Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mar. 13, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine


It has been a wild week! With snow storms, partridge people, stage preforming, lost keys, returning to Newport, and so much more, this has been a full week!

I think I'll do a day by day breakdown this time.
P-day, great time hiking in Acadia!! :) We also met some guys there who were our age while hiking who were pretty cool then one of them started trying to mess with us for being Mormons. We were able to clear up some misconceptions, and call him out for getting his "facts" about Mormons from Southpark and some other media. His friends thought it was pretty funny when we called him out.

Exchanges and I went back to Newport! Elder Glenn from my MTC room is one of our Zone Leaders there so it was nice to be with him too. We had a great day and talked to some awesome people. Seeing a few members was really fun again!! It feels great to see people you love and have them be so excited to see you again too! :) Elder Glenn and I talked a bunch and one thing we talked about really hit me and I've thought about it a lot. Sometimes it's easy to be hard on yourself as a missionary and focus on all the small things that you need to be so much better. Elder Glenn said something along the lines of, the Lord probably thinks of our missions just as much for us as for the people we're teaching. I love that. As long as we're trying our best and doing what we should, it's okay if we aren't perfect. That's no permission to start doing less than we are, rather it should encourage us to keep trying and working as we make mistakes and fall short.

Elder Powell and I had a good day and worked hard. We got to teach D. who is making great progress. It was his first formal sit down lesson, and he accepted a invitation to be baptized as he comes to know its true. E is also doing well, he decided to stop smoking and drinking coffee on the 15th! Pray for him! :)

Ok, this is when things got wild. The Machias (furthest east branch of the church in the USA btw [aka first ones to see the sun rise each day in the country]) elders came down and we worked. Because of the snow storm we weren't allowed to drive, but we walked all over! Elder Gardner and I met a cool guy with what he said was a partridge/grouse in his yard. He was a real mountain man and was super grateful for a copy of the Book of Mormon! 

We also met a new person to start teaching above a bar. Working in the snow is actually one of my favorite things! People usually are pretty nice when you bring a shovel and do service. We also carried around a white board in the snow and got 14 people to write on it what brings them peace. It was a fun way to talk to people! Would have sent a picture of the board but one of the elders smudged it all before I could get a picture. :'(
On the way back though I was talking about things that are fun and decided to jump into some snow. After a few jumps, Elder Gardner decided he'd try it out too. We put things like our tag and such in pockets that could zip. We jumped in the snow from like 9:10-9:29 as we walked back to our apartment. We even found some swings to launch off of! :)

We headed out to District Meeting and the Machias elders called saying they couldn't find their keys... We took them to district Meeting, cancelled our exchange with the Belfast Elders, and spent the whole day searching for their keys. Apparently the keys hadn't been put somewhere secure when we were jumping the night before. We borrowed a metal detector and shoveled snow for hours, but never found the keys.

The new vehicle coordinator couple (the Trainers) drove up and brought spare keys. It was soooooooo nice of them to do that! It is a 4.5 hour drive from Manchester, so we made them cookies to say thanks that morning while getting ready. Later that day we had a ward talent show which went really well. E came, brought a dessert, and enjoyed the show! :) The Trainers stayed for the talent show and Elder Trainer helped Elder Powell and I close out the show with "called to serve" :)

E. and K. came, D. couldn't cause he was sick. We took him some food though which made him happy. :)

Transfer calls, Elder Powell and I are staying which is great! All the other Elders have someone leaving, and a new one coming. Elder Donn who I served by at the beginning of my mission will be in my District which will be so fun! :)
It was going to be a normal day of missionary work, so we were on exchange with Belfast, but because of the storm coming today they made the last couple hours preparation. Elder Powell and I were caught up so we went hiking for the couple hours we had on a trail someone told us about. It was sweet!

So, lots happened!! I'm excited to keep going and see how the changes take us!
Love you all! :)

Acadia - Beehive Trail

Cars grounded - p day

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Mar. 5, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine

Hello everyone!

