Monday, August 26, 2013

Talking Cars...and a New Companion

Our view from the bus stop, while we were down in Paignton.

I'm glad to hear Julius is doing well! I wish that we got a chance to read other missionaries blogs, but with how little time we ourselves have to Email and everything, it's probably better we don't. It's always inspiring to hear about these miracles that keep happening, though. Every time we get a call from President Millar, or a Zone Leader they're always asking to know about what miracles we've seen that day. It's really good to reflect on that and to see what good we're doing in an area, because despite challenges and difficulties, there are always miracles happening.

Please add (on Facebook) Ashley, and Jade, Josh and Holly if they added us as well. Ashley and Jade are two investigators that we're teaching, and they're way cool. We met him out on the street, and Elder Schorzman and he talked cars for quite a while. Jade, his partner, came out after a bit and we chatted with her too. We gave them a card with our Facebook info on it, and guess what? Jade spent all night on Those little cards we hand out really make a difference. They're amazing people, and it's always awesome stopping by their place. Jade's been reading the Book of Mormon now, and so we're really excited. And now their friends are interested as well. I think that's one of the best things about being out here: I mean, we're here to preach the gospel, but we end up meeting and talking to the best people. And then we want to share the gospel with them not just because we're on a mission, but because we really like them, and care about them, and want them to be as happy as they can possibly be. You start to develop the most amazing relationships with them.

And what's even more of a miracle is that Elder Blackner is perfect for them, and a number of other people in the area. He's from Beaver, Utah, and has only been out here for three transfers, so President obviously trusts us quite a bit to have someone who's half-trained leading an area, and someone who just got done training as my trainer. He's really into hunting, so we talk about that quite a bit. I'm teaching him guitar, also, so he can start playing in the musical programs with us. He's really coming along quite well. And we get along really well, too. I think the best thing that I learned from Elder Schorzman is to be as open with your companion as possible, and that has helped Elder Blackner and I to become good friends already. I know the Lord sent him here for a reason, and I can see that both of us are supposed to be here more and more everyday.

We actually do have some baptisms scheduled for Phoebe, Steve and Terena's daughter. She should be getting baptized on the 14th of September. We're really excited for that family, and have been so grateful for all the miracles we've seen with them.

I never did get that haircut scheduled... I might get it later today. We'll see.

Also, I'm going to try to send home some chocolate and things this next week. If you guys want anything in particular, let me know and I'll buy it next Monday. I'll probably send home some Cadbury and Angel Delite. I wish I could send Vimto, but it'd be too heavy.

Your package should get here soon, by the by. We've got Zone Training next week, so I should get it then, at the latest.

We spent P-day here at "Hannahs," a center for the disabled.  They have art exhibits, a big music room and garden and a fantastic view of Newton Abbot and Teignmouth.
Sister Nelson and I had to get a picture with that in the background (below).

Love you all so much,

Elder Green

Monday, August 19, 2013

"The Fourth Missionary"

This week has been so great. Really. We've kind of had some trouble with meeting with people, as quite a few have cancelled appointments and such, but we've been trying our hardest, and so we feel quite fulfilled.

We had one really amazing experience this past week. We went up to Chudleigh, as we don't often get to work out there, and talked to a ton of people. The buses run every hour up there, so when we missed the bus by maybe five minutes, we were kind of disappointed. Elder Schorzman jokingly suggested we get haircuts at the barbershop near the bus stop (as we really need them) and teach the barber at the same time, but we decided not to as the white handbook specifically designates that as a P-Day activity. So, we decided to try to reach a less-active member nearby. She wasn't home, but in her neighborhood we found a really cool potential investigator. He's going to try to make it to church, but we're going to be visiting with him soon, hopefully. We gave him a DVD full of Mormon Messages.

We headed back up to the bus station, and there was the barber sitting on the bench. We talked to him for a little while, and taught him about the Restoration and Plan of Salvation. He said we're welcome to come back for haircuts and another teaching appointment. We gave him our number, but then the bus arrived, and so we forgot to ask his. Usually, that means you won't hear from them again, but five minutes later, on the bus, we got a text saying (essentially), "Hey this is Danny, the barber. Thanks for talking with me, it was really uplifting. Just the fact that you guys are so happy is inspiring." The Lord really blesses us when we follow his standards, so rationalizing them is really quite useless.

A church (above) and pub (below) in Chudleigh.
For any of you that have read the Flavia de Luce novels...I am sure Chudleigh is "Bishop's Lacey" and that this church is "St. Tancred's."  The pub across the street is even called Bishop Lacy.

