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!

Thanks!

Love,
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 :-/)


Love,
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!

Love,



Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Update.

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!

Love,
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 eldergabrielspencer.blogspot.com. 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!
 
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer


 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Week 88: A full week of going EVERYWHERE!

Heya peeps!
Hope ya'll are enjoyin the nice sun that's happening! 
It was a great week here in the England Leeds Mission! Elder Woodside and I traveled quite a bit within the past 7 days... More than I have my entire mission! We visited 4 out of the 7 zones/stakes in the mission, and went on several exchanges with the missionaries there!  It was lots of fun, and because we were on the road, we ate TONS of fast food ha ha. But don't worry, we've picked up running in the mornings again, so that should take care of those few poor food choices last week :)
It is so much fun having the opportunity to see and work with the other missionaries in the mission, and to help them and train them on things they can do to improve their areas. But you wanna know something interesting? Going around all of these powerful servants of the Lord seems to help me see those things that I can do better even more. So not only do I get to help the other missionaries, but I also have the blessing of improving my own service and obedience to the Lord! This work is amazing!
So we started out having a P-day with president and another missionary, and we visited several of the nearby historical sites and monuments. First off, we visited Sandal Castle, a castle in Wakefield. For those of you who saw the King Henry VI Part 3 competition piece for my high school, I was standing at the location of where Richard, Duke of York was killed in battle by my character, Lord John Clifford. How neat is that?!  We also visited Wakefield Cathedral, which is oh about 700 or so years old! England has some interesting stuff, ya know ;) You should check it out sometime!
On Thursday Elder Woodside and I traveled up to the Billingham Zone, where the blessed area of Peterlee resides! At the same time, I found out that Elder Woodside had never eaten a chicken parmesan, otherwise known as a 'Parmo'. So guess what! That's exactly what we got for tea! However, we didn't have any place to eat it... So we went to Carol Winns home! Surprise! Blast from the past! Carol was quite shocked, but pleasantly surprised :) She invited us in and fixed us right up to 'getstuckin' and start eating :) Boy was it good to have a parmo again!
Sunday came, and the London 2012 Olympics haven't quite started yet, but the torch is already here and has passed though Leeds!  And we caught a glimpse of it as it was passing by us! There were SO MANY PEOPLE there to watch, but it was a great experience to witness. Bring on the games!
So there's the highlights of the week so far (in a nutshell). Hope you enjoyed it! Til next week!
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer
Elder Woodside eating his first 'Parmo' strait
from Geordie's Pizza Shop!





Us and president in front of Wakefield Cathedral

The London 2012 Olympic Flame/Torch!

The MASS of people walking back after it passed. And me :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 87: Happy Father's Day!


Hello!
Another great week in the England Leeds Mission over here :) Life just doesn't seem to slow down and take a breather, huh? That's okay, though... Trying to keep up keeps it interesting ha ha ;)
So! We had a very interesting week here! Elder Woodside and I was blessed to be able to do some work in our own area on Tuesday!  We spent a bit of time knocking in an area near one of our other investigators, and it wasn't long until we got in doors with Tabeth, from Zimbabwe! We were able to teach her the first lesson, and we discussed the similarities between our two faiths, as well as the key differences (prophets, book of mormon, etc). It went well, and we set up a return appointment for next week :)
Its nice to get out of the office every now and then :) Speaking of office, I thought you might wanna see what office life is like! So check out my first pick. :)
Best thing thats happened this week:
BAPTISMS!!!
Woo-hoo! Back in Newcastle, by last area, two of our investigators Moriah and Zenobia entered into the waters of baptism!!! AND BOY WAS IT HOT!!! The younger of the sisters, Zenobia asked me to baptise her, and when we stepped into the font I couldn't help but give a bit of a quiet yelp of pain as the water was piping, almost boiling hot! Zenobia, who is 11 years old, was a trooper, and plodded on through the steaming water. After the baptism we literally ran up the stairs of the font out of the water. From the waist down, I actually looked like a tomato! Really! And my legs felt like jelly... It hurt so bad to wear my suit trousers afterward in fact, we went back to the Newcastle flat and I changed into some gym shorts for the two hour car ride back to Leeds! And my feet... Oh my goodness, ever step felt tender! Don't worry now though... Each of us who were in the water are much better now! These girls were a joy to teach, and they were found through their mother, whom we knocked into about 5 or so weeks ago while looking for people in the Lost Sheep (aka AUF) file.
On Wednesday, we celebrated Elder Woodside's 21st birthday with one of the member families here in Leeds 2! It was fun, and we just barely finished off the leftover chocolate birthday cake today! (There was a lot of it) See Third photo.
Also, on Thursday, Elder Woodside and I hosted the Zone Leader Council! It sure was different this time, while not actually being one of the zone leaders, but it was still fun to set up and participate in :) See last photo

