Monday, July 29, 2013

Details...details! (For my mother)

Mom asked for more details about how I spend my week, so here's an overview:

Sundays: Church starts at 10 o'clock, but we usually have to be there around 8:15 for Ward Council. Luckily, it only takes a minute for us to walk to the church, so we're never in too much of a hurry. We're at church from 10:00 to about 1:30, 1:45ish, visiting with members, and lately practicing music. After that, we usually go to appointments that we've made, or stop by investigators' houses until 6:00, when we have choir practice. We spend the rest of the night at the church, as Elder Schorzman is District Leader and has to do accounting. I just practice piano or organ during that time.

Mondays: Monday's P-Day, and so after studying from 8:00 to 10:00, we usually head over to the Senior Couple's flat to Email. Sometimes we'll be over here playing games with the Sister Missionaries in our ward (Sister Nelson from Idaho and Sister Clark from Glendora). Last week we headed up the high street (Oh, Dad, I found out, the high street is the main street in the town with all the shops.) and looked through charity shops. Elder and Sister McMurtry really want to plan a trip to Dartmoor, but Elder Schorzman isn't a fan of super fun P-Days, because he worries that it takes too much focus from the rest of the week. I honestly wouldn't mind doing something really fun, but oh well.

St. Leonard's Tower on the high street in the center of town. The tower is all that remains
of the medieval chapel of St. Leonard, founded in 1220.

Tuesdays through Saturdays: These days are filled mostly with appointments. We have a substantial number of investigators and less-actives to visit, and so we get most of our days packed with visiting them. We do service a few times a week: once for an older woman in the ward who we help with her gardening; once for a man we'd like to teach who has an allotment where he grows vegetables. He's interesting. He used to be a chemistry teacher, but now is an amateur entomologist. We do most of our contacting on the bus, as we've found that to be most effective. People generally like to have conversations, and so it makes it easy to get onto the topic of the gospel somehow, even if they initially don't want to talk about religion. We had one experience where a man refused to talk to us, and not two minutes later leaned over and told us a bible-related joke. We exchanged jokes with him for the remainder of the bus ride, and gave him a pass-along card when the bus stopped. And getting off the bus, he called after us and asked for a Book of Mormon. It was really cool. Other than that, we try to talk to people on the street between appointments or in the park. We've knocked doors a few times, but it isn't effective.

We've been eating dinner with members more often as the weeks go on. One family, the Julian's, feed us every week. They are incredible. They've been really helping us with an investigator we've been working with. Brother Julian goes with us to every appointment, and last week, they invited him for dinner with us. It was so spiritually charged. I'm so excited for him. And the food? Oh my gosh. I mean, sister Julian always feeds us well, but this meal was something else. She's French, so she made scallops, toast with duck and wild boar patte, and the most tender, delicious ham I have ever eaten in my life. And then the investigator's a professional chef, and so he made this carrot cake that I was nearly crying over.

Let me tell you a little bit about him...his name is Charlie and he's so interesting. His parents were from Poland, but were forced to move to Siberia during WWII because of the Soviets taking control. When Roosevelt made a pact with the Soviets, they moved down through the Middle East to Uganda, which is where he was born. They were supposed to move to Australia, but his mother had Malaria, and so they missed the boat, and had to move to England instead. He's so amazing--he already believes most of what we believe, we just feel like we need to get him friends in the church, which the Julian's are helping to be.

Me and Charlie...and my hair, which was really something else that day. Blame it on the humidity!

We also did some other service this week. Two less-active members were getting married in the chapel, and asked if I and Sister McMurtry would play for it. We did the prelude music, which the Stake President really appreciated. Her father is very, very anti-Mormon, and so the hymns that I picked for prelude (which I just played just because those were the ones I knew) really helped bring the spirit. We played 'I Giorni' together, and I also was asked to sing 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perri, and they really appreciated that. We're hoping it will open some doors for us as we contact.

Finally, we had our musical fireside last night. I don't think I should plan any pieces for the next one... I performed in seven out of the thirteen pieces... Granted, two were choir, and one was a missionary ensemble. The others were 'I Giorni' (which I had initially planned to play), 'I Heard Him Come' (which I was later asked to sing for), the number the primary was supposed to do (which only a few of the primary showed up to) and a piece I volunteered to play guitar for with one of the YSA's (young single adults) in the ward. But our investigator came with the Julian's! He was so stoked about it. He really felt the spirit there too.

