Well it's only been a few days since I emailed last so not much has changed. I've just been trying to learn as much about the area as I can. St. Helens seems to be a pretty good place. From what I've been told it used to be very big in the glass industry back in the day. It's not a very big or busy town. Less busy than Blackburn for sure. It's not far from Liverpool so a lot of people have a very different accent. If you haven't heard the Liverpool accent go on YouTube and find it or something. It'll make you smile. There isn't a football(soccer) team here which is a surprise but there is a professional rugby team here, The St. Helens Saints. Pretty original name right? haha. Google St. Helens and you'll probably know way more about it than I do.
The members of the ward seem to be really good. The ward is a bit bigger than Blackburn and has solid active membership of about 90 give or take. That's probably average for the Northwest of England. We have a meal appointment almost every night so I'll have a good chance to get to know them on an individual basis. My first Sunday was pretty good. They do their Sunday meetings in a backwards order. Priesthood/Relief Society, Sunday school, then Sacrament meeting. Not sure why. I'm not really the biggest fan of it but it's probably because it's just different than what I'm used to.
I've gotten to know Elder Peterson a bit better. He is from Eureka, Montana( I make Cowboy jokes to him all the time). He is the middle child with 4 sisters! I told him that I felt bad for him because I only had one and that was almost too much. I can't imagine how much hair is in their shower! (Just kidding Brianne...but seriously). He played a lot of basketball and he's been on his mission about 6 months so he's got a good feel for the work. I keep thinking back to when I was six months out. I was with Elder White in Preston. Seems like yesterday. Elder Peterson is a hard worker and never complains or says anything negative. He's great at serving people as well. Every morning when I get out of the shower I have a freshly ironed shirt hanging up for me that he ironed. So nice. My shirts have seen more of an iron in these last few days than probably in my entire mission. I've learned that if you get them out of the drier quickly they don't really need to be ironed. Missionary shortcuts . Our flat is still freezing cold because our heat isn't working. We've been meaning to call the landlord but we just forget.
We have some good people to teach as well. We have a family who has been taught for about 6 months. It's a single mom(Debbie) and he two sons (Jordan(13), and Max(6)). They're doing great. She has a desire to be baptised but is a little nervous of what the rest of her family will think. We're working on it though. We fond another family as well this week. We were searching through our Area book for people to try-by and w found the name of Kim on one of the Potential Investigator sheets. We tried by and ended up teaching her and he boyfriend on the spot on there doorstep. They have two young children and they really need the gospel right now. We'll hopefully be seeing them again sometime this week. We're still searching for people and we're trying to do it more through the members. Member referrals are the best way to missionary work. Here is a good quote from President Hinckely from Preach My Gospel. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “So many of us look upon missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel.
“The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service. He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change. . . . The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found” (Ensign, May 1999, 105–6). (Preach My Gospel pg. 160-161)
So the moral of the story is. Find people for the missionaries to teach. Study Preach My Gospel as well. I've had some good studies lately. Here is another good thing I found. In Pres. Uchtdorf's recent Devotional he talked about the importance of truth and what truth really is.He told a really good parable that I've used on the streets a few times with people. It helps them to understand why there are so many different views of the truth.
Well over one hundred years ago, an American poet put to rhyme an ancient parable. The first verse of the poem speaks about:
Six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.
In the poem each of the six travelers takes hold of a different part of the elephant and then describes to the others what he has discovered.
One of the men finds the elephant’s leg and describes it as being round and rough like a tree. Another feels the tusk and describes the elephant as a spear. A third grabs the tail and insists that an elephant is like a rope. A fourth discovers the trunk and insists that the elephant is like a large snake.
Each is describing truth.
And because his truth comes from personal experience, each insists that he knows what he knows.
The poem concludes:
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!1
We look at this story from a distance and smile. After all, we know what an elephant looks like. We have read about them and watched them on film, and many of us have even seen one with our own eyes. We believe we know the truth of what an elephant is. That someone could make a judgment based on one aspect of truth and apply it to the whole seems absurd or even unbelievable. On the other hand, can’t we recognize ourselves in these six blind men? Have we ever been guilty of the same pattern of thought?
(Dieter F. Uchtdorf. "What is truth")
We should have a pretty busy week. I've got to go to a town called Southport tomorrow to do a baptismal interview so that will take up most of our day. We have a zone conference on Wednesday as well where we'll be getting new phones. Probably won't be anything special. There is a rumor that a lot of the missions in the states are getting Ipads. Is that true?
Well I hope everyone has a great week. Everything is going great here. I love you all so much and I'm grateful for your support and love. I'll speak to you next Monday! Love ya!
Love Elder Ford