Monday, 15 September 2014

Seven Months Left. . .

I didn't have my camera with me so I couldn't send pictures of the farm visit I mentioned last week. It was fun.  Here is. . .
a gruff billy goat (a guard goat actually)

chief of the pecking order (only one tail feather though was a bit sad...)
Elder Ruka with a horse

me with a horse

Dear Family,

I wouldn't have noticed until Mom pointed out to me that it was mid September that time is flying so fast. I have heard that my group of missionaries will go home on April 15th or something if that's a Wednesday so I've got just a few short months left of full time service as a missionary. That being said though, I am looking forward to the opportunities which I will have once I get back home to continue serving and spreading the gospel.

We've been really blessed this week to meet some great people who we either are teaching or will be teaching shortly. It's been tricky lately with finding in our area for a number of reasons so it's really great to teach some new people! One of them is a wonderfully prepared Polish man named Peter (Peter #1 for future reference). He was doing really well and we had met with him a few times but then he didn't come to church on Sunday. I think the key though is his awesome Polish member friend Wojciech ("Voy-Check") who we are working with to help him with a few things. Once he's receiving all of the blessings of the gospel, I think it should be easier for Peter to accept everything and keep all of his commitments. We also did a bit of the groundwork for some Less-Active member work we will be doing soon so that was great. There's a story behind that:

We arranged with a man in the ward named Brother Woods to come to his home to go over the ward list and figure out who is who. Brother Woods has been in the ward since before it was even a branch-he and his wife were the first members in Walsall. He's now quite old but his mind is all there and he has a fantastic memory. We went over the ward list and he highlighted some people that we ought to search out. It was interesting though that he kept repeating a few phrases about some of the members he had known:
  • "I thought she'd be underground by now."
  • "Well, if he's still above ground, he's definitely worth a visit"
  • "If you see her, tell her Stan Woods gives her his love"
  • Also just the general of him and his wife calling each other poppet (spl?) and just generally being fantastic old English people. From him: "Oh come on now, let's have a hug" and then getting a tiny bit of a friendly kiss... It's great. He winks at me when he comes into Priesthood with his trike walker when I'm at the piano (I've been enlisted and I'm enjoying it quite a lot-we even have music practice of a hymn each Sunday in addition to the opening song). Anyway, it was just great fun being with some very very English old people.
A few funny things:
  • One of the localities just south of Birmingham City Centre is California. I've never heard of it other than seeing it on the map-some of the locality names aren't really known (In Coventry, we lived in "Paradise" but no one ever used that locality name). So anyway, it's out of the Zone so I'll never go there unless I get transferred to Harborne ward but it's nice to think that if I need to get to California, it's just a bus ride away.
  • At a pub we passed somewhere, there was an advertisement on the little chalkboard easel thing that many pubs have: it said "Special Deal: Buy Two and Pay for Both." funny funny
  • I bought six ties for £3 today at a stall in the town centre market thing in Walsall. I got them so that we can have district unity ties (companion ties are so 2013!). Kind of awkward figuring out how to include the sisters in that district unity...
We had some wonderful training at Zone Meeting on Thursday as well. Our Zone Leaders are fantastic! It was a wonderfully uplifting spiritual experience.

We performed a musical item for the ward of hymn 220 which went well. Miraculously, I hit the D acceptably after struggling to do so in practice during the men only verse. It was really nice. Sacrament meeting was fantastic and things are great.

Alex Sutton will be baptised on Friday. She's 13 and an amazing investigator. She's been ready to be baptised for a while but her father passed away a few weeks ago so it's been tough for her mother and everything. Really sad and I've learned a lot about grief and the pain of dealing with death. Alex is doing fine though-it's just that someone didn't update her teaching record so we have to make sure she is taught and willing to live all of the commandments in the missionary lessons and prepared for her baptismal interview. It will be great for Elder Ruka as she's asked him to baptise her. Should be great!

I love you all lots. Sorry this email isn't spiritual as it ought to be. I saved a really cool experience in a video that I made (look forward to Elder Houghton's cooking show episode one coming soon) but which I will have to send on the micro SD card because videos are too big to send via email. It was quite a miracle (and involves Peter #"2). It has been a great week though. The Lord is blessing us tremendously and His work is progressing here! I'm so grateful to be a small part of it.

Elder Houghton

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