Monday, October 31, 2011

Week 54: Happy Halloween!

(North Sea looking from the doorway of the Peterlee Branch)

Happy Halloween!!!
I hope everyone has had a ghoulish and a ghastly Halloween!
We are here at the stake centre for Zone P-day, and we're going to carve pumpkins and play dodgeball and watch a film :)
And that pretty much does it for our Halloween Celebrations!
For tonight, our mission president has requested that we stay indoors after we finish P-Day, and do not go knocking/street contacting. Instead, we're supposed to go to members or investigators homes. So Elder Brewerton and I will be spending some of the night at the Miller's home, and the other half at member's homes. We're excited!
Last week was great, we found a whole slew of new investigators to teach as well, so we're going to be following up on them later this week!
We are progressing very closely our investigator Chris to baptism... So all of us, Elder Brewerton, Christine and I definitley need your prayers this week!!! So please pray!
Also this week, we had interviews with President Lindley during our Zone meeting! I was able to discuss quite a few things with President during the 10 minutes that we had, and I found some helpful insights that will help me and my area progress while Im here!
Not much else has really happened this week... However there are some exciting things happening within the next few days... So be excited for this next weeks email!!
Happy Halloween again!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week 53: Embarking on a new year, hitting the ground running :)

Heya peeps!
Ah! Its finally come! And gone... I am officially a senior missionary in the England Leeds Mission! I sure don't feel like it though... Sometimes I feel like I'm still a greenie! We didn't have much time to celebrate my anniversary on Saturday, however, so we celebrated with some epic, urgent knocking! Elder Brewerton and I raised the stakes in our knocking by literally by trying to knock as many houses as we could within the space of 2 hours! We literally ran from house to house, collecting our composure each time a door opened! It was so much fun! And we knocked three whole streets within the space of the 2 hours we had!
I've received a few questions about some of the investigators we are teaching, including Chris, the woman we met a few weeks ago. Chris is doing great! She's still a bit nervous about baptism, which is great! It means that she is definitely taking it seriously! She came to church this past Sunday, and once again really enjoyed it! She is progressing very nicely towards her baptismal date, and is patiently awaiting her baptismal interview, which will likely happen within the next few weeks! She is still reading the Book of Mormon and praying each day, and she loves having Elder Brewerton and I come over to teach :)
Also this past week, I was able to go on exchange with Elder Patterson, from Michigan, who arrived in the field from the Provo MTC the same transfer as Elder Brewerton. Elder Patterson, however, was called to preach the gospel in the Chinese language, which he learned to speak fluently. There are many Chinese students studying at the University in the Middlesbrough area (where I was on exchange) and I had the opportunity to teach several Chinese students! (In English, of course) not only that, but Elder Patterson and I popped by a Ukrainian family, and I was able to once again teach in the Russian language! (They speak Russian in Ukraine) I was a bit rusty, and had to brush up a bit on my Russian notes, but it was certainly a fun experience, and the Inva Family was lovely :)

Funny story, so in the very beginning, after they allowed us into their home (which was for the first time) the father, Vladimir, started talking to me in Russian. I could understand most of what he said, but unfortunately I confused a couple words. The word crusc (croo-sk) means cup, in Russian, and its very similar to the word coffee. So I thought he offered us a cup of water, to which I happily agreed. So his wife got up, and began to make us something. Elder Patterson and I became very excited, thinking they were making us a Ukrainian meal. All of the sudden, I smelled the pungent scent of coffee. My heart sank. This was definitely an ''oh no,'' moment ha ha. About ten seconds later, Vladimir's wife comes out with a tray of four cups of coffee. It gets worse. Vladimir stands up (he is a very large man, mind) and very proudly describes what they have made for us. ''Ah yes, very expensive Italian coffee. If its too hot, here is some milk for you.'' Elder Patterson and I looked at each other, and then I said. ''Oh, no, I am fine, thank you.'' Vlad replied '' Niet, niet, it is tradition! Drink! Drink!'' ''Oh, no thank you, yesvini, yesvini.'' (Which means, I'm sorry, I'm sorry) The father, confused, looks at his wife, who thankfully shrugs it off and offers us water as an alternative. We gladly accepted. Ha ha TRAGEDY AVERTED! Elder Patterson and I definitely had something to laugh about afterward :)

Ah! not only that, but I had some of the best Chinese of my life! We had a tea appointment with one of the Chinese investigators preparing for baptism, named Yun Shen, who took us to a really nice restaurant in town called ''Mandarin''. Let me tell you... The food was amazing!!! There was fish, duck, chicken, pork beef, all complete with their own unique flavours and spices! Ah! It was amazing! I must say though, that the fish we had, could have very well been the best tasting fish Ive ever had in my life! It was amazing! And the best part... it was all paid for by our investigator! It wasn't cheap, either ;) Ah, it was exquisite :) See all the pictures for this week (I included a picture of the fish, after eaten)
Well, that's about it for this past week, now I'm about to head over to meet up with Elder Gravallese and have a proper celebration of the year mark!

