Monday, August 29, 2016

Sister Knudsen takes the lead...

First of all, a HUGE Happy Birthday shout-out to my mom! Thanks for being my #1 fan and for always supporting me!

It's been another great week in Stourbridge! Week 11 in the 12 week training program is a chance for the new missionary to completely take the lead in everything; lessons, finding, member visits, planning, etc. Sister Knudsen did a great job taking lead this week and there were a lot of big learning experiences throughout the week. 

Monday we spent most of our P-day with a less active couple. They had us over for lunch, games and then we had dinner before we left. We had a super British meal of steak, eggs and homemade chips (fries). Pretty much they do a fried egg on top of the steak with the yolk still runny and oh my goodness, it was to die for! Then we visited another less active member in that neighborhood. When we got home, we had one of the people we met last week, call us and set an appointment so that was really exciting!

Tuesday morning we met with Linda and Adam and had a great lesson. Adam has read the Book of Mormon 5 times and is so ready to be baptized. I've been very bold with him about this the last few weeks, and this week we were able to set a baptismal date with him! Then we went to see a new friend but she wasn't in. So we did some tracting and met some really cool people! We were knocking in a neighborhood and everyone kept telling us their neighbors were Jehovah’s witnesses and they come around once a week to talk. The biggest miracle was a woman named Vi, when we told her we were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints she got so excited. She told us when her kids were little she called and asked for some of our church videos like the restoration and nativity and her kids loved watching them on Sunday's. She invited us to come back and teach her more about them! Then we had a really nice dinner with our Relief Society President; Irene, and her granddaughter. We stopped by the Cole family and talked to Stef for a while. She is really liking the Book of Mormon so far! 

Wednesday was a hot and busy day! In the morning we went to contact a less active we've been trying to see for a while now. She actually answered and she was crying, having just lost her son recently. We talked with her and helped to bring her some comfort and put her in contact with Bishop. Then we went back to Irene's and did some weeding with her and her granddaughter. We went to a return appointment with our new friend Alice who hobbled to the door. She'd just been released from the hospital and wasn't very well so we had to rearrange. We tracted up and down many hills for so long before we went to dinner with Sister Fielding! It was lots of walking but we met some really great people!  Sister Fielding fed us a nice roast dinner and some yummy rice pudding for pudding.

Thursday was a busy day with lots of travelling. Our district meeting was at the stake centre in Harborne so we could have interviews with President and Sister Leppard. It's always so great to see them, and especially to have time one on one to talk with them and learn from them. We had a really good district meeting, I gave a training on developing Christ-like attributes. On the way home we attempted to do part of our visiting teaching list. Everyone we have is in the elders’ area of our ward so we got lost a few times. Thursday was one of those super gloomy days where the sky has no hue whatsoever. We didn't see the sun once and it was very eerie. When we were going around it was absolutely chucking down with rain. We contacted a less active member who hasn't been in a long time and didn't even know there was a ward here in Stourbridge. She was super nice and even gave us a ride to the next sister on our list. It was quite the adventure home trying to find our way back in the rain! We were very wet by the time we got in! 

Friday morning we had our weekly lesson with Kevin. We continued on the importance of the Book of Mormon with him and read through the introduction to the Book of Mormon with him. Then we came home for our weekly planning and went to have dinner with Sister Hallmann. Then we tracted for a bit and when we got home we called a bunch of formers in our area book. 

Saturday morning we had district finding in the Stourbridge elder's area. Sister Maneafaiga and I started tracting and I realized one of the referrals we got recently that we have an appointment with next week lived where we were. I wanted to just introduce myself since we had talked on the phone so even though the elders had picked that road we also started making our way down it as well. Then we saw a bunch of other people coming up the street.. And then we realized they were knocking on doors... And then we realized we were tracting the same road as the Jehovah witnesses and that's why everyone was being so rude to us... Haha oops! Sister Gjevik and I met some really cool people and had a fun time together. Then we went and got lunch with our district. We still had awhile before our next appointment so we did some finding in our own area. And then we really had to use a toilet so we stopped at a member’s home. Just in time, because it started pouring after that. Our appointment fell through so we did more finding in the rain. Then we had an amazing lesson with the Sorra's. They are a Filipino part member family and they are so fun! We taught the plan of salvation and then had a late dinner with them. 

