Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Christmas!

I've won a bookmark, a cookie cutter in the shape of a heart, two foil crowns, and jokes that barely surpass those on Laffy Taffies. We need crackers in the states, I think.

Christmas was well fun. There were loads of nonmembers at church, and then we headed to Tricia's for most of the day. Her family was over and we chatted with them whilst they helped themselves to the open bar. Tea was delicious--ham and roast potatoes and turkey (Brussel sprouts are gross) and gravy all over everything. Pudding was chocolate mousse and Christmas cake, which is a really soft fruit cake wrapped in marzipan and frosting. I couldn't face Christmas pudding. It's a fruitcake that's been soaked in rum or port for about two months (they started making these before Halloween) until it's all gelatinized and they bake it. Somehow I passed on that one.

The rest of the evening was spent doing karaoke, which I've never done. Christensen got all into it, and they wouldn't let me leave until I'd done one. So after all the Buddy Holly hits, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and that one song from An American Tail, I got Christensen to sing Amish Paradise with me. They thought it was hysterical (we can't rap) mostly because everyone here mistakes us for Amish at some point or other. I was sad to leave when Debbie arrived at half six to shuttle us to Skype.

This week was awesome. Considering it's Christmas, we got 17 lessons in and we've got a goal for 23 this next week to make it forty. The Lord wants us to fulfill our goals. We couldn't manage a Christmas baptism (there were 23 of those in the whole mission, so it wasn't just us struggling with seasonal commitment) but at least we can get twenty lessons a week.

Our pool consists of:

-Vishal: From India, went to Catholic school, and think that the principles taught there have really hindered his ability to be happy like all the jerks he works with who are rich and mean and have everything going for them because if he tried to be nasty he would feel horrible inside (as we all do). We're teaching him the PofS today to help explain what true happiness is, even if you're trying your best and things aren't working out.

-Cindy: Still slow going. She totally believes everything we tell her and she's very susceptible to the spirit, but we think she's struggling with depression that's not getting treating, which would really explain her nervousness and such. We're trying to get her daughter interested, at least after the holidays are over.

-Tricia: Breakthrough this last week in making the gospel real to her. We're trying to get her to stop smoking, but it won't be easy. She quit once before and nearly got divorced because she was so grouchy.

-Trisha: Former member, offended by the bishop's lack of warmth to her, which is completely understandable. It's not exactly a huge ward. We're doing our best to build her faith and help her feel the Spirit when we're with her...she's got good member friends, which helps a lot.

Those are the big ones we're working with. It's really cool to see the Spirit work on them, even if you've given up hope that they're even paying attention, you find out they are. I'll be grateful to get back into the swing of things after the holidays are over and everyone's back to school and work and such. With Nana's money that she sent I bought some super cute dresses and a top on Boxing Day to expand my tired wardrobe. It's not nearly as tired as Christensen (her cardigans are just sagging because they've gotten all stretched out).

Things are going well on Jersey. We're doing our best to energize the members at the moment...I don't think they've ever met sisters like me and Christensen who sort of tell you like it is and are loud and talk smack during the ward pictionary game...I think they're a little shell-shocked. With any luck, I'll still be here for a few months more and someone like Sister Kutsevytch from Ukraine will join me and we'll really blow their minds.

It's something I've had to learn--not to expect anything from the members. You have to make nice with them and give them compliments and uplift them at every possible moment. That's the missionary's job. If they're not responding with referrals and such, try harder and pray to discover what the Lord would have you do. At Christmas we had like ten presents each under the tree...scarves and gloves and spa sets...I was shocked. You won't hear an article in the Christmas Ensign from ME that says, "It was Christmas on my mission, and no one had given us any presents" like they all say. Our Christmas was rad. Yvonne's friend was wanting to meet with us to learn more about the church at the end of it. We're so lucky to be here!

Happy Christmas, everyone! I'll have to make some good resolutions and let you know :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Week 'Til Christmas

News from this week:

-Our numbers are awful. It's always like that right around Christmas. Everyone is eager for us to call them in January.

-President wants us to ask for emails at every possible opportunity but seems unaware that people a) haven't an email in the first place (this whole internet thing is just a fad anyway) or b) don't give out their emails period. Especially here...bankers and lawyers and all sorts of people. I might get a little desperate and steal companies' business cards and email to them. :)

-The high street is totally mad. I think I've successfully posted everything I need to, so I can avoid the post office. Brings a whole new dimension to the phrase GOING POSTAL. But these English really know how to do window displays and they bring out brass bands at Christmastime to play We Three Kings and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Feel the spirit!

-The weather held...despite everyone saying our flight would be cancelled, we made it to Surrey for the Christmas conference with the Guernsey elders...they haven't been off the island for months.

-I got parcels at the temple this week! In my impatience I opened it all early, but now I've got a stocking and Lands End to keep me warm :)

-Our skit at the Christmas Conference was akin to Harry Potter 4 when the weird French school (Jersey sisters) and Russian school (Guernsey elders) come to see the zone leaders for a district meeting in the flesh. It was well funny, and we even procured the soundtrack at the library when HMV didn't have any HP music whatsoever. (I can't wait to come home and shop at Walmart, FYE, and Kohls.)

-I was on the winning team for all three games at the ward Christmas party--Blind Pictionary, Catchphrase, and Toilet Paper Mummy.

-There were tons of nonmembers there, less-actives, and I got to spend the evening with the Mackenzies who declared that I was not like other sister missionaries (I don't know how I feel about that), but apparently I'm not shy, quiet, demure, or anything like Jonutz or Fekete. I think that's what this ward needs--two bubbly American girls to make them think postive, darnit. I wonder what it would've been like if Christensen and Housley had served here together...hmm...

-We've successfully lost the bike keys, me the first, and Christensen the second. In her strength, Sister Fekete managed to break the tops off both of them, so they were an inch long and itty bitty. Happily we've got more bike locks in the flat, so all will be well.

Speaking of Sister Fekete (from Hungary), she goes home at the end of January and she spent half her mission here (President must have forgot about her. Nine months in one area? Sister Housley is looking at the same ordeal, but at least she sees other missionaries each week). When she ended up in Exeter, an old injury flared up and they had to move her close to London to get operated on. But after weeks of crutches, she's walking! Hooray! That's so cool that Elder Ryan Miller (from Stanwood) knew who she was--she's super quiet and super sweet and everyone in Jersey loved her.

Remember why we have Christmas so you don't go crazy! I might be able to email on Boxing Day, but maybe not. Everything will likely be closed until Wednesday the 28th. Why, the world may never know. I love you all! I've only got 10 months left, so I better get busy!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

We've had loads of finding time and lots of potentials to work with, but because it's Christmas time, everyone is like, call us after the holidays. It's hard work...we lost most of our teaching pool right at the beginning of the month, and it's been increasingly difficult to find new people who aren't wrapped up in Christmas. Happily the Church has loads of those Joy to the World cards (Elder Johnson: "I do not have a testimony of that movie.") and people are far more likely to say "God bless you" this time of year. And MacDonald’s has a mince pie with custard, so it's not all hard work :)

The weather has been Noah-esque the last few weeks, but today it looks pretty cleared up. They were repaving our awful driveway with all the break-your-suspension potholes, and all the beautiful cement was laid...and then the Flood came and washed it all down the drain. They've finally managed to lay the asphalt and it looks beautiful! Thank goodness tarmac is so weather-resistant, or nothing would get done in England. Rain means we get into more people's homes knocking, but it's always really awkward when a man invites us in.

Cindy is slowly progressing, but it's been difficult to get her to church due to poor sleep (lack of discipline). Tricia is still on for Christmas, and the Mackenzies are letting us Skype that evening. So it'll be between 6-7pm here, and that's 8 hours difference...? I think you can actually dial a home phone from Skype at no charge, but maybe that's Google chat. I'm not sure. 

