Monday, December 29, 2014

Area 6: Winchester

Winchester Town Centre
Winchester is located in Southampton, in the Portsmouth Zone.

Well, looks like your prayers were answered. I don't have a ton of time to write today, since I've got a million things to do before moving off to Winchester. It's a lot more countryside than Clapham is, so there's a plus, and it's in good ol' Portsmouth Zone, which means I'll be able to see all of my Chichester friends. I'm pretty stoked about that.

I'll be follow-up training again (third time's the charm, right? Hahaha.) an elder named Elder Mercer. He was trained by a buddy of mine, Elder Treadway, and so I'm pretty excited about that. I've been spending the last few days setting a lot of goals that should make the next transfer really solid. So, I'm well excited for that.

In short, Christmas was wonderful. We were able to spend the whole day both working and visiting members at the same time, which was awesome. Best of both worlds. So, I'm really proud of it.

Elder Ocando and I, caroling at the Tower Bridge.

Christmas Skype with my family!

Christmas Dinner with the Santana's!

I am excited for this transfer. I'm grateful for the transfers that I've had here. I guess it just confirmed to me that I'm doing a lot better than I thought. I remember receiving a blessing a while ago that said that in the Pre-Mortal Life, I was one of the diligent Spirits. I guess I've never really believed that, but I'm grateful to see instances now that I have been diligent. I guess it's comforting to know that it is something that I'm learning how to do.

Well, plenty to do here... Kary's not happy that Sister Catogni and I are leaving, so we'll be seeing her shortly, after Kevin, and then we've got a million other appointments. Yay for busyness...!

Love you!

- Elder Green

Hey, quick update: (Tuesday, 12/30)

I really don't have much to say... We were able to see a few people yesterday, like Kary and Phoebe & Maxwell. I've just gotten to Winchester, and it's so beautiful here. Honestly, it's like, a town right out of old English Literature. We stopped by on our way to the chapel (which is only a ten minute walk from our flat) to see the Round Table. Like, the real Round Table. Pretty sick, yeah? Also, my companion's great. I'm really excited to start working with him. He's from Colorado Springs, and is really nice. Went to BYU for a Summer Semester before coming out.

The Round Table hanging in Winchester Castle.

 Anyway, I love you guys,

- Elder Green

Monday, December 22, 2014

CATCHING UP! (Sorry, Mom's been busy...)

Yes, we did perform at the Christmas Truce program. Elder Ocando and I played with Angus Dick from the ward (the one who knows Jack). Elder Ocando on the uke, Angus playing bass on the guitar, and me soloing on the Mandolin to "O Tannenbaum". It was pretty sweet honestly. Maybe not the most amazing and inspiring performance (that would probably have been Angus's brother Robin, who's a vocal performance major), but it was really nice and charming. At least, I think so. Pauline was freaking out about it, and Elder Herbertson of the Seventy congratulated us on it, but I think they were just being nice.

Ran into the Welch's at the Christmas Truce Program.
This week's been crazy. Crazy. Crazy. In the last half of the week alone, I had to pull two exchanges back to back right after the temple trip. The temple trip was so good. It was great being able to see all the missionaries that I haven't seen in such a long time, like Elder Glasgow and Elder Brown. They're such good guys. And getting the opportunity to hang out with all of the Digital Crew for dinner was good. I felt so at home with them all. I'm telling you, the Digital Zone is just special. But I received so much revelation in the temple, it was wonderful.

Afterward, I went out on exchange with Elder Blackner. We went to a funeral and nearly got kicked out. Well, kind of. It was the funeral of their investigator's aunty at a Methodist Church. It's super lucky that we found the place in the first place, because she just told us, "It's a church right off a roundabout, and it's something about Christ, or Methodist or something..." It wasn't off a roundabout, but we saw the funeral car. As we walked in, these two huge guys walked up and said, "Latter-day Saints...?" And blocked us from coming in. They were super surprised when we told her we had been invited. We were the only two white guys in there, except for the Preacher lady who kept shooting us dirty looks. Anyway, the rest of the exchange was pretty good. We got to work up in proper London, right up next to the Shard.

