Friday, August 26, 2016

Am I back in training?!

Aug 22 2016

Dajia Hao! Haha well people it's another week gone for us here. And let me just tell you how weird it has been to be back in Chinese work. I have never heard so much Chinese in my life and understood so little
of it. It's been a crazy week for us and I wish I had a lot to tell but unfortunately I don't. But I will try my best anyways!

So first thing - My companion is Elder Zheng and he is from Taiwan. He is sooooo awesome! Oh man I have just been so blessed to have amazing companions! He is so funny and we already have had some good laughs together. He helps me out so much with Chinese and with everything really, I feel like I am back in training hence the title, because I have no idea what to do, or what to say haha I feel like a brand new missionary, and It's been a stressful week, to say the least but nevertheless I am so happy to be here and to be using my Chinese again.

So on Tuesday I was traveling all day to get to Newcastle. And on the train ride there, I was all by myself! What ?! I know - first time ever, it felt so weird but it actually was really cool because I was able to sit next to a guy named Chris. He is so awesome. He started to talk to me and ask me all sorts of questions and we had an awesome like 2 hr chat about all sorts of things. One of the greatest blessings my mission has given me is the ability to have a conversation with complete strangers. It was so great and you know what we never even
got into the gospel all too much, but I know that it was both a blessing to me and to Chris as well.

However here is the down side. This is the time of year that all the Chinese people go back home because they finish school. And so it's been really hard to do the work here. I have never done so much finding in my entire life. We LITERALLY walk around for 6 straight hours trying to find Chinese people! especially when it's raining! Ooh I don't like rain! Ooooooh man and sometimes it can really have a toll on the body sometimes I get home and just collapse because I am so tired, my companion likes to laugh at me because of how tired I am. But two days straight in rained on us and wowza!  it was a cold windy day, but the Lord still blessed us with some success. But it's been really good to be able to meet some of the members here in the branch
and even though I don't understand most of what they say,  it's still been amazing. And not only that but this week we had a baptism in the branch the others elders baptised someone on Thursday, and it was awesome. Because of the whole branch being not very big, a baptism is like a baptism for all of us because we all have some connection with that person, so that is cool that the branch is still growing.

Church was a different experience. They made me and elder Zheng do the sacrament and that was cool! Our sacrament meeting is in the relief society room and so it's really small, but cool thing was just under half of the people there were non-members so SWEEET!!!!!! But then I got up and bore my testimony and introduced myself all in Chinese it was a bit rough but I thought it was okay! Then everything else for the next 2 1/2 hours was Chinese, so I was a bit lost but hey,  still really cool and the branch is sweet!!

I am sorry I feel like this email is just full of not so good things, because most of our members are now going home as well within a couple of weeks and so we are really going to be a small branch. But I am so happy the be here right now, because of the amount of people that are leaving we are working really hard to find new people to teach, which means lots of finding, and so I am praying that all of this hard work pays off. But I can already see an improvement in my Chinese which is really good because I need it a ton. Anyways so not much to report on this week hopefully I will be able to share a little more with you guys next week! Zài jiàn Nîmen!

Elder Hanks 韓長老

I assume this is a soccer stadium...!
 Image result for newcastle soccer stadium

Gray's Monument in Newcastle


Monday, August 15, 2016

Sacrificing body parts for a baptism date! oh, and there was transfers....

Why hello again everyone! What a fun week it has been for me and Elder Leavitt. Lots of fun things, finding new people, hanging out with missionaries, teaching some lessons, sleepovers, sacrificing body parts, broken utilities, and transfers. So with that all in mind let us go through the life and mission of Elder Hanks shall we!

The Great Zone P-Day:
This last preparation day was a really fun one, because of the slight change of rules we were free to play sports as we pleased, so if you can imagine about 16 Elders most of which are American, who haven't played sports in a year or so, going outside and playing some American football, it got intense but it was really fun. That was a real fun day, lots of sports were played!

C.....& S........:
So we have been teaching this young couple named C.....& S......... And they are so awesome I could just go and talk to them like all day long. But they are really cool because every single time we go over there they look up stuff during the week and then they ask us questions about what they found and so our lessons have been just in the weirdest pattern- but hey! they are awesome and we are hoping that something good will come out of it.

All of our current investigators are still currently out of town so the original plan was to just do loads of finding this week, which can sometimes means for a long week. However it actually turned out to be the opposite. We have taught more lessons than usual this week which is really good and surprising. On Thursday alone we had lots of finding planned and we actually taught 3 lessons and we got 4 new investigators all in one day! It was like the best day ever! And we even had tea at a members house, and they fed us pancakes but with orange juice instead of syrup! And it actually wasn't that bad!

