Monday, December 26, 2016

Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas!

Hiya! A very MERRY CHRISTMAS yesterday and a HAPPY BOXING DAY from us here in the United Kingdom!

Monday our district went to the Caerphilly castle with the district! It's the same castle I went to last transfer but it was still amazing to see it again! Like I said before, I just love castles! It was a bit rainy this time around and we were a bit rushed. We had an appointment scheduled that was going to cut our p-day short a bit so we really needed to get back to Blackwood and email which takes quite awhile with the travel here. But the train we were meant to take was delayed and then cancelled. So I just prayed and then I had a feeling we should check the bus station next door and there was one just leaving towards Blackwood! We all got a bit motion sick on the bus ride back but we just wanted to email so it was fine! Then we met with the Cwmbran ward relief society president and her husband and they took us out for dinner! A ysa (young single adult) sister they've been helping to reactivate just moved into our boundaries so they introduced us to her. It was really nice and Chantell is our new bff! We waited with her for her bus and got to know her a bit and she's super nice!

Tuesday we were meant to do service but it fell through and really freed up a lot of our time! Good thing we plan with back-up plans! We took the chance to follow up with a lot of our potentials we've met using the light the world video. Then we did a lot of finding and met some great people! It's been hard with the holidays because we meet these awesome people but everyone is just swamped! It'll be nice to follow up when things calm down a bit after the new year! After we had dinner the STL's came over for our exchange and I went to Merthyr Tydfil with Sister Berrett! It took us awhile to drive back and then we visited a recent convert and some potentials. 

Wednesday morning we tried to stop by some of the sister's investigators but none of them were free. Then we contacted some of their referrals and got some Christmas gifts for our companions during lunch. Then it started absolutely pouring it down with rain and we had planned to do some tracting. Well President and Sister Leppard have really been emphasising that we are ALL weather missionaries so we prayed about a street and cheerfully ventured out. Hahaha and the first door we knocked on ended up being an older active member and sister Berrett didn't realise it so we had to go in and had a visit with her. Then we asked her for a good place to continue tracting and she referred her neighbour. Well she gave us a giant hug when she realised we were from her friend's church and welcomed us in. Then she told us all about their little village and her husband and pointed to the spot where he had died and talked and talked. And unfortunately by the time we were able to share something and leave we had to drive back to Blackwood! When I got back we went to visit Marcia and she asked for a blessing so we decided after coordination our ward mission leader and the elders could pop over. Well we walked from her house to the church and waited and nobody showed up and the elders weren't answering. We finally got ahold of someone and our meeting had been cancelled and the elders had forgotten to tell us! But they were still able to come give Marcia a blessing and it was a really special experience.

Thursday morning we went to follow up with some potentials but they weren't in so we stopped by a less active member we tracted into miraculously last week. We had a nice visit getting to know her and really felt the spirit. Then we did some tracting and had another appointment with Chantelle. We met her at a cute little cafe and she bought us these really good ice cream sundaes and we talked about her conversion. Then we went to Iulia to do some service. Then we walked home and had a late dinner and made a few phone calls.  

Friday morning we had a return appointment with someone Sister McAravey met on exchanges but they never showed up! We stopped by some members to try and coordinate some things for Christmas and then we went finding! It was absolutely pouring and we found ourselves caught in a huge storm. We came home completely drenched and it looked like I went swimming in my clothes! Jenny wasn't feeling well but it was our week for dinner and her husband brought us over a nice meal. After we ate we did our weekly planning. 

Saturday morning was amazing! We went to a member's home for breakfast and joined her less active daughter and non-member granddaughters. They really went all out for us and it was so sweet! We had a typical English cooked breakfast with sausage, bacon, eggs, toast, and beans. We pulled open the Christmas crackers (it's a super fun tradition here... I don't think we have them in the states) and they had different numbered whistles inside and we played some Christmas carols with them! Then I used their guitar and we played and sang more carols and had a lesson on Jesus Christ. They dropped us off at the train station and we travelled to Rhiwbina for our zone Christmas meeting.  We had a testimony meeting that was very powerful and then afterwards we had a party! We had pizza, did a white elephant gift exchange, played chair football and then we got our packages and letters from home! Then we travelled back and had a late dinner. Then we pulled our mattresses out of our bedroom and into our main room by the Christmas tree and watched The Testament and ate some popcorn that my mom sent from home and had a fun little Christmas Eve sleepover!

Sunday was no surprise, a very rainy Christmas Day! We woke up and read Luke 2 and then we opened our gifts from home and from the members. We were truly spoiled and felt so much love the whole day! Then we got picked up for church and just had a one hour sacrament service. The Spragg's were having us over for lunch but they hadn't prepared anything so they dropped us off at our flat to wait and we took the opportunity to take a glorious nap. Then they picked us up and we had a delicious Christmas roast dinner. They made traditional Christmas pudding which was interesting, I'm not sure what was in it. Then they took us to Hannah and Jim's to Skype our families! Best Christmas present ever of course! Even though it was hard to be away from family, I feel so blessed I was able to spend this Christmas season as a messenger of Christ. He truly is the best gift I could ask for in my life. 

We have another crazy busy week ahead with the holidays, loads of meals with members, a general authority visit and transfer calls this Sunday! I've never stayed in an area longer than 3 transfers so stay tuned to see what happens! 
I'll talk to you in 2017!
Sister Cebollero xx 

1. We love our Christmas Jumpers!

2. Christmas Eve Breakfast! These Christmas Crackers has coordinated Kazoos to play carols on them! 

3. Thanks Gma Connie for the Christmas tree!

4. I love the street name the Spragg's live on! Try to say that! It is YSGWYDDGWYN street!

5. Messy hair...Don't care! Windy Wales!

6. P-day playing games at the church

Monday, December 19, 2016

Celebrating 20 in Wales!

Monday for p-day we went shopping in Cardiff for some things! We were mostly on a hunt for cute Christmas jumpers (sweaters) for all our Christmas Zone meetings. Also we got paid £5 to test some different brands of milk so that was random! Those fast offerings we paid Sunday really came through for us this week! Then we trained and bused back to email! We visited a part member family after p-day and visited with the less active mum. 

