Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 24, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello all!! :)
This week has been pretty swell! M. and J. came to church again with their little baby and it was awesome!! :) They are excited to come again next week! We were able to teach J. the Word of Wisdom this week which she readily accepted! Their hoping to be baptized on the 12th of August, which might be changing, but either way they are the coolest! 

M. couldn't come this week, but something cool with that is that she called us and let us know! She also called the lady who was going to give her a ride to apologize! M. is too awesome! :) She couldn't come because she had to work, but she told her boss that she can work all the other 6 days of the week if she can just have Sunday off! We got her some pamphlets this week that are in Arabic, because she reads that better than English. She also hopes to be baptized on the 12th, so keep her in your prayers!

One crazy thing that happened this week was at at the end of an exchange Wednesday night. We were all in Manchester and the other 2 sets of Manchester Elders and we were at a BBQ that a recent convert was having. As we were getting ready to all leave a guy walked up to us and said, "Hey Elders!" He shook all our hands and then started walking back down the street. The Elders picked back up their conversation when I had a feeling to ask who that guy was. I was assuming he was a member I hadn't met yet, or one of the other Elders investigators who I hadn't met since I'm still pretty new around here. I asked though and no one had a clue who he was!! I grabbed Elder P. who has just been out for three weeks and we ran down the street after this guy to see who he was! We caught him and it turned out his name is D. and he use to work with missionaries at a food pantry years ago! He has been having a rough time recently with work and family, and he would love to talk with us more! It was so crazy that there were 8 of us missionaries standing there and a guy literally came up off the street to say hi, and we almost missed the chance to help him! Thank goodness for the Holy Ghost and for good shoes!! ;)

I got to conduct my first Zone Conference this week. I've conducted things plenty of times before with church, Student Gov, and Boys State stuff, so I wasn't nervous, but apparently I don't do so well when running on 3.5 hours of sleep and then sleeping on the floor after 4 hours of driving! I might have accidentally said that I was presiding at the meeting, to which President might have made funny gestures that it was going to my head. Haha, it was way funny, luckily I caught myself pretty quickly and hey, if nothing else, it was a pretty funny way to start off the meeting! ;)

Hope you all have a great week!!!!!!!
Elder Branch :)

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 17, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello hello!!!

This week has been so busy. I bet like 90% of my letters say that, but don't check! ;)

So, this week we got to go out and teach a little more which was nice! And last week I promised to talk about people more, so here we go!

We have been working with this really cool couple named M. and J. They are in their 20's and have a cute little girl named H. who is like 2 months old! J. is the daughter of someone else we are teaching, but since we have started teaching M. and J. they have just been flying with their progression! It is amazing, they keep all their commitments and are so fun and nice! I have never seen people on my mission who are better at doing what they say they will. We often have gotten to a lesson and they tell us all about what they read and how much they love it! We gave J. the Plan of Salvation pamphlet last week, and yesterday when we went to teach it, she basically just taught us instead!! Then she decided to give the opening and closing prayer without being asked! They have accepted a baptismal date of August 12th so pray for them!

Ok, real quick Newport Maine flashback! So we were teaching S. and D. who lived in our trailer park. I was so bummed to leave after seeing how well they were doing, but I found out this week that they are going to be getting married and then will get baptized later that week!!!!!!! Haha, I'm so happy!! 😊😊😊 Hopefully I can go up to see their baptism!

The last person I want to talk about is a lady named M. We met her last week in the craziest way!!! So if you remember the kids with the snakes pictures last week, that is where we are starting. We were walking down the street and saw those kids with massive snakes! We stared talking to them and suddenly a lady from a nearby apartment walked up. She asked if we were Mormons, to which we said yes! She said that was awesome because she was originally from South Sudan, but lived in Utah now and was a member of the church! She had joined with her husband 7 years prior, and she was actually looking for the missionaries because her mom who lives at the apartment she had come from wanted to join the church! They had been told there were no missionaries in Manchester, but I guess we proved them wrong!! ;) The daughter was actually only in town for 4 days, so it was crazy we got to meet her! Her mom is M. and she came to church this last week and loved it!! She is going to keep coming and wants to bring her grandson as well, who is actually the one holding the snake! :) Isn't missionary work awesome!?!?

It's been really cool to get to see so many missionaries and work with President Blair. Talk about being busy, you ought to see him!

Well I hope you all have a great week and stay happy!!

Elder Branch :)

(The first two pictures were texted to us 
from awesome people in New Hampshire!
Thanks Sister G. and ?)

