Can you believe that November is already over?? Time sure flies by doesn't it?
First of all, SNOW!
Yes, that's right, it has finally snowed in England. And it's cooold! Now I don't mean temperature wise colder than Utah, but the wind blows like crazy over here!
Great news! As of last Saturday, there are two more people scheduled for baptism on the 18th of December!! Including Gemma and Amy! (Both 26, both with a son named Jayden) They are so fantastic, and will love going to the Leeds 5 branch!
Sabeena and Antonio are still progressing towards the waters of baptism on the 18th as well, and as of the end of this week, Sabeena will be completely off smoking forever!!! Both Elder Pass and I are certainly excited for her and her son. :)
Thanksgiving, you say? What's that? People don't really celebrate Thanksgiving over here :-/ We didn't have a tea (dinner) appointment or anything for that night... So you know what we did? We went to the REd Hot World Buffet again, this time with a bunch of missionaries from our zone :) It was delicious!!! And the pudding (dessert, as you would call it in the states) is delicious there! Ah! I loved it! You see that picture with the big grin on my face? Yes. That's how I looked through that entire meal :)
Last P-day we went to Leeds University to find a hoodie. It's a big campus... and for those of you who may be wondering, no I didn't see my high school friend Mackenzi Van Engelenhoven there. If I do, I'll let you know :)
Let's see... what else happened this week....
It's been a busy week, of course, but we've been able to get a lot done :) I'll have to remember to write down a highlight of each day so I'll remember... That's it! That's what I'll do :) Because this is a small email, compared to my other ones I think... so expect even more exciting news next week!
Hiya everybody! I hope all is well back home/ wherever you may be reading this email!
This week has been quite the learning experience!! Elder PAss and I have seen lows... followed by extreme highs! Our week started out not going so well, with people flogging (to 'flog' means to drop/lose/not want anymore) appointments right and left. By Wednesday, we decided on making a new approach. We prayed diligently for guidance as to a specific area we should knock, knowing that the Lord would grant us with an answer, and He did! we both felt impressed to go to a small district called "Gildersome" which was kinda out of the way of everything else. We knocked there, but nothing seemed to happen. But we are certainly not done yet! We plan on knocking a different street sometime later this week.
Sabeena and Antonio (scheduled for baptism my first night in the field) rescheduled their baptism date, du to some Word of Wisdom problems with Sabeena. But something miraculous happened! to show her commitment to the W.o.W., she agreed to have us get rid of ALL of her alcohol and ALL of her coffee!! And we poured it down the sink! It was such an amazing experience, and she will be blessed for it! Now all that's left for her is to quit smoking, and she and her son Antonio (9) will be ready to enter the waters of baptism by the 18th of December!!
We had 5 investigators at church yesterday, which was great! Sabeena and Antonio, Anje and James (mother and son, new investigators who LOVED church) and Ali (a guy who literally just walked in and wanted to see what going to our church was like!) Church is definitely different as a missionary. Sundays are certainly easier than the other days of the week (aside from P-day, of course) but that doesn't mean we are any less busy.
Also, Elder Pass and I got "Standards of Excellence" this past week, which is a weekly achievement a companionship can get if they get a certain number of finding hours, new investigators, lessons taught with a member present, investigators who came to church, etc. ! It came as a surprise to us, mainly because so many things went wrong during the beginning of the week. But we're definitely happy!
It's amazing how many miracles we can witness everyday as missionaries, ACTUAL MIRACLES! We're talking about the life changing, night and day difference miracles! we see them occur as a result of following the Holy Ghost, our diligence, and our obedience to the mission rules.
Well, I'm running out of time, so I hope all is well! next we're going to go get a Leeds University sweatshirt, and maybe see the Royal Armouries!
I love you all, and I appreciate your support and encouragement!
Remember to keep smiling! (and keep writing me letters!)
Elder Gabriel Spencer
P.S. I recently found out that Hogwarts (or where they filmed most of it) is literally within the Leeds mission! I hope I get assigned to the Alnwick (pronounced like Ann-eck) area at some point in my mission!
Me throwing away Sabeena's alcohol (Bacardi) and coffee!
My companion giving me the lineage tie (The tie he got from his trainer, which got it from his trainer, which got it from his trainer...)
Me and Elder Pass with Sabeena and Antonio with Sabeena's beer and coffee!
