Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nov. 11, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire, Christmas in the mission

Hello everyone!

This week was CHRISTMAS!!! We had the two half mission Christmas conferences, so it was a blast! Elder Petersen and i had to get there early each night before to set up half a bazillion trees and lights to make it a "Blair-y" Christmas, which was a party! The program had tons of music, lots of Christmas stories and testimonies, but my favorite part was when Luke 2 was read with someone playing Christmas songs in the background. It is so powerful to hear the story of the Saviors birth. Sometimes life can be crazy and we can get caught in the rush, but scriptures and music have a way of pulling us back down to reality.

We're beginning planning for 2018 for the missions goals which is a party in and of itself!! One thing I've learned these last few months is that there is a TON more that goes on behind the scenes than we realize in organizations!

This week we were finally able to get R. to church!!!!!! He texted us the morning of and said he couldn't come, but Elder Petersen went and stopped by while I stayed for Ward Counsel with one of the other Manchester Elders, and Elder Petersen was able to encourage him to come, and he stayed for all three hours! I'm speaking next week so we made him promise to come again then, with G., D., and A. We also had a really awesome and brilliant 10 year old kid named D. come, along with his mom and two younger brothers. The Ward did a great job of saying hi and making then feel welcome, and they had a great time! They want to keep coming as well! We also ran into one of our past investigators who had been close to getting baptized before, and he wants to start learning again! We aren't sure how far that'll go because of really rough family pressure, but who knows!?

Over all, it was a great week! I love to see people come to church and progress! :) 

Love you all and Merryyyyyyyy Christmas!
Elder Hunter Branch

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nov. 4, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Merry Christmas!

This week was pretty good, Mission Leadership Conference on Tuesday was good as usual. We were in a parade this week and it was pretty funny. In a two hour long Christmas parade, we were the ONLY float themed on Jesus Christ! Our float was a nativity and we handed out #LightTheWorld advent calendars. If you haven't heard of that yet, check it out! It's a worldwide initiative to do service each day leading up to Christmas! Elder Petersen and I were talking to people on the sides of the road and handing stuff out, and ended up getting left by the float!! 😂 We just walked along after that and asked people if they had seen our float and talked about how it was the only one about the real meaning of Christmas.

One really sad experience was as we were walking back to our car we encountered a man, his young son, and the boys friends. We talked to them and got a lukewarm from the dad who said they were another Christian faith. As we talked to the kids about Christmas we asked them if they knew what Christmas is all about and the first things they said surprised me. People always talk about how Christmas is really commercialized, but people and kids I've met have always known it is all about Jesus Christ. These kids however all shouted out things like: toys, gifts, money, Santa, and food! We told them about how it is because we're celebrating Jesus's birthday and they were clueless. Thanks mom and dad for teaching me the true meaning of Christmas! :)

I hope we all remember to love and serve others this season to honor Christ and His example to us as our Savior.

So, R. and G. played football with us on Thanksgiving. They couldn't make it to church this week, but D., G.'s younger sister who is a junior, came and she brought a friend! They both had a great time and D. wants to keep working towards baptism. It is great to see them all slowly making changes! :)

Love you all!
Elder Hunter Branch

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nov. 27, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello and happy Thanksgiving! 

Hope your having a great week! We had a great week and saw some awesome progression, but no one ended up making it to church! Haha, you can't win them all. We'll try extra hard for that this week! :)

Also, saying we had no one at church isn't quite true. We found a less active sister whose family we're teaching now, and she came to church! She is from the D.R. and is awesome! She was baptized as a teen and hasn't been in forever! We met her on the street, brought her a Spanish Book of Mormon and she is doing great. Between her family and a few other we've met at her house (an amazing 10 year old named D. who is a genius and is super exited to learn, as well as a teen named O. who is pretty excited to come to church this next week) it has been a goldmine!

This week we went on exchange with a bunch of missionaries!

Nashua: Elder Collins (who replaced me in Exeter) and I had a great time, where we taught a lot, and talked to everyone we had time to and found a couple awesome people who want to learn.

Exeter: This was fun to be back in my old area!

I went with Elder Augir and had a good exchange. We didn't get to go see many people I knew, but we got to see some great people and promised some amazing things like health if they committed to pray and ask God to help them make it to church on a set date, as well as a promise they could quit smoking if
they read the Book of Mormon everyday for the rest of the year. We also had
an awesome experience with a less active dad and his family! We had dinner with them, helped prep for thanksgiving (first time sticking my hand in a turkey skin, that was exciting!), and shared a powerful thanksgiving/Restoration message! The family really felt the spirit. They plan to check out church soon! God really does direct this work!

Peterborough: I went with Elder Spadafora, who just left Manchester!

