Monday, May 28, 2012

A Mixed Bag

This week was a bit sad--we learned on Wednesday that Jacob hadn't passed his interview due to lack of commitment, and has really fallen off the wagon into the puddle of STUPID dug for him by his oh-so-attractive recent nonmember girlfriend--more smoking and partying than ever. Ignoring that mess, on to the good news:

-Kumar has read and prayed about the book of Mormon. Huzzah!

-A guy named Adam in his twenties has begun to come back to church on his own. We were chatting about the Seattle Sounders, who apparently beat the oldest footballing nation in the world (Scotland) three years in a row? Did anyone else know this?

-We have got the raddest youth in the entire church ;)

-Ewan has been called as Young Men secretary--cheers.

-We have two ward missionaries in the pipeline, don't tell anyone!

-Ben is doing fantastic and is going to meet Bishop this week, in preparation for our trip to the temple on the 15th.

-Aleks and Karolina (recent converts) are going to the states in July, namely LA and Salt Lake City, and we promised them they wouldn't have to stay in any hotels. Help?

So I'm writing on a semi-broken keyboard and it's taken ages. This is all for now, but I can't wait to hear from you soon!

love from,
Sister Willard

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Right, so they've got a sorta-definitely-maybe unofficial mission conference on Friday, which is a headache and a half because Sister Paulsen's heroic planning skills are stuck in limbo. We would LOVE to schedule things on Friday (a whole day of finding is not what I call effective) if it's not happening, because there's little more bothersome than the mission calling to say "Conference Friday!", you cancel everything, then they call to say, "Actually, it's conference Thursday," you move stuff around with your very understanding investigators and regret that awesome DA you were looking forward to, and then they say, "Sorry! We will actually have the conference on Friday after all." Dad, should you fulfill all your dreams and become a mission president, please never do this. A house of God is a house of order, whether there's rain, snow, or tidal wave.

Anyways, highlights from this week:
-The Pedersens came to church! Sister Paulsen was beside herself. The three kids who were jumping all over the place when we first stopped by were SO reverent during sacrament meeting, and after Primary they all came up to us and announced that they learned how to pray. Miracles upon miracles.

-Baptism on Sunday, if Jacob lays off the fags. We had to tell him, "No smoking, or no baptism." He seems to respond to abruptness very well. Pray for him.

-We are singing in the stake Cantata, which is Lynn Lund's music about the Restoration. We're excited to invite our investigators to attend, and the fact that Sister Hamilton loaned us her keyboard makes mornings and nights very musical. I'm singing alto, but because I'm so loud, they've had me switch back and forth between alto and soprano to boost morale or something.

-Speaking of which, Sister Paulsen and I sang “Abide With Me” in sacrament meeting, and it was really fun. She has broken her voice box and had to have surgery, so it will be some years before her voice is back to normal. Apparently it's like when you come back from a football game and your voice is shot from shouting, except it's been like this for months. Her voice is a lot lower than the average girl's voice, and her singing range is more along the line of tenor, rather than alto (we're running out of low hymns to sing). I will be so sad when we get moved, because it's been good for me to sing parts with her and develop my range.

I've learned a lot this week about gratitude. We were speaking to a man this week, and my ears were practically falling off out of depression--you know when you have a friend who just lays on thick their many trials without any ray of sunshine or hope or acknowledgment that God is there? And it seems that they just splash and swim in the sludge of their despair until you're covered in it too and can't wait for a bath? Yeesh. It's been interesting to see the things that offend me as I serve out here--new things. Before, maybe I was affronted by poor moral choices or word of wisdom problems, but now I have complete faith in the Atonement to overcome and cleanse those things. Now the things that offend me more are gossip (particularly amongst members, who should know better), ingratitude, and wasting time. Now I'm not the greatest time-utiliser in the world, and I don't claim to be. But as I've immersed myself in the things that matter most for so long, I am offended when people say that they just don't have time for prayer or reading the scriptures or waking up on time to come to church. It makes me wonder whether these things most offend the Saviour, and I'm just barely learning it through being His representative. Perhaps he is teaching me to spend the time as He did, and lift those who really need His help, and not waste time with straining gnats.

God bless each of you, and I know that He is never far away :)

Love from,
Sister Willard

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The dead pidgeon

Yep, I totally ate (or in Londondery terms: et) a dead pigeon. Apparently you can buy them from the butchers. My stomach the next morning declared war on my intestines, and both I and Sister Paulsen made good friends with the toilet the next few days.

Happenings from the last week:

-Moves successfully sees us in Winchester where we belong. Apparently President wanted to move Sister Paulsen and keep me, but over the weekend (while the Stake President and his sassy wife rubbed shoulders with President Shamo) we've managed to stay through the moves. It's brilliant because we've got so much on at the moment, it would just be stupid to move us now.

-We went to St, Peters mass on Friday with our new friend Jonathan, and he sat the head-nun down and explained the history of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith to her ("You know, the ancestors of the Red Indians?") It was amazing. We could have done no better. It was interesting to see that his heart was prepared and he is elect. Jonathan has about a year left before he is properly a member of the Catholic church, unless (as he put it) "you steal me away." He is searching for the truth, and I know that if he continues to read and pray that he will receive his answers.

