November 29, 2010

This last week was wonderful thank you! I am getting along much better thanks to your support and to my renewed efforts to do the Lords work in his way and not mine. I love it here even though there are some things I could do without. I am getting more settled in and feel more at home now. I guess I will just give you a rundown of the week and go from there. I guess that is kind of organized right? :)

So Tuesday we had a Chinese meeting which included all the Chinese Elders in the Manchester and Leeds mission. That totaled about 12 Chinese speaking missionaries. (there are only 4 in Leeds) I learned some new things about my mission. I am 1 of 4 missionaries that were specifically asked for and assigned to my mission. All the others are natives or previous Chinese speakers. I thought that was really interesting and very humbling. I know I was called here for a specific reason, now I just need to fulfill that calling.

The meeting helped me realize what my purpose as a Chinese speaking missionary in England really is. I need to make a more focused effort in learning Chinese because that is my calling. I won't always have a companion who speaks fluent Chinese. (This has actually been proven a hindrance thus far) We had a companionship inventory and focused on the problems that we had, and hopefully they can be fixed. I just need to do my part. SYL!!! Unfortunately there is not much of SYLing available. But I must try!!!!

On Thursday we had our Sports day. Can I just say SUPER COLD? Because it was. I ended up playing American Football and Basketball. Both of which were not the best because of the amount of people and the restrictions on play. For example we played 5 on 5 basketball on a small half court church gym. It was super crowded and you couldn't do much. Especially since there were not very many good players. :) Also we couldn't keep score in Football so it was hard to get into it for me. Don't get me wrong, it was still fun and I really enjoyed to break. It just wasn't enough to satisfy my competitive side. :)

Also at the sports day we received the mail. The way mail works is that when you send it to the address it sends it to the mission office and then at big events it is distributed to all the Elders who received mail. That means you get mail about once a month in an ordinary transfer schedule. Unfortunately the coat package didn't arrive, but thankfully there will be another group meeting I should be able to get it at in two weeks. So no worries. I am just borrowing my companions extra coat until then.

That night we went to the Ward Mission Leaders house for Thanksgiving Dinner (Brother Bogh) It was great, I didn't think I would get a real Thanksgiving dinner in England, but I did. Except it was not turkey, and there was not tons of food. It was great nonetheless. It just wasn't the same without the family there. But I was thinking of you so don't worry. It is kind of cool to think that our immediate family was celebrating Thanksgiving in 3 different countries. Canada, England, and of course the U.S.
Really nothing else different happened this week, just lots of teaching and proselyting. :) There are 2 specific things that I really thought were great this week that I would like to share with you real quick. The first being about an experience I had street contacting. We were on exchanges with the Zone leaders and There was Elder Jin, Elder Kersey (originally from England but family now in Highland Utah) and I. We were in a University area and we were literally talking to EVERYONE. Part of that everyone were two men that we were passing and one of my companions started telling them about our message. One of the men mockingly said "I don't speak English" and kept walking away. (Sorry if you have heard a part of this already)

I decided to follow them and started talking to them. At first they were somewhat rude, but as we kept walking they softened up a little. We ended up stopping and talking for 30 minutes or so. Now this is not the most effective use of time I have been told, but I like actually talking to people and getting to know them while sharing our message. I found out that they are two military men who have seen much war and death. They didn't believe in God.

Through talking to them I was able to tell them the message, enlighten them, and make them think about Jesus Christ and God and who they are. One of them specifically said, "If doing nothing else right now by talking to me, you will have made me think deeply about God. I will be doing so on my drive back to Manchester tonight." That alone made the whole thing worthwhile to me. But not only that, I gave one of them my book of mormon and he promised to read it.

I didn't know for sure if he really was, but I got his phone number and followed up by calling him on Wednesday. He told me that he had read some, he was really busy, but in some of his free time he started reading. He said he was very surprised by what he found in his reading, it was nothing like he had thought it would be. He had actually read through the middle of 1 Nephi. I am going to give him a call on Wednesday again and set up an appointment to talk to him more and invite again to come to church.