This weekend we had the stake president and Elder Craig T. Wright and his lovely wife over for some council training. After visiting our recent convert Catia and a few less-actives, he drilled into our heads the idea of real growth and how we, as a council, could achieve it. The next day at church he talked to the youth and how much they mattered, and then talked about how the ward could become Zion by simply being obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Those are the first steps to becoming like Zion. He was such a powerful speaker, and young to boot. His wife Joann told us that they got to host Elder Bednar when he came, which meant they took him all around London and he was just drooling out the window over all the people there. Apparently his favorite English word is "nutter," as per the following statement:

"Whenever you open up the floor for questions, NEVER call on the person whose hand is raised first. That's the nutter. He has been stewing and wondering that question for a decade and now he finally gets his chance to ask an Apostle. That is not a question raised by the spirit. Don't call on him." -Elder Bednar

We laughed so hard. Elder Bednar is such a powerful teacher...we were just the warm-up act that day, three hours with us, 4 hours with the bishops and stake presidents, and two hours with the YSA. He taught us how to better teach as missionaries, to focus on each individual at a time and not to wow everyone with all your knowledge, because that really interferes with the influence of the Spirit. If you couple the personal approach with an attitude of invitation to act, you're teaching just as the Savior did and the Spirit can testify of truth.

There's a big difference between faith to do and faith to succeed. You can have faith that you can be a missionary, for example. You can have faith that you can be a Primary teacher and you can handle other people's kids for two hours each Sunday. You can have faith that you won't panic and run away when it's your turn to give a talk in Sacrament meeting. However, that faith is different and less than the faith to succeed. Nephi knew nothing about building boats, but he exercised faith that the Lord would not only help him build a boat, but that it would carry them across the sea to the promised land without sinking. You can have faith that you will touch the hearts of the children in your class each Sunday and build their faith in Jesus Christ. You can have faith that your mission will be successful. That's the big difference. When you have faith to succeed, you will take better care of those in your stewardship and listen more closely to the Spirit, as well as maintain an attitude of hopefulness and dependence on Heavenly Father.

In studying faith, I was reading Jacob 5 and the allegory of the olive tree. It discusses an old, decaying tree. I likened it to the old, apathetic, tired ward of St. Helier. The master of the vineyard worked on the tree, pruning here and digging there. After a while, the tree began to put forth a few branches, but it wasn't strong enough to give much fruit. The master decided that drastic action needed to be taken. He went to the wild trees and took their branches to graft onto the tame tree. I likened these wild ones to those who are new to the church, whether recent converts or reactivated members. He also took some of the young and tender branches (rising generation) and grafted them elsewhere in the vineyard. After a long time, the wild and tame trees put forth lots of good fruit and the master was satisfied.

It's not enough to work on the ward alone, however vital that is, but the real fruit from our wards and stakes comes from those new members. They have a new outlook, a kind of excitement that the old members need to see. The Lord may graft the missionaries, kids gone to university, etc. onto a wild tree, a ward that is nothing like the ward we knew at home. But when we grow despite those differences, that's when the reward comes. When we all grow like we will be successful, the Lord will give us success. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here on Jersey, as much as it feels like I've been grafted into a nethermost part of the vineyard. I will do my utmost to be a strength to this ward and bring forth much fruit.

Christmas Conference this week! I'll be taking those cards, and ours will be the best skit ever! Happy Christmas, everyone!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trip to London

In answer to everyone's questions: I can see France when it's not pouring buckets, but I can't see London. Although that doesn't stop me seeing underpants. Tip for all guys out there: Wear a belt. We don't want to see the superheroes that gird your loins.

Updates on Jersey: We got to fly to England to the Sisters Conference, and there was a parcel from Amazon sitting in the box. I refused to open it till Christmas (December the twenty-fifth. Correct!), but I did get another bit of post from the Stake President in Hyde Park, who sent me a blue pashmina. Now I've got two whole pashminas from London! The Sisters conference featured topics like stress management and determining depression, real conversion, and flirting with elders. Me and Christensen did some training about the Law of Chastity and resolving concerns (my favorite) using concerns from past investigators. The leaders stressed that we are NOT HERE TO FIND HUSBANDS. I don't know who they were talking to, but I really zoned out and felt vaguely insulted. If you want to get married, stay home! How does becoming a nun for 18 months ensure you a ring any more than staying home and dating boys? It makes no sense to me whatsoever. I got to see Sister Housley again, Sister Sebald, and Mills, but Sister Binnie is in hospital with gallstones and has been for weeks. Her poor greenie doesn't have any idea what to do, and neither do the NHS (No Help or Sympathy). I've never been so glad to live in America.

Things I've learned this week:
-In order to sell or buy any kind of property (home, yard, flat, etc.) you need an attorney and you have to go through court proceedings.
-All of the court proceedings are in Jersey French, which very few understand anymore (except the attorneys. It feels like the Dark Ages.)
-Lawyers of any sort are hissed at by the general populace for cheating everyone out of money and being corrupt.
-Jersey is not on most maps.
-Jersey is not recognized on Facebook. Neither is Guernsey.
-Occasionally people will say something to remind me that their minds are the size of this island.
-There have been two marriages out of this mission. I think it's super dodgy to get married to a former district leader...what were you DOING out in the field?
-When you teach any kind of unproved, dodgy doctrine, it's important to throw your tie over your shoulder.

This week was really difficult, not just because we were gone in England for nearly three days, but because EVERYONE HAS FLOGGED US. For crying out loud. Everyone is so polite and so English they don't say they're not interested because it'll hurt our little American feelings or something, but it begins to feel like a bad breakup when they keep not showing. You struggle as a missionary because you might know flat-out that they'll flog your appointment, but you HAVE to give them the benefit of the doubt. So you get on your bike and cycle across town and wait and wait and then cycle back to where you were going to knock in the first place. It's hard work, especially now it's December. Stuff is open on Sunday and recent converts are really busy this time of the year and since the ocean has been raining down on us, finding has been really slow going. I bought a pink Jack in a Pack (the pink ones were cheaper than the black ones, go figure. Christensen will never lose me again) so I'll be lovely and dry no matter what happens. We're doing our best to find a baptismal date for Christmastime, but the window is closing fast. I'm confident there's someone the Lord has prepared for us to teach who'll accept the Gospel, it's just a matter of finding them.

Our miracle of the week was Cindy, who loved the Restoration. She's really nervous and afraid of new things, but she loves us. I hope we can help her progress in the gospel and help her accept to be baptized. It was such a good teach. It always is with me and Christensen, just like it was with Sister Housley--just very comfortable, the Spirit is really strong...maybe Satan knows this and is doing his best to stop us teaching altogether? Hence all the flogs? That would make sense.

In happier news, Christmas is upon us! We're going to party with Tricia and a bazillion other members in the afternoon, and then tea will be spent with the Mackenzie’s, who are essentially an American family. The daughter Alex just got married, and she is in Utah at the moment directing “Saviour of the World.” Jersey-bred and everything! I'm excited for Christmas crackers and old games and such. It'll be a really good day. Remember the reason we've got Christmas and what matters most. It's moves this week, so I might email again on Wednesday, so look out for me!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last-Minute Sacrament Talks

So I had to speak yesterday with less than a day's notice. After Peter was finished explaining his conversion, I didn't have 15 minutes as warned, but a full 30 minutes to fill. Scary stuff, especially for this very hard-to-please ward and a pair of nervous investigators. But the Lord blessed me with loaves and fishes of material. I spoke on what it's like to be a new member of the church, reminding the members that they can't just say Mormon jokes and not sit by these people or else everything gets really exclusive and unhelpful for the missionaries. I got to talk about Alma and Amulek's friendship, Boyd K. Packer's spiritual medicine (prayer, service and bearing testimony), and describe some real investigators I taught back in Weymouth to get the members to imagine what it's like. Every new convert came up afterward and thanked me for saying what they're all was my very first talk that I didn't write down, and definitely the longest I'd ever given, but the Lord blessed us with His spirit and me with calmness.

