26 Jul 2016


"It's been a good week, and it's passed so quickly! We didn't have many lessons, all of our friends weren't available for different reasons, and we ended up having just the one lesson this week. But we made a lot of visits to less-active members that have had no contact with the church for years, trying to find it they still live at the same address. It turned out that most don't, but we did find one man who hasn't talked to missionaries for years, and he said that I look exactly like the missionary that taught and baptised him, and that I reminded him of him a lot. He's a nice guy, and hopefully Elder Reed and his new companion will be able to work with him and get him coming out to church again.

I'll fly down to Athens today (Monday 25.01.16) at 5pm, then I'll be with Elder Peel and Elder Dastrup until we fly out on Thursday. Tomorrow we'll have Mars Hill as Elder Potter will leave tomorrow afternoon, and on Wednesday we'll have leaving interviews as well as a meal at the mission home.

I had a talk at church on Sunday about humility, and it went really well. Lots of people came up to me after and told me how much it had touched them, it was a really nice last Sunday at church here. It was strange to say bye to everyone, but it's the third time I've said bye to all the members here, I'm almost used to it! And I'll see them again when I visit at some point, and if any of them come to the temple in England, so it wasn't too bad. I think it's been much easier to finish my mission this way after a short transfer than it would have been to come home immediately after 10/11months in the same area if I had stayed in Athens! And it was really nice for Thessaloniki to be a sort of bookend on my mission, at the beginning and end."

"S.'s baptism on Friday! She was taught by Elder Burton and Elder Shaner"
Elder Teal was wearing white to go in the sea and be one of the two witnesses

From Me to Elder Teal...

2 John 1: 12 
"Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full."

The return email from Elder Teal...

"That sums up how I feel so well. It's impossible to sum up two years of amazing, life-changing experiences with an email, so I won't try. But I am so grateful for these two years and for everything that they've taught me. I've met wonderful people, seen beautiful places, and done amazing things! I think the most important thing I've learnt is how accessible Heavenly Father is to each one of us. He is not only able to bless us, but wants to, and all we have to do is ask. I'm grateful that I've been able to build and develop my relationship with Him and with my Saviour Jesus Christ.

I think another scripture that sums up well how I feel is Alma 26:16 - 

"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."

I can't wait to see you all on Thursday, and tell you all about these last two years! I think it's going to take a long time for me to share with you all of my experiences and the lessons that I've learnt, but that's okay because we have the rest of eternity!"

21 Jul 2016

Week 103

"We saw Elder Peel and Elder Gore on Friday for training that they did for the district here, and then again on Saturday when we all had a meal together at Brother Todi's house. It was nice to see them, and they did a good training meeting."


"We set off to meet a man called P that we had met on the street on Friday. He Was at the place we had scheduled to meet exactly on time which was impressive and we went to a nearby area with benches to sit and chat. He had known missionaries years aboard had attended church several times then had lost contact. He's very motivated to learn more and we had a lesson about The Restoration which went really well. We invited him to be baptised and he accepted so we set a baptismal date for August 27th. We then went straight from there to Js house (which is a stones throw away from where we were sitting) and had a lesson with him about The Plan of Salvation after reading from Mosiah 18 together. Again it was a really good lesson, he understood well and had great questions. After that we had half an hour left in the day so we went to a door that I had seen whilst we had a lesson the other day and it was across the street from where we had the lesson with P today. We got in and had a really good first meeting with a man called P and his young family. He has also known missionaries before. We had a really good chat  where we read from the Book of Mormon and quoted from the New Testament which impressed him. It was amazing to have 3 lessons in one evening and all 3 in a 100m radius, it was like being a missionary in Brazil! I'm grateful for the amazing evening that we had today." 

"As we got on the bus a lady called me over to sit with her and said I had talked to her last Saturday on a different bus. At first I couldn't remember her but as we chatted I remembered. She said she had read the pamphlet I gave her and in her house she had found a copy of The Book of Mormon that she doesn't remember how she got. She had some questions and was interested to learn more and said that she thinks it's not  a coincidence that she met us on the bus two Saturday's in a row. I got her phone number and she said she'd like to come to church at some point. It was nice to have a confirmation that the short conversations we have with people on the bus actually make an impression on them." 

"One of the most important things I've learnt during my mission is how accessible God really is to us, and how much he listens and cares when we pray, and how he is willing and ready to grant us our righteous desires." 