Well, this week is also going to have several adventures that we are quite excited about! I'll be sure to take some more picture this time, as well!
Love,



Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Week 86: Back to the Land of My Inheritance


Heya everybody!
 
I'm back to Leeds! The place that I started my mission! This time, in Leeds 2!  I absolutely love Leeds :)
 
I'm now serving with Leeds with Elder Woodside, from Pownal, Maine!  He's been so much fun to serve with, and he is absolutely fixed on helping me become the best that I can possibly be, which I am very appreciative of!  Right now the two of us are serving together in the office, helping out the president with anything he could need.
 
In my new area, we had two baptisms! We witnessed the baptisms of Anja (9) and Luca (8).  They had been taught by Elder Wadsworth and Elder Woodside, and then Elder Wadsworth just barely went home on Thursday (which was an experience in itself!) and so I was here to finish off the rest of the teaching before the baptism happened on Sunday. 
 
So, I've got some good news and some bad news... The good news is, I've started up my habit of writing in my journal for every day!! Before, I'd be lucky if I wrote in my journal once every two weeks or once a month... So that's good :) 
The bad news is... My P-days have dramatically changed. Actually, more like non-existent. So I don't get the chance to email as much... So it looks like my weekly emails might lack a bit of meat until I start to get a hold on my new responsibilities... So please, if my emails start to get boring or very short, know that is only because I am fully enjoying the busy life of a missionary over here in England. :)
 
Anyways! I hope you all are doing well! Thank you for still being interested in my life, even after I've been gone for so long!
 
Love,
Elder Spencer 
 
PS I promise I'll include some pictures and some fun stories with the next week's email!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Week 85: Breaking News, from Newcastle!

Happy Diamond Jubilee, Your Majesty!
This past weekend was the celebration of Her Majesty the Queens 60th anniversary of serving on the throne, and what better ways to spend it than with
BAPTISMS!!!
(See first picture)
That's right! Plural!  On June 2nd, 2012, our investigators Emma, a university student from China, and Zinnah, a mother of two from Liberia, both entered into the waters of baptism and were confirmed members of the church!  I really wish I had enough time to type the conversion stories of these two great people, but unfortunately, I'm at a pakistan-ish internet cafe to email, and here time is money! So I must hurry, because that is not the only big news!!! 
Sushi!!! (See second picture)
Finally, after almost two years of being without it, we found a Japanese buffet restaurant, with Sushi! And it was delicious!  And we were able to work out a discount, by inviting over 10 people to come. Ah, it was soooo good. And at the end, they had little tubs of Haagen-Dazs ice cream, included in the buffet. Yum! We liked it so much, that we took part of the sunderland zone there yesterday. They loved it as well!
And last but not least, it was transfer calls last night, and to much surprise...
I'm moving to my last area!!! Which is the blessed land of my inheritance...
LEEDS!!!
I'm moving to the Leeds Zone, within specifically the Leeds 2 area. How great is that? I originally started my mission in Leeds, and now I will be finishing it in Leeds! I am so excited!!! I really feel so blessed. I am sad I'm not going to be here in Newcastle for the baptisms that will happen in a couple of weeks, but I know that Leeds is where the Lord wants me to go. So that's where I'll go!  Luckily today, in celebration of the Queen, our ward had a party and I was able to say good bye to almost everyone :) I took some pictures of the Chinese members with whom I became such good friends with :) I will miss them!  I was only in Newcastle for 5 weeks... Because it was a shorter transfer... But I am thankful for the memories, experiences, and friendships I have had here :)

