And the adventure begins! This is a record of my experiences as I serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the England Manchester Mission.
I am humbled to be so blessed to have this opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ every day for the next 18 months. Many trials await me in the form of slammed doors, pouring rain, and tons of homesickness, but with Jesus Christ I can overcome all of that and more.
Love you all!
FYI: This blog is being taken care of by Sister Martin's mom Sharon Martin - email@example.com. She is posting emails and pictures that I am sending to her each week.
A note from her mother: Erika returns home from her mission Thursday evening! She will be home on Friday evening (December 5th) from about 6:30 pm until whenever for anyone that wants to come by and visit with her. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write her, send her care packages, send her money and do other things to make these past 18 months go so well for her!
Before I start: Happy Belated American Thanksgiving to all
my American friends! I had a great 2nd thanksgiving dinner and ate way too much
turkey!! (the beauty of being a Canadian in the midst of so many American
missionaries! I got to have 2 dinners: 1 in October and 1 in November! Life is
I have never been so confused in my entire life! I can
hardly believe that this is the last email I will ever write as a full-time
sister missionary! I have absolutely loved this mission! It has been the
greatest gift God has ever given to me. I have never felt love this deep in my
entire life! I didn't know you could love a group of complete strangers so
I will always have a incredibly deep love and allegiance to
England! This country is beautiful and rich in it's history and culture. And
though some may comment that the humour of the English is weird, I have come to
love it :) ....maybe that means I am weird too ;)
I have become a tea drinker! (fruit tea of course.....just
in case all the molly mormons were about to rent their cardigans and throw
their casserole dishes on the floor in disgust) I love crumpets and tea cakes!
I adore English chocolate (and unfortunately it adores me too much as well!) I
love the old rickety buildings, the compact homes and narrow street ways! I
will miss the good, the bad, and the ugly that has been witnessed in the views
that I have beheld on the upper levels of literally hundreds of double decker
buses! I will desperately miss all the cheap and delicious bakeries that line
high street and I am even leaving the crazy 4-seasons weather on peaceful
terms: we had a talk and the wind/rain/snow/sun cycle and I have agreed to
disagree!) The country is beautifully sarcastic, wonderfully historic and the
people here have hearts of gold! Once you make friends with the English, they
will be a friend for life! I have been blessed with some brilliant friends!
Time to zap the PDA, cut the
cheesy rambling and tell you about my last week in the mission field! It sure
has been a crazy one!
E-M&M Strikes Again:
Everyone has been literally BEGGING me to write one more rap
before I go home! The only reason I hadn't responses to the fan requests was
because I had not received the inspiration to do so! I can't just write on a
whim: it needs to be inspired!
Well my stroke of inspiration came while we were locked up
in a Manchester bus for 2 hours! Normally the trip home from city centre only
takes us 15-20 minutes. Why were we on the bus for that long?!?! 2 words:
Curse you aqua scum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fact: Manchester United is one of the most exciting and
famous football clubs in the world.
Fact: The locals hate them because the world completely
shuts down whenever there is a football match! Traffic stops completely! The
streets are lined with rubbish and drunken men! It is very inconvenient for
those who actually live in Manchester! And unfortunately I have discovered this
So there I was, sick (I've been battling the flu....yay!),
tired, starving, and really needing to use the toilet (every mum's famous
roadtrip phrase haunted me as I sat on the stagnant bus: "I told you to go
before we left!!")
In anger at my full bladder, my growling stomach and my
unchanging position of imposition, inspiration came and I wrote a rap on the
Manchester United Rap:
Today is the day where my anger is ignited
Because this bus ain't moving due to Manchester United.
Football is so stupid, it makes this city nuts
I want it to be over so this bus can move its butt
Everyone is flaming drunk unable to walk straight
A riot just erupted and a man just killed his mate
I need to wee so bad and my bladders gonna burst
Being stuck in post game traffic really is the worst
Everyone is wearing red and screaming really loud
They won't be cheering anymore, when I punch them:
Men are walking everywhere in really girly scarves
It looks ironic as they walk into their manly bars
Explain to me why every match they get in nasty fights
Regardless of the final score the home team had that night
They must be daft to blow their cash on such dumb souvenirs
And pay a tenner for a tiny pint of nasty beer
My favourite part of every match is all the chavy ladies
They curse and swear more than the men and act like they
Football players make me laugh each time they fake a fall
Crying for their mommies so the ref will make bad calls
Red and yellow cards start to fly up all the place
It looks so wrong as grown men pull a whiny baby face
Regardless of my moaning, football ain't that bad
Its not the game but all the traffic that makes me so mad
So go United! Win em' all! I support your club!
As long as you can keep your crazy fans locked in the pub!
Lock Down In Man-Town!:
The most random moment of our week was probably getting
locked in our flat. Our house is one of those super old houses that they
redecorated to make it look new.....but the reality is that underneath the new
paint it is still super old.
The most recent thing (of many) to break in our home? Our
front door! The dead bolt would not move and we literally could not get out of
our home. Talk about claustrophobia!
So what do two sister missionaries do when they get locked
in a flat?! ...take selfies of course!
I am happy to report that our zone leaders eventually came
and unscrewed the door and helped us escape! So all is well in Zion (as
Feasting Upon The Words Of Christ:
We received the greatest gift yesterday. If you are a
scriptorian, you probably automatically thought I was referring to eternal life
(shout out to Doctrine and Covenants 14:7!) Not this time though!
We received a Bible cake!
"Brother Bob" (this is his nickname. He is so
famous he doesn't have to go by his surname! The best celebrities only have to
be referred by their 1st name. E.g. Beyonce, Christina, Justin, Oprah! See what
I mean?!) is a man in our ward who is the greatest member missionary of all
time. He is famous around our mission! Everyone wants to serve in Stretford so
they can work with Brother Bob!
He just had a birthday and they had the greatest cake ever
made for him. A Book of Mormon and Bible cake!! Late last night we were
surprised to get a knock on our door! It was our zone leaders holding a bible
cake! Brother Bob had given it to them and had them deliver it to us. It was
the 2nd cake leftover from the party and he wanted us to have it!
