Monday, March 26, 2012

You Ate What?

So! Highlights from THIS week:

-We got to attend a baptism! Huzzah! It was from our district, which is a first time attending a baptism that wasn't ours (because this district is exploding). Her name is Sue, and she was JUST outside our area, so the elders in Soho got her. Shame. She's super golden, baptised in five weeks like Steve was. Her children are looking to be baptised as well, and her less-active brother is totally coming back to church. When we walked into the chapel there, we turned a lot of heads (apparently it's been a while since sisters have served there). Elder Peschier goes home at the end of this moves, and he got to baptise her. Him and Elder Chu just kept hugging each other. Sad we couldn't join in.

-We got fed by Brother Hamilton two weeks in a row now:

-The first week was oxtail stew (if you've ever seen oxtail, it looks like the spinal columns of a crocodile and you have to eat the meat like a sparerib) and venison (which he discovered on the side of the road. A little advice for cooking roadkill--rigor mortis sets in and lasts only a few hours after the animal has died. He always checks to see if the deer is stiff. If so, it's fresh. If it wobbles a lot, leave it alone, you don't know where it's been. Unfortunately the spleen usually bursts on impact and is super poisonous, so I don't know how we deal with that.)

-The second week was Chinese, but Lina couldn't come. Shame. However, Brother Hamilton cooked proper food and was this close to making chicken feet for us. But he stuck to chicken meat, razor clams, massive mushrooms, and the Holy Trinity of Chinese cooking--spring onions, garlic, and ginger. Beautiful food. The best part was him bringing out a grey hog's ear on a cutting board and asking for volunteers.'s true. With a fork in one hand and the butcher knife in another, I sliced two pieces of pig ear, vein and all, and ate them. The most disturbing part was how nice it was. Tasted like ham and bacon rinds. I feel more and more cultured each week I'm here.

-Lina's baptismal service is all organized and she agreed to live the Word of Wisdom this morning. Fantastic.

-Our other less-actives are making huge leaps and bounds! One came into sacrament meeting for the first time in five years. Amazing!

-We got to work out in Alek’s yard. Apparently the bin laws are more stringent than I supposed, or dumping stuff at the tip must be really expensive because we discovered floor boards, rebar, a windshield, children’s' toys, ceramic pots, and entire panels of asbestos. After digging all of it out of there, we discovered the most beautiful soil I've ever seen. We dug it out and put it in the planter boxes :)

-It's cheaper to get fresh vegetables in the town market, but we have to buy them Friday or Saturday. They get cheaper as the day goes on--4 avocados for a pound or less. Nice.

Things are carrying on with increasing speed here. I'm so grateful for Sister Paulsen's eager spirit and ability to recognize things as less important--I can only imagine I gave my trainer loads of grief for stressing about things that would work themselves out and not stressing enough the things that are incredibly important. There are many decisions that we as missionaries have to make in regards to our investigators--while we want them desperately to come to church, that does not mean we break down their door in the morning and drag them there. Sometimes we have to let them sit for a while. It's a tricky balance and many days I feel like the frustrated parent of rebellious teenagers, who learned so well and were so easy to be entreated at the beginning and then have a phase of ignoring us or the things they've learned. We will do our best to focus on the future, which is a hard thing to do when you live week to week out here.

Keep working hard and get excited for Conference! It'll be my first April Conference in the UK, and I hope they spend all of it talking about England, Scotland and Wales. And Brazil. ^_^

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Fringe" makes way more sense than "Bangs"

 Highlights from this week:

-We all got daffodils yesterday for Mothering Sunday (March 18th. So St. Patrick's Day wasn't the ONLY reason everyone was out yesterday. I'd never seen a Dr. Suess hat with "Carlsberg" written on it...)

-Lora (my soul buddy in the YW) has a friend who is coming to church in the next few weeks. Apparently he's not much of a spiritual person, but he ran into the elders and now it's tooooo late...

-We got to see Lina every single day and she always tells us she's been waiting so long to see us (24 hours) and that she feels so happy when she reads and prays. On Sunday we taught chapter 2 of Gospel Principles and listed the attributes of God, and already her Buddhist background is diminishing--she said God is happy and caring. It was so sweet to hear.

