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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Oct. 25, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello everyone and happy Monday!!

This week we had the meeting with the new missionaries which you saw since we had to email late last week. The coolest part of that was the fireside at the end that we really had around a campfire! Last year there were a few more new missionaries so the Assistants to the President did most of the talking, but since we had a couple less, we decided to give everyone a part! They all either taught, prayed, shared a story, sang, or bore testimony. It was so cool and President Blair loved it! It will hopefully stay a memorable experience! :)

This week we got to work! Sad news is that N. who was progressing really well blocked us on Facebook randomly one day and we haven't hear from him since. That's how it goes sometimes though. We started teaching 11 new people this week, had a few new people come to church, and probably the best thing, we had A. at church! She was baptized a little before I got here and hasn't been able to come except for once. This week we celebrated Brother and Sister D. (they are from Nepal) with her and the family, and then she came to church on Sunday! :) It was the coolest feeling sitting in Church, M. who just got baptized sat in front of me, one of the awesome people we are teaching was to my left, A. was on my right, another Recent Convert (D.) who we visit a lot was next to A., and P. (a returned member) was next to her! Missionary work is so powerful and changes people! :) We had a special service about missionary work on Sunday. Elder Petersen spoke, as well as our Ward Mission Leader and Assistant WML. Elder Ricks and I got to sing "Called to Serve" and added a special third verse that we sing in our mission that goes:
"Called to Serve the people of New England,
With the Gospel of our loving God,
Teaching, preaching unto true repentance,
Holding to the Iron rod"

I sure love being a missionary and am so grateful for the missionaries a long time ago who taught my family! There is power in the Book of Mormon! A man we are teaching really wants to find historical proof that the Book of Mormon existed. We shared the talk from this last Conference by Tad R. Callister, and I love the story he shares. He tells of a friend who left the Church, and years later decided to investigate again. He can't get past trying to see if there is historical evidence of the Book of Mormon for a while to build his testimony. It is only after he begins reading the Book of Mormon that he learned that it's true. At last his 3.5 year investigation of the Church ended and he was baptized, all because he finally took a step of faith and read! How powerful that is!

Love you all, go read the Book of Mormon! :)
Elder Branch

Sunday late night dance party on parking garage 
after putting in mission numbers and updating all info

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Oct. 18, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Happy Wednesday!

Hello everyone! This week we had a meeting with all the new missionary and their trainers up where Joseph Smith was born on Monday and Tuesday, hence the Wednesday email!

Last week was busy! We had 2 Zone Conferences which went well. We finally were pro's at training people on Smartphones and their set-up by the third one (which was the last one) so I guess we learned how just in time!!.. ;)

This week one of our investigators named N. accepted a baptismal date for my favorite day, November 11th! :) He is doing really well, but his wife had bronchitis this last week so he wasn't able to make it to church. That was too bad she was sick. They both want to come this next week!

Last week along with M., up in Newport where I was before Manchester, S. and D. were baptized!!!!!! They got married a few weeks back and now they are members of Jesus Christ's church! :) It is so exciting to see people who have changed their lives, I remember the night Elder Carlson and I knocked on S. and D.'s door and their cat ran away so we had to help them catch it!! :) Haha, it's pretty cool how that eventually lead to them getting baptized to bless their new family for generations to come!!!!!

We have a pretty open week this week, so we're excited to get to do more missionary work!!!!! It is so exciting to get to teach and talk to people all day rather than be doing things in the office! I remember at the beginning of my mission I though it would be nice to get to be inside doing office stuff haha. I love the saying that "a ship in the harbor is safe, but that's not what it's made for." It is fun to realize how my attitudes have changed where I am looking forward to my chance at the "ocean" when stuff keeps us stuck in the "harbor" for a while! :) We have MLC next Tuesday, but other than that these next few weeks are beginning to look a lot more open, and I'm excited! :)

We found several new people to teach last week, even though we only had a bit of time, and one of them named J. is especially cool. It was about 8:50 at night and we had just taught some other people and we're heading back to our truck. We walked out on the street and J. walked out just before us. We tried to talk to him as we walked down the street, but he just answered all our questions about sports (since he had some cool sports stuff on) without even turning around to look at us. Eventually we got next to our truck and he still hasn't stopped, so I just said something about how it was good to meet him, but we hadn't even gotten his name, and we'd love to shake his hand! He stopped finally and shook our hands, then started talking! He told us all about him and his background, and how he's been praying for answers and help, and he thinks we were who God sent, he just hadn't recognized it till he got to talk to us. He has a rough past and is excited to get to meet, learn more, and try out church. It is cool how people are always being prepared, and we can't give up and have to do everything we can to help them chose the right and listen.

Love you all, hope you have a great week and go get out of the harbor!

Elder Branch

The Elders all slept in here because it was 27 outside. 

(These pictures are from the fantastic Senior Missionaries 
and Mission President's Wife)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oct. 9, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Heyyyyy everyone!!

M. got baptized!!!!!!!!! It was so great, she is the best! She invited several people but a friend of theirs had actually passed away so they had to go to the funeral, but it was sure cool M. was inviting people! She bore her testimony and told her whole conversion story after she was baptized, which was incredible!

It started with an apology because she doesn't feel like she speaks very good English. (We all love her accent though!) She told about how she has 7 kids and a few grandchildren and her husband still lives in Sudan. She first met with the Church when she visited her daughter in Utah who joined. She felt like it was good and true and different and she wanted to join the Church in NH, but didn't know where to go. Her daughter got her the number, but M. was always too tired from working two jobs to call.

M.'s daughter came to visit her later on and was only going to be there for 4 days. On the second day M. made lots of food and had all the family and friends over to celebrate her daughter's visit. During the party the daughter came up to her all excited and told her the people she needed to talk to were there! That's when we met M. Her daughter saw us walking by on the street after an appointment heading back to the car and she called us over.

M. said that we started teaching her and she felt good. We got her an English copy of the Book of Mormon but she couldn't read it very well, and then we brought an Arabic copy. She has read all of 1st Nephi and knows that it is a book from God.

The first time at church with us she didn't feel anything. The second time though she felt so calm and happy and knew it was God talking to her. She loves the Church and this week her boss promised her she will never be put on the schedule for Sunday again!

She talked a lot more about the things she's felt and experienced, and the spirit was so powerful as she testified. It was so cool, I'm so glad we got to meet M. that day!

The rest of the week has been good too, we've been training a LOT on technology and have two more Zone Conference this week. We are excited to get back out to work more again! :)

Love you all!
Elder Branch :)

Pictures from the mission facebook page....