Now I don't know if he will accept, but I learned a couple of things from this experience. You can't just talk at someone about a message and expect them to believe it no matter if it is true or not. You have to take the time to actually get to know them a bit, show you care, and then you can have a much stronger impact. I also learned that no matter how someone looks, you never know if they would want to hear the gospel or how your talking to them will effect their life.

OK maybe that wasn't too quick but this one will be. We have a Chinese investigator names Eric. Or Ping xu. I met him on the street two weeks ago and set up an appointment. He ended up being a friend of a recent convert Chinese student. To me that is a miracle. We have been teaching him, and he is going to be baptized on the 18. I am so happy to be here on a mission and I know that we can all effect peoples life's no matter where we are.

Well I am off everyone! Have fun and be safe and remember who you are until next week!!!!
Then I will remind you.

Love you,
Elder Fawcett

November 22, 2010

This last week was much better and I am getting a little more used to the life of a missionary. Yes I still have a long ways to go before I feel completely comfortable, but at least I am progressing right? It really has been a lot better and was made amazing by the email I just read. I can't express my thanks (especially in words in an email) that I have for you my family. I greatly appreciate your love and support and the advice that you have given and will give. It means so much.
This week was very busy and there were different things that happened that don't usually happen every week, like Zone Conference. I Loved Zone Conference! It is so nice to sit in a room with a group of missionaries who are filled with the spirit and the love of the work. Somewhat different than walking down the street with people who won't say hi to you. :)
President Bullock is a very inspired, and very strict mission President. No I don't understand all the rules that are in place, but I do appreciate the intensity he has for missionary work. He really loves the work and wants us all to love it too. And yes dad, I try to be exactly obedient no matter what the rule is. :) The missionaries here are truly exceptional. I had no idea that there was such a large group of missionaries devoted so much to the work of the Lord. It gives me something to look up and forward to.
This week being very busy we taught 20 Lessons overall, and found 10 new potential investigators. This for England is very very good. I put most of our success on our trainer and his ability to teach and work hard, and then all of it to the Lord for seeing that, and blessing us with people to teach. We have 2 investigators who have a firm baptismal date, 2 others with less firm baptismal dates, and we are also teaching two families. Unfortunately they are both leaving on vacation for much of December so we will not have much progress in that regard. I just hope and pray they will continue to read the BOM and pray.
All of those investigators that I mentioned are Chinese. So that makes me doubly happy. It is good to know that I am fulfilling my calling and also shows that this Church organization is truly inspired of the Lord. Unfortunately many of the Chinese if not all are trying to learn English better so they speak in English as much as possible. Haha, so I am learning still, just not quite as fast as I would like. My Chinese companion Elder Jin does not like speaking Chinese to me still so it is hard. I am trying to put forth a greater effort in only speaking Chinese to him though. I know that will improve my Chinese faster than anything else. The other unfortunate thing is that during the day, if there is one thing that is sacrificed it ends up being Language Study. I don't know what to do about that though, so I try to learn new words during the day. Hopefully by the end of my mission I can speak some Chinese. :)
At Zone conference I was able to see my MTC companion Elder Peterson and unfortunately he is having a harder time than I am adjusting to the new life and the new environment. It was a nice relief to talk to him and the other new missionaries and see that they are just like me. President Bullock congratulated me for "being normal" when I said that it was going pretty rough. So I don't feel too bad now. :) Now I just need to stop being normal.
This next week will be another crazy week with fun events and many lessons. On Tuesday we are having a Chinese meeting with all the Chinese missionaries in the Manchester and Leeds mission. So that is going to be super cool. I will be able to see Elder Peterson again and many other Chinese speakers, maybe they will talk to me in Chinese. :) It is nice to know someone (Elder Peterson) from the very start of my mission to the very end. Whenever we see each other it is another happy reunion, and we get to see the changes in spirituality and maturity. Plus we can relate really well to how we are feeling.
This week we also have a Sports day on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and then afterwords we are going to the Ward Mission Leaders house for Thanksgiving dinner. Remember he is American. It is weird to think that no one celebrates Thanksgiving here, such a foreign idea. Haha, but I will celebrate it in my heart and remember all the reasons why I am thankful. Because I have many many many things to be thankful for. My family being up there at the top. ;)
So everything really is going well now. I am starting to know my way around Liverpool better, still can't read the map very well though. Haha. Starting to get a better relationship with my companions and really do appreciate my trainer. Though I did just find out that somehow I don't have any money on my mission card so I will have to use my visa debit card until my card gets reimbursed. So don't worry if you see some money being taken out of my account. It is slightly annoying though. The month isn't even close to being over and I already have to use personal funds. They said they will be fixing my account very soon though. So hopefully that happens.
I love you family!! Have a great week everyone, remember the Church is true. So be happy. :) Thank you again Mom and Dad for your email. It really did make my week. I love your advice and think of you in my prayers every day. 
I love you!!!
Elder Fawcett

