Me and Sister Sorge by the map in the MTC pointing out where we are from and where we are going. Awkwardly one of the Elders is from England, so I'm basically pointing to his face.
Me and Sister Sorge by the map in the MTC pointing out where we are from and where we are going. Awkwardly one of the Elders is from England, so I’m basically pointing to his face.

Transfer day was a wild ride! The group of German speakers had to leave at like 3 AM Wednesday morning, but we didn’t have to leave till about 7. I was so sad/happy/excited/nervous that day. I was already sad to be saying goodbye to Sister Sorge, and a little apprehensive for my next assignment. We basically had an orientation at a chapel in Leeds and met President Pilkington and his wife and the rest of the presidency. I absolutely love the Pilkingtons! He is a really inspired man and his wife is so nice. They are obviously really new too, so it’s actually a cool experience to be able to learn together. We had lunch at the mission home which was so nice, and then went back to the chapel. At this point we still didn’t know who our trainers were yet, so it was so nerve wracking. It was transfer day for the other missionaries in the mission as well, so everyone was there. They had all the new missionaries all sit on the stand and bear our testimonies. It was so awkward because we were just sitting up there staring back at the other missionaries, wondering who they heck our new companion was, and feeling like pets on display. Ha ha. After that they read all the companionships off and the companions ran up and hugged their new companion while everybody cheered. It was like a sporting event! Pretty bizarre, but it got everybody pumped. Sister Sorge and I both got a Chinese speaking companion except she is up north in a different university area and Sister Lam and I are in Hull, which is also a university area. I think the whole area is actually called Kingston upon Hull.

A little more about Sister Lam.  She has been out about 3 months. She is from Hong Kong, but speaks English perfectly. She was studying at BYU Hawaii before she came. Her family was living in Utah for a little bit, but are back in Hong Kong now. Her brother served in one of the London missions. Her boyfriend is serving in the Disneyland mission and she says he sends her a package EVERY month…so feel free to do the same to me so I don’t feel left out. Ha ha, just kidding, but just so you know send everything to the mission home (that includes packages and letters), and that is the Lister Hill addresss I gave you. The district leaders pick our mail up, so we pretty much should be able to receive stuff every week. Back to Sister Lam. The reason we need a Chinese speaking missionary in this area is because it is a university area and so many people come from China to study at the University of Hull. There are also a lot of Polish people, so there are like 2 or 3 sets of Polish elders, and they stay here their whole mission!

So we have probably about 5 Chinese investigators right now, and quite a few new members. So this is how lessons work. Sister Lam translates for me what they are saying, and then when I want to say something she translates it back to them in Chinese. Most of them understand English okay, they just can’t speak it very well. It is a little bit frustrating sometimes because sometimes I just feel like a bystander. Like sometimes it feels like my comments and insights get a little lost in translation, and it’s just not the same as directly communicating with someone. I’m trying to have a better attittude about it, but at this point still feel a little bit like an outsider in terms of culture and everything. One of the investigators named Bruce is so great though, and after our first lesson with him I was just so happy to be able to talk to him. He is a really curious guy, and so he loves reading the Book of Mormon, but hasn’t really accepted the doctrine fully. He can speak English really well, and just has such a kind heart. After we taught him, as we were walking home, I suddenly just felt so much love for the Chinese people, and felt so grateful to be able to teach them. He is reluctant to accept baptism because he just thinks he doesn’t need it, that he doesn’t need the grace of a higher power (which is similar to the attitude of the other Chinese investigators). It is hard to teach them in general because a lot of them don’t have any knowledge of anything relating to Christianity. Really though, it is such a cool opportunity to be able to work with Sister Lam, and she is brilliant. She knows like 4 languages! I told her that she has to teach me a little bit of Chinese every day, so I’ll probably know like 2 words before I leave. Ha ha.  She was called to be a trainer after 6 weeks, which is unusual because the normal training period is supposed to be 12 weeks. So I could be here for the next 12 weeks, unless I get called to be a trainer as well. I kind of think they might call me as a trainer quickly just because of my age, but I could be completely wrong. My purpose for the next 6 weeks though, is to learn everything and grow as much as I can so that I could be if they need me. I’m willing to work as hard as I can, and I know the Lord knows that. My biggest issue right now is street/bus contacting and knocking. Oh, our transportaion is walking and bus by the way. Anyway, I know contacting and finding is the hardest part for everyone at first because it is SO awkward! I can’t help but feel like a used car salesman, and it makes me feel like I am cheapening my message just trying to talk to every random person I can. But I know that as ineffective as it can be, the Lord has prepared certain people, and it’s our job to be able to bring His message to them.