So to address the subject of this email I have to do some background info. 
So on Thursday this week, one of the elders in our district had to go to the doctor and it was all the way in Manchester.  A senior couple had to take him there early in the morning. So me and elder Leavitt went over on Wednesday night so his companion wasn't alone in the morning. So they came and we went back to our area to work because we needed to find some new people to teach.  In a trio we found loads of potentials and new investigators which was really good. It was a lot of fun too, because in a trio you can do things that you just can't do with two people. His companion was supposed to get back around 6 but with all the traffic and long distances, they were gone all day long, so we finally got back to their flat at 9:00pm. Now it takes us about 1 hr and 15 min to get to our flat from theirs, and because it was so late at night, public transport is a nightmare at night! So we thought we would just sleep there again that night and head back in the morning. Little did we know that the Slovak elders who live with them were on exchanges and so they had 2 more elders with them!  So there we were, 8 elders in a 4 man flat. This isn't a very common occurrence so we took advantage of it and played some games that night and then we all piled into this one room. And let me tell you, if you ever want to hear the most bizarre things ever, it's missionaries at 10:25 at night! The conversation turned to music that we used to listen to back home. Next thing you know we broke out into song! The first being  don't stop believing, Bohemian rhapsody, livin on a prayer, Billy Jean, Jesus take the wheel and many more. Yes simply picturing this in your head is making you laugh right now I know, because we were laughing all night! It was probably the funniest night I have ever had on my mission and after one of the greatest days on my mission, so needless to say Thursday was a great day. But it gets even better because there were so many of us, we woke up early to run down to the park to play some more football, and the Zone leaders even came over! It was awesome!

He is a miracle. So one day we were out and about as we normally are and we get a call from a number that we don't know. I start talking to this guy and he explains that he is from Nottingham and he just moved here to Sheffield, and he went to the Sheffield 3 ward last Sunday. And guess what..... he is not a member but wants to come to our church (because they told him he was in our area) and so he is now coming to church on Sunday. WHAT!!!? So crazy!

K............. & G.............:
They are this really sweet young couple who we found and went and taught this past Thursday and they have this dog that is a pit bull/ staffishire bull terrier and it was so hyper. So as we were trying to teach them this dog was just all over the place and it wouldn't calm down it was ruining the lesson. So I noticed it liked to bite things but I didn't have anything to give it, so this is where the sacrificing of body parts comes in. I just lowered my hand and the dog just started to gnaw on my hand, not hard enough to do damage, (every once and a while he would get me good) but it kept him calmer and in once place, so for the rest of the lesson my hand got chewed while Elder Leavitt taught them the Restoration. Haha not the most spiritual lesson I have ever had but I will do anything for a lesson to go well, and it did, we scheduled them for baptism! SWEEEEETTTTTT!!!!

A........... my Man!
First off dad, guess what your helping me out over here because I got to connect with this guy when I showed him a picture of your Harley!  He opened up to us after that, so thank you dad for being cool and having a Harley Davidson! So A......... is a really nice guy, he is a typical English lad who likes to smoke but we taught him about the plan of salvation and he just loved it! So we invited him to be baptized and he said he would think about it. We said a prayer before we left and after the prayer he sat there with his eyes closed. So we did a power pause, let the spirit talk to him-  as usual He did. I asked A........ how he was feeling, and he said, "I can't explain it any other way, other than just really good" You could say it was a really good lesson. It amazing to see how the gospel just makes sense, and brings so much hope into people's lives. I love seeing that hope in people that they can be with their families forever. 

It's been so amazing to work in this area. We have taught a lot of people, and seen a lot of miracles. With this being the last week of the transfer we have seen a really big spike in our teaching pool. We went from about 3 to 14 investigators, which is the most this area has seen in a really long time, or ever! It's amazing how the Lord always comes thru in just the right time to help those in need. It has been so amazing to see the progress of elder Leavitt, and to work with him. I can't believe his training is already over, but he is going to do amazing things on his mission, I wish I could say that I trained him but I don't believe I did. I think he trained himself through the guidance of the Holy Ghost, I just happened to say a few words every so often. Now onto the next chapter of this amazing experience.

