Monday, June 27, 2011

Working Hard

Helloo! Greetings from Weymouth, the place of completely bipolar weather. Super confusing when you pack on the sweaters (jumpers) and then the dark clouds totally clear up and it's 75 the rest of the day. I'm pleased to announce that my feet are now resembling hard, dried out oranges. Even if we go to Fish4Feet, pretty sure that they'll stay exactly the same. Lots of sunburns, lots of walking...the construction here is all for the Olympics, and it means that the bus-riders have multiplied and the bus system is awfuler. Europe has never heard about the four-way intersection before, hence their obsession with the roundabout. My thought is that the sheer amount of parking tickets during the Olympics may fund the entire reconstruction of Weymouth.
Since we've been praying before going on the high street, our confidence that we will find a progressing investigator on those streets has gone waaay up. For all we know, baptismal dates are walking by--we've got to stop everyone we can. I know that as we do our utmost to stop everyone we can, the Lord will send His child who's prepared our way. Lots of finding the last few days, and we've been successful finding 8 new investigators this week. Although no one is progressing as of yet, we've got Victoria, Shekinah, Adam and Katrina who we're really excited about.
Teaching is really awesome lately. Sister Housley is trying to get me to take the lead in lessons, taking people's information, and asking them to pray with us. I took the lead last week in one particular lesson, and we both felt that we contributed equally and the Spirit was really strong. I'm not as in tune with the Spirit as Sister Housley, but I'm beginning to feel its presence and when it's not there. Studying up and reading the scriptures each morning, I love when I remember some obscure verse to help me testify on the street or help people learn. That's proof to me of the Spirit's presence.
It's amazing to me to find these people who have questions about God and religion and ask us, and the second we say that they have to pray and find out for themselves, they definitely shut down and run away and refuse to find out the answers. Why not? Why not find out? It's mad sometimes. We've lucked out finding Victoria, who set an appointment with the elders but they never came back. She prayed about the Book of Mormon, and the second we showed and gave her a message, she said that was her answer that the book was true and that the Church was true. Just pray. We'll do our best to plan by the Spirit and be where the Lord wants us to be.
This mission is awesome. I think you become more of yourself when you're here. There's no one looking over your shoulder to say, "HEY! You're obeying the rules! Way to go!" That's not what it's about. You're very much on your own, a widget holding this all together. You've got talents, feelings, and assets that the Lord can use. It's not good to try and be something you're not--it's good to work on those Christlike attributes, but if you're bursting with charisma, it's no good to fake shy and the other way around. You'll come off as ingenuine to others. As you stick to the rules and pray for the Spirit, your self will really shine. You testify all day, every day, and you keep growing. I love it. Some days are really long, and some days are over before you know it. It's 50 years of church service packed into 2 years or 18 months. It's a stretch and really shoves you outside of your comfort zone.
I've been out two months already! Isn't that crazy? Trying to be the best missionary I can be, regardless of the numbers or the scriptures you memorize. I love this whole let's go out and win some hearts attitude that Sister Housley's got. It's really fantastic and really satisfying. Get back to the basics, like prayer and church and reading the scriptures, and the Lord will sort out the rest. You'll know, if you just do those things, that this Church is true. This is it, this is the real deal. :)
Keep telling people about the Gospel! How much will they blame you, if on the other side, they find out you knew and you said NOTHING? I don't ever want to be there. You can always bring up the Church and tell people what you believe without offending them. Always, always. Be the missionaries' best friends and send them referrals so that you can be an instrument in building the kingdom. Doooooo it!
Love from,
Sister Willard

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Father's Day

So I had to speak on Sunday. "What I Learnt from My Father". It was so fun...just anecdotes, yes? Everyone came up and announced that either they wanted MY dad instead of theirs (bit awkward) or that they would absolutely recognize him if he'd walked through the doors. I shall mail the talk home in all its messy glory.

Sorry about the lateness. It's my first moves and, to no one's surprise, me and Sister Housley are staying in Weymouth. Good times for sure. We went and played on the raddest park yesterday for like ten minutes--they definitely don't have those toys in the states, no sir. They've combined Poole and Portsmouth Zones, so Elder Smyth, who whitewashed into Poole, has been transferred after six weeks to Chichester to whitewash AGAIN and train a new greenie to boot! He's like a father to us; making sure we have lifts and money and know how to get around. What a great elder.

News on investigators and such:
Victoria: We've dropped the baptismal date because it was too soon (we hadn't prayed about it, just sorta sprung it on her) but she's back on track to be taught PofS Tuesday. She's so hip! Downloading hymns and the gospel library on her phone, and she wanted to be baptized during the first lesson? Come on! You don't GET cooler than that!

Olha: Coming to church with Steve, which is so fun! This week is her third in a row, and I think our influence and Gospel Principles class has made it really enjoyable for her. We made a calendar of Book of Mormon stories and she's liking the Russian version just fine. Hopefully she'll see why this is so important and Steve will get his act together, stop smoking, and get worthy to take the sacrament again.