So as you heard the North East had a crazy storm this last week, but upper, coastal Maine seemed to avoid most of it! We had some wind, but it wasn't anything special. No rain or anything even! Bummer, sorry for the let down! ;) Southern Maine had some flooding, but nothing remarkable here.

This week went well! We had a new person at church! His name is D. He had been dating a past member of the church who was still very friendly with the church, loved the missionaries, and wanted to get back into it. She had moved down to Florida for the summer and sadly passed away down there. D. was down there visiting her last week and had just come back when he received the news that she passed away. This week on exchange Elder Petersen (not my former comp) and I prayed that we could meet some solid people to teach. We walked out the door and the first person we met was D. He didn't respond to a hello, or a how are you doing, but when I complimented his coat, he stopped, smiled, and said thanks. I asked him where he got it, he told me, then he said he liked my talk last Sunday! I was confused because I hadn't met him, but he said he had been praying for his girlfriend and decided to stop in at church. He came late and left early so I never saw him last week. We shared Alma 40

(...the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.)

with him on the street, gave him a hug, and prayed for him. He then came to church this Sunday and had a great experience. A member knew him and they talked for half an hour after sacrament meeting, laughing and crying. I think D.'s awesome! :)

E. is doing well too, he came to all 3 hours of church for the first time! He's planning to be baptized the end of April. He read all of 1 Nephi and really learned from it! :)

We still have a long way to go, but it seems the ward really likes us, and we love them! We're getting into more of their homes to share quick messages or have dinner, which is great! :)

Thanks for all your love and support,
Elder Branch :)

Bud the dog

12 week training - 
watching The District

Monday, February 26, 2018

Feb. 26, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine Once again, thank you awesome Scout Leaders!!

Hello everyone!!

We had Zone p-day today and so I'll have to be quick. Last p-day after emailing we went out to Acadia and had an awesome time!!!

So this week we have worked really hard and found some more really great people. We worked on getting people to church but many had to cancel last minute. The two steadies, E. and K. came to church, which was really good! Kelley had been coming to church, but was closed to missionaries. We have started using FB messages to talk more and have gained a much better connection! :)

We got some members to come teach with us which was awesome! We also have built a lot more Ward trust and I got to give a talk in church. It was about how Scouting prepares young men to serve missions. I love scouts so it was a great topic. I got kind of emotional a few times as I told scouting stories, mission stories, and shared scriptures. :) It was great to see their excitement for missionary work and scouting. We've been considering how to get closer to the ward and have some great ideas that seem to be helping. :)

For district meeting we have become pretty creative, and this weeks update on our district goal even included nerf guns, balloons, and sharp objects, everything you need for a successful goal update. ;)

We are doing well and are optimistic that things are continually on their way up. :)

One fun story this week was Sunday night we knocked on a apartment door. Their neighbor thought we were knocking on theirs, and opened their door, felt silly when they saw we were at the neighbors, and closed their door. Of course, we went right over and knocked their door next!! We got to meet the young couple that lived there and are going back this week to teach them more. We have a goal to find 40 new people to teach in Feb. and are looking like we'll make it! :)

Love you all!!
Elder Branch :)

Brother R. took us to breakfast - the nicest guy!

I've been growing that plant for over a year, 
but he's been dropped and smashed a few times, 
so I've had to cut off like 7 of his arms. 

We met some people with a barn and animals.

Zone p-day activity

Acadia National Park

Jumping over the wheelchair for kicks.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Feb. 19, 2018 in Ellsworth, ME

Things are looking up here! 

We have had a great week finding, we started teaching 16 new people! It's always a struggle to stay in contact with people when you find a lot, but we're excited with the potential it brings! None of them came to church, but we did have two others come. I really am looking forward to having some new faces come with us! Wards get excited when they see missionaries bring new people to church - they're supportive and great!  :) 

Life is continuing to settle. It feels like things are going a million miles an hour with how many ways our attention is pulled, between finding more people so our area is productive, teaching, planning, studying and practicing lessons, helping other struggling missionaries, and keeping life together. It is all starting to improve, but there is still a lot to be done. :) The trickiest but most interesting part of life is that lots of things depend on other people and their choices. And, to other people, we are their "other people"! 