Tricia came to church! We've taught her for a few months now, and she managed to overcome her fears and attend for the first time. I couldn't be prouder of her. Some people we teach are so ready for the Gospel and recognize its healing portents immediately...some need to experiment and read and pray to determine whether it's a good thing or not, let alone whether it's necessary. The Spirit is preparing the hearts of the people and some just cook a bit slower than others. (Island culture features SLOWNESS as its top speed for doing anything, so it's hard to get things underway at a normal American speed.) President Shamo wants us to baptize in November (check) and on Christmas Eve/Day as a present for the Savior. It feels all sorts of idealized when you say "white Christmas" and you mean white jumpsuits. I hope we can manage it--all our baptismal dates vanished, so we're back at square one. We'll see. Heck, we baptized TWO people in November--what more do you want? :)

Here's our 4 new investigators we're praying for: (Join us!)

-Jane. Recovered addict, lives alone. She was given a Book of Mormon some years ago, and she reads it regularly. She says she feels so much peace from it. She reminds me so much of Lauren Lippens :)

-Claire. No real belief in God, but she does believe in angels. Very busy. We've taught her a first and she agreed to read and pray. We're hoping she'll make time for us to come and teach in her home.

-Cindy. She has one teenage daughter and many, many rats. Many rats. They scamper around the house and have wrecked the furniture. She's not a hoarder, just not all that sensible. She felt the Spirit so much while we were there and clearly wants to follow God.

-Morris. 21, from Portugal, here working. The elders met him and he agreed to meet us. Not too much religious background beyond Catholicism, but we taught him the restoration and he said he'd keep an open mind. Good guy.

Last Monday we went to the Jersey War Tunnels, which is the Underground Hospital the Nazis used when they occupied the island. There wasn't a camp here, but if you were found with a radio, you were shipped off to Germany to be in a camp with everyone else. Everything was rationed, Jersey girls dated German soldiers and were ostracized, no one was allowed to drive cars or go fishing, a curfew was instigated, people tattled on one another, people drowned trying to escape...the occupation lasted for five years with very few civilian casualties, but they were really isolated from Churchill's attempts in the UK. The museum was really cool--lots of propaganda and photos of heroes. We were given mock passports of Jersey citizens before going in. My girl was 18 years old. She was approached by a German soldier (attacked, jumped, whatever) and she told him to back off. She got arrested and died in Ravensbruck. Sad days. It was a really cool place to visit, just to see the history of this place.

Our more edifying experience of the week was our movie night; Sister Christensen received 17 Miracles from her dad, so we invited the ward to watch it with us. 17 Miracles is about the Willie and Martin Handcart companies, and it was so cool to see everyone be so British, including Alex Mackenzie (she played a Scottish woman, but whatever) who used to be YW President here. If you haven't seen it, see it. Ignore the cheesy bits (T.C. Christensen, what were you thinking?) because it's fantastic. Everyone was crying. There were a couple less-actives there and even a nonmember husband who attended. Huzzah! Best day ever!

The other bit of news is that this afternoon we're off to Reading for the Sisters Conference and will be able to do an exchange in the Visitors Center at the temple! Whether we can attend, I don't know yet. The elders in Peckham and places close by visit on pday, so I hope we can go in. If anything, we can go in a month when they fly us out for Christmas! It'll be so nice to see everyone again :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

P.S. No meat on Thanksgiving was a little degrading, not gonna lie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Zone Conference on Jersey

We had the raddest workover this weekend; the elders from Poole came via Vomit-Comet to Jersey, and as soon as we procured helmets, put them to work on the high street so we could run to our appointments. Elder Roe is from SLC and was in High School Musical, looks like he's from Lebanon, and has been my Zone Leader since I got here. Elder Olsen is from Georgia and is getting through uni with his basketball scholarship (he's 6 foot 8 or something). As far as I know, the ZLs have never worked over the Channel Islands, and the perfect sunny days were only a bonus; in the space of 3 hours, we got a ton of potential investigators and we got to see Roe and Olsen's finding and teaching approaches. It's always dodgy when there's two sisters and two elders, so on the high street we made sure to gravitate about 10 feet from each other when we swapped. Roe was practically weeping with joy at how cool Jersey was. Yes, we are super cool :)

It was so nice because Himelright was always oozing with compliments after an exchange with the ZLs, and he'd repeat a Roe approach to us ("Hi, my friend and I are Christian missionaries, and we're sharing a message about how God's true church has been restored to prepare the earth for the second coming of the Messiah") and I was always complaining about how we could never DOO that because we're sisters. Once in a lifetime opportunity to learn. I guess I really felt a lot better about things because they find a lot like I do--their approaches are similar, the say the same things and help these people feel comfortable whilst being very direct. There's really only a few ways to say, "Do you believe in God?" It's always really good to work with other missionaries and see how they operate.

And speaking of other missionaries, the next morning we were graced with the presence of Guernsey for Jersey's very first district meeting! Woo-hoo! Apparently it's like £30 for two on a round trip, so I'm thinking we might be able to do district meeting more often in the future. Farnsworth was so happy to be off Guernsey (he's only been there two months, but it's hard work) and with the prospect of elders' sleepover and pday, they couldn't contain their exuberance. :) District meeting was so good; we practiced helping our investigators say kneeling prayers and solve their concerns, which is such a vital part of helping them come into communication with God. I learned that I make good analogies, I need to keep better eye-contact, I ask good questions when resolving concerns (ie: "Is this important to you?"), that I need to liken the scriptures more, and that I make the investigators feel really good about themselves (that little skill is all down to Christensen, who validates everyone's prayers, even if they're silent. You did so good! Investigators like to hear that.) Mostly it was exciting to see all the missionaries there and take dorky pictures in town. I hope things go well for Guernsey.

Despite our best efforts and President Furbank being there, we had no one at church. No Linda or Holly, Joanne, Catia, Tricia, or Alan. Poor Sister Christensen. This place has been really difficult because it is so isolated. We were attacked at ward council and our ideas died in subcommittee as usual by way of the defeatist few. David O. McKay said that in the kingdom of God, there are builders and there are murmurers. I'm doing my utmost not to be a murmurer, but to lift and motivate and bless this ward. There is so much potential in the beautiful families for doing good, but for some reason, they make excuses and think they can't help or that it's not their job. It's not hard to see that this attitude has infiltrated from the top down. I'm confident that if we can develop charity in ourselves and continue to encourage and be patient with the members as well as everyone else, they will begin to trust us and we will put this whole church thing back into their hands where it belongs.

We had a phone call this week from a very timid sister who said she felt impressed to give away the Book of Mormon we left her to a guy at work, and she said if he called, his name was Mario. We're praying for him to call us, please oh please. Just the fact that she did that was a miracle. I'm sure she felt all kinds of reassurance from the Spirit and I hope she'll have another missionary experience soon. See? There are fantastic members who are still inspired to do good! We may just have to set the example for them. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to serve in a ward that doesn't necessarily function well so I can remember always to maintain the "I will go and do" attitude I was always taught to have. In the meantime, while Brother Mackenzie texts us to keep breathing and remember that change takes time, I'm grateful for the Atonement to help take the load off our shoulders. I'm also grateful for the Spirit. Sometimes I don't feel it because I'm feeling resentful or frustrated at the lack of compliance (why can't everyone see things MY way?), but when the Spirit is present, we're able to progress and touch hearts in a way that was totally impossible before. When Aaron was brought before the king, he said, "If thou wilt spare our lives, we will be thy servants". Sometimes we feel like bishop wants to kill us (or the other way around), but the attitude to have ALWAYS as a missionary is one of service. That brings the Spirit real quick.

