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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week 5 - Dogs & Walking

So I decided I would answer all the questions you've been asking first this week so I can make sure I don't forget any of them!
Dad-All the food I've been fed is actually pretty good! A lot of meat and potato's which is fine with me! We're getting about 2 dinner appointments a week which is legit! One thing I have yet to eat though that every new missionary has to eat is a Kebab. It's a popular European meal where all it is, is a bunch of meat stuffed into a tortilla. It sounds good at first but then the older missionaries told me the meat you have to have in your first Kebab on the mission. It's called Donner meat, and no one really knows what it is.. other than the fact that it is banned by the FDA in the U.S. My companion is sick today so we probably won't go get my first one today but probably next P-day we will! Haha most missionaries eat chicken or steak Kebab's which sounds real good so I might eat one of those instead of the Donner meat.

My feet are a little sore from walking! I had some blisters after the first week but they're gone now.  But we might get bikes soon so that would mean not as much walking!

I think we do walk past the Kerrigan's pub quite a bit but i'm not totally sure... there's a pub pretty much on every corner so I guarantee I've walked past it at least a few times.

As for the pageant, what the whole thing was about was the history of the Church in the British Isles, which is mostly all the missionary work done by the Apostles. At the end the main character talks about how the church is continuing to grow in Great Britain today and yells out something like "Tonight we're joined by missionaries from these latter-days who are continuing the work!" And then all of us missionaries from the MTC (about 100 of us) walked in from behind the audience singing called to serve. We walked onto the stage and then sang the grand finale song with the rest of the actors! We didn't have to dress up at all since we were already in our "costumes" all day as missionaries anyway.

It hasn't been that rainy! This is the hottest summer Ireland has had in forever! But we did get poured on while out tracting on Thursday.

Alright well now I'll tell you guys all about my week!

So like I said earlier I went on exchanges for the first time this week. I went to the Clonsilla area in Dublin with one of Zone Leaders! His name was Elder Holm and he's from Vegas. He actually went to high school with Bryce Harper and played baseball with him! We got along really well so it was a blast going around doing missionary work with him for a day. I learned a lot from him because we both have similar personalities and we both teach in a similar way. It helped me figure out some things that I should do when I teach that I hadn't been able to figure out quite yet. The best part of exchanges was staying in Dublin. All I know is I want to serve in the Clonsilla are in Dublin for the rest of my mission. The missionaries there stay in a house. Yeah, a house. It was so nice! I couldn't believe it!! The house belongs to an older couple in the ward and they are currently out serving a mission and so they let our mission use the house for missionaries!! I was so jealous! I also got to drive around in a car all day and I realized just how nice that was. We got so much more missionary work done, it made me wish we had a car in Mullingar.
This week we didn't really get to teach too many lessons, mostly because we couldn't find anybody and then Elder Goldie got really sick and so we couldn't even leave the flat Saturday and Sunday. We are working with our investigator S., and a less-active young man named C. C. is progressing pretty well so that is cool! He didn't believe in God at all anymore before I got here but now he started to get his faith back that God is there for him and loves him! A kinda funny thing happened when we were teaching him this past week though. He has these 2 huge pit bull/rotweiler type dogs that look like they could easily kill me and Elder Goldie. I'm pretty sure one of them is like half jaguar. When we teach him we stay on his front porch because they would attack us if we went inside. However during this lesson C. opened the door to go grab something inside and the 2 dogs got out!! I hopped over this rail by his driveway and hid behind the wall, while my companion took off running the other direction and tried to hop another fence that was only 3 feet high or so. He didn't quite make it over and the one dog that looks like half jaguar barely bit his hand before C. dove on the dog and wrestled him inside. The other dog the whole time was looking for me and then it took off after my companion right after C. tackled the half-jaguar dog. My companion just kept jumping back and forth over the fence and the dog was basically going around in circles trying to get him! Eventually Caelum wrestled both dogs inside and we both made it out okay. Elder Goldie had a tiny bite mark that didn't even hurt so we were blessed to make it out okay!! It was a pretty crazy experience to go through but we just laugh about it now. The other highlight of my week was giving a talk yesterday! I was asked on Wednesday to give a talk on a topic of my choice and so I spoke on Conversion. It went pretty well! I didn't even write it out. I just wrote down the scriptures and what I wanted to use for certain points and then I just went for it. I spoke for like 20 minutes and after sacrament meeting the Branch President said he wished I could have just spoken for the whole meeting! It goes to show how much the lord is helping me grow spiritually, cause I never would have been able to get up and talk that long without the Lord helping me out through the power of the Holy Ghost. Even though the week was tough as far as finding people to teach, it was so rewarding because I can already see how much I've grown on my mission so far. Missionary work is so Awesome!!! I realized yesterday that I left home a month ago, and I actually got kinda sad that a month of my mission has already gone by! It's weird because normally missionaries like me think their mission goes by slow, but right now I feel like 2 years is such a short amount of time! It's good because i'm taking advantage of the time I have as a missionary and making sure I don't waste any of it, but also bad cause I feel like my mission is already going by faster than I want it to! I feel like I left home yesterday.

