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!

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!

Sister Syddall

Monday, September 14, 2015

I Believe in Miracles!

Helllllloooooo Everybody! What's up?!

So I think I'll just start right off by writing about the amazing miracle we have seen this week. I believe it was two weeks ago that I told you about the woman who asked us if she could come to our church [even though she was active in another church]. But I should actually start from the wayyyyy beginning. This woman was a referral from a recent convert. Sister Bader and her previous companion had challenged this new convert to just give a pass along card to a friend. She happily agreed and gave it to her closest and dearest friend, and her friend was willing to meet with us, but made it very clear that she had her own church that she was very happy with. Now fast forward past the experience of her coming to church with her grandson and asking if she could come to our church. Sister Bader and I were just eating lunch on Wednesday and we get a text from our recent convert saying... HER FRIEND WANTS TO GET BAPTISED!!!! She wants to meet with us and take the rest of the lessons as soon as possible! Ahhhhhh Sister Bader and I were freaking out for a good 15 minutes. This was seriously such an AMAZING miracle! I have to say that one of my favourite parts of the mission is definitely seeing the happiness and joy that the gospel brings to people's lives! I love sharing it with everyone and seeing the progression as they begin to develop a testimony of the gospel. Ahhhhh the church is so true!

I have to say that one of the funniest moments of the week was when we went to visit a super sweet old sister in our ward. She is in her 80's and is unable to come to church, so we go to visit with her and read the Book of Mormon with her. While Sister Bader and I were visiting with her, we somehow got on the topic of favourite colours and we were all talking about how great the colour pink is, and then the older sister says, "Pink makes the boys wink - that's why I wear it!" I was just cracking up because I did not expect that at all hahaha.

On Saturday night we had a farewell party for one of the young men in the ward who will be leaving on his mission to Honduras in a couple weeks. Elder Sowah thought that it would be a grand idea to do a musical number, so Sister Bader and I so kindly obliged. We seriously practiced for like two minutes before, and it was so funny because Elder Sowah was playing the piano SO LOUD you could not even hear us singing at all so it was just awkward haha. Afterwards people were like "hey, good job! We couldn't really hear you singing... but you were all smiling!" lol

Sorry I don't have a ton to say this week... so I'll share another word that is different here that really threw me for a loop... they call a flashlight a torch. We were at a member's home and one of them was like "ahhh, there's a spider" and the mom was like "oh just go get a torch and kill it" and not going to lie, I was just a wee bit concerned that they were going to pull out this fire torch and light up the spider in the house hahaha. Then they came in with a flashlight and I felt like a fool, but hey, that happens to me at least once every day.

Something that I came across this week in my study was in a talk by Randall L. Ridd called "Living with Purpose: The Importance of Real Intent." There was a quote that really stood out to me. He said, "Don't spend time focused on climbing a mountain only to discover you climbed the wrong one." It just made me realise how important it is to be focused on the right things. Put the Lord first in your life and try to always strive to do what He would want you to do, and focus on what He would want you to focus on. If we do that, we will not have to face the feeling of energy wasted on something that did not deserve the time.

Well I hope that you all have a wonderful week! Thank you for the support and prayers! I love you all!

Sister Syddall

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Be Happy!

Hello friends and family!

It has been another wonderful week! They just seem to pass by faster and faster! Soooo let me try my best to recount what has been going on across the pond.

On Thursday this week we had to go shopping for a sister in our ward because she has been super sick. We went over there expecting her to need one or two items, but then she hands us a whole long list of things she needs. So we start making our way to the grocery store and we are walking. And then we keep walking. And then we walk some more, and FINALLY reach the store. Since neither Sister Bader or I are from England, we have no idea what half the stuff on her list is, and the grocery stores here just have less order altogether. So it took us more than an hour to find all of these items, and of course the last item on the list was kitty litter. Let me tell you folks, kitty litter is NOT light. So on top of the 5 million other items, we had to lug this huge thing of litter back to her house and the walk felt like an eternity. I can imagine we were quite the sight for sore eyes as we had to stop every 2 seconds to readjust how we were holding the bags. When we finally made it back, both of our arms were noodles. I could barely open the door handle as we were leaving. On top of that, it ended up taking us like 3 hours. But I survived! And it was super great to make the sister in our ward happy!

On Friday we had our zone meeting! I am no longer the baby of the group, woohooooooo! Practically every companionship has a brand new Elder and it is really funny to see how worried and unsure they look and to think how I was in that exact same situation 6 weeks ago. I am truly convinced that you never learn as fast as you do on a mission! It's been really cool to see that change in myself, and I am looking forward to improving more and more every single day!

 The new Watford Zone!

The lovely Sistassss

That night we had an FHE with a family from our ward and it was super fun! Since they are from America-the-Beautiful, they gave us root beer floats for dessert, which is super unusual here because you can't find rooter ANYWHERE since all the English folks think it tastes like medicine. But that was great. I don't know why I always feel that it's necessary to write about food haha, but yeah... OK, moving on.

Sunday was fast Sunday, which is always a favourite of mine! There's not much that's more powerful than hearing others bear their testimonies about the gospel. Being here in Hayes is super cool because everyone comes from very different backgrounds and different cultures. To give you an idea of what it's like, we heard from a few Brazilians, a Chinese sister, a Bulgarian, a couple of Americans, and of course the English natives. For real, it is so cool. I love it here so much.

