Monday, December 14, 2015

November 9, 2015 Be Bray-pared!

Hiya Fam!

I will tell you that I got called by the AP's last night, so I'm moving! They're "Whitewashing" Cavehill, bringing in Elder Smith and Elder Swenson. I know Elder Smith, he's a cool guy. I'll tell you where I'm going in a minute. But I will tell you that to get there, I have to travel down a rocky road. ;)  I just saw Elder Schippers off, actually. Oh, and I also saw Elder Wells and Elder Dewsberry!! Do you remember Dewsberry? He was in Airdrie when I was in Cumbernauld. It was so good seeing them again! They're awesome. I'll miss them.

 Okay so this week was pretty crazy being Elder Schippers' last week! He was doing so well, I was really proud of him! Until Saturday, that is. 

 On Friday we had a "Blitz" in Newtonabbey.  I had a good time with Elder Harman, and Elder Schippers and Elder Sheppard got dinner! Everybody wins!

 We've decided to push back Ph's date. :( We weren't meeting with him as often as we had hoped. We taught our first Commandments lesson this week: the Word of Wisdom. He accepted it well, said his biggest issue will be giving up tea and coffee. I hope the new Elders will be able to take care of him. He came to Stake Conference, which was great!!

 Unfortunately, H didn't get to Stake Conference. This past Sunday is also Remembrance Sunday. Everybody wears these poppies on their lapels or wherever, and in church there is 2 minutes of silence to remember the fallen. It's kinda cool. But because of that, there were a lot of parades going on, so the police kinda jammed everything up. Combine that with a really bad rain storm, and H just didn't make it.

 I forgot to tell you! Elder Kearon of the Seventy was coming to Stake conference. The Stake Presidency set a goal of having 1,000 people at Stake Conference. Such a large crowd would be too much for the Stake Center, so they hired the Ulster Hall in City Center! It's a beautiful building. Everything went well, too. President Donaldson was there and bore his testimony, which was great. Elder Kearon was good too. But that's why the police were jamming things up around us: we were right in the middle of City Center!

 We met with F in the Library on Wednesday. She's been having some difficulty with the new policy the church put out. Most of her friends are gay. Elder Schippers was the main one handling it, but please pray for her.  We first heard of that from F. She called us and was freaking out a little bit. We stopped what we were doing and decided to pray to know whether or not it was true. As we were praying Elder Schippers said that the scriptures from Jacob 5 came to his mind, the ones talking about the pruning of the vineyard for the last time or something along those lines. Pretty scary! But also pretty cool because as long as we're following the prophet, we'll turn out okay, on the right side of the fence!  This will be difficult for a lot of people to accept. I'm glad I know what I know! And most of what I know is thanks to you, Mum and Dad! Thanks for all that you did to teach us what you know!

We have a new investigator! Her name is Ch. She's a really nice woman who's had a lot of difficulties in her life. She's been to a baptism before, but that's pretty much the extent of her contact with the church. She believes in God, but doesn't go to church often. We met with her on Saturday and spent most of the lesson understanding where she's coming from and what her background is like. She talks a lot! Ha! But it was good. She wanted to go to Stake Conference, but we weren't able to get her a lift.

 Guy Fawkes Day was on Thursday. All the missionaries across the mission were required to stay inside after 6. Not sure why, most people don't go too crazy for Guy Fawkes day. Northern Ireland in particular didn't do a thing. Not like Halloween with all the fireworks and everything! There wasn't even a bonfire! Disappointing.

 Also, I'm happy to inform you, that this week I completely filled up my journal!! I bought a new one on Monday to prepare for filling it up. Same goes with my Study Journal. If you don't have a Study Journal, I invite you to get one. It's so helpful!

 And speaking of which, just yesterday I was studying Moroni 8:25-26. I describe this as the "12 Steps to Eternal Life". See if you can find them all! I find it so interesting how each one is placed in the steps. Why does one lead to the other? Think about it!

Oh, and also, I'm going to Bray! It's in Dublin Zone. Did you get the clue? "Rocky Road to Dublin?" Anyways, I'm serving with Elder Stoker, who's recently finished being trained. It'll be the first time I'll be serving in a District with Sisters! Weird!  Bray is a branch, but it looks like a beautiful area! Really green. And I'm right next to the ocean!

Mom wants to know if I want  a CTR ring for Christmas.  We're not allowed to wear any jewelry I'm afraid. Some things I've been missing are Sweet Tarts, Warheads, Sour Patch Watermelons, Flaming Hot Cheetos, Easy Mac, Lemon Heads, Nerds, potato chips, beef jerky, they're all good.   I don't need any shirts...I still have like 5 in the plastic bags unopened!  I have enough warm clothes, but thanks for asking.  Yes I did buy myself some new shoes! And I swear they're cursed. I've stepped in more dog doodoo in these shoes than I ever have my whole life!!! XP 

Mom asked if they have root beer.  The only good root beer is in the American Candy shops and it's £1.50 per can!

