Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30th Another Month Down!

It’s Monday morning and I am just now getting to this blog. It’s been a crazy crazy weekend and I’m a tired Mommy! Yesterday we got our refund from the Bishop for our expenses this month. It was over 850 pounds.  I was blown away with how much it was until I sat down a reviewed our purchases this month. It was then I realized how much shopping and cooking we've done these past 4 weeks.
          Munch and Mingles (dinner for the whole ward after church on Fast Sunday and then last night for Bishop Gill leaving the ward)
·        Refreshments for a Multi-Stake Dance
·        Refreshments for a Multi-Stake Fireside
·        Dessert for the Stake Institute Graduation
·        4 Institute Thursday night dinners for 70
·        Treats for our temple trip

This doesn't include our Tuesday night “Seek for Supper” dinners we are having at our flat for less-actives and their Visiting Teachers (we keep it at 2 sets of people each Tuesday).  Luckily all this was spaced over the whole month. Nevertheless that is a lot of shopping and a lot of cooking! (Mind you most of this has been done without a car!!) No wonder I’m a tired mommy!

Three Re-activation Stories

Yesterday the Bishop contacted me and told us the Area Presidency is asking each ward to write up stories of reactivation within their individual wards. The month of June had been designated as the month to reactive by reaching out to the one. I’m including the three I wrote up yesterday for Bishop before church.

Three stories.

Cindy Yang: This summer Elder Phillips and I started "Seek for Supper". It's held on Tuesday nights and is an open invitation for the YSA in our ward to invite their less-actives to share dinner with us. It gives us a chance to share a meal and establish a relationship with them in an informal setting. Three weeks ago Megumi invited Cindy Yang, a beautiful professional Chinese woman who was baptized 4 years ago but has not attended church for the past couple years. We had a delightful evening with her and was able to talk deeply and invite her to come join with us once again. A week and a half later (this past Sunday) while sitting in Sacrament Meeting, Cindy walked in with her mother and sat down in front of us. We hugged and were genuinely so excited to see her and told her so. The meeting was wonderful. At its close I told her once again how we loved having her with us. She answered, I can't be here next week because of being out of town but I will be back the next week. I promise."  Music to our ears!

We have been working with a new member, Vivian, who was inactive a couple months ago. She has started coming every week for the last several weeks. I had a sweet experience this past Monday with her as she and her partner, Meggie, both fairly new Chinese converts, visit taught me. It was their first time to ever visit teach and both were really nervous. Having been a Visiting Teacher for 35 years it was a wonderful opportunity for me to bear witness of how and why we have visiting teaching. It was a tender, bonding experience. What touched me the most was when I found out that Vivian who had been totally inactive only 2 months ago, had traveled an hour on the tube to come that night to visit teach me! 

We became acquainted with one of our older YSA ward members who had become very sporadic in her attendance. When we asked her why she shared her feelings that she felt she didn't have a place in Britannia, she felt she had outgrown what Britannia had to offer. She was on a spiritual downward slide. Elder Phillips reached out to her, literally pulling her back in by his sincere caring. Because of this relationship she has been instrumental in helping us reach out to some of the other older YSA that have also slipped away. It’s been with her help that we have had a chance to influence them, as well. She has just now accepted a teaching calling in Relief Society and agreed to head a committee for a one day church history tour for the ward, all because someone reached out in love and let her know how badly she was needed here with us.

Ella’s Baptism

I need to share our story of Ella. I became aware of Ella only a couple weeks ago. She’s a beautiful 21 year old Brit who actually attends school in Manchester but is home for summer. She is a science major in geology and paleontology.  I assumed Ella was a member. She had such a sweet, glowing spirit about her. It was only last week that I found out she had been taking the missionary discussions and was getting baptized this past Saturday.

Ella didn’t know anything about the LDS church until this Easter when she saw the Mormon video about Christ “Because of Him”. It moved her enough to cause her to start goggling anything she could find about the church. It was she that went and found the missionaries. She had been taught some discussions in Manchester but then came home to London where our Sisters took over. (Our sisters here in Britannia are AMAZING!!! I adore them!) She was converted!

After Institute on Thursday night she asked Jim and I to participate at her baptism and then I was able to sit and talk with her about her testimony. I wish every person could have heard how she has been able to reconcile her scientific mind with her spiritual mind. In the end, for her, it is choosing to believe. She has the faith that one day she will see the whole picture of creation and understand God’s time. In her faith she doesn’t feel the need to know “all things” right now but has sweet assurance it will come. It was a beautiful discussion and I was filled up by her sweet spirit.

When Jim and I were walking home from church after our talk with her I mentioned to him that Ella’s conversion and baptism were not following the pattern we’d come to expect; the adversary going crazy! Little did we know!

