Monday, December 28, 2015

Wonderful Christmas and Victoria's Baptism

Victoria's Baptism Day- 12/26/2015
December 28, 2015        
          Wow what a joyous week it was!! Celebrating Christmas as a missionary was absolutely wonderful! I like how it's a change from lazing around in pajamas all day, to going out and visiting and spending time with so many different people. On Christmas Eve, we had a great dinner at the senior couple's home, and then went to Tim & Page Morgan's home for desserts. Tim and Page are also currently moving homes, so on Christmas morning after opening our gifts, we cycled through the rain to help them move stuff from one home to the other. Then we visited Clayton for a bit and played games and watched part of a movie with him. I think he probably appreciated it as he doesn't have any family here in Ireland. Then we went to a member family's home for lunch, the Curran's. And then we went to the Christy's in the evening to skype home and eat dinner and play games. Skyping was so great being able to see everyone, I loved it! 40 minutes just seems to be not enough time though!

     Victoria's baptism was on Saturday!! It was down in Limerick again, so we had to travel , but it was a wonderful service!! A few more members of the branch came this time, and there were loads of missionaries, investigators, and members from Limerick there as well. It was a very special day for Victoria and she seemed to be so happy afterward. Being able to baptise Victoria was also special for me as well- she is such a wonderful person. I am so blessed to have found, taught, and baptised both Victoria and Clayton whilst in Galway! I know there are so many others prepared for us here. January will be another special month. Unfortunately, due to some health concerns, Victoria was unable to make it to church yesterday, so she hasn't been confirmed yet. She was really disappointed, but is really looking forward to receiving the Holy Ghost next week!

     We are working with so many great people as well. We had two Brazilians investigators this week at church also! I don't have much time this week to talk about them, but they are both wonderful people, and we are excited to teach them this week! I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and will have a great New Year's celebration this week!

Enjoying a little "snow"  on Christmas Eve  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Nollaig Shona!!

December 21, 2015
So I have to keep this very brief because we have almost no time to email today, but it was a pretty wonderful week for us in Galway! Victoria passed her baptismal interview this week and came to church this last Sunday, so she should be all prepared and ready for baptism this coming Saturday the 26th. She is so wonderful and we are so happy for how much she has progressed since we first start meeting with her. She has such great desires to be Christ-like and become the best that she can be.

 We had a wonderful Christmas sacrament meeting yesterday as well. We sang nearly all the Christmas songs in the hymn book, a couple musical numbers (including my piano solo, which many of the branch members seemed to enjoy), and readings of Christmas scriptures. Galway has been sooo busy in the city centre with all the Christmas shopping and people coming in from out of town. Yesterday, it was just packed with people all day and I imagine it will be the same all this week up until Christmas.

Galway City Centre decorated for Christmas
Well I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas this week! Happy Christmas!! (as they usually say here in Ireland) or even better: Nollaig Shona!! (Irish)

Galway Christmas Market

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Galway Elders with their Christmas Jumpers (= U.S. Sweater)
December 14, 2015
All my prayers and hopes were made true!! I'm staying in Galway!!! In fact all 4 of us here in Galway are staying together for one more transfer, so we were all thrilled! So since we just had a 5 week transfer, this upcoming transfer will be 7 weeks, which makes our next moves call the 31st of January. Maybe by then I will be ready to leave Galway. But for now I am ecstatic to be staying in Galway for Christmas! I love all the members here and I know it will be a great holiday season here.
     So it was a pretty busy, but exciting week! On Saturday we had our branch Christmas party, which was loads of fun!! All the members of the branch were there with many of their nonmember friends and family members. There were so many people and lots of good food as well.
Branch Christmas party
Clayton was able to come and had such a good time with all the members there! Karen, the member from Colombia who came to church last week also came with her friend, and they loved being there as well. The whole thing was just so much fun and wonderful from a missionary perspective.
     We are still teaching so many great people and finding new people all the time!
Christy Family

Clayton- newest Galway member

Victoria is still progressing really well and was able to make it to the Christmas party too! However, she was a little unwell while at the party and she ended up not being able to come to church the next day either, so that was unfortunate. But we are teaching her almost every day now, and she still seems really excited for baptism. She was so happy to hear that we were both staying in Galway as well!
     Yesterday at church we had the primary program during sacrament meeting, which I was the pianist for. After practicing at church the last few weeks with the children, it wasn't too difficult at all and I really loved it! Primary songs are so fun to play for all the children. I think the program went about as well as it could have for there being only 5 children- all under 8 years old. It definitely was quite different from the big primary programs they have back home, but it was really fun to be a part of.
     So we also had another All-Ireland conference this week! And Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy (and Europe Area President) was there the whole time and spoke to us. He shook all of our hands at the beginning like Elder Ballard when he was here last month. Elder Kearon is an incredible speaker and gave us some great counsel and instruction. He spoke very powerfully, but most of it was simply an interactive discussion with all of us missionaries. He asked a lot of questions and allowed many of us to share our thoughts. He spoke about a lot of things, but here are some of my favorite quotes: "Our true conversion takes place when we are consumed with the conversion of others." "Happiness doesn't come from feeding ourselves, but from serving others." He also spoke a lot about the Atonement and how it is literally infinite and eternal and reaches all of God's children. Any person we meet on the street is not out of reach of Christ's Atonement. Elder Kearon also spoke a lot about having the right attitude and attacking the day each and every morning. Each day we must cheerfully do the will of Heavenly Father.

     Well this was a wonderful week, and I think this upcoming week may be even better! I am so excited to be staying in Galway and I know there are great opportunities ahead.

