Monday, November 25, 2013

The Little Things...

Things have been going really well here. We're starting to see miracles all over the place, but I'll get into that in a minute.

That's so fun about Thanksgiving. I don't know that we're really doing anything for it here... We have a dinner appointment that night, and she's a fantastic cook, but I don't know that she'll be doing anything for Thanksgiving. We'll just have to catch a pheasant or something and eat that ourselves.

 So, we've really been feeling quite good this last week! We've seen numbers of miracles and it's really exciting. We've started trying to memorize a scripture every day to focus ourselves more on the work, and the one that's stuck with me most so far has been Mosiah 28:3 - "Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." Reading and memorizing that really made me desire to put forth more effort, as these really are my brothers and sisters out there that I'm seeking to help. When that attitude changed, we got eight lessons in one day. Most days we get one, maybe two. And I know that numbers don't mean much, but the fact that we were able to do that much more work really shows that the spirit will be with you when you really desire to help others.

We really don't deserve the opportunity to do such great work for the Lord, but I am so grateful that he allows us to do it.

It's so apparent to me that the little things are what's going to get this work going, too. A story was told in Priesthood yesterday of President John F. Kennedy. Throughout the campaign before the election (I'm not sure whether Presidential or Senatorial) President Kennedy found himself busy running from one event to the next. Wanting to help, his mother decided she would try to arrange a tea evening in every city that he went to, where people could come and meet the candidate personally. In these short tea evenings, Kennedy was able to make contact with 50,000 people, which isn't much for an election. However, he won the election by 50,000 votes. Those tea evenings made just enough difference to get him into office.

As a missionary, I've noticed that it's through following the small rules that I've gained the most strength. Nearly every missionary is good about going out and teaching lessons, trying to keep busy, etc. However, it's really easy to slack off a bit when it comes to exercise at 6:30 in the morning, or getting to study on time, or not singing Jack Johnson songs in your head. But that is where the strength lies. That is where we're given the power, and put in the right places so the Lord can work miracles.

For the everyday person, it's in being a good example. It's in calling up that friend that you haven't seen in a while. It's in stepping out of your everyday routine to help someone that you wouldn't normally. It's in smiling. You don't know what smiling can actually do for others.

I know that these things are what make all the difference.

Anyhow, Love you guys so much,

Elder Green

A beautiful English sunset.

Elder Cullen and I on exchanges down in Bognor Regis. This 'selfie' is for you Mom,
since you love them so much...not!

Bognor Regis is a British seaside holiday town between Portsmouth and Brighton.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"If you want something you've never had..."

I love sheep!

Well, I am sorry to report that our 16-year-old investigator dropped us this week. We had a cool experience, though, that came out of that. We stopped by a bit early...hoping to be able to get back home on time since our bus passes had expired...and she was in the middle of dinner, so we went up the street to a less-active/part-member family and visited with them for a while. When we came back down the street, and she said that after some thinking she had decided the church wasn't for her. We took it as a pretty good blow, and headed on our way home. As we were walking, we realized we were very close to a potential investigator who we'd been unable to meet with before, and felt prompted to try by him, despite how late it was. When we knocked, his father came to the door. We talked a minute, and he said that they'd be happy to have us meet with the whole family in a couple of weeks. So, we'll try our best again!

We do actually have one new investigator who's doing well. Her name's Velda. We met with her last week, but weren't quite sure what to think, as she listened to all we were saying with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. She said at the end of the lesson, "Wow, you guys have opened my eyes so much [and she didn't mean literally]. I'm going to stop reading all of my other books, and read that book that you guys gave me. I've just felt so warm inside through this whole visit." It's really faith promoting to see miracles like that.

But, at the same time, I've recognized that faith is not, and should not be dependent upon miracles. Yes, miracles are often a result of faith, but they are not the evidence of faith. Often Heavenly Father really does have better purposes for us, and is trying to stretch us, and to help us grow strong. It's definitely hard sometimes, but I don't know that I can expect anything else from a mission. I don't know if I've quoted it before, but I thought Dad might really like this quote by Thomas Jefferson, "If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.” If I want to help people, I must be willing to devote myself more fully than I've done before. That, is true consecration--giving yourself completely.

Our district...Elder Sorensen and I are the bookends...and our wonderful senior couple, Elder and Sister Powell.

Love you all,

Elder Green

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Q & A

Mom needed some more information, so I sent Elder Green a list of are the answers...

1.  You said your flat has 2 bedrooms and you have a queen sized bed, does that mean you have your own room?
No, I don't have my own room. The white handbook says that companionships are to sleep in the same room, probably to foster unity, and to make sure you aren't just trying to get away from your companion all the time. As any missionary will tell you, the only way to get away from your companion is taking a bath. I've been blessed with such great companions, though, and so I've not felt a need to get away too often.

2. Do you have to walk far from your flat to bus/train?
It's so nice, we only have a two minute walk down the road to the train station, and maybe five to the bus station. What takes the most time is the actual waiting for buses and trains. So far, I absolutely love train travel. It's so relaxing. I'm always sad when Zone Conference is done with, because that means that we don't have any more train rides that last more than fifteen minutes.

3. What is your ward it very big? Many youth?
Our ward is pretty small actually... Maybe 50-60 active members. Our Youth are composed of the bishop's family, and a few others... Unfortunately the majority of the ward is less-active, which is something we've been working on.

4. Is church different in England, than here?
Church is the same pretty much worldwide. The only differences I've seen are that my last ward did church in reverse (Priesthood/Relief Society, then Sunday School, then Sacrament Meeting) and that they sing four hymns in sacrament rather than three. The choir doesn't perform as much either.

5. What do you eat, when you cook for yourself? Are you eating enough?
What do we eat? Hmm... Lots of rice. Rice with soup. Rice with Curry from a jar. Pasta with some kind of sauce I manage to make up. Beans on toast. Frozen Pizza. Omelettes. I've been trying to be creative, so we made beef stroganoff the other day. If you've got any quick, fun recipes, send 'em my way. Or, crock pot recipes. We've been wanting to use our crock pot.

6. Do you eat much with the members in Havant?
We haven't eaten much yet with the members... The problem is that we had our first two Sundays as General Conference and Stake Conference, so we had maybe one DA each week for the last three weeks. But, we've got plenty more lined up, so we'll be fed well soon.

7. Is the island in your area?
Yes, Hayling Island's in our area, though we don't get out there too often. We've just started working with some less-actives out there, though, so we'll be back at least once a week.

8. Have you seen any cool old places in your new area?
Hmm... Well, there's the wall outside the Chichester flat that was built by the Romans, and the Chichester Cathedral (sorry, I forgot to take pictures...) I found out that Jane Austen's house is not too far away, and we've been meaning to try to get out to some castles in the area. Our flat's pretty old... I think someone said 1600's or 1700's.

9. Best thing you've eaten? Worst?
Best thing we've eaten: Collette Julian's ham. Oh my days. I miss that family so much, and miss going over each Thursday for dinner there. Worst thing: Barley cup. It tastes like burnt popcorn water.

10. Have you gained any weight? 
I don't believe so. I'm on my way to a six pack, though.

11. Are you staying dry?
No. England is wet, end of story.

12. Do you know your release date?
I don't know my exact release date, though I would assume it's the 25th of June, as that would be 17 transfers after my entry.

13. Have any General Authorities come to visit?
I know that a few General Authorities visited while I was in Newton Abbot, but I didn't get to see any of them, because Plymouth Zone is in the boonies of the mission, and doesn't get invited to anything.

14. Will you get to celebrate Thanksgiving?
I sure dang hope so!!

15. Coolest thing that has happened to you? Worst thing? Scariest thing?
Coolest thing? Seeing a miracle take place in the life of one of our investigators after I gave her a blessing. Worst thing: Having Charlie tell us he couldn't keep meeting with us. Scariest: Refer to the story about the spiritualist man.

16. Best thing about being a missionary? Least favorite thing about being a missionary?
Best thing about being a missionary: really seeing people progress, and seeing that the gospel does bless every single person in their life. Least favorite thing: Well, just that I can't seem to measure up to where I feel I ought to be all the time. Thank goodness for the Atonement.

17. What can we do to make the holidays special for you?
Just send me letters from people! As much as I appreciate the packages and things, I much more appreciate hearing from family and friends. Oh, and pictures are always appreciated.

18. Best thing you heard at Zone Conference?
"The Atonement was accomplished when one god prayed to another god. That is how important prayer is--even gods do it."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Our efforts will not be wasted

No pictures this week, so Mom is putting in some 'pre-mission' photos. I sure do miss this boy!

So, lately we've been losing a lot of investigators...again (yes, that includes the guy with the Book of Mormon. We've not been able to get back in contact with him since.) We've been struggling to keep them in this area, which is kind of a trial sometimes. We've been working really hard to find new ones, though. The plan of action for the past few weeks has been to contact every less-active member that we don't know anything about, and to see if they're interested in meeting with us. Following that, we knock 10 doors on each side of them, and record any miracles that we have. What's amazing is that we've found two less-active members who weren't on the ward list that way, and another one in travel to see another less-active. They're seriously popping up all over the place. And! We got a solid new investigator from it. She's 16, and is very interested in what we've got to teach her. And her parents are okay with her learning about the church, which is wonderful. We're hoping to bring the Young Women's president along in the future. Needless to say that's exciting.

Now, one thing we've been trying to work out also is how we can contact new investigators better. We've grown a bit tired of door knocking, and have been trying to see what we can do to employ other methods. So, this is totally open to suggestions from anyone, anywhere. We're trying to see if there's any way we can use music. I tried playing piano in the mall the other day, and it made a real impact on some people, and one old woman stayed the entire time, and then asked who we are, what we're doing, etc. Anyway, if you've got any ideas, please let me know.

One thing that I've been quite impressed with this week, though, is just the fact that I can only do what I'm able to. It's difficult to see sometimes that you put a lot of effort into something and the rewards aren't evident at the moment. But as I've put much time into prayer, study, fasting, etc. I've come to the conclusion that these efforts will not be wasted. If everyone in the city were to drive us out with pitchforks, torches blazing, I would have become something more from my trying to help these people. My favorite scripture says, "Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost." (D&C 50:41-42) The Lord has an understanding of what we need, and what others need, and I'm so grateful to have been put in such a place that I can learn where I need to be, and what I need to do.

He's already for England with these cool socks!

Love you guys,

Elder Green

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Be of good cheer, for I am with you"

On the way to Chichester.

I'm glad to hear that so much good is going on back home. Halloween was kind of whatever here. It's geting bigger, but apparently they've only really been celebrating it the American way for the past six years. This year was the first that any substantial Trick-or-Treating was being done. We were just told that we should just go in when work was no longer effective. We had a dinner appointment that night, and part way through it, they started getting people knocking at the door. So, we just stayed there for the rest of the night.

That's so cool hearing about Jesse Waite Owens. I would love the article, if you could send it. (We think Braiden's great great grandfather served a mission to England in the early 1900's...we are trying to find out what area he may have been. Also, we found some information about other family members that were converted in England in the 1860's and then traveled to join the saints in Utah.)

I mentioned last week something that Uncle Ben said to me in a letter, and I've been thinking a lot about it this week, as well. He was talking about how when he was on his mission, he made sure to be Positive, Obedient and Working hard (or as he puts it, POW). It's amazing just how true that is. These past few weeks, I've just had this huge desire to just work as hard as I can. We all know I was pretty lazy back home, and that's one of the reasons that I've been so focused on that. I've seen now that I can accomplish so much more when I'm actually giving it my all, than when I would put forth the minimum effort required to get something done.

With the obedience, that's something that Elder Schorzman really impressed upon me. I've just seen that when I decide I'm going to be exactly obedient, I am able to do so much more, as well. If you've ever seen a copy of the white missionary handbook, you know that despite it's small size, there are quite a few rules. So often, it's easy to rationalize, and say "Oh, well I'm not listening to inappropriate music, I'm just singing it." or "Well, this song has a good message, so it's not a problem if I'm playing it through my head all day." etc. (Mine are all music related, pretty much). However, it's such a blessing to see what stronger impact the spirit has on your life when you do follow every rule. As they say, "Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles."

But what I've noticed, is that the glue that holds it all together is a positive attitude. You can go out and try to work hard, and do your very best to be exactly obedient. But it can weigh on you if you let it. Missionary work can be hard work. It can be long days sometimes, because sometimes, as Brady Hanson warned me, every appointment will cancel. And you'll be walking from door to door in the pouring rain, and no one will want to listen. But what's amazing is that you can either love it, or hate it. It's your decision. You can say, "That's one more slammed door closer to someone who'll listen." You can, and should, have fun doing the work, and that's not inappropriate at all. Brad Wilcox points out that there is really a difference between light-heartedness, and light-mindedness--the former being such a saving grace, and the latter taking your attention from where it ought to be. I think about how often it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, "Be of good cheer, for I am with you." We're here on earth to be happy, and if we're not, then we always can be.

Anyway, that's my spiel for the week. We're still working on strengthening the ward. We see so many miracles every day--I wish I could enumerate them just to show you how amazing it is.

I love you so much, Mom. Thank you so much for all that you've taught me. If I do anything good out here, it's truly only because you and Dad have raised me to be who I am now, and because you've helped me to turn to Heavenly Father.

Love you all,

--Elder Green