DSC06936It’s weird, but despite the fact that I’m not with you, it seems to me that my love for you has increased ten fold. I guess it’s true that absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Really though, I know it is something more than that. I was reading a talk by President Monson from the last priesthood session and he was talking about missions and said something like “although an ocean separates you, your hearts are linked in unity.” I know that part of that unity is because of prayer. As weird as it sounds, I feel connected to you through that, and I know you are praying for me. As I read through the emails from all of you, I felt overwhelmed with your love for me. I think every one of you expressed how proud you are of me, and I almost just started crying right here in the internet cafe. I love each of you beyond what words can express (even those of you I haven’t received mail from….Dannoo and Britoon I’m looking at you, ha ha).  One of the most important truths that we teach people are that they are and will always be part of God’s family. I know that the family unit is inspired and is meant for our progression and growth. I think it is good that I have homesickness because it means that I miss the love that exists among our family.

We had two days of training this last week: zone training and specialized training for trainers and trainees. It might sound boring, but they were probably the highlight of my week.  Any time we are together as missionaries I feel strengthened, and it makes me feel united in the cause and know more solidly that I’m not alone. Plus, it’s just uplifting sometimes to be with people that already believe the same things you do. You know that you aren’t going to have to defend and explain your beliefs to a room full of missionaries, but rather that you are going to be strengthened in your beliefs and convictions. President Pilkington is an excellent speaker as promised, and I enjoy his sense of humor. If he were an animal by the way, he would be a bald eagle. He looks so much like one, it’s almost scary, ha ha. He said something in training though that altered my perspective this week. He was saying why travel all the way here, across the ocean, leave your family and all other things behind and not give 100%? If you aren’t going to put your whole heart into it then why bother? That really touched me because I am the type of person that wants to give everything to anything that I do, and it just made me re-evaluate what I’m doing here and why I’m really here. When I get on that plane to come back to you next January, I don’t want to have any regrets in how I used my time here, and so even though I’m still adjusting to life here and still miss you, I want to make it worth it here. Pres. P was really cute in the specialized training. He told our trainers to look after us because we are precious to him and Sister Pilkington. We are the first generation of missionaries that are really theirs, and not partly President Lindley’s. Also, he told us that he wants to get rid of this term “greenie” in the field. Rather, he feels like we are special and that each of us are stars, not some sort of vegetable. He said he knows that all of us will rise to be super stars in the field. He’s great.

We were going to go to the beach today for P-day with the two other sets of sister missionaries in our zone because one of them has a car, but turns out they don’t have enough miles left in this transfer to make the trip. Bummer. And the weather is sooo nice today!  But it’s okay, I think we are going to go with some of the other missionaries over to the Gibb’s house to watch some movies instead. They are such a great missionary couple, and I’m so glad to have them here!  I asked Sister Gibb last night if we could come over to watch and of course she agreed, even though their flat is tiny. I really feel like one of their kids. Sister Shmidt and Sister Acs are coming too, so it should be fun!

Sister Lam and I had one of our best lessons yet this week. It was a lesson with A Ling, and it’s the first time we have been able to have such a smooth lesson, with all the translating and everything, and still teach with a strong spirit as well. It’s encouraging to see our unity in teaching increasing and growing, and it really makes for such better lessons. We’ve had some concerns here about keeping the Chinese group going so we talked to the bishop on Sunday. The normal English ward meets in the morning at 10 and then we hold a Chinese service at the Gibb’s home at 2:30. The problem is that it is kind of isolating the group, and so we want to come up with a way where we are having more fellow shipping and connection with the Chinese and English. It’s actually one of our biggest obstacles right now as we are trying to keep current recent converts strong in the faith. It feels like such a big responsibility and I feel kind of overwhelmed, but the bishop said he is worried about it too and working to find a solution. He said that the stake presidency is aware as well, and even the area presidency has their eye on this group. So that is reassuring, but it is still stressful trying to keep these members testimonies strong and help them adjust to the culture and everything.

My first transfer will officially be complete next week. I still have another transfer to go to complete my 12 week training and then maybe I will be considered an actual missionary, ha ha. So transfers are happening next week, we’ll know next Tuesday if we are getting transferred or not, but I certainly don’t anticipate one at this point. Hopefully no surprises! I’m hoping I’ll be able to get my package and any other mail at the zone conference we have this Wednesday. I’ll let you know if the package gets here or not!

Love you all! Until next week!!

