September 26, 2011

Just be myself? As a missionary around girls, being myself is very awkward. I just stay away from them.... Ok not really. Yesterday I was actually able to get to know a couple new people who have joined the ward. Some of the Relief Society included. Yes the pergola looks absolutely great!! I am very happy to hear that Dad has somewhat got a job lined up for the next few months. How long is it for actually? I have now heard from multiple sources that President Uchtdorfs talk was brilliant and now I am even more excited to have General Conference this next weekend!!! Some of the best weekends as a missionary!! There is a great talk I read recently called perfection pending and it helps me understand more of what you said, that perfection is not going to come for a long time or by ourselves. We just have to have the faith and hope to continue to do our best.

This past week I have been privileged to go on exchanges with both Elder Suess and Elder Starr in our District here in Stretford. Also in our district is a Senior Couple The Cannons. They are such a wonderful example to all of us missionaries. Elder Cannon served his mission in Taiwan a while ago but his Chinese is still really good. He is quite intelligent. One of the first things I recognized in Elder Starr and Suess was the love that both of them had for each other and how they both really respected and wanted to help the other. I admired that aspect of their companionship and work. Both Elder Starr and Elder Suess are doing well and are continuing to be happy despite any opposition or setbacks in their work area. I enjoyed the time that I had to go out onto the streets and buses and work with them. Learning myself and hopefully helping them learn as well.

This week we have been blessed with many new investigators and having 3 of those come to church with us yesterday. All of our investigators that went to church were Chinese, so as Elder Chan says, "it is good that we are fulfilling our calling as Chinese speaking missionaries." It is really interesting to see that even though it is hard working with the members fully here in the YSA ward, we have done our best and the work has seemed to progress even more so because of that effort. Blessings seem to be coming out of the street cracks and in the rain that seems to consistently fall every other day. Elder Chan and I both feel that God has blessed our efforts and given us much to work with this past week. Now we just have to continue to work hard to convert this people from just investigators to members of the church with full blessings attached.

Along with all the many blessings we have received we have had some sad moments when multiple of our investigators either told us they were no longer interested or they have stopped accepting our calls or answering our texts. It is always hard when this happens no matter how many times it happens because you gain an attachment to all of the people you teach and you truly love and care about them. Then when they tell you they are no longer interested in receiving the blessings God wants to give them it is a sad situation. Oh how much we wish we could help them understand. It was pretty funny, last night after someone dropped us Elder Chan said, "why do the Chinese get to use their agency, they just don't understand." "These people are good souls." I agreed with him, once again, lack of understanding makes the work much harder, and unfortunately most of the Chinese don't understand, even when they feel the spirit they don't quite get it. We are excited to help the ones we have now to more fully understand and makes those necessary steps.

This past Saturday we had an opportunity to be of service for the Manchester South ward while they were having a ward activity called Family Fun Day. It was a day that all the ward would invite their family members and friends to come to the church and have a carnival type activity. Most of those friends and family were not members of the church and the activity was centered around helping them understand more about the church and who we are. It was not necessarily by the activities themselves, but by the examples set by the members that made the day such a success. We were asked to come and be of help and also to just be available for people to speak to us. I was an amazing experience to be able to do missionary work in that way. This was the first activity of this kind that I have been a part of on my mission and it was great. Honestly it is the best way to do missionary work and this ward understands that. Our assignment was to work a tin can booth: A pyramid of tin cans that young children threw a ball at to knock over. So for a couple of hours we were bending over and picking up cans at the will of children. It was great!! kind of reminded me of the activities in Nauvoo.

I love you and hope you keep having a great month. Tell me your favorite talks from General Conference ok?


Elder Fawcett

September 19, 2011

I know exactly what you mean by our plans going awry, unfortunately it happens to us almost every day!! Then you can learn from it and go on. In other words, we get over it. You are right, sometimes it is hard to get to the temple or even make time to make plans to go to the temple, but it is more of a blessing when we sacrifice more for it. I wish we could go to the temple more as missionaries. I love the spirit there and what you can learn while on the temple grounds. I am lucky to be so close to a temple though on my mission, many missions don't even have one anywhere close by.

Yes patience is something I always was working on at home with my siblings. Now I am even more of an organized neat freak so hopefully they have learned something about being clean and organized. It really does help to be organized in life, it just makes things so much easier. Every time I go to another missionaries flat and it is not clean, I give them a commitment to do so and explain to them the blessings that come from it. :) It is very true. Well it sounds like the family is doing well despite any cancellations. Nothing too crazy is happening with me here in Manchester. We are really trying to work on getting our many investigators progressing. We have a lot of potential and many people to work with, but they are not meeting with us often or progressing. We need to be more creative and personal with them to help them grow....

This week I have learned more about the importance of understanding, but more on the side of communication from both parties. I realize that unless we communicate to peoples understanding or in the right way then it is hard for you and that other person to get along fully. Fortunately on my mission I have had a plethora of opportunities to work on communication because I am often speaking to people we speak another language which requires me to be more precise and patient in my communication. As well I have appreciated the ability to sit down and speak openly and clearly to my companion on any problems we may be having and how we can improve those problems or overcome any obstacles.