My first knocking experience was actualyl a really cool one. We were going to eat dinner at the Relief Soceity President’s house, and had just gotten off the bus and had like 5 minutes. So we decided to try knocking on the way there.   felt really impressed to knock at this certain door and a really friendly lady answered. Her name is Annabel and she is probably in her 30’s and has a baby. She was so nice, and we are going back to teach her this week. I’m so nervous because it is one of the first lesssons I will do in English, as well as being my first time teaching the first lesson, which is the Restoration. So that was cool, and then we had some like 2-3 hour blocks of finding people this week and those didn’t go super well. They were actually really discouraging.  One guy opened the door and saw us and said “I think all religion is evil, and I want nothing to do with it!” and slammed the door. We kind of just try to make a game out of it though. You can’t take it personally.

I think I have probably asked myself everyday at least once since I’ve been here, “What am I doing here?” But then I’ll have some experience, or even just think about how I know that what I’m teaching is truth, and it helps me have resolve. Like I said before, I won’t ever give up. Also the good news is, my cough is almost completely gone! It took two priesthood blessings and a nasal steroid spray, but I’m healed!  I think the humidity makes it harder to get rid of colds. Is that a thing? I don’t know but that cold was seriously on steroids! So nasty. Moral of the story is don’t get sick for the rest of the mission. I’ll try to work on that.

Know that as you are praying for me, I’m sending a prayer right back for you. I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so much in my entire life since I’ve been out in the field. Like seriously 50 prayers a day. And that doesn’t count the 50 I say when we are out on the streets trying to talk to people. Ha ha. Well I hope you feel like you are a little more clued in then last time. I love you so so much! Now to send pictures!

Love, Sister Zurcher

See ya later Sister Sorge :(
See ya later Sister Sorge 😦
Hiya Sister Lam! :)
Hiya Sister Lam! 🙂
That last picture of me in green is of our little flat. Isn't is cute! 83 Haworth Street if you feel like google mapping and stalking me.
That last picture of me in green is of our little flat. Isn’t is cute! 83 Haworth Street if you feel like google mapping and stalking me.
This was tagged on a wall on one of the streets we tracted and I think the people that live on that street actually subscribe to the credo because they were SO mean!
This was tagged on a wall on one of the streets we tracted and I think the people that live on that street actually subscribe to the credo because they were SO mean!

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This one is for Megan. Classic British people, feeling the need to depict the steaming pile of poop :0
This one is for Megan. Classic British people, feeling the need to depict the steaming pile of poop :0
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Pictures!!! Kate made it to her mission home in Leeds. She met her companion, Sister Lam, and was assigned to serve in the Hull, England area. We have not heard from her as her new P-day is on Monday. Enjoy these pictures in the meantime. Isn’t she cute? We sure do love this girl.

Katie with her new companion, Sister Lam and President and Sister Pilkington.
Kate with her new companion, Sister Lam and President and Sister Pilkington.
This is the entire group of new Leeds missionaries.
This is the entire group of new Leeds missionaries.

Unfortunately, we learned that Kate has been sick in the MTC. In her first email last week, she mentioned that she was starting to feel sick on the plane to Manchester. She could not sleep Monday night, and went to the MTC president’s apartment because she had been coughing all night and was starting to wheeze. He first gave her a blessing and then Kate mentioned she had a sister who is a doctor so he got the phone and dialed her number. Kate was able to talk to Emily and get her opinion about what her illness was and what she should do. She has an appointment with a doctor today so we will not know what the diagnosis is until next week, but hopefully she will be recovered by then. As you will see from her email, she has a great attitude despite all this. She’s amazing!