Love, Sister Zurcher

This is from last P-day. We went to this Greek place that is close. It was good and one of the few times I've actually eaten out here. They had MTV on there as well, so it was fun to hear some normal music for a change. Refreshing :)
This is from last P-day. We went to this Greek place that is close. It was good and one of the few times I’ve actually eaten out here. They had MTV on there as well, so it was fun to hear some normal music for a change. Refreshing 🙂
These poems are from the bus interchange. They are written by that famous poet, Larkin, who taught at Hull University.
These poems are from the bus interchange. They are written by that famous poet, Larkin, who taught at Hull University.

DSC06926

This one is how I feel about my love for you all. "A harbour for the heart against distress."
This one is how I feel about my love for you all. “A harbour for the heart against distress.”
Oscar took us out to eat after he came and helped us teach A Ling. He said he wanted to treat us because of everything we've done for him and his life. The food was great and they had homemade soy milk. Mmm!
Oscar took us out to eat after he came and helped us teach A Ling. He said he wanted to treat us because of everything we’ve done for him and his life. The food was great and they had homemade soy milk. Mmm!
At the train station on our way to York for training! It was fun to go to York and see a new city! I want to go back and ride the Ferris Wheel there.
At the train station on our way to York for training! It was fun to go to York and see a new city! I want to go back and ride the Ferris Wheel there.

DSC06947

Happy Hippo is one of my new forms of happiness here. It is probably the best candy I've come across here, although it's actually German...
Happy Hippo is one of my new forms of happiness here. It is probably the best candy I’ve come across here, although it’s actually German…
Advertisements

DSC06909Got your email. It’s always so exciting to come in on Monday morning to the internet cafe and just wait for the browser to load and reveal the emails that people have sent. Seriously the closest thing I can compare it to is Christmas, even though that sounds so dramatic. They just implemented a mandatory hour of cleaning before our P-day starts, so Sister Lam and I were super anxious to get here!

So the subject of this email has a story, it’s not just an attention grabber. At our district meeting this week, our District Leader, Elder Amundsen (who is from Norway, I think?) had us do a quick exercise at the beginning to get to know each other better. We had to tell everyone a strength we saw in our companion, and also what animal we thought they would be if they were to be an animal. Kind of silly, but fun to see what everyone said. So Sister Lam said that she thought that I was really proactive and always trying to look for a way to make things better. The animal as you can guess from the subject line, was a peacock because she said I’m always wearing colorful and fun clothing. This made me laugh. If any HarpFusion members are reading this, how proud would Dr. McLaughlin be? Proactive and an animal that contains teal?? Those are like the two requirements of being in HF. I told Sister Lam that I thought she would be some sort of bird, like a sparrow and that I liked that she is so diligent and always going above and beyond.

We get a half hour of exercise every day except Sunday. Not much time, but it’s been okay. It’s better than nothing. Sister Lam is willing to run thank goodness, so we go about 3 times a week. I don’t know how willing she will be once the weather actually gets cold though…in fact I don’t know how willing I will be. Megan Delgado suggested that I don’t try running during the winter and just eat gummy bears to keep my energy up. Ha ha! I second this idea. The members have been feeding us a lot during the past weeks, but we only have one tea appointment this week, so we are kind of on our own, which is fine. We have zone training tomorrow and also an interview with President Pilkington, and then transfers are happening next week. I think I am probably staying put for another transfer here. I don’t anticipate a need for me somewhere else especially since there are only 4 new sisters coming out this transfer. It’s possible I will go on exchange on Saturday, but again, don’t know for sure.

Nothing that exciting to report this week, except that Sister Lam and I made standards of excellence! Which just means that the number of lessons we taught, new investigators, member referrals, and other indicators we had this week met the highest standards. We worked hard. We will continue to teach Oscar some lessons, and he has actually been helping us in teaching other investigators, now that he is a member. He is so great! We really want to work on getting the Chinese group a little more solidified. Because there are so many uni students that have been baptized, a lot of them have left and gone back to China, which makes it hard to sustain the group. Oscar is gong back early September. We have a couple families in the group, so that is good, but we just need to help it grow, so that it is sustainable. We hold church for them at the home of the mission couple in the ward. They actually just transitioned the old couple out and brought in a new one, so that’s disrupted things a little bit. The new couple are the Gibbs, and they are from Provo, and Elder Gibb is actually the exact same age as Dad. They also served a mission previously in Hong Kong, so they are good replacements. Are you guys planning for a mission at all? It would be interesting to see where you got sent, I don’t want you to be gone though! So maybe wait until we are all married.

Your letters are great, don’t worry about them being special.  Just hearing from you, and knowing you are behind me always gives me the boost I need for the week ahead. I love you, and miss you terribly! I hope you and Megan have fun while she is home, and wish more than anything I could be there with the two of you!