Irish street perfomer playing his tin whistle with his donkey riding dog

Monday, December 7, 2015

Clayton's Baptism

December 7, 2015

Clayton- Elder Oxspring's first baptism!
Wow such an incredible week it was!! And of course the big news is that our dear friend Clayton was able to enter into a sacred covenant with Heavenly Father this weekend. I cannot describe how amazing it has been to see the change in Clayton in just a couple of months! Unfortunately I won't have the time to write every detail about the baptism, but I'll do the best that I can. So it seemed like everything was going against us during the day or two leading up to the baptism. It was so stormy with hard rain and powerful wind for about two days straight. The branch president even called us on Friday and wanted us to possibly consider rescheduling Clayton's baptism for a different day because he was worried about people traveling to Limerick with the crazy weather and flooding that had been going on. But there's no way Elder Carmichael and I were going to reschedule after all the arrangements had been made! It was a bit difficult to arrange getting down to Limerick with Clayton as well because just about all of the members were unable to give us and Clayton a lift down to Limerick, so we were going to resort to taking the bus. But fortunately, we were able to figure it out.... 
     So on Saturday morning, Elder Carmichael and I had to cycle down to the city centre in the pouring rain and driving wind going right into our faces so that we could meet Clayton. We got soaked! And Clayton had to walk a short way in the rain to meet us as well. One of the members, Alex Christy, was able to arrange to drive us, so she met us in the city centre and drove Elder Carmichael, myself, and Clayton to Limerick. Unfortunately, not very many members from Galway were able to drive down to Limerick for the baptism, but we got lots of support from members and missionaries in Limerick! All 4 of the companionships in Limerick were there and brought investigators as well, so it was wonderful. It was such a great service and everything went smoothly! I had the special privilege of being able to baptise Clayton. I cannot put into words how incredible it was to be with Clayton in the waters of baptism, dressed in all white, to perform the ordinance of baptism and help Clayton become born again and enter into a covenant with our Father. It is definitely something I will never forget!! Clayton was beaming afterward and it carried into his confirmation the next day...
     So unlike the previous 3 days, Sunday was filled with sunshine! Clayton showed up to church in a sweet suit for his confirmation, which was awesome because he normally doesn't get that dressed up. But he was looking so sharp and was so excited for his confirmation. Elder Carmichael gave the blessing for the confirmation, but I was also able to help in the confirmation.
Clayton's confirmation day
He had such a bright smile the whole day and was able to stay for all 3 hours for church, which he hadn't been able to before. And we had an incredible testimony meeting as well! A less-active member from Colombia named Karen who I had seen on the street several times showed up to sacrament meeting finally after I had invited her several times. And she knew Clayton because they go to the same English-learning school, but she didn't know he had been baptised so it was cool! And she even went up to bear her testimony in broken English and in her testimony she mentioned me saying something like "I always see this Elder [pointing to me] and he always invites me to church and I never came, but I finally made it today and I am so happy to be here." The whole sacrament meeting was just wonderful with Clayton's baptism and seeing Karen there finally and I was just overwhelmed with emotion because I realized that I was making a difference in people's lives. I came out on my mission to make a positive impact in the lives of others, and I really felt like that while sitting in church on Sunday.
     Oh, and our incredible investigator Victoria was also able to come to church and stayed for all 3 hours! She continues to be so amazing! She understands everything we teach so well and is just so committed! She loves everything about the church and is excited to be baptised. She has a baptismal date of December 26th and we see no reason why she wouldn't be able to make it! We are able to teach her several times a week, which makes it even better- we love going to her home to teach her. Ah there are so many great things happening in Galway, and I just love it!! So our moves call is next Sunday... I better not get moved from Galway!! There are too many good things happening right now for me to get moved, and I don't want to move right before Christmas! But we shall see...
This upcoming week is going to be so exciting though!! We have another All-Ireland conference on Wednesday because Elder Kearon of the Europe Area Presidency is coming back to tour our mission, so we are spending all day in Dublin on Wednesday. And then this next weekend we have the branch Christmas party on Saturday and the primary program, which I am the pianist for, on Sunday. Good stuff!! I hope I can be delighted to tell you next week that I am staying in Galway once more. 

Chocolate advent calendars from Elder Carmichael's mum

got milk?
These boys love milk and apparently it's a Galway missionary tradition....

Last year....

Monday, November 30, 2015

Incredible week in Galway

 November 30, 2015
 Wow what an incredible week it was!! The big news is that Clayton passed his baptismal interview this week! And he came to church this Sunday, so everything is all set for him to be baptized this coming Saturday! One of our zone leaders, Elder Ensign interviewed him, and when they came out of the interview, Elder Ensign said "Wow, he knows a lot!" Clayton is such a champ! Because there is no baptismal font at our church in Galway, we have to travel down to Limerick for the baptism so he can be baptized in the font there, but Clayton is willing to do that and some members are going to travel down for the baptism as well, so we are thrilled! It will be especially wonderful as it will be the first baptism for both Elder Carmichael and myself. Pray that it all goes well this week!
     We were able to do a lot of teaching this week, which was pretty exciting. As a district, we taught more lessons this week than we did any week last transfer, so things are definitely going great for us in Galway! I went on exchanges with Elder Scholz this week and it was loads of fun. He is already a great missionary and seems much braver than I was when I first started my mission. We all get along really in our flat and definitely push each other to be the best that we can. I have been so busy lately with teaching and preparing training for district meetings and everything else, it feels like I have no spare time at all. So I apologize I haven't written letters to all those who have written me. I will find time at some point to reply!
     We have started teaching so many great people recently that we are so excited about! Above all, there is a girl named Victoria who is incredibly prepared for missionaries. We went to her home last night to teach her and it may have been the best lesson I have experienced on my mission thus far. We taught her about the Holy Ghost along with the Restoration and the Spirit was incredibly strong the whole time! We invited her to baptized and she accepted. She said that this is something that she had been searching for for a year and after she accepted our invitation to be baptized, she said she felt like a warm, comfy jacket was placed on her, so we were able to point out that it was the Holy Ghost that she felt. There are so many other great aspects about the lesson and it was just an absolutely perfect lesson in every aspect- I wish I had time to describe everything about it. She said that she really felt that we were guided to her. It seriously seems like a cheesy, miracle story that RM's give at their homecoming talk, but it really was amazing! Oh, and she lives right by some members who can give her a lift to church on Sunday, so it really is perfect! Elder Carmichael and I were ecstatic after the lesson, and we are so excited to teach her a couple more times this week.
     Even though I have been in Galway so long... I really do want to stay one more transfer! There are just so many good things happening that I have to watch it all unfold. Plus, I really would love to stay in a place for Christmas where I know everyone already!