Anyway, after that Elder Smith and I went on exchange. We had a great exchange as well, and were able to see an amazing miracle. So, just over a week ago, Elder Ocando and I met this woman named Joanna, who had previously met missionaries in Essex and who wants to meet up again and have us teach her and all her flatmates. Well, as I called initially, the call didn't go through, and she said, "Oh, it's fine, it's my work number, and I don't have it right now." But, we tried again later, and it still didn't work. We kept trying throughout the week to no avail. Well, I knew about where she lived, and so Elder Smith and I, on exchange, set to try our own faith. We said to ourselves, "Okay, we'll knock three doors, and Heavenly Father will show us where she lives." We prayed for it, and both felt impressed to try one specific building. We tried the first door, but no answer. Second door wasn't her. So, we opened the scriptures, and I turned to page 257, and was led back to that same page a few times. We tried two more doors, but no answer. We figured we'd try those doors again at a better time, but as we were walking through the park I had a spark of inspiration, and opened my planner. Her phone number read 277 at one point, so I decided to try changing it to 257. The woman on the other end confirmed that it was Joanna's number, though she wasn't in at work and asked for a message, so we'll be calling her soon.

What else... Hmm, well, I'll probably be calling you guys on Wednesday around 4:00ish, our time, so that's 8:00 am for you. Maybe a bit earlier. We'll see. Sorry for making it so early, that's the only way it'll work for us. We'll be going to a Portuguese member's house, so we'll be eating tons of food. And after that, we're actually going to another Portuguese family where we'll Skype you guys. Other than that, we'll be working on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, though we may be going to the Bishop's on Boxing Day or something. We'll be looking for more opportunities to teach throughout the day, probably by playing music with the other missionaries.

Anyway, that's about it. Excited to see you on Thursday! Love you guys.

- Elder Braiden Green

Here are a couple of excerpts from last weeks letter...

The biggest high point of this week was definitely the baptism we were able to have. She moved to England a couple of years ago to work and to learn more about Jesus Christ. Struggling with the language, however, she had put off religion, until a friend of her asked, "So, where are you with God? Have you found the answers you were looking for?" She explained that she had been so busy with other things that she had put that off, but that she would begin looking again.Two days later, Elder Jackman and I walked up to her in Clapham Common and tried to give her a card. She was super excited, but spoke minimal English, so we just said, "Hey, no worries, we've got two Sister Missionaries who speak French." So, she called them that night, and they began teaching her.

She's really sacrificed a lot, as her family still does not know she has joined the church, but she's so firm and decided that she's going to be faithful to the light she's been given. She shared over the pulpit on Sunday a really powerful scripture:

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace on Earth, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." - Matt. 10:34-39

In addition to that, Heavenly Father's blessed us with so many more people to teach. We worked really hard on Saturday morning, and were able to line up a ton of return appointments for this week. I made a special effort to pray before each person that we met on the street, and ask to know their needs so that I could teach according to that, and though I didn't notice a difference perhaps in the Spirit I felt, I noticed a marked difference in the results. One woman in front of us dropped her Oyster, (apparently an "Oyster" is short for Oyster card, which I think is something like a bus pass?) and so I ran to give it to her, and had to delay talking to her about the Church, since we were in front of another church, but I turned around to give her a "He is the Gift" card, and she explained about how she had been in the area for 5 years looking for a church she felt comfortable in, but was unable to find one. About an hour later, Elder Ocando stopped a YSA-age girl in the park who was so excited to see us, and talked about how she had met missionaries previously in Essex. She wanted us to come and teach her and her flatmates more about the Gospel, and the Christmas season. Solid, yeah?

Monday, December 8, 2014

"I told you it would all work out."

Up here we are doing really well, actually.. You know, this last week has been somewhat of a grind, but it helped me to see that the Lord always is there, and will always fulfil His promises to us.

President Millar has really been pushing that every area should be able to produce, at the least, 10 lessons a week. Since Elder Lika left, we've kind of been struggling to do so... While I was with him, I didn't have quite the opportunity to be as involved with all of our investigators, and so as soon as he left, a lot of our relationships kind of fell. In addition to that, we've been struggling to see some of our more solid investigators, which is pretty stressful. Anyway, this last week was rough... Cancelled appointments left and right, and even more than that, we struggled to make the appointments in the first place, as I couldn't get a hold of anybody... That along with moving left us at about 5 lessons on Saturday night.

I was going to just put this week behind us, and try harder the next week, but then we experienced a great miracle. So, the French girl, Kary, that the Sisters are teaching was going to a members house, and we were supposed to accompany with Phoebe and Maxwell, but they hadn't shown up to church... So, Bishop wanted to stop by them. We pulled a quick exchange with the other missionaries, and decided we would regroup later that night. It was amazing. We went to take the sacrament to a home-bound member, and her whole family was there. We taught them about the sacrament, held a mini-sacrament meeting with them, and figured out a time to come back. Then, we visited a woman who was previously an investigator, and came 1 week from getting baptized. Taught her a lesson, got a return appointment, and she recognizes that she needs to be baptized now. Then, popped by another investigator who had dropped off, gave her a blessing for her tonsillitis and set up communications with her again. Then, popped by Phoebe and Maxwell, and showed them "He is the Gift", which nearly made them cry. Oh, it was so wonderful. So flippin' amazing. By the end, we were about to have those 10 lessons... But the other guys didn't quite have one. Still, so boomin'.

