Tuesday, December 29, 2015

HAPPY {almost} NEW YEAR!!!

Hello hello hello!

Wow it has been quite a while since I have written a good ol' weekly email so it might be a little scrambled and all over the place BUT I'll try my best!! I guess I'll start off with the big news. I'll be transferred to... NOWHERE because our mission president pushed back transfers a week haha. So I guess I'll have 6 more days to stress about where I'll end up :) what a joy! But I am SO grateful I'll get to ring in the new year in Hayes and be with Sister Mekonnen! It's gonna be awesomeeeeeee. I cannot believe that 2015 has come and gone! When I think back on this year I just realise what a whirlwind it has been. Last New Years I had NO idea that I would be in London, let alone on a mission and I am just SO grateful! I wouldn't want to be anywhere else or doing anything else!


So... what has been going on... well, obviously we had CHRISTMAS WOOHOO!

Christmas on a mission is seriously so special. It has been amazing to focus more on the Saviour. There has just been a special spirit surrounding this entire week. I can't believe it's already gone! It was AMAZING to talk to the family on Christmas Day, and although it was hard to be apart from them, I realised how special it is to be around everyone here. And Hayes has done a wonderful job with making the missionaries part of their family. Ahhhhhh I LOVE this time of year!

Singin' with the choir!

Hmmmmmm so what are some exciting stories...

Sister Mekonnen offered to bring Ethiopian food to Christmas dinner for all of us to try (which is the BOMB by the way) and there's a bunch of stuff that you can't just buy at the grocery store. So we embarked on a journey to this little Ethiopian restaurant/grocery store that we have passed a bunch on the bus. It's just in a little random strip of stores, and not gonna lie, kind of a sketchy part of town. But she knew that was the only place she would be able to get some of the ingredients. SO we get there and for some reason she's all nervous to go in haha. She was all like "My Amharic isn't good enough anymore! They'll judge me!" And I was like "Wellllll this is our only chance to get the stuff so let's just do it!" So we make our way into the little restaurant and I'm not kidding I was sooooooo out of place. All eyes were on this random white girl that just walked in. They all just started talking in Amharic to Sister Mekonnen and I'm just sitting there like a llama not knowing what to say or do. We had to wait a minute for the owner to get the ingredients we needed, and as we are sitting Sister Mekonnen is talkin to this guy, and again, I have no idea what's being said. All of a sudden he comes over with some of his food and feeds it to her. Literally holding it in his hands puts it in her mouth. I remembered back to her telling me it's Ethiopian tradition to have the host feed you. So then he goes and gets me some and I was a little apprehensive because I had no idea what this food was and some random dude was just holding it up to my mouth, but I felt like it would be totally rude not to accept, so I just politely ate it. And ok it wasn't disgusting. The flavours were actually very good, but there was definitely some sort of meat that was very questionable. I really don't even want to know what it was haha! But I could not swallow all of it because I could seriously feel the gag coming on, so I just sat there with this chunk of mystery meat in my mouth, and then we got our stuff and left, and I got rid of that meat in my mouth ASAP. Then Sister Mekonnen was like "I don't even know what that was, that's not like anything I eat at home" and I was like "Well, that's comforting..." BUT I am glad to say I survived and did not get ill! Woohooooooo. Then she started telling me that the Ethiopian guys were saying, "I've never seen an Ethiopian hanging out with a white chick... she must be a cool girl" hahahaha I was cracking up! Such an interesting and hilarious experience.

With our pal Alicia

Another weird thing was one day when Sister Mekonnen and I were finding, we stopped this guy and chatted with him a bit and showed him the Christmas video. Afterwards he goes "Wait here for one second" and he runs off. We wait and like a minute later he comes back and says "Take this money!" and he's shoving it at Sister Mekonnen. We told him we couldn't accept it and would he please keep it. Then he say, "I'm a sinner" and gives both of us this super awkward hug and we were just like whatttttt. And then as we are still trying to give him back the the money, he runs away and we are left with this wad of cash. Get this, it was £100! Equivalent to $155... and were like what just happened?? haha! It was so odd. (Shilo mentioned in her Christmas Skype that they called President Stevens to inquire about what they should do with the money, he told them to give it to their Bishop... who then gave it back to them.)

Our BFF Sister Reeder

Today we are having a district pday and it's the first day since I've been on the mish that I get to wear NORMAL CLOTHES. It is such a free feeling. Just thought you would all like to know haha.

Now for a little spiritual upliftment. Since we're about to ring in the new year, I think this quote is fitting about persistence:

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased." (Heber J. Grant)

So I challenge you all to stay committed to those New Years resolutions! Set goals that will help you excel, and persist in reaching those goals! Your power WILL increase as you keep on trying and keep on working.

I love you all! I'm sure that 2016 has amazing things in store for each and every one of you!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMAS

Hello everybody!

So right off the bat I must apologise that this email is going to be a quick one because we literally have about zero time to do anything today! We had our first choir performance last night and it was uber tiring but also wayyyy good. Now we are headed to a day of practice, singing at an old folks home, having tea (herbal of course) and cake with them (proper English shin-dig), and then having another performance tonight!

But I just wanted to tell you all a funny little story from the week.

Saturday was a crazy day. In the morning I was on an exchange with one of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Grant from Finland (p.s. I learned that her grandpa was Mr. Universe back in the day hahaha!). We exchanged back and then Sister Mekonnen and I had to rush to the ward Christmas party (which was PACKED by the way, but so fun). Then we said our goodbyes and headed home. So usually on Saturday night we have a zone call, and so we were just back at our flat waiting for the call, but we never got one, so we just went to bed, not really thinking anything of it. We just figured that for some reason they didn't have one that night. I was just on the brink of being completely asleep when I hear Sister Mekonnen say, "Sister Syddall, I think someone is knocking on the door." So I'm half delirious and I'm just like, "What are you talking about?" And then all of a sudden I hear a SUPER LOUD knock. At this point my stomach literally dropped to the floor and my heart started beating sooooo fast. My mind literally was thinking of all the different awful situations that could commence. Was it a drunk? A creepy person who watched us and knew where we lived? Were they gonna break the door open (because that's literally what these knocks sounded like)? So I was just freaking out and was like, "Oh my gosh, what should we do?! Who should we call?!" So we try to call the zone leaders and the phone says "emergency calls only," and I was like what the heck, am I in some sort of horror movie?? We try a bunch of different numbers and none of them worked, meanwhile there is still someone BANGING on the door. Sister Mekonnen decides to open the bedroom door (and I'm a wimp so I was like, "Wait, no! Don't do it!" But she still did haha) and than all of a sudden she goes, "Wait... I think I hear Elder Tonks voice!" I was still just so confused at this whole situation. So I creep out of the bedroom and as we are listening we then clearly hear, "We've tried to call them 6 times and got no answer!" I went downstairs and was like, "Who is it?" and then we hear "The missionaries!" Then we were like OH OK and opened the door hahaha. There we saw Elder Tonks and Elder Kalablanko (totally spelled that wrong, ooops lol) standing at our door. They went on to tell us that a billion people tried to call us and no one was getting through so they all thought something happened to us. Butttttt turns out our phone is just wacko and broken. It was very sweet for so many people to care, even though we were totally unaware of it! It was all just so random though, so it felt like a dream, and then we could not get back to sleep cuz our adrenaline was PUMPIN'. But it's a good story to tell, I guess!

And here's the awkward district picture for you haha

Like I mentioned, we had our choir concert at Hyde Park and it was sooooo awesome! So many people came, and three of our new investigators came along and loved it! And lemme tell ya, President Stevens OWNED "Three Kings". And I didn't ruin any of the songs so I would consider it a success!

Again, sorry this email is so short, but I hope you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! I will not be emailing on Monday because our pday will be moved to Christmas. But I LOVE YOU ALL! Remember the reason for the season!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Monday, December 7, 2015

Forget yourself and go to work!