Sunday was another hot and muggy day, it's been so back and forth this week! Church was really good! The elders both spoke and then the third speaker was Brother Leighton who is 79 years old. He's been a branch president and really involved with the ward here and his talk was hilarious. He kept listing all the celebrities he can't wait to meet in heaven and the questions he's going to ask them and compliments he's going to give them. He went on and on and then he'd throw in a good spiritual quote he remembered from members of the ward who have passed away. Old wards are so funny! In Sunday school, the lesson was on the Armies of Helaman so the teacher asked the missionaries to sing the primary song “Armies of Helaman” to start the class off. We did lots of following up and more tracting after church. Then we had dinner with Sister Hallmann. 

We've got a busy week up ahead that I'm really excited for! With transfer calls coming on Sunday it will most likely be my last week here in Stourbridge...but who knows?! 
Love you all!
Sister Aubri Cebollero
1. We are cat-sitting our neighbor's cat Jasmine. Don't worry she's not in our flat. We just go over and feed her.  He pays us in Chocolate and let's me borrow his guitars!

2. Sister Gjevik and Sister Cebollero on exchanges

3. Canals and walking paths are fun!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Seven Months in the Earth's Best Mission!

This week we set a goal to do a random act of kindness for a member each day. So Monday night we took a nice note to a single mom in the ward. Then we tracted by her house and met some really lovely people. Summer is definitely coming to a close as it is starting to get dark really early again.

Tuesday morning we had our Book of Mormon study with Adam and Linda. He's really starting to progress more and is even sharing the gospel with a coworker of his. He still has a lot of fear of commitment and church but he is making lots of good progress!  We stopped by the Cole family to see how they were doing. They've had lots of crazy family emergencies so we hadn't been able to see them. They were just waiting for an ambulance for their son who is paralyzed when we arrived so we set up an appointment for the next week. During lunch I made some cookies and we took those around to some members for our act of kindness. We gave them to Margaret and the Stantons for giving us rides to the activity last week and had nice visits with each of them. We went back to the area we tracted Monday to follow up with some people and finish tracting the same road. 

Wednesday morning we went to visit our friend Peter but he wasn't in. Our backup plans weren't home either so we went to the next backup plan which was finding. Part of the zone's new plan to get 4 potentials a day is to try and figure out what times work well and don't work well for finding in our areas. Let's just say we came across a time that did not work very well and with people at work & the summer Holidays, hardly anyone was in. After lunch we visited Lorraine Bowen and helped her tidy up again. Then we went and followed up with some potentials and did more finding. We keep meeting super solid families who don't want us to try back until September after school starts, but at least they still really want us to come back! Wednesday night we went to Sister Fielding's for our weekly dinner. She had another friend pass away and she was too upset to cook for us so she had us stop at the chippie on our way there. Then we came back and had 12 week study, hooray! 

Thursday morning we had a great district meeting about faith. Up until Thursday this week was mega hot and we were dying all day! The buses were extremely hot as we travelled to and from district meeting. We took cookies to Bishop and Sister Watton who were actually really happy, must have been the good weather and free cookies! We had a really great visit with them. Then we literally had to run across town to get to Margaret's house for dinner. With the humidity and heat, we were dying when we got there, but we made it on time so that's what counts! Also air conditioning pretty much doesn't exist here, so the heat + running + a very hot roast dinner = a bit of a struggle!  Sister Wooldridge is the spunkiest, liveliest 83 year old you'd ever meet and she is an amazing convert to the gospel. I would listen to her stories for hours if we could! 

Friday morning we met with Kevin and had a really good lesson on the importance of the Book of Mormon. Then we had lunch and did our weekly planning. We were going to paint for Sister Hallmann but the heat of the week ended with a very rainy weekend so we were unable to. She still had us over for a nice dinner though! Then we went tracting. The weather was nice when we started but soon we were going about in absolute downpour! It was really coming down and my new lightweight summer waterproof I had picked up on Monday ended up not being so waterproof. Yay for knocking on doors looking like a wet dog! We came home and bundled up for 12 week study. Crazy how it went from sweating to death to soaked and freezing, but that's England for you!

