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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Welcome to Bishop Auckland!
Welcome to Bishop Auckland!

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?

Love, Sister Zurcher

Meet Sister Dragoti my new companion from Albania!
Meet Sister Dragoti my new companion from Albania!
We still have the car!
We still have the car!
We live in a cozy little flat that is very close to town center.
We live in a cozy little flat that is very close to town center.

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Why can't American mail boxes be as cute as the Royal Mail postboxes. I'm really going to miss that.
Why can’t American mail boxes be as cute as the Royal Mail postboxes. I’m really going to miss that.

We had exchange with the Gateshead sisters this week (Kumire, Neilsen, and Monroy). From Africa, Canada, and Guatamala!
We had exchange with the Gateshead sisters this week (Kumire, Neilsen, and Monroy). From Africa, Canada, and Guatamala!

Transfers yet again this week. I am staying in Darlington and Sister Kuhn is going up to South Shields to train a new sister. Sister Wynder and I will be reunited! So stoked. Plus Sister Kuhn and I will still serve as Sister Training Leaders together, so we will see each other every week or so for exchanges. How does it work that we get the best of both worlds sometimes? I guess Heavenly Father just knows what we need sometimes. Looking forward to this next transfer, we have some leads on people to teach, and a lot of part member families we want to help. Darlo won’t even know what hit it.

Last P-day we finally made it to Durham Cathedral. It’s been on our list for a while, so we decided no more! We have to take advantage of the history around us while we are here. So we climbed the tower and were quite tired and a little dizzy by the time we made it to the top, but the view was well worth it. Durham is kind of an interesting mix of historical and modern. York is better at completely preserving the medieval feel and history of the city. There was a Jack Wills store on our hike up to the Cathedral, so we had to stop in. People know about the church in the most random places! We got talking to two of the employees there. One of them is dating a church member for about a year, and might I add, he has never invited her to church! Come on people. It’s just a simple invitation, it doesn’t mean you are pressuring them, or forcing religion on them. It’s the same with missionaries, all we do is invite. We don’t coerce, we don’t badger, we don’t force. We invite. Okay that is my rant for the week. Anyway they were both really nice, and we had a good chat to the other girl about what we do. Missionary opportunities in a department store. They are everywhere. Also funny enough we came across a church member from Africa in the narrow little staircase of the Durham cathedral tower. She gave us both hugs, so that was fun.

So many sisters are leaving this week and at the end of next transfer. It is always sad to see people leave and move on with normal life, but that is what we do. We give it all we have here and then we take what we learn and live our lives. Sister Lam goes home this week. My trainer, my mother! She taught me all I know, and I’ll always be grateful for her friendship when I was a bran new missionary. Those were scary and exciting times all in one, but she got me through it. Always with an encouraging word. Love her so much.

We had a lot of meetings this week, and we went on exchange with the Gateshead sisters. Geordieland anyone? They are in the trio at the minute and are quite a diverse trio ranging from Canada, to Zimbabwe, to Guatamala. Quality sisters. Sister Kumire spoiled us and made some food from home…encouraging us to eat with our hands, which is probably the best feeling ever. Why don’t we do that across the globe again? Oh yeah, we are too “civilized?” All I am saying is it prevents you from eating too fast, and from eating food that is too hot (If it’s too hot to pick up with your hands, it’s too hot to put in your mouth.) Who knew I would be exposed to so many cultures here in England. I am lovin’ it.

We had fast and testimony meeting on Sunday and Sister Kuhn and I both got up. Trish got up as well and thanked us for “feeding her spirit” these past months. Funny thing is, she has probably fed ours more than we have hers. That tends to be how it works. She has such an incredible story. I’ll have to share it more in depth someday with you all. She continually amazes me and I’m just really proud of her!

Transfer meeting tomorrow in Leeds will be crazy! So many people moving/going home. So many goodbyes…speaking of which see you next week!

Love, Sister Zurcher

P-day at Durham Cathedral. Do you see the middle tower? We climbed to the top! 326 winding steps! It was an awesome view.
P-day at Durham Cathedral. Do you see the middle tower? We climbed to the top! 326 winding steps! It was an awesome view.

