Monday, June 26, 2017

When England gets hotter than Spain...wait that's possible??

Last Monday for our pday we took a stroll in Leamington Spa which is near where I lived in Warwick. We did some shopping and all the shops I wanted to visit for the last time since we don't have them in Banbury were having huge sales so that was a tender mercy #blessed. We ate a delicious lunch at Nando's and then burned to death in the heat wave outdoors but it was a great time! After pday we had a family home evening lesson with John and the Walks and did some finding to end off a great day. 

Tuesday morning we went and taught Amina the word of wisdom and she already lives it all to that was a breeze. Honestly, she's just amazing! We also got to teach Henry for the first time this week as well. He's the polish guy that came to church a few weeks ago and he is so humble and definitely an honest truth seeker so it went great. Then we went tracting for a few hours and we were just melting. Everyone kept telling us it was hotter than spain here this week with the humidity and sun. We were just going along and this lady opened who we could tell was also American. She wasn't keen on listening AT ALL but then she took pity on us and let us in for some ice water *a rare find here I must mention* We had a lovely chat and she said a prayer at the end and teared up. Even though she wasn't interested we know she felt something and she'll remember that in the future. Then we went to Coventry to help with some new arrivals from the MTC coming into the zone! Our new sister is actually from kaysville so that was so fun as we had some mutual friends. Then we have new elders from Canada, Switzerland, Utah and Mexico in the zone. Ahh so fun to help them move their luggage and welcome them in. Compared to the amount of time they've been out they all think I'm ancient haha so that was a weird feeling! 

Wednesday our car was getting some work done to fix some old scratches and dents from the past. A company came and fixed them all in the car park of the chapel so we just worked around there for the day. We tracted loads and stopped by the auntie of an elder that we have both served around so that was fun. Then we drove to Bicester and had a lesson with the Garwood family. We had an outside lesson and with the heat that was rough! The husband is the key to this family and he invited us to come around for some Chinese food next week so that was a huge blessing for him to invite us as he usually isn't there when we teach. Then we had a nice dinner with our bishop and his cute family so that was fun. 

Thursday we had the Coventry zone conference. With the 5 new greenies there was a special spirit there and all our trainings went well. We gave a training on how to overcome adversity and another on following up with commitments. Then I gave another departing testimony which was still just as strange as last week! I mentioned how the time goes so fast that one of the only ways I know time has gone by is noticing how long my hair has grown. President made a joke later about how elders need to measure time by how much hair they lose as they need frequent hair cuts haha. We came back and did some tracting and literally met sooo many prepared people that we're excited to follow up with this next week. The miracles just kept rolling in! 

Friday morning Sister Nelson had another driving test and she passed! So that was super exciting and now we can switch off driving which will be nice. Then we went and taught our referral Joe that we got from the oxford missionaries. And oh my days. Joe is theeeee most prepared human I've ever met in my life. He met with the elders and senior couple in oxford a few times and just loved everything. He even read some anti stuff online and he said it just made him want to join more so he knew that was a good sign. Guys. Honestly such a miracle. But as timing goes, he's leaving this week to travel Europe for over a month. So I'll never get to teach him again, but he will be baptised in September and we're stoked!  

Sunday we had a huge miracle at church! Amina was in London for the weekend, and none of our other friends were able to make it to church either which is always kinda a bummer. Then in the middle of the next talk this Indian guy just walks right into sacrament meeting and sits down. And a bishopric member in the corridor just signals to us that he just walked in and did a thumbs up sign haha. So during the intermediate hymn we asked him to come sit with us and he was like when this is over I'll tell you how I got here. So after the meeting he explains how he recently moved from one part of Banbury to a new development by the chapel. And he's been pretty down so his friend gave him a Christian prayer to say a few times a day about asking to be saved and such. So he was walking to town and he saw our church and just felt like he should come see what was inside! We sent him off with a Book of Mormon and a return appointment #MIRACLES 

Thankful that it's finally cooled down and for all the many blessings we have seen once again here in Banbury! 

Love you all,
Sister Cebollero xx 

Sorry we were rubbish at photos this week, we had some with the new arrivals but I didn't get them from anyone... sorry!

1. Sister Nelson and Sister Cebollero

2/3.Zone Conference

Monday, June 19, 2017

Starting off my last transfer with a SPLASH!

JOHN GOOCH. Known on 20 years worth of stacks and stacks of teaching records as "THE GOOCH" ...

