This week has been a challenge-no doubt about that. I don't think I ever really explained or understood that opening a new area is really hard. Basically, two nineteen year-olds who have been out for a combined total of just over seven months get dropped off at an apartment somewhere and have to become productive missionaries. Neither of them has hardly any experience doing that kind of work or making things happen but they have to try. They have no one to teach from the outset and most people don't seem interested at all in what they're trying to share. It can be a little bit disheartening. Anyway, we just have to work hard and do everything the way we've been taught to and then eventually, we'll see the success that we want to see.
So, some cool things this week:
1. I only spent £10.73 or something like that on groceries today. It's nice to finally have a base built up to work off of food-wise.
2. Elder Smart is amazing! It's so wonderful to have him as a companion. We can work hard together which is really nice.
3. It only rained on us once. We were riding home in the rain/dark at that one time which was actually not that bad. Note though that it was really only a drizzle.
4. We are getting a lot better at finding people to teach. It's really hard to get better at something when it seems like even your best isn't nearly enough (not getting anyone who is willing to let us come share a follow-up message for days) but we keep trying and our finding has been getting a lot better and more productive. Though we're nowhere near where we want to be and our finding has a lot lacking, we are getting much better. The other day, we talked to about 20 people in 40 minutes on the street starting with the Golden Questions "What gives you purpose in life?" and "What is it that keeps you going?" We're also getting better at figuring out where more receptive people are likely to be. This is more difficult than it seems. The end result is that we now have an investigator who we found! It's an interesting situation that is kind of unfolding so I'll wait to explain until I know more of what's actually going on. Our lesson with him was a bit scattered but also pretty good. He has definitely been prepared in many ways.
5. Church is amazing! I love Sundays! The Warwick Branch is awesome! The funny thing is that the Warwick Branch is quite a bit larger than the Stroud Ward. It also has a nice new, well maintained building while the Stroud Ward has an old, odd, and getting older (it is well maintained but it feels a bit haphazard compared to the Warwick chapel) chapel. The Warwick Branch is composed Primarily of young families. (That was a pun!... because the Primary is so large...). There are a few older people and single adults but it's really mostly 20somethings and their kids which is awesome. There are also a tonne of Americans (mostly teaching at the University of Warwick (which is actually in Coventry, our Stake Centre ). I think that there are three young American Families plus the Branch President's wife is American. So nice to hear American accents! They sound really strange though. The problem is that their children adopt the language of their social (school) group so all the kids who have been here for a while speak with English accents. How weird would it be to have children who didn't speak like you do? One of the American Families sort of knew the Hobbs too!
On to more important things, this week we had our first real lesson in Leamington! We taught a man who was referred to us by a recent convert. Did I mention that missionary work is way easier when members of the church are doing missionary work too? I was never good at this at home but as a missionary, I appreciate the fact that I would be using my time much more effectively if every family in the ward/branch was working on bringing just one person the happiness that they themselves have gained from living the gospel. Imagine if every family shared the gospel with three people! Or five! Missionary work would take off. It is hard and it seems awkward but there are just so many people who don't know what we believe (but want to understand that at least) and if they did know, they would want to learn more, then they would come to a knowledge that this is God's one and only true church on the Earth and recognise that he wants all of his children to be a part of it and receive the blessings and happiness that come from living the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's so important to realise that most people don't know or fully understand the purpose of life or their Heavenly Father's love for them. That's why we're here though--as members of the church, people who do know the truth, we have a responsibility to share the joy that we have received with those we meet.
In Preach My Gospel we are taught to share the gospel with everyone (period). It's really hard to catch that vision when of that 100% of people in our area, very few actually listen to us. It's hard to even stop people, many are in too much of a rush and ignore us or brush us off. I'm working on talking to everyone though because I'll never know if someone who the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel is walking right past me unless I talk to them. I've definitely seen that our finding efforts improve when we do try to talk to everyone.
I never have nearly enough time to write all the things that I'd like to share and though a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm not taking nearly enough of them. I really will get up to speed on that some time.
I love you all immensely and wish I could tell you more and hear more from you but I can't. Missionary work is hard but I'm doing my best and learning a lot. There are plenty of difficult experiences but there are also plenty of wonderful ones that make up for it.