Monday, January 23, 2017

Laura's Baptism!

 
James, Laura and their daughter at Laura's baptism

Monday, January 23, 2017
     It's been quite an eventful week for us this week!! Obviously the highlight was the baptism of Laura on Saturday, which was the easiest baptism I ever had to plan... mainly because Elder Parsons and I really didn't have to plan much. Our ward mission leader is really great with getting things organised and planning it out, and then James and Laura basically took care of all the arrangements themselves anyway. It was a packed baptismal service!! James and Laura had friends and family travel from other parts of the UK, but also the whole ward was just so supportive of Laura getting baptised because she has been involved in the ward for so long. There was a huge amount of food afterward as well, so it was basically a ward social following the baptism. The service was really amazing though! It must have been such an incredible moment for James being able to be baptise and confirm his wife. They already have 1 young daughter, Laura is due with another baby in April. Their family will help the Aberdeen ward grow a lot in the future. This church is built upon families. 
James' sister made this cool cake for Laura's baptism!
River Ness in Inverness
   Obviously this week started out pretty fun as well with our trip to Inverness on Tuesday. We had a district meeting there and then spent all day working with the Elders. It was so much fun! Inverness is a smaller sized city but really beautiful! Very similar to Galway I would say.
The river Ness (flows from Loch Ness) goes right through the middle of the city. I was on exchanges with Elder Hinckley (who I was in the MTC with) and we had a fantastic day! There were 3 people that we found that very day that we met with who started investigating, so it was quite successful. On Wednesday morning, we took a short drive down to Loch Ness to take a look before heading back to Aberdeen. It was dark so we couldn't see too much, but it was a surreal moment standing by it. Visiting Loch Ness was like a bucket list item for me- hopefully I can go back another time during the day. 



Early morning at Loch Ness...no sign of the monster!


Click for more about Inverness and Lochness

     We had a quite a decent week ourselves as well. Kiera and Lewis are both doing quite well. Lewis is basically all prepared for baptism, but Kiera is not progressing quite as much and they would like to be baptised at the same time, so it might take a few weeks to get there. We have another really great man we are teaching named Ivar who is originally from Norway. He came to Laura's baptism on Saturday, but just still hasn't come to church. He has received a lot of answers through prayer about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, so hopefully he can begin progressing towards baptism. There are a few other good people, but we have had to pass them to the other ward because they are not in our boundaries. We are excited to just be able to get a lot of work done this week! There are not too many things going on to take away from our work, except for possibly going down to Edinburgh for an exchange tomorrow.
     So this is the last week before our moves call on Sunday, but I am sure it will be very unlikely that I will be moving, but we are anticipating a lot of moves for our zone, so it should be pretty exciting.
Church building in Inverness



Monday, January 16, 2017

White Winter Weather

   
Me and my new companion, Elder Parsons, at Dunnottar Castle

 Monday, January 16, 2017

      Well it's been quite a wild first full week in Aberdeen... I would love to say that it was a normal week, but it was definitely quite abnormal with so many different things going on. 




      To start off with... it is COLD. Much colder than other places I have been on my mission. I mean it is not nearly as bad as some places, but I am just not so used to it. We have gotten a lot of snow some nights and on Saturday the whole city was covered in snow the entire day, so it's quite pretty actually! 
Snow outside the church building

View from our flat

Our flat building 

Elder Blettenberg from my MTC group who
was transferred out of Aberdeen this week
      What made this week particularly crazy was the fact that there were a few different emergency mid-transfers moves happening because of a few missionaries that went home in other parts of the mission and other necessary changes needed. There was only night this week where it was just Elder Parsons and I sleeping in our flat, because so many different missionaries were coming through for exchanges or passing through Aberdeen to move to other areas. Some of the moves were so spontaneous that Elder Parsons and I had to split with other missionaries and he had to drive all the way to the very tip of Northern Scotland to pick up some missionaries from Thurso which is 5 hours away one-way (they got only a couple hours of sleep that night). 