These pictures were from the mission facebook page - thank you!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

July 10, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hey all!!!

Life is good here in the literal hood! My companion is Elder B. from Canada! He is a really fun guy and is way funny! He's been on his mission for around 18 months now. :) He has been really great at helping me learn what to do!

Our apartment is pretty crazy. It's like living in a big hotel! There is a exercise room in the apartment building which is awesome! I ran a 6:30 mile on the treadmill and want to work on getting under 6 min. :)

It has definitely been crazy busy! I never knew just how much Assistants did until I became one! This week has been abnormally busy and we have been working long hours at the church every night. It has been pretty insane, with helping out departing missionaries, having new missionaries come in, a Fourth of July parade, making travel plans for the whole mission for our meeting with all the Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, and District Leaders, preparing for the meeting, having other meetings with office staff and Mission Presidency, as well as still teaching people and helping them come to church!! Wow, it is insane, but I'm glad to get to help! :)

So I'm super sorry to cut this short but I'm out of time. I'm doing well and life is awesome!! We had some crazy cool experiences that I'll have to write about next week. Even though I was bummed to miss out on all the awesome people getting to be baptized in Newport, we found some crazy cool people here this week and I'm pumped! Pray for M., J., D., and M.! :)

I just wanted to also say sorry to all the people I haven't gotten to write back who have written the past few weeks! Life is so busy but I just want you to know I read what you write and I'm grateful for all you amazing people in my life. :) <3

Love and have a good week!
Elder Hunter Branch :)

Saying bye to Elder C.

Kids with snakes

4th of July Parade

Meetings and pals

A frog that was in a parking lot

Apartment building courtyard

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 1, 2017 Transferred to Manchester New Hampshire Mission Office - will miss so many awesome people in Newport Maine

Hey everyone!

Wow, this has been a CRAZYYYY week! So much has happened and I can't fit it into words, but I'll try my best. There have been so many thoughts, ideas, and feelings, and it is wild to think how many people can relate, but also how no one has really had the same experience. Except of course Jesus who really knows what we are going through. :)

So, we started off the week with a Zone P-day of mini golf and Elder C. was the winner! That night we had a Zone Blitz in Waterville. We had the Waterville Sisters and Elders direct us to some of the people who they knew. Then we all went out to meet people! We had an appointment to have a "Family Night" back in Newport that night with a member family and our awesome S. and D., so Elder C. and Elder L. went back to Newport and I did the blitz with the Waterville Elders! As we were driving to go talk with our people, I saw a man out on his porch smoking and drinking a Dr. Pepper. I had a feeling that we should go talk to him so I asked the Elders if they had seen him. We ended up going back and along the way got to talk with several people who the Elders set appointments with and we got to talk to the man on his porch and testify and teach of truths like that our families can be together forever! The Elders will be seeing him again next week. The next day we had a big combined district meeting that was a really great experience.

So basically this week was a blur! We had exchanges with Rockland, had two friends set baptismal dates, taught a bunch, and had a blast! We taught the Word of Wisdom to S. and D. and they understood it really well! The next time we were at their house their coffee machine brews were all replaced with hot chocolate!! :)

Transfers are this week and we were expecting that the three of us would stay together, since Elder C. and Elder L. only have one transfer left. Our p-day was switched to Saturday and we got to go to Fort Knox with our awesome Branch Mission Leader and his wife, the M's. There is a really cool bridge observatory and when we were a couple hundred feet up at the top our transfer call came! It was pretty epic to be a few hundred feet up looking across the river and getting a transfer call. It turns out the Bangor stake, which was two zones, will be combining into one massive, 14 sets of missionaries, Zone! Elder C. will be staying and will lead that crazy change with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder P., from the other Bangor Zone. They will be staying in Newport which will be sweet! Their Zone, from Farmington to Machias will be roughly 4.5 hours across!! So, that will be super cool! Elder L. will be in another Zone Leader trio in Winthrop with my MTC companion, Elder P.! I will be heading down to Manchester to serve as an Assistant to the President, which is really exciting and crazy and scary! I think anxious would describe it well. Really excited and nervous. :)

S. came to church today for her 5th time, but it was her first time staying all three hours! She had a great time, and later we got to have a barbecue with a few families from the Branch and S. and D., and it was so fun! We taught them about temples after and it was such a great last lesson! I'll be so sad to leave Newport and miss all the awesome things coming up, but I know that the Lord needs me somewhere else. There are currently eight people here who are excited to be baptized, so I'll be excited to see pictures of them all!! :)

Thanks everyone for all you do and the prayers you offer for the missionaries. I sure love you all and hope you have a great 4th!!
Elder Branch 🎏

(Thank you Brother and Sister M. for the fun pictures 
and your great kindness to the missionaries.)

