Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas!

Dear Family,

Happy Christmas (as they would say in England)! This is a wonderful time of year! Christmas has definitely taken on a new meaning for me this year. I think in the past I might have really tried to focus on Christ but eventually got distracted with presents, parties, etc. But this year I've discovered something new. Every single day on this mission I desperately need the Savior with my every step of the way. I simply cannot accomplish the tasks of the day without His divine help. This has brought me to love Him and want to serve Him even more. And that is the true meaning of Christmas. In reality, we should be remembering the Savior throughout the entire year. But I think it is realistic to expect that after a long hard year, we may have forgotten Him. The purpose of Christmas is to remind us of Christ's Atonement and realign our desires with his, swallow up our will in His will. It's been an amazing experience to see the heavy depression that hit me when I first arrived in England slowly lessen as I put one foot in front of the other with the help of Jesus Christ. My prayers for relief were not immediately answered. But gradually, imperceptibly at times, my burden has been lightened over the past three weeks. I still feel depressed at times, but mostly, with the help of my wonderful trainer Sister Lau, the ward members, the people who are prepared to hear the gospel, and most importantly the Savior, I feel peaceful and happy. It's been an amazing change that I will cherish forever. 

This week has been a little light on finding people to teach because Lancaster University is a ghost town due to the Christmas holiday! But the Lord has been so gracious in leading our footsteps down the paths that hold the children of God prepared to hear the gospel. Luckily, due to the expense of the trip back to China, some Chinese students have stayed here in England over the holiday. One of those students is Ken Ho! Ken is amazing. He was already Sister Lau and Sun's investigator when I arrived in England, but it has been so wonderful to keep teaching him with them and get to know him better. Last Saturday was a beautiful day because he was BAPTIZED! I'm so happy for Ken because of the blessings that will come into his life because of the covenant he made with Heavenly Father. 




This week I also had my very first exchange! Sister Lau left to work in Wigan for two days and a sister from Wigan came to work with me. Her name is Sister Wolfe. She is an absolutely fantastic missionary and it was so fun to work with her! She had served in Lancaster previously so she helped me so much with the area and in getting to know some less actives here. We had a great time and learned a lot from each other. 



In the past week I also had my first tracting experience! In my particular area and University assignment we don't tract very much because street contacting is just more effective. But tracting was actually pretty fun. We met some interesting people to say the least and also met some people who could potentially be really interested in the gospel. :) Sister Lau said it was necessary to document my first time tracting so here is a picture she took in front of the lovely Hala Street.



I'm also really falling in love with the ward here in Lancaster! The members here are so wonderful and have helped me feel more at home. Here are some ladies who came to Ken's baptism. Left to right: Sister Evans, Sister Bolton, me, Sister Kureczko. They are all amazing women! 



Sister Kureczko is very musical and has definitely put me to work since arriving in the ward. Two Sundays ago she had me sing in relief society, I sang at the baptism, and last Sunday I sang in Sacrament meeting. It's been wonderful to sing so much! All the numbers have been really last minute and so I probably didn't "perform" as well as I would have liked. But I'm learning that the purpose of a musical number is simply to prepare the hearts of those listening to receive spiritual truths. And if that is accomplished then it was successful. So I've really had to let go of some pride and just be a vessel of the Spirit and not a "performer" necessarily. As I've learned this I feel like the Lord has given me more peace and less nerves before a spur of the moment musical number. :)

I'm so excited for this next week! We have tea (dinner) appointments every single night. At the end of the week I get to go on an exchange to South Ribble with one of the sister training leaders. Also, CHRISTMAS, which means sleeping until 8am (woot woot! Best Christmas present EVA) and spending time with members. And then on Boxing Day (the 26th) I get to skype my family. YAY! This week is gonna fly and I'm so excited. :)

I love and miss you all! I hope all is well back home. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Love,
Sister Bement

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lessons in the EMM (England, Manchester Mision)

Hello again from Lancaster! This week has been quite the learning experience. I can't really describe all the emotions I've felt, but I'm definitely learning how to forget about myself and go to work. I'm convinced that is the absolute ONLY way to be happy while on a mission. 

