So Sister Prawitt and I are in Leeds! We are staying with the Whipples, one of the senior office couples. That is our home base, and then we have the flexibility to go around the different areas of the mission to work with the other sisters in their areas. We don’t actually have an area. We are kind of area-less. But we have a car, and we are split between the Leeds 1 and Leeds 4 areas if we aren’t visiting sisters. Those are the two areas we spent the most time in in our missions.

We had a fireside last night based all around the truce that the Germans and English called at Christmas during WWI in the trenches. They weren’t really fighting each other, they were fighting on behalf of two differing political ideologies. They called a truce and went out in the field between the trenches and played a match of football. The missionaries of the Leeds stake were asked to sing a medley of some of the marching songs the British and Irish sang to keep up their spirits during the war. 

Tipperary is in Ireland. And so one of the songs we sang was:
It’s a long way to Tipperary,
It’s a long way to go.
Goodbye Picadilly,
Farewell Leicester Square!
It’s a long long way to Tipperary,
But my heart’s right there.

I haven’t been away at war, but I have been absent from friends, and family, and loved ones. Things that I loved to do, passions, hobbies, and the people of my life. I was willing to do this for the Lord. I have been in a very real spiritual war. That has become apparent to me on my mission. My heart has been here, but like this marching song, my heart’s been right at home with those I love as well. I will see you all in a week! Love you. Peace.

Love, Sister Zurcher

Volunteering for the Food Bank and our friend Ernie (Special note for Sister Wynder: Operation Kit Kat Chunky complete and passed on!)
Volunteering for the Food Bank and our friend Ernie (Special note for Sister Wynder: Operation Kit Kat Chunky complete and passed on!)

Alright all you people out there! Things are getting real. I have 13 days left in my time here in England, so time to kick it up a notch. Transfer calls were last night…and the answer phone from the zone leaders read, “Sister Wiborny is training in Bishop! (yea!) Sister Dragoti is going to Sheffield!…and Sister Zurcher is going to Leeds!…for a special assignment!” Now that sounds much more exciting than it is. Basically me and Sister Prawitt are here for 12 days into the next transfer…and frankly President doesn’t know what to do with us. We will sort of just be doing some things in the office, and going to work with some of the sisters in the Leeds area I think? So basically as Sister Lam said today in chatting with her online…we are temporary female AP’s? Ha. I did mention that I had a Costco card, and that I could do runs for the Christmas party food supplies, which President found interesting. So maybe I will just be a Costco-runner my last few days.

Wednesday we will go down to Leeds for the transfer meeting, and Sister Prawitt and I will give our departing testimonies with the rest of the missionaries that are ACTUALLY leaving on Thursday. President also graciously invited us to the departing mission home dinner that they do at their home, again for the missionaries that are ACTUALLY leaving. Man, it’s like I am an old person, that all the family secretly wishes would just die already. 

So despite all that, we had an enjoyable week. We got involved with the local Food Bank this transfer and had a really nice time serving the people of England. One particularly poignant experience we had this week is as follows. What happens is, people that are in need receive a food stamp, which they can bring to any food bank and receive food. They also offer a hot beverage and people to talk to, if people want to. This youngish couple came in this week and started telling us their story while they were waiting for their food to be packed up. They are both having a really difficult time finding jobs where they can get enough money to stay afloat. As a result of that pressure, combined with possibly losing their house, they are both struggling with depression. They have a six year old little girl as well, and as this man was describing how he had to sit their daughter down and explain that they might be homeless right before Christmas, he broke down and just started sobbing. I will never forget the look in his eyes, a combination of sorrow, grief, and desperation. All three of us just felt so strongly in that moment how much God loves this man, even if he is not aware of it right now. I hope he comes into the path of missionaries again at some point. It made me think of the Samarian women that is talking to Christ at the well, and he explains that He is the living water, that those that partake of his gospel will never thirst [and I would add go hungry] again.   