Elder Smith and I ended up at a DA at the end with one of my favorite families in the ward, and as I was reflecting on the afternoon, and everything that had happened, the thought came to me: "I told you that it would all work out." and I just felt so good.

Yeah, so we moved flats! The new place is a million times better. It looks so great. I'd take pictures of the other flat for you just to show you the difference, but you don't need to witness that. We've got a gas cooker, and a dryer, and a balcony... They left two bikes there for us, and the bathroom's been redone... And we don't have heating currently, but we're working on that. The letting agent should be able to figure that out today. And it's so close to everything, even the river. We live right down the street from the grocery store, a million Portuguese shops, and a few of our members, and we live right above a DNA testing place, just in case we ever need to drug test our investigators! (Haha...)

Anyways...that's about it for this week...

I love you so much,

- Elder Green

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hyde Park, Elder Cook, and trying to stay focused with holiday distractions!

Man, congrats to Rory! I really hope that I'll be able to be there for his wedding. You know how much I look up to Scott and Rory both. I really owe them a ton. If I can't, though, maybe you can make one of those cardboard cutouts of me and take it along. (Not because it's that important that I'm in the pictures, but because it'd be sweet to have a cardboard cutout of myself.) Honestly, though, I'm very excited for my best friend.

We did have a pretty nice week. I'm grateful for the lessons learned therefrom, and Heavenly Father's patience with me... Honestly, Christmas season has got to be one of the most distracting things ever. I find I'm constantly being pulled from one side to another by someone saying, "Hey! Look at this! Hey! Over here! Hey! Look! Christmas! Thanksgiving! Home!" And man, it's not easy. I guess that's one of the challenges posed by living in a big city as a missionary. There's pretty advertisements everywhere, and connections to back home, and all sorts of exciting things that really aren't that important. But it's nice, kind of, having the opportunity of focusing and forgetting about all of this.

I've had a lot of help, too. Elder Cook's talk was great. We all had the opportunity of meeting him, which was great. His talk was mostly about the great history of missionary work here in England. It was cool to hear about his experience serving as Jeffrey R. Holland's companion here in the British Isles mission, and to hear about how he keeps in mind the importance of his calling. That was a great strength to me. He also left a blessing that we wouldn't be too concerned with the things that are going on at home, because our work here would be of far greater blessing to everyone we know than our involving ourselves in home matters. I have faith that will be true.

Me and "my cousin" Sister Green!

Hyde Park Stake Center

Eating lunch at Jimmy's!

In addition to that, we had Zone Training this week. One of the topics that was addressed was constant diligence, which I know is a challenge this month. But, it was addressed in such a good way. I was able to really feel the Spirit, and to recognize ways in which I can put that more in line, which I'm grateful for.

And then, to top it off, we went with James to the temple on Saturday. That was a blessing being able to see the progression he made there. But even beyond that, I was able to see a number of the people from previous wards. Chichester was there with the Youth, and a few of the people who just got baptized this last year, including John Turnbull that Elder Dyck was teaching while I was there. They were all getting ready to do baptisms for the dead, and it was really good to see that the ward is still going strong. Kind of helps me to feel like I was able to be the Lord's help there.

Elder Ocando, James, and me at the temple.

I remember reading scriptures when I was younger that said things like, "The Lord is our strength." and I thought, "Oh, that's nice." But, now I'm really starting to understand that. I see so-called "coincidences" too often, things that are there to help me grow and become stronger, or help me out when I'm struggling. And it's always exactly what I need. Yeah, sure, you can rationalize it by saying that I'm just adapting to the situations that life gives me, but I know otherwise.

Hmm, what else... Oh, thank you so much for the Thanksgiving dinner you sent. It was very much appreciated, as was the box of clams. I felt so cool walking around Brixton with a box full of clams. I was just hoping it would be the day someone mugged me, and I had to tell them, "I'm sorry, all I have in the box is this clam juice!" It would have made my day. I hope you get the video I sent, all the other guys were very appreciative of the dinner as well.

Mom had groceries delivered for us to make some of my
favorite "Thanksgiving" dishes from home.

Well, moving flat this week. We'll be moving up into Vauxhall on Friday, the ward's really excited that 1. We'll be in the ward boundaries, and 2. We'll be super close to a lot of the ward members. Oh, and it's exciting for us because the flat's apparently super nice. We get to tour it tomorrow.