So for transfer night me and elder leavitt made Sopés. It's a Mexican dish that our Mexican next door neighbors taught us how to make on Monday for a family home evening lesson. So we made them tonight and they are soooooo good! Anyways yeah it was a good night, and so for the news regarding

Elder Leavitt: So elder Leavitt is staying here in Sheffield, and guess what!?!? 
HE'S TRAINING!!!! MY BOY IS TRAINING!!!! I am sooo exciting for him he is going to be amazing! Elder Leavitt is so good, he is so nervous because he just got out of training, but he is ready, and I know the Lord will bless him and his new Trainee!

Me: well my time here in Sheffield has come to an end. It has been a great 6 months here in Sheffield. But now it's time to see how my language study has helped, because I will be in a Mandarin Branch. That's right I'm going to NEWCASTLE!! My companion is Elder Liu. I am so excited and nervous. Nervous for the Chinese part, but excited to use my Chinese again, be in the area that I have always wanted to go to, and to start something new. I'm going to miss Elder Leavitt, but I know this is what the Lord has planned for us.

Hope you all have a great week. One last thing to add, is if you are struggling with a something, some sort of problem I invite you to do one little thing. Change your attitude and watch the problem disappear it will amaze you!

Love you all
Wô aì nîmen!

Elder Hanks

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Hello there everyone! Just going to apologise in advance for this novel of an email! But this week was AWESOME!!!! I hope you guys are all enjoying the heat of August while we have some nice sunny and HUMID days here in England! It has been so fun so as usual, let's get stared shall we?

Ceremonial burning of the white shirt at 1 year!  

This week has been full of just hard work and finding, but we have been able to find a lot of really fun people and some really nice people, as well which always has a positive effect on the week! So something crazy happened this past week which just had a major impact on my mission and will continue to do so until the end of my mission. Now before I go into this all must know that I have a deep love and admiration for my previous mission president, President Pilkington. Since the beginning of my mission under the direction of President Pilkington we have had something called the Code of Conduct.  This has been a set of additional rules in this mission along with the guidance of the White missionary handbook. It  included some thing like no playing sports, or not using iPads to email, no card/board games, no instruments, and a bunch of other rules that President Pilkington felt impressed to use. However under President Turvey the Code of Conduct has been abolished!! Meaning we are now free to play sports and use our iPads to the fullest, play certain games and have instruments! It's so crazy it's like everything I originally knew is now gone and we can go and do things now! So this past week me and elder Leavitt have been running down to the park in the morning and playing basketball for our exercise now! It's been a blast! and I wish I had a ton to write about regarding people and all but I thought that I would just do a quick little summary of how this past year how's been so amazing!  But before I do that I just want to show you how good our Heavenly Father is! 
It was a Tuesday evening, we had just concluded a tea appointment with one of our amazing members, the G............. and we had to leave in order to catch a bus to get back to the chapel for our Ward Coordination meeting. We had to walk about 10 minutes to get to the bus stop and we had looked at the time and knew when it was coming, well we thought we did!  So buses here will not stop for you unless you are at the stop signalling for them to stop, not even if your close or running your guts out to beat the bus, they will NOT stop! Got there and the next bus was in like 25 minutes and that would make us late to our meeting, which is not first class service. So I got all upset that we were going to be late so I thought maybe we could go get a ride from a member to the chapel. While walking to a members, a bus came around the corner and it said, sorry not in service! Which actually happens a lot, Nevertheless....... It started to slow down while passing us and then eventually stopped in the middle of the road. "Beep beep" we went over and the driver opened the door and said, "are you those Mormon lads from Grenoside?" (where our church is) 
"yeah" never knowing if this is going to be a good thing or a bad thing...right?!
"hop on,  I'll take you there!"
And guess what he drove right up to the doors of our chapel, and dropped us off! What a miracle! And yes we made it to the meeting on time! Bless that wonderful bus driver!

So not much to write about this week I regards to missionary work but something good that did happen was we found this really young couple named S...... and C........ and they are the coolest people ever! They are probably the nicest English people we have ever met and what's even better is, after we left they looked us up online and found out about tithing! So when we came back we taught about tithing as a second lesson, which isn't a normal occurrence and normally people always have problems with this one, but they both agreed with it,  that it was a good thing to do! hahaha what a miracle. They are really awesome!

