Monday, September 30, 2013

"I'm off to Havant!"

It's been quite wet recently, but that's just fine. I don't mind the rain in the slightest. We actually had thunderstorms the other night, which was wonderful.

 This week has been easier in some respects, and harder in others. It's been easier in that we've not had anything crazy happen, as has happened in the weeks before, but it was hard in two respects--one, we had a two day exchange (which is a lot) and two, we didn't know what was happening with transfers.

The two day exchange was because of baptismal interviews that needed to get done. It was a long process, and I'm sure it felt longer for Elder Dyck who had to perform them, but Stella and her family are all doing fantastic. The baptism was Saturday, and the confirmation was Sunday. I had the opportunity of baptising Brandon, the son, and Alisha, the little girl, and confirming the two of them. I was quite nervous about the confirmation, but it really was quite fine. The words came easily. I suppose that's what fasting and prayer will do for you.

We've got a new family in the ward--the Doherty's. They're from southern Ireland, and their son Michael's off on his mission to Provo in a few weeks. We took him out to see the first member of our ward who's in a care home out in Dawlish. It was really cool, because his son, who hasn't been as active, was there, and we were able to speak to him. I don't know that Michael thought too much of it, but it was a great experience in seeing just how much the Lord really does prepare situations that way so that His children can have opportunities to return.

We also have started doing music lessons in the ward, kind of. Sister Hockaday in the ward asked if we would start coming over on Tuesdays and teaching her children the hymns. It's a cool experience, as they are a part-member family, so hopefully we'll see what music can do there. Sister Hockaday's amazing though, and so I'm grateful to do that for them.

So, the big news: I'm moving. I guess I'm off to Havant now, in Portsmouth zone. President called us this morning on our way out the door. I'm excited, I suppose. I will so miss the wonderful people I have come to know and love in this area...and my companion Elder Blackner...but I am happy to serve wherever the Lord wants me to!

The Julian's, one of the families that have been so wonderful to me while in Newton Abbot!

Love you all,
Elder Green

Monday, September 23, 2013

Three Months!

The view of Teignmouth from Shaldon, a village located on the south banks of the River Teign.

Isn't it crazy? Officially three months on Friday. I can't believe it's going by this quickly. Sister Nelson in Teignmouth goes home next week, and I may very well move. Who knows. But, I'm pushing hard regardless.

I'm glad that there's some work going on there. I'm excited for that work to be moving forward. And I'm glad Uncle Ben--sorry, Bishop Grasteit--has been pushing that. I knew he would.

The first half of last week was actually quite good. We've been seeing Steve and Terena a lot more, as well as our investigator Brandon. Brandon's scheduled to get baptised (english spelling) with the rest of his family this Saturday! He's a super cool kid, and we're way excited for him. He even asked if I would baptise him, which is really nice.

We got to go on a tour of one of the Church of England churches in the area. We see one of the readers from the church quite often, and he offered a couple of times, so we took him up on it. It was really interesting hearing about the history of their church from a member of the congregation, rather than from a history book. We told him a bit about how our church started, and he even said that he wanted to dust off the Book of Mormon he had at home. Pretty cool.

The rest of our week was difficult, to say the least. We've been asked to give a ton of blessings... I mean, it's weird. Between Elder Blackner and I, we've given or assisted in at least seven blessings in the past two weeks. It makes me feel quite glad to be able to exercise the priesthood I hold, but many blessings aren't easy to give.

Our plans have also been falling apart a lot of days. Which isn't always a bad thing. We've seen so many miracles from following the spirit rather than the plans we set, but after a day or two of your plans kind of going all over the place, it can be a little hectic.

Despite any stress this might cause, though, I've been doing well. The Sisters have been super supportive, as has our Ward Mission Leader and District Leader. And, I've been finding so much comfort in reading the scriptures. This morning I was reading in 1st Nephi 21, which is one of the chapters in which he quotes Isaiah concerning Christ. It wasn't until the other day that I really could understand what a word in the chapter meant, and it wasn't until today that I understood just how significant it is in my own life. We're all going to face trials--that's just life. But knowing that Christ is always there, and I mean He is always there, is the most amazing thing.

I'll just quote one of the verses from that one in closing: "For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands;" (1 Nephi 21:15-16).

