Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fallen Pizzas and Unleashed Beasts (Week 15)

This area is gonna be so lit this week, I can already feel it! It's the week that determines how meaningful our finding efforts have been for the past few weeks, we have been working our tails off so miracles are around the corner!! last night was transfer calls and here's the dodge for our district: elder sinclaire and I are staying here for another transfer! we are hyped to say the least! Elder Miner and Sister Wadsworth are both gonna stay here too, which means Elder Smith and Sister Gjevik are leaving, which is pretty sad. especially to say goodbye to elder smith because I feel like we got pretty tight the past transfer, I hope I can serve around him again one day, that kid is a legend! probably the second coolest Smith I've ever heard of behind the original Joseph Smith.

Lst Monday wasn't the funnest Pday ever because...rain. all day every day haha. it wasn't too bad of a day. We went to go visit a cool castle but it turned out to be closed so we got ice cream, in the freezing ice rain, but it was good. after that we made our way to the church for emailing and hangin out. following our Pday we didn't know what to do because it was freezing and raining so we went back to the flat to work on the area Book and we set up a ton of appointments so it should be fun! also, I failed miserably. all I wanted to do was to make a frozen pizza, and I guess I didn't read the instructions too carefully, because before I knew it my beautiful pizza fell apart before my very eyes. a video is attached below: but warning: it may be too crazy for children. looking back on it, it was pretty funny I guess haha.

Tuesday was so LIT!! both our lessons flogged, but we all went to get lunch with the other elders for Elder Smith's birthday, which was fun! I feel like I'm one of the youngest missionaries out here...because I am one of the youngest. straight out of Compton? No. straight outa high school? yeah. the first week I was here, we ate at some random Chinese place that I said I'd never eat at again, well, that's where we went for lunch, and I regret it all over again, it did not sit well with me...at all. after lunch we did some tracting and four pretty cool people invited us to come back and share the Christmas video with them, then we went to do some member visits, and between one of them, we were walking past some college flats, and I really felt like we needed to keep on knocking doors even though I didn't want to because it was freezing cold and pitch dark, but we did anyways, and what happened next was a MIRACLE. The first five doors we knocked, all five of them cheerfully invited us back to come again to share a message. The spirit is real guys, and I'm so happy I listened to it because we met five super cool people that I'm hyped to see again!! It was a miracle!! One funny story while knocking doors...I opened up the gate to the front yard of someone's house to knock their door, when all of the sudden some devil dog just comes out of no where and almost bites me, luckily with some quick reflexes, I dodged it, and the owners were just staring at me through the window and they started laughing so hard! that husky dog and its owners got NO chill! haha

Wednesday was another sweet day! We hit up the knockin doors game for a bit and found a few sweet people! after that we went back to the flat for lunch and then went to help out at Kayleigh's house. And to end the day we went to Royston's house for an amazing dinner and even some entertainment haha. A video is attached below of all of us dancing to some interesting music haha. Man, I love that guy so much, he's so down to earth, and he's such a funny and energetic guy.

Thursday wasn't a bad day, but not too much happened at all. We had district meeting, and then we found one pretty cool guy to teach next week, but not too much else.

Friday was pretty fun. We had to be inside for a lot of it because someone was coming to fix our heater, but we hit up the former investigators and less active lists SO hard! I probably sent over 100 calls and texts, we got a few replies and a few said we could meet up again soon! I think the key for this upcoming week is building up a teaching pool again cuz we need more than three people! After all that, we went to the church for a...THANKSGIVING dinner activity thing!! While the food wasn't super amazing thanksgiving food, there was good food and it was a blast seeing some Welsh homies celebrate an American holiday! It was also reconfirmed to me that Dave Roberts is probably the funniest human on earth. And he also promised me that when he visits America in a few months, he's gonna bring me back a bunch of chick fil a sauce and he'll ship it out to wherever I am, that's a whole other level of being a bro.

