Monday, February 24, 2014

32nd Letter from England

Hey everyone! 
You always say things in your email that refer to things I had no idea were going on!  What's up with Ukraine?  Why's the President fleeing?  
I would love to watch American Idol sometime.  That picture you sent me, I'm assuming my favorite would be the bloke on the bottom left?  
What else have all of y'all been up to? 
Last Monday for P-day we played basketball and ping pong all day, that was a lot of fun.  After that, the bishop and his family had us go to an all you can eat restaurant in the middle of Small Heath (I feel more in arabia there than in arabia).  We ended up walking the opposite way to get home  but ended up not being able to get a bus and were very late getting in. 
Bishop gave us some names of less actives to go and see so first thing Tuesday morning we went and saw a man named Tony.  He has claimed he will never come to church again but still has a picture of Joseph Smith and a picture of the Saviour on the wall.  His baptismal certificate, and the missionaries that taught him hanging up.  All, ironically, covered in residue from a gross amount of smoking.  That night we went and taught our first English lessons.  3 people came, Ladi, Adi, and Kamilla.  All from Albania.  We had a lot of fun and it went pretty well. 
On Wednesday we had district meeting in Solihull (where Elder Holland was on assignment in the early 2000s -he actually used to come to Sheldon ward or so I'm told) after that we went on exchange so I was with Elder Ruka.  We went tracting and knocked door after door, not a single English person answered the door and we were given several items of islamic literature to read and 'find out for ourselves.'  It was actually funny because from a car I heard prayer call, then I knocked on a door and nobody answered, I saw in the window a woman praying, so we decided to just talk to people on the streets for a while.  Who would have thought that prayer time would ever affect my proselyting?
On Thursday we did several hours of finding, found no one.  We had to go to the chapel to practice a skit for Saturday night's ward activity.  We spent the whole day talking to people with nobody being interested.
Friday, we had our weekly planning, and we also had to prepare for English lessons.  We did that then did some more finding.  We got a return appointment for next Tuesday so hopefully that will work out.  We had dinner at the Hadleys house and then went to teach English again.  This time, Ladi, Adi, and their friend Bledi came.  We taught prepositions and things like that then gave them a brief tour of the chapel.  Hopefully they'll start investigating the church. 
Saturday we again, did finding all day.   It's amazing the amount of people you can talk to and still have nobody wanting to hear what you say.  We every now and then talk to someone who's cool but still isn't at all interested.  We had our weekly dinner with the Watsons then hurried off to the chapel for our ward activity.  We had a story telling night that went really well.  The missionaries did a skit of the good samaritan that had a few funny things in it.  Everyone seemed to like it when I came riding in as the good samaritan riding on my 'beast' Elder Chardon.  Other members shared great stories and some good talents.  It reminded me of the coffee houses we had at the Academy. 
Sunday was just like another church day except during Sunday School a guy named Robert just walked into the church!  He is super cool and extremely interested.  After sacrament meeting (because we have that last) he said he was so excited to become a good member of this church.  He said he has found something better than he has in other churches.  That was a miracle.  Robert is in the other teams area so they'll be teaching him.
I did get Arabic nametags and they are sweet!  I wear them depending on where we're going that day.  A lot of people have looked at them and read them.  They all seemed a bit taken aback that I'm wearing Arabic on my chest.  Especially bearing the words 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints'.  It's been a good opportunity to start talking to these people.  

So I said that this was the hardest week of my mission, but it doesn't sound that bad.  The thing is, ever since I was moved from Eastwood it seems like we've been talking to people, inviting them to learn, doing all we can and nothing happens for us.  I've taught very few lessons in these past weeks and essentially have not gained a single new investigator.  I also see miracles happening all around the mission, Coventry had 7 baptisms this week (aww yeahh Elder Harris! :D )  The other Elders in Sheldon are seeing sweet miracles and I even heard that back in Eastwood they have a family on a baptismal date.  It does make me really happy for all of them and I'm happy that people are accepting the gospel, but my patience is just being tested.  Hopefully I'm passing the test by staying diligent.  There's actually a story that Elder Steel gave me from a missionary in the 80s that talks about 7 months of his mission where he had essentially no success, very few lessons and no baptisms.  He was in.... our area.  The exact area I'm over right now.  He talks about a lot of valuable lessons he learned by serving there.  I'm trying not to sound all sad or depressed or discouraged because I'm not.  But it is hard and I am going through a bit of a hard time.  It's all part of the experience though.  This is the mission. 
I hope all of y'all are doing great.  I hear of all y'all are doing and occaisonally am tempted to think about how much fun that sounds like doing.  But there really is no place I'd rather be than in England, at this time, doing this work. 
I love y'all.
Elder Evan Pogue