November 15, 2010

It rains a lot here. So seeing as my other letter was cut short because of time constraints, I will try to sum up all the new sights, experiences, and whatever I might remember in between that. Haha, I know how much dad likes my organized e-mails. The first week is not over yet... but It has been fairly good. So much of a culture shock to tell you the truth. Switzerland and China don't really compare. It wouldn't be that bad except for the fact that as a missionary you are doing different things than you normally would.
The first thing that was interesting was our flat. It is pretty nice actually, but because of the people who had stayed in it before and because it is built for two people not three, it is really messy. I have found that I really don't work well in messy. Haha, imagine that. Fortunately today we were able to clean up a little bit and make it better, plus we should all be getting real beds some time this week.
Shopping here is fine, really england is not too different than the  U.S. in that regard so that makes me quite happy. No really funny foods.... yet. We cook together mostly, and we eat fairly well, as in health wise. So far we have been to two members houses to eat dinner, both of which have been really good. My trainer Elder Smart says that we average 2 or 3 dinner or (Tea) appointments a week. So that is nice as well.
Yesterday we had church of course. And I really enjoyed it, there are probably around 150 memebers in the ward. Active members that is, there is actually around 300 is what I am told. So the ward is pretty big and the people are really nice. The Ward Mission Leader is a man around his 30's from California. He is super awesome!!! He is completely stoked about missionary work and really gets the ward involved with the missionaries. The whole ward in general is very supportive and really loves working with the missionaries.
This week we ended up with two investigators at church for our companionship. Both of which are Chinese College students that we found at Liverpool University. My chinese is actually being used some here, not quite as much as I would like, but it is being used. So I have motivation to study and really get better in the language.
I don't know what I was thinking. For some reason I had this idea or picture in my mind that I would be working with Chinese people mostly. I was pretty wrong. We actually work with them a lot, but that is because they are more willing to listen to you. I think it is truly because they are just nice enough not to say no, or they don't know how to. On average we talk to 95% English people and 5% Chinese people, but we teach about 60% Chinese people and 40% everything else. Tells you how Europe is.
For some reason I also thought that English people were nice in regards to politeness. I mean they don't yell at you (most of the time) but they also don't really give you the time of day. It is really sad how little people actually care about God in general. I mean no one likes the LDS church really, but usually people believe in God. So often have I heard the words "I don't care." It saddens, dissapoints, and discourages me.
Haha, I have also found out that I am very much a coward and proud. Street and Bus Contacting scares me sooo much. I didn't think I would have such a problem with it, but I sure do. I am really trying to work on it, but it really bugs me and I hate it. I feel really bad for my previous MTC companion Elder Peterson and how he must be feeling right now. If there is anyone that doesn't like bugging people it is Elder Peterson. And that is what we as missionaries do.
So this first week is nothing like I thought it would be. I am contuniously lost when it comes to the city, I am scared to bother people because of what they will think of the Church and us as missionaries, my companions are good, but not really anything like me, and I actually miss home. Haha I do miss my family and just being able to talk to you all. But I do know why i am out here and why it is important, but I didn't think it would be this hard for me the first couple of weeks. My trainer and the Mission president both said that this is how everyone is at first. Just because it is such a shock to you culturally and spiritually coming out of the MTC. THey say it will start feeling more natural, and I really hope it does, because the way I feel right now is not what I expected at all.
I really am enjoying it though, don't get me wrong. I know rejection will become a part of my life and that it will hurt every time. But as Alma said, focus on those who are ready and willing to listen. Love everyone, invite everyone, but focus on those who really care and who you can ultimately help the most. I hope and believe that by this time next week I will be a little bit more settled in, less sleep deprived from Jet Lag, and overall a better person/ missionary.
I do have to say that I really ended up loving my MTC companion and my MTC district more than I actually knew. I really do love them and can't wait to see Elder Peterson in the next Zone Conference. And now I know we will be life friends and companions in the Lord. I just want that to be a lesson to all of you that you need to take the time you have with the people you have and truly show your love for them, because it means a lot.
I love teaching people the gospel and sharing my testimony and the gospel of Christ to those who will listen. Especially the Chinese people. I feel a special connection to them because of my time learning Chinese. I love seeing them progress in the Gospel, and I hope that I can really come to love and understand them in more than just a language level.
I love you all and I know this gospel is the center of our family and our lives. And that without it we can't be as happy as we are now. Thank you for all your love and support.
Keep working, Keep loving, and remember who you are and who you want to become, because we are all children of God and we can always become better.
Have a great week!!!!
Elder Fawcett (Fang Zhanglao) :)