Tuesday morning we got up at the crack of dawn to travel to our zone Christmas conference in Rhiwbina. Let's just say when we walked out of our flat the rest of our mission was still asleep... and it was pouring down with rain. Also we had to carry a huge box of all of our older supplies and supplies in different languages that we don't need. We had a combined conference with Cardiff and Merthyr zone and had some lovely trainings from President and Sister Leppard. They even gave us a nice Christmas present! We had lunch and then our zone was in charge of doing A Christmas Carol. We practiced a bit in the morning but we mostly just improved and it turned out hilarious! It was lots of fun! By the time we travelled back it was really late and we were starving so we had some dinner and continued importing old teaching records into our area book app. 

Wednesday morning we headed to relief society for a Christmas party with the sisters. We all shared different Christmas traditions and memories and had some mince pies. These mince pie things are interesting... like every time I see them I just think of mince meat and it grosses me out. Because mince meat in a little pastry pie just sounds nasty. But they're just fruity and not meat and it just throws me off! Anyway, it was a nice Christmas party and then afterwards we had a really good lesson with our friend Ann. She shared with us why she stopped coming to church and we had a powerful visit and hopefully she will start coming back soon! We visited Marcia after that and then we had ward coordination. 

Thursday I celebrated my 20th birthday here in Wales! Who would have thought?! It was a great day! My companion made me a really nice breakfast in the morning. I opened the sweetest package put together by my family and friends. Thank you so much to all who made and sent gifts and wrote cards! The stack of cards was the most thoughtful gift ever, I loved reading them all! And of course, it absolutely poured and poured all day but I didn't mind. We had a district meeting to get to know our new district in the morning. We played card games and with my birthday luck I won them all. We got some delicious fish n chips for lunch with our district. Then we had a bit of time before our service appointment and were able to visit our less active friend Lynn who we haven't been able to see for a while. After that we did service for Iulia. Then we joined the relief society presidency in visiting some lonely and less active sisters to drop off a gift from the relief society. It was a really nice day and I just felt so much love! It's a rewarding feeling to spend a day which would normally be all about me, just serving other people. 

Friday morning we did our weekly planning. Then we had an appointment with a less active member referral from another ward fall through. We had a prompting to phone one of our potentials and he was free so we went over and taught him a lesson! We shared the restoration with Reese and it went smashingly well. The spirit was strong and everything was going so well! And then we realised we had given out all our Book of Mormons and forgot to restock! Ahhhh it was the worst! But hey, it gave us an easy way to schedule a return appointment! Then we visited another nearby potential named Jean. She's the crazy old lady that keeps telling us we are too young to be away and that we must go home for Christmas. We did lots of finding and then had our ward Christmas party! Us missionaries were in charge of the spiritual part and Carol Service so we used some scriptures to tell the nativity story and sang some carols. Then we had games and food and it was a great night!

Saturday morning we went and tracted all over the hills on Pentwynmawr! We also stopped by some of our potentials. Then we had lunch and traveled to Caerphilly for some district finding. We handed out candy canes and invited people to the stake Carol Service and then we had dinner together. We travelled back to Blackwood and visited a member named Lilian who hasn't been too well lately.

Sunday after church we had our meal with the Mannings. They dropped us off to see David and Madalaine. She fell earlier this week and hurt herself so we didn't stay long. Then we were walking away to drop some things off and Chowa and Rahul saw us passing and called us over. They were literally moving out of their house right then! We helped Chowa tidy up a bit and then we headed home and they passed us and showed us their new home so we can still teach them! We really wanted to go to the stake Carol Service because Welsh choirs are Heavenly. We tried all day to find a ride and no one was answering. We said a prayer and then right when we said amen we got a text with a number we had asked for and they were able to take us! It was an amazing service and the carols really brought the spirit! We were so thankful to be able to attend! We had 2 new and young families move into the ward this week from Rhiwbina and they are so cool! Our ward is pretty old so it's super exciting. One of the new couples brought us home and we had fun getting to know them. 

It's been a crazy week with all the meetings and this week will only get crazier! Starting on the 24th the ward has a nice dinner rotor for us with all 3 meals on some of the days until New Years. So far all of the Christmas Day plans have fallen through, but we should have some back up people we can go to. Thanks for all the birthday wishes again, and I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas! I can't wait to Skype! 
Sister Cebollero xx 
 1. The Welsh Dragon
 2. Visiting a castle on P-day
3.  I love castles!
4. Love Sister McAravey!

5. The classic Great Hall district photo op

6. My Sisters!

7. Birthday Selfie!

 8. The District on my birthday!

9. Love our little friends!

10/11.  Christmas Zone Conference with Merthyr and Cardiff Zones

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sick, Sick, Sick...but not of Tracting!

Monday night after P-day we went and visited people. And then we made a whole load of homemade cookies to give out to members, missionaries and our friends (shout-out to my grandma for the best cookie recipe). 

Tuesday we woke up with some quite sore throats and a determination to not get sick as we had a great week planned! We went and did service for Iulia and had lunch with her and then we went to see Marcia. We were meant to have a lesson with David & Madalaine and they were gonna order us Chinese food but then they cancelled right when we had walked almost all the way to their home. We had been looking forward to it all day so that was a bummer! It was already dark and we were quite hungry and feeling sick but decided to take the opportunity to do some finding and take a late dinner. I'd like to say it went well but let's just say the first door included being yelled at by a lady holding a pan.  Ha-ha...we laugh about it now, but it was not a pleasant experience as we were just sick and trying to keep working hard. 

Wednesday we woke up and we were just way too sick. I think I may have had strep again, my throat just killed and I didn't even have a voice. We had to stay in and just work on the area book and get some rest so that we could go out the rest of the week. 