If you would like to write to her, use this address:

England Leeds Mission
Lister House, Lister Hill
Horsforth
Leeds
England
LS18 5AZ

It’s really hard to organize this email because I almost feel like I have to start with today and summarize the past week going backwards, so I’ll do my best. Everyday I have been here I have had the urge to come and email you, and I have simply had to keep a running list of things I wanted to tell you in my head and in my journal. Let me just start with day one. When I got here, like I said, I was already feeling sick but adrenaline kicked in with the excitement of the first day. After I emailed you I went upstairs and unpacked some stuff and met my three roommates. We knew at that point that one of the three would be our companion, we just didn’t know who. I already knew who I wanted it to be. Later that evening we finally found out. My companion is Sister Sorge, and I just love her. We kept joking that they put us together because we were both sick (she had had a cough the week before she came and  still had a residual cough). She is from Southern California, her dad is a dentist, and she has been my support through this whole thing. Luckily we have a similar sense of humor and we’ve been able to take everything in stride. Also that night, Sister Sorge and I were made the Sister Training Leaders over all the sisters at the MTC. They don’t really break up the sister leadership positions like the elders with separate zone and district leaders, so we are just over everybody. Basically in this calling, we have to get to know everyone, attend leadership meetings and bring up any concerns among the sisters, and conduct Relief Society. Not too hard, but it’s made a bit more challenging with being sick. Everyone has been so nice and so concerned though. There is a sister from Scotland that got up with me two nights in a row because she heard me leave my room and go to the bathroom to cough. She just sat with me for a while and talked until I got tired and my cough had calmed down a bit. She is lovely. She is going to Leeds as well, which makes me happy.

So after the first day, I tried to go about my business like normal, even though my throat was on fire and I felt sick, and I was mostly able to keep this up until Sunday. Sunday I had to just stay in bed and sleep because I just didn’t have the energy to be up and about, and so they let me rest and my companion went with my other two roommates to the meetings throughout the day. I was able to drag myself out of bed for a group picture, that supposedly they are sending to you at some point, so don’t expect me to look very good in it. Ha ha! So Monday came and I was excited because my energy was up, but the cough was still bad. We went to all of our classes, and then that night was when I had the scare with my breathing. After that they got pretty serious about containing the sickness because Sister Sorge and another sister in my room both have it now. We have had to stay up in our room all of yesterday and all of today, which is wearing on us mentally. Hopefully the doctor will have a magical answer and we can get back to normal because it is disheartening to miss classes because we know how much we are missing. They made us wait to email until mostly everyone else had cleared out, which we understood, but we were all sooo anxious to get to the computers. Also we couldn’t go to the temple because they didn’t want us to spread the sickness to the oldies. That made me really sad. So not the best first P-day.

Here is something that I have gained with all of this though. Nothing will make me give up. I haven’t ever felt with any of this that I just wish I didn’t ever come or that I just wish I was home. I’ve missed home for sure, but it’s almost as though it has strengthened my resolve to see this thing out.  I want so badly to be able to get better so that I can learn everything I need to learn and become the best teacher I can. I know that there are people here that are desperately seeking the truth, and for some of those people, only I will be able to get to them to understand it and accept, and that is a big responsibility, and one that I accept gladly. I just need to get better!  Ha. Also, I have felt the power of your prayers for me. President Edwards mentioned that missionaries are some of the most prayed for people in the world. They are prayed for in every temple in the world, by strangers, by friends, and family. I have definitely felt that sustaining me so thanks for that, and know I am praying for you as well. I love you all so much!!

Also Mom, I don’t know if the missionary plaque is something they still do in our ward, but if it is, I would like Proverbs 3:5-6 on it. Such a fantastic scripture.

Love, Sister Zurcher

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  —Proverbs3:5-6

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Yesterday morning we took Kate to the airport. We helped her check her luggage and then watched her go through the security line and up the escalator until she was no longer in site. There weren’t really any tears at that point since we did plenty of crying the night before when she was set apart. We will miss her, but we are happy for her and proud of her for making this sacrifice to the Lord. We were excited to wake up this morning and have an email that she wrote to my mom:

Once we got to Chicago our group increased to about 40 missionaries total, so it was a huge group! It was really fun to be in such a big group, and we instantly felt unity towards each other. Everyone is so different, but we are united in our cause. It’s really great! We met up with one sister missionary in Manchester, who came from Hong Kong by herself. She is really nice.