     I almost forgot to mention anything about Thanksgiving this week... well it's Ireland and there was of course absolutely zero hint of Thanksgiving around. I had actually forgotten all day about thanksgiving until we met a couple of Americans on the street who wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. But we did have a really wonderful thanksgiving dinner at a member family's home this week! They lived in the US for a few years before moving back to Ireland, so they knew how to prepare a proper thanksgiving fortunately. We had lots of turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes, and other vegetables, and I was pretty full afterward, so I had at least a glimpse of Thanksgiving this year!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Meeting an Apostle of the Lord

New companion- Elder Carmichael

November 23, 2015
Wow what an incredible week it was!! I don't even know where to begin, but I guess I better start with our All-Ireland conference on Saturday with Elder M. Russell Ballard present of course!

So the other Galway Elders drove to Dublin for the conference early Saturday morning with the senior couple, which meant that we bussed to Dublin on Friday night. So it was a pretty uncomfortable night for us on Friday because there was 9 Elders staying the night in a pretty small flat in Dublin. I was fortunate enough to get a tiny couch to sleep on, but a lot of missionaries had to sleep on the floor and we all had to take turns using one shower on Saturday morning. But it was all worth it because we got to hear from an apostle of course! So in the morning we had the normal All-Ireland conference where we received training from the AP's and instruction from President Donaldson, and his wife and a few others. Then we had lunch and bit more training and preparation for Elder Ballard to come. We were fortunate enough to be with Elder Ballard from about 2:30-5 on Saturday. He started out by shaking all of our hands, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to shake Elder Ballard's hand! And I was in the front row of the chapel, so when he addressed us I was about 10 feet from him the whole time! It was incredible! So Elder Ballard was accompanied by Elder Patrick Kearon of the Seventy who is President of the Europe Area and his wife, Sister Kearon. Elder Ballard had been touring around Europe to speak to different congregations all week long with Elder Kearon so that he can report back to the First Presidency. We were able to hear from Elder and Sister Kearon first before Elder Ballard addressed us, which was wonderful because they were both such great speakers and had wonderful things to say about us. And then we heard from Elder Ballard of course- wow such an incredible opportunity we had! He had such a strong Spirit with him and spoke with such power! He spoke a lot about how we must become master teachers, especially in a day where everyone is distracted by the world around them and consumed by temporal things. He also spoke about how we don't have time to worry about ourselves, but instead urgently administer to those around us. We must speak to everyone around us and always be working hard in order to hasten the work of salvation. There simply isn't enough time to be consumed about our own matters when we are on the Lord's errand. We must completely let our will be the will of the Lord's. He also said that we must have an attitude of success and believe that great things can happen in our areas and in the mission. He promised that we can have more baptisms if we are obedient, talk to more people each day, and are consumed in the Lord's work. It was truly an incredible experience hearing from an Apostle of the Lord. I know for fact that Elder M. Russell Ballard is called of God.

So the rest of the week was also pretty spectacular as well! On Tuesday, we had to bus to Limerick so that I could attend Zone Leadership Council with all the district leaders in our zone, and our zone leaders. We are putting together a great plan so that we can have a tremendously successful December! And then the rest of the day, we stayed in Limerick for exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Ensign all day and we taught a few of their investigators and did a bit of finding as well. It was a lot of fun and we stayed the night in Limerick and drove back to Galway with the Zone leaders Wednesday morning. So with the trip to Dublin and to Limerick, we were out of our area for 2 and 1/2 days... but we still had an incredible week with all the work we were able to get done! So the big news is that we met with Clayton a couple of times and he has a baptismal date of December 5th now! He is doing so well with the reading the Book of Mormon now too! I almost started crying in one of our lessons when he said "I just have to read it everyday because it makes me feel so good." It's just been so incredible because we only started teaching him about six weeks ago. And guess what?! He came to church this week!! And he works on Sunday, so last time he came he left after Sacrament meeting, but this week he stayed for Sunday School and then called his boss to tell him that he would be late for work, so that he could stay for most of Priesthood as well! Ahh wow it was so great!! And he is scheduled to have his baptismal interview this week on Thursday, so perhaps you could pray for him that he will be all prepared for it and all will go well.  Also on Sunday, we were able to get another investigator at church! We just started teaching him this week, his name is Raul and is also from Brazil. He stayed for all 3 hours of church and stayed for the YSA pot luck after church as well. We were so thrilled!! Oh and if you want even more exciting news, our branch will soon have a full-time missionary... Alex Christy, who is a convert of 3 years and comes out teaching with us all the time (she is so amazing!) decided to serve a mission and kept it a secret from pretty much everyone. So our branch president asked her to stand up during sacrament meeting and started to get choked up when he announced that Alex would be serving in the England Birmingham mission. Everyone was shocked because we all had no clue! Ahh it was so cool to see... Alex is going to be such an incredible missionary! 

