Monday, June 22, 2015


Elder Withers - Selfie with a British cat!!


I'm not sure why, but I decided to do a Spanish subject line. "Time is flying" is what that means :) 

So today is my birthday! I'm finally 19. Funny story, Elder Cook said happy Birthday to me this morning, before I had even realized it was my Birthday! He knew it before me. Which was weird, because usually I remember my birthday. Anyways, it was nice of him to remember! 

On last Monday, Elder Cook and I made an awkward music video to a Tarzan soundtrack (Disney music is allowed, and Elder Cook loves it). On Tuesday, we had our District Meeting. Elder Green (one of my favorite missionaries) gave a really good training on Accountability, and he emphasized being accountable to the Lord every night, for everything in the day - my attire, my attitude, my obedience, my service, etc. A thought that I had/am having while thinking about this, is that as we use our agency (or ability to choose) to be accountable for the way I've spent my day, I will recognize ways for me to improve, as well as recognize some of the many tender mercies that Heavenly Father blesses me with. Sadly, Elder Green goes home after this transfer. But he's in the same ward as Elder Cook and I.  

Another prayer of mine was answered this week! I had prayed for better ways to find people to teach. I had been thinking about street contacting a little bit, and I learned some valuable lessons through some of the things Elder Green said to a man when we were on the bus, and a conversation we had. I later asked Elder Green, Elder Moreno, and Elder Mitchell (it was during a double exchange sort of deal - that's why I was with Elder Moreno and Elder Mitchell). Basically, my prayer was answered. Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives! 

On the exchange with Elder Moreno, I spoke a little Spanish with him (he's from Spain). And I got to go to the St. Albans ward BBQ! IT was so wonderful. 
(Sorry if my email seems random, I'm kinda just going off of some of my journal entries) 
I've felt the Spirit in the form of a desire to serve, love, and speak with others. I recognize that I have been blessed in many ways, and I must continue to use some of the gifts I have in humility, thanking God for all that I am. 
On the exchange with Elder Moreno he made me breakfast! Which was great. Also, the Amos family has decided I look like Brandon Flowers (the singer for the Killers). Elder Green and Elder Cook agreed.
Funny story: Elder Cook and I were going door to door, and we were greeted by a laughing woman. She was talking on the phone. And upon seeing my companion and I, and looking us over, her laughter quickly faded to discontent, maybe even a frown. She then closed the door on us. I'm not sure if she even said any words! It was kinda humorous how quickly her disposition changed. But at the same time, it's very sad. Because she doesn't realize what she just closed the door on! We are truly representatives of Jesus Christ, sharing His true and Restored Gospel with the people of England. And it would make her happier than she's ever been! Maybe one day she'll let the missionaries in :) I hope she does! 
Elder Withers and the bathroom in his flat
I really want to be changed by my mission. I thought about Laman and Lemuel. Their "mission" of sorts, was tough. Lehi, Nephi, and Sam went through much of the same things as Nephi. Yet Nephi was willingly obedient, loved and served the Lord. Nephi grew so much during his many journeys! Yet Laman and Lemuel drug their feet, murmured, and "kicked against the pricks" if you will. As a result, they were never truly happy, and they denied themselves of many opportunities to grow and be blessed. SO, I will try to be willingly obedient, develop my love for the Lord, and try to give my whole heart to him. Which is easier said than done, but "I can do all things through Christ [who] strengthened me." 

