Monday, May 21, 2018

wiping the board! (Week 91, Stourbridge, England, Elder Odle)

dang this week was so lit! i can’t believe how fast it went by! this area definitely has its struggles but we are having fun and putting in work! stourbridge has to be the most interesting area I’ve been in, []

we had a few good touches, we are trying to figure out what’s most effective, and we are pulling a los angeles clippers move by wiping the board and starting fresh. the work here is rough but we are doing all we can, this week will be another interesting one. i went out to woodsetton to go on exchange with elder chick, he’s from new zealand and he’s so cool, that was a blast. i wish I had more to tell you all about but to be real, this week was just hitting the grind, hopefully next week I’ll have some more fun stuff to share, but I’ve got a plethora of pictures for you all to enjoy.

a quote I’ve really reflected on lately goes as follows “brothers and sisters, let us do the best we can and try to improve each day. When our imperfections appear, we can keep trying to correct them. We can be more forgiving of flaws in ourselves and among those we love. We can be comforted and forbearing. The Lord taught, “Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now … ; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected.” We need not be dismayed if our earnest efforts toward perfection now seem so arduous and endless. Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord. It awaits all who love him and keep his commandments.” it’s so easy to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes in our every day lives. making mistakes is part of this mortal journey we are on. as long as we are better today than we were yesterday then we are on the right track. as we rely on the atonement of the saviour Jesus Christ, we will become more Christ like. his grace not only saves us, but changes us.

i love you guys and hope you have a rad week!!

Elder Varner

Monday, May 14, 2018

kick start! (Week 90, Stourbridge, England, Elder Odle)

week 91: kick start!

hey everyone! first off it was so great talking to the fam and josh yesterday, last skype call! also a happy Mother’s Day shoutout to all you awesome moms out there! I’m grateful for having two awesome moms, one of whom is out here constantly with me and to my awesome mom over across the pond who’s done a ton for me!

before jumping into my new area, we stopped by the Leicester tigers rugby stadium and the Leicester city football stadium. while we were visiting the football stadium gift shop I asked one of the workers if they gave tours, to which he said they usually did but not on bank holidays. we got talking and he heard my american accent, and he said to me “well you’ve come a long way, I’ll take you down to the pitch” so he took us down to the flipping field for this top level premier team and it was so sick! got a few pics as well!

with help from angels I made it to Stourbridge with my two heavy bags and my bike, I’m pretty confident I’ll never have to travel with so much again haha. at the Leicester train station I actually met a really cool family visiting from Southern California and they were so nice to me, that was a major tender mercy. we’ve been at it working this last week! stourbridge is a little town on the outskirts of Birmingham, the ward only has about 30 people and to be honest, it’s struggling a lot, a ton of people have gone less active over the past few years because of a controversial bishop, BUT they just called a new bishop and some big plans are being put in action to kick start this dying ward! I’m excited for some of the stuff ahead!

here’s some random stuff:
  • we balled out with two random guys and no joke I was just draining three after three after three, it was some of the best shooting I’ve ever done
  • we each prayed and picked 10 streets one day and we got 2 in common, we then, after further inferring of the lord, picked one, we knocked one long side and nothing too notable occurred, but when we went back to the other side we ran into an African lady working on her lawn, so we offered her our help and I was on the ground working hard on the garden and elder odle was teaching her about the Book of Mormon, that’s the dream team right there! we will be back again soon

lots of good touches this past week. here’s a thought I’ve shared before but I came across it as I was in Alma 34 this week. President Eyring once said “There is a danger in the word someday when what it means is “not this day.” “Someday I will repent.” “Someday I will forgive him.” “Someday I will speak to my friend about the Church.” “Someday I will start to pay tithing.” “Someday I will return to the temple.” “Someday …” The scriptures make the danger of delay clear. It is that we may discover that we have run out of time. The God who gives us each day as a treasure will require an accounting. We will weep, and He will weep, if we have intended to repent and to serve Him in tomorrows which never came or have dreamt of yesterdays where the opportunity to act was past. This day is a precious gift of God. The thought “Someday I will” can be a thief of the opportunities of time and the blessings of eternity.”

there’s no better time to do something than NOW! now is the time to change, now is the time to tell someone that you love them, now is the time to forgive, to serve, to sacrifice. 

i love you all and hope you have a legen-wait for it-dary, legendary week!

Elder Varner 

Monday, May 7, 2018

goner!!! (Week 89, Stroud, England, Elder Andrulevicus)

in the words of twenty one pilots, I’m a goner. it looks like I’ll be finishing my mission out in stourbridge for my last two transfers! it’s a town near birmingham and I’ll be with elder odle who I’ve only heard great things about so I’m pretty hyped up! i definitely wanna go out with a bang for these last two, i ain’t dead yet! 
wow this was a crazy week. first things first, we went to nottingham for a zone conference and we phones! its a bit weird having a normal phone again, to be honest I’m faster with texting on the crappy phone haha. it was fun to see some old friends and then after, was what I’ve been waiting for. there’s only one Taco Bell in our mission and its in Nottingham, and of course I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. boy was it good, actually scratch that, it wasn’t just good, it was gold star worthy! 

last pday bishop toogood took us golfing and that was a blast! we played 9 holes of pitch and putt and hit the range! when I got hold of that driver I caught fire again! brad cook and hunter better watch out!

we taught our friend dxxxaz again. he’s so humble and he came to church yesterday and loved it! he’ll be bringing his kids down next week! hopefully I’ll come back for the baptism! #dunk  we got let in a few times this week while knocking doors which is rare, and we taught a fair amount of street lessons. I loved getting to teach a lot this week. we do so much finding out here. but this last week we really taught when we found and found while we taught as preach my gospel puts it!

we met with our panthers fan, Dxxxan, last week as well and we watched a talk by brad wilcox called “His Grace is Sufficient” and it is so so good!! I shared it on Facebook so check it out! Here’s a few of my favorite quotes:
  • “Christ’s arrangement [him asking us to follow his commandments] with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used--seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.”
  • “There should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness”
  • Paraphrasing: I have other Christian friends who say to me “you Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven”, to which I say “no, we aren’t earning heaven, we are learning heaven” and then I ask them a question they might have not thought about “have you been changed by grace?” Latter Day Saints understand not only what we are saved from, but what Christ save us for

That talk is laced with gems! Watch it! 

I’m so grateful for this chance to be a missionary, to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful for all He has done for me. By living His gospel and applying the principles found in the Book of Mormon, I’ve found so much peace and happiness. I’m looking forward to what’s going to be a LIT week! I love you all! 😘

Elder Varner

Monday, April 30, 2018

par baby! (Week 88, Glenfield, England, Elder Andrulevicus)

over fifteen feet away, but it felt way further, after debating in my head what the best thing to do was, i kicked it and...drained it! so last pday we played footgolf which is golf but with a football (soccer ball) and bigger holes. it’s actually pretty fun, I shot, or kicked?, even par.

this week was a mixed one that’s for sure. do you know that song that says “my sweet summer is gone”? well the summer that we experienced last week pretty much ended and this week was back to the rain. there were a few cool notable events from the last week. we’ve been putting up ads on Facebook Marketplace for free copies of the bible and the Book of Mormon and we’ve been getting messages asking for copies! instead of us searching after the interested people, they are coming to us with this! 
one night last week we were on our way to somewhere when we saw a few people working in their yard cutting down some big branches, it was out of our walk path but we felt like we needed to offer our help and to our surprise they actually took us up on our effort. they were a really cool family from Poland, and what’s cool was a few days previous I felt prompted to carry around some polish leaflets, which I was able to give to them after helping them out for a bit! we also met dxxxaz this week! well, we met him in front of his house a few weeks back while he was working on his car, and we had a really good conversation but not much came from it. last week we knocked into his door and...he let us right in. we taught a bit about prayer and set a return appointment, and we saw him on Friday and taught him the plan of salvation. he’s got a young family and has lost a few loved ones, so this really was cool to him. it was a good lesson and we are planning on seeing him more this week.

in our mission we read the Book of Mormon for 30 minutes a day, and I can testify that the days I read are the best days. there was one day last week where I didn’t get to read the Book of Mormon for as long as I wanted to, or should have, and that day just plain sucked, I was in such a cruddy mood. Elder Holland once said “Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”--and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you.” I’m grateful for my experience from this past week and the lesson I learned with it. The Book of Mormon truly is safety for our souls, and why? Because no other record found anywhere testifies of Jesus Christ so plainly and beautifully. I encourage each of you to dive into the Book of Mormon each day. I can promise you that you will be happier by doing so.

I just realised that today marks TWO years since getting my mission call, I cannot believe it’s been two whole years since I found out I was coming here. I could have never anticipated what’s taken place over the course of the last 20 months. going on a mission is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, no doubt! happy birthday to my aunt taryn and one of my all time top homies, Chad Boberg!!! I love you all! Have a GR8 week! Don’t fredette to go serve someone in need!

Elder Varner

Monday, April 23, 2018

the jimmer of cricket! (Week 87, Glenfield, England, Elder Andrulevicus)

hey hey hey! it’s actually been a pretty lit week out here, definitely the best one of the transfer so far. it went by so fast and so much happened! to kick off the week we went to the family history specialists to learn more about the program, and while they were showing us, they helped me find an ancestor family of seven that were born in norwich [Note: Norwich is were Dallas' 3rd and 4th Great Grandparents, Anne Jex, and William and Eliza Jex are from]. the spirit of elijah is so real! the entire time we were doing family history I felt the presence of those beyond the veil.

we were invited to young men’s and I learned how to play cricket. it’s not as boring as it looks, I think I got the hang of it too, but I think I’ll just stick to golf for now. if all else fails in the states maybe I’ll come back and become the jimmer of cricket. we also did a ton of gardening for service this week, and I must admit, it was actually pretty relaxing. 

this was by far the nicest week of my entire mission pertaining to the weather. i saw the sun everyday this last week, i was finally able to break out the short sleeve shirts, and I even got a sunburn for the first time in ages. it was so hot on a few of the days that we stopped and grabbed some ice cream to cool off. although there was one day where it was super sunny and warm, so I thought no way I was gonna carry around an umbrella or a raincoat, but then out of nowhere it was chucking down rain, and then an hour later it was sunny and not a cloud in the sky. the weather here is seriously as indecisive as a teenage girl. we spent a lot of time on the campus of De Montfort University (DMU) and that was a party. hundreds and hundreds of uni students just walking around, they are so much more open to talking than most people. we stopped one guy from Poland and a few minutes into our conversation we asked “well do you have a few minutes right now that we could sit down and teach you?” and he did, so we sat down and taught him a few life changing principles. that being said, as we talk with people at the university and anywhere else, there are times we “take upon us the shame of the world”. but it’s all good, it allows me to feel just a small bit of what Jesus Christ felt. 

we met lots of cool people though. one night we were going back to our flat but we felt like we needed to knock just a few doors, so we went to a really nice looking street and said we’d knock until a certain time, and then at the last minute we knocked into a cool family with a guy named Sxxxxcott. Him and his kids are awesome and were so nice to us! we should be seeing them this upcoming week. we also had a lesson with a returning less active member in which he finally committed to paying tithing! we are really focusing him on the temple as his goal!

lots of sick dinner appointments as well! we had enchiladas, chile con carne jacket potatoes, roast dinners, but my favourite one was steak and mashed potatoes with a member named Syyyyionne. him and his family are Tongan, and he plays professional rugby here in england. he’s such a beast, apparently he’s one of the best players in the league. anyways, the steak he made and the mashed potatoes he threw together were by far the best I’ve ever had, sorry mom, it was so dang good! he sent us home with left overs and 5 days later, we still haven’t finished them all!

i think I’ve shared this quote before but I wanted to share it again and I’ll explain why. Gordon B Hinckley once said “Many of you think you are failures. You feel you cannot do well, that with all of your effort it is not sufficient. We all worry about our performance. We all wish we could do better. But unfortunately we do not realize, we do not often see the results that come of what we do. You never know. You never know whether you do any good. You never know how much good you do.” Lately, I’ve been feeling like my efforts have been for nothing, I’ve felt like I’ve done no good and that no one has been benefited from my time here. On a night this past week I was feeling this pretty strongly. I was thinking of calling one of my mission leaders just to catch up on old times, but i was a bit hesitant, finally I decided to call just to chat, well he was on exchange with the zone leaders in cardiff, where I had served last summer. he told me that Sxxxxtephen Pxxxxxatten was now active in church again. sxxxxxtephen was a less active while I was serving in Cardiff, and the entire time I was there we were trying to work with him. after a few times of visiting with him, he texted us asking us not to come around again. we were shattered, but continued on, every week after he sent that text for the rest of my time in the area, we would run into him out of the blue. that was divine intervention. anyways when I left I didn’t think I did much, but this elder told me over the phone last week that Sxxxxxtephen Pxxxxatten had recently come back to church and Sxxxxxtephen said “tell Elder Varner thank you for his persistence, and that I love him”. I thought to myself, the words Gordon b Hinckley once said “you never know, you never know if you do any good. you never know how much good you do”.

i really do love each of you, and I hope you all have a great week out there in the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

look unto Christ in every thought, doubt not, fear not ✌😘

Elder Varner

Monday, April 16, 2018

world tour! (Week 86, Glenfield, England, Elder Andrulevicus)

a while back one of my young men’s leaders told me that “light always shines through darkness”. well I’ve seen that a few times in the last week. it wasn’t an easy week, i feel like I’m in the middle of the refiners fire, but this week did include some miracles and many tender mercies. today also marks 20 months since leaving home. wow the time has been flying by. im excited to see each of you in a couple of months tho!

last week President Nelson and Elder Holland started their ministry tour around the world and the first stop was the United Kingdom. so last Thursday we had two broadcasts from them, one just for missionaries and one for all of Britain. ill share some of my notes at the end of this email but we decided that we’d try to invite people to the general broadcast. one man named Syyyyamuel from Africa, who was just on our phone as a potential, texted back saying he’d want to come, and he did! at the beginning as I explained prophets, he was hesitant, but by the end of the broadcast this man’s countenance changed. he looked at me after and expressed the joy and comfort he felt that God would speak to a prophet today on the earth. we met with him the next morning and taught him the restoration. we challenged him to read the Book of Mormon and to ask god if it is true. he said if he gets an answer to his prayer he wants to be baptised, so we set a goal date with him for may 26th

while teaching the great apostasy I decided to spice things up and try an analogy. I asked him what was his favourite food and he answered “rice!”. alright so picture this, imagine if I explained to you the correct and best way to make rice. you love it, so you explain it to a friend, cuz why not share something you love? anyways, your friend loves it, so he tries to explain it to a friend but as he is doing so he forgets one of the instructions. it doesn’t change things too much still, but as one person tells another, eventually you get a completely different end result, which Is completely different from the original, correct rice recipe. now compare it to Jesus Christ’s gospel. He taught his apostles and others, and they went out to teach the world, when the apostles were gone many shared their teachings but left out, or changed a bit of Christ’s original teachings. These small differences made a massive difference over time, leading to the formation of thousands of churches, which all claim to be formed from the teachings of the same book, the Bible. I testify that God has restored His church through a modern prophet. A young boy, confused by the different churches, prayed and asked God which church was true. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ really did appear to him, and through this young called prophet, God brought back his gospel, his teachings, his priesthood authority. The Book of Mormon clarifies and sets straight the teachings of the bible. This all clicked with Syyyyamuel and has led him to a desire to pray and ask god for himself.

we met a few really cool people, including a super cool young couple named Syyyyhane and Syyyyytephanie, they talked to us for like 30 minutes at their door step, they’re super interested in the Book of Mormon and we had a really good chat about eternal families and random stuff, it was great! a few experiences of getting promptings to knock a specific door as well, and where we saw miracles following that. 

rejection of the week:

Us: Hello how are you doing?
Random lady: nope nope nope, I’m a satanist

Good times, good times. Anyways the broadcast from President Nelson and Elder Holland was great! here are just a few of my notes from it:
  • instead of praying to be led to the elect, pray to be led to those whose ancestors have accepted the gospel on the other side
  • just as we would clean our rooms or houses in preparation for an inspection, we should clean our lives in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ
  • we, as members of the restored church, know more about Jesus Christ than any other group on earth. and why? because we learn about him from both the bible and the Book of Mormon
  • our doctrine isn’t complex, just love god and love your neighbor
  • seek tutoring from the Lord day after day
  • “is our life a witness to the truth?”
  • our unique message to all the earth: the heavens are open! our ultimate message: the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ
  • speaking of the restoration: “it’s so exciting that I bounce out of bed every morning!”
  • Love others without limit, just as the lord would love them”
  • some had gone to the solemn assembly with the intention of protesting, but the spirit silenced them
  • the mission is a conversion experience: we are God’s investigators, and when we return home we are his recent converts
  • our duty is to testify of the saviour Jesus Christ and of prophets

A big birthday shoutout to my brother Adam who is out in the Phillies right now! Also to my cousins Hannah and Emily! Sorry for the massive email, I’ll try to get some good stories to share with you all next time. If you made it this far, props to you, I love each of you. Have a lit week! I’ll try to do the same! Look unto Christ in every thought, doubt not, fear not ✌😘

Elder Varner