-Carla and Bruna are doing so well. A family in the ward had us all for tea and after we talked about Mosiah 18:8-10 and everyone crying, they promised to consider baptism. Then we taught them tithing off the cuff, and she wasn't totally against it. Miracles! I was concerned that her financial problems would make it difficult to live, so we focused on the blessings and how tithing makes miracles happen.

-Sister Paulsen is amazing! We've had some really funny moments--we had to walk home in the dark one evening (before Brother Hamilton miraculously found us and gave us a lift) and she declared that she knew karate and demonstrated how she would protect me. I died laughing. She's rearranged the flat all feng shui and put vases (bottles of Schloer) of flowers everywhere and just decluttered a decade's worth of missionary wotsit in preparation to move.

-Breakfast smoothies: milk, mango, lemon juice, linseeds, coconut oil, raspberries, banana, protein powder, ginger and mint. It tastes like heaven and yet my stomach says I just ate like three bran muffins. Lasts all day :) Also I've learned how to make guacamole. I shall purchase a blender for my own evil purposes come winter semester.

-Our district went from 2 baptismal dates to 8 in a week. It's so cool to see the timing just work out. Sometimes you teach and they vanish or get anti'd or whatever (visit and it breaks your heart. But the timing has got to be perfect for all the elements to come together. In many cases here I've seen the result of many missionaries and members and prayers come to fruition--some are still cooking. No worries. No effort is wasted. It's tough because the stories in the church revolve around the fruits of your labors, and most of the time you won't see those fruits, even in this life. I think that's why we often feel like failures when our friends don't accept to come to church or our parents don't reactivate or whatever. But if we pray with trust in the Lord and His timing and do everything we can to invite His spirit to act, then magic happens and we will find peace.

It's been a really rewarding week. I feel so tired all the time. I guess your body just breaks down after a while, you hear ominous cracks in joints you didn't even know you had, and you try to stay safe and not play rugby with the elders so you never have to enter an NHS hospital...I wonder what the hospitals are like in Brazil?

Anyways, things sound really fantastic at home :) Keep on keeping on, give those elders referrals, and tell me when graduation is!

Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, March 12, 2012


That's Danish for miracles, which have been flooding in ever since Sister Paulsen got here. Here are some of the following:
-I can't speak Danish, I'm proud to be American, and the ward loves us (constant state of miracles)
-Sister Paulsen schools us all in speaking English, which is winning over a very educated ward
-We crashed an elders quorum activity (oops) and saw several less-actives, including Ewan, who killed me at table tennis. It's always sad when there's a tournament and you can't play anymore. But Richard (the best missionary in the ward) brought a friend who really wants to come to church (even after finding out it was three hours. Amazing.)
-A woman carrying shopping on the street stopped US and said she had come to church for Christmas and that something was missing in her life and she's miffed at the CofE and she wants to come to church. We never got any contact details besides a street name, so we're on a quest to find her this evening. Pray we do!
-Carla and Bruna came to church! They loved it!
-Ewan came to church and came into class and participated!
-We got two new investigators, Sue and Suveer. Suveer is from India, here in uni, and although he's Hindi, he believes in worshipping only one God. That's as rare as finding a church-goer in Copenhagen. He's golden as well, but I think we have to turn him over to the elders in his area :(
-Southhampton won the Road Show. Boo. But we totally got to go with Carla and Jennifer and it was AMAZING. First live show in a long time, unless you count Bristol zone doing ballet to "White Christmas" in December...
-BEST OF ALL: Lina from Taiwan randomly came to church last week, so we went to see her on Thursday. The sisters before (Trover, Pressgrove,etc.) dropped her because she'd apparently gone back to Taiwan and she showed little signs of progress AND her family is less than supportive. So I don't know what I expected when we stopped by. But five minutes into the conversation, she said, "You know, the sisters were always talking about baptism, and I really want to be baptised. Can I be baptised?" I think my brain never really recovered. Her understanding stems from a Buddhist upbringing, so it was small and we were slightly hesitant. But when asked why, she said, "I want to be close to God." It was so sweet. We set a date for March 23, pending she grasps all the concepts and so forth we have to teach her. One lesson will probably focus on God, and that will be all. It'll be a while before Joseph Smith comes along :) Hooray for DVDs!
I'm so pleased to hear the MTC is so great. I heard someone say it's like a temple session that lasts six weeks, thrown in a blender with band camp. My MTC experience was very similar, just on a more intimate scale. Alex Boye is from LONDON, booyah! He is quoted to have said, "99.9% of all rap music is the most vile, disgusting garbage on earth. And you can't argue with me cus I'm black." I totally agree. The Tabernacle is so full of soul now that he's joined them :)
Winchester is fantastic! Sister Paulsen is such a good missionary--she's very organized, which helps everyone stay on top of things. I've grown a lot since I've trained. We're moving house in about a month, and it will be really nice to get into a more permanent state of things.
What sad news from home :( We're praying that everything will be okay. I know that the Atonement not only makes life hereafter possible, but He can also heal us from all the injustice and scars we encounter in this life because He knows how we feel. One story from the scriptures that I really love is Mary and Martha. Martha we look at as being cumbered about with much serving (feeding Jesus plus all his twelve disciples is no mean feat without electricity, I totally know how she felt) and Mary as the ponderous, faithful listener at His feet. Yet when their brother dies, it's Martha (the proactive one) who runs to Jesus and exercises such faith in Him that He would make it all better. He gets to the sepulchre and Mary is crying out of grief. Her faith may have fled in those moments and her contemplative spirit brought much sorrow. He promised deliverance to Martha (who desperately needed to hear it) and wept with Mary (who needed a kind, understanding friend to mourn with Her). This is an amazing example of Him tailoring rescue to each of us individually. I know He does.
Thank you so much for all of your post and prayers and miracle stories. Keep sharing them and you'll keep seeing more each day :)
Love from,
Sister Willard