We tried to talk to people, but it was on the streets of a small, wealthy downtown on Black Friday, and I don't know if I've had a harder time getting people to talk!! We were knocking on car windows, sharing the #lighttheworld video, talking to people on the street and shops, and just NO ONE would have it! It was insane, it humbled me with finding for sure! We talked about why and talked about finding good finding atmospheres. Rich, Black Friday, dusk, and cold were not a good mix, especially using a new finding tool of light the world and transitioning to Book of Mormon and Restoration. We eventually found one really cool lady at Dunkin Donuts, thank goodness! Not everyone you meet is nice, even when you're just being a pal and spreading Jesus, but that's ok, it makes it exciting! ;)

Thanksgiving was great, aside from the seasonal allergies after playing football. We had two really cool guys we're teaching come to the game and they had a really good Time! They are both young, so it was huge to just get to connect. On top of that our team won, so good times!

On a sad note, we stopped teaching Carol who was going to get baptized. I'll spare you the details and just say things didn't work out there. It's sad and hard sometimes to be a missionary, but that's only when you lose sight for a second of how amazing the work you're doing is! :) There are so many amazing people we're teaching right now who are wanting to change their lives. :)

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

Zone p-day activity

Thanksgiving dinner with the awesome Collett Family - thank you!

Boxed water while on exchanges

Thanksgiving with the Blair's

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nov. 20, 2017 Happy Thanksgiving!


So this week I was sick ALL WEEK! It was rough, but luckily I think this is the first week since being in Manchester that we didn't have some sort of important meetings, so it was well timed, except for that we had been really excited to have the chance to work!

Tuesday we went up to Maine and went on exchange. I was already sick but decided to ignore it, which worked until we had to call President Blair for something, and then when they heard my voice they told me to go buy medicine and go to bed! It's a good thing we have adults to help all us rookies out!! ;) That morning though on exchange, the four of us set goals for the day. We started with each companionship wanting to find 4 new people to teach, then since that would be 8, we decided why not 10!? We went out into the cold on foot and talked to everyone, and by lunch at 12:45 (we got Chick-fil-a all together) we had found 10 people already!!! We decided to keep going and by the end of the day we found 14 new people to teach (each companionship found 7!) It was a crazy cool miracle because usually not everyone and their dog is dying to talk to the Mormons! (Which is still a wonder to me, I think we look pretty good!) I was on exchange with Elder N. and we had a great time. We stopped and talked to people with ear buds in, people on the corners, people just walking out of houses, and we even got the information for a mail lady who was still in her mail car! :) We were just pleasant, joked around a ton with people, and made lots of friends!

The rest of the week was a lot of sleep, medicine, office time (I couldn't do much else), and a couple of lessons. We had some of the nearby missionaries go on exchange with us so one could stay with me while Elder Petersen went out and worked.

I'm glad to report that I'm feeling better now and C. has her baptismal interview tonight at 6! :) She has her baptismal date coming up soon so keep her in your prayers!

Hope you all have a great week! Happy Thanksgiving, I'm so grateful for all of you!
Elder Hunter Branch :)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nov. 11, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire - happy birthday!!!

Hello all!

This week we switched p-day to Saturday so we could go to the Temple in Boston with M! It was a really cool experience! They had us do a ton of baptisms and confirmations, for our group and the group before us, and it was great to get to spend some time there! :) M. loved how pretty it was, and I have to agree! The coolest miracle was that as we were just getting there, who walks in behind us but S., my first mission Convert!!!! :) It has been a year now and he and E. were there getting sealed, or married for time and eternity! We both had to run, so no time for a picture, but it was great to say hi and give him a big hug! :)

This week was a chaotic one, but that is the story of transfers! It is cool to see some missionaries who I got to pick up at the airport, now becoming District Leaders or trainers!

We have started listening to lots of Christmas music now! ;) I am on the side that Christmas music is always game, especially right after Halloween is past! I know some of you will probably have other feelings about when it's okay to listen to Christmas music, and maybe you have a point, I just haven't found it yet! ;) 

We have pretty free weeks the next two, so we're excited to get to work hard! We have a bunch of fun ideas for Christmas so now it's go time on figuring them out! :)

As many of you know, my Grandma passed away yesterday. It was interesting timing because today is my Birthday, and just last week Elder Petersen's mom had a new baby boy. I've been thinking a lot about life and how it comes and goes, and how I'm so grateful for God's plan for us all. It puts everything in perspective and makes sense. I'm also grateful for the Book of Mormon and the testimony it has given me of life after death and of Jesus Christ's atonement for us all, to help us feel joy! :) We have been memorizing "The Living Christ" document as a missionary and I want to end just how that does, "God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

Elder Hunter Branch :)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nov. 6, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello everyone!

