As you probably guessed, I’ve been transferred! My new area is Newcastle-under-Lyme, and my address is
2 Hill Street
Newcastle (not to be confused with the much larger and more well-known Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is in the Leeds Mission) is in Staffordshire, in the most southern part of the mission. It’s right next to Stoke-on-Trent, which you may have heard of. Newcastle Zone, which includes most(?) of Staffordshire, a chunk of Cheshire (Crewe and Congleton), Shropshire, and a big swath of rural Wales, was actually part of the Birmingham Mission until about four years ago. It’s a part of the mission I’ve never been to before (except once or twice to Crewe for zone conference and train connections), so it’s exciting.
It’s also exciting because we’re whitewashing. So I still know very little about the ward and most of the investigators. I’m looking forward to meeting them all. There’s another set of missionaries in the ward, a set of senior sisters who focus mostly on less-active work, and it will be good to work with them.
My new companion Elder Garcia and I have also been called as the Newcastle zone leaders. Since neither of us knows much about the zone (he’s never served around here either) or about most of the missionaries in it, we have a lot of catching up to do pretty quickly! We’re going to be very busy this week. I’m having a great time. I got to talk to several of the missionaries in the zone on the transfer coach down to Newcastle, and they seem like a great bunch. I’m looking forward to going on exchanges, getting to know the missionaries and getting to see the different areas in the zone.
Another big change for me is that we have a car, and I’m actually going to be driving it some of the time. Elder Garcia has been in a car area for the past six months serving with companions who weren’t licensed to drive a manual transmission, so he’s decided we can take turns driving (or “take it in turns” as the English would say). Yesterday was his day and today I’ve been behind the wheel. Elder Garcia has been wincing and cringing a lot, but I’m not sure whether it’s because I’m actually that scary a driver or because he’s so used to sitting on the driver’s side that he thinks the left side of the car is always a lot closer to the curb than it is. : ) Probably a little of both. I’ll get used to it, though, and by the end of the transfer I’ll be driving pretty smoothly and confidently. It feels good to know that all the time and money I spent on my license is paying off.
Elder Garcia is great. He’s from Cadiz in the very southernmost part of Spain and came into the mission six weeks after me. He’s been a zone leader in north Manchester for four transfers and I’d heard about him and how intense he is. He reminds me of Captain Moroni a little bit. When I first spoke to him after we’d been assigned to serve together, he said “We’re going to destroy everything!” That seems to be a characteristic phrase – I’ve heard him repeat it several times since then. One of those times was when we were talking to Elder Frogley who is an assistant to the President, and Elder Frogley said, “You mean destroy it in a good way, right?” : ) I’m really excited to be serving with him.
Great stuff happened in my last week in Blackburn. We taught Jerry with a member, and we dated him for baptism on January 10. He loved church and has been reading the Book of Mormon – we got him a Tagalog one before I left. Yvonne bore her testimony on Sunday, which made my day, and I got to say goodbye to both her and Jason and Emma on Tuesday. It’s hurt more to leave Blackburn than any of my other areas.
For Christmas phone calls, I think you can ring me. Our number is .... I’ll try and send some more specific info before Christmas.
Chris ..., the investigator I loved teaching so much in Blackpool, is getting baptized on the 20th! He and Jane are getting married this weekend. He asked the Blackpool elders if I could come back for the baptism, because he said I’d been instrumental in teaching him. That makes me feel pretty great. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back for it, but I can at least write a letter.
I love you all! Goodbye until next week!