Monday, July 28, 2014

Just keep on keeping on!

Elder Linden, me, and Elder Munson showing off our English cufflinks...fancy.

This last week has gone so well, we're really happy about it. The beginning of the week kind of went by as usual, except for the fact that we've gotten a lot more effective at shooting off Emails and doing online work, but other than that pretty it was just normal stuff. Well, Thursday we had Zone Conference, though, and it kind of changed a lot for us, or at least for me. One of the presentations given at Zone Conference was by the Haywards Heath Sisters, and they talked about the power of music, and the variety of ways that we can use music in our proselyting. Well... to be honest, I had a pretty hard heart about it all at first. As Sister Steffensen was saying, "Yeah, we went knocking with our ukuleles and found new investigators!" I thought, "Yeah... I went knocking with my guitar, and no one would let us sing for them..." And when they talked about playing music for people on the street, I thought about the one lady that let us sing for her on the street, and then didn't accept any kind of return appointment... Well, my mind was pretty reluctant to try, but I felt a distinct impression to carry my guitar with me everywhere I went.

And you know, it was really cool.

Instead of just talking about whatever from back home between appointments and stopping people on the street, I just played the guitar and sang hymns. It really helped me to center my thoughts on the Savior, and to feel the Spirit much more strongly. We got a number of promptings that we wouldn't have even thought of that lead to cool miracles, but more on that in a minute.

We also tried using music in the few lessons we did have. There was this one former investigator whose door we knocked on, and we decided to sing for her "Come Follow Me". And even though she didn't accept a return appointment, I felt the Spirit so strongly testify that what we were doing was right, which was wonderful. So, I really have to thank Sister Steffensen and Sister Vande Merwe for having given that presentation, because now, I rarely leave the flat without my guitar hanging off my shoulder.

Let me tell you about a few of the amazing experiences we had this week. First, while we were contacting down towards town with the guitar, and just trying to stop everyone we could, I looked up and saw this woman on a balcony. So, I shouted up to her and asked if she wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. She said, "Uh... Come back Saturday at 1:00." And rushed inside. We didn't expect much of it, because usually, those appointments don't come through. But, we came back anyway with a member and knocked on her door. A woman answered the door, cursed at us, and slammed the door. But, we were confused, because the number she had given us was on the other side of the building... So we knocked the rest of the building, and got no answer. So, we walked back outside, and this guy was leaning out of the same balcony, and he asked if it was us who knocked on his door. We told him yes, and that we were talking about Jesus Christ, and asked if we could come up and share our message with him. He agreed. Turns out, he's a 19-year-old Bishop and overseer of five Pentacostal churches, and we invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, which he agreed to do. We should be seeing him again this week.

After we met the woman on the balcony that day, we went and tried busking in town center. Basically, I just played and sang under an overhang (since it was raining) and Elder Barney tried to stop people. We didn't have incredible success, but we had a less-active member that we'd never met approach us and start talking, and found another guy who lives right next door to some of the members of the ward, so that was pretty cool.

Our super cool miracle this week, though, was with this Portuguese family. We met the mother a few weeks ago in the town center, and I spoke with her in kind of a broken conversation... It's pretty difficult to understand Portuguese, but she could understand my Spanish just fine. She said it would be better if we didn't come around, because her mother had just had a bad fall, but she gave us her address anyway. Well, yesterday in church, a South African/Portuguese Sister Marcos (who is such an amazing member) came up to us and said, "Hey! You met some of our family friends a few weeks ago!" Turns out it was the same family. So, we felt impressed to stop by and bring a copy of O Livro de Mormon. When we knocked on the door, the woman was so excited, and invited us in. I had difficulty understand what she was saying, but she introduced us to her mother, and she mentioned that we were the ones who had prayed for her. Her mother started crying, because I guess she felt that she had gotten better because of the prayer. We spoke with them for a little while, and then set a time to come back and talk more. We also spoke a little with her son, who's in his mid-twenties, and who speaks English, and it was so great, because he pretty much just asked if he could come to church with us next Sunday. So great! We're really excited.

