Monday, August 25, 2014

"Dodge Knocking"...and lots of pictures! (Thanks Elder Clark)

Walking through the green tunnel, under the roundabout by our flat.

Carrying Elder Clark's bags down the lane.

Washing up in the stream.

Week's been going just great. It was so much fun working with Elder Clark. He definitely made the week a lot more interesting than it would have been without him. And, you're going to love him, because he took tons of pictures. I'll send them all your way.

Elder Barney, me, and Elder Clark...our "tri" at the temple.

So, at the moment, we're teaching three people pretty solidly: an English woman, our Portuguese Family, and a Lithuanian guy with the coolest name ever!  A quick update on each of them ---

Our English investigator has got a heart of absolute gold, and really wants to gain more faith in her life. Her desire is so strong, and she's the most sincere woman, we've just felt bad because she seems to be pretty busy, and other things unfortunately are getting in the way... We were able to meet with her once this week, though, with Brother Goldthorpe from the ward. Though we only had about 15 minutes to teach her, it was a pretty good lesson all things considered.

The Portuguese family are doing well also. We were actually able to meet with her husband and her this week, and he's so funny. He kept making jokes about how we needed to eat more food (they always seem to feed us), and after the lesson he grabbed his box of cigarettes, and just started singing, "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!" as he walked outside. We'll help him out with that soon. It's great, because Marea started trying to teach me a bit of Portuguese. I retained almost nothing, but that's okay. She's super kind as well.

And our Lithuanian friend is such a cool guy! The way we met him is such a miracle, too. We met his brother in town centre after an appointment that we had with another woman, and he asked us for a Book of Mormon and said he'd love to come to church. Turns out, he was drunk during all of that... But, he gave us his address, and so we went to go visit later in the week. When we met our investigator he told us he was a Seventh Day Adventist, and totally gave me a full on bear hug because he felt bad that he thought Mormons had magic powers. We asked if we could come around the next day, and he said that'd be fine. So, we met with him, and the Spirit was super strong. And when we asked if he thought it could be true, he said, "Yeah, I do think so." And we invited him to be baptised. We gave him a baptismal date (October 4th) just this morning, and he's so excited. He was asking, "So... Do I really have to read the whole Book of Mormon before I get baptised? Because, I just want to get baptised as soon as possible."

What else... We've been having a lot of fun trying out our new contacting technique of "Dodge Knocking". We go and find the sketchiest places in town (typically the flats above shops in town centre) and go knock them all. It's really fun, because the stairways to get up to them are always super hard to find, so it becomes a bit of a scavenger hunt. We didn't see a ton of success from it, especially as many of the buildings above the shops turned out to be offices, which is super unusual. But, we did pick up one potential investigator, which was good, so we'll be stopping by to see him soon.

Above the shops..."Dodge Knocking."

More "Dodge Knocking" pictures on the stairways.

Elder Clark really taught us a lot about how to do missionary work a bit differently. Since he had served in the Las Vegas mission for one transfer while waiting on his visa to come back out, he knew a completely different mission culture, which was super useful for us. He taught us how to use the pamphlets much better, and a lot about more effective study. Plus, we had tons of fun just doing what we do best.

Digital Work!

Oh, moves calls!! Elder Barney and I are staying, but we're getting a new companion for our tri! We'll be with Elder Nunnally from Georgia. Man, party every day.

Eating at a Caribbean restaurant with Elder Gunnell...what delicious fish!

The edge of nowhere!

Anyway, that's about it for the week!

Love you all,

Elder Green

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Go away you Silly Boys!"

A beautiful Bewbush sky.

Let me answer all of your questions before I go into things: The Portuguese family's doing fairly well, actually. We were able to bring over a recent convert in the ward (Liliana) who is Portuguese to teach them this week, and that helped sooo much! Man, they hit it off like they'd known each other for years. Not even five minutes in, it was like Marea had forgotten that we had come over at all. Hahahaha, which I was totally okay with. She told them all about when she got baptized, and how she joined the church. She's an absolute star, and we're frankly annoyed that we've only got one of her (otherwise she would be the perfect antidote for all of our investigators!)