Now to be known in the Banbury ward as Brother Gooch :) 


okay enough excitement let me tell you about this amazing miracle filled crazy hectic week and how we ended up having a baptism among a flood of other miracles 

Monday we spent our pday with most of our district exploring Kenilworth Castle. I had been to the grounds before when I served in Warwick but never inside them. We had fun exploring the castle ruins and the gardens. And the elders of course had fun climbing the castle ruins. Then we got back to Banbury and did some glorious finding and just met so many genuinely nice people which means so much. We found 2 new investigators which was just amazing. Later that night we called Sister Jones and in the wisdom of her last night she said "when you find 2 new friends on a Monday night you know it's gonna be a good week!" She was right!

Tuesday morning we helped the Coventry sisters both get moved out and to the train station. Sister Olsen was off to be a new STL and sister Jones was off to head home! It didn't get real until that train pulled away and the elders looked at me and said ... well Sister Cebs looks like you're next! *tears* We headed back to Banbury and taught our beautiful friend Amina about the plan of salvation. It was glorious. Then we did a load of finding. We stopped by a less active member we had been really prompted to go see. She'd had an odd day off and told us that she usually is never in when missionaries have tried in the past. She teared up during her message and it was just such a confirmation that we had truly followed the prompting of the spirit to go and see her. Then we had dinner with the Walks and they made us homemade funeral potatoes. Like they literally shredded potatoes by hand because they wanted to make those for us. They told us a beautiful story about a horse they once had as we ate dinner. Then we dropped off a bike some other sisters had borrowed to a recent convert here named Rhiannon. She was baptised in January and she is preparing to serve a mission. So we gave her a copy of preach my gospel and just talked about what a blessing it is to serve the Lord and she just was glowing. 

Wednesday we had this great lesson with John Gooch about prophets and specifically modern day prophets. We had a lovely chat and then at the end Sister Walk asked him if he had got in contact with his sister yet. And he mentioned that she would in fact be here this Saturday. And so Sister Walk was like well then let's still have the baptism then! And he just got this huuuggee smile on his face and asked if that was still possible... because let's be real after 20 years none of us wanted to wait until july! So we made some calls and then from there worked as hard as we could to make it happen! 

Thursday we had the first district meeting of the transfer then afterwards we planned with the Zone Leaders for our zone conference trainings next week. We came back and had a lesson with John to go over baptism prep and the program for the baptism. Then we had to finish wrapping up our trainings for our first Zone Conference the next day. With the baptism and other appointments we hadn't had a lot of time to put anything together so we were a little stressed. Thankfully the revelation came right in the nick of time and it all came together quite beautifully. 

So Friday morning we headed to the mission office for the Lichfield Zone Conference. We were able to give one training on the importance of follow up and another on increasing our work ethic. When we were thinking of work ethic we started thinking about superheroes and how they always work so hard despite convenience. So we came up with an acronym for how to be "super" missionaries! Simplicity Urgency Purpose Earnest and Righteous! We had a lot of fun going along with the superhero analogy and sharing this with the Zone. The last sister's here left all these bright notecards so we quickly cut everyone a superhero mask for fun. Hopefully it was memorable and fun amidst the hours of trainings! Then because it's my last transfer I was asked to give a departing testimony.. something that quite often starts with "wow I never thought this day would come..." thankfully I avoided that, but man was I thinking that! It was overwhelming to stand there and realise my time will come to an end soon and try and sum up what I've learned. Luckily it was an early Zone Conference and I've still got plenty of time left to learn more :) 

Then we drove back and headed straight to our wards game night. We moved it to once a month so that we can have a better turnout and not waste any precious time. And three of our friends were able to make it along with many members! There was some good fun and fellowshipping. And also lots of screaming kids that made us even more exhausted! 

Saturday was the blessed baptism day of John Gooch! Everything just came together to allow this to happen this week. He showed up to the church already in his white jumpsuit with a suit coat over it and a towel around his shoulders. He was ready and truly so happy to enter the waters of baptism! Being the missionary he already is he invited a friend and his sister to attend and they just loved the baptism service. We had the chance to do a musical number and the spirit was thick. Watching John get baptised was just a beautiful experience that I will always remember fondly. He even splashed around a little bit when he came up which was a side of him we hadn't seen before. As president McKee said last week, he truly is a special man. He bore a unique testimony after of the things that have led him to be baptized. 

Teaching John I've realised it doesn't matter exactly how we come to know the gospel is true, it just matters that we have that witness for ourselves. We don't all have to have the same cookie cutter experiences or receive our answers in the same way. Sometimes we worry too much about feeling what others say they have felt or knowing in the same way someone else does. While we all learn from the spirit, we all feel and we all learn in different ways and that's how it's meant to be. And what a beautiful truth to know that the spirit can testify to us in such a personal manner. 