Anyway, I've got way too much to write about... I love you all!

-Elder Green

Old Forde House, a 17th century manor house in Newton Abbot.
Houses in Teignmouth.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Joy in Missionary Work

Let me give you my flat address really quick. I know that you were able to find it on Google Maps, but post (or mail, as it's called back in the States) will probably arrive quicker this way. (The Mission Office address, on the right side of blog is always good, as well, as they always know where he is and can forward the mail to him.)

1 The Sand Martins
St. Marychurch Rd.
Newton Abbot, Devon
TQ12 4BU

I'm not really sure how that's supposed to be formatted... But I think they'll get the gist if you put it like that. At this point, well, I haven't received any post... But that doesn't bother me at all. You can give people my address if you'd like. We don't have a ton of time to Email on P-Day, as we have to go to the Senior Missionaries' flat to do it (they have a laptop). Plus, I don't really have much time to think about that. After we're done studying in the morning, we're out of the flat until 9:00 PM at the earliest, unless we stop back for lunch and dinner. We walk and take the bus everywhere--whichever is most convenient. Our area covers a number of towns (Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Kingkerrswell, Buckland, etc.) and so we have to catch the bus out there quite frequently, but if we're just going across town, it's easier to just walk.

This is Teignmouth, it's a little port town in our area. The boats are all floating in the Teign River
that leads out to the British Channel. (Hence the name, Teign Mouth.)

Shopping is, well, shopping... We get what we need on P-Day, and don't worry too much about it. It's not like we took any class on how to shop thriftily, but Elder Schorzman has been out a while, and so he knows how to take care of it. Plus, when you're only getting the things you need, and buying them on sale, or store brand, it's not hard to be thrifty.

The food here is pretty good. When the members feed us, we definitely eat well. On our own, we kind of just throw stuff together. Sometimes. Elder Schorzman made some really good pasta the other day, though. Oh, and I told Taylor, but apparently, a common dinner item here is those barbecue baked beans on top of toast, appropriately named, beans and toast. It's okay.

(This is the explanation about the question Mom asked about the MTC picture.)
By the by, with Elder Cullimore and I--he had started putting his pen behind his ear over the week, and so he and I both did it for the picture. It wasn't fully intended as a funny thing, just one of those last minute decisions.

I really like my trainer. To be honest, it took a little while getting used to him, though. I think it was partially the Lord's sense of humour putting us together. You see, he sings around the flat all the time. That, at first, bothered me quite a bit, until I realized, "Oh wait... That's me..." Elder Schorzman is such a great missionary. He's been through a lot in his life, and because of that, he really understands how the Gospel can really change someone's life. When we're out working, he's working hard, and trying to help everyone that we see to learn.

We actually had a really cool experience the other day. Though at the end of the day, I'm always so thrilled by the amazing things that are going on here, every morning when I wake up, I seem to have forgotten most of that. Because of that, I can often feel pretty reluctant to get out there and start working. Sometimes, that's because of homesickness, others just pure laziness. Well, last week I woke up feeling especially burned out, and not wanting to go out and work. I wasn't going to let that affect my efforts, but still it was bothering me. So, I said a prayer asking to see the joy in missionary work that day. When we went out, I got right back into my rhythm of things, and pushed forward, trying to work my hardest. I quickly forgot about the fact that I had been so homesick that morning, and got lost in doing the work. That evening, we caught the bus home from Teignmouth. We sat next to a man in the back, and Elder Schorzman started talking to him. I was kind of seated in a position so that it wouldn't be easy for me to join in the conversation, and so I kind of just listened to them. It turns out that the man had had quite a hard life, and served a good amount of time in prison for an addiction to heroin. He's been clean for the past two years, though, and was telling Elder Schorzman a lot about how you just have to take things a step at a time with a thing like that, but that you still have to cut a lot of ties. Elder Schorzman told him a bit about the church's Addiction Recovery Program, and also taught him quite a lot about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, and how God loves us personally. What he said really seemed to comfort the man, and so we gave him a Book of Mormon and a pass-a-long card. He ended up asking us for more of the cards, so that he could put them out in the home that he shared with a number of other recovering addicts. As we walked home from the bus station, I just couldn't believe how lucky we were, to be here with people prepared for us to teach. Who knows if he'll be baptized. Who knows if he'll even contact missionaries ever. That would be nice, as they could help him so much more, but the fact that we were there for a moment to help bless his life with a little comfort is a wonderful thing.

