Monday, December 30, 2013

A dead badger, five pheasants, and loads of cows and sheep!

Merry Christmas! Thank you for all the cards and packages
and for the messages on our Christmas tree!

It was so great to see you guys on Wednesday. It feels so strange for me, because it honestly doesn't feel like long since I've spoken to you guys. It's kind of bittersweet to recognize how fast it's going for me out here...

We did have a nice rest of the week. Boxing Day was good -- we had a few members invite us over for lunch and dinner, which was nice. It's hard getting things going sometimes with four elders, but we saw that when we did step it up and go out trying to work we saw miracles. When we got home from Brother Coronado's house, we had twenty minutes before our lift home was going to get there. I felt twenty minutes was way too long to be sitting in the flat, and so I grabbed Elder Dyck, and we went outside contacting. Lo and behold, the first person we saw walking out the door was golden. We walked up to him, and he was off somewhere, but willing to talk to us for a few minutes. He studied at a University down in Devon (where both Elder Dyck and I had just served) and, while there, had a very good Mormon friend. Coincidence? Hopefully Chichester will be meeting with him soon.

Move calls just came. Elder Sorensen and I will both be staying another transfer, but Elder Cullen's taking off for the Digital Zone.

This week's been really good, otherwise, though. We've been working with one Fijian family that's really cool. Sister Vatubua's been a member her whole life, but her husband isn't. We've been working with him a bit, and he's just such a solid guy -- totally open to reading the scriptures, and most of the commitments we extend to him, he's already doing. It's pretty cool. He even came to church on Sunday without us inviting him. It's really exciting.

We had a few other cool experiences this week trying new things. We decided we'd go up to East Meon, as we'd never been out there before. What a great day -- I saw a dead badger, like five pheasants, and loads of cows and sheep. It was so nice being in the countryside again. And the people are so friendly! Holy cow. Totally threw us off our guard. We got lost, because we'd forgotten the map, and so we just kind of tried to get our bearings. We stopped and asked some guy who was out with his horses if he needed help with anything, and instead of saying no and going back to what he was doing, he came up to us and talked for five minutes. And we asked another guy if there was anything that we could do for him, and he invited us in for tea and cake. Turns out, he works with the guys up in Aldershot ward to teach Gurkhas (Nepalese soldiers for the British army) English in their chapel. Neither was very interested, but it was just so nice having people that were so friendly.

We've been trying to see if we can make it to another church's service each Sunday, just to get our name out there and look for service opportunities, as well as to understand the people a little better and hopefully break down some walls. We missed the Church of England Evensong last night, but we're hoping to make it next week, and we'll be hopefully finding other churches to go to as well.

I'm getting my haircut today so don't worry. Also, hopefully it'll get fixed later today, or tomorrow, but we've been having the wonderful experience of our ceiling leaking! The guy came this morning, and it should be fixed soon. It's just wind and rain like crazy here.

Our pots and pans collecting the rain that is inside our flat.
This is supposed to be my "Joseph Smith" picture. I forgot to tell you, but since Stella (AKA Louise)
pointed it out, now everyone has twigged to the fact that I look like Joseph Smith.
Elder Brown won't even refer to me as anything but Elder Smith.

 Well, love you guys.

-Elder Green

Catching up...sorry Mom's been busy!

From December 16th...

Elders Sorenson, Dyck, Cullen and Me at the the London Temple.
This week we were blessed to attend a temple session and then enjoy a Christmas Dinner at the mission office. It was fun meeting with missionaries from all over the mission.

Sorry to hear you've been sick mom. I had a bit of a cold last week as well, but by overdosing on clementines, cough drops, this "Lemsip" stuff (which is so disgusting) and taking a few naps at lunch, I was able to rid myself of it. So, try doing that...especially the naps!

This last week has been extremely rewarding. Steve and Terena took Elder Sorensen and I out to the aquarium and to dinner. It was good fun spending time with them--it really helped me to refocus my desire to help more people. I was just jealous that I didn't get a chance to stay in the haunted hotel they spent the night in.

We saw a lot of blessings in strange places, this week, though. We found that many days, we weren't finding many people to teach, and that things weren't quite going the way we planned them. It was honestly kind of annoying for a little while. But I learned so amazingly much.

One thing that came to me quite clearly came as a result of our trip up to the temple. While there, we ran down to the distribution center, as we had to pick up some things for some less-actives we've been working with. Looking around, I saw the mini Book of Mormons that they had for about £2, and decided I'd pick one up, as I wanted one I could carry around with me. I've started from the beginning again, and have been trying to mark all the little things that I learn in my reading of it this time through. If you look at the very first verse in the entire Book of Mormon, Nephi gives a quick background of his life. He speaks first of his parents, who have done so very much for him in teaching him what he needed to know regarding the gospel and regarding things of the world. That really made me appreciate you and Dad and how much emphasis you two have put on learning. But then, he talks about how he himself has faced "many afflictions in the course of his days". I looked down at the footnote for afflictions, and it gave three topics: affliction (duh), blessing, and gifts of God.