SO! My new area is Leeds 2, right? Right! So that means I have a new address... But to be honest, I'm pretty sure the address is right next to the Mission office, and mail seems to get there quicker than anywhere else in the mission, so if you have any letters you're just dying to send me; [because Im sure there are plenty(c)], please send them to this address :)
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer
England Leeds Mission
Lister House, Lister Hill,
Horsforth, Leeds
England    LS18 5AZ
Also, this being my last P-day in Sunderland, we went to Alnwick (pronounced 'anneck') Castle! Which is another location of where they filmed Harry Potter! Remember the part in the first film, where Harry was having broomstick-flying lessons? Well that's where we were today! And we took some epic photos! (See Last picture) 
Wish me luck in Leeds, because like always, I'm going to need it!
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer
PS Pop quiz! Guess which of the following I have eaten in just the past week:
A) Ox Tongue
B) Chicken Feet
C) Salmon Head
D) All of the above
The answer?
D! Gross, huh? The ox tongue would have been good if it werent so darn chewy... The others were just plain gross...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 84: Another Week of Fun in the Sun!


Heya everyone!

This past week was a blast! We had several things that were just full of instruction, upliftment and meetings!

First up was Tuesday morning, we had a mission conference with Elder Jay E. Jensen! It was great! It was the first time in about 3 years that the mission had all met up together for a meeting. Elder Jensen talked about the top ten skills of high baptising missions, about more quickly bringing the spirit into the lives of our investigators, and about several steps of conversion, all of which were very helpful and insightful.

Wednesday came and the Sunderland Zone came together for its monthly Zone Specialized Training Meeting.  In this meeting, the Zone Leaders are to instruct for about 45-60 minutes on whatever they feel the missionaries in the zone would benefit most from. This is followed by a training model and several other things aimed at improving the effectiveness of the zone (not to mention, zone unity).  The meeting was a hit, very spiritual, and several missionaries commented that several points they heard was just what they needed :) We very much felt guided by the spirit as to what to teach, and we were very grateful for those sacred experiences that we recognized.

Thursday came, and I went on exchange with my good old companion, Elder Jestice! Its hard to believe that it was over a year ago that Elder Jestice and I were serving together in Doncaster. Right now he's serving in the North Sheilds area, which is right on the beach (which, of course, I love) and we talked about so many good times of Doncaster... It was great! Brought back some good memories :) On the exchange itself, both of the evening tea appointments flogged (cancelled) so we bought some good 'ol tradional kebabs! (See picture)
  
 
Friday came, and Elder Wadsworth and Elder Woodside (Assistants to the President) came up here to train a couple of missionaries, and met up with us for lunch. Elder Wadsworth is finishing his mission in about a week, and so it was kind of a good-bye celebration for one of my closest friends/role models on my mission. Elder Wadsworth and I have served around eachother for pretty much my whole mission, so we've had quite a lotta memories.
 
Saturday came, and two of our investigators passed their baptismal interviews! Zinnah, from Libera and Emma from China are looking forward to their baptism this weekend, and we are so stoked! And what better way to celebrate that with Zinnah's mom making us some great swedish/african food after the interview!  
 
Well, Sunday happened, and church was great! We had someone invite their friend to church, and she came! We will be teaching her tomorrow :)   
Well, we're going to go meet up for lunch with some of our chinese members, so I've gotta blast!
 
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer
 
PS Ive attached a picture of last week's university speech for you to enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 83: Speech at Newcastle University!

Hello again!
Great news! We saw a bit a sun yesterday! The most we've had in the past 2 or 3 weeks! And it was SO NICE!!! I hope it continues... Looks like today isnt going to work in our favour :-/ Oh well!!
So this past week was quite the experience! For starters, we had zone conference and we went over to the York zone once again to recieve instruction from President and Sister Lindley. It was fantastic, and it was lots of fun being able to catch up with past missionaries/companions.  We also recieved quite a bit of instruction that I feel will be of great use to the missionaries in the zone.