It is crazy that another transfer has come and gone. Elder Petersen and I were talking last night about the beginning of our missions compared to now, and it is amazing the difference. The beginning of missions can be really hard and lonely, but they are also so fun and new! Everything you encounter is new, you have a lot more time to learn and study, and you're just beginning to become a missionary. It was hard, but also one of the best times of my life! The people back in Exeter were so great! There were some amazing members in the Ward who changed my life forever, as well as those like C. and S. who got baptized who are both just incredible, and many others who I got to meet, who learned about and are still learning about the Church, who I love so much! The missionaries I served around were also great examples and friends. I'm so grateful for the chance to serve! :)

This week has gone well! We taught some amazing families, one who especially made me happy. That was R. I met him a few months back when on exchange with Elder Hall. He is in his 20's, really likes bass in his car, and loves to joke around. We taught him some and he seemed interested, but didn't respond to texts or calls. Elder Bester and I saw him once, but it had been a while. We decided to stop by this week and he was surprised to see us! We joked around for a while to get reacquainted, then read 1 Nephi 1 with him. Part way through, a 16 year-old cousin walked in. He was surprised to see people reading scriptures in his house, and said he hadn't read them, but asked what we do and then we were able to get him to finish the chapter with us! Then as we were closing up, another cousin who is 17 walked in! She had met us before and we were able to teach her some and have her say the closing prayer! We scheduled a solid return appointment, and then as we left, R. followed us outside. His countenance had changed from how it was when we first got there and he thanked us for teaching his cousins. He was a little emotional and said he had had Jesus Christ in his life before and needed to get back to it, but that those two hadn't. He was so grateful we taught then about it while making it cool and fun. It is awesome to see how the gospel really does bless families and bring happiness!

C. came to church and seems to be doing well! We are so blessed to be teaching her! We're also planning on going to the temple this week with M! She got her Temple Recommend and were going to shoot for the 11th! When she came out of her interview she joked around with is and said, "I passed the test!" :) She usually is more reserved, so it was fun to see her crack a joke!

A., the man who is a member and had stopped coming to church for the last year or two, came to church for his second week in a row, and he dressed up in a sweet suit this time! He was looking good! It is cool to see how people change so much just by living the gospel! I love the quote, "A suit doesn't make a man, but it can greatly improve his appearance." :) The suit didn't make him, it was the gospel back in his life that made A... but the suit did make him look spiffy!

Elder Petersen and I are staying together this transfer which will be sweet! We're hoping we stay next transfer as well, as it is right before Christmas! President Blair has tried to start working on that one to minimize changes right before the holiday, but he wouldn't tell us until that week anyway, so we'll see! It would be the first time for both of us that we would have a companion for three transfers.

This week we've had a big emphasis on the Book of Mormon for some reason, and I just wanted to testify that I know the Book of Mormon is true! You just have to read it.

Love you all!
Elder Hunter Branch :)

We had breakfast at our apartment with the other Elders in our district this morning. Elder Spadafora is leaving

Monday, October 30, 2017

Oct. 30, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello everyone!!

This week we had MLC on Tuesday and then exchanges the rest the week!

One crazy experience this week was on exchange with a new missionary. One of the people we're teaching called and told us about how he had talked to his Pastor about us and his Pastor had told him the classic few things that people use to talk bad about the Church that are all lies or misunderstandings (us believing that we have to work our way to heaven is one example [Answer: Mosiah 3:12 "...For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ." That's all we have to say about that!]) So we talked to this man and answered his questions, and then he told us his Pastor would like to meet with us to talk. It was interesting because the natural response could have been yes, which would have led into a big Bible Bash that wouldn't have done either of us any good. Instead the spirit guided me to say very sternly that we would love to meet with his Pastor, but not until he had done his research. We have read the Bible, the same one his Pastor reads, and we believe in it, but the Pastor was making fictitious claims that would easily be resolved if he were to do what he should have and read the Book of Mormon before trying to attack it. We talked more about that and I was able to very lovingly but boldly testify to our investigator that I know the Book of Mormon is true and that he needed to read it and ask God if he wants to know if it is true as well. 

After the conversation the new missionary was pretty surprised because he had never seen any missionary be so bold to their investigator, but it was pretty cool because we stood for the truth firmly but respectfully, and the Spirit was there with us to testify.
Elder Petersen had a lesson with that man later that day, and when they arrived, he was listening to the Book of Mormon on his computer!

We have an awesome lady named C. who has a baptismal date for Dec 2nd! She called us, and has been to church a few times over the past 10 years and has almost gotten baptized but things came in the way, and now she is ready to finally get baptized! :) It is awesome to see how happy she is with everything! She came to the Halloween party and had the best time, and she thought church was great and was just so happy! The gospel is a happy thing! :)

Love you all, have a great week!!!!
Elder Branch :)

Exchanges and p-day activities from the last little while...

Our activity for the Ward Halloween Party