Monday, June 8, 2015

Almost home...(the last letter from Mom)

Dear Braiden,

I cannot believe that in less than three days you will be home! I don't think I will really believe it until I see you at the airport...and maybe not even then!

I know your dad wrote a long letter, in anticipation of me not having time to I will make this short. It is 2:11 am and I am still up working away.

Just a couple of items of advice...look around everywhere and make sure that you have everything you need. Look hard...I know you. Cameras, memory cards, journals, etc etc...the important stuff. And, sleep on the plane! I know you will be tempted to talk the ear off of the person sitting next to you, but they probably want to sleep too, and it is a looonnnngggg flight! And look so handsome...that won't be hard...but choose a lovely American tie with some color, instead of some of those charity shop finds you have picked up, and do your hair good. Maddie wants you to be so handsome when she sees you. We have a picture of you and Elder Munson at the temple, on the board at church, and everytime we walk by she says how beautiful your hair looks. We want the airport pics to be fabulous. And don't cry too much. I know that's rich coming from a cry baby like cry if you want!

Now that it's over, 2 years seems to have flown by...I cannot believe it. You have made us so proud.

I love you so much. Have a safe flight!

Love, Mom

Monday, June 1, 2015

"I didn't even think that I had hair on my ears..."

Dearest Mother Dearest,

You know me far too well. Of course, if I don't copy the questions, I'm going to forget to answer half of them. So, I'll dispense with the questions first, and then I'll carry on with my usual ramblings.

1. First of all, I was interested in when you would be traveling to the mission home before your flight? Do you head up there a day or two early, or just on Wednesday, when you leave? Make sure you don’t forget anything!

I'll be going to the temple on Monday afternoon. We'll have interviews, do a session or two, and we'll be going to President and Sister Millar's for dinner, and then they'll take us to the airport on Wednesday, and I'll sit in an enclosed space for a long time, go to Texas (I've never wanted to go to Texas), and then come party it up with you guys.

2. Do you need me to make a haircut appointment for when you get home?

Not necessary. I went to a Turkish barber this morning. It was great. He took a flaming q-tip and burned all the hair off my ears. I didn't even think that I had hair on my ears. I guess I definitely don't any more. How's it look?

3. We are planning on having an open house on Saturday night, the 13th, are you good with that? Also, Tay submitted his mission papers last Wednesday night, so there is a good chance that his call will arrive by then. Do you mind if we have a “Coming and Going” party where he could open his call that night as well? I don’t want you to have to share the night, if you don’t want to.

THAT WOULD BE SO COOL. Honestly? I'd love to have that. That's so much more exciting than me coming home. Taylor must open his call then. Well, he doesn't have to, but if he wants to, that would be suuuuuuper fun.

4. Other than the usual family and friends from church, is there anyone else you would like me to invite to your Open House?

Umm... Hmm, Nick, and Kayla, Patty, any of the Young Men (and Young Women I guess) in the ward/stake that you think could benefit from it, Ben Syphus probably can't make it, but I think it'd be good for him too, Andrew from next door, and anyone else.

5. Is there anything you need right when you get home, that I could get ahead of time?

A job, a girlfriend, and lots of horchata. Ha, just kidding. I can't even think of anything... I'll be able to go get most of the stuff I need over that next week, like normal-person clothes, and the rest. So, I'm not too bothered, really.

6. For you Homecoming on Sunday, did you decide if you wanted to do a musical number or not? It doesn’t matter to me, but I should probably ask someone to play the piano if you do want to. If not, I think Sister Findlay has been wanting Kate to play a duet with her, so we can also do that.

Thinking about it, as much as I love performing, I hate a one-man show. So, if Kate and Sister Findlay want to duet, that's fine by me.

7. I know I had more questions than that, but now I cannot remember. Is there anything you think I should know or do or anything???

Honestly Mom, there's not much I need... So long as I have you guys around, I'll be happy. Or, as happy as a missionary who has to leave a country, people and work he loves can be.

Alright, updates... This week was a pretty decent one. We raised a lot of expectations, and saw a ton of benefit from it. I'll share with you one miracle that we had that was particularly poignant from that. On Wednesday, we went out with Chris from the ward to go to a few appointments. We had two that evening that we were really looking forward to. So, we show up at the first appointment, and no one answers...  We decide to go around the corner to someone who was formerly being taught by the Sister missionaries. He wasn't home, but his sister-in-law was. We taught her on her doorstep for a few minutes, as she was trying to take care of the kids, and then got her details so that the Wandsworth Elders can start teaching her. Miracle #1.

Seeing as we had some extra time between appointments, and no one had eaten dinner yet, and I still hadn't gone out for a birthday dinner, I took Elder Fifita and Chris out to a noodle bar that had been recommended us. As were sitting there, a large Fijian man came and sat down with us. Elder Fifita worked his Polynesian magic, and twenty minutes, later, we had taught him about the Restoration. Boom, Miracle #2.

Then, we're hurrying to our appointment, and we see a woman who skipped an appointment with us a few days ago sitting next to a building. So, we stopped to ask her if she was alright. We resolved a lot of her concerns, set a baptismal date with her and met with her a few days later again. The other appointment didn't turn out, either, but we saw such great things from it.

We had to cut a few things we wanted back, though, as Elder Fifita's headaches are getting pretty bad again... They've been going straight for the three months we've been together, often accompanied by illness, so that's been worrying... We're going to see a doctor in Reading tomorrow about it all.

Not much else to report, honestly. I'll just catch up with the rest of it all next week.

Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, May 25, 2015

"There's way too much to do to think about getting trunky!"

Sorry, busy day today... Ward barbecue for the bank holiday took up most of preparation day so far... I'm just hoping that I'll have time to hit the shops before they all close... They close so early here... Anyway, I'm glad that everything is going well back home. I feel like you're giving me less information by the week, but that's okay, I'll be getting it all soon enough anyway.

The week's been great, actually, we're picking up a lot of new people in these last few weeks, and seeing a lot of great improvement with the people that we're working with. So, I'm quite happy. The start of the week was kind of slow, since we had lost a lot of time last week with Elder Fifita being ill, but we picked up awfully quickly. I honestly thought that with the end of the semester, all the university students would be gone, but funnily enough a lot of the uni students are sticking around for the summer, so we're finding all these uni students who don't have anything to do but meet with us! Hooray!

No, but in all seriousness, it's filling out our weeks quite nicely. We're fairly packed for this last week. People keep telling me not to get trunky, but I don't even know how to. There's way too much to do to think about getting trunky.

A few of the things from last week: Millie's doing great, I just spoke to her last night, and she seems to like her home branch president. They had Stake Conference yesterday, so she's not had a chance to meet her branch yet... It is honestly kind of sad not having her here in the ward, but I'm glad that she seems to get on no matter what ward she's in.

Sarah's doing great as well. She's been having a lot of opportunity for spiritual experiences lately. As I said before, I recognise that it's a matter of when, not if for her baptism. So, we'll keep at it with her, and I'm sure it'll continue to roll on.