And then as if we didn't already see enough miracles this week they just continued. And I know this is already long but you just need to hear these! #blessed 

So we went Saturday night to follow up with a new friend named Dora. We'd been so excited about her when we met her but she hadn't been there for our set appointment. So we stopped by and got let right in and we see this beautiful 10 day old baby girl that is just adorable. And she tells us that she's so sorry she missed us because she got our note we left and she had been in hospital having a baby when we'd come by. And she said she was hoping we'd come again because she felt bad.. and we were like whoah you know someone is solid when the reason they missed your appointment is because they were giving birth. So with the sweet spirit of this adorable new baby in the room we taught a beautiful Plan of salvation lesson. Dora told us she went to church before and was taught a bit when she lived in Ghana. She left her Book of Mormon there and she said she always reads it when she goes back home to visit. She's sooo prepared. 

Sunday we had a beautiful and another extremely hot day. John received the gift of the Holy Ghost and that was also just amazing to witness and the blessing was so personal to him. Amina was able to come to church and is just progressing so much. Later in the day we had dinner with the Walks and as we were headed Back to our flat we passed the Italian restaurant we ate at a few weeks ago and left a Book of Mormon with a waiter. Well we saw her walk out and pass by but she didn't hear us say hello. And then the owner saw us and called us over, having known lots of missionaries in the past here. It was just the owner and the waiters so he invited us in for some free ice cream to talk about how the work is going and how we are liking our missions and he was just so kind! Such a cool experience to sit and talk with all of them and enjoy some ice cream in the heat of the day. 

Then we get out and we have some missed calls and we find out that we got a referral. Which doesn't happen too often so we were pumped. And then we listened to the messages and it got even better. This 18 year old guy from Banbury ran into the oxford elders a few weeks ago and has been being taught there as it's very close to where we live. He's just so solid and is progressing and is on a baptism date but then the elders found out he lived here so they passed him on to us so he can get baptised. So basically we didn't just get a referral, we got a new referral on a baptismal date!!!! WHAT?!? We called him and talked and we are just stoked to meet him soon. Getting a referral is rare, so getting one on a baptism date was literally unreal. 

GOD LOVES US. honestly we have just been blessed sooo much this week and I have no idea what we did to deserve all of these blessings. As I sit here in England I am absolutely humbled and testify that this truly is the Lord's work. None of this would be possible if it wasn't. The Banbury font was full this week, but our hearts are even more full with the love and joy the gospel brings. Being a missionary is the best choice I've ever made! 

Love you all!
Sister Cebollero xx  

P.s. 17 months ago today I left America...😱 

I forgot that eggs from the stores in America are white this week. Lol they're all tan/brown here and the Walks mentioned them being white and bigger in America and I literally was so confused. 

1. The amazing John Gooch was baptized!

2. John's sister came to see his baptism!

3. It was a very sunny beautiful day for John's baptism

4. Sister Cebollero and Sister Nelson

5/6. Kenilworth Castle

7. The Elders had fun climbing on the castle walls!

8. Shoutout to the elders for pointing out every single plane that passed the castle. Bring on the last transfer!

9. Lichfield Zone Conference 

10. Superheroes at Zone Conference

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Twinkle in our Eyes

Monday we had a truly beautiful preparation day! We went adventuring with Elder and Sister Walk to Ann Hathaway's cottage. It's the family home of Ann and is supposedly where William Shakespeare courted her and where they fell in love. Awwhhhh. The kitchen floor was the original cottage floor...aka we walked where Shakespeare walked… the tour guide said if we wanted to feel closer to him we could kiss the floor or dance barefoot on it... Sister Nelson just couldn't resist and off came the shoes! Anyways it was a fun tour and the grounds were just beautiful! The Walks even took us out to lunch afterwards #blessed #spoiledbytheseniors Then Sister Nelson practiced some driving in the church parking lot for her driving test and we did lots of tracting! 

Tuesday morning started off with Sister Nelson's driving test here in Banbury. Our car was just unlucky this week because she didn't pass :/ Wednesday morning another Sister borrowed our car to take hers and she didn't pass either. It's pretty common to have to take it a few times because it's so much harder to drive here. It left me feeling extra thankful once again that I was miraculously able to pass right when we needed it! The best part about the Sister using our car Wednesday was that her test was early in the morning in Coventry so we got to sleep over with Sister Jones and Sister Olsen one last time! Such a blessing, I love them both so much! With Sister Jones heading home Wednesday it means I'm next and that is just unreal! 