Saturday morning we went to Dudley town centre for district finding. Sister Gjevik and I ran into one of her friends who gave me an awesome referral…miracles! Then this Pentecostal man really wanted to bash with us which we really try to stay away from...but he got quite worked up and we couldn't leave it. He was quite rude but we held our ground and stood by our testimonies. It was an exciting, aggravating and a bit exhausting to be honest! Then we ran into this LDS couple from Provo that just got transferred to the hospital here as a medical student. They are new in Woodsetton ward but they hadn't met anyone yet. We had a really lovely chat with them and then they joined us for lunch at a really nice buffet. We travelled back and had a nice visit with Ann Taylor. Then we followed up with some potentials and did more finding. We met a really awesome lady whose best friend growing up was LDS. She saw the Book of Mormon musical in London and was telling us how because of her friend she knew it was way incorrect. She is really interested in coming to church and we're excited to go follow up with her more! 

Sunday morning we forgot we weren't having coordination so we got to the church super early so we made sure it was all tidy. Relief society was on eternal marriage and the sisters had us in stitches laughing so hard! We're a small enough group to all share and be involved which is so nice. They all shared how they met their husbands, how they proposed and how they dealt with their husbands imperfections. It was quite sweet and very funny! After church we made a lot of calls to potentials and we called the referral we got yesterday. She was so nice and she is so excited for us to come over! Then we did lots of tracting. After that we had a lovely roast dinner with Sister Hallmann, then had our call-ins and 12 week study. 

It's been a great 7 months here in the EBM! Hope you all have a great week back to school! 
Sister Cebollero 
1.  District Lunch with the new couple in Woodsetton Ward
2. "Tracting in the rain isn't my cup of tea, but the view made it a little sweeter!"

Monday, August 15, 2016

Miracles in Black Country

Last Monday we had a district P-day and we went to the Dudley zoo and castle! The castle ruins were pretty cool to see! After P-day we went to visit our friend Kay but she wasn't home. We were walking on a path to our next visit and there was a lot of rubbish. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a picture of the Preston temple on the path so I bent to pick it up and it was an old weathered missionary planner cover. There was a man on the path near us and as he heard us talking so he asked where we were from. We were then able to explain where we were from and what we were doing in England. This led into questions and teaching him the plan of salvation and introducing the Book of Mormon to Peter. He had so many questions so he invited us to his house for the next day to share more! Then we went and visited a less active couple we had only seen once before. We've been trying to go back for ages but kept catching them out. They were in and we had a powerful lesson on the Book of Mormon. The lady feels like she never had a testimony when they were baptized so we invited them to read the entire Book of Mormon and they agreed to start together Monday night! 

Tuesday morning we taught Adam again with Linda. Besides their adorable new kittens being a little distracting, it was a great Book of Mormon study. Then we went to see our friend Ann who is the sweetest old lady ever! We visited Lorraine who is house-bound and did some service cleaning up for her. We went to teach Peter more but he ended up not being in so we did some tracting, had dinner and did good ol' 12 week study!

Wednesday we had an amazing zone meeting! It was different than any other zone meeting I've been to and I learned a lot! We came up with a zone vision for our work as missionaries and for members in the Birmingham stake; "As united disciples in the Birmingham stake we are effective and inspired representatives of Jesus Christ." We set some great goals as a zone to accomplish this. Sister Knudsen and I were going to sing a duet but we ran out of time and didn't need to. It was a relief because we had only been asked the day before. When we finally made it back to Stourbridge we visited some of the people we met tracting the last Wednesday. We had a lesson with a new friend named Lee about the Book of Mormon which was great. Then we had a lovely roast dinner with Sister Fielding and when she let us go we had 12 week study. 

Thursday morning we visited Sister Wooldridge who pulled out all sorts of old pictures and told us all about her family history. She told us that Ann Taylor's dog Calvin had passed away so we ended up taking her a card in the afternoon. We stopped by a less active mom and taught her 3 adorable kids a lesson about Jesus Christ. Her son just turned 9 and really wants to be baptized but they are probably moving soon so we will see how it goes. We had a nice dinner of Bangers and Mash with Sister Hallmann. Then we went tracting and found some new people to teach! 