Quick flight back to Athens for a final Eye check up..
(As a follow up to Eye surgery posted HERE)

"Elder Dastrup came with me to the eye clinic and it was nice to chat with him about his plans for after his mission and how his last few weeks are going. At the clinic they did some measurements then a vision test and I saw the doctor briefly. Everything was fine, he said the problem has been completely fixed and will never be an issue again and said it would be nice to see me again in a years time. He said that if possible it would be good for me to go in a years time for another check-up, but when I said I'd be in England, he said if it's difficult to get there I can have a topography exam in England and send them the results to have a look at. We'll see what we end up doing, there's no rush, and the results are more just for their records as it's still an experimental procedure and they're building up a record bank."

"I've really learnt the value of interviews during my mission, I've always enjoyed them with both mission presidents. They can be really uplifting, and it's nice to know that someone is receiving revelation specifically to help you!"

Elder Reed

On week today, Elder Teals missionary service will come to an end. He will fly to London with Elders Deighton, Dixon and Peel. From there he will then get a transfer flight alone to Manchester where we will meet him.

14 Jul 2016

Week 102 Thessaloniki


"It's been a good week! We had the open house on Saturday, and it went really well. We had rooms set up by the different companionship's, and for those that came it was a really good activity. We didn't have too many people, but it was good for a first time and next time we do it we'll hopefully be able to get even more people there. It was also a good week for lessons, we had six during the week again which we were happy about, and we have two scheduled for tonight, It's always great when you have a lesson on a Monday, it's a great start to the week, and it will be even better if both our appointments come through tonight!"

Replies to Mums Email

"That's great that you went out with the sisters, they will have been so grateful. It makes such a big difference to have members in the lessons, and members who are willing to help teach quickly become missionaries' favourite people in the world! About the man with lots of questions, don't feel like it's your job to answer them! Missionaries study for two hours every single day and then teach several times a week answering those questions! It's way more important for members to share their personal experiences with the things that the missionaries talk about, and to help the investigator see how he/she can apply the things they're being taught in their life in a practical way. For example, don't worry about talking about what the Book of Mormon is, but think more abut what it does in your life! And it's the same with every question :)"

"I got the postcard yeah, thanks for that! And don't worry too much about writing, I've been useless too, and in a couple of weeks I'll be home. About your questions, I'll write them down and think about them, and I'd prefer to explain the answers to you when I see you rather than writing them in an email, as I don't think I'd do them justice. And it's also a great way for me to organise my thoughts to start telling you all about my mission experiences, I'd been wondering how I'd possibly start to tell you about everything that has happened in the last two years!"


"The most olives I've ever seen in one place, there are 4 tonnes of them! And they're good too! They're being stored at the warehouse where we do service ready to be taken to refugee camps near the city."

"We had to tip the brine out of two of the barrels so that they could be transported. With the brine each barrel is 250kg, and without they're about 100kg lighter! The open barrel you see is without the brine"

"Elder Reed looking contemplative on the number 23 bus"

Email Between a Father and Son

Over two years Mum and dad have had different roles in our emails. Mum being far better at detail has kept Elder Teal up to date on family life. Dad had the role of scripture discussions. I have decided to include we exchanged this week as a window into our email lives. This weeks email to him was inspired my comments shared by our Stake President.. 

To Elder Teal..

"Geese and other migratory birds use a very distinctive V formation when flying. 
Scientists believe there are two reason for this flight. Firstly the lead bird creates , at its own expense, better flying conditions for the birds that follow. When tired the lead drops back to the end of the V and another takes over. It is this selfless pattern that allows the skien to travel such immense distances. The second reason is the formation allows all birds to be watched by the others, creating safety for all. 
By simply being obedient in all things , like nature often is, geese become successful.

What can we learn? Well there is a time and a season for all our service. You have been the lead in many ways in your missionary service. This last couple of weeks you have been obedient and dropped to the back of the V. As you prepare to come home you will again drop back as you leave the work to your companion. 
As you wisely wrote this week , taking off the tag does not remove the Saviour's name from your heart. You just change your position in the V again. 

There is no reason why you can't continue to have the same spirit you have now , when you come home. Nothing has to change. As Elder Holland remarks.  'I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square and said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ.” That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well.' source

You have learnt that every decision you make determines your spirituality. That applies as much here as there. If a missionary comes back and resumes the lifestyle they had before, they return to the spirituality they had before. It's a choice thing. Put bluntly this refers to commuter games, films, waking and bed times . The distance you move away from the live you live now, is directly proportional to the change you will experience in your spirituality.  As always life is full of agency!"