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Sister Kumire made us some African food and we got to eat with our hands. Score! She goes home this week. We'll miss her loads!
Sister Kumire made us some African food and we got to eat with our hands. Score! She goes home this week. We’ll miss her loads!
This is at Binchester, which is some ruins of a Roman fort near us.
This is at Binchester, which is some ruins of a Roman fort near us.
This lady that we met at a running group we went to on Saturday offered to take us. Apparently Irish people are really friendly with strangers! She drove us and paid for us! How nice is that?
This lady that we met at a running group we went to on Saturday offered to take us. Apparently Irish people are really friendly with strangers! She drove us and paid for us! How nice is that?
We also went to Auckland castle which was just nearby as well.
We also went to Auckland castle which was just nearby as well.
Sister Kuhn sitting in the throne room!
Sister Kuhn sitting in the throne room!

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Kera's baptism
Kera’s baptism

So many of you know that we had transfers here this week. Are you wondering what’s happening with me? I’ll give you a hint…there is a clue in my subject line, but just to hold you in a bit of suspense, I want to tell you what British people do in the summer:

  • Trim the hedges—I can’t tell you how many people we have seen carefully shaping their hedges after a long winter.
  • Make Elder flower cordial—Elder flowers are in bloom EVERYWHERE. They smell SO good so people gather them and make them into a sweet syrup then mix into some soda water. It’s delicious!
  • They complain about the hot weather and then complain about the rain when it comes. If you ever want to get a British person talking, just bring up the weather! I find myself complaining right along with them! I think I have been here to long.

Okay enough for the suspense…President Pilkington called me on Saturday and said, “Well Sister Zurcher, all good things come to end. I need you to go up to Darlington with Sister Peck.” So up to the north I go to Geordie land. I’ve heard that the accent is a bit different than the Yorkshire accent so that should be fun. And they told me that I would be speaking English here. Forget it. So I am experiencing an intense cocktail of emotions the past couple of days and the goodbyes are getting much too drawn out for my liking. Sister Peck was trained by Sister Wynder, so she is a good egg. She is also a Sister Training Leader and there are two new Sister Training Leaders in the ranks. One is Sister Stahle who is coming here to Leeds with Sister Kuhn. Sister Peck is from Idaho somewhere, but I don’t know much about here other than that. I’ve had brief interactions with her at meetings and leadership council. She’s great!

So just to tell you about the baptism, it was so so good. The morning of the baptism we had a lot of things to do, so we were running about in the city center. Sarah Boycott was kind enough to feed us that night right before the baptism. She lives right near the chapel, so we jumped at the chance. She makes such good food! Anyway we were trying to relax a bit before the baptism after such a hectic morning, but that didn’t last long. I think we got about 50 calls after we had eaten, and we just wanted to turn the phone off. We had spent the few days before that calling everyone on the ward list to invite them personally, and give some people some assignments because we wanted to get everybody we could there for the occasion. It helped that President Pilkington and Elder Dryden were gracious enough to speak at the baptism. Anyway, finally we get a call from our ward mission leader asking us if we had started filling up the font yet. He usually does it, but we told him we could do it. We thought it only took an hour to fill up, but it actually takes two.  By the time he called us we only had an hour to fill it. Keep in mind that we weren’t the only ones having baptisms that night, but somehow we ended up arranging EVERYTHING. So stressful. So we call the Elders and they rush over, and then we rush over. Turns out we have a key to the chapel but not to the closet where the controls to the font are. So when we get there the Elders are filling up any buckets they can find to begin filling the font up. At this point it is now about T-minus 50 minutes to the baptism. I clean out one of the big rubbish bins and start filling that up. Despite the stress and anxiety we were all feeling, it was kind of a bonding experience. We all kept running to the font and dumping the water in. Finally we figure out that in fact the key that we have in our bag actually works for the closet, so we get the actual font pump running. Phew!