So a couple things that i've been meaning to email home and tell you guys about since i've been here but have just forgotten:
All the street signs here are in english but also Gaelic! It's kinda cool cause i'm working on learning words in Gaelic. Mullingar is: an Mullean gCarr in Gaelic. Sometimes people pretend they only speak gaelic to us so they don't have to talk to us.

I also totally forgot to tell you that Elder Austin (Scotty) is in Clondalkin! Which I think is close to Dublin but i'm not sure. I know we are in the same zone though so I'll see him at Zone conference this Thursday!

Well I think that was everything I needed to tell you guys! I hope everyone is doing well back home! I love you all and want you to know that this Church is true! God loves each of us so much and is always watching over us! He will always be there if you need help!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 4 - Mullingar Ireland


This week has been a little tough but not too bad. We only taught 10 lessons total (our goal was 20) and 5 of those were to the same less active person. So only 5 lessons were taught to non-members! Our main investigator started his job this week so he wasn't able to come to church for the first time in 5 weeks. We are going to see him tomorrow and we'll find out from him if he was able to get his time that he trains changed. Our guess is he didn't get it switched since we didn't see him at church. It's really sad because he is such an awesome guy!! We taught him about the priesthood this week and he talked about how jealous he was that we hold the priesthood and how he wants to hold the priesthood! Ahhh its tough to see him have such a desire to be baptized but his job is holding him back. He is praying and fasting to know what to do and who knows, the Lord may have a way prepared for him to be baptized and we just haven't found it yet! All the missionaries here can definitely see the difference between people here and the people in Scotland. Also one of the missionaries at our district meeting said there was a poll done among young adults (18-25ish) in the U.K. and 90% of them are atheist! You'll have to do some checking to make sure that's true but I wouldn't doubt it.  The worst is seeing 11 year old girls smoking and 6 year old girls swearing at us!  I have been fed dinner 3 times already, and have another dinner appointment this Wednesday! (I think its because all the members here like me - haha).  We had dinner with the branch president and his wife this past week and it was awesome. He is a great man who taught me a lot about the importance of learning the simple parts of the Gospel. Making sure I know and have a testimony of the basics is so important as a missionary, because that is the only thing I should be teaching. Those "simple" parts of the gospel aren't just important for missionaries to know, they are what really matter for our own salvation. If there is one thing I have learned so far on my mission is that the Lord has joy in simple things. He teaches us very simply what we need to do to live with him again. All we need to do is first have faith in him, and then because of that faith we desire to follow him by living his commandments. We are then commanded to repent and be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. After we have been baptized we commit to follow Christ for our entire lives, and to follow all the commandments he gives us. We constantly must repent but as long as we endure to the end and do all he asks us to, including going to the temple and making more covenants, we can live with him again! Talking about where God lives or where the 3 Nephites are is really cool and can help us gain knowledge, however it isn't necessary for our eternal salvation. As long as we have balance in what we study and always keep those first principles of the Gospel in our hearts we will live our lives in the way God wants us to!

Alright well I have some fun stories to share with you guys as well! First of all, you know in the movie Brave the really fat kid who nobody can understand? He's one of the young guys that is trying to marry the main character girl I think. Well apparently he is speaking English with a super thick, old Scottish accent! So I'll definitely need your prayers if I ever get sent to Glasgow, Scotland because that's what I'll be trying to understand!! Another funny thing I heard about in the mission home that I forget to tell you all last week is a motto for one of the missions in Germany about 10 years ago. They said "We knock on doors here! Every door we knock on here is a baptism for a missionary in Mexico!" Haha I thought that was a pretty funny motto about missionary work in Europe in general. Another kinda funny thing I have had to get used to here is our missions version of "handshakes." In our mission we never shake hands with President Brown or with other missionaries, we only hug!! I thought it was kinda funny. All those hugs after family prayer prepared me for it though! hahaha

