Monday, August 29, 2011

You're Giving Me Wrinkles!

Another week in beautiful Weymouth...although we can't really say that, because although the sky is blue in the morning and nothing could possibly happen, twenty minutes later it's torrential rain and everyone is running inside in flipflops. England! You don't know what you want! It's frustrating for a missionary who, after preparing with raincoat and umbrella, is totally sunburned by the end of the day or gets her shoes soaked from a passing car. Weather like a six-year-old girl.
This week we found some new investigators and taught Peter. He's 18, tells us about his love life when we see him in town, and wants to be hip. He came to church with us and knows a few of the youth. Bit distracted, but he liked the meetings and when we asked him to be baptized, he said, "Sure, if I'm free." It's so weird to find so many noncommittal people...I feel like we should threaten them with hellfire so they'll recognize that this is a BIG DEAL. Happily for us, a miracle occurred in the form of Peter's nan declaring that she would disown him if he ever became a Mormon. He called us about it and said he still wanted to meet with us. We told him that he needed to find out for himself if it was true--I think family issues really hit home the fact that this is a lot bigger than a social scene or something nice to do. No more sitting on the fence, Peter. I sure hope he gets baptized :)
Other weird happenings:
-The most awkward teach yet was law of first time as well, and she had a few hangups we needed to resolve. Unfortunately for us, our member was Mike from the branch (headed on a mission shortly), and she asked him to please leave the room. He hid in the loo until we said it was okay to come back (some fifteen minutes or something...sooooooo awkward.)
-Leigh got her mission call! She's off to the Birmingham mission and she's so excited. No trouble with visas or jet lag or post or anything!
-New family moved into the branch from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Answers to prayers! We keep hoping that active families will move in to beef up church. We stopped by her place and someone answered the door. She asked if we had been requested. We told her we were from the church--she turned around and yelled to Elouise, who shouted through the window, "Tell 'em to take a running jump!" Jo cracked up laughing, and I was like, of course they're hostile. Sheesh.
-2 new branch missionaries, Mike and Tom, and we've used them both to great effect. Tom is a really good fellowshipper, and Mike is a really good teacher, which makes for one killer companionship. Our goals include more branch activities so we can implement more member missionary work.
-Another battered Mars bar--there are recipes online, and you can definitely make those at home with Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, and anything else you want to batter...try it out! They're delicious!

Nothing too crazy to report. The big debate on is who is the bad cop in this companionship--if you look at Alma and Amulek, Amulek talks about hell and really scary stuff...I think we trade off, depending on how the day has gone. If I've been spending too much time with less-actives who keep making idiot excuses, I'm more inclined to say things like Amulek. It's not overbearing--it's just speaking from the energy of heart, especially if we've been visiting them a lot and there's no progress. Some just need straight boldness, and some need to feel special. I don't really care about the latter people because this church is not interested in babysitting its members. "Lovest thou me? Feed my sheep." Faith=action=evidence of God's love=faith=action=evidence...
It's cool to see the seeds of former missionaries manifesting themselves in the people we're teaching...sometimes people feel the Spirit so powerfully and you think you've got a solid branch president of the future...and then they run away. Then they refuse to act. We as missionaries can do everything we know how to do to bring the message to their hearts, but if their hearts are cold and closed, we can't get anywhere with them. Then comes the lonely work of calling people to repentance. There will be lots of people on the other side who knew, who refused to act despite the Lord intervening and sending His messengers. Then will the real numbers manifest themselves, and the once fruitless missionaries will be instruments in God's righteous judgments. And who knows? Years after the missionaries leave, someone may seize that seed of faith and act anyway. We don't know. But God does.
The Church is either true, or it's not. The question is, what will you do when you find out that it is? What will your friends think when they get to the other side and discover that you knew this the whole time, and never told them? Those are some powerful things that I'm reminded of, being here on this mission. I hope that the little work I do here will still yield forth the work Heavenly Father wants finished here on earth. It's an act of becoming like Him when we make His purposes our purposes, and His work our work. It's the easiest way to get everything that we want in the end.
Thanks so much for everyone's post! Stay happy and at all times proclaim the Gospel. If necessary, use words.
Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Morning, darling!

It's British to say darling here. Also love and sweeties. So weird.

Weird week, although there was one big miracle: we knocked into this lady named Jill on Portland, and she told us that she wasn't interested initially. Then Housley made her start crying on the doorstep (she keeps doing this) probably because it's not common to find super friendly people in this country. We gave her hugs, and then she practically begged us to come back and talk about God. She's in the midst of moving and getting divorced and such. We went back and talked about the Plan of Salvation, and she was so sweet and so receptive, even while her husky Shadow was trying to get everyone's attention. She told us that when she was seventeen, she used to go out knocking with the missionaries--the last sisters Weymouth ever saw, thirty-something years ago. Crazy, right? Jill even went to chruch regularly, before there was a chapel! We invited her to church the following day and agreed that she would give us a lift.

