Monday, June 26, 2017

gypsies on the run and go! (week 45 Rhibwina, Cardiff, Wales, Elder Mason)

Hey everyone!

Thanks for tuning into another session from across the pond! This week had its high highs and some low lows but I made it out alive and stronger for it which is what's important!

The work was so rough this week, we were taking L's left and right whether it be investigators dropping us or just at door steps. We had a few solid restoration lessons this last week though. I always feel the spirit as I testify of the restoration of the gospel, even when people reject us or try to bash with us (which happened a few times this week). One guy said to me "I bet I know more about your religion than you do", and that got me frustrated because some people have a totally false idea on what we believe. 

My health hasn't been the greatest this week, I've had some of the nausea stuff come back this week more, but I think I just ate something that was bad so hopefully I'll feel better soon. I always hold onto that lyric that reads "I believe that there is light up ahead". I know things always get better, we just gotta keep on hoping and doing all we can do.

We had some absolutely LIT sports nights this week. Basketball on Saturday night was unreal! We had a nice 5v4 game going on and I was hitting some deep threes 👌but the real craziness happened on Friday night at football. We were at a park near city centre playing football and out in the distance we saw some horses with chariots, six of them with a bunch of teenagers/young adults in them, they started riding through our field and at first I thought it was all fun and games but then a few of them started trying to run over some of us, one of them jumped out and took one of our footballs and rode off. And another was about to run over my bag which had my iPad in it, until one of our guys lifted up his chariot to save my bag. Well that guy's friends weren't too happy about that. They all jumped off and were swearing at us and threatening us and me and one of the young men got pretty far away by that point, eventually it all got calmed down because we all just walked away. Later on, the cop's started chasing them through the city. If you didn't get that, here's what I want to say in a few words: gypsies are real and they're worse than chavs. 

This week I've been trying to work a lot on the Christlike attribute of charity and love. In Moroni 7:47-48 it reads "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ". I know that as you pray and ask god to help you see others as he sees them that you'll be blessed with charity. I've felt that love so much this week as I've tried harder to serve others and as I've prayed for it. The world needs more charity.

Happy birthday to my grandpa Bill and my cuz Mack! Love you two! And I love you all! Have a good week and go serve some people!

Elder Varner

pic 1: cardiff city centre babyyyy!!!
pics 2-6: zone conference ft. clayton, smith, clauboux
pic 7: random rivers

pic 8: cardiff bay!

Monday, June 19, 2017

croeso i cymru! (Week 44 Rhiwbina, Cardiff, Wales - Elder Mason)

Fellow BYU fans! What the heck is up?! Thanks for tuning into another episode across the pond! This last week has been a weird one to say the least! There were some high highs and some lower lows, it is so hard to leave an area. Honestly I thought it was hard leaving Swansea, but leaving Wylde Green was even harder, I'm so grateful for everyone in that ward, it really did become home to me and I made some amazing friends there, but I'm sure I'll grow to love this ward as well! Wales can't get enough of me I guess! And I've been out for ten months now! The time is flying!

Boy am I happy to have been transferred to Wales at least! The people here are so nice, even when they reject us they are nice. One guy yesterday opened the door and said he wasn't interested but he'd be more than happy to give us an ice cream bar. The people are just pleasant here. 

I managed to work my way over from Birmingham and switch platforms twice with two suitcases AND a bike, I definitely won a medal for that. Nah, only reason I was able to do that were some super helpful people that God sent my way to help me, I have no doubt about it that He sent angels my way to help me! I was greeted by elder Mason and we got straight to business! This area is so clutch! We have a university on the border of our area that we are gonna start using and the people are so friendly. The sun has been shining like crazy this week as well! It's been a warm welcome back to Wales indeed, literally it's like burning. 

We've had a lot of success for this first week of the transfer! We are currently building up a pool of people to work with, one of which accepted a baptismal invitation for the 29th of July! His name is Txxommy! We have a lot of work to do with him and the others so stay tuned. Every Friday is football Friday out here so we played some fútbol last Friday, I am still straight garbage at it, but it's all good cuz I redeemed myself at basketball, which we play every Saturday night. We got a nice 4v4 going, I only had church shoes to wear to it (semi-long/boring story) but I still balled out with some nice mid range drainage. We are like a 2 minute walk from the chapel so we are gonna start going a few mornings every week to ball out for an hour!

