This week is the first week of the last transfer here in England for me. It seems like quite a landmark to be honest. Sister Wynder and I parted ways on Saturday, and Sister Dragoti, from Albania, and I are serving in Bishop Auckland. We are part of the Newton Aycliffe ward, which is basically where Sister Wynder and I have been attending church for the past three weeks. So I have an automatic leg up in coming into a new area. I’m excited! The town is quite small and very historical. There is a castle right down the road from our flat and some roman ruins as well. It is a very quaint area. It is fun to have a change as being in Darlington for so long, things kind of lost their luster. Not sure why exactly.
Friday night, our last night in Darlo, we said many goodbyes. Trish and Martin fed us tea and we bid them farewell. Then we dropped some cookies by Alison, an investigator who we haven’t been able to see much and said goodbye. Finally we dropped by Colin (Hi Colin, if you are reading!) and gave him a temple magazine and some non-alcohoic wine as a joke. It was an enjoyable last evening with great company (including all the dogs)! So basically this week has been sad/exciting/invigorating/exhausting. What a weird combination. But good things are ahead of us! We have six missionaries in the ward now; two sets of elders and us. The Elders left our flat surprisingly clean which was a nice surprise, but we still had to rearrange some things to suit us. But we are settled in nicely and we have some great people to visit and teach. Vicki and her family live extremely close to us so that is fun.
All the sudden my time here seems very final and I want to make it count. I think every missionary comes to that point and it’s just a shame we can’t keep that mindset our whole missions. Bottom line? I am excited for the experiences that will come our way this next month and half or so. Good things will happen. I can just feel it! Can you?
So our big news this week is that Vicki and her two kid, Bethany and Leo got baptized! It was such a nice service and on Sunday they all got the gift of the holy ghost. Sister Wynder and I had fun keeping all the kids entertained during Sacrament meeting. It made me feel like an aunt again. The ward has been so great to the family…did I mention that she has six kids total? I just really admire this woman. She is incredible and often doesn’t get the credit she deserves. Our Stake President, President Stewart was there on Sunday because they called a new bishop in Newton Aycliffe. He knows us because his home ward is Darlington. He pulled me aside on his way out and just said how great it was to see this new family come into the church. He remarked that this is something that I will remember the rest of my mission and the rest of my life. I know this is true. In working with Sister Nolan, the friend who introduced her to the church, we have become good friends with her. She is a great lady with such a lovely family. This transfer we have helped her about once a week to paint her extension and it has just about finished up. It was fun to work alongside her temporally as well as spiritually. She is a good friend and influence to Vicki and many others around her, including us. Members that get involved in the work make all the difference!
Now that it is October we are focusing on ramping up our efforts to reach people now, as things always slow down around the holidays that are coming up. As missionaries we really are like farmers who plant our seed and wait patiently for the harvest. People don’t change over night. I don’t change over night, so why would I expect others to? So we try to talk to everyone, and “Stoptober” is a great way to help people quit some of their addictions. Basically this month, the world is our oyster, and we want to help other people around us feel that way too…despite the gloomy and bitter weather that has settled in.
After a meeting in Leeds this week, Sister Kuhn and I stopped in Leeds and saw Lee and Alice and the family. Sister Kuhn and I worked with this family near the end of the time I was in Leeds. Kera, their oldest girl got baptised back in June, and Lee and Alice were baptised just about a week ago as they finally both were able to quit smoking! As soon as we walked in, Lee just couldn’t stop telling us about all the blessings they have seen since the church has entered their lives. The kids were running around like crazy, as usual, but he continued patiently to fill us in on how much happier they are. This was a great moment.
We also tried to stop by and see Susan Maggs, but nobody was in and I was pretty gutted because I never had time to really say goodbye. We didn’t leave a note or anything, but the miracle was that she called me and Sister Wynder the VERY next day. Not sure how she got our number or why she chose to call us then, as we hadn’t left a note or anything, but we were elated. One of the first things she said to us was that she was up to Alma 48 in the Book of Mormon. She filled us in on a few things that had happened: her ex-husband passed away, her youngest daughter is now in a wheelchair as she has a degenerative disease, but she too was really positive despite these things.
I feel such love for these people that I have been able to serve. How does that happen? How do we as missionaries come from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds and come to love complete strangers so dearly? Because we are serving in the place of the Saviour, and thus we experience the love that He would have for them in our place. As Elder Holland said, “You are not called to serve in a place, you are called to serve in the place of the Savior.” This is a pretty incredible phenomenon.
We were headed to the library today and the weather was just pretty miserable. We were sort of rushing to get out of the cold. There is this lady that stands outside one of the shops near the library that sells magazines every once and a while. We said hello to her, and she shot a friendly smile back. Turns out the computers at that library weren’t working so we came straight out. We saw the lady again, so we popped into the shop and bought her a hot chocolate. She seemed to be from a foreign country when we talked to her, and she must have a fairly hard life in earning a living. Hopefully it made a bit of a small difference to have something to warm her hands.