Well now for some of the crazier stories I already have. I already mentioned how obnoxious a lot of the kids are here, especially the boys that are around 12-14. We were walking around an estate doing some tracting and street contacting, and this group of boys started yelling and swearing at us, which sadly is pretty normal. But then they threw an apple at us! I guess that's pretty normal too, but it was the first time it happened to me. We just ignored them but then as we were knocking on a door, I got drilled by a bottle of soda that was half full! The kid took of running but wanted us to chase him. I had studied patience that morning and luckily I just let it go. Then at the next door the kid threw another bottle of soda at me! I caught this one and just stared at the kid, and my companion grabbed the bottle out of my hand. I wanted to drill the kid (the entire time this was going on he was was cussing and yelling and saying to us that God wasn't even real) but I didn't so that was good. Then the next day as we were walking down the street we got shot at by some dad and his kids with air soft guns!! One hit Elder Goldie but they didn't get me. We just kinda laughed at it and let it go. They said they were gonna shoot us and we just figured they were joking so we jokingly said back go for it, not thinking they actually would. So we kinda brought it upon ourselves I guess!

Now to answer all of your questions Mom! We shop at Aldi because it's a very cheap grocery store! We haven't been to the store I think you're talking about yet. We live on the very top floor! And I don't really think it smells at all, almost every house in town that isn't a members smells like cigarette smoke though. Luckily you aren't allowed to smoke in our flat! Our branch usually has around 35-40 people that come regularly, and a lot of less-active people. We meet in this office complex about a 40 minute walk from our flat. I don't know the address since for the most part there aren't any road names here. I'm still learning how to get around! It's really confusing.

Avery didn't explain what the pictures were so I'm guessing that they include his ferry ride over to Ireland and pictures outside his flat.  I know he said he can see the stadium from his flat & the Cathedral isn't too far away. 






Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ireland!

Hello Everyone!!!
I'm here on my first p-day in my first area! Mullingar, Ireland. It's a rural town in the middle of the Republic of Ireland, and my area covers a huge chunk. Some of the other neighboring cities we cover are Athlone, Tellamur, Longford, Trim, Portolaise, and Birr. I probably spelt that wrong but hopefully it can give you an idea of how big of an area me and my companion Elder Goldie cover. We don't have a car or bikes so the only way we can get to other cities is by bus, which costs about 20 euro everytime we go. I will be here for 2 moves (moves are every 6 weeks) so 3 months! My companion lives in California and has been out on his mission for 4 and half months! He is only 6 weeks out being trained himself and this is the first time he has been senior companion. Our flat is actually fairly nice! Our window overlooks a stadium where they play semi-pro Hurling and Gaelic Football! Hurling is like a mix of lacrosse and baseball and Gaelic Football is like a mix of soccer and football. So far I've only seen them play hurling but I'll let you know what Gaelic Football is like when a game is going on!

To get here I started on a bus and went from the MTC to the mission home in Edinburgh Scotland where I stayed the night there. We got to climb Arthur's Seat, which is where Orson Pratt would go to pray during his mission in 1840. Thursday, I then took a taxi to the bus station. Took the bus from Edinburgh to a town called Stranraer. Then from Stranraer we rode the ferry (which felt like a cruise ship) to Belfast, Northern Ireland. There some members picked us up and we stayed the night with them. Friday they dropped us off at the train station in Belfast. Took a train from Belfast to Dublin, and then we hopped on a train from Dublin to Mullingar!! We got in late friday afternoon!

