Monday, January 27, 2014

hail storm of death

so you know in Harry Potter the first movie when they are going to find the  stone and harry goes into that room full of killer keys that are flying at him at 100 miles an hour?? that is what Saturday was like.  we were out and it was raining decently hard, then all of a sudden.... BAM! it starts hailing and thundering and it was so windy and everything all at once. 
It felt like pieces of glass were getting thrown at us from the sky. we literally did a duck and cover on the ground on the corner of this busy intersection.  i am sure the people in the cars were just dying laughing at us.  it was a hilarious scene not gonna lie.  finally after a few minutes we were able to make it to a bus stop for safety, and when the bus driver pulled up he just started laughing and said we looked like we had been beaten against a wall and had water dumped on us.  best compliment i have ever gotten.  needless to say, i am now pretty sick haha 

This is a picture from UK this weekend - not taken by Rachel.

when i get home i am going to be addicted to family history!! just learned how this week, and it is so cool. and there is a lady in the ward who is a family history guru, no lie she is incredible. she served a family history mission in salt lake a little bit ago.....anyways we decided we needed to learn how to do it so that we could use it as a tool to teach and find investigators. so we were on a bus to her home and there were these two very nice older woman in the front.  nothing special right, well we were at her home for the morning learning all the secrets to family history, and then on the way home guess who is on the same bus returning to st albans, those two ladies.... we start to talk to them, and find out that today they were out looking for information at parishes for her family history.  June has been searching to find her father for forever and is stuck and does not know what to do.... also turns out that she is a member from Watford but has been less active for years! but we get her phone number and then give it to Anthea the lady in our ward, and the next day she calls and tells us that she was able to find June's father and all of this cool stuff.  It was such a sweet miracle.  
Heavenly Father knows and cares about the little details of our lives, so much so to put us on the same bus as this lady on the exact day we learned about family history.  We have never meet with Anthea the member before, never been to that village on that bus and never known anything about family history before.  It all came together at the perfect time.  I know that there are people who have passed away who are guiding us to find out more about them so that we can help them became a family for eternity.  
(It's really not as hard as it seems and it's amazing to find stories and names of your ancestors!  Try it!

oh ps! sister pope and i are related! crazy right. we are like 4th or 5th cousins. from here in england. he was the first person to join the church for both of us. cool huh.
we got attacked by a devil cat this week.   It was the best guard dog i have ever seen for this house.  It had the scariest eyes, and would run at you if you got to close to the door.  We were trying to tract the door, but anytime we would get close it would come stalking after us.  hissing and spitting. when it would turn to attack sis pope i would try and sneak to the door and then vice versa.  finally we were able to knock just to have no one home.  risked our lives for nothing, but it was probably really funny to people watching to see two 20 year olds running away in terror from this little cat.  

not going to lie, i always used to look at Hermione's hair in harry potter and wonder to myself why they had it soooo poofy..... I have realised why. it was because of england.  no matter what you do, your hair has a life of its own. never again will i judge Hermione and her poofy hair.     

The lady I told you about last week, about us dumping our drink in the plants, well we have taught her again this week, and it is always an adventure when we go there.  She is this 60 year old lady that has had a pretty rough life, and is a bit not all there mentally and physically, but she has such amazing desires. yes her actions a lot of times don't match those expressed desires, but that is why Heavenly Father knows best and is in charge.  but it is funny whenever we go she is... lets just say very open about everything and she usually starts off the meeting by telling us about her lovers and some things that are just too much information for our poor missionary ears haha but as we begin to teach it is amazing to see the spirit coming into her home and into her.  her whole countenance changes from the beginning to the end of the lesson.  you can physically tell a difference in her, and it just amazes me what the spirit can do.  It really is true that the gospel will not always change our circumstances, but it changes us so we are able to find peace hope and comfort in those circumstances. 

this week has been a pretty emotional week.  I don't know what it is about missionaries, but everyone seems to think it is a good idea to tell us everything.... and i mean everything. Sometimes I am surprised at the things people entrust us with.  I don't mind really I don't, i love to be able to listen and try my best to help, but so many times we can't help at all and I just feel so helpless.  but i think it just helps having someone to talk to for them. once again my eyes have been opened to how incredibly blessed I am.  I have heard and witnessed some horrendous things this week, things that absolutely break my heart.  things that I wish were only in films or books. and all i can do is offer love.  Multiple times this week sister pope has turned to me and been like what can we do? and my only answer is to listen, to love, and to help them realise how much Heavenly Father loves them, and is there for them.  songs have been sung in attempts to comfort with tears rolling down our cheeks, scriptures have been read, and love has been expressed.  Man oh man the things I have learned from my 10 months here in England. things that will forever be carried in my heart.  and have changed my perspective forever.  missions will do that to you. 

