Monday, June 27, 2011

The Mayor of Redcar

Hello Family and Friends!!
So, as you can see this week has been pretty eventful. I was voted the official mayor of Redcar, naturally. Just kidding, naturally. But I did meet the mayor of Redcar. It was Armed Forces Day on Saturday and there was a parade in the High Street so we went down to check it out and try to proselyte among the people congregated there. This guy Eric, who is married to one of the members of the branch (I was at his house when I called home on Mother's Day), was the parade marshall and is also a member of the council here in Redcar, a very prominent member of society so he pretty much knows everyone. He introduced me and Sister Lamb to the mayor.  Apparently though, she really doesn't have much say in the political aspect of life, she's really just more of a symbollic figure in society, if you know what I mean. But anywho, I figure it's my first step to meeting the queen so I feel pretty good about it.We also saw this plane do tricks in the air so that was pretty cool.
It's getting pretty hot here now, at least for England. It was about 80 yesterday and it's suppose to be in the 80s today as well. Don't worry though, I am wearing sunscreen.  The longest day of the year was this past week as well. It stays light outside until like 11:00 p.m., it's crazy! But everyone says its all downhill now until Christmas. They say it'll be dark around 4:00 during the winter months. Fun! But hey, it's only one winter so I think I can survive.
Oh, I saw a picture of Justin Bieber yesterday and was surprised that no one informed me that he cut his hair shorter. Thanks.
We found a lot of new people to teach last week which was really good and everything else is going pretty well. Last week on Pday we watched Rocky but they fast forwarded through all the "boring" parts and just watched the training and the fight scene at the end. Today we were going to go to a driving range (I know, me at a driving range, crazy) but not everyone wanted to go so we're not. We'll probably do a barbeque next week for the 4th of July and go around singing the national anthem while we post the Declaration of Independence on everyone's doors. That seems like the most subtle way of going about and celebrating the anniversary of our freedom from this land. How does that sound?
Oh, I keep forgetting to tell you, probably because I'm ashamed of it, but I have killed more snails here in England than I have in my entire life. They are everywhere and they are always in my line of walking. And it's really not my fault because when it's raining and I have my hood on it really limits my viewing and I don't know I've even stepped on them until I hear this loud crunch. It's sad, and I feel horrible about it.
Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Keep smiling and watch out for snails!
Sister Smith

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Eat Like An Egyptian 6/20/11

Hello Family and Friends!
So this week turned out to be a pretty good week. The beginning was pretty rough because we were having a hard time finding people that wanted to talk to us and a lot of people were flogging our appointments. But the end of the week turned out to be pretty miraculous. Probably the most exciting thing happened Satuday night. It was abut 8:30 p.m. and we only had a 1/2 hour before we had to be at our flat. We decided to start knocking this street and prayed for a miracle that we might be able to find some new people to teach. Right before 9:00 we knocked on this door and this man answered and even though at first he wasn't too interested he ended up invited us in and we were able to talk to him and his wife and son. It was a miracle! God answers prayers, the church is true, the end.
We also had a pretty interesting week dietary wise. On Thursday, we made dinner for the branch presidency here and we decided to cook them the sweet pork from Cafe Rio (my peeps from Utah should know what this is about) and it actually turned out pretty good. No one died so I'm considering it a success.As for the subject of this email, that is an even better story. So there is this take away place here in Redcar called Medo's and it is owned by a guy named Medo. Whenever we get pizza or parmos (a takeaway delicacy from this part of England) we always get it from Medo's and he knows us pretty well and can even recognize our voices when we call. Now, I'm not saying we eat there a lot but there aren't too many American girls living in Redcar so we are pretty easy to spot. Anywho, they love us there and Medo is actually from Egypt. His dad,Nasr, works with him and when we went in earlier in the week his dad invited us to come over on Saturday night to eat Egyptian food. Naturallym we agreed and went over. He cooked us potatoes and mushrooms stuffed in ground beef, chicken wings, rice with shrimp, salmon and for dessert we had fruit salad. Needless to say, I was absolutely full by the end of the meal but it was all really good! And Nasr pretty much loves us and told us we could call him "dad" if we wanted to. He's Muslim and said he wasn't interested in changing religions but who knows, in due time he might decide to get baptized. 
As for my attempt to not eat as much chocolate this transfer, it's been pretty difficult, but it's not my fault. I'm not buying any chocolate but people keep giving me chocolate and it's extremely rude to turn chocolate down. Yesterday for instance, I was given three chocolate bars by all different people. So really I'm just trying to be polite.
I also got a picture by the oldest lifeboat in the world the other day. I know you are all probably super jealous right now because it is probably a bucket list item for many of you to have that experience but don't worry I'll take you to it after my mission. Don't fret.
All the rain that was missing when I first got here found it's way back. It has been raining a lot here recently and when it rains it pours. Or as the English like to say "It's chucking it down". Today though there are no clouds in the sky and it looks promising that it'll be a nice day.
Well, I should probably get going. Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there (especially my own :)) I hope you all have fantastic weeks! 
Sister Smith 