So far I've been here 3 days and I have yet to teach a lesson! haha the people here just aren't very open to hearing the gospel I guess. There hasn't been a baptism here in 3 years and that one person who was baptized went inactive like right after. However I think me and my companion can change that! We do have one investigator that is doing very well. Elder Goldie and his last companion had been teaching him a little over a month before I got here, and they even had a baptismal date set up. He is from Nigeria where he used to play professional soccer. He just recently signed a 5 year contract with this soccer club that requires him to coach on Sundays during church, so that is the reason he can't be baptized yet. If he figures out a way to enable himself to come to church on Sundays our district leader will give us the okay to baptize him!! It would be awesome to have him be baptized and then hopefully we could teach all of his family. His wife right now doesn't want to hear the gospel because she is worried it will affect her kids futures in soccer. They are 8, 10, and 12 (i don't know their names) and all of them are very good in soccer. The 10 year old is the fastest kid in his age group in Ireland. I've also learned that a lot of people here like the Pubs! In preach my gospel it talks about how Saturdays and Sundays are the best time for proselyting because people are usually home with their families. However here Saturday is our worst day because everyone is at the pub the entire day! Then Sunday's people are nursing hangovers and don't want anything to do with us. On Sunday at church I got to meet everyone in the branch. It was good to see people here that care about the gospel! Our branch is very happy and very focused on the gospel. Now we just have to get them excited about missionary work! Our branch president understands it though so hopefully we can get the entire branch excited. We are trying to organize some activities so that members can invite out non-member friends. I got to bare my testimony and introduce myself and I tried to talk a lot on how important member missionary work is. Which by the way, you need to know how important it is too!! Knocking on doors and talking to people in the streets is very ineffective. I've been doing 3 days straight and the closest I've gotten to an actual gospel conversation is one guy told us about how he believes in Jesus and that he doesn't need to know anymore! 

President & Sis. Brown


"Pratt's Hill"

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Made it to England

This first week in the MTC has been amazing!! My MTC companion's name is Elder Kezele! He's from Twin Falls, Idaho and he just barely finished up high school before he came out here. He's also my district leader! He does a great job at it! Me and Elder Austin live in the same room together and are in the same district! (Scotty - his college roommate/baseball teammate, also from AZ, who just happened to get the same call/report date as Avery!)  It's crazy how we keep ending up in the same exact situations. My district is Awesome!!! One Elder who is learning english is from Albania, and he has the coolest accent ever! It reminds me of some kind of mobster or something like that. All of us in our district have picked up an Albanian accent before a british one!
So one of the cool experiences we get in place of going through a session at the temple (we can't go while we're here) is being a part of the first ever British Pageant! They've never done one over here before and it tells the story of the church in the British Isles. It's so cool to see and learn about the history of the church here. Elder Heber C. Kimball was the first apostle/missionary to come here along with his companion (I can't recall his name) who was not an apostle but was a missionary, and they baptized the first person from Great Britain right here in Preston England! They baptized almost 2000 people in the 8 months that he served here with just his comanion. I can't even believe how just two missionaries could baptize 2000 people in just 8 months!! Elder Kimball then came back later with all 12 of the other apostles and they preached the gospel all over, from London all the way to Scotland and Ireland. The people that were converted then gathered with the rest of the church in Nauvoo. They had such faith to just get up and leave everything they had and go to where they new they needed to be.
Another cool thing we get to do is go on a tour of all the church history places nearby. We did that this morning and we got see the river where Elder Kimball baptized the very first member in Great Britain. We also got to see where he stayed the night before that baptism. Elder Kimball said that on the night before that first baptism, him and his companions were awakened by some evil feeling. They looked at the wall across from their beds and could see thousands of the evil hosts of satan trying to get to them. He said they sat there for an hour and half praying to Heavenly Father to protect them. The vision went away and they were able to go to the river and baptize around 20 people. We also got to go and see the house where President Hinkley stayed when he was extremely discouraged during the first month of his mission, to the point that he wrote his father and said he just wanted to come home because no one would listen to him. The tour was so much fun and It was great to be able to get out of the MTC and back in the real world for a little! haha. I love the MTC, but being here with a ton of missionaries makes it feel like i'm still in America, and the tour was awesome because we were able to get out with the people and it felt ALOT more like England again!
I can't really think of anything else that I need to tell you guys other than its really weird to see cars on the wrong side of the road!!! haha, on a more serious note, my testimony has been strengthened so much in just the past week alone. It's amazing what the lord does for us missionaries who have been called and set apart to teach people about the gospel! I guess another reason my testimony is being strengthened so much is because we study the scriptures almost 4 hours everyday, on top of classes, teaching lessons, and listening to the MTC presidency speak the other 5 hours of the day! Haha that much spiritual learning will strengthen anyone's testimony! Well hopefully I'll email you guys soon!! I'm not sure if i'll get the chance next wednesday because I think I'll be spending the entire day traveling to Edinburgh! The next time you may hear from me i'll probably be in the field!! I can't wait to get out there!
I love all you guys and I hope I told you enough about what is going on!! (that part was mainly for mom) haha. The Church is True!!!!!!!
Pictures of Avery & Scotty in the MTC