Anyways...I hope the email works next week. Thank you so much for all your prayers and post and stuff. Happy Thanksgiving! We'll be eating at a vegetarian's house. Nut roast, huzzah:)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, November 14, 2011

Armistice Day

My second Armistice Day in the UK, although the lack of Harry Premier was definitely a bummer. November 11th, at 11am, is a mass 2-minute silence across the UK and France to remember all those who died in the World Wars and those who continue to fight today. Everyone had poppies again, including the missionaries, but riding on bikes through the Atlantic wind of St. Brelade's Bay made me want to splurge on one of those brass poppy pins only the posh people wear. Can I say how FRIGHTENING it is to ride through a roundabout? It's all fun and games in a little Fiat, but when you're cycling at 8pm and the only way to get home is through the city's biggest roundabout, that's when I know the Lord is looking out for His missionaries. Take that, James Bond! You're not cool!

In other news:

-"Jersey beans" are the ones who've lived here for two or more generations. Home-grown brand. They have WEIRD accents. (Everyone else, like foreigners, are "Cacas", or toads in French. We're frowned upon, but not yelled at.)

-They love American accents here.

-Investigators and people on the street offer to buy Christensen food. All the time. We got a huge crepe with bananas and Jersey vanilla the other day. This is the best companionship EVER. Housley said it never happened to her, but she just never said yes :)

-Everyone is so polite, even the local millionaires on the way to board meetings. They don't have time to listen, but at least they tell us so. And nicely :)

-I got to bust out my few Spanish skills with a Cuban woman named Milady who LOVED the Restoration. We're praying that her busy schedule will become less so next week so we can go back. She has a small curly boy named Geronimo.

-White hot chocolate is AMAZING!

-I'm getting so fit (you can't really say that here--it's the equivalent to "hot") and have been able to keep up with Sister Christensen. The Zone Leaders are actually coming to tour the Channel Islands, so they're staying with a part-member family and essentially working over Jersey with us. Yay! Other missionaries! AND we get to put them on bikes. I'm fiendishly excited to see them struggle...they WILL respect us, darnit...

-Did I mention Brother Schenk made us steak?

Jersey is well cool. We've got loads of PIs we'll hopefully turn into proper investigators next week and get them progressing. I've even been studying the Old Testament and seeing more modern parallels than ever before...senior year of seminary was definitely a wash in that regard...but it's so refreshing to study on my own and get more into the politics and the Hebrew meanings and even have answers to those Evolution questions. I used lessons on idolatry in two teaches and at church and was amazed how well it all tied together. Since forever, idols have been looked to as sources of ultimate power and beings/mediums/givers of salvation to mankind. Essentially, man will look to whomever he devotes his time to for salvation in times of trouble. It's so important to reassess our own relationships with God and our time we spend with Him.

I'm so grateful to be a missionary for the pure reason that the time I spend doing His work is so rewarding...I watch the Preach My Gospel training videos and see these elders from San Diego moaning about how no one's been baptized for a whole MONTH, and I'm like, come to England! The Lord will sustain you in times of trouble. Someone asked Mother Theresa about how Calcutta was worse than ever, despite her decades of service and love. She replied, "God did not send us here to be successful. He sent us here to be faithful." I'm confident that our efforts in knocking and cycling and handing out cards and asking people if they believe in God, all of these efforts serve many, many purposes BESIDES "getting baptisms". Perhaps those on the other side are being taught by our example. Perhaps we need to learn and grow to face some future trial. Perhaps that person had a seed planted in their heart that will be cultivated. Perhaps we are just crying repentance so these folks in the Spirit World can't say, "Well, I didn't know!" I do know that the Lord consecrates our efforts to mean SOMETHING to someone, somewhere. Heavenly Father sustains us and strengthens us to go on in the things that truly matter. If what we do, whether in the mission field or at home, doesn't matter or isn't that important, we will forfeit divine help and feel unduly exhausted. If it does matter, the Lord will strengthen us.

Yay, Sisters Conference! We're going to the temple at the end of the month to train with President Shamo! I'm so excited. It'll be cool to actually meet the rest of the sisters ;)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, November 7, 2011

Going Incognito

From the last District Meeting in Weymouth. There's a story here.

Life on the Rock

So Sister Christensen and I must be made of steel because the English are hands-down the proudest people on earth (close second is New Jersey; coincidence? I think not.) Christensen says they are cold fish. At least, that's the way it is on the mainland. Our experience doing missionary work here is so different. The Portuguese community is so humble and happy to hear about Jesus, a lot of immigrants from Poland talk to us about prayer and how important it is, and even the super posh business people are all kinds of polite and they'll stop and talk to us on the way to their busy meetings.

Christensen and I have been tearing it up! She dies at conference time, and I think Sister Jonutz' quietness really had a toll on her, as this is an island in the middle of the Channel where pdays are solo and district meetings happen over the phone. It's a really good experience to chat with her about life and films and we've discovered very similar interests :) Happiness all around! I hope we're still together at Christmastime. The office did buy a new bike for her, and we'll need another 6' sister after her because I DEFINITELY can't fit onto a 20" frame, no sir. You'll be happy to know that I'm getting really good at cycling all over creation, including tiny, windy European roads and between cars and such. I think the Lord protects His missionaries, which means when I get back to uni I'll definitely get hit.

Saturday was an incredibly stressful baptism, and Sunday was an equally stressful confirmation, but Holly and Linda made it! Huzzah! It was bishop's first convert baptism (He served in France). Robert is still doing really well; he's just lightening up the more we see him, and I'm excited for him to progress even more. I'm always glad when people say they don't have much of a religious background because in England, the Church and how it operates is straight weird. Compared to the vigils and evensong and cathedrals and mass and even the crazy spiritualist churches where they talk to the dead, we really stick out. So we're always a little concerned about our investigators coming to church and comparing it to what they're used to--Robert has very little experience, like Steve, so everything is just accepted. It's nice. I hope missionary work in the spirit world is like this.

Craziest teach: Brother Tiago and Neleo met us in the park (6pm it's getting dark now) and we pulled two benches together. Neleo doesn't speak much English, (neither does Brother Tiago, honestly) so we did our best explaining the preearth life in very small words. Then David from Poland walked by and sat down to learn about the plan of salvation too. So our two Portuguese speakers started chatting about who-knows-what, David dug out his Polish Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles and started reading aloud, and THEN some guy swinging a bag of booze said his name was Shayne and he wanted to sit in too. He said some creeper thing to Christensen, and I was so out of my element at that point, I just started praying that these 4 guys wouldn't attack us in the dark. Gah. The Lord answered my prayer, Shayne got tired of hearing about Jesus and went to drink elsewhere, and we set up another appointment with David. Neleo looked as confused as we did, but Brother Tiago invited the Spirit back with his testimony of the Book of Mormon. So it wasn't a total loss.

Me and Christensen are getting along famously. Our study is staggered, so I'll study at half-six, and she'll study at eight. It's mostly so I'll wake up and we won't interrupt each other's personal study. She's getting to the end of her mission, and study gets really difficult at that point. This morning I studied about how to reclaim a bad ward, according to the advice given by the prophet Abinadi. Tomorrow I'll study how Alma and Amulek did it for the Zoramites. It's sound advice, and not beyond our abilities as missionaries. Sometimes there are serious problems beyond the help of the missionaries, and that needs to be addressed by the Stake Presidency, but as it is, we're on an island and we're all this ward's got to keep them learning the basics. I hope it works! We've got a place to go for Christmas and Christmas Eve--speaking of which, the cheapest way to phone home is to Skype, which means you'll need to get an account. We'll figure out a time that's not unreasonably early :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

So it's begun. The members have started giving us sweets--we currently have loot from the Harvest Party (Boot or Treat), which they wouldn't take no as an answer, three 5lb tins in the flat of Mars, Bounty, Twix, and Malteasers fun size, and leftovers from all our TAs. Bah, cycling after a TA with a Korean cook is a BAD PLAN.