HELLO! Is it me you're looking for?

I hope you liked the Lionel Richie reference. Everyone here has been talking about some new song by Adele called "Hello" and since I'm way out of the loop, I just always think of this song hahaha. But OK, let's get down to business, shall we?

This week began with being sick and hearing some very sad news, so it was a bit of a struggle BUT when you're serving the Lord, it always seems to pick itself up. I seriously feel SO blessed to be out here serving in London. The phrase that constantly gets me through the rough times is "forget yourself and go to work!" I LOVE THIS WORK. I LOVE THE GOSPEL. I love the comfort it gives to me. I am so grateful to have a testimony of the Plan of Salvation and to know that after our time on earth there is SO much more in store. I have also been able to reflect on how precious each and every day is. Tell your friends and family you love them every chance you get! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!

I apologise for how random that paragraph above is, but that's what has been on my mind throughout this week. SO lemme think for one moment while I reflect on what has happened. Last Sunday we got a new Ward Mission Leader and Tuesday night we had a meeting with him, and OH MY GOODNESS he is just going to be the BEST. Too bad I probably only have three weeks with him. He and his wife also fed us dinner, and they're Brazilian, so MORE BRAZILIAN FOOD WOOHOO. That's not even a sarcastic statement. It's seriously so dang good!

Thursday we had such good plans and almost everything seemed to fall through, which is always a bummer, but it still turned out to be a great day! We were stopping by a new investigator, but she can barely speak English so it was a speedy lesson haha. Since we were done with her lesson a bit early, we decided to stop by some potential investigators - one was this guy named Kevin. He said he had wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. When we got there, he invited us in to explain more about it and we ended up getting to teach his two cousins as well! They're from Sri Lanka (seriously like 90% of the people we meet here are not English. It's so fun to meet people from EVERYWHERE) and are here working. They were all SO excited to get a copy of the Book of Mormon and learn more! Sister Mekonnen and I are super excited to teach them in the future!

Alrighty, so on Friday morning we got to do the fun and exciting weekly planning, WOOHOO! I just loveeeeee sitting there for three hours ;') hahaha but really it's great to set out solid plans for the week! Afterwards I went to take the rubbish outside (I know I've explained their awful garbage system here) and it was super windy so the door slammed shut behind me. Sister Mekonnen was just upstairs sweeping, so I assumed she heard it and would run downstairs to let me in. When she wasn't coming, I started knocking. And knocking. And knocking some more. My knuckles were seriously bright red. FINALLY like 10 minutes later, after standing shoeless and jacketless, she came down and let me in. She couldn't hear me because the washing machine and microwave were going at the same time. Although I must admit I was a tad bit annoyed at first, now I think it's hilarious. I'm sure glad the 100 billion university students that were passing by got to see me frantically knocking haha. Now that I type this out it really doesn't even sound funny. OH WELL.



Oh my goodness I almost forgot to mention! OK, so the senior sister missionaries seriously are our best friends. And they spoil us WAY too much! Like seriously they took us out to lunch THREE TIMES this week! Five Guys (HOLLLLLA), an Italian restaurant, and Nandos, which has a lot of chicken with something called "peri peri" sauce. That stuff is huge here, but hey, it's good so I'm not complaining! And they've bought us Christmas gifts and just been so sweet to go teaching with us all the time! Now if we could think of something AWESOME to give them for Christmas. If any of you have splendid ideas, let me know!

The height difference (Sister Reeder and I) haha

Saturday we had Zone Meetinggggggg! It's always fun to get together as a zone and learn and set goals and feel the Spirit! It's always fun after transfers to meet all the new pals you're going to be around. It was SO good. We talked a lot about the new Christmas videos and how we can use them in our finding (thank you iPads) and teaching. And if you guys have not seen the "Why we need a Savior," look it up! Oh my goodness it's sooooooo good! Sister Reeder came and she insisted that she bring a treat for all of the missionaries, but over by the Wembley Chapel there isn't really any big shop, so we went to this little tiny convenience store and bought them out of all their M&M's. The man was probably very confused why someone would buy £25 worth of them hahaha. She's the best though. I was just laughing up a storm the entire time we were with her!


I am very disappointed in myself that I have not mentioned two of our investigators that I have been teaching since like my second transfer! They will be getting baptised in January (right after I most likely leave, sad day). But they are a hoot! Their names are Jenner and Sandra. Jenner is from the Caribbean (yes he does have dreadlocks and loves Bob Marley), and Sandra is from Lithuania. Odd match? Yes. Funniest couple in the world? Yes. So every single time that we go over to Jenner and Sandra's, he just says the funniest and most ridiculous things. Let me replay one of the conversations we had last night as we were talking about the Word of Wisdom:

Jenner: "You know, ALL pigs have demons in them, so I will never eat pork."

Me: "Hmmmm... I don't think that the muscle has any demons in it, so I still choose to eat it (at this moment everyone lost it and started cracking up). But if you don't want to eat pork, that's fine!"

Jenner: "Go to the butcher's and ask them for a pork chop then put lemon juice on it. It will immediately turn to worms."

Me: "Well, even after seeing how hot dogs are made I still choose to eat them, so I'll try but I'll probably still eat pork."

Sandra: "You know, I've fed you pork before and just told you that it was chicken. And you always say you like it!"

Jenner: "WHAT?!"

I hope you all enjoyed a glimpse into our meetings with Jenner and Sandra. They're seriously the BEST. I love those people so much, I wish so badly you could all meet them! I will take a picture with them so you can all get a visual haha.

And if any of you were curious it gets dark here by 4:00PM. Yes you heard that right, FOUR O'CLOCK. It's madness.

Something we have loved asking people we meet is what will YOU give our Saviour Jesus Christ as a gift this Christmas season? I invite you all to reflect on that and write down what you will give to Him. Remember He is the reason for the season! Love you all!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Hello! Hola! Bonjour! How are you all?! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

This week kind of just went by in a blur, so I don't really remember all that well WHAT even happened! I will try my best to recall all of the highlights.

Highlight number one was definitely Thanksgiving! We had a district meeting that morning and met the whole new crew. That night we got to go to one of the American couples in our ward for an AMAZING Thanksgiving dinner. They invited both us and the Elders over, and then they had one other American couple and one Mexican/English couple (hey, any reason to celebrate and have food, right?). But oh. my. goodness. they had the entire spread. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole. The funny English addition was Yorkshire pudding (and for all my American pals... so I guess that means ALL my pals... "pudding" is not what you're imagining) in place of rolls. They're still way good anyway so I was cool with it! And then you can't end Thanksgiving without 5,263,748 pies haha! I was seriously bursting by the end of the night. I'm not even kidding. I was seriously in pain because I ate so much. It was SO dang worth it, though. Sister Mekonnen thoroughly enjoyed her first Thanksgiving experience.

Friday was an awesome day as well! We were doing some finding and just talking to anyone and everyone that we saw. Unfortunately the weather has been the pits lately and people are just not nearly as open to talk when the wind is blowin' ya over and the rain is slapping your face at 100mph. So we decided that we would try out a little tracting. Generally tracting isn't the most effective way to find people, but we were BLESSED on this little street. Seriously four houses in a row were so open and want to learn more about the gospel! And just the fact that people were in at the time is a miracle in itself because most people here work away their entire life. Since my new district leader knows I'm in the choir, he assumes I have a really good voice and has been trying and trying to get me and Sister Mekonnen to sing for the district while he plays the ukulele. We made a deal that if Sister Mekonnen and I didn't find a new investigator Friday afternoon, we would sing, but Heavenly Father had my back because He knew the whole singing thing would NOT go well hahaha.



Saturday night we had Thanksgiving dinner round two with another couple in the ward, and once again the food was uh-maze-ing. And once again I ate way way wayyyyy too much haha! But what is Thanksgiving if you don't feel like toppling over after you eat? And the whole "turkey makes you tired" thing really took a toll on me. I was BEAT by the time we got back to our flat. But it was awesome.

