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!

Christmas 
     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 FOREVER!

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....