From Elder Teal

"Thanks for the thought about the V-formation, it describes well how I've been feeling! And I've really enjoyed dropping to the back of the V, it's a new perspective on the work which has been a refreshing change. It's also been really great to see this area be productive. I told Elder Reed how wherever he goes in his mission and however little is happening in an area when he arrives, if he just talks to lots of people about the Restoration, things will start to happen, as that's why we're here. I think too often missionaries overthink things, and it's so good to be able to just focus on helping as many people as possible to hear about the Restoration, which has happened, and then telling them about why it's important.

I remember telling Rachel the same thing in an email before Toby came home about how she shouldn't wait for him to get "back to normal", but rather help him to have his mission self become his new normal. I've seen myself change for the better in so many ways during my mission, and I have no intention of going backwards. I don't think I was a bad person before, but I'm a better person now! I have started to identify some things that we do in mission life that are not necessary for me to continue to maintain my current level of spirituality, and there are some things about "normal life" that I'm looking forward to, but the things that are beneficial to a part-time missionary I definitely intend to keep!"

4 Jul 2016

Week One Hundred and One - New Badges -Thessloniki

New Badges

We ordered badges for my MTC group and Elder Mead as we will be leaving soon. We're wearing them to see what peoples reactions will be, and if there's no problem we'll be ordering them for all the missionaries :)
The other one was the English word "Elder" written in Greek characters, this one is the actual Greek word for Elder. It's been good so far. And yeah, now they can actually know what it means! What we had before was as meaningful to them as this would be to you: "PRESBYTEROS TIL"

It's been such a good week! We had lots of lessons and two new friends to teach. We also have a new baptismal date for August 13th with a lady from South Africa who is so nice, and so ready to learn.
It's exciting stuff! I'm excited to be able to leave an area in great shape!
The two people we had dated for July are not ready yet and it looks like they'll need more time. 

The Branch had a Baptism!

The baptism was great, A. was so ready to be baptised and is such a good example of the happiness that people can have when they find the gospel in their lives. She will be a strong support to the branch I think. I've seen in my mission that Albanians are such nice, open people, I feel like I know their culture well without ever going to the country! I can also have a basic conversation in Albanian, which I think will be a life skill which will help me go far :P

I'm genuinely worried about the heat (or lack of) when I get home haha, but I'm sure it will be fine, I'll just have to wear a jumper until I get used to it :P

28 Jun 2016

Week ONE HUNDRED Thessloniki

View from the Elders apartment Window 

 "We didn't have that many lessons but we did have a lesson from door-knocking which was good, and also a good lesson with D, who is scheduled to be baptised on the 23rd. He couldn't make it to church as he had work, but things are looking good for his baptism. We also got the bus out to a suburban area the other day with big houses and it was nice to change our demographic a little bit.
The other elders here will have a baptism on Saturday which will be good too! Church was good as usual, we had lots of tourists there so the chapel was full. And the branch members are so friendly to people of other faiths, it's great."

View from the Elders apartment Window

!It's so hot now! And there's a lot of humidity here as we're next to the sea. Elder Reed described it well when he said it's like the air is sweating. I actually really like the heat, although it can get pretty uncomfortable on the bikes!"

"Elder Reed's great. We have so much fun together as we have similar senses of humour, and we have so many running jokes that we're laughing at constantly."

Elder Teal

"We have nice bikes here, nicer than the Cyprus ones. They're a bit smaller though and I think the frame is a bit small for me really. We've been using them as I don't have a monthly ticket as I got here too late in the month, but for July I'll buy a ticket and I don't think we'll use the bikes that much."

"I don't think many of my clothes from my mission will fit anymore, the stuff I have with me is all really small. Although that may be in part due to accidents with dryers :P"

Elder Reed flicking and elastic band

Note from Home

Its hard to believe that we have reached week ONE HUNDRED.  Only 4 more blog posts left to write before Elder Teal comes home, then we can retire from blogging. Each week Elder Teals mum and I compare emails and pool information, I write and then she edits and publishes. 
Blogging has been a fantastic way to feel involved in and also share, our sons missionary experiences. With the additional information posts, this week will be our 135th blog entry. 
Along with getting excited about Elder Teals return in 30 days, we are also looking forward to flying to Greece with him in September, to visit some of the people and places we have often wrote about.

20 Jun 2016

Week 99 Elder Teal - Thessaloniki

  The Greece Athens Mission - Above Athens Zone - Below Cyprus Zone

"Hi! Yeah the weeks are rolling by so fast, not long to go now at all. I think these next few weeks will pass really quickly, as I'm already loving it back here in Thessaloniki."