Still really excited about the Christmas initiative the church is doing. Have you seen any of the ads for it yet? Take a look at my last post to see the Christmas video "He is the Gift."

Anyway, love you all,

- Elder Green

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

So happy to get to baptize Steven Gutierrez today!

I'm glad you'll be having a nice Thanksgiving Dinner. I'm going to be missing green bean casserole this Thursday... Unless I make it myself. It doesn't look like anyone's invited us over, but we're thinking about maybe taking our lunch and dinner at around 7:00 or something, and I'll probably make whatever I can. If you want to send me any recipes (green bean casserole, your beautiful dinner rolls, stuffing...), hopefully I'll be able to print them off by the end of the day. I probably won't be able to cook a full turkey in that amount of time, but we'll find some way to make do.

Well, it's been pretty crazy all over the place this last week... Moves weeks usually are, but this one especially, it seems. Monday we had to get the other guys off to the train station, (we missed our first train when Elder Lika wanted to go visit one last person) and then Elder Smith and I were supposed to meet up with Elder Davies around 3:00 at the chapel. So, we ran and got kebabs for lunch, and then got a call from the Senior Couple saying that he wouldn't be there until about 6:00-ish... So, we only had time to go contacting that night and see one family, but it was good.

Tuesday was interesting... We were in a tri with one Elder from each area, so we tried to divide up the appointments evenly, but we had to spend a good part of the day getting stuff together for the flat... Our flat is, well it's not the greatest. When I came in we only had three spoons, and no proper knives. So, we've been improving it slowly. We might paint the bathroom soon, as it's pretty bad.

Wednesday was getting the new guys, eating french toast, cleaning the flat and picking up a few other necessities before the new missionaries turned up. Our missionaries are so good. Elder Ocando, my companion, is from the Canary Islands (named actually for the wild dogs on the island, not the birds), and he's really humble. We're trying to use Spanish as much as we can, but we've decided not to teach Spanish Investigators. Still, we contact them, and then refer them over to Kennington. The other two guys I live with are Elder Davies from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and Elder Turner from Stroud up north. Both are fantastic flatmates, and I really enjoy working around them. Over in Streatham are Elder Smith, who I've been with for a little while, and Elder Wheatley who's also from up north. So, Elder Smith and I are the lone Americans in the District...

The rest of the week we spent working. Quite a few appointments fell through, as usual, but in those gaps we were able to meet quite a few really great people. Saturday was especially testimony building when it came to that. The Zone Leaders have started up what they call "Consecration Saturdays", where we spend the first three hours of the day finding, and fasting for those hours. Well, we went out convinced that it was going to be a good day for finding, despite a bit of rain, and... Nothing. Well, I can't say nothing. We had four really good conversations in the three hours, but nothing really came of any of them. It seemed to be spaced just enough that I didn't give up hope. We tried a number of different ways of doing it. For part of it, I just stood in the middle of Clapham Common, played guitar for fifteen minutes, and then tried to talk to anyone who had been around, and it really softened a man named Claude's heart. But still, not much came of it.

After that, we went to the chapel, ate our bread and salami, and did some paperwork. I prayed to ask God for forgiveness for not working my hardest, but felt a confirmation that I had done what I needed to do. After a bit of work, I felt prompted that we needed to leave, and so we packed up and left the chapel. On our way out, over to an appointment, two men stopped me and asked if I would tune his guitar. One of them had dated an LDS girl as a teenager, and so knew a bit about the church. We invited them to a party at the church that night, and they actually turned up, which was great. They enjoyed it a lot, and promised to come to church, but didn't turn up. I have their phone number, though, so I'll continue to follow-up.

Stake Cultural Evening...I am representing Africa.

We also met another woman that same day named Violette, in about the same place. As we spoke to her about Eternal Families, and the Book of Mormon, she said, "Finally, someone who thinks the way that I do!" It was great, we asked if we could come around and she set the appointment herself, and gave us her number and everything.

It all just goes to show that the Lord has greater things in mind for everything.

I'm really excited for this next few weeks. I've started to notice a lot of members that really want to get their friends and family involved with the church, and so we're going to be working with about four different individuals/families and their friends to get things going.

Anyway, sorry, this is a long one. My legs are fine. They've improved greatly. We go running now every morning, which I couldn't do three months ago, my knees were far too weak. We'll be seeing Elder Cook tomorrow, and will be at the temple later this month -- I'm not sure what day. And as for a Christmas package, I did remember a few other things that would be very appreciated: the cuff-links I told you about with ampersands (&) on them, deodorant (it's terrible here: all they have is the spray on stuff, so a few sticks of SpeedStick), and Altoids. Honestly, that's about it.