As for food adventures, we've not been too crazy lately. We made lamb hearts again, and decided to try dragonfruit. It was okay, kind of like kiwi, but a bit less sour. It didn't really have a super strong flavor to it. Elder Barney makes great breakfast burritos, but he doesn't cook much more than that. So, I do most of the cooking, which I don't mind too much.

First time eating Dragon Fruit.

What a gourmet cook! Lamb Heart with Mash.

Oh, online's been picking up stellarly, by the by. I've been calling around to the other areas in the mission, and the Eastbourne Sisters, the Polegate Elders, and the Kennington Sisters are giving us referrals like crazy. AND we're actually having people email us back! Wow! So cool. It's such a great experience.

By the by, yes, those were the cufflinks that Pauline gave me and Elder Munson.

So... Yeah! There's our week. The Lord does provide. We're really excited to keep on keeping on. Our goal is to make this area one of the most effective in the mission. We'll definitely do it.

Love you so much!

- Elder Green

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Did you hear? Missionaries eat Beef Stroganoff!"

Trail from our flat to the fields.

So, the last week has been crazy all over the place... Moves week is always a bit like that, but I guess even more so here in the Digital Zone.

The first two days of the week were spent mostly packing and setting everything in order. Elder Hebert had a lot of things to pass over to me as the new district leader. Unfortunately, I still feel a little bit left in the dark about what I'm supposed to be doing further than normal district leader responsibilities, but that's only because Elder Hebert had only ever served as a district leader here, so he didn't know anything different. But, I think it'll be fine regardless.

Me and Elder Hebert. I'm going to miss this guy!

Tuesday night we had all of the guys from Guernsey and Jersey staying with us. Normally, they don't all come up for transfers, but because of the fact that all of them were getting new companions, and one of them was training, they all had to fly up. So, we ate burritos with them, and played football (English and American) the next morning. I forgot how much I actually appreciated American football. It was a lot of fun, but man, they left a huge mess... We just finished cleaning it all up today...

Wednesday was our P-day. We had tons of missionaries here in Crawley, with all of the elders and sisters from the Crawley Zone up here waiting for new companions, along with the Guernsey guys who weren't training. We probably could have gone out and done something big and fun together, but being as Sister Mott from the Visitor's Center was sick, we just all hung out at the chapel watching church films, eating too much cheapy Asda pizza, and just chatting. Elder Rulz and I spent a good amount of time together playing music. I wish we had had a violin for him, or something. We just traded off on the piano. So, we stuck around until all the new companions showed up, and then waited around after that until the Visitor's Center Sisters showed up to pick up Sister Mott. It was fun, but a long tiring day.

Elder Barney arrived! He's really great. He's from Riverton, Utah, and went to BYU for a semester before coming out. He's from the same group as almost all of my companions (Elder Blackner, Elder Sorensen, Elder Gull, Elder Hebert...) which is really strange. He and I are very alike, actually. We've had a lot of similar experiences on our mission so far, and have a lot of the same strengths/weaknesses. So... This transfer is going to be pretty cool. We've started talking about a lot of what we want to change about the way that work is done in this area, and we're seeking a lot of help from Heavenly Father to do so.

My new companion...Elder Barney!

We had a couple of good dinner appointments this week. The Milburns always make us Mexican food, because they know how much we appreciate it, so that was wonderful. And Sister Miller had us over for lunch on Sunday -- the classic bread and salami and cheese with potato salad, which is pretty much what I would want if I could pick anything for lunch.

We had one pretty funny experience this week. Elder Barney and I were coming back after DLC on Saturday night around 9:10, and happened to see a group of caravans (motorhomes) parked on a large grassy verge with a few people hanging out. Typically, that means gypsies, and I kind of wanted to go talk to some gypsies. So, we figured we had about ten minutes if we wanted to make it home on time. We walked across the road, and started talking with a few of these guys. One of them had seen "Meet the Mormons", (a Television show that aired recently about missionaries that tried to give the church a bad name) and so he knew a bit about what we do. A few minutes later a car full of girls pulled up on the grass and started talking to us too. It was so funny. Honestly. They started asking us a few of the normal questions, "Do you guys drink alcohol? Tea? Coffee?" Etc. But then it turned a little bit:

Traveler: "Wait, so do you guys eat... Food?"
We affirmed that Mormons still eat food.
Traveler: "Do you guys eat KFC and McDonald's?"
Us: "Umm, yeah, not that often, though..."
Traveler: "Woah! Guys! They eat KFC and McDonald's! What are you having for dinner tonight?"
Us: "Well, we were going to go make some beef stroganoff..."
Traveler: "Hey! They eat beef stroganoff! Can you believe that?!"

