Monday, March 27, 2017

21st - 27th March 2017

Hey everyone,

So don't freak out but.... MY VISA ARRIVED WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO. OK so I found this out because one of the sisters who visa waited before told me to call the mission office and check on the visa progress. So I called them on Wednesday and I found out that it arrived, they are working out the flight plans, they are 99% sure to have me out on April 10th and as of April 16th I would be illegal so DEFINITELY before the 16th. I'm just so relieved to have a date I will be leaving. The day I found out it was raining and stormy and we had nothing to do so I was a little down so now I'm just excited and ready. Now I am already starting to miss this place. I will miss the members, my companions, the warm showers (I will be having cold bucket showers in Indonesia) and my zone (group of about 25 missionaries serving in nearby areas).
We got to teach a lesson in temple square a few days ago and there was just such a strong spirit there. Our investigator was a little stubborn in his doubts but the sister missionaries helped us out and it just helped me to feel like I was finally fulfilling my purpose as a missionary getting to teach. So I also tried my best to get some American culture into me through trying all the restaurants here. So I have been to zupas  (sandwich soup and salad place), litzas pizzas, Caffè Rio (authentic Mexican food), highers, Tony burgers (place where members pay for missionaries), noodles and company, Chuckarama (all you can eat dessert included), Baskin Robins (awesome ice cream place superior to cold rock with 31 flavours) and taco bell (fast food tacos). Sometimes members took us places and other times our friendly neighborhood taxi missionaries elder Andrew and Weymouth took us out. Some of these restaurants are specific to Utah though. I loved them all and think they would do great in Australia! Time is certainly speeding up... 4 weeks in the field already? Elder Raharjo has been telling me all about serving in Indonesia, the people, the p day activities, the missionaries there, the mission president, the food, the slang and all so I'm super excited!
On a random side note, for those who know this movie I watched Johnny lingo (I finally understand dad! Johnny lingo had a cow...), for those who don't know it never mind ahah.
I got the chance to speak on faith in missionary work in one of the wards for a sacrament meeting where I met elder Pearson, an area 70 who spoke a lot at my first EFY many years ago. He thanked us greatly for our service and testimonies and I just took something from what he said in the sacrament meeting to the congregation: even if you're hanging on by just your fingernails (which I feel like I am) you are enough. It was actually his ward but he's away often so he always speaks when he is there. I'm blessed to have heard from him.
I have to thank all you guys who read my emails and support me, you have helped me so much and have played a big part in shaping me to be the missionary I am now. I love you all and know that God loves you and always has his arms open lovingly ALWAYS! Next time you hear from me I will have been to general conference so I will have some insight there.

Monday, March 20, 2017

14th - 20th March 2017

Hey family and friends,

My trials and difficulties in waiting for the visa and serving in this area are still here but I'm finding enough spiritual sustenance from members and scripture reading to keep me going. I think I'm serving in this area to learn patience and optimism but there may be other reasons too. 

So on Wednesday I received my first package, it was full of candy with a scripture attached to each packet as well as some other supportive pieces of paper like a scripture for every emotion I feel and also a pair of socks. There must have been 12 packets of candy stuffed into that box. I read the note at the top saying it was from the mother of a sister missionary serving in Josh's mission in Croatia who heard I was having a hard time. I have never felt so much gratitude for a stranger before, and I have already had to rely on some of the scriptures she gave me like doctrine and covenants 121: 7-8 " My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes".

I'm trying really hard to love this area and to accept the situation. We taught 0 lessons... the entire week was finding. Yesterday we had a tough time getting sworn off a drunk guys porch and that really cut me. but afterwards we had a Meal with the Trotters who just calmed my spirit and really inspired me to go on. Brother trotter had a rough life having been so desperate to the point where he fasted from food for 30 days in the woods. In this he found God again, is a member of the church, gives inspirational talks, and wrote a book called 'a different kind of strong' which we each received a signed copy of. 

My focus and goal is just to always stay happy and to not let my over thinking get the better of me as we spend half our day walking from place to place. We intend to have bikes in about a week so that will mean we will get to places faster. 

In a few weeks it will be general conference: an annual event which is broadcast to members all over the world. There the leaders of the church all speak including the prophet, it would be amazing to stay here long enough to get to see that live! We are going to order tickets soon and can only get tickets if we bring an investigator so we will start thinking about that. 

I am loving my companions and zone more and more and elder workman's unwavering optimism always supports me. I have met multiple previous mission presidents who served in Australia so we had some great conversations. Some stranger who just got off her mission gave us $20! 

I also met Melanie who sings in the tabernacle choir! She said that to get in you need to do a 3 hour theory test, send a recorded audition and then audition in person and after that you might just get put on stand by because there are 360 members of the choir who don't all sing.

Elder Liam Winfield 

Monday, March 13, 2017

7th March - 13th March 2017

I apologize for freaking everyone out last week, it was just a hard time for me, but I am way better this week! 

So I have finally adjusted to the schedule and the missionary life style. Just a few hours ago I finally got my Samsung tablet so now I can get to the gospel library, read my emails through the week (but not respond on any other day than p day) and take photos. 

I finally found some really great friends elder Weymouth and elder Andrew. So these guys are basically our go to taxi guys for places we can't walk to because we have no car. These two elders are great!! Elder Andrew loves magic the gathering so I've talked a lot with him about that! Elder Weymouth is just friendly as well as really funny. These guys are just great friends and I love having them in my zone. I have been relying heavily on prayer this week and my prayers have become so much longer and more meaningful. I have truly felt the love and support from all the people praying for me and supporting me. 