Thursday we were still sick but had to venture out to our zone meeting in Rhiwbina. Our first train was cancelled and when we got to the second train station to change over we waited for a train that ended up just driving right past us without stopping. Haha this week kinda just hated us! But we waited longer and we made it just on time to our meeting. We had some nice trainings and I ended off the meeting with a spiritual thought on Christ. We had a nice lunch and then started the trek back to Blackwood. We have to get a bus from the station in Ystrad Mynach back to Blackwood but it only comes every hour and we just missed it so we had to wait there for a while to get back. Then we only had time for a quick dinner at the chapel before coordination meeting. Then I took sister McAravey and the elders to meet our member friend Sam! 

Friday morning we did our weekly planning! Then we went out finding for a few straight hours. The weather was lovely and we had so much fun. We're having all sorts of hilarious tracting experiences together and we've been making it lots of fun. We met Peter (who compared himself to St. Peter), who loved the #lighttheworld video within seconds and then told us he writes gospel music and burst into song. We also met a lady named Jean who quite intensely told us over and over and over (for like 20 minutes no matter how much we testified to her about missionary work) that we MUST go home for Christmas to be with our families. #lighttheworld is great and even though it's quite short it really brings the spirit, we made a lady cry without even saying a word! Then we had a fabulous DA with Jenny and Clive and it was a lot of fun. They dropped us off to visit with Hayley and her son Ryan which went really well. 

Saturday was full of more and more and more tracting. We set off in the morning for two and a half hours of tracting and with the multitude of doors we must have knocked we had 2 whole potentials. Wales is just rough some times as my new companion is finding out! She's just come from her first area where they could tract for a half hour and get 20 potentials and even with the same diligence and faith it just doesn't always work out like that here in Blackwood! But we keep going because those 2 1/2 hours in the wind and rain are worth it for those 2 precious new friends. We had a quick lunch and then headed to Blackwood for some district finding. We were in the wrong spot waiting for our district, and thank goodness because we ran into Sam! And before we knew it we lured Sam into coming tracting with the rain!!!  Bless her! We'd already tracted for so long and she really gave us a boost to keep going! We had some more #lighttheworld finding miracles with her help! We were thoroughly soaked by the end and bought Sam some chocolate for helping us find. Then we went to see David and Madalaine and when we got there they were eating some Chinese food and we were like dang we barely missed out on them feeding us! Then David asked if we had eaten yet and ordered some more just for us. Man, they are so kind to us! We had told Madalaine we would help her with her feet more, so we scraped the dead skin off and put some creme on them and painted her toenails. We gave them a scripture to ponderise and they loved the idea of memorising it before we come again. 

Sunday we had fast and testimony meeting due to Stake conference last week. Sam came with us to church and it was such a powerful meeting and I was just filled with love for our ward here in Blackwood. I'm so thankful to be serving around such wonderful people who I've truly come to know and love. We taught the lesson in gospel principles. And then we got asked to teach young women's with like 5 minutes notice. We only had Faith there but we had a good lesson with her about having a Christ centred home. We had our lunch with brother and sister Spragg, which was Heavenly as always! Then we stopped by Marcia and persuaded her to come to the broadcast of the First Presidency Christmas devotional at the church with us. We walked there with her and thank goodness we decided to go with her because we were the only ones there. The Spirit was strong as we listened to the hymns and words of peace and joy about our Saviour and this Christmas season. 

This week was turned a little upside down with the sickness but we made a killer comeback! I'm thankful for a great companion who works hard with me and that will laugh with me even when we've been tracting and facing rejection for hours in the rain!  Wales is a great place to be my friends, there is so much to learn here in the refiners fire of a mission life!  
Love you all,
Sister Cebollero xx  
1.  Sister Jampapan in my zone from Thailand
2. Tracting in the RAIN!

3. Zone Meeting!

Monday, December 5, 2016

December and Transfers and Miracles a Plenty!

Monday we packed and cleaned and did some shopping and then Sister Tartaglia said goodbye to Marcia. It was pretty sad that all 3 of the other missionaries in Blackwood were all leaving me! 

Tuesday was the craziest transfer day of my life! The Manning's and Bishop picked us up in the morning with Sister Tartaglia's luggage and bike and drove us to the train station. We got on a rush hour train, packed right full and barely fit on with her stuff. We made it to Cardiff by 8:30 and the coach wasn't due to arrive until 10. Well 10 rolled around and 11 rolled around and still no coach and it was a very cold day in Cardiff! We found out the coach coming our way from Swansea was stopped due to an accident and wouldn't arrive for another 3 hours. Then the zone leaders thought we would all have to train with everyone's stuff to the mission office. Then President decided to order a coach from Cardiff for our zone and we waited for that to arrive. It got to us around 1, which is when it usually would have been arriving to the mission office. This meant we had a long day to wait in Cardiff for our new zone. The missionaries waiting went to a world buffet for lunch that was super good! Then I spent the day with Sister Jampapan from Thailand and Sister Mwoyosvi from Zimbabwe! The coach arrived very late and then it was up to me to get our new 3 Blackwood missionaries back and arrange lifts for all the stuff... no pressure! Because it was so late there weren't a lot of trains so we waited longer and then finally made it to Ystrad Mynach by 9! We all got picked up and we barely walked into our flat by 9:30! 

Wednesday  we had our service for Iulia. It's a pretty far walk and I didn't want to kill Sister McAravey on her first day so I thought we'd catch a bus halfway to Blackwood and walk from there. Well you know how it goes, no buses came! So we walked all the way there and were a bit late. It was good and we both agreed that cleaning is therapeutic! We had a nice lunch and then walked back up to Blackwood. We went to teach Gareth and taught about how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. He's quite the knowledgeable guy and it shocked Sister McAravey a bit but it was a good lesson! Then we had lunch with the new elders at the chapel. After that we had a ward coordination meeting and filled everyone in on Blackwood. Then we travelled home and ran into a less active member we've been trying to contact on our way!

