Sunday, September 22, 2013

Faith, Sept 22

I am going to try and put a lot of pictures here and hope they don't take forever to download. Yesterday, Sister Cates and I went to London (yes again). There are so many things to do there and I still have not seen half of them. I wanted to go to Westminster Abbey while the weather was still good. The architecture of the building was amazing. The ceiling is carved of stone and has amazing statues. It was built so long ago and still looks magnificent. Below is a picture of the outside (can't take pictures inside!).

They bury important people in churches here. So, for example Isaac Newton, to whom we owe our knowledge of gravity and laws of motion, is buried there. A picture of his grave is below:

The grave is in the center of the church, strange, right?
We took a cruise down the Thames (hop-on hop-off boat!). Our tour guide was really amazing and funny. At the end he said: "If you liked the tour, my name is Captain Jim, if you did not like the tour my name is Larry". Below is our boat:

The river seems wide to me, but then the only river I have ever seen back home is the Jordan river and that is more like a creek.

This is a view of the castle Sister Hess and I visited. I took this while our boat was in the middle of the River:

The needle below came from Egypt and was transported here. It was given as a gift to England. It is 3000 years old!

More about things here (sorry this is a long post)...We had two missionaries from Tahiti stranded at the airport. We had to go get them and they spent the night here and we took them to the airport for their flight. They almost did not let them on the plane (again!), but we finally sent the off. I hope they get back home safely.

Last week, I found out that even though I may be tempted to leave things out of the fridge, I shouldn't. I had no room in my fridge for some tomatoes, so I decided to leave them out for a couple of days. When I saw what happened to one of the tomatoes I was shocked. Has anyone seen anything like this? Can you tell me why this never happens back home? It looks like it has been invaded by the rot snake:

Speaking of growing things...lets talk about something more fun...
I finally gave my Fireside/talk about faith.  I read so many scriptures about faith and so many talks. I did not get to use a lot of the things, but I learned so much about faith.

Christ says: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17: 20)
I learned about the real power of faith and that, indeed, if we have a small amount of faith we CAN move mountains. The key is to realize we can do NOTHING, but Christ can do everything. And if we trust Him we can begin to tap into that power and do things beyond our abilities.

As I thought about the mustard seed and why Christ would use the mustard seed as an example, I realized that Palestine is full of mustard plants. They are yellow and grow all over the place in the spring. Just for fun, I even bought mustard seeds and planted them…they grew!

 See below:
 Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15, 2013

It has been another great week. We have amazing missionaries here and it is great to associate with them. They teach me so much about dedication and faith. 

I still feel inadequate to speak next week about faith. I still feel I am speaking of a topic that has been addressed so many times and feel all quotes, scriptures and references have been exhausted about it. But, I am grateful for the chance to prepare and read about it. I have discovered things that I did not understand before.  I came across an article in the ensign of March 2002 which changed all my understanding about how to increase our faith. I also found faith to be linked to grace, as Christ enables us (through faith) to do things that we can't do by ourselves.

Yesterday we went with all the senior missionary couples to Buckingham Palace. During the months of August and September the queen goes and stays somewhere else and they open up her palace for visitors. We only got to see part of the palace, but it was pretty amazing.  Really beautiful ceilings, walls and furniture. It is strange to see how much the people love the queen even though she was not elected by the people. 

We are not allowed to take pictures in the Palace, for security reasons of course. We had to go through metal detectors. Palestinians like me who are so used to checkpoints would go through fast while tourists keep setting it off so it took forever for us to get through.

Here is a picture of some of the senior missionaries in our mission. Don't know what sister Cates is taking a picture of!

Outside the Palace. Nice statue:

The gardens outside the Palace:

The Italian Restaurant we ate at was across from Westminster Cathedral: 

After we ate, we went to see the Cathedral and could not go inside because they were having some sort of ceremony outside. They were carrying the statue of Mary and walking around. 

All of a sudden, we heard really loud explosive sounds. We all jumped and thought it was some sort of terrorist attack!! 
It was not, it was merely fireworks. Fireworks was the last thing we expected in the middle of this spiritual ceremony they were having! I'll try and upload a video below of the fireworks. Actually some of them were so loud that we had to cover our ears. And they were so close to the people as well.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday, Sept 10

I totally forgot to write this weekend. I hope you all will forgive me. When I don't write you should know that all is well and I don't have much to report.

It has been a great week. We had 3 missionaries arrive last week (two from France and one from Japan). We have a senior missionary couple arriving today. 

The temple is closed for two months. I will really miss going to the temple. It will probably be quiet around here for 2 months. The weather has been a bit cool and rainy mostly.  We had two rainbows appear here on Sunday and they looked so nice. Below are the pictures of them (as the Carpenters say 'pot of gold at the end of the rainbow'):

I was able to talk to one of my friends the other day about God's love. She did not believe God loved her. I told her that He loves everyone, but she would not believe that He would love HER. I asked her to exercise the bit of faith she has to ask God to show her that He loves her. President Uchtdorf says: 

'Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love.

God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.'

We do matter to God and He cares about each of us. I have seen His love in many ways. Just the other day I was wanting something that I thought would be impossible or hard to obtain. But, Heavenly Father answered my prayer almost immediately. 

On Friday we went and helped one of the Sisters move to a new place. We went to Ikea and got some of her furniture then took it to her flat. She rented a really cute little flat on the border of our mission. The lady who owns her place had a little dog who kept climbing into our van and did not want to get out. We should have taken him home with us =)

Yesterday we went out to eat at a place close to here (we are trying all the restaurants close by). This place was interesting. So small and really old. Sister Cates had liver and the only other thing that seemed good on the menu was salad, so I had the salad. It was really strange! But, the bread they brought at the start was good, so at least I didn't starve. I guess we have to try each of these restaurants once and then we'll know.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Leeds Castle

I have officially spent more months here than I have months left. It is amazing how fast time has gone by. I have been here 7 months and have 5 months left.  It has been a year since I made the decision to go on a mission!  

I have been asked to speak about Faith this month and after reading and pondering the topic I realized how weak my faith is and how much I need to improve.  I bought new scriptures and am going to try to read the scriptures more. I feel the Holy Ghost as I read and I am learning so many new things from the scriptures.  

Things are going great. I am enjoying every minute of being here. I think of my family often and for the people of the Arab world, especially in Syria.  I pray for them and for peace to be established. I know peace is possible through the prince of peace, Jesus Christ. Things are less crazy in the office after our last transfer, but this month will be a busy month.  I don't mind being busy though.

I am enjoying England especially now that the weather is somewhat nice. I think yesterday was our last outing in a nice weather. It will probably start getting colder pretty quick. We are going to Buckingham Palace on the 14th, and I still hope the weather will be nice, but we will have to see.

Yesterday Sister Cates and I went to Leeds Castle (no, it is not in Leeds!). It is about an hour away in Kent. The castle itself is not that big or impressive inside, but the grounds are magnificent. The castle is in the middle of a river. Also there are so many ducks and swans and geese on the grounds in addition to the beautiful gardens.

Below are some pictures. Enjoy...

Entrance to the Castle:

From our boat ride around the castle: 

I have no idea how he can stand there and not fall. He gave us a fun tour on the boat:

 The Main Castle (as I said, it is small):

The White Swan: (the black one did not feel like posing for us)

One of the rooms of the Castle. It was used in 1974, so a lot of the old insides were changed:

Oh, and I forgot to mention that this castle is where the Israel/Egypt Camp David peace talks were held. The room they held those in was so small. Below is a picture of it: