Monday, October 22, 2012

Final Entry

All is said and done, the flight home, my being released, and the calling itself is over ... My time as a full time missionary is through, and its all just a memory. Looking back, its weird to think that I'm an RM now and I'll be telling of experiences from my mission for the rest of my life. However, I am SO very grateful for the opportunities and experiences that will shape the rest of my life. But first a final cap on the final days of my mission...

The last days didn't seem real... Time was just flying by, and the last 48 hours seemed like a race against time to do as much as I could before Wednesday, where every hour of the day was detailed for transfers. This included tea with members from the surrounding wards who I had the honour of getting to know and dining with, buying last minute things that I would need for the trip home/being home, and playing racquet ball for P-day. (I finally won!) I there was so little time and so much to do, but I think the things I did were sufficient for what I wanted to accomplish that week. Anyways, Wednesday finally came, and a full day of work began at 5:30 in the morning (with no sleep, mind. Stayed up all night packing/doing t-books/tying up loose ends).
Picked up the new missionaries from the MTC (one of my most favourite experiences) and took them to Chatburn for their mission dedication. Ironically, this was the first time I went through with President and Sister Lindley since I had dedicated my own life to the mission two years earlier (all of the other times we were rained out).  It was a choice experience that I will treasure forever. (See first pic)  There were a couple aspects that made this group of new missionaries special. One being that Elder Weggersen was the younger brother of a missionary who was serving as the assistant when I was picked up from the MTC. It was neat cuz it kinda went full circle :) The other was that in that group was my GREAT GRANDSON!!! Elder Amos-Smith! Yeah, that's right, Elder Belliston had a son, and now my posterity goes on!  I was so proud :) Yay! (See second photo).

 After the transfer meeting, (including giving my departing testimony, which was an experience in itself) we went to the mission office followed by the mission home, where we had the last supper, final instruction from President and Sister Lindley, and then one more testimony meeting. After that, we said goodbye to Elder Woodbury, who's parents were picking him up from the mission home, and then we said good night, all ready to wake up and head to the airport the next day. 
(See third pic)

We drove to the airport first thing in the morning, and said goodbye to President and Sister Lindley, Elder Page, and the new Assistant to the President, Elder Weitzel from Germany. On our way up the escalator, we gave one last goodbye. The traditional missionary departing shout for the missionaries of the England Leeds Mission... Half way up the escalator, the 6 of us left shouted triumphantly "HURRAH FOR ISRAEL" and it echoed through the airport. Something I will never forget.

The plane ride was long (9 hours, then 4 hours), and it was sad to say goodbye to my friends who I had known for so long. As we moved from one plane to the next, missionaries dwindled, until the flight to SLC with me, Elder Stettler, Elder Kapetanov, and Elder Prisbrey. But it was worth it. My family was there waiting for me, all done up in leis and balloons (a weird unexplainable Spencer tradition), ready to welcome me home :) Out of all the pictures I could have chosen from, I think this one captures the emotions of that night perfectly. (See final pic)
 Within a couple hours, I was released, and no longer a part of the great work which I had grown to love and enjoy so much. My homecoming talk went fine. I was the only speaker there, so I had a whole 35 minutes to spend, but that wasn't a problem, and the open house afterward was great. (Thank you to all who attended either or both!) And here we are :) Life back home is alright. Not as exciting I guess, but its alright. I guess I'll have to adjust sooner or later. But I can never adjust from the lessons I learned, and the growth I experienced.

The past two years have been not a sacrifice, but a blessing. Every second of it. Every moment was nothing short of a privilege to experience. It was an honour to serve the great people of northern England. 12 Companions, 6 areas, and a whole bunch of amazing times as a result. I now know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite. I testify that this is His church, this is His priesthood, and that God is our loving Heavenly Father, who's sole purpose is to help us, His children, to return to Him someday. And that's exactly what I did these past 2 years. Help others to come unto Christ through His gospel. I am a different man as a result of this experience. My perspective has been broadened, and my priorities are clear. I know that God loves each of us, and knows us by name. He has a plan for all of us, and I certainly testify of that. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration, and the Book of Mormon is a true book that serves as evidence of Jesus Christ's divinity and Joseph Smith's sacred calling. I testify that it is through the Holy Ghost that any of us may come to know this. That is how I know all of these things are true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thank you for reading, I hope the words I've written do some kind of justice to the times 've had here. I love this work. And because I love it, I promise to always be an effective missionary!

