Monday, December 28, 2015

In his E Salvadorian Football jersey from Drake


I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I certainly did. 

Here's a joke for your enjoyment:

If sheep could talk, what would they say on Christmas? 
Fleece Navidad!

I shall now tell you about my life :D

So, on Friday 18 December, we had a Christmas Conference in colchester. It was fun and spiritual; the best combination. President and Sister Stevens gave all the missionaries an England London Mission Pillow case! So sweet of them. 

Fun fact, I'm 19.5 years old now. My half birthday was on 22 December. 

On Wednesday 16 December, we received a call from a number not in our contacts. I picked up, and talked to this person. He told us that he had read some of the Book of Mormon and felt good. This call seemed too good to be true! The man's name was Mark, and we set up an appointment with him. We went over to meet him for the first time on 22 December, and we were pleasantly surprised to find out that he had a wife! And she's amazing, too. At some point in the past missionaries left Mark with a Book of Mormon and with the missionaries' cell number. During our meeting, The Spirit was definitely there. We had a wonderful member with us, and at the end of the lesson Mark and Julia expressed a desire to go to our Christmas Service! Sadly, Julia (the wife of Mark) was sick, so they weren't able to go. But we have an appointment with them for this week! The Lord is preparing His children to accept His Gospel! I love it.

Later on Tuesday 22 December, we had a door lesson with Laura Greatwood (less active member). At the end she called her boys down to say the prayer. Caylum began the prayer with "Dear Heavenly Father" and then Jamie said the body of the prayer. Caylum then closed with a quick "We say these things in the name of JEsus Christ, Amen". What a funny prayer! At least Caylum contributed... :)

On Christmas Eve, Elder Marzahn and I talked to a homeless man. His name was Tony. We talked with him a little, and said a prayer with him before walking away. Since we were close to our flat, we walked back, and wrapped some things to give to him. We put these in a grocery bag, along with a Book of Mormon & a card with our cell number on it. We gave him this grocery bag to share with 2 other people that we discovered he was with when we returned. 

Christmas was wonderful! It was a very special day. We went to the Futter's (Bishop's family) for breakfast at about 8am. Afterwards, we went to the Chapel for the Christmas service that began at 10am that lasted for about an hour. It consisted of Christmas Songs and Narrations! I sang with 2 choirs; in one of them we sang "What Child Is This?", and in the other we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

After the Service we dropped off a care packaged from the Chelmsford 2nd ward that Bishop gave us to deliver to a member of the ward. 

We also drove to visit a woman named Joan Williams, a 93 year old woman, who was in a care home. We sang "Joy to The World", "Angels We Have Heard on High", and Silent Night". We then blessed the sacrament and gave it to her (we had Bishop's permission) It was a nice visit. 

We then went to the Bigwoods, getting there at 1:40 for Christmas Dinner! It was a great meal and Great fun!

I FaceTimed home from the Bigwoods and that was so fun. It was great to see my favourite family in the whole wide world. Very special. After the FaceTime call ended, I went back to the Bigwoods home and played games. 

Christmas call home!!!

Best looking family in the world. :)

That same day we went to the Deightons and got there at about 6:15. We talked, played games, snacked, and just before Elder Marzahn and I left to return home, we watched my mission call opening video on Youtube. That was fun to see. It seems like ages ago!

This is from an app on Brother Deighton's phone.

 The day after Christmas was Boxing day! Fun fun. That morning we played football. Which was fun! I wore my new El Salvador football jersey! It was great.

After football. Thus the mud on my forehead^

And on Sunday, the ward was sparse. So, Elder Marzahn and I were privileged to Bless the Sacrament. 

I'm just so amazed at how fast the time has gone! I've been out on my mission for 7 months. Craziness. It's been a wonderful 7 months and I've really learned a lot. 