We picked up one new investigator this week that was especially cool. His name is Mark. When we showed up, I was a little flustered, because he told us, "Alright, you've got five minutes out here on the doorstep." So we tried to cover everything that was important, handed him a Book of Mormon, and started to explain about it. He stopped us after a minute and said, "If you haven't noticed, I haven't put the book down. I can feel something different with this book. This isn't just a book -- it's a lot more than that." We bore testimony, and committed him for baptism, and he accepted.

What else... I was accosted by a drunk woman again. That seems so normal now... She's one
I've met before, as well, when Elder Mercer was around. Oh well, c'est la vie missionnaire.

That's really it... I honestly can't think of much else to say.

Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, May 18, 2015

"So, as I said, not really much to report."

Thank you so much for all the gifts... Honestly, you didn't have to. I loved the cuff links -- I've been showing them off to everyone. I've already filled up one of the notebooks with all of the songs I've finished. Also, the deodorant is fantastic (still seems like such a strange thing to be so grateful for...) I have yet to make the cake, as so many people have been so good to us... The Pinney's made a huge Victoria Sponge that we're still eating, and Sister Randall made me promise her that I'll come by this week so she can bake me a cake... Honestly, this ward is fantastic.

So, I'll give you a short synopsis of the week. It only needs to be short, because... Well, nothing happened.

Elder Fifita's been ill with something for over a week now, so we were only out four days this week. Monday was spent shopping for everyone back home, and then going down to Eastleigh where we were supposed to meet the other Elders, but they weren't able to catch a train, so we just bummed around down there until it was time to come back for a dinner appointment with Millie. Tuesday was DLC. Wednesday and Thursday we had to stay in, as Elder Fifita was ill. Friday was interviews with President, and then Mandy had us over for Fish and Chips for my birthday. She was so nice -- she bought a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne for us to celebrate. Saturday was another day inside, with Elder Fifita being sick, and then Sunday after church, the Pinney's had us for a nice big roast dinner. Let me tell you -- I love Sister Pinney's cauliflower cheese and cabbage. And they bought me all sorts of British sweets. It was really kind of them.

So, you may ask yourself -- what does a missionary do when his companion is ill? It's second only to being ill yourself in bad things on your mission. See, while he's there in the other room sleeping, and between telling him that he needs to go back to sleep and rest, you sit around and try to be productive. Calling people who said they'd meet up with up you sometime, trying to organise your paperwork, reading your scriptures (and trying not to fall asleep doing so)... I even cranked out a song that I'll see if I can send you. But it gets really old, really fast... I started talking to myself, just so that I had someone to talk to, and thought about trying to teach the construction workers out back, and then realised there weren't any there...

It all paid off in the end, because he's a lot better now, but man oh man, I pray that I never have to do that again,

At least on Saturday we had our iPads to play around with, but even then, I need to be in the same room as him where he can see my screen... So, we sat there for about an hour or so trying to plug in all of the ward list into our contacts, since England's got privacy laws where they can't put anyone's personal information onto the Gospel Tools app, unless they personally authorise it (which very few people do)...

So, as I said, not really much to report.

Our iPads are really cool. We can't use half of the apps the church has for us, because of the privacy laws here, but I've been brushing up on my Spanish, and my accounting notes are all in one place now, complete with charts and everything to show me how each area is doing. Also, the new pamphlets app is really handy. You should download it to your iPad, and Tay can take it out with the missionaries. It works really well, and has all sorts of resources that I've been dreaming of for ages.

Plus, I can now email you from the flat (as soon as one of our neighbours lets us use their wifi).

Anyway, I'm more than down to have Walker speak with me. That's going to be absolutely sweet. I would kind of like to do a musical item... I'm just not sure what yet. I thought about doing Jerusalem -- the one written by William Blake, as that's our mission song, but it's not quite the feel that I want... Maybe a piece from Lamb of God... I don't know, perhaps I'll write one that's appropriate for sacrament meeting by then?

Anyway, I love you guys,

- Elder Green

Monday, May 11, 2015

30 days left...but first, a Baptism!

My favourite back alley in Winchester...
can you see the photo-bomber in the background giving me a "thumbs up?"


I'm kind of with you, I was a bit envious of Elder Fifita calling home yesterday as well. (Braiden and I got to Skype on English Mother's Day in March.)  I felt like such a mom myself, because I was trying to make sure that he was able to call home. Because his family doesn't have internet at their home, and it's a 12-hour delay, we had to go through any channel we could to get him a call home... Which he finally did, this morning.

Dad said you did great on your talk (no surprise). You always do fantastically. I spoke on Sunday as well, and talked about you and Dad. Mine was on daily prayer, but I related it back to the way that the relationship I had built with you and Dad during High School made it so natural to call you about every other day at Uni, and how we should have that kind of relationship with Heavenly Father. I think that I've noticed that that's the way my relationship with Heavenly Father feels, too -- just as if He's another parent of mine. Praying to Him almost becomes just ringing one of you two up. It's become so absolutely enjoyable.

I had thought to send home a bunch of chocolate for a Mother's Day gift, but I know that you'd just have told me that it's not worth it. So, instead I've got a much better idea that I'll start on this week. Four weeks should be just enough time to finish it.

Well, the week was pretty packed with getting everything set up for the baptism. Had a few lessons left to teach her, and an interview with Bishop, and the baptismal interview, and all the paperwork... You know, the usual. In addition, we had so many other things coming up during the week... Moves day on Wednesday, Elder Fifita was ill again all of Thursday. I had two talks to prepare, as well as a musical item (I did sing Glorious), and breaking some really good ground with some of our other investigators... A lot packed in to one week.

Elder Fifita and I with Millie at her baptism.
So much good came from it, though. One of our investigators is doing really fantastically now, and she came to church on Sunday as well. Millie got baptised (Yes I have pictures) and confirmed, and is doing really well still. She got so many invites for dinner Sunday that she had to turn them down, and push back our DA with her. Elder Fifta having to take the day off was really good for me, because it gave me the opportunity to catch up on my Book of Mormon reading, mend some of my trousers, and I even had time left over to bake a pie for Millie's baptism (which wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be...I think I'm losing my touch with cooking).

I can't think of much else to talk about things are just rolling on, as they do. I've been grateful for the help that I've been getting lately to fit everything that I feel is expected of me into every day. There's a lot, for sure, but Heavenly Father knows I can do it all, even if I sometimes feel like I'm just running around without control of the week.

I will share with you one story that I thought was fairly poignant: I've started re-reading the Book of Mormon again, trying to finish it before I go to the temple, and the way I'm doing it this time, is that every time I start reading, I put a sticky note in with a question that I want answered, and then I go through and underline everything that I feel has relevance to my question. Doing so has really helped me to be more attentive to the Spirit. So, as we were walking through town this week on our way to an appointment (one that was not solid in the slightest with a guy who had cancelled on the doorstep last time) we decided to take a shortcut past the Cathedral. As we walked past, I saw a younger student sitting on a bench just thinking. So, I walked past him, felt the Spirit say to go back, and turned around. I asked Elder Fifita for a penny, walked up to the kid, offered him the penny for his thoughts, and then sat down to talk with him. Nothing really came of it, other than a fairly good conversation. In the end, he wasn't really that interested. But, I walked away and felt the Spirit confirm that I had done His will.