It is amazing! Pictures attached!
We were way too excited when we saw it (it's what happens
when you are a missionary and your whole life revolves around church and the
scriptures). We made many terrible puns, my favourite being that we were being
very obedient by literally "feasting upon the words of Christ" (2nd
I'm going to be a great-grandma!:
My mission family tree is growing again! This week my 3rd
grandchild and 1st great-grandchild are being born! (When you train a new
missionary, you say that they are your daughter...and so forth! You can work
out the rest).
So I leave my mission with 3 daughters, 3 granddaughters and
1 great-granddaughter! Those poor girls! They are a part of the weirdest family
ever! (Who can say that they have a rapping grandma?!?!)
Such an exciting and fun way to end the mission, knowing
that I made a difference for my companions as they have made a difference for
The secret to keeping the law of chastity:
We were doing an awkward role-play the other day in district
meeting where we were practicing teaching people on the street the law of
chastity using the missionary pamphlets we are giving as teaching tools.
From that I came up with a firm conclusion:
If you want your investigators to keep the law of chastity,
the solution is simple. Just show them the pictures in the pamphlet and they
will never want to have sex again!
The pictures are "gag me" cheesy! I cannot and do
not want to even describe them. Pictures like a woman walking with a bouquet of
flowers in her arms and a cardigan tied around her neck (apparently that is
what a good date looks like haha). A family playing crochet (who plays crochet
in the 21st?!?!).
I joke a lot! The law of chastity is actually a great thing
(keeps families protected and happy), but they need to update their pamphlets
so bad! Barf!!
The new Ben and Jerry's motto:
My companion and I have eaten a shameful amount of Ben and
Jerry's ice-cream this week. At the conclusion of the week, I concocted a new
motto for the companion based on our experiences.
Ben and Jerry's: "No bowl, no shame!"
Nothing better after a terrible day than downing a tub of
Ben and Jerry's and eating it straight out of the tub! Food therapy 101!
Favourite cheesy joke of the week:
What do you call a woman with one leg?
Likening the Holy Ghost to......a banana peel:
We are teaching a wonderful lady right now! We are teaching
her English as well as the gospel, so our lessons are sometimes interesting as
we try to find unique and memorable ways for her to learn gospel words that are
very new and cannot be found in a language dictionary.
I was trying to explain how the Holy Ghost can warn us. She
did not know the word warn. A hilarious moment we had had earlier that day
sparked a great analogy that I was able to use to explain the word to her.
That morning, Sister Once had fallen really badly. We were
just walking and BANG she was on the ground. I -of course- laughed my head off
(so did she) and we brushed her off and kept walking.
Warn: Sister Martin is walking down the street and
accidently slips on a banana peel (BAM! Picture me dropping to the floor as I
was teaching her this). Then Sister Once is going to walk the same street, so I
WARN her about the banana peel! "Look out! There is a banana peel! Do not
I managed to get Sister Once and the lady nearly in tears! I
may win for the most random and dramatic analogy ever to describe such a simple
The break-through secret to increased church
I was talking with our bishop and his family in the car and
they were asking me about what I would miss about England. The conversation- of
course- drifted to food! I told them how I was grateful we have Yorkshire
puddings back home so I would be fine there.
Then we came up with a breakthrough idea!
We should change the sacrament so they bless and pass around
Yorkshire pudding and custard instead of bread and water! Church attendance
No wonder we struggle so much in the UK to get people to
come to church! It was obvious all along! ;)
Her last Sunday!
My Departing Thoughts:
This hymn caught me off guard in church yesterday. We sang
it for the sacrament hymn and it moved me to tears as the words perfectly
described how I feel as I finish this full-time mission. I have changed the
words slightly to apply to me:
As Now We Take The Sacrament: Hymn 169 (verse 3)
As now (I) praise thy name with song,
The blessings of this day
Will linger in (my) thankful heart,
And silently (I) pray
For courage to accept thy will,
To listen and obey.
(I) love thee, Lord; (my) heart (is) full.
(I'll) walk thy chosen way.
I love the Lord so much! The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-Day Saints is the true church! Jesus Christ's gospel has been restored
and brought back to the earth again- the exact same gospel he taught and
established while he walked on the earth! I thank God everyday for the gospel!
It has blessed my life more than words can describe! The greatest sacrifices
bring the greatest blessings and I have truly learned this out here! I would never
have it any other way! :)
Love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly (ahh) for me!
Love Sister Martin :)
Pemberley (Actually Chatsworth House) - Mr Darcy's residence in Pride and Prejudice
Before I start anything I have to declare something:
I AM THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD!
Because I just got back from Mr. Darcy's house. For anyone who has watched the
Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (no shame! I proudly admit that I
have probably watched that film about 20 times!), I just got back from Lyme
Park in Manchester, where "Pemberley" is located! Breath taking! I
believe that the UK is the most beautiful place in the world!!!
Ok! Back to reality!
So it is official. My lovely Sister Sant is home and happy
and getting healthy now :) She did a great job and I learned so much this
transfer serving with her :)
So the big question everyone is dying to ask!!! Who is the
lucky sister that gets to be my companion for the last 12 days of my
Sister Once from the Philippines :)
For my friends who are not fluent in Tagalog ;) The Once is
pronounced like Beyonce! Those who know me well know that Beyonce is my
girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sasha Fierce was my last cd before I left on my
mission :P ) So this clearly was meant to be :)
As you are probably already picturing, our height difference
is hilarious and people on the streets are just loving it! It's not everyday
that you get a 6ft tall, white Canadian, and a 5ish ft tall Philippino hanging
out together on the mean streets of Manchester!
This just continues to prove the point that anything is
possible when you are a missionary!
People find it hilarious that the last name of my 11th
companion is Once (which means 11 in a couple of languages). The irony
In respect for the significance of the number 11 this week,
I will talk about my top 11 moments of the week:
1. The atonement really does cover everything!!
I bet you think I'm about to go on a "holier than
thou", almost returned missionary spiritual rant!
We had a wonderful tea appointment last night with some of
the best food I've had in awhile! About 3 hours after the appointment, Sister
Once surprised me when she suddenly burst out:
"Sister Martin, a miracle has happened!"
