Monday, January 15, 2018

Jan. 15, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire


Well, it warmed up for about 2 days into the 50's!... and now it is 6 degrees again. Haha! This week was good! Double Zone Conference weeks are always busy, it was fun to see missionaries and learn a lot. Tomorrow we go to the Joseph Smith Birthplace for the last Zone conference. It is crazy to think transfer planning is already next week!!!

D. came to church again this week! D. is 10 and is way smart! His mom had come to church with him a few weeks ago, but she isn't very interested in changing her lifestyle right now. We're working with David and his older Sister S. who is in her 20's. D. really liked church and we're hoping we can find a way to help him.

G. also came this week! G. is from the family of R., D. and G. that I've talked about a few times. This week we invited G. to come, and then he said later that night he was thinking about church and was in a Walmart bathroom. He saw a sticker that said, "Are you going to heaven?" He said he felt like that was his sign that he needed to come! :) He ended up actually liking it a bunch! The members did a great job saying hi to him and making him feel welcome, which was huge! Other than finding people for the missionaries to teach, being kind to the people we bring to church and saying hi is probably the next best thing members can do!

We found a bunch again this week, including some really cool families and people from Honduras and Puerto Rico! It is always so much fun to find; talking to everyone, even in the COOOOOOLD, and making them smile and grow closer to Christ is what it's all about. :)

Love you all and have a great week!
Elder Branch

Monday, January 8, 2018

Jan. 8, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hi Everybody!

Guess what, we didn't freeze to death!!
This week was just as cold, if not colder than last week so it really was an experience! Today though, it has jumped up to 20 degrees and it is incredible how warm it feels!! We usually brace whenever we walk outside, but it wasn't even bad this morning! :)

This week was good, very very busy! We had exchanges with the Acton elders which was fun! We talked to lots of people, almost froze to death, and really tried to do new things! We knocked on some car windows, got one persons number as their train was pulling in and they were jumping on, and even talked to the owners of a little craft shop because we needed to warm up, which lead to a great discussion, one of them giving their info to us since they would enjoy learning, and me buying some funky little pins! Acton's area is where "the shot hear round the world" was fired in Lexington, so that was pretty amazing to be somewhere with so much history took place!

We ended up getting a big storm and the mission had to stay inside because of the severity. We had a lesson that was really close and we were allowed to give other missionaries special permission to go to lessons that they could walk to, like within a quarter mile, so we gave ourselves special permission! ;) We helped push 2 cars out, found three new people to teach, and had a great time jumping in snow!!! Haha, it was a blast! :)

We had the New Missionary and Trainers meeting this week which was super fun. This is probably my last transfer as an assistant, so it was nice to get to go to Joseph Smith's birthplace one more time and feel the amazing spirit there.

We also drove way way way up into Maine for a district meeting and saw some great missionaries. It was nice to get to know some missionaries better and help out a district.

We found a lot of people to teach this week, 14 total, but we felt really bummed because we didn't have anyone at church for the first time in a loooong time! It was a perfect storm of problems, with our Saturday church pump time up taken because we were driving down from Maine, a super busy week, then Sunday was probably the coldest day so far, as well as our church time switched from 1pm to 9am. Oh well, we'll just work extra hard on that this week!

With the passing of the Prophet Thomas Monson this week, I have reflected on what a true disciple of Christ is. President Monson was a true disciple, as his whole life was spent in service. He was called as a bishop in our faith at 22 years old and truly spent his life doing things that mattered. He wasn't out partying and thinking of himself, he loved others, served neighbors, friends, and family, and used his free time to do things that change lives with his friends, family, and especially children. What a great example of Christ-like service. His last testimony shared as a Prophet was of the importance of reading the Book of Mormon daily. He invited us to gain a personal testimony of it, "as the testimony of others can carry [us] only so far."

Love you all,
Elder Hunter Branch :)

Frozen Eyebrows

Giant Shredded Wheat or Mini Bowl?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Jan. 1, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Happy New Years!!!

It is COLDDDDD out here! It's been around 3 degrees as an average the last few days, but who cares!! We still found a bunch this week and had a great time!! T., who came to church last week, accepted a baptismal date for the 27th and is praying about it because he is nervous about how his family will deal with it since they are all Hindu, pray for him! :) We had stopped visiting D. and G. as much but then D. reached out this week. We went and had a good lesson with her and G., and D. came to church! She is nervous about going to church alone, but with more friends there she could still keep learning be really solid.

Last week we met a lady named S. who speaks Spanish and this week we had a member of our ward (L.) who recently returned from her mission in Spain come teach with/for us!! :) I was able to follow along and share a few thought with my limited Spanish, but L. was the main teacher. It was so awesome! S. said that she doesn't have a peep hole, but when we knocked on her door she felt like she should open it. Her son told her not too because who knew who it was, but she opened the door anyway! She is from Honduras and as a kid met missionaries there. She felt like it was a sign that we met her here which shows God loves her and has a plan, and we agree! :) We are visiting again this week with L.

