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.
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 . 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 , 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!