Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Assignment in the Field

Wow! It's been awhile since the last post, so we have a lot to catch up on. Mary arrived safely at the mission home in London on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. She was then assigned to serve in the Brighton area, which is down on the southern coast of England. She will be there for at least 12 weeks. Her new companion and trainer is a sister from Finland, who is normally assigned to the visitor's center at the London Temple. Her name is Sister Phermsin and she has been a great blessing to Mary and Mary loves her! I'll let Mary tell you all about it. Here is her first letter from the "field":

It's so good to hear from you guys! So, the area I'm in now.....(drumroll) BRIGHTON! So you guys were totally off, but that's okay haha. I live like 20 minutes away from the ocean. It is so amazing! This city is interesting because it's super old and English. They are all pretty nice and we've been meeting people from all over the world. There's a giant Indian palace right in the middle of downtown that we're going to see later today. I'll try to send pictures of everything. Basically, the city is so busy and a little dirty. I would never live here. But it's so much fun to visit! Brighton Pier is really weird. I imagine it's similar to Coney Island or something like that. It's also SO humid! My hair is DISGUSTING here but it's also nice because I don't have to wear chapstick. That will be a nice expense to rid myself of. 

My companion is Sister Phermsin from Finland. She's half Thai and half Swedish, but she grew up in Finland. She is the BEST! She's 23 years old and I love her like crazy and she has been so amazing in supporting me with problems and doubts that I have. She cooks Thai food everyday, so I'm in heaven. We have to go to the grocery store like 3 times a week because the food in England spoils a lot faster. It's a lot fresher than in America as well. Everybody here calls me "love" or "darling" and people actually say "cheers!" when you leave places. It's so cool. I'm trying to stay away from typical British food. It's so heavy! We went to a carvery with a senior couple who lives in our building the first night we were here and I must say, the Brits really do put gravy on everything. EVERYTHING.

So, Sister P and I are opening up Brighton. They haven't had sisters here in years, so the ward was super excited yesterday to meet us. I think we'll be able to make a good difference here. This all means that Sister P doesn't know the area AT ALL, so we've gotten lost a ton. The bus system is really good, and we take full advantage of that. Before we got our travel money, we had to walk everywhere and it was death. Brighton reminds me a lot of a place like San Francisco because it's super hilly. So it takes forever to walk everywhere and my legs feel like they're going to fall off. 

As far as investigators go, we got lost the other day and ran into a guy named Jayson. He was super interested in the church so we invited him to come on Sunday and he said yes!! We met with him (with the Elders too) and taught him the first lesson. He kept texting us afterwards and said he wanted to hang out because he really like being around us. We thought he was feeling the spirit, but it turns out he just wanted to date one of us. So....he didn't come to church. It was disappointing, but hopefully we'll find more people. We street contact a lot, so I'm hoping that will produce results. Sister P and I are working on just basically getting to know the ward since there are, get ready, 500 members in the ward but only like 50 are active. We have our work cut out for us!

I'm just loving it here. I hope all is well. I love this work! It's fantastic! God loves us so much. I have been learning so much. Sorry I can't write more. I'm always starved of time it seems! Tell me all about what's happening at home. Love you all sooooooo much!!

Mary xoxoxo

So, as you can see, everything is new and mostly wonderful. Next, we'll give you an update with her last letter, written September 2, 2013:

I have seen some incredible miracles in my life lately. I was reading my patriarchal blessing and it told me that I would have the ability to recognize the hand of the Lord in my life. I can't begin to tell you how true that is. The Lord has done an indescribable amount for me and I cherish those realizations. 

Well, Brighton is just as crazy as ever. I haven't really liked it a whole lot because it's quite a dirty city and it's full of very, very, VERY strange people. I'm starting to really hate the cigarette smoke, tattoos, piercings and bad hair dye jobs I've been witnessing. Boy am I glad I grew up where I did! 

My comp and I went to the Royal Pavillion last week for P-day and it was absolutely spectacular!! I can't believe the inside! I've never seen anything like it! We're going to Lewes this week to visit some less active members and it's about 30 minutes outside of Brighton. Apparently (according to the Elders) it's the very image of what you'd imagine England to be. It has a couple of castles there and the really narrow streets you associate England with. I'm super excited! I'll have to let you know how that goes. 

Well, we went to church yesterday and were so happy with the ward! Apparently a ton of people were out of town last week so it seemed super dead, but luckily this week we were a little more impressed. The ward is still extremely small, but it's been quite fun to get to know people. A lot of older people in the ward. I LOVE old people. So I'm pretty happy. And they all have British accents, which makes them even cuter. I just love it. 