Funny story: The Freemans (a cute young family) had us over for dinner! They have this cute little baby (Penny). I was looking at her, and making faces. Then she cried. So, that was great. After dinner at the Freeman household, we were tossing around a frisbee. And I kinda tripped a little, threw it hard and low, andddd it hit little Blake (4 years old) square in the glasses. He cried... So I successfully made both of their children cry! 
Last story, and then I'll write personal emails. We were visiting a man named Julian, who has recently been baptized. He's a little lonely, and has some issues, but he's a kind man. As we spoke with him, I felt myself developing a Christ-like love for Him. I felt the Spirit as I bore testimony of Christ (after we watched the Mormon Message "Rescued by Christ"). I'm so grateful for Christ! Without Him, I'm nothing. 
Last random thing: A kind Sister from church makes the Missionaries a cake (almost) every Sunday! It's so good. I love cake. :)
Today this cake doubled as his birthday cake because
his birthday package is still in the mission home. :(
Other weird things: people here say "you alright" to ask like "how are you?"
People say "all sorted" so say like "all set". If you got that care you'd be sorted! for example:
"looking smart" = looking sharp
Hoover = Vaccuum
Kitchen towels = paper towels
They say lovely a lot
I'm getting used to crossing the street and looking for the cars on the left side of the road. 
jumper = sweater 

So have a lovely week all! 


Elder Withers

This letter and picture from President Jordan
came in the mail today.
Elder Cook
Elder Cook in front of their flat

Monday, June 15, 2015

Elder Withers and Elder Cook

So. I'm finally in my first area! I'm fluent in the language so that's good. I guess let's start with the beginning! 

The night before we left the MTC we were privileged to go to the Preston Temple the night before we left. Side note: I have a bunch of pictures I wanted to send on my camera, but there isn't a spot for the SD card on this computer. I have some pictures on my iPad that I'll send. Anywho, we finished our time at the MTC and packed that night! I went to bed after 12 sometime because of packing and just getting ready for bed, and we were to awake at 4:45 AM. That was an adventure.

Preston Temple and the Missionaries

We left the MTC on buses, and drove up to London. It was a solid bus drive. I want to say it was 4 hours long, but I don't quite remember. On the bus I sat next to Elder Chiwara, from Zimbabwe. I have some funny pictures of him as he's eating a Warhead, but I cant send them from my digital camera just yet. Bummer. Ironically, I wore my green tie on the day at the MTC. What else did I need for everyone to know that I was a greenie? :) I read parts of Alma 56, 57 and 58 I think. Thinking about the stripling warriors makes me want to be that kind of missionary; exactly obedient, and valiant for courage.  

So we get to the Mission home, and are welcomed by President and Sister Jordan. We all get our luggage from the bus, and head out. My little suitcase was missing, and they told me that somebody probably had grabbed it and took it ahead. I felt like I should check the bus one more time, but I decided to just leave it. So I went in, with my big blue suitcases, and then realized my little bag was there. Slightly nervous about losing that little bag (it had my basketball kicks in there. And what would I do without my electric salmon colored shoes?!) Long story short, one of the Assistants to the President (AP's) ran the bus down, and checked for my bag. And he found it! Sister Jordan welcomed us, and introduced us to some of the people serving in the Mission Home. We ate lunch, and then had a meeting upstairs where we got a binder, our prepaid cards, and some instruction. We also had a brief interview with President Jordan, so he could receive inspiration as to who our Trainers would be! We also walked up and down the streets trying to talk to people and place a Book of Mormon. let's just say it was fun talking to people, and that we got rejected a little bit.  

My trainer is named Elder Cook! He's from Heber City, UT. From a family of 6 kids (4 boys and two girls). He's number 5, and has a younger brother who's 10. He played football, baseball, and he's the District Leader too. So we met, and President Jordan gave us some more instruction. After a little bit, we left for the train station. We walked through the station, going down AND up steps, me carrying my big suitcase, my little one, and my shoulder bag hanging from the big bag. Elder Cook took one of my big bags. The walk to our flat was SO long. It took forever. And I was hungry. My arms were burning from pulling the suitcases. The flats/houses are smashed together. Many of them have brick faces, with a small front "garden" as they say here. Cars are parked on either side of the road, causing the drivers to weave as they drive down the street to dodge these obstacles. We had some pasta that night, I unpacked, and got ready for bed. The shower here is funky. It goes through cycles of hot, warm, cold, warm, and then hot water. So that makes showering fun.  
The first flat

