I've been transferred! Oldham, in northeast Manchester, is my new home. I am so excited about this! My new companion is Elder Rose, who was one of our amazing district leaders in Newcastle zone a couple of transfers ago, and he and I are the zone leaders of the Ashton zone, which covers all of North Manchester. Elder Adams, who is training a new missionary, and Elder Webb are both serving in this zone, and I'm really looking forward to serving around them both again. Ashton zone is completely on fire right now as well - this past week the zone had 32 investigators at sacrament meeting, which is more than any zone has had in one week since 2006. Elder Rose tells me that we have some great investigators, including a lot of really promising African people. I'm going to have a good time here!
I would give you my address, but we are moving in about two weeks to a much nicer flat. : ) Until then just send the letters to the mission office, if you would.
It was really, really hard to leave Newcastle, much harder than I'd expected. On Tuesday night we had tea with a great member family, the Smiths, who have been really involved in helping our investigators. We've developed a lot of love and trust with them and it was hard to think I wouldn't be able to work with them anymore. I'm going to miss our ward mission leader Tim Hooker a lot, too. It's going to be tough to miss out on teaching Ashley as well. He was really sad when he found out I was leaving: "Well that's spoilt it! I'm not converting after all!" Fortunately he was joking *fingers crossed*. He said he would ring up the Church and complain. Sharon was also disappointed that I was leaving because she'd wanted me and Elder McIntosh both to stand in the circle when she got confirmed. It's good that she's planning ahead for that! She and Richard seem pretty serious about getting married soon, and they committed to meet with the bishop when we taught them yesterday. I'm expecting to hear great things about them both in the coming transfers.
Even more than the investigators, though, I'm going to miss my missionaries! Elder Bills and Elder Newson and I have gotten really close over the past transfer especially. They’re both staying as district leaders, which will be great for Newcastle zone but unfortunately also means that I won’t see them for another six weeks (Ashton and Newcastle attend different zone conferences). There are also a lot of other great missionaries in Newcastle that I will miss, and some of them I may not see again before I go home! : ( Kind of a depressing thought. Fortunately Elder McIntosh and I will see each other again at zone leader council.
A few final experiences from Newcastle:
I don’t think I ever wrote to you about our lesson with Ashley on Saturday night (although I mentioned it in the phone call). He’d been reading from the Book of Mormon and really feeding spiritually. He’d also shared with us some of the things he’d learned from his relatives. In particular, he’d once asked his grandma “How do you know that God exists?” or something similar, and she’d said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” ! That’s a pretty great answer. Partially in response to that, we watched the Restoration DVD with Ashley on Saturday night. Afterwards he told us that he really felt a lot like Joseph Smith and identified with his situation. We taught him about baptism and invited him to be baptized on June 20th, and after some hesitation, he agreed to “have a go.” Although he had to work on Sunday, he has promised to get the following Sunday off so he can come. Yes!
We had a great experience the other day. One of the sisters in our zone has been struggling a lot with some health problems and asked us for a blessing. Elder McIntosh and I went with her district leader and his companion to meet up with them and give the blessing. Elder Newson anointed and Elder McIntosh sealed the anointing. As Elder McIntosh pronounced the blessing I felt that it was not coming from him but from the Spirit and ultimately the Lord. It was a really beautiful and uplifting experience. We are so blessed to have the priesthood on earth again today.
Well, my time is running short. I love you all and hope Ruth gets off to Israel safely on Saturday.