Thursday was an interesting day to say the least! We walked up to the chapel for district meeting but it never happened. The sisters from Caerphilly had some problems with the bus service from Ystrad Mynach and weren't able to make it. We waited for a bit and by the time they knew they couldn't make it the meeting should have ended. So we just had lunch with the elders and I filled them in more about Blackwood. Then we visited Ann and shared with her #Lighttheworld and it made her tear up! We were supposed to have a lesson with Jon but he didn't show up. We did some #Lighttheworld tracting to try and show people the video. Then we had a quick dinner and went to see David and Madalaine. This is where our #Lighttheworld service came in. Here we were teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ when Madalaine started going on about her toenails. SO WE CUT HER TOENAILS for our act of service.... that is true love my friends! 

Then Heavenly Father blessed us for that interesting act of service because when we started walking from their neighbourhood we saw these two teenage boys and we thought we were about to get jumped. One of them walked up a dark path and the other one ran up to us and asked if we were the Mormons. And then he pointed to the path and said his friend needed Jesus.. and we both looked at each other like uhhh well we aren't gonna follow him up that dark path! So I just asked if he would come down to the street light where we were and talk. So this kid Brad called his friend back and we started talking to his friend Tim. Then Brad started talking about how one day he talked to the sisters at a bus stop for like 40 minutes and asked us for a Book of Mormon! After thinking they were gonna mug us this is not what we were expecting, such a random miracle! 

Friday morning we went to follow up with some potentials in the Penllwyn who said morning time was best. Well it wasn't and none of them were in. We came back and had lunch then did our weekly planning. After that we travelled to Crosskeys and did some more Christmas video tracting. We were able to find some people who actually would stop and watch the video and got a few nice potentials! Then we tried to see Rita and Luvenia but they were both busy. We visited a member and shared #lighttheworld with them as well. Then we had a dinner appointment with our new friends James and his mum Cheryl. I didn't know if the appointment was going to hold but then they called Thursday night and invited us for dinner! We taught James how to pray and more about how to know that the Book of Mormon is true. He really wants to find out for himself if it is true and it went really good. They fed us a turkey roast dinner and it was delicious. They even gave us a lift back to Pontllanfriath!

Saturday morning we tried to work through some glitches on our area book planner app. The we did more Christmas video tracting and met some very pushy JW ladies who were stopping by someone they teach. The elders had to go to Birmingham Friday and cancelled their dinner with Jenny so she brought it to us for lunch on Saturday. It was a lamb roast dinner and it was delicious! Then we did some more tracting on our way up to Blackwood. No one seemed interested or even home which was weird for a Saturday. Then we got to Blackwood and stepped right in to a giant Christmas festival with carnival rides and everything and realised why no one was in! We went and visited Marcia and cheered her up. Then we bused and trained to the adult session of stake conference. We'd tried to get a lift but no one had really answered and so we just decided to train all the way there and only buy a single in the faith that we could get a lift back! The stake president offered us a lift back almost the moment we got there and it was an amazing meeting! It was all focused on missionary work and it was very powerful. President and Sister Leppard gave the most amazing talks and told some missionary stories from before they got called to serve that prepared them. Also our stake had the most amazing choir I've ever heard... like Mormon tabernacle choir amazing! Wales is known for their great choirs and I could definitely tell why! 

Sunday we had managed to get a lift to conference with our relief society president and her husband who is our stake patriarch. It was another great session and the spirit was very strong. Then the Elliot's didn't just give us a lift home but invited us for lunch since our regular Sunday lunches had been cancelled for conference. They've been visiting their kids in the US for weeks so this was a good chance to get to know them better. Then we went Christmas video tracting again and had some miracles! First of all it was just a miracle how many people let us show them the video! Then we met a guy named Andrew who not only watched the video and listened to us explain what we help people with as missionaries but asked us how he gets started learning and when church is!! NO ONE has ever asked that... ever... and we were just a bit shocked! 

Then for the next funny moment you must understand that most of the houses here have gates around them and we must open the gates to each house we knock on and shut it behind us before we go down to the house to knock. So we're just knocking on this door and all of a sudden this massive dog just bounds around the corner coming straight at us. And I just thought that someone had set their dog on us and it was going to be one of those missionary stories where we get attacked by a dog! And then this sweet old lady just comes around the corner and the dog was actually really nice, but man it gave us a heart attack!! Then we went and taught Chowa and her daughter just loves us so much and was waiting all day for us since we've been coming on a Sunday each week. We had call-ins and then I just tried to figure out the paperwork for my provisional license. 

It's been a crazy weird week but it's been great! Sister McAravey is great and we've just hit the ground running! We're gonna see many miracles in this short 5 week transfer here in Blackwood!

Happy December and don't forget to #Lighttheworld leading up to Christmas! Service brings many miracles! 
Sister Cebollero xx 
1/2. My wonderful new companion Sister McAravey from South Africa

3. Spending the transfers day with Sister Mwoyosvi and Sister Jampapan
4. Last selfie with Sister Tartaglia, you seriously wouldn't believe how many selfies this girl takes a day! Bless her:) 

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Lazy Wind of Wales

We had another cold week here in Wales! The wind here is absolutely chilling and we learned that it's called a lazy wind! The wind is too lazy to go around you so it just goes right through you!

Monday night after P-day we went and taught Becky. Her mum Jayne was there (who is a member) so we got to know her a little bit too. Then we stopped by and visited with our ward mission leader Des and his wife and they were able to give us a lift home. 

Tuesday didn't go as planned but it turned out to be a great day! In the morning, we went out to follow up with our potential Carys. She was super busy so we just talked with her a bit on her doorstep and set up another time to go by. Then we had lunch and Jon called to cancel our appointment after lunch. We decided to go to Penllwyn and find some formers and tracted around them! It was really successful. None of the formers we tried were interested but we tracted into some other formers we didn't know of who were interested!  Then we went up to the church and had some dinner and then visited Marcia. She is hilarious! We had a correlation meeting with Des and then we walked home. 

Wednesday morning, we joined our favourite relief society sisters to make some adorable Christmas penguins. They are so funny! Then we visited a less active sister named Ann and had a lovely video with her. It really touched her and she started to cry and then when we left she cried more because she knew one of us might leave. Then we headed to Iulia's to do service. We started out with some jacket potatoes for lunch and then we cleaned with her. We headed back up to Blackwood but we were still full so we decided to skip dinner and visit Sam instead since it had been awhile. After that we went to the church for a ward council meeting. It was mostly about Christmas activities and such so it was good! Then we came home and I felt really ambitious so I made a key lime pie and some homemade rolls for my district. 