On the street where Elder Withers lives

The next day, June 11, we had district meeting in the morning. I met Elder Green (Lehi, UT) and Elder Kalabanko (Ukraine) on the bus ride up to the church building in Luton. Oh! The area I'm serving in is called Hitchin. Sorry! Forgot to mention that. Anyways, after District meeting we ate at a buffet. Later that day, Elder Cook and I had a lesson with a man named Kevin! He's 21 and from New York. He's a muscular, kind, and humble man. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel, and he committed to a Baptismal date in July. The Spirit was definitely there as we spoke. I'm so grateful for the knowledge I have about Christ restoring His Church to the earth! God's plan for us is so perfect, and it's fun for me to be able to share that with others. 
So this is an iPad mission! It's such a great resource for teaching because of the videos, pictures, and other wonderful resources. 

on June 12, President Holland came to London to speak to our mission and the London South mission. He was very inspirational. He talked about how we are to be forever changed by our missions, and to NEVER fall away. If you could find him speaking somewhere online that'd be awesome! Because it was so good. I got to shake his hand too :) One thing that really stands out to me, is something he said in response to a question a young man asked. This boy/missionary/whoever asked "would you give your life for this gospel?" To which President Holland boldly responded, "I give my life for the gospel every day". It's so meaningful to think about giving my life for what I believe in, by truly giving all that I am and have to Christ each and every day that I live. 

We've had a couple dinner appointments, and a kind sister made us sandwiches for lunch after we helped them with some yardwork. 

All the chairs here are so short! Maybe I'm just tall, but I feel like everything has been shrunk here. Funny. 

Sometimes I pray to God, and I don't receive an answer right away. Sometimes it's easy to wonder if those prayers are really heard. I've realized that God sometimes tries our faith by allowing us to act on our own without that initial divine guidance. This is a test of faith - to see if I will carry on without that "on the spot answer" or personal confirmation. And as I have moved forward, trusting in God, those prayers are answered. It's beautiful :) We can also receive peace as we pray, without all our questions and desires being addressed right then and there. 

I realize I'm writing a lot... I've been journaling really well! I guess I'll close with a simple spiritual experience. Elder Cook and I were doing something called 12-week (it's just training for new missionaries like myself). And we were doing a role play (he was pretending to be an English person, and I was teaching him). As I was talking to him, I thought of an analogy that applied perfectly to the situation, that addressed the concern that he had (as a character in the role play). I felt the Spirit strongly as I spoke with him. After we finished the role play, he said that he saw it in my eyes. There was a visible change in me, and that I was confident.  

This is a very simple experience, but to me it was very powerful and was an answer to my prayers. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father that is so mindful of me, and that because of the Power of the Holy Ghost, I know that He lives. I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true, and Joseph Smith was a prophet. And everyone in the whole world can know that same truth if they ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ. And if they do, and if they study the Book of Mormon, the honest seeker of truth will come to the same conclusion - It is true, and it is the work of God. What a wonderful world we live in :) My faith and reliance on the Lord has grown so much just in the short time I have been out. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and I will continue to share his message of happiness for the rest of my life! Because of Him, families can be together forever. Which is great. Because I love ya, fam. 

I'll send some personal emails now! 

Some quotes/ things I have written in my journal that I liked:

"There are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians"

"If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead" - Holland 

Have a fantastic week! 

Elder Withers 

Oh! Random funny story. In church on Sunday, a young child named George decided he'd take the crisps (chips for all you 'mericans out there) and crunch them in his hand and throw them on the ground. He also thought it'd be really fun to crawl over to me and chomp down on my shoe... He literally bit my nice Sunday shoes, and latched on to them with his little teeth. It left a mark. But it's okay, I needed to polish them anyways.  

Words they say here: "plaster" = band aid, candy floss = cotton candy, crockery = plates, they say "I'm going to the toilet" not bathroom, "Coach" = bus, "trousers" = pants, "pants" = underwear (don't want to mix those up), Lorry = truck, lift = elevator. Hope you enjoyed those.  


Hitchins, England chapel

Mission home chapel

Monday, June 8, 2015

Preston England Temple

So this week I don't have a ton of time to email. They asked us to send a quick letter to let family know that we're still alive and doing well. We're leaving the MTC on Wednesday morning (our normal P-day here) so they told us to just send a quick email before then to let you know what's going on. 