Well, love you so much!

- Elder Green

Monday, November 17, 2014

"Come Unto Me"...A Lesson Learned

Well, best news first...Elder Quentin L. Cook's coming next week, and so we'll be going North of the river to Hyde Park to see him. Fantastic, yeah?

So things here are starting to pick up quite nicely. As I've noted, it's been a rough transfer... I've really struggled. Not because of difficulty in the work, or personal problems, but we've had difficulty within the District, and as District Leader, that's always hard. And it can be difficult when you work so hard the entire transfer, praying, and seeking counsel from the Zone Leaders, and praying again, and talking to the District---and you don't see a change. Or you do, and then it goes back to how it was.

But, this is what the Lord helped me to understand from it, and I only realized this over the weekend at Stake Conference: There's a scripture in the eleventh chapter of Matthew that I've come to love on my mission, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The Lord says that His yoke is easy and his burden light, but being yoked in the first place means that you're working. And we'll work, and the burden will be there, and we'll struggle. We honestly will.

But, what He promises is rest unto our souls.

That's important.

When the transfer's over, and you look at the work that's been done, and you've fought and struggled and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed, and you've done everything that the Lord asked you to... And it still doesn't work? Then you can rest assured because the Holy Ghost will testify to you that you have done what you could, and you have worked your hardest.

I love this transfer, difficult though it was, because I came so much closer to the Lord through it, and I gained so much thereby. Last week was the best week we've had all transfer. All. Transfer. We saw so much progression: We have another investigator (James) who's now committed to baptism on the 20th of December. We found him because he wanted to learn to play the piano, and so I've been teaching him that part time, and teaching him the gospel more than part time (wouldn't Sister Findlay, and Brittany, and Billie Jo be proud!). Phoebe's really excited about everything we teach her, and Maxwell is willing to come back to church, and is getting ready to baptize her. She's so great, every time we visit, she either says, "Hey, Javin, when you're Elder Green's age, you can be a missionary just like him!" or, "Wait, so can I go volunteer in the temple? Can I get my Grandmother's work done?". We find new people every day, and I'm able to use my talents to find them.

Going away party at the Santana's with the BYU Sisters.
Of course, with plenty of Guarana.

Oh, and the Lord's been blessing me on the side with inspiration for music, so I've finished another song, with yet another almost done.

So, now Elder Ocando and I get to strike up a new transfer, and figure out how to use the Spanish Members in this area... It'll be a fun adventure. Elder Smith and I are really excited to see what happens.

I love this Gospel; I love the Lord; I'm so glad to be here, even though it's hard, sometimes.

Anyway, love you!

- Elder Green

P.S. I finally made it.

I saw this... and I just had to...

I'm here. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hot Chocolate, a Polish Guy, and the Salvation Army

Super exciting about Hen! I actually hadn't seen that yet, but I'm glad that's where he was sent. I guess having been on a mission this long gives me a different perspective, and understanding the things I've learned here gives me a little bit of a peak at what he'll end up learning there. Anyway, super stoked.

Man, so cool about Dad interviewing with Elder Andersen! I'm so jealous. It's crazy how efficient the church has to be in situations like that. It's the same with President's Interviews (which are on Wednesday this week), you get 15 minutes, and it's usually not a great thing for them to go over that... They pretty much go like this:

President: Elder Green, how's everything going?
Me: Good, President!
President: How's your family doing?
Me: Yeah, everything's fine.
President: And the District?
Me: Doing well.
President: How do you feel?
Me: Good.
President: Good, any questions?
Me: Nope, not really.
President. Cool. Will you offer the closing prayer?

There's a bit more meat in there, but honestly not much. It might be an interesting one this transfer considering all that's gone on, but that's fine. I feel really good about the effort I've personally put in, and can see a bit of the path that I'm wanting to chart from here. Rachel Playstead kind of hit on it in an email she sent me. She was mentioning a conversation she and I had forever ago about how when we were kids, we just thought, "Man... I don't really have anything to repent of... I guess I'll say sorry for being mean to my brother again." But as you grow older, you gradually become much more self-aware, and understanding of your own difficulties and problems, as well as those of the people you work with. And you're actually able to chart that course, and move forward to the next way-point.

Yes, everything has been going better. It's been a super difficult transfer, in all honesty. I've struggled a lot, I have. But, I explained to another missionary that it's given me a lot of time to spend on my knees, and I feel closer to the Lord for it. I'd fill you in on more of the details if I could, but I don't know that it would be wholly appropriate to. I promise I will when I get home. Or maybe at Christmas, which is coming up!