Saturday started off super slow, but it got sweet! We were in the city centre taking a break and we were watching the big mega tv screen in castle square, and they were going through the top 50 Harry Potter moments! I got to see only five of them so I guess I'll never know what the number one Harry Potter moment was...but when we we finding I told the homie Sinclaire to point out someone for me to approach. He said "that guy in the blue jacket", I went up to this dude and his name is Txxxx, he's so cool, he said he'd love to meet next week sometime and we were hyped! After finding for a bit, we watched the new Restoration movie with Kxxxx and the other missionaries and yet again, Dave Roberts showed up and proved himself to be the funniest guy I've ever met. He was there for some other activity and he came in dressed in the funniest thing ever and he even gave us all a dominoes pizza, I attached another pic with him too!

Sunday felt like it had no real success, but we went to church which was as sweet as always, church is where it's at guys! following that we had ward coordination, and then we went back for lunch, visited DxxxKxxx again, and tried to do a few more member visits but no one was really home. then the phone call that told us what would happen for the next transfer, which goes til January 3rd, so pretty short transfer!

this week had its ups and downs, but more ups, things are looking up, I have a good feeling about this next transfer here, there's some special stuff ahead here.

I'll end with a spiritual thought: everyone please please check out the Christmas video the church put out this year, it's called Light The World. I'll include a link, you don't need to be Mormon to appreciate it. It's all about serving others as Christ would. Honestly service is such an important part in my life, I have been on both sides of service. As we serve others, we can feel happier and forget about our problems in the service of others. There are so many ways that we can serve and uplift others. The most tender experiences of service that have happened to me were simple acts, that made all the difference. When my mom passed away, it was inspiring to see how many people, including many of you, who helped me and my family through providing babysitting, meals, and so much more. Service, big or small, makes more of a difference than you may realise while in the act of it. You can serve others, no matter what your circumstances may be, there is someone you can lift, someone you can thank. I would challenge each of you to do at least one act of service each day in this upcoming month and lose yourselves in the service of others, that is where true happiness lies. the link is  mormon.org

I also wanna give a special shout out to the one, the only, D-RECK Jones, it was his birthday a bit ago earlier this month but happy late birthday dude! That kid is such a stud! Also attached a video of that homie from the good ole days.

Go serve some people and have a great week! Much love from across the pond!

Elder Varner

Monday, November 21, 2016

let's get it?! we got it! (week 14)

I want to start this all out by saying THANK YOU to everyone who helped me out last week with the encouraging words, this week was 100 times better, or even more. We worked so hard this week and saw some sweet success. We made a goal to find some cool new people to teach, and we got it!!

Last Monday had to have been one of the best days of my mission. I know I mentioned it in my last email, but I'll do it again. Golfing was such a fun time. Honestly, elder smith, elder miner, and elder sinclaire are true homies for going out and doing that for me! I also took some speech videos for this years up and coming DV Classic, if that's even happening anymore haha. The course is called Earlswood, it was decent, but £12 for 18 holes AND rental clubs ain't bad at all. And shooting 14 over par for 18 holes with pretty crappy weather and clubs, and considering I haven't played in three months, is quite impressive, I was thrilled! Oh, I hit my three month mark last week, which is weird because it feels like an eternity, but also a flash, time is weird. Following emailing last Monday, we went to get dinner with Axxx for his birthday. We went to a place called Wasabi, which was actually pretty good. I got some sweet noodles and even tried sushi. My parents are probably shocked by that because in a 24 hour span, I had chilli and sushi, two things I hated back home.

Tuesday was an amazing day, like wow. It had a few rough points, but nothing too bad at all. We were on fire for most of the day, we found some cool potentials in town and two of them scheduled follow up appointments for this upcoming week, which we are so excited about!! We taught a guy named Jxxx, he's 21 and from Guyana, I think that's in South America somewhere, but he's SO cool! We met him over a month ago and I guess we just didn't follow up too well on our part but he's way solid, committed to reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church and institute and more, and he even asked when he could see us again!!! We also visited a less active named Dxxx, he is limited to his house because of a muscle disorder, he's in his sixties, but he's got a great heart, the only reason he is less active technically is because he physically can't make it to church, but I love visiting that guy. It was a SOLID day.

