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)

Elder Gabriel G. Spencer

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