Updates on Jersey:

In the short time Christensen and I have been together, we've picked up four new investigators, a baptismal date, and we're preparing for Holly and Linda's baptisms on Guy Fawkes Day. Linda is 40, deaf, and has a daughter Holly, who's ten and believes in Jesus even though no one else does. She's come to church 6 times now, and she was the star of the Primary Program, even memorizing the words of Praise to the Man. Who of us adults knows what "communed" and "extol" mean? Linda is really good at reading lips, and I'm learning a bit of British Sign Language--the alphabet calls for both hands to be used for each letter, rather than just one. They are so excited to be baptized, and their commitment to pay tithing and come to church forever after is already apparent.

There is a huge Portuguese community here (our mission leader Brother Tiago lives three floors below us) and enough Portuguese members to hold their own sacrament meeting. On Sunday. Robert and David came to church, and we had to teach Gospel principles in English, Portuguese, Polish, and British Sign Language. Talk about intense. But even when we couldn't understand the words, the Spirit was so present. Brother Tiago even blessed the sacrament in Portuguese, and the Spirit still bore witness that the words were acceptable to God. So cool! David is tired of living on Jersey and wants to go back to Poland, and has been wronged by the Catholic church in the past, but he smiled through the whole Primary Program and declared that it was "beautiful, perfect, not like Catholic church". Robert was charmed as well, and both were eager to have us come back and teach them. I'm so grateful that even on posh, posh Jersey, the Spirit still bears powerful witness to help the work move forward.

Other things about Jersey: We can't cycle everywhere, and mostly stay in St. Saviour, St. Helier, and occasionally St.Clement. The church is in St. Mary, and we get a lift every Sunday. There are no such things as week/month bus passes, or even returns. It's £1.70 one way, anywhere on the island. Amen. Those tickets really add up. I was surprised at everyone's pleasant manner during finding--maybe it's because Christensen is six-foot and could clearly beat them up if they were rude, I don't know. We did get told the other night to go home and live our lives because you've only got one, and I was like, "I couldn't agree with you more." Do it now, or regret that you hadn't.

Guernsey is the toughest area in the mission, and Farnsworth and Collins are working their tails off. Their biggest problem is the tiny branch and their coldness to each other, outsiders, and pretty much all investigators that come on Sunday. The elders even tried to throw a party for them, just for the branch, and despite the decorations and sweets and activities and stuff, no one cared. Farnsworth sounded like he'd been crying when we accounted that night. He just said, "Pray that this branch will have charity." Man, it so undercuts every work the missionary does if the branch doesn't retain and love and fellowship the new members. I hope something big happens there to help the work take off.

It's a little ward on Jersey, and really young compared to Weymouth. You can really feel the camaraderie and just silliness, but we're struggling with home and visiting teaching in the worst way. The bishop has been there 5 or 6 years, and it's no secret that he's exhausted and ready to be released. I hope that we can encourage everyone to visit these new converts, because VT and HT are the lifeblood of the church. I'm thinking to write to the First Presidency and get it added to the worthiness questions for a temple recommend. Are you doing your visiting teaching? Maybe that would help things here. (Missionaries aren't allowed to write the First Presidency, so maybe I'll just bring it up with President Shamo.)

Big news! Steve got baptized in Weymouth! He wore the new tie we bought him and apparently looked very dapper. He is so solid, and so grateful that the Gospel has entered his life and changed him. I think teaching him really hit home how the Lord truly does prepare the hearts of his children, and it really opened my eyes to the before and after that those born into the church only see from the outside; the life of an addict, compared to the life of an Elder. As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel, we find we stand stronger and stronger as the world drifts away, and our thoughts of "if I wasn't a member, what would my life be like?" get bleaker and darker. It's so cool to watch the sometimes shocking conversion process because it reminds us that we, despite our inadequacies, can change just as abruptly when we humble ourselves before the Lord. It's so cool to be here with Sister Christensen, who's so smart and as fun as Sister Housley and just makes everyone feel loved and comfortable. I hope I can develop those qualities and share it with the members here.

HEAT WAVE! This is my island in the sun! (Name the movie! Hint: It’s Christmasy)

Thank you for all the post :) I hope I stay through New Year, because fireworks over the water are the BEST!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Thursday, October 27, 2011


So I ended up on a ferry called the Condor with Sister Housley, my 20 kg of luggage, and two brand-new bikes. It's about 100 miles to Jersey from Weymouth, a four hour trip with a little pit stop to Guernsey on the way...we called up Farnsworth and Collins to say we were the first ever sister missionaries to see the island. (There are about ten members on Guernsey, including the elders. They need priesthood in the worst way.) Jersey, on the other hand, has a great little ward, a step down from the ten wards it used to have, back in the days of the Apostolic Missions, before they all moved to the states...but I digress.
The Condor is posh and an exorbitant price. It looks like a moving airport terminal, with little cafes, a duty-free shop made mostly of wine, and little travel booths with sweets and magazines. We were confused about the assigned seating (it's a ferry, come on?) But when the Condor started to make way, it went as fast as it could go, lurching up and down--everyone kept toppling over, the books are saran-wrapped to the shelves to keep them from falling out, and the loos had lines a mile long (The Condor's nickname is the Vomit-Comet). I had quite the pile of sick bags by my chair, but being on ferries more than the average person equipped me with the comfort I needed. Everything felt so surreal--it was like being in a space station where the gravity button was faulty. All the shops and cafes and everything just took on a hilarity at trying to be so presumptuous and posh. Silly. I was so glad to land.
Jersey is gorgeous! It's exactly 9x5 miles total, very flat, and I'm already sore from this new bike seat. Sister Jonutz is from Cali and is really funny and just down to earth. She's making a name for herself for strictness to rules, which I think sets a good example for us more rebellious ones. She's been in Jersey 7 months and is the same age as Sister Housley. I'm really jealous she gets to go back to Weymouth, but she's going to miss this area a lot. We went knocking, and I don't know what I expected, but everyone was really pleasant and there were a lot of people from Ireland and Portugal. I feel like all this riding around is equipping me with the skills I'll need to actually drive a car--traffic rules and such. Sister Gregson is already driving, and despite sisters wrecking most of the mission vehicles in the past, they're threatening to put cars in more sister areas. Maybe I'll drive like James Bond after all..?
I'm really excited to serve with Sister Christensen. Her and Housley are like peas in a pod, and they had a great time in Exeter. She's 6', gorgeous, from Utah and full of empathy for everyone. Just really knowledgeable and has a tendency to bash with Born Agains and coo over animals. Like me! We shall be good friends, although I'm a little nervous about teaching with her, just because teaching with Sister Housley was so easy. We were a dream team, she and I. I definitely hope I can take everything I've learned from being in Weymouth with her and be a better missionary here.
Everything is so exciting! I plan to drop two stone just cycling around this island, and I'm confident that it will also keep me warm in the winter. The flat is a pretty little attic of what used to be a hotel, and it overlooks the sea and a field of ponies and geese. No dryer, so everything's strung around the flat on pink string, and they also have (because elders lived here less than a year ago) a large telly and DVD player, not to mention THE PRINCE OF EGYPT! I'm so excited! District Meeting happens over the phone with Guernsey, and we'll likely not see any other missionaries for a long time after Housley and Jonutz leave. But the area is sweet and they have a huge teaching pool. It's weird not's weird to know fun fact is that food here (and everything else, for that matter) is pricey. We're the warmest place (officially) in all of England, seeing how we're 20 miles from France and 100 from England proper, so there are tons of tourists, French people, and to keep the Polish from coming over here, they make things pretty expensive. They even have their own Jersey States money (£1 notes? What?), but no Tesco. No Asda. But Iceland is here to save the day! And the ward members too :)
I'm so tired...the week of moves means that there's no pday on Monday, and it got moved to Thursday instead, but we have two teaches today...blah. It'll definitely be nice to unpack and sleep in a proper bed. Be thankful not to have to cycle out in the rain! Going home will be like pday every day...weird...
Thank you so much for everyone's post! We still do get it here on Jersey...I shall send you some cool Jersey stamps ;)
Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, October 24, 2011

Moving to Jersey Island!