shout out to mckay!!! the big 1 6. what the heck stop getting so old. i can't believe you can now drive and date. that is not okay with me.... not at all. but i guess i just better accept it.  you are the best oldest little brother anyone could ever have.  probably has to do with the fact that you had me for an older sister :) haha just kidding.  thanks for being so awesome and for being such a great example to me.  honestly you are the best! now go and pass your driving test and then go and drive and get some taco shop and a smoothie just for me.  hope you have a great birthday! and don't worry i will definitely eat some cake over here to celebrate for you.  

transfers are this week! i will know my fate the next time i email you.  I hope i don't leave, this place has become my home and my family.  I can't imagine leaving some of the people here, but i guess that's life.  and that is why we have fb right?
mum i loved your circular thinking. it reminds me of our companion studies in the morning.  sometimes are minds just get blown away by things. 
adam- i hear you are just the best runner ever! good job.  i used to be like that before I came and discovered english chocolate and how great nutella is. now the only running i do is for the bus.... and we usually miss it anyway ha

it is freezing here but then when i convert Celsius to Fahrenheit (yes i finally have learned how to do that in my brain) i realise it is not even that cold and then i feel like a baby... but i understand now when people talking about it being cold to the bone here, it is a different type of cold! and sister pope and i are praying for a snow day.  just a one day blizzard so we can stay inside and study all day, and play in it for a little bit, and then have it be gone the next day.  so when you hear of a freak blizzard with snow that only lasts one day here in england, you will know why :)
i love you guys! hope you have a great week! don't party too hard for mckays birthday, mum and dad you may hurt yourself.  :) love you! Rachel

Monday, January 20, 2014

posh challenge....

So I am giving you a challenge (ps thanks for the info on the invisible helmet, we were having debates about it, you really helped out)  but this challenge is to find the american word equivalent to posh..... but it is hard because it is hard to describe what that word means.  it is like fancy and classy and nice all mixed together. like if a house is really nice it is a posh house, or a guy can wear a posh suit or things like that. and sister pope and i have been racking, yes racking, our brains to find a word that is comparable to it but we have not come up with anything.... 

I know i say this every week, but i don't do it on purpose! every week i have every intention of having plenty of time to email, but then stuff happens! like today, we went into london to buy your christmas presents and then we got stuck there for a bit and now we need to be home in about 15 mins and it takes 15 mins to get home..... so fast update.  

good news i got your presents! you should be getting yours hopefully too, well lets be real i may not send them right away so maybe by march? or by that time i may as well just wait till dad's bday and throw that in there too..... but ya at least i bought them.  i figured it must just be a formica thing being this late because our Christmas family newletter thingy comes out in February every year, so i am just sticking to tradition.  

this week has been fantastic.  honestly busiest but great week.  i really really really want to stay here another transfer, because amazing things are starting to happen, but the chances of me staying are realllllllllllyyyyyy not too good. I have been here for a third of mission.... so crazy to think about. 

so since i really do have to go quick one liner updates for the week....

went to this lady's house, it was sooooo dirty and gross, she is a bit crazy but really nice and we love her, but she gave us something to drink and the cups were nasty, so when she wasn't looking i dumped our drinks in a plant..... yup really did. movie status. 

went to Camden Town today.  so cool you should look it up.  i think i got high just from walking around the shops, it is that kind of place, but great stuff for shopping.  but sister pope and i realised that we are both absolute rubbish at bartering. we just feel too bad.  we told one guy we didn't have cash (we really didn't) so he walked us to the cash machine so that we would buy his stuff and we did not have the heart to say we didn't want to so we may or may not have just scooted sneakily away.  also most of the people there are foreign and i think the only english they know is compliments to get women to buy stuff. so funny. 

Annie's sister is getting baptized!! sometime in February the day is yet to be finalized. but it is incredible seeing someone have that much desire to learn about the gospel, and to be so sensitive to the spirit.  

a lot more stuff has happened this week, but like i said i am really really out of time, but i love you and miss you and hope you have a great week.  I read and printed out all your emails so maybe i will be able to write a letter.  i may or may not fall asleep first though. sorry!

have a great week! love you! rachel

p.s. i was just giving you guys a hard time about the christmas presents, now i feel bad with you guys sending stuff! i am sorry i didn't mean to guilt trip you. honest.  (We liked the excuse). 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Well dodgy mate

the internet is going crazy or as they would say it here it is "well dodgy mate".... so i am just going to send this really fast because it shuts down about every few minutes..... 

first things first a little history lesson- did you know that big ben is not the name of the clock tower??? knowing you guys you probably did.... but i just found that out this week. it is the name of the bell inside, the tower is named queen Elizabeth tower. 
Hatfield House - main house
Hatfield House

First Real Tennis Court
also we went to historical places last monday with the cox's and we went to the Hatfield House (where queen elizabeth lived).  it is closed for the winter, but we were just admiring the outside, it is hugeeeeeee, and I think the guard felt bad for us / having american accents is like the best thing ever, perfect conversation starter, and he let us go in to just a different side building, and it was the royal real tennis court.  yes real tennis, it is different than normal tennis, you can play off the walls and stuff i guess, anyways it was the first one ever and it was wayyyy cool.

also quick side note i have heard some rumors about an invisible helmet..... that is the thing i miss is not being able to google stuff, so can you please look it up and tell me if this is real or not.  people said it was but i don't believe it! how could that work?? and why the heck wouldn't they make tons of invisible stuff and the more i think about it the more i think there is no way in heck it is possible and i just sound dumb for believing it, but you never know. that is what people probably used to think about planes, and cars, and stuff.  
Invisible Helmet - The Hovding
 (Ok - I googled it.  It's more the "there when you need it" helmet.  The Hövding doesn’t sit on your head and ruin your hair. Instead, it’s a fabric collar you wrap around your neck and snap on. If an accident happens, the Hövding’s sensors detect abnormal movement in the cyclist and trigger an airbag in the collar to pop out, inflate in 0.1 seconds, and cover the cyclist’s head.  The see thru part shows what it would look like if it were to inflate.  While you're looking at bike things, check out our Helmet Speaker company.  haha).

This week has been good.  nothing too crazy. we had zone conference on wednesday which is always amazing. i get so inspired, i want to go and shout the gospel from the rooftop afterwards...we are talking with the council about starting a booth in town center on market days so that is as close to the rooftops as i am going to get i think.  but President Jordan now likes to make fun of me because in zone conference he showed a picture of fish and chips.... ( fried fish and french fries) and he asked "Sister Formica what is this", well if you know me, you know that i hate fish so i have not had fish and chips except like one bite once so i had no idea, so i said uhhhh idk roast chicken?? well he thought that was quite hilarious and probably will never let me live that down.

but a experience that we had on tuesday really stayed with me.  So Roland and Barbra Elvidge are the best people ever.  I hope that they adopt me and become my england grandparents.... some people think they are really proper and a bit intense, but I love them!  They joined a long time ago as a family, and he has been every calling you can think of, bishop, stake president, mission president, temple president, and he just was released as public affairs for all of england.... anyways they are really amazing people, and their family makes up the whole stake pretty much.  but we went to have dinner at their home on tuesday, and we have been there about every other week or so, so monday night as we were planning we were trying to think of what we could share with them that hasn't already been shared by us or the other missionaries the other weeks and ya we were struggling for something.  but earlier on p-day we watched a video on zions camp, and it just popped in my head to share a message based on that.  so we prepared a message around it.  it was a bit random but hey it was really good.  

well tuesday night after dinner we finished a bit earlier that planned so we called this part member family the heillings.  so i don't have time to go into depth but i wish i could, 2013 has been a really really hard year for them.  and she is just coming back and starting to be active again and her husband is not a member and their son who is living with her mother in law up in liverpool is just starting to go to church on his own.... anyways we have been visiting them a bit and i get this feeling we should call them.  they answered and said they received some really bad news today and they would love for us to come visit.  so we go not really knowing what to expect. when they get there they asked did the bishop call you and tell you to come?  we answer that he hadn't and we just felt we should come.  privacy for them and i won't tell you their problems, but they told us and it breaks my heart. but as we say a prayer sister pope and i realise that the message we had prepared about zions camp was perfect for them.  when we started sharing it she started tearing up and said that is exactly what she needed to hear.  Russell her husband was also really touched as well. it was an incredible experience.  i don't have time to go into what it was about zions camp but i will next week it is so amazing! I love learning, i am such a nerd i know, but I can't wait to go back home and read sooooo many books. i say that now, will it happen? ehhhh debatable.  but ya sorry that was a very long winded story and it is hard to explain so i had to tell everything to have it make sense and it is way longer than it should be and ya sorry. okay not that sorry but still 

another thought, today we taught this girl, her name is katherine, she is from Vietnam.  she just got here on Saturday.  Her sister moved here for uni a year and a half ago and joined the church here, now her sister just moved to join her at uni.  Annie, the sister, was baptised shortly after arriving, but has been less active the past few months, but we have been visiting her and she has starting coming back so strong. she has such an amazing testimony.  anyways we had a quick lesson in starbucks because they were on campus and there was no where else.  but to close the lesson we asked annie to say a prayer, we figured it would be a quick prayer considering we were in a public place and such, but it was one of the most powerful prayers ever.  she pleaded with Heavenly Father that He would open her sister's heart to learn the truth of the gospel, that her sister would be able to find the peace and happiness from it that she has found and so much more. by the end of the prayer we were all tearing up.  That is one of my pet peeves I have realised is the way we say prayers as members.  It seems that as members we have gotten into the habit of just saying prayers and not remembering that we are truly speaking to our Heavenly Father. (so funny that your email was about this as well mum! it has been on my mind lately).   It is incredible to see the people that are new to the church or not members and to hear how they are truly speaking with their heart when they pray.  It has really been an eye opener to me and is something that I am working on lately.  So I encourage all of us to remember as we pray that we are not just saying words, but are speaking with our Father in Heaven!!!  

Now I really do have to go sorry! love you guys! have a great week! love, rachel

p.s. everyone keeps talking about the weather in the states.... i don't even know what it is but everyone keeps mentioning it... good news is that usually a few weeks after it hits New York, we get a milder version of it.... so it should be here soon.... yayyyyyyy    
(Do you think we should tell her that it's not a warm front, but a COLD front?  Sounds cruel.)

Monday, January 6, 2014

pouring rain + holey shoes + broken umbrella = fun adventure

It has been a good week!  i can't really remember much of what has happened. it has rained.... a lot.... my nice umbrella i am pretty sure the elders stole. i accidentally left it in their car and then they got transferred and it is no longer in there. so i have been using just a poundland umbrella, and a while ago the wind was so strong it broke some of the arms ( is that what those metal things that spread the umbrella out are called? the ones that look kinda like bat wings?) anyways a few of those broke so my umbrella was a bit crippled, but i still used it, it just drooped down on either side of me and worked more as a tent for my head, but yesterday i was swinging it around waiting for the bus, and the whole top just popped off the stick, so i had an umbrella top and a wand. i decided it was time to part ways with my little crippled umbrella.  don't worry i think i will manage to get over it... eventually.   

(Adam has an umbrella that pops off the stick too, but it's like a hidden weapon, so he likes it!)

funniest thing that happened well the one that i can remember is sunday morning it was really cold and there was a bit of frost on the ground well i took about 2 steps outside and then BAM! i was down for the count hahah it was actually the funniest thing ever, i just sat there for a few minutes laughing my head off. luckily it was early on a sunday morning so there was no one out, because it was not the most lady like thing I have ever done.  

dad your email was massive! good job, you must have started it early enough that you didn't fall asleep in the middle of it.  i am glad that my laptop is slowly winning you over to the mac side.  even though it requires two fingers to delete.  also your analogy for finance vs math teacher was great. honestly it really helped thank you. you too mum very helpful.  I am not too concerned right this very second about it. i am trying not to think about it much, but i will let you know in a bit my feelings.  loved the pics mum and that was an amazing experience! i am so proud of you! keep up the great work.  sounds like a cool present dad, i am not even in the slightest jealous though because you did not get incredible soft warm socks and long johns.... :) ha 

Sister pope and i have been working really hard together and have been trying to come up with different ideas to find new investigators.  it hasn't really worked so well. we think Heavenly Father might be humbling us a bit haha but really.  it has been a bit disappointing working so hard and not seeing many fruits investigator wise, but yesterday we realised something, we had 3 people at church who have not been for a very long time.  So although it may not be baptisms, we are strengthening these less actives and helping them grow in their testimony of the gospel.  And that is just as important.  Also we are working with three 19 year olds that are struggling a lot but kinda have the desire to serve missions, and we are trying to help them make that goal a reality. so different ways of helping people and bringing others to Christ.  

sorry it is going to be a short email, because the Cox's are taking us to this chocolate factory and then some historic mill.....  he is such a kind older man and is so excited ... so off we go! and besides it is fun too, and it gives us something to do besides just being lazy the whole day. and when else will we have this opportunity!?! 

i take it rebecca you are back up at school and left in a flurry and rush and all that good stuff.  hope you made it safely and have a great start to this new semester. crazy to think that i will possibly be there for the start of the next one.  

Adam sent Rachel this picture message: 
 0+<   See the guy?  He's laying down sideways.  .  ..                                                                                                                                                             ( _o_
Adam i totally saw the guy laying down that you put in the email! and Mckay,  are you memorizing your scripture mastery? because if not.... do it. it will help so much! you may think that i am just being a nag, i kind of am ha, but one day you will email me while you are on your mission and thank me! 

but i gotta run! love you guys so much! have a great week!! love, Rachel  
inspirational quotes

Thursday, January 2, 2014

chocolate, singing, tights and socks.... pretty much sums up my Christmas!

Brace yourself this one is a doosie  ( how the heck do you spell that? do you know what i am referring too?? oh well) I don't even know where to start because soooo many things have happened the past few weeks and i feel as though I haven't emailed in forever, yet i just talked to you guys a week ago..... so how do I have so much dumb stuff to say? 

I did not know that having this much chocolate was even possible!!! literally have a mountain in one of the corners in our flat. but it is great because we are excellent re-gifters.  Sister Pope and I aren't eating sweets or junk food unless it is pudding at a members home ( pudding = all dessert.... weird i know)  so we are just given loads and loads of chocolate away.  one day we wrote out quotes and stapled them to pieces of candy and were handing them out in town center.... it was funny because even then people rejected us.  Sister Pope and I just turned to each other and were like what the heck man it's FREE CHOCOLATE! why would you reject that?
Idk if I told you this story yet or not, but if i did... oops. you get to read it again. so sister pope and i decided to take full advantage of the christmas season and we wanted to go caroling.  (we were somewhat obsessed with christmas music.) so we just flipped open the yellow pages and found a nursing home and called and asked if we could come volunteer somehow, or carol or something for them.... turns out that they were having a christmas party the next day, and needed the entertainment.... guess who became the entertainment.  so we called elder davis and elder ottoni and they came with us.  it was so fun/funny/bad/good. let's just say we aren't the best singers in the world.... we got up there and had to sing for 45 mins. luckily christmas music is my favourite thing!!!.... if it is december....  but highlights of it were this one older lady would get mad at all the other old people because they were not clapping loud enough for us.  another older lady kept winking and waving at elder ottoni, and when we went around to say hello after, she grabbed his hand and would not let go. and during jingle bell rock, we messed up so bad that sister pope and i just started laughing/ crying and couldn't stop so we could not sing.  elder ottoni did not know the song, and so elder davis had to finish it up as a solo. you probably had to be there but it was hilarious.  

another thing we wanted to do to take advantage of christmas was to deliver little treats to investigators and less actives.  well we got a recipe from Sister Farnsworth, the bishops wife, who is from america. She gave us a recipe but it needed shortening. turns out they don't have that here, they have something called lard.  we got some lard and went and made cookies to deliver. the entire time sister pope just keeps saying these cookies taste like lard, all i can taste is lard. i told her that it was all in her head.   (they did taste a bit funny but i didn't say that) well we find out after we make them that there are different types of lard.... animal fat lard and vegetable lard.  we were supposed to use the vegetable lard. guess which one we used..... buttttt did we still deliver them even though they tasted nasty? yes. yes we did. oops :) 

THEY DON'T HAVE EGG NOG HERE!!!!! so sad right? it did not feel fully like christmas without egg nog.  i went to every store and asked multiple people in the store just in case that person was clueless. nope they just don't have it here. which i find funny because many times most egg nog is alcoholic, not the kind i get don't worry, and they LOVE their alcohol over here. so for me it seems like a perfect fit! maybe i will introduce them to it.

last semi different thing we did was,  with elder davis and elder ottoni, we  had all the members write their testimonies inside the Books of Mormon we pass out.  then we wrapped them up in christmas paper and went caroling and delivered them.  Something i learned, if I ever need money, i am going to come to England and go caroling.  apparently people do it for charity, because every door we went to they tried to offer us money for the charity we were with.  when we told them we weren't with a charity and didn't want their money, just to give them a free gift, they were shocked, semi confused, and very happy.  it was a cool experience though.  of course it was pouring rain. and some people did NOT want us to carol and quickly made that known, but others even requested more songs ( we must not have been that bad).  hopefully they read the testimonies and the Book of Mormon and give us a call! 

Owl onesies
christmas eve we went to this amazing family's home with all 6 of us missionaries (on christmas we were allowed to go to the same place -- usually we cannot be in the same members home at the same time).  we played games and it was just such a good night! the coolest game ever mum i might buy it for you for christmas. yes i have not done my christmas shopping yet.... there has been no time! anddddd now there are sales so i did it on purpose obviously.... but i forgot the name of the game, but it was fun.  if i don't end up getting it i will let you know and you should buy it.  
Christmas morning with Phyllis :)

christmas day we woke up at 5:40 hurried and opened our presents and got ready.  we left at about 6:15 to go to phyllis's.  because the elders were supposed to pick us up at 7:30 from her home. luckily the elders were late. it was her first christmas without her parents being alive, so we went over and she opened her presents and then BEST THING EVER!!!! we watched the little mermaid. i forgot how much i love prince eric.  dark hair green or blue eyes yes please.  i know i know, he is a cartoon. but he is still beautiful.  then we went to the sotos home. another amazing family.  they are in their late 20's.  he is from chile, she is from england. he is in the bishopric and they have a little 3 year old named elias.  when we got there he was soooooo excited about his toys.  little kids at christmas are the best!!!  anyways so it was the two of them and elder davis and elder ottoni and sister pope and i and we watched toy story 3 in 3D and the emperors new groove.  SUCH A FUNNY MOVIE!  in between the two movies we went and sang at an elderly home for a bit with a few other ward members.  one lady sister cox who is in her 70's and loves loves loves singing.  she is good but man can she hit those high notes.  so we went caroling and did you know there are about 6 or 7 verses to ALL the christmas carols..... i didn't know that..... lucky for us we got to sing ALL the verses of ALL the songs... twice. whoooooo.    after that we went to the Whittakers, the senior couple ate a bit sang some more and skyped you!!!!   then we went to the farnsworths.  the cutest little three girls.  they got sooooo many presents it was ridiculous! and they had to show us every. single. one. and then for the rest of the night we talked to bishop and his wife about life! and careers and marriage and philosophical stuff and ya it was good! man oh man it is crazy it is already over!!!! 

oh funny england tradition over here is that they have christmas crackers.  they are these cardboard candy looking things ( pic on dropbox)  and sit in a circle and cross your arms and grab a side in each hand and another person takes the other side and you pull and one person ends up with the toy inside.  and every single one has a paper crown inside and a joke.  they are quality jokes like ice lollie status.... or  in american, Popsicle status.  walking down the street looking in the windows you see almost every house the people are sitting around the table with these paper crowns on. so funny.  
(Last Christmas our dear friend Laurie gave us a box of poppers!  We all had paper crowns on.  We didn't realize they were an English tradition!)

but boxing was the best slash worst day ever.  best day ever because owl onsies, films all day, and friends. what more could you want.  also it was funny because Elder Choi made us curry but he accidentally set off the fire alarm.  we were panicked because we thought the firemen were going to come and bishop would have to come and stuff. luckily they didn't, but the elders could not get it figured out how to turn it off for about 20 minutes.  i quick looked at the instructions and saw what it said to do.  i figured they had already tried that, and i did not want to be the annoying person who says well have you tried this, and it has obviously already been tried..... so i just waited...about 5 mins later i asked if i could try it, and it worked.  thats why there are sisters out on missions ha   

but it was the worst day ever because it was transfer calls, and we for sure knew elder ottoni was leaving, but then we found out that elder davis is also moving.  hardest goodbye i have had in 9 months.  they have become my brothers these past 5 months together. we have been through so much, it was really hard to say goodbye, because it isn't like saying goodbye to you, i will see you again. but lets be real i will probably maybe see them one more time in my life, and it will never be the same.  so that was a hard night not gonna lie.  and the new zone leaders are great! a bit intense and intimidating, (because one was just the AP for 7 months and this is his last transfer on the mission) but that is okay we are learning a lot.

so today we just did the coolest thing! the cox's an older couple in the ward took us to the Abby cathedral and the Roman Baths.  This city has so much history it is incredible!! i feel so sophisticated and cultured right this second.
at the Abby we learned that Alban was the first ever martyr in England, he was killed for converting to the Christian faith and hiding a priest.  also June 22 is St. Albans day.  I am now celebrating it for the rest of my life.  not in worship just in the fact that i think i served here, and i think the story is cool, and it sounds like a good excuse for a party/holiday! also the nave is the longest one in england! it was originally built in the 1st century, and then was torn down and restored and halfway restored and reformed and pretty much every other thing you can do to a building. but some of the stuff still dates back to the original!

this is the coolest seat, it is for the bishop, we laughed thinking of that chair in a bishops office. 

the roman baths were also built in the 1st century! and they were just discovered in the 1900's.  it had activities on the side and a audio tour. so interesting! but the problem i have discovered is that I love learning about these things, but my brain cannot remember hardly anything.  those are the 3 facts i got from the Abby, and pretty much the only thing i can remember from the baths are obviously the physical structure of the building, a really fun game you should look up called 9 men morris, and the word frigidarium. which is the cold room.  like a fridge!! cool huh?  
whew. i am tired just from writing that email.  so sorry for you having to read it, except lets be real idk if anyone but mum actually reads the whole thing. don't worry i don't blame you ha
oh ya so on new years eve we went to bed around 10.... but at 11:58 i set the alarm and woke up and went whoooooo.... drank about two sips of orange juice ( in replacement of sparkling cider and went back to sleep)  sister pope never even woke up ha people were still partying this morning at 6 when we woke up!!  exciting and thrilling life of a missionary.  

but one thing i loved this year that even though presents weren't big and necessarily that exciting, although some of the socks were pretty cool, it was one of my favourite Christmas's.  Sister Pope and I talked about it and decided it was because we were so focused on other people and serving them and trying to make them happy.  just proves that material things really don't bring lasting happiness.  we may think they bring happiness, but they really don't.  Serving others brings happiness and memories that are incomparable. and the great thing is that we don't have to just serve others at christmas! we can have the spirit of Christ all year round.  

another thought I have been thinking about lately is the process of making and achieving goals.  As a missionary we make transfer, monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly goals. (a lot i know)  but i have realised that almost even more important than our goals is our plans to accomplish the goal. with every goal we should have 2-3 (or more) plans on how we are going to accomplish the goal. if you just say "i want to become a good piano player".... that goal will probably not be reached. but if you create plans as to when you will practice, how you will practice, different things to practice, etc it is much more likely that the goal will be reached.  

and the whole point of this life is to grow and progress. i am guilty of many times just kinda chilling at the level i am at without striving to better myself.  Christ commanded us to be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect in Matthew 5:48..... we aren't going to achieve perfection, but if we don't make goals and plans we certainly aren't even going to get close.  this life is all about learning, growing, and continuing to improve and work at becoming more Christlike.  

so my challenge for you this week is, if you have already made new year resolutions, go and make plans to achieve your goals, and if you have already done that, then dang good work! but my last thought regarding this is that in trying to achieve these goals we are not going to be perfect. we are going to mess up and fail and fall short sometimes. does not mean we should throw the whole goal out the window. if we are trying to eat healthy and eat a little sweet, we should not just go and devour a huge tub of ice cream.  evaluate reset and start again!  mum you sent me this quote and i love it!  " We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day" - Richard G Scott "The Transforming Power of Faith and Character"   

so on that note i hope you guys have a fantastic week. a great start to a new year! i love you so much! thank you for everything that every single one of you do for me.  you truly are such great examples to me! 

love, rachel