It's funny you wrote about my stubbornness, mom, because that's one of the things that has really been giving me a hard time lately... I think it really was what caused such a hard time between me and Elder Schorzman in the beginning. Don't get me wrong, I must be making it sound like we've not gotten on well. It's interesting, because it's really been kind of like me and Taylor were. We used to not get along much at all, merely because of how different we were. But as I've dropped my pride, Elder Schorzman and I have gotten along much better, and now we're really quite good friends. It really helped this last week--I was getting frustrated with myself over a lot of things, and so I asked Elder Schorzman if he'd give me a blessing (I'd been feeling like I should ask him for a whole day at that point, but kept rationalizing that it wasn't the right time for some reason). It was amazing, because in the blessing, one of the things that was said was that I needed to let the Lord have sway in my heart.

This morning I was wondering just how to do that, and decided to dedicate my study to it. Elder Schorzman had given me an extra copy of this little discourse given by a mission president (Lawrence E. Corbridge) entitled "The Fourth Missionary". You can find it online, if you'd like to read it. It basically talks about four different types of missionaries: the first is disobedient, and because of that goes home; the second is disobedient, but he strives to never get caught and stays for the two years; the third is a very obedient missionary, and willingly sacrifices his time, but never lets go of all of the things that he wishes he could be doing instead; the fourth gives his will completely to the Lord, putting away everything from back home and dedicating his might, mind, strength and heart to the Lord. It goes through the individual attributes of each, and basically talks about how the third and fourth both perform a lot of good for those in the area, and reap much, but only the fourth changes himself, and thereby benefits immensely from his mission.

I've learned a lot from Elder Schorzman, but the thing I've learned most is just how necessary it is to rid yourself of pride and to do what the Lord asks willingly. If we don't, we're not going to be able to help others, nor are we going to be able to benefit ourselves. I'm glad I learned that in these last six weeks, because now Elder Schorzman's moving on. He just got called as our Zone Leader, and so I'll be having another missionary come in to finish my last six weeks of training. I'm really glad we were put together as companions, and am glad I'll be seeing him on a regular basis.

Here is a picture of our Newton Abbot District. Elder Schorzman and Sister Clark will be transferred this week.

Love you all,

Elder Green

Monday, August 12, 2013

I've Got Good News...and Bad News...

I'm sorry for the lack of details... I try to write about the things that I find most important while I'm out here: how some of our investigators are doing, etc. But let me fill in some of the gaps.

Like I said before, P-Days haven't been filled with anything spectacular so far. Cleaning the flat, shopping, Emailing at the McMurtry's, playing board games with them or going shopping at the High Street. We love the charity shops down there. I picked up a tie that I really liked the other week for two quid, and a few weeks later was told that it's a really expensive brand (Tiger of Sweden?) and that the fact that I got it new for that price is insane. We've been trying to organize a district P-day, as transfers are a week from Wednesday, but that kind of fell through... We were going to go down to Shaldon, which is near the beach, and go hiking in some caves. But alas. Perhaps another time.

Zone Conference was a lot of fun. We took the train up to Christchurch, where we stayed with some missionaries living there. Zone Conference was mostly us being addressed by the Mission President and a local Stake President. A few other missionaries (including Elder Schorzman) spoke on other topics. What President Millar talked about was quite important. As I told you last week, he spoke a lot on pride, and how to combat it. It was really helpful.

Hmm... What's been going on this week? Well, we've got good and bad news to report. One of the families we're teaching is really moving forward! They are so excited to be baptized. We met with them on Saturday morning, and brought them one of those Book of Mormon comic books for their daughter Phoebe. It turns out they'd been looking all over eBay for a children's Book of Mormon, so they were very appreciative of it. The mother, Terrina, and Phoebe came to church yesterday and loved it. The father, Steve, will be coming next week.

Bad news is that, well, there's a lot of opposition. I think I told you that last week Charlie came with us to church, and loved it so much. He was actually supposed to meet his son at noon, and decided to stay for church instead. His son wasn't very happy, obviously... He gave Charlie an ultimatum: the church or his family. So, Charlie chose his family, and wrote a letter to the Julian's telling them that he was sorry, but couldn't keep meeting with us. Elder Schorzman and I each wrote him a letter bearing our testimonies. We went in the middle of the week to deliver them and it was so sad... He was really disappointed he couldn't keep meeting with us, but we told him we'll keep in touch.

