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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Elder Bednar's Visit from (Katie Pic)

The following story was posted on about Elder Bednar's recent trip to Europe.

When Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles arrived in Reading, England, for meetings with members, leaders, and missionaries, he knew he could not visit every person individually. The sheer number of members in Reading makes that impossible. Nevertheless, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he understood fully his commission to bless the lives of members, both collectively and individually.
“The ministry of a member of the Twelve is always to find individuals,” he said, “following the principle from the Book of Mormon, ‘one by one.’ An Apostle is always searching for the ones the Lord sent him to find . . . to lift, to bless, to do something to help an individual or a family.  When meeting with a group of members, of youth, or of young single adults, it is not that there is an audience of fifteen hundred; there are fifteen hundred ‘ones.’”

Questions and Answers

Elder Bednar answers missionary
Elder Bednar listens to a missionary, then directs him to gospel doctrines and principles that may help him find an answer.
That is why Elder Bednar chose a question-and-answer format for meetings he held with missionaries, stake leaders, and young single adults. But the question-and-answer sessions did not involve Elder Bednar asking the questions; instead, he invited the members to ask him questions. Then, with love, he taught them doctrine and principles that would guide and assist them. Teaching in this way, he could call on individuals who most needed his counsel, even though everyone benefitted from the instruction. Elder Bednar was able, through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to reach out to the ones the Lord had prepared and placed in his path.

Sincere Questions

missionary asks Elder Bednar a question
At Elder Bednar’s invitation, missionaries, like members, share their thoughts and ask questions.
In an interview the day after one of the meetings, Elder Bednar said: “Anyone who was in the meeting with the young single adults last night would have been impressed by the authenticity, the openness, and the genuineness of the questions asked. My heart just reached out to several of those young people because of what they were asking and the sincerity with which they were asking.”

Answers Often Come “Line upon Line”

During the interview, Elder Bednar explained that “much of the world anticipates big results quickly. But the Lord builds a sure foundation and incrementally builds upon that foundation line upon line. If we go back to the early days of the Restoration, there were many converts in England. That pace is not the same now; it is slower. But in many of the areas where the missionaries are serving the converts continue to come one by one and learn line upon line; they are being retained. So there is steady growth.”

Goal Is to Help

Elder Bednar listening
Elder Bednar explains that one reason for meeting with local leaders is to become better acquainted with their needs.
When Elder Bednar comes as a member of the Twelve to visit an area of the Church, he explained that “obviously, we bring points of emphasis from the First Presidency and the Twelve.  But my question to the Area Presidency is, ‘How can we best help you?’” He said that approach helps formulate what takes place during the meetings held in the area.  My heart yearns to be of assistance in some way so that the members will have the fortitude, the faith, the courage to keep pressing forward.”

Acting Rather Than Being Acted Uponmissionary choir
A missionary choir uses music to invite the Spirit into the meeting with Elder Bednar. Sister Willard and Sister Housley on the far left.
Elder Bednar expressed: “Worldly influences would hinder use of our agency afforded through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  But we are agents who can act, and that affects everything in terms of how we live the gospel in our daily lives. It affects how we pray, how we study the scriptures, how we worship at church. There is a difference when one goes to a sacrament meeting essentially as an object waiting to be acted upon—‘Feed me, give me something’—as opposed to worshiping in sacrament meeting as an agent where you are acting—asking, seeking, and knocking.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hooray for the Work!

Happily for us, moves are now on Wednesday, which means we'll find out tomorrow whether we stay or go! Sister Housley thinks there'll be a change...I don't know, I want to stay here till I die (mission death, not real death), AND the Primary Program is this week! I can't miss that! That's pretty much our feelings summed up. Supposedly we get five new sisters this time, so there'll be plenty of training opportunities, especially for Kernek and Johnson. They need children badly :)

As far as this week goes, some big news: Portland's "hypnotist who fell over" and made international news with a phony concussion is, in fact, married to the Primary 1st counselor. David Days is not a member, but he runs all the Road Shows, hypnotized half the branch the night he fell over, and just let the press run with the story until telling them the next day it was just a setup! What if the hypnotizer was out of commission--would the people still be in a trance? Now we know. He's filming a reality show at the moment, a sort of mockumentary on hypnosis, featuring at least one lady turned Martian who went to bed and woke up in the same trance. Never a dull moment here in the Promised Land :)

Other news:

Naomi came to church and brought her 7 year old, who went to Primary, got a part in the Program, and promptly burst into tears when it was time to go home. Best Sunday yet.

Don't read the Book of Mormon, and DEFINITELY don't pray to find out if it's true. That's how they get you.