I'm doing really well! I've learned a lot of really important lessons since I've been here. One of them is relying on the Lord. I feel closer to Heavenly Father now than I may have ever before in my life. It's much easier to "always remember Christ" and "take His name upon me" and even "keep his commandments" (like in the baptismal covenants) while serving as a missionary - because it's my 24/7 job. I love putting my nametag on, and literally taking upon myself the name of Christ. I've learned to turn to him in prayer, and seek answers and confirmation. I really do love the MTC, and am grateful that I can turn to God when I have questions, and I know I'll receive an answer. 

I'm continually learning how important it is to be humble. The moment I think I'm doing and accomplishing things on my own is the moment I lose the Spirit and am left on my own. For "without the Spirit, ye shall not teach." A great way to do that is to live with an attitude of gratitude. It's cliche to say (rhyme originally unintended), but it's so true. If I can recognize the hand of God in my every day life, and see that it is truly Him that is blessing me and leading me, humility will naturally follow.

My favorite teacher here is Edward Webb (you could probably look him up if you wanted). He's young, skinny, about 6'0, newly married, and returned from his mission in Manchester, England about 2 years ago. He's a very good teacher and a very likeable guy. His wife is teaching here too! She teaches greek, I think, so I don't see her very often. But today she instructed the group of missionaries a good amount! We did mostly "in-field" training today. 

I opened my "greenie missionary" package mom! That was so fun! I gave one of my good friends, Elder Henrie, one of the M&M packages today. I've had some promptings on two distinct nights that I need to reach out to him and serve. More than helping him with little things, I felt the need to listen. I also wrote him a note today to give with the M&M's, and I'm so glad I did. I felt the Spirit confirm to me that that's what Heavenly Father wanted me to do for His child at those moments! It's a small thing I know, but it was meaningful to me, and I hope it was meaningful to him too! 

I've been touched at how some of my prayers have been answered. Yesterday, I feel my prayers were answered through reading in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. Another time,  was through a devotional. Another time, I felt my prayers answered at the temple. God is very mindful of me, and I realize that there's a lot for me to improve on! It's a lifelong journey to become like Christ. But it's something we do a step at a time, so patience I must have (said like Yoda). 

We have a lot of classes, and being taught here at the MTC. But it's good! Tomorrow night we'll be going to the temple one last time before we go. Then wednesday, we wake up at 4:45 A.M. That is to say, in the morning :) So that'll be an adventure. But I think I'll be so excited that it won't really be that big of an issue. 

I can't believe I leave on Wednesday... I'm so excited to go to my first area, meet my trainer, meet the ward and bishop and members, develop a love for the people, deepen my love for the Lord, and serve with all my "heart, might, mind, and strength".  

In closing, I'll just share a new favorite scripture of mine. I don't think I shared this in my last email, but if I did you just get to enjoy it twice :) 

1 Peter 5:6-7 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Casting all your care upon him for he careth for you" 

I love it so much! In due time, we may be exalted by God. To get to that point, we must cast all our care on Him!  

I love this gospel so much and I can't wait to share it with the people of England! I love the Book of Mormon and I know it's true.
Until next time! I love you all!


Elder Withers

P.S. Turns out this letter wasn't that short after all
Oh! Joke time. What do a bird that has no teeth, and a missionary that smiles have in common?

They both "Suck-Seed" (succeed)

 Hope you like that. It's one my MTC President shared. Feel free to tell all your friends.

Also some pictures of the temple. I'll probably send more tomorrow. we should have time

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Preston England, MTC

Hey Everyone!
So a lot has happened since I left home! It still seems unreal that I'm in England! I'm not quite sure where to start! 

Well, I guess I'll start at the beginning. As I said in my last email, the airport travel was crazy. My flight on 27th kept getting delayed later and later, until finally at 12:20 or 12:50 A.M. it was cancelled because the pilot had logged too many hours, so he couldnt make the flight to England. And then the replacement pilot didn't show up for whatever reason. The airport then sent us to a hotel about 40 minutes away, since all of the local ones where full ("There was no room in the inn"). While we were at the airport, we talked to lots of people, got to know a little bit about England, and made some friends.  