Curious- because we had had no miracles that day that I was
aware of- I inquired further and was mind-blown by her response:
"I ate prawns tonight and I didn't die!"
....She confessed to me that she is really allergic to
prawns. There was prawns in our tea that night. She told me that during the tea
appointment she had prayed that she would be ok and wouldn't get ill. And she
So apparently the atonement even covers food allergies ;)
That being said, I will finish off this section with a quote
that the President and Sister Preston put in our missionary health binder,
which I think is wise and should be applied by everyone.
"Don't do dumb things, especially on p-days :) "
In other words: please don't test this theory! I am not responsible
for any allergic reactions that occur as a result from this story ;)
2. Santa Claus isn't real in the Philippines:
Sister O was telling me how Christmas is so much better in
England! Back home, kids freak out in the malls because Santa Claus is brown.
She told me they used to cry to their parents and tell them that Santa can't be
real because Santa doesn't have a tan! :P
She also described how they decorate little palm trees with
ornaments in the Philippines and their version of reindeer is goats!
Safe to say, I will feel so lucky to be a Canadian this
Christmas season. Having a cliche, cheesy Christmas makes enduring all the cold
and rain worth it :)
3. My new trunky voicemail:
I've been debating changing our voicemail this week. All of
the missionaries phones have the same identical, scripted voicemail which goes
"You have reached the missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of
latter-day saints, serving in the (*insert area name here*) area. Please leave
a message and we will return your call as soon as possible. Thank-you!"
After hearing the same voicemail for 18 months, it gets a
little boring after a few hundred years!
Sister O and I decided that we want to change our voicemail
to the following:
"WOOHOO I'M ALMOST DONE!!!! Sorry I can't get the phone
right now because I'm too busy running to catch my plane and take a 15 hour
nap, so don't bother leaving a message!! Thank-you BUH BYE!"
In theory it sounds funny, but something deep down tells me
I may need to save my sarcastic antics for another day ;)
4. My favourite joke of the week:
My most awkward and hilarious moment of the week is brought
to you by Sister Sant! We were having one of our bog-standard, normal
boring/awkward nightly call-ins to our district leader. We didn't have much to
report that night, so our district leader randomly burst out: "Tell me a
Immediately Sister Sant told the 1st joke she could think
"What is little mermaid's favourite subject in school?
She forgot that we were talking
to a bunch of awkward elders before she told the joke! The response was soooo
awkward! I was laughing because I though the joke was hilarious, Sister Sant
was freaking out because she just realized that she had told an underwear joke
to elders, and the elders were just awkwardly gaping like fish on the other
side of the line!
I have come to just love the awkwardness of missionary life,
and this moment topped off my week :) Just embrace the awkward, before the
awkward embraces you!
5. Asian priorities:
Sister Beyonce and I were talking about earthquakes (we both
come from places that unfortunately are prone to getting nasty earthquakes).
She told me about an earthquake that they had when she was a preteen. Her mum
was helping them get out of the house to go somewhere safe when suddenly she
stops helping them and leaves them to go and back into the house and rescue
their rice cooker!
She said her mum was screaming out "I need to save the
rice cooker!!!". Her dad stopped her mum and they just left and went to
safety! To say that Filipinos love rice is an understatement! They literally
eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! And this proves my point!
6. Mr. Bean transcends all cultures:
Last year in Carlisle I planned a cultural night and the
theme was "Love transcends all cultures"
I officially want to revoke this statement and change it:
"Mr. Bean transcends all cultures"
Sister O and I discovered that
we were both raised watching Mr. Bean. (Our parents both love him!). We were
talking about our favourite episodes (while simultaneously embarrassing
ourselves as we imitated and acted them out) and realized that Mr. Bean is perfect
because anyone can watch it. He doesn't talk at all, so it doesn't matter what
language you speak! Anyone can enjoy it!
It was strangely beautiful to make this connection with my
companion who comes from such a different culture from me! Proves that you can
find things in common with anyone if you try hard enough!
7. Funny pub names.....continued:
I have ranted many times previously about how funny I find
the pub and chippy names in England. They are always random and always sound
like they were selected by the drunk Englishmen who sit inside of them.
I am emailing just down the street from The Old
My favourite pubs/chippy of the week?:
Peter PAN and Captain Cook
They are both on the same street as each other, not far from
our home! So clever!
8. Likening the gospel to .....tanning?!
We had a marvelous stake conference this weekend (the best
I've honestly ever been to). The best part though was when a young returned
missionary gave a talk and used an analogy about fake tanning. He talked about
how the gospel was lots of work, just like when his mum goes tanning. You have
to sit under the sun for hours! You have to endure the horrible heat, the
indecent, awkward public exposure and all the sand that likes to creep into
every single crevice. But the result is worth it! You are filled with light
(big fat LOL) and look and feel great after. All that enduring was worth it!
HAHAHAHA! That's all I have to say about that.
The best part though was the fact that as he was giving this
analogy about tans, I was sitting between a sister from Tonga, Fiji and my
Filipino companion-- all with their beautiful dark skin. They all held their
arms out and held them up to mine and started teasing me, whispering to me:
"Palangi Palangi! You need to get a tan!"
I love being a missionary! It's fun being from different
countries and being able to tease each other and have so much fun!
9. Sneezing does
NOT transcend all cultures:
I wrote about sneezing wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back at the
beginning of my mission! When I was a greenie, I learned that they sneeze
differently in Russia ("aaaap-chi!) haha :)
Well the sneeze strikes again!
Filipinos sneeze differently too!!!
It sounds like kung-fu to me! So hard-core!!!! I am
beginning to think that our sneeze is pretty week! We just sound like a bunch
of choo-choo trains when we sneeze!
10. Living Life: Gourmet French Style
I was talking with a French elder the other day in the tiny
bit of broken French that I could still remember from school. As we were
speaking (and laughing about the funny Quebecois accent that Candians have),
Sister BEYonce piped in that she knew some French.
She was about to say whatever phrase she had in mind, when
she suddenly forgot it and got all frustrated! She turned to me and said:
"How do you say cauliflower and cheese again?!"