Hurrah for Israel!!!

~Elder Gabriel Gaylen Spencer

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week 104: Last one... Let's make it count!

Hello everyone!

What a week we've had! There have been so many wonderful and exciting things that have happened within the past week that I need to tell you about! And once again, so little time to say it... So lets get started!
First off, it was President Lindley's birthday recently! So we just had to celebrate!  On Monday for lunch, the office had a party for President and Sister Lindley's birthdays, which are within about 2 weeks of each other (which makes it convenient to remember). Pizza and salad, followed by a yummy dessert made by Sister Brinkerhoff. :) It was delicious! (See first picture)
Next, we had Zone Leader Council! This is definitely one of my most favourite meetings in the mission field. Its a wonderful opportunity for the leaders of the mission to meet together, receive instruction, as well as council together about the needs of the missionaries, both on and individual and group basis. This Zone Leader council was especially different because Elder Donaldson, from the area seventy attended and added his wise input. He is such a kind hearted and knowledgeable man! In addition to his welcomed visit, we also gave President a present fro his birthday! All 14 zone leaders got together along with Elder Page and myself to pitch in for a gift for our wonderful mission president... And after weeks and weeks of searching, we finally got it! It was an antique oil on canvas 'Third Degree Tracing Board'! This is of great symbolic significance in the Freemason religious culture, and President is a HUGE fan of antiques as well as symbolisms. We gave it to him at the end of the meeting at his home. He was so excited, and he even mentioned he had been searching for something like that for quite some time on his own, with no luck! As soon as we gave it to him, he began to explain some of the meanings of the symbols on the board :) See second pic.

Over the past week I have been blessed to set up tea appointments with some of my favourite families I have met in the Leeds areas. Such as Sister Gardiner in Leeds 5, and the Craigs in Wharfe Valley (Leeds 2 basically).  At Sister Gardiner's home, I was finally taught the secret to cooking Yorkshire Puddings! It was pretty fun, and every one was very complimemtative of my yorkshires :) At the Craig's house, I was greeted by two of the people I baptised on my mission last year! Damien and James! We had lunch at the Craig's and then watched general conference together. And it was such a nice day as well! In this next picture, you'll see the Craig family and James, on my left, and Damien, the guy standing on the far left. What a joy it is to see them again, and to hear that they are still attending church! 

Not only was I greeted by that great news, but I was also informed that last month two of the others who I had seen baptised in Leeds 5 went through the temple, and took out their endowments! Not only that, but Ben and Kitty got sealed for time and all eternity in the Preston Temple! Ben was baptised in April of 2011, about the same time that we were reactivating Kitty, which is where they met! What a great story, eh?

Our tea appointments last week also included our final steak night with President and Sister Lindley! This was definitely the best steak I've had in England. See final picture!
So... I've got some good news, and some bad news... Lemme start with the good news first!

The good news is, I have been blessed enough to complete just about all goals that I had set out to do on my mission. I feel very fortunate about that, and I have certainly developed a testimony of the importance and benefit of goals. So that's a welcomed blessing. :)

Now for the bad news... I don't know if you know this, but this will likely be my final entry/email/blog post as a full time missionary for the Lord. Yup. That's right. Three days from now I'll be on a Delta flight home... and that's it. Back to the land of eternal p-days. End of the emails, end of the blog, nuthin :-/ So there you have it... Thanks for reading! Thank you for your prayers. I love this work! I think I'll include my testimony on my final email, which will come soon. So expect just one more I guess!


Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 102: Exchanges, Taxi Driver, and BBQ!

Hello everybody!