For Christmas a really nice family in our ward bought all us missionaries really warm coats. As you know, the temperatures here have been crazy crazy cold so it was perfect! Elder Petersen and I have other warm coats, but one night I was wearing the one they gave me as we were out visiting people. As we were walking down the street in 4 degree weather with a strong wind, we saw a man on the other side of the street. We crossed to talk to him and yelled out hi, and he responded, "Hey Elders!" Whenever someone who you don't know calls you Elders, you know they either are a less active member or have a history of meeting with missionaries. He told us that his name was J. and that he use to be a member. He was baptized in the early two thousands, and his life had taken some crazy turns since. I won't go into too many details, but he is just couch surfing now and doesn't have a lot going for him. He only was wearing a jacket and looked super cold. We talked all about how his life had gone and promised him it's never to late to come back. We shared Mosiah 26:30 (Yea, and as often as my people repent I will forgive them their trespasses against me.) and the Spirit came in so powerfully. He started crying as we gave him a new copy of the Book of Mormon and promised he would be at church the next day. As we were about to leave I felt like I should ask if he had a coat. He said his jacket was all he had and next thing I knew I had taken off the coat the members gave me, removed my missionary tag, and was handing it to him. He resisted for a second, then quickly took it and put it on. He started crying again and we were able to have a prayer and give him a hug. The spirit was so strong as we walked... ran back to the car. (Cause now I was the cold one! ;) ) The next day J. showed up at church in the new coat and had a great time back at church. We'll keep working to help him get back on tract again.

That was my favorite part of Christmas this year. It was awesome how those members generous service to us missionaries was able to do much more than they could have anticipated when they gave it. :)

Love you all and welcome to 2018!!
Elder Branch :)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dec. 26, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Merry Christmas everyone!

This week was great, we had some great experiences finding which was really cool. Early in the week we had to have some get-real lessons with R., G., and D., as well as with L. We talked about how if they really want to know they have to put in the work (come to church, read scriptures, pray) for at least a month and then look back and see how their life has changed. R., G., and L. weren't willing to put the work in yet. D. got pretty real, and really wanted to keep learning, but since then she missed church and hasn't responded on Facebook. 

A less active recent convert we work with never will come to church, and this week early on they told us her younger sister, who has been interested and loves to have us over, wasn't allowed to go because her dad said no. They have a brother who was way cool and when we stopped by Sunday morning it was just him and the sister. We asked if she could come and then they had a big argument in Nepali, and then B. told us that she had been lying about not being allowed to go and she didn't want to come to church. She just liked having us come as company. It was really nice of him to tell us and he felt bad, but it was good to know the truth.

So, a few bummers this week, but the Lord blessed us by adding 8 new people to our teaching pool!! We found some really awesome people who have a ton of potential. One named T. came to church this week and is excited to come again. Also, t
here was a three apartment house that we felt like knocking, and the people behind all three doors became new investigators!!! Sometimes you just have to have the faith to let go of people who aren't prepared quite yet and know the Lord will help you find more. :)

Christmas was really fun! It was a late Sunday night in the office putting in the mission numbers, so when we got back to the apartment it was Christmas Morning! We decided we couldn't wait, so we opened some very early morning Christmas presents. ;) Thanks to all those who sent things, it's nice to know there are people thinking about you!

We watched Mr. Kreuger's Christmas last night with James Stewart, and I love the part at the end where it says something like: "'I love you', Clarissa said it to Mr. Kreuger, Mr. Kreuger said to Jesus, and Jesus has said it to all of us in so many ways." That is very true, and I'm so grateful for that. :)

Love you all,
Elder Branch :)

(Picture from some awesome people in New Hampshire that was texted to us.)

(Pictures from the mission facebook page)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dec. 18, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire Merry Christmas!!

Hey everyone!

So sorry, probably shortest weekly yet, but highlights of the week:
- D. and G. set baptismal dates for January 27th.
- I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about patience. :)
- I lost my wallet and someone returned it! I had had $65 cash in it, because they encourage us to carry cash, which was stolen. :( That was a pretty big bummer, but I guess I'll just try to save up again! And hey, at least they left the change! ;)
- Transfers have come and I'm staying in Manchester again, which will be my second 7.5 month area!!
- We put up Christmas lights and our apartment looks great!

Hope you all have a great week!!! Merry Christmas! I'm grateful for this time and for Jesus Christ's example. :)

Love, Elder Branch

(Pictures put on the mission facebook page 
by the awesome Mission President's wife and the Senior Missionaries.)

They got new missionaries today!

Mission Leadership Conference

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