Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week 45:Peterlee: The Adventure begins!

Hello, everyone!

Not much time, so I'll keep it short, sweet and to the point :)

My new baby boy is Elder Brewerton, from Calgary, Canada! He is fresh out of the MTC, and what I would describe as a hilarious, smart, nerdy kid from Canada :) The MTC nowadays is teaching their missionaries so much now, and he knows so much more than I did when I came out of the MTC! Which is so nice :) He has a fantastic desire to work hard and work smart while on him mission, and many times he even keeps me in check! (Which is also very refreshing)

Peterlee is an area different from any area I have ever been to in my life. It is right on the English coastline, which makes for some stunning views from the hills :) I love it! Reminds me of San Diego. The town here is much smaller than Leeds or Doncaster, and the branch here reflects that. This last Sunday there were about 30 people at church, which was an average turnout, and most people were very excited to find that they once again have missionaries serving in their branch! However, for some reason, word had gotten around that they were getting sister missionaries, so some of them were a bit disappointed... But no worries! We will win them over, I promise ;) Oh, and that brings us to my next point: Our flat.

Our flat is pretty new, compared to all of its surrounding buildings. Because the members thought they were getting sister missionaries, they went ahead and gracefully painted our bathroom bright pink, and changed all of the draped and curtains to be baby blue with pink and purple flowers on it :) Needless to say, its a very... how should I say this... Happy flat :) ha ha But its location is wonderful. Its about a ten minute walk to ASDA (the walmart of England) for our groceries, and is right in the middle of where all of the busses drive.

Apparently the library closes for an hour here to take lunch, so Im going to have to get off... But Next week I'll tell you all about how both the film sites of Billy Elliot and Harry Potter is in my area (thats right, Hogwarts!)

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS If you havent sent me a letter in a while now would be a great time ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week 44: Goodbye, Donny!!! Hello Peterlee!

Big news, everyone!

Its was transfer calls last night, and Elder Dundee and I were at a disagreement. He thought I was going to leave Doncaster, and I thought we were going to stay together for another 6 weeks.

We were both wrong.

I was talking on the phone with one of the missionaries in my district who had just got a call from president to train a new missionary, when all of the sudden I had a call waiting from the mission home...
President Lindley was calling.
I thought to myself ''Well thats weird. I wonder what he's calling me for.'' So I answered. After greetings were exchanged, this is what he said:

''Elder Spencer, I have been inpressed by the spirit to call you to serve in training a new missionary.''
I was completely shocked. But just wait, it gets better...
''I feel as though I would like to send you and the new missionary to white-wash a new area where the missionaries havnt been present for many years. So I'd like you to train in Peterlee and work with the branch there, as well as continue being a district leader and serve the surrounding teams.''
Me: ''Uh... Really?'' (Yes. Thats all I could utter at that point.)
President: ''Heh heh, yes, really.''

He then took a few minutes to tell me why he was sending me to this area, and what he would like to happen there.

I then told him how I would be relying on the Lord so much more now, and he agreed, and then wished me luck and said he'd see me at the transfer meeting.

I took a big gulp of my J2O at this point (celebratory juice drink for missionaries).

So, for those of you who dont quite understand, one of the most difficult and challenging experiences for any missionary to go through is white washing, or opening a new area. Now add on training a new missionary and being a district leader for three teams other than your own, and you get one crazy concoction for a fun-filled rifining-fire experience for both me and my new boy. Woot! Be thankful for adversity, Brigham Young once said. :) But am I worried? No :) Why? Phillipians 4:13 (c) Was I shocked? Yes. Am I going to need your prayers to strengthen me and my new missionary? Most definately :)

Also! Before I forget, many other wonderful things happened this week!
First, we had Zone P-Day! We had a BBQ at a local church building, played sports, and hired a bouncy castle!

Last, I had my final district meeting with my teams!Second, we had an absolutely AMAZING Zone Conference on wednesday, all centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ! I learned SO MUCH!!! We also were able to take a four generation lineage picture! (See picture) From left to right Elder Huemos (Assistant, who unfortunately has now finished up his 2 years) Elder Pass (Sheffield Zone Leader, who was trained by Elder Huemos) Elder Spencer (Doncaster Dirstrict Leader, who was trained by Elder Pass) and Elder Dundee (Trainee, who was then being trained by Elder Spencer) Epic Photo!
Last, I had my final district meeting with my teams! And later we went out to an American/Mexican restaurant, called Cactus Jacks for district lunch! (See final Photo!) Yee-Haw!