Friday was my miracle day this week. Oh my goodness, so many miracles! The first one sounds a bit silly but I promise it's true! I went to unpack after exchange last week and my retainer case was empty so I've been looking for it everywhere. I couldn't remember if I lost it there or here and I turned the flat upside down looking for it. I kept praying to find it and it wasn't turning up. I even distinctly remember opening the case again multiple times as I searched because I was that desperate to find it. Thursday night I prayed really hard again but I couldn't find it. Then Friday morning I was doing my hair and I went to move the retainer case out of the way and there was a noise in my case so I opened it again and my retainer was there! I nearly fell off my bed, I was so shocked! God answers prayers in mysterious ways everybody! We had a lesson with Kevin and then went to renew our bus passes. When we went out I was determined to talk to the first person I saw and we met this really cool guy named Emmanuel who ended up being a former investigator that even came to church last year! We quickly renewed our bus passes, visited with a part member family to invite them to an activity and did our weekly planning. Because of the crazy day we had we hadn't had much time to do finding, but we were still really determined to meet our new zone goal of 4 potential friends a day. We took the short time we had and our faith and set out! We learned that sometimes tracting begins with a slammed door and swear words and ends with 9 people inviting you back and 2 of them even inviting you in!!! Someone was seriously trying to discourage us about that road. We just have to remember that every door is a new child of God and we need to be excited about that! Then we visited Sister Taylor and she gave us a lift home to end a busy miracle filled day. 

Saturday was another busy day. We had district finding in our area this week. Stourbridge is an area known for a lot of old people and the area we felt prompted to go to was just that. I'm getting used to it though and I love talking to all the older people here! It was mostly door after door of older people very set in their ways.  But at least they are kind and we had a great time as a district. Saturday night, a neighboring branch invited Stourbridge ward for a BBQ with a whole roast pig and everything. It was an amazing activity and a few of our friends came. We had 35 from Stourbridge (including their friends and family they brought) which was a great turnout...considering that is more people than we had at church last Sunday! Then we went to follow up with our friend Kay and had a lovely visit with her. Turns out she came to church years ago because she is friends with a member's daughter! It's a small world and she was so excited to hear we were from the same church as her friend. 

We had a lovely and peaceful Sabbath Day. Our chorister was poorly so I got asked to lead the music and we also taught in primary again because a teacher didn't end up coming. Pretty much they just asked us to always be prepared to take over in primary. We also got assigned a very long visiting teaching list of all the less active members the farthest away that are all very spread out over the ward so wish us luck…Small wards are fun!  Then we had a lovely tea (lunch) with the Cartwright's. We tracted by their house afterwards to try and find a former but it turns out his house number doesn't exist... No worries, we will find him! We have done so much tracting in this area and it is really helping me to love it. I love talking to people and hearing about their life and their beliefs and sharing my testimony with them. I even love the ones who slam the door in our faces and swear at us...which is weird. But after this life they'll look back and see we still tried with a smile on our faces and love in our hearts! 

Time here in the beautiful Black Country region is flying by with the end of another great week! Hope you're all enjoying your summer! 
Love, Sister Cebollero

1.  Priory Park with Sister Hallmann and her granddaughter
2. Just "hanging" this p-day

3. Such beautiful ruins!

4. Dudley Castle Ruins

5. With the district at the zoo!

6. Dudley Zoo and castle

7. The district on top of the castle

8. With Sister Knudsen, her first castle!

9. Dudley castle

10. View from the castle tower

 11. A giant roast dinner at Sister Fielding's house
12. The District takes on the zoo

13/14.  Birmingham Zone with our mission statement 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Stourbridge is on Fire!