With that in mind, I would like to share the two epiphanies I had last night while watching the Christmas First Presidency (but not so much first presidency haha) devotional last night (they play it a week later in Europe I guess). 

The first one is that the best gift I could give Christ this Christmas is to serve a faithful full time mission. I keep hearing and reading that I'm supposed to give Christ my heart. And since arriving in England I have been confused on how to really do that. But last night I realized that I'm in the perfect place and the perfect circumstances to give Christ my whole heart. It's going to take time, practice, and patience. But that can be my prayerful goal and I know that will increase my happiness as well as my effectiveness as a missionary.

The second thing is that serving a full time mission is not necessary for my eternal salvation (ordinance wise that is). But it IS necessary for a lot of other people's eternal salvation. The prophet didn't just randomly put his finger on a map and pick England as my mission place. God told him and he told me where I needed to serve because there are certain people here that I promised in the pre-earth life to find and teach the gospel. There is a purpose for me here! And I just need to remember it. Even when it is tough, even when I'm homesick, even when I'm tired, that doesn't really matter at all. That doesn't change the fact that there are people here that I need to talk to and that I'm on the Lord's time. Every single day I still I feel uncomfortable and nervous. But I also feel God's love every single day. So it's okay. It's really okay. 

Pictures:
This is from the "Christmas Training" we had in the mission home last week. It was a really fun day! It was with a tenth of the mission (Poor President Preston and Sister Preston had to do it 10 times!!!) and we had a lesson on the Atonement by President Preston, ate a delicious Christmas meal, did skits, watched the film "Ephraim's Rescue" and did a lot of other fun things. Surprisingly, this was one of my most homesick and miserable days of my whole mission. I thought I was going to cry all day! I think how fun it was made me miss home and my own family. On the train ride home I was supposed to be talking to people but instead I cried in a seat by myself haha. Great missionary, eh? But I've since recovered. I still feel homesick everyday but it gets a little bit better everyday and like I said earlier, it just doesn't matter if I'm homesick or not. I'm on the Lord's time! 



This is Selene! She is the sweetest girl. She is one of our investigators with a baptismal date. But she is back in China for the Christmas holiday (as are a LOT of our investigators) so we will pick her up again when she gets home in January. She helps me a LOT with Chinese and is definitely a real friend and not just someone investigating the church. I love her!!!



These next few pictures were taken at our investigator Gary's home. He has an autistic son named Theo who is 11 and full of personality. He served us Hot Pot! Which bascially means everything is thrown in to a boiling pot of water in the middle of the table and everyone eats out of it. We had our own little bowls where we could mix up our own sauce. But you just dip raw mean and vegetables in the boiling water for a few seconds and then pick it up and eat it! It was definitely an adventure for me but I found it really fun and actually tasty. I even ate mushrooms and deshelled my own shrimp with a head! 






These are some home made dumplings that our investigator named Linda made. I thought dad would be interested it. They were YUMMY.



These are some pictures of Saturday night when we hat Hot Pot and made ginger bread cookies with some recent converts and investigators. It was a lot of fun except for the fact that I could not understand 95% of what they were talking about the whole time which discouraged me a little. I feel like my Chinese isn't really improving...but I'll keep praying about it. Language study time definitely needs to be more productive and I need to figure out a plan with Heavenly Father. I'll keep working on that.





Also, someone asked me this week how much Chinese we are speaking at home and how much Cantonese I hear. Basically, we don't speak enough Chinese at home because we forget. But we will do better this week! Cantonese I only hear when Sister Lau meets someone else from Hong Kong. Gary and Theo are from Hong Kong so at their house I hear it a lot. I understand pretty much nothing. But that's okay I'm getting used to that haha ;) 

This is our companionship Christmas card! We love you all! Merry Christmas! :)



Well, that's about it from Lancaster! Sister Sun is being transfered tomorrow to be a sister Training leader somewhere else. :( I'm sad but really excited for her new journey. She has been in Lancaster her ENTIRE MISSION which is 9 months so far. So this is her first transfer. Pretty crazy! So this week will be a whole new journey being in a normal companionship again. 

I pray for you all and miss you all LIKE CRAZY! I LOVE YOU! The gospel is true! Jesus Christ lives and loves you. When things are tough, that is what should keep you going. Have a wonderful week amazing people!

