Monday, January 25, 2016

One more week in Galway....?

January 25, 2016
     Well Elder Carmichael and I are looking to finish strong here in Galway. We had a pretty decent week this week! Definitely much better than last week!
     We taught so many great people. The Brazilian woman, Claudia, who came to church last Sunday we met with a couple of times and she is incredible! She was able to recognise the Spirit in our lesson and it was so powerful. She wouldn't accept a baptismal date because she said she didn't feel quite ready, but she accepted a baptismal calendar and is praying about what date she would feel ready for. We are so excited to see her again tomorrow! Unfortunately she wasn't able to come to church again because of work, so hopefully next week! There a few others that we are excited to continue to work with that we just found as well, so it should be a great upcoming week. Elder Carmichael and I decided that we are going to have the best week we have ever had with it more than likely being our last week in Galway together! It will be exciting to receive our news this coming Sunday!
     On Thursday this week we had our Zone Interview training (zone conference) in Limerick. It was wonderful, however it was quite a long day! We left fairly early to be up there at 10am for the conference and it went until 4. Then afterward, there was a world-wide missionary broadcast that we watched that lasted a couple hours. So we had a lot of sitting and a lot of instruction throughout the whole day, but it was really great! The broadcast and much of the conference was about teaching more simply and allowing those we teach to recognise the Holy Ghost. 
     Sunday was a great day again because we had branch conference. So the whole district presidency was at our branch for church which made it pretty great. The President of Limerick District is President Roy, who is such a great leader and such a knowledgeable man. After church we had a long meeting with the district presidency and the branch presidency and the branch mission leader about how we can improve the branch mission process. I definitely think that it will create some improvements with the member missionary work, so we are very excited to see what happens. Unfortunately, I will probably be gone soon, so I won't see all the effects that take place...
     So I have been really focusing on studying the Atonement recently. There is a quote from Preach My Gospel that says "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase." So I hope that the more I understand the Atonement, the more I will desire to become a greater missionary. Luke 22: 41-44 is quickly becoming my favorite scripture. Luke's account of Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane is so powerful! Christ knew he had to atone and suffer, it was the only way to fulfill Heavenly Father's great Plan of Redemption. The whole salvation of Heavenly Father's children depended on Christ's foreordination to willingly perform the ultimate sacrifice. And Jesus knew what was at stake here. Luke's account begin with "And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast,and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:..." 
     At this point, it appears that Christ perhaps failed. The terror of the act he would perform would have surely overcome Him (He even being a perfect human being) and He pleaded with the Father to allow the bitter cup to pass. If this was all, then surely the Great Plan of Salvation would have been corrupted. Heavenly Father's children would have no hope to return to Him. But that was not all. Christ continued (and I imagine with probably a whimpering voice): "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." This perhaps could have been the most important phrase uttered in all of history. With Christ's willingness to then perform the most excruciating and terrifying, yet most loving and merciful act in the history of mankind, we are all given a chance. We all have the opportunity to return to our Father in Heaven. Let us not take for granted the miracle of the Atonement in our lives. Let us repent and use the Atonement to be made clean.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Down week...but great Sunday!

 January 18, 2016
  Well it was a bit of a down week for Elder Carmichael and me. We still feel like we worked really hard, but there was just a whole lot that didn't go our way. Sometimes the agency of others can be bit frustrating, haha. There were a lot of dropped appointments and even a few investigators who have decided to not meet with us anymore, so it was a bit disappointing and we didn't have a whole lot of opportunities to teach this week. So it wasn't a brilliant week filled with success like the last few weeks, but we definitely aren't worried. We were just humbled a bit, but we know that we will get back to our ways again soon. 
       On Tuesday the Zone Leaders came to our district meeting and then Elder Carmichael and I went back to Limerick with them and went on exchanges there. We had a great day in Limerick, and it is always fun being with the zone leaders to see how they do missionary work. We slept the night in Limerick and bussed back in the morning.
     Sunday was definitely the highlight of our week! President Thompson, of the mission presidency (overlooks Ireland), and his wife attended our branch. Victoria and Clayton were both able to be at church so I think it was really good for them to hear Pres. Thompson and his wife speak and also meet them. And it was Alex Christy's farewell this week also because she is reporting to the MTC on Thursday, so it was just an incredible sacrament meeting with great speakers! Oh and there was this awesome Brazilian girl that we met on Saturday night and we asked if she wanted to come to church with us the next day, and she did! We walked with her to church from the city centre and we think she really enjoyed it (probably a really good first sacrament meeting for her). We are teaching her on Tuesday so we are really excited!
     This week we have zone interview training on Thursday, so I will be going down to Limerick again, but I am really excited for the instruction and interviews with President Donaldson. Oh and there is also a world-wide missionary broadcast this week, so we will watch the rebroadcast of that on Thursday after ZIT. 
     So a recurring theme from church on Sunday that I really liked was the story of Peter walking on water found in Matthew 14. I love that story and how we can apply that into our own lives. Never let the Savior leave our gaze. If we keep Him the centre of our focus and exercise our faith, we will not falter! As soon as we take Christ out of our sight, that is when we will be engulfed by the perilous tempest that surrounds us in the world today. I think this is a huge reason why one of our promises at baptism is to "always remember Him."
     Only 2 weeks til moves call! My time in Galway is quickly running out, so I am excited to make the most of it!
Claddagh Beach
Winter weather

