So I sort of forgot to fill you all in…but Sister Kuhn is with me again. She and Sister Peck swapped places a week and a half ago, so she is down in Leeds again, which was her first area. Sister Kuhn goes home December 3 and I go homeDecember 15…so I think we will probably die together in Darlo. Yeah for Darlington! Sister Kuhn is incredible…I will appreciate and love her for her friendship and support the rest of my life. Last Sunday we were asked to fill in as temporary Primary teachers for the 8-11 age group of kids at church. There is about five or six of them regularly. They are having a bit of a shortage of teachers because of the summer and a big family just moved out of the ward this week. So we taught them all on Sunday. Dad knows the Sunday school curriculum is Old Testament. I think we are a bit behind because we taught the David and Goliath lesson on Sunday. It was great fun…they are good kids. A little bit rowdy, but what kids aren’t? I’m sure Dad will be pleased to know that I’m following his lead with Sunday school. The thing that I love about a mission is that you have so much opportunity to influence people, whether they be outside the church or within the church. I hope Sister Kuhn and I can be a good example and influence to those kids…hopefully they will remember for a while that sister missionaries taught their primary class when they were younger. We brought Kinder-eggs for the end…which is like a chocolate egg with little prizes inside, so they had to like us after that.
We started up a weekly exercise class at the chapel….Sister Kuhn and I have been on an INSANITY kick. Anybody ever done the videos? Killer. Will totally kick your butt. We have been doing that in the mornings, and decided it might be a good thing to help bring investigators to the chapel. We are doing a weekly night of insanity. One of our investigators, Dani came and brought her friend, and then one of the YSA in the ward came too. It was well good. It was the perfect opportunity after, while we were stretching out and trying to catch our breath to talk about the gospel, and in the end we gave a chapel tour. It was all very natural. We ended up sitting in the chapel at the end for about 10 minutes and the spirit was really strong. Who would have thought Insanity and missionary work would mix? Both of the girls came to church on Sunday and LOVED it. In the world they have grown up in in Darlo, compromising values and morality is the norm. They loved the idea of temple marriage, and came out of gospel principles saying how they wanted to get baptized to be able to go to the temple. Solid. They are lovely girls.
People who grow up in Darlington seem to have a bit of rough lives. We had a chat to a group of people our age when we were knocking for a former last week. We talked to them for about 20 minutes. We found out that two of them had lost siblings to drug overdoses. How heartbreaking. How hard to find your way through life among all those influences and addictions. We definitely planted some seeds there. It is easier to relate to people our own age I think. That was pretty much our week! Hope you are all well!
Today is a bit of a more somber note. Forget about all the silly stories that I normally spout off. Today is serious. Don’t worry not too serious…but I do want people to sense how much this post means to me. I have seen a lot of good friends go home, and every single one of them is an incredible person and missionary. If people are coming out for the right reasons they are going home for equally right reasons…and even if they aren’t coming out for the right reasons we are all human in the end. We have a mission tour coming up next week and that means Elder Dyches is coming to speak to us all. In preperation for that, President Pilkington has asked us all as companionships to find the war memorial in the cities and towns we are serving. In England there are memorials in each town to honor the specific men that fought from that town. We haven’t been told why exactly we are doing this other than it is our duty to pay respect to those that have gone before us. They have preserved our freedoms and right to worship as we want. Here is an excerpt from the letter I wrote President Pilkington this week:
I came across an interesting article about missionaries returning early.It was written by an elder who had gone home early and his advice to the friends and families of those missionaries.I quite liked the end of the article which says, “I was told an analogy that has struck me inside again and again. In the military, the view of completing missions and of wounded comrades is quite different from our view of similar situations in religious missions. If soldiers rush into battle and are wounded on their first mission or 50th mission, they are treated the same. They are given medals. They are applauded for their service, no matter how long. Their brothers and sisters at arms risks their own lives to rescue and restore those soldiers to their homes. No one looks at them differently. No one says, “Well, you didn’t really help the war effort, did you?” or “Toughen up, man. It’s just a bullet.” These brave men and women are honored and respected for their service. So should it be with missionaries. We were willing to go where the Lord asked. Sometimes we get hurt. All we ask for is acceptance and love. We return with dread, hoping our partial offering will still be acceptable to those we care about most.”
This struck me as quite poignant as I have seen a lot of dear friends go home, and thought it might bring you some inspiration as you have had to send so many home, especially recently. I feel the pain of those that go home and have gone home and still correspond with a few. My hope would be that mission culture would shift to view those that return home early more closely with what is described in this article. Of course we are not soldiers in a physical sense, but are very much engaged in a spirtual battle. This also weighed on my mind as Sister Kuhn and I found the war memorial in Darlington which is in front of a memorial hall with names engraved on the walls across the hall. The profundity of those that have come before us hit me really hard…not only those that have fought in those physical wars, but others that have engaged in the war of agency, the battle of good and evil since the dawn of time.
I hope this will mean something to those of you reading. My love extends to you all and I hope you know how much your support and presence in my life individually has given me the strength to continue spreading the gospel here in England. I love you all dearly!
