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