Left to right is Elder Adams, me, Elder Phillips, Elder Hastings, Elder Whiting, Elder Frogley, Elder McIntosh, and Elder Morin. Elder Whiting and Elder Frogley are the zone leaders.
Me on Hart Street. (Where Thomas Green lived when he was baptized. Ed.) Cool! Turns out Hart Street is just outside what appears to be Manchester's gay village. Maybe twenty yards to the right of where I'm standing is a big sign for "Rainbow Parking."
We've had BEAUtiful weather here. Clear skies, sunshine, very warm and kind of sticky (although nothing like Jacksonville, I'm sure). I wore a long-sleeved shirt on Sunday and regretted it.
Terry's family (including Anthony, the 13-year-old who loves the Book of Mormon) didn't come to church this week. : ( We committed them to come during the week and called them on Sunday morning to confirm that they were going to be there, and then they called back before church and said that they just weren't up to it. So we're sad that they missed out. But Arman came again, stayed for a bit longer, and enjoyed it just as much. We had a talk on tithing (which we haven't taught him yet) and a Sunday School lesson on the Word of Wisdom, and he seemed to receive both pretty happily and with no objections. So that's a good sign!
I went on exchange with Elder Morin, our district leader, this week. He goes home in three months, so he has a lot of experience under his belt, and I was really impressed with how bold and how powerful his tracting and street contacting approaches are. When we try and talk to people they usually say they’re not interested and give us some kind of lame excuse – “I have my own religion,” or, “I don’t believe in any of it,” or something like that. Elder Morin doesn’t let people get away with lame excuses – if they tell him they don’t believe in it, he makes them explain why not, points out the contradictions in what they’ve said, and keeps on boldly telling them the truth and that they need to change and repent until they start paying attention or stop listening completely. I’ve been trying to become a bolder missionary lately, and I’ve learned a lot about what boldness really is. I used to think it was just a skill you can practice and get good at over time, like asking good questions or integrating scriptures into your teaching,. But it really has more to do with your personal testimony and outlook. If you constantly have in mind the importance of each person learning about and accepting the restored gospel, you won’t let them get away from you easily and you won’t be afraid to tell them that they’re wrong and that they need to repent. It’s only when you start looking at life from a worldly perspective that you get confused or hesitant about preaching the gospel. So the only thing I have to do to be bold is to remember the real importance of what I’m doing. It’s difficult to maintain that perspective sometimes, but when I do I feel a lot more power in my work. Preach My Gospel talks about the power and authority that you have as a missionary and promises that it will be manifest to you and to other people in what you do. I’m starting to really see that promise come true.
I got a new (mission) ATM card! So I have money. I think I should be fine for now without my Stanford ATM card - the only reason I'd need cash is for driving lessons, and my driving instructor is on holiday until Wednesday of next week anyway.
One of our investigators, man named Issa who is a political refugee from Syria (I think I mentioned him before) had us over for a barbecue this week. He's a really fascinating person and it was great to get to know him a little better. He was telling us about the differences between the Syrian education system and the English one, and also about his hometown in Syria, which is right by the Krak du Chevalier, a famous castle built by the crusaders (I think one of our big Architecture books has a spread about it). The food was also really delicious: lots and lots of grilled beef and chicken with pitta bread and fresh vegetables, and to go with it a drink made from plain yogurt with garlic and other spices mixed into it. I don't think Elder Adams was a huge fan of the yogurt drink (he drank it anyway, though, he's tough), but I found that it went perfectly with the spicy meat, especially in the warm weather. It reminded me of eating cevapi in Bosnia. Good times . . .
Yesterday I got accosted by a drunk woman on the bus. It was kind of a hilarious experience. I sat down near her and said something (I don’t remember what – probably “hi” or something similar). From my accent, she figured out I was American, and she started ranting and raving very loudly about President Bush and what an evil man he is. She seemed to think I'd been sent to England by the American government. It didn’t really bother me that much – I guess bus contacting has made me kind of immune to awkwardness, and I’ve heard plenty of anti-American tirades before – but it was kind of amusing to observe the responses of all the other passengers. The bus was very full, and it was impossible for any of the passengers to ignore what was going on. I think some of them were more weirded-out than I was, and I heard a lot of uncomfortable giggles. There was an older gentleman sitting near me and the drunk lady, and he kept on trying to have a friendly conversation with me between the drunken outbursts, I think just to lend a sense of normalcy to the situation or something. It didn't really work. : ) Eventually the bus driver, a really gracious African man, stopped the bus, came back to where I was sitting, took me by the arm and led me up to the front of the bus to get me away from the lady, telling me, “She’s not ready to hear your message.” : ) As people walked by me to get off the bus, they’d commiserate with me a little bit or just shake their heads and laugh or something. Strange times.
Transfers is next week. It's pretty certain that either Elder Adams is going or I am, but it's a complete toss-up about which one it will be. Either way I think I'll be happy - this is a great ward with great people, but it's always fun to explore a new place. Anyway, please send letters to the mission office this week.
I played the piano for sacrament meeting this week. I enjoyed it. Reminded me of attending the Obor Branch and playing "I Need Thee Every Hour" every other week. : ) Speaking of Romania, one of the new missionaries who arrived this past transfer (at the end of June) is from Bucharest (although he moved to Provo as a teenager and joined the Church there). His name is Elder Szauter (a German, not a Romanian name). I talked to him at zone conference and it turns out he used to live right off of Stefan Cel Mare, right next to the Dinamo football stadium. So right by where we used to live! Kind of cool.
Photos: One is of me on Hart Street. Cool! Turns out Hart Street is just outside what appears to be Manchester's gay village. Maybe twenty yards to the right of where I'm standing is a big sign for "Rainbow Parking." Yikes. The other is our district, with the addition of the zone leaders. Left to right is me, Elder Adams, Elder Phillips, Elder Hastings, Elder Whiting, Elder Frogley, Elder McIntosh, and Elder Morin. Elder Whiting and Elder Frogley are the zone leaders.
Elder Adams also took a great video of me with my birthday package, but it's 56 megabytes, so I can't send it. : ( Maybe one of these days I can burn a CD full of videos and mail it to you.