Monday, September 29, 2014

Playing for a Tough Crowd

Elders Barney, Nunnally, Wolfgramm, Palmer, Rogers, and Green (Me)!

Well, it's been a crazy week... Really. Crazy. Monday was fun -- we just played volleyball with the Office Elders, and Sister Stewart and Sister Catogni. Tuesday, we were helping one of our potential investigators out with a service project, and had a great DA with the Stamp family again. We had Shepherd's Pie. It's so funny, I started saying, "Man, this reminds me so much of home." and Elder Barney was like, "Are you kidding me? This is all I've ever had for DA's here!" Apparently members make it all the time except when they have me over.

Wednesday was where things went mad... See, we've currently got Elder Palmer with us. He's an American citizen, but his mother's Hungarian, and has lived in Hungary for most of his life. He's supposed to be in the Baltic States Mission, serving in Latvia, but with some difficulties in his having lived in Hungary, and travelling around Europe, Latvia kicked him out over visa requirements. So, he came here on Wednesday. He flew in to Gatwick while we had District Meeting, and the Office Elders tried to pick him up, but customs detained him for five hours, so we had no clue when he was going to be getting out... So, we had planned out this day for two companionships, where we were going to be alternating helping our potential investigator move, but with him not there, we had to spend the entire day doing it... We then had plans to take Mantas to the temple that night, so we finished up the service around 7:00, ran up there, I picked up Elder Palmer from the office while Elder Barney and Elder Nunnally taught Mantas, and we finally headed home.

Thus continued our crazy week... Driving lessons for both me and Elder Barney, almost killing myself on my first roundabout (don't worry, the rest of them were fine), Elder Palmer going with the Office Elders up to London to the Embassy up there, meeting with President Millar to figure out the details about Elder Palmer, and other issues in the district... Goodness. It's been a blast.

But, in addition to that, the miracles have just been rolling in. First, Elder Barney and Elder Nunnally had met this guy Mark a while ago in town, and we set up two appointments with him, and he flogged both. Then the Zone Leaders met him in town, set up another appointment with him. He flogged. Then, Elder Palmer and I met him on the way to town, and having known all of that, I thought, "Hey, Mark, do you have a few minutes? Let's go to the chapel." So, we taught him about the Plan of Salvation. It was an okay lesson, nothing spectacular...but I hope he is interested.

Next miracle, Elder Palmer and I were trekking through Broadfield to try by a potential investigator named Guy. I had my guitar slung over my back, like usual, and down this pathway between some houses there was a few neighbour families hanging out outside. As I passed, one of them yelled, "Hey! Play us a song!" So, I did. I just played them a verse of Come Thou Fount, and after one line, one of their kids looked up at me and said, "Man, you're crap!" The mother quickly told him off, and after I finished she said, "Wow, you've got some guts to do that, and you're really good." "Can we come back around sometime and talk with you a bit?" "You can come back and sing to me anytime." So, we're headed back tonight.

Because the Elderly are so dangerous.

Ifield Mill Pond

Elder Palmer and I.
Last one, after church yesterday, Brother Mann had asked us to go and stop by a less-active member who lived not far from there. We had actually planned on seeing him anyway, and so we used the time between accounting sessions to go up that way. We knocked on the door, but got no answer. As we were headed out, we turned the corner, and I realized that we weren't far from an investigator's house that never really panned out. I considered it for a second, and then decided to go for it, but saw a guy coming up the street. So, I went to stop him, and he said, "Oh, sorry, I'm in a rush." But, I persisted, and told him a bit about the Book of Mormon, and asked if he went to church. He said that he did up in London, but had just moved to Crawley, and so didn't have a church to attend yet. So, I tried to set up an appointment with him, and he said, "Sorry, I'm doing training to be a flight attendant this week. I'm busy until next Monday." Usually, they use that as an excuse and leave, but he said, "Here's my number, call me next week and we'll set something up." Turns out he lives right down the street from the chapel, also.

Also, last week, I got a bit of a tip-off from President that I might be going. He also hinted at where I'm going, but I'm not going to say anything just yet. You'll find out next week. :)

Last but not least, we did some great service for the Vowels' this morning. We do service there quite a bit, as he's doubling the size of his house to sell it. So today we were putting in the main beam on the second story for the roof. It took a bit of finagling, but we got it right into place in about an hour.

Today we helped lift an enormous beam for the Vowels' addition on their home!

Anyway, that's it. Love you guys!

- Elder Green

Monday, September 22, 2014

Buddhist Blessings of an Enchilada...I wish!

The Crawley Zone visiting Sir Winston Churchill's home, Chartwell, in Kent.

 Sounds like everything's good back on the homefront. Let me tell you, it feels really, really weird seeing those pictures of Katie... Everyone in my life is completely different now, and it's so strange to me. I don't know how I'm going to adjust when I get home...

Anyway, we've had a solid week. It's still been a little bit crazy with how we count lessons now, but I've become so grateful for it. It really helped us to focus on setting return appointments with everyone that we see on the street, and so we've had multiple appointments every day of the week. Granted, only three or four of those actually came through... But, the people we did meet with were really solid. We've actually got one new baptismal date because of it! He's a really sincere English guy. He kind of looks like Dad, actually... We didn't get to teach him much on the street when we saw him, but when we came around for the appointment, and taught him about the Book of Mormon, he was so amazed. It was really cool to see someone that excited about that. So, he's set for the 18th of October, and he'll be at church next week.

Our other investigator is still doing super well. We're hoping to get him to the temple this week to watch the Joseph Smith movie. It ought to be pretty good. He still loves coming to church, and was so disappointed he couldn't make it yesterday. We had a teach with him this week, and asked him to pray, and (as always) it was one of the most sincere prayers I've ever heard. As the three of us walked out, Elder Barney looked over and said, "Guys, I think he's converted." It's fantastic seeing that kind of change in someone.

What else... We met a lot of really amazing people on the street this week. We stopped a really cool Buddhist Monk lady on the street. She actually knows a few of the people from the ward. She was super nice, and really wants to come see the chapel. So, we left her with a prayer, and she left us with a Buddhist blessing of something like, "inshila", which means "As you pass." I totally thought she was about to say, "enchilada", though, and got really excited. (I have Mexican food on the brain!)

We also had an interesting experience with a bunch of Mauritian guys in Broadfield. We were walking along on our way home, after having had a bunch of appointments flog us, and decided to go stop by one last potential. Well, we saw this one Mauritian guy sitting on some stairs next to an underpass, so I went up and started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. He was really interested initially, and so we said an opening prayer, and continued on with the lesson. And then two more guys rolled up. And then two more guys rolled up. And then two more guys rolled up, so we were teaching like eight or nine of them. And then they all started "rolling up," if you know what I mean... We left, seeing as they were high, but we got one of their addresses to pop around another time.

As  part of our Zone Goals, we've been focusing on sacrificing the things that aren't any good for us to help us to have the Spirit stronger in our work, and one of the things that's been helping a ton is actually as simple as watching what we say. We meet quite a few pretty rude people on the street. That's just part of missionary work. However, we've decided to stop being snide and cheeky after meeting them on the street. Where usually, we would stop someone, and it would go like this:

Us: Hey Sir!
Them: Sorry, busy.
Us: Oh, we're talking about the Book of Mormon!
Them: No. Busy.
Us: Oh, can we leave you a card?
Them: I'm busy.
Us: Right... We can just give you this card, and you can go on the website and look it up when you're not busy...
Them: Do you speak English? I told you I'm busy! Stop harassing me!
Us: *grumble grumble* They obviously don't speak English... *grumble grumble*

We now just skip the grumbling, and we find that we're much happier! And find far more people who want to listen.

Last P-day was good, by the by. We were planning on going to Chartwell (Winston Churchill's Home) around 2:00, so that we had plenty of time, but as soon as I got to the Visitor's Centre, there was a man on the phone speaking Spanish, and they needed me to translate for him. It was a Sister Missionary's father. Apparently she has been quite ill, and so I had to translate all of the details for him, which was interesting. I was really grateful for the opportunity, even though it meant that I only got to go to Chartwell for an hour or so. And I guess, speaking of languages, my Portuguese has also been improving. I started reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese, and occasionally listen to it, and it's gotten me to the point where I can actually communicate quite decently with Portuguese people.

Anyway, Chartwell was pretty cool. They had a real Monet on the wall, which was pretty sweet. My favorite part, though, was all of the gifts given to him by Stalin. Honestly, the USSR gives some fantastic gifts, like fruit bowls made of crystal with a man shooting a grizzly bear with a bow in silver. I wish I was friends with Stalin. Unfortunately, they wouldn't let us take pictures inside... So, there's not a whole lot of pictures to show... Oh well.

Well, love you guys. Hope you have a great week!

- Elder Green

Monday, September 15, 2014

Looking Forward to General Conference!

Weather here in England is doing alright. It's been a bit warm, but nothing too bad, lately. We've been having scattered showers from time to time, which helps things. Honestly, some mornings I wake up and wish that it were raining.

Man, I am getting so excited about General Conference, honestly. It's so funny being a missionary, because that's one of the things you seem to look forward to most: more talks to read from in Personal Study, more information to plan District Meetings on, new Mormon Messages for investigators!!! (I think being a missionary is getting to me.) For those of you who don't know what General Conference is, twice a year we have the Prophet, the 12 Apostles, and the other leaders of the church speak to us about what God would want us as a whole to know. Honestly, it's the best.