Thanks for your prayers, love and support! I really appreciate every one's encouragement!

I just thought I'd give a couple shout-outs!
Special thanks to my beautiful mom, who emails me love each week without fail!
Special thanks to my inspired dad, who sends me letters that strengthen my testimony! Happy Birthday!
Special thanks to my fantastic siblings, who send me pictures of life, and to David, who keeps me updated on whats going on (not to mention, is taking good care of my car while I'm gone!)
Special thanks to the loyal Karstin Lake, who constantly updates my missionary blog!
Special thanks to my bbfff Logan Jones, who keeps me updated on the latest ''gossip'' ha ha
And a very special thanks to everyone who constantly prayers for me! I can testify that I can feel your prayers aid me in this work!
Take care everyone! Til next week!
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 52: Happy Anniversary, ELM! Elder Spencer hits his year mark!

Wow.... I cant believe its already been a year since I've left my homeland, set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ...

Does it feel like a year? Does it really? I dont think so... To be honest I still feel like a greenie ha ha. I'll have to celebrate somehow! Im not quite sure how yet, but I'll have to let you know in next week's email :)

So! Onto my week! Lets see... What happened last week... Hmm...

Ah yes! Chris! Chris is an investigator we found about a month ago, who we met on the street. When we talked with her, she expressed interest, but told us that her daughter was having a baby, and it was a bit of a stressful time for her. So we asked if we could come by sometime later in the middle of October, and she said yes! So we did! And within the first lesson we had with her, the spirit was felt, we invited her to be baptised, and she accepted! Not only that, but she also accepted to read the book of mormon everyday, pray about it, and come to church, all of which she has done thus far,and has thoughoughly enjoyed! She actually stated over the phone last night that, quote, ''Since that first day that you've been coming to my house Ive just been feeling happier and happier!'' Ah. Talk about a blessing from the Lord. We, as missionaries LOVE people like Chris. Ya know, people who keep their commitments, are excited about reading the book of mormon, and really enjoy coming to church. Those kinda people are amazing :) So Elder Brewerton and I have been saying many prayers of thankfulness for the opportunity to be teaching Chris, as we continue to pray for her progression :)

Also! I dont have much time, so Im going to make this last part a bit brief... We finally did it!!! We finally knocked the very same street that Billy Elliott danced on! Even his very house! Ha ha I even got some pictures of my dancin on his street as well... See the last two pictures :) From what the locals have said, nobody knows what happened to Billy, just that he up and left several decades ago ha ha. If you dont really know what Im talking about, see some of my earlier emails about the film and broadway musical ''Billy Elliot''. The filming spots and story location are in the area of Peterlee in an old coal town named Easington.

Oh yeah, and that other picture, of the moon? Oh yeah, this was something that literally took my breath away, and I just had to take a picture :) This was a pic of Friday night, with the reflection of the moon against the North Sea. I love the moon :) (c)

Anyway, wish me luck this week! It should be a great one!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

NOTE from the Blog keeper: The attachments didn't work for me. I'll try to get them up later this week. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Week 51: New Investigators Looking at Baptism!!!

Hey mom, I heard the last email didnt send, so I thought I'd send it again just to be sure. Thanks!


Hope yall have been havin a great week!

This past week was yet another transfer week! Elder Brewerton and I are staying together for another 6 weeks, and most of the district are staying the same as well. We've also recieved a chinese-speaking missionary in the Middlesbrough area in the district, because of the large number of chinese students getting baptised there :) His name is Elder Patterson, and he's from Minnesota. He spent 2 months in the MTC and come out knowing an incredible amount of Chinese (which really helps when Im giving a baptismal interview to a chinese student and I get to some difficult words, I can shout over to him in the other room and he can yell the translation back. I gave another chinese student, Sadie, an interview, which she passed and is ready to be baptised this upcoming friday in Middlesbrough!

On Saturday we had District Leader Council, a meeting where all of the district leaders in the Zone get together with the Zone leaders and discuss different matters and things that would ultimately improve the individual areas within the districts. About an hour or so before, however, Elder Gravallese was to take his driving test to get his british license before his year mark (which is something I'll be doing within the next few weeks or so). Normally, Elder Gravallese and his companion give me and Elder Brewerton a lift to these meetings so that we wont have to spend money on the bus. During his test, however, Elder Gravallese ran over half of a 9-iron golf club, which pierced his tire. So, we spent the next few hours at a car garage, waiting to get new tires for the car. After it was all fininshed, the car was fine, we continues on to the meeting, and Elder Gravallese will have to take his test again, hopefully not having to spend the £70 fee to do it ha ha.

