Monday, February 29, 2016

Short and Sweet

Well, folks, I'm sorry to say it but there was not anything particularly riveting that happened this past week, hence the title "short and sweet" because that's probably what this email will be! But I'll try to think of a few of the highlights :)

On Tuesday we got to go to lunch with the hilarious Chinese sister in the ward, and she brought along her husband (he's a less active member, VERY English, almost 80 years old), who Sister Smith and I were a little bit scared of because last time he had to give us a lift somewhere he said "if you could not ask for a lift again that would be great, because it is a great inconvenience" and then we proceeded to sit in super awkward silence for the rest of the ride... BUT it was finally made clear to us this day that it was just his very dry sense of sarcasm! Love that English humour! Honestly though, I really find those type of people hilarious now, and it was nice to cut the awkward tension from the first time meeting him. Just shows that first impressions can be completely wrong! And we got to eat at a Chinese buffet that was SO GOOD. I'm still dreaming about it.

A random picture for good measure.
(I don't think Sister Smith likes pictures... just an observation from Lo's mama)

Hmmmmm.... what else... we had a dinner appointment on Wednesday night with the Steiners. Funniest. family. ever. To give you an idea of how it usually goes, we talked about the way we would choose to die (Bro. Steiner's chosen way was to drown in a pool of peanut butter), talked about if there was a zombie apocalypse (Sis. Steiner would be very pumped to hunt some zombies), Sister Smith's and Sister Steiner's distaste for hugging... you name it. It's just so funny all the time. After we concluded the message, their daughters kept licking each other's arms (don't ask me why) and so I was like "hey! did you know if you lick someone's elbow they can't feel it?!" and they were all like "wait, really?!" and then they all proceeded to lick each others elbows, and then they were like "WAIT A MINUTE. Are you just trying to make us look stupid?!" I assured them I was not kidding (seriously people, try it) and so Sister Steiner was like "okay girls, one of you come up and lick my elbow but don't let me know when you are going to do it" So as she's closing her eyes, her husband is gesturing to me and Sister Smith to come and do it and that he would give us £5. Sister Smith was apprehensive, so I took one for the team and snuck up to lick the elbow. It was successful, and she did not feel it, but of course everyone was laughing and so Sister Steiner was like "I have a feeling that was NOT one of my daughters..." If none of this story made sense, I apologise, but it was quite humorous. I didn't get the £5 though haha.

Yesterday we were booked back to back for dinner appointments. Again. Story of my life. At the first appointment we were at a home with nine cats. Wonderful setting for my allergies. We found out that the mum of the family had given birth on the couch we were sitting on. Niceeeeeee. And then we speed-walked right to the next dinner appointment. I'm surprised I did not explode.

I realise, once again, that this entire email is about food... Wow, I need some more exciting material. I'll try better next week fellas. Let's end this on a spiritual note:

"We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that it. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Strive to be grateful in all circumstances! Trust in the Lord. Trust in His will. Press forward with faith and hope! Love you all!

Sister Syddall

P.S. I now realise that this is not that short and sweet...

Monday, February 22, 2016

On the Mend

Howdy everybody!

How are you all doing? I hope that you are all doing wonderfully, and that you have had just a marvelous week!

Last week I mentioned that I had a cough that was just nasty but not affecting me, and that I thought I was on the mend... boy oh boy, was I WRONG. The cough developed into some nasty virus thing that literally made me feel like I was just hit by 1000 bricks. I don't even think I am exaggerating when I say this is the worst I have felt in a very very VERY long time. Possibly even in my life (ok maybe that's exaggerating a lil bit). I'm talking constant fever, the feeling of swallowing razor blades, inability to taste anything, shivering, stiff neck (this was the weirdest part... I literally couldn't move my head), pain in the abdomen, pain in the back, stiff joints, coughing, running nose, toothaches. The works. I had quite a few consecutive sleepless nights. Now if I was at home I would have just hibernated for a few days, but due to the fact that this is Sister Smith's last transfer, I could not live with the thought of making her stay inside all day, so I just took lots of Paracetamol and braced the cold, wet days and pressed on.

Then one morning I was reading through the health book they give us, and it says "if you are experiencing... [every symptom I listed above] with a fever, call your mission president's wife immediately." Then I was like "OH NO, AM I DYING?" (so dramatic, I know), so I call up Sister Stevens and she was like "well, let's just keep an eye on it and if it gets any worse, let me know." And then of course, proceeding that I began to feel much better haha. It always seems that right when you make a fuss about it to someone, you begin to feel better. I am now actually feeling much MUCH better and can officially say I am on the mend! The fever is gone, the aches are diminishing, and I don't feel as much brain fog, which is very refreshing!

Due to the fact that my mind has been a hazy mess all week, I don't remember anything in particular that really stood out. There were some painful meal appointments due to the fact that swallowing was almost impossible. We talked to lots of people, hopefully planting some seeds in their hearts. BUT I do remember a great lesson we had with an investigator named Andrew. Lemme tell you a little bit about him. He referred himself to us through the church website a few weeks back. When we met him he told us that he had just recently married a woman who lives in the States and she is a member of the church. She is currently living there, and he is here trying to obtain a visa so he can move over there. He just wanted to find out a bit more about the church, and so ever since then we have been teaching him and we have been seeing a great change! It started out as more just him learning information, but the message has truly began to touch his heart. He is progressing so much, and as we met with him this week, we extended him a date to be baptised. We originally extended the date for March 12th, but then he proceeded to say "well... I would really love to have my wife here for my baptism" and we were like oh dang, she's in Oregon, that's going to be rough but then he was like "you might actually get to meet her! She's coming in on the 17th!" so we were like "OH! the 19th! the 19th!" and so he will be praying about that date to see if it feels right. Please keep him in your prayers!

Sunday was sooooo great! We had a wonderful spirit-filled sacrament meeting. Andrew was there and he has really connected very well with the members. Favourite comment made by him:

Member: "Are you a member?"
Andrew: "Not quite yet, but I'm working on it!"

A big focus at church this week was the Holy Ghost. Sister Smith and I had the pleasure of being told we were teaching Gospel Principles at the last minute (which isn't new, so we pretty much just expect it now haha) and the topic was none other than... the Holy Ghost! Man oh man, it was just the funniest lesson ever. The grouping of people that come to this class are a very funny bunch. We have our ward mission leader who is from Africa, Kathy the hilarious Chinese woman, we had the only two youth in the whole ward because their teacher wasn't at church, one of the youth's mother (also a hilarious woman), and Andrew. We are going through our lesson and ask people to share experiences where the Holy Ghost has influenced them. Kathy goes on to tell a hilarious story about when she wore a helmet because she had a prompting to, and then she went down the wrong side of a ladder (at this point we were all just laughing so hard because that is SO something Kathy would do) but the helmet stopped her from banging her head into the wall. And then she said "well actually... I still did bang my head into the wall, but it would have hurt a lot worse if I didn't have the helmet!" Then our ward mission leader goes on to tell us about when he was a sheep herder in Africa, and a leopard showed up, but that he just felt at peace, so "I just walked along beside it, looking it in the eyes, and then we parted ways." We were all just like WHAT?! He was just so chill about this story, like it was no big deal hahaha! It was an entertaining class.

So sorry I practically only talked about being sick and Sunday, but that's about all I can really remember! I will attach a random picture I forgot to send weeks back when we went to London, but I just love it so I gotta send it. Love you all! Have a fantastic week! Make the most of every single day!

I <3 Mormon and Big Ben 

Bonus picture: one of Sister Smith and me for good measure haha (don't mind the messy flat oops)

Sister Syddall

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Stevenage for another 6

Hello friends! I hope you all had a wonderful, love-filled Valentine's Day! I LOVE Y'ALL

So if you can't tell from my very obvious heading to this letter, I will be staying in Stevenage for another transfer! I am WAY pumped to see what Sister Smith and I will be able to accomplish. We are teaching some wonderful people, and we are so excited to help them progress towards baptism. Oh, and another thing I am WAY pumped about is that I get to kill Sister Smith! I know that sounds very odd, but in the good ol' missionary lingo that means that I will be the one to send her back to her mother land of UTAH. I truly have already learned so much from her and am looking forward to see what more I can learn in the coming weeks.

