Monday, July 27, 2015

Elder Withers and second companion Elder Mabingo from Burundi Africa
Hello family and friends~
 English Culture:

There are lots of roundabouts here - and they work differently than the U.S.! You yield to the right and to cars in the circle. Fun fun.
"Tarmac" = asphalt
"dodgy" = sketchy
"Biscuit" = some kind of cookie
"Taking the mickey out of ya" - making fun
"mum" = mom
motor bike instead of motorcycle
People say "isn't it?" a lot, and some blend the two into "i'nnit" 

So I'm serving in a trio now! Elder Mabingo (from Burundi Africa) is my new companion. And we're serving with Elder Kalabanko (from Ukraine) for half the transfer until his companion (From Brasilia, Brazil) leaves the MTC! And in our district, there's another Elder from Switzerland, and another from Okinawa, Japan. We went from 3 American missionaries to 1 this last transfer! As they say, diversity is the spice of life! It's special to serve with and serve around missionaries from different countries! Sidenote: We are staying in Letchworth (because the flat is nicer), but we're covering both areas as a trio. 

Elder Kalabanko from Ukraine, Elder Mabingo from Africa and Elder Withers from Ohio

Elder Mabingo is a kind, and humble Elder. He has 4 brothers and 3 sisters. He joined the church when he was 20, and he is currently 24. He loves to laugh, and has a kind heart. He loves rice, chips (AKA fries), and bread. He's been on his mission for 21 months! 

For the first time in my life, I feel a need to watch what I eat. If I'm not careful I'll put on some serious poundage! 

It's so important to "forget myself and go to work" - so many blessings, and so much happiness come as a result! 

So here's a neat experience I had: On Friday morning, there was some contention before we left the flat... We were travelling from the flat in Letchworth all the way to Stotfold to help a family move into their home. We walked a LONG way, and if it didn't rain the whole time, it rained for most of it. I didn't have an umbrella and I got quite wet. I was in a sour mood, and needless to say, I did not have the Spirit with me. 

The walk to Stotfold was actually quite beautiful. We took a path that ran alongside the stunningly beautiful English countryside. While we're on the topic, I absolutely LOVE the English countryside. It's so big, so open, and just breathtaking. There's an awe and a sense of peace that accompanies the scenery.
Anyway, I wasn't appreciating or enjoying the amazing view. I remember Elder Mabingo singing a bit, and just feeling not in the mood to sing or join in. We actually weren't quite sure which way to go, and Elder Kalabanko asked if I could say a prayer. I said the prayer, and I apologized for the contention I caused that morning. During the prayer, I remember the phone ringing (it was the sister we were helping move, and she said she was going to be 40 minutes late). We ended up choosing to go right, and we eventually found the way. But the most meaningful part of that experience, was the sweet peace and forgiveness that I felt during and after that prayer, and I was able to let go of the issue that we had in the morning. I even sang a little in the rain! I was happy! 

This may seem like a little thing, but to me it was very meaningful! There's nothing like feeling the Spirit :) 

I've learned/continue to learn how important it is to laugh, and make other people laugh. It truly is "medicine for the soul" 

I'm grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the many ways that it has blessed me. The best and only way to be truly happy is through Jesus Christ! 

I hope you all have a great week!  


Elder Withers

Random pictures of food because it's very important to Alec :)


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Elder Withers and friends

The weeks go so fast. Time is just blurring together!  

Elder Cook and I have been pretty good about running in the morning. We often run to the chapel, do some fitness things there, and then we run back to our flat to get on with the rest of our day. 

England culture:

-Elder Cook and I were called "pretty" by an elderly lady.
-Apparently there's no whistling on a Wednesday afternoon in Hitchin. This is an old law, that hasn't been revoked. The reason being that during archery matches, a boy would stand behind the target, and when the archers were done shooting they'd whistle, to signify it's safe. And these took place on Wednesday afternoons! good thing I can't whistle...
-"trolley" = shopping cart
-"TK Max" = TJ Max
"Advert" = advertisement
people say "proper"
Some cars will turn off when at a complete stop to save money ("petrol" AKA gas is expensive)
"posh" is a slang word people use for nice, fancy, or for the rich people
Hot dogs are smaller here
the Mustard is strong
Dates are typed as 21/07/2015 (today)
The toilets are smaller and there's not near as much water in them :)
People say "zed" for the letter 'z'
"hatche" = pronunciation for 'h'
"footpath" = sidewalk"
"bat" = ping pong paddle
Squash = like concentrate - put a little in a cup, add water, and you have like a fruit juice or something.
Quotes that I like: 
"Brethren sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will work wonders" 

"If we want it badly and deeply enough we can rebuke the devourer by the power of the Redeemer Lord Jesus Christ"
- Both from Jeffrey R. Holland

I did a training this week in our district meeting, and I spoke on studying and preparing to teach. By me giving that training, I feel it was more for me than anyone else in the district. There's a lot for me to work on! Something that came to me (I believe as I was listening to someone else speak), is that if we are not progressing as missionaries, how can we expect our investigators to progress? That is to say, if I'm not growing in faith, testimony, and my commitment to the Gospel and Jesus Christ, how can I expect those I teach to have a different result? 