One of the investigators that we have been teaching recently is Evangeline. She has been taught for a long time and continues to struggle with finding her own personal relationship with God and therefore receive a testimony of the truthfulness of the church. Yesterday we were excited to see her interacting more with the members of the ward and trying to put herself out there. We feel that she is holding herself back from both making friends in the church as well as finding out for herself if what we share is true. We are hoping to get down to the root of her concern this upcoming week. It is amazing how badly you sometimes want people to accept and receive the blessings from the Gospel.

Over the past week or so we as a companionship have been trying to figure out what we can do more or differently with the ward in order to strengthen our relationship and trust with the members so as to help the missionary work move along more swiftly, effectively, and smoothly. We have found it a lot harder than we thought it would be because of the situation and circumstances of our ward. As you know we are in the YSA ward which has about 30-40 members a week and we have 3 sets of missionaries in the ward. Trying to work out fellowshippers with 6 missionaries talking to everyone, asking for referrals, and everything is quite a challenge we have run into. We just have to realize that the ward we are in is different and we need to adjust accordingly. Serving in a YSA ward sure is an interesting experience.

I thought that before my mission I would not come home and be awkward around girls. I was completely wrong. One of the challenges of being in a YSA ward is that I don't know how to talk to any of the Sisters in the Church. Honestly, they are my age or maybe a bit older, and doing the same thing I was doing before I left. Another Elder and I were talking about the difficulty in speaking with and getting to know the members of the ward because 3/4s of them are women!!! All we have to do is break the ice and find the right point and line and we will be fine. But the Ice is extremely thick and I don't know where the line and points are!! I feel bad talking to a sister in the ward for long periods of time or about anything that could make you laugh because then you think, "am I flirting?" Of course not!!!! But what does everyone else see? Haha, what a dilemma we are facing here. What strange new obstacles we face now that I never thought I would face on my mission. :) Oh well, we will learn.

Life is good because the Gospel is true right? Definitely Is. What great things we are able to learn in this battle of life. I love it despite the adversity, or maybe I love it because of the adversity. I am still trying to figure that out. :)

Have a great week and know that I love you!

Elder Fawcett

September 12, 2011

For myself life has been treating me well out here. How can it not when I am on a mission right? We have had a number of Chinese investigators either go home or drop us over the past couple of days which is sad, but it just means we have more time to go walk the streets of Manchester and find more people who are ready to accept the Gospel. We are working with a Chinese Student named Evangeline who has been taught off and on for teh past 8 months. She is finding it really hard to have any belief in God at all and lets logical doubts into her mind. We had a great lesson with her speaking about how we recieve answers from God using Sections 8 and 9 of the D&C. She has a desire to know and comes to church every week, but can't seem to recieve an answer, or at least recognize it when it comes. I have faith that she will be baptized in the next two months.

I have been able to realize in the past and even now that one of my greatest weaknesses is patience. ( I know I speak on this subject often, but it is a big part of my learning as a missionary so please bare with me. :)) Patience in all aspects in life is something that has always seemed to escape me and I feel that my mission has helped me to overcome it a little. I think that it helps to be part of such a hard and patience needed work with the Chinese people. :) All people are able to use their agency to choose and when it comes to the gospel many people choose the opposite path, some completely and some just a little. I have been able to see and notice the differences in culture and attitude in the English and the Chinese. It has been extremely hard to help the Chinese understand who God is and how he can help them in their lives. They have just been taught not to care, and so they don't. I have been able to learn patience in a large part because you have to be so patient when working with the Chinese, and it is a good thing I love the Chinese people.

Recently in my personal study I have been reading up on a topic very similar to the problem that many of the Chinese have. Understanding. Sometimes people just do not understand who God is or what he expects of us and because of that it is not possible to fully follow him. In regards to Christianity, the Chinese are especially clueless and so it is our job as missionaries to help them understand what the Gospel is, who God is, and what they need to do to receive the fullness of his help that he is offering. In 1 Ne. 15:7 Laman and Lemuel were murmuring because they could not Understand the teachings of their father which led them to further rebellion. In D&C 78:10 it says that Satan turns hearts away from Understanding to keep them from following the teachings of Christ. And in Alma 17:2 it says that the sons of Mosiah were of sound Understanding and because of that they were stronger in the gospel and had more faith to follow the example of Christ. Understanding is key for our investigators to make the covenants necessary for salvation.

Over the past couple of weeks I have continued to notice the progress that Elder Chan has been able to make in all aspects of his missionary work. His knowledge of the Gospel is stronger, his English and Mandarin have improved and most noticeably he is an urgent missionary seeking to always help the Chinese people Understand and accept the Gospel. He does this by chasing down any Chinese moving object to speak to them, making extra phone calls to potential Chinese or Former Chinese Investigators, and even going the extra mile to find out how the Chinese can continue on in the Gospel even after they have returned to China. I have been extremely impressed and inspired by the example that Elder Chan is setting for me as well as other missionaries. Also Elder Chan is so loving and truly knows how to laugh all the time. I love serving with him!!

