On Tuesday we had a double district meeting with the Merthyr district at the church building in Merthyr Tydfil, and Pres. And Sis. Leppard came down for it. They came to announce something that we are going to be doing in October and November with the Royal British Legion. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before, it’s called the Poppy Appeal, and it helps provide support for thousands of service men and women and their families. Here’s a little bit of the history on it, taken from the Royal British Legion website:
During the First World War (1914–1918) much of the fighting took place in Western Europe. Previously beautiful countryside was blasted, bombed and fought over, again and again. The landscape swiftly turned to fields of mud: bleak and barren scenes where little or nothing could grow.
Bright red Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas) however, were delicate but resilient flowers and grew in their thousands, flourishing even in the middle of chaos and destruction. In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies to write a now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields‘.
McCrae’s poem inspired an American academic, Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The (Royal) British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The poppies sold out almost immediately and that first ever ‘Poppy Appeal’ raised over £106,000; a considerable amount of money at the time. This was used to help WW1 veterans with employment and housing.
The following year, Major George Howson set up the Poppy Factory to employ disabled ex-Servicemen. Today, the factory and the Legion’s warehouse in Aylesford produces millions of poppies each year.
The demand for poppies in England was so high that few were reaching Scotland. Earl Haig’s wife established the ‘Lady Haig Poppy Factory’ in Edinburgh in 1926 to produce poppies exclusively for Scotland. Over 5 million Scottish poppies (which have four petals and no leaf unlike poppies in the rest of the UK) are still made by hand by disabled ex-Servicemen at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory each year and distributed by our sister charity Poppyscotland.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders’ fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders’ Fields.
Sad poem! I know, I cried too. And I feel like an idiot because I know I’ve read it before many times, but I didn’t actually know what it meant or what it was talking about. Oh well, now I do.
The mission did a trial run on it last year and had Elder Wall and his companion help out with it by running a booth and selling poppys and pins and things to support it, and it must have worked out really well, because the Royal British Legion came to the mission this year and asked if all their missionaries could dedicate all their working hours for roughly the last two weeks of October to the first two weeks of November aiding in the poppy appeal. President and Sister Leppard said that we could, so on October 13 we are having a double zone conference with the Cardiff zone (it’s the only other zone in Wales), but they’re just calling it a zone conference for our convenience. We are actually going to be meeting with members from the Royal British Legion who are going to give us training. I’m not sure what all it entails yet, but there was an article on it in the ensigns from September here in the Britain version. They want us to use it as a finding opportunity. The Royal British Legion has said we can wear our name badges while we’re running booths, so in Sister Leppard’s words, “If, while you’re selling poppys, someone happens to notice your badge, and just happens to have a question, you can answer. And if you just happen to have a leaflet or pamphlet to back up your answer, you can give it to them. And if you happen to casually say that you could meet up with them on a specific date to tell them more about it, and you exchange contact information, well…it’s a great finding opportunity. We believe it’s a miracle worked by the Lord to help us find more of his elect.”
So that will be happening later this month, but I’ll let you know more about it when it gets closer.
They also went through the new emergency action plan for the mission. They’ve revised it since the shooting in Germany when the three missionaries went missing for several days. We have a code for getting back to our flat and locking the door, and a code for packing up and heading to a rally point, when, if it’s texted to us or called in by the APs, district or zone leaders, or President, we have to respond to it immediately. Sister Leppard drilled immediate obedience into us by telling us a bunch of horror stories which gave me nightmares for the next two nights. She can be really intense when she wants to be. “If you get the text to get back to the flat, you leave immediately and travel as fast as you can, get inside, bolt the door with all the locks, make sure the windows are secure, shut the curtains, go as far away from the windows as possible and pray.” She went on like this for about five minutes, and by the end had me sitting there timidly like a little girls just nodding her head over and over again with her bottom lip sticking out trying not to cry.
To travel between Swansea and Merthyr Tydfil, we have to take this really dodgy, rickety old bus for an hour and half, and it’s the worst bus ride I’ve ever experienced in my life. Each time we do it, I get extremely car sick. On the way back I almost threw up four times. I’m talking, it was coming up my throat close. I was so tired and so sick I almost asked the driver to stop driving so crazy or I was going to puke all over his ancient bus, but I couldn’t because if I moved the sensation to chuck up everything I hadn’t eaten intensified by fifty. Sister Swapp, Elder Varner, and a Elder Mthethwa opened all the windows in the bus so I could get some fresh air, and then fanned me until we got back to Swansea where I stumbled off the bus and dropped onto a bench for 15 minutes. Then the stress of being sick got to me and I started shaking. But the plus side was that they gave me a king sized snickers bar to stop it. 😋 Like, an AMERICAN king size. That was really nice. I mean, reeeeaaaaalllllyyyyy nice.