Wednesday was even better than Tuesday. We had zone meeting for the beginning of the day. We got some sweet training on how to use scriptures more effectively, how enduring to the end is perhaps one of the most important things we teach in this church, and then on having faith while finding. Finding people truly takes faith. I gave the spiritual thought to the zone, I showed everyone the "Because of Him" video. Then I talked about how we each have a very unique relationship with the Saviour, I then talked about my mom a little bit and how because of him, I'll be able to see her and live with her again. I thought I did decent, it felt like a seminary devotional all over again. After zone conference we went finding for three hours. We got to meet and catch up with a few members, we found some pretty cool people that we will be seeing soon, and even taught a street lesson. The only disappointing part to the day was we went to see a potential potential, and we had high hopes because it was a really cool family, but they said they weren't interested any more, which was a pretty big bummer, but oh well. Elder Miner, Elder Sinclaire, elder smith, and I all went to five guys to celebrate my three month mark, which isn't too long out, but hey, that's not bad. It was a great day and we worked so hard, and we saw success from it!!

Thursday didn't have a lot of success, but it was still a blast! We did weekly planning because it was dumping rain in the early part of the day. Then we went to do service for something called the Shoe Box Appeal, which is kind of like Joy Jars for the Jesse Rees Foundation. We filled shoe boxes with toys and such, and they ship them out to kids for Christmas. It's pretty cool, reminded me a lot of the Joy Jars thing. After that we went to Royston's for dinner and had some amazing home made healthy pizza, with potatoes and an amazing salad. I know, my parents are probably more shocked now because I've had chilli, sushi, and salad all in one week. That's about it for the day, but it was a fun one.

Friday was a pretty good day too, we had a lesson with Dxxx again which went pretty well. We showed him D&C, he's read the entire Book of Mormon, but is still praying about it. After that, we did a ton of finding, which was semi good, until it started raining. Oh and apparently the new Harry Potter spin off came out so hit me up with some details of what it was and how it was if you saw it! We had dinner with Shaun Fish, that guy is SUCH a homie, love that dude. Then volleyball for the rest of the night, which was a blast!

Saturday was an interesting day, not a bad day, not a great day, but it was fun! We went knocking doors for awhile and it was DUMPING hail for part of it :/ but it's all good cuz we got invited back for a few people so it was worth it! A lot of people didn't wanna talk to us cuz Wales was playing Japan in rugby. Oh, new news, I bought a Wales rugby jersey for £15. It's sweet! Also, the sister's investigator named Tom was baptised which was awesome! I spoke on the Holy Ghost at the baptism! We all went to KFC for a mini after party in the freezing rain. 

Sunday was cool, church was amazing as always. The Roberts family invited us over for Christmas Day already so that's gonna be a blast! Weird to think I'll be skyping home soon! After church we did some finding and we worked so hard to reach our goal, like so hard, but it was worth it! We are gonna work hard again this week and I'm pretty hyped!!

Spiritual insight of the week: one thing I've thought of a lot this week is found in the New Testament, and it says "faith without works is dead". So many people believe that as long as they believe in Christ, they can do whatever they want and receive eternal life. However, faith alone is not enough. Obviously, we cannot earn our way into the celestial kingdom by our works alone, but through Christ's grace and our good works and our faith, we can make it! It's not easy, but faith isn't enough on its own, it's good works and faith that will allow us to live with our families forever, and to live with God and Jesus Christ again!

I love you all. It's thanksgiving week and I'm not there and I don't have time to email you all individually, but I am grateful for you all. You are the best friends and family a Jimmer fan could ask for!

Thank you all for the encouraging emails, they really did help this week, I felt all of your prayers for me, thank you so much, I love you all! Have a happy thanksgiving and another legen-wait for it--------week!