Monday, February 17, 2014


Hey everyone! 
This past week has gone by so fast, I can't believe it's already Monday again.  Every Monday I think about how fast this time is going.  It's insane.  That's cool that Whitney is having a good time!  That's also cool that Tayor met Jessika Jenson!  Send me the picture!  What things have y'all been up to?  I can't believe how much the branch has changed!  I'm not even going to recognize it when I come back. 
I think I'm going to keep this relatively short.  Mainly because the keyboard I'm using is broken and it's driving me mad. 
Last week after emailing we had district p-day.  We all went bowling, I did pretty well for not having played in so long.  I bowled a 119 then a 122.  I've never been good at bowling anyways though.  We had fun.  We went to dinner at the Maloney's again.  We were 20 minutes late though because outside of their house we GQed this man who seemed pretty interested.  He had some anxiety problems though and wouldn't give us his details. 
Tuesday we had Zone Meeting, on the way there it was pouring down rain but then it turned to snow!  It snowed for a bit but by the time we were done with the meeting it had stopped.  President Rasmussen came to talk to us about effective study so that was good.  The mission is so big now that he doesn't have much time to meet with us too often so it's always good to have some time with him.  There are over 260 missionaries in the mission!
Wednesday we planned an all day finding day.  It was extremely windy though!  We left the flat and talked to as many people as possible but there weren't too many people out, and tracting just isn't too effective.  You can't talk to as many people by knocking on doors and when you do talk to them they're kind of aggrevated that you bothered them.  I much prefer talking to people on the streets.  That night we helped Sister Wright move in to her house but weren't able to do nearly all of it. 
Thursday we were supposed to teach Salin and do some finding but I had woken up Wednesday night very sick and was sick most of Thursday, unfortunately we weren't able to do much that day.  I think both of us have paid our sickness price for the rest of our missions though!  Hopefully. :P
Friday was a good day, we had our 'Follow-up Trainers Meeting' at the office.  All of the trainers and new missionaries go and recieve training from President.  So I got to see him twice this week.  Really it's just him making sure we haven't corrupted the new missionaries I'm sure.  (:   I got Arabic name tags that day, so that's cool!  Hopefully I'll get to put them to use soon.  We're actually going to our highest Arab population area later today, we'll see.  I've been studying the language during Elder Tupous language study time and am actually doing quite well!  We started a fast for Salin's test and some other things after the meeting, and then we went to teach Salin!  We had a good lesson about Temples,  hopefully he'll be baptized soon.  The only problem is that he works on Sundays a lot and hasn't been able to come to church recently. 
Saturday we did our weekly planning, then went to Sister Wrights to finally finish the projects we were working on!  We had our usual Saturday dinner with the Watson family, and taught them the restoration.  They are a great family.
Sunday, we had a great time at church.  Elder Morris (the Morris' are the senior couple that work in the office and take care of finances and paperwork) taught the priesthood lesson, and did a great job.  I think he was a teacher before.  He's a very powerful teacher.  Then we had gospel principles and Sacrament meeting after . We were given a powerful talk on scripture study.  Then some people bore their testimonies because someone from the high counsel didn't show up.  We came back and had dinner, and studied. 

This week has been a pretty good one, the work is still far too slow and it's really been killing me that we haven't been able to find new investigators and that we haven't had too many lessons but I am confident that the work will pick up.  I just feel like I'm doing so much and am having little success.  I'm not letting it slow me down though, that's just reason to work harder.  <-- could you have imagined me saying that before my mission?? 
I remember in 10th grade I wasn't having the best year and people always told me that life is what we make it.  You'll enjoy it, if you say you're going to enjoy it.  One things that's powerful to me is that in the story of Nephi, Nephi and his brothers are walking through the wilderness and their wives are having kids in the wilderness, they are eating raw meat, and just having the worst time.  They were going through all of this for 8 years.  But in 1 Nephi 17:2 they say 'and so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us..'  What a good example at having a positive attitude in a rough situation.  Similarly in Alma when talking about the many years of war, in chapter 62 verse 41 it says '...exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God'
The Nephite and the Lamanite people had the same struggles, same problems but some of them chose to react in different ways.  Some were hardened, some were softened.  I guess it's just good to know of a situation in the Book of Mormon where they had to choose for themselves how they were going to react to the situation they were in.