Okay, so moves calls come on Tuesday so we can move Wednesday. Naturally we were all chilled out and decided not to get anxiety until tomorrow when LAST NIGHT in the middle of accounting, Pres. Shamo called us up.

He said, "Hello? Is Sister Willard there?" I said yes, and we both hovered over the speaker phone while I abandoned folding laundry.

"Do you know how to ride a bike?" I said, yes, it was like riding a bike...?

He said, "Are you up for an adventure?" Yes? "Oh, good! I thought you would be."

It is true: Jonutz and me are switching. I'm off to Jersey with Housley's favorite comp, Sister Christensen. Off to the Channel Islands and confined to a bike for Christmas! I'm so excited! Not a greenie anymore, that's for sure.

The bad news was that WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN WE MOVE. Trying to set up appointments when you don't know when you're leaving is the worst, not to mention trying to pack AND set up for a baptism this Saturday, which I might not even be here for. Gah, stress! And I might have to leave half my stuff here due to weight requirements, or I might not have to...I'm sort of stuck in limbo. I'll be glad when it's all over.

Happily, I've got the address already. Still send parcels to the mission office, but I'm not sure how often that post gets to us on Jersey. We don't ever leave the Island, except for that one time they got to see Elder Bednar, so no Zone Conferences or District meetings except what happens over the phone. I shall send a postcard when I get there :)

Other happy news:
-Steve is getting baptized on Saturday! He's so solid, it's ridiculous! I likely won't be there for it, but I'll get pictures and send them home. Fun fact: He's also friends with Derrick, our other baptismal date. Hopefully they'll be a strength to one another and help the Elders Quorum.
-It's getting coooooold. The end is nigh, or at least it is for Sister Housley, who lived in San Diego and Provo most of her life.
-Poole Zone is doing the best in the mission, and Poole Stake has grown 10% this year. Sweet!
-There's a pair of baptisms waiting on Jersey, after they're done having chicken pox. It must be tough to be an adult with a kid's disease.
-Weymouth is stellar--the Zone Leaders keep asking us what we're doing. I think we're getting flogged a lot, and we've still got tons of progressing investigators. I'll be able to leave this area in good hands, better than we found it.
-Yeovil won the Road Show. They were the only ones who didn't go over time. Apparently ours was the funniest, like it always is. :)

Man I'm sad to have to leave this place. The branch is awesome, and we've even got progressing less-actives, something I thought would never happen here. I don't think any branch in the church have loved their missionaries as much as Weymouth loved us. It wasn't anything we did, it's just who they are. And being the only sisters in 30 years, we stick out a little bit. If the members can trust you to work your tails off and be normal enough to teach their friends, then they'll set up appointments and referrals for you. That's all it takes.

Christmas on Jersey! At least it's early enough to get to know the place so a member's house won't feel too weird. And we'll get to call home! Will I have a weird accent? Maybe. The Preach My Gospel videos are getting obnoxious because their American accents are really harsh. Weird. I bought a ukulele at a thrift shop for 4 quid! It's pink! Speaking of which, I don't know how many music stores there are on Jersey, and I'm in need of a tuner for Christmas. They have arrangements of hymns for the ukulele that I've been playing, and it's been really fun :)

I'm so excited for Howard! He'll get there in the middle of the Brazilian summer, and it'll probably be a nice break from Iceburg, Idaho. :) I will think of how warm it is there when we're dying of hypothermia here.

Fun times to everyone! Moves are stressful!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, October 17, 2011

So our specialized training on Saturday featured a high dose of politics, with Sister Shamo reading an article about the Values Summit in Florida. Send me NEWS PLEASE! The way they were talking, Mormons are the happening buzz in the U.S. with a bazillion hits on over the weekend. (I've also sent the weekly email the church sends to investigators and such: The best way to do missionary work for a lot of people).

This week has been SOOO busy. Considering we had zero time to go finding, we still picked up 5 new investigators and taught 25 lessons and got flogged a lot. I didn't get to sleep during lunch at all and my poor little body is so tired...Sister Housley never used to crack her back, but now it does it on its own. I guess you just start to break down on your mission, eh? We got a call Saturday night from a man who wanted to meet with us, and we met him yesterday. He seems so prepared to take on our commitments--we'll see what happens from there.

In other happenings, Steve came with us to Stake Conference, chatted with Elder Himelright about baptism, and spoke to President Shamo, who promptly gave him his email and told him to stay in touch. He's such a rockstar with investigators. Loraine even invited us back to the hotel for lunch, and we got to chat and clear up any concerns he had. He's so prepared, I wish we could move the date up. Ah, well. All he needs is an interview, and we'll be set!

Other funnies:

-The seagulls have poor aim. But not poor enough to make us NOT paranoid about going outside.

-Weymouth is BEAUTIFUL!

-We had to teach right after Loraine's and had to decline dessert (we didn't have anything to eat in the flat, and we really wanted some...). For the teach, we went to a park to sit down. A lady approached us, holding a box from the Iceland. She said, "Can I offer you some ice cream?" Apparently she bought too many and didn't want them to go to waste. That's the third time the Lord has provided chocolate for us when we couldn't have any. He loves us :)

-The makers of South Park are NOT ex'd Mormons. They're not religious, and their families are backgrounded in Judaism and Jehovah's Witnesses, and they had friends growing up who were members. That is all.

It's so cool to be here after 6 months. Guesses are on for who'll move. I think it'll be Housley, and I think she might move to Paignton and train again. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one still in my greenie area with my trainer (sigh) but we've gotten to be really good friends and I feel like I've grown a lot. MISSION STATEMENT: "If you stop growing, you're dead." I'm pretty sure I'll just apply that to this whole mission. Sister Housley says that for every awkward moment you encounter on the mission, your husband/first born/self at forty will look even better than if you hadn't. I don't know if I believe that, but it certainly is encouraging. It's all about the principle of compensation.

My biggest problem is that I don't know what to ask for as far as Christmas. Scarves and a hat maybe? It'll be cold in winter, that's for sure. Maybe I'll think about it some more. There's always, and they've got tons of things. Sister Housley wants to get matching onesie pajamas (preferably some monkeys or cows). We'll see if we can find any.

Stay happy and warm! Tell people you're a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and say why!

Lots of love,
Sister Willard

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Week Ever

It's so exciting to be in Weymouth! Steve is a superhero, and has been to church three times in a row (including General Conference) and loves the scriptures and told us to Book of Mormon is true in Subway on Saturday. He's set to get baptized on the 29th of October, and Sister Housley says she's never known anyone so prepared to accept the gospel. He was saying he wished he'd known these things earlier, and not had to wait until his forties--but ascertained that perhaps he wouldn't have accepted it. Man. Every teach with him is the best teach ever, and we just sing You're the Best Around from the Karate Kid after it's over. New Young Men’s President for sure. Also Gospel Doctrine teacher :)

Other happenings in Weymouth:
-After Sister Housley disappeared into the loo after teaching Martina, Cohen apparently snuck in and all we could hear was yelling upstairs. Next time she's in the john I'll have to play bouncer. At least Ryan was clothed this time.