XOXO
Sister Zurcher

P.S. Forgot to tell you about our new investigators. We have a new Chinese mom named A Ling that we are teaching. She was a referral from one of the Polish elders actually, and was a really inspired find I think. She lives in an area termed “Gypsyville” which is an interesting area as you can tell from the name. There are gypsy teenagers that drive this horse drawn trailer calling for scrap metal from all the neighbors. Anyway, we followed up the referral and knocked on her door.  She talked to us, and told us that she just felt like she had been wanting to go back to church and that she felt like the Lord had sent us to her. She has a 2 and a half year old son. She seems to be a little isolated, and the son is really clingy to her. I think because he doesn’t have many friends to play with in the area. She came to church on Sunday and seemed to enjoy it. We are teaching her more this week, and also have an English lesson with her every Friday. I think she really needs the light of the gospel in her life.

The other person we are teaching is a 16 year old Chinese girl named Sihan. She is from China, but is pretty much British, as in she identifies more with the British culture. We have taught her most of the restoration, and showed her the restoration video about Joseph Smith last week, and she was really touched. This was a great lesson. It’s so amazing when people feel the spirit and start to learn to recognize its influence. The only problem is that she currently goes to a Catholic church every Sunday with her mom, so I don’t know how we are going to get her to church to see what it’s like.  We really want to get her to the British ward and get her involved with the Young Women’s program.

I decided to start up a restaurant in my spare time!
I decided to start up a restaurant in my spare time!
The one of the trees is Pearson Park, which is where the Gibbs live and where we hold Chinese church.  It was such a beautiful morning I wanted to capture it. We continue to have on and off again sunny weather, so it's great. Fall is on it's way though!
The one of the trees is Pearson Park, which is where the Gibbs live and where we hold Chinese church. It was such a beautiful morning I wanted to capture it. We continue to have on and off again sunny weather, so it’s great. Fall is on it’s way though!

Oscar's baptism.
Oscar’s baptism.

I have so much to tell since last week! First off, I want to thank you all for all of your prayers. I have truly felt their power this week and want to thank you! Prayer is amazing and I’m so grateful for it in my life. Something interesting I noted this week about that actually is that I was sitting at my table rubbing my knee and noticed that it was rougher than normal. Same thing on the other knee and I realized that I’ve developed calluses on my knees from all the times I kneel to say prayer to Heavenly Father throughout the day. My calluses on my fingers from harp are almost completely gone. It just made me stop and think how very different my life is right now from a year ago. Change is good. It makes you grow. I can see how my experiences so far have already impacted me for good and am anxious to see that growth throughout my mission. Again I am really striving to develop more patience this transfer and something that I know will help with that is to be able to see things with more eternal perspective or more through God’s perspective. Our entire lives are so short in comparison to eternity, but it is hard to remember that here in mortality. A scripture I came across this week was Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” I love that, it’s so simple, but so comforting.

I’ve had a lot of highlights this week and have definitely seen myself settling into routine here.  I’ve had to remind myself not to get too comfortable though because I want to remain adaptable to transfers. It will be hard when the time comes to pick up and move and venture out to a completely different area. So for now I am enjoying it here! The conference on Wednesday was so good! It was in Huddersfield, which is like 4 hours away by bus so it took the entire day. It was so fun. Halfway through the trip we picked up more missionaries and one of them was Sister Cunningham who was in the MTC with me. She is the one from Ireland and she was like the mom there (always having snacks and candy for everyone, and sitting up with me at night when my cough was bad). Sure enough she had a big bag of snacks for everyone and we just chatted for a long time and caught up. She is the one with glasses in the pictures. We talked about how it had felt like we had already been out for months since the MTC and that we had to remind ourselves that it had only been two weeks because a lot of times throughout the week we had felt like we should be doing better and be a lot farther in our progression, but had to remind ourselves it had only been 2 WEEKS! It was good to talk to others that were going through the same thing. When we finally got to the chapel I saw all the familiar faces from the MTC and it just made me so happy to see them all again! There was such strong unity in the MTC among all of us and we all instantly became such good friends and seeing them all again was just a reminder that none of us are alone in this work. There are so many missionaries involved in this work, here in Leeds, and all over the world. It’s incredible if you think about it and think about the work that each individual missionary is doing. Most importantly the Lord will never leave us alone in this work, and that is so comforting. So there was definitely some good perspective gained there. This week has definitely brought new light with it, and darkness can’t exist in light!

