...and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (Doctrine and Covenants 122: 7-9)

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012

We did have a good week. We're continuing to get a lot of teaching
opportunities as we taught 23 total lessons this week with 5 more new
investigators. We were disappointed that despite that, only 2
investigators came to church. However, both of those investigators are
very close to baptism. One of them, named Rory, is on parole for the
next 18 months, so we orignally thought he couldn't be baptized until
then, but President Lindley called us last week and said he would
personally interview him and determine if he was worthy to be
baptized. If he is worthy, he could very likely be baptized in two
Saturdays. He's changed his life around since coming out of prison and
really has nothing in life but his sense of humor and growing
testimony. The other, named Sharlene, is married to a less-active
member who we are helping reactivate. We went and saw her for the
first time on Saturday and the first question she asked us was "Do you
think I should be baptized?" I think you know how we responded to
that. She is scheduled to be baptized on the 17th of March and she
already has discovered a spiritual witness to the Book of Mormon and
Joseph Smith. Basically, we watched the Resoration DVD in the first
appointment, and when we asked her how she felt about it, she said she
felt like it really happened, and when she came to church the next
day, she told us she had read the Testimony of Joseph Smith and knew
from God that it is true. So we're thrilled about that. Another member
we helped reactivate has just been called onto the Elder Quorum
Presidency. Of course, our focus is on investigators, but its' really
great to see even life-long members' faith strengthened through out

We had a really fun zone P-day today. We went across the river to
North Shields and went to a secluded but beautiful sandy beach. I was
surprised to find such a nice beach on the northern coast of England.
Obviously, we couldn't swim, but we played some beach sports and
played on the rocks for a while. We found some crabs in the little
pools of water inbetween the rocks. Then we all crammed into Subway
and ate lunch there. It didn't help that a load of school kids were
coming in to get their lunch there at the exact same time. Then we
went to go minigolfing at this course where dinosaur statues spit
water at you when you get the ball through certain holes. Sometimes I
waited until one of the missionaries got right in front of the sprayer
to take their put and then put my golf club through the hole to spray
them. It was fun. The weather today made it even more fun-- 13 degrees
C and drizzling all day. Definitely the most fun P-day I've had so
far. I really like this part of the country.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 20, 2012

The migraines haven't bothered me this week. I haven't been taking anything special, but the rest and the paracetermol has been doing its job. A while back I hurt my leg playing football (American Soccer). I was advised not to play football for six weeks because it's the kicking motion that will hurt my leg again. We don't have a basketball court, so that means I'm playing ping-pong for the next several p-days I suppose. My leg has now had over three weeks of rest from playing sports, so today I think I'll play a little bit of chair football.

I had my second driving lesson this week. It went really well, actually. I only stalled twice and it was at a roundabout, which are common places to stall, especially for Americans that aren't used to them. I won't be taking any more lessons for a while now simply due to the cost and the fact that they won't reimburse me if I don't get my license, so I figured I'd just not try to get my license until I'm asked just in case I never need it. But I've had my two lessons now so I'd be allowed to drive a mission vehicle now if asked to, and I feel comfortable with it. I've gotten used to manual very quickly, though I still prefer automatic.

We've had a really, really good week. We got standards two weeks ago, but this week we got standards of excellence! I don't think I actually explained standards last time, so here I go: President Lindley has set key indicator standards for missionaries to achieve on a weekly basis that will help achieve the overall mission goal of 425 baptisms and confirmations with at least 75% retention. Missionaries who achieve these standards are recognized inthe weekly mission news letter, the Leeds Leader... so it's a big deal amongst us missionaries. Normal standards meanby Sunday night, a team has scheduled or baptized at least 1 investigator, gotten 3 investigators to church, taught 6 lessons with a members present amongst 18 total lessons (6 of which cancount as recent convert/less-active lessons), 12 hours of finding (pretty much impossible not to achieve that...), and 4 new investigators. That's what we got two weeks ago. Standards of excellence means also scheduling/baptizing  1 and seeing 3 at church, plus 8 member presents amongst 22 total lessons (6 of which can be LA/RCs... we call them larcs), 18 hours of finding, and 5 new investigators. This week our key indicators were one scheduled, 3 at church, 9 member presents, 7 other lessons, 6 larcs, 6 new investigators, and 20 /hours of finding. We were also over accountable by 5 hours for our weeks. So in other words, we had a great week. We were really lucky to find 6 new investigators this week, as well (well, inspired, not lucky).

We met an Indian man named Rafael street contacting on Friday, when we only had 1 new investigator for the week. He invited us over the next day but didn't give us his phone number. The next day, after finding a new investigator named Marc in the morning who we shceduled for baptism, we tried to go to the Rafael's home only to find that he had just gone out. But his friend Fernando, also from India, was in and he let us wait inside for Rafael to come back. So what did we do? Teach Fernando, of course. Then halfway through that lesson,  Rafael came in and we taught both of them. They both prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true and if being baptied on March 17th was right for them. The next day (yesterday) at about 8:30 (half an hour before we had to go in), we thought we'd just give them a knock to see if we could teach a quick lesson. Neither of them were in, but their friend Ram, also from India, was in and we taught him the first lesson. So three investigators from one house all at different times in a matter of two days. We were laughting with joy.

We also had zone conference this week and President and Sister Walker from the England MTC came! It was really, really good. I love the two of them so much. It was on Valentine's Day, so Sister Lindley spoke first about leaving God's love with every person that we meet, even those who are extremely rude to us, because we have no idea what goes through their mind after they shut the door. They could have a total change of heart. President Lindley spoke about the qualities of a valiant servant of the Lord and gave us a list of attributes for each missionary to apply in their work to become better servants of the Lord. Then President andSister Walker taught about the process of being assigned to our specific mission and why it's so inspired, the purpose of Preach My Gospel being for pure doctrine to be firmly set in the missionaries' hearts so we can then get it into the hearts of investigators; not avoiding the trials God is giving us to build us up; and how to truly enjoy missionary work, the key being to serve God with all of our heart, which is the receptor of love.  It was definitely my favorite zone conference so far, especially since I got to talk with President and Sister Walker for a while afterward, and they remembered me very well and missed me. They'll always be my first mission president (and mission president's wife).

Last thing for the week, we had a little miracle happen.  Last Saturday I left my scriptures onthe bus and thought there was no way I'd ever see them again. Because it was on a weekend, the bust office was closed and we couldn't call to see if they were inthe lost and found, and by Tuesday, we still didn't know if they had been found. I asked President and Sister Lindley to pray for me to find them and then the next day, we called the bus office again and they had been turned in to the lost and found! So I picked them up today since they weren't even in our area.

Anyway, that's all for the week. Glad to hear everyone is doingwell.  Love you!

Elder Winder

February 13, 2012

This has been an interesting week. We nearly got standards again, somehow. We haven't had the opportunity to do much finding this week at all because of some things going on. I've had some bad migraines this week, so I've had to stay in for a bit. They seem to have gone away now. I felt horrible yesterday and actually had to go lay down while at a dinner appointment. Then we went to a blind investigators home and taught him, but my eyes were hurting so bad that I just closed them and rested the whole time. Kinda bad, but he couldn't tell. Haha. Oh well. Elder Bensberg taught him well, I'm sure. I also had my first driving lesson (finally) on Thursday. That was anexperience. Learning how to drive in England is difficult enough for Americans. Learning how to drive in England while learning how to drive a stick-shift makes things a bit more difficult. Good news though, I only stalled about five times in the two hour lesson. Every time it stalled, though, there were four or five cars behind me. They weren't very patient cars, either. It was also raining and dark, so given that, I drove pretty well. I have another lesson this Friday. I'm hoping I don't have to take more than two more lessons because they're 34 pounds per lesson. It'd be easier if I already knew how to drive manual... so I suggest everyone learn to do it before their mission.

I think I'm hitting the point inmy mission where I'm realy starting to change things that are goingto stick with me for the rest of my life. Habits like goingto bed early, wakingup on time, studying effectively  every day, eating healthy, and prioritizing my schedule are not meant to just be used on a mission. I'm startingto engrain them into my mind and body.

