Buckle your seat belts because this is a long email haha. Oops! I just couldn't water things down.
First things first, if you haven't watched the ''Because of Him'' video, do it now. It is so inspiring. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!:
Yesterday was a Bank Holiday so we were able to go to the temple. I feel so much peace there. The temple and the temple grounds have quickly become my favorite place to be in the world. While I was in the temple I really felt how pleased Heavenly Father is with me and I could feel His love.
Our Ward Mission Leader holds us accountable for the number of people we invited to church, the number of referrals we ask for/ names received, and how many people we invited to be baptised each week. We report on our progress records each week and he will read each companionships numbers out loud at the end of coordination. He keeps track of these because he feels they are the things that impact how many people eventually join the church. It's definitely not a competition but Sister Merrill and I had the lowest numbers in all categories and so we hit the streets after last Thursday's coordination and invited everyone we could to church and asked them all for referrals. It was a great week to invite people to church because of the Easter Sunday coming up. We continued to step up our game for the rest of the week. We were blessed for being diligent in these matters because on Sunday, we had SIX non-members at church! In total from all 3 companionships we had 15 non-members at church. Also remaining diligent in asking members for referrals has been fruitful too because one of the YSA members has 5 friends he is going to invite to learn about the gospel and we should be meeting with one this week. A great example of ask and ye shall receive.
Our most progressing investigator, Tian, was doing so great. We dated him for the 8th of May and he has a calendar and everything. He always gives the most sincere prayers, he is working really hard on giving up smoking, and we committed him to come to church each Sunday and he accepted. Opposition hit on Saturday and Tian told us he won't be able to come to church until September.. We haven't been able to get in contact with him since but we are hoping to find out more about his situation and make necessary adjustments. I still have hope that he can make his May 8th date.
Our next progressing investigator is Sherry. Sherry is from China came to church 2 Sundays ago with her friend whom we met on the street and invited to church. We love Sherry so much! She is just so funny. At the last lesson we had with her, she gave the closing prayer and said to Heavenly Father ''we know that You love us and we love You.'' I think that is such a beautiful thing an investigator, let alone our Chinese investigator, express their love for Heavenly Father and acknowledge that she knows He love us.
Our investigator, Winnie, left for the states a couple of weeks ago and told us she would be back on the 15th. We rang her like crazy only to get no response each time. We were worried that she was avoiding us. I started praying so hard that Heavenly Father would help us get in touch with her again. This weekend, we got a text from her phone. It was her friend texting from her phone saying that Winnie had left her phone in London and her friend said she would get it back to her some time this week. Such a sigh of relief! Hopefully we will see her soon.
The specialized training we had last week was perfect. I learned a lot about agency, accountability, and the Atonement. I left with the question in mind: why do I personally want to be held accountable? I couldn't come up with an sufficient answer on my own so I prayed about it that night and pondered the next morning. And then it hit me-- with accountability we have greater power to change. An Assistant mentioned in the meeting ''the more we are held accountable, the greater access we have to the power of the Atonement.'' In retrospect, I have noticed that the more I hold myself accountable for my actions and my mistakes, the more likely I was to do something to change and apply the Atonement to my life. When I take full responsibility for my actions, I have felt the godly sorrow that leads to repentance and growth. When we blame others and our unfair circumstances for our short comings, we feel like things our out of our control and we are helpless. This is exactly what the adversary would want. The message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is opposite to that helplessness; we all have can exercise our agency to choose to change ourselves even when we can't do anything about other peoples actions or other things out of our control. We can choose to let godly sorrow humble us and repent when we fall short. We can choose to let the Atonement transform us into who we need to be.
I am so grateful to be here in Manchester at a time such as this. Our Zone is setting records! I can't recall the exact numbers right now but this past we had around 70 member present lessons as a Zone. That is like the highest it has ever been in EMM history! I am feel so blessed and honoured to be surrounded by some of the best missionaries in the mission, and even in the world.
Love you all!
The countryside of England
Sister Merrill and I in front of the Preston Temple
Another temple pic
Forget-me-nots I saw this morning :)