The missionaries in Stourbridge are on fire...and yesterday Stourbridge was literally on fire when we walked out of church. Living in the Black Country region just got real!! #blackcountrylife (It’s black from the smoot from the industries)

Last Monday, during grocery shopping, the first thing I saw was the new Harry Potter book and I literally shed a tear. So I bought a Harry Potter shirt at Primark because that's the closest I'll get for the next year! After our hike for P-day and emailing, we spent a lot of time going through our area book and organizing it as we will soon be moving to phase 2 of the iPad usage and receiving an area book app!

Tuesday morning we went and taught Adam with his fiancée Sister Taylor again. He has been sharing the gospel at work with a coworker so we gave him a Book of Mormon and talked about that! He loves the Book of Mormon but is still a little nervous about coming to church. It was a great lesson though and he wants to work on coming to church! Then we travelled to Harborne for the most interesting exchange of my life with Sister Berrett! We had a few interesting and awkward visits, then we had the most amazing experience ever! We got to go see a member Sister Berrett is really close to receive her patriarchal blessing!! It was such a spiritual experience and really strengthened my testimony on revelation and priesthood power! The stake patriarch is in our ward here in Stourbridge and is the sweetest old man ever. His wife is in a care home and we can't visit him alone so it was nice to spend that time with him as well! 

Wednesday morning we got up super early to do sports with their district for exercise. Then after studies, Sister Berrett and I visited some of their friends. Then Sister Knudsen and I travelled back to good ol' Stourbridge! We had two hours before our dinner with Sister Fielding so we went to follow up with some potentials and did lots of tracting! We saw many miracles and met so many people who were interested and that we were able to talk to! Then we had a nice dinner with Sister Fielding who is pretty depressed about all that's happened in her life recently which was sad! She always cries when we leave which is really hard, but she is the sweetest old lady I've ever met!

Thursday we had district meeting in Woodsetton and it was Elder Nicotra's last district meeting before he returns home to Italy this week. It was really great and we all spent some time to share what we have learned as missionaries which was really powerful. Then we went to contact some potentials and visit some members. After dinner we went and taught a less active sister we've been trying for visit for a few weeks. Then we took a thank you note to Sister Taylor for taking us out the last two p-days. Then we did some 12 week study when we got home. 

Friday morning we had a lesson with Kevin on the sacrament that was really good. We were also able to get an LDS edition of the King James Bible for him to use with his studies so he was excited about that. We had a quick lunch then headed out to contact a former investigator who wasn't in. Then we went to the Hallmann's to paint their fence gates in the front garden, yay service! 

Saturday morning we met up in the Woodsetton Sisters’ area for our weekly district finding activity. It was a fun and miraculous time, as always! We all got Kebabs after for lunch which was delicious. Then we travelled back and did our weekly planning. We had been asked to teach the youth Sunday school class and then primary so we prepared for those lessons as well. When that was over we went to visit a cool potential who decided not to be cool anymore. And then on our walk back we ran into a former and had a great conversation with him! 

Sunday morning we went to the church early for our coordination meeting. Church was great and we were so happy Sister Hallmann came! We had a great fast and testimony meeting. No youth showed up so we were just asked to help in primary the last two hours since the only leader there was the president. We helped her with sharing time and then taught our little group of kids their lesson on the stripling warriors. After church we went with Sister Hallmann and helped her prepare dinner. We had a great roast dinner with her. Then we pretty much had to travel back home due to all the food people gave us at church. We visited a potential then worked more from our area book while we waited for call-ins. Since Elder Nicotra is leaving this week we are getting a new district leader transferred here, and he's from Peru! 

Today we are going to the Dudley zoo and castle with our district so it should be a good time! Hope you all have a fantastic week! 
Sister Cebollero

1. What you get from church every Sunday when all your best friends are older ladies! So blessed!!

2. Goodbye district meeting for Elder Nicotra!

3. Elder Longhurst and Elder Stephenson and Sister Cebollero and Sister Knudsen, with ward mission leader Brother Stanton

4. Sister Hallmann came to church with us! 

5/6. "WoodBridge" district 

Monday, August 1, 2016

A district full of Greenie power!

Monday we had a great night! We visited a less active member and then a member who is house bound. Even though she is unable to come to church right now, she loves the gospel. She's going through a lot of pain and suffering right now and she really appreciated us coming to visit with her. 