Something that I read in Personal Study this morning really stand out to me. I read it from the Book of Mormon Student Manual under 2 Nephi 2:2! Here it is:

"Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that God provides us with challenges that are designed to help us grow spiritually: “Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more (see Proverbs 3:11–12). He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain”"

It's so true! God gives us challenges that will stretch, polish, and induce growth in us! Without opposition, we would never improve! The reason that God gives us trials and hard things is because He loves us, He knows who we can become, and He knows we can handle it! I love it.

I hope you all had a wonderful week and a wonderful Christmas! May the Lord bless you in all things!


Elder Withers

Monday, November 30, 2015

Alec and Elder Marzahn from Germany

English culture time:

"Boots" = cleats 

Here are some things that happened this week: 

-I'm in the Chelmsford 2nd ward. Our Ward Mission Leader is LEGENDARY -bishop had us over for breakfast on Sunday (church starts at 1pm) and we had dinner with the Wheeler family after church. 

-We played football on Saturday morning 

- I'm driving!!! I love driving here. It's Sooo nice to have a car.
Such a blessing

-My companion is Elder Dustin Marzahn from Berlin, Germany and I love him so much. He's so funny. I've been blessed with the companions I've had on my mission so far, but Elder Marzahn is my favourite companion. He makes me laugh so much. 

-Today we did A LOT of cleaning. We've made some great progress but there's still more to do. The place where we live is so cool! I'll send pictures next week! It'll be fully clean by then... 

-Whitewashing is great!

-The ward here is so good. I love it lots. 

I love you all and hope you had a great week! 


Elder Withers


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy missionaries! Elder Withers is far right :)

Friends and family! Hope you're all doing so well. It's so fun to be able to email and keep in touch. I shall tell you about my life during the past week. 

We had a District Meeting in the Hitchin church building on Tuesday. Afterwards, we ate lasagne (apparently that's how it's spelled) that Sister McNamee made and brought, and we had chocolate that Elder Auras brought. He also brought clementines! I brought milk (not as exciting as the other items, but important, nonetheless). 

After District Meeting, I did an exchange. Elder Beckstrand stayed with me in Hitchin, and Elder Rix went with Elder Auras to Dunstable. On Wednesday morning, Elder Beckstrand and I went for a run. It was the longest run of my mission and it was wonderful. Even though my right quad tightened up a little bit, I felt slight pain in my groin, and my right foot ached a little as I was running, it was good for me. :)

On Wednesday, we Elder Rix and I had a really neat experience while tracting. Usually I feel like tracting is pretty ineffective. But I feel that I've improved in my ability to effectively have conversations at the door (and I'm still improving :), which has made it more effective. Anyways, we knocked on this door and a woman named Gemma opened up. She was very kind! We had a great conversation with her and we taught her a good amount of the Restoration Lesson (not all of it). This was a great reminder to me to have more faith when I knock on people's doors. We had a return appointment with Gemma, but she cancelled it due to poor weather affecting the hours she worked as a gardener. (She's a gardener by day, and cleaner by night). Hopefully Elder Rix and his new companion are able to meet with her!

Brief funny story: after the lesson with Gemma, Elder Rix and I continued tracting her street. We knocked a door, and a guy opened the door. He was in his underwear. LOL #brave 

On Thursday, Elder Rix and I did so much finding. We OYM'd in town in the morning, we went tracting, and we did some OYMing after tracting. And it was unfruitful in the immediate present. But, I know Heavenly Father is mindful of me, and he is happy with the work that I'm doing. 

One of the people I tried to talk to swore at us on Thursday. In response, I said something like "Have a good day" to which he responded "you too!". It was interesting... :D

We had a dinner appointment at the Hopwoods on Thursday night. I said the prayer blessing the food, and also the closing prayer before Elder Rix and I left because Brother Hopwood was thinking that it may be my last dinner/time in their home. 

On Friday, Elder Rix and I went to town square in Hitchin. We saw the turning on of the Hitchin Christmas tree lights! We tried talking to people for a little bit there, but we then decided to tract instead.