Just one other cool experience: so we went to visit the Gould family the day after I got here. They are members in the ward, and their 33 year old son passed away from cancer two weeks ago, leaving behind a wife and three kids. We were talking with brother and sister gould and as they asked about my family, I got to share a bit of my experience with my mom passing away. They asked me questions about how I dealt with it, if it ever gets better, and we just had a real heart to heart convo. Tears were shed as we shared testimonies. I shared with them D&C 130:2 which is all about eternal families. At the end of our visit, he asked me with tears in his eyes "do you think you were sent here to help us through this?" I've got such a strong testimony that  Jesus Christ leads not only his church, but his missionaries, I know that he inspired President Leppard to send me here and that the Gould family is one of the reasons I'm here. We attended their son's funeral, which had over 600 people present, on Saturday and brother Gould told me that he was so grateful that I'm here to help them through this. I've had some of my most spiritual and emotional experiences in the last week. 

This week for my personal studies featured chapter 2 of the ARP Manuel which is all about hope. Having hope that Jesus Christ can really heal us and cleanse us from sin and hope that we can live with our families and god again. In it, it used a scripture I loved! It's alma 32:27, which says "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." Gaining a testimony and strong faith can come from even simply a desire. I know that my testimony came simply from a hope that my family could live together forever, and that hope grew into what now is my testimony. Alma 32 is such a beast chapter as well!

mae'n ddrwg gennym ar gyfer yr hir e-bost! cael da wythnos! Rwyf wrth fy modd i chi guys! edrych at Grist ym mhob meddwl, amheuaeth beidio, nac ofna 

Elder Varner

side note: for the last sentence, translation errors may occur due to google translate

Sent from my iPad

pics 1-3: last pday ft the homie hill and a fam pic
pic 4-7: farewells to the ogradys and pj/sonia, the moreton fam, and the owens
pic 8: duces kinard!
pic 9: reunion with miner before he flies back to the promised land!
pic 10: sweet golf course we live near

pic 11: in the front, the homies kinnunen and langi, in the back we got your boy DV and elder mason

Monday, June 12, 2017

cardiff on the rise and grind! (Week 43 Wylde Green, England, transfer to Rhiwbina, Wales)

Family and friends,

What's on the up and up guys! I do have to start this out with some major bday shoutouts! Happy birthday this week to my mom, sister Halle, my brotha Jake, my grandma Alice, my cousin Troy, and my uncle Jeff! Sorry if I missed out on anyone! But I love you guys and hope you have a fantastic birthday!

This last week was a total rager here in Wylde Green, I don't know how it could've been a better week to end on! So I'll just include a few of the many cool things that happened this past week like...elder Kinard and I were about to go knocking doors in an area somewhat near the chapel when all of the sudden I felt like we needed to branch out and knock doors in an area we hadn't gone to in ages, so we were walking around in this random part of our area which we weren't too familiar with, and we passed a street called Hanson Bridge, I thought of one of my friends whose name is hanson and after a few minutes since passing it, I felt strongly we needed to knock that street. A few doors in and some guy with no shirt opens the door and said he was sleeping cuz he was sick, well we get talking and he's had some amazing experiences with the church in the past when he lived in Hong Kong, in fact he believed everything about the restoration and said his only concern was the question "why do bad things happen to good people?" Well we have the answer to that! We set up a time for this upcoming week to meet up with him, probably the most solid return appointment I've made on my mission.

Another kinda funny thing, we were walking to the train station and we started talking to this guy who is big into acting in local plays, turns out he is John Bytheway's (Mormon speaker) second or third cousin. We met with him later on in the week and it went pretty well, he gave us Indian Tonic Water. It was by far the worst thing I've had to drink on my mission, just acting like it tasted good and then he gave us a litre of it which we used to prank pj and aiden! 

We had district meeting in Walsall which was nice, did exchanges with elder hill which was fun as always. We were knocking doors and this 16 year old kid let us into his house and we were starting to get into the discussion when all of the sudden his mom walks in, pretty surprised to see two American missionaries in her kitchen, and she ended up politely kicking us out, it was interesting to say the least.

On Saturday I was asked to give a 10 minute talk the next day in church, usually I wouldn't stress to much over that, but when the topic is on the importance of Sunday school attendance, I had absolutely no clue where to even start. After a ton of preparation I think I did a pretty good talk, I should get a medal for giving a 10 minute talk on that. If you wanna read it email me and I'll send it to you!

Notable mentions:
-we did some service for brother Owen and his work which was cleaning out an abandoned house, which had a sick backyard. We left out scrap metal in the front yard and there were like 3 random guys with trucks who showed up and all wanted the metal. I felt like I was in the drug cartel for metal...
-it was week one of Japanese June for the young men so we had a culture night and ate a bunch of Japanese food!