Im sure you all are wondering, especially since its a kind of a ''out of the ordinary'' type thing, about how my speech went at the University of Newcastle. So, I'll just give a bit of background.
Currently in our teaching pool, we have several chinese university students who are studying translation as their major (English-Chinese).  When I first arrived here in Newcastle, Elder Burt and Elder Thomas (who I had replaced) had already agreed to speak on any aspect of our religion at a small chinese conference at the university for one of the classes.  Since there would be many speakers at the conference, we were both given 15 minutes each, which would be basically cut in half because to each of us would be a chinese translator, who would interpret for us to the class. So really we were given about 7 minutes to speak. Now, Elder Burt and I both found this as a wonderful opportunity for a missionary tool, and so we both decided one of us would speak on what a missionary is, and the life that they live, and the other would basically give a breif summary of lesson 1 (The Restoration). I'll be honest with you, being in a room filled with chinese students with them all intently listening to you was quite intimidating. But we did it! And it was a great experience. Elder Burt spoke on ''The Life of a Missionary'' and I spoke on ''A History of God's Dealings with Man''. Both topics were quit intriguing to the chinese, as some of them had little or no knowledge on the subject of christianity, and we both at the end felt quite great about what had been said. It was also quite interesting to speak for about 3 or 4 sentences, and then have the translator say exactly what you said, only in a completely different language. It was also a very special experience at then end of my speech, when I was able to bare my testimony to the class (minus the ''in the name of Jesus Christ, amen'' part) and then hear it translated into chinese :) I definitley felt the spirit at that point :)

Also this week! We both broke a new personal record for number of tea- appointments in a day! On Saturday, Elder Burt and I were fed by members/investigators 4 times! Usually, being fed twice is a challenge physically! But we pushed through it, and came out victorious in the end. See the pictures, we held up our fingers for which meal it was...
Pic #1 Liberian (African) breakfast at
our scheduled investigator, Zinnah's home.

Pic #2 English Lunch about 3 hours later at the Hoben's home.
(Sweet and sour chicken, English style)

Pic #3 Chinese Dinner about 2 hours later,
pork and sausage at Li Run's home.

Pic #4 Again, African food at an investigator's home,
 this time, one hour later, tomato rice and chichen.


By the end of it, we were done with food. I felt SOOOOOO fat. But its okay. We survived ha ha and what a challenge! (The last one was by far the most difficult)

This week! Mission conference! The WHOLE MISSION is getting together for the visit of Elder Jay E. Jensen, of the Presidency of the Seventy, in York!  We are alls pretty excited, even if we do have to get up at 4:30am tuesday morning in order to get to the meeting in time... Ugh. Wish us luck!

Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS You can expect photos from the conference next monday! The photographer will email them to us this week.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Week 82: A very happy Mother's Day to you!


Hello everyone!
 
Once again, (though it is rare) the weather is simply beautiful over here in Northern England!
 
It was a more than wonderful experience yesterday when I was able to skype my loved ones :) The time was a bit more limited, but it was amazing nonetheless!
This past week was absolutely FILLED with adventures everyday! Monday was ''get to know the new zone'' P-day, where everyone met up and we played sports/watched a couple films. Immediately following P-day, we began our first exchange with the Elders directly south of our area, in Gateshead. Gateshead is kinda known in the mission  as the ''Jew capitol of England''   There were Jews everywhere! It was amazing! We walked up one street in particular (the high street) and it literally felt as though we had walked into a different country. They don't really talk to us missionaries though. They're really nice people, like they say hi back and stuff, but its way difficult to strike up a conversation with them :-/ But anyway!
 
