For most of our time here in Sale we've been focusing on the group of investigators who were taught before our arrival. But now most of these people are either not meeting with us or on holiday, so we've got a chance to focus a lot more on new people. We have about four investigators in our teaching pool whom we taught for the first time within the last week and a half or so. They all have kids and all seem like really good people. One of them is a Syrian man named Issa (the Arabic word for Jesus) whom we tracted into on Monday night. He has studied philosophy and loves the teachings of Jesus Christ, but he feels unable to believe in Christ's divinity. As we were speaking with him in his home I felt like reading from the Book of Mormon, so I opened up my bag to get one out. I couldn't find the paperback copy in English that I usually carry with me, but I realized that I had an Arabic Book of Mormon that we'd hoped to deliver to someone else earlier in the day. We ended up leaving the Arabic copy with him for him to study this week. We don't meet Arabic-speakers that often, and I think that was the first day I carried that Arabic copy with me. Another small and simple miracle.
My birthday was great! We didn't do a lot of teaching, but we did find Issa (see above), which was pretty great. We stopped by Luke and Karen's house (Luke is one of our investigators and Karen, his fiancee, is a member - I think I told you about them) right at the end of our day; when we left it was about 8 minutes to 9 PM, which is when we have to be back in our flat, and we were over a mile away with no convenient buses. So we ran hard all the way home, carrying all our stuff and a big bag of food that Luke and Karen had given us. We made it with about 30 seconds to spare. : ) Elder Adams pointed out that we wouldn't have been able to do it if we hadn't been running every morning.
For my birthday dinner (lunch in our case) we had burgers and chips (i.e. fries). The food was actually supposed to be for a 4th of July meal, but we were too busy teaching to cook it on the 4th, so we had in on my birthday instead. We got a sticky toffee cheesecake from Tesco last week for a birthday cake (it was really tasty!) and Elder Adams lit a match and stuck it in it for a candle. He also made me a birthday card, which was very kind of him. I got two birthday cards in the mail the Saturday before my birthday (from Grandma Bay and Sister Bullock) and many more with my zone conference post on Tuesday, including a really nice note from a member family in Runcorn that used to feed me tea a lot. Somebody also seems to have tried to send me (or maybe Elder Adams) a package - when we got home on Tuesday there was a note in our mailbox saying that ParcelForce has been unable to deliver a package. We're going to try and pick it up today from the depot in Manchester Piccadilly. I'm kind of excited.
The Bullocks [new Mission President, ed.] are great! They were in church on Sunday (Manchester South is the home ward for the mission home), and it looks like Sister Bullock will attend there pretty regularly, especially once their sixteen-year-old daughter comes over in September - they want her to have a stable ward and young women's group. Seeing the Bullocks in church on Sunday reminded a LOT of Mom and Dad trying to get our family settled in situated in the wards we've lived in, especially the overseas ones. It warmed my heart. : ) We also had zone conference with the Bullocks yesterday, so we've seen a lot of them. President Bullock is quite different from President Jacobsen, especially in how he addresses us. Where President Jacobsen would always choose and craft his words very carefully, even in casual conversation, President Bullock talks more freely and quickly and tells a lot more stories. While I'll miss President Jacobsen of course, I think I'm going to really enjoy serving under President Bullock and hearing all about his experiences.
The members and investigators here are spoiling us! We've received huge donations of food this week from various people in the ward and in our teaching pool. When we saw President Jacobsen before he left, he mentioned that we are the lightest companionship in the mission (i.e. lowest average weight). But that may change . . .
Poor Elder Adams has had terrible luck with using computers on preparation day - somehow he always ends up running into technical difficulties or otherwise being unable to read or send email. Today his computer didn't work, although mine was fine. : ( Fortunately the library staff have got him set up on a different one now.
I love you all!
P.S. In my last letter I thanked you all for your letters but failed to mention Emma Lucy's wonderful letter. Thank you, Emma! I loved reading about what's going on in your life, especially about your experience you had at Girls' Camp. As I read about that, I saw a lot of similarities to my mission experience!
[LATER THAT DAY -- the message continues . . . , Ed.]
I got the package! I haven’t opened it yet but I’m excited to. Thanks Mom!
I had a VERY exciting experience today, since I sent that last email. On Sunday in church, President Bullock spoke about how he and Sister Bullock, when they were interviewed to be a mission president and mission president's wife, assumed they would be going to Sweden (President Bullock's old mission), but how they had a strong confirmation that the England Manchester Mission was the right place for them, and particularly that the confirmation was associated with the fact that ALL of President Bullock's ancestors came from within a 45-mile radius of Manchester, England. That reminded me of Thomas Green and my own Manchester roots, so shortly afterwards I pulled out the family history materials Grandma Pimentel sent me and reread the part about Manchester and Thomas Green's life there after he moved into the city as a young man. This is where it gets really amazing. Thomas Green's stepdaughter (and future wife(?)) Ann was christened in Manchester Cathedral - where I was last Wednesday! And at the time he and his family were baptized, he lived on Hart Street. I looked up Hart Street in our map, and there's one in Manchester Piccadilly. Today I went to the Local Studies and Archives section of the library and asked them about Hart Street to see whether the one in Piccadilly is the same one he lived on, and we were able to confirm pretty certainly that it is! Elder Adams walked by it on our way to pick up my package. It was a pretty amazing thing to realize that I was walking by where my great-great-great(-great?)-grandfather was taught by missionaries. It's not an accident that I'm here.
What photos did I send you last week? I had to delete the message from my “sent” folder because my mailbox was getting full. Is there one of me posing next to a bust of Oliver Cromwell? If not I'll send it to you next week. That photo is from inside Manchester Town Hall (which I think I told you about last week). In that same room there's a big plaque on the wall stating that the city of Manchester opposes the creation or possession of nuclear weapons and is a nuclear-free city, and another plaque stating Manchester's commitment to the protection of homosexual rights. Does England have nuclear weapons? I had thought it did (so I was a bit shocked to see a plaque like that) but now I'm wondering. In any case it seems like Manchester is proud of being a very liberal city, perhaps a bit like San Francisco in the States. In a lot of ways I think that's a good thing - when Jacob A. (our recent convert in Blackpool) heard that I was being transferred to Manchester, he told me that it was one of the most welcoming places in England for people of all cultures, including Africans (in contrast to Burnley, where Elder Prows was going that same transfer). Kind of cool.
I'm trying to send a movie Elder Adams accidentally took last transfer. Hopefully you can get it to play. : )
Love, Elder Pimentel