The England MTC
Me standing outside of Pres. Hinkley's flat where he read the letter from his dad
Holy kanoli! Im actually a missionary in Leeds, England!!! And not just the England Leeds mission... But the actual city of Leeds! Yup,thats right! My first area I have been assigned to is the Leeds 5 area, within the city of Leeds! I have been told that some missionaries can be assigned to all of the assigned areas within the mission, but never actually get to serve in the city itself, so I'd say Im pretty blessed! My new companion (slash trainer) is Elder Pass,from Fresno, California! He is such a stud! I really am so blessed to have been assigned to such a fantastic and wise missionary. He is also quite an effective teacher, and I am excited to learn from him on my mission!
So I didnt really have a P-day last week... Which was kinda lame... But at least they gave us the chance to email on our last night at the MTC! Anyway, our flat is located in the suburb of Morley, and I must say, it is pretty nice!! And from what the other missionaries have told me, its one of the best in the mission. So I am so blessed to have so many great things going for me in my first transfer!
Also, may I add, I have only been in the mission field for about 4 days, and I have to mention, I have seen miracles take place! Elder Pass and I have been so blessed to have witnessed them! As soon as we dropped our stuff off at the flat upon arrival on Wednesday, we had tea (dinner) at the McCan's house (member family), and then we went off to an appointment at an investigators home. We were able to teach Sabeena (29) and Antonio (9) her son about the gospel as a second lesson. And you wouldn't believe it! That night, at my first investigator experience, we invited Sabeena and Antonio to be baptised on the 4th of December, and they accepted!!! Wooooot!!! They also came to church this past Sunday, and they really enjoyed it!
Miracles, can you believe it???
Street contacting started out being extremely difficult. I must say it was extremely hard to stop and talk to random people on the street about the message of the restoration/God/Jesus Christ/ anything else! However now, I am proud to say, I am able to talk to everyone!! Just as the Lord said ''Open your mouth and it shall be filled'' (not talking about food, but about speaking with the spirit)
I have already been so blessed with the experiences I have had.
Sunday at church was another interesting experience. It was so cool to realize that for the first time in my life, I was actually the missionary in some one's homeward (or in this case, home branch) I was also surprised to learn that I would be giving an impromptu talk that day in sacrament meeting. I originally had 20 minutes of time to speak, and about 25 minutes to prepare. Thankfully when the time came, I only had about 5 minutes. I talked a little about myself, my background, bore my testimony and sat down. I am so glad that went well. The members here are fantastic! The branch is way into missionary work, and the members here feed us practically every night! And most of the food is soooo good! (I must say I went to an African family's house for tea (again, dinner) and had a traditional african meal, complete with fufu and no silverware to use. It was... a blessing to be fed. Peter, I don't know how you did it...
Today is P-day!!! Yay!! After emailing I am off to get my haircut!!! Wait... oh. yay. I mean, yay for obedience!!! It is a rule that I must have a side part in my hair. I literally do not remember a time in my life when my hair had a side part. Ive seen pictures as a baby, ya know, 2 or 3 years or something, but that's it... Anyway, if I want to baptise, I need a side part (that's what the missionaries tell me anyway) So I'll have to send you a picture of my new attempt at a side part in next weeks email... Ye be warned.
After the hair cut, we are off to buy food, do some other stuff that I don't remember, and then play football (soccer) with the rest of the missionaries in the zone! We'll see if I'm any good, ha ha!
So we're not allowed to give out our flat address to anyone but our parents for letters, so please send all letters to this address:
Elder Gabriel Spencer
England Leeds Mission
Lister House, Lister Hill
England LS18 5AZ
This is the mission office address and will likely only give it an extra day for mail to get to me, but that's fine :) I love mail!
(Josh, please double check to see if this is the address listed on my facebook status. If its not, please change it accordingly)
Well, my time is almost up. So all I would ask is to continue to pray for me and my companion Elder Pass, as well as the people of England that their hearts may be softened and that we may find the seekers of truth!
I love you all, and hope all is well!
Elder Gabriel Spencer
P.S. People say 'cheers' a lot in England. It tends to be used as a substitute for ''thank you'' and ''goodbye''
Surprise!!! I bet you didn't expect I'd get to email a day early, eh? As it turns out, I might not be able to email tomorrow because I'm leaving the MTC and going to Leeds to officially start my mission! And it is implied that I won't have a P-day tomorrow (which should change to Monday, says the word on the street) so just to be safe, they gave us the chance to email tonight!!! So here I go...