Another One Bites the Dust 6/13/11

Good morning friends and family!
First off, there has been a major development this week in media approval among the missionaries serving in the England Leeds Mission. President Lindley has officially approved a new movie list for us. We used to only be able to watch animated movies on p-day, but President Lindley wanted us to be able to watch inspirational movies as well in order to lift us up more, what a gem. He let us all write in movies that we thought would be appropriate and then the zone leaders met with him last week to finalize the list. Yours truly had the brilliant idea to nominate Mighty Ducks, which got approved, hence the subject of the email. Surprisingly and questionably, Rocky also got approved... not that I'm complaining or anything, just shocked. Unfortunately, Cool Runnings did not make the cut. One zone leader brought to the attention of President Lindley that there is some swearing in the film. So, me and Coach Bombay are going to hang out this afternoon and try to find a way to beat the vicious Iceland team which will be fun!
The subject of the email also refers to yet another driving incident by the zone leaders. They got their car back a few weeks ago and the elder who got into the accident the first time has been suspended from his driving privileges for three months. However, yesterday the other one was driving and we are not sure what happened yet but they drove into the back of someone. Classic. They said they can still drive their car but it doesn't look very pretty. Silly boys. And people (and by people I'm strongly referring to an uncle of mine whose name rhymes with Moug) say that women are bad drivers.
The weather here this week has been pretty rainy. There was some hail (and no, dad, I'm not swearing) the other day that we were blessed to be out in knocking doors. We were greatly rewarded for it though because once it stopped we saw TWO full rainbows in the sky. One was right above the other one. So that was pretty neat. I am starting to realize though that my rain jacket isn't very waterproof so it's really just a regular jacket.
The missionary work here is good. We are just working on trying to find solid people to teach. A lot of people say we can talk with them but then give us false addresses or aren't home, ever. Don't worry though, I don't take it personally especially when they just read Jesus Christ on my name badge and slam the door. Silly people. We do have a couple of people that are genuinely interested so hopefully things will work out with them. Just pray for us!
Well, I should probably bounce now but I love and miss you all tons!! You are all fabulous and just remember to wear clothes when answering the door for people. You'd be surprised how many people don't.
Sister Smith