If I've learned anything on my mission, it's that hard times need not be feared. Ever. Of course, let's not bring them upon ourselves--that's not worth doing. But, it's through our hard times that we learn so much. And we gain so much. Honestly, I am such a different person from the Braiden Green who left on that plane nearly six months ago. But, none of that is my doing. It's all because of Him. It's Heavenly Father who has done these things for me in my life. We can't do anything of ourselves, and that's why when we give everything we can to Him, we gain everything He has in return.

I love you guys so much, but I'm glad that I'm here. I love the States, and I love the UK. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior.

Happy Christmas, guys,

Elder Green

From December 23rd ...

The Christmas program here was quite nice. We had the Bishopric speak, and instead of Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society, we had a nice Nativity for church. Brother Taylor in the ward is a carpenter, and so he made up an entire stable, which was quite impressive. We were able to throw it all together in about ten minutes, and then the Nativity Program (performed by the primary and Youth) proceeded. It was really quite nice. I've really grown to love this ward.

Well, we've been contacting quite a few potentials this previous week. With focusing on knocking around every member's house for the past while, we've not been able to keep up with our potential investigators, but we're starting to work through that now. We've seen a bit of success, but we're just waiting for our little harvest to explode. I understand, though -- it's awfully hard around Christmas for a lot of people, as there really is so much to do. We know that we'll be seeing good success soon.

We did have one miracle working up in Petersfield, though. We were knocking around before an appointment, and met a woman who knew a little about the church already. She lives in what used to be a very small church, and is herself Church of England. However, she was very very interested in the Book of Mormon, and after a little while was asking how she could get one herself to read. We'll be following up with her, and a few others up in Petersfield, after Christmas.

As for what's going on this week -- we only kind of get Christmas "off". We've still got to maintain the same study schedule, and such, but we'll be off to the Grants' home at about 9:00. I can probably call you from there just before we leave... I don't want to have to wake you too early, but we'll be there until about 3:00 (or 5:00 AM your time), and with Sister Grant having the majority of her relatives in New Zealand, she has unlimited international calling on her plan. So, a quick call then, and then we'll probably Skype two hours later at 7:00 AM your time while I'm at the Powell's, if that's okay. Sorry, time change is difficult. But, I think we should get around 40 minutes to an hour... Not quite sure. White Handbook says preferably no longer than 40 minutes, but I'll wait on Elder Dyck's word.

Oh! We also had a Christmas Carol concert on Saturday. Big surprise here: I actually didn't do much. I've been so used to the Musical Firesides in Newton Abbot where I performed on every other number because they needed me to, and now we've got quite a decent choir here, and a number of musical people. So our choir sang for the majority of it with readings and a few solo acts in between. They wanted "one of the American missionaries" to sing the solo on The Christmas Song, though, and so I was asked to do that. It was alright. I think I overdid it. Oh well.

Well, this weeks going to be lots of food. We've got at least one dinner appointment everyday but today and Sunday -- two on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. So... we'll be doing quite well. The ward has been so good to us. I want to cry because of the many gifts they've bought all of us. Know that your son is being taken care of.

And yes -- we did get the package. Thank you so much. I've been telling anyone who will listen about it. Elder Sorensen was quite grateful as well. Gratefully, the Lord has blessed us with desire to work, and less homesickness than we might otherwise expect.

I love you so much, and can't wait to see you Wednesday.

Happy Christmas, Ron.

-- Elder Green

Monday, December 9, 2013

No rain, a great surprise, and a trip to's going to be a great week!

Looking pretty 'English'...Elder Dyck, Elder Green, Elder Cullen and Elder Sorensen
posing outside St. Faith's Church on the High Street in Havant. This church was one of only two structures left in Havant after a fire in the 1700's destroyed the town. The oldest, undisturbed parts of the church date back to the 13th century and some of the foundations date back to Roman times...amazing!

I'm sorry to hear it's so cold there. It has been here, but there hasn't been rain for weeks (knock on wood), so we've been alright with it. Plus, that jacket I bought a few weeks ago is perfect for being out all the time. It's got little armpit zippers for ventilation...Yeah!

Work's been going great here! We've been trying our best to finish doing all the 10 doors aside each member, and we did a workover with the Chichester Elders up in Petersfield on Saturday to get a lot of it done. It was a huge success. We've got quite a few people up there to visit now. And with us coming to the end of this list (not really, we've still got nearly forty to do....) we're actually able to spend more time meeting with the people that we pick up from the knocking.

We've also seen a few really cool miracles lately. Elder Cullen and I were going on exchanges last Monday, and swapped over after P-Day was over. On our way from the flat, the four of us were talking about things, and we happened to walk past this woman. Elder Cullen felt impressed to say hello to her, and because of his 'Australian-ness,' struck up a conversation. As we neared the bus station, we finally got to the topic of the gospel, and she just broke down crying. She expressed how difficult this last week had been, and how she's been struggling a lot lately, and just how much of a sign she took our meeting her to be. She was so excited she gave us a hug, which can be a frightening experience for a missionary. But, in a judgment call, we figured it was okay. I've got to call her today, and we'll hopefully see her this week.

Also, we're finding random less-actives again. A woman texted us the other day asking if we could come down to Thorney Island and visit her and her family. She is a member from Fiji whose husband is serving here on the military base down on Thorney Island. We'll be coming by again sometime this or next week to see what we can do about getting her a lift to church.

It's so funny you mention Steve and Terena. They're actually just waiting for us to finish Emailing so we can go to the aquarium together. They decided to spend a day of their honeymoon visiting, and man, are they the greatest. I was a bit worried that their coming might distract me from the work, but it's just given me more resolve to do all that I can to serve people, because I know what an amazing difference it's made for them, and what an amazing difference it can make for everybody, whether in Newton Abbot, or Havant, or West Hills, CA. (Steve and Terena are a couple from Braiden's last area, Newton Abbot, that were just married on Saturday and will be getting baptized soon. They stopped by Havant to suprise Braiden and took he and his companion for an outing to the aquarium in Portsmouth for P-day. Braiden was so excited to see them!)

"The Green's"...Elder Green with the new couple Steve and Terena Green from Newton Abbot.

It's starting to feel like Christmas here too. Last Friday we attended the ward Christmas party...unfortunately, due to our having to be home at 9:00, we only had enough time to make all the food for the party (I will have to check with Braiden if that means they actually made the food for the party or ate the food...I can't imagine him making it???), watch some people embarrass themselves trying to line dance, and then take off. But, it was still fun. We've got our Christmas tree all set up, and other little decorations around the flat, and it has really made it feel good. Sure, I'm missing you guys, but I'm really grateful to have a ward family that's taking good care of us.

Oh, and we're off to the London Temple on Thursday. They'll be having a session for us in the morning, and a big Christmas dinner. I can't wait.

Love you,

Elder Green

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I am thankful for my Savior

A random little garden we found in the middle of Havant.
It was hiding right behind some shops on the High Street...who knew?

Hi, by the by. I'm glad Thanksgiving was so much fun for you guys. It was weird being here in England, because no one really thought anything about Thanksgiving. We were invited over for a DA that night, and had Sausage and Mash, which is delicious, but I can't say that it was the same.

We attended Zone Conference this last week, and it was really good. We had Elder Teixeira, the Europe Area President, running the entire conference. He was a great speaker, and introduced us to a lot of new things that we can do to improve our missionary work. I was really quite grateful for his help, and we're going to be doing our best to apply these things and improve our own work.

We've not really got any new investigators. We have tons of potentials, but we're in kind of a rush to finish knocking 10 doors on either side of all the ward members houses, so we haven't had as much opportunity to go back and teach too many of them, which is a bit of a shame, but oh well, the Lord knows what he's doing.

So I learned a very important lesson this week that I'd like to share with you guys. Being on a mission can be difficult. How many times have I said that already. When I set out, I decided I was going to be hardworking, and diligent, and exactly obedient...basically, I was going to be the perfect missionary (though I didn't so much phrase it that way in my head). But what I forgot about is that I am an imperfect person. I'm not meant to be perfect now, and asking perfection of myself is...well, insane. But, looking back, I've realized that I've asked for perfection far too often.

About two thousand years ago, something amazing happened. There was a woman named Mary who gave birth to a child named Jesus. He grew up and became a great teacher, helping many people to become their very happiest. But his greatest work wasn't his teaching. When he was only 33 (which is quite young, even if many 33-year-olds wouldn't say that themselves) he knelt down in the middle of the night in an olive orchard, and prayed to his Father. In this prayer, he ended up taking on a lot of pain, and suffering, and grief, and sickness, and hardship. He suffered these things, so that we would never have to suffer as much.

When I remember that He already took all this for us, I remember that I don't have to do things on my own, and frankly, I shouldn't. I was sent here to earth to be happy. I was sent here to England to help others to be happy. And now, I'm much happier. I don't need to worry, because it's all taken care of. That doesn't remove my responsibility to do all that I can, but I know that my Heavenly Father never expects me to do more than I can.

I'm really glad to know that you guys are doing so well back home. I can't wait to Skype you in a few weeks. I love you guys so much, and am so glad that you always pushed me to come out here, because I know that there is nothing I'd rather do right now than be out here.

Love you all,

Elder Green

Cutting across a football field up in West Leigh.
Thank you Elder Sorensen for taking pictures...since Braiden isn't.