Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The rain finally found us. We went three solid weeks with sun (the temperature is dropping by the second) and then on the way to church yesterday, the ocean came down on us. Whenever people ask where I'm from and then say, "It rains a lot in Seattle, doesn't it?" I just look at them and laugh. Seattle is a verified desert compared to here. Man alive.
Highlights from this week;
-A guy named Paul (Rwanda) came to church on his own--we're meeting with him this week to fill in the gaps where the elders left off (although that will probably mean re-teaching the whole thing.)
-A guy named Joseph (South Africa) was referred to us by Wells Road, and his first question to us was, "Tithing?" He went on to say that he knows he needs to pay it, according to Malachi, but his church doesn't teach that. We gave him a tithing slip and taught the principle and invited him to church. His other question was, "Faith--how does it work?" Out comes Alma 32 and personal experience--courtesy of Elder Bednar--and we were smiling from ear to ear. That was a rad day :)
-We are teaching a lot of part-member families, and I'm always intrigued as to why people just don't investigate the church when it's such an integral part of their sweethearts' lives. My favorite reason so far is one husband's, who, when he read 1 Nephi, stopped when Nephi was commanded to slay Laban. He railed on us and said it was against the ten commandments. My favorite title of the Savior is the Author and the Finisher. He wrote the law, He reserves the right to amend it in any given circumstance--however, I like to believe that you have to be prophet-status or so to have those kind of amendments made.
-Sri Lanka is apparently a fantastic place to visit. Everyone wants to speak English to you, they're much more respectful to women than in India and Pakistan, and it's the most beautiful place. I saw pictures of Pakistan in a Pakistani paper advertising to come visit, and the place is full of piles and piles of rubbish and standing water. Filth everywhere. I was shocked that those were photos catering to tourists.
-It's so great to serve in a ward with so many children--best DA messages are focused on them, and then the parents get excited about missionary work.
I hope the work is going fantastic at home. I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
So we're not moving, thank all that is holy. I'm intensely grateful, since Bristol is like a celestialized version of the entire mission field. Here are some highlights from the field so far:
-I got to do my second exchange ever with Sister Pallekonda from Hydrabad, India. She is so sweet and such a good teacher--she saved one investigator from totally dropping us, which she would have done to the elders, except that they got moved. Miracles!
-I learned about the mission in Pakistan, which is part of the Singaporean mission. Only natives are allowed in. We're teaching two men from Pakistan at the moment. Both Christians, so they won't face severe penalties or anything.
-The mission in Madagascar is intense. Simon Evans, the ward clerk, got back about 8 months ago, and his average attendance on a Sunday was 40 investigators. (The most we've ever had was six, and we usually average about one or two.) The retention rate of 2000 baptisms yearly is about 85 percent, so the African Church is growing like mad. (The Danish mission baptises 30 annually, just to put it into perspective.)
-Ward Indexing party had a really good turnout. I worked with one of the older members, and he can read that handwriting like he wrote it himself. I had NO IDEA that scribble said "Henry Williams." He dictated, I just typed. It was really fun :)
-Taunton is opening a new area in place called Forest. Not Forest of Dean, that's in the Cheltenham Stake. It's like a village in the middle of a bunch of trees, and they'll have to drive to Taunton ward for the Sunday. Hopefully a branch will grow...
-This ward is so boss! Lots of the less-actives are on the fence of coming back, so we're working with them. The Ward Mission Leader is very supportive of everything we're doing, and the families keep telling us how great we are. Sheesh. I feel like we're watching a football game and winning, and everyone in the stands keeps turning around to us and thanking us. Weird.
We are having such a rad time! Still learning how to get around and what to say to all the Muslims, but we're doing great. I'm excited to be here another six weeks--we're trying to get an investigator to church every Sunday till I go home, which looks like it'll be pretty easy. :) Amazing!
Assignment for everyone who chooses to accept. We've got a bunch of people complaining about women not holding the priesthood.
So my question to each of you is: How have you come to understand this as the Lord's way? How has the priesthood blessed your life? How has it been a responsibility? What do you understand about the roles of men and women through this example?
Write back, and we'll be able to print it off as a testimony to our investigators. Are you in?? Thank you for helping us!
Keep being the great examples that home so desperately needs. I look forward to sharing all of our missionary experiences together! Nothing quite gets the Spirit in the room like missionary experiences, whether it's this side of the veil or not. You just feel useful in the hands of God.
Write to you soon!
Monday, September 10, 2012
At last! Sister Nelson and I have had every element combine to hedge up our way, including useless buses (Me to Nelson as she checks the schedule again: "Don't even LOOK at it! It'll just LIE to you!"), ancient computers all booked by old people who don't show up until the last minute, and the fact that our district meets at noon in town. We left super early this morning and I still haven't started emailing until an hour after the fact. It's a conspiracy, I tell you what.
Here's some of our highlights:
-Half the district is Chinese--Elders Wu, Huang, and Wan. Confusing, yes. We conference call to sing, pray, read the handbook, do a spiritual thought and tell a joke every morning. Do we get comp study? Nope, but we get to hear what sounds like a lot of geese from Kung Fu Panda on the other side. Elder Hilton is from Idaho. He's the calm reassurance :)
-Lots of investigators were left by the elders, all of whom had baptismal dates. It's a bummer to leave dates behind.
-However, on further visiting and gauging their understanding, we've hosed all those baptismal dates and have determined to reteach everyone. They do not understand basic things like the Plan of Salvation and they talk about how much they loved the elders. Be that as it may, I refuse to baptise any of them until they have a spiritual conversion of some species.
-Once again, we had a concern brought up about women not holding the priesthood and being inferior to men. The asker? A man. It's always blokes that have a problem with it--I've never had women ask me about this my entire mission.
-The people in Bristol are sooo friendly--I was a little affronted when someone asked me how I was on the street, like they knew me. Happily so, because Sister Nelson and I have been looking so lost the last week and a half. Both of us were trained whitewashing, so I feel much more in my element than I have done since Weymouth.
-The ward is HUGE! We're systematically stopping by less-actives, and for the first time ever, some of them did not recognize who we were. At all. It was like knocking on a regular door. We even got the response, "I'm happy in my own faith." What the? We have the same faith! Awkward for everyone.
-Moves happen next week. If they move either of us, I will reject that moves call altogether. I expect Sister Nelson to train after I die--she's an animal and asks things like, "Sooo--what's your problem?" when I am too scared to ;) Brings me joy.
I’m trying desperately to finish the Old Testament. Psalms are so booooring. I like Jeremiah, but he's properly depressing. But I'm almost there! Also I found an article about the first French Book of Mormon featuring my great-grandfather Curtis Edwin Bolton. That was really exciting :)
The ward seems to like us, and we've got a lot of leads. The best one was a referral given to the elders NINE MONTHS AGO but they didn't do anything about it. We went round. Her name is Shirley. Her daughter Tara joined the Church in Arizona when she moved there, and she didn't fess to her mother for ages. She welcomed us in and told us she thought the Book of Mormon was the biggest sham ever, but Tara is this brilliant scientist who definitely spent much of her life not believing in God. This church has changed all that. Marvelous. We are so excited to teach her--she's already reading the Book of Mormon daily and praying to know. Golden.
Hope all is well at home. We're so excited to serve here in Downend--there are five ward missionaries, a mission leader, an assistant, and they get us dinner appointments each day and members for each lesson. It's like stepping into the Celestial Kingdom.
P.S. New Pictures are up at Mom's Flickr Site.