If you thought my Thanksgiving extravaganza ends there, you thought wrong! The senior Sisters wanted to have us over for Thanksgiving, but we had the other dinner, so we went to their flat on Sunday night, and they once again made the whole spread. And they are the only ones who gave us stuffing, so I was quite happy. Once again I ate way. too. much. Thank goodness Thanksgiving only comes one time a year because I think I would be about 500 pounds heavier after my mission if I ate like this every night. Oh, and they had loads of Christmas decorations at their flat, so that was pretty dang awesome as well!



I woke up today feeling soooooo sick. Sore throat, aching body, fever/chills, ear ache, headache. Ya know, the works. AND I got to sing for three hours:') howwwwwww wonderful. But I am happy to let you all know I survived, even though I could literally feel the life draining out of me the whole time. Actually my health is STILL deteriorating. Just crossing my fingers I'll feel better after a good night's sleep and be able to work 110% tomorrow!

Something pretty cool is that for the first time at the Hyde Park Visitor Centre they are having a live nativity! It's right on Exhibition Road, so LOTS of people see it. President Stevens got to dedicate that with a beautiful prayer and then we got to sing a few of our songs, which may not have been the best for my health in the cold, wet weather, but it was still so fun! For any of you that will just be moseying around London (I'm sure you'll all be here, right?) on December 13th, we will be performing at Hyde Park and the one, the only, President Stevens will be singing a solo woooohooooo! We will also be performing at Wembley and Ilford, so that should be loads of fun! I am actually way pumped about it. If someone manages to get a video, I'll be sure to send it to you all!

Alrightttttt now here's a little spiritual upliftment for you all:

"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future." ~ Jeffrey R. Holland

Oh, and I hope you have all had a chance to watch the new Christmas video! If not, check it out on christmas.mormon.org

LOVE YA'LL (England brings out my inner redneck)! I hope you're all gearing up for the most wonderful time of the year!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Attitude of Gratitude

HELLO!

It was transfers week, which is somewhat a stressful time, but I must now inform you that I am moving... on to serve another wonderful six weeks in Hayes with Sister Mekonnen! Did I get you there? Probably not, but its fine hahaha. I am seriously SO PUMPED that I get to be here for another six weeks! The first third of my mission will be spent in this wonderful place, and I wouldn't want it anywhere else :) and not to mention, we have not one, but TWO Thanksgiving dinners this week, WOOHOO!


So this week once again started off with a lot of time in the flat, and oh my goodness, I have never been SO antsy to just be outside! Luckily the senior Sisters were able to help out a bit and I was able to get out of the flat with Sister Reeder to go to district meeting on Tuesday. I had been asked to give a training, so I told Sister Reeder that if she got to our flat at 9am, we would be able to make it to the chapel by 10. She and Sister Jackson arrived, and then we were off. Little did we know it was going to be quite the adventure haha. We got on the train and were just makin' our way to Wembly, and after a few stops they announce that there was a passenger accident on the tracks at one of the stations ahead (so sad) and that it would be terminating early. Now I have only come to district meeting ONE WAY every single time, so Sister Reeder and I were just sooooo lost. Also I must mention she had brought a huge box of treats for the  missionaries, and I offered to hold it for her, and my arms were KILLING me. So we were just frantically asking everyone how to get there, and after taking another underground line and two buses, we finally arrived at somewhere I recognised, at Wembly Stadium... on the wrong side (and this place is hugeeeee). We then proceeded to walk about a mile and we FINALLY made it there... and hey, we were only an hour late hahaha. Turns out they waited for us sooooo I was still able to give my training, and all was well.
The wonderful senior Sisters AKA our BFFs

BUT THEN as we were leaving district meeting it was SO dark outside and it was just raining and raining and raining. That morning I didn't think it looked like it was going to rain, so I took my umbrella out of my bag (smart, I know). A couple of the Elders were offering me their umbrellas before we left, but I figured I could make it. So Sister Reeder and I start walking and I realise that it was raining A LOT harder than I had presumed, and I was still carrying this large awkward box and Sister Reeder was trying to share her umbrella with me. A 4'10" person trying to share an umbrella with a 5'10" person doesn't work too smoothly haha. So I just gave up and let the rain pour down. Then we just kept walking and I heard footsteps rapidly approaching us and so I turn around and it was two of the Elders SPRINTING to give me their umbrella. It was just about the sweetest thing ever. Granted, I was already pretty much soaked, but very kind nonetheless haha! There was a lesson learned in all of this: n-e-v-e-r leave anywhere in England without an umbrella!

On Wednesday Sister Mekonnen was feeling a bit better, so we were able to go out with the senior Sisters on exchanges. I went with Sister Reeder to meet with a less active elderly lady, and Sister Mekonnen and Sister Jackson went to do some finding. Sister Reeder and I had a great time and lots of laughs, but her tooth started to hurt her soooooo bad so she couldn't stay out for long. So Sister Mekonnen and I switched back and then went to a lesson to teach "the law of tithing" dun dun DUN. This is always a lesson that's a lil stressful to teach because people's reactions are just unpredictable. But thank goodness the couple we were teaching was SO understanding about it! They told us that they knew they would receive blessings if they lived this commandment!

Saturday night we really wanted to go to a Stake event. They were doing an International Dance thing where each of the wards had prepared a dance number and were performing for everyone else, and everyone was bringing different types of food. Hayes Ward was performing a Brazilian dance (who would've guessed? ;)). So we were trying. and trying. and trying. to find a ride but EVERYONE'S car was full, and it's impossible to get there on public transport. We were feeling a bit discouraged, especially due to the fact that it was FREEZING cold. Just tons of ice cold wind. My hands and feet were completely numb and my nose looked like Rudolph. I'm not even exaggerating when I say this is the coldest I think I have every felt in my entire life. Since we were planning to go to the Stake event, we had to completely set out a new plan. We decided to go see an investigator that we've had a bit of a hard time contacting. We were finally able to catch her, but she was just about to head to work, so we didn't have the opportunity to have a lesson with her. So feeling even a bit more discouraged, we decided that we would stop by a potential investigator that lived nearby and we were just PRAYING that something would work out because it had been a long day. We knock on this guy's door and a super sweet woman answers and tells us to come in while she gets this Samuel guy. We hear her yell up the stairs, "Pastor Sam! Some missionaries are here to see you!" and then we go in and sit in their living room where another man is sitting. We start talking to him and it turns out he is the founder of their church. He was the head pastor, and this Sam guy was a junior pastor. We started to talk to them about the Book of Mormon because they had some questions, and it kind of turned into them just saying how we should be promoting the Bible and not the Book of Mormon, and I was getting a little annoyed honestly. Then Sister Mekonnen read a scripture from the Book of Mormon and their eyes got all big because BOOM the Spirit filled the room. So we left them two copies of The Book of Mormon because they want to read it, and headed out. When we started to leave their little apartment complex, Sam yells out and is like "wait! Pastor's wife made dinner for you!" So we go back in and she had prepared a full-on meal which was way good. Way spicy. But way good. And so the night actually turned out pretty great! The Lord definitely sends miracles in those times when nothing seems to be going right! He knew we needed to be there that night.

Sister Mekonnen loving the fall leaves

 We were trying to take pictures with the swan... it did not really work too well haha.
But you can also see the massive amount of leaves that are everywhere here!!!

The wild swans that we see everywhere! I get so excited every time I see one haha.

I LOVE this time of year. It's truly an amazing time to reflect on how much we have each been blessed in our lives. A wonderful time to thank our Heavenly Father for all that He has blessed us with. I hope that you all strive to have an attitude of gratitude as you celebrate Thanksgiving with your loved ones! Even when times may be hard, there are still so many blessings! I love this quote from President Uchtdorf:

"Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessing we can count. True, it is important to frequently 'count our blessings' -- and anyone who has tried this knows there are many -- but I don't believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude."

