got a telephone call - from her pastor! He asked to speak to us (!) and so she handed the phone over to me and Elder Phillips and had us talk to him. He spoke English (thank goodness) and he started interrogating us about what we believed, how we would tell a true prophet from a false prophet, etc. I was quite worried that he'd tell Nabelle (the woman) to kick us out or something, but apparently we "passed" because he told her we were good spiritual people and that if we wanted to share a scripture from the Bible with her she should let us. Yay! After the phone call, I felt prompted to share John 14:26-27 with her (something Elder Adams found in companionship study a few days before) and after we read it I told her that what was really important was for her to find out by the Holy Spirit whether or not Joseph Smith is a prophet. She was really happy with that, and she agreed to a return appointment (there are French-speaking sisters in the ward that the Wythenshawe elders can bring with them). A pretty amazing experience! I don't think it was an accident that I happened to be on exchange in Wythenshawe that day.

Last night Elder Adams and I had a tea appointment (Elder Adams first proper one) with the Petersons, an American expat family that lives in the ward. Brother Peterson is a Kellogg's executive and he and his family have lived all around the world in the past 10 years: Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Australia, England. Sounds like a familiar story . . . They invited Luke and Karen's family, and since Luke is one of our investigators we got to come too. Their neighborhood, their house, and their family remind me a LOT of Wassenaar. Kind of cool. It's a little different here, though, because they seem like the only expat family around (I think most of the rest of the people in their neighborhood are British), they're in a British ward, and (I'm pretty sure) their kids are in a British school. Sister Peterson said she found it really difficult to adjust to the ward at first, which surprised me at first - they speak English, for heaven's sake - but I realized that it's quite different to come into a ward as a missionary than as a family. The Petersons are great, anyway, and they fed us a really nice meal and really got to know Luke and Karen. One of the Petersons' daughters also knows one of the guys in my ward at Stanford - I guess he lived in Malaysia at the same time they did.

I've got photos, but not time to send them. Next week . . .

Elder Pimentel

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