Alright, so as I think back on this week, I realise that it has been packed full to the brim, so I'm just going to try and think of the highlights! The first highlight of the week is that we had a special conference with President Stevens and one other zone about the missionary broadcast from a few weeks back, AND I GOT TO SEE MY MISSION MOM! Seeing Sister Bader was seriously so so great! It was way funny to see her face as Sister Smith walked in, she was practically in tears seeing us two haha. She said "Whenever I see a previous companion, all of these memories just come flooding in, and seeing two at the same time makes me feel like I'm in a dream!" Hahaha, I miss that girl so much! She's a funny one. And I got to see the Thiesses once again, which was such a treat! Sister Thiess is just about the sweetest human ever! Oh, and I have to mention that at the beginning of the meeting they announced that I would be conducting the music, no warning whatsoever, and then I couldn't get a hymn book, so I didn't know the words or the count for that matter, and it was just all one big mess! Luckily I was a bit more prepared for the closing hymn.

Sister Bader and I are just a wee bit taller than Sister Guimaraes haha. 
And Elder Packer with a nice photo bomb.

Another... well... I wouldn't necessarily say highlight... was after district meeting this week when we went to Nando's (some chicken restaurant). I have been sick all week, and it was probably at its worst on this day. I was coughing practically every time I talked and my nose was like a constant stream (nice picture in your mind, right?) and I just had this really bright idea to try this "x" sauce this place had. Each of the Elders were trying it and saying it wasn't that bad, so I was just like "alright, why not give it a try?" It was a BIG MISTAKE. Right when I ate it I couldn't really feel anything, but then a few moments later something was triggered and I was coughing for a solid 5 minutes and only one of my two eyes was watering like CRAZY. Seriously, just a constant flow of tears down my face. To make matters worse, I was sitting in the middle of a bench and had a wall right behind me and had no way of escape, and Elder Leite did not think to move to let me out, so I was just trying to hold back this nasty cough and also turn around and cover my mouth. Everyone seemed to get a good chuckle out of it, though, so I guess I am glad I was able to be some comic relief for everyone haha. It was quite a fiasco though ahhhhhaha.

Something way funny happened with one of our investigators named Marston. We were following up with him to see if he had been doing his reading. He uses the Gospel Library app, and he was like, "yeah, I have been! But as I was reading through, I somehow ended up on something about missionaries...?" And then he proceeded to quote back from memory our daily schedule. He had somehow ended up on Preach My Gospel and just went on reading it. We all started dying laughing hahaha. It was way funny.

Highlight number... 4 is it? We were tracting, ya know, doing our thang, and were just getting a whole lot of "not today", "I don't want to be Mormon", doors shut in the face, when we happened upon this one door and a girl about our age answers. She told us she was just about to go to town, but that we could go ahead and walk along with her. We had a great conversation, and she had a lot of wonderful questions. Just as we reached town where we were going to part ways, we asked her what her name was, and she said Emma, and then we proceeded to tell her our names, and after Sister Smith says her name, Emma is like, "hey, I'm a Smith too!" THAT'S RIGHT LADIES AND GENTS. We are going to be teaching an Emma Smith. Did we think this was way cooler than the average human probably would? Yes. Yes we did. But it was still awesome.

Sister Smith pre pierced ears haha.

On Saturday morning we had a Relief Society breakfast and this Elderly Chinese sister (the funniest person I think I've met in my whole entire life), was talking about earrings, and noticed that Sister Smith did not have her ears pierced. Then she was like "OH lets go on your pday to get your ears pierced!" So what did we do this morning? That's right. We went to Claire's and Sister Smith got her ears pierced. She took it like a champ, no watery eyes or anything. I'm so proud of her haha.

Well, if you've made it to the end of this crazy long email, congratulations. Here is a nice uplifting quote for you all:

"Courage is not limited to the battlefield... or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one's looking... like standing alone when you're misunderstood." ~Charles Swindoll  BE STRONG AND OF A GOOD COURAGE!