Also, we had a chance to get to know one of the Chinese students that is staying with one of the families in the ward for a couple years, doing school here. Her name is Ellen and she is sixteen. The family invited us over for tea and so we had a great time. At the end, we did a simple lesson on what the holy spirit is and what it does. Sam, the mom of the family called us later to tell us that as they gathered for family prayer later that evening, Ellen offered to say the prayer for the very first time. 

We also got to know our ward mission leader’s wife a little better this week. She isn’t a member, but she is just so great. She loves the church as an organization and thinks it does a lot of good, but just can’t get herself to even have a desire to believe in God. Yet we had a good conversation…and we got to do some cooking with her as well. Of particular interest was the bread pudding that we got to whip up. I think sometimes, those with a very questioning minds sometimes find it hard to make the connection that God is there. I found that I had trouble with this when I was younger and growing up. Yet the things of God can’t be logically thought out. Conversion comes through feeling something…and that is a difficult concept to accept, especially in this day and age. Yet we know that God has told us in Isaiah that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Some things we just can’t fully comprehend as mortals. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think things out in our mind, and question, but confirmation and truth from God doesn’t come in a standard way that we are used to. It doesn’t come through searching the internet, or through history books, or other media. It comes through simply praying to God and receiving answers directly from Him. This is why I came on a mission. Because I prayed to know what I should do next in my life, as my education came to a close, and I felt that I should come. As simple as that. That decision to follow that simple prompting has changed my life, and I am grateful to Heavenly Father for everything.  

Happy December everyone!
Love, Sister Zurcher

Newton Aycliffe District photo!...possibly my last district?
Newton Aycliffe District photo!…possibly my last district?
The memaid fish shop in Willington, at which we devoured some fish n' chips. Am I British yet?
The memaid fish shop in Willington, at which we devoured some fish n’ chips. Am I British yet?
Our American friend, Katy, made a pumpkin pie special for us on Thanksgiving. A true taste of home!
Our American friend, Katy, made a pumpkin pie special for us on Thanksgiving. A true taste of home!
We found this epic street in honor of President Pilkington!
We found this epic street in honor of President Pilkington!

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This week was all over the place! We went up to South Shields to join with the other nine sisters of the North to have a little pow-wow. Behold the light of the sisters of just HALF of our mission! They are powerful, spiritual, emissaries of the Lord in this area of England…that goes for the rest of the sisters in the whole mission. They are incredible. This was sort of my last official week as a Sister Training Leader. So mixed emotions there. We went on exchange with the sisters down in Harrogate and I spent most of my time with Sister Sorensen, who is in her first six weeks. It was a weird feeling being with someone who is just starting their mission as one who is almost ending theirs. I tried to give her some wise counsel and advice on some of the things she is facing in these early days. I remember well being in her place just thinking I would never make it! She is great, she will do great things. Plus, she promised to teach me how to fly fish when we are both home. I love making friends around the world…even if she is from my neck of the woods. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the friendships I have formed here on my mission are some of the greatest strength I have formed. They have given me the power to overcome things that I wouldn’t have without them. It was fun to spend some time in Harrogate. The ward there is overrun with Americans because of the base that is in the area. That means that we were treated to some A&W root beer and pre-thanksgiving dinner before we left. One of the Americans there is named Bill Pierce…funny enough, his wife is named Cheryl as well. His daughter, Lauren, was on Melissa’s drill team! What a small world! He treats the missionaries in the area (especially the sisters) like pure gold. Good man!  

Well the time is dwindling like the bottom of a candle. My time will soon be out and I will be reunited with you all. What a bittersweet experience! I’ve never felt such a strange cocktail of emotions as I have being on a mission. It’s like my heart has grown double its size to encompass all the experiences and relationships I have formed. Maybe it hasn’t grown though…maybe it has just changed? I have to say I can feel that it has softened a lot. President Pilkington speaks much of this “condition of the heart” and his messages have seemed to infiltrate my core. He is a wise man. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! Sadly I think we will just be having the average British meal on Thursday. Save me some leftovers!!