Well, Gotta go! My new address is:
Elder Gabriel Spencer
#1 Burdon Court,
Horden, Peterlee,
Durham County, England

Elder Gabriel G.Spencer

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week 43: The confirmation/ordination of James! And Riots in the streets!

Hello everybody!

I hope all of you are enjoying the warm summer weather! Its still warm over there in Utah, right? Well, I guess some of you are over in Rhode Island... Well, forget the question anyway.

You wanna know whats wierd to hear? People in all over are gearing up to go to school again! (Dare I say it and spoil the fun of summer??) But its true! However crazy that might sound, it doesnt feel like it over here... It just feels like Summer will never end :) Well, for at least one more year I guess :- ) So! Time to start on whats happened in the past week...

So, at the beginning of the week, I had the wonderful opportunity to head over to Leeds to attend the Leadership Training Meeting. This was my second time attending, but my first time attending as a district leader. I will sum up the majority of the meeting in just a few words... KNOWLEDGE EXPLOSION. Throughout the 7 hour meeting, I continued to take page after page after page of notes on just about everything that I thought would be useful (which, unfortunately for my writing hand, was the majority of what was said in the meeting) So many wonderful insights from such experienced leaders, missionaries and preisthood holders! I loved it so much! My only problem now is trying to study/remember/use up everything that I had written down! So I will try my best... but wish me luck! (and pray for me!) Another wonderful opportunity with Leadership Training is the chance I get to meet up with missionaries from all over the mission! I got to see most of the missionaries I came out with, and also Elder Thomas, and Elder Gravallese, my MTC companion (btw we basically know that we are going to serve together again within the next year, Its just gonna happen :)

Directly after the meeting, I went on my second exchange as a district leader! This time, with Elder Porter, from Toronto, Canada! We had the chance to serve with eachother in Doncaster and saw much success! This companion exchange went a lot smoother, and had a bit more preparation involved (which always helps!)

Not only that, but our recent baptism James was confirmed a member of the church! Soon after that, he was later ordained to the office of a preist! And immediately after that, he was given a 5 minute talk in sacrament meeting next week! Ha ha talk about a baptism of fire! Just goes to show how prepared this young man was to recieve the gospel :)

So you may have heard on the news lately about riots going on all over England... This is true, but I thought I would just clarify in case any of you were wondering...
Most of the riots are in London, Burminham and Manchester. Ya know in the bigger cities. Recently, our mission president reminded/told us of some rules that would keep us safe in different situations. (Dont go near large gatherings of people, do not take pictures of protests, avoid areas at all costs, etc) And really for the England Leeds Mission there's not much to worry about. There is a greater number of police force out these days, but thats mainly to keep anything from happening. I also think there was a very small riot about to break out in Doncaster, but the police stopped it by locking down all of Doncaster town centre. (We were in town centre while this happened btw, but we had no idea. We just notices a ton of police vans parked everywhere ha ha) So, no worries! We're all fine and dandy over here in Jolly ol England :) And life is great!

Well, I think thats all! And hey, if you are bored of these emails, sent me a letter sometime!

Love love, with watermelon and honeydew (both of which I had today for Zone P-day, where all the teams in the zome get together)
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS Pic #1 Me and Elder Gravallese at Leadership Training!
Pic #2 Elder Dundee and I attended a different church with our investigator, Oliver, who seems very interested in our church!
Pic #3 The bouncy castle we hired for zone P-day! Yay!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weel 42: Some halushky, chocolate pots, and a special surprise... :)

Priviet, everyone!

Wow! What a fantastic week it was for the Doncaster area. WE WERE SO BLESSED!!! Ah, now I need to decide on which story to tell first!