November 11, 2010 First letter from England

Yes I am in England now. And I must say that it is a bit different than I thought it would be. After I called you, the flight went very well with no mishaps at all. On the plane next to us there were many English people. We talked to them all and got very similar responses. One asked us what an Elder was and we explained to him what it was, who we were, and what we were doing. Upon hearing that he chuckled, then told us good luck because the English people don't like religion unless they are catholic. Other people told us basically the same kind of things. They were all very nice about it, but we caught the drift that it was going to be hard to find people to teach. I have found that very true so far unfortunately.

When we arrived in the airport and found our luggage we walked outside and we had three Elders waiting for us. They were the AP's and one who was recently an AP, but we found out later that he was leaving the next day. They then took us to the President's house, or the 'Misssion home' and we had something to eat. He then talked to me and Elder Peterson about our mission. He told us that we had been chosen or called to be 2 of 4 Mandarin Missionaries going to the Manchester mission. The mission had been made in April, so we are the forerunners of the Chinese speaking misssionaries in the Manchester mission. That is really cool and scary at the same time.

The President (Bullock) then took each of us to have an interview and explained to me that we would be going to one of two places, Preston or Liverpool. Truthfully that did not mean much to me. He told us that we would find out the next day who our trainers would be and where each of us was going. Talk about anticipation.

We then went to the AP's flat (apartment) and took a 3 hour nap because we were dead tired. The flats are interesting by the way. The one we were in was quite nice, as are all the others I have been in thus far. After our nap we had dinner and were out into the night to go contact some people. (It gets dark very early here in the winters, around 6) We went into the city of Manchester looking for Chinese people to talk to. We didn't actually find any, but we didn't really have much time.
We did talk to a couple people, none of which were interested in the least bit. Then we met a woman who was going to school and was from Latvia. So she had an interesting accent. We asked if we could teach her more, and excitingly she said yes. She took us to her flat and we taught her for about fifteen minutes. Unfortunately we didn't have much time so we invited her to read the BOM and told her some other missionaries would be contacting her. (In her area). This was very exciting to us, we had finally taught a real lesson.

The next day we received our trainers. I was told I was going to Liverpool and would have two companions. Elder Smart from Sandy Utah, and Elder Jin from China. I was stoked to have a native. The problem is he doesn't like speaking Chinese because he wants to work on his English. The trainer Elder Smart is great though, different, but great. I should be able to learn a lot from him.

I love you all!!
Elder Fawcett

Letter from President Bullock

Dear Parents,

Your son has arrived to the England Manchester Mission (EMM) safe and ready to go to work as a missionary.  We held a training session Wednesday morning where we covered many things including their mission finances, their first three month training schedule, becoming a “Sacred Missionary” and the EMM vision and guiding principles.  We concluded with a testimony meeting and afterwards Sister Bullock fed the group a warm hearty meal.  I held a personal interview with each missionary and we then transported them to the Manchester Stake Center where they were introduced to their first companion and trainer.