Love,
Sister Jenni Bement

Monday, December 9, 2013

Contacting at "Uni", learning English English, and love

Lancaster, England

Hello everyone!

What a week! Can I just say first of all that being a missionary is absolutely the craziest, scariest, most amazing, faith testing, faith STRENGTHENING thing I have ever done? And probably ever will do? Because that is the way to sum up this week. I want to firstly tell of some miracles.

University of Lancaster (from google)

Saturday was what is called a "4 Hour Consecrated Finding" day. We fasted on Friday to be able to find the people that Heavenly Father has prepared to hear the gospel. I was a little apprehensive about Saturday because right now finding (which is street contacting or tracting) is the scariest part about being a missionary. But I prayed a lot for the courage to be able to talk to whoever the Lord had prepared me to talk to. We spend A LOT of time at Lancaster University or "Uni" as the people here call it. There are a ton of Chinese students and we make anyone Chinese our first priority to talk to. But we will talk and teach anyone obviously. So our goal on Saturday was to teach 11 lesson and get 8 new investigators. We ended up teaching 13 lessons. 12 of them were unplanned, just outside on the Unitversity campus! 10 of them were to Chinese students. And 4 of them made appointments to meet up with us again! I couldn't believe it. There were moments when I was just standing there taking someone's phone number and thinking, "Why in the world are you giving me your contact information? You don't even know me!" But then I remembered that we had fasted and prayed hard, and that the Lord really has prepared the people of Lancaster England to hear the gospel, and that the gospel is true, and that the Holy Ghost was touching their hearts, and then it all made sense. If anyone didn't know this already, I'll just give you a little wake up call. PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THE GOSPEL. For some reason I didn't realize this before I got here. But people are willing and ready. Especially the Chinese people. Something I've realized in this last week is that proabably 1 in 10 English people will stop and talk to you if you stop them on the street. I would say 8 in 10 Chinese people will stop if you start talking to them on the street. I'm really blessed to be allowed to focus most of my efforts on these wonderful and willing people!

My beautiful companions 

My companions, Sister Sun and Sister Lau, are pretty much pro missionaries. They are fearless it seems! We have a ton of investigators and are teaching many lessons every single day. And most of them are Chinese students at the |University. Something I've noticed about being a missionary is how fast you can love people. Now that I've been here a week some of the investigators have seen me more than once, but a fair few of them have only met me one time. And I LOVE THEM. I care about them SO MUCH. There is one particular girl, Selene, that for some reason I love so dearly. I've taught her one time and she came to church for the first time yesterday. Sister Sun, Lau, and I walked with a group of 4 investigators to church yesterday and I talked to Selene the whole time. She is from China but is studying English and Linguistics at Uni so her English is very good. She speaks Chinese to me because she knows I'm trying to learn, but pretty much everything she says she ends up having to translate because I don't understand. But anyways, it was just so fun to be with her and learn about her life. It's so fun teaching Chinese people because a lot of them don't even know who Jesus Christ is. Or that God is their loving Heavenly Father. Sometimes when we say things like, "So through prayer, you can communicate with Heavenly Father and ask Him for things you need help with. He hears your prayers and will answer them because you are His child and loves you SO much." they will say, "Ohhh. Yes I understand." And nod and smile really big. It's beautiful. 

I'm also realizing that the Sunday school answers about how it feels to experience the Holy Ghost are so true. I've heard so many times this week that people feel "peace" and "warm" after praying for the first time. There was one girl we street contacted into on Saturday who just started crying when we were telling her about God. She was Chinese and talking really fast so I couldn't understand but my companions told me later what she said. She said she had no idea why she was crying but she just felt warm inside and needed to cry. Isn't that amazing? The gospel can touch EVERY SINGLE PERSON. 

Okay before I end this I want to talk a little bit about England! 