The rest of the visit was interesting, but we invited them along to church. The next morning, we stopped by again on the way to church, and there was only one woman left there. We started talking to her a bit, as she had been the most interested from the night before, and was saying she really wanted to come to church. So, she called the rest of them and said that we were back and asked if they wanted to come to church too. A few minutes later, we see the little red car pull up. I look out the window of the caravan and wave. The car pulls into reverse, backs up, shoots out the round about and never returns. The woman was so embarrassed, and felt so bad. I felt pretty bad because she was totally going to come to church too, but she had to watch the caravans since they were parked illegally...

Anyway, that's about it for the week. Love you guys so much!

- Elder Green

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Wedding Singer

"The Wedding Singer"...though not  singing at a wedding, in this picture!

Glad to hear you've had a great week! I'm really glad Claire's baptism was good. I'm sad to have missed it, but I'm glad to have been able to see some pictures on Facebook.

I talked to Alison a bit about Aaron's farewell, also. It sounds like he's really prepared. I'm going to have to shoot him a Facebook message before he takes off. I'm so excited for him!

So, as you know, moves are this week. I'm sticking around as District Leader, and Elder Hebert's off to Portishead to follow-up train a missionary who just got done with his training. It's been a good transfer, and I've learned a lot serving with Elder Hebert. He's taught me a lot about the Spirit, and I'm really grateful for that. Elder Barney, my new companion, will be coming in on Wednesday. I've met him once or twice, and he's a really good guy. I've talked to a few other missionaries about him, and I'm really excited from what I've been told. From what I hear, he's a really solid missionary: hard working and very obedient. I think it'll be good for me, not necessarily because I'm a disobedient missionary or anything like that, because I'm not, but because I think I could use a couple of screws tightened. It's been interesting watching over these past few transfers how I've been put with a lot of laid-back, relaxed, hard-working missionaries, and how that's really helped me to be a lot less uptight about things, and now it's back on the other swing, to help me to become more firmly grounded. Or, I assume so at least. I guess I shouldn't quite assume what I'm going to be learning from Elder Barney.

Crawley District Meeting and Elder Hebert 's District Leader Appreciation Day!
We ate waaayyy too much chocolate, a three layer cake and Mexican Food!

The rest of this week's going to be fun, though. All the missionaries from the Channel Islands are flying in for transfers, so they'll be bunking with us. I'm going to go get tons of dried pinto beans and eggs today so that we can feast upon bean burritos for dinner, and breakfast burritos the next day. We'll probably be tearing up the turf field near our house as well the next morning for football.

The last week's been good! We've had a pretty strong week. We've done a lot of hard work in trying to find people, and it's paid off substantially. I got to teach my first lesson all in Spanish!! It was so cool. The guy's name is Hossein, and he's Muslim. We just met him on the street. We've had a number of these experiences lately where we walk up to people, and they say, "Oh, I don't speak English." and I say, "Where are you from?" and they say, "Spain," or "Portugal," and then I just start speaking to them in Spanish, and we get their details. Who could have though that there were so many Spanish speakers in Crawley...? Anyway, it actually happened again on our way to go teach him (which is crazy), and then we taught him. It was kind of awkward, since Elder Hebert just had to sit there through the entire lesson, but he was really open minded, and desirous to learn more. He'd watched a documentary on the church while he was living in Spain. We should be seeing him again this week.

We also found this amazing woman named Kirsty that we've started teaching. One of the days last week, we were out trying to contact some potentials when it just started hurling down rain... Oh my days, it was pouring so hard. And since it had been such a sunny beautiful day, we hadn't brought raincoats. So... We sat under a little overhang for five minutes with this cat and called potential investigators. We got a call from the Office Elders letting us know that they were suffering with us in the rain, and Elder Blair said, "Hey, if you knock ten doors, I promise you that you'll find a solid investigator." So, we thought, "Well, we've been lacking opportunities to rack up wife points anyway..." So we went to work. Apparently Elder Hamilton told Elder Blair off for promising us something like that, but we knocked into Kirsty's door. We taught her the Restoration last week, and will be going back this week with one of the members of the ward to teach her more about the Book of Mormon.