Before we go tracting, we like to say a prayer. But before I said the prayer, I remember looking up at the sky and seeing the moon, and feeling a sense of peace. Really the best way to describe it would be feeling the Spirit. I then said the most meaningful, spiritual, and heartfelt prayer I've said in a while. I felt a connection with Heavenly Father, and the Spirit. As we tracted, although it was dark and cold, and we were not able to find any new friends to teach at that time, I felt a love for the people we spoke with.

Sunday we had stake conference! We went to Stevenage. President and Sister Stevens were both there and they both spoke! President Elvidge, the Stake President, quoted CS Lewis: "You find out the strength of the wind by walking against it. Not by lying down." I think there was more to the quote, but that's the part I got down :) Look it up and get back to me! 

Last night Elder Rix and I had a wonderful thanksgiving meal at the Amos's home! They're such a great family. We had FHE with them after dinner. One of my favourite parts about missionary work is the wonderful people that I've been blessed to meet!  

So... last night was moves calls! I found out that I'm moving to Maldon. My new companion will be Elder Dustin Marzahn (from Germany). I will be the District Leader there, and Elder Marzahn and I will be whitewashing! Also, I will be driving there :D so exciting. It'll be an adventure. I'm really looking forward to a new area, and hope I can do my part to build up Maldon!

Thus far, I've served all of my mission in Hitchin. I'm approaching my 6 month mark (it'll be on 27 November). I know that great things are ahead, and I'm so grateful for all the valuable lessons that I've learned while I've been here in Hitchin. I've truly been blessed by the companions I've had, the wonderful Hitchin ward, the people I've met and taught, and by the lessons I've learned and the Spirit that I've felt here. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Wish me luck as I begin my adventure in Maldon! 

Love you all! 


Elder Withers


Elder Withers

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hitchin Halloween Party!


Hope everyone is doing well. Life is so good. Here's a flavour of England for ya:
"Jacket potato" = baked potato
"flu jab" = flu shot
"Dual carriage way" = split highway
people pronounce the "a" in tomato as "ah" 

Fun fun. I shall now talk about my week! 

On Tuesday, Elder Rix and I gave Stuart (one of our investigators that actually dropped us yesterday) a church tour. We asked Brother Hopwood to join us for the teaching appointment, and he played the organ while we did the tour. After the tour, we had a lesson with Stuart and Brother Hopwood.  Brother Hopwood is a great man, and he's the Stake Patriarch. We had a lesson on the Sabbath Day, and then Brother Hopwood shared some of his conversion story, to which Stuart could really relate to. I love teaching with members! Their testimonies and personal experiences have such great power to touch the hearts of those we teach. 

I downloaded some EFY music and put it on my USB (the one that I received in my Halloween package). It's great! 

I feel that I have improved a lot in my finding abilities. People's first impression of me will often be social. As such, it's so important to be cheerful, clever, and comfortably conversational, instead of being creepy, cowardly, cranky, or cocky. I hope you all enjoyed that alliteration station. I feel that the most effective way to find new friends to teach is to start a conversation, and let it flow naturally to the gospel by asking effective questions, listening to both the person and the Spirit, and then expressing my own thoughts and feelings. Trying to find people to teach is much more enjoyable when I invest both time and effort into personal, positive, and powerful conversations. 

Shane, an investigator of the Letchworth Sister missionaries (they go to the Hitchin ward, too), came to church on Sunday 8 November. It was his first time at a LDS church, and when I saw him I could tell that he was nervous. So I talked with, complimented, and befriended him. He sent a text last week on Monday 9 November saying "Hi I never had a chance yesterday to thank you for making me feel really welcome so thank you!" What a neat experience. 

Elder Rix and I went tracking on Tuesday night. We talked to this man that is divorced, living alone, his kids are with his ex-wife, and he's suffering with depression. I asked him about what makes him happy, and one of the things he said was motor bikes. I felt prompted to ask if we could see his motor bikes (at this point we were having a conversation at his door). He out his shoes on, and walked out of his house and opened his garage, and showed us his 2 motorbikes. As we were talking, I felt a prompting to show a video to him, although I didn't know which one. I pulled out my iPad, and quickly looked through some of the Mormon Messages, and I decided on "Mountains to Climb". It's about 5 minutes long, and it's about how finding faith in Jesus will help us endure and overcome even the hardest trials in life. The Spirit was there during the video and while we spoke. Sadly, he did not accept the invitation to meet with us. But I think he felt the Spirit. It was a testimony building experience. 

