Friday, January 4, 2013

"...have a prayer in your heart for your companion while he's talking...I witnessed a bit of that when we talked to Mary. Pretty cool."

From January 3, 2013
Hey guys! Sorry I didn't get the chance to email yesterday, we were super busy with the stuff at the mission home. But what you probably want to know is......
I'm in Omagh, Northern Ireland! My trainer is Elder Holm from Las Vegas.
When we arrived in Edinburgh yesterday (Wednesday) we met all the trainers, (but didn't get one assigned yet), met President and Sister Brown, and then we hiked up Pratt's Hill. To non-Mormons, it's known as Arthur's Seat. It's just a real tall mountain that overlooks the whole city and the North Sea. The reason we call it Pratt's Hill is because Elder Pratt (Orson or Parley, can't remember) hiked up there when he arrived for a mission way back when, and he prayed to ask for 200 souls to bring to the church. He ended up baptizing that many people in two years...I think. I don't remember the exact story.
But yeah President Brown. When we arrived in Edinburgh yesterday we had a few little meetings, each of us met with President Brown (He and Sister Brown are super nice by the way.), and then we all got assigned our trainer and area.
In Scotland I think there are four zones: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Paisley. Then there's Dublin and Limerick in Ireland, and all of Northern Ireland is Belfast zone. Four companionships are going to Ireland; I think three in the Belfast zone. And then the other five new elders and the one new sister went to Scotland zones.
So by the time we all got assigned to our areas it was about 5 pm, so the four companionships going to Ireland stayed the night at the mission home.
This morning (Thursday) the APs (assistants to the president) took us to the bus station, where we went from Edinburgh to a port on the west side of the country, took a ferry to Belfast, and then a bus to Omagh. All in all the traveling from mission home to our flat (apartment) took like 10 hours.
The ferry was more like a freaking cruise ship. It was huge, had restaurants, super nice places to sit with tons of room and stuff. One of the trainers told me that this is the most expensive mission in the world because of the travel. Not sure if it's accurate but it wouldn't surprise me.
So now Elder Holm and I are in the library, just like a block or two away from our flat. The flat isn't too bad. Just us two here, so it's a bit more roomy than the MTC.
I'll be here for the next 14 weeks probably; the mission department came out with this new "12 week program" for new elders. From what I've heard so far it's just an extra hour of companionship study. And they'll keep us both together and in the same area the whole time. Oh yeah but it's 14 weeks because this transfer is 8 weeks for some reason.  I think he said it's because of the elders having only two weeks in the MTC starting this year. I dunno.
Elder Holm is good though. Says he likes to eat really healthy and exercise a lot in the mornings, so that will be good for me. On Wednesday we had our first taste of proselyting/tracting/whatever you call it. The APs took us Irish missionaries to a street in Edinburgh and we just went out and talked to people. The first guy was difficult and kinda disheartening...I hardly said anything. We gave out a few pamphlets to people who didn't have time to talk. But then we ran into a lady named Mary, and that went well she gave us her contact info and willingly took a Book of Mormon and said she'd read and pray about it. I contributed some good things to the conversation, and I felt like it went really well. One thing someone told me at the mission home is to not plan out what you want to say, but to just have a prayer in your heart for your companion while he's talking, and then when it's your turn you'll know what to say. I witnessed a bit of that when we talked to Mary. Pretty cool.
Well, that's my email. P-day is on Monday out here, so you'll probably hear from me again with some cool mission stories, not just travel stuff.
Mom, The lady at the mission home who does the mail said that they take letters and packages from the mission home to the Scotland zones quite regularly, but they don't get them to the Ireland missionaries as fast. So I'm not sure the exact time frame, but I might not get your birthday package until after the fact. That's ok though, I can think of it as like a one month gift or something depending on when I get it.
I'll try to send some pictures in a separate email. But if my camera still doesn't hook up I'll plan on sending you the SD card soon. Or I'll buy a card reader or something.
Thanks for everything you guys. Love you!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"I kind of imagined them taking time out of their busy eternal schedules to hear my prayer."

From January 1, 2013

Hey y'all!
It was great talking to you guys on Christmas. Hopefully I actually talked about relevant stuff...I can't really remember what I told you guys. There should be a letter on its way over that I took more time and thought with while writing....but the post from here to there takes quite a while. I didn't get the Christmas cards you sent until a few days after Christmas, but thanks so much they were great! Everyone was disgusted and confused by my rat tail. My response was "well the ladies back home loved it."
I got Christmas cards from the Powells and Grandma &Grandpa. Tell them I say thank you! I'll try to write them personal letters thanking them myself, but I can't guarantee I'll have the time. Also if you find the list of people who sent gave me gifts and/or cards at my farewell, could you email their names to me? I never thanked them because I was kinda stressing out the last few days.
Today is the New Year of course. The Walkers gave us all sparklers and poppers and let us use them outside. But the most fun part was when a bunch of us elders stayed up till midnight (PARTY HARD). Most of us were up packing and writing in journals anyway, but we decided to hang out in the hallway to celebrate. When the clock struck 12, I screamed "HAPPY NEW YEAR" as loud as I could. We were all scared that the president and wife might get mad, or elders who were sleeping would get mad, but no trouble. Then we got all adventurous and decided to run from the dorms upstairs, down two levels to the kitchen/cafeteria, flip over some tables (quietly) and then go back up. Someone said they heard Sister Walker's voice as we were sneaking back upstairs, so it was kind of a close call. So much adrenaline. Yolo.
On a spiritual note, these past few days have been great. We saw some Provo MTC devotional recordings, had a few guest speakers, and some testimony meetings and such. Most days have been a drag in classes and what not, but these past few days made me feel like I'm gonna miss the MTC. One of the talks by Elder Bednar inspired me for some reason to go and try praying out loud. I've never done it before, so I decided that it would be good. I told my companion I was going to the bathroom, and instead I went to a vacant room in our hall, locked the door, and tried it out. It was amazing. I prayed about some stuff I was stressing about (nothing to worry about, mom and dad) and it honestly felt like I was truly talking to Heavenly Father. And for some reason I felt like He and Jesus were both hearing my prayer. I kind of imagined them taking time out of their busy eternal schedules to hear my prayer. I reasoned that the more effort, time, and attention we put into our prayers, He will do the same when He listens to our prayers. It was a great experience.
Well, tomorrow morning nine elders and one sister will be heading to Edinburgh, Scotland. They hired a mini-bus to take us there. I hear it's about 3.5 hours or so, so I should be able to catch up on sleep and maybe a bit of study. They said that we will probably get the chance to email you from the mission home to let you know we're there.
Love you guys. Thanks for the emails. Hopefully you'll hear from me tomorrow, or the letter I sent last week will arrive soon. If not, I'll talk (email) to you next week. Just remember, "no news is good news"!
Elder Spencer Ashcraft Burt