So the exchange was fun, it ended at district meeting on Wednesday, which was also quite enjoyable. Thursday came, and we were excited to attend another monthly Zone Leader council. This one was very inspiring, and we had the opportunity to receive instruction from President's son, David. It was great to catch up with the other zone leaders and to see how the mission is doing as a whole, and wonderfully enough, its doing quite well!  The England Leeds mission still stands as one of the most productive missions in all of Europe! And in my opinion, it is the best :)  (see first picture)
 
Friday came, and we spent a bit of our extra time outlining a speech that both Elder Burt and I have been invited to give at Newcastle University.  Elder Burt is speaking on the life and schedule of a missionary, and I will be speaking on ''A History of God's Dealings with Man.'' Thankfully, the speeches only need to be about 7 minutes long, but still its quite intimidating. We're excited though! Expect more details and a full report next week.
 
Saturday came, and Elder Burt and I held another ''District Leader Specialized Training'' meeting for all of the district leaders in the zone. This was another great opportunity to meet up and get to know the district leaders here in the zone.  Also, on Saturday night, we went over to an investigators' house and celebrated their birthday! Emma, one of the Chinese students, turned 24 this past weekend, and had to celebrate the way chinese celebrate best, with food!!! Yeah!  Most of the food was... Interesting. But we were all more than full by then end of it. (see second picture) And cooked cashews are amazing!




Then Sunday came, and we were blessed to be able to skype our families back home. I can't believe its come so fast... but that was the final time I would talk with my family from England! Ahhh! I have SO MUCH LEFT TO DO!  Please pray for me to be guided to do the things I need to do here in the sunderland zone... Because Ive got a feeling that says that through these last few months... I'm going to need as much help as I can get to get the most out of my mission!
 
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

P.S. Here are some more pictures, as promised!
 

Pic #3: Elder Burt!


Pic #4: Elder Pass and I at the transfer meeting, the day before he flew home to California.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 81: Life just got a little BIGGER!

All'reet everyone?

These deeys I'm-a brooshin up ohn me geordie! (To be spoken exactly as it sounds)

Yup! Its tyme for ya to larn yersel sum geordie! Don't worry, you'll get used to it ;)

So, that's pretty much how the people speak over here, and its borderline classed as a different language.  Thankfully, even though I might not understand all of what they're sayin, they pretty much understand american english. So the geordies (not to be confused with the machams, big mistake if you do) are the people of the north who are born on the sides of the tyne (a river that empties into the north sea). Their accent is more Scottish than English, and they are known for their friendly, easy-going nature. Guess what? Newcastle is full of 'em! And that's not all! Its also full of immigrants from east Europe, whom I love to teach! The for the first time in almost 9 months, Ive talked to someone from Slovakia! (And many Slovakians are exceptionally prepared to receive the restored gospel)  And Ive been needing to brush up on my Russian for a while now ha ha, so I'm quite excited!

My new companion is Elder Spencer Burt, (Funny first name, huh?) from Logan, Utah.  He's an aggie, but that's okay, we manage to live through our differences :) 
This weekend I was able to meet most of the Chinese investigators that we are teaching currently, and they are all very nice and fun people to be around. They are currently working on giving me a Chinese name (all Chinese missionaries and their companions have Chinese names) so I'll have to let you know what it is when I get it ;)  

Ive also had African food TWICE in the past 5 days, and the first one was at Zinnah's house (from Liberia) which was super spicy, and the second one was at Toko's house (from Angola) which had ribs which were way nice! Us missionaries sure get spoiled when it comes to food ha ha :) 

Church was great, the Newcastle ward is at a nice, quaint size, which is great because in the big wards (like York or Doncaster) you don't get the chance to connect with everyone, and you become just another missionary to some people. However in smaller wards and branches, the people seem like they need you a bit more, and they are more willing to get to know you and help you with whatever :) We had quite a few investigators at church as well, which was great. I sat in on the Chinese gospel principles class with some of our investigators, and Elder Burt taught (teaching some of the time in English and some of the time in Chinese, interesting experience)  It was so much fun to get to know everyone :) I'm really excited for this new area! (Gasp! It might be my last!)

Well, currently I'm on exchange right now in an area called Gateshead (which is where my trainer, Elder Pass, was trained) and there are so many different types of people here! Its great! And Jews! There like a fairly large community of jews here in gateshead as well ha ha :) Its amazing how different life can be when you move only a few miles...