Sister Syddall

Monday, February 8, 2016

Proud to be a Coloradan


I first must acknowledge the wonderful news about the Broncos. I am just pleased as punch to hear that they are SUPERBOWL CHAMPS 2K16!!! I think that wearing my Broncos shirt to bed was probably what gave them that extra luck they needed, ammirite?! Hahaha. But now on to the happenings of the week!

So last Monday night we went to our Bishops home for dinner and had a grand old time with his family (his sons are about the funniest kids EVER). As we were getting ready to leave we were standing at the door and I had the strap of my bag around my shoulder, and then in the blink of an eye, the strap just snapped and whipped me right in the eye. I just immediately react by saying "OW my eye!" And then Sister Smith and Bishop just LOST IT. They were cracking up for a solid five minutes. But of course they checked to see if I was alright before they began laughing haha. I am happy to say, though, my vision was not affected by this bag fiasco. So the goal of today is to find a new bag.

On Tuesday we had a lesson with our investigator Andrew. We had a member lined up to come with us, but at the last minute she was unable to. Since we cannot go to a man's home without a woman accompanying us, we had to have our lesson somewhere else. It was raining and cold and windy outside, so the park was out. Everything else seemed to close around the same time that our lesson was supposed to begin, so we wound up at our last resort... McDonald's. Lesson learned: do no ever have a lesson in McDonald's. Oh my goodness, there was just music blasting, tons of people talking, and focusing was just soooooo hard. Luckily though he is way cool and was still very receptive to what we were teaching him. I also learned the fun fact that the reason the buses in Stevenage have blue lights in them is so that people cannot inject drugs... classy place this is. Classy. Place.

On Wednesday we had THREE meal appointments in the span of SIX hours. I don't recommend it, folks. It was painful. Meal #1 at 11am, Meal #2 at 12:30pm, and Meal #3 at 5pm. I seriously could have gone without eating all day just after the first appointment alone! Sister Smith is kind of known as the Sister "with the small appetite." She's been known by that her entire mission, and this day was almost unbearable for her! One of the Elders who served here previously told us that he gained a stone in ONE transfer and I didn't understand how that would have been possible. This day made me realise how that indeed was possible. Luckily we are already in the last week of the transfer, and I think I've safely made it this far without gaining a stone. We'll see how this week goes, though haha! This upcoming week we already have a day with two meal appointments scheduled, and I'm really hoping it will stay at that. (Note from Tina: a "stone" is a unit of weight used in the UK equal to 14 pounds. Thank you, Google.)

We had Zone Meeting on Thursday, which was super great!! I love the spirit that can be felt when I'm together with a group of missionaries. There is so much to learn from every single one of them! We ate at a place called "The Slug and Lettuce" afterwards. Not the greatest name, if you ask me, but it was some goooooood food. Then like an hour after that we were fed ANOTHER meal haha.

Here are a couple of Zone selfies... 

Hmmmmmm now that I read this email, I see that the only thing you may pull away from this is that I ate a whole lotta food... so let's end this on a spiritual note, shall we?

This week I read the talk "Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence" by Elder Jörg Klebingat. I love the set of questions he asks at the beginning: "On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your spiritual confidence before God? Do you have a personal witness that your current offering as a Latter-day Saint is sufficient to inherit eternal life? Can you say within yourself that Heavenly Father is pleased with you? What thoughts come to mind if you had a personal interview with your Savior one minute from now? Would sins, regrets, and shortcomings dominate your self-image, or would you simply experience joyful anticipation? Would you meet or avoid His gaze? Would you linger by the door or confidently walk up to Him?"

I invite you all to ponder these questions. Elder Klebingat goes on to say, "Regardless of the rating you gave yourself on that 1-to-10 scale, by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can begin increasing your spiritual confidence today if you are willing to listen and to act." We can all work on increasing that spiritual confidence! I know that through applying the Atonement, we can feel sure that our Heavenly Father is proud of us, and we can approach His throne with CONFIDENCE!

Love you all! Have a lovely week!

Sister Syddall

Monday, February 1, 2016

A little pot and a crazy hair day


I hope you have all had a spectacular week! I have major brain fog of what even happened this week, but then again, that's every week haha. I guess I'll hop back to last Monday when we went to London!