We had an amazing experience this week teaching a man named G. who we found last week. He is from Jamaica and we met him at an indoor soccer field. We taught him on the sidelines about the restoration which really excited him. He desired to learn more and even said he would probably read in the Book of Mormon that night so he could see if it was true! :) We have a had a hard time getting back in contact with him, but we'll stop by this week and see him. 

We met some amazing people this week, one with an autistic son, one family who were going to head to the hospital in an hour so the mom could get induced to have a baby, and others in different stages of life. We met two 19 year-olds who could really benefit from the message we share, a young couple who were disillusioned with religions proselytizing but realized we're regular people and could benefit their family, and even an older lady who has kids who are members of the church and had heard some false information. I have come to know that God really has a plan for us, and no matter what is going on in life, if we do what he asks, we can help others change their lives. This week wasn't all easy though. Yesterday Elder Powell and I invited 12 people to learn who said no, and tried to invite others who slammed doors or turned and walked away. One thing was in common with all those people. They had never heard the true message of the restored gospel and tried to find out for themselves if it was real. 

I know for myself it is. I love to tell people we meet that as missionaries we are here to invite and to help. We don't force things on people. If you just listen to what we say, you'll never know if it's true. Rather, we invite you to find out for yourself, from God, if what we share is true. Listening to Him is a lot more reliable than two 20 year-olds you met on the street. 😊

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Feb. 12, 2018 in Ellsworth, Maine

Hello hello hello!!

Well this has been a good week. It was good to meet more members and find some people. It is pretty intimidating to do something so new with so many unknowns, but things are calming down now.

We had Zone Conference this week and it was nice to be back on the learning side. :) We went on exchange in Skowhegan, because the coast was going to get blasted with snow. We went out in the storm in Skowhegan and had a great time! Missionary work in the snow is the best, people think we're crazy, but then it's really fun to say something dumb about us going out in the snow and get them to laugh. We found 10 new people to teach that day in Skowhegan between the two companionships!

Our area is getting moving too. We had one person come to church and we found a few new ones to teach. My favorite person we found this week was a man named G. We went out to Bar Harbor and went to contact someone the old missionaries had talked too. The first house we knocked on (cause we were lost) had a woman inside who looked at us then walked away. ☹️ The second one was a nice Jamaica lady who said the guy we were looking for went back to Jamaica, and no, she wasn't interested. We felt like we should go to an apartment on a a side street and knocked a door. A young Jamaica guy (G.) answered the door and we talked for a while. Eventually he asked what we door and Elder Powell said we teach people about Jesus. G. opened the door wide then, invited us in, and apologized for keeping us waiting. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy to read. We're going to go visit tomorrow night, and then go play soccer with him and meet some of his friends. :)

Love you all and hope you have a great week.
Elder Branch :)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Feb. 6, 2018 Last few days in Manchester, New Hampshire and first few days in Ellsworth, Maine

Hello all!

I'm super out of time, so I'll have to send a long one next week. I'm up in Ellsworth now and am doing well. The ward received us well and there are some great people. We found our apartment looking and our area not much better. We've had a crazy schedule with driving all around and crazy weather, so not much time to work. It's a rough start, but once we get life put together again things will get moving.

The area is super super pretty and we have been able to meet a couple new people so we're excited for this next week. Thanks for all the love and prayers!

Elder Branch

Manchester, New Hampshire

I hurt my toe on p-day last week. Better now. :)

The Gyro Spot in Manchester, super good!!

The ap bat

Elder Larsen is the new assistant

The Adams, awesome office staff couple from Ogden

The place where Joseph Smith had his leg surgery 
is now a KFC/Taco Bell. 
Mission tradition is to get a chicken leg there...

Last time on top of our parking garage

My new Companion, Elder Powell

Ellsworth, Maine
Our District

Look at that! Even in Ellsworth!