Other details: our dinner appointments vary... Some weeks we have them nearly every other day. Other weeks, not so much. When we don't, we just make dinner at our flat: pasta, or breakfast burritos, or something like that. We're pretty creative, and Elder Schorzman is a pretty good cook. We don't eat out much at all. Every once in a while we'll grab a pasty (they're savory pastries, usually with meat or vegetables in them) from a local shop, mainly because they're only a few quid each (and half price if they're cold).

By the by, "quid" is slang for "pound."

Here we are with Phil. We help him in his garden up at the "allotments." He is a retired Chemistry teacher
and a pretty pro Entomologist.  He brings us beatles to look at, each week, when we are finished working.
What a great guy!

We have a variety of methods for finding people to teach: knocking doors (of course), talking to people on the street, etc. We'll often go to parks to try and talk to people, as it's quite common here to just go to the park to relax. That works a bit better than talking to people on the high street, since people aren't usually busy, and open to talking. Bus contacting also works fairly well, as most people on the bus don't have much more to do than sit there and talk with the person next to them. We want to try out what's called "Smile-boarding" this week. You basically have a big whiteboard with the word "SMILE!" written on it really big, and you try your hardest to get people to smile and be happy. We'll see how that goes.

It varies how receptive people are here. Most are happy to talk about life, and many are okay to talk religion, but most of them dismiss invitations to learn more, as they're "C of E" (Church of England). But, hey, you roll with the punches.

Anyhow, that's all I've got for the week. Send your prayers this way, because it's kind of hard some times.

Love you all,

Elder Green

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Pretty Girls Need the Gospel too!"

In the train station, on the way to Zone Conference.
Just pointing out the free advertising we are getting around here!

Work here's been going really well. We had Zone Conference this last week, and that really boosted a lot of spirits, though it took two days of proselyting out. They talked a lot about pride, and how that impedes us as missionaries. I've seen that a lot just within my companionship. My companion is a fantastic missionary, but we're really quite different, and honestly, spending all this time with him has been a little hard at times. (For him too, I am sure!) I finally did tell him that I get annoyed sometimes easily by him, and he was very proud of me for that. It's interesting how much communicating that has helped our relationship, because my being annoyed by him is really just Satan trying to destroy the unity that we're trying to maintain in our companionship, and if he succeeds, then we can lose so many opportunities to help others.  (Thanks Scott, for the good advice.) So, I've been letting go of my own pride a bit more, and I've really seen the difference.

Another thing that really helped this week was exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I got paired up with Elder Pederson, who goes back to Denmark this week. He really helped me to see that I can always work harder. A lot of people that we went to go contact, I would just offer a pass-a-long card, and start to walk away, but he stopped and talked with each of them. Because of that, in a day where we would normally have three other lessons and one new investigator, we had seven other lessons and three new investigators. Plus, a referral for the sisters in our area. It's quite amazing how just a little more effort can help so extremely much.

While working with him, I also realized just how often members and investigators see you... Twice that day we were offered a ride from an investigator in Paignton ward and from the daughter of some members in our ward. And Elder Schorzman told me that when he went with the other Zone Leader to Institute, one of the YSA's, who leaves for his mission on Wednesday, saw me and Elder Pederson "talking to two hot girls." (In my defense, we were teaching them. Pretty girls need the gospel, too.)

Our investigators now are doing fantastically. Charlie came to church on Sunday, and really enjoyed it. He often disputes a lot of what we say in the moment, but he really has learned a lot from meeting with us, and we can tell he thinks about it throughout the week. The spirit is doing great things for him.

We've got a few other investigators that we're really looking forward to teaching this week as well, but I'll save the details on those for another day.

I'm really glad to hear about the upcoming Youth Conference. I think that will make such a difference for many of the youth. I know that often times, Youth Conference was where I was able to strengthen my testimony. But then again, you get out of it what you put in.

I'm also excited to hear about the Missionary work in the ward! See if you can't get Taylor out working with the missionaries. Lessons with members present are always more effective than if we just teach them ourselves. I think a lot of the time that people can't see past our badge, and so that greatly limits us... But, people can be convinced that members are normal people a lot more quickly than they can be convinced that missionaries are normal people, so that speeds up the process, and also adds another testimony, which is really helpful.

Love you guys so much,

Elder Green

A funny sign I keep seeing on patches of grass around town.
I thought Taylor would get a kick out of it!