So yes, this week was truly amazing and I love working with Elder Carmichael. We work so hard together and have some really high goals set that we know we can attain. We have many new investigators that we are excited about and already working with some great people like Raul and Clayton. Ahh this will be such a great transfer, too bad it is only 5 weeks.
Claddagh Beach

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Travel, travel, travel

Last picture before transfers
November 16, 2015
Wow this was such an incredibly exciting week for me! Most of the week I wasn't even in Galway because of all my travels. 

     So my journey began on Tuesday afternoon when I bussed down to Limerick with Elder Williams and Elder Christensen. Elder Williams immediately left on a bus to Dublin after that, so I spent the rest of the day in Limerick in a trio with Elder Christensen and Elder Wall (who used to be in my district) until the evening time when the Zone leaders asked me to go with them in a trio to do some finding and teaching. I spent all evening with them and stayed the night at their flat as well. Doing some finding with the Zone leaders and just spending the night with them really helped me a lot! They are great examples of how to do missionary work, so I think it was the real beginning of my leadership training for the week. On Wednesday I drove with the Zone leaders to Dublin where we spent the whole day and met up with a few other missionaries as well who were moving around or waiting for their companions to arrive. I had a great reunion with Elder McCappin who was in my district in the MTC. Ah it was so great seeing him again! And guess what!? He is also becoming a district leader, so we got to go together to new leadership training! But I was able to spend Wednesday night doing some street contacting in Dublin with Elder McCappin which was loads of fun because he is also such a great missionary! We both stayed the night at the Dublin Zone leaders' flat and then had to get up super early at 4:30 to catch our 6:40 flight to Edinburgh. Flying was so cool! Elder McCappin and I flew on this small prop plane on an airline called Aer Lingus, so it was pretty unique.

      The New Leadership training in Edinburgh was absolutely incredible! The Spirit was so powerful throughout the whole meeting. It was a pretty small group of us getting trained- 5 Elders and 2 Sisters, but it was fantastic. We received training from the AP's and the Sister AP's and President and his wife and the Edinburgh Zone leaders. Oh and I don't know if I mentioned it before, but Elder Ilori is the new AP (my old Zone Leader from my first 2 moves) so it was so wonderful seeing him again and receiving training from him- such a great missionary! At one point during the training, Elder McCappin and I were asked to role play teaching the Holy Ghost Principle (something we teach people in the first lesson to help them recognise the Spirit), and it went so well! The Spirit was so strong and everyone said we worked so well together, and even joked that we would be future companions because we taught so well together!  The whole training was so spiritual and I feel so much more prepared to be a district leader now.  

    After leadership training, Elder McCappin and I still had a few hours before our flight left, so we went out street contacting at a university in Edinburgh, and again it was so fun and such a good learning opportunity for me. I had so much more confidence while talking to students at the University- it was great!! Then we flew back to Dublin in the evening with a sister named Sister Skousen who had received training that day also and was moving to an area in Dublin. Our flight was a delayed a bit so we got back pretty late and stayed at the Dublin Zone leaders' flat again. I had to get up really early again and the Zone leaders picked up Elder Carmichael from another flat in Dublin and dropped us off at the bus station where we took a bus back to Galway early in the morning. It was so great seeing Elder Carmichael after not seeing him since the MTC! I am so excited to work with him. Elder Carmichael is from Swindon, England  so it should be a lot of fun having an English companion. He seems really willing to work hard, so I think we will have a great transfer together! He is just coming from serving in Cumbernauld, Scotland (right outside of Glasgow) so he is excited to be in Ireland now. I love that we have been out the same amount of time because neither of us feels more senior than the other and we are just equal partners doing missionary work- it's great!

    Elder Williams is now training a missionary named Elder Scholz who is from Valencia, California (right by six flags) and he seems really excited and enthusiastic about being a missionary. I think our district/flat this transfer will be so great! Everyone seems to obedient and hard-working, so we will have a good time! It was probably a rough couple of days being introduced to Ireland for Elder Carmichael and Elder Scholz though because it poured on us most of Friday and literally all day Saturday! As soon as we stepped outside Saturday, we immediately got soaked. I had about 4 layers on and I got drenched through and I had pools of water in my shoes the whole day. It definitely got way colder in Galway while I was gone all week too because I can't even go outside with out a couple layers on now. It gets dark sooo early now too, it's crazy! So because I was gone out of my area the whole week and all the rain, I didn't get to do a whole lot of teaching, and we weren't able to get anyone at church unfortunately. But we already have a few things set up this week so we are pretty excited! And of course we have All-Ireland this with Elder Ballard (which got moved to Saturday instead of Thursday) so we are stoked for that! Oh and this transfer will only be 5 weeks instead of 6 so that missionaries aren't moving around the week of Christmas. So this transfer will fly by! We will be getting our moves calls 4 weeks from yesterday- so crazy!  

     So at the leadership training they talked about our SIM mission scripture which I really love- it is D&C 123:17 : "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." This was especially good for me this week while going around in the pouring rain because I am reminded to go about cheerfully! Nothing lies in my power to change the weather, but I can still be cheerful and full of enthusiasm. People notice how we go about, and who would want to be taught by two guys who look like they are miserable? Even as just members of the church, we must be mindful of those who are around us because we are examples of Christ himself. Let us all go about cheerfully and full of faith!!
Stumbled on some interesting graffiti! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

New Galway District leader!

Ready to go forth
November 9, 2015
This was Elder Dewsbery's last week of his mission! He left on a bus to Dublin after church yesterday on his journey back to Edinburgh where he will fly back to Canada later this week. It was sad to see him go, but he seemed very excited to go home to his family. 
RIP Elder Dewsbery
So currently I am in a trio with Elder Christensen and Elder Williams for a couple days until all the moves happen this week. The 3 of us anxiously waited for our moves call last night...