Funny story: while we stayed at the hotel, there was a very kind worker. she arranged for us to use our airport voucher while the chef made an exception to make us pizza and she let us use the hotel phone to call the MTC. She was very kind and understanding through the whole process. I wrote her a kind note, thanking her for her kindness. And I folded the note up with a passalong card inside. One of the sisters later informed me that she was a member of our church. I found it quite humorous. 

So we flew on the 28th at 6 or 7pm, and spend much of the day waiting around. I set some goals for the first year of my mission. We finally landed in England in the London airport. It's a beautiful airport. We then flew from London to Manchester, where I found out that my luggage (along with the luggage of 4 other missionaries) was lost! That made the travel easier from the airport to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). We were picked up by Brother Miller. Believe it or not, it was raining when we arrived! Classic England. I'm still getting used to how often it rains here.  

My companion's name is Elder Jensen. He and I met at BYU, and it's been fun to get to know him! He's from California, plays basketball, and is very easy to get along with. He works hard and has a strong testimony that has shaped the way he lives his life. I feel a lot of trust and respect for him, and am humbled to be his companion. He's my District Leader too!
Elder Jensen
Nick Laney?!?! Yes yes! I know him! I love him. He's Darla Pack's nephew?!!? He actually got there a day late because he was going to the MTC in provo because he had a bad sickness or something, but he got better so then he got there the morning after I arrived. I believe on the 30th. But he's a great guy and I like him a lot.  

Brother Mars was great! So nice of him to talk to me, and buy us all pizza. Its kinda neat to have that group of 8 people that were all stuck in the airport together, because we see each other everywhere here! I like how small the MTC is! It's so cool to know everyone (almost. there are a couple sisters I haven't met. But they're girls so ew, stay away. We're friends with the cook Stephen, friends with the Mission President and his counselor, friends with the workers, friends with the teachers, etc. Yay for friends. Aww Sis Schaefer. How sweet.

I will answer your questions in rapid fire fashion. Our room has 3 bunk beds for the 4 elders in my district. It's just small here! I love the food, Stephen (the cook) is amazing. I think my teachers are all British, I love they're accents. I haven't picked one up yet! We're busy throughout the day. wakeup at 6:30, breakfast at 7, personal study, maybe companion study, we get taught, do role plays, have teaching appointments where we get filmed, have lunch, exercise on some of the days (meaning basketball, or vball, or football AKA soccer). After lunch we often get taught/do roleplays/study until dinner, after which we resume all these activities until 9, during which we plan until 9:25, have a "snack time", and then go up to get ready for bed, and do personal things. I haven't really learned very much about the culture. Everywhere here is dangerous (kidding. I feel very safe as a missionary. Example: when the plane had turbulence, I wasn't even scared. My patriarchal blessing talked about my mission, my setting apart talked about my mission, and I knew I was protected. Boom. Safety, exhibit A. Gratefully there aren't any cameras, I feel pretty good/adjusted to England time, haven't spent any money, and I'm not sure how far I am from the mission home. We'll probably be driven there in a bus from the MTC. I haven't opened my "bad day" letter yet! I haven't needed it :) I have been very grateful for prayer recently. I told my companion the "loo" story! He was grateful for my vast knowledge, I'm sure. It doesn't rain non stop, I feel like It just starts raining out of the blue, and then stops after a while. I heard it rains 250 days a year. I'm journaling well, and listening to music! I love it. The elders in my district love your music/singing! I am happy! I think I'm going to love serving. I'm excited to leave the MTC, but at the same time I realize there's a lot I need to learn. I've been writing a lot in my journal! Which has been good. And I haven't had to use my super duper umbrella yet. I am taking pictures! i'll send some  in a minute. 

While I've been here at the MTC I've learned so much! And it hasn't even been a full week. I've had multiple prayers answered already, and feel God much closer than I think I have in my whole life. At first I thought it might be tough for me to spend all/most of the day focusing on the gospel and learning how to teach, but I've come to love it. I've felt my heart changing, and I really want to work hard. Sometimes the days seem long, but by the time it's bedtime it feels like the day flew by.  
Just trying it out!!

I loved putting on my nametag as a missionary. President Preston (funny name for the MTC President in this city), talked to us about it for a while. I quite literally took upon myself the name of Christ when I put it on. It's a good reminder to me, every morning, that I am representing Jesus Christ and trying to say do the things that he would say and do. It's amazing how powerful that can be.  

I'm realizing that the gospel of Jesus Christ helps people in every aspect of their lives. In our studies here, we are taught to assess the needs of those we are teaching by asking thoughtful questions, listening with my physical ears, and listening spiritually. I recognize how important it will be for me to have the Spirit with me as I teach in order to be guided with what I say. 

I've done really well with writing in my journal! So I feel like there's so much I want to share. And this email may be a little sporadic since everything is a blur. 

I play the piano often in meetings here. It's been fun for me to play the hymns. I think I have the most piano experience out of the 26 or so Elders and Sisters here in the MTC (it's a small MTC). The Food here is great! Sometimes it reminds me of home, although it's never quite as good as Mom's cooking :) I'm in a room with 4 other Elders: my companion, Elder Calle from Spain, and Elder Henrie from Canada. We all get along super well and are growing together. 

My testimony has grown since I've left. I'm so grateful for Moroni's promise: if we "ask God with a sincere heart, and real intent, having faith in Christ, he will maniefest the truth unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things". It's so powerful to know that people, myself included, can ask God to know that he's there, to know that the Book of Mormon is true. Not only can we just ask, He answers! Individually, we can each KNOW for ourselves of its truth by the power of the Spirit. Amazing. 

Elder Russel M. Nelson and his wife came to the MTC on June 1st! That was amazing. 

MTC with Elder and Sister Russell M. Nelson

I've played basketball, soccor, and volleyball here. I dunked on one of the hoope here! (yes it was 10 foot). I have started doing pushups in the morning, and it feels good to know I'm not losing all my strength by not lifting :) 

I have come to love all the Elders and Sisters that are serving here. There are elders from the US, Spain, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, England, and other places I can't quite remember. I've been speaking a good amount of spanish to the 3 Elders that can speak spanish here. It's fun for me to speak again.  

The Elders in my district love the music I brought! Especially Vocal Point and your cd, mom :) 

Preston, England Temple

I feel God is continually strengthening me and helping me. I feel my heart softened, and often feel humbled by the work I am to do. Today I was blessed to be able to go to the Preston Temple. I feel even more strength and peace from that! My understanding increases as I continue to attend, and I gain more knowledge each time. We can overcome all of our challenges when we recognize our weaknesses (Ether 12:27), and turn to God wholeheartedly (Peter 5:6-7).  
Elder Henrie and Elder Calle on the walk to the Preston Temple

I've probably written enough for this week :) I'm really loving my time here at the MTC. I love President Preston, my companion, the food, the Spirit that's here, the temple, my MTC teachers (especially Brother Webb), the gospel. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ! Because of his Atonement, I can be forgiven of all my sins and weaknesses, and be enabled to overcome my challenges. I've found strength and comfort in prayer and the scriptures and the gospel unlike I have in my whole life. It's amazing how much of a difference a sincere prayer makes. I'm so excited to share that with the people of England. I really do love it here and wish you all could join me!

Much love,

Elder Withers 

P.S. Here are some random things that are different here: the accents, driving on the left side of the road, the power outlets, light switches flip down instead of up, each of the outlets has a switch,  

Some word differences: post=mail, crockery=plates, chips=fries, crisps=potato chips, the spelling is often funny, rubbish=trash... I can't quite remember much else but I'll see if I can do better next week.

Some pictures of everyone in the MTC, and pictures with Elder Nelson and his wife. I could've touched his shoulder!!! I didn't though, because his body guard was there. And he was taking the picture. I didn't want to seem suspicious :)