Other interesting thing I did htis week was going to a Masonic Temmple last night with an ex-member of the church who is now a Free Mason. It's really...uh, interesting, I will say. Masonry goes all the way back to the buildingof Solomon's temple. I felt a bit uneasy in there, since there were some familiar pictures and stuff, but President Lindley said that it was nothingto worry about and he had done a lot of research on Masonry himself. We had called him to ask permission to walk through it. I want to see a Jewish service sometime as well. It's good to see other peoples' beliefs, but we definitely have to rely on the Spirit to recognize what is truth andwhat is not.

Anyway, that was pretty much my week. We're going down to Leeds tomorrow for a zone conference. Special guests: MTC President and Sister Walker! It will be great to see them again.a Well that's about it. Hope you all have a good week. Love you!

Elder Winder

February 7, 2012

Sorry about not emailing yesterday. It was a transfer day, so P-day was on Tuesday this week. Don't worry, I'll never forget to email every week.

Speakingof transfers, I'm staying in South Shields! But as for Elder Bensberg...he's staying too! We work really well together, so we were relieved and excited to hear we would be spending another 6 weeks together. Because of coming in halfway through two transfers agin, this will make him my longest companion so far. I think President was considering splitting us up because of some challenges we were facing at the beginning of our companionship, but things shaped up big time and we worked our butts off last week and got Standards!

Last week, we taught 9 member presents, 4 other lessons, 6 less-active/recent convert lessons, scheduled one, found 5 new investigators, did 24 hours of finding, and amazingly got 3 at church. I say amaingly because Saturday night, we only had one investigator confirmed for church, and even that was flaky because he doesn't have a phone, so it was a sigh of relief to at least see he had showed up when we arrived Sunday morning. We had no idea how we could possibly have gotten 2 more at church since no one else was confirmed, although we had invited pretty much everyone to come throughout the week, especially Saturday. Then, out of nowhere, just before sacrament meeting (whic is the last hour in our ward), a man neither of us recognized walked in the door and asked where the service was. We directed him into the chapel and I got to speak to him before sacrament meeting began. Turns out he was contacted by missionaries five months ago and was given a passalong card with the church's address and time, and he just randomly decided to show up today! Well, we know it wasn't random, because we fasted to have 3 investigators at church, so it had to have been a spiritual prompting. We taught him after church to count him as a new investigator. We still needed one more at church to get three and achieve Standards, but just as the meeting began, a less-active Zimbabwean woman came in with her family. Well, she's not an investigator... but her husband is! So we knew the Lord had His hand in the work late in our week. President Lindley saw it as well and must feel (as well as the Lord) that Elder Bensberg and I still have much we can learn from each other. I think this will be the best transfer of my mission, because the last transfer was a major growing transfer, espcially with all the personal trials I faced.

Even last week, I felt absolutely hopeless at one point. That day while moping to myslef on the bus, I was prompted to open the Book of Mormon, at which point I did and flipped it open to a random page. The Lord guided my fingers to Jacob chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, which read, "But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure inheart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you inyour afflictions, and he will plead your cuase, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. O all ye that are pure inheart, lift up your heads andreceive the pleasing word of God, and fesat upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever." This passage quickly became one of my favorite scriptures andI knew immediately it was an answer to my prayers to comfort me inmy time of great depression. I know that the commandment to "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" is divinely inspired because Heavenly Father will never forsake those of His children who stand in need of His comfort. Though He allowsw us to pass through trials, He does love us at all times, and to those who "are pure in heart", that "look unto God with a firmness of mind", and will "pray unto him with exceeding faith...he will console [them] in [their] afflictions." I absolutely love that scripture now, and I will use it to help myself and others for the rest of my mission. I also frequently remember what President Monson said to Elder Carl B. Cook, that "it's better to look up".

Love you!

Elder Winder

January 30, 2012

His week has gonemuch more smoothly as I have focused on being positive and tryingto do absolutely everything I could to find and teach people. I have learned that talking to everyone actually meants talking to everyone. It's not just a fun phrase. I was lettingpeople pass me up inthe street whenI've been distracted and not working hard enough on bus and train contacting. We have to find through every single effort we put forth. I can either choose to work my hardest and be happy with my effort or slack in effort and be disappointed with the resulting lack of success. It can apply to anything. I needed to work harder and work smarter.

