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:)