On Monday we had a mission wide conference! It was so fun to meet soooooo many missionaries! I do not remember 90% of their names, but ahhhh they are all so nice and fun! We had the pleasure of hearing from Brother Clayton Christensen and Sister Christensen. They are both so amazing, wow! He attended BYU, then Oxford, then Harvard... talk about accomplished. He had a stroke which caused him to lose his ability to speak and has relearned completely. He also went through chemotherapy for cancer, which made him lose all feeling in his feet, and he still teaches and works so hard! Truly inspiring. The conference was focused on member missionary work and helped us as missionaries come up with ideas to work with our members more effectively. The spirit was so strong throughout the whole meeting and I truly loved it. We took a whole mission picture out in the city and I can only imagine that seeing a whole herd of missionaries shuffling through London was quite a site haha. (I don't have the whole mission pic yet! I will get it to you as soon as they post it to us!)

At the beginning of this week Sister Bader and I were kind of at a stand-still. We weren't able to find any new people and no one wanted to listen to us and we were just working so hard. Our district leader called us one night and it looked like it was the case for the whole district. At the end of the phone call he said, "Alright, Sisters, I want you to get your planners out and write something for tomorrow. Alright, are you ready? BE HAPPY!" It was a great reminder that even when times are a little rough and things aren't progressing as quickly as we would like them to, we just need to keep working hard and BE HAPPY! So that is my invitation to all of you. Write that down somewhere you will see it and simply try your hardest to be happy :)

Hmmmmmmm, now for some random business:

I have stepped on two snails recently and the sound haunts me. When it rains here, rather than a bunch of worms all over the place, there are tons and tons of snails, and so stepping on them is sometimes just unavoidable, unfortunately.

Since no one here knows anything about American football, they are all quite impressed and under the impression that I am sooooo sporty when I tell them about like the 3 things I know about the game lol. I'm going to see how long I can carry on this impression that I know my stuff about sports.

All of the missionaries that are from somewhere other than the United States just think that Subway is the bees knees because it is just SO GOOD. It makes me chuckle because that is where people want to go eat. Well, either that or McDonald's. Ahhhhh the luxury hahaha.

Well... that's all for this week, I suppose! I hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Sister Syddall

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1 Transfer: COMPLETE

Howdy ya'lllllllll

I hope that your week has been magnificent. Marvelous. Fabulous. Wonderful. Fantastic. It has been yet another great week here in good ol' England, and if you're wondering why this is a day late, it is because we had dun, dun, dunnnnnnnnnnn...... Transfers! Yes folks, I have indeed made it through one whole transfer out here on the mish. And if you are all on the edge of your seats wondering where I will be going... I GET TO STAY IN HAYES!!! I am seriously soooo so happy that I get to spend another 6 weeks with Sister Bader and the wonderful amazing people here. And it is just so crazy to me to see how much I have learned and progressed in just these six weeks. And I still know there is so so sooooooooo much more learning for me to do, but I am PUMPED for what's ahead!
Last Sunday with the whole Hayes crew together! Elder Convey will be leaving to train and Elder Sowah will also train a new missionary here in Hayes. Actually, every Elder in my district will be training a new missionary, so I will no longer be the newbie, hollllllla

So what are some of the highlights from this week hmmmmm... Well I have had my first challenging dinner to make it through. I am not really one to handle spice very well and this meal was the spiciest food I have ever had in my entire life. By the end of it I couldn't even taste anymore. My taste buds were just toast hahaha. Poor Sister Bader was literally crying from how spicy it was. But indeed, we did live to tell the tale.

I don't think I've ever mentioned, but there is a Five Guys right by where we live, and we went there this week. Wow, it just felt like I was right back in the U S of A. I may have even shed a tear as I was eating the deliciousness (just kidding... maybe...) but it is so flippin' expensive here! Like £11 for the meal, which is about $16 in the U.S. which is just ridiculous. But still so so worth it. I can't believe I just wrote an entire paragraph about going to Five Guys, but it was an important event.

A little miracle that happened this week was that last Sunday we had a woman at church, and she brought her little grandson. She is already a devout Baptist and has made it well known to us, but her grandson LOVED church. There was a baptism after church that they got to watch and he was asking how old he has to be to be baptised. Then the real miracle happened after that, when the grandson opened up about problems that had been going on at home, so they were able to get that sorted out. Then the woman asked if we could find missionaries that were located near her daughter, and then she said, "I know I shouldn't have two churches... but could I maybe come to your church as well?" And we were like YESSSSS. So that was cool.

Another great great event this week was that we got to go to a piano concert at the Hyde Park chapel! It was so beautiful. I got to see the Thiesses, which was such a treat! Elder Thiess gave me my patriarchal blessing and I was SO grateful that I was able to see them! They are the sweetest couple ever.

My favourite quote that I came across this week was one by President Gordon B. Hinckley. He said, "We will be looked upon as a peculiar people who have found the key to a peculiar happiness." I have found this quote to be sooooo true since I have been out on my mission. As I wear a badge with the name of Christ on it I get sooooo many odd stares but I LOVE that! I love being a representative of Christ and being one of those "peculiar people."

I hope you all have a fabulous week! I love you all and I love hearing from all of you!!!

Sister Syddall