As promised, pictures from our p-day London adventures 3 weeks ago:

Now a couple pictures from Monday's p-day London adventure:

We did the usual. Saw Big Ben. The London eye. Went to Camden Town. Honestly, it's not nearly as exciting when THOSE ARE THE ONLY PLACES YOU'VE GONE TO. I really don't know why that's always the missionary crew's favourite place to go, I suppose it's because we usually are with at least one person who has never been to London, so they gotta see the main stuff. But it's still fun with a group of people! And I got to ride on the underground again... brought me right back to my time in Hayes. Man oh man, now that I don't have the accessibility to London transport, I miss it SO MUCH. Oh, and have I mentioned that practically the entirety of Stevenage is built underground? And they do not believe in stop lights here because they only have roundabouts. So as we are walking from place to place it's literally just underpass. after underpass. after underpass. AND they have practically no signs, so Sister Smith and I have to pop up to the main road every two minutes to see where the heck we are. BUT that's ok. Learning how to follow my directional senses, which I have none of hahaha. I'm still alive and haven't ended up stranded yet.

Something that's a little unfortunate about Stevenage is that 80% of the time it smells like pot. I practically gag every time I smell it because it's just about the most repulsive stench in the world. Something funny that happened this week was at a teaching appointment. While we were teaching one of our investigators, his friend stopped by and came in the room. She listened to the lesson and then towards the end she was like, "Okay, I've got to go!" Then she proceeded to pull a bag of weed out of her pocket and was rollin' it up. Everything just kind of fell silent in the room and it got mega awkward. It was quite humorous though, because the member we had in the lesson with us just had this very panicked look on her face. But then the girl left, and we proceeded with the lesson and it was AWESOME. This guy is way prepared and wants to get baptised!!

Later on in the week we had a district meeting. Afterwards we ventured over with the other Elders to FIVE GUYS holllllllllla. And I ate. And I rejoiced. And then we went out and did a blitz with the district (all four of us, woohoo! haha) and the Zone Leaders. When the Zone Leaders were getting ready to take us back to Stevenage, they needed a drink so we stopped by Asda. While we were there, a man came up to us and was like "have you seen the movie (some anti movie...)?" We were like, "uhhhhh.... no." And he said, "oh, it's a really great film. It's anti, though. But it's a great film. You should watch it." So our Zone Leader starts talking to the guy a bit more and the guy starts getting all heated about the church, telling us that it's what is wrong with the world, blah blah blah. Our ZL was just like, "well, sir, I hope you have a great day" and reached out his hand and the man said, "NO, I'm not going to shake your hand! You guys are doing great harm! You're telling people that the way they live is wrong!" Then the guy kind of stormed off and I honestly was chuckling at the whole situation. He was super ridiculous.

We had dinner that night once again with the people who have the KILLER DOG. During dinner the owner of the dog (to give you a description of this man - he's probably late 50's, long gray hair with a strangely gray beard, always has a bunch of dirt on his hands because he's a gardener, spits A LOT when he speaks) starts showing us all of the different axes that he has and a samurai sword. He also told us he was a wolf in a previous life. And that Joseph Smith is an alien. Hahahaha oh man, some people KILL ME.

Another funny story... last night we stopped by a less active member. She is not completely mentally all there, so as we are talking about her week, she all of a sudden goes "CAN I DO YOUR HAIR?!" I was just like "ummm, ok." So she starts doing really random braids, then proceeded to put my hair up in a pony tail and braided this small little braid right down the middle of my face. It looked quite peculiar. And then she asked if she could take a picture, and I was assuming that she would just keep it to herself. What does she do? SHE POSTS IT ON FACEBOOK. Oh my heck, I've never felt so embarrassed. So now the whole ward can see it. How swell.

Hmmmmm what else... I guess I'll just end with some of the funny things Sister Smith said this week:

"What is it when you're afraid of blood? Homophobia?"

Sister Smith: HONOLULU!
Me: what...?
Sister Smith: Isn't that how Hawaiians say hello?

Alright everyone, I hope you have a wonderful and magnificent week!

Sister Syddall

P.S. I hope you're all praying for that Broncos Superbowl win WOOOHOOO!