Elder Varner 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Rainbow Motivation (Week 13)

This week has not been my best week, like at all. This was the worst week I've had so far, because I was homesick for most of it, and not a lot of success to show for the week.

After emailing last week, we went back to the flat and had a sweet meal! Not gonna lie, the trio was an absolute blast!

Tuesday was not a good day, I won't even sugar coat that. We went to meet up with President for interviews in Merthyr, and that was good. I met my new companion, Elder Sinclaire, from Sweden, he's been out for 11 months, and he's a pretty cool guy, but I was so depressed to leave Elder Miner and Elder Smith, especially after having to say goodbye to elder Mthethwa just a week before, I was fighting back some tears that night.

Wednesday was a pretty bad day as well. It was the worst day of the mission so far, I was missing Elder Miner, Elder Mthethwa, and Elder Smith a lot and then I just got super homesick. The only notable thing for the day was the first guy we talked to on the streets seemed semi interested. That was a tender mercy, we also had dinner at Royston's house, and that was nice, but it didn't feel the same. It was a hard day.

Thursday was a better day than the previous two days, kind of. We all got lunch and dessert as a district for Elder Miner's birthday. It was hard though because I was sad to say goodbye again to them even for a short time. We did some finding. I decided that I'd talk to at least 30 people in 30 minutes, and that was one of the highlights of my week. We got two pretty decent potentials in 30 minutes, not too bad. After that we met with Axxx, which went well. And then there was a Christmas tree lighting in city centre, it was SOO packed, that was a pretty fun time. Looking back on it, it wasn't too bad of a day, God really helped me through it.

Friday was actually a decent day. We were in the flat most of the day because people were supposed to come and fix up some things in our flat, but they didn't show up so we spent that time cleaning our flat, and working on the area book app thing. We did some finding, with no success. Actually no, it was somewhat successful, while no one wanted to listen to us, we talked to 30 people in 30 minutes again. We gave 30 people chance to hear the restored Gospel, i ain't disappointed! We had volleyball after, which was super fun! And chair soccer! I took some big hits, like twice in the face and running into the wall, but I had a good time. It had its hard points to the day, but overall, it was a good day.

Saturday was actually a good day, I was really happy by the end of it. It started out super slow. We tried stopping by some potential's houses, but no success. After that we went to the church for a baptismal interview for one of the sister's investigators. Following that, we walked two hours to the Robert's house for dinner. We could have taken the bus, but it was a nice day and it was a beautiful walk. The Robert's are amazing, I love them so much!! We went back to our flat after and decided we'd visit a less active, but didn't know which one, we decided on one and started walking, but I felt a strong impression to go to another person's house, their name is the Syyyyy, and middle aged couple. They let us in and we had an awesome discussion for over an hour, they offered to take us to some cool sights soon, so we are gonna work on building a friendship with them. It was a swell day. And thanks to Elder Gilbert, I went to ASDA to get a mega chocolate milk, it's like a litre, for £1.

Sunday was a good day, like a really good one. We went to church, which was good. Dave Roberts gave a talk on what he would do if he were twenty again, and he gave me a shoutout and said he'd be like me. That was pretty funny. We had ward coordination, and then we took the sacrament to someone. Following that, all four of us elders went to a house that apparently was haunted, but in the end all we had to do was say a prayer of comfort and then I gave one of them a blessing of comfort. We all went to a YSA fireside and dinner thing. We had chili, it was the first time I have ever had chili, and surprisingly enough, I actually enjoyed it.  Then we watched "Lord, I Believe" by Jeffery R Holland and discussed it for a long time. The YSA here is so funny, but it's so weird to be with them as a missionary. 

Today has been good so far, we went golfing, and the course was pretty fun. I shot 14 over on 18 holes so I still got game haha. I don't know when I'll golf again, but it was fun, and I felt pretty happy.