"It is easy to be grateful for things when life seems to be going our way. But what then of those times when what we wish for seems to be far out of reach?"

"Could I suggest that we see gratitude as a disposition, a way of life that stands independent of our current situation? In other words, I'm suggesting that instead of being thankful for things, we focus on being thankful in our circumstances -- whatever they may be."

Now I must shoot off as we are going to the one, the only COSTCO. Imma go get me a hot dog :) LOVE YOU ALL! Thank you for the prayers and support!



Love,
Sister Syddall

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Long Week

Hello! Howdy! Hi! Hola! How are you?! I hope you all had a fantastic week! Mine was a little bit interesting... But I'll just jump right into it!

So Tuesday was a busy busy day, but it started right off with a bang, which was super awesome. Way back in the day (like 7 weeks ago) Sister Bader and I received a referral from church headquarters. We are told that we are supposed to contact these referrals within 24 hours. We tried, and no luck. We were super sad because this woman had requested a Book of Mormon and we were having NO luck getting in contact with her. So we continued to try. And try. And try. FINALLY Tuesday morning Sister Mekonnen and I were like "ok, we are going to try this lady ONE more time" so we arrived and she opened the door and let us in to visit. We started talking with her and she informed us that the reason she had requested a Book of Mormon was because her friend had seen the musical, and she thought it would be a funny joke to give her the actual book. She said she didn't know that missionaries would be coming with it hahaha. But since the time she had requested the Book of Mormon, some things in her life have changed. She is going through some trials and expressed to us that she truly WANTS to have a deeper rooted relationship with God. She WANTS to find a church that that she can come to each week. And she WANTS to read the Book of Mormon. The spirit was so strong as we spoke about how the gospel could change her life. It was truly a miracle, and we are SO excited to teach her!

Wednesday night we had a lesson with an investigator, and it felt like the longest lesson of my life. We had met with this guy a couple of times previously, and he had lots of good questions, but this entire lesson he was pretty much just bashing Sister Mekonnen and I on the fact that we don't know a ton about the Muslim faith. He was just going on. and on. and on. about how it was disrepectful of us to go around teaching people about the Book of Mormon when we didn't know about their beliefs. He kept asking questions that were so random, we would answer, and then he would come back and say "well I already knew the answer, I just wanted to see how well you guys knew it." In the end we just bore testimony about why we have chosen to follow and live the gospel, and that was about all we could do. He wasn't having any of it, so we left without setting a return appointment. Sister Mekonnen and I were both a lil' bit annoyed, but it was definitely a learning experience.

Thursday we were heading to see a less active member of the ward, but on our way realised that we would be late for our later appointments if we went. Since it was an unplanned visit, we decided to turn around before we got there so that we could be on time for our other appointments. While we were driving back on the upper deck of the bus, it was only Sister Mekonnen and I, and then a family that was sitting behind us. Sister Mekonnen leaned over to me and whispered, "I think that is an Ethiopian family... but I'm not completely sure..." Since she has been on her mission, she has never met any other Ethiopians. Right as we were about to get off the bus, she asked them and they were like "YES, we are!" It was just so cool! They were the sweetest family ever, and they were giving us hugs and telling us that we could come visit them. It was a testimony strengthener to show that Heavenly Father truly does place people in our path.

Friday we had zoneeeeeee conference, woohoo! I seriously love zone conference. So so so much. President Stevens and Sister Stevens are simply the best. Something that Sister Stevens said that really stood out to me was, "We cannot do it HIS way without HIS help." It was a reminder to me that I need the Lord's help in every single thing that I do. That does not only apply to this time while I am out on my mission, but for my entire life. If we want to do what is pleasing to our Father in Heaven and do His will, we must humble ourselves and ask Him for help and guidance.
Zone Conference pic! Sorry, no camera pictures again this week :(


And then we reached Saturday. That was the day Sister Mekonnen got soooooooo sick. Seriously, I feel so bad for her! We had an appointment with a couple of investigators and then an appointment with a recent convert, and throughout both of them I could just see that she was in SO much pain. We went back to the flat and she just slept the rest of the day while I studied and called some people and made little quotes to hang on my wall. I know, riveting stuff, right? We had to cancel everything for the rest of the day and I assumed she would probably feel better by Sunday morning.

I woke up on Sunday morning and she still was in so much pain, she couldn't even get out of bed. So I called President and Sister Stevens and informed them, and then suggested that maybe I could exchange with the senior Sisters, just so I could be at church for our investigators. President Stevens thought that was a wonderful idea so then I called up the senior Sisters and they were running a bit late, but were happy to help! Then Sister Reeder and I were BOOKING it to church because we really didn't want to miss the sacrament, but of course we get there right when they finished. As I looked around the room, not an investigator in sight. Then I started to feel so frustrated because I missed the sacrament AND no one had come that had said they would. There is seriously nothing as heart-shattering as a missionary when you work so hard to get people to church, and they simply don't make the effort. Or when they don't follow through on any commitment for that matter. But we all have our agency, right? So Sister Reeder and I made our way back to the flat, and then they were off. Luckily Elder Sowah and Elder Warburton offered to bring us the sacrament, so that helped pick me up! It was just a crazy weekend. It doesn't look like Sister Mekonnen is feeling any better yet, so we will see what this week holds!

I think something I've learned this week, and throughout the entirety of my mission really, is to have {patience in the Lord's timing}. I know that there is something I can learn from this little bump in the road, and I know that He has so many blessings in store in the future.

I love you all! Thank you for the support and prayers!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

HELLO! Selam nesh? (Sister Mekonnen taught me a littl Amharic, holllllllllla)

Last week I know I told you about the service project that took all. day. long. but we got a call from President Stevens on Tuesday morning telling us that we could have our pday then since we didn't have time to get anything done on Monday. Unfortunately, on Wednesday Sister Mekonnen got feeling REALLY sick. She has been sick practically her entire mission, but this last week it was getting very bad. I must add, she is the most positive person even though she has been facing this trial for 7+ months. She has definitely been an example to me of fighting through the pain. Since she was progressively beginning to feel worse and worse, we had to set up a doctor's appointment, which so happened to be in the heart of London. It was quite the experience trying to figure out how to get to this place, but we eventually found it (thank goodness) and lemme tell ya, this doctor's office was soooooooo nice. Generally I'm super antsy to get out of those places, but I honestly could have sat in there all day long haha. So posh.

 The Watford Zone wooooohoooooo!


On Friday night we had a lesson with two of our investigators and decided to invite the senior Sister Missionaries to come along with us. I cannot even express in words how fun these ladies are. That whole lesson was just so much fun, and they have a little more (OK... a LOT more) experience and insight than Sister Mekonnen and I, so it was just all around great. The investigators loved having them there, and even on Sunday at church our investigators were like "will those older women be here?!" Sister Mekonnen and I always laugh because when we are with them it just feels like we are all best pals even though they are more than 50 years older than us. At the end of the lesson, Sister Reeder was like, "Wait, I wanna keep hanging out with you guys. Let's go party." Unfortunately we couldn't ACTUALLY go party, but since we had so much fun with them we invited them to help work on THE HOUSE with us the next morning (I know, such a fun invitation, right?).

Saturday was just a crazy day altogether. First thing in the morning we went to work in THE HOUSE, but we didn't have a ton of time and the journey there is quite long, so we had to head out a bit early. We met up with the senior Sisters and made our way there and it was pouring rain and windy. I also must add that it rained every. single. day. this week. AND we had a mission-wide conference call that morning. SO, we get to THE HOUSE and the people with the keys weren't there yet, so we huddled outside in the rain listening to this call. By the time the call was over, the people with THE HOUSE keys finally showed up and we were all soaking wet. It was quite disheartening to walk in and see that everything was a complete and total mess, so we were pretty much just straightening things up and trying to find somewhere - ANYWHERE - to put all this stuff. In the end I don't know how much of a help we were, but hey, we tried haha. Then we had to rush home, get changed back into our regular missionary gear, and head straight back out the door to do consecrated finding. The whole mission was doing finding together so that we could find miracles. Sister Mekonnen and I were trying to talk to anyone and everyone for 1.5 hours and no. luck. It was kind of sad, but we know that we planted a lot of seeds that just need a little time.