I've got a million other stories I could tell you, but I feel like it would take far too long to write them all out... I've got them all in my journal, though, so I'll have plenty to talk to you all about when I get home.

Love you all,

-Elder Green

Monday, July 15, 2013

Area 1: Newton Abbot...finally!

The last little while at the MTC was great. We had much fewer classes the last week, and spent most of our time studying and teaching our investigators. It was nice having that time for us to kind of work things for ourselves, as before the number of classes left us awfully drained. We committed both of our "investigators" to baptism. Unfortunately, it's not that easy out here in the field...

Fourth of July at the MTC was great. One of the chefs was really nice, and cooked us hot dogs with watermelon and potato salad--as close as he could get to an "American" meal. He also decorated with red white and blue everywhere, and made a big American flag cake. He followed the next day with fish and chips and British flags everywhere, but we didn't mind at all--we were too focused on the best fish and chips I've ever had in my life.

We had the opportunity to go to the Preston temple shortly after I emailed last P-day, and that was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I was able to sit the Celestial room for a long time, and I got so much out of it. I was talking to one man, and he told me that as missionaries, "We're called to live our lives exactly as Christ did." That really struck me, as we're really dedicating ALL of our time to doing just that: living as he did.

Preston England Temple

Transfer day we had to get up around 4:15 AM... It was a long day of travel. We had a 5 hour bus ride down to Staines, where I got to meet President and Sister Millar. They're fantastic. We were fed lunch there, and had interviews with President and his two counselors. After that, they had the official transfer part. I'm assigned to the Newton Abbot area, and my companion is Elder Schorzman, from Coeur d'Alene, ID. President said I was sent here partially because of my musical talents, and I can't believe how much that was true... The Senior missionaries, Elder and Sister McMurtry, were telling me about a musical fireside they have every six weeks, here, as they drove us home. Sister McMurtry is an incredible cellist, and she said they needed a lot more talent for the fireside. I mentioned I Giorni, because my companion had given them a Ludovico Einaudi CD to put in as we drove home. She said she'd work out a cello part. Not the next day, a less active member of the ward asked for her to play for her wedding. What song did she ask for? I Giorni. So incredible.

More and more keeps coming up too. I was needed for music time for Primary on Sunday. They've also had quite a hole in their bass section in the choir. Also, one of our investigators plays mandolin. And they need a guitarist for the musical fireside for a version of Come Thou Fount. Like, really? I can't believe it.

The area is beautiful. There are some woods right up from our flat, and Teignmouth, which is at the beach, is only a half hour bus ride. We've got two sisters in our ward as well: Sister Nelson and Sister Clark, both of which are from California. Sister Clark's just from down in Glendora.

Map of the areas in the London South Mission.
Newton Abbot is in the Plymouth zone (off-white area on left...look for the arrow.)

Mom's guessing (because I have not been labeling my pictures), but she thinks this is my companion,
Elder Schorzman, and our flat in Newton Abbot.

Teaching here is kind of tough... We've stayed awfully busy with teaching appointments, but a lot of visits have been cancelling on us. Some of those have led us to just the right people, though. I'm grateful for the spirits guidance. It's amazing how much I've been able to feel it here. I told the MTC president, it's like before my mission, I would receive answers in instances when I had questions, but now it's constant. It's fantastic.

Anyway, I must be off. We've got some shopping to do.

Love you all,

-Elder Green

P.S. Stonehenge is pretty... Depressing. It's only about 100 metres from the carriageway... We saw it as we drove down here. Oh well.