We also got the son, David, his own copy of O Livro de Mormon, and it was really cool to see. They made us go eat food that they had prepared for us, and when I handed it to him, he started straight off reading it out loud to his sick grandmother. And when we finally asked to say a prayer, we almost couldn't get him to put it down to say the prayer. Man, it just warms the cockles of my aortic valves. Unfortunately, due to David's crazy work schedule, and Marea having to take care of her mother, neither are able to make it to church... So we're hoping that a miracle will happen there.

I'll try to give you a few other anecdotes from throughout the week to let you know what missionary work is like:

We were walking along yesterday with 30 minutes left before dinner, and not enough time to do anything else, so we wandered up the road from our house to go contacting. We tried to stop one man and said, "Hey, have you heard about the Book of Mormon?" and he said, "Go away you silly boys!" Like, he actually called us silly boys. Silly. Boys. Oh, I couldn't stop laughing for the next five minutes or so. Man, some people are just too funny.

We planned some time to go do some contacting in town on Friday, and so we were on our way, and tried to talk to two women, and realized one of them was deaf. And, the other wasn't interested... But, anyway, we got stuck at the level crossing, and as soon as the barriers went down, Elder Barney's phone started ringing. So, he tried to pick it up, but the person on the other end hung up. And then they texted, saying, "Call me." And then they called back right when the train was going by (so, we couldn't hear them at all). But, it was a potential investigator who had flogged us twice, and so we had given up on her. She was calling to say that she was in town, and that she wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon, if we were in town too. So, we met up with her, had a lesson, and then taught her. Then, we taught another guy on a bench nearby (even though Elder Barney needed to use the restroom) who was wearing a cowboy hat, even though he was from Eastern Europe.

Phil, the ASDA (grocery store) man came up to us again last week. He always addresses us as "Sheep Stealers", bless his soul.

We've been teaching like crazy online. Elder Blair introduced a new technique that we've been trying, and we're finding tons of new Facebook investigators. It's cool, a number of them have now ordered their own copies of the Book of Mormon. You also get a few interesting people... Elder Barney has one man who keeps sending him the smallest pictures in the world, and sending him a million little Nepalese Christian Ministry websites.

Elder Barney and I will be in a "tri" this week with Elder Clark from my group. I'm really excited, because he's coming back out on his mission after going home for a bit. It'll be great to see him again, and work with him. I think he'll have a ton of ideas.

We're still working on the ideas for recent converts... We're going to try a Facebook group, but many of the recent converts don't have Facebooks..We'll keep working on it.

Bowling on P-Day!

I guess I am a "Silly Boy!"

Looks like I need to work on my game...

Anyway, love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, August 11, 2014

Quite a Catch! (Do you get it?)

The SUPERMOON  from "across the pond."

Well, things are going here in Crawley! I'm actually quite pleased with everything. There's always room for improvement, sure, but we're not doing too badly this week.

We were able to meet up with that Portuguese family again, and had a pretty good lesson. We were hoping to come with the Portuguese family from the ward, but they weren't able to make it... So, I stumbled through another lesson in Spanish, and had her son translate anything that I didn't understand. I've been trying to spend some of my study time throughout the week doing language study so that I can keep up teaching in Spanish, and try to understand the Portuguese. However, I've not had as much time as I would like... Oh well. They didn't come to church on Sunday... But, we'll get them there eventually!

We had interviews on Wednesday with President after District Meeting. I love interviews, honestly. It always seems like President Millar is trying to get through them as fast as he can, but I do always get quality feedback from it in the end. President's quite pleased with the work here, both in the area and online, and he's put us on assignment to figure out something that we can do to help all of the Recent Converts in the mission. We've kind of expanded that to investigators as well, especially those with baptismal dates. So, we've been brainstorming, and we've got a few ideas in the works... Sorting through the kinks is going to be fun. I love problem solving. That's something I've actually come to love most about this area: we have so much more creative freedom, and so we get to be innovative, and come up with new ways to make the work more effective with new tools that haven't been explored to their fullest capacities. The engineer in me is just eating it up.

Yes, I know I look like a fool...but my mom wanted a picture of me carrying my guitar everywhere I go!

We've become really good friends with the High Street this week. Previously, we've not really spent too much time out there, but we've been trying to do a lot of finding this week out that way, which is good. It really does maximize your ability to teach a lot more people. We had some pretty interesting experiences, too... One of them, we were on our way back to the chapel to do some lunch and internet study, and trying to talk to people along the way. We met this one really cool Indian guy who wanted to meet up at the chapel this week. It was strange, because halfway through our talking with him, some guy walked by, stopped, and said, "Don't believe a word these guys say," which, Elder Barney pointed out was quite rude... Anyway, the guy was still happy to meet up with us this week, gave us his number, and we said a prayer. Behind the man, was a parked car with another man sitting in it. I had intended on giving him a card, but he called us over and told us a story about his son who had almost died. He was a strong Christian himself, and so we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and said, "Look, if you don't read it and pray about it, you can't tell us it's not true." So, he'll be reading it, hopefully.

We've had a few really good dinners this week. Two DA's with women who are recent converts. We felt bad because we weren't able to get a male member to come with us to either, so we had a little picnic in the hallway. It was Liliana's idea. Man, such good food, though... I'm so grateful to the ward for what they do for us. And on Saturday Elder Barney and I had an incredible dinner. So, we were at Asda the other week, and found some whole fish that were only a pound on clearance. We thought we'd experiment with them, but we just got lazy over the next week, and considered giving them to the cats. But, we were doing our weekly planning on Saturday, and so we were going to be in the flat for a little bit longer... So we made the fish. Oh my days, so nice. We coated them in butter, garlic, and herbs inside and out, and popped 'em in the oven, then served them on a bed of rice with a white sauce I whipped up from the extra milk we had left over. Let me tell you, Elder Barney and I are going to have no trouble getting married when we get back. Oh, it was delicious.

Our picnic in the hallway with Liliana!

Doesn't our dinner look good? Elder Barney and I are becoming quite good cooks.

Later, we popped out the eyeballs to eat with the Zone Leaders. It's strange, they've got an iron-y taste to them, and there was this weird pit in the middle...

Our original plan was to hang the fish out the window to attract the cats to the Zone leaders door...
I'm glad we decided to eat them instead.

Oh, and to lure the cats over, we chucked the fish heads out the window. Man, it didn't even take a minute before two cats came running over!

The beautiful English sky as we walked out of church.

Playing Ultimate Frisbee for our morning exercise.

That's it!

Love you!

- Elder Braiden Green

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lost in the Hundred-Acre Wood

It's been quite a week... It seems like so much has gone on, and yet it went super fast. I was told that it gets this way, but I don't think I ever really believed everyone.

It's been a really interesting week, honestly. We're still trying to figure it all out. We've been working a lot harder at trying to make sure that the Spirit's in our lives more by focusing ourselves, but little things got in the way of a lot of that this week. For example, after (kind of) cleaning on Monday, we got a call from our landlord telling us that night that they were going to come inspect on Wednesday... So, we spent a good part of Tuesday super cleaning it. Which was more fun than a barrel of monkeys... (I don't think that a barrel of monkeys would be fun at all, so it's probably more fun than that.)

Had my first district meeting as the District Leader here, which was pretty good. I tried relating graphic design to contacting... I think it worked. Elder Blair said that he really enjoyed it, as did Elder Barney.