So here's the news:
Crazy enough, Elder Williams and I are staying in Galway AGAIN! Elder Christensen will be headed off to Cork, Ireland this week so it will be sad to see him go. I found out that my new companion will be Elder Carmichael (from England)! I actually know Elder Carmichael pretty well because guess what?! We were in the MTC together! So we both have only been out 4 and 1/2 months. So you would surely think that Elder Williams would be assigned an experienced companion so we don't have a whole district full of newbies... wrong! Elder Williams will be training, so he will be picking up his trainee this week from Edinburgh. Oh and there's one more twist... I'm the new Galway District leader! Wow... crazy huh?? I feel like I just barely started my mission and now I am Senior Companion and District Leader?! I really couldn't believe it, but I suppose the Lord qualifies those who He calls. So because I am becoming a leader now, I get to attend  New Leadership Training this week in Edinburgh (it's for everyone who gets called to a leadership assignment for the first time). So this will be a crazy week of travel!! I got my flight tickets emailed to me today... That's right, I get to FLY to Edinburgh Thursday morning from Dublin and then fly back the same night. I am so excited!!

So I don't have a whole lot of time to talk about my week, but it wasn't too bad at all!! The highlight was on Tuesday when we tried a really creative way of finding people. So as a district we went to a pretty busy part of the city centre and wrote in chalk in big letters "What Makes You Happy?" and then we handed out pieces of chalk to people as they walked by and asked them to write down what makes them happy. It was so successful!!!
We had this huge area of the ground that was covered in chalk because so many people wrote down things that made them happy. And we talked to everyone that wrote something on the ground and were able to find a few people that are interested in meeting with us and learning more about our message of happiness, so it was wonderful!!
 We taught a good amount of lessons this week as well! We had a pie party social for a branch activity on Saturday night at the church, where everyone brought pies and ate and just had a good time, so it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately we were not able to get any investigators there or at church the next Sunday, so it was a bummer. But I think there should be a lot of good opportunities in the next few weeks, and when new missionaries come, it always adds to the enthusiasm so I am really excited!

So after getting my moves call and finding out that I was District Leader and Senior Companion, it was a little overwhelming with me being so young and in my first area, so to me it seemed a bit crazy at first. But the example of Enoch really helped me understand how the Lord qualifies those that he calls. Enoch asked the Lord "Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad" (Moses 6:31), and I feel almost the exact same way! But this was the Lord's reply to Enoch: "Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good" (Moses 6:32). As I read on to see the incredible servant that Enoch became and how the Lord accompanied him with his task, it gave me much hope and surety. I know the Lord will provide a way for me to become an effective tool in His hands as long as I am diligent and obedient.

Lovely Ireland

The Fantastic Four, one last time
Having a little fun...
Looks like the Snitch is within reach!
No Shave November

Monday, November 2, 2015

Teaching in Merlin Woods

November 2, 2015

I can't believe it is already the next to last month of the year! Looking back, it's weird to think that I have spent nearly 4 months in Galway because it has gone by so fast! It's even weirder to think that this could be my last week in Galway and by next week I possibly be packing to move to a different country. Next Sunday night we will get our moves call again, and it seems very likely that I could move this time, so don't send any kind of packages or letters this week because by the time they get to the flat, I could be gone!! 

Well this week was pretty fantastic! Definitely much better than last week at least. Elder Christensen and I had loads of success teaching people this week! We were so excited to teach Clayton this week because he is progressing so well and basically ready for baptism! We taught him a few times and taught him all the commandments and reviewed all the baptismal questions with him and he is just a legend! He is pretty quiet, but when we ask him questions he has incredible answers and seems to understand everything! And he expressed to us a few different times how excited he is for baptism, so we started making arrangements with the Branch President for his baptism and scheduling him a baptismal interview date and everything, so we were getting pretty excited as well! There was a good possibly of him getting baptized this upcoming weekend too... Except one problem. He didn't come to church again! He was working late again and we expressed how important it was for him to come so he could get baptized, but unfortunately he didn't show up. We were pretty disappointed, but we are excited to keep working with him and helping him to keep commitments. 

We had a lot of other great lessons this week as well too! Stephanie took us to another awesome location for a lesson. We went to this little area in Galway with some woods and a cool castle/tower. It is called Merlin Woods and Merlin Castle and it was a beautiful day, so it was gorgeous 
We also taught two of our investigators who have been gone on holiday for a long time, named Victor and Paloma who are learning English here. We had a great lesson with them, where they told us they believe all that we have been teaching them and will pray about a baptismal date. We are so excited for everything happening in Galway! However, we weren't able to get any investigators at church again this week, and it was too bad because it was an incredible testimony meeting. Oh and the Branch President is starting to make a big push for missionary work, so the whole branch should be getting involved more and more with the missionaries in the coming weeks.

So obviously Halloween was this week as well, so I'll talk a bit about Halloween in Ireland. It was a pretty big event in the city, I think especially because it was the weekend, but it's a bit different from back home. I saw quite a few kids out trick-or-treating, but it is sad because there aren't a lot of people home to give out candy- the kids probably get an answer at the door every 4 or 5 houses. Most people just go out to the pubs or have big parties, and even most teenagers are out at house parties doing sketchy things at night. There were also a lot of bonfires and fireworks going off, so it was a bit different from the Halloween I am used to. We missionaries in Galway went to a member's house for dinner and then got a lift back to our flat for the rest of the evening because we weren't allowed to be out past 6. So we pretty much just partied in our flat and carved a pumpkin and ate loads of sweets and popcorn and watched church videos and played games all night. It was actually a lot of fun! 
We have been teaching a lot of Plan of Salvation lessons in the last couple weeks, and I started thinking about this great analogy of why we are sent here to Earth. We were all safe and happy with Heavenly Father before coming to Earth, so why do we need to be here? Well God is our Father and we are his children, and if you think about parents here on Earth, it starts to make more sense. Children are kept in the home with parents for a few years of their lives, but why do parents eventually allow their children to leave home? Well usually it is so they can attend school and continue to grow and learn. In the pre-mortal life we reached a point where we could no longer progress and grow and learn without coming to Earth, gaining bodies, and experiencing the joys and sorrow of life. Heavenly Father saw our potential as eternal beings and knew there was a way that we could ultimately become greater beings and become like him. Even though parents probably worry about children going to school where they could be bullied or have other bad things happen to them, they know it is best because they will return home better than when they left. Heavenly Father provided an opportunity for us to learn and grow and eventually return to him as greater beings just like parents who send their children off. There are so many other aspects you could also compare, but I just really love that analogy. I know I am here on Earth to progress and return to Heavenly Father as a greater person- a person who is like Him.
Merlin Woods
Merlin Castle
More about Merlin Castle

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Down week in Galway, but it's Not Stopping us!