Anyway, I've got some things to take care of for mothers day, so I'll write to ya next week!

Why-aye, mate!
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

PS I forgot my camera at the Newcastle flat, so I'm not able to email any pictures this week. But next week will be great!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week 80: Goodbye York!!


I know, right? I cant believe it either!
 
And hello Newcastle!! Yeah, I hadn't heard of it either before I came to England, but apparently its the biggest city in the mission. (It also happens to be the home of one of the best English Football Teams in the League!
 
Its hard to put down my feelings about this sudden change... I mean, it definitely came as a shock to all of us here in the Zone, I was expected to stay here for at least another 3 months, staying at least one more transfer after ''killing off'' Elder Horner (he goes home in two weeks!) and I was quite happy with that outcome! To be honest, I would have been more than happy to finish off my mission here in this beautiful city... But God had a different plan, and that plan includes moving to the Sunderland Zone to be with a Chinese speaking missionary, Elder Burt! I don't know much about Elder Burt, other than that means I'll be learning a lot more Chinese than I previously knew... And we'll also be working a lot on the University Campus! Which is very exciting! So , there's a lot going on here in the mission field, so much, in fact that I'm going to have to end this email a bit short! So lemme put down my new adress, and please start sending me letters ASAP! :D (c)
 
Elder Gabriel Spencer
 
1a Henry Street
Gosforth
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE3 1DQ
England
 
I'll email you next Tuesday (bank holiday Monday, no libraries open)
 
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

Monday, April 23, 2012

Week 79: Living Life With Three Companions!


Hello Everyone!
Introducing a temporary week-long extra companion: Elder Woodside, from Maine!
For this past week, Elder Horner and I had a blast as we added one of the assistants to the president to our York 1 team. Elder Woodside was on exchange with us from Monday afternoon until Friday afternoon. It was so much fun! And we cranked him when it came to our morning jog ha ha ;) (See first photo)
We started out the week like normal, except we were able to get a member out with us on Tuesday night and go on splits easy! Which was great!  I saw a couple of our investigators with a member named Sean, and they went out to find more investigators!  Also, at the very beginning of the exchange, after our first morning run with the three of us, we set a goal to run the whole wall of York, a long two mile stretch of stairs, up and down inclines, and irregular pathways.  In other words, not an easy track to run.  So, every morning exercise was set in preparation for this excursion to be attempted on Friday morning, the last day of the exchange. Tuesday and Wednesday was spent endurance running, while Thursday we went to a nearby park/hill with LOTS of stairs to run up and down. And then the day finally came. Friday morning. 6:30am. We quickly said our prayers, got dressed and drove over to the large ancient structure. To our disappointment, the gates to the actual wall were locked! And a sign outside of the wall stated that they wouldn't be opened until 8 o'clock.  But would we let this stop us? NO!  We went to the inner side of the wall, and climbed up the steep grassy knoll to a place where we could climb onto the pathway!  We triumphantly began our run, with excitement and vigor trailing behind us in the brisk English wind.  Unfortunately, however, we didn't realize that there were more gates periodically that separated the different sections of the wall. Within a matter of minutes we arrived at the iron bars of the first gate, defeated, and out of ideas. We looked at each other as though hoping one of us would have an idea.... But nothing. Just then, an older fellow on a bicycle approached the gate from the other side with a ring of keys... '' Are you locked in?'' He asks. 'Yes, and you my friend, are an answer to prayer.' we said, as we caught our breath. To our blessing the gatekeeper of the York Wall had come to our rescue at just the right time.  He took out his rusted old set of keys and proceeded to unlock the first gate. We thanked him, and asked him if he would be opening up the other sections of the wall surrounding York. His reply was yes, and then he further added ''You boys are lucky. I woke up feeling like opening the gates a bit earlier today.''  What happened over the next 40 minutes was something I'll never forget. As we ran from section to section, as soon as we arrived at the locked gate, our bike riding friend would be there, keys ready, unlocking the next bit for us to enjoy. In addition to that at every other section he would tell us a little bit of the walls History, giving us personal tour as he unlocked each gate. There must have been a dozen gates that he unlocked, the last one being the best, where as we caught our breath he gave us a detailed history of the barbican and the soldiers going out to war from that area. The run was beautiful. The wall in some areas is taller than all of the surrounding buildings, and we could see all over the city. The best was the wall's half-way point, where as we ran we saw a beautiful sunrise-lit York Minster only a few hundred feet away. Throughout that entire week, rain soaked us through. However this morning, the sky broke through the clouds to give us one of the most memorable days of my mission yet. It might not have seemed like a big deal, but we worked hard all week preparing with this final run in mind as the goal, and to have so many possible obstacles (locked gates, rain, clouds, etc) literally moved out of our path, all three of us missionaries felt the love of God in the form of one of His many tender mercies. We felt so blessed :) At the end of the excursion, we all jumped in the car, feeling tired, accomplished, sweaty, but most of all, gratitude, for the simple mercies of the Lord :)
So that's my story for this past week. Now I can look back at my time here at York and say ''I remember when I ran the wall of York for morning exercise on mission'' with fond memories in my heart :)
The exchange was celebrated at the end with Hot Pot at the York 2 flat :) This time, with Calamari! Gotta love it! (See photo)

Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer



Monday, April 16, 2012

Week 78: Exchange with Selby, and York Stake Conference!


Heya everybody!
 
Is it just me, or does time seem to be going faster now? Oh my goodness! Its crazy!
 
So, this week was a great attempt at being as memorable, but I didn't meet/see anyone famous :-/ Oh well... maybe this week!
 
So as you probably read from my last email, I was on exchange for half of the week in the Selby area with Elder Paczensky!  It went well, and I very much enjoyed the temporary membership of a gym. Now I just gotta keep the ball rolling!!!  The diet is going well, Elder Horner and I are both sticking to it like mint jelly. All we've been eating this week (apart from tea appointments) is chicken and ham sandwiches, fruit and porridge. And its working! I'm already feeling better :)
 
After a great district meeting on Wednesday, Elder Horner and I got back to work in our own area, and we hit the ground running! We found the most new investigators Ive ever found in York, and we were blessed to schedule a new person for baptism as well!
 
One of the best parts of this past week happened on Sunday. It was stake conference here in York and hundreds of people crammed into the already large chapel. President and Sister Lindley spoke, as well as the normal people you'd expect to hear from in a stake conference. It was nice to see all of the other teams in the zone, and to meet their investigators whom we only hear about. The best part, however, came at the end :)
 
As I was walking over to the Scarborough missionaries to conduct a baptismal interview when one of the members of the York 1 ward approached me and said ''there's this guy here who just walked in and said he's interested in learning about our church''  I spotted him amongst the crown and quickly made my way to meet this man. To my delight, he was more than happy with what he had seen so far from the smiling, positive people that had introduced themselves, and we briefly sat down and talked about what he would like to have in his life. After a few minutes (and meeting President Lindley) we set up a return appointment at the church a few days later and I helped Hasan (from Turkey) to experience a warm fellowship from the members that were left after the meeting :) What a miracle! Almost immediately after I had finished talking with Hasan, another member approached me saying there was another person who walked in during stake conference, who's name was Johnny. Apparently, Johnny just moved to a street right next to the church, and was interested in finding a church youth program to join. So, I got his details from the member (who was smart enough to get them on his own) and gave him a call later that night, inviting him to young mens on Thursday night. We'll be seeing him then!
 
Talk about miracles! Blessings! Tender mercies from the Lord! I love this work!

Love,
Elder Gabriel G Spencer
 
PS If you could pray for my mom, who has recently suffered an injury requiring a small surgery, that would be greatly appreciated :) I love you mom! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 77: Goodbye York!