I was useless because:
1. I'm rubbish at French, the only help I could offer her
2. I was too busy laughing with tears rolling down my eyes
Ce la vie! Just gotta roll with the punches and laugh at the
random things like throws at you :)
11. Choirs of angels:
I never had much of a testimony of music and hymns until
this weekend. This weekend was one of the most touching stake conferences I
have ever been to.....all because of the music!
The choir clearly has been preparing for a long long time! I
have never heard such enthusiastic singing from a choir and congregation in my
life! Everyone was putting their heart and soul into the hymns and I could
swear that there were angels singing with us! I was just in tears and so
touched at the power of music!
Too often we shy away from singing praises to the Lord, out
of fear that our voices aren't beautiful enough! We just need to forget
ourselves and remember who we are singing to! I have not felt a spirit like
that in ages and it was powerful to stand with my brothers and sisters and sing
praises to our Lord!
A random thought of the week to consider!
Phew! Rambling done!!!!!!!! Cherish the weirdness everyone,
because in two weeks it will all be over :(
I love you all so much and continually encourage you to look
beyond yourselves and see how you can be a blessing in the lives of others!
Serve! Love! Laugh! That is the secret to happiness!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
Another short and sweet email
this week folks! My companion is still sick, so we have been inside a lot!
Therefore I don't have too much to report!
Missionaries are a bunch of apes!
If you have had a tea appointment with your local
missionaries, you may already be nodding your heads and tossing in a healthy
dose of "amens to that". But that is not what I am talking about.
Envision with me, the following.
The well-groomed, happy, spiritual missionaries of the
Manchester zone all gathered together to be spiritually instructed and edified!
What do they talk about?!
How to be apes!
APE: Is actually an acronym that our zone leaders created to
represent the principles we will be focusing on in our work this
How did they teach us the acronymn. Just telling us! No way!
That would be too boring! Instead they just threw peanuts at us until we
guessed the right answers! You think I'm joking, but I'm not!
All I can say is that our zone leaders are nuts (pun
intended) and are hilarious! :)
Go Beet Diggers!:
Fact! The mascot of my companion's high school is Digger
Dan. And their team is called the beet diggers! No joke!!!!
I think the reason for it was that apparently it's a really
old high school, and back then beet farms were a main source of income for the
people in that area
Random! But too funny!
Just imagine an adrenaline pumped, American football game!
People cheering, screaming and shouting "GOOOO BEET DIGGERS!!!!!"
This is the funniest thing I've ever heard, and I'm so mad
that my mascot wasn't this random! I would love to wear a beet diggers jersey!
You could probably guess what their team colours were ;)
May The Force Be With You:
Most awkward moment of my week you ask?! Well let me tell you!!
In missionary life, you learn many weird, random handshakes.
One of them is called the star trek handshake. (Shake hands making the star
trek hand signal, awkward and hard to explain via email, but that's elders for
An elder went up to me to give me the star trek handshake
and I accidentally scratched his hand really bad. As I went to slide my hand
into his, my nail cut him all the way down his index finger. Want to see an
elder scream! Just scratch him with your girly nails! Thank goodness I didn't
break a nail ;) Serves him right for trying to get me to do weird,
awkward handshakes! :P
My New Addiction:
I am officially convinced that Archie's milkshakes on Oxford
Road are more addicting than cocaine!!! My favourite of the week is the
billionaire milkshake (a ferrero roche milkshake). Excuse me while I die and go
to heaven....fat and happy! ;)
Well I only have 3 minutes left, so I will wrap this up!
Sorry for the short email!!
Only 2 more weeks everyone! You are doing great!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
Love Sister Martin
A note from her mother!
Erika's flight home arrives at 4:54 pm in Vancouver (she flies here via Frankfurt and Calgary) on Thursday, December 4th. If you live in the area, there is an open invite to come over on Friday, December 5th to see her anytime from about 6:30 pm on.
1. I am emailing from Central library in
Manchester: this library is over 500 years old! It looks like a
castle and a museum had a baby together and this beautiful, breath-taking,
magnificent building was the result!! Stained-glass, marble columns, statues and crests everywhere! There is a chamber choir singing
music in a chamber of the library down the corridor. The music is echoing
everywhere and is hauntingly beautiful! I love my life!!
I am at awe at the architecture of Manchester! This city is
gorgeous! I can barely handle how much I love it here!
So I don't have much to write. Things have been a bit
uneventful as my companion has been dealing with lots of illness. We have spent
lots of time in the flat doing nothing, so I will just write as much as I can
about my experiences in Manchester and the random quirks of my day-to-day life!
Deep Questions of the Soul:
It always seems that Harry Potter weaves himself into at
least one of every 5 of my emails! I was holding a wand in a member's home and
suddenly Hagrid burst through the fireplace on his motorbike and declared:
"Sister Martin, yer a witch!"
Just kidding......I wish! (Nerdy childhood dreams!!!)
After I had pretended to do a couple of spells on my
companion (Ridiculous!) I wondered out loud. Could a wizard commit suicide, or
would the wand not allow him to do it because the wand chooses the wizard (is
the wand like your friend/soul-mate because it chose you?! Would it let you do
something like that to yourself?!) You may laugh at my weird ponderings, but
you have to admit that now you are curious too!!!!
Likening the scriptures to.....Twilight?!
We were playing a game with our district where we randomly would flip open to a
page in the scriptures and we would have to relate the scripture we found to a
favourite movie. My Tongan friend decided to use Twilight. I was doubtful at
how this would work, but I was very impressed when I realized that the concept
of Vampires and eternal life fit perfectly together!
I'm still not a huge Twilight fan, but I had to give her
credit for finding the link between eternal life in heaven with our resurrected
bodies and perfect vampires that never die.
This week I got really excited when I started noticing
Canadian poppies appearing around the city. (English poppies are different.
They wear paper ones, whereas we wear the nice velvet ones with the pin in it).
I asked someone if they had gotten it from Canada and she excitedly replied-
these are new ones! They just stared selling them!!!!