"Our week was great. The zone conferences and MLC with President Kearon were so good, and we learnt a lot. It was also really nice to travel with Elder Kearon from Cyprus to Athens and to be able to get to know him a little bit during the meantime. He's such a nice man, and really has an air about him that makes him seem like a leader. He had a really good teaching style, and I learnt both from what we discussed and the way he led the discussion. I had an interview with him on Friday as well which was nice."

Whilst in Cyprus Elder Teal also got to say goodbye to old friends.

Transfers - Thessaloniki ! 

On Friday after Mission Leadership Council (MLC) Elder Teal left Athens and flew to Thessloniki where he will serve with Elder Reed for his last five and a half weeks.

Elder Reed on the Right 

"Being back here in Thessaloniki is so good! I'm in the new apartment, which is on the other side of town, so although I've been over here a couple of times there's a lot that I'm not familiar with, so it's good to be looking around and finding things out. It was so nice to be in the branch on Sunday, and to see all of the members, and they were all really happy to see me too. We've had two lessons since I arrived and set two baptismal dates, so I think it's going to be an exciting few weeks. Elder Reed is great, he has a really good sense of humour and we get along really well, and he's also really willing to work and to get things done." 

"Since I've been here I've been talking to literally everyone, and I'm absolutely loving it." 

It's getting really warm now!

Elder Teals mission has gone full circle. Having started in Thessaloniki he has returned to finish.

13 Jun 2016

Week 98 Elder Teal Greece Athens Mission

Transfer news from the Greece Athens Mission
This coming Friday, after 38 weeks serving as an Assistant to President Heder, Elder Teal will be moving back to serve in Thessaloniki for a third time' and his last 6 weeks. It will be a great chance to focus fully on finding, teaching and working with his friends in the branch. Elder Teal is excited about a new challenge and has loved the opportunity to work so closely with the Heders for the best part of 10 months. 

"It's been a good week as usual yeah! We didn't have too many lessons, only two, but they were both good ones. We've also had some really good opportunities to help and serve people this week which has been great."

"President Kearon (Europe Area President) will arrive in Cyprus tomorrow. We'll have Zone Conference there on Wednesday then fly back Wednesday night, and we will have conference here in Athens on Thursday. We'll then have MLC on Friday morning after which he will fly out. I will have a meeting with President Heder, Elder Mead and Elder Potter, after which I will fly up to Thessaloniki on Friday afternoon. It's going to be a busy week I think! I'm excited."

Alinda Heder Graduating in Athens

"We had seminary graduation here too! We didn't go, but we were there for the end and the food afterwards! (We'd been working in the office and hadn't had chance to eat, and Sister Petchey is very generous). It was just Alinda graduating, but it seems that everyone enjoyed the night. It's great that Ruth graduated! You know, when the Americans that we have here apply for their visa, they have to have proof of religious training, and they have to send the original copy of their seminary certificate. Alinda said she's known people in the States who didn't finish seminary, and then couldn't get visas for their missions because they didn't have an official document to say that they'd been instructed in religion. So graduating from seminary is important! Even President and Sister Heder had to dig out their certificates in order to get their visas to come here."

Elder Teals sister Ruth graduating in Manchester

"I'm glad the zone leaders are working hard over there! I think it will be strange to be home after my mission and to see the missionaries that serve in my ward in a whole new light. Hopefully I won't compare them with the missionaries we have here, because I'm sure we have the best in the world!"

"Yeah it was my last week at Halandri. It was sad to say bye to everyone, but it's really nice to be able to tell them that we'll be coming to visit. It's also nice to be able to say goodbye in stages as I'm not yet leaving the mission for good. I've found that it's good to be packing in stages as well, as I've filled one suitcase with things that I won't need for the next 6 weeks, which I will leave here in Athens until I come to leave."

"I will have to fly back down to Athens in mid July for my last check-up at the eye clinic, and President said there's no problem. So the flights continue. If everything goes to the plan by the time I get home I'll have made exactly 45 flights during my mission."

"As for extra space, I think I will be okay. If not, I can always pay for extra weight for the suitcases rather than posting things, but I don't think it will be necessary. All of the casual clothes I brought with me are really small for me now, so I think I'll basically have zero clothing when I get home! I'll have to wear a shirt and slacks for a couple of days until I can buy some new clothes! :P"

Senior couples make a massive difference to any mission,
Elder Teal and Elder Mead got to meet the newly arrived Elder and Sister Allen

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