Love, Sister Zurcher

Up to the North Sea in South Shields this week!
Up to the North Sea in South Shields this week!
Sister Kuhn and I arranged a "sisters meeting" with all of the sisters we go on exchange with. There were twelve of us total representing eight different countries! (China, Spain, America, Australia, Albania, Germany, Finland, and Guatemala) Wow!
Sister Kuhn and I arranged a “sisters meeting” with all of the sisters we go on exchange with. There were twelve of us total representing eight different countries! (China, Spain, America, Australia, Albania, Germany, Finland, and Guatemala) Wow!
I also went on exchange with the beautiful Sister Sorensen (Utah) and Sister Cabrejas (Spain) in their area, which is Harrogate. Harrogate is posh man!
I also went on exchange with the beautiful Sister Sorensen (Utah) and Sister Cabrejas (Spain) in their area, which is Harrogate. Harrogate is posh man!

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Last Mission Leadership Council with the STL's
Last Mission Leadership Council with the STL’s

This is my absolute favorite video that the Church has put out. I feel as though it encompasses what I myself have felt and experienced on my mission and witnessed in so many others. If you have a chance to actually study this story in the Bible, notice that the man who was healed first just says it was a man who gave him sight. But as the Pharisees question him further and further, he says he was a prophet, a man of God, and finally recognized him as his Lord. This is a process. That means the man, and none of us all in an instant have complete faith without a doubt in God and the things of God, but as we see instances of his miracles and love in our life we can come to know him personally. We met with a lady this week that has been away from the church for a while. A lot of darkness has encroached in her life, but we brought a ray of hope this week. As we sat and visited with her and spoke of God’s love for her personally, tears ran down her cheeks, and I could see what God sees in her and the love he truly does have for her. Life and Satan discourage us and dishearten us, but the Savior has overcome all, and he can help us overcome all as well. I know that to be true

Love, Sister Zurcher

Tea at Vicki's house!
Tea at Vicki’s house!
Me and William
Me and William
Little Jacob on my shoulders
Little Jacob on my shoulders

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This door is in the front of the building our little flat is in. We share it with a few other people.
This door is in the front of the building our little flat is in. We share it with a few other people.

A few doors have caught my eye in this area and so my thoughts have turned to the subject. The Savior said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” As missionaries we see a lot of doors, and often we see a lot of doors close in our face. I don’t say that with bitterness but just simply as fact. Simply because the Savior does not force himself into our lives, every single person on this earth has the power to choose to let Him in or not. He stands on the other side waiting for us to open. It is the same with us as missionaries. We try to adopt the way of the Savior. We try not to coerce, hassle, or push ourselves and our message into others lives. That is not His way and it cannot be our way. However the Lord is preparing people around the world to heed his message, and every once in a while when we knock they hear.

A hymn we focused on in a meeting this week was “The time is far spent” and particularly the last verse. 

Be fixed in your purpose, for Satan will try you.

The weight of your calling he perfectly knows. 

Your path may be thorny but Jesus is nigh you.

His arm is sufficient, tho demons oppose.

His arm is sufficient. I think I forget that sometimes as I try to rely on myself more than Him. We had a busy week in trying to get to know the area and the people in Bishop Auckland as well as Newton Aycliffe. Our area is huge! Just like the Darlington boundaries. Vicki and her family continue to flourish in the ward and the other members have really rallied around them. We have set a goal with them to read the Book of Mormon all the way through by the time their year anniversary of their baptism rolls around. This week will be much the same in continuing to become familiar with our surroundings, with maybe a few fireworks in between for Bonfire Night! Cheerio!

Love, Sister Zurcher

I  don't know if "Old School house" means it used to literally be a school house or if they are using the more current slang of "old school".
I don’t know if “Old School house” means it used to literally be a school house or if they are using the more current slang of “old school”.
Some beautiful fall colors embellish this rather small door.
Some beautiful fall colors embellish this rather small door.