C........! We have this awesome investigator named C........,  she is the best!  She just loves to talk and is just the nicest person ever. When she found out that I was hitting my year mark she made us cupcakes because she's a baker! And let me tell you her cupcakes were sooooooo good!! so she has had loads of missionaries around her because when she was 9 her dad was investigating the church, they came to church a couple of times, and at 9 yrs old she went to the Preston temple open house (still remembers the celestial room by the way!) she is so cool, loves America which always helps and her dad even says we can come over whenever we want to teach both of them. Now amongst all the good here, there is one bad thing. She like all our other investigators is on holiday for 2 weeks. So this next week is just going to be loads of finding people. Which is sad because transfers are on the 16th and I think I am leaving so I might not ever see any of those people again:( sad day!
Osmonds: so yeah crazy cool thing happened this Sunday. We had a stake fireside and the guest speakers were the Osmonds-  yeah I know pretty cool! The whole week we just invited tons of people to the fireside and Merrill Osmond asked all of the non-members to raise their hands and there were so many of them!  But to make a long story short Merrill just praised us missionaries and asked all the non-members for a favor to let the missionaries into their homes to simply explain why we do what we do. Sooo really cool that we have the Osmonds backing us up now! So there was Merrill, Justin, Nathan and Kristy Osmond who spoke and sung to us and it was so amazing - the spirit was so strong and they bore some powerful testimonies of the Gospel. Afterwards we were at the doors saying bye to people and two people willingly -for the first time, take a book or Mormon from me and asked us questions all on their own! It was such an amazing night! And to top it all off, all the missionaries ONLY in the Sheffield area got to come and then the Osmonds came over and hugged and thanked all of us-  so that w

as soooo cool, I have hugged the Osmonds! They shared a lot but I just want to share I story that Justin shared, so I want to share it with you.

A man driving down a long stretch a road, when all of a sudden his car breaks down. The man pulls over and begins to attempt to fix the problem. When he noticed a black limousine pull up behind him and a man in a business suit walks towards him.
"What seems to be the problem?"
- "I don't know, it just seemed to quite on me."
"Well I'll take a look, go start it up."
The man got into his car and instantly the car started up again.
- "amazing! How did you do it?"
"I know a little bit about these cars"
-  "Well why did you help me in the first place, clearly you are a successful man why would you stop to help me?"
"Son my name is Henry Ford, I am the creator of this car. And it breaks my heart to see my creation on the side of the road, not doing what I intended it to do!
Got back into his limo and drove away.

God is our creator and it breaks his heart to see his creation on the side of the road, not doing what he intended it to do! 
Obey the commandments, stay on the straight and narrow path (road) he will take car of us. God knows our problems and he knows how to fix them, if first we will be humble enough to listen and allow him to work miracles in our lives.

Sorry this is a long email, but quickly just wanted to say that this past year has been such an amazing year! Being a missionary is the greatest thing a person could ever do, it has changed my outlook a lot on life. I have seen miracles, felt the spirit so much and has seen the gospel change lives. It's so exciting and very sad to think that I have only one year left of being a missionary. The church is true people it really really is! Hope you all have an amazing week. Try to eat healthy, me and elder leavitt decided that we needed to eat healthier so we tossed all of our sweets, biscuits, candy, junk food, all the bad and we have eaten so much better hence the watermelon and salad picture. It makes you feel 10 times better and I am finally losing all that weight my Chinese companion gave me when he made us food 24/7!
Love Elder Hanks

Monday, August 1, 2016

Craziest week ever!

Holy Moly! What a crazy and busy week this has been for me and elder Leavitt the past couple of days, lots of things have been going on so we will get right into this week! shall we!

Tuesday! We had our zone training which is always a good thing to have, because you get to learn so much and see all of your buddies that you make out here on your mission! But we had a really good training on making goals and setting visions for ourselves and our areas, really inspiring and lots of funny events happened! But President Turvey came and he spoke to us as well about being our best! To be obedient! At first I thought that it was going to be really hard to have a new mission President, but it has been a really good experience President Turvey is such an inspired man! It will be a good year with him! Then all the departing missionaries who finish their missions bore their testimonies and they were really powerful!

Wednesday! We had our interview with President Turvey and his wife! They are just the best, you can tell how much they already care about us and to help us in anyway possible! The funny thing that always seems to happen as it did this last interview was we spoke about Chinese for 90% of the interview and with Sister Turvey after! So I am almost certain that I will be going Chinese again! Not quite sure how I feel about that, because I love Chinese people and love learning Chinese but I am not very good at it and because I haven't used it in 6 months so we will see what happens!