That's all from me today! Signing off!
Elder Bates

Friday, December 4, 2015

November 2, 2015 Halloween, Halloween, lots of fun on Halloween!

Hiya Fam!

Hope you all had a great Halloween! I know the people of Ireland did! I've never had a Halloween that was celebrated with fireworks before. Kinda cool! Except I seriously thought for a moment that bombs were going off and war had restarted, but I was wrong thank goodness! Phew!

Anyways, the week went well. I went on another exchange on Tuesday to Newtonabbey with Elder Harman. Good man, we had a great time. Meanwhile back in Cavehill Elder Schippers and Elder Sheppard committed Ph to be baptized November 14th!! That's next Saturday!! Elder Schippers is bummed he's missing it, but oh well. 

Not much happened the rest of the week. Met with the M's on Wednesday and the Mu's on Thursday. On Friday Elder Schippers got his ticket for the ferry back to Scotland. He'll be leaving next Monday at 10:30 am. Oh, btw, he'll be giving his "HomecomingTalk" (it won't really be his Homecoming Talk because they don't do those anymore apparently) the Sunday after he gets home.

On Saturday we went to the Ward Halloween Party. The party, btw, wasn't the Cavehill Ward Party, it was put on by the Ward's, a family here. Brother Ward was our Ward Mission Leader but he was released last week. I just thought it was funny, the Ward Halloween Party. Three families showed up: the Wards, the Moffets, and Sister Maud. Each of them brought non-member friends though. After the party was over we had to get going to the flat in order to be in by 6. Elder Schippers packed while I had dinner, studied, played a few games of Solitaire (won 3 times in a row!) And that was our Halloween! Yay.

On Sunday, Ph didn't come to church. We still don't know why. We tried to call him but it went straight to voicemail. We went by his house but he wasn't in. It was a really big bummer. :(

But on the plus side, we were finally able to meet with H again!! He's been in Dublin and Paris the past few weeks, so we really haven't heard from him until this past week. It was great seeing him again! He's committed to come to Stake Conference this coming Sunday! We're having a 70 come, and they're expecting such a crowd, that the Stake Presidency had to book the Ulster Hall to fit everyone! Pretty cool! Hopefully he'll have a great experience there, and he'll start to come back to church.

So that was our week. This week is going to be pretty nuts what with Elder Schippers leaving and all. And next Sunday's Moves Call!

I can't think of anything particularly significant I've been studying lately. I've been stuck in Moroni 7 for a little over a week now! There is SO MUCH STUFF in there!!! It's great!! 

Mom asked if people ever can't understand me because of my "American" accent.  Sometimes. But not that often. Think about it: most of the movies nowadays feature mostly Americans, so they're used to the accent.

Mom also asked about a murder that happened in Belfast.  I did hear about that yes. It wasn't too far from our flat, actually. Just a few miles away.  This happened months and months ago. I'd be surprised if anything really big happened now because of it.

Oh and did you ever get my letter? I sent it weeks and weeks ago but I haven't heard anything about it. 

Have a great week everyone!! Love you lots!!!

Elder Bates

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

October 26, 2015 Presidient Hinckley's Joke

Hiya Fam!

Hope you enjoy the joke! Elder Schippers came in for a bit and helped me out. 

Anyways, our week has been good! I was on an exchange on Tuesday, I was over in Newtonabbey. While I was away, Elder Schippers and Elder Harman taught F, and then they and F went to go teach Ph!! So F went on a Joint Teach! And they said she did a great job too!! I was so happy to hear that. The lesson with Ph went well, though his pet bird (it's a kind of Parrot) freaked out in the middle of the Fall of Adam and Eve, which apparently terrorized Elder Harman haha

We had several appointments set up this past week, but none of them turned out after Tuesday. :( Not even Ph. We had an appointment on Thursday but he had to cancel and had us reset it to Saturday, but he wasn't there. He called us afterwards and apologized and reaffirmed that he'd be coming to Church, which he did!

On Saturday we had another Belfast Blitz! We set a goal to get 200 potentials! We set to work. We had a few whiteboards set up for people to write down "What makes you happy?", one Elder drew a picture of the Plan of Salvation in chalk, and we had several going around just talking to people. At one station, we had a Born Again group set up just 10 feet away, and they were singing and preaching and handing out tracts for hours and hours. No hostilities, thank goodness. Anyhow, we worked from 11 to just after 5. We had our appointment with Ph, so we had to miss the pizza. :( But we got a text from the Zone Leaders informing us that we had gotten two hundred and twenty five potentials!!! Woohoo!! It was a fun day.