Saturday evening the Elders had a baptism! It was kind of sad because literally like no one showed up, but it was still so wonderful. The spirit was so strong, and the man that was baptised just had a light about him and it was so so wonderful to see :)  Then we had to rush as fast as we could back to Uxbridge to make a dinner appointment with one of our less active members. She is very sweet and LOVES the sister missionaries. She has a slight {social/learning/mental} disability, and something that she has a BIG problem with is if you are not on time. It literally makes her so so sooooooo mad , so we made it just in time (thank goodness) and had a great dinner. So Saturday was a busy busy day, but it was also wonderful because just having the opportunity to share the gospel is WONDERFUL!

This picture just makes me laugh because we were at dinner at a 70-year-old single woman's home and she had this face cut out of Harry Styles hahaha

Then we jumped right into Sunday, which was once again a jam-packed day. We went to church in the morning and had some special self-reliance presentation from some Stake Leaders. After church we had ward council, which once again was talking about the self-reliance program, which is way cool, but they didn't really focus on the ways it could help out with missionary work too much, so we didn't have a huge role in the meeting... BUT we got some Brazilian food out of it, which is so so good. Oh, and one of the families in our ward came back from visiting Ghana and brought back all this stuff for Elder Sowah, so he gave us a big container of plantain chips and they were SO GOOD. Essentially they just tasted like potato chips, but I think any food after church on a Sunday is especially great haha. After church we went from appointment, to appointment, to appointment. But is is just so so GREAT to be busy. I love it.

And now we are going to the three-hour-long choir practice... Wooohoooooo... And then afterwards it's MISSION-WIDE FLAT CLEANING DAY WOOOOOHOOOOOO! Did I get your hopes up that it was going to be something super duper exciting?! I cannot even believe that we only have two weeks left of this transfer. I didn't really believe other missionaries that each transfer seems faster, but DANG this one is flying by! We have the sweetest American lady in our ward who invited us over for Thanksgiving, so I am seriously hoping I get to stay here!! And of course I just love this place and I really don't ever want to leave... Only time will tell I suppose.

I just want to end with a sweet little miracle that was very profound to me. We went to visit a family who is somewhat inactive, but the dad is completely inactive. They invited us in and I just felt prompted to share my favourite scripture - the one that is on my missionary plaque at home - 2 Nephi 31:20: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." As I read this scripture and shared my feelings, I focused on that in the footnotes the term steadfastness says Walking with God. Tears came to the dad's eyes and he said that it reminded him of his favourite story called "Footprints" (maybe? It's the story about the man who only sees one set of footprints and asks Christ why he wasn't there walking with him, and then he comes to discover that He was carrying him) and that he knew, even through this rough time, Christ was always with him and Heavenly Father is always listening. I loved this sweet little experience.

Well, I love you all! Have a fabulous week!

Love,
Sister Syddall

P.S. I have some fun pictures on my camera to share, but unfortunately haven't had the opportunity to use a computer to download them. Sorry for the lack of pictures!! I promise I'll send more in the future.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hallo-WEAK. Haha. So clever.

Aloha!!

So I've got a little story for you all that I think you'll find quite humorous, because I honestly don't know how I allowed myself to get in this situation. Last week we got an email asking if we would like to be a part of a Christmas missionary choir. Now if you know me, you know that choirs aren't really my thing. I tried it out freshman year in high school, joined in with the church choirs, and I just never really was into the whole sitting-for-an-hour-singing thing. People always seemed to point out how "thrilled" I looked when I was singing. And my voice, although I'm not completely tone deaf, is definitely not anything spectacular. BUT Sister Mekonnen really wanted to join, so I envisioned a big group of missionaries together singing fun little Christmas tunes, so I kindly obliged. We emailed back and said we would love to join. So we show up to our first rehearsal and there are literally like 15 of us. And most of the others are quite skilled. And these are songs I've never heard before and are so challenging. I really think I just looked like a deer in the headlights the whole rehearsal, but I survived. THEN we come to find out that we will be having 3-hour rehearsals every pday. Until Christmas. Like what the heckkkkkk. So now I'm stuck in this choir, and we find out it's a traveling choir. So this isn't just one concert that I have to endure through. Sister Mekonnen and I both were like "uhhhhhh this is not what we were expecting" but it's too late. We are stuck now. I'll be sure to keep you all updated on how this all goes down.

We had Halloween this week, which, let me just let you all know, is SO underwhelming here. Like we saw maybe 15 trick-or-treaters, and as we observed them going door-to-door I did not see ONE door open. How depressing, am I right?! I do miss the grand American Halloween, I must say. Appreciate your holidays, my friends! This weekend it's the 5th of November, which is "bonfire night" so apparently there will be lots of fireworks and fires. I've been told the meaning behind this holiday and apparently it's celebrating a man who failed at overtaking parliament...? So they killed him in a fire. Odd reason to have a holiday, if I do say so myself. But hey, I won't complain. Any reason to have fireworks is good enough for me.

I have also been declared as the official brownie maker for district meetings, which has been quite a test for my intelligence. Our week 1 attempt ended with a burnt finger and uncooked brownies = no brownies at district meeting. Week 2 was a success. Everyone was asking what my secret was to make these brownies, and I had two words for them: Betty. Crocker.

I have heard that I did not do a very sufficient job of updating you all on my new companion. So Sister Mekonnen and I get along GREAT. Like seriously, I love that girl so much already. We are realllllly crossing our fingers that we will get to be together another transfer so that we will be together for Christmas (and Thanksgiving because we have the BEST couple in our ward that celebrates it and said we are invited holllllla)! The funny thing is that she has a complete American accent, so, just like what always happened to Sister Bader, everyone always assumes that we're both from the States, and they are so taken aback when she says she's from Ethiopia hahaha.

This pday has turned into an interesting one... This morning at 7am we got a call from our bishop declaring that we and the Elders had an emergency service project. We came to find out that it was practically demolishing and remodeling the same home that we had "deep cleaned" a few weeks ago. We headed straight over and literally painted/cleaned/put up wallpaper all. day. long. But we DID get KFC out of it. Now we are just headed to a dinner appointment and that will make up our entire day haha. I literally ended up covered from head to toe in paint somehow, and so I'm gonna look real nice at dinner, but service is always good, right ladies and gents?! Even though we ended up missing our 3-hour choir practice... so I'll update you on that next week haha.

And now to end this letter that is being sent super duper late... Sister Mekonnen and I just got raw eggs thrown at us... lovely end to this tiring day.

But for some spiritual upliftment:

"Rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass." Gordon B. Hinckley

Love ya'll! Keep on rockin'!
Sister Syddall



Post post: A PICTURE!! From Sister Syddall (November 3) ~ I know you are going to be taken aback by receiving an email from me today... but we got special permission from President Stevens to do our pday activities today since our day yesterday was all used up! Here's a selfie for ya haha!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Colddddddd

Hello, hello, hello!

This week has been good, and I apologise in advance that this letter is a bit all over the place... but let's just get right into it!

This week we had another appointment with our investigator named Raymond, the young-looking grandpa, and let me tell ya, this guy is soooooo hilarious. I think we were laughing for about half of the lesson. At one point he asked us what our full time job was, and when we told him that this is what we do for 18 months, his eyes got about as big as the moon. He was SO taken back by the fact that we do this full time and even more amazed by the fact that we pay for it. But we have had really cool experiences with him. He told us that after reading the introduction of the Book of Mormon, he felt he needed to read it. He has a strong desire to know if it is true. We are so excited to continue to teach him how the gospel can bless his life.

