Monday, September 26, 2011

Week 49: Adventures with Kevin, the Star!

Happy Conference, everyone!

Can you believe its that time again already! Isnt that amazing?? I am so stoked for this weekend! I hope you are as well!

First off, one of the teams in my districts baptised!! The Middlesbrough team, comprised of Elder Spratt and Elder Taylor, baptised one fo their many chinese investigators on this past Friday! It was certainly a wonderful experience and I was so proud of them :) Not only that, but two of the other teams in my district also also baptising someone this Wednesday, which we are all excited for! Way to go teams!

Now for the Peterlee news... Elder Brewerton and I set our at the beginning of the week that we would accomplish Standards of Excellence for the first time in this area, and we really hit the ground running. One of the best miracles I wanted to mention was the best knocking success story I have ever heard!

So! Thursday night, Elder Brewerton and I were doing our nightly planning, when it came to our attention we needed to fin three more new investigators by the end of the week. So we concluded that we would go knocking. We tried out the good old Bluebell Method. We prayed about three streets to knock, and the next day set out to do it :) Fortunately for us, we enlisted the help of 20 year convert Kevin, who was off work for the week and volunteered to help us out :) So we walked up to the first street, following the map we had, and it didnt exist. There was a brand new development right were the street was. So we moved over to the next street we had prayed for... and it also didnt exist. :-/ But right next to us was, funny enough, the third street that we prayed for, and it actually excited. So me, Elder Brewerton and Kevin approached the nearest door to start knocking, when all of the sudden a thought came to my mind. So I said to my companion. ''Wait, is this the side of the street we should knock?'' He replied ''What do you mean?'' I told him ''Is this side where we feel or is this side where we are?'' He thought for a bit, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. Then he looked up at me and said ''Nope, its the other street.'' and so we went! We knocked on the first house, and no one was home. We knocked on the second house, and the people were busy and asked us to come back at a better time. We knocked on the third house, and Mr. Palmers let us in! So we taught him (he's a pretty strong church of England member, but he's open minded) and then scheduled a time to see him again, and proceeded to knock. We knocked the fourth house, and no one was home. Then the fifth house, and our next new investigator Wendy allowed us to come in and teach her! (She's a bit older, no religion in particular, but is very intrigued about this idea of a modern day prophet, and is excited for conference) We left and continued to knock. We knocked a few more homes who were wither not home or set up a better time to come by, and then we got to Jame's house. James was our final new investigator of the day, who had never really thought about God, but nevertheless wanted to find out for sure! And so we taught him, and by the end of the lesson, he was scheduled to be baptised for the end of next month!!! Oh and his prayer at the end of the appointment, one of my most favourite prayers Ive ever heard :) It went something like this... ''Our Father in Heaven, thank you so much for these three people coming to my home today, and teaching me about you. Thanks for the chance that I have been given to finally find these things out, and thank you for the opportunity that I now have to be baptised. Please keep these gentlemen safe as they go home tonight. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.'' Ah! We loved it! All three of us were grinning so big when we left, we literally had to contain ourselves as we left his home before we shouted for joy!

Ah :) I truly love this work :)

So, Elder Brewerton and I are in for a treat today, we are heading off to Hogwarts to learn some good ol' defense against the dark arts! Expect some epic pictures soon :) We are heading up to Durham Cathedral with an investigator family who actually volunteered to take us up there and show us around, and so were both quite excited :) Expelliarmus!

And then its conference this weekend! Yay! Everybody better be taking some good notes and recieving some good revelation, okey doke? And hey, if any of you (c) would like to send me some of your favourite highlights, thoughts and commentary of conference in a letter like next week, I would love to read them :) Thank you for your love and support, and for you constant prayers! As you can see, they are definitely helping!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer
PS Pic#1 Us with Kevin after knocking :)

Pic#2 Elder breweton and I did some service for one of the branch members! Diggin Holes! (And singing the Holes theme song)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 48: Finally! Feet in the Sand, Head in the Clouds!

It happened it finally happened!!

Guess what! We FINALLY got on the beach this past Tuesday! Ah! I was so excited :)
Felt like home :)

For our district P-day (preparation day where all members of the district meet up and do something together) here we decided to play some sports on the beach, and we LOVED it! It was sunny, (we prayed for sun) it was warm (for England, anyway) and we ate at Pizza Hut! All of the district thoughouly enjoyed themselves, and we all got to know eachother that much better :) And better yet, check out these pictures! (See Pics 1, 2, and 3) Definitely one of my favourite P-Days :)

Following that, Elder Brewerton and I got back into the swing of things, and were blessed to find 8 new people to teach! We are quite excited about following up with them, and helping them to come unto Christ! On Saturday, I was given the privilige of conducting a baptismal interview for one of my teams investigators, Martin, inpreparation for his baptism this Saturday. And he passed! Another blessing.

Im also currently working on getting my UK license so that I can drive in the UK after my year mark (President Lindley has asked me twice now ha ha) But its such a long process! Kinda expensive, too... But once I get it, its good until Im 60 years old, so that'l be good :) So pray for me to pass my driving tests! (They are brutal over here!)

Also on this past Saturday, I had the opportunity to Kebaptise my second-born in the wilderness! (If you have forgotten what that means, it means eating a Kebab, which is minced lamb meat with spices, for the first time in ones life) And this son actually enjoys it! (Elder Dundee wasnt too fond of it :-/) I was so proud of Elder Brewerton :) Here he is, sitting next to Elder Spratt (who was a witness at the Kebaptism, and also paid for it) Congratulations my son! (See Fourth picture)

Well, now we're off to our Zone P-day, where we're going for a hike on some random hill, and playing capture the flag on it :) Dont worry, I'll get some great pictures :)

I love you all! Christ Lives! He is our saviour and redeemer. Through Him, we can live with our families for eternity, use His atonement to become clean, and return to live in God's presence after this life :)
I testify to all who reads this that the same organization and authority which was set up by Christ himself has been restored to the earth through a living prophet. I testify to you that the Book of Mormon is evidence of this, and that if we simply read it, ponder it in our hearts, and ask in faith, that we will recieve and answer from our Father in Heaven, by the power of the Holy Ghost. I bare my solemn witness that these things are true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week 47: Mission Tour with a General Authority!

Heya peeps!
Its Elder Spencer here! Just sayin' a friendly hello and giving you an update! This past week was great, we found a steady number of new investigators to teach, scheduled some people for baptism, stayed in a day while Elder Brewerton threw up his guts, and worked our butts off on Saturday and Sunday to make up for it :) There's no better feeling than your head hitting the pillow after a long, hard days work for the Lord :) So where to begin....

Ah yes, I went on my first exchange with my new district! This time I went with Elder Farstad, from Norway! Sound familiar? That's cuz he is! He was one of the first missionaries I went on exchange with back in Leeds, around November time, and now he is once again in my district! He has improved so much since the last time I was with him, and he has become a very effective missionary and teacher :) (See first pic)

Next, we had our first Zone meeting in Billingham on Wednesday, and is was so fun to receive instruction from my old friend and first companion, Elder Gravallese, who is now one of my two zone leaders :) Its the smallest zone in the mission, but I can already tell we will be closely unified ;) (See second pic)

Elder Brewerton became pretty ill this past week, and was suffering from the flu for about a week. He is doing much better now, and he is working harder than ever. I thought I'd get a better picture of him this time, so here ya go (See third pic)

Fun story of the week, Elder Brewerton and I were taking a rather long bus ride to Stake Conference this past weekend and we noticed that there was a TV monitor at the front of the bus, switching between the different cameras placed throughout the bus. Elder Brewerton and I were sitting at the very back of the bus (the only seats that were left when we got on) and notice that one of the cameras it would switch to were directly behind us... So I got a bright idea... Free advertising! I held up a pass along card in front of the camera, and so every time it switched, it would go from the door of the bus, to the driver, to the middle of the bus, and then to a picture of Jesus Christ saying ''Faith Brings Hope'' we thought it was rather funny, and so did some of the other passengers. Remarkably however, when we got off the bus at our destination, we were stopped by this lady who got off with us, and asked us if we were from the ''Church of the Latter Day Saints'' we said yes, and she mentioned how she had friends who lived in Orem, Utah and how she loves the churches take on families! When we asked if we could could teach her, she respectfully declined, but she asked several question and felt uplifted as a result! Ha ha 'bus contacting' works!! We decided to take a photo, so see if you can spot our impromptu ad somewhere in the picture (See fourth pic)

Yesterday, we had a wonderful opportunity to receive instruction from a general authority, as part of our annual mission tour meeting! Elder Donaldson, from the Area 70 instructed us on faith, and how to allow the Lord to do His work :) Elder Brewerton and I both received some mighty-fine ideas as to how we could improve our teaching abilities and our area of Peterlee. We also were instructed by his wife, Sister Donaldson, the York Stake President, and President and Sister Lindley, who had just returned from a mission president's seminar in Denmark. The whole day was just a spiritual feast, and we all were so uplifted and excited to get out there and to be proper instruments for our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ!

One of the most useful things I learned was how sometimes we just need to get out of the way and let the Lord take over. Elder Donaldson mentioned that ''if you are ever feeling inadequate in your calling, don't worry. You are! But the Lord knows this, and that's where His grace comes into the picture, it is after all we can do that the miracles happen, it was after the children of Israel put their feet into the waters of the Red Sea that if finally began to split.. it was after the brother of Jared built the boats, discussed, and had no idea what else to do in order to receive light and air into their boats, that the Lord gave him the answer and helped him receive the stones for light... We must realize that this is the Lord's work, it is HIS glory, and we are here with the privilege perform our callings and to aid Him in the salvation of the souls of those around us, and in turn, our souls... Are we inadequate? Yes. Will the Lord have compassion on us as we keep the commandments? Yes. Is it up to us to make everything happen? No. But that is why we are to pray as though everything depends on the Lord (because it does), and work like everything depends on us. And then, we let His Spirit do its job.''