In her testimony the other day, one of the girls in the ward said something along the lines of, "I've never regretted keeping a commandment." The story made me remember that, and I know the Spirit always blesses us for trying to follow Him, even when we don't see what comes of it.

Well, Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, April 27, 2015

"This week has been amazing..."

Standing by the 'naked man on a horse' sculpture that watches over High Street.

So, as I'm allowed to look up things regarding university, I did a quick look over everything there -- You're fantastic. Everyone of my professors has at least a 4/5 rating (except for one of them, who had a 3/5) so, that's phenomenal. AND with the refresher course before school begins! I'm happy, I'm really happy. I know it'll be a lot of work, but I'm also more desirous to do work now... Hahaha. The piano course will be great -- I wasn't quite sure what it was, but when I looked it up really quickly, it's exactly what I was wanting to do. It'll fill one of the four private instruction courses I need. I had been planning on taking two for piano, anyway, but this'll give me time to decide whether I want to do the other two in cello (like I had initially thought) or guitar, or voice, or... What. Also, the ratings of Professor Hancock are really good. I just need to make sure that I practice. Hooray for music! And Hooray for Men's Chorus!!!

This week has been amazing, all around. I mean, there's nothing that I can think of that didn't go well for us. I'm sure there were things that weren't so great, but honestly the good outweighed them so much that I can't remember anything off. For an update on Millie, she's doing wonderfully, like usual. We're starting to sort out the logistics for her baptism. She's been in Devon this week visiting grandparents, but we Skyped her on Saturday and had a lesson, and she was just as excited as ever. She'll be going with us and a few of the YSA to the temple this Saturday where we're going to watch Meet the Mormons. So, that's exciting.

More news about Millie (kind of), we were walking down the road the other day speaking to as many people as we could, and we ran up to stop a girl ahead of us. She's a Theology major with a really strong faith (which is actually fairly rare, considering the other Theology majors we've met). After talking to her for a few minutes, she was like, "Oh yeah, I know a girl who's Mormon -- her name is Millie." And so, because Millie shared the Book of Mormon with her, she's going to start meeting with us.

That same day, we talked to a few guys working on their car outside their house. It was fairly awkward at first, until another guy living at the house leaned out and said, "Are you guys Mormons? I've got a buddy on a mission right now." And with that bit of validation, we were able to grab an appointment for the next day, and leave that appointment with six new investigators, three of which soft-committed to baptism. Solid, yeah? We may be making Mexican food for them later tonight, but we've not heard back from them yet.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I was down in Southampton on exchange, which was really great. Elder Douglas picked the best day for it, because we ended up with two DA's, one at a carvery (a restaurant where the main course served is a roast, and you get unlimited veg) and another at an African family's house. It was really cool, too, because while we were there, it seemed like a lot of the people we met ended up having lived in Mitcham (and actually, our new investigator, who I mentioned earlier, was from Mitcham too) so I was able to connect with a few people on that point. Funny how the Lord does that, huh?

I'm almost tempted to stop telling you about all the miracles we've had, because there have been so many. A last one I'll share is this: so, we went to stop by an investigator up in Winnall on Friday, hoping that she'd be in, but as she wasn't, we sat down and spoke to her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend for a little while. Again, he knew one of the members of our ward, and had seen the Book of Mormon musical, so we gave him a Book of Mormon. After that, we decided to head back out and try by a few people. As we were walking down the road, a woman shouted from across the street and asked if we had a Book of Mormon that she could have. I had unfortunately just given out my last one, so we started talking to her and her friend. Turns out, she's a less-active member, and she's the daughter of one of my favourite families in the ward. After talking to her for a while, she talked about how, though she wasn't currently living the Gospel in her life, that she wanted her children to be given that foundation. So, with that, we've set up to go around and teach her kids on a weekly basis. Her friend said that she might come along as well.

I have loads more stories that I could tell this week about coming for dinner at the exact right time to teach nonmember relatives, working with the members to help with investigators' concerns, and the blessings that come when you start to know everyone in town... But, time fails me. And your attention span probably, as well. But, there has been one common thread this week: Most, if not all, of our miracles ended up happening because of member association. That's the key to good missionary work, when members have good relationships with people around them, those people want to hear about the Gospel, and then their lives can be enhanced far beyond anything they've imagined.

It's been a fantastic week, and I look forward to this next one. The whole mission's going to Crawley on Wednesday for training on using iPads for missionary work. We won't be getting them until next transfer (which means I'll have a total of four weeks to use it...) but it'll be really exciting. We'll be training with Elder Kearon and Elder Nielson of the Seventy.

Well, that's all. I don't have many pictures, because I figured I'd wait until after I got my hair cut, but I will send the one that I have.

Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, April 20, 2015

Trains, Waiting Rooms, and Dodgy Indian Food...

Robert Frost...I have so much left to do, and not much time to do it!

Wow, heavy week... That all sounds absolutely nuts. To add to all that, it sounds like even more of my friends are getting their mission calls: Shanti just got hers for Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and Rachel Playstead's sister Caitlin may be getting hers soon, and Patty's will be coming sooner than later, and Tay's... Good grief.

I saw the news about Banuelos yesterday evening when I nipped on to Facebook. I hope that his family's alright. It's such a blessing having the eternal perspective of the Gospel, though, isn't it?

Mom, Church travel has your picture on the wall right now with the caption, "Top Caller". It'll come when it comes.

Well, Millie is doing great. We taught her about the Word of Wisdom last week. She'll be on holiday this week at her Nan's, so I was going to see if we could Skype her for a quick lesson in the middle of the week. Things are getting set up for the baptism, though. We'll be getting all the logistics together with Bishop Taylor next time we see him. Things are getting moving with other people as well. I've been praying a lot for guidance and help so that the Lord can lead us to those people that need it, and we keep finding all sorts of miracles. Yesterday in the few hours between church and accounting, we were able to get two or three return appointments with quite a few young people. It was quite a Godsend, especially with us having lost a lot of the week before that...

We went on exchange with the Romsey Elders on Wednesday after District Meeting, so I was off with Elder Johnson for the day. Exchanges always seem to take so long, because it takes an hour to travel to Romsey with waiting for trains, even though it's really not that far away. We were able to teach their investigator, who now has a baptismal date again, and her dog just kept attacking me as we tried to teach. Goodness... Afterward, I was able to teach another one of their baptismal dates, in Spanish. I'm really losing it... It was pretty difficult just getting through the lesson. Oh well.

We finished off the exchange doing service with the other guys for the Gilmour's, and then headed home. Elder Fifita's been complaining of a headache for about two weeks now, and that he feels really cold (which is odd, as it's really been quite warm here, relatively speaking), but when we got back to the flat, he mentioned that he had woken up with a rash all over his body. Well, we called President and the Insurance company, and then let him sleep the rest of the day.

