I absolutely love reading the e-mails of people just coming out on the mission. In a way, I envy them, that they can be in that stage now. But I do remember how hard it was just coming out and feeling like I had no idea what was going on... I guess because I actually didn't. I don't want to get super deep, but I do remember that at the beginning of my mission, my trainer would encourage me to have "sudden bursts of courage." She probably doesn't remember saying it now, but I remember being terrified like nearly every second of the day, but the moment I had to do something hard, I'd somehow work up a bunch of courage and bravery, and all of a sudden I'd find myself talking to the guy with a big pit bull and loads of tattoos. I think it was a repetition of those brave moments that kept me going at the beginning, and now I feel like I've had no problems with fear for a long time. However, a few days ago, I had a somewhat emotionally exhausting day. I felt like I was completely at the end of my rope and couldn't do anything more. Perhaps I'm being a bit dramatic, but that's what it felt like at the time. I remembered my first transfer on the mission, walking up to everyone and anyone. I really have no idea how I did. On this day, that same phrase came into my mind. I could hear my trainer saying, "Just a sudden burst of courage is all it takes to change a life!" So I did it. I saw a man about 40 feet ahead of us. He had a huge ugly dog, and I was honestly terrified of it. But all of a sudden, I felt my feet running towards him. I yelled to him, he stopped (probably because he thought I was insane and needed help), and we ended up having an amazing lesson with him. I was able to continue to share my testimony throughout the day. #blessed #thankful #devildogs
Grateful: Family, Book of Mormon, China, running, soccer, music, technology, instagram, hashtags, kind leaders, friends, violin, snow, baptism, the Holy Ghost, cameras, Cafe Rio, members, investigators, Coventry, Wales, autumn, advent calendars, the Atonement, warm blankets, journals, handwritten letters, Warwick University, recent converts, missionary friends, and spontaneous adventures.
Our district has had some major problems with unity in the past transfer. Since transfers have just come around, we're all excited for the new fresh start with each other. This morning, everyone ran from their flats to the city centre. It was pouring rain, but everyone still came. We huddled around in the dark square and said a district prayer to start the morning. As we prayed, I felt a huge surge of love for these people, my friends. The mission is surreal. My best friends are all out here by my side. We all have the same goal, and we all are excited to share our miracles with each other. I know it sounds cheesy, but I just love them. I feel as if it's going to be impossible to come home. I was homesick for home for a week or so in the beginning, but I feel like I will always be homesick for the mission after this.
The walk to church: Though we have a car, some of the elders in the district have been telling us we're weak for not just walking to church. We promptly made the decision that we would walk to church from then on, because we are far from weak. On Sunday, we organized a walk from city centre to the chapel with all the missionaries and their investigators. It was so cool to walk up to the meeting point and see about 20 people waiting there ready to go to church. It was about a 30 minute walk, and we were about 5 minutes late, so we made a huge scene, but the unity we all felt as we walked and talked together and fellowshipped each other's investigators and recent converts was amazing. #chineseswag
We had a really amazing week. It's felt so surreal. Seriously, I'm in love with the people here. Our district, the students, everyone is amazing. We're apart of something so real and amazing. The gospel is so incredible. It's true, and it's brings all sorts of people together. I cannot adequately describe the happiness I've felt this past week as we've continued to work alongside all the other missionaries. I'm honestly the luckiest girl on the planet.
I had a really sweet experience this week. On Tuesday, I had a really crummy day. I had been on exchange, and I went out even though I wasn't feeling well. I was feeling super sorry for myself, and at the end of the day after I was back in Coventry, I was trying so hard to fake a healthy countenance as I sat in our coordination meeting with all the other missionaries. However, in some very specific ways, I was able to receive comfort and direction for things I'd been praying about and agonizing over. Though some of these things aren't a big deal to anyone but me, I was reminded that God knows me. And not just me, but each of us. Every person I talk to, every missionary, all of us. Though it's so simple, I know God loves us and hears our prayers. I also have a testimony that God's ways are higher than ours. He knows me better than anyone.
Transfers have come and gone, and Sister Bertha and I are still together here in Coventry. It's her last transfer, and my second to last, so more than likely I'll end my mission here, which is totally fine with me. We are loving it here.
