Monday, October 24, 2016

"The hearts strangely warmed"

Hello loves! It's a pretty long email this week, but I did meet an Apostle so I think you'll understand that there's a lot to write about! 

Last Sunday we left Blackwood right after church to travel to the Forrest of Dean! All of you Harry Potter fans out there know it was quite the magical place to spend the night . We took a few buses and trains to get there and then my baby Sister Knudsen and her new companion Sister Rydalch picked us up at the station. The Forest of Dean was Sister Tartaglia's greenie area so we spent the night visiting some of her favourite members. They were all so sweet and it was such a fun night. It was so nice to catch up with Sister Knudsen and talk about how Stourbridge and how the members there are doing. Sister Knudsen just hit 4 months, which is how old I was in the mission when I trained her and so that's weird to think about...time flies! We had a super fun night with the Forrest sisters and then tried to get a good night of sleep on the floor because they didn't have any extra mattresses. 

Monday was seriously like Christmas Day. Honestly, I don't even know how else to describe the happiness and excitement! We got up early to get ready and then we drove in the Forrest sister's posh brand new car to Solihull for the mission conference! This was the first time in my mission that our whole mission has been together so you can imagine my excitement to see all my friends in the mission! We all gathered in the chapel and awaited Elder and Sister Cook's arrival. 

This week our minister friend Gareth explained to us that the phrase that Methodists use when they feel the spirit is "the heart strangely warmed." Well, I can tell you there was nothing strange about the way my heart was warmed when Elder Cook entered the room and throughout our time with him (it was most definitely the SPIRIT!) And what a powerful feeling of the Spirit we had from the moment Elder and Sister Cook arrived. After a hymn and a prayer Elder Cook invited us all to come forward and to shake their hands and meet them before they gave their talks. They were so so nice! The sisters got to sit in the first few rows so Sister Tartaglia and I were front and centre on the second row. It was surreal to sit so close and to make eye contact with someone I usually only see on the television for general conference.

President and Sister Leppard both spoke first and they each spoke about their conversion stories. Then Elder Cook began his talk by telling us some stories that had come to his mind from his mission, that took place in areas in our mission! He was the first missionary to serve in some of the areas in the EBM so it was really exciting to hear his memories and the experiences he had here. Then he turned the time over to his wife and she had us sing Hark All Ye Nations and taught us a different version of it to sing all together. She was so bubbly and loving and just so adorable! One thing she said that I loved was that "none of us are perfect, but we can do perfect things everyday." Then Elder Cook spoke again, and opened it up for any questions. He taught us the 4 things we need to have love for as a missionary and taught us about the importance of getting commitments from the very first lesson. He closed by bearing a bold and beautiful apostolic witness of our Saviour, Jesus Christ that is beyond description. Then he left us the most beautiful apostolic promise on our personal lives for serving a mission. Our hearts were filled, tears flowed and the Spirit was thick! 

We were able to have lunch together as a mission when it ended, which made the amazing conference even better! It was so fun to catch up with old companions, district members and MTC friends! What a way to celebrate 9 months in the mission! Then we boarded the coach with the other zone in Wales and took a very long windy drive back to beautiful Wales! I only got a little carsick but a coach full of missionaries makes for a fun adventure! We got back to Cardiff around 5 and we were starved so our zone got dinner together in the city. Then we traveled back to Blackwood and visited Marcia to wrap up a day I will never forget!

Moving on to the rest of the week which was nowhere near as exciting...

Tuesday morning, we got a call from the zone leaders asking us to give training at zone meeting the next day. Usually just the district leaders or sister training leaders do that, besides them, so we were pretty surprised. We planned for that a little bit and then we went to do service for Julia. We talked to everyone we passed on the way there and met some interesting people! We had lunch with Julia and then did some cleaning. Then we went and had a lesson with David and Madalaine. We decided to stop by a potential from last week named Sola and when we knocked, her husband let us right in... This never happens so we were in shock! Then we had a beautiful lesson with the most lovely little family and taught them the restoration! They are from Bangladesh so there is a big difference in our cultural backgrounds but they are the nicest couple I've met here! They have the cutest daughter and another child on the way and they were all quite mesmerised as we shared the first vision with them, they were literally on the edge of their seats. Her husband asked for a Book of Mormon before we could even explain what is was! We've been struggling since I came here to find new investigators so this was a big miracle for us this week! 