It was a wonderful day, and I am even more excited to be about our Father in Heaven's business at this time!

I hope you all are just loving life as well! I'm off to play football on the beach for P-day! Yay for sun and sand!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 46: Time for some preachin' to the Gypsies!

Heya everyone! I hope all is well (of course)!

Peterlee is definitely a small area... Nevertheless we began to be fruitful with our labors.
For behold, we did thrust in our sicle with all our might, and did bring in many sheaves unto Christ!
(The Book of Spencer, Chapter 2 Verse 3)

Many miracles were had this past week! Including records broken, district meeting the size of a zone, and epic promptings from the spirit! But where to begin, where to begin... Well, first off, on Tuesday, we were blessed to get in contact with a family of 4 who have been taught on and off with the missionaries for about 10 years, they've visited temple square, and are still in close contact with most of the Elders who have taught them. The Miller family loves missionaries, and have already fed us, showed us clips of them at temple square, and offered to take us to Hogwarts (Durham Cathedral) for P-day! Earlier that day, we were also blessed to find a new investigator, whos contact info we recieved while street contacting in town centre, whos' name is Andrew. On Wednesday, we were blessed to recieve many referrals from both members and investigators of who to teach, and we found 4 more new investigators that day! The next day, we found 3 more new investigators from people we found and talked to earlier in the week, and on friday, we found 2 more new investogators. As of sunday this past week, Elder Brewerton and I were able to teach 15 new investigators, which beat my previous mission record of 10, and created a new standard for my new son :) What a blessing! The Lord truly does provide success :)

So, a little miracle we had on Saturday, Elder Brewerton and I were finishing up with our tea on Saturday night, and we saw that we had about an hour to do some finding, but we both decided we were going to teach someone instead. So we both walked around, going up and down these different streets, talking to absolutely everyone, with no success until we approached this one street in particular. All of the sudden, I got this feeling. I turned and said to my companion, ''Hey guess what? We're going to get let in doors right here.'' He said okay and we walked down this street. Then in an instant, something told me to stop, so I did, and knocked at the door that was directly to my right. A man, about 30-ish opens the door and waits for us to say something. I felt the need to try a different door approach this time... I said ''Hey! How ya doin?'' -''Great, we actually just got back from spain.'' Me: ''Really? Thats sounds like fun. Whats in Spain? Family? Or just some time off?'' Man: ''We just went on holiday for a week.'' Me: ''Nice, nice.'' Then there was a short pause. Man: ''Well, come in then.'' Me: ''Okey-doke'' and then we taught him and his wife! They have a wonderful family, and they have a strong belief in God :) Talk about miracles!

Just some fun stuff I thought I'd mention, if you noticed from the Subject line, Ive mentioned something about gypsies. Yes, they do exist. And not necessarily the ones in The Hunchback of Notre Dam, but with striking similarities... The gypsies are a collection of british people, with little to no education, who spend their lives traveling around the british isles on horses and campers/mobile homes and meeting other gypsies. If you can imagine a busy suburban street full of cars driving up and down, and then all of the sudden this long line of cars slowly driving by, following this horse and buggy, then you'd probably have a gypsy right there. Its actually a huge culture here in england, even though they have a bad reputation for trouble-making, and leaving manure from their horses in all over the streets, they have strong family values and a firm belief in tradition, such as being a staunch catholic (even though they, nor their parents have ever practiced). This past Sunday was a first for me, I street contacted someone on horseback, who was of course, a gypsy. (See 1st picture, which is Peter, and his horse, Gary.)

In addition to that, if you have ever heard of/watched the film or musical ''Billy Elliot'' the town that the story is based in and the street/home where Billy danced in is in my area! I was so stoked when I found out! Billy Elliot is a movie, which has been made into a musical which is about a boy in a mining town who just loves to basically dance his heart out, and he singlehandedly unites a town in the middle of one of the biggest and most violent mining strikes in history. Interestingly enough, the people here are still feeling the effects of the strike that the story depicts. Apparently, fathers and sons who were once pitted against eachother, still refuse to make amends as a result of that conflict. Expect pictures soon! (We're planning on knocking that street!)

Also! I finally have a picture of my new baby boy, Elder Brewerton! Fair warning, dont let his rippling muscles scare you ;) (See second picture)

He is so funny, and a very hard worker, and we will no doubt be seeing much success with our faith and hard work combined!!!

Elder G. Gaylen Spencer