President Pilkington made us practice the hymns that we were going to sing for the meeting before Elder Ballard got there. He talked about how when we sing and when we are involved in missionary work, there are always unseen forces involved and helping us. He told us that those angels are anxious for this work to progress and that they are there. The Leeds missionary force is large, but when we sang it was so powerful, and I know it wasn’t just us joining in. The talks that were given were extremely uplifting which I knew they would be. You could tell they gave energy and enthusiasm to every missionary there, and I certainly was determined to go out and work harder after hearing them. Elder Ballard told us that if we want to baptize more people, we simply have to talk to more people. It really is that simple, and yet so hard to implement. I lose my nerve so many times during the day in trying to go up to people and talk to them about the gospel.  And who knows, maybe some of those people I have been too shy to talk to would have accepted the message. I need to be more bold!

The next amazing moment of the week centers around our friend, Oscar. This last week Oscar told us that he was going to be really busy with his dissertation, and that he couldn’t meet with us because of that, but also he really wanted to think about being baptized separate from our influence and make sure he was making his own decision about it. We were sad, but overall I felt like it was a good decision and that he really did need his space to determine what he really believed. Those days were so nerve wracking though! We prayed about him a lot and also included him in our fast on fast Sunday. The time came to meet with him on Tuesday and we didn’t know what he had decided, so we were both nervous. He started to tell us about the past 5 days and said that he felt like every day he hadn’t met with us there had been something that had pushed him towards making the decision to be baptized. He knew that that had come from the Lord and told us that he was ready to be baptized! It was such an incredible moment, I just wish I could play back that moment to you. The spirit was so strong, and I was so touched, tears just started rolling down my face. Oscar was the very first lesson I taught when I got here, and I’ve been able to see his transformation even within the past two weeks. He had to overcome his problem with drinking, and initially really wasn’t willing to give it up because of the social pressure among his friends. But he did and he told them he wasn’t going to drink anymore and they respected that of course. He is so sincere and sensitive to the spirit and gave such a nice testimony at his baptism on Sunday. He is amazing, and really I can see how this work here is in preparation for the gospel being able to eventually spread to China. We are planting seeds for that work to be hastened there.

Other than that, I’d love to get some more letters, as well as pictures from everyone in emails. I’m having major withdrawals from instagram, so some of those would be greatly appreciated.  Keep me in the loop! Thank you for everyone’s support and love. I really do feel so incredibly lucky for every single family member and friend I have and count you as the most important and valued things in my life. I really don’t deserve it!

Here is another scripture that I’ve treasured this week. You can really hear the tender tone in the Lord’s voice in this scripture when he says that we are little children. It echoes the advice and love that both Mom and Dad have shared with me this week. “Be of good cheer, I will lead you along.” D&C 78:17-19

Love, Sister Zurcher

The other Chinese baby with the one where I am wearing my Zebra sweater is Vivienne, daughter of Jenny and Jim. Jim is the one who baptized Oscar and they feed us all the time.
The other Chinese baby with the one where I am wearing my Zebra sweater is Vivienne, daughter of Jenny and Jim. Jim is the one who baptized Oscar and they feed us all the time.
The "chewable toothbrush" is for Dad and Jacob. Maybe the reason they have bad teeth here is because they think that chewable toothbrushes are a valid thing.
The “chewable toothbrush” is for Dad and Jacob. Maybe the reason they have bad teeth here is because they think that chewable toothbrushes are a valid thing.
Thought dad would enjoy the one of the elders photobombing on the bus. That is Elder Olsen and Elder Owens (with glasses). They are Polish speaking and are some of the elders assigned to Hull for their entire mission because of that.
Thought dad would enjoy the one of the elders photobombing on the bus. That is Elder Olsen and Elder Owens (with glasses). They are Polish speaking and are some of the elders assigned to Hull for their entire mission because of that.

DSC06889 DSC06885

From the MTC.
From the MTC.
Another photo from the MTC. The plaque says "whate'er thou art, act well thy part." There is a talk by Sister Dalton about that same plaque from conference if you are interested to learn more.
Another photo from the MTC. The plaque says “whate’er thou art, act well thy part.” There is a talk by Sister Dalton about that same plaque from conference if you are interested to learn more.
This is on the route we take to the chapel, which we go to a lot with church and other meetings throughout the week, as well as tea appointments at members houses. Again made me feel like Mary is close to me while I'm out here!
This is on the route we take to the chapel, which we go to a lot with church and other meetings throughout the week, as well as tea appointments at members houses. Again made me feel like Mary is close to me while I’m out here!

Eating dinner at the house of a Chinese couple who are recent converts. It was really good and Sister Lam said that I was channeling my Asian.
Eating dinner at the house of a Chinese couple who are recent converts. It was really good and Sister Lam said that I was channeling my Asian.

