Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sept. 11, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello Hello! :)

This has been a busy week! We had a Zone Conference and 3 exchanges, so we were all over the mission! I got to go back to Newport and that was so fun! We had coordination that night so I got to see and surprise some awesome members, it was great! :) We also saw some of the people I taught there which was fun! S. and D. are getting married on the 23rd this month and they are expecting it sounds like! They don't have a set baptismal date but hopefully this next week.

I got to go on exchange with a new missionary which was really cool. We found a lady who we gave a Book of Mormon to who was at Wendy's! She sees missionaries there a lot and has always wondered what we do, but she's been working. She was on break when we met her and it was great to see Elder R. testify. We taught the Plan of Salvation to a man who is recovering from some addictions right now and it was such a cool experience. He loved how God knew us before we were born, how we have a purpose here on earth, and that we are going somewhere after this life! Then late that night as we were out on the street catching up with a few people who they have met before. We had some interesting experiences. We met a HUGE (like just really tall and strong) older man who said his name was Void, and that he owns a studio. He raps and sings. It was pretty crazy, we saw him then decided to go talk to him because we talk to EVERYBODY, and then when he turned around we thought we were dead! Haha, he was pretty cool though. We said hi to this lady a little while later and asked her a question because we were a little lost, and she just gave a quick answer and kept walking. I had no idea in my mind how to relate our little conversation to the gospel and she started to walk away quickly. We almost turned around and kept walking too, but then I just felt like I should say something more. I turned around and said something, although I have no clue what I said or asked her, but all I know is that it definitely wasn't very smooth and didn't make a lot of sense. She turned around though and then next thing we knew we were teaching her about the Restoration of Jesus Christ's church and giving her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Those Elders are going to go visit her this next Wednesday, and it is pretty cool how the Lord always makes our efforts, no matter how frantic they are, work out for good! :)

T. and M. both came to church again this week. We were hoping to have 9 people there, but lots of people had to cancel. That's how it goes sometimes, but were gonna help them all make it there one of these days! :) T. is planning to be baptized on the 22nd and has his interview today. There have been a few hiccups recently, so prayers on his behalf would be great!! M. is amazing!!! She is one of the most amazing people I've met in my life. She has sacrificed so much for her family and kids and works so hard for them. She is going to be baptized on the 30th now we think. She accepted the Law of Tithing this week, which is amazing to me because she is working two jobs all to support kids going to college, family with health problems, and keep her little apartment. She knows it is a commandment and God will bless her, and I think it is amazing to see that much faith.

Elder Bednar will be visiting our mission this week and everyone is really excited! :)

Sure love you all and hope you have a great week! :)
Elder Branch

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sept. 4, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hey Everyone!!

Ok, who is ready for some exciting news!? The first thing is that Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be visiting our mission in a few weeks! Isn't that cool!? We're all pretty excited! Since Elder B. has been an Assistant longer he will be conducting the meeting, so that is nice! ;)
Another exciting thing is that our mission is getting smartphones! I'm actually writing this email on my Samsung Galaxy J3. We will also be getting social media shortly! It is pretty insane, so much is going on and it is a great time to be a missionary. These phones and social media won't be for entertainment, they are simply just tools to help us bring the Lords work forward. Right now we only have a few missionaries with smartphones to learn about them, but in the next several weeks all areas will have a smartphone. It will be great to be able to contact more people and be able to be more productive, it is awesome! The smartphones will have data, and we are one of the first missions to try this out. Us missionaries will need to make sure to be wise with these tools, but it'll be awesome. :)

Ok, so this week T., M., and R. came to church. T. is going to take Sundays off from work from now on to keep the Sabbath day holy! M. accepted the Word of wisdom, but she was wondering why we don't drink tea. We talked about it and M. decided if God asked us to then that is good for her! :) We were able to see M. and J. again and it was good to reconnect as its been a while since we've seen them. They have been busy, but he got the job he wanted so that is awesome! We had a few others committed to come to church but sadly they couldn't make it. It was a pretty great week though! T. and M. are both preparing to be baptized on the 22nd!

We had two zone conferences last week, and this week we have 3 exchanges and a zone conference, so it'll be busy busy!! :)

I hope you all have the best of weeks!
Elder Hunter Branch :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Aug. 28, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire


This last week T. came to church again, and we had some awesome experiences with him! We taught the Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and Tithing. He accepted each, and we threw away a bunch of stuff while we were there as well as dumping out all his beer with him! It was so awesome, it was incredible to see someone who really just wanted to repent and be worthy. He has set a baptismal date of September 23rd, but will need to move it to the 22nd as the ward has some other activities that day as well.