-Carla and Bruna were baptised! Huzzah! 67 turned out to see it, and 83 were at church the next day. I'm so glad we didn't have the baptism in the morning, else no one would be there. Jonathan came and had some fantastic talks with members who had been Catholic before they joined. It was such a good experience. We never have to speak to our investigators because all the members have mugged them.

-Chris brought his friend Don from Christchurch. We'd planned to teach about the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and then we ended up giving the Restoration and my favorite apostasy chart throughout a history of the world--Chris was so pleased. Apparently Don had told him that he wanted to hear a history of the church, and that's exactly what we taught, even when we didn’t' plan it. Miracles! I love it when the Spirit works backstage and we don't realize till later.

-FHE on Monday found us and Justine at Carla and Bruna's house--we had proper belly laughs and talked about families. It was so fun to teach family home evening, and infinitely better that the first time was such a success.

-Our shower has been fixed! Success! After nearly an entire moves, we no longer have to do the bowl-wash.

It's been such a good week, made even better by the fact that we don't have to move. We've got two new greenies coming to the Zone, and our district is getting Elder Gong (son of the seventy) from Washington D.C. He's got a thick Southeastern accent :) I feel like this moves will be nothing short of heroic, what with Jacob's baptism coming up and formers coming out of the woodwork. Lots of miracles to be had. And we get to be in WInchester for June. Nice, nice. We are pleased to announce that in the last three weeks, we've gotten 20 lessons, then 25, and this week we have planned 36 lessons. I hope we don't get flogged.

I don't have anything earth-shattering to say, but remember that the Lord loves you, exercise daily, tell jokes, and do what you don't want to do as if you really wanted to. That is my little advice to you all. The book is blue, the Church is true. Isn't that exciting?

Love from,
Sister Willard

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaching in the Spring

Mum's Note: We Skyped with Katie on Sunday morning for an hour. She is quickly becoming the oldest sister in the mission. We got to meet her companion from Denmark, Sister Paulson, and the two of them work famously together. Katie said that her tentative date of return is Halloween. The Diamond Jubilee will be June 5 and the London Olympics begin on July 27. Great things are happening!

From Winchester:
Right, so I'm so tired, the puddles of drool on my pillow by morning are getting to be three inches in diameter. (I found out that improvement has to be measured quantitatively, though it rarely is, so I guess I'm making progress.)


-We've been teaching Jacob's mum Tina who is now reading the Book of Mormon and is convinced she's known us for years and years. I suppose we all knew each other at one point...

-A guy named Jeffrey called us up in the middle of our DA and asked if he could come to church. We taught Plan of Salvation in Gospel Principles, and it was so powerful. He would have stayed for all three hours, except after a massive discussion with one of the members, he felt silly sneaking into priesthood late. It looks like he may solicit our interior know-how (I have none, so it's all on the greenie) to fix up his Badger Farm house. It's moments like this that make us semi-regret our choice to move OUT of Badger Farm, but never mind. He's a smart cookie.

-Taught a staunch, though recently converted, Catholic yesterday. He is convinced that he will convert us, saying that all the other churches have pieces missing and that the Catholic faith is the WHOLE truth (sound familiar?) We had a great experience though, tea at the Hamiltons' and joy all around. We're coming with him to mass on Friday and he's coming to the baptism on Saturday. We figured it's a fair trade, and helpful that Brother Hamilton was Catholic once. :)

-Baptism this week. Pray lots that things will go successfully--we're picking up Jacob from Bournemouth to come and committing everyone to bring a friend. We're sitting on a lot of "potential referrals"--these mean that when we come round for tea, people invariably talk about how they have mentioned the church to a friend at work/school/soccer, etc. Our goal is to find out this friend's name (for some reason, no one ever mentions a name), pray for them, and continually discuss their progress with the member until the member officially invites us to teach them. Those make for really natural teaching opportunities, and it builds the members' confidence exponentially in sharing the gospel themselves.

-The ward is spectacular. We've got a lot of activities coming up, and we had lots of less-actives come to church on Sunday. It's so cool to see so much happening, and the members can feel the excitement. We are proud to report that as of last week, we were able to reach twenty lessons in a week, which is the mission goal for every area. I don't know if Winchester has ever seen 20 lessons before, but I can feel the Lord's guiding hand in assisting us.  It's so cool to feel His love and His go-ahead to do incredible things.

I'm so grateful to be out here. I feel more tired than I ever have on the mission, probably because I'm so old. But there's this real satisfaction in the progress I've made as a person and as a servant of the Lord. I suppose there's a point before or during the mission when you decide whether it's all a massive sacrifice of your time and friends, or whether it's the Lord's time to do as He directs because He has led you here. I've really grown in my knowledge that if someone needs something, Heavenly Father will send someone halfway around the world just to reach that one person. That's the way Jesus Christ did it--one by one. I don't know if I've made a huge impact on the areas I've served in or if I'm remembered by the people I've taught, but I do feel satisfied that the work of building His kingdom has happened, inch by inch, under my stewardship. And I do know that because He is so interested in my growth as His daughter, He sent me 5,000 miles to England to receive the best possible tutelage.

Oops, it looks like we're getting a referral. I have to go! Love you all, and the Lord loves you even more!

Love from,
Sister Willard