Stonehenge, from the car...unfortunately!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Heading South

We received a quick email this morning, as well as a letter from the MTC President, announcing that Elder Green would be heading south this Wednesday morning, July 10th, at about 5:30 am.  He will have a 5 1/2 hour bus ride to London, where he will be assigned his first area.  "Hooray," he says.  He is so ready to get out and get to work.

Anyone who has spent much time around Braiden knows that he always has a pen or pencil behind his ear...apparently even for a group picture at the MTC. But I am curious to know if it just so happens that his MTC companion, Elder Cullimore, also has this funny habit...or if it is some kind of inside joke. I guess we will have to wait and see what they say...

Group picture of missionaries who arrived at England MTC on June 27, 2013.
Can you find the two Elders with pens behind their ears?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

MTC Life

MTC life is so great. I mean, it's hard. It's really quite hard, but I love every minute of it. It's so beautiful here, even with (and especially with) the rain. The pond right out back is visible from our room, and the countryside behind it just makes life so great. What makes life hard here is that we never stop working, except for meals. Every other moment is pretty much spent planning for our investigators. We've got two progressing investigators here, played by our teachers, who we'll be teaching the entire time we're in the MTC. The first, played by Sister Loynes, is Michelle. We had a really tough first lesson with her... She's from Greece, and hardly speaks any English. To add to that, she has no concept of religion whatsoever. We've realized that, in having to teach her, we have to plan to teach very little, because we have to go through in such simple detail to help her to understand simple things, like God. It's really quite a blessing, though, as it helps us to see just how simple the gospel truly is.

Our other investigator, Colin, is played by Brother Hotchkiss, and has some of his flatmates meeting with the missionaries. He's a lot easier to teach, as he is able to comprehend a lot more. I don't feel like we did all that well with our first lesson with him, but we've been able to correct a lot of mistakes that we made since.

One thing I've learned especially in the MTC is just how interestingly the spirit works. We watched a fireside on Sunday with Elder Bednar talking about how to tell when it's the Holy Ghost and when it's just us. His advice: "Don't worry about it". I've seen that we can really understand it pretty well as we do know what feels right. I've had to apply that every day here.

I don't think I've forgotten anything... But I did lose my shampoo. You know how I am. I'll get some more today when we run to the store.

Oh, by the by, my flatmates are so great. My companion, Elder Cullimore, I knew from up at school. He lived down the hall from me with my buddy Seth. But we didn't know each other very well before we were made companions. We've become really fast friends, and started working well together. My other flatmates, Elder Anderson and Elder Hammond, are super funny. Elder Anderson is from Riverton, UT, but played basketball for a college down in Florida before coming up here. Elder Hammond is from Nottingham and is quite hilarious. It's cool having a Brit in the room with us who can explain all the "British-isms" we don't understand.

Elder Cullimore (my companion), Elder Green (me), Elder Anderson, and Elder Hammond..."Flatmates"

Also, all the guys in my room are super athletic, so they're putting me to work getting buff.

The rest of our district is so great. We've got Elder Goodson, who I flew in with (and was actually introduced to by Sister (Tori) Thomas up at school), Elder Kopischke from Germany, Elder Weaver from Utah, Elder Tauman from Kiribati, and Sisters Brady (from Maryland) and Nenadovich (from Croatia).

As for 4th of July, I think we're going to try to celebrate it somehow, much to the chagrin of Elder Hammond. If nothing else, I'll wear my red white and blue tie as a subtle thing.

Love you, and I'll write again next week.

--Elder Green

P.S. So, what happened with the plane... Our flight from Dulles to Heathrow was delayed something like two hours, making it so we missed our connecting flight. The people from British Airways were very nice about it, though, and booked another flight for us in time that we would make that one. However, we had somewhere around twenty minutes to make it from the plane, through customs, and to the next plane. Obviously, that wasn't going to happen with two elders and a sister from the states. Fortunately, Sister Gregory was able to get ahead pretty quickly, inform them of the situation, and get us on another flight at noon. The airport gave us vouchers for £5 so that we could get some food while we waited for our flight. The hard part was finding a payphone to call the MTC... We couldn't make international calls from it, and so we had to keep trying again, and again... But, we made it. We met up with another elder from Dublin (Elder Darcy), who was a super nice guy, and then we took off for the MTC.