I laughed and felt proud! I told her how those are the
poppies I have been wearing my whole life. She was amazed and said that
everyone has been thinking that they are these brand new models that have just
come out! That was my 2-second patriotic moment of the week! Seeing the
Canadian poppy all over the city :)
The Curry Mile:
This is my new favourite part of Manchester! So on Oxford
Road in Manchester, there is a famous part of the street known as the Curry
Mile. It is literally a whole mile of nothing but Indian curry houses and
Indian clothing and jewelry stores. There has to be at least 60 curry
restaurants in that one mile! So crazy! Something unique I thought you would
I wonder how these curry shops stay open though with all the
competition! That may be the new 8th mystery of the world!
Lame joke of the week:
What do dinosaurs make their hot dogs out of?
Your weekly kick in the trousers:
Next time you are complaining about being too tired to go to
the gym, just think of this next thing that I am going to tell you!
There is a 94 year old lady in our ward, and she must be the
strongest old lady I have ever met. She gets up and down from her chair faster
This lady climbed Mount Snowdon (the highest peak in the UK
I believe) 2 years ago!!!!!
Seriously! That would be like a 92 year old going out and
doing the Grouse Grind!!!!
Some food for thought next time you are too lazy to walk 5
seconds down the road to pick up your milk from the corner store! Amazing!!
My new rapper name:
Yes! I know! I had a whole discussion a few months ago about
what my rapper name was. But I have an even better one now.
I can't believe it took me all these months to realize how perfect this name
was for me:
So all the elders constantly joke and call me Eminem
(pronounced like the candy M&M). For those who are not educated in the rap
world, Eminem is a famous rapper. Famous mainly because he is probably the only
white person ever to have a rapping career.
My light bulb moment of the week. My first name starts with
the letter E.
My new rapper name?
(EMM= the acronym for the England Manchester mission)
Yup! That just happened! Let your mind be blown!!!!
Anyways! That is all I have to say today! I'm off to go
shopping and take 2 trillion pictures of this beautiful city!!!!!!!!!
I love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
(Gulp! It really did go quick for you! Where did my mission
Well the subject heading does not lie, this email will be a
short and sweet one! (Definitely sweeter than my Halloween was! They don't
really celebrate it here so my Halloween was quite quiet and calorie free!!)
We had a very quiet week so unfortunately there is not too
much to report on!
So after having had a brand new, American companion
for a total of a week (or so) I have concluded the following:
1. I have converted to the English ways! I hadn't realized how
many English words I had adopted until I was placed next to a companion who was
fresh off the plane! My lingo and accents are funny and it makes for weird
moments of reverse culture shock for me on a daily basis.
2. I love England!! The end!!!!! I have felt like a
glorified, sanctified, tour guide this week! Manchester is an incredible city!
Apparently there are more languages spoken here than in any other place in the
world! That's how multicultural it is! I love it! The busy streets! Massive
buildings! 20 different languages and cultures everywhere you look!!! What a
3. I'm old! Time is a strange concept! I feel like I just
stepped off the plane, but in reality I will soon be stepping back on the
plane! I have just loved and cherished all of the experiences I have had out
here! No doubt, serving as a full-time missionary was the best decision I ever
made. There is nothing more fulfilling than serving other people!
Thought of the day:
This quote comes from the best member missionary in the
world (a member in our ward). We were talking to him about our day (we had had
a rough day) and he was telling us how he and the elders had a tough day too.
He summary of it all:
"Well, when one door closes.......another ton of bricks
then falls on ya too!"
Wisdom! With a pinch of English humour!
As my mum often says: "Life stinks, get used to
But it's true! And there's nothing wrong with that! I was
reflecting back on the past 17 months out here and I realized that I could barely
remember the really hard times that I have had. My mind only highlights the
funny and uplifting experiences of this adventure! I think we are designed to
focus on the positive (clearly, or else our brain wouldn't be so good at
forgetting vividly the pains of the past) and it is only us who interrupt
this natural way of thinking! Take those lemons! Make lemonade, cake, or
whatever lemon thingamajig you'd like!!!! That is the fun of life! Taking
something that is ugly, hard, unattractive and use all that God has given you
to make it beautiful! A little willpower and positive thinking goes so
That is the end of my short thought this week!
I love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
So it is only the 3rd day of this new transfer and I have
already heard about 25 lame trunky jokes and have experienced the most crazy
situation of my entire mission!!
Disclaimer before I begin:
Due to the psycho circumstances of the last 2 days, this
email has to be short (I only have a small slot of time to email before I have
to run off and deal with more stuff that cannot wait).
We are in Stretford!
You know you live in the heart of Manchester when... you
live a 15 minute walk from Manchester United FC! Yup! My life now revolves
around making sure we do not get caught in the middle of a football riot! Wow!!
Manchester is incredible!!! Million of people to talk to is
a "dying" missionary's dream! All my areas have been so small and
quiet so it is crazy to be experiencing something! We just spend all our time
talking to people on the street! It is terrifying (since all my areas have been
small with barely any opportunities to street contact) but exhilarating!
So we have literally been the definition of a missionary
with no purse or scrip!
We arrived to our flat the first day with all our luggage
everywhere, and to my shock we could not get into our flat!
Turns out the letting agent gave the mission office the
wrong keys! The best part!? Transfers were on a Saturday-- and the agency is
closed on weekends-- so we were suddenly homeless.
We ended up waiting a couple of hours before we were able to get rescued by some
missionaries who had a car. We got taken over to stay with the Manchester YSA
sisters until today. (This was fun, because Sis. Riley happens to be serving
here-- we have been separated since I finished training her a year ago, so it
was a strange full circle deja vu thing as my 1st and 3rd mission children were
altogether in one flat).
So I was given no map, area book, ward directory and our
phone came from an area in a completely different area so we had no phone
numbers for anybody in our area. Literally no "purse or scrip"! We
finally just got all our supplies a couple of hours ago! I have been wandering
around Manchester with my brand new companion- fresh out of the MTC- with no
map! We have gotten lost about a billion times! It has been crazy! And certainly
an adventure! I think things can only get better from here!
Despite all the stress though,
I am just adoring Manchester! Where has this place been my entire mission?!?!?