I also recognize that I need to change/develop the reasons for why I do things. I was my motive to be out of LOVE for Jesus Christ, and a desire to serve Him. That's when true conversion will happen! When I act in obedience out of love for my Savior.  

Also, repentance should be a joy to us! When we truly repent, we have a "fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world." the Savior truly wants to forgive. 

This week we got to serve Brother Freeman and his family! He was extending his house so we got to help with some grunt work out back. We were placing these concrete beams, and then stacking these granite(I'm not sure what kind of stone it was) bricks to make the base of the house. It was neat! It was almost like we were building with Legos... but they were really big Legos. 

We also were able to serve Brother Amos and his family! I was painting a fence with Elder Green, while Elder Cook and Elder Kalabanko did some work smashing concrete and putting up fence posts and makeshift supports.  

Here's a nifty analogy I thought of: As I painted the fence, there were often spots where I missed with painting. It was somewhat tricky to paint by where the wooden panels crossed. I can look at those spots, and focus on those, and say "wow, I'm bad at painting." But when I step back and look at the big picture, I see a well painted fence! In addition, it's sometimes hard to recognize the progress and work I've done, but when I look at the unpainted fence, there's quite the contrast between the painted and unpainted sections. Also we were volunteering to serve! We're not professional painters.  

As a missionary, it can be easy to pick out the many mistakes and shortcomings that I have. But when I step back, recognize the good I've done and the people I've helped MORE so I can feel blessed and grateful for the people that I've been an instrument in helping. This "stepping back" is something I feel I can and should do better.  I'm not a professional missionary! I'm a volunteer. Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ are both very patient with me, and are working with me to turn me into a beautifully painted fence. Metaphorically speaking, of course. God loves us and wants us to be happy with the work we do! 
This transfer (6 week period) ends tomorrow! Our P-day was today. Tomorrow, Elder Cook is moving to Wembly to serve as a District Leader there, and I will remain in Hitchin with Elder Mabingo as my follow up trainer. For the first 3 weeks of next transfer, I will be in a trio with Elder Kalabanko (the new district leader) as well, and we will cover the Hitchin and Letchworth areas. After 3 weeks, Elder Kalabanko's companion will arrive, and he will train a new missionary. 

I love you all and am grateful for the love and  support I feel from you. 

Have a fantastic week! 


Elder Withers

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Self explanatory

Hope you all had a great week! 

England Culture
Sofa = Couch
They pronounce "garage" as "gare-age", emphasizing the first 'a'
Vimto Soda is something new that I like to drink :)
People say "well good". I think "well" is kinda like a substitute for the word "so"
cream = whipped cream
Yorkshire puddings 

Something I've prayed for is humility. I've felt that prayer answered as I've had to rely on God to overcome challenges. But it's also allowed me to be teachable, and to be better at receiving council. To be humble is to be teachable! 

Goal: "receive the image of Christ in my countenance" (Alma 5:13). This will come from diligence, selfless service, obedience, and trying to be Christlike! 

God is a God of miracles; I know I'll be helped with my weaknesses, struggles and challenges, if I have faith and turn to him! After all, Moses parted the Red Sea by the power of God! 

Funny/random story: On Thursday, I saw a ginger cat in the street, and I stopped as I saw it walking towards the sidewalk where I was. I had stopped by a car, and the cat was out of my view. The cat walked around the car, as I was beckoning to it. The gato approached me, rubbed on my right leg, and then my left leg. It claimed me. 

We met a really nice woman this week! She was Elfeba in wicked, and she knew Savannah Stevens! We had a really nice conversation with her, and we hope to teach her and her family next week.  

We had interviews with our Mission President this week! President Stevens is so kind, and so wonderful. Sister Stevens made us some WONDERFUL brownies for us to eat during the training we received there. I loved talking with President and Sister Stevens! I wish there was more one on one time with them!  

That's Our Elder!!
Sometimes I feel that I personally carry more of a weight and burden than I am meant to bear. I realize that I need to allow my Savior to help me! On the way to a dinner with a family in our ward, we drove past the vast countryside. The sun was shining down a little, as it found it's way through the clouds. There's so much more to this world than just me! As Moses expressed, I realize that I'm nothing. At the same time, I mean infinitely much to Heavenly Father! I also had the impression that the people around me are the world. That's kind've awkwardly put, but there are so many people in this world that need love, support and help! And that's what I'm here for. 

