We've found some great new investigators this week! We have taught a couple of people from Poland (there are many Polish immigrants in England), both of whom struggled a bit with English. So we both ended up learning some important words in Polish, many of which reminded me of Bosnian (Bog, prorok, etc.). One of the Polish investigators actually lives in Stoke ward and will be taught by their elders. The other one is a very cheerful lady named Alicja. She had us mixed up with the Amish at first (a cause of some amusement for us in the first lesson) but we put her straight. When we explained that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet, she was quite surprised and asked to see some proof - so we showed her the Book of Mormon! She is very excited to read it and is planning to read it all in a week. !
Two other great new investigators are Lisa and her son Christian. I stopped Lisa in a town center about a week and a half ago and found out that she'd been taught by missionaries before when she lived in Crewe! It also turns out that her partner's uncle is a bishop somewhere in Wales. We haven't met her partner yet, although he's apparently interested in meeting us, but we have met her two kids, Christian and Kara. Christian, who is nine, is really interested in religion and knows a lot about the Bible (I think he's done a lot of religious education classes at school). He's really, really clever (i.e. smart in the American sense), although he gets kind of silly in lessons sometimes. He reminds me a little bit of Ed when he was that age. : ) Lisa is great because when Christian starts acting a bit too wild, she tells him to be serious and listen to us. Also, when Christian doesn't quite understand something, Lisa tries to explain it to him, which helps her understand the gospel as well. So we can focus on Christian and let Lisa learn by teaching him! Last night we had a great lesson about prophets and the Book of Mormon. We asked Christian who he thought he could ask to find out if a prophet was from God or not. At first he thought he could consult with a priest, but we reminded him that a priest wouldn't necessarily know and asked him who would know. Eventually he said something like, "Well I can't ask God . . . no wait! I can pray and ask God!" It was exciting to see the light switch on in him as he figured it out for himself. He's really eager to come to church on Sunday and eventually get baptized. We're excited for him too!
I love my mission! Just this morning Elder Garcia and I were reading from the white handbook (as we do most mornings). We went through the section on entertainment, which focuses on our need to avoid all forms of worldly entertainment. As I was reading about it, I realized I have no desire to take a break from missionary work to indulge in worldly entertainment. It just doesn't appeal to me at all, because I know I'll feel so much better and be so much happier as I spend my time finding and planning and teaching and studying. I don't think I felt quite this way at the beginning of my mission, but now I really have a testimony that missionary work does make me happy. I'm so grateful to have that testimony and to have the opportunity to be doing missionary work all the time!
I had a great day on exchange in Stoke this week where I felt that way the whole time. Elder Hernandez (a great young missionary from Idaho) and I taught some good lessons and did some well-planned finding, and almost the whole time I felt that the Spirit was helping me say and do exactly the right things. We worked with so much power! We taught the first lesson to a few men from Africa and as Elder Hernandez described the First Vision in Joseph Smith's words and testified of it, the Spirit was so strong I couldn't see how anyone could not believe it. I'm so lucky to be in a place and at a time in which such great experiences are available daily.
Unfortunately my mission is going by really quickly. Last preparation day I bought a new bottle of 180 multivitamins. Later that night, I realized I had exactly 180 days left in my mission - one day per multivitamin. : ( Now Elder Garcia teases me all the time about how little time I have left. My mission is going by way too quickly! I think that's a good thing, though. President Bullock always says that for missionaries who wish they were at home, a mission grinds agonizingly along a day at a time, while for missionaries who go out and have the "full mission experience," it flies by.
I also went on exchange for a couple of days this week with Elder Empey, my old companion from Runcorn (Elder Garcia and I have hardly seen each other all week!). We've both changed quite a bit for the better since we served together. As we reviewed the exchange we put to rest the remaining barriers since that time and there was a real spirit of reconciliation. It was a great moment.
A while ago, Mom, Isaac and Ellie asked if Hill Street is on a hill. It actually is! While the street itself is pretty level, the cross street is at quite an incline and we have to head uphill to get to the main road.
Mom and Dad, thanks for your swift action on the mix-up with my membership record number! I just rang the mission office and told them about what the bishop said to you. It sounds like the office just wants to me wait to sort out the technical problem with the barcoded recommend until I actually get home. In the meantime, though, I should be able to attend the temple - I can just show them the recommend, explain the problem, and invite them to ring President Bullock if they feel they need to. I'm not allowed to attend the temple while serving in Newcastle, anyway (since it's too far from Chorley), so it sounds like I won't have an issue. But thanks for sorting it out as you did! At least now I can rest easy in the knowledge that I am a member of the Church after all. : ) I think Elder Garcia will be disappointed, though - he was hoping to rebaptize me so we could get our zone another February baptism. : )
I love you all! I continue to enjoy your letters (including Ruth's! Yay!).