Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Alec and Elder Jensen visiting Colchester Castle

Hello family! 

So much has happened this past week and it's all a blur. I feel so bad that I haven't been writing in my journal because I'm losing memories!

Yikes... It's so tough because we have call ins from 9:20-10:20 (if we start and end on time) every Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, and on the other days I always feel so busy, and I often use night time to call missionaries and see how here doing/follow up/ challenge them, since the days get so busy. I'll include things that I can remember and use my planner to prompt further memories. 

On Tuesday, we drove to Cambridge in the morning! How cool is that?!

It's like 1 hour 15 minutes away. We attended a District Meeting their in a senior missionary couple's home (The Jackmans). They're so amazing! They like me too because I went to BYU and I remind them of someone they're related to. After DM, they provided lunch. We then spent time finding with the missionaries there, and returned home to Colchester with a set of elders. 

That night, we took part in a great mutual activity planned and prepared by the sisters. It was a mini-MTC experience! They put together mission calls for the various youth (one of which was the Ohio Cleveland mission), provided paper nametags, and planned things so well. Elder Jensen and I got to make some opening remarks. Which I quite enjoyed. I find it fun to stand up in front of people and talk.

Anywho, I was with Elder Walker since we were on an exchange. We took a group of the most choice and righteous youth (those that had been called to the Cleveland mission) to the chapel where we taught them how to find aka how to talk to people on the streets. Afterwards, they went outside with their companion and tried to find people to teach.

The leaders were outside in casual clothes pretending to be an average joe. After they set a return appointment, all the youth came back inside where the sisters instructed them a bit on how to pick a lesson to teach and told them to extend a baptismal date. The "missionaries" then taught the lesson to their investigator. It was a fun activity! I really enjoyed interacting with the youth. Maybe the Ohio youth would love it, too. 

On Wednesday we had a District Meeting in Colchester. We had lunch together after DM. Later that day we had dinner with the Stake President's family! We played a game where there were M&Ms in a bowl at they had to transfer to  pan empty cup. They had 30 seconds to get as many as they could into the cup. It was a competition to see who could get most. We made some parallels to our testimony. One of the things we said was that testimony grows bit by bit and it takes effort over time. Our testimony also grows by sharing it. We invited them to share their testimony with someone! 

On Thursday we went to Ipswich for their DM. I gave a training! It was fun. Like I said before, I enjoy standing in front of people and talking. 

On Friday we went to London for an AP Exchange. 'Twas fun. 

Sunday we had a linger longer lunch after church. Yummy yummy. 

I've committed to be disciplined with my eating. We exercised a little today in our gym! I did 10 minutes of interval training on the treadmill. I ran 1 mile. 

Funny story:

Both Elder Jensen and I got haircuts today at a Turkish barber. That was exciting. The guy that cut my hair couldn't speak English. It was so funny... At one point he turned on the sink in front of me and gestured. I was like "what?" And since I didn't know what he wanted me to do I stuck my hand in it. Lol. Then he said something again and I half- realized he wanted me to put my head in the sink. So I did and he proceeded, to my surprise, to wash my hair with water and shampoo right then and there. After that, he dried my hair, had me sit back in the chair and lean my head back. He went over to another place in the shop and got a towel that was warm and smelled really good (like vicks) and put it over my face and left it for a bit. Then he styled my hair and asked if I wanted gel or anything. I said no. A little bit later he asked if there was anything else and I was like "did you say there was gel?" So he put gel in my hair. And it's max hard gel that makes me look like a greaser. And then he was using a mirror to show me how long my hair was, asking if it was ok, and then I was like its a little long in the back. Another employee translated for my hair cutter friend, and then I was like oh no it's fine, and then the translator dude was basically like "if you want it shorter it's alright" and so this Turkish guy but the hair cutting bib over me and cut my hair again, saying Turkish words that were foreign to my American ears. I presume he said something about me... Lol it was a good experience. 

Margaret Randall feeds us dinner every week and makes us muffins as well. She gives us 3 bags; 1 for us and 1 for each set of sisters in the ward. The most recent batch was super good and we were tempted to take some of the sisters muffins. But we decided not to. Just thought you'd like to know :)

Alec on the street outside his flat
Haha here's another funny story. I was on the phone with my son (Elder Rix, the District Leader in Witham), and I was standing on a football (soccer ball en Americano). I lost my balance, fell to the ground, dropped my phone, and then the battery came out. This ended the call.

I called Elder Rix back and shared the reason why our call ended so abruptly, and resumed our conversation.