Hmm, what else? I found a dead hedgehog. That was pretty sad.

Oh, we've also had this weird habit of running into less-actives on the street. We've had it happen probably three times in the last two weeks. It's kind of fun, actually. I think we're going to be teaching a few of them soon, too.

The Zone Leaders' investigators Cat and Brian had their wedding on Saturday. It was nice. I was asked to sing for it, and so I sang "You'll Never Walk Alone," and "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace." I think it went alright. I'm waiting for all the flack from the other missionaries to start rolling in... After my first transfer, I was known to the AP's and a few other missionaries as "The Wedding Singer"... Oh goodness.

Yes, I did get the other part to my license. I'll be taking my test in August. Not sure what's going on for P-day this week... It's moves day, so Elder Gunnell and I will probably be hanging out for the majority of it.

Anyway, I believe that's about it!

And, of course we need a some goofy pictures of the Crawley District!

Love you guys so much,

- Elder Braiden Green

Monday, July 7, 2014

"God bless America!"

God Bless America: 4th of July Barbecue at the Stamps
It's so funny, because it feels like it's been really hot here. We got rain probably twice this week, which seems a lot, since we haven't gotten any in such a long time, but it was actually nice. I've been missing rain, honestly.

The Stamps did show us a really good time, which was fun. Neither of them are actually British, so that's probably where the jokes came from -- Sister Stamp is Italian, and Brother Stamp is Canadian, but they actually might be looking to move to California, as Brother Stamp is a composer for movie scores, and finds that his work is very Hollywood, and most of the composing here is for television, (as the British love their soaps...), so it doesn't match as much. And plus, it might be good, since their daughter Kim's hoping to go off to BYU, so that all falls in nicely.

Anyway, I hope you know that I was in all red, white and blue for the fourth, and running around town singing patriotic songs. It was actually strange how many people I saw here doing different Fourth of July things. I mean, heck, the YSA in our stake put on a whole Independence day dance, and the majority of people from previous areas had "Happy 4th to all our American friends!" It was pretty funny, seeing as we're celebrating our leaving them.

Anyhow, the week did go pretty well. We didn't have quite so many appointments as the week before, as we had spent most of that week running between appointments that cancelled on us... But we were able to spend a lot of time trying to find new people and strengthen relationships with our current investigators, which was fantastic.

President called in the middle of the week last week after I asked about you coming to visit, and when I mentioned that all our appointments were falling through, he said, "Well, maybe you just need to give them a reason to meet with you!" That's kind of been our focus this last week, and I think that it's improving things. I do feel much better about when I talk to people on the street now, because it's not so much, "HEY CAN I TALK TO YOU ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON OKAY BYE." It's more casual and friendly, and focused on them. We were able to have some amazing street lessons because of that.

We've seen a lot of better online work going on, too! I just picked up a new investigator in Taiwan, who's been meeting with the missionaries there. He's been learning English, and came onto chat and was asking about how to pray in English. So, I'm going to try to get in contact with the missionaries that he's learning from. I'm also finally beginning to become organized with how to do things on Facebook, on Connect, on the chat... Thank goodness for split screens... It's still weird for me a bit, though, since we use our first

Moves come up next week. We think that Elder Hebert will be taking off, as we're both getting our license and the mission needs drivers. But, I could just as likely leave. So, we'll see what happens.

I'm excited this week, because we're going over to the Bishop's place and are going to spend some time playing music with their sons. They're super cool kids, and I should be having Michael (who's super crazy good at the guitar) playing for Youtube.

Got to go on exchange with Elder Blair on Saturday! Man, that guy is a workhorse. It was super funny catching up on the stuff from BYU. He was one of the guys that lived two floors up from me in Budge hall, and so we knew all the same people.

Anyway, that's probably about it.

Love you guys!!

- Elder Braiden Green

Our very patriotic crew of two Americans, four Italians, two Canadians and two Britain-born children.