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017 in Newport Maine

Hello pals!!!!

This week was really great!! We had interviews with our mission President, and in mine we started talking about missionaries in the Zone and then suddenly we were talking about raising kids and teens! Haha, it was some good advice, and I'm glad I've still got a while before I have to worry about that!!

This week was so good! S. and D. have been doing well! We currently have 6 people planning to be baptized on July 15, and I'm especially excited for S. and D.! They both came to church this week again and loved it. S. was really sick though so they left after first hour, but I though it was amazing how she came even though she was sick! Originally, she was planning to be baptized on July 1st. We haven't gotten to finish teaching her everything yet and so we were thinking about moving her date back. We thought about the 15th and about how we would talk to her about the date. We thought she has made a ton of progress, but that she would still need a little more time to learn to feel comfortable with getting baptized. When we got into the lesson I asked how she felt about that date of July 1st to get baptized. This is where things went so wrong but right! We had anticipated her saying that she wasn't quite ready, but instead she said that originally she had thought that date was scary, but now she feels like she knows it's true and that date would be great! That was so awesome!!!! But also scary cause we hadn't anticipated that for some reason!!!! Haha! :) It was really good though, we talked with her and D. about their testimonies and they both said that they feel that it is all true, that Jesus is our Savior, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that we have a Prophet on the earth today. :) We told them that we know that is true and that we just have a few more things to teach before they get baptized, so would July 15th work? They both accepted that date! We will be seeing them a lot so keep them in your prayers as we go forward!

This week we also helped a member pour cement early Saturday morning and that was pretty cool! I have never done that on a large scale before so it was awesome!!

Today is Zone P-day and we are going mini golfing (which we didn't get to do last transfer because of rain). I can't wait cause there has been a lot of heatlhy trash talk about the outcome!! ;)

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017 in Newport Maine

Hello friends!

So, this last week S. had to work at 8 on Sunday and D. at 12. Church is at 10 and we invited D. to attend with us, without S. He said he wasn't sure when we first talked about it, but as we kept talking and following up, he decided to come! It was a great experience and it was awesome to see him start to make some steps independent of S.!

I went on exchanges this week with an Elder who has only been out for a month and we had a great time! We were in a reallllllly rural part of our area and we did some cool things like: Find a turtle (sadly I don't 
have pictures :(    ), work on a farm with a family we started teaching and I got to carry milk in buckets for some calves, and use one of those old gas pumps like in old movies! We had a great exchange and even got some really good chocolate Oreo ice cream!

One funny thing I don't think I'd told you all is that at the beginning of this transfer I decided to go really healthy! I started just eating healthy cereal with almond milk, or making a smoothie with frozen fruit, yogurt, and spinach for breakfast. For lunch we also started having a sandwich or something with a big salad! It has been pretty fun to try to eat healthy on a missionary budget, but I think I've only had food out three times this last month, so that has been a win! :)

This week we rented out a movie theater to show The Other Side of Heaven for the community! I never knew I would learn so many random life skills on my mission, like how to publicize an event or rent out a theater! (If that counts as a life skill) We had a good amount of people come, and the coolest thing is that we are actually going to start teaching the owner of the theater! She had to screen the movie and really liked it, so we talked with her a bunch and are going to go visit her! :)

Life as a Zone Leader is really fun and kinda frustrating once in a while. It is so awesome to see when you teach someone something or make some change and then you get to see it impact a lot of people in good ways! On the other hand it is really hard when people won't just listen and apply what you say.

We had Elder Snow of the Seventy come this week and one of my most inspiration thoughts from the visit happened when we had a little leadership meeting before. We asked what his best leadership advice would be for us in life after the mission, and he said, "Well.. probably just show up. That is most important, as well as doing what you're asked to do. That is what makes you a great leader. Having a vision and plan is important after that, but really just showing up and doing what you're asked." How about that! Show up and do the simple things.

Sure love you all, hope you have a super week! :)

Elder Hunter Branch

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June 12, 2017 in Newport Maine

Hello all!

This week has been swell! We had such a great week last week getting people to church, but this week lots of stuff came up and we ended up not having anyone! :( We did start teaching six new people this week, so we still had a good week. Every week on the mission is good though. :)

Our young couple, S. & D., who live in our trailer park are doing super well! They have come to church twice now and we text them every night to remember to read scriptures. They had been doing well and reading everyday, but they weren't reading a lot, so we challenged them to read half a chapter a day, and they both accepted! They are super cool! Elder C. and I can solve Rubix cubes, and they have one, but have no clue how to solve it, so every time we go over to teach them they leave it scrambled on the counter for us! Haha   :)

We started teaching these two grandmas who are sisters, and they are awesome!! They have rough family situations so they are taking care of some of their Grandkids. We taught them about the Restoration and have read in the Book of Mormon some with them, and they like it a lot so far! They also really like music, so we listened to "A poor wayfaring man of grief" by Peter Breinholt with them.

This Saturday we have a cool event going on. We rented out the movie theater in our area (it is owned by a town and only has one room) and are showing "The other side of heaven". We have been handing out a bunch of fliers, put notices in the paper and at a bunch of public places. The branch is coming, as well as a bunch of our investigators. We aren't allowed to watch it as missionaries, but we'll go talk to people before and after.

Life is good and I'm glad to be here! :) Sure love ya all!

Elder Hunter Branch

Mission Leadership Conference

Farmington District

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June 5, 2017 in Newport Maine

Hello everyone!

We have had a good week, The J. Family set their baptismal date! They all came to church, as well as one of their friends, a young couple (S & D) who we've been teaching, and a part member family who we've been working with who have a daughter working towards baptism. C., a 10 year-old who came went up and bore his testimony that God loves us! It was so good! I love how at testimony meeting it is a chance to share what we have grown to know. It shows that these people have worked to gain the knowledge they share. They can learn these things through the spirit and through repentance, which is so cool!! :)

We had a Mission Leader Conference this week which was really good, I learned a lot as always and we have a bunch to help our Zone with! Last transfer we focused on being fearless which went really well! We have a new plan for the upcoming transfer and are excited to see how it goes!

This week we have someone from the mission department coming so we will have another Mission Leader Conference! That kills our time in our area, but the Lord always makes up for lost driving time and blesses us! :)

Sure love ya!!!!!!!!
Elder Hunter Branch

ps. Maine is really really green now and it it is just awesome!! :) I love trees and plants in nature!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

May 29, 2017 in Newport Maine

Hey pals!! :)

It has been another swell week in Maine!! :) Being in a trio is pretty fun, it is cool to have two companions! We found a bunch more fun people this week and had lots of great lessons! We invited a bunch of the awesome people we're teaching to come to church, and 5 were able to make it! :) It is pretty fun because we have had a bunch of different people with us at church each of the last 3 weeks, now the hope is having them all there! ;) To help one family who came this week, we brought a simple breakfast that morning for them so they could just focus on getting ready! It was pretty awesome to get to help them attend church by thinking outside the box!

So this transfer we found out we will be having a couple extra leadership meetings down in Manchester, as well as we will be visited by someone from the mission department and by Elder Snow of the seventy! It should be a fun and wild time!! :)

This week I had a conversation with some drunk people and it was pretty interesting! They said some funny stuff and were pretty wild, but they were REALLY happy that we like Jesus, so that was a plus! They asked which one of us was driving and offered the non drivers a sip of their vodka, which we kindly declined. ;)

Missions are the best, I'm so glad I get to serve the lord! 
Sure love you all! :)
Elder Hunter Branch

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

May 22, 2017 Transfer week in Newport Maine

Hello everyone!!

So, it's transfer week and the news is that Elder C. and I are...... both staying!!!! :) We are also receiving another Elder, Elder L.! Elder C. and I will still be the Zone Leaders, and Elder L. will be a third companion! We are excited to be in a trio, it'll be sweet! We have had some wild stuff happen in our Zone so we've had a third companion for the last week or two, Elder B. We have had a great time together and it has been a wild week. We have worked hard and we ended the transfer well!

L., who I told you about last week, was sick this last Sunday but she is otherwise doing well! Since her baptism it's cool to see the difference it's already making! She just seems lighter and a bit happier, I love it!!! :)

We had lobster this week!! It was my first time getting to try it and it was alright, it wasn't my favorite, but it was still pretty cool! :)

We have so many cool people to teach right now! The highlight people for this week is this cool 20 year-old couple from our trailer park we're teaching that came to church! There are doing really well and loving learning! They have so much real intent and it's really fun since they are our age!

Sure love ya all!!
Elder Hunter Branch