The following day, the Insurance company tried to set him up an appointment, but weren't able to get one at the Private practice for another week, so they told us about a centre down in Southampton we could go to. Trains took us about two hours, because the stop we needed is in a tiny little part of town and didn't have many trains going out to it. We finally got there, walked up the road, grabbed some chicken and chips, and then walked into the walk-in centre. There was an old lady sitting there, and a pregnant woman, and as we looked around trying to figure out where to go, we got really lost. We finally found a sign that said, "Walk-In Centre 16:30-21:30" Being as it was only around 12:30, we decided we weren't going to sit around there for six hours... So, we called the Insurance company, and they sent us to Southampton Hospital. The Zone Leaders gave us a lift, and the lady at the desk sent us to the Minor Injuries Unit. The sign said, "Wait time: 90 Minutes" 45 minutes later, the wait time shifted to two hours. And then two and a half... We sat there for nearly three hours waiting to see a nurse. Finally, the nurse looked at him and said, "Well, I don't see a rash on your hands anymore. Headaches will come from anything. And the coldness is probably viral. It's either something or it's nothing." Finally got home around 6:30, after buying some dodgy food from a little Indian market (and then throwing a good portion of it away when we realised there was mold on it.) Elder Fifita couldn't sleep that night because of the rash... Let's just say I miss the health care in the US.

I think that's pretty much it for the week. Zone Leaders will be coming up today, and this week we're making a real push to get things rolling the way we want them. Hopefully some of these people we've met will come through strong this week.

Anyway, love you,

- Elder Green

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mission life has become..."Normal"

It is incredibly strange to think that Rory is now married. Like, beyond all belief. I'm really happy for him, though, and especially that he married someone so amazing. I love Rachel, and I know that they'll be phenomenal together. I'm sending off a kind-of wedding gift today for him (though it's not really much). I miss that guy so much. Scotty too! I miss him. Oh well, it seems like if the rest of my mission has gone this fast, then seeing them will end up being just too soon anyway.

I think you're right, a lot of the things that I'm experiencing now on my mission have grown... Normal. That's a funny thing about being with a relatively new companion: things like waking up at 6:30 every morning, and talking to people while you're out -- to him, they're still an active choice. I mean, I suppose they are to an extent to me as well, but they've become a good deal more second-nature. It's just... Life. Still, I'll try to come up with a few things that are "exciting".

Last Monday we had the chance to go make Mexican food for the Stake President's family, the Gilmour's. They had started it off as a sort of face-off between Elder Slade (who claims that Arizona Mexican food is better than California Mexican) and I, but President Gilmour tactfully pulled that down with, "Well, the two types of food are too dissimilar, so we can't really judge which is better..." Oh well. West Coast, Best Coast. It was fun though, we spent a lot of time discussing General Conference and talking about family history with them and their neighbors who got baptised last year.

We saw Millie quite a few times this week, and she's doing great (as usual). I took the opportunity in one of the lessons to ask her why it was that she wanted to get baptised, and it was really interesting. She said that the way we were explaining things, it all seemed to her as if there was going to be a moment where she just got an answer right away, but that for her it wasn't like that. Everything just felt really good the whole way through, and it just seemed like a really good thing to get baptised. I told her that my "conversion" experience was pretty similar, and that I found that the most convincing thing about the Gospel was the fact that it changed me over that period of time, and that it only seemed to make me happier and bring more good into my life. Just always reminds me how great Heavenly Father is, and how much He knows each of us.

Wednesday was pretty sad, for all the wrong reasons. Elder Mercer and I made a big point to make sure we were acquainted with all of our "Homeless Homies," and so we'd talk to them quite regularly. One of them, Haley, passed away a few weeks ago, which was really sad to hear. So, Mandy took us down to her funeral on Wednesday morning, and we postponed district meeting until later on in the day. I've been to three funerals on my mission: one LDS, one somewhat Evangelical, and then this one. The LDS funeral was so happy. Almost interestingly so. There were a lot of fond memories shared, and everyone had a smile on their face... You felt like you knew her better after the funeral, and that you were happy for this next step in her existence. The Evangelical one was very mournful, and very, "We will miss Auntie May, and we will praise God in our sadness. Let us sing a hymn." And then the jazz organ comes out and we all start singing some uptempo dirge. This one, was more depressing than anything. The priest had never met her in his life, and so pretty much all he could say was, "Let us thank God for Haley. I'm going to tell you a story about how she bet her nephew a pound that he would eat a spoonful of mustard, and then didn't pay him. Also, let's tell some cutesy stories from her childhood." And then we listened to One Love and Three Little Birds in remembrance. The church was pretty empty, and everything seemed pretty dead. I think I like LDS funerals better.

Picked up a new investigator this week. We met him about a month ago on the road, and helped him saw a pipe that he was fitting for a plumbing job he was doing. Really nice guy, and he really enjoyed the first lesson. Didn't commit to baptism, but perhaps if we had had more time, we could have explained it more to him. Oh well.

The only other thing I can think of was that we helped some of our friends move this weekend. Paul, Andrew and Sam are people we know from just around town that are super great. Paul's religious, so is Sam, and Andrew's not, but even though we're not teaching them, they're just super friendly to us whenever we see them in town, or anywhere else. It's awesome, though, because I found out that Paul actually gives out copies of the Book of Mormon to pastors and priests of other churches that he knows. Pretty sweet, huh?

Anyway, that's all the exciting bits for the week. I'll throw in a few pictures too.

One of my weird "selfies" with Elder Fifita.

Love you,

- Elder Green

Monday, March 23, 2015

Worth It!

Winchester Ward Missionaries...
Elder Law, Elder Johnson, Elder Mercer, and me

Portsmouth Zone with President and Sister Millar

Anyway, I know that all you want to know is what's happening with moves. Elder Mercer's going to be going off to Wandsworth, and I'll be here with Elder Fafita from Tonga. I'm super excited. As I remember, he's a professional Rugby player back home, so I'm looking forward to him helping me to become super ripped. And Elder Law will be moving out of Romsey off to Plymouth, and they'll be bringing in Elder Slade today. So, honestly, a super solid district, a lot of really good hard working missionaries, which I'm really excited about. I was honestly hoping I would get the opportunity to train, and it doesn't look like that'll happen now, but still, I'm well stoked about the kind of work we'll be able to get going this transfer.

It's been a good last week, actually. I'm really pleased with it. This marks the third time falling ill in the last six months-ish, which is kind of ridiculous, but I decided that I would use it as an opportunity to work really hard despite feeling sick. So, I worked through the headaches, and...! I'm even more ill now. But! We saw so many miracles from it that I don't even care!

One of the girls that Elder Mercer and Elder Treadway met, forever ago, texted us earlier this week, and said that she had been learning about the church in her American Studies courses at the University, and was wanting to meet up and learn more about it. It was a great lesson, and she went ahead and recorded the whole thing so that she could review it later. Pretty cool, huh? She came along to church on Sunday, and really enjoyed it, from what I could tell. She got on pretty well in the YSA class, even though she was only intending on staying for the first hour of church.

Also, we had a really spiritual teach with a homeless man we met on the High Street. He's a really great guy, and ended up really taking on board what we had to share with him. Unfortunately, he flogged the next teach, and then skipped out on church, and he'll be gone this week... But, I hope that the bit we were able to share with him made a difference. I was pretty stoked, because he gave me a copy of the Apocrypha, which can now sit on my shelf alongside my RLDS Book of Mormon and my Jehovah's Witness New World Translation of the Bible.