First of all, I feel like I'm learning 2 new languages here! Chinese and English English! There are many words that are different here. The one that confused me most is "tea" which means dinner. And dinner means lunch. Or lunch means lunch. But dinner never means dinner. haha. So people from the ward have us over for "tea" most nights. I'm getting used to it but it still confuses me sometimes! Fast food joints are called "Chippies". One of our investigators owns a chippie. We went and ate food there on Thursday and it was SOOOOO good. There is this thing here called Curry & Chips. It is pretty much amazing. It's just french fries covered in curry sauce. But it's popular here and I love it. Some English things that are not exactly my cup of tea per se are Cornish Pasties and Shepards pie. Mostly, I feel like the food here is just a little bland...apparently American food has taught me to want lots of salt and lots of sugar! But I'm sure I will adjust soon enough. :) It's probably healthier this way anyways.

Something else interesting here is that the houses are SO SMALL. It doesn't matter how many people are in the house, it's the same size. People really aren't afraid to squish into a room. If there is a family of 5 plus 3 missionaries...you just squish around a small table and make the best of it. It's actually kind of fun. 

It is also pretty cold. On Saturday when we were four hour finding it was raining sometimes and my feet felt numb when we finally got to go inside. Inside our flat the heater in the bedroom is broken so it's freezing every night. I wear my wool socks, sweats, and a sweatshirt to bed and feel pretty warm though. I'm sleeping here much better than I did at the MTC which is a blessing!!!

Bedroom
Living Room

WOW sorry this is so long. I thought I should mention how Chinese is coming. I would say horribly. But my companions say differently. Last night after our investigator, JJ, walked away I had a little breakdown right there in the learning lab of Lancaster University. I felt so useless most of the lesson because I had no idea what she was saying!!! I Just had to nod and smile and pretend! I feel so bad for my companions because they pretty much have to carry every single lesson. In a week Sister Sun is being transferred somewhere else and it will just be me and Sister Lau and then I'm REALLY gonna feel bad because Sister Lau will be stuck with just me! Ugh. But my companions say they don't feel like that and that it's okay and blah blah blah. But I need to study Chinese harder. 

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and support as always. I miss you and pray for you.

Love,
Sister Bement

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hello, from Lancaster, England!

Hi Mom and Dad!

I'm sitting in a library with my two companions in Lancaster, England! Crazy. But I'm alive and safe and happy. I thought I'd just give you the low down of traveling and my first day in the field. 

Lancaster, England
map from wikipedia.com
All went smoothly with the travel. The thing that was the hardest was being out in the world after not seeing anything bad for 9 weeks. When I stepped off the first plane it was actually really overwhelming because the first thing I saw was a bar and a huge wrack of magazines. I had forgotten how bad the world is! But I tried to share the gospel whenever I could. I gave away 3 pass along cards. It was really scary but I thought I'd better get used to it since his is what I'm doing for the next 16 months!

Once I got my luggage and exited the airport I was picked up by the Mission President's assistants. They are a tripanionship of elders. They were great! They made mission life look so happy and were so cheerful and welcoming. They drove me to the Mission President's home where I met President President and his lovely wife. We had an interview and took care of some logistical things like getting a copy of my visa and pictures. We had some toast and then the assistants took my to Lancaster to meet my companions.

My companions are wonderful! Their names are Sister Sun and Sister Lao. They are both really great missionaries and are very patient with me and my newbie self. They know SO many people and this area like the back of their hand. I think that has actually been the hardest thing so far is feeling like there is NO possible way I can get up to date on all their investigators, ward members, and inactives. They teach many lessons every week (some of the highest numbers in the mission according to the President) and just know a ton of people. But I'm praying all the time that God will help me remember names. 

The ward we are in is just a normal family ward (not a Chinese branch). So we teach in English and Chinese. In the MTC I was worried about this but now that I'm here I'm not. We still speak Chinese a lot and we have made a goal to speak even more. They bottom line is that God called me to preach His gospel in Chinese, so He will help me learn Chinese if I work my hardest. I get an hour of language study a day and my companions both are SO helpful. Sister Sun is from Taiwan and Sister Lao is from Hong Kong. They are so patient with my and want me to help me as much as they can. 

Okay, so once I met my companions we ate lunch and then they took me out to do missionary work! I don't think I can explain to you how tired I was...I was TIRED. But God helped me. First off we went to the bus stop and bought me a bus pass. Right before we got on the bus Sister Sun turned to me and said, "Okay, go sit by someone and talk to them." AH! I was so scared. I tried though. It didn't go very well haha but I'm sure I'll get better at just talking to random strangers. Sister Sun and Sister Lao are both fearless! They can talk to anyone. It's so awesome.