Well, this next week, the weather is set to get much colder. Wet, windy rain is forcasted to hit, and its not much better living right on the coast for it as well... but oh well! I have a nice warm coat, some thermals, some gloves, and some very warm earmuffs I got in the mail last year (c) so I am ready for winter!!! (I hope ha ha)

The branch members in this area really love us, and are more than willing to feed us, which is very nice. LIke the Duncanson family, for instance. We were walking to an appointment last week, and as we walked past their house Sister Duncanson came out and shouted ''Elders!! Have you eaten?'' Unfortunately, we had just barely had a quick tea at our flat about 30 before. After we told her we had, she responded with ''Okay... Well what about tomorrow?'' Ah. We just felt so loved :) Things like this just make you feel happy to be a missionary :)

So, its about time that I sign off, but thank you for all of your prayers! And please, keep them coming! We really can feel your prayers helping us... and we need all of the help we can get!

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS Sorry no pictures this week, I didnt do a very good job of getting my camera out. But I will this week!

Week 51: Driving test!

There was no general email from Gabriel this week, but he is taking his driving test this week, so pray for him!

Have a wonderful week!!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Week 50: Hogwarts, Baptisms, and Elder Gravallese? Only in the ELM... 5

Happy conference everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your spiritual top-up for the next 6 months! I know I did :)

SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED this week! So I'm going to try to fit it all into one tiny email, but your gonna have to try and keep up... so get ready... GO!

First off, one of my most memorable and favourite P-days took place this previous Monday. One of our investigator families, the Millers, offered to take us to see the majestic Durham Cathedral on our day off, and Elder Brewerton and I got special permission from President Lindley to travel outside of our zone to go see it. It was AMAZING! One of the most spectacular and beautiful structures I have ever seen in my life! We toured this catholic cathedral, which celebrated its 1000th birthday just last year, and looked at the many tombs and shrines that were scattered throughout the building (we weren't allowed to take any pictures of the inside of the building, kinda like with our temple open-house thingy) But one of my most favourite parts of the tour was where they actually filmed several scenes from the Harry Potter films within its walls. Inside the great hall, was literally, the great hall of Hogwarts (ya know, where they eat the food, do the house sorting thing, etc.) and outside was the courtyard, where they filmed a few other scenes (this was something I was actually able to take pictures of, see epic pic #1 and 2) After we toured most of the cathedral, we then had the option to climb the high tower of the building and see the sights for a small fee (which we did) and the views of the valley/city were breathtaking! We picked a wonderful bright and sunny day to go as well, which simply added to the splendour. Definitely something I wont easily forget ;)

Next! I just know that each of you will be pleasantly surprised when I say...


See? Told ya so :)

On this past Wednesday, I had the privilege of baptising the recently confirmed Jon Smith! I have the opportunity of interviewing Jon as a baptismal candidate a week earlier for the sister missionaries in the Redcar area. After the interview, he said that he felt I was a really sincere person, and he asked if I would baptise him! I delightfully agreed, and a week later the spirit filled the whole building as Jon entered into his first covenant with the Lord :) (See Pic #3)

Next! Are you keeping up?

Next! Almost a year since we had first met, I was finally, once again serving alongside the Great Elder Gravallese!!! For those of you who don't know, Elder Gravallese and I served together as companions while being trained at the England MTC, and he is now serving as my Zone Leader! We had so much fun :) We talked about old times, new times, and I got to drive the Zone Leader's car for the day! Ha ha :) I really respect Elder Gravallese, and I am very thankful for the lessons he has taught me :) (see pic #4)

And then!!! General Conference happened! Elder Brewerton and I were blessed to have been able to was most of the Saturday sessions, (half of which were inside investigators homes on their laptops) Ah, I took down so many notes, and from which have made goals for how I would like to improve over these next 6 months! Its absolutely crazy to think that a year ago from this weekend, I was watching conference live, on the tele, as well as on the internet :) Last October's Sunday sessions still stand as my favourite of all time :) I loved it! (c) Ah, I love conference! And our investigators enjoyed it as well :)

Okey doke, last one!

In lieu of last week's attempts to achieve Standards of Excellence (we were SO close, we needed one more investigator at church) Elder Brewerton and I decided to reaffirm our dedication to achieve this goal, despite the circumstances of our tiny area. So we pushed hard... and did our best... and Sunday came... and even with our best efforts, we still needed two days worth of lessons, in half a days time. Things were looking grim. I was sitting in the Millers home as we were watching the Sunday morning session, and I asked myself what else we could have done... and then it hit me! We have two priesthood holders who were available after conference to go on splits with, and that's what we did! After conference had ended, we had two hours left until we had to be in, so we set up a game plan as to who we could see, and how long we would spend there. And by the grace of our heavenly father, we were so blessed to get the necessary lessons to achieve STANDARDS for the first time in Peterlee in quite literally several years!!! Also, it was Elder Brewerton's first time as well, the first of many, I might add :)

So, in conclusion, it was quite an eventful week, and now my hands are tired of the typing, but they are happy to type such great miracles! Thank you so much for your prayers (please keep them up) and we will continue to labor dilligently in the vinyard of the Master!


Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS we had a district meeting yesterday, and here is a picture of my whole district, minus Elder and Sister Shurtz (the Senior couple)

See pic #5