Wednesday, we travelled to Cardiff again for our zone meeting. We gave training to the zone on Becoming Master Teachers and why it is so important to ask questions when we teach. It went smashingly and it was a great zone meeting, I love Cardiff zone! When we got back to Blackwood, we went and taught Gareth our minister friend. We taught him the plan of salvation and showed him a lot of scriptures in the Bible and Book of Mormon. We visited a teenager named Sam and then we attended ward council. 

We were really looking forward to a lunch lesson on Thursday with our friend Lynn, but she called in the morning and had to cancel. We rearranged our plans and got to work trying to visit and contact as many less active members as we could! Most of them either weren't home or were just about to go out so we only had a few visits. We visited some active members and they showed us their £300 baby dolls that look so real, seriously it's crazy how real they look! Then we visited our ward mission leader Des and his wife and they introduced us to a less active member and gave us a referral to start teaching her daughter! It was one of those days where we went though plan A..B...C.. And on and on to Z (have I ever mentioned they call the letter Z "Zed" here in the U.K.?) …out in the Welsh cold to stay busy despite changes to our plans. 

Friday, we did our weekly planning in the morning and then went to the chapel to help the Elders make a quiz on family history for an activity that night. After a quick lunch at the chapel we visited Marcia and watched a conference talk with her. Friday night we had a ward family history fireside! None of our friends ended up coming, but we had a great turnout from the ward! We were all split up into groups and as we went around to different stations, we were getting points and competing against the other groups. 

Saturday morning, we went to find some less active members again and it was a very cold morning! We were expecting the bishop and his wife to pick us up for a lunch date, but by the time they came it was dinner time. We had a lovely stew dinner with them and Bishop gave us a really good list of less active members in our area that we can work with and even gave us a nonmember referral! Then we took a train to Crosskeys and visited a super sweet potential from the Philippines who was let us right in! We had a short “how to begin teaching lesson” with her but didn't have much time before we had to catch a train back. 

Sunday at church I gave a talk. I was given a three word topic; "eternal future assured" and I wasn't really sure where to go with so I just talked about the talk President Uchtdorf gave about the plan of salvation in conference and it turned out okay! We got a gospel principles teacher so now we won't have to teach that class as often. We helped in the nursery as well which was really fun! After church we had a lovely Sunday roast dinner with Brother and Sister Spragg! We even had parsnips! Guys, America is seriously missing out on roast parsnips. I haven't had proper roast parsnips since I left Nottingham and I've never been so happy to see a vegetable on my plate!  Brother Spragg loudly pointed to me during dinner and exclaimed that he finally knew who I reminded him of.....The Mona Lisa!  Then we visited the twins, Megan and Emily and had a fun visit with them before our call-ins.

And finally that's a wrap on this most wonderful week! I'm officially at that point where I have as much time left to serve as I have already served! It's pretty surreal how fast the last 9 months have gone and I know the next 9 will go even faster so I'll see you all soon… in other news, keep us in your prayers, the mission said we have to get our flu jabs (shots) this week and we both hate getting injections!

Sending a "cwtch" your way!  (Welsh for hug and just a certain way they give hugs here in Wales)
Lots of love,
Sister Cebollero xx 
1. My new dress from my mom and sis in my 1/2 way package!

 2. MTC group Reunion!
3. Notts 4 Family Reunion

5. Before Conference Selfies

6/7. Meeting Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Twelve Apostles!!
It was so awesome!!!

8. The coach back to Wales! Cute Sister Jampapan from Thailand is in my zone now

9. Sleepover with Sister Knudsen and her comp

10. Visiting Sam this week

11. Zone Meeting (fun to see my old comp Sister Spangler)

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