I've been transferred to Blackburn (mentioned in the Beatles' song "A Day in the Life"). Actually the Blackburn ward covers a large area and includes another town of significant size called Accrington ("Acky" as I heard a local call it the other day) which is where I live. This part of Lancashire seems to have been the heart of the English cotton industry during the Industrial Revolution, and both Blackburn and Accrington are old "mill towns." The Blackburn Ward is in the Chorley stake, and the temple (which is in Chorley) is within the boundaries of my district. So that's nice. My new companion is Elder Durkin. He's from Gilbert, Arizona and he is very good at baseball. He's served in Blackburn for six months already and will be going home at the end of the transfer (so in mission slang I will be "killing him off"). My new address is:
Flat 10 Signal House
2A Pickup Street
I actually haven't been to the flat yet, however. It's kind of a long and painful story. Blackburn has been a car area since Elder Durkin arrived, but on the morning of transfer day he found out that the car was being sent to another part of the mission and he had to hand over the keys. After giving the keys to his leaders so they could drive the car to Manchester, he realized that the flat keys were on the same ring as the car keys. Today (one day later) our flat keys are still in Manchester somewhere, although we should be getting them back tonight. : ) (We spent the night at our zone leaders' flat and my bags are at a member's home in Accrington.) I find the whole episode kind of amusing, but I don't think Elder Durkin enjoyed it very much - in addition to losing the car and getting locked out of the flat his favorite Japanese restaurant in Preston (where he spent the day) was closed for lunch, and he got ketchup squirted all over his shirt and tie. Anyway, today should be a better day. : )
I've met a few of the members in Blackburn, and one of our investigators. I think it will be a fun place to serve. There's someone named Ryan dated for baptism at the end of the month! He's on holiday right now, but I'm pretty excited to meet him when he gets back. Both Blackburn and Accrington are heavily Asian areas (by Asian I mean Indian or Pakistani, which is how the English use the word - I saw a survey a few months ago that asked about ethnicity and specified "Asian" and "Chinese" as separate categories), and the chapel is right across the street from a mosque. We got out of coordination meeting just as a service at the mosque was finishing, and there were tons and tons of men in robes and women and girls wearing the hijab pouring out of it. I had a little bit of deja vu. : )
I was kind of sad to leave Elder Adams in Manchester South. Not really sad, I guess, but I just realized in my last couple of days that I really love the people I served there. And also that my work has made a difference in people's lives. At church on Sunday last week, Elder Adams and I felt like all sorts of rewards were suddenly being poured out on us. None of our investigators were there at the beginning of sacrament meeting, but during the opening hymn, Arman (the great Iranian man we have been teaching) walked in with his daughter (I was playing the piano, so I saw him come in at the back and got excited and distracted enough that I messed up the hymn); a less-active member we'd taught that week was at church for the first time in a while, and she bore her testimony and talked about the commitment we'd left her and how she'd kept it; our ward mission leader shared his testimony and described a great experience he'd had while teaching a lesson with us; and our high priest group leader, who taught priesthood, talked about how our example had helped him. Earlier in the transfer I'd been feeling a bit frustrated that Elder Adams and I hadn't been able to baptize during our time together, so it was particularly powerful for me to recognize that we did make a difference after all. I'm also going to miss serving with Elder Adams. He's a great man. But I think I can learn a lot from Elder Durkin and Blackburn, and I'm really happy to be here.
I love you! Thanks again for your support.