Neal A. Maxwell gave a wonderful talk titled "Willing to Submit" that President Stevens had us read. I'd highly reccommend it! I believe it was from 1976. Go to and search 'Willing to Submit' and it should come up! It's SO good. President Stevens was inspired to ask us to read it. 

Something funny: There have been a couple times that I've gone to cook myself an egg, and the egg was frozen... Our freezer kind've leaks cold down into the fridge (since it's above the fridge), so after a while, the food starts to get cold. So, not wanting to waste any eggs (or protein), I managed to get the shell off, and get the egg into the pan. It was funny to look at; a solid, frozen egg, just sitting in the pan. Still in the shape of the shell! :) 

Praying for people helps me to love them! I'm grateful when I feel true Christlike love for people, even when they're not the kindest to me. It's something I can always improve, but I'm grateful for the gift of love that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. 

Connors baptism was great! On the technical side of things, The Baptismal programs were great, things went smoothly, and we had wonderful refreshments at the end. I had printed out a paper for Connor that said "Friends at my baptism 12 July 2015" for people to sign. I really felt the spirit as we sang "When I am Baptized" at the start of the service. And I felt the sweet comfort and calm that only comes from the Spirit. I was so grateful for that! The sweet reassurances that come from the Holy Ghost are unparalleled by anything in the world. Before the actual baptism, another missionary took a picture of Connor, Elder Cook, and me. And my eyes are kind've closed in the picture... :) I asked how Connor felt after the baptism, and he said "good! I want to do that again". I'm happy for Connor and the choice that he's made! It'll truly bless him for the rest of his life on earth and after! 

Elder Withers, Connor and Elder Cook
Last thing: At dinner appointment last night, I had the realization that I'm here on a mission to minster, not to be ministered unto. When I truly lose myself in the service of others, and lose the expectation to be served or have my needs met, that's when I'm fulfilling my purpose as a missionary and that's when I'll be happiest. There's lots for me to improve on, but that's the goal! To truly lose myself in the service of others, and ultimately my God. I know He will help me as I try to do so as best as I can.  

A nice woman made the Elders a cake to celebrate Independence Day!
Thank you everyone for your friendship, prayers, and kindness. I love you all and hope you have a great week! 


Elder Withers


Monday, July 6, 2015

Elder Alec Withers  

This week we had a zone conference at Saint Albans. Here's some of what I got out of it:

-We make or break our missions between the hours of 8 and 10 in the morning
-Happiness and attitude is a choice
-"work, work, work. There is no satisfactory substitute" (Preach My Gospel page 121)
-Joshua 24:15 Choose This day to serve! 

I had the opportunity to share my testimony at this meeting. I talked a little about how I want to be changed by mission! I don't quite remember everything I said. But thinking about it now, and I might've shared some of this, for that to happen I need to put my whole heart into this work, be exactly obedient, be diligent, and choose a positive attitude. Elder Green bore a powerful testimony! One of the things I have down that he said is "I'm Elder Green. I'm a child of God, and I can do anything if I put my mind to it" I felt the Spirit as he spoke, and I wish I had his whole testimony in writing! 

English uniquness:

-We received a "polite notice" AKA invitation (to a school BBQ).
-Neighbour, baptise, favourite, doughnut, aluminium (the spelling of words here)
-Parents sometimes use a harness/leash to walk with their kids
-I was just (kindly) corrected by Elder Green and Elder Cook; a "leash" is a "lead". lol
-It's still a little weird that people say cheers so much... I think it sounds "weirdest" when other missionaries say it...
-You ask "do you need a lift" if you're offering to carpool

The path to the Ansell's house
We walked to the Ansells again (2.6 mi)! Elder Cook was on an exchange, and I was with Elder Kalabanko. I had a good idea of where to go, but we came to a point where I didn't know which way to go; straight, left, or right. I called Elder Green and Elder cook (they were serving in Letchworth), but they didn't pick up. I felt like we should go straight, but didn't know for sure. I looked at the map and still wasn't quite sure. So I went forward. At first, I didn't quite know if it was the right path. As we travelled, it became more and more familiar, until I was pretty confident we were on the right Path. Elder Cook then called, and I didn't even have to ask which way to go because we were on the right path. And so it is with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We want answers to prayers immediately sometimes (AKA someone to pick up the phone and tell us which way to go), but we often have to take steps forward along the path and then we start to feel, and have confirmation that we're on the right path. Our faith will be confirmed as we take steps down the path, by reading, praying, and trying to follow our Savior! That's how we can gain a testimony of the Gospel, of the Book of Mormon, or anything! Act in faith; live it, read it, pray about it, and God will answer our questions. We must "ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, [and God] will manifest the truth of it unto [us] by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things" (Moroni 10:4-5) 

I got a haircut on Thursday! A woman in the ward, Sister Jazsewska, cut mine and Elder Cook's hair for free!  

The reason for the subject line is that Elder Cook and I have spoken some "Gollumese" recently. He and Elder Green (I believe) like imitating him. PRECIOUS!

Connor will be baptized on Sunday 12 July! It's so exciting. He's been progressing really well, and he's just a great guy.  

I counted, and in total, Elder Cook and I have had 13 meals from members! And, Sister Hopwood has made us 2 cakes, and banana bread. All since June 10! It's wonderful.  

I know this church is true! And anyone and everyone who sincerely wants to know if the Book of Mormon is true, will come to the same conclusion. That it is true, and it is the word of God! All it takes is reading it with a "sincere heart, real intent, and faith in Christ". Then, God will witness to us that it is true "by the power of the Holy Ghost". It's so beautiful that we can all receive knowledge and guidance directly from Heavenly Father! And, we have a Prophet today (just like the Prophets of the Bible such as Moses and Abraham) in President Monson to give us further guidance and direction from God. I love this Gospel! 

Have a great week everyone!
Elder Withers


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Selfie with Elder Cook and birthday pacakges

Just like that it's Monday again. This week is a blur! I'm glad that I've been journaling.  

This week, President and Sister Jordan had their farewell meeting. I think President and Sister Stevens (our new mission president and his wife) will be here tomorrow. 

On Monday, we walked 2.6 miles to a family's house to visit with them. And 2.6 miles back. Do the math, and it's 5.2 miles in total :) It's quite the journey, but the English countryside is BEAUTIFUL. 

The Amos Family had us for dinner on Wednesday. They served some chicken fajita/wrap things with lettuce, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cheese, "crisps". They made (I say they, but I mean Sister Amos. She's Welsh, by the way) a big cupcake cake with frosting and reeses pieces candies, and sang happy birthday to me! They gave us some to take home too! I love their family so much. They have two young boys, that are funny kids. Brother Amos came teaching with us. 

I've been able to speak a little Spanish! To Sister Ansell (I think she's from CA, but she's of Mexican descent), and a woman named Margarita (from Columbia) and Alejandra. Elder Cook told Alejandra "Ally" that I'm half Mexican and that both of my parents were Mexican. Which doesn't quite make sense, but it's humorous. There aren't too many Spanish speakers here in Hitchin. But I'm ready to use it if the opportunity.  

Elder Cook and I went with a young man (turning 21 on Aug 30) to a ward BBQ (we just went for the BBQ portion. There was a father-son campout that night, but we obviously didn't stay for that.) Connor is progressing really well! 

Some English culture for ya:

     "duvet" = comfortor (blanket)
      I think a "duvet day" is like a PJ day

      Half six = 6:30

      People sometimes pronounce words that end in a "w" with an extra r. For example,
      "law" = "lawr" 

I opened my B day package on thursday June 25! I loved it! I took a video of me opening it... It's kinda awkward, but I hope you enjoy it, family. It was so wonderful to open up that box (I had two to take with me from the Mission home! I got a couple comments about my massive packages) I felt the love :) It was fun to have little wrapped gifts. I made the cake! The mix made two little cakes in the trays you sent, and I gave one of them to a girl named Naomi. Her 18th Birthday is today and I felt like we should bring her something! It was fun to bring it over. It was a little burnt, but not bad! I LOVE it. The frosting is yummy. And I cut up 5 hersheys nuggets into smaller chunks, and added that to the cakes, dividing the pieces between each mix. I only added these chocolate pieces to the cake to add to the nutritional value. It was soooooo fun to have both of those packages! So kind and thoughtful of you. 

My prayers continue to be answered, despite my weakness. I'm especially grateful for the many tender mercies of the Lord that "can make me mighty unto the power of deliverance." The peaceful assurances I receive from the Spirit, and the gentle impressions I receive are very comforting, and much needed. I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior! 

I need to lose myself in this work! The time I have for my mission is limited, and I can't afford to waste any time. There's a lot for me to work on, and I have to put my whole "might, mind, heart, and strength" into this mission.  I don't want to have any regrets at the end of these 2 years. And that starts with being able to say, at the end of every day, that I gave my all. I'm not there yet, but I want to be. I've said this before, but I really want to be changed by my mission. 

This is an exciting time in my life and I want it to be so meaningful! I hope you all have a good week. 

I know Jesus Christ is my Savior, and that because of His Atonement we can return to live with our Father in Heaven if we keep His commandments and repent! I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I'm so grateful for it. It is truly a gift from God and is one of the many ways He has shown His love for us. Heavenly Father answers prayers! And we can know the truth of all things by the Power of the Holy Ghost. I'm so grateful for this knowledge I have. 


Elder Withers


Elder Cook