So I’m going to try not to be a total downer in this email, but this has sort of been a dark week for me. I think the charm of missionary life has finally worn off and the reality of living this way for the next 18 months has settled in. It just seems like this week has been full of struggles. My shoes almost all rub wrong in certain places and today we get to wear casual clothes because we are doing a zone p-day activity and my jeans have a hole in the inner crotch area. What the heck! How am I going to survive for a year and a half? It just seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is no where in sight. On Friday night I just wanted to call you and cry because I feel so frustrated, but of course I couldn’t.

The times where we have to find people are almost like torture. Nobody wants to hear what we have to say and even our investigators don’t really want to hear our message. We have a Chinese investigator named Oscar who we have taught all the lessons to and is deciding about baptism. He told us that he didn’t want to meet with us for a little while so he can make sure he is making the decision apart from our influence. We meet with him on Tuesday and we will find out whether or not he will be baptized.

I suppose maybe I am blowing things out of proportion and I just need to focus on taking one step at a time, but it seems hard right now. The next transfer date is September 1st and it’s possible that I might be transferred then, so I’m trying to set my sights on that right now. The main point is that I miss my old life a lot this week and it makes me sad to not be able to make memories with any of you for the next 18 months. I know I need to stay positive and I’m trying. One of the attributes I am working on developing is patience right now; to not get so discouraged and down when things aren’t necessarily going exactly right, but to have hope and faith that what I’m doing here matters.

I do have an inspiring street contacting story from Saturday night. We had just knocked on a door and been rejected, but then a lady was walking past on the sidewalk right outside that house and we started talking to her instead. We talked to her about God and she expressed that she has turned away from God because her son died years ago and she still feels so angry about it. I felt impressed to share the experience of Mary dying and how that affected our family and left a hole that still exists today. I briefly taught her about the plan of salvation and expressed to her that I knew she would see her son again. I told her that I know that when people die, it’s not the end, and that I know our loved ones are still involved in our lives and know what is going on, and that I had felt Mary close at certain points in my life. I didn’t tell her this, but in fact I felt Mary close at that very moment. I got emotional and she told me not to cry because it was going to make her cry. It was a tender moment, and I could almost see her heart soften in the brief 5 minutes we were talking to her. She asked me why she hasn’t been able to feel her son close. I told her that because she has turned away from God, it must make it hard for her to be sensitive to spiritual things, and she agreed and said that she has so much anger and hurt in her heart. She told us that she doesn’t know why she blames God because her son died because of his heroine addiction. I told her that I knew that because of the atonement, Christ suffered not only for all our sins, but also all our pain and heartache. I told her that He truly knows how she is feeling  It was a brief encounter, but it really strengthened my testimony of some of the things I know to be true and helped me realize that there really are certain people that only I can reach because of my personality and personal experience. That is powerful. This was the most spiritual lesson I have taught. We are going to try to make contact with her again sometime this week.

I didn’t talk to President Pilkington about how I play the harp, but everybody already knows. That was the first thing most of the sisters and the couple missionaries talked to me about at our orientation in Leeds. I think Sister Pilkington expressed interest in trying to get a harp for me to one of the other sisters, but she didn’t say anything to me. She wrote all of the new missionaries this week, so I got a card from her in the mail telling me that she was praying for me and hoping my first couple weeks have gone well. I thought that was really sweet of her.

Happy Anniversary to two of the greatest people I know. Thank you for everything you have taught me. You have given me such a solid foundation for life and I look to your teachings for guidance in every aspect of my life, especially here on the mission. Thank you for teaching me the teachings of Christ and His gospel and for giving me the inspiration to want to share it. I know that regardless of whatever I do in life, I will have your endless support and love. I can’t wait until the day I can give both of you big hugs!

Love you,
Sister Zurcher

P.S. We have a mission-wide conference on Wednesday and Elder Ballard is coming to speak to us. I can’t wait! It will be fun to be able to see my MTC friends again so soon and receive an inspiration message! Yea!

P.P.S. Jacob sent me a talk by Eldar Bednar called “The Strength of the Lord” and basically it talks about not praying for the Lord to change your circumstances, but praying to be given strength to change your circumstances. I think that really applies to me now, and know it will apply throughout my mission. Thanks Jake!

P.P.P.S. The picture of the hydrangeas was for you. They are EVERYWHERE here! Every time I see them, I think of you and miss you!

DSC05305

This is a statue of Queen Victoria. Don't I look regal?
This is a statue of Queen Victoria. Don’t I look regal?
This is Eva, and she is the daughter of a recent convert. She's adorable and I just want to steal her!
This is Eva, and she is the daughter of a recent convert. She’s adorable and I just want to steal her!

DSC05291

DSC05274