So on Sunday when we talked to John Gooch we had set a really soon baptisimal date since he's been investigating for 20 years now. We had a lesson with him Wednesday and reviewed some of the interview questions. We were trying to figure out if he was ready because we wanted him to get baptised this Saturday, the 17th. We just had the strongest prompting to move forward and schedule the interview. So we did and HE PASSED! Honestly such a miracle. He's been close many times before but never really on his own desire. There has been such a change in him. He absolutely loved going to the temple trip Saturday with the ward members. Unfortunately we thought all was set for the 17th and that we'd have a miracle baptism this week.. but he would really like for his sister to attend and she isn't available probs until July. Huge bummer since we already got him interviewed and all but we are trying to make it happen as soon as possible! 

We had exchanges with the beautiful Walsall Sisters this week! I got to be with Sister Chena our beautiful greenie from India! Ah man, she is just the most adorable little sister ever! Our exchange was kinda crazy and consisted of lots of motorway traffic (driving is so exhausting in this country... maybe just being stuck in traffic for hours due to exchanges but it's annoying), John passing his interview, a flat inspection, getting absolutely drenched in the rain and lots of finding of course. We had a blast and when we walked into the flat at night and she saw our guitars she just squealed and begged me to play for her and teach her a song. So we had a fun night together. 

We got back from exchanges after more traffic and picked up a sweet member Margaret to go teach our friend Nicholas from Zimbabwe. He is super cool and we had a great lesson on the plan of salvation. He's definitely a talker and of course right when we tried to wrap things out his daughter brought us out a whole watermelon so of course we had to stay even longer but it was a good lesson. #cheers

Saturday was a special day! We got to teach our adorable Amina the restoration in the morning. Then we went to a Workover in Coventry and went district finding with my last district. Then Sister Jones and I stopped by our sweet Sandra that we had taught. We hadn't seen her since she dropped us but we both really wanted to just go say goodbye and see how she was doing. When her doorknob started to wiggle our hearts just soared! She is so sweet but we also forgot what a talker she is. As they say here, she could talk for all England. When we were leaving she just said "ya know, you both look like real actual sisters. You both just have this special light, a twinkle in your eyes." Well Sandra, we'll take the being sisters compliment but that light belongs to Christ :) it was a tender experience to both be able to see her one last time and we hope she finds her way back soon. The Sister Jones enjoyed her last fish n' chips in England! It'll be a weird next 6 weeks without being able to call her every night. Ahhhh! Then we left the Sisters and had to go to the mission office to start planning our zone conference for Lichfield zone. Our first conference trainings for the new transfer will be this Friday right at the start! 

We had a beautiful Sabbath Day as well. Honestly despite the miracles I've shared it was one of those reaalllyyy rough weeks. We've been sick and finding has been rough. But I really just felt that someone new was going to show up at church for some reason. And in walked Henry, a polish potential the last Sisters found that we have been in somewhat of contact with over text since we got here. Such a tender mercy after a rubbish week. God truly loves us and has a mighty plan! After church an 8 year old girl in the ward had her baptism and it was such a special occasion. John was able to stay and surprisingly after 20 years of lessons it was only his second baptism and the last he'd seen was in 1997! So he was very moved by all of it. We had a lot of visitors and the Spirit was so strong, the church is so true my friends! 

Anndd last bit of news.... I received my LAST transfer call that will actually affect me and I'll be staying in Banbury with Sister Nelson for my last 6 weeks! How it came to this point I have NO IDEA! We're excited to stay together because we literally feel like we both just got here... because we did!  I just know if this transfer goes as fast as the last few did I'll be seeing you all in no time. CRAZY!  

Take some time this week to just be still and see the hand of God in your daily lives. I promise you He is there and that He loves you! (And I do too, thanks for all you do to support me!)

Love you,
Sister Cebollero xx 
1.Ann Hathaway's Cottage with the lovely Elder and Sister Walk
2.  Loved the cottage

3. What an adventure! 

4. I'm just over here IN England lol

5. Loving the shakespeare sights! 

6. Love teaching beautiful Amina

7. District finding with the homies in Cov!

8. The last chippie for Sister Jones

9. Soaked through with Sister Chena #findingallthetime #eveninrain

10. June MLC meeting

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven

I'm thoroughly convinced that someone is playing a magic trick on my life. Time just seems to be disappearing before I can even blink! Because somehow it's already June and I know you're all dying to say "see you next month!" 

We had a beautiful week here in Banbury! Monday we were allowed to go back into the city and town centres so we just enjoyed some shopping. It was a bank holiday here so they were all secretly celebrating Memorial Day along with you! Monday night we just did loads of finding and nobody wanted to know. We then had a family home evenin with a sweet less active family so that was a boost. 

