So this is my first week of emailing, and I must say that with how slow of a typist I am, it is going to be a struggle replying to everyone, so I am sorry if I don't get back to you right away!! But don't stop emailing! I absolutely LOVE hearing from everybody!
So far the MTC experience has been an AMAZING one! I really don't understand why the MTC has such a bad rep! (But I do understand if you have to stay for more than 2 weeks because that would just be tiring!) And I may be a little bit biased because I am only around a group of about 40 people rather than 1000 at the Provo MTC! But getting here was one hectic journey!
So long story short, ALL United Airlines went down just as I was about to take off on my first flight, so it threw off my entire day of traveling. I was traveling alone from Denver to Chicago to New Jersey, and then knew that I would meet up with a group of missionaries. My first flight was wayyyyy delayed so I BARELY made the second flight. So when we were on the way from Chicago to New Jersey, the weather was bad and we just had to fly around. Then we had to land in Ohio and wait. At this point I knew that I would be cutting it VERY close for the flight from New Jersey to Manchester. When we landed (and I was STILL alone), I ran as fast as I could to the gate, but I missed the flight. By 2 minutes. I was crushed because I was alone and had no phone or way of contacting anyone. I was trying to borrow other people's phones, but the Missionary Travel Services line that was supposed to help if this happened didn't pick up! So it's safe to say I started freaking out because I am not one that was used to traveling so I had no idea what to do. I had to wait in this customer service line for about 3 hours... when I saw the greatest sight I have ever seen: six other missionaries!! I was SOOOOOOO happy and so I ran over to them, and (lucky for them) since I had been waiting in the line so long, we got to go right up to my spot in the front and figure it out! What was annoying was that all of those missionaries had come from Denver to New Jersey, so I was just like why the heck did I not get to go with them??? But we ended up staying in a hotel and everything worked out the next day. I met some awesome Sisters and got pretty close with one named Sister Bills and she is actually my friend Tarryn's companion! (Tarryn was my RA from BYU this past year - it's been awesome to have a familiar face around here!) I think it's safe to say I am SO glad I shouldn't have a need to be on an airplane for another 18 months!
Here is the group of girls that missed the flight the first night. From left to right: Sister Phillips, Sister McFarland, Sister Gwilliam, and Sister Bills. And me. So glad these girls were with me!
Flying into Manchester... finally! Everything is so green!
The missionaries that had made the first flight to Manchester got to kind of relax for the first day, but the rest of us had to jump right into things, which was tiring! But my district is FANTASTIC! I am in a trio companionship with Sister Mathews and Sister Nyakoh. Sister Mathews is from Nevada. She went to BYU this past year, too, but we never met. She is serving in London as well! Sister Nyakoh is originally from Ghana, but then moved to Belgium, and was called to serve in the Belgium/Netherlands mission. Something interesting about her is that she actually served in the mission field before coming to the MTC because of visa problems, so she is PRO! Both of my companions are so, so great and we get along so well! The Elders in my district are Elders Skinner, Barton, Tobon (from Colombia), Batalla (from Argentina), Nakayimo (probably spelled wrong haha - from Japan), and Salsbury. All of the Elders in our district are so dedicated and great. And we all have so much fun together, too!
Sister Mathews, me, and Sister Nyakoh.
My district: Elder Salsbury, Elder Nakayimo, Sister Mathews, THE FRIENDLY GIANT, Sister Nyakoh, Elder Tobon, Elder Batalla, Elder Skinner, Elder Barton.
I would have to say a highlight of every day is after Elder Nakayimo and Salsbury teach a lesson to their "investigators" (who are actually our teachers), Elder Nakayimo either comes in with a HUGE smile on his face, or he lays face down on the floor. That's how we can tell if their lesson went well or not. It is seriously the FUNNIEST thing and he just gets us all laughing so hard! We can all relate because all of us have had some lessons that went less than fantastic... but we are all learning more and more every day and all growing spiritually, which is really amazing to see!
These are all the London and London South Missionaries. There are some Germany and Greece missionaries in the MTC but they are not in the picture :(
The food here is way good, but everything is SO HEAVY. It's either some meat in stew, or breaded meat, or fried meat, or just MEAT, so we are definitely grateful for our exercise time in the day - haha.
The MTC president's name is President Preston, and he and his wife are just amazing people!! They love all of the missionaries so much and are just so adorable! Talking to them or hearing from them is always a delight. Sunday was definitely my favorite day thus far because we got to hear from 5 randomly chosen missionaries (escaped THAT one), and President and his wife. Pretty much all day was just spiritually edifying! And there was no pressure to be learning and teaching a ton, so it was just great!
Me and Sister Aubuchon! She was my RA at school.
I can hands down say Preston, England is the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have EVER seen! Literally all you can see when you look outside is green and flowers - it just makes me so happy! We have had a couple of days that it has just rained and misted all day. The weather is the perfect temperature in the summer! I truly loveeeeeee it! We are right next to the Preston Temple, which is also sooooo beautiful! We actually had the opportunity to go and do a session today, which was a wonderful experience!
On our walk over to the temple...
The Preston England Temple... it's BEAUTIFULLLLL
Lily pads are everywhere here... is this place even real life?!
Me and Sister Nyakoh
It is so fantastic to see this group of missionaries here. Even though we are all SO different, we all still just get along so well. We are practicing a musical number where we sing I Am a Child of God in our native language (woohoo English! haha)... there are NINE different languages we are singing! This is such an amazing time to meet people from all different places and all different walks of life. AHHHHHH! I just love it :-)
On Sunday night we had the chance to watch a devotional by David A. Bednar from an address he gave at the Provo MTC in 2009. It was called, "Is it the Spirit or is it Just Me?" The advice he gave us on that question was to QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT. He told us that we just need to press forward with faith and do what comes to our mind, because if we are being good, we will act correctly. He also said that at some points you may not realize you are receiving a spiritual prompting. Even when you act on it, you may not realize the impact it has made. I LOVED this message and think that everyone can just remember they need to PRESS FORWARD and ACT on those thoughts you have (as long as they are positive) because amazing things can come out of it! That's my little spiritual thought for you :-)
I apologize that this letter is all over the place, but I hope it gives you a glimpse of what is going on across the pond (haha)! If you didn't get anything out of it... just know that things are hectic around here!
Love you all! Thank you so much for the support, prayers, and emails!
Love, Sister Syddall
P.S. I just thought I would let you all know I had my first experience going to a store here - it was England's version of Walmart and everything is SO different. AND I can't use my curling iron or straightener here, which stinks. Driving here is like reallllllly scary - like Utah x 10 (I am so scared for when I have to drive). AND I'm sitting next to a missionary named Sister England and she's from England... quite ironic! I hope your morning is going well - we are about to eat dinner (haha). LOVE YOU ALL!