The next morning, very early, we got a phone call from the sisters asking if they could bring Ella over to our flat. They explained that the previous night a very controversial TV station here in England broadcast a special on Mormon missionaries. It was HORRIBLE. It made the church look STRANGE and CONTROLLING, the worst possible image it could portray. It was embarrassing!

Ella had gone home after our discussion to find both her parents sitting there (they are divorced and live in separate houses. This simply never happened) waiting for her to come watch this program together. She watched and was mortified and her parents disgusted by what was presented. She was shaken.

After the phone call Jim and I knew it was going to be critical that we have the Holy Ghost present. We begin to pray. Jim felt strongly that it wasn't an issue of the T.V. broadcast as much as going back to what she had felt and whether or not the Book of Mormon was true.

When she walked in with the sisters we were surprised to see a young man we didn't recognize. When he told us who he was we realized he was one of the names the Bishop had given us to find but we had no contact information for him. His name was Lee, a member for just a year that had disappeared not long after his baptism.

We weren't sure what his presence would do for our meeting with Ella but it ended up being a blessing having him there. He has a testimony. His life has been complicated and difficult. First he lives 1 ½ hours from the church. He’s had to help sustain his family with two jobs because his dad is sick and can only work sporadically. He is a full time student and shortly after his baptism the person that fellowshipped him into the church moved. All this happened right after he was baptized when he had only shallow roots in the gospel. But his heart is good. He was walking by church and felt prompted to go inside where the sister missionary who taught him a year ago just happened to be standing. She was the one that encouraged him to come with Ella to our flat.

There were tears, testimonies and love at that meeting. Even Lee bore his testimony that he knew it was true. Ella was able to totally recognize that the events of the previous night was too perfectly set up to be coincidence. She felt assurance and confidence to move forward and so the next day Ella was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a joyful occasion.

Your dad confirmed her and gave her the gift of the Holy Ghost yesterday in Sacrament Meeting. She is truly a great one and will be such a blessing to the church. Great missionary moments!!!

The Letter to the Missionaries from President Jordan

We received this letter today from President Jordan in response to the awful program shown Thursday night. It’s a fabulous response from a VERY inspired mission president that I want to share.

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Forty years ago as a young missionary in Brazil, I attended a mission conference with a Seventy, Elder Asael T. Sorensen, from Salt Lake City. After his talk, he opened the meeting up for questions. One of the elders told how he and his companion were being persecuted by a priest of another religion, and asked what they should do. Elder Sorensen rubbed his hands together to indicate his pleasure and said, “That’s great! There’s nothing like a little persecution to get the work going.”

I was reminded of his words this week when Sister Jordan and I watched a “documentary” on TV called “Meet the Mormons.” (And, no, you are not authorized to watch it.) It takes a negative slant on the Church, and tries to depict the missionaries as brainwashed. The program follows a new missionary, Elder Field from England, as he enters the MTC in Preston and begins his service in the England Leeds Mission. (He had an especially rough time with homesickness in the MTC.)

This past week several missionaries called me to say they had been asked about the show by people on the street and wondered how they should respond. I told them to take a positive approach and say, “That was a TV show. If you would like to know what Mormon missionaries are really like and what we teach, we would be happy to meet with you so you can see for yourself. Would you be willing to do that?”

There always has been and always will be opposition to the work of Lord. Indeed, it is a sign of the Lord’s true church. As the old saying goes, “The Devil doesn’t kick dead dogs.” The great and spacious building has put on a new wing to accommodate demand in the last days. We should take the same approach to finger pointing as Nephi and Lehi and pay it no heed. (1 Nep. 8:33-34). Satan is busy, but so is our Heavenly Father. He covenanted with each of us before this life that He would do all He could, consistent with the laws of agency, to help us return home to Him. Just as in the days of Alma, God is working to prepare the hearts of His children for the gospel: “For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.” (Alma 13:24). Those angels are messengers of the good tidings of the restoration. They come in both heavenly and mortal form, and you are among them.

I have seen evidence this week of the Lord’s hand in the lives of people who saw a negative TV program and yet were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. I had a call on Friday from a member of Chelmsford Ward who told me about a work colleague who approached him and said she had watched the Meet the Mormons program. The member thought to himself, "Here we go." But instead of criticizing, she said, "I watched those young missionaries and I thought to myself, I want my own sons to grow up with that same kind of character. Can we have missionaries from your church come and teach my husband and me and our three sons?

I also spoke with a member from the Birmingham Mission who told me of man who walked into the chapel in Warwick last Friday. The chapel was full of members who were there for a funeral. The man introduced himself and explained that he had seen the program and it brought back memories of how homesick he felt when he first went into the army. He asked if he could learn more about the Church.

The Lord can do His work in spite of earth and hell, and so can you. As Joseph Smith said:

“The standard of truth has been erected; No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.”