I'm gonna do something a bit different, I'm gonna do a spiritual thought first, and then I'll explain why my email is called what it is. Elder Holland gave an mtc devotional a few years ago, in it he said "I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary." I love this quote. This is applicable for missionaries and also all of us. Why isn't life easy? It wasn't easy for Jesus Christ, the most perfect person to ever walk this earth, so of course it won't be easy for us. This week was definitely the hardest week of my mission, there were so many times that I wanted to just give up and come home, but I have been able to push through it thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ. It still isn't easy, and it might not be nice and easy for me for awhile, but I know it's possible. YOU can get through anything in life, with the help of the atonement. He's already paid the price, it's up to us to turn to him.

I've said this before a few times and I'll say it again, the lyrics of Ballidino by Atlas Genius ran through my head during the week, "I believe that there is light up ahead, I can see it through the words that you said". That song has gotten me through so much. 

The title of this email probably makes no sense to every single one of you...except Brad cook. I'll explain a bit. If any of you know Brad's story with his daughter Tavi, you'll know that she loved rainbows. She passed away a few years back, but rainbows have been a symbol of her and hope since she passed. Brad shared this with our seminary class last year, and ever since, every time I see a rainbow, I feel the spirit, and I feel hopeful. On Thursday, one of the hardest days of my mission, we went out to go finding. I was pretty down, but not noticeably down, and then I saw one of the most beautiful rainbows I have ever seen. I was immediately filled with hope, and the knowledge that things will get better, and it felt like Tavi Cook, was with me, lifting me up in that moment where I felt so hopeless. It was one of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced. And led me to talk to 30 people in 30 minutes. Hence, rainbow motivation.

Don't feel bad for me, things will get better here, I'm feeling better than I was last Tuesday, there is light up ahead, please continue with the encouraging emails, they help me so much and I really need them right now. I really do love you all. Have a "lit" week! I'll try to do the same.

Elder Varner

Monday, November 7, 2016

ding dong ditch!!! (Week 12)

When I say that the week was lit, it usually isn't actually "LIT". Like fire lit. This is the second time so far that I can truly say this week was actually LIT. it was bonfire week, and I do talk about it in way better detail later on in this email and in some pictures and videos, keep reading to find out more! Also tomorrow I will be getting my new companion, Elder Sinclair, from Sweden, . . ..

After saying goodbye to elder mthethwa last Monday, we went to this super cool American candy store in neath, they had peanut butter m&ms, barqs root beer, everything, it was beautiful. I love the UK guys, don't get me wrong, this is amazing, ...! Haha, after that we went emailing and had to be in our flats by 6:00 cuz Halloween as a missionary, partay 🤘🎃 for three hours, we ate and drank straight up America, and played some of the most intense games of settlers of catan. Does anyone know what that game is? I use to play it with the elders back home all the time, and it gets intense, but I didn't win, so I guess luck does run out.

Tuesday was a long day, but it was a fun day. We had a few lessons with some really cool people that the zone leaders have been teaching lately. We knocked some doors and had a few funny stories that happened. First one was some weird goth lady answered a door and said "no" immediately, then elder miner said "no?", she said "no", this repeated 3 times and then she said to elder miner "it's because of the stain on your sweater". Do you know the movie cat in the hat? The part where two of them are making some food thing and one of the characters says it can make anything, and he other says "anything?" And it just goes back and forth and then one of the cats goes all out and cuts his tail off? I know, totally random, but that's what I was reminded of. The second one, is why I named the email the way I did, one door said "no cold callers", which means no one like us, then elder miner just knocks on the door and walks around the corner, so me and elder smith walk away and all we hear is some guy who wasn't too happy. Don't ding dong ditch, kids. After that we did some finding, and then we went to Rxxxn's house for dinner!? I love going over to his place, he won't tell us his age but he's over 75 which I think is crazy, he'll live till age 100 at way least. I was excited for most of the day, I had a "fourth floor, last door" mentality, I wanted to knock every door.