Sometimes I have Elder Holland moments where I want to bang my fist on the table and get my point across in very large words. For those who don't listen, the reason why they don't is because they haven't read and they haven't prayed. You have to do those things. If not, it's like Satan is sitting on your shoulder and will not let you go. Offend him first, and you'll be free to receive revelation.

We ran into a super racist lady who said that "yellow people are taking over the world,” and that "Muslims have a lot to answer for."

We also stopped this old guy who said that the American Tea Party is the next Nazi regime or something (Sister Housley had NO idea what he was talking about) and how he was atheist and started yelling at us for imposing our beliefs. We tried to walk away, but he tailed us, positively spitting with rage, saying, "You are going to hell!" Sister Housley was like, "You are following me." A bunch of teenagers busted out laughing behind us, and I cracked up all the way to the library. My biggest concern was how an atheist believes in hell. Confusion.

It's so fun to be a missionary. It's weird to think that we're approaching my 4th moves already. As a sister, you get about 12 moves? Is that right? Every month and a half...whatever, I was never good at math. The time you serve the Lord with all you've got is extremely short. I feel like time has really picked up these last weeks--my stack of filled planners will be pretty tall in no time. It's fun to get to the point when you know that your companion is furious when no one else can see it (typically during a teach with a waster), or when you know everyone's names in the branch, or when you've got your favorite TAs mapped out. I have a few favorite places I love to go for “tea,” and your whole day can be so much better when that happens. I know the Lord is in this work and He wants it to go forward even more than we do. He's doing a great job :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Elder Bednar Arrives!

Thanks to some heroic pday antics in Yeovil, we ended up emailing today instead! If it's short, I apologize.

Highlights of this week:

PETER: Is our baptismal date. He's 18, tells us about his no longer existent love life, and has come to church twice in a row, the second time after no sleep. Turns out he knows the Withreads and the Walkers AND between Sundays the YSA made him come to their FHE, Institute, and almost got him up to Reading to see Elder Bednar, but his mum wasn't given enough notice for that one. Shame. Pretty much the greatest thing I've yet seen on my mission is his willingness and their total osmosis of him into their group of friends.

PDAY: Yesterday was so fun! The six of us went bowling at an arcade three games in a row, and the rule was that if you got a strike, you had to do a dance move in the lane. So Elder Paraso made us all look bad after breakdancing, Himelright gave up because he just kept getting strikes in a row, until he tried to slide on his gunky rental shoes and biffed it across the foul line...oh man. Then we played some English pool--same concept as American, just played on a smaller table, with littler balls that are only yellow and red. I didn't do too shabby, either. It was so fun to just bond with our district and hear about their lives. I'll be sad when Johnson leaves after this moves just because our dynamic has really turned Salisbury around.

BEDNAR: Sleepover Friday night at Winchester (I had to relay Tangled again) and we got up super early to catch the train. Me and Housley were in a musical group that sang Hark All Ye Nations, and we got the first two rows. Elder Bednar came in, looking a lot older than usual, and we were so excited. We didn't even open the overflow, there were that few people. The whole mission was there, even those from the Channel Islands, and they don't even get Zone Conference. Three HOURS of question and answer--I learned so much about faith and learning by faith, priesthood keys, how to avoid priestcraft and blasphemy, how to get out of the way of the Spirit when teaching, and how to invite investigators' agency, rather than making them objects to be acted upon (calling them every day to see if they're still coming to church). He bore such a powerful testimony, and I realized I knew the same things he did. I've got a testimony of the same things he does! And I haven't even SEEN anything! Pretty much felt like I got hit by a train and was still bouncing off the walls after it was over. Highlight of the mission so far.

I've been learning a lot about trials and the purpose of trials, not necessarily because I've had a ton or anything, but because a mission is good prep for them in the future, and we keep finding people, members and not, who've seen the positive results of their own trials in life. It has a lot to do with becoming like God--if we want His patience, we have to have frustrating days. If we want His power, we have to experience weakness to overcome. If we want His compassion, we have to get picked on and beat up and ignored. These all serve a purpose. Although many still exercise their agency and choose bitterness, rather than the teachings of Jesus, that's up to them.

Weymouth is the promised land! I feel so successful, even on days when we're dropped by everyone, because I know that I'm fulfilling my purpose as a missionary to INVITE, to make plain the will of God and how it affects people, to testify and show them what the Spirit feels like. I'm grateful for the opportunities to be here and to have heard an apostle in such an intimate setting and recognize that we don't need him to answer our questions. We have the scriptures. We have General Conference. Write down the questions you're struggling with, and go into Conference with them and watch them all be answered, right in a row. I know the Lord is here in England, touching the hearts of His people. We're just going to collect them :)

Speak to you on Thursday, and moves say that maybe Housley is moving!

Love from,
Sister Willard