We found a golden investigator this week and he really made our week. We were focusing really hard on talking to absolutely everyone Friday night, and while we were waiting for our bus home, around 8:40 at night, there didn't seem to be anybody around to talk to. Then we saw a guy walking down a crossroad and we had a few minutes, so we chased him down. He turns out to be really interested. Next day we met up with him. He actually lives above a pub, so that makes visits interesting because we have to go through there. We taught the first lesson and he understood it perfectly. We invited him to be baptized and he he accepted, so we scheduled him for February 18th. He came to church the next day, participated well, and enjoyed it. The members fellowshipped him really well and he got rides there and back from a bishopric member andthe elder's quorum president. Things went very well to help him progress to baptism. It felt really, really good. Like I finally, truly understand my purpose as a missionary. And we could easily have passed up taking to him at the end of our day when we were tired and he wasn't all too close to us. The hard work has been paying off onour companionship as well. Next week is transfers and I will be sad to leave Elder Bensberg if one of us goes.

Thanks for the emails this weel. Tell everyoneI love them. Gotta go now, talke to you next week!

Love, Elder Winder

January 23, 2012

It's been a tough week, but I'm in a great ward here. I do wish that there were more referrals to their friends, though. I hope all of you focus hard on referring your friends to the missionaries. That's the way ideal missionary work is done. Members are the best finders, not missionaries. Tracting is so little a part of what ideal missionary work should be, nad yet we end up doing it 30+ hours a week and often not finding a sould through it. Members can make or break areas for missionaries, I feel.

Love, Elder Winder

January 16, 2012

Not too much has happended this week. We're teaching a woman who is living with a recent convert named Lydia. She speaks very, very little English, but the recent convert translates for us. They are from Nigeria and she is also Muslim, so this if my first experience teaching a Muslim. She is progressing well, and absolutely loves coming to church because even though she doesn't comprehend what is said, the memebers are really friendly with her. She is scheduled for baptism for the 28th, but because of the language barrier she has progressed very slowly, evenwith the translation. It is very difficult when we don't hear the exact words of the investigator, because the way they respond tells us so much about how to work with them. She, despite being a Muslim, believes the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Christ is the Son of God, but we aren't able to determine how she has come to that conclusion, againbecause of the language barrier. She left her glasses down in London and hasn't ready anything from the copy of the Book of Mormon she has in her native languate.

We are struggling to find new investigators and those we do find drop off quickly. It is frustrating when we have to drop someone so we don't waste our time. We know how important it is to see them and help them, but when they refuse to commit or talk to us, we have to make the decision to drop them.  The work is moving by quicker than in Grimsby, where we were consistently having 9 hour finding days and not having second appointments with anybody, but it's still not moving at a stress-free pace. We have one other investigator who we frequently visit with. He is blind. He has the Book of Mormon on CD. We have really spiritual appointments and resolve the concerns he brings up, but he brings up the "You don't know how it is for me because you've never been blind" card and comes up with excuses. The funny things is that he comes to church every single week and has been long before me or my companion came into the area. He feels that it is "more true" than any other church on earth, but won't try to interpret the feeling he gets to let him know the responsibility he needs to take. Yesterday was the first appointment we did not invite him to be baptized, and surprisingly, it was the best appointment we've ever had with him. I'm on an exchange in North Shields, so maybe that's just the boost we need.

I really like the Sunderland Zone. There are some fantastic missionariers here. P'daysare really funwith all of them. We play a game called chair football every week, where everyone has a chair inthe cultural hall and they're the goalie for that chair, and they have to kick the ball into another player's chair while guarding their chair from being hit at the same time. Really fun game, not sure why it's not played in the States.Elder Bentley, my trainer, got transferred into the zone 3 weeks ago, so it's fun to see him and get to hang out with him again.

Well, I've got to be off now, so hopefully I get to hear from many of you next week. Please pray for us. We need a good week. Love you!

Elder Winder