Life is just going swimmingly over here in England (to quote my companion)! A couple of weeks ago in the mission we had something called Sister's Specialised Training where all 24 of the sister missionaries travelled for a 2 day experience of instruction (and some fun) from President and Sister Lindley! And why were we involved, you may ask? Well, lets just say apart from sorting out all travel arrangements and housing accommodations, we were also a volunteer taxi service from the mission home to their accommodations for the night, and back! So that's what we did :) It was pretty weird though... Elder Page and I had to take two cars each... and both of our cars (actually, I drove the huge van) were completely full. Lets just say once it was over we were much happier ha ha :)

Lets see... What else has been going on in my life... Oh yes! This transfer I've made it a goal to go on 6 exchanges with the younger missionary teams in the mission within the 6 weeks of the transfer! So far we've done quite a bit of work in those areas... This past week we went on exchange in the south, in a place called Grimsby (once known for its sea port and the lingering smell of fish). And we saw TONS of miracles! We found many new investigators for the missionaries to teach! I went with Elder Pollock, and here's one of the great things that happened... We started our exchange, and left the flat with tons of proselyting materials in hand, ready to pass out. We started walking down this street and within literally 2 minutes I get a faint feeling to knock the door directly to my right. So we did, and a man about 40 or so opened the door, and immediately motioned for us to come in!  He had several questions for us, including 'Why are there so many different churches out there, all with different opinions?" What a great question to start out with! We tied the answer into teaching him the first lesson, which is the restoration, with an added emphasis on teaching the great apostasy. Afterwards he asked another great question... "Why does God allow bad stuff to happen to good people?" Another inspired question. And one that is a perfect set up for teaching lesson to to our new friend. But that wasn't even the icing on the cake yet. After leaving the appointment, Elder Pollock told me that they had met that guy a couple of weeks before and had gotten his contact info, but had somehow lost it and had no way of finding where he lived or getting on contact with him! Talk about a miracle! That was just one of the great things that happened while we were on exchange with some of the teams this past week. What a joy it was to work with new missionaries and to see the strengths they already have, and their hunger for learning!

What else... what else... hmm...  Oh yes! Can I just take a second to say how blessed we are over here to have President and Sister Lindley in the mission? They are such a joy to be around!  The other day, we get a call from President asking us if we have a tea appointment for a night a bit later in the week, and then he invites us over to tea at his house! And what does he fix for Elder Page and I??? Steak!!! Not just the puny, lean english steak, the proper imported stuff that you can only get from the American super store of costco! (Yes, they have costco over here) And So we had a BBQ with President and Sister Lindley at their house. It was a proper good time, and the meat was superb! (See first pic!)

Elder Page and I drove down to the very southern most part of the mission on Wednesday, Mansfield, to pick something up for President, and on our way back to Leeds we travelled through some of the most beautiful English terrain I have ever seen! And what a beautiful day to go through it as well! Check out pic #2!

Around that time, we also were able to do some service at the priesthood service activity held once a month.The picture shows all of the members of the priesthood who attended, except for the one who was taking the picture ha ha. Its a good thing the four missionaries in the ward were able to go! It was fun though, and a nice change of scene :) See third pic.

Well that's about all I think to report on so far... (I promise there are many more things I could talk about, its just that I don't have as much time as I'd like :-/)

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Week 100: New Transfer!

Hello everyone!
Its been a BIG couple of weeks for us, and there have been quite a few changes taking place in the mission! Elder Woodside is no longer among us (he's gone home), we've had an increase of 20 new missionaries coming into the field, and I have a new companion! Where to begin, where to begin... In no particular order, here it goes!

Last transfer was jam-packed with picking up new missionaries, P-days with President Lindley, and sending off/picking up more missionaries!
For instance, halfway through the transfer Elder Woodside and I picked up a couple of foreign missionaries, one from Romania and the other from France. President Lindley was tied up with a prior commitment, and so he left it to us to drive down to the Preston MTC and pick them up! We got them, and they were so excited to finally get out into the work! We were equally as excited for them (at least, i think so). President had a few hours until he was available, and so after we got them to the mission we got them straight to work! I went with Elder Simon (Romania) and Elder Woodside went with Elder Legay (France) and we split off into our area. Within the space of the 3 hours we had to work, we saw more results than some teams in the mission do in a week. Elder Simon and I went street contacting and got in doors on two separate occasions, found three new investigators and set a baptismal date with two of them, and Elder Woodside and Legay got in doors with a large family and found two and scheduled two! Overall, we found five new investigators and scheduled four of them! Needless to say, we were all pretty stoked :)
I'll attach the first picture of the one we took with these two new Elders when we picked them up from the MTC.