On Sunday morning, we walked through the rain to her place, and she answered the door with, "You didn't get my text, did you?" After Shirley and Scott flogged us for church, we realized no investigators were coming. Jill just said she had so much work to do, and I couldn't keep the disappointment off my face. So, stranded in the rain ages away from church, we got a lift from the Walkers and an invite to tea to quell our sad feelings. I went up to the stand at sacrament meeting to conduct the music, and right before we started, in walks Jill, soaked from the rain. She told us she got dressed in a big fat hurry because there was something whispering to her, "What are you waiting for?" She dashed to church just in time. And Steve was there, and Jo from Exeter, who came to spend Sunday and Pday with us! pretty much the raddest Sunday ever, especially after a hard week.

Weymouth is the promised land. We've been finding such cool people--people who knew missionaries from years ago, people who have friends that are members, people who've been waiting for a reason to turn their lives around. We're so excited for this place to explode. The students all go back to school in a couple weeks, and we're excited for the seafront to get back to normal. 

Our district is so delightful--we determined on our weekly conference call which comic book character everyone was:
Elder Himmelright=The Incredible Flash
Elder Paraso=Green Lantern
Elder Day=Nightcrawler
Elder Johnson=Spiderman
Sister Housley=Rogue/Storm (one vote for Jubilee, who she thought was sooo lame)
Sister Willard=Jean Grey

We've been setting goals as a district to just think more positively about the work and to improve our desires, and already we're seeing some huge improvements. Negativity really can affect the whole district, and when we had trunky elders as well, it's no wonder why the areas felt dead. Thus far we've had tons of district fun and unity (amazing, since we haven't had a single district pday) and there's a big sense of camaraderie when there was ill feeling before. We've got four weeks before moves, and likely Elder Johnson will leave his greenie area at last. I'm pleased to announce that I've been here 4 whole months today! Only 14 left--have to get working!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, August 15, 2011

Silly Rioters

Big news! I totally got my package on Tuesday--President asked us to email home the day after pday to tell everyone that we were okay and safe from the riots in London...I figured my family was intelligent enough to realize that London is HOURS away from Weymouth, so instead I printed off the tracking confirmation and showed it to Parcel Force. The mail guy didn't give me a come-get-your-parcel ticket on the 27th like he should've, so we tracked it down the old fashioned way (drivers' license and everything), and I am pleased to announce that the BYU Book of Speeches has transformed our comp studies into really fantastic discussions and I don't feel totally isolated from BYU :) Also all the music helps us study, I have a Pez head on my desk, and I won't be so pink now that I've got some good American sunscreen! Happiness and joy all around. Now we have to buy a gallon of mayo and make some ranch...

This week has been so crazy--we've really been tearing it up, and it turns out I like to extend baptismal dates right on the street. You never know when someone will say yes. (You don't say it like Elder Calhoun--you explain it, bear testimony, and invite.) Our goal this week is to get another baptismal date. Yesterday, we had five investigators at church and Shekinah was finally baptized! Hooray! We got her all dressed up and the entire branch stuck around because there would be food afterwards--unfortunately, the font had been struggling with temperature, so they ended up with less that three feet of really hot water. Her dress kept ballooning up because it wasn't deep enough--after the first attempt, everyone was like, "No, no, you have to do it again!" and pretty soon the whole thing felt like a rodeo. I guess everyone was so stoked for the first convert baptism in two years, they just wanted it to happen over and over again...we called it good after three tries, and we ended up back in the chapel for the coolest confirmation ever. The Spirit was so thick in the air. There was definitely a sense of relief from everyone that she finally got the Spirit to help her out. The best part was that she was found later in the loo comforting a very emotional investigator and doing the dishes and putting up the chairs after the food. She's already a superstar member! Carter and Lang definitely got a good one--we called them up afterward and they were like, "No WAY!" I'm so happy for them--eight months without a baptism is rough times for sure.

We're so excited for how Weymouth is taking off. We're rarely going into the other towns because we feel like Weymouth and Portland have some really fantastic things happening. We've been finding tons of new investigators and the branch keeps telling us about the missionary experiences they're having--I really hope that after we leave they keep the spirit of missionary work with them and double their membership like Salisbury and Reading did. (Speaking of Reading, Elder Bednar is coming and we have yet to hear...but President wants us all transferred while he's there, so we'll see.)

Pday today. It's been a tiring week, but really rewarding to end off on a baptism. We're finally going to ride some rides down on the Esplanade (we asked the Zone leaders--they said it was okay.)