Do you want to know what I did? The closest thing I could get to America was an A&W root beer float. And oh how sweet it tasted! Random story…we were out knocking and we knocked on this lady’s door named Nicola. I think the very first think I said to her was “Can I please use your toilet?” Not the most standard of finding techniques, but I don’t always go by the book. Anyway she looks at me for a second, sizing me up, and then pulls the door open and say “first door up the stairs.” Wow talk about the Good Samaritan. Anyway we get in a conversation after I come back down and she ends up inviting us into her back garden where she had been having a coffee with a friend. Her friend sees us come around the corner and says “What did you let the Mormons in for?!” Nicola turns to her and says “I may not believe in the crap that they preach to people, but you leave them alone!” These two women were the most hilarious people I have ever met. We had about an hour conversation with them and Nicola pulled out a couple of Diet Cokes for us. She told us in the midst of the conversation that she loves root beer. Loves it. Can’t get enough of it. Particularly A&W. She has a stash of it, and everybody knows that it is hallowed. No one can drink it but her. After our visit with her, I don’t think it particularly enthused her anymore about religion, but she sent us away with a can of A&W each, so she must have liked something about us. She told us to drink it when we were missing home. These two ladies were a complete laugh. It is Nicola’s birthday on Tuesday so we secured some Mug root beer from Sister Pilkington (she has a son in law who works for some American distribution company). Couldn’t get our hands on A&W, but pretty close. Hopefully she’ll like it.
Basically we got a lot of crap about the Fourth of July. I was talking to President Pilkington on the phone about something else, but by the end of the conversation he joked “Well I don’t know why I am doing any favors for an American on the Fourth of July, but there you go.” The British still kind of have hurt feelings about the whole thing ha. It was odd not to see fireworks here, but they do fireworks on Bonfire Night in November. The pictures were so fun to see of all of you gathered. As I went through each picture and got the sense of what your vacation was like I felt a surge of love for our family. I feel so lucky to have each of you. I can’t wait to hug your faces! Glad you had a good time. Save me a place next year 😉
Wow, I can’t believe how much more efficient we can be with a car! It is so good. Of course we miss out on some of the people that we would normally come in contact with by the way as we use public transportation and walk, but I feel like the pros certainly outweigh the cons. We feel really spoiled because we have two cars in this area because the zone leaders have one as well, but I saw a need with all the exchanges we do every week up north and so I simply asked. I think that will be a huge part of unlocking more of the work here in Darlington. We are teaching two main people right now, Martin who is about our age, and a middle aged man named Paul. They are both great, we have loved teaching them this week. I don’t know if you have heard about it, but there was a local news channel here that aired a piece this last week called, “Meet the Mormons.” I don’t know if you will be able to find it online at all. Anyway it features one of the Elders here when he was at the MTC and in the early days of his mission. Apparently in the words of our ward mission leader they make missions look like the worst possible thing someone could go through. Which may be true in some respects ha, but in reality it is one of the hardest things you could possibly do, and yet one of the most life changing. Going on a mission changes your own heart in so many ways as you see others around you change for the good. It’s amazing. Anyway this is the topic of the day most recently with our investigators as well as people we talk to in the street. No press is bad press right? Apparently on the program they talk about how we baptize dead bodies…so that has raised some interesting questions. Just more misconcceptions for us to clear up ha.
We have been faithfully sorting through all of the records of formers from the past elders in this area. Some of them go back to 2006! We have followed up on a few and have been seeing some miracles along the way. I called a number of one of them last night. It was this man who is a rugby player. Him and his wife were taught everything. I asked him about his experience with the missionaries in the past and how his life has been going recently. He said that him and his wife were content at the moment. I chatted with him for a little longer. He said it was funny we called because his nephew is leaving for a mission to Colombia next week. I was kind of shocked! Apparently his brother and his wife are members. His brother’s wife started meeting with the missionaries and was touched by the truth, and now their son is going on a mission. Two roads diverged in a wood…
We also had this crazy experience with this former named Elsie. The record said she had diabetes and had lost a leg from because of this. They had taught her for a while. So I called her and as soon as she found out who I was she said she wasn’t interested and hung up abruptly. We were in the middle of planning so I didn’t think much of it and we went on with our work. Pretty soon her number calls our phone. I answer and she says “Oh sorry, wrong number.” She calls again a few minutes later and hangs up as soon as I answer. She calls again, so I silence it. Calls again. I decide to answer one more time. She then starts frantically telling us how she needs to get to the bank in town before it closes. She told us she didn’t have any food in the house so she needed to get money out. She said her daughter said she would come two hours earlier but hadn’t showed up. So what’s a missionary to do? Of course we’ll help you Elsie. So we show up and apparently in between the last time the elders saw here, she had lost another leg and had suffered from a heart attack. She also has bright red hair. So she asks us to push her in her wheelchair to town which is about a 30 minute walk. Her wheel chair is also about a hundred pounds (weight not currency ha). Anyway we help this lady get her money and get a few things at Marks and Spencers and then she asks us to push her to a pub in town to wait for her boyfriend. Most bizarre experience of my mission life: Pushing a legless lady to town. Check.
So besides that we have done a lot ha. We went on exchange with the two sets of sisters up in the Newcastle. We went into trios with the four of them, so that was really fun being able to see how they both work together in both finding and teaching. They are great sisters and they had three baptisms up there this week! One of the sets is Chinese speaking, so it was so fun to be back in a uni area just for the day. I already miss the feel of uni! Darlington just isn’t the same pace. We got to see the angel of the North on our way up there and went across the bridge from Gateshead to Newcastle which was pretty cool. I still can’t get my camera to work at this library, but next week I’ll have pictures to you for sure! I hope. Otherwise everything is great and we are going on exchange with the South shields sisters this week, so I should be able to see the seaside! I am really excited for that!! Hope you all have fun in Tahoe…you should take a cardboard cutout of me to pose in all the pictures. That’s what families usually do right? Love you!