Tuesday was a special day for more reasons than 1! We had a church tour, a neat experience with the motor bike guy, and Tuesday 10 November marked my 5 month mark in Hitchin! That's so crazy. I got to Hitchin on 10 June. It seems like such a long time ago. Boy has the time gone fast! 

The front tube of my bike went flat due to 2 punctures. Stuart (the investigator that we did the church tour with) patched it for me on Wednesday! 

Thursday we had zone conference! After ZC, I saw Elder Taylor Jensen (my MTC companion) at Hyde Park chapel. It was so good to see him. He and his companion had a lesson at the HP chapel (he's serving in an area where he can go to HP chapel).

On Friday elder Rix and I both purchased a bike light for the front of our bikes from poundland. After poundland, we both got a flu jab. The mission provided a voucher to any missionary who wanted one. So I got one

After the jab, Elder Rix and I were walking back to our flat and I saw a guy on the other side of the road. When I could, I crossed the road to talk to him. He had headphones on, but he quickly took them off when he realised I was trying to talk to him. I got his full name and his address (his phone was dead but I thought I could contact him via Facebook). I set up an appointment for Sunday night. I was so glad I crossed the street to talk to him. 

Saturday was cold! And for part of the day it rained.

Sunday, we had church. A baby named Diego was named and blessed! Jack Cornish (who has his mission call to the England Leeds mission) gave his farewell talk on Sunday. He leaves home on 26 November. How strange that not too long ago that I was in his position! When he leaves for the MTC, it'll be about my 6 month mark of my mission.

There was a munch and mingle after church because of Jack and Diego.

Sunday was probably my last Sunday in the Hitchin ward building as a missionary! I'm currently on my 4th transfer in Hitchin. We have stake conference Sunday 22 November, and moves calls is on Monday 23 November. If I leave Hitchin (I'm anticipating that I will) it'll be on Wednesday 25 November! 

I hope you all had a great week! 

Con amor,

Elder Withers

Monday, November 9, 2015

Elder Alec and Elder Rix

How art all of you? I hopeth that all of ye my yonder friends art goodeth. Here is some English cultureth:

"windscreen" = windshield

We sang hymn 342 "God Save the King" on Sunday, substituting "Queen" for "King" and "she" instead of "he". It took me a bit to catch on 😁 

I love England! The people are wonderful, Hitchin is beautiful, and I love this time of year. Missionary work is tough! It's been a struggle to find people to teach, and when we do, it's difficult to get them to come to church. I'm so grateful though that on Sunday we had a friend of ours come to church! Her name is Andrea! She left after sacrament meeting, but I think she had a really nice experience and that she felt the Spirit. 

On Tuesday, Elder Rix and I taught seminary for the second time! It was great! I ended up sharing the cow vs. Buffalo analogy, and I think that the kids came away with this catchy phrase: "be the buffalo". It was quite humorous, and I enjoyed teaching the seminary kids.

On Wednesday morning Brother Amos called us, and he needed some help that day! His wife and 2 cute kids were coming home from Wales, and Elder Rix and I helped by tidying up. 

Funny story: on Wednesday, Elder Rix and I were cycling to a teaching appointment. Elder Rix was cycling on the road, and he was trying to turn left to get up on the sidewalk, he hit the curb at an awkward angle and he fell and hurt himself. (The story gets better). Then on Thursday, we were cycling again. Elder Rix made the attempt to transition from the road to the sidewalk, and in so doing, he ended up falling and doing a roll of sorts. It was epic. (The story gets even

better) then, on Friday, we were cycling home. There were some kids gathered on the left, and a dog on the right. The owner of the dog was standing out in the field to the left of the kids. Elder Rix was wary of the kids due to previous experience. He was cycling in front of me.

