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!
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!
Setback #1: We were walking back from the chapel on Tuesday, back to our flat, when this border collie comes charging out, with it’s owner close behind. Sister Kuhn thought it was just going to try to run in the road or something, so she tried to corral it back. It dodges her, and comes up behind me and bites me on the inner thigh! Apparently it is a rescue dog and isn’t very good around people. It accidentally slipped out the door unaware to the owner until it was too late. So this lady is like really posh, and can’t apologize enough. She gives us a tour of her garden/house in return for the dog attack. She informs us that she is high Church of England, so chances are she never would have given us the time of day if her dog hadn’t mangled my leg. We went to the walk in center later that night because the zone leaders freaked out and told me I needed a tetanus booster (false) but they did give me antibiotics so I guess better safe than sorry.
Setback #2: On Saturday night we were headed out to the car to go and exercise at the chapel the last hour of our day. So we are in pretty grubby clothes…just remember that for later. When we had headed out the door of our flat, for some reason through miscommunication we both thought the other person had the keys. So we get out to the car and are both looking at the other person to magically pull the keys out. Then we realized our error. Apparently our locks on our door are the best in the business and you basically have to break the door down to get in. So we called the landlord, but he wasn’t going to be back in town until Sunday afternoon. Also did I mention we were supposed to teach Primary and relief society the next day? Anyway luckily the Crawfords came to our rescue and we stayed there for the night. It was probably the most unusual Sunday on our missions.
So we’ve had an interesting week…and I hear that bad things come in threes so I’ll probably have another story for you next week!