So, the beginning of the week was a fair respite from all of that difficulty, but I can't seem to escape it, hahaha. Elder Smith and I went on exchange on Thursday, and had a really good exchange. He's a fantastic juggler, and so we went juggling in the park to try that as a contacting method, and it helped a bit. We were having our exchange review, as...

Both our companions run inside. "We need a Polish Book of Mormon". Run downstairs. Run inside. Hang on, need Polish pamphlets. Run downstairs. Phone call, "Hey, make us some hot chocolate." Text from Bishop, "Here are the directions to the Salvation Army:..." Run inside. "Where's the hot chocolate?" Run outside. Phone call, "We're going to need to extend this exchange a bit..."

Elder Lika and Elder Westra met a Polish guy down in the park who we had talked to a bit earlier, and had been juggling for. Turns out he was homeless, but due to the lack of communication and the language barrier... It went pretty haywire. And so our exchange turned into a two day exchange, where Elder Smith and I tried handling two areas at the same time. By the end of it, they kind of realized that we don't have any of the resources to handle a situation like this... But it was confusing for us. Elder Smith and I ended up going back to my flat that night, since they had taken our key, and I knew where there was a key hidden for our flat... But, we made the best of it, and felt the Spirit really powerfully working through us throughout it all.

I hope he's alright. He's since disappeared.

Anyway, the area's coming along. Phoebe and Maxwell are doing well, we'll be seeing them soon. We have a new woman we're teaching named Daniela from Romania. She's fantastic. I wasn't there for the actual first teach, but Elder Westra explained it this way: "You know when you practice teaching with other missionaries, and they give you all the right answers, and you're frustrated with them because you're like, 'No one ever does this in real life! Give me a real life situation!' Yeah, it was kind of like that. But in real life." So, she's hopefully getting baptized on the 13th of December.

That's life in a nutshell right now! Transfers are next week, and it's a toss-up what might happen. I feel like it could go either way at this point. I know I've only been here a transfer, but a lot has happened in six weeks. Who knows. Either way, President said we'll arrange for me to take my driving test right after transfers.

Love you!

-Elder Green

Monday, November 3, 2014

"Consecration Week"

The Halloween sunset, from the roof of our flat.

It's funny that you guys had a quiet Halloween, because we did as well. Halloween's weird here in England... They just haven't quite gotten the hang of it. They try to go trick or treating, but not even half of people really do it... So, it's mostly parties, and the pubs filled up with people drinking in costumes. It's interesting, for sure.

We spent a lot of time contacting earlier in the day, and then towards the evening we tried to set up some appointments, but they didn't come through... Which is a shame, but oh well. We ended up going to one of the only Chipotle's in all of England for dinner, and it filled my soul with such joy to taste a burrito that's actually a burrito. Oh, the simple things in life.

The rest of the week was spent contacting. President Millar dubbed last week, "Consecration Week", as I mentioned before, which meant that we were to contact for four hours every day. It was really a good experience. I know that even with the fact that the appointments we set up with those people didn't come through, we experienced a lot of good. And plus, we were able to show the Lord that we were willing to do what He asked of us.

P-days... I probably should've talked about this first. We went up to South Bank again, and walked around. We made it all the way to Tower Bridge, and it was fantastic. The architecture around Central London is really beautiful, and the artwork everywhere is so fantastic.

As a quick update on the great miracles with investigators this week, I don't know that I've told you about Karri yet. So, we're not actually teaching her, but Elder Jackman and I found her in Clapham Common. She's French, and isn't completely fluent in English, so Sister Catogni and Sister Brinco, who are both French, are teaching her. She has showed me so much faith. She came two Sundays ago, and really enjoyed it ... Following in that week, she met with the sisters a ton of times, went to two English classes at the church, went to Institute on Wednesday, and went to the temple on Friday, and when I saw her yesterday, she couldn't stop talking about how wonderful the temple was. It was really amazing, honestly. She told us at English Class that when she comes to the church, it just feels good in her soul.

Also, we're still working with Phoebe and Maxwell. Phoebe's so wonderful. She's shown so much faith, and desire to come to church, even with her husband's concerns as a less-active member. She came to church by herself with her two kids, yesterday, and started writing down scriptures that they mentioned in the lesson that she wanted to read for herself. She was super excited to have a Gospel Principles book that she could read through for herself (which reminded me a lot of Terena, when she was investigating). Honestly, we've been so blessed to work with such brilliant people.