Thursday we had a thanksgiving district meeting! The elders had bought a turkey... but they forgot to defrost we had chicken instead! The sisters brought potatoes and my rolls and pie were an absolute hit! Then when the meeting was over we were supposed to have a nice lunch with our less active friend Lynn but she had to cancel. We travelled to Crosskeys to do some finding and to try and see Luvenia and Rita. They were both busy again unfortunately. So we tried some formers we'd lost contact with when I got here in September! They let us in and had some questions which led to a great lesson! We invited them to learn again and pray about the Book of Mormon and James accepted! His mom Cheryl is very very skeptical but James is solid and referred himself a few months ago. They've also been to church before so we were definitely in the right place in the right time to be able to contact them again! It was a good and bold lesson and I've really seen such a growth in my teaching skills since I've been here. Then we went to see David and Madalaine and had a lesson with them about remembering Christ this Christmas season. It was an absolute freezing day but I had a full heart, there's so much to be thankful for! 

Friday we spent the coldest few hours of my life standing in the Blackwood market with a stand...painfully similar like the Jehovah's Witnesses to do some ward finding. The missionaries have done it in the market in past years and it has gone really well. Let's just say with the cold and everyone Christmas shopping we parted the seas of people trying to avoid us…ha ha. We had to go to the only indoor food place nearby, KFC to get a little bit warm during lunch. Then we went and taught Kelly and Gareth. He wasn't home at first so we just had a lesson with his wife using the new Christmas initiative #LIGHTTHEWORLD (look it up, its great!) then Gareth got home and we had another lesson with him. After that Jenny and Clive picked us up and they had cooked turkey for us! We had a nice roast dinner and it was our closest thing to a thanksgiving meal! Then we visited Hayley and her son Ryan, some other less actives we've started working with. They are so sweet and gave us a lift home. 

Saturday morning, we had to do our weekly planning and right in the middle of our prayer I got a call from the mission office that they want me to start on getting my UK license next week, so wish me luck. It's a lot harder over here and my license will expire here right after this next transfer when I hit my year mark. After our planning session, we went to Newbridge and did some tracting and former stop-bys. We had an appointment with the Davise Family so we trained to Llanhilleth but then they weren't home. So sad because it's been awhile but oh well! It was really dark so we trained back to Newbridge and visited with Hannah and Jim which is always hilarious. 

Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on the importance of the Holy Ghost in our church meetings. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have me talk the same day they were making transfer calls was trying to push me over the edge! I don't mind talking in church but there was already way too much nervous energy going around! After church we went to the Manning's for our dinner. Then we visited Marcia since she hadn't come to church and had a lovely visit with her. We walked down to Pontllanfraith and saw Chowa and Rahul again. We taught them about the gospel of Jesus Christ and shared #lighttheworld with them. They shared some yummy snacks from Bangladesh and they are just so kind. We love them! Then we taught David and Madalaine and shared #lighttheworld with them too! After that we came home for our weekly call-ins, had dinner and the waiting continued! So here's what up in Blackwood! The Elders are BOTH leaving! They are whitewashing the Elders area for the 2nd time this year and our new district leader here will be training a new Elder. Sister Tartaglia is going to Worcester to follow up train a newer sister. And I'm getting Sister McAravey from South Africa! She's been on her mission for about 4 months and just got follow up trained so it'll be fun! I'll be the only missionary here that knows Blackwood so should be exciting! We'll have moves this Tuesday so wish us luck moving out 3 from Blackwood and then getting 3 back here! Should be an exciting week!

Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving and have a wonderful week! Don't forget to look for ways to #lighttheworld starting Thursday! 
Sister Aubri Cebollero xx

1-3. Making Penguins with the Relief Society Sisters!

4. Love our ward members!

5. Our attempt at Thanksgiving Dinner!

Monday, November 21, 2016

"All the rain finally broke my brolly!"

Monday was probably one of my favourite P-days on the mission so far! Our district went to Caerphilly Castle and it was so beautiful! It's the biggest castle in Wales and the 2nd biggest in the U.K.  I'm just really mesmerised by castles and their history and beauty! I'd go to a castle every p-day if I could convince everyone.  The weather was so so nice, unfortunately it was also probably the last nice day weather wise we will see for the next loooong while! After p-day was over all our lessons flogged... so we ended up visiting Marcia. She taught Sister Tartaglia the phrase "good grief" and she has laughed about it all week!

Tuesday a woman we tracted into asked us how we measure our success when people reject us all day...we explained to her that we are happy at the end of the day when we know we did ALL we could to invite and bring others unto Christ. Well, that's definitely the lesson Heavenly Father was trying to teach us Tuesday and pretty much all week because almost EVERYTHING fell through this week no matter how hard we tried. 

In the morning, we went to Julia's and did some super cleaning and organizing service. Then we went to Crosskeys. Our biggest problem this week was our zone meeting was moved from Tuesday morning to Friday afternoon…which is when ALL our appointments with our new investigators in Crosskeys were. So Tuesday was our only free day to try and teach them or see if we could rearrange. Well, Luvenia had guests over and Rita's kids were sick so that didn't work out! We did some finding in Crosskeys and met a lot of people who weren't interested if you know what I mean. We bused to the next village and tried to visited some members, Brother and Sister Lewis. They were so nice but they were just on their way out so they gave us a lift to Newbridge. We tried some less actives and potentials but none were in. So we thought with our bus pass we'd go teach David and Madalaine and called them and they were free! But then NO buses came and it was too far and too late to walk there so we had to call and rearrange to make it in on time. So obviously as soon as we cancelled and started the long trek home not just 1 but 4 buses passed us on our journey!

