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.
Sister Baker, one of the members in Darlo, treated us to a place called Forbidden Corner last P-day. It was so cool! It was like Alice in Wonderland, or some fairy tale mixed with a labrynth-like maze. It was originally just a family’s back garden, but they started building fun little things and surprises, and eventually people started asking if they could go through it and now it is open to the public. We ran around like little kids trying to discover all the mysteries. The gardens alone were incredible, and it was fun to be out in the great weather. You can see from one of the pictures that we had an incredible view of the dales as well. We got super lucky with the good weather.
We are still talking a lot about humility in the mission. In our district meeting this week we talked about the scripture about the clay. Clay is incredibly hard to work with, in fact pretty much impossible to work with, if it is hard. On the other hand, if it has enough moisture, and is soft, it is easier to manipulate and form. Similarly we are like clay in the Lord’s hands. If our hearts are hard and unyieldable, he can’t do much with us. Pride results from sin, doubt, and even fear. Humility is like the moisture to the clay, as we soften our hearts and allow God to form us into what he has in store for us. Just been thinking about this a lot lately.
We are teaching a great family now. The mom’s name is Vicki, and she is incredible! She has six of the the cutest kids. This family is lacking some things, but what they don’t lack is love in their home. We could see it in the interactions of the kids and of Vicki as well. It was just really lovely to be in there home. Vicki is so prepared for the gospel! She understands the value and importance of it in her life, as well as her children, and she is hungry for it. We could just see the hand of the Lord in her life as we sat in her front room and listened to her story. These are the best moments as a missionary.
Is anyone else looking forward to general conference? Can’t wait to hear what messages they have for us!
For those of you that don’t understand Geordie, the subject line this week just simply means “yes.” But don’t accuse people from Darlington of being Geordies cause they get mad ha…well mostly Martin gets mad. Speaking of which, the biggest news of the week is that Trish and Martin got engaged! Whoo! Shout out to them. Really happy for them both!
A quick miracle this week. For those of you that believe in coincidences it might just be a story, but I can see Lord’s hand is in our lives. My hope is that you can too, even in the small things. When I first came to Darlington, I was looking through the area book (which is where all the missionaries who come in and out of areas keep records of people that the taught and other helpful info) and I came across a record of a lady the elders used to teach back in 2012. From what the described she was really prepared for the gospel but other things got in the way. There was a member who was her friend that was really involved. So not really knowing any of the members or the area, I texted Sister Nolan about this lady. She said that she was great, and in fact is really prepared for the gospel, but moved to Bishop Auckland recently. So I dropped it and didn’t think much of it. But this lady, Vicki called Sister Nolan the very NEXT day after I had texted Sister Nolan about her. But again nothing really happened. We were having tea at the Nolans a couple weeks ago and again Vicki came up in conversation and they told us a bit about the elders teaching her in the past. Vicki called Sister Nolan the day after this again! Coincidence? You decide. Bottom line? Sister Nolan invited Vicki to come to church this week and she came with three of her kids (she has six total!) She is an awesome lady and we are seeing her this week. Yea!
Also we had Brymoor ice cream this week after Bolton Castle. Sister Wynder got elderflower flavored and I got mango banana. The best thing ever. I’m going to move to the Brymoor dairy farm. Shout out to them if they want to send us some free icecream 😉
Transfer meeting was hard! I didn’t anticipate that. Just seeing people that I have served with for so long, finish out and give their departing testimony really got to me. Plus saying goodbye to Sister Kuhn/hello again to Sister Wynder encompassed a lot of emotions. I think people don’t realize the things you share as a companion in working together 24/7. You experience a lot of incredibly hard and great things together, and it forges a strong friendship. Also, I think maybe it keeps getting more real that I will be finished and done soon as well in just a few months. The hardest goodbye might just be to the actual mission and everything I’ve learned here.
So the infamous duo back together again! Can you believe it? It’s just like old times, except we are in Darlo now. We had a great stake conference this weekend, and Sister and Elder Charles came to speak. Their conversion story was really interesting. Both of them growing up had a kind of mix of religions. Her mom was Catholic, her dad Muslim. His mom was Church of England, his dad Greek Orthodox. So when they married religion wasn’t really something they talked about or entertained because it was just such confusion growing up. But within the first couple of years both of them had moments separately where they wondered about God. And then the missionaries knocked and the Spirit touched their hearts. Really interesting. They are a powerful couple.
We taught a man named Colin this week, who for looks after other people’s dogs for work. He has chronic fatigue syndrome, so it’s something that he can manage for now. The elders taught him about a year ago, but then he had a really bad relapse with his illness and they fell out of contact. He is a really interesting guy. He studied piano performance in school and used to be a teacher, but again his illness prevents him from doing that now. Needless to say with all those dogs, we had a lot of hair on us after that lesson.
We are also teaching the wife of one of the members that just moved into the ward. Her name is Deb. We met with both of them at their home last week and ate chilli and potato jackets out in their back garden. The weather was glorious! Probably one of the last sunny days we will have. The leaves are definitely starting to turn around here. I think it will be hard in just recently being married and a lot of things changing to suddenly jump into a new religion, but she wants to learn so we will teach!
Phil and Hilary are a referral that we received a while back. He is a religious education (RE) teacher (which is a required course in schools here). He and his wife traveled to the states this summer and ended up in temple square in Salt Lake at one point and had a great chat with the sisters there. He wanted a book of Mormon to read because he would like to incorporate more religions that are usually left out of RE. Sister Kuhn and I left a Book of Mormon with him months ago for him to study. He called us up right before she left to invite us over for some cake and a chat. We had a really good conversation with him. He isn’t really religious himself but he is the type that wants to understand, and especially with his job, wants to help others understand. There is so much intolerance of religion just based on not understanding. He invited us to join this peace walk with him up in Newcastle at the end of September, so we are pretty keen. I think something will happen in his life at some point where everything will suddenly just click and God will become real for him, rather than just a subject of study.
Heading to Castle Bolton today with the Dunns, so later for now!