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

Monday, October 6, 2014

"¡Vuelvo a Londres!"

Brighton Beach!

I'm with you, conference was fantastic. We still haven't gotten to watch the last session, but hopefully we'll get time soon. I would watch it on the way to my new area, but there's not really any way to do that yet... I was really impressed by Quentin L. Cook's talk in Priesthood Session about focusing on the most important things, and ensuring that we are living our lives in the little ways that will bring the Spirit and accomplish the important things in our lives. It seemed to be a common theme throughout the entire conference that we need to stop messing around and realize what truly matters. It very obviously applies a ton here on my mission, and especially with the new things that I'm called to do.

Last picture of the Crawley Zone.

So, I am moving. President kind of told me about a week or so ago when Elder Palmer first came in. He and I sat down to talk about a few of the things that were a struggle in the District at the time, and at the end, he looked up at me and said, "Elder Green, I've spent a lot of time on my knees this morning praying about the moves calls, and I think that the Lord has something more in store for you." Then he looked at me for a moment really seriously and said, "But, that's all I'm going to say right now." And he started laughing, and I was like, "C'mon President! Hahahah, why do you do this to me?" But as we were walking out, he said, "I'll tell you this, you'll be using your language."

I was so stoked thinking I was off to Kennington, and going to get so fat on tons of South American food, and worrying about how I was going to keep in shape... But I pushed it out of my head so I could focus on the work here. And then, President called Saturday morning, and said, "Elder Green! I would like you to go to Clapham!" and I was like, "That's great! Are you sure...?" And in fact, his earlier hints were completely true as well. Though it is part of Wandsworth Stake, and Kennington isn't that far away, he mentioned that there are a number of Spanish-speakers in Clapham, and that they could really use a Spanish-speaking missionary to work there. So, my current goal is to establish a Clapham-Spanish branch there, and I'm using a lot of General Conference as fuel to push that into being. My companion is Elder Lika, and he's from Albania, which is cool.

So, this last week's been awfully eventful, as week fives usually are... We went to Brighton on Monday, which felt like coming home almost... I swear, it's like Venice Beach, but with actual history. It was kind of crazy at first, because we had like, a million missionaries together on the pier (the four of us, plus the Office Elders, plus the VC Sisters, plus the Brighton Sisters, plus the Brighton Elders, plus their ward mission leader), and I felt kind of uncomfortable. Plus, whenever I'm in a group of that many people trying to figure out what to do, it seems nothing gets done. So, the four of us slipped away... And it proved to be quite a miracle! We went and got delicious kebabs, and ate them outside this beautiful fountain, and then we wandered up towards the Royal Pavilion, and got a little lost... All of the sudden, this guy in his twenties walks up to us and says, "Hey, are you guys for Jesus Christ?" He really wanted to come to church, and was really excited to hear more about the Gospel. We passed him along to the Brighton Sisters, and I hope all goes well with him from there!

Our week in the area was crazy as well! We picked up four new baptismal dates between the four of us... Which is such a blessing, and something I can only attribute to the Lord. We already have David, who looks like Dad, but now we've also got a man named Garreth (who Elder Barney, Elder Blair and I met a while back), Aaron (who Elder Palmer and Elder Gunnell met while Elder Barney, Elder Nunnally and I were doing online work), and Ivo and Iwino, a father and son that I've been trying to get an appointment with since I got here. They all seem really devoted too. Aaron has had a number of really powerful spiritual experiences in his life, that have really reinforced his faith in God, and Ivo and Iwino are both just super faithful, and wanting to follow God with everything they've got! So, I'm really happy to leave this area in a good state.

Last but not least, Elder Nunnally Turned 21 this week!! Elder Barney and I arranged for Sister Goldthorpe in the ward to make a cake, and it looked amazing. I was thoroughly impressed. And it tasted fantastic, too. Normally I'm not a fan of fondant, but this actually tasted really nice. I'll include some pictures.

How great is this cake?

The Birthday Boy!

Making quick work of the delicious cake.

Love you guys!

- Elder Green