Tuesday was a pretty exhausting day! We spent most of our day in Wolverhampton on workovers with Sister Smith and Bateman. They're just so amazing and they are doing so great so we had a lot of fun. We taught some crazy lessons together while we were there. We taught this one guy from Pakistan and all of us went to that lesson and at the end he told my companion that out of all of us she thinks differently and that she has the most potential... and then he asked for our number and asked if he could come see us in and no.. sorry mate! Haha I was just dying it was so funny. Then we went and taught these spiritualists that believe in reincarnation and that was also a super interesting lesson. We made it back to Banbury for our usual dinner with the Walks that was just great as always! 

Wednesday morning was the start of our miracles. We felt prompted to stop by this former investigator named Nicholas who is from Zimbabwe that Sister Nelson had taught a bit when she was here before. He let us in and as we talked he asked is so many questions about the plan of salvation. We had a great discussion and then he ended up showing up to our games night on Friday which was a huge miracle! We taught him how to play Uno which was quite entertaining :) 

Then in the afternoon we went and taught the Garwoods about God's love for us. We had invited this new member that moved in to come teaching with us. They're a cute family from San Diego, but the sister ended up being sick the day of the lesson and we were kinda bummed. But then yesterday at church she bore a beautiful testimony about how much she had needed to study that this week and she was so thankful we had asked her to participate, even though she never made it. It was a good lesson and we were just able to share some of God's love for them and that was really special. 

Friday we had our mission leadership council meeting. We were there from 9-4 with a short break for a much appreciated BBQ! We never get those here so we were all pretty excited about that. As stated it was a veryyyy long meeting but it was so good. We spent the majority of it just counselling together about how to help increase the work here in the mission. It's such a privilege to be apart of these meeting with some of the most hardworking and obedient missionaries and you just never feel like you deserve to be there among them. It's very humbling to say the least and I always learn so much. We decided as a mission to have a special fast this Sunday for the work in our mission to increase and to be able to see more of our friends enter the waters of baptism. We've definitely been hitting a slump lately and we need lots of faith and hard work to change things around. Things are already changing around here and it's been touching to experience. 

Saturday morning we had a beautiful lesson with a new friend named Amina. She is from Ghana and she is a former we just called up one day and she was interested. When we called back she said she wanted to come to church but she got lost. So we went over and had a lesson with her and it was just amazing. She also has this adorable 18 month old daughter who was just running around crazy! One of us would keep her busy while the other one talked and we kept switching back and forth. One minute she was ripping off my name badge and the next she was literally eating our cards, it was just hilariously adorable. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and invited her to be baptised! She accepted and it was so happy! We're hoping for it to be this month, but there's a bit of a language barrier so it may take a bit longer for her to understand everything. It was such a miracle though! 

After that didn't have any lessons or set plans so we drove out to one of our further areas, a little village called Chipping Norton. It was sooo beautiful and also so hilly, we both felt like we were in Wales again. We did lots of finding there and some Stopbys and just got a good feel for that area as it's previously been too hard for missionaries to get there without the car being here. 

Sunday was just a miraculous fast Sunday. We were at the doors just praying and waiting for Amina to show up but it was about to start so we had to go in. And we were just both praying so hard she would make it and I was just trying not to feel crushed. And then after the sacrament was done being passed one of the brothers that had taken it into the hall came near us and told us we had a friend waiting out in the corridor! The joy we felt was unreal to welcome Amina and her daughter to church. She just loved it and kept saying that church is good and she is so glad we are her friends. It was beautiful. 

Another beautiful thing was that dear old John Gooch bore his testimony three times... yes he got up 3 separate times because that's just him! Bless him! He said he has been trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is right for soooo long as he's been coming to church for 20 years now, and he talked about some reasons why he can now say he knows it is true. He asked us after church what to do now and we set a date for his baptism! It'll be this month if all goes well! He'll be going to the temple grounds with the stake this week and what better way to be prepared for baptism?! Literally a huge miracle and we're really excited to see how everything progresses. 

Something that has been coming to mind lately is the line from the hymn Praise to the Man, which says "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven." It just popped into my head one morning and continued through my mind all week. Serving a mission isn't always the easiest, but the small things we sacrifice for this time lead to so much joy! We especially saw that as we fasted this weekend for an increase in the work. It was amazing how that prayer was answered so quickly and I know it will continued to be answered as we move forward with faith. 

Hope you're all enjoying the start to a lovely summer!

Sister Cebollero 
1.  The coolest telephone box ever!

 2. You can bet we put a Book of Mormon in this cute library!

 3. Wolverhampton Workover

4. The District

5. Our cutest little friend literally eating a card!