In other random news:
-The riots were started because the London police gunned down a black drug cartel they'd been watching for months--all the racial groups in the East Boroughs went crazy, looting and setting fires in Manchester and Leeds and Birmingham...some even came down to Bristol, and a nine year old kid was stealing liquor out of a broken shop window. It looked really bad (this is what we've gathered from people on the street) and then it started raining and everyone went home. Wimps. Keep your eye on the news and President will tell you when it's time to panic.
-I made a map for the Book of Mormon cities and we played Amlicites with a bunch of GI Joes. Best comp study ever!
-We covered up some grafitti on Portland with a giant colorful MORMON.ORG in chalk.
-Do Jehovah's Witnesses not wear colors or patterns?
-I ate a battered Cadbury Egg and it was DELICIOUS. We've got a deep fryer--I don't see why WE couldn't do it--
-Twill be my fourth month on Saturday! Crazy, huh?

Thank you for everyone's post--missionaries have got the mail itch, and when your district leaders forget your mail from mission hq, it makes you grumpy. I'll make sure and call to remind him next time. Keep staying happy and positive--study the scriptures in the morning so you can remember it throughout the day, sing lots of hymns, pray all the time, be obedient, and follow the prophet. These other shenanigans don't have any prophets to follow, unless you count global warming, the Pope, Greenpeace, Tories, enconomists on TV, or a faraway council of pastors. How depressing.

Born-agains are the meanest people we find on the street. (They always quote Rock of Ages--when you can't quote actual scripture, there's a big hole in your religion.) Wizards, witches, and atheists are the nicest. I think the Spirit World will have people who learn a lot faster than others, and it won't be the people you think.

I love being a missionary! Everyone needs to hear this message, and if they won't accept it in this life, at least they can't say they didn't know in the next :) And for those that DO, well, so much the advantage for them.

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, August 8, 2011

On the Royal Mail

The U.S. Postal Service is rad. Which means the Royal Mail isn't--as it is, I haven't gotten a package yet; if we're not home, they drop a collection page and we have to take it to the parcel pick-up which is open like 2 hours of the day on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and the 14, 15, and 21st days of the month, unless it rains, then it closes 15 minutes early, unless the lady at the front is wearing a horrible pink cardigan, then they'll leave the door open to invite more people in...government institutions are a giant fail. So, long story short, I haven't gotten a package yet. The question is, did he send it to the flat, or to the mission office in Surrey? That's the best way to get things to me, but it does take a while (have to wait for the ZLs to pick up our mail and pass it along.) But don't give up hope? If anything, call somebody and I'm sure they can tell you where it is...?

If you want to Google my flat, the front door has a number 2 on it (I think it's white with a black letterbox), and it's a stony wall set in with a stucco two-story next's the last flat before you turn into Longfield Road. It looks like a British crackhouse turned crazy cat lady from the 70s and isn't much different inside. Makes for some good stories. (They showed a picture of our toilet at zone conference in demonstrating what NOT to do...that limescale was THERE when we moved in! Hopefully in six months they'll be able to swap the flat.)

So in crazy happenings; we're setting up another appt for Shekinah to be interviewed (shame we have to do it again, but whatever), and we met this new guy named Scott--he's 28, comes from money, and has realized that his life has come to naught through his own poor decisions and he wants to make things right. We began to talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he's really struggling with the concept that it's not too late for him. So I talked about baptism, how it washes away every guilt, regret, or stupid thing you've ever done. He looked at me, ha;f stood up and said, "Can we do that now?"  I was like, are you serious? And he was just so excited for this to happen. He said, "I can't believe how I'm feeling inside." (Bit uncomfortable at how he stared at me). "How are you doing this?" I could just feel the Spirit talking through me (no idea what I said, it was probably testimony or something) and his mind was just short-circuiting. It was so cool to see a wealthy kid like that come out and say it's too late to turn around until he hears about the Atonement. We're so excited to see him'll take a lot more teaching until he knows what he needs to, but it was definitely the highlight of our week.

Other cool/weird happenings:
-Sister Housley was bit by a pointless, fat Jack Russell terrier. But it was a dog nonetheless. It's like rite of passage for a missionary.
-She was also divebombed by a seagull. The fourth time she's been pooped on (we just figured Exeter was bad luck). At least it wasn't in the middle of a teach.
-My wallet fell out of my bag on the bus (not hard to happen; these tourists do NOT know where they're going, and the drivers always slam on their brakes) and Shirley went down to the depot and rescued it! We thanked her profusely, and she was like, "What are friends for?"
-Youtube: Epic Mealtime. Mission correlation was detoured as Joe Walker showed us what he was doing.