Then, the owner whistled for his dog, who didn't move at first, and then as Elder Rix approached it, it ran in front of my companion to go to its owner. Elder Rix slammed on his rear and front brakes, and in so doing ended up going over his handlebars, due to higher functionality of his front brake. He hurt himself on his bike 3 days in a row! After his 3rd fall, I laughed pretty much all the way home.

We were pretty close to home, by the way. 

Elder Rix and I met this really great kid named Connor while tracking.

We had a nice conversation with him and left him with a card with our number on. His parents weren't home the night we met him. We decided we'd stop by on the following day. He lives in Ickleford, so we took our bikes. I was in front, and I biked past this kid who was in a school uniform. Not long after I went passed this kid, Elder Rix called my name. I turn around, and go back. Turns out, this kid was Connor! We walked with him (and our bikes) on the way home. He seemed interested in what we had to say, and the Spirit was there when we were talking with him. He said to come back at 6:40 that night and we could meet with him. So later that night, we returned! We knocked on his door, and his mum answered. She told us that Connor wasn't interested. It was so sad! I would've loved to talk to Connor and see how he really feels. We tried to find him on Facebook, but we weren't able to. Elder Rix and I are going to stop by at a future time, and we'll try to do it when his mum isn't home so we can hear what he has to say and how he feels. We at least planted a seed of faith! Hopefully he accepts the gospel at a future point in his life. 😊

I love you all and wish you the absolute best! Thanks for your love and support!

Lots of love,

Elder Withers

Monday, November 2, 2015


Come están mis amigos? 

English culture:
"Lemonade" = Sprite 

It was another good week in the good ol' ELM. On Friday night we got a surprise dinner appointment with John (a nonmember that I've taught before, but that I'm no longer teaching) and his wife (member). The sisters were supposed to have dinner with them, but they got on the wrong train, and they contacted John and Nankie to see if it would be alright if Elder Rix and I came to dinner instead of the sisters. They were okay with it, and then the sisters called us! Something funny/sad/disappointing: at one point, Nankie told me that it looks like I've gained weight. She is from Botswana, and apparently gaining weight there is a good thing. But I'm American. Not African. And no me gusta gaining weight. Today a wonderful woman (Sister Jaszewska) in the Hitchin ward gave both Elder Rix and I a hair cut! Her husband is great as well. I'm actually in their home right now. Elder Rix, Bro Jaszewski, and Sis Jaszewska, and I decided to have a competition to see who could lose the most weight between now and transfers.

Hopefully I can be the biggest loser. 

The Hitchin ward had a Halloween Party on Saturday! Elder Rix and I helped with some of the set up on Friday. On Saturday (Halloween) I wore my orange tie. How festive of me. Apparently, people don't really like that tie... One of the Sister Missionaries thinks it's a "dad tie." Whatever.

Some sad news. There was a small family (mom, dad, 3 year old daughter) that we were teaching. I taught them in late June with Elder Cook, and then we didn't teach them for a long time. Elder Rix and I were finally able to meet with them, and we had a good lesson. The mom and the dad aren't married, and I was told by someone at the Halloween Party that knows them, that they split up. This made me very sad.

Elder Rix and I knocked on their door on Saturday night, and we saw a figure come down the stairs. I assume this person then looked through the people, and saw us. After a moment, we saw this figure retreat back up the stairs. Heartbreaking. Hopefully we can get in touch and help them. I know the gospel will strengthen their family! Families can be together forever and I'm so grateful for that knowledge. 

 If you've never read "The Fourth Missionary", DO IT! It's so wonderful. And inspiring. It groups missionaries into four categories, and it's just amazing. I'll not spoil anything and I'll just let you read it. 

I want to return from my mission a changed man, dedicated to the Lord, having gave my all in His service. Through the Saviour's grace, I can overcome my own weaknesses and give my heart to Him. This gospel is so good, and it is so true.

I love you all! Have a great week! 


Elder Withers