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

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