October 26, 2015
Well it was quite a difficult week here in Galway, but we persevered and found a bit of success and joy towards the end of the week! But it couldn't have started out any worse- we had 10 dropped appointments our first three days, TEN! (We had 16 by the end of the week) We couldn't teach anyone at the beginning of the week because they all didn't show up or canceled on us; it was pretty sad. And to add to it, it basically poured nonstop for those three days as well- so they were long, depressing days.

But it a got a bit better towards the end of the week! We were able to teach Clayton twice and he seems to continue to understand everything we teach and still has a desire to get baptized, so that's pretty exciting! I had an exchange with Elder Dewsbery on Friday, and we found a few really cool people on the streets that agreed to meet up another time so we could teach them. Elder Christensen and I have been finding a lot of great people as well, so with all the finding we have been doing we were able to teach a few new investigators on the weekend who are really great!! However, getting people at church wasn't nearly as successful this week- we weren't able to get any investigators this time! Even Clayton who said all week that he could come, didn't end up coming because he was working late the night before... so it was a real bummer. He may not be able to make his baptismal date of November 7th anymore, but we will see what happens.

But Sunday wasn't all bad! On the bright side, I woke up with an extra hour of sleep because of daylight savings! It's weird observing DST after not having to worry about it most of my life, but I was definitely grateful for the extra hour of sleep. But it is getting dark so early now! Probably 5:30 is about sunset now, so crazy! Oh and we got this awesome new young couple who just moved into the branch! The husband is a convert and the wife is a returned missionary and they just graduated from BYU, so they will be great additions to the branch and probably helpful for our missionary work as well! 

I have been studying quite a bit about forgiveness lately, and I love the parable that comes from Matthew 18 that talks about the king and his servants. Thinking about Heavenly Father and his incredible mercy towards us and willingness to forgive us is amazing. If we thought about Heavenly Father's mercy towards us every time we got angry or frustrated with someone, it would be so easy for us to forgive. We must remember that we are asked to forgive everyone no matter what and love them like the Savior and just let God make his judgments (D&C 64: 9-11).

We are pressing forward with great attitudes- ready to work hard!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Autumn in Ireland

October 19, 2015
Wow it's hard to believe that we are already halfway through October! This year I get to experience what real Fall is like! Lately it has been getting much colder and the leaves are starting fall off trees and change color and the nights are getting dark very quickly. Such a contrast to what it is like back home! I guess I didn't adjust very well because I caught a cold halfway through the week, but it wasn't bad at all and I am pretty much completely fine now. 

So this week wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't too bad either. A lot of the new investigators we had recently found, we have stopped teaching for various reasons, so we are kind of getting a fresh start with finding new people to teach. However, we still have a couple solid people who are progressing very well! So we didn't get to do a whole lot of teaching this week... however, our investigator Stephanie did take us to another cool place to have a lesson. We went a little bit out of Galway to a little town called Barna and went into this forest that was so sweet!!! The forest looked like it was straight out of Lord of the Rings or Narnia or something, it was so cool! 

The highlight of the week was again on Sunday!! Stephanie was able to come to church again (unfortunately Clayton couldn't because of working late the night before) and there were so many other nonmembers as well. Elder Williams and Elder Dewsbery brought this Nigerian family who they are teaching and we got some less-actives to come who also brought a couple nonmember friends. As well, a university student in our branch also brought a friend, so it was incredible!! And the 1st counselor in the District Presidency was at our branch on Sunday and gave a great talk, so it was a wonderful sacrament meeting! If we can continue to increase the amount of people at church each   week, our branch will be growing so much!! 

 I don't mention it much, but I love my time in the mornings to study. My testimony and gospel knowledge has grown so much since I have been out on my mission. I have been studying repentance a bit recently and there are some great insights I have found: Repentance is a step of humble action that we all pass through over and over consistently through our lives, and especially for those preparing for baptism. A major part of the repentance process is feeling sorrow. That may seem depressing that we all pass through sorrow, but it is "Godly sorrow," not a "woe is me" sorrow. It speaks a bit about Godly sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7: 9-12. Feeling sorrow in a godly manner helps us change and turn from the bad towards good because we recognise we have made mistakes and can do much better to follow the will of God. It is the bridge between the aching pains of sin and the fulness of joy of Heavenly Father just as Alma recounts in his repentance process in Alma 36: 20-21.  Unlike the sorrow of the world that brings us down, Godly sorrow is a change in our heart that uplifts us and ultimately brings us closer to God. In Mormon 2:11-14 we see an example of Earthly sorrow and how it drew the Nephites farther from God. It is so important that we are humble enough to recognise our shortcomings and feel sorrow in a way that uplifts us because we know that we can overcome our downfalls and become clean in the sight of Heavenly Father again through the Atonement of Christ. 

So I suppose this week will be my 4 month mark of my mission. I couldn't ask for a more fulfilling 4 months! And I know there is so much more in store for me...

Barna Forest

                                                                                                 Halloween package from home

Monday, October 12, 2015

Investigators- teaching at a Castle, sharing an Irish breakfast...and one comes to church!