   

     So despite everything crazy happening, we have seen sooo many miracles!! So Lewis who came to church last week, met with us on Monday, brought his girlfriend to the next lesson and she was also so interested and also agreed to be baptised! So Lewis and his girlfriend Kiera are loving what we teach and excited to be baptised hopefully the last week of January. Lewis came to church again, but unfortunately Kiera couldn't. Laura is scheduled to be baptised this coming Saturday and all the preparations are basically done, so we are quite thrilled! There are also several others who have baptismal dates and are pretty interested, and we have done quite a lot of teaching this week, so I have really enjoyed my time so far.
Aberdeen City Centre


     It's going to be another really fun week this week! Obviously Laura is getting baptised, but we also have some fun travel. We are going to Inverness (the city beside Loch Ness) tomorrow for a district meeting and then staying with the Elders there to work with them for the day. Today we already visited a castle nearby called Dunnottar Castle, so I have some beautiful pictures there also.

Dunnottar Castle on the north east coast
of Scotland, south of Stonehaven
 




Inside Dunnottar Castle 



On the east coast of Scotland 







Monday, January 9, 2017

First Week in Aberdeen, Shirley's Baptism!



Monday, January 9, 2016
    What a wild week it has been!! The first half of our week was pretty crazy, but we got some great work done in our area at the end. Aberdeen is an incredible place!! I really feel that there is so much work to be done here, and things are already improving. We have seen so many miracles already!

    So I took a train into Aberdeen on Monday, and I had some great first impressions as I immediately had a meal appointment with some members in the ward who were so kind! The rest of the day on Monday and Tuesday there were a lot of things to be done. There wasn't a whole lot of organisation, so I needed to update a report for the Aberdeen stake, and also prepare a report for the Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday. I also spent time when I could, trying to call every team in the zone and get to know about them and their area so we could know how to help them. So I was quite overwhelmed when I got there, and I had to leave just as quick as I got there it seemed because of the mission leadership council in Edinburgh on Wednesday, so we drove to Dundee on Tuesday night and stayed the night there, because of the long travel. 

Shirley after her baptism


The MLC on Wednesday was so fun with so many great missionaries there, and then I got to stay afterward to see Shirley's baptism (which I gave a talk at) and it also gave me an opportunity to say goodbye to a few more members of Edinburgh Ward. It is sad to leave.


Saying goodbye to Keith
Goodbye to Anna, I was
teaching her before I
left Edinburgh.

    So we got back to Aberdeen on Thursday morning after staying Wednesday night in Dundee again. Aberdeen is a cool place! So it is still a city, but just a bit smaller than Glasgow or Edinburgh. All the buildings are built from Granite, so it is really grey... and often the sky is gray haha. We spent most of our time finding in the city centre, and it is so amazing! I feel that it hasn't properly been worked by missionaries for a little while because not too many people are familiar with the missionaries, so I think there is so much potential! I am amazed that there haven't been too many baptisms in 2016 for this ward because the area is so good! The recent converts that are here are really amazing though. So there are actually 2 wards in the city of Aberdeen. I am in the Aberdeen ward which covers the south half of the city, and the Bridge of Don ward is the north part of the city. 

    We already have some incredible people we are working with! Elder Parsons and I have a great advantage with both of us being new because it is kind of a fresh start without many preconceived ideas. So Elder Parsons and I went on Friday to visit a part-member family where the wife is not a member, but has been taught by missionaries for several months. We had almost no knowledge about the situation, so we came in and got to know the couple for a while and then began asking about her progression in the church. We determined that we would just go through the baptismal interview questions with her to see where she was at... so we did! And she answered absolutely perfectly to every single question! We told her that she was ready to be baptised... and she agreed!! So our friend Laura will be getting baptised on January 21st. She has been actively attending church with her husband for like almost a year, so there aren't really many hold backs. In the past I guess she has just felt very pressured, but she said that with both of us being brand new and teaching her for the first time she just felt very comfortable and ready to open up because there was no previous knowledge. So I think it is definitely inspired that Elder Parsons and I are together here. Laura's husband texted us later in the evening and said that she had never opened up like that and that she never answered all of the baptismal interview questions like that. So that is pretty amazing!! We also have several other people we have found this week that we have met with that accepted a baptismal date... however some we have to pass over to missionaries in the other ward because they live within the other boundary. But we have one amazing guy named Lewis who we met with on Saturday, who accepted a baptismal date. He then came to church on Sunday... and get this, he got up and bore his testimony during sacrament meeting!! It was really good as well. We are so excited about him!! 