Wednesday morning, we went to a relief society lesson which was on managing stress…all good things for a missionary to be reminded! We had a quick lunch and even received a media referral! We tried to visit some less active members but they were all busy. Then we went to Gareth's house and it's seriously all decked out for Christmas... seriously, every single room! His wife loves Christmas and gave us a house tour of all her decorations. This may or may not have prompted us to put our little Christmas tree up in our flat! Well we talked with Gareth and followed up on the gospel of Jesus Christ and talked more about how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Coordination got cancelled so we had a dinner at the chapel. Then we saw Becky but she was completely knackered from college so we didn't really get to teach her much. We finished the night off making some Christmas ornaments with the young women! Our bishop's nonmember granddaughter has started coming each Wednesday so that has been great! 

Thursday, we travelled to the stake centre for our district meeting and interviews with President & Sister Leppard. Elder Cook taught us about how apostles frequently assign missionaries to the mission president they need and it is so true, I just love them! We had a little freak out moment together when we realised it's been 10 months since I arrived we reminisced about that one time when we went and taught a Baptist church in Nottingham in my third week. It was a VERY cold day Thursday and we experienced the wrath of Welsh weather as the winds and rain finally broke my brolly (but I guess it was due because I have no idea how my Walmart umbrella lasted me 10 months in Britain!) and then also my winter coat broke...but no worries, All is Wales.... haha get it?  We travelled back on the trains and buses and then walked to Newbridge. We had dinner with Hannah and had eggs and chips, a British classic. 

Friday was a long cold travel day again! We had our zone meeting in the afternoon so after studies we had to go straight to catch the bus and trains to get to the stake centre again. We had an amazing zone meeting! They introduced the Christmas initiative #LIGHTTHEWORLD!! Guys, the video this year is amazing. Look for it this Friday on and light the world this Christmas season! We had some great trainings and some amazing departing testimonies! It's always so emotional and powerful to hear those you've come to love in the zone sharing their last testimony with us! Then we had lunch and the rain and sleet turned to snow and we may or may not have had a zone snowball fight!  It took us an extra-long time to travel back because right when we ran up to the platform to catch our second train connection it pulled away.  We just had time for a quick dinner and put some more formers in the area book app by the time we walked home from the bus. 

Saturday morning, we did our weekly planning. Then we met an older sister, Joyce at a pub for a lunch out. She hasn't been well enough to take us lately so it was our first time eating with her and it was such a treat! She is so sweet and shared with us some really cool church history stories about areas in our mission! It was pouring down with rain and we went to Newbridge again to try and contact our media referral. It said to call first but the number didn't exist and we'd been trying all week. We thought we'd just try stopping by but the address didn't exist either, bummer! We did some tracting and then we were about to bus to David & Madalaine when they cancelled due to flu. So we decided to train to Crosskeys and try to see Luvenia again! She ended up being quite busy again so that didn't work out. Our train back was late and full of rugby fans but we met the nicest woman while waiting for the train! Too bad she lives out of our area haha! 

Sunday I experienced my first primary presentation in Britain. It was absolutely adorable and just a much smaller scale of ours back home due to their tiny group. We had Brother & sister Spragg for lunch. They live far up in the valleys and they had lots of snow outside their home! Then we taught Chowa and Rahul more about faith in Jesus Christ and they asked lots of questions. With all their questions our lesson on Christ led to sharing about Christmas, the first vision, fasting, tithing and Adam & Eve. David & Madalaine were still sick so we visited some less active members on our way back towards our flat. Then we had our weekly call-ins and imported more formers into the area book. 

It's definitely gotten quite colder and a lot wetter this week here in Wales! We're expecting a very snowy winter here in the valleys and it's already begun! Today we've just got LOADS of rain. It hasn't rained much since I've arrived to Wales but the wind and rain I've always heard of has definitely arrived!

To all my friend in America and around the world, wishing you a happy thanksgiving! I'm so thankful for all your love and support that keeps me going!

Sister Cebollero 

1. Saying Good-bye to Sister Spangler! We were companions for 2 weeks back in Stamford.  She's done with her mission this week!

2.  Cardiff Zone: Sister Tartaglia (Italy), Me, Sister Timu (Austrailia), Sister Jampapan (Thailand)
3. It snowed in Wales!!

4. Cardiff zone

5/6. I'm so HAPPY for Adam! We started teaching him in Stourbridge and Sisters Jones and Pugmire got to finish teaching him.  He got baptized last Saturday.  I didn't get to go but my mom was able to get pictures from Sister Pugmire's mom!  Happiness!!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Faith Precedes the Miracle

Sister Tartaglia and I have learned a lot this week, but if we've learned one thing we've learned that faith precedes the miracle! This week we continued to put our patience and faith to the test in our area and we were blessed with so many miracles! Blame the multitude of miracles for my long email.  Also I just got back from a castle…I LOVE CASTLES. Wow, Wales is beautiful!

Monday we had a pretty relaxing P-day. There really isn't much to do in Blackwood so we just looked in some charity shops and made homemade pizza with the elders. After emailing we had a dinner appointment with the Gilmour family. They usually have the elders over since they live by them, so it was nice to get to know them better. They shared lots of stories from their missions and it was a really fun night! 

Tuesday was the first rainy day we've had in ages! My miracle streak of living in Wales without the rain and cold is slowly coming to an end! We went to Julia's to do service in the morning. We did some cleaning and had jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) for lunch with her. We went to contact two less active/ part member family referrals but neither of them were in, so we did some tracting. We met the nicest mum ever and her adorable chatty son Charley who told us he knew how to have a happy family and proceeded to tell us about the importance of hot cocoa by the fireplace with your family after a cold day. Cutest kid ever! They've just moved to the area and Carys said she'd love to have us come share more with them! Yay for new cute families! We did some more tracting and at this point we were cold and very hungry. It was one of those busy days where we just hadn't been able to fit dinner in to be able to go finding before dark so we planned to have it late. We went to teach David & Madalaine and another miracle, they insisted we eat with them and ordered Chinese food! 