I hope you are all doing great. 
Elder Pogue

Monday, February 10, 2014

30th Letter from England (Sheldon)

Hey Everybody,

This week there isn't too much to report on day by day so I'll do that a little bit later.  I thought I'd use this opportunity to speak about some of the other little things about the mission! 
First, mom, you said hopefully I'll get to see some of the Olympics somewhere.  I didn't even know they had started yet.  I knew they'd be soon but that's really not on my mind.  It'd just make me trunky watching people snowboard.  I guess I don't really even want to watch the Olympics.  Not until I'm home at least.  
To answer your questions about my comp, Elder Tupou's name is Sione Tupou.  From the Island of Tonga in Tonga.  Tupou is his real last name!  

Crawfish Ettouffee doesn't make me to homesick but it reminds me of Jambalaya!  I really want some!  Actually, I've been making rice, baked beans, and mixing them and loading it with Tony's and it tastes pretty good!  The baked beans here a little different than America.  It tastes a bit southern.  
I just read Cameron's email and he said he was working out harder to be more obedient.  I think he was rebuking me.  I swear I do at least one sit up every morning!  I have to get out of bed somehow!  No, I really do exersize, I guess I could work out a little harder though!  
Because I'm training our schedule has been a little different.  We spent so much time studying, especially with language study, sometimes we don't get out of the flat until until late.  That's always hard.  
Elder Tupou is doing so great with English.  He says some really funny things sometimes!  So he knows enough English to make jokes!  He's also extremely bold with people!  It's really funny though because he speaks so well, and he understand so well too... if they're American.  He doesn't understand English people.  He'll get used to it though! 
How's American Idol?  Tell me about the contestants!  Is there anyone kind of folky?  I miss music, in particular the Avett Brothers of course.
What's going on in Dhahran?  Anything cool, interesting, different?  Within the ward?  the compound?  Tell me about some of the new people.

So this week has been great!  Luckily there was no sickness anymore! On Monday we went to the Maloney family and had a great time there.  They always make a good dinner and good pudding!  After that we went finding but it was dark and cold and there was nobody to really talk to.  A cat did follow us around for about 15 minutes though.  That was interesting.
On Tuesday we woke up and did our studies, then we had planned to find but Salin gave us a call and we ended up having a great lesson with him.  He wants to be baptized on the 21st.  We'll probably move that date back a week though because he didn't come to church yesterday.  This week he takes his big test to see if he can stay in the country even if his parents stop sponsoring him or something?  It just gives him more liberty.  Pray that he'll pass and that he'll be able to be baptized!  That night we went and  participated with seminary!  The seminary class here only has two young men.  That was well fun.  We also got a call from an Albanian girl requesting English lessons.  So we'll start that on Tuesday the 18th!  Isn't it cool that Cameron is in Albania, teaching English to Albanians.  I'm in England, teaching English to Albanians?
Wednesday was a pretty good day, we got a media referral!  So somebody gets on the internet and actually requests a visit from us!  We went far away and found his house but weren't able to get to the door to knock on it so we gave him a ring and I talked to him for about 10 minutes.  His name is Paul W. and he talked to a couple of Sister Missionaries in the Manchester mission on his way back from a funeral!  I asked what they taught him and he said 'I don't know... there was just... something more about what they were saying.'  We'll hopefully be able to see him around his hectic work schedule and teach him!  He seems extremely solid!  We had ward coordination meeting that night where we planned for our missionary fireside on Sunday.
Thursday we had district meeting and lunch.  It was a great meeting where we spoke a little bit about keeping our spiritual sensitivity high.  The Zone leaders came to that and brought some post.  I had a letter from Kelcy so that was cool.  We got some Albanian Books of Mormon just in case the English lessons progress to gospel lessons!  We had a dinner that night with the Reynolds-Jones, then helped Sister Wright set up some cabinets because she just moved in to her new flat (we helped her a few weeks ago move in).  
Friday we had our weekly planning day.  It wasn't bad though!  It went by pretty fast and we had three baptisms into the Sheldon ward!  The other elders had been teaching the 'yala' family.  The three kids got baptised and that went great!  They are the result of a member reaching out to share the gospel and bringing their friends into the church!  
Saturday was a bit miraculous.  We were really wanting to teach a lesson, just one!  but we didn't have any planned.  Nobody to teach.  So we studied then I prayed before we left (we always pray each time we leave the flat) and I asked for a miracle, just that we'd get a lesson.  We went and tracted a bit, and I knocked on a former potentials door that I'd never met before named Modicum.  He's a Church of England priest and he invited us in and we had a lesson with him!  He's a great guy but has some problems with our church.  Say's we're too focused on 'Mormon' and not Christ.  I tried to show him how it's not about Mormon how it's all about Christ but I'm not sure he got it!  He's from Uganda and very energetic.  So that was a miracle, one lesson.  THEN we got a call from the other Elders saying to meet them in the village because we were going to teach Wedwhattie!  So we went there and although it was mostly in Dutch we taught another lesson!  We had the Watsons dinner appointment after that and had a great time there.  We were soaking wet by the time we got there though.  
The weather has been awful.  Raining everyday, freezing penetrating cold.  

