Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Apr. 24, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine - Transfers...


So, transfers have come again but I get to stay here in Ellsworth! Elder Powell will be heading over to Lamoille Vermont and I will be receiving a new companion, Elder Dayley! It’s always sad to have a companion leave, I’ll miss Elder Powell for sure! Elder Dayley is from Idaho and I know him a little, so I’m excited to get to know him better!

We had a great week again. :) Some good exchanges (one in Machias [near the most Eastern part of the continental United States] and they had really good Mexican food! There are some workers who come up to pick blueberries and they opened a little take out place!)

K. came to church and we accidentally scared her this week by sending her a spiritual video that had a snake in it, and unbeknownst to us, she HATES snakes! It’s ok, she survived though.

A lady who hasn’t come to church in a long time who we’ve been visiting came to church! Her daughter who’s in her 20’s who isn’t a member came as well! It was great to have them there for the first time in years, and they loved being back! :) She Plans to come again next week.

J. is good! He usually has lots of questions when we go to meet, but this time he just said, “Tell me more about your church!” He loved church last week, plans to come check it out more, and his big thing is he wants a family centered church. Well, welcome to the right place! ;)

N. had to watch kids this Sunday, but he’s also doing super well! He said he can’t be at church every Sunday right now, but definitely every other! We had a great lesson together too. Back when we had our first visit, he said he just wanted to check out the church for support and wasn’t going to convert, now he’s reading and praying about the Book of Mormon to see if this really is Christ church on the earth again.

P. was out of town (which we didn’t know) so we were afraid we were losing him. He sent us a really nice text though and is still going strong.

We met the coolest young married couple the other day! We usually find several new people to visit each week, some who start to go places, and others who we struggle to see again, but of all we found last week, these two definitely got me the most excited! Hopefully we’ll be seeing them again tomorrow!

There are tons of Jamaicans moving into Bar Harbor to work for the summer. Last week we went to an appointment with a cool young guy but he couldn’t meet then, but as we walked down the street there was an apartment that just had the screen door closed and were blasting some hip-hop. Elder Powell and I went right over and crashed the party! We talked to a lady who is working here, but who’s family is back in Jamaica, and she turned the music right off. We had a great time getting to know her and as we taught she was so excited to learn more about Jesus Christ’s ministry in America as well! At the end we all knelt to pray and she called over to one of her roommates who was on the phone, telling her to hang up and come join in prayer! We should all have that attitude in inviting others to the Lord! :)

Today for a final Pday with Elder Powell we got permission to get up early so we could catch the sunrise in Acadia! It was awesome! We hiked all morning and went a little over 10 miles! 

Hope you all have a great week,
Love, Elder Branch

Monday, April 16, 2018

Apr. 16, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine


Sorry, this week will have to be quick, we had Zone Pday.

K. and two new people came to church!!!!! :D     N. who we met this week, who like P. last week rejected us at first but then changed his mind as we causally talked, came to church! He loved it, said it was even better than he thought! He knew K. actually and sat by her in Sunday School. We had a lesson with a member on Wednesday with J. who watched General Conference, and he had tons of questions as usual. The member did a great job inviting him to church. He told him over and over, “come and see.” J. thought about it all week and I almost cried as I was standing there talking with N. who showed up early, and looked down the hall to see J. walking in! 😊 And right behind him was a less active member who we’ve been working with! Wow, there are a lot of exclamation points in there, but nothing makes me more happy than people showing up for church! :) Same for the ward! Because of the new people at church and all we’ve done with quick visits, memorizing all the kids and youths names, and other things, 8 men from the ward came up and asked if they could come teach with us this week!! Another texted last night to confirm a meal appointment this week and said he’s free to come teach any time we want him! We also have members feeding us every day this week, as well as a few who we had to ask to do next week instead! Haha, ya, life rocks! ;)

Elder Powell and I both gave talks Sunday, as well as taught sharing time in primary so it was a BUSY Sunday! It reminded me of teaching my primary class of 6 and 7 year-olds back home and I just wanted to tell any of them who’s families read my letters that I love each of them and miss them a ton! ❤️

I was SO PROUD of our ward!! Members came and met both our new friends at church, and invited our friends to sit with them. If people don’t feel welcomed at church, they won’t want to come back, it’s as simple as that!

P. is doing well, he is so excited to learn and try it out. We taught him this week and when we asked to leave with a prayer, he remembered from the first time we visited, and was kneeling down on the floor before we were! 😂     D. is good, we’re seeing him tomorrow. We don’t think he, as well as two of our solid families, really understand what it means if we come to know the Book of Mormon is true. We’ll work on that. :)

It’s the last week of the transfer and I only have two more full ones (and a month at the end but then I have to come home 2 weeks early for school) which makes me want to cry! I love it out here.