Tuesday was an amazing day! In the morning we went to study the Book of Mormon with Linda. Stacey was too poorly to come for a lesson, but Linda's fiancée Adam joined us for the lesson. He's had the lessons in the past and is really interested in learning again. Then we went to continue our painting service for the Hallmann’s! We did a second coat on the shed and started on the fence panels. After that we went to a dinner appointment with the Cole family whom we met tracting a few weeks ago and recently started teaching! They forgot they had invited us for dinner until we showed up...awkward! But they let us in and we had an amazing lesson with them on the restoration! They have six kids, and their youngest; Stephanie is 18 and the only one still at home. The parents and Stef are so interested and it was amazing! Then they even ordered us Chinese food so we got to talk more about the church and our life as missionaries and share a great meal together! They gave us a lift back and the shortcut they took went right next to the chapel so we were able to point it out to them! 

Wednesday we did our extra 12 week study in the morning. Then we went to paint at the Hallman’s and had lunch with Louise. Our other appointments fell through so we went and saw Sister Wooldridge and had a nice visit with her. She gave us a lift to Sister Fielding's house for dinner. We were there pretty early so we tracted in her neighborhood for a bit and met some really nice people! We had a lovely dinner with Sister Fielding. She is still pretty shaken up from being robbed last week and she still cries when we have to say goodbye. Bless her sweet soul!

Thursday morning we had our first district meeting with our full district! Our mission got quite a few new missionaries this week and two are in our district! Elder Stephenson is training Elder Longhurst from Bountiful and Sister Gjevik is training Sister Maneafaiga from Australia! Besides our district leader and his companion, the rest of our district is all trainers and trainees and it's amazing! We had a really good district meeting getting to know each other. Thursday night we had a really good ward coordination! We were able to discuss some things that needed work with the ward council so that we can better help the less active members in this area. 

Friday we did our weekly planning and had a flat inspection. We cleaned our flat so well, it looked brand new and we passed with flying colors! After lunch we met Kevin for a lesson. We were able to teach him the full plan of salvation and he loved it! It was a really good lesson with him. Then we went to a nice relief society activity that was really well attended. There were different craft and service tables so we sewed some things for a hospital and visited with the ward sisters. 

Saturday morning we did district finding in the Stourbridge Elder's area. Greenie power is real and we saw many miracles! First I went tracting with Sister Maneafaiga and she is just a natural! One man even invited us in! This like never happens!!! Unfortunately he was a widower so we couldn't go in, but we taught him on his doorstep and had a great lesson and he can't wait to have the Elders come back! After an hour we switched and I went with Sister Gjevik! Watching our greenies walk off alone together was weird for both of us, but they did amazing and got through their hour together great! It was a nice opportunity for Sister Gjevik and I to just talk. She's been a great help and a great friend here for me and I'm so thankful for her! We had a really nice district lunch as well after tracting. Then we went and finished painting the second coat on the back garden fence for the Hallman’s and had a good 12 week study when we got home. 

Sunday morning we had the most hilarious coordination meeting! Our ward mission leader was writing his talk for sacrament during our meeting based on what we were saying and it was pretty much the most random thing I've ever heard! He just had all these thoughts about the ward and missionary work and communication and tried to string them all together. It was a really good sacrament meeting and he focused on the "missing congregation" in this ward. It's a very small ward, this week we only had 26 members come out and he talked about working with the less actives and the missionaries so it was much needed! We went out to follow up with potentials and visit less active members after church with no luck. We had our weekly Sunday roast dinner with Louise and then headed back for call-ins and 12 week training. 

Today we went to a village called Kinver with Sister Ann Taylor and Kevin. We went on a beautiful hike up the hills and there was a beautiful view at the top! 
Hope everyone has an amazing week! Love you!

Sister Cebollero 
1.Our beautiful P-Day Hike!!

2. Hike Selfie, wearing a sweater in AUGUST?

3. The beautiful view of our area! 

4. Sister Ceb, Kevin, Sister Taylor, Sister Knudsen, and Sister Taylor's grandson
5/6.  Such a beautiful view!!

7. My new district! So many new missionaries, so much faith!