Investigator, Stephanie, at Menlo Castle

October 12, 2015
Wow this was such a fantastic week! There were so many great experiences and we did some incredible work- the Spirit was definitely residing with us all week long! 

But I guess I will start out with some interesting food we had this week. So Tuesday morning we went over to one of our investigator's house to try and teach him (he doesn't like making appointments so we just pop in when we are in that area) and he let us in- however he was just starting to make breakfast. We told him that we already ate breakfast, but he insisted that he cook food for us to eat with him as well. So our second breakfast (at his house) consisted of: toast, Irish ham (pretty normal so far), along with fried garlic cloves, black pudding (cooked pork blood/meat +oats), and a duck egg. So yeah it was pretty interesting and our breath didn't smell too great afterward, but it was all actually pretty good. Black pudding really isn't bad at all! Our investigator talks quite a bit so it was tough to teach, but we were able talk about the Book of Mormon a bit with him.

So we had an incredible lesson on Wednesday! There is a Brazilian man named Clayton that we had just met a few days prior so we were teaching him for the first time. Being from Brazil, he obviously knew quite a bit about Mormons and missionaries and everything, but really wanted to learn more. So we taught him the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong. He was able to recognize the Spirit right there, so we invited him to be baptized and he accepted right a way! We also invited him to church... so I guess I will skip right now to one of the highlights of the week. Clayton came!! We walked with him to church on Sunday and he seemed to really enjoy it! A couple visiting from California sat next to him and they were really nice and talked with and I think he really enjoyed the testimonies! It was such a great testimony meeting too, so we were thrilled! I am not sure yet if the zone achieved our goal of 25 investigators at church, but regardless I am just happy we finally overcame our barrier of getting those who we are teaching to come to church! 

Another highlight was that we taught our investigator Stephanie... in a CASTLE!!! So Stephanie is a tour guide and knows all about Galway and the Aran Islands and history of Ireland and everything, so she wanted to show us a cool place just a bit out of Galway. So we biked with her Saturday morning to a little area called Menlo to see Menlo Castle! It looked so cool (I will send pictures)! And so we had a lesson with Stephanie and read from the Book of Mormon and prayed with her in the castle!! It was such a great, spiritual lesson too! 

And then we also went to zone interview training in Limerick this week! It was great being able to go to Limerick one last time and see all the missionaries in the zone. It is cool now that I have been in this zone for 3 moves now because I get to see how the zone is changing with new missionaries coming in and others leaving. But there was great training at the meeting and I had an interview with President Donaldson so it was amazing! Oh and we found out some BIG news!!! Elder M. Russell Ballard is coming to Ireland November 19th for our All-Ireland conference! That is next transfer so I am praying that I stay in Ireland at least one more move so I can attend that meeting and hear from Elder Ballard. That would be so incredible!! 

So at the zone interview training, Elder Christensen and I gave a 10 minute training on obedience, so I just want to add in a bit of what we talked about because I really enjoyed studying obedience and presenting it at the conference:

So in Mormon 5:18 it talks of being led by Satan and being "as a chaff driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without a sail or anchor..." So I really like that analogy of how we need to be equipped with our sail and anchor. Our sail being the Spirit guiding us and our anchor of Christ who is our Rock and solid foundation (Ether 12:4). We need to be obedient in order to have the Spirit striving with us. We must have the self-discipline and self-mastery that comes from being obedient. Without obedience, we naturally fall to every enticing from the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) and Satan then has control over us and can toss us about as a vessel with no sail or anchor. We literally have more agency as we keep the commandments because then we are in complete control of our thoughts and actions. Satan wants us to fall to addictions or sin that forces us to lose our agency. So therefore it is our choice to remain obedient and choose liberty and eternal life or fall to temptation that leads to captivity and death (2 Nephi 2:27). When we are obedient, instead of being tossed by Satan, we are the ones literally causing Satan to tremble (D&C 35:24). 

Archway to Menlo (Mionloch) Castle

                     Built in 1569, the castle was destroyed by a tragic fire in 1910

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

General Conference

General Conference Broadcast

October 5, 2015
Well I guess I better start out with the highlight of this week- General Conference of course!! General Conference as a missionary is AMAZING!! It just feels like a time to relax and fully focus on one thing without any distractions. So I am sure everyone is wondering how it works over here with the time difference and everything... It was actually really fun!! So 2 of the sessions we were able to watch live: the Saturday morning and Sunday morning sessions. So on Saturday evening, the 4 of us missionaries went to the church and set it up for conference by rearranging the pulpit and chairs and everything to make it accommodating for conference. We wheeled in the TV at the church, which is really nice quality and connects directly to the internet, so it wasn't too tough to broadcast conference. Because there are so many members that live far away, there are hardly any members that come to the church to watch conference. So when we watched the Saturday morning session live at 5pm here, there were two members at the church with us watching conference. It was actually really fun because we bought popcorn and sweets and  drinks everything and basically had the closest thing to a movie night that we can have as missionaries haha. So then on Sunday, we basically were at the church all day long! We watched a rebroadcast of the Priesthood Session at 11am and a rebroadcast of the Saturday afternoon session at 1pm. Then we watched the Sunday morning session live at 5pm. So we had this amazing plan to get investigators to come watch the Sunday morning session with us at 5pm! We figured it would be a prime opportunity with it being the early evening and everything so we invited everyone to come early at 4.30 for a pancake party.

 We invited everyone and we had loads of people commit to come and eat pancakes and then watch conference with us... but it didn't work out quite how we planned. So made a ton of pancakes and had it all in place, but between the 4 of us missionaries, only 1 investigator showed up. It was Elder Williams and Elder Dewsbery's investigator too, so it was a bit disappointing for me and Elder Christensen. But we still had a great time and a few more members came to that session too so they at pancakes with us, so it was still fun! Oh and the Sunday afternoon session of conference I still haven't watched because it was on too late here. I will have to print off the talks later or find a bit of free time to watch it at the church or something.