I love the words of a song by The National Parks called “Wherever I go”. It says, “And when everything is different, some things never change. It’s the light in the eyes and the love that stays the same... And wherever I go, I’m home.”

Elder Branch :)

Monday, April 9, 2018

Apr. 9, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine - The Hope of God's Light


Well, we have officially had snow now for 6 months of the year, hooray for Maine! The word on the streets is there are one or more storms left... honestly it just makes it easier to talk to people by joking about the snow and anyone will laugh cause it’s so ridiculous!

We had E, K, and D at church again! D had been off the map for a bit but we met with him this week, he came to church, and he’s praying about baptism in June. We have two families were still working with who want to come this Sunday! We are so hopeful!! :)

We had some AMAZING experiences this week. We have a family who we were able to teach a powerful restoration to this week. We offered to say the opening prayer while inviting the mom to give the closing prayer. She was nervous but we taught her how to pray at the start and let her know we’d teach her again at the end. We gave an overview of what we’d share, used scriptures, asked questions, and that's when the dad came out from the shower (that’s where he was when we started) and started making noise, popped open a bottle, plopped down on the couch and interrupted the lesson. We told him we were right in the middle of a really important lesson but that we’d love for him to join us. He did. They know they need to ask God if the message we shared it true, and they are excited for us to return. They missed church this week cause of a sick child and work, but we plan to teach the Plan of Salvation and keeping the sabbath day holy this week and help them come to church! :)

We had another miracle where a man (P) let us in and told us he wasn’t interested in our message, but his parents were always rude to or avoided missionaries, which he didn’t think was right. We thanked him and had a great conversation. He is a very very good man and loves his kids. He has a religious background and knows he should be going to a church. He asked us if we have ever questioned our faith, as well as how can God let bad things happen to good people. I asked Elder Powell what he though and Elder Powell did a great job talking about agency. I shared Alma 14 with him about the people who were thrown into a fire when they obeyed the words of Alma and Amulek. P understood and seemed to be slightly comforted. We shared one of my favorite quotes from Life of Pi, which says “Doubt is not the absence of faith, but an element of it.” We explained if our doubt turns us away from God, then we are crippling ourselves. If it turns us to him in question, study, and prayer, then we will grow closer to Him. We shared a bit about the restoration with P and then showed him the Mormon message, The Hope of God’s Light. 

In it, a man is reached out to by his friend, telling him that God wants him on his side. The man works for 2 years then finally receives another spiritual confirmation. P thought it was a great message, then we told P that the most important part was when the man received a spiritual confirmation for himself. P said he though it would be hard not to believe after the first experience the man had with his friend. The spirit spoke to me and I asked P, “Well, what is the difference between that man’s friend calling him and God sending us to you when you are looking for a church and have questions?” P paused and said really nothing was different, and he had thought that too. P then rushed over and found a piece of paper and pen, wrote down his name and number, and asked us if we would please come back. He told us all about his schedule and we’re going to see him this week. It was such an amazing experience! :)

God truly know each of us and is there whenever we feel like letting him in. Have faith, and use it to see a miracle. If you don’t act on your faith nothing will happen, but if you do, God will be there.

Elder Branch :)

Exchanges in Rockland

District p-day a few weeks back

Last p-day

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018 Happy Easter in Ellsworth, Maine

Happy Easter!

What a General Conference! As they said, “One thing constant in the Lord's Church is change.” The vital things for all people of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and Receiving the Holy Ghost never do, but as people change many other aspects are put in to best meet Gods children’s needs. I love the devotional “What is the Blueprint of Christ’s Church” by Tad R. Callister, which likens the church to a house.

This week was busy! Exchanges Tuesday were good! We got to work with members and they are awesome! We continued our Easter egg thing and the members have loved it. Wednesday we met a lady who hasn’t been to the church in years. She lives with some family and 2 of her grandchildren and her 8 year-old grandson came to the Easter Celebration! We had a meeting in Vermont for all the new missionaries which was awesome! It is nice to be back on the learning rather than presenting sides of those meetings, there is always so much more to learn! On the way back our car had bald tires we realized and had to wait for a couple hours, until it was determined that we could switch cars with some Elders in Manchester. We only made it half the way home that night and had to crash with some other Elders on the way. The next day was a blur as we got back and prepped for the Easter Celebration! We had lots to get ready, and had a meeting to video call into p, but we finished everything! We even got tablecloths and center decorations for the tables (we thought the Relief Society would be impressed by that, not bad for some young punks like us!) When 6:00pm came there were only two families there! I was pretty sad and thought it was just going to be us, but then 6:15 rolled around and the peloton arrived! We had that family I talked about earlier as well as an investigator and her family, and a bunch of the ward there! We ended up needing all 9 tables we set up, so it was a win for sure!! :) The moms especially loved it because they didn’t have to risk getting dye in their houses with the Easter eggs we dyed! 😂 Only one spill happened, and it was an easy clean. 👍

Conference went well and a few people watched it. E is doing ok, but we think he's struggling with stopping smoking. K is awesome, she took our challenge to read the “Nephite Easter” of 3 Nephi 9-26 in the Book of Mormon. J. also watched Conference during work and we met his wife today which was great!