The coolest one came on Sunday, though, especially because it was so unexpected. We had met a girl  on the street a few weeks ago, and spoke with her and her Dad for a little while. Her father wasn't particularly interested in the Gospel, but we helped him loading up his van, and then spoke to them for a while. We were excited because the daughter told us where we could get root beer around here, but she also referred her mother to us. So, we tried by a few times, but couldn't seem to catch her in. But, we knocked on the door yesterday afternoon, and when she answered, we said, "Hey, your daughter told us you might be interested in hearing about what we have to share with people." and she invited us straight in, saying that she had been expecting us for a while yet. She's had some pretty incredible experiences in her life, and as we spoke to her, we found out that not only had she heard of the church, but she knew one of the members of our ward, and had read the Book of Mormon because one of the Young Men in the ward had given a copy to her son. The Spirit was super powerful, and she was so excited to be able to talk to us about everything, it was honestly amazing. So, we're meeting with her and her member friend on Tuesday again.

This week's taught me something. I know you're not going to be happy with me for having made myself a bit more ill, and now I'm pretty much going to have to give up most of today and/or tomorrow for it, but being sick has been amazing for me. When I first started to get ill, I thought, "Well, I can either rest up and give less to this work just because I'm a bit ill, or I can work even harder and see what miracles happen because of it." Well, now I'm actually decently ill, but we've found all of these amazing miracles despite that! The Lord will always bless us according to our diligence and obedience, even if now I have to pay for it a little. It's a worthwhile price, though.

Anyway, love you.

- Elder Green

Monday, March 16, 2015

"I just want to work with everything..."

It was definitely good seeing you guys yesterday ("seeing" being a relative term). But honestly, it was really good to chat, and I'm glad to see that people do miss me. (It was Mother's Day in England yesterday, and since he will be home so close to American Mother's Day, he got to skype with us this week.)

One thing I am grateful for, is that my testimony has been strengthened so much in the past few months. Elder Mercer and I have been researching the Gospel of Christ a lot, and trying to understand it -- he in a general sense, and me and in more specific -- but it's been phenomenal, and has changed me a lot for it. I think it's incredible that any and all problems can be sovled by the Gospel of Christ, and it shows that it's perfect. Problems arise when we choose not to follow it, in the same way they would if we tried not to follow gravity, or inertia. But, anyway.

Elder Mercer and I began working in a lot of smaller areas this week. We walked up to South Wonston, through a military field filled with unexploded ordnance. That was fun. We also did a bit of knocking out in Ropley, which is on the far end of our area. Like, way out there. I swear, some of the properties there are enormous, and absolutely gorgeous. I don't know what I would do in a house that size. I definitely don't know that I would enjoy it.

Elder Mercer and I out in the country.
Taking a close look at a dead badger.

We had Zone Conference on Saturday, with Elder & Sister Dyches of the Seventy, and it was really quite good. I think that the whole world is trying to get me to realize how close I am to coming home... I mean, President practically gave me a lecture on all the beautiful amazing Sister Missionaries that will be coming home at the same time as me, like Sister So-and-So, and this wonderful Sister... And then President Dyches gave like a half-hour presentation on the qualities we should look for in a wife/husband... But, aside from that, the Zone Conference was great! Sister Dyches is really wonderful. She totally called me out for not paying attention at the beginning of her talk (which I actually was, I was just staring off somewhere else as I listened...), and then called me up in front of all the missionaries for fifteen minutes to help her with something... But anyway, they had given this presentation on how to make origami missionary shirts to give away as thank you notes, and after my musical number (at this point, the Zone Conference had turned into the Elder Green show, and Elder Dyches was referring to me by name...) she gave me a really kind one talking about how well she thought I had done.

I'm setting goals now for the last three months of my mission, and I really want to drain my gas tanks. Like, I just want to work with everything. I'm not going to let anything get in my way, because I don't have time for that. I'll be done when I'm done.

Anyway, that's about it. I did think of one thing you could send me -- have Scotty pick out a nice Dodgers hat or shirt for me, I've decided I'm a fan and I'm tired of seeing the fake Dodgers hats that they sell here everywhere. I always try to use it as a contacting technique, and it goes like this:

Me: Hey! Are you a Dodgers Fan?
Them: What?
Me: Do you like the Dodgers?
Them: What are you talking about?
Me: ...Your hat?
Them: Oh, I just got this from Primark (low-end clothing store that's fashionable, but really, really low-quality).
Me: Oh. Can I leave you a card...?

Well, love you,
- Elder Green

P.S.- Here are the words to "Horace." This is a song that I wrote about my ancestor Horace Martin Alexander who left his wife and children at Winter Quarters Nebraska to go and serve in the Mormon Battalion. While he was away, his wife and newborn baby boy died, and his young daughters had to cross the plains in the care of a young woman. They eventually were reunited again in Utah.


Fire in his eyes,
As he rides under the cover
Of another day gone by.
Two men at his side
Sharing hope for the freedom
A new land would provide.

Longing for his wife,
And his two little daughters
That he left back in the ice.
And so he takes his flight
Having shouldered the rifle
And the pledge that he won't fight.

From ol' Virginia
Across the rivers
To California
God, deliver us.

Desperation cries
As she holds tight to the leather
And says her last goodbyes.
Yet another body lies,
But her soul escapes the heartache
Taking its place in the skies.

From ol' Virginia
Across the river
Out to Nebraska
God, deliver us.


Tears fill in his eyes,
As they focus on the dust clouds
Trailing those who have survived.
The two loves of his life,
Yelling, "Daddy! We made it!"
As he hugs 'em close and cries.

From ol' Virginia
Across the rivers
To California
God, deliver us.
Out to Nebraska
Through bitter winter
Among the Rockies,
God, deliver us.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Really Good, Weird Week

A hipster photo for this week...I'm sorry, I saw "Mainstream Court" and couldn't resist.
The ironic bit is that it's a dead end. Ha ha ha!

I can't believe that Tahoe got called to Rome! That's super legit. As I think about it, I think that Tahoe will do well in a place like that. If England's any kind of example of European thought, many seem to fall to one end or the other -- either devotedness to a certain faith (here in England it's pretty much uniformly Church of England), or un-budging secular humanism and atheism. I feel like Tahoe could relate to both groups of people, what with him being a fairly analytical and an intellectual person.

That's cool about running into Claudia. She actually went to Hamlin too, as I remember it. She was a grade younger, but we had AP Spanish together. It's kind of cool to hear that she's following what's been going on via Facebook. I don't really realize how many people might actually read this every week (especially since I haven't been following the pageviews in a little while).

I honestly can't think of much to send in the Easter package. I'm fine on deodorant, and I've found places to get a lot of the other stuff I need here (just found out that the Chinese Shop off the high street sells root beer. You don't know how excited we were, honestly. It's about £2.60 for a 1.5L bottle, but oh my days it's so worth it.) None of the kids in the ward I shared it with really appreciated it though. A lot of people here think it tastes like medicine. Oh well, their loss.