I feel love so much easier now that I have adjusted to life here. I love the generous members who have given us rides, fed us dinner literally every night as well as lunch sometimes. We went to this local place called Tony burgers where a stranger walked up to us and gave us $40 out of nowhere so that paid for all 5 of us which was just amazing and apparently common out here. We go every Thursday with a group of 5 to 15 missionaries to eat at the lion house which is an all you can eat fancy church place with a cool pianist guy there playing background music.

The work out here is still pretty dry but I can tell we are still making a difference here in the lives of those we meet. The other day we helped this elderly couple whose niece recently reconnected with her drug addiction husband in Nebraska, she just left her apartment out of nowhere, quit her job and went. We comforted the grandparents and they said we helped them know what to say to their niece. I am really loving my companion, elder Workman is a deep thinker like me so we have lots of conversations about life. I am of course still hoping my visa will arrive son, still no news on that but I am feeling just so much better here. I have gotten to play the piano from time to time. I have been meeting people and talking to them about careers and I have began considering orchestral music composition for a career when I get back but I still need to do a lot of research, just thinking here.
I have lots of stories to tell and lots of growth that I have had and am yet to have, again I'm so thankful for all the support I have, elder Workman  has  family and friends all against him being here so I'm very lucky. I will be emailing more around  this time from here on because I have the tablet. Again I will be reading the emails through this week.

Monday, March 6, 2017

1st March - 6th March 2017

Honestly this has been the hardest and longest week of my life. I tried to stay positive in the MTC about going to Salt Lake but when I arrived here there were heaps of members talking about visa waiters, waiting for 3-6 months which really scares me. It is freezing cold here so I have to wear the same jumper and jacket every day. So my companions are elder Raharjo and elder Workman, we're in a trio so that the work isn't disrupted when my visa comes and I leave. Elder workman is from Witchata Cansis and Elder Raharjo is from Jakarta Indonesia! So president Spendlove put me with the Indo so I could keep it up! We speak fairly often together and I understand most of what he says. Elder Raharjo served for 5 months in Indo and 6 in Salt lake. Elder Workman is a recent convert to the church, he has a strong testimony and he is VERY hard working and optimistic. So in our area we cover an entire stake which has 7 wards but the missionary work is more active in the 21st, 27th and 27th east ward so we visit those most. This area seems to be all but dead.... we have soooo many members in the wards but the problem is that because the church is so well known in Utah, either everyone is a member or they already know a lot about the church and are not interested or they are anti. The members are amazing though. They see us walking on the streets and give us rides to places we want to go, they have had us over to their places for dinner every night and most lunches and sometimes members take us out for meals. But right now we are completely dry of investigators, we have literally nobody to teach. Nearly every day consists of just walking to members places and asking for referrals and them saying they have none. Yesterday we went tracting (door knocking) in some heavy snow for an hour and we have tracted here and there throughout the week but again they are members, anti or uninterested. Most missionaries in this mission live with members in their basement so they have really nice places but we have an apartment sort of similar quality to the Moe missionaries apartment. We get $120 a month and hardly spend anything because we get feed most meals, have no car, have a place to get free haircuts and most cleaning supplies are paid for too so I don't know where all this money is going to go. 

I was ok in the MTC with missing the family because I made a home of the MTC having the zone as a family and a familiar daily routine with a constant spirit about every person there. But in the field I REEEAAALLLY miss home badly, I have to keep the photos of the family away from me or 'll miss them too much. The lack of consistency in the field just messed me up. I'm a bit better now but it's just difficult when I don't know any of the people, brands, schools, programs, or sayings of anything around me. We have some fairly friendly missionaries around us and they are somewhat interested in me but all they talk about is mission experiences about other missionaries who I don't know. 

So there is a HUGE homeless people problem here in Salt lake and in our area is this place called the road home. So we teach a few people there and it is basically just one big congregation of about 100 homeless people who do drugs, have no money or clothes and are all stuck there. It was extremely confronting for me that people live like that but they seem to respect the missionaries pretty well. There are many mental health issues there and I hope we don't have to go there too often. 

Not knowing when my visa will come is the most frustrating part of the entire situation. They say that when the visa arrives the mission president will get an email with my flight details and I would leave within the week so I could leave in the week or in the next few months as far as I know but in the MTC the teachers repeatedly reassured me I'd stay here for only one transfer (6 weeks) at most so I'm just a little anxious about that. I was also supposed to get an ipad but that never happened and I'm not sure why but the missionaries do daily planning, lessons, and the area book all on the ipads so I don't know what's happening most of the time, I just essentially follow elder Workman around everywhere. The area is also mostly up hill so bikes are not very useful, we just walk everywhere all day. 

I am relying on prayer extremely heavily because I've never struggled so much before just to get through the day. The days feel very very long and I look forward to bed time every night. I love going to members houses for meals and they are the nicest people. Please pray for me as I try my best to endure this trial. I can't wait for Indonesia. There is a definite language barrier between elder Workman and Raharjo so sometimes I have to translate. It seems elder Raharjo knows about as much as I do and because elder Workman is the most sociable person I've ever met, he does a lot of the talking, he stays happy by getting to know everyone he meets and relating really well to everyone. I find it hard to talk sometimes because I just don't understand America. I hope it warms up here because this cold is killing me. Well it's my first p day today and it seems we will usually just email, shop, clean and play basketball every p day. God has been my strength and being grateful for what I have (which was easier after seeing the road home) has sustained me. Sorry  this email was so long, a LOT happened and it felt REALLY long so this email reflects that.