Oh, so you know how I always eat my fruit using a knife where I just hold it, cut a slice, and then eat it? Well, Sister Swapp always tells me she thinks it’s so funny and so cool that I eat my fruit with a knife rather than biting into it. She said it reminds her of this Mormon Message called The First Christmas Spirit. Apparently this is what she thinks of every time I eat fruit. . . .
To be honest not a whole lot has happened this week. We’ve been trying to teach, but people just flogged us all week. And we’ve been tracting and GQing like crazy, but not really any success. Hopefully this week will pay off some more.
We did have a good weekend listening to Conference though. Saturday afternoon and evening they showed the Women’s session and the Saturday morning session. Then Sunday morning they showed the priesthood session, and in the afternoon the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning session. I don’t know if it was just here with our set up equipment, but the first part of the Saturday afternoon session was in German voice-over. It was really funny. We were all waiting for it to start and Pres. Uchtdorf stood up to speak, and all he sudden there was someone speaking German over him. This old lady asked why he wasn’t just speaking German himself and saving the translators the trouble, and everyone busted up laughing. It took a while for Elder Miner to fix it, and we all just laughed the whole time, but luckily by the end of the hymn and prayer it was fixed.
We also had a baptism in between the Sunday sessions for a man named Kamil Czakon who was taught by the zone leaders and is from Poland. (He’s the one I GQed by accident, right after the elders had taught him a lesson…..) I think he’s a really good guy, and really solid. He will be confirmed next Sunday, so that should be good. It was a really spiritual experience though, and I could tell he felt the spirit too, and the rest of us even had investigators there, who enjoyed themselves as well.
We also got to know one of the district leaders investigators who is around our age. Her name is Kaylee and the story of how she was found if pretty cool. She said that she’d been praying for quite a while to see Mormon missionaries, and every time she would pray, she would see Sister Swapp and I walking down the road, but she was always in her car, so she couldn’t ever stop us to talk. That went on for a little while, so finally she changed her prayers from asking to SEE missionaries, to MEETING missionaries. Then she went into City Centre, which is our main GQing area, and it happened to be right when we were all there doing district finding. Sister Swapp and I had just walked away from the elders and she saw them all standing there in a very distinct group, so she walked up to them and asked them if they could teach her about the gospel.
I think its pretty amazing that it happened that way, and that God was giving her a trial of her faith even before she began learning. But she just pushed right on through it, understood what she needed to change, changed it, and it worked. It’s also a testimony to me that God always provides a way when it’s right. She seemed to pass us by quite a lot, but He made it work.
I thought I’d share with you some of the things I’ve been studying and thinking about lately. Alma is probably my favorite book in the Book of Mormon. In chapter 44, verse 4, Captain Moroni is talking to Zerahemnah, and I’m sure we all know that Moroni says a lot of pretty amazing things in the second half of Alma, but this is one of my favorites:
Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.
This IS the true faith of God. It is the only true religion on the face of the earth, and has been the only true one throughout all of history. That’s why it was restored. It is the only true thing in the whole world. And as long as we’re faithful and true to it, and true to our testimonies, God will keep and preserve us. He’ll never let us be destroyed so long as we’re true. Only if we let ourselves fall away will He take away His hand of support. It reminds me of Elder Ballard’s talk from Conference (which by the way, was my favorite.) It’s our choice; we can deny the faith if we want to, but where will we go after that? We have everything–literally everything–as Pres. Uchtdorf said, in this gospel, but sadly a lot of the time we lose sight of it. We have all that we could ever need and want right here in this Gospel, and if we choose to leave it and fall away, it’s our choice, but where will we go? We can make that decision, sure, but where are we going to go? There is nowhere to go.
In verse 5 Moroni talks about God, to [whom] we owe all our happiness..and all that is most dear unto us. Pres. Uchtdorf talked about gratitude on Saturday, and it hit me really hard. Ever since I’ve been out on my mission I’ve been thinking about how much I have been blessed, from the time I was born, with so many wonderful blessings, even a fraction of which, I don’t deserve in the slightest. He’s blessed me immeasurably when I haven’t done anything to deserve it. I love all the things He’s given me, particularly my family, my home, and my testimony. And those are the things that bring me the most outstanding happiness, that are most dear unto me, and I owe it all to God. Nothing else can bring us happiness, no matter how hard we search elsewhere. C. S. Lewis said, “Human history is the long, terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”
We truly do owe everything to God. I am thoroughly convinced that as long as we keep the faith, not only will we be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, but we will also be happy. James E. Talmage said that a fulness of joy is something only to be realised beyond the grave, but a good portion of that can be felt here, with the satisfaction of righteous living.
I know that if we protect our testimonies we will be happy and safe.
I love you all with all of my heart, and my prayers take a really long time sometimes praying for all of you, but I know Heavenly Father is blessing you. I hope you have a wonderful week!
P.S. I always got annoyed when others wouldn’t send pictures of themselves, just of other things, so I decided I would bite down and give in to take a selfie for you.