-Sister Housley is going to be an auntie!

-We got DVD players and Preach My Gospel films to study during comp, and during mealtimes we watch the other church films. In an attempt to make it more interesting, we hit mute on the Testaments and filled it in with our own interpretation. Most I've laughed in ages.

-No more battered Mars bars. No.

-We got a call from Barbara last night, who after years of being less-active and her husband's death in December, is determined to do whatever it takes to get her worthy to go to the temple and get her family work done. We are so excited for her!

General Conference was so fantastic--I still have yet to see the last session, but we'll get an Ensign soon enough. Did anyone else love Elder Callister's diagram of the Book of Mormon? It was so rad! We had three investigators attend, and everything was geared toward them and their questions for sure. How do they do that?

Ever since we saw Elder Bednar, I have so much more respect for the members of the 70. It's not often you get to see an Apostle, but that's what the 70 are for. They deliver the same messages that the Apostles would had they been there. So Conference was a much cooler experience this time. I made a to do list of spiritual impressions I got and I've been discovering some really cool imperatives to follow, things to pray for specifically and things to study in the scriptures.

Another fun time from General Conference is that it's our twice-a-year opportunity to go to another church (we get invited to so many here.) The Weymouth Family Church is held in a colorful Primary School, just like the Seventh Day Adventists. They had a band and a powerpoint putting up words without music (I can't sing without notes, unless it's camp songs. Those aren't artsy.) We saw Mike and Morag, Makela and her husband, and Matthew and Aaron. It's a very grace-oriented church, with singing and clapping and standing up and playing electric during the prayers. The sacrament featured several people going up and taking a hunk of bread and a goblet of wine and having people come to them (I nudged Sister Housley, "Hey! You want to go pass the sacrament?" She said it was against the word of wisdom, and it was really hard not to laugh.) Everything was very informal and pathos reigned supreme. There's definitely a lot of love in the congregation. They're looking for the truth and don't realize it's down the lane.

Thanks for posting my pictures :) We spent some of comp inventory recording ourselves doing the Cinnamon Challenge. Here are the instructions:

1. Get a tablespoon of cinnamon.
2. Eat it.

Unfortunately we didn't have enough, so we substituted cocoa instead. Housley had the bin ready, and as soon as cocoa hit her tastebuds she spat it all back out. Silly me, I tried to SWALLOW the stuff and my throat STILL feels like the Mojave Valley. Sheesh. We'll see if we can't send those videos home :)

Thanks so much for praying! Steve is cruising and the branch is doing just swell. The Lord will make things happen in His own good time--He tends to give specific answers to specific prayers, and if it's not best that your prayers be answered now, know that He'll answer them when the timing is right :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Quick Post

So I've got 15 minutes to go before District Meeting starts, so I'll have to go into detail next week. Basically we've got one baptismal date (he's awesome) and we had 4 investigators to sessions of Conference, the last of which I couldn't see because it went from 9 to 11 pm. Really fantastic week :) Zone conference talked about the baptismal commitment and how it's like the law of sacrifice in the OT and how it's central to everything we do. We've got a lot on the cusp here in weymouth, and I'm requesting prayers for the following people to COMMIT and be BAPTIZED:
The Pooles
Thank you so much for all your prayers, and there will be more emailing next week, I promise!
Sister Willard

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Loads of Pictures

Ready for some fun?

Flickr Pics of Sister Willard

Katie mailed home a CD of 185 pictures from her mission. Most of them feature her making faces at the camera. I posted them all on Flickr, so feel free to enjoy!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Mission Call

Neither of us is going to Idaho! That's so exciting! Porto Alegre will probably be a bit chillier than up north, which will make the work a bit easier. Less mosquitoes.

Quiet week looking for all our referrals from last week. Have contacted ZERO thus far :(

News on investigators:

Katrina came to church after many weeks of visiting their family. The children are asking all sorts of questions about heaven and how they'll recognize each other (they're five and six years old) and it's becoming such a bother to the parents that they're actively seeking out the Spirit in their home. It's so cool to see!

Steve we met on the street, taught the Restoration the next day, and the day after THAT he came to church. So cool. He hasn't been since his school days, back when he was 12. He's a recovering addict and so in tune to the Spirit. We spent a lot of time explaining the Atonement to him and why Jesus was so important...naturally Sunday was about the law of the fast and the law of tithing, but apparently he felt the Spirit and wants to come back next week. We got a good one!

In other news, we've got the Road Show. Theme this year: Dr. Who. They're going back in time to see why Weymouth didn't win for the last three years running...we got to watch the DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean, and I'm amazed they didn't win. It was like a proper musical you'd pay MONEY to go see. Unfortunately we were told we can't be in it because it would take all day Saturday, which really bothers me, seeing how we've got nonmembers participating in it.

We love this branch. They keep telling us about their friends and giving us referrals and calling us to say so and so accepted a Book of Mormon or accepted to come to church. So exciting! And since Leigh's farewell is this week, everyone in the youth is talking about potentially serving a mission, especially the young women. Leigh will be the very first missionary to come from Weymouth, and she'll be quickly followed by Mike, Tom, and Joe. It's so cool! The branch is so proud. The timing for us to come was impeccable.

President Shamo and Levi asked us to strengthen the branch and build their confidence, especially in basic things like family prayer and scripture study. The basics. But it can be difficult to strengthen the branch when certain activities don't directly influence your key indicators--we do our best to bring investigators to mutual and such, but sometimes we're asked to help out. I think it's working--our testimony meetings just get better and better each week, and the Primary is so smart, and the youth are so excited about missionary work since the missionary prep class went up :) I will be so sad to leave this place, but I know that it'll be much stronger when we leave it.

Funny happenings from this week:
-We cleaned the carpet in our flat today. I felt like I was back on crew at BYU.

-There's a famous singing group here called the Qwangle Wangle Choir. They're very serious about their music. Don't laugh.

-Sharing time was "I Want to Be a Missionary Now", and naturally we were put in charge. So we reenacted Ammon (complete with cardboard sword, Indian tie, and companion) serving King Lamoni (myself) by defending his poster of sheep from the Lamanites (Elliot, Rosina, and Gracie with scarves around their heads and wielding frying pans). Claire narrated from the Book of Mormon. There was even a slow motion fight sequence and everyone lost their arms. I got baptized in the end. After the play, we showed them a map of the world and used sharpie to point out where missionaries were from, and on the back we had a schedule of what missionaries do each day, which mostly amazed the teachers. It was the best Sunday ever, except they gave us really nice cupcakes to each on Fast Sunday.

-People that intimidate me don't intimidate Sister Housley, and vice versa. We make a really solid companionship :)

-Elder Day's new greenie is from Arizona. Himelright--being a little apostate--ignores "McCook" and calls him Elder Emcee instead. The Zone Leaders are just bothered that they didn't come up with it first.

We're really excited for General Conference and we're doing our best to invite anyone who'll come.

One stellar investigator can carry a whole week of stupid, and one baptism can carry months of hard work. You never know what seeds you'll plant, and you'll never know what fruit will come falling out of the sky. Just hold up your basket and watch your head.

Love from,
Sister Willard

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Brother's Call

This is a little addition to Katie's writings. I know you are all enjoying her adventures in Weymouth. Her brother, Howard, received his call this week to Porto Alegre South, Brazil. Naturally, his website is: and will continue for two years.

Onward and Upward,

Monday, September 19, 2011

We're Famous!