Thursday! We went on exchanges with our Zone leaders out in a place called Rotherum. I went with my pal elder Smith. And we had a lot of fun together! In one of the lessons that we had, their was a weight bar in the room and half way through the lesson we got challenged to see who could do the most reps with it. Hahaha and elder Smith played American Football and is a solid 5 inches taller than me and the guy we were teaching was just as big! So he went and then elder smith! And elder Smith won he got 13! And then the guys son says to me "you got to do it now!" There was no way I was going to go and embarrass myself. But after all four of them effing me on I went and well I totally won! I got 17! Hahaha I guess size doesn't matter after all! Anyways that was just funny and something to use against all those American football players who say that soccer is a girls sport! WHAT NOW!!!! sorry that's harsh but yeah European football is the true sport!

Friday! Was a really good day and I will tell you why! we had a lesson planned with our investigator named C.......! and she is the best she is just super nice and it has been so fun to teach her. So we went to her house and it was a downpour of rain so we really wanted to get in! We knocked and waited and knocked and nothing! she wasn't in! So back on went the hoods and we were walking away and after we had crossed the street and had walked about 20 yards, over the sound of the rain on my hood and over Elder Leavitt's voice, I heard "turn around!" So without any hesitation I did, all of a sudden - it kind of scared elder Leavitt! And there was C..... in her doorway with her little baby waving us back! Such an amazing experience and we were able to have an awesome lesson with her. unfortunately she is now going on holiday so we wont see her for 2 WEEKS!! such a long time! keep her in your prayers, that she will continue to read the book of Mormon!

Saturday! Alright so not much happened on Saturday, until the evening time! We had a lesson with our Investigator named P.......! and previously our lessons with her have been going alright, she wasn't too keen on the idea of a loving god, but that didn't stop us. So we felt that we needed to go back over the restoration! As we were teaching I felt like we needed to show the restoration video to her again, and we then talked about how we can receive answers to our prayers! And she just broke down into tears, the spirit was so strong and she told us all that rubbish that has gone on in her life, and we sat and listened and then Elder Leavitt bore a powerful testimony on the power of prayer and it was amazing!!!! Such a good lesson! The spirit is the best thing ever, and helps out soooo much! Now only one problem, she is also going on holiday for 2 WEEKS!!! What is going on with all these holidays! but still really good!

this week we weren't able to teach J..... he had a lot of things going on, but we will get him this week don't you worry!

Sunday! Well this started out with the greatest thing ever and then it went downhill. So we showed up to church after inviting all of the less actives and gators to come to church and no one had responded at all. So we walked into the chapel and there on the second row was D.......! One of our less Actives who hasn't been to church in 3 years!!!!! SOOOOOOO amazing! ahhhh it is such a good sight to see! We have done a lot of less active work over the weeks and we have one guy named D......, and he has come to church for a full month now!! SOOOo good! ahhh the church is true!! 

Anyways you might be thinking why would she come now, of all days! Well I was assigned by our lovely new bishop to give a talk! He told me that it would need to be 15 min! No big deal and that I would be the final speaker and my topic was "Reaching our Potential through the Example of Jesus Christ." It was a really fun topic to speak and study! Anyways so we used that to invite people to come listen to me speak and one came!! hahaha nice to know that I am loved! no but it was good to see them at church! 

So after the sacrament I go up to sit on the stand all by myself! "thoughts start to go through my head like "oh noo I am going to be the only speaker!" "my talk isn't long enough for 45 min!?" Luckily the youth speaker had to just go get his talk from his mom, so he was first and he spoke for about 2 min! Really nice talk by the way! then came the other adult speaker and she spoke for about 10 min! Really nice talk heartfelt and really good I enjoyed it. Then came the intermediate hymn and during the hymn I look at Elder Leavitt who is laughing and then comes the bishop sliding towards me on the bench! at this point I knew that this wasn't good. I glanced at the clock and it says 10:30 people! 10:30!!!!!!!!! bishop says, "hey if you could just try and make it as close to the hour as possible that would be great!! 35 min people! I prepped for like 15 min! and now I had 35 minutes!!! It was a real test of faith because I know that my talk shouldn't of lasted that long, but thankfully through divine intervention, I was able to get up and speak for 30 mins and not one person fell asleep on me, trust me I was watching! But wow that made for a rough sacrament meeting, and then people came up to me and were saying how they liked my talk, the bishop said "that was exactly what our ward needed to hear" So I think that it went well but not something I wish to do again!

hahahah yeah so that was the week for us! lots of things needing to be done, and most of them were accomplished! I am just glad that this next week is a normal week and we can buckle down and get to work! The church is true people I know that it is!!! A mission is the best thing that anyone could do! I am so grateful for it!

last thing! is happy birthday to my brother in law AJ on Friday!! Your awesome AJ thanks for being the best brother in law ever!!!

Take care!

Elder Hanks