No, that wasnt a sneeze communicated over email... Its a traditional family meal from Slovakia! Elder Dundee and I were at our investigator's home for tea (that means dinner, remember?) and it was Bozena and David's last day in England. Bozena is quite a good cook, and right after we finished our lesson she insisted that we be fed! And so we helped prepare with the the traditional ''halusky''! What is halushky you might ask? Well, its onions, bacon, boiled potatoes, and dough deep fried in vegetable oil and served in a glop :) Whats a glop? See first picture ha ha :) It tasted... kinda wierd. Like imagine mixing oatmeal with potatoes and soggy bread :) There's halushky for ya! We of course ate it all and graciously thanked them for their kindness... Right after that, however we went to the russian's home and they had just barely finished eating, and offered us what they had left.

Cold soup.

No, Im not describing the soup in any way in particular, thats actually the name of it ha ha :) It was red cabbage, boiled, and some other salad-esk plants. Ugh. I made a promise to myself afterwards, which was to never eat anything that was liquid and so bright purple ever again ha ha. But it was a good experience, anyway!

Next adventure!

The following night, we had tea at the Maynard Family home, a family from the Doncaster Ward. And we had something that I will probably remember for the rest of my life... Chocolate Pots. The Dessert treat legend. Legions of missionaries have come and gone before me and have tasted such greatness. Wow. Just wow. They are amazing. The only way I could describe it is... Warm, fresh out of the oven brownies, with a gooey liquid chololate centre, that literally dances on your very taste buds. Served with vanilla ice cream. Made from scratch. If I ever find out I have 24 hours to live, that is definitely on the list of desserts I want to have :) Thank you so much Maynard Family!!! You will be blessed :) See Second picture :)

Another miracle of the week!

So this past week, it felt like all of the leaders we needed and all of the youth we normally call out to help us teach were gone. Its was actually kinda the case as well. Just this week, there was EFY for the doncaster ward, the Deacon/Beehive camp, and I think all of the parents took this time to go out on holiday :-/ So had hardly anyone to help us teach during the week. But we persisted! And made the necessary plans and sacrifices to once again be blessed to achieve standards of excellence :) Woo!

On thursday, we were in an appointment a little longer than we first anticipated, and as a result we just missed our bus. :( Not only that, but it would be at least 30-ish minutes before the next one would come. So, we looked around, hoping to find someone walking by that we could street contact while we waited. Noone was around :( At this point, an average missionary might have sat down at the bus stop, and waited for either someone to come by or for the bust to come. BUT NOT ELDERS SPENCER AND DUNDEE!!! I recieved a thought to just try some knocking and so thats what we did. The first door we knocked had stickers and signs all over it saying ''No doorstep callers. We do not buy. Dont waste your time'' yada yada yada. We knocked it anyway. This 20s ish woman answers the door, and we give our approach. AND SHE LETS US IN!! Not only that, but her mom was there with her, and they both really liked what we said, and accepted the invitation to be baptised! Not only that, but they also agreed to come to church, which they did, and agreed to come to the baptism, which they did! And they loved it!

Whats that you say? I mentioned baptism, did I...

... Oh yes...


The baptism of James went off without a hitch!!! It was amazing! We've been teaching James for about 2 months now, and its been a fantastic experience :)
James first came into contact with the church last year, when he was coaching youth football (soccer) in america. The program that he was on allowed him to live with a family who was actually LDS. The family would always go to church on a sunday, and out of respect James decided to go to church with them. A little while later, he returned home to Doncaster to start up on his university work again. His older brother, Tom, was in excatly the same situation in Texas, except he continued to investigate the church, and eventually got baptised there in November, later returning to Doncaster in January. He also attended church here in Donny, and his brothr James was curious about the church and started asking questions... He attended church 3 times before Elder Dundee and I were even able to begin the lessons with him (Even wearing a shirt and tie and everything!) The lessons were easily understood, and his brother Tom taught him the word of wisdom well before we did, to which he readily agreed to live. Since we began teaching him, James has loved participating in all the different church activities that he could, including being a youth leader for the young men, teaching football to the youth for Mutual, and even as a coucillor on this past Deacon/Beehive camp! At his baptismal service, over 100 people attended, including the rest of his family, who were a bit hesitand at first that these two brothers were joining a religion. James was baptised by his brother Tom, last night at the Doncaster Chapel :) Woooo!! (See last two pics. James is the guy in white on the left, and Tom on the right)

Ah. What a truly amazing week it was! I love it! Another one of my favourite weeks! I am loving my mission, and loving the fact that I get to serve others and change the world everyday!