Since it wasn't cool enough that we've met the sailing teams from Japan, Argentina, Poland, Austria, and Hungary, they had to go post a photo of us on! The choir was really fun to sing in--it was Hark All Ye Nations, and we wanted confetti and fireworks and a giant backdrop of Elder Bednar's FACE to unscroll in the back--but that felt a little too like Mussolini (Elder Botta: "Hey, don't say that!") It was so cool to meet a lot of missionaries that have been out nearly a year. The big question is who I go home with, seeing how they're out 11 months already. We'll have lots of fun reminiscing on the plane, for sure. That Bednar conference was one of the big highlights of the entire mission ;) My question is how you become one of his bodyguards. Do you apply online or...?

-Delvin: Mum is less active in Swindon, and we found him on the street wondering about God and religion. Very smart, very receptive to the spirit. Needs to read the Book of Mormon to settle his puzzling thoughts.

-Derrick: From London, a painter fresh off His Majesty's Holiday and ready for a new start in life. He'd been going to the Weymouth Family Church (we've taught 8 members so far off that flippin congregation--they're all searching, and so help me, SOMEONE is going to get baptized) but the last two weeks he's gotten lost on the way there. So we had him come to church this week. Solid, cool guy.

-The Pooles: We're off to teach them now that school's started up. I think we've been falling down explaining why this is important. I just figure that if you believe in God and want His approval, of COURSE you want to know His will. But people are asking us why we need to know His will, or what's in it for them. For Adam and Katrina, their little children are asking them about heaven and will they recognize each other, and their parents have no answers for them. I want them to get sealed so BADLY! They're such a sweet family and they absolutely know what's important. We just need to make the Restoration more of a reality for them.

-Nina: Friend of Melanie Drinkwater, who is the best missionary ever. Nina came to the Primary Program and LOVED it--those kids are so reverent! Elliot stood at the front with a banner like Miss Congeniality, except it said "Reverently" on it. Brilliant. 3 year old Jack's just picking his nose and putting the Book of Mormon on his head during Scripture Power, and when asked who we follow (while looking at Greg Olson's painting of Jesus holding the sheep) he said, "Follow the deer" because that's what the sheep looked like. I was crying, I was laughing so hard :)

In other news:
-While talking to a homeless guy about God, his pitbull came at me. Stupid dog. No blood, but that's what he was going for. The tramp couldn't care less.
-Sometimes I have to go to the loo in town, and because it's England, public toilets aren't often. If we're in a bind, we'll buy chocolate cookies in Subway so I can use theirs. America also has drinking fountains.
-Because it's getting darker earlier, we keep getting told off for knocking doors late, even though it's barely 8 o-clock. We do keep seeing fireworks though--if we climb the garden wall, we can get a better look and annoy the neighbors by singing American anthems.
-They sell onesies that look like monkey suits.
-Members of the branch keep calling to report member missionary work and they're getting so excited!

It's so fun to be a missionary! As of Thursday, I will have been out 5 months--it feels like NOTHING, like April was last month, and we're getting ready for October conference already? So crazy! I'm excited to see Elder Bednar again and be like, "I talked to him!" He asked us how his QandA teaching was effective, and I said it worked only because we kept our commitment to read his talks beforehand, just like regular missionary work cannot go forward unless the investigator has read and prayed. Don't read the Book of Mormon, and whatever you do, don't pray about it. That's how they get you. It's strange that it's such a simple bit of direction, and yet so many people don't make it happen. I wonder why that is. For those that do read and pray, like Katrina, they're the ones that are benefiting and getting the influence of the Spirit into their homes. 

Me and Sister Housley have been talking about the biggest fear missionaries have, and that's that as soon as we come home, every good quality we attained during the 18 months will erode away and we will be the same person we were before we went. I think that it's difficult to see the vital changes in yourself from moment to moment, and even from week to week. It's easier for those on the outside to see it. I think if we set goals to change in specific ways, like learning how to more readily recognize the Spirit, how to pray more specifically and with more earnestness, or understanding the Savior's Atonement and applying it more frequently, the Lord will see those desires and grant us divine help in attaining them. It's impossible, if your heart is in the work with your companion, the members and with your investigators, to come back the same as when you left. I definitely hope to gain lifelong qualities and become a better disciple through this work, and I know that if the Lord helps me, that's exactly what I'll be.

Thank you so much for post and all your support! Keep writing and keep learning--that's the purpose of this life, is to learn to be like God. In the words of Elder Paraso, "You're doin it!"

Love from,
Sister Willard

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pday has come at last!

Huzzah! It took ages, but we finally get to rest up from a really hectic week. We've got so many teaches happening on Friday, I don't know how we'll make them all :) It's nice to have an hour lunch and hour dinner (never had that from a proper paying job), and usually I sleep through the lunch break and make it til bedtime. It took us until half four on Tuesday to get our moves calls, and we are both staying yet again! That's six months with my trainer, but it's not uncommon when you whitewash in. So one third of the mission is planned for! I celebrate 5 months in one week (do they have kebabs in the States? They're well good.) When you have a baptism, you have to have a kebaptism. Tis a rule. Although battered Mars bars are also a good idea.

It's so nice today! I think we might go check out the rides on the Esplanade again and get some ice cream. You really want that soft serve all week, but you can't share the gospel with vanilla dribbling down your chin. I've given up on the old people. If I have to stop them, I talk about family history and give them the website. It's a little too much like Miami, so we get really excited to see a pram pushed by two young people on the boardwalk.

Some people are able to reject us really nicely--I'm pretty sure those people will accept it later. When people are rude, their comments revolve around sarcasm and patronizing comments regarding where we're from and how old we are--oftentimes they don't want to hear what we've got to say because we don't have the life experience they've had, and how they're so misunderstood or whatever. I'm sure it's the same in every mission. What we've got to convince them is of our experience with the Spirit and with the Lord answering prayers and the blessings of baptism. THAT experience, in the case of most people we stop, far outstrips their own. And when the Spirit can't get to their hearts, they reject our testimonies like moody teenagers, saying we don't know what we're talking about and that we made our feelings up. I never realized that people really can write off a heartfelt testimony--it's cases like that when you really just have to walk away. You have to use the Lord's time effectively, and if you're trapped in a conversation with an atheist trying to convince you that God isn't there, there are potential investigators walking by unnoticed. Cut it short, and go find the elect.

We've had some really cool miracles in the last week--the mornings seem to be the most successful, and when we know we planned by the Spirit the night before, every person is a potential convert to us and we find loads of people who are going through divorce, death in the family, moving, or some other life-changing event that makes them question the meaning of life and whether God is really there.

A nonmember asked her member son-in-law, "Why did Jesus have to die? Why was it necessary, and what did it change?" She has never asked him these questions before. I hope we'll be able to teach her. The problem is that loads of people tell her that He died for us, and they bear testimony of the feelings they have as they consider His sacrifice. I know that's the Spirit testifying that yes, it did happen, and yes, our salvation depended on it. But because they don't understand the Fall, they can't put into logic why it was necessary or why He did it in the first place. We are so lucky to be members, to understand what we're doing here and why the Fall occurred and why the Bible was changed and what happens after this life is over.

It's so good to know that the Lord has provided a way for all of us. So they drop us, or don't want to listen, or are too busy. That doesn't mean that had they been in a different circumstance that they wouldn't have. It doesn't mean that had they grown up hearing the words of Jesus that they wouldn't be stalwart in the faith. We look for the elect, but because we don't have angelic eyes, we just have to assume that everyone is elect. And we don't know what effect we have on the people we meet. As missionaries pray to consecrate their efforts, God will use them to accomplish the most good, not to mention bless them, their families, and everyone else immediately. I'm glad to be here and to know that we are being successful in Weymouth.

I shall email on Monday! Hopefully I'll have something cool to say :)

Love from,
Sister Willard