Oh, and another cool thing that happened this week...we were walking out of Oval tube station, on our way to a Dinner Appointment, and just as I walk out of the turnstiles, two or three young people standing around saw my guitar and said, "Hey! Play us something!" Elder Lika had run off ahead, and so I yelled for him to come back. When I turned around, one of the girls saw my badge and got really excited. Turns out, they were all Catholic, and were on a missionary conference tour. She was so excited that we were also missionaries for Christ, and ran up to give me a hug, so I stood there awkwardly, because that's what missionaries do when people try to hug them... Anyway, I played them a song, and as I did what was once three people turned into like, fifteen. Then one of the guys borrowed my guitar, and played us a song. I caught on to the lyrics quickly, and sang along. We said goodbye and were on our way. I thought it was great how they didn't even draw lines, they recognized that we were Christian, and so were they, and we were able to share that together.

Well, no Typography Museum today... Turns out it's closed for maintenance, and I'm not sure when it reopens... But, we'll be meeting up with the Zone for sport.

A Red Fox...we see them everywhere!

Love you guys!

- Elder Green

Monday, October 27, 2014

A "Missionary Moment"

London sky over the train station.
The week has been good. It's been hard, though. I still have a lot of decisions I'm trying to make for our district and area. It's led me to a ton of prayer and scripture study, which has actually given me tons of answers. But... the fruits aren't yet apparent. Which can be frustrating, for sure.

But, as for the work in the area, we've been seeing immense miracles. We've got this brilliant family that we're working with right now who are just so lovely. The father is from Nigeria, and is a member (though he hasn't been out for years), and the mother is from Uganda and isn't a member. However, she's really interested in joining the church. She loves the influence that it's had in her in-laws lives, and finds that she's feeling really good as she reads from the Book of Mormon. Elder Jackman and I taught them for the first time on exchange, and she said that it all made so much sense to her. It was brilliant.

We also taught a cool Jamaican guy named Peter. He was walking his bike home near Clapham Common, and was wearing this sweet bicycle helmet. It looked like one of those bobsledder helmets that extends to a point off the back of the head. Anyway, we helped him carry a table home, taught him in his house, and extended a baptismal commitment. He agreed, as well. It was interesting, because it was the first time that I was on my mission and felt like I had that stereotypical "missionary moment", where my companion and I were teaching in harmony, in this crowded little flat, with a guy we'd never met before. Unfortunately, he wasn't there for our next appointment, but we'll hopefully see him soon.

We also met an awesome French girl the Kennington Sisters are now teaching. She came to church this last Sunday and brought a friend, and absolutely loved it (even though the Gospel Principles lesson was on Chastity...).

Chicken gizzard and plantains for dinner!

It was so good exchanging with Elder Jackman. He's from San Diego, and he reminds me a ton of Taylor. We had a great time hanging out, playing guitar for people on the street, and chasing after foxes on our way back from Nando's.

A sign Elder Jackman and I saw while on exchange...I'm afraid I will think two years isn't enough!

And if that's not enough, I was super psyched this last Saturday. We had an appointment set up with Courage again, and brought along Angus Dick from the ward. He's in his mid-twenties, and is super cool. I was chatting with him about what he does for work, and he mentioned that he's a freelance animator. I said, "Alright, I know this is a longshot, but... You don't know a Jack Cunningham, do you?" "How the FLIP do you know Jack Cunningham?!" I guess they've done work together as animators. Such a small world. Anyways, Courage wasn't there, but we talked to his roommate for a while [mostly about his Ebola conspiracy theories (which are "not conspiracy theories, they're facts") and how they connect to the Malaysian flight that went down...], and it turns out that he's read the Book of Mormon 2-3 times, and used to be an investigator some four years ago. He was supposed to come to church with Courage yesterday, but didn't show up in the end...

Clapham Common Tube Station.

Anyhow, I love you guys so much. Happy Birthday Mom!!!

- Elder Braiden Green

Monday, October 20, 2014

Finding Courage

The London skyline at night.

The last week has gone really well, actually. It's definitely been a bit of a challenge adjusting to a new area and a new companion, but it's been so worth it. We've seen some really great miracles in this last week alone. I had to learn some pretty important lessons, though, before we could see any.

It's interesting for me moving in as a new District Leader. When I come in, I sit down and am able to establish a lot of what the district needs just through initial observation, and then through study and prayer. That's the easy part. What becomes difficult is how to establish those changes that need to be made. This week, I did a lot of trying to bring it to pass myself, and it just wasn't working. So, I prayed about it, and after some pretty blatant nudging went to the scriptures.