I sat by the same elder on both flights, Elder Wright. He is one of the 18-year-olds, but so cute and so nice to me. I feel like I’m surrounded by brothers; it’s nice. At one point I was sleeping and was trying to drape my blazer over myself because I was cold and he threw his coat jacket over me. So cute. I kept dozing off the whole time, but not very restful sleep. Luckily, I had the window seat on the way to Manchester. Also, I’ve gotten a lot of crap about my huge heavy bags. The elders helped me get them to the car and load them, but I might have overdone it. I realized that I don’t really have a way to push them all at once because none of them connect. The guys that met us at the airport were giving me a hard time and telling me that transfers will be fun for me! Ha. Also one of the elders has nicknamed me “60 pounds” giving me a hard time about my overweight bag. See what I mean by being surrounded by brothers?

The sisters are all really nice. I think there were about 10 total on the flight over, and all of them are 19. I feel like an old lady! One of the elders is 21 so we were bonding over the fact that we are old, but he was saying that he is glad he isn’t the oldest one. Ha ha. Maybe once all the missionaries get here someone will top my age (hopefully). I know it will end up being a huge advantage in the field, but it is just a little awkward right now. All the sisters are from the U.S. except 1 from Canada and 1 from Hong Kong. The majority of them are going to Manchester, but there are 3 total sisters going to Leeds.

We got a little packet with our badges once we got here to the MTC and everyone was thrilled to put them on. It’s the little things here. We have a big list of things to do, and this email to you is the last thing on mine. I was interviewed by one the members of the mission presidency and I really liked him. I guess President Pilkington is his uncle and he has nothing but great things to say about him. He mentioned that he thinks he’s a really powerful speaker so meetings should be great with him. Tonight, after everyone has been interviewed, we will meet again and they will put us in companionships and call zone leaders and everything. I’ll keep you posted on that…

They actually have all the bedding taken care of here, and they provide down comforters, but it will be nice to have mine out in the field. One of the wives did a demonstration about how to put the cover on the comforter, and she demonstrated the inside-out method you taught me. Kind of funny. We will have lunch here in about an hour and I hope I can make it through this whole day!  I’m not feeling very tired yet, but I feel like I’ll crash. I might try to fit in a nap.

I love you and I’m already a bit homesick, but I know the best cure for that is work and I’m sure they’ll be a lot of that in the next 13 days. The homsickness was hitting me on the car ride over because I was feeling sick and everything, but I’m okay now. I still miss you all though. I’m supposed to let you know that P-days are on Wednesdays, so you won’t hear from me next until then!

Love, Sister Zurcher (still trying to get used to introducing myself as that)

In honor of leaving this great country for a year and a half, I felt it only appropriate to give homage to my new home and leave my mark in my old one. This is what that looks like.

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My Sunday started with giving my farewell talk at church, and ended with defacing a rock. Operation Union Jack started as a hair-brained scheme, but came together through the support of good friends and family and 30 cans of spray paint, which is sort of how the whole mission process has felt to me (minus the spray paint). We also decided to commemorate Mary’s name under the flag because we just know if she were here, she would have been right there with us, spray paint in hand. While on the path to get to suicide rock, we noticed sunflowers growing all along the way, although they hadn’t bloomed yet. If you don’t know the significance of this, sunflowers were Mary’s favorite flower, and we have had several instances, since she died, of sunflowers growing out of nowhere. We feel like it is Mary’s way of telling us she is there, or knows what is happening with us. In this case, it felt like Mary was telling us she wholeheartedly approved of our rebellious act. Isn’t the British flag just lovely?

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It has nothing on the American flag of course, but let me just have my moment. We did a terrible job of documenting the whole “British tea” in our yard after church, but I was so overwhelmed with all the people that came in support of me. It meant so much, and sometimes you just need a solid reminder in life of the people that are there for you and love you. Here is one of the few photos that I got thanks to a friend who snapped it.

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Thank you  again to all that came to support me, and to those that couldn’t make it, thank you for your endless support in other ways. I love you all!