My new companion:
Sister Sant is officially my last companion, AND my first
ever Utah companion! She is lovely! Excited to work hard! It will be fun being
able to train and help make the magic happen in this area! She is tall like me
so it is funny to see how people react to us on the street! So far so good
The last note before I have to run (sorry everyone! Lame! I
I was asked the other day a deep, life-changing question:
If you could whitewash into anywhere in the world, and with
anyone, who would it be?
My first reply:
I would whitewash into Mexico with Nacho Libre!
Then our district decided together an even better scenario!
I officially am going to whitewash into Gotham city with Batman and Robin
(because I can say from experience that trio companionships are the best!)
Anyways! Off I run to deal with the chaos and craziness that
is my life! :)
I love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
I am leaving Chorley and will be whitewash training a brand
new missionary in ......STRETFORD!
(For non-missionary friends. Whitewash means neither one of
us has every been there before, so essentially we are both going into the area
blind! Not knowing anything or anyone! It's just going to be us, a map and a
lot of prayers and asking for directions!)
Stretford is literally in the heart of Manchester (for the
googling purposes of my friends at home, places like Manchester Piccadilly and
the Trafford Centre are where my area of care covers). All the places I have
served have been tiny little market towns, so this will be unlike anything I've ever experienced before! So exciting! :)
Today I must start by saying how grateful I am for
Scouser's! (UK to Canadian translation: Scouser= a Liverpudlian!) I had the
BEST thanksgiving! There were no Carvery's in Chorley that we could get to by
bus (to be honest, besides the temple, there literally is nothing else in
Chorley), so we went to this incredibly posh restaurant on the outskirts of our
small village. We came in and immediately the host apologized and said they
were closed (it was their prep break between lunch and tea). We asked him if we
knew anywhere else we could try and get a turkey dinner-- explaining that it
was Canadian thanksgiving and I missed celebrating it last year.
...He suddenly told us to wait and left us...
A couple of minutes later he showed up with the head
chef (clearly by his accent he was from Liverpool). The chef said normally they
only do roast dinners on Sunday, but because it was my thanksgiving he would be
happy to make us a special turkey dinner!
And oh boy he did!
It was the most posh thanksgiving I've ever had! The food
was delicious and so well cooked! I was so thankful for that kind act! And I
stand by the fact that Liverpudlians are the nicest people you will ever
Happy Thanksgiving to me indeed!!
Reverse the Racism!:
The day after thanksgiving my companion was analyzing the
thanksgiving card that my mum had sent to me in the post. She started jokingly
commenting about how racist the card was because it had the turkey dressed as a
pilgrim and the pumpkin he was holding was dressed like an Indian. (She was
mainly teasing me because we are so politically correct in Canada and I have
occasionally gone on rants about how they are Aboriginal or First Nations
people and NOT Indians...they are not from India).
I could not help but immediately respond:
"Well.....awkward for you because the card was made in America!"
Earlier on in the day we had been laughing about how it was
ironic that my Canadian thanksgiving card had been made in Ohio! So it was
priceless when I turned the table on my companion! We had a great laugh
The Atonement for Dummies:
No! This is not an instruction course! This is just a fact.
As usual, my companions and I were being weird as always. In
the middle of one our ridiculous laughing sessions, I looked up (with
tear-filled eyes) at the large picture of Jesus that was on our living room
door. I made the mistake of thinking out-loud as I observed:
"I can imagine Jesus watching us right now! He would probably be like 'I
can't believe I atoned for these three ding dongs!'"
Well I'm sure glad that despite how weird we are, Christ
still loves us and laughs with (and also sometimes probably at) us! :)
The Raging Obesity Epidemic!
No.I am not referring to the weight that us UK missionaries
gain as we serve in the land of yorkshire puddings, custard and cream on
everything, and the best chocolate known to man!
I'm referring to Japan!.... ???
A member was teasing my American companions with the same
old "American is so fat" jokes. They then told us that they recently
read somewhere that surprisingly, Japan is reported to be the 4th most obese
country in the world (I still won't believe that one until I see it!).
My companions burst out in disbelief and started babbling
about how there's no way that this could be true.
The member's response was classic!:
"Common! I mean, look at Kung Fu Panda! Now he's a big
lad! Enough said!"
True indeed! Enough said!
If there can be obese animated Asian pandas, there could
just as easily be obese Asian people. Though I'm still a little doubtful about
Questions of the Soul:
One of my companions was impressed and shocked to hear that
we have HP sauce AND A1 sauce in Canada (truly the best of both worlds! We are
a healthy mix of England and America!).
She then wondered out loud:
"Which came first? The HP or the A1?"
My lame logic:
1, If we were to alphabetize it, then the A1?
2. Wait! Just kidding! It's the queens sauce! The monarchy
of England has been around WAY longer than America has! Therefore, the HP came
X's and O's:
Nope! No kisses and hugs here! I mean, common, I'm still a
missionary here! Gotta keep things PG! ;)
I'm talking about the childhood game.
So fun fact of the week: in England, they do not call it
"x's and o's"
They call it crosses and knots :)
Sister Cross and I were discussing how we like this name and
then she suddenly burst out:
"OH OH!! I want to make a version of that game where
all the crosses are pictures of me!!"
So now it's definitely safe to say that Sister Cross prefers
the English version of X's and O's over the North American version!
Where Utah's Mormon Swear Words Come From:
I've made a discovery!
Utah members may thing their preschool swear words are
I am here today to smash this myth!
It is official: They come from England (like anything that
is white and cheesy)
How do I know?
The favourite outburst in Chorley is: "Flipping
heck" (pronounced "flippin' eck!)
So next time your LDS friend burst out with
"Flip!" or "Oh my heck", just take a moment to pay tribute
to the queen!
The New Method of Performing the Heimlich:
Well, before I start writing this I will include the
commentary from the members that are with me as I'm writing this blog post.
I turned to one of them and asked "How on earth do you
Her response (caked in sarcasm and cheekiness):
Then the other member laughs and pipes in: "Noo! That's
what you do when you want a raise at work!"
I've said it once and I'll say it again! I love the snarky
Andddddd we're back!