Adam and Katrina: Knocked into them, first door on a road with ten minutes before our dinner appointment, and they invited us back. The spirit was very strong during that first lesson, and we committed them to read and pray and be taught again. I think she can definitely see the blessings of believing in God and going to church, and he needs answers to big questions he's got. AND they have three little girls that are too cute for words.

Mike: Definitely has issues, abuse in the past, and gender dysmorphia. But he wants us to come back for some reason. If we can just teach him that God loves him and has never left him alone, that will be monumental.

Shekinah: Called Pres. Levi to set up an appointment. She'd definitely run away from Weymouth, but she kept attending in Bournemouth and Ireland. She just can't get away. She called us and said she was really sorry, Levi cleared up her other concerns, and she's back on track to be taught and subsequently baptized on July 11. I'm excited. :)

In other news, I'm announcing that I will NEVER go less-active, expecially not for some guy. That is the lamest excuse ever. A boy, a boy, the kingdom of God for a boy? Totally not worth it and not a good excuse for Heavenly Father in the end. Oh, less-actives. Stop it and come to church. That's when your problems get bearable/drop out of your life. And there are lots of single dudes out there who CAN take you to the temple. Sheesh.

This week has been super hectic, just running around and trying to get everything accomplished. We've really been effective knocking as we get those streets we planned the night before. It's really cool to see how nightly planning really determines how successful your day will be. If you pray and work hard and expect miracles to happen because you've been obedient, you'll see them everywhere. Don't try to work out where the miracles come from or you'll get cynical, and don't track where they're going because people still have their agency and you'll get discouraged. Just count them up and say thanks. It's so strange to hear on the street: I've never had my prayers answered. Oh, what did you pray for? I don't remember. Well doy, if you can't remember what you prayed for, how will you ever discover the answer? Strange.

The gospel is so simple. Have faith. Repent and change the way you see things and the way you react. Get baptized/be worthy to take the sacrament. Respond to the Holy Ghost. Repeat and never falter. Look and live. You can find out for yourself if you study and pray and experiment upon the word (Alma 32), but it's amazing how sometimes we're so afraid to do that and discover the answer. I'm happy to report that if you knew all you had to do was study and pray to find out and you never did, Heavenly Father won't be pleased and ignorance doesn't count anymore. Come to church, everybody! It's the house of the Lord, and He wants to see you there!

For all the ninety and nine, keep doing it! Let trials push you toward the Savior, not away. Keep strengthening others and determine RIGHT NOW that you will endure to the end. As Elder Roe puts it, "I would rather a man be four steps from hell and facing heaven than be four steps from heaven facing hell." Look to the Savior as Peter did, and you will walk on water.

Love to you all!
Sister Willard 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trip to London!

Got to go to the London Temple and it is so amazing! Pres. Shamo talked about how much he loves finding. There was an elder in the mission who was craaazy...he and his comp, on Friday night, went to the biggest footballing pub in town and walked straight in. The boisterous crowd got dead quiet--the barman said, "Hey, what are you doing here?" Elder Carson walked right up to him and said, "We're here to preach tonight." "What are you preaching?" "Well, if I WERE to preach, this is what I would say..." and he launched into this ten-minute lesson. The barman was amazed and said, "I don't think this is the place for that." Carson and his comp left cheerfully, and got in every single door they knocked the next day because everyone recognized him from the pub. What a guy.
Not that we would ever do that--it's not safe, not even in a sleepy town like Weymouth. We talked about how thousands get baptized because of pure testimony and how much you learn and grow on the mission. It was so great to see all the folks from the MTC again, especially Sister Keogh who was so sick this last week she almost went home. But she's tough, that girl. So help me, we WILL be companions!
The temple was so pretty. It was very calm, even packed with all these missionaries, and we spent an hour in the Celestial Rooms. That's where we want everyone to be. This is not about baptisms, but about seats in the Celestial Kingdom that will be filled or empty based on our work here. It's impossible to measure a mission in two years or eighteen months, the numbers we make, or the stories we tell. Some missionaries come home completely unaffected by their missions because they struggled to give their all and resented the Lord's requirements. But regardless of the numbers we record or what we account, as we give our hearts to the Lord and to His work and PROVE to Him that we love Him, then we are changed. The fruit we gather will be immense. I have faith that the people we teach on the street will remember how they felt and are that much closer to accepting the gospel. Like gardeners or laborers in the vineyard, there are those who plant seeds, water, prune, manure, transport, and gather the fruit at harvest. Those who plant seeds are not less vital to growth than those who pick apples at the end, and we can never look at it that way.
Three Steps to Being a Good Missionary:
1. Be obedient
2. Work hard
3. Love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength
It's pretty basic. It doesn't mean that life won't suck from time to time. People still have their agency, people will still flog you, and England still needs rain for crops to grow. But on the days when you come in, soaking wet from finding and knocking, you can collapse on your bed and know that you did your utmost and you can have total faith that the Lord will use your efforts to His advantage. It's a great feeling. He won't leave you alone to feel discouraged--sad, maybe, but still hopeful that things will work out for the best.
This week was fantastic. We're seeing miracles all over the place. When we plan at night, we pray for the Spirit and at the times when we need to find, we open the map and choose roads as directed by the Spirit. It's incredible what happens--when we finally recognize that that's exactly the road we should be on, then we pour our hearts into finding and we come home with oodles of other lessons and new investigators who, on that very road, were prepared to listen to us. SO COOL! And we weren't even home half the week. I sure can't wait to see what happens this week. :)
Thanks so much for all the mail! Marnie looks rad in her recital--I hope you like the pics Sister Housley sent!
Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weymouth News!