We had a couple of miracles on Sunday as well. Sister Phermsin and I have been struggling with finding people to teach because the people here are totally open to listening to you but the WILL NOT commit to going to church or even praying with us. So, the other day we walked into a Shell petrol station and asked the cashier a question and then were about to leave when he asked us what church we come from. We explained a little about our church and then he asked us if he could come to church on Sunday. We just stared at him for few seconds because we were so utterly and completely shocked. Then we said yes (don't worry!!). We didn't actually think he'd show because everyone who commits to coming never actually does, but he was there on Sunday!!! Isn't that amazing?! His name is Michael and he's half German and half Egyptian. He said he really liked church and now he's coming to a YSA activity tonight. I'm so excited! He is a very strong Christian and really hates Muslims. So we're working on that one haha we have to love everyone I suppose, even if they're blowing up your churches in Egypt...that was a super cynical joke. Sorry. Just had to. But there's actually a kid who joined the church not too long ago and is a super strong member named Ali. He was Muslim and then converted to the LDS faith when he moved to England from Afghanistan. He can't even tell his family he changed churches or they might be killed. It's unreal. We told Michael about him and Michael is now so excited to meet him. He can't believe that he used to be Muslim and then joined our church. We're really happy to have him as a new investigator. 

Another person we had come to church is Kiwako. She's going to school at the University of Sussex here for 3 years but lived with a Mormon family in American Fork for 10 months as an exchange student. She saw the church and ran over to it and ran into the senior couple in our area. She almost started crying because she was so happy to meet other people from Utah and see the church again. She's not a member, but had a really good experience with the church in Utah. She's super interested and she's coming the YSA activity tonight as well. I'm so excited to work with her. Both our new investigators are really interested, which just doesn't happen here! That's why it's such a miracle. We were blessed with several member referrals as well, so Sister P and I are elated! 

So, remember the investigator who sent all those creepy texts to us about wanting to date Sister P and I? Ya, he dropped us because he went to rehab. I totally had a feeling the stuff he was smoking all the time was totally illegal. Kind of funny, but sorta sad. Hopefully he gets cleaned up. 

So.....the one thing I miss the most from America is Walmart. Since when do you have to start going 5 different stores to get everything you need?!? GAH!! I miss America. And Walmart. So much. 

Also, it's blackberry season and they grow wild EVERYWHERE here! It's so amazing. Whenever we're walking around in the neighborhoods up north where it's more rural we always stop and eat as many blackberries as we can stuff ourselves with. It's totally the life. Just imagine the green, rolling hills of the Southdowns National Park in the background, the blue sky, and two sister missionaries with purple stains all over their happy little faces....ah, it's wonderful. 

I'm am so happy here. The work is so hard, but I'm so happy. It's weird because this sort of lifestyle should make you miserable but since it includes preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ, how could you not be happy? I love the people of England. I even love those crazies with all the bad hair and tattoos. 

I love all of you so much. A lot of people here have a really bad attitude about all the horrible stuff that's happening in the world. I found Alma 14 the other day where Amulek asks Alma why he's allowing such horrible things to happen to their women and children at the hands of such wicked people. Alma's response is so incredible. It's in verse 11. Go read it. 

I keep you all in my prayers. Keep sending me pictures and letters! They make my life! The gospel is true. I know that without a doubt and I'm so happy I get to tell that to the people of England. Tell me about life and I can't wait to hear from you soon. I love you like CRAZY!!!


The whole crew from the MTC with MTC President and Sister Edwards.

 A happy Mary with new companion and trainer, Sister Phermsin.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mary's First Week in England!

Today, we got Mary's report of her first week in the Preston MTC! She seems so happy to be serving the Lord in England. Take a look for yourself:

MOMMY!! And Family,
Hi from England! Everything is going absolutely amazingly here! I LOVE it! The MTC is fantastic. The days are incredibly long here but I am accomplishing so much.
So, when I got off the plane, I felt immediately that this was the place for me. It's been really scary to get to know people here, but I have honestly loved every minute. Thank you for your email, it was so nice to hear from you! I had like 15 emails from everybody so it's been crazy to try to email everyone! I'm going to try to send pictures later tonight!
My companion is Sister Brooks from London. We are totally meant to be together. I cannot tell you how blessed I am to have her in my life. Our MTC president was inspired to put us together. I haven't laughed this hard in so long! I love it! My district is awesome. I have the funniest people in it. They are from all over. The sister are me, Sister Brooks, Sister Brittain (from Texas), Sister Tiu (from the Phillippeans) and the elders are Elder de Beer (South Africa), Elder Erickson (Kaysville, UT), Elder Romney (Mexico), Elder Brown (the one who fb me and is from Montana), Elder Thompson (Utah), Elder Judy (Utah), Elder Green (Utah), and Elder White (Coventry, England). We have so much fun!! We laugh all the time and have become so close as a district. The elders gave Sister Brooks a blessing the other night because she was feeling pretty homesick. I have not felt the spirit that strong in quite a while. It definitely testified to me of missionary work and the power of the priesthood. Surprisingly, I haven't been that homesick. I feel sad every once and a while, but it's okay because my district makes me feel awesome again! Dad, you would love Elder de Beer. He was absolutely shocked that I even knew what an Afikaner was let alone any Afrikaans. He is so funny and so animated when he talks. He has like white blonde hair and looks just like a Dutchman! We laugh so hard everyday. It's a little bad because we get off task, but hey, I need a little humor in my life, right?
We went to exchange our money today and I finally have British pounds!!! They are beautiful! I freaked out when the self checkout gave me pence and pounds back at the store. They have a store here called Asda that is the equivalent of a Walmart. It was amazing. And weird. It's strange to see pound signs everywhere instead of dollar signs. We bought a ton of English chocolate because Sister Brooks was grumpy and, let's face it, so was everyone else. We feel much better now. The guy who drove us to the store is a German guy who teaches at the MTC. He informed us as we were getting into the van that he's only driven in England three times. It was terrifying. I can't believe how fast the British drive. Everyone in the car was screaming as we were driving on the "wrong" side of the road. Scared the crap out of me too! It was such an adventure. We have so much fun here! I will miss the MTC terribly.
We got to be in the "Truth Will Prevail!" pagent this past week. It was incredible. It's about the saints who joined the church in England. It's the first pagent to happen outside the US! And I was in the FIRST PRODUCTION EVER! So exciting. And guess what?!?!? I got to MEET Elder Holland and Elder Nelson!! Yep, that's right. I got to shake both of their hands. They came to the MTC and talked to us. Elder Holland told us to swim when we didn't want to swim anymore and everything would work out. I love that man. I felt the spirit so strongly. They came to see the pagent and Elder Nelson said when he saw the missionaries come onto the stage it brought tears to his eyes. It was such a great experience.
Well, I'm doing great! I leave the MTC this Wednesday to go out into the field! I'm not ready yet! It's so scary, but it'll be great. The Lord is on my side. I won't be able to email for a while, so I'll have to unload all at once AGAIN next Monday I think. Unless they let me email sooner. I've heard my mission president is awesome and super relaxed. It'll be great. The lessons are hard to teach, but I'm doing better everyday. Sister Brooks and I are a power couple! I love all of you so much and appreciate your love and support. You guys mean the world to me. I miss all you like crazy! I'll keep in touch and send you pictures later tonight! I love, love, love you! The gospel is true and God loves you. I have no question of that now. I love what I'm doing out here!
God save the Queen.

Cheers (and love)

Here are some exciting picture updates!:

Loving the MTC!

The sisters of the district, Sister Tiu, Sister Brittain, Sister Stuart, and Sister Brooks

Mary and her companion,  Sister Brooks

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And Away She Goes!

I'm Mary's favorite sister, Louisa, and I'll be taking care of her blog while she's off on her mission in England! I'm not as funny or clever as her but I'll try. 
Today was bittersweet as we dropped her off at the Salt Lake City Airport. It was amazing seeing all of the missionaries waiting to depart. We saw two other girls at the airport that were also going to the England London South Mission:

Mary and her fellow missionaries

After many tears and goodbyes, Mary departed.

I hope Mary has a great time on her mission and I know that through her, many people will see the light of Christ. I love you Mary!!! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Called To Serve.

About 2 weeks ago, I was called to serve in the....

England London South Mission! 

My mission includes almost the entire southern coast of England, such as Brighton, Bath, Oxford, Cornwall, Winchester and several other beautiful places. It even covers Jane Austen's birthplace and Stonehenge. As far as my area covered in London, it includes the southern half of the city that is split by the River Thames. It's supposed to be about an average of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) so I'm ready to endure some pretty cold, rainy, humid and sunless days! My mission is supposedly the warmest in the British Isles, which is a tad bit disheartening seeing as 50 degrees and 85% humidity is considered warm, but I'm actually oddly excited to see a lot of rain. 

I leave for the England MTC on August 7th, 2013 and will travel to Chicago then directly to the Manchester airport to report to the England MTC on the morning of August 8th, 2013. 

(Click on for a closer view)
I can't wait to serve the people of England. This will be an incredible opportunity for me to bless the lives of others through service, which will in turn bless my life immensely. I cannot wait to share Christ's wonderful message with these people. I couldn't ask for a more perfect place to go!

With Grandma and Grandpa Campbell after I opened my call.