Heya!
Who would'a thunk York would have such amazing celebrities within its ancient city walls within the same week?? Definitely an experience I will not likely forget!
Where to begin, where to begin...
Zone Meeting! Its name has officially been changed to 'Zone Specialized Training'. For those of you who don't know, Zone meeting is where all of the missionary teams in the stake (zone) meet up and are instructed by the zone leaders, have training models, etc.
If you remember last transfer's zone meeting, it included some pretty random, yet fun tools and things to use... And this one just about showed it up! Here's how it began... The night after the last zone meeting, in my personal prayers, I was thanking Heavenly Father for the success of the meeting, and how smooth and effective it was, despite it being my first one, and immediately I received a vision of what the next zone meeting's instruction needed to be on. In my mind I saw the York chapel, and all of its pews moved and switched around forming a maze...  And that's exactly what we did :) So with this vision in mind, Elder Horner and I discussed how we could adapt that idea to focus on helping the needs of the teams in the zone. We came up with this: Revelation through the Holy Ghost. We were blessed to have the assistants to the president attending, and we asked if they would help us out by playing the role of investigators out on the street. One member of the companionship was blind folded, and told that they would be the missionary sent to find as many potential investigators as possible will moving through the maze, and the other was given a piece of paper with instructions and told that they would be playing the part of God.  God was there to help the missionary, but only if the missionary asked a specific question about anything and everything! The maze and investigators proved to be both challenging and instructive, and the missionaries that asked got for directions and for what the needs of the investigators were were the most successful :) I SO wish I took a picture of the maze in the chapel, but unfortunately, pictures aren't allowed in the chapel :-/  But good memories anyway!
Thursday came, and there were two major events that happened... The first being the Queen of England came to the city, giving away maundy money to the public in celebration of her Diamond Jubilee (something like 40 or 50 years of being queen), and it was Zone Leader council at the mission office and home in Leeds. Sad to say, I didn't get to see the Queen, but I LOVED zone leader council! Its always so interesting, so revelatory... It was great :) See first picture!
After on Saturday, the city was also graced to have hosted the world famous Osmond Family*!  *Donny and Marie not included 
And wait, the Osmonds are members of the church, aren't they? And if they have a performance that ends late Saturday night that means they'd have church the next morning! And they did! I got to have a nice chat with a nice guy called Jimmy Osmond :) He asked me where I was from and I said 'Sandy, Utah!' and he said 'Really? Ha ha I know that place really well...' (I'm pretty sure I have a friend who lives in Sandy who has the part of the Osmond family in their ward)  So, before he left sacrament (5 minutes early to be exact) I managed to get his autograph in my missionary planner ha ha! See second photo :) The funny part was, it wasn't even my ward! It was York 2 sacrament service that he attended, and I just happened to be out in the corridor when he went to check if his driver had arrived :) Fun story to tell, huh?
One of the other events of this past week includes turning over a new leaf! Elder Horner and I, recognizing that we are edging closer and closer to the end of our lifetime (as missionaries, of course) decided we are improving our lifestyle, by taking our daily exercise more seriously, and eating healthier. Last week was the start of jogging in the morning, and it was jump started by the enthusiasm of our recently RM'ed ward mission leader, Brother Munzer! Yesterday morning's sleep was interrupted with a knock on the door, with Bro. Munzer ready to show us how to get the most out of our morning jog! And boy, did we ever! We ran about 3 miles that morning, including lots of hills and valleys to add to the fun :) We are also eating healthier, yesterday we bought nothing but fruits, healthy cereals, veg, breads and lean meats. So we are ready to get in shape!
Today happens to be a Tuesday, and I'm currently on exchange with Elder Paczensky, from London, England! He and his companion happen to have a gym membership and a car, which means I definitely got a great work out today! Ah, I miss working out a lot :) It was a nice feeling, I just wish I could go every morning... But nevertheless! I still was grateful to have the experience. :)
Well, my time's about up now, I hope this week is just as exciting as the last!
Love,
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer


PS To those of you who have been expecting a letter from me for the past few weeks, I apologise... Its not that I haven't written letters, its just that its so darn difficult to find a post office and some stamps to stock up on in York! But I promise I will send out all of your letters this week, so you can expect them within the next 6-8 days :) Hopefully you'll have better luck than me at replying!