THEN I got a call from the lovely sisters now in Stourbridge that my friend Adam had just passed his baptismal interview and was SO excited and ready for baptism. Like he even asked the sisters when he can start home teaching after the interview was finished...yeah he's just amazing!! It brought me back to those 3 long months in Stourbridge and helped me see that we did do some good there! I was there to invite Adam to learn and to put him on this baptism date and even though it was so far away in the moment, I felt so strongly it was the right date and as we were able to promise he is truly soo ready now! Unfortunately, I'm more than an hour away so I can't go, but I'm thrilled for Adam and his fiancée Linda as he makes this big step! 

Wednesday we received a zone voicemail from some elders sharing a miracle they'd had Tuesday and starting up a zone miracle hotline. A miracle hotline is where a team of missionaries gets picked to share a miracle at the end of the day in a voicemail to the whole zone and then they pass it onto another team for the next day. Well needless to say, the elders that started it tagged us first and helped us keep the miracles rolling! 

We went to relief society in the morning and had a lesson on the pioneers. We had these 3 part member family referrals we'd been trying over and over again to contact. And we just knew that Wednesday was the day and we were able to contact allllll of them! The last one was our favourite miracle of the day. We have our coordination meetings on Wednesday night and then usually stay to help with youth. But we felt like we needed to skip youth and contact Becky. She's a daughter of a less active member and she's youth aged. The elders passed her to us but we haven't been able to contact her and Wednesday night we had a beautiful restoration lesson with her! We almost went back to the chapel to get a ride from the youth leaders but didn't want to burden anyone and just decided to walk home. It was cold and dark but we were cheerful after such a good day and as we walked down the hills our stake president and his wife pulled over to give us a lift home!

Thursday the miracles continued to roll forth! We had a nice district meeting in the morning and we played some card games during lunch, not to brag but I won!  Then Sister Tartaglia and I traveled far to the corner of our area called Crosskeys! We had some potentials from ages ago to visit and wanted to do some finding. Being a missionary is just full of awkward experiences and tracting can be especially awkward. Like when you are knocking and they pull up into the driveway or walk up. Well anyway, we went to visit a potential named Luvenia but right as we went to go to her path a man walked into her home. Well that was awkward so we just felt like we needed to do some finding first and had some fun in the rain finding. Then we felt like the time was right to visit Luvenia and it definitely was! Her guest wasn't there anymore, but it turned out that he is a less active member of our church! We had an amazing restoration lesson with her. I've never met anyone here that understood so strongly the need for prophets in these latter days, it was such a solid lesson. Then we went to contact another potential named Rita who also let us in. We had a good lesson with her about Jesus Christ. I think this is the first time I've had two new investigators in one day that weren't taught together! We took the train back to Newbridge and ended the night with a dinner appointment at Hannah's new house that was fab, we love Hannah!

Friday morning we had flat inspections which is always a fun time, no worries we passed;) then we went to contact some potentials and did a bit of finding. We did our good old weekly planning, spiced up a bit with the fact we finally have some new people to plan for. Then Jenny picked us up for our dinner and we had a delicious roast dinner with her and Clive. They dropped us off for a return appointment with a part- member and less active family we started working with this week. They're going through a rough time and we had a powerful visit with them. They even gave us a lift home so we didn't have to walk home in the dark!

Saturday we adventured to a cute village we'd never visited called Six Bells. We were right in the thick of the welsh valleys and with the fall colours it was a beautiful sight! We did some tracting and found some super nice people and even got some return appointments with them! We contacted a referral from our bishop and then started to tackle a less active member list in that area he'd given us. Because of how far away we were and the bus schedule we just had time to visit one and a sister really stood out to me on the list so we visited her. That's when we met the sweetest sister, Glenys who is 80! She isn't able to come to church because she lives so far up the valleys and because of her health. She was absolutely thrilled to see us. It had obviously been a long time since anyone from the church had visited her. She shared with us some remarkable stories from her life and the miracles she's seen since she joined the church. It was one of those visits where you just know you're right where you need to be. She was so sad when we had to go and she just really loooooved and appreciated our visit so much. We caught the bus back to Newbridge and walked to teach Chowa from Bangladesh. We taught her the plan of salvation and it was a beautiful lesson! She really understood and accepted it all. 

Sunday was Remembrance Sunday here in the U.K. so all the members wore their poppies to church and we had a touching 2 minute silence after sacrament meeting for those who have fought for our freedom. After church we had lunch with the Manning family. They dropped us off in Oakdale to do some tracting and visit some investigators we've had some trouble contacting recently. Then we came home for dinner and imported more teaching records into our area book app. It still seems like a never ending binder of information but we've made a lot of progress on the project so far! 

All I can say is that MIRACLES HAPPEN, (even and especially in the Blackwoods of the world)- if you believe they can happen! 
With love,
Sister Cebollero xx

1. Sister Cebollero and Sister Tartaglia at the Caerphilly Castle!

2. P-day Castle Visit!
3. The moat around the castle

4/5. "I'm Sister Cebollero and I love castles!"

6. Sometimes you wait all transfer for a district photo and finally get one in the castle Great Hall

7. Caerphilly Castle is the biggest castle in Wales and the 2nd biggest in Britain!

8. Love all the windows here! 

9. We made the elders take lots of pictures of us!

10/11. Like I REALLY love castles!

12. Faded telephone booths
13. I love telephone booths and fall colors!

14. Coordination meeting selfie. The Blackwood Missionary Force!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Poppy Appeal, and making pizza with my Italian Comp!

Monday was Halloween so we had to be in our flat by 6. Halloween really isn't too big over here but some people celebrate it so it was just to be safe. Monday we received the area book and planner app so we played around with that a bit to get used to it and then we watched some church movies we had in the flat. It was a nice and relaxing evening to start out our week.

Tuesday morning we went to Julia's house to do some service and we had some lunch with her as well. We always have a really fun time helping her clean and chatting with her. Then we walked back just in time for exchanges to start with our sister training leaders. Right when I arrived in the mission they changed our exchanges in that we would both always go to the STL's area and stay there with them. But now it's been changed back to the way most of the missions do it and one of us can stay and one of us will go to their area. I stayed here in Blackwood with Sister Vousden from Essex (England). I made some dinner for us and then we went and taught David and Madalaine. We ended up doing some hand sewing to help Madalaine and taught her more about faith and prayers. It was very dark when we finished so we tried to visit some less active members near to our flat. As we went to knock on the door of the last people, a light came on illuminating theeee biggest spider we'd ever seen. It was huge and very round and orange and we got out of there very quickly!! We could even see it from across the road... you shouldn't be able to see a spider that far away! Also we saw a few windows that already had nativities out. There's no Thanksgiving over here so Christmas prep is full blown after Halloween!