The next week, President and Sister Lindley invited us to go with them to the Beamish Museum, which is a village in the north that has been preserved since the 1910s. A few of the exhibits are of earlier time periods. Most of it was pretty interesting, especially the inactive Masonic Hall (with which President described much of the symbolism to) and the old mine (which height of the ceiling measured out to be 4.25 feet, see second attached photo)

Then transfer night happened, and we had the meeting with the departing missionaries which unfortunately included my good friend and companion Elder Woodside. A few days previous to the transfer day we had bought what some call a 'unity' tie for the two of us and president. All three of us coordinated to wear this on the transfer day, and thankfully, President really liked his surprise gift from us. Check out the third pic :)
Next! New companion! Elder Woodside has finished his mission, and is now in Maine with his family enjoying the land of eternal P-days... And I have a new companion! Elder Page from Essex, England! My first English companion! And so far we've been having a blast!

This last pic includes a picture of Elder Page and I standing outside of the Preston Temple on our first day serving as companions.

Well, I think that's about it as major events go... Other than that my life includes preparing mission wide meetings, going to far-reaching ends of the mission and working alongside other missionaries to learn from them and give them a boost, and carrying out assignments from President! I hope you enjoyed the pictures, and thanks for reading!


Elder Gabriel G. Spencer


Elder Gabriel Spencer is an AP, or assistant to the president. Not only that, he is a senior AP... which means he's super busy and doing many amazing things with his life. In the past couple of weeks, that has not included writing emails to the people that love him over here. That's okay though! He's serving the Lord! I just wanted everyone to be updated. So if you're reading this, consider yourself updated, and then write Gabriel a letter! He comes home in 32 days so you still have time!!! The address is on the side bar :) Have a lovely Sunday!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weeks 92-94

Hey again!
Here's the rest of my email, complete with the rest of the pictures I would like to include!
Week 92: Transfer Work takes effect!
One of the crazy things of being so involved in transfer work it the realisation that the work we are doing at that time literally affects the lives of hundreds, even thousands of people! If anything Ive ever don't has massive eternal consequences, that is definitely it! Crazy thought, huh?
So anyway, it was transfer week this week, in which the missionaries coming into the mission need to be picked up, the missionaries getting transferred need to meet in Leeds and have a meeting before departing to their new areas, and then the missionaries going home need to be taken to the Airport. All within about 48 hours. Talk about busy! I didn't get much sleep that week, needless to say ha ha. But it was so exciting! Picking up the new batch of missionaries from the MTC is definitely something I've always wanted to do since it happened to me about 22 months ago! And it was great :) All of the new missionaries are so strong and enthusiastic for the work, and they will be a great strength to the mission. And there is exciting news with one of the new Elders in particular! One of them is my grandson! That's right, my first born in the wilderness, Elder Dundee, is finally training a new missionary, Elder Belliston from Arizona! I'm just so proud! And its nice to know that my posterity will continue forward! The lineage will go on! I got a picture of the new addition to the family on his day of birth ha ha (see first photo)
The next day it was time to say goodbye to the missionaries who were going home. One of the missionaries in particular, Elder Jestice, I had served with in Doncaster for 6 weeks. All of the others in the group going home I had served around in some way, and so I knew each of them individually and personally. Also included in the group were the Jensens! The office couple I had so grown to love and enjoy being around. (They also live in the same house as us, see second photo) They will most certainly be missed (see second photo).