     But WOW it was an incredible conference!!! So many amazing talks!! And it was so exciting to see the 3 new apostles get called- they seem like incredible men. Some of my favorite talks were Neil L. Anderson's from Priesthood session about faith, Jeffrey R. Holland's talk about mothers and the Atonement of Christ (who didn't love that talk!?). Larry R. Lawrence's talk about improving ourselves, and Russell M. Nelson's talk about the role of women, and Henry B. Eyring's talk about the Holy Ghost (it goes right along with what our mission president is having us focus on). I took so many notes, and there were just so many good thoughts that I loved from the speakers.  

     So the rest of this week wasn't exactly the best. We probably had about 10 dropped appointments this week, and several where we even had members with us to help teach! We did still teach a few people, but we didn't contribute a whole lot to the huge zone goal of getting 50 lessons with members present, so I hope the rest of the zone did better than us. But even though we didn't have the best week, I feel like we worked really hard and did as much as we could to help achieve our goals. We got our new bikes lasty Monday too, and they are sooo nice! We can fly around on our bikes now. There are areas a bit out of Galway we can travel to with no problem now, so it's definitely going to help us with the work! Oh and it was nice because there was absolutely no rain the whole week long!! However, it was still pretty gray and cloudy most of the week. So it's weird, almost every morning now, there is just really thick, cold fog covering Galway (I suppose because we are right on the coast). Some days it clears up and becomes really clear and sunny, but some days it just sticks around, making it a cold, gray day. It is feeling MUCH colder all of a sudden this last week. When we leave the flat in the morning when there is fog, it feels like the coldest it ever gets back in AZ... and it's only October. It is also getting much darker in the mornings and evenings. It is pitch black by the time we bike back to the flat every night and pitch black when we wake up in the morning... it's a good thing we got new lights with our new bikes.

    Well this upcoming week seems like it will be pretty great! We have a zone conference in Limerick on Thursday, so it will be fun to travel there again one last time now that we don't go there for our district meetings anymore. And many of all the new investigators who we found seem like they should be pretty solid, so we are excited for all the opportunities we will have!

NEW bike!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Staying in Galway District

Limerick District before moves

September 28, 2015
Wow so it was quite an incredible week!!  I am staying in Galway 6 more weeks along with Elder Christensen. Actually, our whole flat is staying the same for one more transfer crazy enough! Which I am pretty excited about because we are thriving right now and teaching so many lessons, so I am excited to see all our hard work pay off. Unfortunately however, our district is getting changed up a bit. So they are adding another companionship of Elders in Limerick, so there will be enough missionaries to make Limerick its own district. So now we just have a tiny district in Galway only consisting of the 4 of us in our flat and the senior couple. So I am kind of sad about that because now I don't get to travel to Limerick every week and hardly ever get to see other missionaries besides all of us in Galway. But I am sure we will still have a great time and get a lot of work done in our district. One of our zone leaders, Elder Ilori is leaving and going up to be zone leader in Dundee, Scotland so we are all sad about that too because he really built up our zone so much. 

 Last week I talked a bit about the incredible plan given to us by the zone leaders to teach 50 new investigators this last week. And guess what!? We achieved it! Elder Christensen and I had an incredible week and were able to teach 9 new investigators- we were so excited! Our whole zone reached 54 new investigators which is a crazy amount- we taught a total of 101 lessons as well! So our zone is leading the whole mission now! We are so excited to keep it going. This week our goal is to teach 50 lessons to investigators with members present which is a pretty high goal, especially with all the people moving around this week as well. It is going to be tough for us in Galway because it is a little more difficult to arrange to get members out teaching with us, but we have faith and are excited to work hard! 

So overall this whole week was pretty great! On Thursday, I went on exchanges with one of our zone leaders, Elder Ensign from Bountiful, Utah. He came here to Galway and we had a pretty good day trying to find a lot more people to teach. While we were biking, one of the bikes completely broke! Oh yeah, by the way our new bikes FINALLY came in today!! It took forever for them to get here. But yeah, one of the bikes was unable to be ridden after Thursday, so we were on foot from Friday to Sunday, but it wasn't too bad! On Sunday we got up early and took a bus to district conference in Limerick. So it is basically stake conference, but it's just called district conference because all of south and western Ireland isn't big enough to be a stake, so it's a district. The mission President and his wife came and spoke at it along with an Area seventy, Elder Dryden, so there were a lot of great talks! And it was wonderful seeing all the other missionaries from Cork and Tralee and Waterford too that we don't normally see very often. After the conference there was this big munch & mingle at the church for YSA and missionaries so it was really good having food and talking with loads of great people.

There was an inspiring thought from President Donaldson at District conference that I loved!! There was a scripture in D&C 88:64 that he shared a lot of cool thoughts on. It talks about how if we ask Heavenly Father anything, we can receive an answer... but only if it is "expedient" to us. So what does that mean? Well basically, what I took from it was that we must be willing to have faith and act based on the answer we get. We must ask with "real intent" like it says in Moroni's promise, in order to receive an answer from Heavenly Father. Receiving a witness from the Holy Spirit also includes an obligation to act on the promptings that we get. If we ask Heavenly Father a question with real intent and sincerity, in order to have real intent we must be willing to accept and act on whatever the answer is. So we need to continue to pray faithfully and with real intent if we are to receive an answer from our loving Father in heaven.

I am incredibly excited to be in Galway for 6 more weeks!! There are definitely great things in store for me here!

Irish street musician
(The instrument is called a Hurdy Gurdy- with a crank and keyboard)
National University of Ireland-Galway