My living conditions? Well honestly they are normal living conditions with not much to report. As a missionary there are a number of questions you want answers to regarding the Flat when you are transfered from area to area. On a missionaries mind are usually? How is the shower? Does it work? Is it powerful and does it have hot water? I have experienced the lack of all of those on my mission. :) Is there a dryer? How are the beds? Beds are extremely important. You need all the rest you can get and if you have a bad bed with springs poking you back all night it just makes it hard. How big is the fridge and how big is the flat itself. Also, is it easy to keep clean? These are the questions that pop to my mind when I go to a new flat.

The flats themselves are usually on a busy street on the highest floor possible because no one wants to live there so it costs less. Right now I pretty much live in an apartment building like Grandma Mackleys used to be but smaller. Honestly my diet is not the best. I eat lots of sandwiches and pasta and that is about it. I eat apples and pears and peaches and bananas, but rarely any vegetables. I have stayed about the same weight I believe, but have put on a little fat around my abs. I need to get rid of it. As fars a physical fitness goes, I am not about to run a 5k in 16 minutes but I am not fat. :)

I love you all, keep up the good running and teaching,

Love you,

Elder Fawcett

September 5, 2011

Life sure is hectic here in Manchester. It must come with the area. :) Thank you for your comments on Baptism and when it should take place. They not only helped me stabilize my own ideas and thoughts but as well added that greater understanding of what this covenant of Baptism actually means. Unfortunately I feel that CiCi has a testimony of the Gospel and understands why baptism is important but is not willing to make that step of commitment because of the fear that she has that living the gospel will impact her in a bad way when she goes back to China. She still has a desire to follow and live the gospel in China to see what it is like before she is baptized. If she likes what she sees and feels she is going to Hong Kong to be baptized. Unfortunately making the hard choices in life is even harder when you don't have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost to help you. We will continue to see her until she leaves this Sunday to strengthen her faith. Other than that there is not much we can do besides pray and have faith.

It is once again the time of year when many of the Chinese investigators go home and will not return back to England or anywhere else where the Gospel is being taught to the people. I know I talked a little about this last week but I feel that it is important the lessons that I am learning from these experiences. As the Chinese go home I feel encouraged and uplifted by the fact that all people will have a chance to hear the gospel in its FULLNESS due to the mercy and love of God. He understands that all these people will be able to make the important choice of baptism when they have heard the full gospel. So no matter if we taught 1 lesson or 10 lessons to an individual and if they did or did not have an opportunity to be baptized, God and Jesus Christ will make sure they hear it sometime, and I know that some of the Chinese we have taught who have not been baptized yet will be in the future either in this life or accepting it in the next.

This week I had the privilege of going on an exchange with Elder Metsaranta. I enjoyed immensely this opportunity to once again learn from a very veteran and experienced missionary. During the exchange I was able to recognize different ways of missionary work that I could apply into my work in order to get to a greater level. One of the greatest qualities that I saw in Elder Metsaranta was his unfailing calmness and patience. This is something that I have been working on my whole mission and I must say that Elder Metsaranta was a prime example of how to act with patience in all situations. We were able to have a lesson on the spot and the man we were teaching loved to talk but we did not interrupt him as I normally would. Elder Metsaranta allowed him to speak but as well he was able to take control of the lesson making this man feel better about the whole encounter. I enjoy the time i have left to learn from him.

Over the past week Elder Chan and I have had the opportunity to teach a man from Africa who speaks French and very little English. He was excited to meet with us and the first time we had to teach extremely simple in order for him to understand the message of the Restoration. Fortunately he had his bible with him and we were able to use it in the lesson to help him understand. The next lesson we took a member with us who could speak conversational French and as well we watched the Restoration video in French. We were able to feel the spirit and he understood more about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. He was able to come to church with us yesterday and he enjoyed it saying that he felt good despite the lack of physical understanding. It reminded me once again how important the language of the spirit is when it comes to growth in the gospel. If he continues feeling and following the language of the spirit, I know he will be able to progress well in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the challenges that we will have here in Stretford is that the YSA ward is so small and they all live so far away we can't work with them. Haha Hopefully we will be able to change that here in the future when more of them come.

I have said it before and will continue to say it, I am enjoying the time I have here on a mission and it is going by all too fast. Like Gordon B. Hinckley said, "life is to be enjoyed and not just endured." Some days are rough as a missionary and sometimes I don't make all the best choices when talking to people, but I have felt and seen the change in myself and other missionaries from this service. The promises of the Lord are true. When he calls us and we turn to him our weaknessess slowly but surely fade away. We will always need to work hard to gain a higher level, but the higher we go the more sure we are we don't want to fall. Keep well my family and enjoy your time in your different areas of the world and parts of life.

Onward & Upward,

Elder Fawcett