Thank you for all of your love and support!
Elder G. Gaylen Spencer

Ps finally a longer email...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week 41: Dan Gooding

Ay-up everyone! (Another british phrase)

Hows it going? Did everyone enjoy the 24th of July? I heard some more kinds of fireworks were legalized, so I bet that made it so much better :)

This past week was SOOO TOUGH! But is ended up being amazing :) One of my most favourite weeks :) It seems as one is right in the face of adversity, that is when the miracles happen :) And its true!!! First of all, the members of the Doncaster Ward, who are normally very reliable and very willing to help, kinda made a lot of cancellations to come out with us and help us teach. So within the beginning of the week, we were struggling to have members present at our lessons. We were calling just about everyone we could, but it just so happens that England's Summer Holiday had just started on Monday, and so all of the kids were out of school and most of the families were on holiday. There was a struggle. However, we continued to pray fervently, work hard, and expect miracles... But they didn't come. The Lord truly needed us to develop more patience, as well as test our endurance I think. And he did. Come Sunday at church, we only had half of the number of lessons with a member present than our goal. It was actually during sacrament, that I was asking our Heavenly Father ''What could I have done differently to have made it work this week and achieve our goal?'' I received my answer right after the church meetings had ended. Dan Gooding, a 17 year old boy from South England who was baptised in December and is a SOLID KID said something that simply renewed my hope and gave me some fresh new ideas! And from that moment, we had to change our plans almost completely in order to achieve the goals we had originally set with these new ideas in place. With the help of Dan and within the space of 6 hours we were blessed to DOUBLE the number of lessons with a member present, and achieve our goals for that week! And by the grace of God and with the help of our good friend Dan, Doncaster was once again blessed to achieve Standards of Excellence for another week! WOOOO! What a blessing. Dan is such a great kid. He has continuously referred his friends to be taught by us and has come out to help us teach on many occasions (too many to count).

Also, this past week, we were blessed to find a whole new Russian family! Well, actually, more like they found us! Elder Dundee and I were having lunch on a bench in the middle of town centre, when I looked over and saw that these two guys were peeking over and trying to read the title of the books of mormon that we had out. So, I very nonchalantly turned the books around so they could read them correctly (instead of upside down). About 2 minutes later, one of them spoke up, saying ''Excuse me... are you two men of God?'' we replied in the affirmative. ''Here.'' He said with an easter European accent, and he handed us a banana each to have with our lunch :) We thanked them, and began to eat them. (They were pretty good!) After we finished them, I turned to them and asked ''Where are you from?'' They repliedm that they were from Latvia (where they speak Russian) I got so excited at this point :) ''Ah! Vwi gavaritza o ruskie?'' (Do you speak russian?) ''Da! Da.'' (Yes, yes) Which was followed by ''Ca caiah uvas rreleegiah hdgabjbcf;nd thioa fjdifjnt outynd ndiocne.........'' (Which religion are you. I think you... something something something really fast in russian.) ''Uh... Ya nee ponee myoo. Ya gavaru nem noshka ruskie ha ha'' (I didnt understand all that. I speak a little russian.) They laughed, and then we carried on with a much simpler conversation, and eventually we switched to english and got their contact info and later that week went by their home! Its so much fun to teach the gospel in russ-english ha ha.

Also this past week, I went on my first exchange as a district leader!! It was so much fun. I exchanged with Edler Hubbard, from Arkansas, who just barely passed his year mark. It was so much fun getting to know him, and we did some really good work in his area.

Well! Now for future news! Its interviews with the Mission President tomorrow, and I am so excited! I have some really great doctrinal questions to ask him and also some ideas I'd like to pick his brain with :) Should be fun!

Not only that, but JAMES IS GETTING BAPTISED NEXT SUNDAY!!! Ah! We are so excited for him, and I think almost the whole ward will be attending! Its gonna be great! Be excited for some pictures!

Well, I think thats it for this week :) I hope all is going well with each of you, and thank you so much for your prayers! God bless!

Elder G. Gaylen Spencer
(Sounds a bit more sharp, dont ya think?)

PS Pictures!!

#1. Me and Dan Gooding the Great. This kid is practically my son, and such a stud!!