Oh! The Hundred-Acre Wood was pretty good on P-day. That's where all the pictures for this post will come from. It was kind of lame, because we got super lost... I literally grabbed the GPS coordinates off Wikipedia, and we plugged those into the car's GPS, which ended up getting us stuck down some crazy little private road, which was really close to the Pooh Sticks Bridge, but we couldn't park there. So, we reversed out of there, tried to follow the directions some man gave us, got lost, backtracked, followed them again, got lost, ended up at the Winnie the Pooh Gift Shop and Tea Room, ran out of gas, drove to find a gas station, got food, backtracked, and then parked where we were supposed to. We probably spent about twenty minutes total in the actual Hundred-Acre Wood, but it was fun walking down the path surrounded by little kids and their families while we stuck out in our missionary proselyting attire... Hahaha.

We finally made it!

The Pooh Corner Tea Room

Pooh Sticks Bridge

"The Hundred-Acre Wood is now the 99 Acre-Wood..."

Being "gloomy" at Eeyore's Hut.

Our Karate Kid poses.

As I was telling you before, we've seen some super miracles this week. Like, we've found somewhere around five new investigating families in the last week or two who all have connections to members already. It's crazy, like this never happens. One of them is a large Portuguese family that we've been doing our best to teach... We had a first lesson with them last week, and I tried my best in broken Spanish/Portuguese to explain about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. The problem is whenever they had questions, I couldn't understand them to save my life... So, Brother Marcos (who has known them for the past twenty years from back in Madeira) is going to help us out. It was so cool, though! We got lost on the way to the teach (because Bewbush is an absolute labyrinth) and when we got to their house a few minutes late, they were all outside looking for us because they were so excited to see us. They seemed to think my prayers were something magic, and kept asking for me to pray for their son, and other people.

We also had a first teach with a woman named Tina. She and her daughter Poppy are good friends with a less-active member of the ward, and we just ran into them on the High Street. When we met them, we were trying to talk to absolutely everyone we could on the street, and people were rushing past with no intention of stopping and talking to us. We got talking to them for a minute, and they were like, "Oh yeah, we know your church. We've been there a few times. We know the Mann's (the ward mission leader) and Penny and Karl (the Bishop and his wife)." Then some guy came up behind me and started playing my guitar that was slung over my shoulder really awkwardly, and other people were trying to get me to play it... It was kind of awkward for a second, but we got an appointment with them for last Friday, which went pretty well, in my opinion.

What else... Met another woman in Bewbush Town Centre who used to come to church as a girl. It was totally random. I had my mandolin from District Meeting and we had a half hour or so before going home, and so I said, "Hey, let's just go to Bewbush shops, and I'll play my mandolin, and you can make calls to people." Well, we were sitting there for about five minutes playing, when a woman over my shoulder said, "That was really pretty. You're awfully brave to be playing this time of night here, though." I started talking with her a little about the gospel, and she was like, "Yeah, I used to come to church actually, until I was about eight. I don't have much faith, though. But, my nine year old daughter loves church, you should come over and teach her!" Solid, right? We actually were going to have a dinner appointment at her place on Sunday, but she had to go help out her mother.

The Lord's been giving us tons of these miracles this week, but I feel so humbled by them. Like, we haven't done anything that we weren't already supposed to be doing... We're trying to talk to people more, we're trying to involve members more, but we're falling short. And, the Lord's just loading us up with sheaves. I almost feel bad to receive them all...

We've been smelling a lot more marijuana drifting up from the downstairs flat...nice, huh? Also, we've been trying to play a prank on the Zone Leaders. We bought a box of cat food last week, and since there are tons of cats in the forest behind our flat, we've been putting food out for them at the Zone Leaders' back door every night. We need to be better about it. We've also got two fish that we're thinking of hanging just above their window, but we have to get a better audience of cats before we do that.

A cat at the Zone Leaders back door.

Anyway, that was our week. I love you guys!

- Elder Braiden Green