Elder Jensen and I have definitely had some good laughs...

Well I love all y'all! Have a great week! 


Elder Withers
I just remembered!

On Sunday before church (at 9:50) a sister missionary said "oh! You're speaking today!" And I said no I'm not. And she said that I was, and then I was like shoot. haha

I kinda spaced on it because a little while ago I was going to give a talk, and then I was told that just Elder Jensen and 2 sister missionaries would speak. At some point in the past I was asked to speak on a different topic anddd I just forgot.

So I explained this to Brother Foster (1st counselor) and I asked him what my topic was for my talk. He told me, and I prepared it, and then delivered it! I was the first speaker and my talk went really well. I was rather pleased with it. It was easy since it was only supposed to be 5 minutes

Anywho, love yall!

Colchester Castle

Sunday, April 24, 2016

View from Colchester flat


What a good week. I love life. I love my companion. And I love being a missionary!

Random/English culture: I haven't done this in a while... I should start looking for more English phrases and differences.

- Someone said "Cheerio" to us. That was exciting.

- "Bless his cotton socks"

This week was an interesting one!

Tuesday night Elder Jensen started feeling sick. (this will become relevant soon)

We blitzed the Chelmsford Elders and the Tendring Sisters on Wednesday. Elder Jensen wasn't feeling too well. Then we went to The Vincents home (recent convert family) for Leon's birthday. They fed us there. Then we went to Bishops for dinner there too... wow... Why does everyone want me to be fat?... 

Thursday we had interviews with President Stevens! It was great. Half the zone met in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Here are some takeaways from the meeting:

-"It's not only what you do but who you are"

-Disobedient missionaries may have "success" in finding, teaching &  baptising, but they will not benefit from their mission as much as they could! Obedience changes us (John 14:15)

-Obedience & Diligence AKA our will are all we can give to God

- President Jordan once said "Don't make excuses. Make it happen"

Friday, my companion died... not really but he was max sick and he slept a bunch. Which was good because he needed it. Friday morning studies was fun. I talked to myself for a bit of the companion study portion of the morning. :) We put Marcel on date for 30 April! He's been taught almost everything and he was close to baptism in the past. Sadly we won't be able to see him until saturday but Saturday, my companion was still sick. We didn't get to go to the ward activity on saturday night because Elder Jensen didn't want to get people sick. Bless his cotton socks... We got to do the progress record though and that was exciting... kinda...

Church Sunday! Yay. The focus of Sacrament meeting was Sabbath Day observance. It was great! Much of the focus was on the most important part of the Sabbath; the sacrament. Meaningful worship during the sacrament will make the Sabbath a delight. A missionary spoke (namely Sister Idrizi from Albania who's going home soon) and she quoted a leader in the church; speakers come prepared with a jug of spiritual water. They spread it throughout the congregation as they speak. In the congregation there are those with a big jug to catch the spiritual water, those with a small cup who catch less water, and even those with their hand over their small cup. Hopefully you can connect the dots and get this comparison :)

Before sunday the Watlings had asked if we could come over for a meal after church. We said yes, because we didn't think we had anything schedule. We got to church, looked at the meal calendar, and discovered we had double booked DA's... Talk about major awkward and uncomfortable. But we talked with the Watling family, and they were super kind and forgiving. We just went over to their home for dessert.

Today! P Day. yay. I haven't had "free time" on P day in a long time.... They've been so busy with call ins with an AP, cleaning, grocery shopping, 3 hours of missionary work, getting things we need, and emailing home that we just haven't had time to ourselves. Which I've been ok with because I'm fine with being productive and using time for missionary work, but I realise how important it is to have some free time. Because I don't want to burn out. So, today, we scheduled time to have lunch with our district and we'll go to the Colchester casltle! It should be fun. I'll also get a haircut today because I need one.

Thanks for your great letters! It's fun hearing about your lives and your livelihood. I don't know why but I just felt like saying livelihood.

 Anywho, I love y'all!

 Cheers mates

Elder Withers

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Ipswich Zone!

Happy Hanukkah, 

Another week flown by! My journal writing has suffered... I've just been max busy. I'm enjoying being a zone leader and I'm seeing some good things happen in the zone, but it's an assignment that's constantly on my mind. There's lots to do... I think about struggles of the zone, making plans to improve and executing them, trying to help district leaders, being in touch with companionships (there are 13 besides us in the zone), and doing the work in my own area. But it's good. I'm growing lots and learning lots. 

This morning in my personal study I read about the Stripling warriors in Alma 57. At this point, 2,000 of the Stripling warriors survived 1 battle in Alma 56, and they were joined by 60 more sons of the Ammonites who'd never fought yet (6). While defending the city of Cumeni, these Stripling warriors were the strength of the army. They were "firm and undaunted" while the "remainder of the army were about to give way before the Lamanites" (20). They were exactly obedient (21), they had "exceeding faith" (26), had firm minds and they out their trust in Fod continually (27). Because of these young and inexperienced fighters, the Nephites retained the city of Cumeni.
Interestingly enough, the 2,060 Striplings survived while 1,000 other Nephites were slain (25-26). 

This applies so well to missionary work. In this example, 1,000 of the more experienced Nephite fighters perished. Our success in sharing the gospel will not be determined by our "fighting experience" AKA our eloquence, doctrinal knowledge, planning skills, leadership ability, or life experience alone. Success in missionary work comes through "exceeding faith", firm minds, continual trust in God, and exact obedience. Also, through consistent and sincere daily prayer and study. This is the Lord's work, and without the Spirit "ye shall not teach " (D&C 42:14). 

I'll journal better next week 😊


Elder Withers 

P.S. I love my companion! We work hard together. He's a very good missionary and a loving leader. In tune with the Spirit as well. It's a blessing to serve with him! Also, we played basketball together on Saturday.

Monday, April 4, 2016

(Insert a creative greeting here)

I wrote in my journal on Sunday! That was great. I'm rather pround of myself. I will now tell you random details about my week. If you're reading this, thank you for caring about me enough to read about my week. If you're still reading this, you must be a good friend or family. So thank you.

Anyways, on Tuesday Elder Wright and I were in London. This day was the first free time I've had on a P-Day in a while...usually I've been too busy with call ins, cleaning, groceries and email and missionary work to have time. So it was nice to chill a little.

On Tuesday night, I stayed in the Britannia flat, which is the most expensive missionary flat in the whole world! Needless to say, it's very nice. 

On Wednesday, I met up with Elder Jensen at Euston station. There, I took Sister Idrizi's stuff (since she has back problems) back to the HP chapel to put it in our car. The STL's came with us. Sister Rodriguez was moving into Colchester so both she and Elder Jensen had their stuff with them. Basically our little Toyota Yaris was very cramped, but we somehow managed to get everyone and everything inside. 

General Conference was wonderful! I loved Elder Renlund's talk. He said something like "the greater distance between the giver and the receiver, the greater the sense of entitlement from the receiver." This statement was so insightful! Small inequities loom large when we're far from God because we feel entitled to an easier life. This is why people that are far from God always complain about challenges and unfairness in the world. Laman and Lamuel because they "knew not the dealings of that God who had created them" (1 Nephi 2:12). The Saviour was the most innocent of all. He was perfect. Yet he suffered the most and murmured the least because he was close to God. Thank goodness life's not fair! If it was, we would never be resurrected and we'd never be clean/receive forgiveness because the Saviour wouldn't have performed the Atonement. We all will receive more than we deserve, earn, or hope for.

Also, Elder Renlund said we become closest to God by preparing conscientiously and partaking worthily of the sacrament. For "If ye shall always do these things (partake of the sacrament) blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock" (3 Nephi 18:12).

The STL's pranked us on April 1.... Sister Lung called me before personal study time and basically pretended her and her companion weren't getting along. She said she had to go because her companion was getting out of the shower so she quickly ended the call. I told Elder Jensen what was going on, and soon after, Sister Rodriguez called Elder Jensen's phone and we hear a loud "Happy April Fools"... They got us... I totally believed Sister Lung... Our zone had 2 companionships last transfer that struggled with their relationship and this seemed like another case of that... LOL

On  Friday night we visited Joe Johnson. He's less active and a funny guy. He never shakes hands, he only fist bumps. At the end of our lesson with him, we invited him to say the closing prayer. He did, and it was the funniest prayer ever. In the middle of the prayer he looked up and asked Elder Jensen something. HA! If Elder Jensen wouldn't have been trying to be reverent/continue the prayer, he might've been able to have a full on conversation with Joe right then and there.

This is going to be a great transfer! I've learned a lot as a leader, and I'm excited to be with Elder Jensen. I feel that we'll grow a great bond from serving together, and that we'll have a good time as well! 

Hope y'all are happy. I'm happy. Anyways, have a great week!

Elder Withers