So, what happened this week? It was kind of a weird week, actually. A really good one, but a weird one. We picked up three people who committed to baptism, which is super cool. It was interesting, because all three of them were products of other people cancelling appointments. The first guy is from Brussels, and we actually met him right after that lady threatened to call the police on us last week. Between us talking to her at the door and putting a card through the door, we saw him walking up the way, and ran up to go talk to him. Apparently he has friends back in Brussels who are members of the church, and was invited to go along about 10 years ago. It was super exciting to hear that he's from Kinshasa down in the Congo originally. I'm definitely emailing Julius about that this week.

We also met another couple. We were just splitting up for an exchange with the Romsey guys down in Eastleigh, and our plans were to head up to Colden Common to see Leigh and her husband, but they had to cancel right around noon, as she was called in to work. But, seeing as the rest of our day was planned around that appointment... We were utterly lost. So, Elder Law and I sat down and said a prayer, and then resolved that we would talk to everyone on the way to visit one Less-Active member in Eastleigh, and following that, we would catch the train to Micheldever to visit someone we'd been asked to go by. We actually met a few really cool people on the way there, and were able to pick up a few return appointments. When we got to the Less-Active's street, they were standing there on the street with her little brother, so we approached them and asked if they believed in God, and if they knew anything about the Book of Mormon. They invited us into their place, and we were able to teach a full lesson, and at the end of it they both agreed to be baptised. It was pretty fantastic, really.

We've also had a ton of people giving us referrals this last week, which is really unusual. The one we were able to contact wasn't very solid, but we'll keep going by the others.

Also, Elder Mercer, Elder Law and I got to sing in sacrament on Sunday. I totally through that it was supposed to be for next Sunday, so I had to throw together an arrangement while I was in the shower on Tuesday morning, and then teach it to the other two guys over the next few days (which was tough, since I didn't have much opportunity to go through it with Elder Law. It went well enough, people from the ward were fairly impressed. I think it's been really cool to me to see just how much music can do in establishing trust with people. I'm still writing more, and actually just started a song about Horace Martin Alexander and his family this morning, which I hope will come out alright. I keep meaning to send you recordings of a few of the others I've done, but I only just figured out the reason why I can't play any of the songs on my voice recorder... And now it's out of battery. So, maybe I'll bring my guitar to the Pinney's on Sunday when I Skype.

Speaking of Skyping, I'll be Skyping you from their place on Sunday. (It's English Mother's Day.) We'll have choir after church, And so I'll probably just Skype after dinner's done at their place on Sunday, probably between 3:00 and 4:00 our time, so 7:00 and 8:00 yours. Otherwise I suppose I could try to do it really early that morning, around 8:00ish, or earlier, which would be the night before for you guys. I might actually vie for that one. I'll message you again at the end of the day and let you know.

Well, that's about it. Elder Mercer's getting tired of me using Thai Fish sauce in the flat, because it smells like dead rat, but I make a pretty mean stir fry now. Also tried my hand at chili this week, with some really odd ingredients (we were out of chili powder, so I tried spicing it with horseradish, mustard, and some balsamic vinegar), but it turned out quite nicely in the end. We're making more Mexican food for people this week, which is always a joy. But oh, Mission Burrito sounds so nice right now.

So, I look forward to seeing you Sunday!

Love you,

- Elder Green

Oh, P.S. You can tell all the girls that one of the members here said that I speak more like a British person, and have more British mannerisms than any other American missionary he's ever met. It kind of made a little piece of me die inside. No, that doesn't mean I've got a British Accent, as Americans understand a British Accent. I just say weird things like, "I don't want to, but I should do." and ask questions like British people do -- that is inflecting down at the end of a question instead of up.

Monday, March 2, 2015

100 days left...but who's counting?

Elder Mercer and I out in the rain!

Weather here's been really strange lately, actually. Right now I can see perfect blue skies up ahead, but yesterday started out this way and then featured scattered showers, hail, lightning... You know, the usual.

Man, it's so nuts to think about Tahoe and Walker getting their calls... I still need to Email Hen. I'll probably do that right after I'm done with this. And Tay'll get his call not long after that, so weird. Not ready for all of this "growing up" stuff.

The transfer's moving a bit slow for me as well. Well, I guess not really. We're on week three already, and today marks 100 days (I'm surprised you didn't bring that up). The last day of this transfer is the 25th. I've not been requesting an area. I told him straight up at interviews, "look, send me where the Lord will send me, but there's a few good opportunities here that you could pray specifically about." So, we'll see.

Work this last week has been pretty good. We had an exchange with the Zone Leaders, and so I was off with Elder Kirk who's from my group. It was fun being with him, and I sure learned a lot, but I find that anymore, when I work with certain Zone Leaders, they can't always see everything going on in the area. Still, I did learn a lot from him, and have been able to apply quite a bit, if not all, of what we did on exchange to the work here.

Eating lunch at the old Black Boy pub, on Wharf Hill in Winchester, with my district. 

You want to hear a crazy miracle? So, as Elder Kirk and I started our exchange, we were planning on going down to some little podunk town called Colden Common to go visit a member we'd been asked to go see. We were called up to do a bit of service moving a former member of the ward, and he gave us a lift down there afterwards (while telling us all sorts of stories of people being mauled by bears and lions and things). Well, we knocked on the member's door, and... Nothing. So, we went to go knock ten doors aside like we'd planned. The very next door we knock on, a guy walks up to the door and basically tells us that he's got his dinner on the table waiting for him, and to get to the point. Elder Kirk mentioned the Book of Mormon, and he said, "Woah, wait, Mormon? You need to speak to my wife." A few seconds later she came to the door, and explained that she was a member of the Church, and that she had been speaking to a Sister Missionary online for the past few months trying to get back to church, but that she knew it would be difficult. So we have an appointment with her this week.

After we finished up our knocking, the member who drove us down told us he would give us a lift back as well, and that it would take about a half hour. An hour and a half later, he still wasn't done... So, we went looking for a bus. And being as it was about 7:00 pm, there were none. So, we talked to one guy sitting in his car, who really wasn't interested, and were about to start walking towards Eastleigh (at least an hour and a half's walk) when Leigh's husband came walking down the road with his dog, recognized that we looked a bit lost, and offered us a lift back. We talked to him the entire way home, he's super nice, and is actually looking forward to seeing us Thursday.

What else... Had the police called on us. Some guy we met down in Colden Common sounded really interested and told us his name, he lived back in Winchester, and come visit Saturday at 11:00. Well, we showed up, and there were kids running around inside which made me really excited, because I was hoping to teach a family. Knocked on the door, no answer. Knocked again, a lady came to the door, "No, I'm too busy." And slammed the door. Awkward. So, I knocked again. Still nothing... So, I put a card through the door saying, "Hey! Sorry we missed you... Your wife was really busy, and I don't think she recognized us. Give us a call!" She texted a few minutes later saying, "I want to know how you got my address. So-and-so hasn't lived here in a long time as our marriage just broke up and I'm trying to deal with all of these kids." So, I told her we met her husband, and she said, "No, I just spoke to him on the phone, and he's never met you in his life." Then her husband called, and we had to explain it all to him, and she was wanting to know the whole story too... Back and forth... Pretty crazy, a bit disappointing, but the police haven't contacted us or anything, so I'm not too worried. It's not the first time that we've had to speak to police about people we're working with.

