Saturday, 19 January 2013


Hey Friends and Family,
First off, I'm sorry I didn't write a blog last week! The holiday season gets pretty crazy even for us missionaries and, by the time I'd finished all my other e-mails, I didn't have any time! But I'm back with some cool experiences to share...
This week has been mixed (again!) - Elder Ovard and I have been sick for the majority of the week so we've spent alot of time resting and we're still suffering a little (pray for us please) and there's been a lot of things to organize in the district (we've now grown from 7 to 11 - we have two Spanish Elders, Elder Guzman and Elder Perrault and a senior couple called the Wilsons) so, all of that combined has led to a lot of stress!
However, it's also been a week of miracles and growth! On Thursday, we had a district meeting and Elder Stagg trained on using the message of the Restoration with members. As part of his training, we did a role play where we taught the lesson in five minutes and then invited the head of household to pray to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet! And man, was it powerful! We've used it in nearly every lesson since and, every time, the Holy Ghost has reconfirmed that the First Vision is real. I'm grateful for that knowledge and have really felt a change in the way I think about that event :)
On that same vein - we went and spent the afternoon visiting less active members of the ward yesterday afternoon. Eventually, we were invited into the home of Sister Moore. We got to know her a bit and felt that we should share the message of the Restoration with her. So, we teach this lesson (which was one of the best lessons that Elder Ovard and I have taught together btw!) and got up to the point where we share the First Vision. I felt prompted to ask everyone to consider 'what has changed in your life as a result of the Restoration?'. As our young man, Kyle, read that account, I suddenly felt a sincere appreciation for the priesthood and the ability we have to give blessings. We started to teach the Book of Mormon when I felt inspired to ask Sister Moore when the last time she had a blessing was. Her face changed at that question as she said 'how did you know I was thinking that?! Just before you said those words, I had a thought pop into my head to ask you for one'! It was amazing - the Spirit was very strong and I was grateful that Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of that! I definitely have a testimony of the priesthood - the power of God IS on the Earth!
I can see the change in me and hope it comes across in these entries. The reality is that, although Heavenly Father can use certain missionaries to touch certain people, our mission call is more about OUR conversion than anyone else's. I was reading a story during my study time the other day that really touched me and I'd like to share that with you:
'A few years ago, Elder Javier Misiego, from Madrid, Spain, was serving a full-time mission in Arizona. At that time, his mission call to the United States appeared somewhat unusual, as most young men from Spain were being called to serve in their own country.
At the conclusion of a stake fireside, where he and his companion had been invited to participate, Elder Misiego was approached by a less-active member of the Church who had been brought by a friend. It was the first time this man had been inside a chapel in years. Elder Misiego was asked if he might know a José Misiego in Madrid. When Elder Misiego responded that his father’s name was José Misiego, the man excitedly asked a few more questions to confirm that this was the José Misiego. When it was determined that they were speaking about the same man, this less-active member began to weep. “Your father was the only person I baptized during my entire mission,” he explained and described how his mission had been, in his mind, a failure. He attributed his years of inactivity to some feelings of inadequacy and concern, believing that he had somehow let the Lord down.
Elder Misiego then described what this supposed failure of a missionary meant to his family. He told him that his father, baptized as a young single adult, had married in the temple, that Elder Misiego was the fourth of six children, that all three boys and a sister had served full-time missions, that all were active in the Church, and that all who were married had been sealed in the temple.
The less-active returned missionary began to sob. Through his efforts, he now learned, scores of lives had been blessed, and the Lord had sent an elder from Madrid, Spain, all the way to a fireside in Arizona to let him know that he had not been a failure. The Lord knows where He wants each missionary to serve.'
I have a testimony that my mission call is from God Himself - I have had way too many 'aha' moments to doubt that I was called to Virginia by revelation! I'm excited as my wonderful cousin (who I am so proud of) and two of my best friends prepare to get their calls to serve the Lord this week - I will be there in spirit guys, I promise! Whatever that piece of paper says is EXACTLY where God wants you to go :)
I love God with all my heart and will always be grateful that He called and qualified an eighteen year old boy from Haywards Heath, England! In the words of Ammon 'I know that I am nothing... but with God, I can do all things'! I know this is real because I'm living it!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


Can you believe that we're already in 2013?! It's crazy to think but it was 5 months since I reported to the MTC on the 31st December... isn't time just flying by?