This week has been great! The MTC experience has gone by sooooo fast- almost as if it were a dream (refer to Jacob 7, I think) and I can't believe I'm going into the field already!!! Thankfully, I think I'm ready :) the MTC has really been able to prepare me spiritually and as a teacher so that I might invite others to come unto Christ, as well as help me with many other things! It's not like school at all, but more like EFY times a hundred, (minus the fun, but multiply the joy) I really really loved it here, and the MTC presidency is so loving and helpful and spiritually powerful!
So last Friday we were able to do something that is unique only to the England MTC... and that was to go tracting for the first time! My companion and I were assigned to a small town in Manchester called Leigh, and we were given about 4 hours to basically go knocking! It was awesome! We actually legitimately had someone slam the door in our face right after we said about 6 words... It was so cool! (I know that sounds weird, but my companion and I felt it was kind of a right of passage that we needed to experience) It started raining really hard, and the water may have dampened our suits, but not our spirits!! One experience in particular was quite special: we knocked at someone's door who at first was about to shut the door, but then decided to hear our message. She told us how she has never really felt at peace with herself (because of work, family, etc) and we were able to read a scripture to her (Ether 12:4, she described how she didn't really know if there was a God or if he cared) and bear our testimonies! It was quite awesome to see her whole countenance change (her facial expression) from stubbor to awestruck as we bore our testimonies of our loving Heavenly Father and His love for us, and the truthfulness of the scriptures and the answers it offers us. At the end, we gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to read a specific passage (Moroni 10:3-5) and promised her specific blessings. It was soooo great! It raised both of our spirits and we carried on with our work with an added love for the tracting experience! I'm so excited to have similar experiences for the next two years!
P.S. Happy Guy Fawks DAy! (UK Holiday, November 5th)
P.P.S. Happy birthday Dad and David!!! (In case I didn't include it in my last letter, I was kind of rushed)
So tomorrow is transfer day! I get to meet my mission president and my new companion all in one day! I'm excited! I think I can still write a letter tomorrow whether it's P-Day for my mission or not, so I plan on replying to those of you who have written me! (and for those of you who have not... shame on you :P haha just kidding) But I really love your letters! They're definitely a highlight of my day!
I don't really know what else to say, except that I know that Joseph Smith was truly the Prophet of the Restoration, and he really did see the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove that day. I know in my heart that he translated the plates into the Vook of Mormon which we are so blessed to have now, and I testify of its power and divinity. I would invite all of you who haven't already to read it (specifically Moroni 10:3-5) ponder it, and pray about it in the name of Jesus Christ to find out for yourself. I promise that if you do so, the lord will testify to you of its truthfulness, and you will gain a witness of the Book of Mormon through the Holy Ghost.
SOOO much has happened in the past week, and I wish I could contain it all in this one email! But alas! I have limited time, so Im going to give you a very breif summary. If you'd like to know more, write me a letter! (Hint hint!)
So, Friday was our first REAL missionary experience. We were able to be sent to downtown Manchester, where we were to proselyde to the England people for the first time! It was a little discouraging, because after a while, about 85% of the people talked to did not believe in any kind of superior being :-/ BUT! I had a really cool experience with my companion on talking to this woman at the train station to Manchester, where after I said hi to her, she started asking us who we were and why we were doing it. Eventually we found that she and her family used to be devout roman catholic until her father tragically died of cancer. Because of this, she decided to stop going to church altogether. This happened 6 years ago. It was very cool in the sense that after she learned that we were missionaries, she basically open up her needs to us! We were able to share a scripture with her, and give her a book of mormon with an invitation to read! Pretty cool, eh? The first person we ever talked to, we handed a book of mormon!! And even cooler was the fact that after we had finished with our thing in Manchester, we saw her and her family again on our way back to the car, about 3 hours later! This time, we were able to give her some contact information should she ever decide to have the missionaries contact her!! It was sooo cool!
Then some classes, teaching skills improving, feel the spirit here all the time, lots of cool stuff like that....
Today, we were able to go on a church history tour to the river ribble and see where the first baptisms in great britan took place!! We then went to a small villiage called Downham, where I found my long lost ancestors!! It said in the town history that the spencer family was of the first families to emigrate to america! I actually found the gravestone of my great great great uncle and aunt, seen in the picture above! It was a really cool experience, and I would love to give more details over a letter, so please send one if you are interested!
Well, time is almost up, but I love you all, and hope for the best for you! Thank you for all your prayers and support!!
PS English sweets (candy) is amazing! So is the dessert!