Anyway, that's about it for the week.

Love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, February 23, 2015

Planting Good Seeds

Totally still not Zone Conference week... But, that's okay. Zone Conference is a lot later this transfer, because we're having a mission tour again. So, we're going to have one the area Presidency come and speak to us, likely about the Area training plan. Because of that, it won't be until the second to last week of the transfer. Unusual, and kind of disappointing, but it is what it is.

But, you'll be happy to know that we are having interviews this Thursday, so I'll finally be able to get my ecclesiastical endorsement renewed, along with my temple recommend... I keep thinking it's going to be a long interview, but knowing President Millar, it's likely not. I know I've mentioned it before, but he is definitely a heart surgeon, just based on how quick and orderly the interviews are.

Work here's still moving along. It's sometimes difficult to see the actual progress we're making, since I do look at it from a day to day perspective, but I do think that things are generally improving. Elder Mercer seems a lot more confident in everything he's doing  and we're finding all sorts of really great people. I just keep praying that they'll turn out. We're certainly planting a lot for the future, finding all sorts of people who can meet with us in a month, or want to meet up, but just can't do it this week... Why is the world so busy? It's all good, though, I understand that I'm filling a need.

We picked up one really nice family this last week that we've started working with. There's a mother, a 13-year-old son, and a 6-year-old daughter. They're pretty great, and really trying to understand the things that we teach. The preparation for the lesson was a testament to me that the Lord does always recognizes the best people for the job. We tried really hard to find a member to come with us for the first appointment, and were unable to find anyone. So, we showed up, and apologized, and said we'd have to come back the next day. So, we called, and called, and called.... And finally got someone. The next morning -- they cancelled. And so we called, and called, and called, until we finally found a young man who was on half-term, and could come out with us. Turns out, the family's really into Minecraft, and so is he. And a lot of the different challenges in the family that I couldn't relate to, he could. I'm pretty grateful for that.

Also, learned a great lesson from the pioneers this week. I remember hearing a while back about how the pioneers always planted crops as they went along so that those that followed them in however many months would have food along the trail to eat, and how as they did that, the Lord would often bless them that they would have enough food to eat themselves. As Elder Mercer and I were walking through Highcliffe the other day, we stopped to talk to a man building a fence. He wasn't super interested, but he was willing to talk for a while, and so we tried our best to help him understand how important what we had to share was. By the end, he still wasn't too keen, so we left him a card, and continued on our way. I remarked to Elder Mercer about that lesson from the pioneers, and how when you spread good seeds, and tend the soil properly for future missionaries, you'll find good seeds and properly tended soil that other missionaries have left behind. So, we went to go knock on a few doors. We knocked on one, and then felt to talk to a man on the road working in his van. We helped him out with a pipe he was cutting, and then spoke to him about the church. He'd met missionaries before, and said he felt we were "on the same path, but didn't quite believe the same things". I asked him what he meant by that, and as we talked he recognized the fact that we believed largely the same things, and that the things beyond that we had to share were really quite logical. He gave us his address and phone number, and so we'll be by in about a month when he gets back from visiting his son in France.

Well, that's about it. English Mother's Day is on the 15th of March, and so assuming I carry through with that, that's when I'll be Skyping. I figure that doing that will be much more effective than waiting until May, especially because it likely reduces the chance of trunkiness resulting.

Visit to a local graveyard...

Fun Ward Activity

Love you so much!

- Elder Green

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Desperately Seeking..."

On the train to Romsey...
So glad to hear that things are going well. I'm glad Tay had a great birthday. Can't believe Rincon was packed... Rincon never seems to be packed, but I guess that if you've got the winter surf plus the summer weather, I can definitely see the draw. It is funny to think that I've been gone long enough, though, that it's beginning to become second nature for you, enough so as that you would (almost) forget to email me. Don't feel bad about it, it's just funny.

Still so weird to think that my siblings are growing so old... Sounds like Katie's birthday ought to be a lot of fun as well. I'm glad everything's getting sorted well with the rooming. It's good to know that I don't have to do too much regarding all that.

Mom, awesome things are happening here. Like, really good things. So, we've been meeting all sorts of cool people from time to time, and have been trying to put in more effort, and it's been helping. I find it interesting, because in one sense, I know I ought to be exercising patience, but we're also given a sense of urgency from our leaders regarding the kind of results we can possibly be seeing. I don't know sometimes it's hard to reconcile the two in my head. But, I'm trying to be more patient, and things are happening.

For example, remember last week, when I told you about the two atheist girls who invited us around for dinner? Well, that turned into five new investigators, and a return appointment for tonight. It's so cool, man. They're really awesome -- they're all twenty, and are Creative Writing majors at University here. And they were sooo nice. I mean, Elder Mercer and I didn't really know what to expect, after being grilled on the doorstep for twenty minutes the first time, but they were super nice, and really respectful. I mean, throughout talking to them about our beliefs, not only were they accepting of what we believed and happy about it, but it really made sense to all of them. I mean, (one of the original girls we met on the doorstep) at the end asked us if we would pray for her father, and said, "Man, I don't know why we spent all of dinner talking about movies and things! We should have just jumped straight in to talking about your church!" So, we're making them Mexcian food and teaching them again tonight with one of the YSAs in the ward, and they already want to come to church next Sunday. So, I'm smiling.

The rest of this week has been fairly uneventful, as I remember. I already told you, we haven't had Zone Conference... That's this week, probably. Last week was transfers. Everything's pretty much the same. We've been working to help the Romsey Elders out a bit -- they've been getting discouraged about the work, and so have struggled with getting themselves in gear, so we did a workover with them, and were able to find a few new people for them to teach. Now I'm trying to work on inspiring them to greater responsibility as they seem to think that they'll cancel the teach for a Dinner Appointment... Ugh! They'll get there.

Elder Mercer and I are quite happy. It's interesting seeing that he and I have had similar issues over the course of our missions. But, he's a diligent kid, and so I'm not worried for him. I'm only now realizing though what a responsibility follow-up training is, even if it's not officially training.

Elder Mercer and I eating overpriced, all-you-can-eat Sushi.

Mom, you're so funny. I can't seem to be trunky in the slightest. I just want more to happen! Not in a discouraged way, but in a desperate way. President quoted Elder Nelson in his letter today saying, "My dear elders and sisters, I pray that on your mission you will have many moments of complete and overwhelming and even anguishing desperation. Why? Because then, and only then, will you desperately ask, desperately seek, and desperately knock. Then, and only then, will you find the courage and determination to follow through with exactness everything the Lord needs you to do in order to serve a valiant, vibrant, worthy, and very successful mission for Him." And that's how I'm starting to feel. I keep studying the New Testament and finding that the more I learn about the Saviour, the more I want to do all of this for Him, and then I just have to look for more that I can change in myself! It's really invigorating, actually.

Yes, Cold's gone (finally). Luckily, the Zone Leaders let us take last Monday as P-day, even though it was moves week, so I was able to rest up a bit.

Well, love you!

- Elder Green

Monday, January 12, 2015

Miracles Everywhere!

