Monday we had a great district p-day. We went to Cardiff and did some shopping and ate at a really nice world buffet. Then we went bowling and I'll have to admit after a long time without bowling I was terrible the first game... but you'll be happy to know I absolutely crushed the elders the second game and won by a landslide!
Wednesday night we had a worldwide missionary broadcast where they announced some exciting changes for the missionary schedule and key indicators! We won't know how it affects our mission until we have a mission leadership council to discuss the changes and adapt them to our mission, but it was definitely a big shock to hear the announcement! One thing that was discussed was success as a missionary. They quoted from Alma 26 about how "it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance." The brethren explained that God can not give success to every missionary and as it explains in verse 27, we must "bear with patience [our] afflictions" regardless of if the Lord is blessing us with success. I really felt like this was for me serving in Blackwood. I've almost been here for 6 months and we have been working SOO hard with little to no success. But as it was expressed to me in a blessing last week, God knows that and He knows how hard I am trying. And to know that I am doing all that I can is true success in His sight.
Well the craziest news is that after some emergency changes this week I now have a new companion here in Blackwood! Her name is Sister Smirnova (smear-nova) and she is from the Ukraine! Her first language is Russian, her accent is adorable and despite the fact that she looks 12 she's actually 25! She has been a member of the church for 4 years and she's been on her mission for 6 months. And she just came from her greenie area...the best greenie area... Nottingham 4! So we've had a lot to talk about!
Before Sister Smirnvova came to Blackwood she had permission to call me and when they called us they were at my recent convert's house, Catherine! I got to talk to her on the phone and it was such a tender mercy and made my heart soooo happy! My little family in Notts 4 is doing sooo well and Catherine is enjoying her new calling as relief society first counsellor!! God is so good!
I just LOVE the fact that my mission is SO diverse! Not only have I taught people from all over the world but I've had companions from all corners of the world as well! This is my third companion in Blackwood that is foreign and what an adventure! I've loved learning about Italy, South Africa and now Ukraine! How lucky am I to mix with these wonderful people from all around the world and to learn about their lives. Last night for language study Sister Smirnova explained to me what it's like to scuba dive in the Black Sea, how cool is that? It's truly remarkable and I'm in awe how diverse this beautiful world we live in is! But I guess sometimes the diversity only works one way because I'm Sister Smirnova's 3rd Utah companion in a row haha. But I guess it's needed to help her learn English!
I've also come to realllyyy appreciate a good accent! I wish you could all sit in on a lesson here in Wales and just listen to our friends and members speak. I think it would have you in stitches... and by that phrase I mean laughing a lot! The welsh accent... my American accent (yes I still have it and no I'm not coming back with a British accent you have no idea how impossible that is) and whatever accent my numerous foreign companions have had makes for a very interesting lesson! I've had 3 companions in a row now with super cool accents and it just amazes me. Sometimes it's impossible to understand each other with so many different accents and with how fast we all talk but we somehow make it through. I'll be honest, the first few hours with Sister Smirnova I could not understand her at all! But I just prayed really hard and now I can understand her and help others we visit if they didn't catch what she said.
Thursday was a really hard day because I had to say goodbye to Sister McAravey whom I have come to love so much. She was really the companion I needed in Blackwood these last 8 weeks we were together and I learned so much from her. It was a little overwhelming coming back to the area with a new companion that I couldn't really understand. The pressure to help her understand the area before the actual transfers happen in two weeks (in case I move on) really began to sink in. I'd just helped Sister McAravey to know the area and the members and our friends and things we going so well... in fact better than ever in Blackwood. But at the mission office I received a heaven sent parcel from home and inside was a calendar with daily quotes from my amazing grandma. And the quote for Thursday could not have been meant for me more: "it is often in the trial of adversity that we learn the most critical lessons that form our character and shape our destiny" (President Uchtdorf). So bring on the challenge of a new foreign companion in Blackwood because this is just God's next plan to help me grow!
The rest of our week included lots of tracting in the rain with little success. Saturday we went district finding in Caerphilly and during lunch we walked outside the castle walls to show Sister Smirnova. We were walking on a path and a castle maintenance car started coming our way so we had to step off the path and it was super muddy and I slipped.....and that's how I almost ended up swimming in a dirty castle moat! Only in Wales haha!
Love you all, thanks for keeping me in your prayers!
Sister Cebollero xx
1. My new companion! Sister Smirnova from Ukraine
2. Bowling with the district!
3. Good-bye to Sister McAravey!! Love her so much!
4. Last picture with all the sisters in our district!