Yesterday an elderly sister in our ward (who-- fun fact-- is
Marjorie Pay Hinckley's doppelganger!!) started choking during our Relief
Society lesson. She was fine! It was just the awkward half choking (not choking
enough that you are in distress, but enough that you keep awkwardly coughing
non-stop for ten minutes).
All the sisters were fussing over her and running to get
water, and to cut the tension another sister leans over to her and shouts out:
"Excuse me, but could you please choke more quietly!?" We all were in
fits laughing and it was perfectly timed as we were having a lesson on charity!
That awkward moment when.......
...you get busted taking MTC selfies by a general
Yup! Only would this happen to
We were taking a couple of selfies in front of the MTC after
church (since the first letter of our last names make the acronym MTC, we just
HAD to get a picture in front of the MTC sign before we got transferred out).
Right as we were doing it, Elder Charles (of the 70) and his
wife (who both had spoken in our ward that day) came up behind us and caught
us. We proceeded to sheepishly explain why we were doing it and then stick our
feet in our mouths!
They were great sports and just smiled and laughed and made
a bit of small talk before they went into the MTC.
Shut Your Pie Hole:
I was telling some members the other day about a weird
experience I had had while serving in Wigan.
"I'm not surprised at all! They're a bunch of pie
It honestly sounded like one of those 5-year old playground
insults you would use in school (e.g. you dumb-head, stupid
She then said: "Seriously! Wigan's favourite butty is 2
pieces of bread with a meat pie in the middle!"
I wonder what people say about kooky Canadians. They're a
bunch of syrup slurpers?!?
Payback as sweet as maple syrup!:
For the first time in my entire mission, someone was ragging
on my country, and not my American companions'.
Don't ask me why, but a lady (we know well) starting bagging
(*insert Canadian accent here*) on Canada the other day (because her friend had
a bad experience with a Canadian....therefore all Canadians must be like
I didn't mind! It was kind of funny and I watch my American
companions endure this mass labeling on a daily basis so I figured that if they
have to deal with it daily, then I can survive the awkwardness of it just
You know those moments where in hindsight you wish you had
thought to respond in 20 different ways than you actually did?
Well that certainly happened to me, and it's not what you
think (no, I didn't snap back at her!). I responded by just laughing and saying
I'm sorry to hear her friend had such a hard time when she visited Canada.
I kicked myself later that night when in hindsight I wish I
had said: "Well! Jesus was Canadian so take that!!" **If you
are confused, refer to my previous blog where I explain how I know that Jesus
hung on the cross in Calgary and not Calvary** ;)
A New Catchphrase For The End of My Email?!?!:
No! Don't worry y'all! I think
I'll keep my cheesy, standard catchphrase ("hope the time goes quickly for
you and slowly for me!")....but this one made for healthy competition!
For when I have to say the heartbreaking goodbyes to my dear
friends in the UK: "If I don't see you in the UK, I'll see you in the
CK" (celestial kingdom!)
Spiritual Thought of the Week:
Today's thought is brought to you by Isaiah!
Don't run away! Come back! I promise it won't be too deep or
Isaiah for dummies begins.........now!
Isaiah 60:22 A little one shall become a thousand, and
a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.
So I have absolutely loved this scripture this week! This
concept is so simple! With God our small efforts can be magnified and can
result in great things!!
Now let me explain this in more detail with some analogies.
For some reason I found 2 key analogies to this scripture and water:
Water has the potential to be so powerful in 2 different
ways.... as does God and Satan
You can compare Satan to water that seeps into the tiniest
cracks of a strong concrete foundation. All that is needed is one crack, and
the liquid can seep in and destroy the entire home that is built on it.
God can be compared to the currents of the ocean, with rip
tides so powerful they can take a life in seconds. They can be used to generate
energy. They are the home of so many beautiful creatures. Their useful purposes
are endless. When many small drops of water combine together to form great
bodies of water, a power that cannot be achieved by one drop alone is seen!
The following scripture explains this concept well:
1 Corinthians 3: 6-9
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing,
neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one:
and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s
husbandry, ye are God’s building.
Each of us has small bits and pieces to offer. But without
God we will only get so far on our own. As we become converted to the gospel,
and then unite as children of God (spirit brothers and sisters) in the same
cause, these united and combined efforts stretch far beyond our individual
Now taking my example of God's form of water and applying it
to Corinthians. Think of irrigation channels! How do so many crops get watered
at once! We connect our channels together, and then connect them to a great
source of water! Thus, all the crops are continually nourished and thrive, with
way less effort on our parts than would have been originally required if we had
been nourishing the crops without the help of others.
When we connect our channels (work together and united in the same righteous
causes) and then use the well of Jacob (symbolically- John 4) as our source of
water, these living waters of Christ, which overfloweth and never run out will
provide greater power than ever seen before!
And when it is all said and done we will find ourselves
proclaiming with joy!
Isaiah 52: 7 ¶How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet
of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good
tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God
8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice
together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall
bring again Zion.
9 ¶Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste
places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed
10 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of
all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our
Pitching in and working
together to make good happen is always worth the time and effort! Never let
petty things stop us from connecting our "irrigation channels" and
working together! It just is not worth it! This attitude will only limit us to
the power of Satan (small drops of water that seep in) rather than enable us to
tap into the powers and love of God (great mighty waters that empower all
living things). There in no greater joy than serving God in his united causes!
Go and do something good this week! Feel the joy of it!
Now that wasn't so bad was it?? :)
Until next week
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!
Speaking of expanded waistlines: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving
Today is a beautiful day! Why? Because as soon as I finish
writing this email, I am off to Preston to have a big, fat turkey dinner at the
carvery with 4 of my favourite American sisters! :) My American friends have
been very supportive of my desire to celebrate this year (who wouldn't be
supportive?!! If it meant an extra turkey dinner than I would be game too! Lets
be honest!). I didn't get Thanksgiving last year, so I was extra determined not
to miss two in a row!! Bring on the stretchy skirts and full belly!
Heads up: this email is a little short of experiences of my
life. We have been sick with the flu all week so life has been a bit quiet and
boring for us!
