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