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rainbows in Ireland

A little respite from the rain
January 11, 2016
Well it was quite another marvelous week here in Galway filled with success! We were able to do quite lot of teaching again and have found few new people to teach as well. I went on exchanges after district meeting on Tuesday with Elder Williams, but our week started out really slow at first. I think we had about 7 dropped lessons in the first couple of days, so it was pretty rough, but we finished the week strong! Unfortunately none of our investigators were able to make it to church on Sunday, but there are still a few that I mentioned last week who are keeping commitments and are progressing pretty well!

On Friday, I had Zone Leadership Council meeting in Limerick, so we had to spend much of the morning and afternoon travelling, but it was a great meeting. President Thompson, who is in the mission presidency and his wife attended and had some wonderful thoughts! Our mission is continuing to have more and more success- our baptisms in December were the highest they have
been in a long time and our Zone leaders were really thrilled with all the success we have had in our zone as well. The challenge now will be to carry on that success for the coming months. Oh and I found out that Elder Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy is coming to Ireland at the end of February for Dublin's stake conference, so there will also be a conference for all the missionaries in Ireland. Again, another thing to look forward to here in Ireland! I really hope I will stay somewhere in Ireland this next transfer.

Pirate party send off for Alex Christy
On Saturday, there was a branch party for Alex Christy who is leaving on her mission to Birmingham England in 2 weeks. She wanted it pirate themed, so it was fun- we had like a big pirate party at the church! And there were lots of people that were able to come, even many of Alex's family and friends who aren't members so it was wonderful! 

Elder Carmichael, Sister Christy and Elder Oxspring

 On Sunday I gave a talk in church about keeping the Sabbath Day holy. It's funny because that pretty much the same topic I had for my farewell talk back home, so I already had many good thoughts. It was about time I gave a talk again though- I hadn't given one since my first Sunday in Galway, which feels forever ago! 

So there was a spiritual thought from President Thompson at ZLC that I really liked. He talked about how every single one of us has a valiant testimony of Christ inside of us. In the pre-mortal life, if we chose to come here to Earth, we must have had complete trust in Christ and that he would live perfectly and perform the Atonement like He said He would. We all had to have valiant faith in Christ if we were to leave Heavenly Father's presence and the only way to return was through the Atonement of Christ. But now that we are here and don't remember that testimony we had at one point, we all have to rebuild that faith and find that testimony inside of us that we all once had. He used Revelation 12: 10-12 as a great reference: " And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and  by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them..."

May we all remember our valiant testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year!

January 4, 2016
     Wow it was a tremendous week for me and Elder Carmichael! I hope everyone had a happy New Year!! This was probably the first year in quite a while where I didn't stay up til midnight... And I was completely fine with it. We didn't really receive any counsel that we "weren't allowed" to stay up til midnight, but the basic rule of retiring to bed at 10:30 is still in place. I know Elder Williams and Elder Scholz were in their beds, but still stayed up, but Elder Carmichael and I were just too tired and didn't feel that it was worth it. Getting up at 6:30 already feels too early as it is! But regardless, I am still excited for 2016, it will be a great year! 2016 will be the only year I can say I am full-time representative of the Lord for the whole year, how cool is that? And plus now I can say I go home next year! :) 
     Elder Carmichael and I have been blessed to do a lot of teaching lately! There are loads of new people we have found and a few solid people that we are continuing to work with. So I had said that last week that we had 2 new Brazilians at church. They are both really great!! One is named Maria, and the other is Euler (it has a really strange pronunciation that sounds German). Unfortunately they were both quite busy all week long, and we weren't able to meet with them to teach them, but Euler came to church again this week! And it was such a wonderful sacrament meeting! There was a member there from Brazil who is visiting for a couple weeks, and she bore part of her testimony in Portuguese, which was really good for Euler I think because he is still learning English. And he seemed to really love church and asked if he could bring his wife next week. So hopefully he will have some time this week that we can meet with him, and help progress and not just come to church (although we are really thrilled with that). 
     We are also really pleased that Victoria was able to be confirmed this week! It made sacrament meeting just that much better! She seems to becoming a lot more comfortable with more of the members also, which is great. She will be such a great addition to the branch.
     It was fortunate that we were able to do so much teaching this week also because there has been SOO much rain! I am sick of the rain! We can count on it pretty much every day at some point and I can't remember the last time I have seen the streets dry without pools of water everywhere. It seems like they would have found out how to help prevent flooding in Ireland by now, but unfortunately it isn't so. But that's winter in Ireland and despite the weather, we are in great spirits and very happy. Galway is just such a great place to be. I am happy to be starting 2016 here! I think it is important to remember that no matter what has happened in the past- success or lack of- that we continue to move forward working hard and with faith. I love Luke 9:62 "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Elder Carmichael and I are ready to continue to move forward with our eyes set on future success. So many great opportunities are in store for us.