Dear fam,
So, first order of business, our baptism totally fell through. She got interviewed on Sunday by one of the former elders who taught her (Portsmouth), and then totally dropped off the face of the earth. Work and work and not answering our calls. Elder Carter was this close to coming down to Weymouth and baptizing her, but we gave him the red light. We haven't seen or heard from her since two Fridays ago. You're hot then you're cold, you're yes then you're no...the Lord talks about temperature in Revelation. Hmm. We'll see what we can do anyways.
Regardless, we've got three new investigators: Melissa, 15, Seventh Day Adventist, brought her friend and little sister to our teach in the Dorchester Starbucks. Calling her, she's like, "Oh, hey! I'm so excited to meet with you later!" Pretty much awesome. Then there's Victoria, 16, who's friends with members and was taught by Elder Lang and Carter. We knocked, and she said, "I was waiting for them to come back, and they didn't." Sad panda. But we are HERE to save the DAY! So exciting! And then there's Karina, mid-twenties, from Manchester. She's Catholic, but definitely open-minded. Talking to her about Joseph Smith, she could really relate and sees the need for a prophet on the earth. We spoke to her yesterday and had the coolest lesson. She asked, "Do you ever feel like you should do something, even though it goes against everything?" Absolutely. I'm so excited for all three of them to feel the Spirit when we're there and find out this is the real deal.
The Zone leaders came over yesterday and dedicated Weymouth for missionary work. The part I remember most was Elder Roe commanding Satan to depart, so that he will not have hold on the hearts of these people. So awesome. It looks like President Shamo is trying some new things with the areas, to get the baptizing up even more. I'm excited for the miracles in June--it's something where you begin to expect them, not take them for granted, but if you expect a miracle each day, you begin to see them everywhere, like they've always been there. Like yesterday, we were running to catch a bus, which totally drove off without us. It was raining and I was nursing a blister, so we trudged off to our teach (late), when a car pulled up and said, "Hey, I can't BELIEVE that bus drove off! Do you need a lift somewhere?" Just this cute family with two little girls. So grateful, we climbed in, gave them our card, and went off to teach, once again convinced that God loves us. Another phone call right after the heroic teach, and we would break our fast at a members' home :) Soup does get a bit old compared to English roasts, that's for sure.
Other fun things: We definitely knocked into the Austrian Olympic Sailing Team yesterday--will they join the Church? Only time can tell. In one day we were hugged (Dorchester: We walked into a music store looking for a ukulele, and the owner grabbed us and announced, "My girls! These are some brave, brave girls!" (Sister Housley: "It's like coming home!") before telling us that Brother Dadds taught him at school decades ago and he is eternally grateful and would be a member if he weren't so involved in CofE), kissed (directions given us by a man who definitely have wine-tears in his eyes) and approached ("Where is Poland?" That guy stared at my poor trainer's tag and announced, "SEESTER." He staggered off, to our relief.) According to Brother Hopcroft, a lot of the mental institutions don't have enough funding, and are forced to release the residents into society. Weymouth is one such place. For the most part, we can see them coming from a mile away, but Sister Housley can't smell alcohol until I point it out, which has led to some very awkward conversations contacting. Happily every single normal person we've met is so polite and I can't help but think that they would help us out if we got into a tight spot. Attacking Sister missionaries is like attacking nuns. Or the ice cream man. Who would attack the ice cream man? Sister Housley is the epitome of charming, so we've got at least a squadron of gruff biker types who would definitely save the day if things got rough. 
It's been so hot lately, and then cold and rainy again. Strange. England's weather is like Utah, like a six-year-old girl. Leave the flat without a coat and it will be torrential rain. It's been so great in Weymouth! We're headed to the temple tomorrow to stay over and do a session on Wednesday. That's like three p-days in a row! Crazy! I'm excited for training; President called and said he got a letter from my mother, which was so cute. He's such a hands-on kind of leader, does splits with the elders all over the mission (Guernsey this last week) and gets to see the work firsthand. I'm glad we've got him, at least until the last three months I'm here. Even if that president won't send us to London for our last mission day, it won't be a big deal :) But hey, Italy is like 40 pounds away! Just pop on over to Rome for a bit of pasta and Mediterranean sun, right?
Well, off to write President. Have a fantastic week, and I can't wait to hear from you soon!
Love from,
Sister Willard