We also had a new investigator named R. at church. She is a really nice lady who we met on the street. We were able to visit her and have a really powerful Restoration lesson. She was going to try to make it to the other Elders baptism, but then she had to take care of her sister who suffered from a stroke years ago. The following day however she came to church and had a great experience.

M. would have come to church too, but apparently she missed her ride because she didn't see them and missed their calls, bummer! M. and J. were out of town this week and Je. had to work, but it was a pretty great week still! :)

We had several meetings this week and lots going on, as well as President Blair's birthday! We sent out an email to the mission asking them to send in short video answers to a question, like what one thing he taught them is, or why he is the best mission President in the world. We also got a bunch of fun things that a mission President would need or that had a funny story behind them and made a "Mission President Survival Kit". It was great and President Blair really liked it! :)

This week we have some Zone Conferences and lots going on so it'll be a wild one! Two cool announcements are that we are going to be getting social media as a mission, more details to come, as well as that we will be having an Apostle visit the mission in a few weeks!!! It will be a crazy and really exciting next little while!! :) 

Love you all and thanks for all the love and prayers!
Elder Hunter Branch :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Aug. 21, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hey everyone!

We have a big meeting tomorrow for all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training leaders, which took most the day to plan so this will have to be a short one.

M. and J. are doing well, didn't make it to church this week cause of babysitting. :/ However, Je. came to church again this week and will be setting a date for his baptism! M. and T. came to a baptism in the other ward and loved it!! Both of them came to church and have set baptismal dates! M. for the 16th, and T.'s will be the 23rd. J.'s sister, B., is doing well too, but she is really busy with work so she struggles with keeping appointments or making it to church. There are a bunch of other awesome people we're working with but those are the highlights of this week.

B. fed us some really spicy African food this week which was neat! We found a few other families, but going into these weeks of meetings and planning and office work we hope we can keep in contact with them! There are some big changes and exciting things going on in the mission! There are TONS of young missionaries right now, and it is so cool to see them all grow.

I know God leads this work and he watches over all of us! One new thing I've been doing to study is that I will go to the book True to the Faith and go topic by topic, studying latter day revelation from conference. For example, the first topic is Aaronic Priesthood, so I search the Gospel Library for Aaronic Priesthood, go to conference, then download the 7 talks that mention Aaronic Priesthood the most times. I just play one a day while I'm in the shower and it has been really cool! I need to start a notebook with what I am learning so I can have my own personal record of each.

Love ya all! :)
Elder Hunter Branch

A few pictures from the mission facebook page...

They were all in the MTC together...

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Aug. 14, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello everyone!

Today new missionaries are arriving to the mission and we'll be busy with them, so I don't have a lot of time to email.

People are doing well, M. and J. are still setting a date to get married, and we're excited to keep seeing them and their family!

We have a recent convert who hasn't gotten to come for a while, and yesterday she and her sister who we are teaching came to church! We also had M. at church with us again which was awesome! She is so busy and so are we so it makes teaching her super hard, but she is so ready for the gospel and we hope she'll get baptized this transfer. A guy named J. who Elder Br. and I met on exchange came to church as well which was fun! He is young and had to work, but still came for the first hour! He is loving the Book of Mormon too! :) ALSO, we had a great man named T. S. He is a really nice middle aged man who has been going through a "crisis of faith" and he feels like our doctrines can help him out.

We have 19 missionaries going home and 17 missionaries coming out, as well as 2 Portuguese Sisters who are waiting for visa's. New missionaries are so cool! We get to take them out on the streets tonight for like 45 minutes and I'm excited to see what happens! :)

Life is so good!! Elder B. and I are staying together this transfer and we're going to work on getting all the people we find to church! We found a ton this transfer and need to help them to do the things that lead to true happiness, which are prayer, reading scriptures, and going to church. :) That is what helps us learn and know that God is there and loves us, and that His gospel is true. It is like a science experiment, and to "test" God, we need to do those things and see what happens! :)

Sure love ya all, hope life is great! Thanks again for all the prayers and emails, I never have time to respond to them all but know that I am so grateful for all of you and the impact you've had in my life.

Elder Branch

Monday, August 7, 2017

Aug. 7, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello! :)

So this week was pretty sweet! It was the first one we have had in a while where we were able to work in our area a lot! We found a TON and just had a great time!