Weymouth is the Promised Land! We keep teaching Olympians on the street, finding people who were taught by elders years ago and in other places, and I think most of my positivity is coming from the fact that we spend zero time with RCLAs. To some degree our responsibility is to replace the less-actives with those who are willing to come to church and fully participate--or at least plant some seeds there. Maybe it's just Weymouth, but we have got some straight-up crazy people, super hostile folks, and the biggest wasters you've ever seen. It's hard to say whether they're progressing or not, but considering how a bunch are avoiding our calls and such, I think we are successfully making them feel guilty? Question? The Church is meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. It's rare that we come across jerks, but it does happen. The nicest people we've met are Muslims (who we can't teach), White Witches and Warlocks, members of the AntiChrist church, and Jehovah's Witnesses (I think they appreciate how difficult knocking can be.) For all those who say, "We already ARE Christians! We are just fine, thank you," it's hard work to convince them how much more there is.

As Paul says, "We glory in tribulation" and "we must partake in the affliction of the gospel" and in D&C "we waste and wear out our lives in the bringing forth of them to the truth"--I love that. Eliza R. Snow said, "Think not when you gather to Zion the saints here have nothing to do...the Church is meant to refine us, and that is through hard work and struggle." It sounds depressing, but it's as depressing as a mission is. If we could all come out of fifty years' church membership as men or women of God as much as these RMs are, I think the Lord's grace is sufficient for us.

Anyways, I shall have to go! But I love you all. Keep on fighting the good fight and keep the faith, and you'll feel happy despite the awfulness around you. It will just be for a small moment in the end. I've got less than 15 months left! I've got so much to do!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Long Stretch

I got to be in charge on this exchange. Sister Johnson is a mellow, soft-spoken sister from SLC who was definitely my calm reassurance as our teach (which was supposed to be at Cafe Nero) was switched to a boisterous pub called the Clipper. I passed Scott a card on the bridge as we walked by, nothing special--apparently he stared at it for a long time and called us up to say that his life had been so blessed and that he wanted to repay God by joining our church. Housley and I couldn't believe it. Our exchange would prove whether he was for real or not--we sat outside the pub with lemonade (it's Sprite) and he opened up about his life and how he wanted to get back on the strait and narrow but didn't know how. The Spirit was strong as we just listened and bore testimony of our purpose as missionaries--he was amazed to find out there are other people in the world like him :) He's a good guy. We tour the chapel with him this evening and will teach the Restoration. Pray that it will go well!

We've been tearing it up in the field--ten new investigators last week, turned into ten flogs this week, but Shakinah is on for baptism on the 14th after dumping her lamesauce less-active boyfriend. She did it because "he wasn't strong enough and I deserve a better testimony". We jumped up and down after she left--she's been so prepared to accept the Gospel, and we're excited to see how she'll do once the Spirit becomes a fixture in her life.

In other news:
Shirley: Still on for the 14th as well, but she's slower and not putting in the prayer necessary to learn the answer. She already knows it's true, but she's easily overwhelmed with other things and we spend most of the teach talking about her deceased parents and where they are now. Housley says that at the very least, we'll bring her to Shakinah's baptism. "Once they see a baptism, everything clicks into place and they want to be baptized as well."

Cheri: We're a bit worried that she's been anti-ed--we haven't been able to see her for a few days, and she thought we hated gay people last time we were over. As she felt the influence of the Spirit, however (we read some scriptures and bore testimony and such) she really softened and became calm and reassured once more. Praying lots that she'll understand and feel the spirit and follow its promptings.

Working a lot to meet our new investigators, which we get on a regular basis--bit like sifting for wheat. Usually the ones who aren't serious flog the first appointment, and we can drop them at once. Praying that the ones who stick will, through our consistent contact and prayers, will progress toward baptism. We've definitely seen miracles as we've planned by the Spirit and knocked roads with the enthusiasm that we would find investigators. I've found that if I'm calm and truly listening to those we speak to that the Spirit works on me to say what needs to be said--and then, when I'm not speaking, I pray for Sister Housley to say whatever needs to be said and suddenly people are crying (it always happens with women and stuff) where they absolutely did not want to talk religion before. The only real struggle we're having is that we'll have this amazing experience on the street and the person will be touched by the Spirit, and then we'll say, "Can we see you again?" and they say, "I have to go." And they walk off, leaving us standing there like, "What did we say?"

We've got a temple fireside geared toward investigators and such on the 14th, I still despise working with less-actives, it still rains every p-day without fail, I love English roasts, Asda has a clothing section, the buses and I broke up (To Housley, looking at the schedule: "Don't even LOOK at it! It'll just LIE to you!") Leigh gets her call in a few weeks, moves calls left us both in Weymouth, and we've got some new sisters in to work at the temple visitors' centre. I'm excited to see what happens these next few weeks!

So happy it's Pday! How did David (Pehrson)'s mission go without Pday? I struggled with the whole 11 days straight was rough, and I had an awful cold. Thank goodness for Nyquil. Say hello to everyone at home for me! 

Love from,
Sister Willard