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!!