Flash Mob: Babushka Style!:
Before I start this story, my disclaimer comes from my
favourite "I'm A Mormon profile" http://www.mormon.org/vendella
(watch it! You will laugh and this will suddenly make sense!): "Hold
on to your Babushka's!"....literally!
Our assistant ward mission leader is a wonderful man! But my
favourite member of his family is not him! It is his 90-something year old
mother-in-law (Nana) who lives with them! She says the most hilarious things
and is the old lady I dream of being one day! She can say and do almost
anything, just because she's old and can get away with it! My dream!
We were at their home for tea after church and the most
hilarious thing happened. We were chatting in the lounge with Nana before tea
until we got called to come into the dining room to come eat. In response to
the dinner call, Nana-- who was lying reclined in her chair-- suddenly kicked
her leg literally straight into the air, and by doing so, was completely
flashing us all (she was still wearing a dress from church). Her son-in-law in
shock, told her to put her leg down and stop flashing her granny knickers at us
and her unashamed response:
"Sorry, I forgot I wasn't wearing trousers" (picture it being said
in a frail, old lady voice)
She had obviously put her leg up to help herself build
momentum to be able to sit up to get out of the chair. So there was a valid
reason for the random 90-year flashing, but oh boy was it funny!
I can't wait to be old so I can do anything I want and have
nobody care! That is the true meaning of happiness!
Sister Cross is allergic to me:
Since yesterday Sis. C has been sneezing up and down the
wazoo! It didn't start until I walked up to her yesterday morning to ask her a
question and as soon as I was next to her she sneezed about 7 times in a row.
She has been in sneezing fits since! So we have concluded that she is allergic
to me! Poor her! What a tragedy to not be able to be near me all the time ;)
Random English Fact of the Week:
There are no crows in England. I think I have seen about 10
crows in the entire 16 months I've lived here!
Spiritual Thought of the Day: How To Faithen Your
So anyone who watched conference I'm sure chuckled when that poor man got
tongue-tied in his prayer and asked that we could have our "Strength
Faithened" (instead of having our faith strengthened). So I thought, why
not make a spiritual thought on that today!
But seriously! We so often focus and obsess on how to
strengthen our faith, but how often do we reverse the process? Do we often
enough seek to use our faith to increase our strength?
Well to understand how to "faithen our strength" I first need to
explain the base of how we strengthen our faith-- because you cannot easily do
the first until you have done the second.
Followers of Christ on a daily basis do the small things to
strengthen their faith: pray, searching the scriptures, repenting daily,
keeping the commandments, serving those around them, learning at church etc etc
etc. How do these things strengthen our faith?? Whats the big deal about it?!
Well-- to start-- all of these things are actions that
require a risk-- the risk is that we are following Christ's example, even
though we do not have perfect physical evidence that He is literally there.
According to logic and common sense, we could easily be wrong and the Bible
could be the world's most successful and sensational fiction ever written! The
scriptures describe it well: “faith is the substance of things hoped
for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
Christ doesn't literally walk with me as he did in the times
of the Bible. My choice to follow him is one of complete faith. I trust and
have confidence in the written witnesses/testimonies in the scriptures of those
who saw him for themselves. I hope that it is true. As I act on
that trust and hope over a long period of time-- hoping that these testimonies
are true-- eventually (change rarely happens overnight) I will see
my heart changing. I will feel the spirit of God grow stronger within me. I
will develop a deeper desire to do good to all my brothers and sisters. I will
become more like Jesus Christ (his follower).
That change in myself then becomes the evidence that he is
real! The things that I hoped for (my hopes that these teachings of Christ will
help me to be happy...to be a better person...to overcome my struggles etc.)
will turn into sure faith: My changed life becomes evidence that Christ's
promises and teachings are real! He promises I can change, that my sins can be
forgiven, that my weaknesses can be overcome through Him etc. I act on that
promise and indeed I change.
This is the cycle of faith.
So what about when we have diligently strengthened our faith! What a waste to
just let it sit there!
Too often, we forget to use that faith to help ourselves
work through the bigger things! We get so caught up in the routine of doing the
small daily things to build faith, that we forget to use this reservoir of
faith in times of need!
How do we use faith to strengthen ourselves?
Now I just said that action was how we strengthened our
faith, so what is the difference between strengthening our faith and using
faith to increase our strength?
The answer is simple.
Daily faith building is not too strenuous or scary or
difficult. A simple prayer, a few minutes of reading the scriptures, a small
act of kindness for a friend here and there, and taking the sacrament on a
Sunday. Normal, everyday things that are not too hard.
When we aim to use faith to increase spiritual strength, we
are dealing with heavier loads. We do something that we didn't think we could
ever do before! Maybe some serious self-reflection and goal setting will be
involved. Major change is about to happen. You will be shocked how far your
faith can carry you beyond your limitations! Whether you struggle with
patience, have fears of reaching out to others due to shyness etc. Whatever it
is, we do something that is one step out of our perceived range of ability.
That built up faith will give us the needed stamina to push.
Just like when you go to the gym! You lift 10 kg for weeks
and weeks and eventually that weight is easier to carry. The same with faith.
You build and build your faith, but eventually you will plateau. Your strength
will stay at the same level. You will get no stronger until you use all that
previous work to go to a new level (to increase your weight/load)! As you
increase the load (step out of that comfort zone), the weight will be heavier
and more uncomfortable at first, but you will be surprised that you are able to
lift it!! Weeks earlier this would have not been possible! Your faith has
caused you to become stronger!
So moral of the story! If you faith has not been
strengthened enough yet, go out and do the basics you currently aren't doing!
Do you go to church? Do you pray daily? Read the scriptures everyday? Do you
LIVE Christ's teachings? (not just believe them).
And if you faith has been
strengthened and you are not struggling through trials, then you are ready to
"Faithen Your Strength". Take that built up faith and CHANGE! Become
stronger! Become better! Push yourself a bit! Pick a bigger thing that you
haven't tackled yet! This is what life is all about! Your goal is that by the
end of your life, you have experienced huge changes-- changes fueled by the
small stuff! That is the beauty of the gospel!
I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you all!
Hope the time goes quickly for you and slowly for me!