Love you all,

Elder Green

More pictures from our trip to Shaldon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Love Blessings, I Love Prayer, and I Love these People!

The view from the bus stop up in Dawlish (North of Teignmouth.) You can see Weymouth far off in the distance.

First off, I am super excited about Kyle. Iowa Des Moines will be awesome! And I'm only slightly jealous about the weather. (It's been almost 100 degrees at home this weekend, and in the 50's here.) Though I would prefer the ninety degree weather in a t-shirt and board shorts, it's not as enjoyable in shirt and tie. But oh well. And I'll get those trousers myself. (The ones I tore on our trip to Dartmoor.) It was my khakis. It's not a problem. Though I might have you get me some Altoids on I'll let you know if I find anything that's a good enough substitute here.

The week has been quite good. Elder Blackner and I keep getting to the end of the week and feeling like we haven't done much, and then we look at our numbers, and they're not bad at all. We're really accomplishing a lot, but there's always more we can be doing. But I suppose that's life.

We played volleyball on Monday with the Sisters in Teignmouth, the Elders in Paignton, and the McMurtry's. It was definitely fun, but my wrists are all bruised up now from it. Afterward, we had a fantastic family home evening with Steve and Terena. We went up to their loft afterward and got to play with Steve's model train set. It's actually way sweet. Elder Blackner and I kept racing different trains around the track, and Elder Blackner ended up breaking one of them... Oops.

We've been trying to figure out how I can use music more in missionary work. Since President Millar counselled me at Zone Training to do so, I've been trying to find new opportunities to. I've brought the guitar in our flat out to visit less active members, and that's been really good. A lot of them really appreciated it, and singing hymns with them has really brought the Spirit into our visits. Still, I know that I was given these talents partially to help people out--it says so in my patriarchal blessing--and so I'm trying to think of new ways to use them in the work. Busking was an idea, though it hasn't been terribly effective in the past. If anyone out there has any ideas, do let me know.

Elder Blackner and I had the opportunity to give blessings to a family that the Sisters are teaching currently. Giving blessings is honestly one of my favorite things, because of how strong and clear the Spirit's voice is. This family has been through a lot, and it really humbles me to see that, but what's so amazing is how willing they are to move forward. We're teaching their son now, and will be having Family Home Evening with them and the Sisters tonight. I'm excited for that.

We had such a miracle yesterday. So, Saturday night, we were doing our planning, and we saw that we had a follow-up appointment with a guy Elder Blackner had met on splits the other day. We thought about it, and decided that even though we had no one lined up, that we would pray for a member to come on the teach with us. Elder Blackner had done it in his last area, and he said it was amazing. So, we prayed, and said we'd do what we could. In attending to our duties, we didn't have a chance to ask anyone until about an hour after church had ended, and the only person we could have asked at that point was Bishop, who is busy enough. So, we went back to the flat and got something to eat. All of the sudden, Dann (who was on splits with Elder Blackner when he met this guy) texted asking if he could come hang out with us. We went out with him, and though our appointment fell through, we were able to teach two other guys on the street. I love prayer.

Also, the people in this area are so incredibly generous. Sunday one of the members of our ward bought us three steaks and mushrooms to go with it. Then Steve and Terena called and said they wanted to bring something by, and came over with a ton of groceries for us. We were sent home with the best brownies after a dinner appointment that night. Seriously, I love these people.

Groceries delivered by Steve and Terena...thanks so much!

Love you all,

Elder Green

Monday, September 9, 2013

Houndtor, Haytor, and the Power of a Simple Testimony

(First...answers to mom's questions...but you might be interested too...)
We have been getting a fair amount of rain. The raincoat I've currently got is just fine, so no worries there. And I abhor short sleeve shirts. Really, I do. I don't need any. We're allowed to roll up our sleeves, and that's just fine for me. And I got the haircut. I think it looks good. I'll have Sister Turney send you a picture of it. I believe she sent you a few yesterday. Her son is off on a mission to South Africa, and so she likes to keep in contact with this ward's missionaries' Moms as she knows how frustrating it is not knowing what's going on with your kid. Oh, and I'm going to ask President today if I can write my own blog posts. If it's reaching as many people as you say, then that's an amazing missionary tool. However, he may just say to leave you to do it, as this is working just fine now. How are the numbers currently? And I got the package. The photo album is so much appreciated. I look at it quite frequently. And Elder Blackner and I both appreciated the Robitaille's.