Week 93: Baptism!
Not many missionaries get the experience I got in this week of my mission... Do you remember Rob? The 19 year old boy that I baptised within the 3rd month of my mission? Yeah, well his mum, Diane, who I had also taught quite a bit while I was serving in Leeds 5 finally overcame all of her concerns for baptism, and decided to be baptised on the 21st of July, 2012! And who did she request baptise her? Yours truly! This was definitely one of the baptisms on my mission that I was most excited for... (see third picture)She was so stoked when I saw her at the baptism, and her Rob was as well. As soon as she came up out of the water, she looked out at her son who was watching, and they laughed in pure inexpressible joy :) I've never seen someone so happy after their baptism :) Truly an event I will remember for the rest of my life. :) And not only that, but attending at the baptism were 5 of the people who entered into the waters of baptism while I served in Leeds 5! I got a picture with them as well :) (See final picture) From left to right they are Ben, Ian, Me, Diane, Rob, and Richard :) What a blessing that was as well!
Week 94: Exchanges all over the place!
(This was the most recent week) This week was again, busy. Didn't think to take any pictures, though :-/ But I will this week! We slept over at the York flat with the zone leaders there, and I was able to reminisce with Elder Thomas, who was serving there :) He's such a sound kid. I'm also preparing to give instruction for zone conference in a couple weeks... Yikes! Wish me luck!
Hope you enjoyed the little catch up! I promise I'll be better from now on!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Weeks 89-91

Hello friends, family, and everyone else!
Sorry I haven't been as descriptive in my emails as I have been in the past... I haven't really been sending any big ones at all. :-/ But this will all change! The good news is, I've started writing in my journal daily again, and so far I haven't missed a day!  This is probably why I haven't been writing my experiences of the week down... Cuz my emails have been a kind of journal in its self. I also owe it to all my friends, who have no idea what Im doing, and also for Karstin, who has unfailingly updated my blog for every week thus far of my mission at But enough blabbering on, time to catch up!
Week 89: Picking up the Polish Reinforcements!

This week we had a great experience in particular! Two American missionaries assigned to our mission had just completed their 8-week training crash course into learning to speak the polish language. However, there was an issue at hand. The missionaries were set to fly over two weeks prior, but due to health problems they were postponed until the first Thursday of the month. It just so happens that the first Thursday of the month is always Zone Leader Council. So, the plan was that I would go with Elder Barron, the Financial secratery and his wife to Manchester Airport to pick up our new friends, take them to the Preston England Temple/MTC. (See first pic, the two new missionaries in front of the temple)  After this we were to take them to the Chatburn Creek, where many of the first baptisms in England occured throught the efforts of Heber C. Kimball. It was here that all of the Missionaries in the England Leeds Mission dedicate their lives to the work with prayer and with their signiture on a little black and yellow certificate. (see second photo)  What a beautiful day it was, and the memories/feelings of being a new missionary flooded into mind. The next day we took them to the Hull zone, where they were to finally meet their trinaers and officially begin their ministry! We are very excited to see how it all turns our. :) From what we understand, they are the first two missionaries EVER to be called to England to preach the gospel in Polish! Dobje! (Means good).

Week 90: Picking up the Office Reinforcements!
The following week, we again drove over to the Manchester Airport to pick up our new senior couple, the Brinkerhoffs! They will be replacing the Jensens, who came into the mission while I was serving in Leeds 5. We picked them up and likewise drove them over to see the Preston MTC/Temple. It was a nice and sunny day, and I got to go through the MTC! It has changed in quite a few ways, but in others its exactly the same. Same smell. Same feeling of uncertainty. Same chefs. It was a great experience to be there though :) After seeing the temple we went out to a local pub for Tea! I got some nice scallops & chips, and to top it off Elder Woodside and got a HUGE dessert! We really had no idea it would be so big... (See third photo)
Week 91: Transfer Work!
I had no idea transfers took so much time and energy... This week was transfer work, and it will definately be something I will not forget. Now I know and understand how transfers are inspired by God, and that missionaries are paired together and placed in their areas with a divine purpose and vision intended. Much of this week was taken up with thinking about, making changes, or developing a vision for certain missionaries. Not only that, but we needed to plan for next transfers as well, especially when it comes to the 16 missionaries who will be needing new trainers, especially after the large group of 11 missionaries coming in the following week needs their own trainers. We definitely have our work cut out for us over here in the office ha ha :)
I'd like to send a few more pictures, but I can only send so many at a time, so I think I'll make a catch up email #2! I'll get started on that now :)
I hope you enjoyed this email!
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer