Monday, September 26, 2016

I Almost Got Hit By A Car (Week 6)

September 26, 2016

This week was a good one, it went by super fast, and we had some miracles too, which are always nice to have.

There's a lot of great food in Wales, the chocolate is amazing, I've had good chicken, etc. But I'm not gonna sugarcoat this, the U.K. Is absolutely awful at hamburgers, I've had five hamburgers In the last month and only one of them has been good. That was as of last Friday, but last Saturday, I tasted a hamburger that tasted American, I was so stoked, it was......Burger King. Glad to know that some things taste the same!

Picking up right where I left off, after emailing some members brought our whole district some cottage pie, which is meat, carrots, and mashed potatoes. It was pretty good. One of the best moments of my mission to this date came Monday night at our flat: I have been expecting some big spiritual moment to happen, and I was kind of disappointed that I hadn't had one to the date, but I realised that the spirit works In simpler ways, like small feelings of assurance and even gut feelings, and when I realised this, I was so happy. It changed my perspective a lot! For all of you who are waiting for that big spiritual manifestation, please look closely, the spirit works In simply beautiful ways. As a quote one of my mtc teachers said earlier on, the gospel is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

Tuesday we knocked so many fetching doors, no real success but there's some ahead. Um we had ward coordination, which was pretty much like district meetings. We came up with who was what Disney character. The sister missionaries decided I was either Russell from the movie Up (which is somewhat insulting haha) or christoff from Frozen (which is more acceptable). I love my district so much. We had a dinner appointment at a members house, and they fed us so fetching much, like too much, I felt like I was gonna be sick after, and it was good food, but I felt so sick, I just ate and ate and ate...after that me and elder Mthethwa knocked some more doors after, not much success, but we had a fun night.

Wednesday, wow 5 weeks already. We went to go visit a less active and she was super cool, she said she doesn't come on Sunday's cuz her 8 year old son doesn't like it so we have to work with that, but nice family. We met with a cool chef guy named Dxxx, which was sweet. Nothing else really for the day.

Thursday we had our district meeting, which was fun, we all got kfc after which was pretty sweet. We met with Axxxn and he's excited for church! We went over to some Chinese guys house. We knocked his door the day before and he said come back Thursday and he'd make us dinner, best Chinese food ever, the guy (jxx) said that the Chinese girls he rooms with don't eat ice cream cuz they have to be slim, one of his girl roommates hit him, which was hilarious.

Friday, we taught Dxxxn the plan of salvation, he's reading the Book of Mormon a ton, it's inspiring me to be more diligent in reading it. Me and another greenie went and talked to people on the street, jeez that didn't go well, I have room to grow, a lot. We played volleyball at night and brother Roberts, the first counsellor In the bishopric, and his son who is a recent rm came. Super fun! They offered to take us to fish n chips next week! Also huge miracle: me and the other elders of my district were standing around In the city center, and a lady came up to us out of nowhere and asked for the Book of Mormon, she said she was praying to see missionaries today and sure enough, four of us were there. I'm hyped!

Saturday, I got some music on my usb that I can listen to, lots of Disney music. I hated high school musical so much back home, like so much, but listening to it here has made me actually like the music, which might sound crazy haha. Not much else happened to be honest.

Sunday, we went to church and Aaron came and liked it! I taught a lesson during second hour on trials, and to put extra pressure on me the first counsellor in the mission presidency was there visiting our ward, but it went really well. For those of you who were in my seminary class, up the lesson was like that. I love the members here so flipping much. The ward mission leader, Jared hull, and Shaun fish are two of the coolest guys ever. We visited some members and met a lady named Pxxx, who seemed super interested in what we had to say, should be good!

If any of you liked Ballidino by Atlas Genius, another good song I've listened to is "The Pit" by Dan Reynolds. He's the lead singer of my favorite band, he wrote it on his mission and it's about helping his friend overcome sin, it's pretty good! 

Now why did I name this email how I did? Because every fetching day I almost get hit by a car because I don't know what fetching side of the road to look out for. I had two crazy close calls, but don't worry, I'm still here, but if I wasn't at least I'd be in a better place where the political election wasn't a joke and where byu didn't lose to Utah. I fetching hate losing to Utah, I won't let that happen when I'm at byu, no way.

A quick spiritual thought to end it: President Monson spoke of choices last general conference, where he said "It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny...the path we follow in this life leads to our destination in the next life...may we maintain the courage to defy the consensus. May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. As we contemplate the decisions we make in our lives each day--whether to make this choice or that choice--if we choose Christ, we will have made the correct choice" I love this quote, if we focus on Christ, and make decisions with him in mind, we will always be in the right. Each choice matters, it is thoughts that each choice doesn't matter that leads to sorrow. I hope and pray that we may all have the courage to choose the harder right, rather than the easier wrong. Also, general conference is this Saturday and Sunday! You can watch at! Do it!

Thank you so much for the emails and for being the amazing friends and family that you are, I love you all and i hope you have the best week!

Elder Varner

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Avacado, I Bet My Life... and Congrats Sam! (Week 5)

September 19, 2016

Hey everyone,

Another week has passed here In the beautiful city of Swansea,  I'll tell you partially why the email is called what it's called at the beginning, and the other part at the end. So to start out, huge congrats to Sam Dayton on her mission call to Chile! She's gonna do so great out there!

By the way, when I start out a paragraph my saying on this day, I'm writing the draft on the actual day itself so this is a bunch of drafts combined.

Also, I hit my one month mark a few days ago! It's been the longest month ever, but the fastest. It feels like I haven't seen my family in a year, but it feels like I was at SJHHS like two weeks ago, weird how time works. I hear it only gets faster.

Now going where I left off...after emailing last week we had a lesson with a guy named S! So he actually called us the Saturday night before, asked about church, came to church, and set up an appointment! He is such a cool dude, The lesson went amazing!

On Tuesday, we did a Ton of finding people to teach. Me and my companion did a contest with elder miner and smith to see who could get to four potential investigators first, winner gets candy from poundland, which is like the dollar store! Me and my companion actually tried something new, we had a survey about religious stuff and we used that to lead into conversations. It's amazing how well people responded, they were a lot more open when it started with a survey rather than a totally random conversation! We found some pretty solid people! For lunch we went to some random,chinese restaurant, which I'll never ever ever do again. Ever. I also had my first dinner appointment with members. We went to the Bxxxs house, an middle aged couple and their kids who are probably In their 20s. Super cool family and fed us amazing food!

Wednesday wasn't too eventful, the only two things worth mentioning are that we found a subway to eat at! It was so amazing, I fetching love subway! It might be the one place I've had that reminded me of how things tasted at home. And also we walked SO much, my legs were killing me after, but I guess I'm more fit because of it. Thursday we had zone meeting, which was just a ton of missionaries meeting up. I sent a few pics of the zone, in one pic we were doing
gang signs and I accidentally did the peace sign reverse, which is flipping off here. We were all dying haha. We had exchanges with the zone leaders and I was with Elder Miner. He's from Northern California, crazy funny guy! We had a dinner with R and his friend. He's super energetic for an older guy but he's hilarious, he's a vegetarian so we had salads and this cheese bread thing with pie and I actually loved it! We hung out for an hour or so, it was sweet! Also, he had just bought some nice shoes for the rain, but they didn't fit right, and it wasnt refundable, so I just got £55 shoes for free and they fit perfectly! Us and the zone leaders slept at the same flat and elder miner was telling us some crazy stories til like 12:30, like the craziest I've ever heard.

Friday we continued exchanges, we knocked on some doors. We were talking to one mom and her son who was 25, and out of no where that fetcher starts rolling a fetching joint, and the mom was totally not caring, freak guys. The smell reminded me of concerts haha. It brought back memories but I still hate the smell. Crazy thing: we are teaching them next week! Haha. Honestly Friday was such a hard day, it probably is one of the hardest days I've ever had, it was long, I was homesick, I felt literally sick, two of our four appointments fell through which
sucked. But we had a sweet lesson with a guy named Axxxn, from last week, He's awesome. Super engaged in the lesson. We also got to play volleyball at the chapel which was fun. The lyrics from a song called ballidino, which I quoted a few weeks ago, rang in my head through this crappy day: "I believe that there is light up ahead, I can see it through the words that you said". Everyone check out Ballidino by Atlas Genius, it's beautiful, and that lyric has helped me a ton. There is some good ahead and I just need to push for it.

Saturday was pretty good, it started out super hard cuz I was still sad from the previous day, but as I forgot about my problems and got to work, those feelings went away. We knocked doors for a while with some success, we'll see where it goes. Not much else, but nevertheless, it was a good day.

Sunday was pretty simple, we went to church, which was sweet. I love the members here, they are truly incredible. Also we had a cool lesson with a guy named Dxxx, we'll see where that goes. There is a guy in our ward named Shaun, the byu guy I talked about last week, who reminds me so much of hunter Hartman, big byu fan, but loves to just mess with people. Hunter, I compare you two in the best way, don't worry.

This morning for preparation day, we got breakfast with Axxx. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon and come to church so that's sweet. We met up with elder miner and smith, I sent a few letters, like actual paper mail haha. We went to tesco, not too much, we will probably start having some super fun p-days soon.

Tender mercy of the week: we were at lunch as a district on Friday, and there was music playing in the background and I was just in kind of a depressing mood, but then one of my favourite songs "I Bet My Life" by Imagine Dragons came on, which seriously almost made me tear up cuz I needed a tender mercy, it was such a hard day, but hearing a song that's brought me comfort since it came out almost two years ago really made my day.

Jeez I miss music so much. I love church music and David archuleta is sweet, but it's so hard. It's nice that music rules aren't too strict here, so I can listen to pretty much any acoustic music, so send it over email if u have some! Byu vocal point is sweet too! I'll forever be in debt if any of you email music over to me.

And last, but not least, the Avacado. Some random guy came up to us as we were talking to someone and argued with us, or tried to, but when he realised we wouldn't argue back, he said fair enough and gave us an Avacado. People are interesting here...

A quick spiritual thought to end the update: there's an amazing quote by President Monson, he says "We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important
causes." I am not an exception to this, I have wasted so much time on things that are good, but not very important. There are so many things that we might waste our time on when we could be spending our time really helping other people, and developing our relationships. I regret the time I completely wasted on things that didn't matter too much. I challenge you all to evaluate how you spend your time, and think of it through an eternal perspective.

I hope you are all well back home, thank you for the emails, keep up the words of encouragement, they DO help. I love you all. God be with you till I write again soon.

Elder Varner

Monday, September 12, 2016

My Kebabtism (Weeks 3 & 4)

Family and Friends!!

I am so sorry for not emailing last week! We went to the field so we didn't have a chance to email, but this email will be crazy long so I hope that makes up for it. My emails should be good now that I have more time to write and I'm in the field! Don't worry, I promise to write less from now on after this, unless people like this majorly long email.

Zooming back to the mtc( yes you will have to read more to know where I'm at now), we took a sweet field trip to some church history sights! It was sunny most days in the mtc! I guess I scared the rain away(I hope I don't eat these words later on). We said goodbye to Sister Sawyer and Brother Nolan, which was pretty sad, I loved them. Me and elder abecia almost crashed a wedding reception on accident! So I guess you can call us the wedding crashers haha. I saw a stake dance happen right before my very eyes, it brought back the good old days of
when I use to go to stake dances as a kid...4 weeks ago hahaha, stake dances are sick, don't talk trash on them.

Kind of funny moment: we were sitting In a pretty big class/lecture thing and we saw a wasp, everyone yelled "kill it". Brother Webb (a teacher) said "that is a creation of God". Then 2 seconds later he said "by the way, wasps serve absolutely no purpose on this earth". Then some kid just squashed it! I don't even think it was that funny,
but we were all laughing so hard. I swear the dumbest things I find funny.

Snack time at night was absolutely LIT, I  mean it was literally lit. Someone started a fire in the toaster and I watched that beautiful flame almost come up and hit him. Don't worry, it got put out. also some kid got locked In a closet for ten minutes, don't worry he asked for it literally, we then said goodbye on Monday night :(

we left the mtc on Tuesday morning. It was actually pretty sad suprisingly. We had a three hour bus ride to the mission headquarters in Birmingham. Once we got to the mission home, we got to hangout for a bit. We all had interviews with the mission president. President Leppard and his wife are pretty cool, very to the point. We got our
iPads and also got to introduce ourselves to everyone on a cornerstone thing.

As I was going up, the sweetest thing happened! I was walking up and I heard someone yell out Dallas! I looked and it was Elder Ben Hill!!!! I was so excited, it was actually pretty emotional. We didn't get to talk for too long, but I know I'll see him here again eventually!

We got our trainers and my trainer is Elder Mthethwa. He only has like 7 more weeks left for his mission. He is from South Africa! Super chill guy! The next 7 weeks with him should be sweet! Literally everyone has told me that he is one of the best missionaries in the mission, and since training is 12 weeks, I'll have two trainers, one of which might be one of the AP's, that guy is a homie too! We are at SWANSEA WALES! We are white-washing this area! Which basically means that none of us have served in this area before and it was a shut down area before so we are re-booting it! Crazy!

Once we arrived in Swansea, we were greeted by the zone leaders, elder smith and elder minor. They are super super chill!! We dropped off our bags at the flat and all went out to a pub for dinner, it had been like 8 Hours since I last ate so I was starving! I got one of the best hamburgers I've ever had for only £5. It came with fries and a drink too so it was a pretty good deal!

We went back to our flat which is mixed I guess. It's in a sweet location, we are super close to the downtown areas, but the flat is a DUMP! Everything is way outdated but it's ok cuz me and my companion have had a few cleaning seshs where we started turning this into our new crib, it still kind of sucks tho haha

 We ran into a nice old gent named Dxxx, he talked to us about how the bible has been corrupted, we told him that we believe that the bible is the word of God as long as it is translated correctly, told him a bit of the Book of Mormon, and met with him again on Friday, he was super open to our message AND he doesn't believe in the trinity which is sweet cuz that's one of the biggest obstacles here, we meet again next week!

we went to tesco cuz we have no other food in the apartment. Remember how I said that tesco was a disappointment? Well, this one wasn't at all! It was crazy big, and it was sweet! Everyone was talking about
the new iPad and iPhone, what's the news there?

I got a Ton of food for only £27! But we had to walk back with like 6 bags to our flat, which was two miles away! I was dead tired and sore, I guess I'm getting my workout in tho haha

After recovering from that, we had to walk to the church so I could further set up my iPad. It was SUPPOSED to be only a twenty minute walk according to the zone leaders. It was an HOUR AND A HALF walk. Yes you read that right. We had to walk up a major hill called Mt Pleasant. It wasn't pleasant, it was torture. It was two miles up a
steep hill, and then much more. Look it up online and check it out, I swear I'm gonna be so dang fit by the end of these twelve weeks, the hills are crazy! The last 4 weeks, I've already lost around 10 pounds 
😳We couldn't even fully set up apps on the iPad so we really didn't have to go to the church, but on the way back we got to meet a girl
named Hxxx, who said we could stop by and talk, and some guy who speaks very little English.

we had our first district meeting( a district is all the missionaries in a close range, usually like 6 people out here). We didn't want to walk up mt pleasant again so we bought a monthly bus pass for £75, which the church says it'll reimburse us for it. The transportation here is super cool! The meeting was pretty fun! We have a lot of cool
things coming ahead. Apparently there's only 4 youth TOTAL, crazy, but not on my watch, we are gonna rebuild that.

We walked around a lot and tried to meet up with some members. So in our ward, we have 780 members...only 80 are active, which makes everything super tricky. Reactivation will be so key. We talked to an inactive couple, named the Sts. We talked to them for awhile, they said they would take us to see some sights, that'll be fun!

We have a new person we are gonna start teaching next week, he speaks Portuguese mainly, so I'm gonna start learning some basic Portuguese before! People LOVE when you speak their native language, and there are so many Chinese people here for school, so I actually am starting to learn Mandarin Chinese, it'll be sweet if I can learn. We have one mandarin speaking missionary in our district (his call was for mandarin), he walked up to a group of 12 Chinese college kids and started randomly speaking mandarin to them, and they got so excited! All of them set up a lesson with the elders! I want that skill haha, that elders name is elder miner, perhaps the funniest guy alive. I went on exchanges with him for an hour, his biggest fear is talking to young people, which shocks me cuz he is the most outgoing funny guy, any ways, I got him to talk to a group of ten 16 year olds who all turned out to be from Germany, which was fetching hilarious. Also, fetch is a huge word here

On Saturday we taught a guy named Axxxn, he works at a local musuem, doesn't know if God is real, but is willing to see if he is. He was awesome! The guy knows so much history! I love it! We meet again on Friday! I also ran into a guy who went to the Redding and Leeds festival, which is my dream music festival, I wish I could've talked
to him for an hour about it haha. I also had to walk up constitution hill, which is a super steep hill. The American constitution is much better hahaha

We went to church yesterday, and took a much better route, it only was a forty minute walk haha. We met the members, who are amazing! There's a guy named Shaun, who is suprisingly a big BYU fan, so he filled me
in on all the details! Looks like he'll be my best friend this football season hahaha. Other than that we didn't do much, there's a guy who runs a hot donut stand on the side of the road who is talking with the other set of missionaries, he waved us down and gave us some free donuts, the best I've ever had, so we have the hook ups now!

This morning, I finally bought a rain coat and we went to get food haha, not anything too exciting!

Now, for all of you who have made it this far in my email, and wonder what the heck a Kebabtism is, I'll explain: all of the elders in the mission take the new elder to a kebab place(they have shops everywhere here), and have them get their first kebab in the mish. So I went forth and was kebabtized. Wasn't the best, wasn't the worst, but now I'm an official member of the kebabtist church. 

Also, if any of you love me enough to send me letters or packages,this is the address for the next two years:

187 Penns Lane
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
England B76 1JU
United Kingdom

Quick spiritual thought: I read a really cool conference talk given by President Uchtdorf, where he says "Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters--my dear friends--please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ." This is so amazing! Never let a small doubt or question keep you from receiving the infinite blessings this gospel brings! Doubt your doubts, before you hold back the blessings waiting
for you!

Hope you all have the best week! Please continue emailing me, I love it so much and I love reading them on hard days, so words of encouragement are welcome! I love you all!

Elder Varner