Sorry for making you all read this far to find out the transfer info! So I'll be moving to Rhiwbina Wales tomorrow! It's right next to Cardiff which is the capital of wales. I'll be follow up training elder mason, from Utah, so I'm pretty excited! I was even more hyped to hear that the hoop sessions are unreal there because they have a full basketball court so I'm gonna be balling up even more! Can't hold me back!

Elder Saban said in the last general conference "When we are fully committed and “all in,” heaven shakes for our good. When we are lukewarm or only partially committed, we lose out on some of heaven’s choicest blessings." Don't be only partially in on following Jesus Christ! Be all in! Change whatever you need to change to be all in, blessings and happiness will follow as you commit to being all in, in all you do!

I love you guys and hope you have a lit week cuz I know I'm about to! 😘

Elder Varner

pics 1-2: squad up
pics 3-4: scrap metal cartel
pic 4: the fells
pic 5: bruce robertson
pic 6: johnbytheways cousin
pic 7: sick church in sutton
pic 8: YM
pic 9: walmley golf club
pic 10: the pughs
pic 11: danny 

video 1: japanese june

Monday, June 5, 2017

i ain't done here yet! (week 42, Wylde Green, England)

Family and friends,

I can't believe it's flipping June already! That's so crazy! A big congrats to all the homies who graduated high school last week! This week had some ups and some downs, as does every week. I think one of the most applicable song quotes out there for my time here is "I've had the highest mountains, I've had the deepest rivers, you can have it all but life keeps moving", it's so important to just keep a good attitude about everything cuz we don't get to choose what life throws at us! 

The work for us this last week was a rough one, we had to stop meeting with a lot of our investigators out here because they either lost interest or wouldn't keep their commitments so this upcoming week is all about the rebuilding of our teaching pool! But I'm hyped! There's so much potential for this rebuilding time! I know that as we continue to work our hardest like we have been, and keep relying on god, good things will come!

We got to do exchanges with the Walsall Elders and the Zone leaders this past week. I went with elder scanlan for the first exchange in Walsall. He's from New Zealand and is such a beast missionary! We had to feed some lady's cat and she said if he wasn't inside we'd have to let him in, well the cat wasn't in the flat, so we went out to the front yard and saw a black cat, so for 20 minutes or so we tried luring this cat into the flat with snacks and stuff but we kept scaring it away, eventually we gave up only to realise that her cat was just hiding in another room and we tried luring in some totally random street cat...

The second exchange was with elder opheikens who is a beast as well. Me and him went to Wolverhampton where we got to knock doors and visit some less active members. We had knocked like five doors and then all of the sudden we had realised that we hadn't said a prayer to start out so we prayed and then bam! the next door we knocked was a really cool Christian family from Ghana that let us in and share the restoration with them. It was a really cool lesson and the kids were super in to it! The dad even called the Book of Mormon the word of god and prayed for us in the closing prayer!

Random funny story: we were standing outside someone's house waiting to go to a dinner which was around the corner, and all of the sudden this big African guy comes out of his house and says "hey are you guys from the Mormon brotherhood?" He then led a ten minute discussion, where only he talked, about how we shouldn't call anyone African Americans unless we start calling ourselves European Americans. To be fair, he was a cool guy in the end, and he acted all star struck when he found out I was from Orange County.

We had some sick dinners at members houses this week like the maces and the robertsons! This ward is amazing, transfer calls are next week. I'll be sad to leave if I have to, but I'm ready for something new as well. This upcoming week is gonna be great and I'm gonna work as hard as I can so I can leave this place with a bang! I ain't done here yet!

This week I followed the homie's lead, Trevor thompson, and started studying from the addiction recovery program Manuel and that thing is pure gold! The first step to overcoming any weakness, whether it be an addiction or just a weakness of ours, is to be honest with ourselves and with god. Ether 12:27 says if we humble ourselves before god, he will make our weaknesses become strengths, I'd encourage you all to take the harder path and recognise your weaknesses and rely on god, because he will help you if you have an open heart!

Have a great week guys, pray for the world, we all really need it at a time like this, that attack in London last weekend was tragic. Spread peace and love and remember that I love you guys! 

Elder Varner

Sent from my iPad

pics 1-2: squad goals
pic 3: maces DA
pic 4: the home boy ashwell
pic 5: the things we run into while tracting...
pic 6: reunion with campbell
video 1: frogs be like...
video 2: bday punches for elder kinard

video 3: tim tam slam!