    So there are still many things to organise here in Aberdeen, especially our flat and car. So I think we will have to spend a lot of time taking care of things before we are prepared to have some fun P-Days (there are a lot of cool things in our area)... so pictures will be coming soon enough in the future once we have some more organisation.

But I really am loving Aberdeen so far!!

 Click to learn about Aberdeen

Monday, January 2, 2017

Farewell Edinburgh

Monday, January 2, 2017

    So there is some interesting, unexpected news... There have been some wild mid-transfer moves. Most of the leadership around the mission has been all switched around. We got our call on New Year's eve night. So today I will be taking a train wayyy up north... to be a zone leader in Aberdeen, the most northern zone in Scotland. My new companion will be Elder Parsons, who just became a zone leader and moved to Aberdeen 2 weeks ago. So it sounds like it will be a pretty fresh start. But Elder Parsons and I served in the same ward in Glasgow together and I really like him, so I am super excited to serve with him. He is from Peterborough, England. I think the zone hasn't been performing too well, so I might have a lot of work to do to get things going. It is the biggest geographic zone in the mission. Everything north of Aberdeen is in the zone... including all the islands. There are Sisters in Stornoway (Isle of Lewis), Elders on the Orkney Islands, and Elders on the Shetland Islands. So it is going to be quite crazy to manage everything. But I also have some beautiful areas in the zone including Inverness, Loch Ness, and all of the highlands, so I am really hoping I get to see some really cool things! My only concern is that it will be reallllly cold for the middle winter... We'll see how it goes!

   This last week was quite a good week despite having so much time off. We were able to get a lot of great work done during the week, and we met with Shirley every day to help her get prepared for baptism on Wednesday... So at first I was really bummed of course because Shirley is getting baptised here in Edinburgh on Wednesday, but I am moving today. However, I lucked out because there is a mission leadership council on Wednesday here in Edinburgh, so I will be driving back down on Wednesday and will get to stay afterward for the baptism. This week we also started teaching this really amazing new Chinese lady named Anna, so I am really sad to leave her as well.

   New Year's weekend was quite fun!! On New Year's eve we had to be in early, so all the missionaries actually got invited to a member's home for an amazing meal. And then we went back to a missionaries flat for a little bit of fun... although it turned quite chaotic as we got our unexpected moves calls... half the missionaries in Edinburgh got moved out. So I stayed up late New Year's eve packing... So I was actually awake to bring in the New Year. There was so many celebrations and tons of fireworks set off from Edinburgh Castle, Arthur's seat and other spots in Edinburgh. We actually had a pretty nice view from our flat balcony!

Joseph, who was confirmed New Year's Day
New Year's day I got to say a lot of goodbyes at church! And it was also Joseph's confirmation day, so it was quite a special Sunday, but also sad saying goodbye to so many great members, especially recent converts. We were able to have a few meals at different member's homes on the rest of New Year's day also.


John Hall



Some of my great friends in Edinburgh!  

The Hall family 
My Chinese friends: Lisa, Zoe, Shirley and Jessica
Laura, recent convert



Brother Myles provides the missionaries with
countless smoothies every week  


Sanju, baptised a little over a year ago

The Spence family who fed us every week

Some of the best YSA in the mission- always helping the missionaries:

Laura, Ruth and Sophie
Bronwyn


   Well I am literally leaving for Aberdeen in less than an hour, so I will have to go. I have loved my time in Edinburgh soooo much and I can't wait to be back. But I know there will be a great new adventure in Aberdeen.


Views from the train on the way to Aberdeen