Monday, February 27, 2017

Hey family!

What a crazy semana. Seems like a lot has happened since last week. 

Tuesday night was great. Walking into President and Sister Stevens' flat I almost got emotional. It's been so special to be there. I took some pictures so I'll send those over. 

Last picture with Elder Burgess and the Stevens

Sister Stevens' fabulous salad - what lovely watch-care she provides
for the missionaries serving in the England, London Mission.

In closing the testimony meeting, President shared Ether 12:27, discussing how the Lord will show us our weakness as we "come unto me", in a loving, positive way. So nice. 

I heard a funny story through the grapevine. An Elder, as he came into the mission, originally thought I was an office elder. I had given him an apple, since we had some in our fridge. He said something like "Elder Withers is pretty nice. He gave me an apple. APs. Apple People."

My companion
Elder Nelson is from Alberta Canada. He has two younger sisters (age 16 & 8). He played basketball and football. He did one year of University in Canada before he came out. We get along well and I'm confident good things will happen in the area! Sidenote, we went on half hour runs thurs-sat so that was good. 

Alec and Elder Nelson
The Work
Hayes is a great area. There are lots of people (of which I am grateful for). We use the buses and tubes to get around. The church is in Ickenham, which is about 30 minutes away. It's kinda funny whitewashing, because at first everything is new. You don't even know where your flat is, where the church is, who the members are, or anything. The area was dead coming in. D-E-A-D dead. The previous missionaries didn't do much at all (I worked with the zone leaders over them last transfer, so I was aware the area was not in good condition). That should hopefully change soon enough.

My feelings
I know I'm in the right place at the right time with the right companion. This is slightly humorous, but I don't think it's coincidence. As a bit of a back story, I've developed a love for oats and eggs for my breakfasts. Anyways, we got into the flat on Wednesday night. There was some food left in the flat. Among which were eggs in the fridge, and oats on the counter. Heavenly Father is mindful of me :)

Boy is it strange to be training, after having similar-experienced companions for the past year and 3 months. I completely forgot what this felt like. To be honest it's quite the challenge. He's working through the adjustment process, and developing planning, teaching, finding, organisational, and communication skills. This is a totally different challenge than the leadership role I've had for the majority of my mission. I can't really express it adequately, but this is quite the experience. 

Thinking back to last time I trained, I'm a much different person and missionary. I feel I have a greater vision of what and how things need to happen. Being with him makes me think back to the start of my mission. It's strange to think back of my firsts as a missionary. He bought his coat today, like I bought my coat in my first area. We even look similar. 

I really love training, although it's quite the challenge. I need to invest in helping him to grow as a missionary, and we need to find people to teach, teach them, and prepare them for baptism. I feel since wednesday I've just poured out my heart and soul in this work, talking with absolutely everyone I can on tubes, buses, etc. There was a scripture we read recently in companion study, saying something to the effect of "And he shall open his mouth at all times; and he shall be given strength such as is not known among men."

I had a wonderful experience during the sacrament, and during my testimony on sunday. I attribute this to all the hard work this past week. 

Life is good. The Mission is tough. And that's why it's great.

Love you all so much!

Elder Withers

Departing dinner

Beautiful table!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

[SENT 2-21-18]


Hey family!

This is probably a bit of a shock that I'm emailing today. Long story short, my P-days will be back to Mondays. Crazy, huh?

The Past
We finished transfers with President this past weekend. That was such a wonderful experience. I'm so grateful to have been able to work so close with President and Sister Stevens. They are so loving, so kind, and so faithful. When I first met them in the Saint Albans chapel July of 2015, I had no idea how close we would become. Working hand in hand has "knit our hearts as one."

I was thinking recently how vivid a memory it was I was given the assignment to come here. Elder Mthombeni and I had finished street contacting, to see a missed call from President regarding transfers. We walked into a side street where it was less windy, I spoke with President and the assignment was given. Next thing I know, 6 months flies by, and President is driving Elder Burgess and I to our flat on Queensgate late Sunday night saying "Well, Elder Withers, it's been a good ride." The experiences I've had here have been inspired, and life changing. I will forever be grateful to President and Sister Stevens.

We taught this morning, and had a wonderful lesson on opposition, reading together from Joseph Smith History. I felt the Holy Ghost bear His sweet, warming witness as we read verses 16 and 17 together. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that God the Father with his Son Jesus Christ stood before him in answer to His prayer. At the end of the lesson, I gave her a card along with a chocolate bar. Her response was something to the effect of "I don't have a gift for you, but the greatest gift I can give is to follow God and help others do the same." She is a blessing in my life!

The Present
I'm so grateful for my mission experience. I look both look forward to and dread the day I have to leave this full time mission experience behind. Often times you don't know what you have until it's gone. I'm so grateful that I've been able to catch a glimpse of Heavenly Father's love for His children, including me, and be a part of this work. 

The Future
I will be training a new missionary! I will meet him tomorrow, and we will go to Hayes to serve together. I'm very excited for this new opportunity. It'll help me to maintain focus and diligence to the end. It'll push me to be a better example. It will deepen my testimony, my conviction, and my desires to share the gospel. These will be the best transfers yet. 

I love you all lots! Have a wonderful week. I'll email you again on Monday with news about my new companion. 


Elder Withers

[SENT 2-18-17]

Elder Burgess, new convert, Alec

Happy Saturday everyone!

Another week flown by. Church Sunday, Monday call-ins with Zone Leaders, Tuesday-Thursday we had an exchange each day, and yesterday we began working at transfers with President. I love transfers weekend! Such a fun time. Can't believe how fast the time is going! I appreciate in your emails not mentioning how much time is left in my mission. It really helps me to focus a lot on the here and now. I'm determined to finish strong! Here are some det's from the week: 

Personal Growth
So that Valentines Day package was tempting me. It was Valentines Day Eve, and I almost opened the package. But then I restrained myself and waited until Valentines day morning. Hope you're proud, momma. 

The Work
During one of the exchanges, we were travelling in the tube. As we were walking down the escalator, I recieved a prompting to talk to a guy ahead of me wearing a nice hat. He was a really cool guy and we set up an appointment to teach him for Friday. Yesterday we went over to his flat. He lives near Leicester Square, above a Pret a Manger (food place). His flat is a big open place on the second floor. In the center of the room is a big bike rack with lots of bike frames (he has a vision of creating a super bike, that people rent and use for a short time. With the idea of using the bike as an 'experience'. His name is Paul. He works with high level fashion (apparently it's fashion week). In the corner of this big room sits a sofa, framed by 2 chairs to the right, and 2 chairs opposite. We were basically in his man cave.

We taught him the Restoration, and as I read to him Moroni 10:4-5, substituting his name into the verse as I read. He had a neat Spiritual experience as I shared that verse of scripture with him, expressing in a text that he felt "in a daze" as the scripture was read. He said "Thanks for coming round.. Slightly nervous, however felt right. Just looking forward to getting closer spiritually. I must admit after reading that with my name there was a mementary daze. Is that the Holy Spirit? I will look for app (talking about the BoM app) and take it from there. It has been pretty full on since you left best part. Take care and see you soon Paul." Cool guy!

Yesterday marked one year since I was with Elder Wright! Crazy crazy crazy. Time sure does fly.

Yesterday we got a good start on transfers. Lots of work to be done still, but things are going well. At dinner (taco salad, courtesy of Sister Stevens), we talked with President about some defining moments from his mission. It was super cool. He was out for 2 transfers and he trained a new missionary (in Italy). Plot twist, he was called as the Branch President at the same time. A couple transfers later, he was a District Leader training with another set of elders. Plot twist: They were opening a city; no members, no investigators, no flat, no nothing. Later, as an assistant, the President called him and said he thought he should be out in the field again. He finished his mission with a struggling missionary. Neat stories. Definitely makes me want to do whatever President asks for the rest of my mission!

Spiritual Experiences
During Sacrament meeting, a girl sang "His Hands." It reminded me of mom, since this was a song that was often played in our home on Sunday. As I listened, it evoked powerful images of the Saviour and His Atonement in my mind. During this brief little experience, I gained a greater depth of testimony of the Atonement. I felt in a very real way that "As you grow in your understanding of the Atonement, your desire to share the gospel will increase" (PMG). 

I've had a lot of good experiences in church recently. I've been bringing my "Joseph Smith journal" with me so I can take notes. I've been striving to really focus in the sacrament. I've strived to prepare for classes by doing the reading before church. 

Thanks for your love and support! Have a wonderful week.

Elder Withers

Friday, February 17, 2017

[SENT 2/11/17]

Alec and Elder Burgess
Hi Familia!!

You may or may not be wondering why "6 slices of pizza, salad, clementines, a protein bar, and one cookie" is the subject line for my email. That describes the sum of the food I ate for lunch between tuesday-friday. Gotta love zone conference lunch.

We had 4 zone conferences, each of them lasting from 10am-4pm. They were really good! 4 trainings and good discussion. I can't believe how fast this past week went. 

ELM Zone Conference
The Rees's
We helped the Rees's with a bit of moving last saturday. They now live on Exhibition road in a very nice flat by the chapel. While we helped them move, I got to talk to Sister Rees a bit about her conversion story. Which is so powerful! She's an amazing woman. 

On the drive out to Ipswich, Elder Burgess and I sat up front with Elder Rees and had a deep gospel conversation. He's a powerful, wise, and consecrated man.

It's fun to have a connection with them through the Polings! They shared a bit of Rick's conversion story over dinner on tuesday night, too. What a good family. 

The Work
We are currently teaching two people; one is Chinese. He wants to become a better person, and this led him to want to meet and develop his faith. It may be a bit of a slow process with him, but we'll see how far he goes. 

The other is a member referral. She came to church last week, and we taught her yesterday. She has great desires, and a good background in Christianity. She's Coptic (some kind of Egyptian Orthodox). She is super busy so hopefully we can teach her enough for her to progress. 

Elder Burgess and I just have a good time together. I'm just amazed at how fast time has gone! We've almost completed our 3rd transfer together. Lots of good work, lots of laughs, lots of growth. Life is good :)

Jing taught us a lesson over we-chat about 2 of the principles from Lesson 1. She asked us some really good questions as she taught. For example, "how did your parents teach you the gospel?" She's preparing for when she will go home to china at the end of this year, which will be an interesting challenge since her family will be new to faith.

I love you all so much! Family is the best thing ever. 

Have a great week!

Elder Withers

Monday, February 6, 2017


My journal writing this past week was great! So I'll have some details I otherwise wouldn't have remembered. 

The Work
We had MLC this past week. We gave a training on asking inspired questions. Super busy now, we have Zone Conferences this coming week. 

The physical work
I've been doing well with working out! Total this week, I did 370 pushups. My shot at b ball has improved since I've been here, since we play so frequently. 

I didn't get glasses this past week because turns out they charge me for an eye test, since I'm not a part of the NHS. They just don't like foreigners... Oh well! One day my eyes will be opened and I will see clearly. 

Today we went to the British museum! It was alright. Some neat stuff there for sure. 

President was talking about the possibility of driving to different chapels throughout the mission to do interviews, that way it'd be less disruptive of missionaries' schedules from travelling into London. He said something like, "That's a lot of driving. I'm 65. I could die at any moment." haha he's hilarioius. 

I have a self-made tradition of reading my patriarchal blessing every sunday morning. While I was reading it this past sunday, I received the very specific prompting to memorise 1 scripture a week. It reminded me of the "Ponderise" challenge extended a couple of general conferences ago. I memorised Mosiah 4:9 last week. 

Hope you all are doing well. Love ya!