I think this picture proves that missionaries might just be the most unphotogenic group of people on this planet hahaha.

On Friday this week my companion got sick, so it was my first day being stuck in the flat all. day. long. And since I was NOT feeling sick, I didn't feel like I could sit back and relax, so I cleaned. And cleaned some more. Listened to tons of conference talks. Updated our area book. Studied the scriptures. And by the end of the day I truly think I was more exhausted than on a normal day in the field. But hey, our flat looked dang good haha!

On Saturday night we gained an hour of sleep which was sooooooo nice. But the not so nice part is that Sunday night Sister Mekonnen and I literally thought it was like 8:30pm and we looked at the time and it was only 5:15, and we were both like WHAT?! And it was so SO cold. Let me tell ya, England cold is wayyyyyyy different than Colorado/Utah cold. It's humid and wet and just plain coldddddd. And it's not even winter yet hahaha. Poor Sister Mekonnen is not used to any sort of cold weather. She came out on the mission in March, so she just hit the end of last winter, but the cold literally makes her bones hurt. It's all ok when we bundle up nice and warm, though. I will just be practically living off of hot chocolate for the next 6 months.

Something I am not a fan of is whatever their garbage (or should I say rubbish) system is here. It is just not good at alllll. Pretty much you just throw your bags out whenever they're full, and then they just sit in the open until workers come by and throw them into the dumpster truck. By garbage day the streets are disgusting. Seriously, there is just tons of stuff throughout the streets and along the sidewalks, and I pretty much just feel like I'm being contaminated by breathing in the air. And people drop a ton of stuff, so there's always nasty food spilled everywhere. Good thing we have the lovely pigeons to clean that all up (can you sense the sarcasm there?). That is my random rant about garbage. Moving on.

On Sunday night we got to go to bishop's house for dinner, and like I've mentioned many times before, the food is soooooooo good there. We had a whole crowd from the ward over with us. We sang happy birthday to the bishop, and to give you an idea of the diversity, we sang it in SEVEN languages: English (woohoo! I'm so cultured haha), Portuguese, Italian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Spanish, and Amharic (go Sista Mekonnen). It took a good chunk of time, but it was still so cool!

How do you get kids to love you? Let them play with photo booth haha.

This week I read an AMAZING talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called The Grandeur of God. Elder Holland was recounting scriptures that give us an idea of God's love for each of his children. Beginning by recounting Enoch, he said,

"There, in the midst of a grand vision of humankind which heaven opened to his view, Enoch, observing both the blessings and challenges of mortality, turns his gaze toward the Father and is stunned to see Him weeping. He says in wonder and amazement to this most powerful Being in the universe, 'How is it that thou canst weep? ...Thou are just [and] merciful and kind forever; ...Peace...is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?'"

"Looking out on the events of almost any day, God replies: 'Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands. ...I gave unto them...[a] commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. ...Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?'"

"That single, riveting scene does more to teach the true nature of God than any theological treatise could ever convey. It also helps us understand much more emphatically that vivid moment in the Book of Mormon allegory of the olive tree, when after digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, 'What could I have done more for my vineyard?'"

"What an indelible image of God's engagement in our lives! What anguish in a parent when His children do not choose Him nor 'the gospel of God' He sent! How easy to love someone who so singularly loves us!"

This talk is seriously so. good. I suggest that everyone take 15 minutes to read it! God truly does weep for us when we suffer, and rejoices with us when we do what is right. He wants us to make those decisions that will bring us eternal happiness.

I love you all! I hope your upcoming week is magnificent!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Monday, October 19, 2015

Come what may, and LOVE it!

Hello! Howdy! Hola! Bonjour!

I hope that you have all had a fantastic week! My week started out a little rough, but through the hardships there are always lessons to learn, which is what life is all about, right?! Although the beginning was trying and hard, I definitely have felt an immense amount of love and comfort from my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. The power of prayer is real, people! Take advantage of that gift, it will turn those hard days into brighter ones, I can promise you that.

Now on the to big change that has happened this past week. I'm no longer with Sister Bader (sad day), and I am now with Sister Mekonnen, and can I just say she is SO amazing. We have already had so much fun together and we work hard, which is the perfect combination in a missionary companionship! We are so excited to hasten the work even further in Hayes. And I haven't gotten us super lost yet, which is success I would say (thank you iPads and google maps haha)! Oh, and she is the first missionary from Ethiopia to ever be called to England, so having had a Swiss, and now her, I would say I've been blessed with the coolest comps of them allllllll.  I am so pumped for what these next 5 weeks hold!


So the day of transfers I was all anxious and nervous and scared and sad to be saying bye to Sister Bader. How it works over here is that you get a call two nights before and they tell you what will be going on. Then we all gather at a train station (which, can I just say, is more confusing than an airport) and swap around our companions. The morning of the transfers we thought that we had given ourselves a good amount of time to get there at 9:15 in the morning, but we quickly realised that lugging around 150 lbs+ of luggage between two weak girls was not the easiest task hahaha. We finally got on the tube and were super stressed because we realised that we would be almost an hour late. But we were mainly glad that our arms didn't fall off in the process. Luckily, when we would get to the long flights of stairs there were kind people who would help us out because I can imagine we were a sight to behold. We finally got to the gathering place only to realise we didn't even need to be in a rush because many companionships were still not there. Then began the wait. We watched as the number of missionaries there trickled down. Then Sister Bader shot off with her new comp and I was with another Sister. And then one hour passed. Then two. Then another 30 minutes. At this point it was just me and that one Sister with the Zone Leaders. Finally our companions showed up (they were more than a 3 hour drive away from where we were meeting, so we were forgiving haha), and then it was another 2 hour trip lugging around even HEAVIER luggage. Oh, and I can't forget to mention that as we got on one of the trains, I hadn't held on yet and it took off and I went flying. FLYING I tell you, into this man, and stepped on his feet. Embarrassing? Yes. Needless to say, when we finally got back to the flat, we weren't too excited to carry everything up the stairs, but we survived! Then we realised we had to go grocery shopping, so yet another 30 minutes of carrying around stuff. My arms were straight up noodles when the day came to an end. Exercise the next morning was not very productive due to the fact that I couldn't put any weight on my arms hahaha. But I am almost back to no soreness, woohoo!!

The rest of the week consisted of finding and more finding and teaching and more teaching. The funniest thing is how confused investigators get when transfers happen, since generally they don't get a warning because WE don't even get any sort of warning. But everyone has just automatically loved Sister Mekonnen because she is just FUN. I am so pumped for these next five weeks! I was a little jealous of her, though, because she just got transferred from an Air Force base, so she was surrounded by my fellow Americans and they were all gearing up to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they just do holidays a LOT bigger in the good ol' U. S. of A. But I still love my Hayes friends, so I wouldn't want to leave them :)

The sweet Senior Sisters <3 please ignore my awkward hair bump haha

After hearing David A. Bednar's talk a few weeks ago, I decided to study and listen to each of those wonderful talks he spoke about that were the last talks of some of our beloved Apostles. I was studying Joseph B. Wirthlin's Come What May and Love It, and I loved his closing testimony: "I know why there must be opposition in all things. Adversity, if handled correctly, can be a blessing in our lives. We can learn to love it. As we look for humor, seek for the eternal perspective, understand the principle of compensation, and draw near to our Heavenly Father, we can endure hardship and trial. We can say, as did my mother, 'Come what may, and love it.' Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ." Although none of us are anxiously awaiting any of the trials that lay ahead, we can constantly be striving to love whatever comes our way. Even though it's not always easy to recognise, always look for what you can learn when hard times come.

I love you all! I hope you have a fabulous week!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aufwiedersehen

Helllllo everyone!