Wednesday morning Sister Vousden and I made the trek to the chapel for Relief Society, always a good laugh with the sisters there. We made some beautiful 3-D Christmas card shadow box thingies. We had a quick lunch at the chapel and went to visit some less active members. Most of them weren't in so we visited Gill and she showed us volume 68 (yeah.. and there's even more!) of her Osmond scrapbooks from concerts and meet and greets and her scripture set that's been signed by all the Osmonds. Then we went and taught our Methodist minister friend Gareth about the gospel of Jesus Christ. He could really see the similarities with our church and other Christian religions as we taught about faith and repentance and so on. Their house is already all decorated for Christmas and it's fab. Then we exchanged back and Sister Tartaglia and I went to coordination at the chapel. For youth, we had a big gender reveal party for one of the young women leaders; Hannah, who had just found out what her baby will be. We played lots of baby shower games and a lot of the less active youth and recent converts came out to see if she was having a boy or a girl. There was a piñata at the end with shredded paper and the gender was written on one of the slips. It's a boy!

Thursday morning we had a lovely district meeting joined by our zone leaders. We had a fun lunch together and had lots of laughs over some of the new features on photos for our iPads. We planned to see Eric after and Sister Manning came with us, but when we got there he had family and cleaners over so we couldn't go in. So we did some tracting in Newbridge and met some nice people! Then we hopped on a train to Llanhilleth to see the Davise Family. Amy had forgotten about our lesson but she still let us in (which is much better than calling before and having them cancel like the last few weeks) and we had a good chat catching up with them after so long. They're having some family struggles so we just helped Amy make their school lunches for the next day and talked about faith. It was really great to finally get back in contact with them and we had a lovely visit. Then we trained back and headed to the flat for dinner and began the long and painful process of transferring the area book into a digital format on our new app. Picture binders full of years and years of teaching records; people found, lessons taught and so forth that all has to be transferred. One day this app will be a beautiful sight, but for now we need a lot of time in the flat or at the chapel transferring it all over for future missionaries to have. 

Friday we had a pretty good day planned, but God had a much better day in store for us. We did our weekly planning and had lunch in the morning. Then we headed to Newbridge to catch a bus to an area of our area we'd never been to before. We planned to visit a list of less active members we'd been given (we found out later that most of them aren't even alive anymore). As we walked through Newbridge we ran into Hannah and she commanded us to come be the first visitors in their new home. We've been asking and asking when we could help her pack and also move in but she kept saying no. Hannah is pregnant and it was just her and her husband there and it became very apparent upon arrival that they needed some extra hands. Next thing we knew we were unpacking and assembling and trying to get everything done before the kids came to their new house. They were very thankful for our help and it was exactly where we were needed Friday. Then we went to contact a referral from the elders named Becky. She's youth age and lives with her mum who is a member so the elders had never been able to go inside and decided it was best for us to teach her. Well as we walked up the hill to their home, lo and behold Becky and Jane were headed down the hill to a bonfire and firework display... we chatted for a bit before they had to go and then we felt we should stop by Marcia with our empty time. We had a lovely visit and really cheered her up and knew that too was where we were needed. 

Saturday we got up bright and early and then had to run 15 minutes to the bus stop to catch a train to Cardiff. Our zone met together in the city to volunteer together for the British legion selling poppies. It was their big Poppy Appeal day and they gave us a big sector of the city to cover all day. Saturday was the big Cardiff vs. Australia rugby match so city centre was bustling and we had special poppy badges to sell with rugby balls on them. It was absolutely freeeeezing all day and we stood in the city for over 6 hours collecting. And no worries, only one drunk man threatened to blow us up. We had a lot of fun with our zone during our short lunch break. Then it was back to work, and after 6 hours in the cold we met a cool saxophone player and some of the elders starting dancing to try and sell more poppies. They looked like idiots but it was pretty entertaining for us!  I really just love being in the city and I especially love Cardiff city so it was a great day! Then we travelled back and visited Lilian. We went up to visit Becky again and as we walked up another hill to get there she was coming down again! But we tried and we will just keep trying! We visited some other members and walked back to the loud bursts of the fireworks. Saturday was bonfire night where they celebrate the fact that Guy Fawkes did not blow up parliament by blowing up a bunch of fireworks and having lots of bonfires in the U.K.  It was like a freezing cold version of the Fourth of July fireworks. As we walked down the hills back to our flat we could see all the beautiful fireworks over the Blackwood area and I just felt so thankful to be here right now as a missionary. I truly love the people here so much and there's no place I'd rather be. 

Sunday we had a relaxed church meeting seeing as neither of us had to talk or teach Sunday school. Then we had a delicious roast dinner with brother and Sister Spragg. Roast dinners are our favourite thing ever and last night I seriously had a nightmare that I came back to America and no one knew how to make gravy. And in my dream I was just like "how am I supposed to eat a proper meal without gravy" as I started to cry... this is what over 9 months in the U.K. does to your dreams!  We visited some less active members and then had call-ins and entered more teaching records into our area book app to finish off the night. 

We may not have taught a lot of people this week with the two holidays but we served everyone that gave us the chance and that truly brought the Spirit. Thankful for fun exchanges, big cities, warm hats, service projects and my Italian companion for teaching me how to make authentic homemade pizza today! We heard we may even get some snow this week so exciting things are ahead!
Love you all,
Sister Cebollero

1. It was so fun selling Poppies for the Poppy Appeal!

2. Poppies are sold to help the Veterans

3. We had fun with the missionaries in our zone on Poppy Appeal Day in Cardiff town centre

4. Selfie before district meeting

5. Playing games while we unpack boxes at Hannah's house