So we did get to go to Dartmoor last week. It was absolutely wonderful. It's so weird seeing rolling hills instead of mountains. And all the tors are so cool. They're basically these giant granite deposits on the tops of the moors. We climbed around Houndtor (where the Sherlock Holmes novel 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' is set) and then hiked from there, through a little Medieval village to Haytor. The Medieval village was awesome. It's only ruins now, but the idea that it's been there for a thousand years is unfathomable. And we were just walking around these people's houses! Wow. Sister McMurtry made us these pizza rolls that were absolutely fantastic. I must have eaten at least six... Maddie would have loved all the wild horses roaming about, along with the sheep and cows everywhere. Oh, and I ripped my service trousers, so I'm going to need some new ones...Oops.

Houndtor with Elder Blackner.

The ruins of a medieval village.


We had to move these wild horses out of the way so we could back the car out.

It's funny how the weeks have been going. For the past two weeks, I've been feeling like we haven't been doing as much as we should... I can kind of stress myself out thinking that I need to be stopping more people, and teaching every one about the gospel. The funny thing is, though, that we've been leading the district. We've always got plenty of work to do, and our investigators are progressing fantastically. Steve and Terena have decided to get married, which is wonderful. They'll be baptized, with Phoebe, shortly after that.

We had Zone Training this last Friday. It felt a bit long, but it was good to be able to see the other missionaries. One of the members of our Stake Presidency came and spoke a lot about how we need to get the members working on missionary work much more. His vision is to get the Stake to the point where we could take the missionaries out, and the work would progress at the same rate. We've seen so many blessings as we've tried to apply that principle. As Brigham Young said, "...when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, 'I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,' the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true." A simple testimony borne by a member is so much more powerful than any rousing speech by the most skilled of orators. Plus, it really helps those who can't look past our missionary badge, as it often does get in the way.

One other thing that I got from Zone Training came from President himself. He really helped me to realize just how important I myself am out here. He said to use my musical talents as much as I can--to bring my guitar to DA's (I think this may refer to dinner appointments), or play the piano for them. There's such a special spirit that comes from music, and I need to use it. Of course, I need to use it for good, not for mere entertainment. That's what I'm working on now. I wrote a version of 'Battle Hymn' for the musical fireside last night, and I'm hoping to start writing something that's a little more aimed toward the Jack Johnson style for the next fireside. The fireside went amazingly. I only did six pieces this time, instead of seven. I know, big difference. We did one piece called 'My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee.' It's so beautiful (or as they would say here, "lush"). The whole fireside was so powerful for those who came, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to perform.

Anyway, we should be off to play volleyball in a bit.

Love you so much,

Elder Green

Monday, September 2, 2013

"It's so absolutely incredible..."

Work's been going really well here. We've got five baptismal dates at this point--Steve, Terena, Phoebe, Jade, and a woman we met last week named Shana. Our other numbers haven't been as good, but seeing as we're focusing on our investigators a bit more, we're not too worried. It's so good being able to get out and work hard every day on helping others out.

I've been thinking a lot about how I can focus my teaching on the Savior lately. Rory and Scott told me about how their biggest regret about their mission was that they didn't focus as much on the Savior, which I completely understand. It's really easy to get caught up talking to people about Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, and the Plan of Salvation--all of which we need to help people understand. But as Cleon Skousen said in his talk, "The Meaning of the Atonement," that is not our message. Joseph Smith testified of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. The Plan of Salvation is His plan for us. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We're supposed to help them with everything else remembering that Jesus Christ is the center of it all. It's so absolutely incredible the things that He has done for us, and the things that we are able to do through His help. Anyway, that's probably enough of a sermon. I just get really excited when I think about how amazing that is.

We're headed up to Dartmoor today. We're hoping to go see Hound Tor and Haytor, and I'm super excited. It'll be nice to get out there while my family is camping in Big Sur...without me.

Here are some pictures of me this week!

In Chudleigh.

Can't you just imagine Dieter driving his tractor along these rolling fields?...
And Flavia riding "Gladys" along these roads?

In Teignmouth...we went contacting along the beachfront, which was so nice.

Love you much,

Elder Green