So I am sorry that last week I totally failed to inform you that it is transfers week and that I wouldn't be emailing until Tuesday... even though none of you were probably concerned haha... Ok, well, carrying on. So if you're on the edge of your seat just DYING to know what my fate will be for the next six weeks......................... (Is the suspense building?) well I will be staying in Hayes for my THIRD transfer and I am pumped! Sister Bader will be leaving which is the explanation of the title of this letter :'( but I will be getting a new companion named Sister Mekonnen and she is from Ethiopia! I am way excited to meet her, but I'm also flipping out a little on the inside because I am scared like none other since this area is HUGE and I feel like I'll never know how to get anywhere but that's life haha. This new transfer really creeped up on me. Like how on earth have two transfers already gone???!?! But hey, new things are exciting I guess! The motto I have heard from every. single. missionary. in. the. world. was that the days are long but the weeks are fast. That literally is the most accurate statement I have ever heard.
This is my missionary "family." Sister Bader is my mom, the eyebrows aka Elder Cook is my dad, and Elder Williams is my brotha. I find this whole family thing quite odd, but it's whatever hahaha. And also don't mind that my name tag is practically falling off.

Alright, so I've got a funny little story for y'all. A couple of weeks ago Sister Bader and I were tracting, ya know, just doing our thang, when we met this man named Raymond. He had just woken up when he answered the door so he asked if we could come back later. We tried him again and his family was all there so he asked if we could come back later. We tried him again and his family was all there so again he asked if we could come back. We tried yet AGAIN and he had a huge group of friends over, and so Sister Bader and I were like "Ok, we are going to try ONE MORE TIME" and so we went and he finally could let us in and talk to us! I was thinking every time that we met him that he was 25, maybe 26, but then he started talking and he was like "yeah, I just want to be the best example I can be to my kids and my grandson".... and we were like WUTTTTTT?????? So turns out he's like 10 years older than we had assumed. He's still a very young grandpa but it was seriously just mind boggling.

So this week we had the opportunity to do a service project for a less active member in the ward. We went to help her clean her home, and I am not passing any judgement here, but.... it was the messiest home that I have ever been in. I have never seen so many toys and clothes and shoes and dirty nappies and plates of old food in one place. Thankfully we recruited the help of the senior Sister missionaries in the ward, Sister Reeder and Sister McCann. They are seriously the funniest companionship everrrrrrr. We haven't really done much with them these past two transfers, but man-oh-man how much I regret that! Sister McCann is going home next week after serving in various missions for 4.5 years (she served in Nauvoo before London) and a new companion for Sister Reeder will come out. Luckily we've still got Sister Reeder to bring a whole lot of laughs. We all went to town cleaning that house. I have never seen people as fearless as those two in scraping off mould from the counters and picking up every single crumb off the floor (most of which were actually stuck to the floor). They were such a huge help and we finally made it possible for the member to have a kitchen table to eat on! I would measure that as a success. But it will be interesting to see the home's condition the next time we go to visit...
The prettiest little canal by our flat. Isn't it just the cutest?!?!?!

On Saturday morning we finally had the opportunity to watch the General Women's broadcast! Two weeks late is better than never, right? It seriously was so amazing. Beforehand the stake put together a breakfast with pancakes and eggs and bacon (which is way different than American bacon fyi) and beans that are essentially just in tomato sauce (pretty much their version of baked beans which is a staple breakfast item over here) and hot chocolate. It was so fun to talk to some sisters in the stake and be unified as we watched those inspired messages with others from all around the world (just at a completely different time haha).

Saturday night we had the exciting opportunity to have a lesson with a Jehovahs Witness. That was very interesting if I do say so myself. I don't know how familiar you are with that religious group, but they have some interesting views to say the least and it pretty much turned into her sharing with us about their church. That is not the first time that someone has tried to turn around and teach us, and I am just so glad that I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only church that has the complete fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I hear other people's beliefs, my testimony becomes more and more deeply rooted because it really just. makes. sense. It's as simple as that.

Sunday was Elder Warburton's birthday, so after church our bishop's wife ran up to us and was like "I didn't know it was his birthday!! Oh no, you all HAVE to come to dinner tonight to celebrate!" So after two appointments that we were very excited about, which BOTH happened to fall through (ah, the disappointment) we were able to end the night off with a delicious meal and fun times at Bishop's house! It's always a party when you're with a bunch of Brazilians and Italians hahaha. I also found out from Elder Sowah that my Ghanian name is "Yaa". I think it has a nice ring to it, so I may just go by that from now on hahaha.
The bishop's daughter made little party bags for Elder Warburton's party and they literally just had string in them hahaha but it was still so sweet.

Well.... that's about all I've got for this week. I'm sure that next Monday I'll lots of great stuff to excite you all with, since I'm sure this week will include a lot of getting lost and adjusting and learning! I love you all!

Sincerely,
Sister Syddall

Monday, October 5, 2015

Better than Super Bowl Sunday

Hello Friends and Family!!!

How's it going? It's been another superb week this week, and it has been SO sunny, which has just made me super happy. Besides today... it's been raining/misting/sleeting, but we {almost} made it a whole week with nice weather! I can tell winter is rapidly approaching, which is gonna be colddddd. Apparently it gets dark at like 4pm in the winter here, which is a bummerrrr, but I'm sure I'll adjust in no time!

So, what could be better than Super Bowl Sunday you may ask???? Well, my friends, GENERAL CONFERENCE SUNDAY is the answer! I have received quite a few questions pertaining to how general conference weekend works here with the time difference, so I will give you a little outline:

  • 5-7 pm on Saturday we watched the Saturday morning session live at the Stake Center
  • Sunday morning/afternoon we went to a member's home and watched the Saturday afternoon session and Priesthood session (and they fed us a proper English breakfast, and then a proper Ghanian lunch which was SO good)
  • Sunday night we went to our Bishop's home to watch the Sunday morning session live
  • Today we decided to meet up with some Elders and we will watch the Sunday afternoon session!
But oh. my. goodness. The talks that were given at conference were truly SO inspired. I could feel of the Spirit so strongly as I heard those messages. I can't even choose any specific talk that stood out to me the most because every single one held such precious truths! Of course I loved hearing from our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his comments about how we can let our light shine; "We become examples of the believers by living the gospel of Jesus Christ in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity... As we do so, our lights will shine for others to see." I love him, and the loving service and guidance he has given the church over all of these years! I also loved hearing the three new apostles that were called. I felt the Spirit so strongly witness to me that they were called of God as they bore their humble testimonies. I invite all of you to go to lds.org and read (or re-read) these inspired talks! I promise that they can inspire you, and answer questions that you have.

I got hit in the head by a pigeon this week and can I just reiterate... I. Hate. Pigeons. They are literally the dumbest birds on this planet and they just walk around like they own the world. They don't even fly away if you walk right next to them, so I'm constantly watching my step because I don't want to be a bird murderer. But my heart dropped to the floor when that dang bird hit me.

Hmmmmmm, so not much else happened this week out of the norm... I did visit a psychiatric ward, which was quite the experience. I've just got to say I have a lot of respect for doctors that work there because that is not an easy job. We've had some really good lessons this week... We've done some service... We had a zone meeting... And yeah, that is really all! The work keeps progressing and I still grow to love it more and more every day!

The whole zone... just like one big happy family :)

Now for some random facts:

I do not think that I will ever obtain a liking for fish. It just is not happening for me in the slightest, and we get fed it all. the. time. I feel bad telling people I dislike fish, so I just smile through the pain :,) I even tried shrimp, which in my opinion just tastes like rubber nothingness. One meal had three different types of fish in it, I could see the scales and all, and it seriously tasted like I put the whole dang ocean into my mouth. But I SURVIVED!

I also get asked regularly if I am from somewhere besides the United States. Generally people guess France, but hey, I'll take it. I'll just respond "oui" when people ask me lol.

Well everyone, that's all for this week! I hope you all have a fabulous week ahead!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Monday, September 28, 2015

Have a Nice Day!