Sunday we went to church and had a good sabbath.  I was really expecting Salin to come to church but he didn't make it.  I haven't been able to talk to him since then though.  Hopefully next week.  I was hoping he would so that sucked.  Elder Tupou and I went home, ate then had to practically go straight back to the church for the fireside.  We are trying to encourage missionary work more and more in this ward.  There is great potential.  
I think I shared this same video a couple of months ago but it's worth watching again and again.  This is such a good testimony of the Book of Mormon.  Please watch this!

I love you all! 
-Elder Pogue

Monday, February 3, 2014

29th Week (Sheldon)

Hey Everyone!!
This week has been pretty great!  I'm glad to hear everything is going great! 
I feel like everything I used to know about Aramco is changing!  The commissary, golf course, church.  I can't believe all of the changes you're reporting!  Also, American Idol.... choose who'd I'd like most for me!  Are there any folkish people??  I can't imagine going to the beach!   It's so cold! 
So I've officially started my 5th transfer.  I can't believe that.  There's only 12 left.  Considering how fast they've been going I feel like I'll be home next month.  I'm not ready for that! 
So with the week, last Monday we emailed then went to Tesco with the other team (Elder Chardon and Ruka) to get some food and do a little bit of shopping.  Then we went to some charity shops to look around. It was a fun day but nothing really eventful happened on Monday. 
On Tuesday we got up and did our personal study then two hour companionship study.  We decided to leave the flat and just do language study later because it was killing us to be inside.  We went and talked to a few people, nobody listened though.  For some reason, we just can't find anyone to teach right now.  We came back and had lunch, after lunch we decided to go and stop by a couple of old potentials and tract all the way there and back.  We were finding all day and found nobody to teach.  I know we just need to persevere though and we'll get some lessons.  The Lord knows where to send us, he's just not sending us there right now because he's trying to shape us and build us.  We had a lesson with Salin that night where we talked about church and the commandments.  It was a good lesson.  He wants to be baptised but isn't coming to church. 
On Wednesday we were supposed to have District meeting but Elder Chardon was sick so we had to make some last minute plans to do some more finding.  Tracting and GQing.  We went around and knocked on doors but still nothing.  We had a dinner appointment at our ward mission leaders house at 5:00.  That night we went home teaching with Bro. Camiasani, the guy who's house we went to Christmas for.  We taught a recent convert named Simon, and had a great lesson. 
Thursday morning was great.  We were sitting at our study desk along side a window and I hear Elder Tupou 'ooohhh is that snow?!'  I look out the window and it was snowing!  Finally!  He says 'I thought there was a fire near by!'  Like there were ashes falling.. 'I don't want to go outside!'  It was so funny!  He has just never been in the snow or even cold.  We ended up going outside to get to district meeting.  We had a great meeting but by the time it was over, the snow had stopped.  It hasn't snowed since.  It has been very cold though.  We had ward council that night.  We talked a lot about missionary work. 
Friday is always the hardest day, this one, worse than most.  We had weekly planning then we got a call saying that we had a lesson with Wedwhatie with the other Elders (the dutch lady) did I tell y'all we had already had one lesson with her?  She's moving back to Holland soon but wants to join the church.  She is so golden but time is too short.  We're trying our best and she's in such a hard situation.  The lessons are mostly in Dutch so we all just sit there and I testify when I understand what's going on.   But the lesson on Friday got cancelled, but the Elders were already at our flat.  During this time I go into the room where Elder Tupou was asleep because he was feeling sick to find him looking absolutely in pain.  He was shaking and feeling horrible so I shut the door and talked to him for a bit.  It turns out he was very sick but didn't want to be.  He wanted to work.  He started getting clothes on to work but I wouldn't let him.  He asked if we had any work to do.  I said 'we always have work to do.'  That was a mistake!  Anyways I convinced him he was too sick to go out and I went with Elder Ruka to our dinner appointment. 
