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!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Jan. 29, 2018 Last week in Manchester, New Hampshire - winds of change, great week, and got crashed.

"Do you hear that, those are the winds of change." -Randal from Monsters Inc.

Hello Everyone!

It is amazing how much serving a mission changes you, and I think Manchester has changed me the most. I've been here for 5 transfers (7.5 months) just like my first area. In other places I have learned a lot more about the scriptures, about how to talk to people and things like that. Here in Manchester I have learned a lot about what really matters in life, how to fit the basics into a busy schedule, and how to be a leader. There are so many things and people that I'll miss in Manchester as well as around the mission, but I'm excited for new opportunities.

I'm heading up to Ellsworth Maine! It is on the coast, includes Acadia national park and bar harbor, and is going to be awesome! I'll be training a new missionary there who will be arriving on Wednesday, so neither of us will know the area. I'll also be serving as a district leader with three other sets of Elders in my district, so it is going be to an exciting transfer!!! :) I'm excited to have a lot more time to focus on the people we have to teach and serve. I've got some ambitious goals for rest of my mission. (Also, to follow up, a couple months ago I said I wanted to run a mile under 6 minutes. Life got busy so we didn't get to run for a long time, but we have been again and I ran a 5:48 this week)

This week was good, lots less time to work, but we found some people and had G., D., and B. at church again! They really liked it and are excited to come again next week! B. is doing really well and has a ton of potential. He likes how church feels peaceful and he is reading in the Book of Mormon! He understands that coming back to God and making changes in his life are important.

There was a baptism of an awesome family in the Bedford Ward this week, and we had our little friend D. come, as well as their family friends who we're teaching, R. (23) and his little brother D. (5). R. really liked the baptism and although he couldn't make it to church this week, he is really excited to come next! :)

The baptism was of a family named the F.'s who were found my first week in Manchester at the fourth of July parade. They have learned a lot, given up coffee and tea, and were almost ready to be baptized when they called it off (this was in December.) They liked the people, but didn't know if the Church was true. They decided to keep learning from the missionaries, but to go look at other churches. They said none of the others felt right. The family has a little 8 year-old daughter who LOVED the Book of Mormon. Every night she'd carry it out to the family and have them read before bed. As the daughter did this, the family was touched and had the spirit tell them the Book was true. They then were baptized this week. It is AMAZING the impact a little 8 year-old girls had on her family, and will for generations to come. :)

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


Guy crashed us.

We had a green light and he was in left lane. 
We were driving in the right lane and he accelerated into back side of our truck.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jan. 22, 2018 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello Everyone!

This week has been good, lots and lots of exchanges and meetings!

Tuesday was a Zone conference, then Wednesday I was on exchange in Essex. We were going to Pizza Hut buffet for lunch and decided to set a goal to invite 2 people in there to learn about the gospel. Turned out there were only 3 customers there and one walked out as we sat down, so only the young couple sitting next to us were left. That made things easy, so we talked to them! They ended up being really cool! They are active in their church, but said missionaries could come visit! Then we started talking with our waitress. She was really interested and those Elders are going to go see her and her grandpa! Setting goals works again! :)

Exchanges with the Saco Elders in Manchester the next day were good, except for the mean people we met! One even threatened to call the cops because we knocked on his door, looking for his wife, which "terrorized his dogs" (poor things, I hope they recover! Haha) As we drove out of their apartment complex, a state trooper drove in! We decided that's not how we wanted to leave, so we circled back around to find someone nice! That time, the state trooper drove out as we drove in. We ended up just meeting an older couple who was kind but not interested, but it was cool to face our fears! :)

Saturday I got to go to Exeter! We saw C. who I baptized last year! She is doing great and said the only regret she has with joining the church is that she wishes she had done it sooner!! She said when we first met her that she had started talking to us as a joke to try to make fun of us, but was impressed and wanted to learn more. She said it is amazing how many crazy things people say about the church from the outside, but from the inside you can really tell it is God's church and you feel loved and supported.   :)

We also saw M. and Bro G.!

Later that day in Exeter we were walking down the street and met some people sledding! We talked to the parents for a while, became friends, taught them about the Book of Mormon and how it blesses families, and set appointments to go see two families again! :) After that we had a prayer and then each asked if we could take a ride down the hill! ;) I took a sled and hit the jump, and Elder J. took one of those Walmart snowboards, actually jumped off the jump, then landed hard and wiped out!! Luckily no clothing damage!

D. and a new person we teach named B. came to church! We found a crazy amount of people this week and are really just trying to get them to church.

Good week overall! Super tired now, but life's good.
Have a great week! Remember to pray and ask God if President Nelson is his chosen prophet, I know he is! :)
Elder Branch

Tried drinkable yogurt...
 not a favorite.