So Kera, and her mum Alice arrive on the scene. Kera is really nervous, but Bishop Parr baptized her and he did a good job helping her feel at ease. The zone leaders had a man get baptized as well…an Indian man named Ranjit, who is the sweetest person I have ever met. It was a great program and we got about 60 people there which is pretty good for a baptism. So many missionaries from the surrounding area came and brought investigators and less-actives as well. It was great to feel that support. So basically I am devastated not to be able and see Kera’s parents both progress towards baptism. Lee, her father has cut down from 50-60 cigarettes a day to about 1-2. He has NEVER been able to smoke that few before. Alice has stopped smoking for about a week now. We are hoping they will be able to get baptized together by the end of the month. We walked with Lee and two of the kids to church on Sunday morning. Of course it was pouring rain as soon as we stepped out the door, but they were there at Beckett park to meet us and we all made the trek in the rain.

I am once again heartbroken to part with another companion, another dear friend. I feel like Sister Wynder is my twin sister and that Sister Kuhn is my little sister. Doubtless Leeds will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as these sisters that I am working beside. Love you all!
Love love Sister Zurcher

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Picnic with Lee, ALice and the kids!"
Picnic with Lee, ALice and the kids!”
Reunited with Sister Lammy!
Reunited with Sister Lammy!
We did a mini mission weekend with Laurence Mputu who is 19 and in the ward. She was great. She is filling out her papers soon!
We did a mini mission weekend with Laurence Mputu who is 19 and in the ward. She was great. She is filling out her papers soon!
Picture by the tree that was planted for the 50th anniverary of the Leeds 1 Chapel...we plan to come back and take the same photo years from now.
Picture by the tree that was planted for the 50th anniverary of the Leeds 1 Chapel…we plan to come back and take the same photo years from now.

Playing the Dowager of Harewood House...with the actual Dowager in the background...
Playing the Dowager of Harewood House…with the actual Dowager in the background…

This transfer absolutely flew by!! I don’t know where the time went. The last two P-days were so fun. We organised a get together with the sisters we exchange with at Kirkstall Abbey and we all just had a great time.  Some lady’s giant schnauzer decided to join the party. Then today we went to Harewood House, which is a large estate nearby. The grounds were all blooming and it was absolutely incredibly. If you look in the picture of me in front of the house, the Lady Dowager who lives in the upper part of the house decided to rock up in her Land Rover in the middle of my photo shoot. Not cool Lady Dowager.

Sister Kuhn and I have had some fun encounters the past couple of weeks. We were trying to contact this man the other day off a record that we had. We couldn’t find him, but we knocked the street anyway. Everybody was very private and pretty much shut the door in our faces. We asked one guy his name and he said, “Why would you need to know a thing like that?” By this time we are used to this kind of thing. Anyway, it progressed like this the whole street until June. What a classy lady. She was a pretty elderly lady and we just started chatting about her garden in the front. We bonded about having the same name, and then turns out all of us have birthdays in June. She let us in, and basically she is our new English grandma. She is interested in doing family history, and funny enough she has the same last name as our bishop. So who knows.

We met an Italian student recently. The day after we met him, he called us and wanted to meet with us. He had looked up our website and found out our lifestyle is pretty similar…turns out he is vegan, doesn’t smoke, drink, or drink coffee or tea. He is really curious, came to church. He is mint. We were able to get him a Book of Mormon in Italian.

We are still teaching a couple of Chinese students even without Sister Wynder on the scene. It is still doable because they have been here in England a while, but some things are a little trickier. One of them is named Tango, and he is really cool. We asked him if he knew there was an orange soda here named after him, and he just laughed. I love being in a uni area, it’s the absolute best!

Oh by the way, I’m staying in Leeds again for the next six weeks. Score! Best area ever!!

Love you lots!
Sister Zurcher

I got a love package sponsored by Trader Joes from Amy Cheng. Love her to death! Saved my life!!
I got a love package sponsored by Trader Joes from Amy Cheng. Love her to death! Saved my life!!
Harewood House has penguins for some reason...things people do with money
Harewood House has penguins for some reason…things people do with money
Check out the library in this place. This will be my house someday!
Check out the library in this place. This will be my house someday!
P-day at Kirkstall Abbey with the sisters, and Skye the Schnauzer
P-day at Kirkstall Abbey with the sisters, and Skye the Schnauzer
P-day at Kirkstall Abbey with the sisters, and Skye the Schnauzer
P-day at Kirkstall Abbey with the sisters, and Skye the Schnauzer

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