Hello hello hello!

The weeks just keep on rollin, it seriously baffles me! They go quicker and quicker and I still learn soooooo much every day. It is truly amazing to see the change in myself in these {almost} three months. I have found that a mission truly makes you evaluate where your own testimony stands, and I am so grateful I have been able to truly ponder and reflect on that! I have been able to see what I can work on strengthening because I have found that there is always room for improvement - we are constantly being converted to the gospel throughout our entire lives.

Now that I've got that little rant out of the way, I'll get on with what's been going on in good ol' London!

Last P-day, like I had mentioned, we got to go see all the super touristy sights in London, which was quite fun. I've never been one who is super into looking at old buildings, but might I say, all of the architecture here is quite amazing.
 I know the quality of this selfie is top notch ;)

Oh, hey, Big Ben!


Of course we had to go where William and Kate were married!

We just kind of went all over the place, but it was still fun! And then to finish it off we went to this place called "My Old Dutch" where we got these HUGE crepes, and holy cannoli, they were soooooo good. There was just too. much. good. food.

My Old Dutch. The picture says it all.

Something else exciting that we had this week was interviews with President Stevens. It was great to get to be with him and Sister Stevens for the morning. Interviews are an opportunity for each of the missionaries to meet with President for about 15 minutes and just chat about all sorts of different things: how we've adjusted, how the area is doing, etc. And then when we are not being interviewed, we are getting a training from Sister Stevens. We discussed member missionary work with her once again, because that has been a hot topic in the mission recently. After President completed all of the interviews, he and Sister Stevens gave us another training on not having fear. 2 Timothy 1:7. Sister Stevens shared her experience of the first time that she spoke in General Conference and how nervous she was, but that as soon as she got up to speak she realised that there was no need to fear because the Lord was by her side. She and President Stevens truly illuminate the light of Christ, and are such an amazing example to me and each of the missionaries.

The rest of the week consisted of teaching, serving, finding. Just the basics of missionary work haha. Sister Bader and I are always busy but I have found that being super busy is the best way to be! I love being a missionary and I love everything that it has taught me thus far. I can already see how much it has blessed my life, and am so grateful to know that it will bless my life forever. To any of you folks who are going back and forth on whether or not you should serve a mission, I'm tellin ya, you will not regret it in the slightest.

I would have to say the funniest moment of this week was when we were teaching one of our investigators. Now this guy is so hilarious I can't even begin to explain how funny he is. But the best part of it all is that he is totally not trying to be funny and is so serious in all that he says. We teach him along with his girlfriend and she just thinks he's ridiculous half the time and rolls her eyes, which just adds to the humour. So as you can imagine, lessons are sometimes a bit challenging to get through promptly because he goes off on a random topic a lot, and I am just constantly trying to stop myself from laughing out loud. This past week I don't even know what we were talking about, but he went off on some tangent about spicy food. And then he goes, "You know how people like Beyonce get their bodies? They eat spicy food. That's all you gotta do, just eat spicy food." I started laughing like a fool, but he assured me that he was serious. So if I come home looking like Beyonce, just remember it was the spicy food that did it ;) hahahaha

To explain my subject line... The Book of Mormon musical is a pretty big thing in this neck of the woods, so there are advertisements EVERYWHERE. They say, "Have a nice day!" or "I <3 Mormon." I seriously love all of the advertisements and so I had to take a picture by one obviously. And the best part is that literally every time we are rejected we just yell, "Have a nice day!" so they were quite accurate with that one hahaha.


Now for a little spiritual upliftment for the week: "Sometimes the Saviour calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms you." --Carol B. Thomas

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love hearing from everyone!

Love,
Sister Syddall

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Get Ahead of Yourself

Another week has come and goneeeeeeeee everybody! I'm sorry that this letter is going to be a bit shorter than most, but our district is going to see the sights of London today!! Woooooohoooooo I can officially check that off of my tourist list! And apparently we will be eating some super good food so be prepared, you might get a whole paragraph about that next week haha.

The whole mission. Don't you love how colourful the sisters are??

Where's Waldo Sister Syddall?


I'll just roll right into some highlights from this past week!

So a cool little miracle that happened was on Wednesday. It rained literally ALL day long (like I've said, my rain boots have saved my life since I've been here) and we were just cruisin along on our way to a member's home for dinner. While we were walking through town we passed this man and he had a hood on so we didn't really recognise him as someone we knew, but all of a sudden we heard, "Hey, church girls!!! Why didn't you stop by for the lesson?" So we turned around and it ended up being a guy named Jerome we had met like two weeks earlier. The first time we met him and his girlfriend they told us we could stop by to teach them a lesson and gave us a house number, but we could NOT find it, so we had figured that they probably gave us a fake address. It ended up being our bad all along. Oops. Now we will meet with them and we are super pumped!

Another exciting event that happened this week is that we had exchanges. I had to stay in my area and lead a Sister Training Leader around. Holy cannoli I was sooooo nervous, because if you know me, you know that I am literally the most directionally challenged person that has ever walked on this earth!! It doesn't really help that the area we cover is very very large and you have to know a billion buses and the right tube to take, and then on top of that just feeling like a deer in the headlights because I'm still pretty fresh in the mish. BUT it actually ended up being so so good! I was with Sister Nebeker and she was so sweet. Even when I couldn't find the road we were supposed to tract (I have also discovered that I am no good at reading maps lol), we ended up going somewhere else and found some really great Potential Investigators, and I truly think we were where we needed to be! A funny side story - if you are familiar with mission rules, you are not supposed to hug anyone of the opposite gender, so while we were walking to an appointment we were just talking to people along the way and we met this superrrrr tall man (like probably 6'7"ish) and he was just super smiley and happy and so excited to be talking about God. Then he established that he was Muslim and wasn't interested in hearing more, but he just HAD to give us hug because we were spreading a good message. So Sister Nebeker and I just stood there super awkwardly while this large man hugged us. We just started cracking up because it was just so odd but so hilarious at the same time.

After I survived the exchange with Sister Nebeker


We had a district meeting and it was the first one with the new district! It was super fun to see all of the new missionaries and hear how they are adjusting to the missionary life, since I'm practically already a veteran (hahahaha just kidding, just kidding). But really, it is crazy how much change you see in one transfer! And I still have so so sooooooo much to learn but I love being able to see that progress that I can make every day, even if it is just little by little. Back to district meeting and a random side note that I found hilarious which probably won't come off nearly as hilarious... but oh well haha. We were talking about exercise in the morning and our district leader goes "It isn't a good workout unless you are sweating by the end of it" and then our zone leader goes "Yeah sometimes I like to just turn on the shower and sit there in the steam." We all just lost it hahahahahaha ALL OF THE MISSIONARIES ARE SO GREAT.

The new district! Sister Bader and I decided we would sit since we are taller than every single one of them hahahahaha

Another random tidbit that I found funny this week was we were at the house of a family in the ward who is moving back to the states in a week (booooo), and they were giving us loads of stuff that they couldn't take back with them. They pull out some American lined paper and Sister Bader just about flipped out - she thought it was the greatest thing ever hahaha it was so funny.

A quote from President Thomas S. Monson that I read this week and LOVED said, "Can we not appreciate that our very business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves? To break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our todays, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we have never given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever -- this is the true idea: to get ahead of ourselves." We should be focusing on bettering ourselves and not focused on trying to be better than other people. As long as we are trying our best and doing everything we can to "get ahead of ourselves" we will lose that tendency to compare ourselves to what other people are accomplishing. We should strive to develop the ability to feel true happiness for others when they accomplish great things, and not let it make us feel inadequate. We are all truly magnificent in Heavenly Father's eyes, and he has blessed each and every one of us with talents and gifts that are unique. As we better ourselves we will recognise those gifts and it will bless us and the lives of others so much!

Well, I love you all lots! I hope your week goes wonderfully and that all is well!

Love,
Sister Syddall