The arches at Winchester Cathedral

I am so excited to come home to another dog. Oh my days. I'm with Tay, I mean, I like the name George, especially having been here this long now, but I do like the name Fitz... Or we could go all out and name him "Pug", or something clever and ironic like that. I met some guy here that named his puggle "Puggle". Anyway, I'm struggling with my vote on the name, because he does kind of look like a George, and Taylor's going to hate me for saying that. I'm up for either.

In response to Maddie's question, honestly, I think that sheep are fantastic, as well as capybaras and pugs. I think that funny looking animals are so much better than normal looking animals.

Goodness, I'm grateful that things are picking up here, this is such a fantastic area, and Elder Mercer and I are having a ton of fun getting the work done. We've had some awesome experiences in this past week: first off, Elder Mercer can't stop talking about this one. I guess last transfer, he and Elder Treadway met this guy named Jack from Poland, and when they stopped him in the street he said, "Hey, sorry, I'm just off to get some coffee... Can I buy you guys something?" So, they went and got hot chocolate with him, and taught him the Restoration, and he was so excited about it, had tons of great questions. Still, he wasn't comfortable giving his address, so he just gave them his email.

Well, this week, as we were walking along the road, Elder Mercer and I felt impressed that we needed to talk about families. So, we walked down the road, and I passed two mothers with buggies. I felt bad for not stopping them, and so I determined that the next woman I passed with a buggy, I needed to stop. We started talking to her, and she said, "Oh, I think you met my husband Jack a few weeks ago! He was very excited to meet you guys, and told me all about you." So, we'll be seeing them later this week.

Our next big miracle was someone actually giving us referrals! Something that I've become quite aware of on my mission is the fact that people feel like someone has to be absolutely golden to give them as a referral to the missionaries, where in all reality, often the people that we don't expect are the ones that accept the Gospel. Well, we met up for hot chocolate at Costa (kind of like Starbucks) with one of the YSA in our ward this week, and after we shared a lesson with him, we asked if he could think of anyone we should stop by. He sat there, got a cheeky grin on his face, and then said, "Oh, they'd hate me for this... But here, try by her." And then he thought for a moment, and said, "Actually, her too." By the end of it, he had given us five people for us to stop by, even though he couldn't remember the exact addresses of all of them.

That actually proved to be a miracle in and of itself, though, because in our knocking one of the flat complexes where one of the referrals lived, we found a new investigator. His name is Mark, and all we basically had to say was, "Hey, we're talking about how we can come closer to God," and he said, "That's awesome. Want to come in?" What was really cool about the teach with him, was that we've been trying something different in our lessons. We're not taking as much time to actually teach, because too frequently, missionaries talk too much. Instead, we teach him the doctrine according to his needs, and then we basically said, "Well, we'd like you to pray about it. Start whenever you like, but after you finish, we'll just sit here quietly for a minute, and you break the silence when you feel comfortable." The Spirit was so strong. Like, you don't even know. It was amazing. And I think it really changed something for him. Honestly, he was pretty happy and confident before the prayer, but right afterward, though he was still happy, he was a lot more sober... It was amazing.

Hmm... ¿Qué más? P-Day was fun last week. Elder Mercer and Elder Law took a lot longer to Email than Elder Johnson and I, so we set off around town to go see some of the sights. The Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous -- we're going to see if we can get Bishop's tickets so we can go look around inside. Jane Austen is buried there (we actually saw the home that she lived in when she died) as well as a number of other amazing people. Later on, we climbed St. Catherine's Hill on the South end of town. It's not the most beautiful hike, but at the top of the hill, they had this old turf maze that was kind of cool, and a copse of trees where the old Roman fort used to be. Now, there's just a nice rope swing. We tried to find what are referred to on the map as "Plague Pits", but could find no sign of them...

The beautiful Cathedral

An old Turf Maze

Rope Swing!

Members of the ward are great here. They've already got me singing a solo for ward conference... Oh days. Sister Pinney kind of sprung it on me in the middle of choir practice yesterday, so I sounded pretty awful for that first go, but I'll have time to get my breathing and placement back to where they need to be.

Oh, and just right now a less-active member texted us saying that she wants to come back to church and asking if we can meet with her this week. Miracles everywhere!

And that's about it. I'm super jealous you guys got to see Wicked. That's one I've been wanting to see. I'm excited to go see Phantom with you guys when I get back, though.

Love you so much!!

- Elder Green

Monday, January 5, 2015

"People here are so friendly."

That's really funny about your dream, mom,  I actually just had one last night that I was home from my mission as well, but it was just a little holiday back. It's probably one of the more common dreams I have out here.

It is the New Year! Isn't it crazy? Man... We kind of just spent the whole day working, trying to stop Uni students on their way to the pubs. We did have a nice Dinner Appointment that night, though, with one of the Recent Converts in the ward. She's pretty great -- I think you'd get along with her really well. It was really funny, because we were just having a nice chat with two Jehovah's Witnesses on the way there, and they said, "Make sure not to drink too much tonight! Oh wait, you guys don't get drunk, do you?" Well... Yeah, it's kind of impossible when you don't drink at all.

People here are so friendly. They're so friendly. It's the greatest. You knock on someone's door, and they don't seem to have any problem with it at all, they're so nice, and personable, and cheery... It's so strange coming from London to this, because people are pretty cold on the streets in London when they're not interested. But, on the reverse end, people in London are pretty frequently interested, and people here, well, they aren't really. But I'm determined, and I'm certain that we can find baptisms here. The Lord's been pretty supportive of that, from what I can tell, and so I'm working really hard for the next two weeks to talk to everyone I can so as to find those people.

And the ward is so great. Everyone kind of seemed in a hurry to get in, and so I wasn't able to speak to a ton of people during church, but everyone was really happy to have me in the ward once choir practice started. One of the things I really wanted to make sure that I did in this ward was to sing in sacrament meeting as soon as I can, so I kind of talked myself up a bit to the choir director... I felt bad kind of vaunting myself, but at the same time, I think it's important to ensure that I've got a good relationship with the ward so that we get a lot of member support behind our own personal efforts.

Oh, Elder Mercer's pretty great too. I think I told you he's from Colorado Springs, and is really cool. I'm follow-up training him, in addition to being District Leader here (I think I'm determined to be an eternal District Leader, which I'm totally cool with -- I enjoy working with people on a more personal level anyway). He has a bit of apprehension with talking to people still, which I can definitely understand, but he's super humble, and desirous to put forward his all, so I know that we'll be able to get the work up to speed pretty quickly. In addition, he and I have a lot in common -- the least of which being we both went to BYU, so that's pretty nice as well.

Again, this is the most beautiful place I've lived in England. You might be interested to know that one of the last scenes of the new Les Miserables was filmed here at the Cathedral, the one where Jean Valjean is in the church and Fantine's ghost appears. I don't think I told you that yet...

Sorry, only a few photos... The Clam Chowder was so good. I was so happy about it. And a quickie from moving the other day. We'll take a lot today.

The Clam Chowder was so good. Thanks mom for sending the ingredients for homemade!

Elder Ocando helping me off at the train station.
(I think this picture is missing one suitcase and an instrument...I don't know how he gets from place to place on transfer day!)

Love you all!

- Elder Green