Wednesday was freaking sweet! It was the most memorable day of the week by far!!We helped prepare for the ward bonfire night, which was for Guy Fawkes' night, which is a holiday they celebrate because some terrorist attack got stopped a long time ago so now they have huge bonfires and fireworks. So we prepared this 15 foot wood fire thing, pictured and video'd below. The Ward Bonfire Night was a blast! The fireworks were sweet! The fire was on fire! 🔥 it was fun to chat with ward members too!! At the end when a lot of people left, there were some extra fire works left, and this guy just threw them in the fire. Oh boy, that was intense. The video attached first was one where he took it and the fireworks shot right at us so where those things shot at, was where I was at, and it was partially on video. It was like warfare, all of the sudden I saw fireworks shooting left and right of me, behind and ahead of me, the sky was lit up and I was sprinting. It was the scariest thing ever, but by far the funniest thing ever. Watch the video!!

Thursday was a long day, we had district meeting which I was in charge of, and that went pretty well. Elder Miner gave a training on motivation and I did one on faith and tender mercies. Other than that, we had dinner at a members house and we had cottage pie and apple crumble, it was so good, I want that recipe. The long day part came after dinner, I had to go to a stake presidents meeting thing and it was so long and boring and it just sucked to be honest, I couldn't really put in input because I'm so new so I pretty much said nothing.

Friday was a pretty fun day. I went with Dave Roberts, a member, to teach Dxxxn. I had a Krispy Kreme donut which was pretty sweet, and not the easiest thing to get here. After that we went to paint Kxxx's house and went to another recent convert's place for a great dinner, and everyone convinced me the meat I was eating was pigeon and squirrel and I totally bought it haha.

Saturday was a good day. We went finding for a bit, and then we had to work a booth for the poppy appeal, which raises money for veterans and such, which was cool. We taught a lesson to a girl named Mxxx, which was good, I really felt the spirit telling me what to say in that lesson. By far the funniest thing of the day, which is also pictured below, was when elder miner needed to get a picture at the beach for a family Christmas card, which is gonna say "from the coast of California, to the waves of Wales". Anyways, the tide was out pretty far, so we went to get close to the water, and the sand was super wet, like where your foot would sink in. So we finally get out to where we want to take the pictures, we take them, and head back. Then I remembered that someone told me that there was something like quicksand out there somewhere, and I was like "oh fetch!". I realised my feet were sinking in the wet sand and I just started doing high knees the entire way back. I'm glad I wore crappy shoes cuz hey got dirty. Elder miner lost his shoe in the sand so his sock was wrecked, he got his shoe back though, I was DYING. 

Sunday was church and helping Kxxx paint, not really anything more.

Don't let my emails fool you, the mission IS hard, homesickness is real, and I've probably felt that the most this week, even though it was an amazing week. This week was another lit week, just a bit harder so words of encouragement are always welcome. I'm pretty nervous about getting my new companion too, but maybe it'll be good, I've enjoyed this trio.

Also, I realise that the election back home is this week. I know, most of you think of me as a strong conservative who got into too many debates or whatever, here is all I'll say over the election. I want each of you to do 3 kind random things on Election Day. We have way too much contention in society, both candidates are awful, so don't be like them, be kind to everyone and spread some love this week, whether that be opening a door for someone, sitting next to someone sitting alone, or anything, just do it!

I'll leave you all with this spiritual thought. In the bible, Jesus Christ gives this parable: "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." Our Saviour, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves each of you. It doesn't matter how lost you are, how far you feel you have drifted away, it doesn't matter how many mistakes you've made. Your sins can never and will never outshine the infinite love of Christ. He loves you. He wants you to come home. He is waiting for you to turn to him, to make him the center of your lives. And when you do this, he will put you on his shoulders and carry you home. It is my hope and prayer, that we all will all turn to Christ no matter where we are at now, he will meet you where you are, he will work with you to constantly progress, and he will never give up on you.

Have a killer week in the land of eternal p-days and spread some love!

Elder Varner