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Beached Whale

Hello Friends and Family,
So, I'm sure all of you are wondering what ended up happening to the Redcar whale. Well, they didn't blow it up, thank goodness. Instead, they cut it up into pieces to make into diesel and other stuff. Fun stuff. The saddest part is that they are guessing that the whale got lost and then couldn't find food to eat in the North Sea so it was starving and decided to beach itself. Apparently there is already a Facebook group about it. Just search "Redcar whale" and you should be able to find it.
This past week we got to go to the transfer meeting and that was pretty fun. All of the sisters were there and it was good to see/meet them all. And it was fun to see all the new missionaries coming in and to think that I've been out longer than they have. Don't worry though, I didn't rub it in their faces unlike the elders going home who kept saying "I have less hours than you have months."
Last week, we also set up a table on the High Street and that was pretty fun. The zone leaders and another companionship of elders in our district came down to street contact with us. It was fun to see how they street contact people. One of the zone leaders who's English would yell at people walking by "Hello sir, I'm from church", I'll have to try that one some time. But we were able to meet some really great people and hopefully things will work out well with them.  It was also super hot that day and I yet again got sunburned. The tan line on my feet is crazy good now. Don't worry I'll take a picture.
I also saw one of the coolest fights the other day. It wasn't like one of those wimpy girl fights that would break out at Algonquin on occasion, this was a legit fight (because you know how much I hate illegitimate fights). We were pulling onto this kinda dodgy street on our way to an appointment and right in front of where we are supposed to go, this younger guy (late 20s) is pulling this older guy (late 40s) out into the middle of the street by his neon green tank top (poor outfit choice) and he had a hammer in his hand and looks like he is going to hit him with it. Then he starts kicking him in the stomach and yelling and the older guy's wife is shouting and crying. Don't worry, by this time we have decided to pull over so we could watch it all from the safety of our car (and for those of you who are worrying right now about my safety, we had our branch mission leader with us who is this tough nigerian guy and could have killed both of these guys). And then all of the sudden they were fine and talking with one another and when the coppers showed up they said they were fighting over who would make the yorkshire puddings for sunday dinner. Then more police people showed up and things really started going down so we left the area under the instruction of our branch mission leader. Needless to say, it was great.
Well, I think that pretty much sums up my week. It's not as exciting as RJ passing out during sacrament meeting, but I think it comes pretty close. I love you all and miss you tons!!! Have an amazing week and don't forget to put on sunscreen when you leave the house!
Sister Smith

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Left Side and The Clutch

Don't worry, I'm alive. We finally were able to go to Forbidden Corners yesterday and because of poor planning on the parts of some of the leaders in the zone we didn't get back in time to email so we are emailing now. But before I tell you about Forbidden Corners, let me tell you about my 2 hour driving lesson on Monday. So all the American missionaries have to take 2 hours of lessons before we are allowed to drive, a mission rule. So I took my lesson on Monday but it wasn't just the left side of the road that I had to get used to. Almost all the cars in England are manuals and those who are close to me know that I have never driven a manual before in my entire life. So, right away I knew it was going to be a fun lesson. My driving instructor was from India and had a pretty thick Indian accent and I was his first American student (he may have taught a Canadian before but he can't remember). Surprisingly though I wasn't too bad. I only stalled the car 4 times in 2 hours and I only kinda hit one car. But I didn't really do anything to it, just the side mirror hit it and the instructor was like "It's okay... just keep going". So that was a bit dodgy but I'm good to drive now! Watch out England! It's not hard keeping to the left hand side of the road, it's really just harder making sure you are driving in the center of the lane and not driving too far to the left. So yeah, that's that.
Oh, and I'm staying in Redcar! I knew I would. Sister Lamb is staying here too and she'll finish her mission here so I'll probs be here for 2 more transfers which should be fun. Sister Lomiga is going back to her old area where she just came from. It'll be sad not to be in a trio anymore but all good things have to come to an end.
Forbidden Corners: The Strangest Place in the World. That is the tagline and it truly rings true. It was super weird. Basically this old rich man decided to turn his home and back garden into an attraction and put really weird things in it. Some of it was actually really cool and the grounds were neat to walk around. It was pretty much a castle with underground tunnels and what not. Probably the weirdest part were these singing rats (which looked liked ROUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size)) and they were singing this creepy demonic song and the chorus went "The cat is here. The cat is here. The cat is here." The spirit definitely did not reside in that part. Anywho, it was quite the experience that I will probably never forget even if I try to suppress the memory.
On Sunday, President Monson and Elder Perry spoke to all of England during a regional conference so it was good to hear them speak. President Monson spoke a lot about reaching out to others and bringing the blessings of the gospel into their lives so that was good to hear. Elder Perry talked about the Book of Mormon and how important it is to strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ.
Also, yesterday the most exciting thing happened in Redcar since it was being bombed during WWII, there was a beached whale on the shore. It was actually pretty sad. By the time we got to see it, these scientists were performing an autopsy on it in front of the hundreds of people that came to see it. It was pretty big, 44 feet. And guess how they are planning on getting rid of it, blowing it up. I was astonished when I found out. That just doesn't seem right to me. I think there is another way, people are just lazy when it comes to the proper burial of nature's largest mammals. It's a shame.
Well, I should probs get going. I love and miss you all with my entire being!! Keep smiling and keep your chins up!
Sister Smith