So, this last week's been pretty good. Not a whole lot to say about it, honestly. We taught our investigator a few times -- he's doing better, for sure. We've decided to focus on helping him to live everything else, and by doing so, he'll be more able to live the rest of the Gospel. So, that's the plan for now. We haven't been able to see the Portuguese family in a little while...

Oh, and I didn't sing at Zone Conference. For once, there's someone else in the Zone that they ask to do musical numbers! Sister Walmsley did a fantastic song that she had written. She writes tons of songs like it's no big deal, and sometimes I'm jealous of that. She's actually got a blog where she puts them all up. I'll link you to it.

Elder Nunnally and Elder Barney are doing great! Things are going pretty well. I feel like the whole mission is still getting used to the new training plan with the lessons thing, but we're trekking through.

I've not yet scheduled driving lessons. I'll probably be doing that today or tomorrow. I might even wait until Wednesday to see how Elder Barney's first lesson with this company goes.

Oh, by the by, I was in the presence of British Nobility this past week. We were asked to sing for a WWI tribute at the Visitor's Centre this past week. We sang Jerusalem, and the local Lord and Lady were there. Pretty sweet. The rest of the meeting was pretty good, except for the listing of everything the British Legion has done with their money in the past year...

Yes, we're off to Winston Churchill's house today,

Went for a haircut this week and they asked me if I wanted a part line...and I said, "Yeah, I part my hair"...Then, they took a buzzer and a cutthroat razor to my head and carved a line through my hair! Then they proceeded  to puff up the rest of my hair using a ton of hairspray... It looked absolutely ridiculous.

Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seven Sisters!

Me and the Belle Tout Lighthouse, at Seven Sisters National Park in Brighton.

I've been so touched by the great work that's been happening here in Crawley this last week.Our investigator is probably one of the most faithful guys that I know. We've been teaching him about three times a week now, and stopping by every once and a while in between. He's got a few trials that he's working to overcome at the moment, but man is it powerful to see him growing the way he is. No matter what hits him, he just keeps saying, "I want to overcome it, so that I can be with my brothers and sisters in the church and be baptized." It's really incredible. And yes, he came to church, but unfortunately his friend was "busy".

We had Zone Training this last week, which led to a few pretty fundamental changes in how we're doing things as a mission. I'm really excited about it, though. For the last 14 months of my mission (aka, all of it), we've been counting lessons with people on the street so long as we present two points of doctrine and say a prayer. And that's great, really, because it caused us all to focus on actually teaching people when we meet them. However, everyone kind of felt they needed to be in the "green zone" each week, and so would spend time contacting each day and never turning up new investigators. Heck, the little "Potential Investigators" section at the back of each of my planners is just filled with people that I met once on the street, and never got in contact with again. Well, our new training plan is pushing that out of the way.

Basically, President's reinstated lessons the way that they used to be counted: they should include an opening and closing prayer, doctrine and a commitment. So, the majority of the lessons we count now are sit-down teaches. Now, I'm really stoked about this. It sounds like logistics, but really it changes the entire way that we're doing missionary work. The number of people we stop is important because we're trying to find those people who are actually interested rather than just teaching people just to teach people and make it look like we're doing good hard work. (I'm exaggerating how bad it is, but you get the idea.)

Oh, P-day was so great last week. We went down with the Office Elders, the Crawley Area Elders, and Ben Craggs from the ward to Seven Sisters down in Brighton. Oh. My. Days. Honestly, one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The huge chalk cliffs are so pretty. And it was so nice to be near the ocean again. I nearly freaked out as soon as I stepped out of the car and could taste salt in the air. We hiked up around the cliff, and messed around down on the beach for a while. The chalk flakes off all over the beach, and it turns part of the beach into this solid chalk ground... We had fun throwing the big chunks of it around (like boys do). I was so disappointed, though, because apparently clam chowder's not much of a thing here in England... I had a huge craving for it, and could not satisfy it...

More pictures from Seven Sisters...
Beachy Head Lighthouse.

Elder Barney, Me, and Elder Nunnally
The chalky cliffs of Seven Sisters.

Yes, that's Elder Foster on the right! He's with us now in the Crawley Zone, as Zone Leader.

Speaking of soup, for the cooking portion of this blog, we tried leek and potato soup this week. Not actually as difficult as I would have imagined it to be. It took a while to cook, though, so we just left it on the hob during weekly planning. It tasted so nice.

Homemade Leek and Potato Soup.

Finally, the fireside went really well yesterday. I was quite nervous beforehand because I haven't sung a solo in a good while, and probably hadn't practiced as much as I could have. Plus, Sister Miller (the woman who played piano for me) had the keys changed on it, and so my key change went from a fourth (quite normal, easy to pull off) to a minor third, which for some reason I just couldn't get into my head as correct. Plus, with the key change being different, I couldn't really practice with the recording I've got of it. However, after a prayer beforehand I calmed myself enough to really enjoy the experience. It was really powerful being able to feel the words as I sang them (I can see Taylor cringing as I describe this). And a lot of people ended up complimenting me afterward. President and Sister Millar were there, and Sister Millar was so overwhelmed about it she had to run up and give me a hug after the fireside. Here is the video...

