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