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!