Anyway, I believe that's about it. Slow p-day today, off to get a haircut (finally...) and write a few people that I've not written in a while.

Love you,

- Elder Braiden Green

Monday, September 1, 2014

A road trip, a new "Tri", and getting hit by a car!

I can't believe I've been out for 14 months! You don't even know how quickly it goes... It's not fair, honestly.

I was speaking with Brother Mann, our ward mission leader a few weeks ago during correlation, and he said something that stuck out to me quite poignantly. He was talking about how amazing it was that someone like Joseph Smith, and unlearned, 14 year-old farm boy from upstate New York could have possibly become the amazing Prophet and leader that he did. Elder Wood was the one to ask, "Well, how did he do it?" Brother Mann replied, "Well, you're not going to like the answer. You see, Joseph Smith grew at such an accelerated rate because of two factors that are present in, it seems, every prophet's life: high levels of spiritual experience mixed with extreme trial."

Now, I'm not going to make it out to be that I've had anything remotely close to "high levels of spiritual experience" or an "extreme trial", but when I've seen the two mixed together, I have noticed a lot more growth than I would have imagined otherwise.

This week's been a good representation of that on a small scale. We've had so many wonderful experiences, but it's also been difficult.

The beginning of the week was kind of tricky... We were having a rough time figuring everything out, because of constantly switching "tri's"... See, Elder Clark left on Monday, and we spent half of that day up at the temple waiting for Elder Rogers, who would be in a tri with us. I had no complaints there, because we got to do a session at the temple. And then the next day, after our cheese party with the Craggs family, I went on a road trip with Elder Rogers down to Uckfield, and then up to Welling while Elder Barney stayed here with Elder Gunnell and Elder Lane. And then Elder Cooper was in a tri with us until the next day when we got Elder Nunnally... Super confusing...


Our new Tri's getting there. I know we'll figure it out. Elder Barney, Elder Nunnally and I are all working hard to increase the companionship unity. First week with a new companion is always spent getting used to things, so I'm not too worried. Elder Nunnally's a great guy. He's from Georgia, and has only been out three months, so we're polishing him off. We all get along pretty well, and so I think things will roll really smoothly once he starts getting used to his second area.

Our new "Tri"...Elder Barney, me, and Elder Nunnally.
Like I told you before, our Lithuanian investigator is coming along super well! Man, he's such a star. We met with him twice this last week, and the second time we committed him to keep the Word of Wisdom. He's going to have to give up a few things for that, but he's already super desirous to do so. You should have seen how excited he was talking about it. His greatest desire is to be baptized, and it sounds like anything that will get him there he's willing to do, and I'm really inspired by that. He's set for October 4th right now. He came along with us to church yesterday, and though I think he wasn't anticipating how long three hours really is, he seemed to really enjoy it. I felt bad because I was responsible for getting a lot of other things done, and was having to run around everywhere, but Elder Barney and Elder Nunnally took good care of him.

Another one of our other investigators agreed to a date as well! But then she dropped us on Saturday morning... I'm pretty sure she got anti-ed, which is too bad... I find it ridiculous that other people feel the need to spread rumours about us and make things bigger than they are. C'est la vie misionnaire. We had a few other people drop us as well, and we've had to drop a few... It was strange seeing just how many people it was this morning. But, it's fine. As Dad always said, "Everyone learns at their own rate." They'll come to eventually, whether in this life, or the next. For the meanwhile, we're able to focus our efforts on the people that need what we've got for them right now.

Out "finding" in Bewbush.
I got hit by a car this week. It must have been going at least forty. And now that you're freaking out, I'll tell you why it's not such a big deal. We were walking down the sidewalk, and British roads are notoriously small, and this woman in her new car comes speeding down the way. I must have been a bit too close to the curb, and she must have been as well, so her side mirror smashed into my wrist. It folded inward and the mirror popped out, but I didn't see her stop. Some people behind me asked if I was alright, and I told them yeah, it wasn't a big deal. And then, this woman comes walking down the road and yells at me for walking too close to the edge, and leaving my bag hanging out, as my bag hit her mirror and broke it. I then informed her that it was my wrist she hit, and Elder Barney nearly flipped out on her for not apologizing to me for smashing into me with her car... After she calmed down from being so flustered, she apologized, and we fixed her mirror for her. And, because I'm such a man, I didn't even bruise.

Anyway, not much else to report. I expect things will be getting increasingly better as the weeks go on. We're doing our best to put our all in, and it's bringing back results.

Love you!

- Elder Green