This last week, the berth got pretty ill. We had to stay in the flat for 2 days, and things were dreary and quite boring. You can only spend so many hours updating the area book, catching up on your journal, and taking selfies before you feel like you're going to go completely insane. We also had some really high goals for the week, so we were bummed that 2 days of the week were taken from us. But it was sorta neat, because then that meant the moments we did get to go out were quite precious, and we really wanted to use it wisely. For example:
On Saturday evening, we had a ping pong tournament at the chapel. Though Sister Bertha hadn't been well the whole day, she wanted to go so that we didn't go crazy in the flat. We did well, I beat some of the Asians (not sure if they let me), and then the tournament ended at about 8:30. We had a half hour before we needed to go in. We decided that instead of going inside, we would do 20 minutes of finding for the day. As we drove to our finding spot, we prayed and asked Heavenly Father to bless us with one person that wanted to be baptized. We got out of the car, and began walking. For some reason, no one wanted to talk to two coughing girls in the dark and rain. We stopped a girl coming from the train station. I was a little miserable at this point, and sorta just word vomited on her. I can't remember exactly what I said, but in the end, she said she's been trying to find out if God is there, and feels that baptism is the right thing for her. Ha. It almost felt unreal.
Prayer: As we were teaching one of our friend's last night, we asked how his prayers have been going. Here's how the conversation went.
Us: "How have your prayers been going?"
Him: "Gooooood. Good."
Us: "Do you feel like anyone is listening when you pray?"
Him: "Uh....... yeah! Next door."
On Sunday morning, some elders in our district had a baptism. Their cute investigator is from Hong Kong, and he's a bit scared of girls, but we love him. It was a simple service, but the Spirit was amazing. The whole thing was in Cantonese and Mandarin, so I had no idea what was going on, but the atmosphere was just so nice. The gospel is so cool. It's so real, and it's the same wherever you go and in whatever language. We all sang "I am a Child of God" in Mandarin at the end. We all fluffed our way through, but this boy from Hong Kong seemed totally at ease and at peace. I love the gospel.
Our favorite pal Ray was baptized this week! He's from South Korea, and he really figured these things out for himself. It's amazing how much God has been in the details for his conversion. He recognizes that there will still be lots of hard things in his life, but he is the epitome of GOLDEN. Seriously. As he came out of the water, he was smiling so big, and just kept saying, "Thank you. Thank you everyone for being at my baptism." And he would do a little bow. My heart melted inside. Everything he says is so perfect, and already he's loving the YSA in the ward. Life is gooooood. And though I make this whole story sound like it was a piece of cake, it wasn't completely. We definitely had bumps in the road, and a few unforseen events. But in the end, our friend has been baptized and he has been so happy. In his words, "I was happy before, but this is different. Things are harder, but I feel so good."
Also, we met an amazing guy this week named Ryan. Honestly, when I saw him in city centre, I had no intention of stopping and talking to him. He looked quite artsy and unique with beautiful wavy hair and funky glasses. I immediately thought, "SURELY, he won't be interested in what I have to say." Anyway, Sister Bertha stopped him, so of course we all talked. He ended up being the coolest person, and he's had loads of questions about God lately. He kept asking, "How are you guys so normal, but love God? You're not like regular church people." I feel like everyone we meet over here in Coventry is elect. We meet our best friends every day. We're struggling to keep up with how amazing this place is.
I'm freaking out about transfers on Wednesday. This was seriously the fastest transfer yet. It was probably the best as well. I feel as if we were both able to lay everything completely on the line and totally maximize our potential together. Perhaps this sounds cliche, but I seriously could not be happier here. Every moment I have something eternally significant to do. What fun! Anyway, Coventry is amazing.
Alcohol: Was offered some free beer last night. "Don't worry!" He said, holding out a huge open can, "You don't even have to pay me for it."
Men in suits: We brought our new 21 year old investigator to church yesterday. We introduced her to one of our 22 year old male members. After they were done talking she walked up to me and said, "I really like the way the men dress here. The suits are highly attractive." She looked around for a few more seconds, and then said, "I think I'll come next week."
Halloween: We had to be inside our flat early on Halloween, so we celebrated by making a fort and filling it with glow sticks. We can't bear to take it down now.
Sorry for the many general and vague comments in this e-mail. I feel like I sometimes run out of things to say. I have seriously loved my life here though.