The verses I came across were in Alma, when it's talking about the people of King Limhi, and how they were practically enslaved by the Lamanites. When they went to battle against the Lamanites, basically it ended up worse for them than in the beginning. However, as they prayed to the Lord for support, the hearts of the Lamanites were softened, and they were made stronger.

Same thing's happened here... now I am set to make improvements, where I can.

By the by, by "I'm not speaking that much Spanish", I mean that I probably only use it a few times a day. I guess for an English speaking mission, it's pretty incredible how much Heavenly Father's using my ability. We've been trying to contact all the Less-active Spanish Families in our ward, and it's been really wonderful. Yesterday, we went to visit one woman that we'd never met before. Turns out she's been fairly active, but that she hasn't been to Kennington ward for about a month now due to going on Holiday, and such. Well, it just so happens that we turned up at the exact time that she needed a blessing, and so I was able to give one to her in Spanish.

Also, I'm probably going to start translating the Sunday School and Priesthood classes for the Spanish members we have. I was supposed to translate Sacrament meeting yesterday, but we couldn't get the system set up.

Some other cool miracles: We just picked up a new investigator this last week named Courage. Courage was actually someone I had been trying to teach online, but who never emailed me back. We found him on the phone, called him up and set up an appointment. He had the best questions like, "So, if someone had the Priesthood authority in Christ's time, we need to know which church has that authority now, right?" So solid.

Also, I'll probably be using music a lot more now, as well. I'm already the organist for Sacrament Meeting, and I'm playing piano for the Primary Program, but I happened to meet the director of the stake's Gospel Choir last night. You always said I could do with a little rhythm and soul.

So, things are going really well here.

Posterity Photo...Elder Blackner with his stepson (me) and son (Elder Smith.)

Love you so much!

- Elder Green

Monday, October 13, 2014

Area 5: Clapham Common

Everything is good in the 'hood! I am so happy to be back up in London. My new area is called Clapham Common, which is in the London Wandsworth Stake, but our flat is in South Wimbledon.

Here's what transfer day looks like on the train.
(I think everyone is having to help with Braiden's many bags and instruments!)

Everything's been really good in the ward so far. I'm really excited to be working here. I'm missing being digital quite a bit... Honestly, it was so sad sending my last emails, and doing my last chats... But, I know, that as you said, the Lord called me here not out of coincidence, but out of a complete knowledge of His plan for me, and this area.

Last lunch at Nando's, before leaving Crawley, with the Elders, Sister Stewart and Sister Catogni.

It appears that my seeking to establish a Spanish Branch was jumping the gun just a bit... With Kennington ward, they want as many of the Spanish Speakers as are willing to go there. Still, we were going through the ward list this morning, and found somewhere near 30 Spanish or Portuguese speaking families within the ward, 25 or so are less-active. So, we'll be working with our ward missionaries, the Armelinis (who are from Argentina!) to help bring them back, and try to work with their non-member spouses/children.

This is our Bishop. He's one of the coolest guys in the world. He's really excited about the missionary work in the ward right now, and is excited to get things going. He's the one who started us on working with the less-actives, and so that's our current plan.

Elder Lika's great. He's from Albania, as mentioned before, and he's only been out three months, so I'm follow-up training him. He's got a lot of excitement about the work, and a lot of love for the members and investigators. He also speaks both Albanian and Italian, which is going to be really good for our work here.

We live in a four-man flat with Elder O'Keefe from Manchester, and Elder Hartshorn from Spokane, Washington. It gets kind of crazy, as four-man flats usually do. It's really strange for me to be District Leader here, because half of the District is under six months on their mission, so I've got to be the example. Also, I'm super stoked, because Elder Blackner's my Zone Leader, and my half-mission-brother, Elder Smith (Elder Blackner trained him right as I left) is in our District as well.

Elder Lika and Elder O'Keefe doing service for one of our investigators.
Elder Hartshorn and I.

As for how actual missionary work's going, we're kind of starting from scratch... I mean, we've got a bit of a teaching pool, and some people are moving forward, slowly but surely, but we've got no progressing investigators or baptismal dates, so we're working on using our individual talents a lot to improve that. Both Elder Lika and I have gotten super excited about what we can get going.

An old church in Brixton.

The Victorian precursor to an intercom system. You would talk through the little tubes to the flat you wanted to reach.

Our food adventures for the week...Jellied Eel, an English delicacy. (Not the best thing I've ever eaten.)

And the Green Smoothie...garlic, apples, cucumber, and kale. (I don't think I'm a smoothie fan.)

Hmm... I think that's about it. Love you! Talk to you soon!

- Elder Green