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!
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!

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!
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!
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
Newcastle upon Tyne
I'll email you next Tuesday (bank holiday Monday, no libraries open)
Elder Gabriel G. Spencer