We love you,

President and Sister Jordan

PS: I talked to the president of the Leeds Mission today and he told me Elder Fisher is a wonderful missionary without a trace of homesickness.

How blessed are we to have an inspired President Jordan at the helm of this mission!!!!

Bishop Gill’s Final Sunday and Munch and Mingle

Yesterday was a crazy day. It started at 10:30 when one of our precious 29 year-old girls came for some assurance, hugs and love. She’s had a deep friendship with a Muslim doctor she has worked with for a long time that is from Syria. She’s known for quite a while that it was moving from friendship into something much more. This week when a get-together with him fell through and she was devastated, she realized she couldn't let it continue. With great courage she was able to cut their relationship off on Friday but her heart was broken.

What is so terribly difficult here is the lack of boys to date. This special 29 year old girl knows there’s currently nothing here to replace him with. It’s bleak! That’s why this is such a courageous thing for her to do and a complete act of faith. It’s hard! My heart aches for these faithful kids.

In Sacrament Meeting the Bishop gave his final message, followed by one of the most beautiful musical numbers I've ever heard at church. It was the same girl, Katie, that sang Megan’s “My Gethsemane” so brilliantly. She sang “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”. The spirit just filled the chapel.

Our Stake President then spoke and was so gracious and expressed deep gratitude for the fine man that has been our Bishop. We are so sad to lose him. Then we had one of our Area Presidency there to speak. Our meeting went 1 ½ hours but it was a truly wonderful meeting.

From our Sacrament meeting I went directly into the kitchen to begin preparations for the dinner. For the previous 2 Sundays the Relief Society had passed around sign-ups for our Munch and Mingle that was to happen right after church was over at 4:00. They had planned to have a variety of summer salads and desserts. I told them that just salads wouldn't be enough to fill up hungry kids so when we went to Costco we got stuff to make ham and turkey sandwiches with all the fixings. Then Saturday night Jim and I went and got 200 different kinds of rolls and breads to put the fixings on. SO GRATEFUL WE DID!!!  When our Sacrament meeting was over I walked into the kitchen and there were THREE SALADS sitting there!!!! THREE!!!! This was to feed 160 people (including the Stake President, Mission President and Area President). There was a mix-up and no one had bothered to call and remind everyone to bring the stuff they had signed up for.

We panicked! In an hour and fifteen minutes we were going to have close to 200 very hungry YSA and leaders descended on us expecting to eat dinner! That’s when my crew that came to see if I needed help went into action. Immediately 3 kids volunteered to literally run to the store (this was an ox in the mire!) and get spinach, strawberries, mixed salad greens, tomatoes, grapes and some cookies. Dixon, the Chinese Brit who cooked an Institute dinner for me a couple months ago and whose hobby is cooking went down with me into my storage closet where I keep herbs, pasta, canned food, paper goods etc. and grabbed a giant can of tuna, 3 bags of bow tie pasta, 4 cans of corn, a big bottle of mayonnaise and herbs and spices. He took them up to the kitchen and cooked up a delicious huge tuna-pasta salad that fed thousands! We raided my Institute supply of Squash (a sweet drink they use here instead of soda) and we were set.

By time everyone arrived to eat, we had a feast waiting for them! It was an absolute miracle. I still am not sure how we did it but it worked with food to spare! (Still recovering from the stress, though!)

Tanner and Bri’s Houses

So today my prayers are with Bri and her little family. Oh how I wish I could be there to help her move into her new house they are renting IN OUR WARD!!!! Now we just hope they are still there when we get home from our mission. Dan is still in Washington so it’s all fallen on Bri. She claims she has it covered, but I've still got to worry. I’m her mom!!!

Yesterday we also got news that Tanner and Shelby have bought a house, also in Orem, close to our Junior High. It will be so wonderful having them all so close; a mother and grandmother’s dream come true.  This is when it’s so hard to not be there to help, but what a great opportunity for them to be the grown-ups they are and take care of their business without Mom’s interference. We are excited for these big happenings in their lives. Life truly goes on with or without us!!!

Well, I’m done. Another week completed. Another blog written. Feels good.

May you all feel our deep love for you and our precious grandchildren who we adore. God bless each of you with His love and assurance. Talk to you soon!


  1. So much good work is going on there! I love the reactivation stories. Bringing people back to the gospel to renew and remember the covenants they have made is even more important than baptizing new members! So sad you are losing your good bishop, but the work goes on. That is the amazing thing about this church organization, there are so many people willing to give their time to build it. I mean heck, they have two of the finest, most talented people I know giving two years of their lives to strengthen it! I love you guys. Send more pictures. If you email them to me I will get them on the blog so you can always remember faces and names and experiences long after you return home. Loves!

  2. Great stories about the reactivation efforts, Ella, and the TV show. I loved reading this post.