About a month and a half ago I met his little family who was having a baby THAT DAY and were headed to the hospital. We fell out of contact and were just able to swing by before Sunday morning conference. We got to meet the 6 week old baby now and are teaching them again this week.

Preach my gospel says missionary work is the “most compelling” of any work and I know that’s true.

Elder Hunter Branch :)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mar. 26, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine

Hello family and friends!

We have district p-day today and are going to Acadia, so I’ll have to make this a quick one. E cut his hair!!! He looks so great! Smoking is still a work in progress. K is great too, we’ve started sharing chapters with her and teaching over FB. D has still backed off. We have a couple new families and old families we’ve followed up with like the C's and N's who are really interested and ready to go. J. read all of 1 Nephi but still has lots of questions.

Midway through the week we decided to have a get together at the church on the 30th for a message and to dye Easter eggs! We have a bunch of members coming and a few less actives. We’re working on getting more people we’re teaching to come, and the members are inviting friends! :) When members invite friends to come and see, miracles happen. The success in sharing the gospel isn’t in if they accept, it’s in the invitation. Do you invite them because you love them or because someone told you to? Do you do it lovingly? Do you do it with the plan to still be their friend whether they accept or not? Do you talk about the gospel naturally? These are what make inviting friends to learn about the church a joy.

I love the song “If the Savior stood beside me”. The song, as many of you know, is about how or if we would live differently if the Savior was with us. The second verse says...
If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel? Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

I noticed the importance of a line in there recently that I’ve never thought about too much, and one that I know I could improve on from who I was before my mission, “Would I try to share the gospel?” I think most those other things in the song I would specifically try to do each day, and I’d always hope for the chance to share the gospel, but did I actually try to share it myself? I was excited for the opportunity to come along, but that’s not enough! I love the thought of trying to share the gospel with the savior at my side, and I’m grateful that’s how it truly is. :)

We’ve been doing a thing with the ward where we open an Easter egg with a scripture and related object inside, and the ward loves it! For those we can’t visit, we post a picture each day on the ward FB page with the family who did it, so others can follow along. The ward loves it and it’s helping us draw a lot closer to them. :)

Love you all and happy Easter!
Elder Branch :)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Mar. 19, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine


Boots. They are pretty awesome. I think I've worn my snow boots more this last week than I have dress shoes because of all the snow we've gotten. It's awesome!

This week was good! We made treats and took them around to investigators who we were out of contact with which went well!

We found some really cool people and a few families, so that was great! We had to plan a lot with a new transfer, Easter, and finding or dropping people we're teaching. I don't like planning, but it's a good skill to have I guess. My angel mom would try to get me to plan or make lists back home and the concept never made it through to me, but now I understand she is a genius!

E. has quit smoking, so let's hope he can keep it up! He's come to all 3 hours of church for a month straight now! K. hadn't really been progressing much since she was nervous to meet in person and wanted to do her own journey (she has been coming to church for a few months by herself) so we decided if something didn't happen where we could help more, we would have to drop her on Sunday. We came into the day fasting, and then at the end of Sacrament Meeting the Sunday School Teachers had to leave cause they were sick so we had to teach all of a sudden! It went really well! We are doing this nifty thing for Easter and are scheduling members to visit and do it with (more to come next week on that) and so we asked K. if we could do it with her and her family too. We ended up talking with her all the way through 3rd hour and long story short, she told us her story, agreed to take the lessons online, and we discussed baptism! I love how miracles come as a result of faith acted upon. :)
We missed seeing D. this week because of crazy schedules but we hope to see him again soon. The funeral is coming up so we're praying for him.

Life is going well though. More snow this week, and the temperature dropped again, but that's the way we like it!

Elder Branch :)

Serving on pday ;)

I forgot in my email, 
but we did a family history night 
for the youth this Wednesday!

This was us clearing out a path to the church before. 

Cars were grounded Tuesday so we walked. 

Still coming down Wednesday morning. 

The new district after transfers :)

Our pday hike, Blue Hill.