So we taught M. and J. about the Law of Chastity this week which God has given us to strengthen families and marriages. I love the resource of The Family from the prophets, and I really like the quote, "Successful families and marriages are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities." They were really hesitant at first, but now it sounds like M. is still nervous, but they want to get married and J. will say yes if he asks, so hopefully we'll be wedding planning soon! :)

We also set baptismal dates with two of J.'s siblings! They are really awesome and one of them has a cute little family! We're excited for them! The other one, C. turned 20 this week and invited us to her BBQ party thing! We showed up at like 8:30, but because of rain it had to be pushed back. We talked to them for a while then lots of teens and young adults started showing up and it was pretty funny! At the beginning as people were showing up we were surrounded by a group of little kids who wanted to draw on our iPads and watch Mormon Messages. We mostly talked with the kids and eventually had to go before the food was ready, but it was still good to go to show our support and they were glad we came! It sounded like the party got crazy later on too so the Lord is smart for having a curfew for missionaries! :)

One cool experience this week was when we were walking by a park and saw some city grounds crew trying to get something out of a pole electric box. A lady had dropped her phone down it and they couldn't get it. They tried unscrewing it, but that didn't work. They tried a little grabber thing but they couldn't get their arms down far enough to reach it, and they tried a stick with lots of tape, but gravity was stronger that their electrical tape. So after chatting for a while and them trying lots of stuff they were thinking they might have to put in a permit to destroy the pole because it is so old it is an antique and they would have to go though a special process. It is made of cast iron so that would be no easy task. Either that or just have the lady give up on the phone, but she was in a bit of an attitude. I felt like I should ask to try the grabber thing and I was able to reach the phone. I almost got the phone all the way up, so we wrapped the ends with tape and then I was able to pull the phone out! One of the workers had met with missionaries before and we were able to teach them about the Book of Mormon right there and they thought it was great! We will be able to go back and visit one of them, and it was cool to see how we were at the right place at the right time and able to help out! :)

We also had exchanges this week up in Maine and it was fun to go back to a small town for the day! We had been having a rough day and people wouldn't talk to us, but we had faith and kept talking to everyone, and at the end of the day we were blessed with a couple really awesome people who were searching! We just had to have faith and not get discouraged, and the Lord will let us be part of miracles.

Love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Branch :)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July 31, 2017 in Manchester, New Hampshire

Hello hello!!
This has been another great week! It feels like the most relaxed one I've had this transfer, which is funny because we still had a Zone Conference in Vermont,
New Missionary and Trainers Meeting also in Vermont, and 2 exchanges! 

I got to go to Lowell on one of them which was wild!! Lowell just got added to our mission a couple months ago, and it is bigger than Manchester! I was there with a missionary who has only been out for 3 weeks and that was really cool to be with someone so new and excited and nervous! :) That was me almost a year ago! I have been refreshing on Spanish a bit for kicks! Yesterday I actually got the opportunity to invite someone to learn and got their information in Spanish to refer to the Spanish elders here in Manchester! That was pretty neat! :) 

The other exchange was with Elder B., my trainer!! He is a Zone Leader in Vermont now and only has 8 weeks left on his mission! That was pretty wild and fun to be with him for the day. :)

This week M. accepted a baptismal date for September 2nd! It was so cool, M. is the best! M. was playing in a soccer game this week so we went to support him and get to meet people. It was fun to be around a soccer field and feel the energy of a game, I wanted to get out there and play too! :) The game ended up not being the best place to get to talk to people because they were too into the game. We did get to talk to M. for a while though so it was good. We had to leave pretty quickly because we had another lesson, but it turned out M.'s team won! The family all went out and celebrated after and apparently they were out till 3 in the morning! They were all supposed to come to church, but it started and no one was there! We were way bummed because we thought we would have around 7 people there with M.'s family and M. and E., but they all had stuff come up. But like five minutes into the meeting M. walked in! He said he just had to come to church! :)  He loved church again and everyone is getting to know him and wants to come help with his lessons! :) 

We met this awesome guy named L. this week because we were walking down his hall and heard him playing Sonic the Hedgehog loud enough we could hear it from the hall. At first he only seemed like he was indifferent whether we came back or not, but when we came back for our return appointment he was awesome! We explained how after Jesus left and the apostles were killed off that the church was lost and those truths slowly got broken down, so the world went into apostasy. L. was like, "Ya I see that today. After Jesus left it was like one of those chain letters getting retyped a few times and it kinda lost its original meaning without the prophets." We were so blown away that he was able to understand that and explain it so well back to us, what a guy! :) He understands the importance of acting on what we teach because he wants to see if Gods promise is true, that if you seek and ask, having faith and repenting, then God will answer your prayers and let you know!

This week will be our most calm of any weeks so far so I'm looking forward to it! There really is something so cool about being able to work all day to help people learn of their Savior!

Today is also Zone Pday which is always a blast!

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

Check out this video from our training about how to be brave and open our mouths and share...

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.)