As parents, the most important thing you can do for your son is to be supportive and encouraging.  The first month or two can be challenging for a missionary with many adjustments in their life.  But it normally does not take long until they capture the full vision of their calling, gain a love for the people of the U.K. and get lost in the work.

Please be supportive of the church’s policy on communications which allows missionaries to send and receive emails only with family members which in addition to the immediate family includes grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Anyone not part of the family must communicate through letters.  Occasional efforts by some to circumvent this policy, such as family members forwarding personally directed emails from non-family members, are outside the spirit of this principle.

We often talk and train on the principle of “Becoming a Sacred Missionary.”  While it is good to be an Honorable Missionary, there is higher principle and that is becoming a Sacred Missionary.  This involves many things but it primarily is a commitment by the missionary to purify and sanctify their life and fully commit their heart and soul to their mission.   The happiest and most effective missionaries are those who limit thoughts of their pre-mission life, put the world behind them and get completely lost in the work of serving the Lord.  Your encouragement and support of this will help your son grow personally, gain a greater depth of spiritually and impact the lives of others.

Attached you will find a picture of your son  with Sister Bullock and me in front of the mission home and a picture of his first companion and trainer.  Sister Bullock and I have three sons who have served missions with another one currently in the Japan Tokyo Mission, so we fully understand the emotions and joys that you are going through right now.  Know that we love the missionaries in the England Manchester Mission and watch over them with care.  May the Lord bless you during this wonderful time of your life.

With warm regards,

President Bullock
England Manchester Mission
Haha, Happy Halloween it is!! And I must also agree it is a new exprience living in the MTC for Halloween. Can't really say it is a sponge for trick or treaters or anything else like that. You wouldn't have know it was Halloween until that night when one of the members in the zone had 4 pumpkins sent to him and they carved them and everything. It was really interesting. I can't say I am too bummed about being in here for halloween, It never was one of my favorite Holidays. I feel bad for those that will be here for Thanksgiving AND Christmas. (The new Elders) Luckily we get out for both, though I don't think they really celebrate it in England. :)

This week flew by soooo fast I couldn't believe it. It is now coming down to the wire, though I am going to be real thankful to get out of here. Just a couple of things that happened this week. Remember how Russel M. Nelson came and talked to us last Tuesday? Well, we got another Member of the 12 this Tuesday. Elder Richard G. Scott. We all feel so lucky to have been able to hear both of them here, plus sing in the Priesthood Choir. I feel so special. All my friends told me they went and watched the singing parts of the Priesthood session and were soooo excited to see me. So I thought that was cool. :)
With Elder Scott this Tuesday we had a couple really neat experiences. First he told us at the beginning of his talk that he had prepared an experiencing the Witness of the Holy Ghost Sheet that we would all get at the end of the night. This sheet had many of his past experiences with the Holy Ghost and tips and advice on how to best feel and use the Holy Ghost. This was sooo cool. How often to you get a personal sheet of paper that has a General Authorities impressions and experiences about the Holy Ghost of his whole life?!? He also did something really unusual with using his position as a General Authority. 
He invoked a blessing on us three times. Well one was specifically to the Sisters. (He seemed really biased to the sisters which I thought was really cool, gives me a good example of how to treat sisters) He blessed them with protection, and health. He then gave us all an Apolistic Blessing to have confidence in our call as missionaries, and the with the Gift of Tongues. I was in awe. He pretty much doubled the power of the Gift of Tongues so long as we keep the covenants we have made. And I don't know if it was a placebo effect but this week has been a LOT better in regards to the language.
I have a question, I can't remember, but are all the Members of the 12 ever together at the same time? Also for the kids and family, I have been watching the Mormon Messages on and they would be perfect for FHE or any other kind of Lesson. Especially "Voice of the Spirit" by James E. Faust. Very helpful in my life.
The TA was good (Where we teach our lessons in Chinese) it was my best and favorite so far. I just want you all to know that this gospel is true, and that if you ever have any doubts, Read the book of mormon and then get down on your knees and pray. And Moroni's promise will come to pass.
Love you all,
Elder Fawcett