Saturday, we spent all day in the flat. Elder Tupou has really been very sick.  Sister Rasmussen says it's probably because he's from Tonga and has been exposed to all types of new bugs that he doesn't have defenses for yet.  But we had a little miracle.  We had a DA at the Watsons that night and I had been trying all day to call and cancel.  Their phones were shut off.  Eventually about 30 minutes before the appointment I feel like for some reason we need to go.  Elder Tupou randomly gets out of bed and is feeling fine!  We go to the dinner and have a great dinner and Elder Tupou gave such a powerful spiritual message about church.  He kept saying 'I want you, with me at church.'  The spirit was so strong.  As soon as we left the house, not five steps outside Elder Tupou starts coughing and shaking and gets sick again!
Sunday was fast and testimony meeting.  Elder Tupou didn't fast because of the sickness but will next week.  I did though.  It's weird how much I like fasting now because I understand it more.  We had a good Sunday but Elder Tupou got very sick again at church.  I felt so bad for him.  So we went straight home and he went to bed.  I ended up falling asleep on the seti for a while as well.   Overall this week has been pretty good.
So I've been thinking a lot about member missionary work these past few weeks.  I feel like it's where members of the church can grow the most.  I know a lot of people reading this live in Saudi Arabia where the situation is a little different but there are still things to be done. 
In Preach My Gospel chapter 9:
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “So many of us look upon missionary work as simply tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work knows there is a better way. That way is through the members of the Church. Whenever there is a member who introduces an investigator, there is an immediate support system. The member bears testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious for the happiness of his investigator friend. He becomes excited as that friend makes progress in learning the gospel.
“The full-time missionaries may do the actual teaching, but the member, wherever possible, will back up that teaching with the offering of his home to carry on this missionary service. He will bear sincere testimony of the divinity of the work. He will be there to answer questions when the missionaries are not around. He will be a friend to the convert who is making a big and often difficult change. … The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the responsibility alone of the missionaries. They succeed best when members become the source from which new investigators are found”
I talked earlier in my email about knocking door after door with no real success.  I do believe that a part of this is because members aren't doing their part in this area. 
Preach My Gospel also teaches that most members don't engage in missionary work because of fear.  Fear to offend, fear to hurt realtionships.  I love what Elder Holland said in the 'Hastening the Work of Salvation' broadcast.  He said 'an invitation that is born of our love for others and for the Lord Jesus Christ and our desire for the happiness of these friends and family members will never be seen as offensive or judgmental.'

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our greatest knowledge, it is what sustains us in our every day life.  It is what helps when we are going through faith-trying situations.  It is what brings us more joy than anything else we could satiate ourselves with.  We need to fulfil our 'greatest and most important duty... to preach the gospel' (Joseph Smith)  Share the gospel with your friends, and follow the guidance of the spirit in doing that.  Great joy comes with it.  We grow so much more when we help others progress in the gospel.  We as teachers, missionaries, and investigators or friends 'rejoice and are edified together.'  Doctrine and Covenants 50:22
This is the greatest work we can be engaged in.  Be bold and loving, and share the joy and happiness you have found with those around you. 

I love you all,
Elder Evan Pogue