First we went to a Chinese lady investigator's house. Her name is Linda. I barely understood anything except for when Sister Sun turned to me and said, "Is it okay if Sister Bement shares an experience with you about how prayer has blessed her life? AHHH again. But I did it and miraculously Linda understood. We are meeting with Linda again next week. Hopefully my Chinese will have improved a bit by then!

We spent the rest of the day visiting innactive members, street contacting, dinner appointment with a ward family member, appointments that fell through, and more street contacting. It was actually really wonderful. One of the best, most tiring, overwhelming, and happiest days of my life to be honest. I am happy to report that I fell asleep pretty much the second I hit the pillow and din't move until the alarm went off at 6:30am. It felt great. :) 

The English people are great! I love the way the talk! My accent sticks out pretty bad. My companions kind of have Chinese accents so I really do stick out. But it actually helps while street contacts because people ask me where I'm from. The food here is interesting. I have been exposed to shepherds pie and mince pie. I don't know that I'm crazy about English food yet but I'm sure I will be by the end! There is this thing everyone drinks here called squash. It is juice but you just put a little bit in a cup and fill the rest with water. To me is just tastes like flavored water...but everyone else is crazy about it!

It is SO BEAUTIFUL HERE! I'm so grateful to be in Lancaster. Apparently it is one of the most beautiful areas and also an area that is on fire gospel wise. And that is sure true! This morning we did weekly planning and my companions teach so many lessons and have many people getting ready to be baptized. It's really quite exciting!#

One last thing before I say goodbye until Monday, is it is so strange that they drive on the wrong side of the road. Every time the bus turns I have a miny panic attack because I think it is going the wrong way! haha that is going to take some getting used to.

I'm happy to be here! It is a little overwhelming but I can feel this is where I'm supposed to be! And that is a very happy feeling! I don't think I could be in a better place with any better companions. This just feels right. My mission has really begun! I can hardly believe it. :)

I hope this finds you all well! I'm safe! I'm happy! I love you!

Love,
Sister Bement

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Last email from the MTC!



Hello everyone!

I can't believe I'm saying this but it is my last MTC email. Time has really flown. I've really loved the MTC and will never forget my time here. But on to new things now! England, here I come!



This week has been really great. Thanksgiving was especially amazing! They really treat you well at the MTC. The service project was the highlight of the day I would say. For those of you who don't know, we packaged 350,200 meals for kids in Provo who don't always get 3 meals a day. I feel like my stay at the MTC has been pretty self centered because my teachers, the staff, the branch presidency are all doing whatever they can to help ME. So it felt good to do something for someone else. Hopefully that will be how the next 16 months feels.

--See Jenni quoted in Deseret News article about the Thanksgiving Day service project---

Our Thanksgiving service project hair nets!

Another wonderful thing on Thanksgiving was the Thanksgiving Program that President and Sister Nally put on for us. There were musical numbers, a really funny skit, and the Nally's spoke to us. It was so happy! Then after that we all watched the movie "Ephraim's Rescue" and ate candy. It was a really REALLY good movie. You all should watch it. Thanksgiving was probably the best day of the whole MTC. I sure had a LOT to be grateful for. 

Friday was also a really exciting day here! It was In-Field Orientation! It was such an inspiring day. We learned how to set goals, work with members, increase our faith, and expect success. It really changed my whole perspective of how a mission works. It also just made me so excited to get to England!!! It is weird thinking that in less than 48 hours I will be in a different country and won't be coming back for 16 months. But it also is a very exciting feeling too. I know this is where God wants me to be. And I can't wait to get to work! 

Alright, I think that's all for this week! Crazy to think that next week I will get to tell you about England. Wow! That still blows my mind. I love you all! Thank you for your support and prayers!

Love,
Sister Bement

My district in front of our last service project. We set up those chairs 20 times since being here!

Some other people from our twice a week service project. Elder Fa'asavalu lived with the Smith's in Kent for a bit! Fun to see him. (He is in the blue shirt).