What a lovely pday! First cloudy day we've had in a long time, and since I don't have money for sunscreen, it's a day off for the cancer cells. Thanks for writing! Sister Housley will send pictures as soon as she can. Next Monday is a bank holiday, so we'll be emailing on Tuesday.
As far as the mission, it's been much better since we got bus passes and have begun to get to know the branch. Most of the former ward's inactive, and we've been able to get in a few doors by virtue of our feminine charms (apparently winter on the elders made them look scary), but the active members are really solid. They're anxious to feed us; so far, our dinner appointments have ranged from quiet and polite, to the hosts swapping dating stories, to cluttered and full of screaming children. It's best not to expect a thing, I guess. All the food's been great (who says English food is terrible?)
Pres. Levi has asked us to strengthen everyone's testimonies and not to assume that because they come to church that they understand or believe everything taught there. It's so important to answer questions like, "How do I even know God exists?" and not just shrug it off. A lot of the youth are going away as soon as they hit uni age and are starting families because of it. What's interesting is that a lot of the less-actives we've met have strong testimonies like the three witnesses, but they struggle with things like the Word of Wisdom and feel unworthy to attend. We're going to start on some firesides, youth Q&As, teaching Gospel Principles (there are two investigators regularly attending, and no Gospel Principles?) and kick off this next month (June is Bring a Friend to Church Month). I sure hope we can see some miracles happen.
As far as the work goes, here's a typical schedule:
6:30 Get up, journal (we trek around all day), shower, breakfast.
8:00 Personal study. Currently it's the Atonement and the Gospels.
9:30 Companion study. Practice lessons, finding, finalize plans for the day.
11:00 Contact Weymouth High Street and the Esplanade. Afterwards, lunch for an hour. We'll pack one or go home. Catch the bus to Dorchester, Littlemoor, Chickerell, Portland, Wyke Regis, or any other villages we've been inspired to go. Our goal is to visit as many members as we can, to find out their situation and teach them little lessons. We'll squeeze one or two RCLAs in each day, knock as few doors as possible (knocking can get ugly out here; we prefer warm bodies out gardening or in the park), score some dinner, and barely get back in on time.
9:00 Be back at the flat. Start nightly planning.
9:45 Account daily numbers. We've definitely got some wicked numbers as far as teaches go, but very few investigators.
10:30 Bed. Best part of the day.
My favorite house we've been in thus far is a less active, Steve Hopcroft. He was AP of his mission and loves the church, but he had some traumatic experiences as a POW after mission and struggles with smoking (as does everyone else). His wife Olha is from the Ukraine and she's a BABE (also not a member). Such a sweet lady, the calm reassurance to Steve eager informative stance; what he would like is for her to join the church of her own free will (she grew up in Communism, and he doesn't want to tell her what to do) so they both can get active again. The elders never got in the house. I think she's lonely for some female company. After dinner, she drove us back to the flat, and she asked us, "How do you know?" We bore quick testimony and I think she's golden. We just have to let it sit for a moment, and then call back.
Our other favorite teach of the week was Shekinah! Finally! She's from Ireland and is living with a member lady. She told us she wanted to be baptized the moment she walked into the church building months ago. The elders taught her and the night they left, she told them she knew Joseph Smith was a prophet. So cool. We're off to teach her tomorrow about the Ten Commandments and such, and I'm so excited for her!
Best things about missionary work so far:
My trainer is so boss
You learn to be patient
You feel happy for no conceivable reason
You have incredible spiritual experiences and know that something good will come from it
The members are so fantastic and willing to help out
I'm in the most beautiful place on earth
People are lovely and polite, even if they're not interested
The Lord has blessed us with health and strength and alertness because we've been obedient
Paul Dadds told me, in his Hugh Laurie way, "I can't believe you're a greenie. It feels like you've been out here a year or more." Maybe I've been better prepared than I thought--or maybe you just fake it til you make it!
Bah, out of time! Thanks to everyone who's written--especially you, Marnie. Being a missionary is crazy and exhausting and satisfying and elating and on those days when you don't want to go out but you still do, you see miracles happen and you're humbled by the grace of a God who'll lift you when you do the most you can do.
One month down! Can you believe it??