Gulp. I’m in England. It’s everything I’d hoped it would be and more. It’s absolutely gorgeous, a lot like Washington, only greener. Hasn’t rained much yet, but I haven’t been here a week (it’s Monday) quite yet and they’ve just had the driest summer in 50+ years. So, as it gets colder every morning, I begin to pray for the Greenhouse Effect to kick in.
My Mission President is fantastic. Very organized (we are the largest mission in the world, number-wise at 235 missionaries), lots of fun, inspirational. He runs a very complex program, all out of those Franklins. We will be seeing Shakespeare at Stratford – he feels it a requirement. I bought a book of his complete works (Bill’s) for 6 pounds. About $9. Very nice. Anyhow, his programs, if completed turn out gospel scholars. I’m crushed at the fact that he’s only got till July. Big shoes to fill.
My first area is great. Banbury (of Banbury Cross…) and Leicester (pron: Lester). There is a large elderly population that can be kind of set in their ways, but most are very friendly, and it’s a lovely place. Today’s P-day, so we get to go visit the 2-300 year old churches and stuff. If there’s time. Our area is pretty big (25 miles across), so we have a car. Nice, for my first area, eh? Makes it easy to adjust and get stuff I need.
My trainer is a great guy. We get along like ham and eggs. He’s funny, pretty hard-working, understanding, etc. He’s from Ipswich in east England, so he’s already starting me on an accent and teaching me about England. What a blessing. We have a lot of fun – even while tracting. His name, by the way, is Elder B. In 4 days, we’ve placed 7 Books of Mormon, taught 3 discussions to an 8-year old preparing for baptism, had 2 dinner appointments, and visited lots of members, and knocked countless doors. We basically have noone to teach, but we just got a lot of referrals and Book of Mormon placements, so hopefully something will come of those. The biggest stumbling block I see in the people here is just a great fear of hearing anything. It’s just "not interested" in religion or even listening or anything. Some people we can’t even force a free gift on cause they’re so scared of it. Sad.
Our flat is so-so. The people next door (next room) have parties till 2am on weekends and we have to share a bathroom that they use for an ash tray. Lovely. Not a healthy environment. Next week’s the last we’ll be here, though. We’ve found a member who’ll rent us a room. So, the environment should improve drastically.
I’m having a great time. Expenses are fine. Looks like it’ll be enough. Elder B isn’t a great cook (corn flakes and beans and instant spuds), but it’s not like we have time to fix anything. Every once in a while, a guy we’re reactivating and spending lots of time with cooks us something nice like spaghetti. But, food’s real good here, so…
Pray for softened hearts and open minds, and I’ll do the rest.
Love, Elder Chris
PS So much for those "quality" shirts from Nordie’s [Nordstrom’s]. 3 buttons just broke in our washer. Cheap buttons. Not having great luck with this wash. Can’t wait to move.
This week’s been pretty great. We set a goal to find two people to teach, and we’ve found three. So exciting. The two that we’ve already talked to, my comp let me run the discussion. It was great. We just talked about it. I found myself using the skills I’d learned, opening my mouth where I never would normally, etc. One guy is interested just intellectually, I think, but he’s great to talk to and we hope we can leave with at least something to think about, if not feel. One lady had had the discussions before, but it’s been years (we found her in some old records). She’ll be a challenge because she’s a bit too open minded (won’t tie herself to a church). Another guy is a sure baptism, it’s just a question of whether we can teach him in time (he’s leaving). He’s read the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Gospel Principles since Thursday (it’s Monday).
So, all of a sudden, things have picked up. We have dinner appointments 3 times a week (we’re scheduled a week in advance now). We “only” get 1300 miles/month on our car, and we’re using so much this month that we’ve already started using bikes. Argh. I’m using someone else’s right now, but obviously I’m going to have to get my own soon. There are a few sources of used ones. But, I’ve saved money in other places, so I may be able to buy new if I absolutely have to. I’m on a mountain bike now, and I like it a lot.
It’s just now starting to get cold, but I can deal with it. It’s too pretty here to complain.
Remember that dream about the mansion and President’s warning? We had a referral to the Upton Estate that we checked on, and while searching the grounds – in the dark – I felt impressed to tell my comp about it. Scary. Though nothing came of it, I feel reminded. That referral turned out to be this sure baptism I told you about, so I also learned not to let any dreams and such let me get so worked up that I get distracted.
This is in reference to a dream I had just before leaving on my mission that I felt at the time was a warning to be cautious and listen to the Spirit to help me stay out of dangerous situations. While this circumstance didn’t turn out to be dangerous at all, it was a good reminder of the dream. Listening to that still, small voice did keep me out of more than a couple bad situations over the course of the 2 years.
There really is no time for sight seeing. P-days are the busiest, that I’ve seen. We’ll definitely have to spend some, if not all, of our time afterwards in England. There’s so much to see. I could spend 2 days seeing sights in just my 30 x30 mile area.
This refers to the planned vacation trip around the UK with my parents at the end of my mission.
Tell the bishop I’m trying to get him a letter to the ward I wrote on the plane coming over, but it’s in my planner which has been in Coventry since Thurs. which is now in the post etc., excuse, etc., and so on. It’s pertinent, if dated.
By the way, half the people I meet think I’m English. Guess my accent’s coming along. Gotta go, sorry. Things are great.
All my love, Elder Chris
PS What should I do about pictures? Prints? Slides? Send them home? Not?