We have been witnessing miracles occur here in Poquoson and, instead of trying to build suspense, I'll just say them first and then explain later... On the 30th December, we had TWO baptisms! Yes, the area that couldn't baptize had two baptisms in one day! If that isn't a miracle, I don't know what is!
So, let's start with the story of four! At the start of each year, each ward comes up with a ward mission plan which involves a goal for how many baptisms they will have that year. The thing is that, over the last three years, Poquoson hasn't baptized a single person and, at the start of the year, didn't look like it would either. However, our ward mission leader, Brother Lemmons and the missionaries felt very strongly that during 2012, the ward would baptize four people...
Well, in July, Brother George Veltri (a 70 year old man who had been investigating for a year) was baptized into the ward! Not only were the ward members surprised but so were the missionaries... A month after I arrived (on September 22nd to be exact), Sister Barbara Bruhn joined the church after waving down the missionaries riding by one day in the hope they could help her 19 year old son Seth before he joined the military! Recently, Elder Jensen and I began teaching Rhett Miller, a 14 year old boy from a less active family who wanted to join the church... Well, on the 30th December, Rhett became the newest member of the Poquoson ward! You may notice that only makes three people... This is where one of the most amazing experiences of my life comes in!
On Sunday 23rd December, Barbara, Seth and her boyfriend Kavin came to church! Seth had always been open but, everytime we brought up baptism, he just turned away and said 'I'm not ready yet...'.  Well, as we sat in sacrament meeting, I felt the distinct impression to write on a post-it note 'how can we help you Seth?'. Not really thinking about it, I followed that prompting and handed it to Seth. He sat and thought for ten minutes and replied 'just keep coming round... we need you more than you think'. This sparked a thirty minute conversation that ended up with Seth asking if he could be baptized that weekend... the last weekend of 2012!
It was stressful BUT we made it happen! Everything just seemed to fall into place so that, at 4pm and 6pm respectively, Seth Ryan Bruhn and Rhett Xavier Miller were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. By some miraculous turnaround, Poquoson had gone from baptizing no-one in three years to the promised four in 2012! I know this shows that God really knows His children and, even before they came in contact with the missionaries, He was preparing those four special people to join His church! I have to come to love each of them, especially Seth! He's only a few months older than me and is just like my friends back home... Heavenly Father has blessed me to know him and be able to have him as one of my best friends! Expect to hear much more about him :)
Another miracle this week was the chance to baptize LaMond Baird, one of the Pirmary children here! I love his family and he's like a little brother to me... I struggle to put into words how spiritual that experience was for me! To have the opportunity to baptize one of Heavenly Father's children was incredibly humbling and powerful - I have reaffirmed my testimony of baptism this week as a result! It really is the gate in which we enter into God's path!
This has been a great week because of my new companion, Elder Ovard! Man, do I love this kid! He is such a great guy and an example to me in so many ways... he's so funny yet spiritual! I feel honoured to be able to spend (at least) six weeks with him... we definitely were meant to be companions together :)
So, that's been my week in a nutshell... we've been busy! I gave seven blessings last week, was part of four confirmations (two of which I gave), was part of three baptisms (with the privilege of baptizing Seth and LaMond personally) and interviewed two people for baptism who are now members! I'm tired and often stressed but I love my job... we fasted for a white Christmas this month and, in this tiny area of Poquoson, that's exactly what we got and, hopefully, will continue to get (ps. Kavin has a baptism date for the 31st January!). I am grateful that God invites me into the process... I understand that I have nothing to do with these miracles expect being obedient and diligent enough to be the instrument in God's hands! I testify this is His work - He is in the vineyard with us!
Happy New Year,
Elder Pelham :)