Monday, March 5, 2012


My companion is so awesome! She is teaching me so much about commitments (I love the MTC that way) and extending very specific ones to the members. We've had to spend most of the week cleaning and organizing and trying to figure out what to DO (weekly planning) but in the few moments we have been able to go out, there have been miracles already.

-Thursday we left the flat, and then turned around to get money and a bag we'd forgotten. When we got to the bus stop, we'd missed the bus, but we had a lovely conversation with a passing girl named Leanne, who told us she would like to believe. Miracles. We got her number and gave her a pass-along card. Sister Paulsen was well excited.

-Lynda texted to say she was coming to church, a first for us. On Saturday, however, she became unwell, so she couldn't come. But I'm still flabbergasted. It's like when the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl and didn't win--I'm still amazed we made it.

-EWAN CAME TO CHURCH OF HIS OWN FREE WILL! We went outside and he was surrounded by Jack and Josh and Simon and Jed and he stayed the rest of the block. He didn't come into class or anything, but he was there. I asked him if he'd ever had a spiritual experience. He said no, but he was at church longer than he'd been in years. Please pray that he gets the answer he needs to choose one road or the other.

-Other less-actives were at church as well, and it was so good to see them.

-A lady from Taiwan approached me after sacrament meeting and said she'd been before, clearly not a member. So we got a new investigator on the spot. :)

-Every tiny moment we've been able to contact walk, we've met the nicest people and we've gotten a lot of phone numbers ^_^

-We stopped by to teach Carla and Bruna. I know that they are the kingdom-builders Heavenly Father needs for the church to prosper, but it will take some time. She's nearly finished reading the Book of Mormon, and she wants to come to church. Bruna is in the road show, so we'll be able to attend!

I'm learning a lot about parenting from this experience. This last moves was really difficult because I wasn't fully involved in all the planning and organizing and teaching as much as I've been in the past, so I'm learning a lot as well. It's also really anti-climactic because we're moving in like a month, so we don't want to change things too much. I'm so pleased we're moving--it's amazing how quickly a big space gets dirty. We'll downsize and move to a little flat in the middle of Winchester with a pink door. Apparently Brother Hamilton has many talents and is decorating the place. I'm not sure what it'll look like, considering the other night he was showing us how to build an insulated wilderness shelter out of sticks and leaves, but if something bad happens, it's nice to know we're closer to them as well :)

I feel like I'm doing a lot more smiley faces than usual. Ah, well. Sister Paulsen is so rad--she's proactive, eager to learn, able to cut to the chase faster than I am, and is really low-impact. I think we're very similar, except she's Danish (which is like the equivalent of coming from Portland or Boston. No one is very conservative in Denmark, I've learned. She is by virtue of being a member of the church, but I think it's best not to talk politics. Something I've noticed is that when I don't have an American companion, America gets bashed by the members and people on the street. Weird.)

Something we're doing with Tunbridge Wells this moves is the 40 day fast, inspired from the scripture from Helaman 3:35, which talks about purifying our hearts. Here are some of the goals:
-Take down all family/world/band photos (we tore down all of Sister. Kernek's “Tangled” wrapping paper)
-Listen only to Tabernacle Choir (no more Lord of the Rings)
-Share spiritual experiences each day
-Pray before every appointment, coming in or going out of the flat, and at 10am and 10pm, in addition to all the other prayers
-Develop Christlike attributes by taking the test in PMG chapter 6 consistently during the 6 weeks and set personal goals to improve
-No talking about home, films, Mitt Romney (sad), music, etc.
-Pray for missionary dreams!

The last goal might sound silly, but all of these goals are meant to help us be better missionaries. Focus. We've already seen miracles because we're no longer fogging up the view with distractions. This is something I would like to continue when I come home, not necessarily with the same rules, but cut out the needless distractions in my life so that I can listen to the spirit more readily. I'll have to go through all my films and music and the things I do each day and "retrench" from the pointless things I do (Angry Birds is Danish!) and try harder to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Every day I see people, and every day I have the chance to share the Gospel with them, love them, serve them, and show them that life is worth living because God has very special purposes in mind for us. I hope this 40 day fast doesn't end this moves. I don't think Sister Paulsen will go back to the way things were anyway :)

I hope all is well with everyone and that Elder Willard (!) is loving the MTC ^_^

Love from,
Sister Willard

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Training in Winchester

President Shamo called in the morning. I was feeling really sick. He then said I was training. I now know what morning sickness feels like.

So Sister Sebald has gone to Orpington with Sister Casasola to whitewash, Sister Kernek is training a sister from Samoa on the Isle of Jersey, Sister Christensen is whitewashing into WANDSWORTH, LONDON with her greenie from North Carolina, and I'm still here in Winchester training the one and only Sister Paulsen from Denmark.

Google her. She's from Copenhagen and she's launched a site for her mission because no one knows about the Church there. The closest celebrity they've got is the actor who plays Jesus from “Finding Faith in Christ,” who sings Saviour, Redeemer of My Soul on “17 Miracles,” and is a famous Danish singer. Sister Paulsen is so excited to be in England and keeps counting the miracles here. We've found a fantastic potential just this morning waiting for the bus and I know she will be the most amazing missionary this place has ever seen. Training is well scary, but as long as I can stay organized, I know she will be that way her entire mission.

We're also doing this 40 Day fast with the sisters from Tunbridge Wells, which is helping us to become better missionaries. Our goals range from three baptisms to six less-actives coming to church to knowing exactly which door to knock on any road. The rules we've given ourselves are designed to make us more effective and focused on the work--for example, we're only listening to the MoTab and we've taken down family photos and we're even praying for missionary dreams. Miracles are happening. I feel like I'm in the military :)

Things are so good here. I feel so frightened of going from junior companion to trainer/takeover an area overnight, but I know that Sister Paulsen will be able to train at the end of this moves, no doubt about it. Winchester is so lucky to have her, and I'm so lucky that I will be able to relive my own training experience and the fundamentals of Preach My Gospel so that I will be more effective. There really is no limit to the things we can do here in this city, especially with all this greenie faith. I still feel like a greenie because I've never been in charge, but I know this is exactly what the Lord wants for me right now. It's so scary! Bah!

Congrats to Howard! I'm praying he gets his visa soon...we've got a few visa-waiters stuck here trying to get INTO America, funny story. Love you all! Keep having those missionary experiences!

Love from,
Sister Willard