Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 23 July 2008

Wythenshawe Hall - an old manor-house type establishment in the park a few blocks from our flat. It was the site of a battle in the English Civil War, a member told us. The Royalists holed up inside it and the Parliamentarians (Cromwell's supporters) besieged them. Although Cromwell's troops eventually won, their commanding officer was shot dead from off his horse by a sharpshooting maid in the upper window. The building apparently still has cannonballs embedded in its walls from the bombardment.
Photos from our exchange with Wythenshawe two weeks ago. L to R: Elder Morin, me, Elder Adams, Elder Phillips.
Helping Hands service activity last Saturday. The people on the far left and right are from Macclesfield ward (who joined us for the activity), so I don't know them hardly at all, but the person in the middle is Clemence, a French sister in our ward. We're standing in front of the flowerbed we're about to plant
Helping Hands - me planting the flowerbed.
Me in the armor of God (part of the zone leaders' training at interviews with the President last week). Everyone else got supplied with fiery darts of the adversary (little balls of wadded-up tin foil) and I had to defend myself. But even with all the armor on, I can't help anyone else unless I have the sword of the Spirit with which to "thrash the nations." [Ed. note: ridiculous zone leader training gimmicks were a staple of my mission too! Sam appears to be a better sport about them than I was.]

Dear family,

Some cool things that happened this week:

1. Arman, one of our born-again Christian investigators from Iran, came to church! His wife Sheri and daughter Nikki are on vacation in France, or I think they would have been there too. He loved it. After the high council talk he turned to me and said "Fantastic!" and when someone after church asked him if he enjoyed it, he said, "How can I not enjoy it when God is speaking to me?" The best part for me though was all the members who came up and said hi to him after sacrament meeting. He had to leave after sacrament meeting but said he will "definitely" be there for the whole thing next week.

2. Anthony, the 13-year old son of our investigator Terry, has been tearing through the Book of Mormon and loving it. We didn't even commit him to read it when we left it with his mum, but in two(?) weeks or so he's made it through 1 Nephi 13. He's been understanding it and telling everyone about it. We're about as excited as he is. He should be coming to the youth activity tonight, and he also really wants to go to church on Sunday. We're hoping and working to make it happen . . .
3. The other day we had some spare time, so we decided to tract. We pulled out our map and prayed to know which street we should go to. A few names jumped out to me, so I told them to Elder Adams and he picked one. We went there and on the second door we got let in by a really great guy who's 87 years old and used to play for Man City. We've taught him a couple of times now, and although he has some trouble remembering what we teach, he's great. Afterwards Elder Adams said the street that he'd picked from my suggestions had jumped out to him a lot too. Miracles!

People we meet are often a bit confused about our names. A lot of people think that our actual given names are "Elder." For the first few weeks we were teaching them, Arman and Sheri seemed to think that Elder Adams' name was "Adam" and that mine was "Elder." They'd talk about "Adam and Elder" coming to see them and when they'd talk to me on the phone they'd always say, "How are you, Elder?" and "Give my hello to Adam." Elder Adams and I thought it was pretty cute. Arman and Sheri have it figured out now, though.

Another thing people ask us about is where we're from in America. Elder Adams always tells them he's from Idaho, and they usually furrow their brows ask where that is in America or (if they know a lot about America) mention potatoes. Then when I tell them I'm from California they get excited ("Wow!"), tell me about when they or their friends went to visit L.A., and ask me about Arnold Schwarzenegger and if I've met any movie stars. This kind of thing happens almost once a day. I find it kind of funny that California is so much cooler than Idaho over here. : ) I try not to give Elder Adams too hard a time about it.

Serving with Elder Adams has helped me see how lucky I am to have lived all over the place before my mission. He's adjusted really well to being here but sometimes we run into things that seem perfectly normal to me but are entirely new to him. The other day we were working in the British Heart Foundation and a couple of the other volunteers were animatedly discussing Manchester City and Manchester United and all the rumors about which players would be transferred (British for "traded") to other teams. Elder Adams was smiling and said that he now understood all the Quidditch fanaticism in the Harry Potter books. I agreed but added that people in the States are like this too about sports. He said, "Really?" I guess since Idaho has no major sports teams, Elder Adams had never really encountered serious sports enthusiasts. And that's even something I consider to be pretty normal and American! He also never really cooked eggs or ate peaches or pears before his mission. But he's picked up a lot in three months and now he can cook much nicer-looking omelettes than I can. : ) And right from the start he's been an amazing missionary. I'm really enjoying serving with him, and it's a bit sad that one of us will almost certainly be transferred in the first week of August. I wasn't sure I would like spending two transfers with the same companion - sometimes it feels like you run out of things to talk about with your companion by the end of the first six weeks - but it's turned out to be really comfortable and enjoyable.

Last Friday Elder Adams and I had an appointment to teach a Portuguese-speaking sister in the ward, and we'd arranged for Brother Rafael, who is in the elders' quorum presidency and speaks Portuguese, to come with us. Brother Rafael is originally from Angola, and his story sounds a bit like Brother Kargbo's - he used to be a bodyguard for the president of Angola and had to flee the country pretty suddenly and come to England, where he and his family were baptized five years ago. When we called Brother Rafael on Friday to confirm for that evening, he said he couldn't make it but that Sister da Rocha's English-speaking son would be there when we went to visit. He wasn't! Sister da Rocha invited us in anyway and we made a bit of chitchat in her very limited English. I felt like we should share something with her, so we said a prayer and she went to get her Book of Mormon, but we still had no idea what to share. Then Brother Rafael drove up outside! His evening had cleared up and he had rushed over to see if he could help us out. We had a really good, spiritual lesson with him translating. Yay!

Love you all!

Elder Pimentel

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