Oh I gotta tell you this one thing. During our lunch break, an Elder Forbush came up to me. He's pretty short, probably about Claire's height. He's from Utah, loves Air Soft, really fun guy. Anyhow, he came up to me and asked if I would go with him to the Disney store across the street, just to check out the Star Wars stuff they had. We did, and he found a Stormtrooper helmet. He put it on and turned to me, and I said "Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?" BOOM! He laughed so hard! Oh it was good. 

Anyways, so Ph came to church. It was really good. We showed up to church an hour early (we always do; the buses are extremely few and far between on Sundays), and there he was, waiting for us! We were so surprised! We asked him if he'd forgotten to turn his clocks back but he said he hadn't. Still don't know why he was so early. But we were able to talk with him, help him to understand some of the things he'd been reading in the Book of Mormon. He can't read very well, but he does try, which is all we ask. 

It's strange, I don't think they do Daylight Savings on the same days in America as they do here. Because yesterday we got an extra hour of sleep (loved it!!!). Did you?

I got the package after the Belfast Blitz! Thanks so much! The ties are great and I've already eaten everything haha!

When I go home. I want to go straight from the Airport to the Temple, and I want just a few minutes in the Celestial Room to just sit and think and figure things out. Can we do that?

There are already Christmas stuff in the stores. To be fair, they don't have Thanksgiving here, so right after Halloween they don't have anything to hold them back ha  Unless we have an appointment, we must be in by 6 on Halloween. Then we have Guy Fawkes Day.  "Remember remember the fifth of November." Guy Fawkes day. This person, Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up Parliament, but he was caught and executed. In England, as I've been told by some English Elders, they celebrate that he got caught by making bonfires and burning effigies of him. In Scotland, they celebrate that he tried by burning bonfires!! Ha! I'm kinda being funny, but it's true. They celebrate it but for different reasons. I dunno about Northern Ireland. Probably get both. 

Okay, so I'll close with another thought from my scripture study. I was studying something, I don't even remember what, but part of my study brought me to Enos. And it really stood out to me all the really aggressive adjectives Enos uses to describe his experience. Labored, wrestled, struggled, etc. And I was really thinking about it. Why did Enos have to exert himself like this? Why did he have to pray all day long in order to get an answer from Heaven? I don't think I have the fullest answer, but one reason I came up with is that sometimes God requires us to show just how badly we want an answer. If Enos had simply prayed for forgiveness, and then kept on hunting, his experience probably wouldn't have been as fantastic as it was. Any thoughts on your end?

Somebody I heard said "I cringe a little whenever I read 1 Nephi 3:7. Because I know just what the Lord is about to command Nephi to do, which will take all of Nephi's faith to get through." Nevertheless, it's a great scripture!!

I love you guys so much! I was informed by some of my fellow missionaries from my MTC group that yesterday marks 7 months left!! Scary!! Hope you all have a great Halloween!! :)


Elder Bates

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

October 19, 2015 Birthday Weekend

Hiya Fam!

          Congratulations to Dad, who has survived another trip around the sun! Hope it was a good weekend for you.

          The reason I'm sending this so late is because the internet just stopped at the library. Frustrating. :P

          This week went well. I don't have that much time to tell you all the details I'd like, so I'll just tell you some of the better parts.

          First off, this week was the last week of the Lorimer's. They are a Senior Couple that have been serving in Northern Ireland with the YSA. They are AMAZING. Elder Lorimer has personally entertained two Prophets and I think it was 7 Apostles at his home in Wyoming!! He's a very spiritual man who gave lots of great advice. On Tuesday he gave us a half-hour talk on his advice on life. It was incredible! I definitely want to follow his advice. On Sunday, the Stake threw a Farewell Fireside for them. That's how big of an impact they've made here. Elder Lorimer told us about a time when he went over to have dinner with President and Sister Hinkley! And he told us all a joke that President Hinkley told him! It was so good! I'll have to send it to you by voice recording. 

          Okay, so Tuesday was also an exchange with the Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Penman. We found several people, but I want to focus on just one of them right now. His name was P. We talked with him in the street. He invited us to come back sometime. Later that night, he texted us telling us how excited he was to learn more about Jesus Christ! 

          We showed up Saturday Night with S. B., the RM. We taught him the Restoration. He is very very quiet. The most quiet person I've taught. Hopefully we'll be able to help him get over that. We gave him a Book of Mormon, invited him to read it, and invited him to church the next day.

          He came! He had to take a taxi, and the driver accidentally took him to the wrong church, so we had to leave Sacrament Meeting to pick him up and take him to church. We missed the Sacrament, but oh well. He said it was strange, but a good strange. His family isn't religious, so he hasn't gone to church in a long time, if at all. So I'd say that's natural. He also knows very very little about Jesus Christ. It's different teaching the lessons to someone who doesn't even know about Christ!

          We're meeting with him again on Tuesday.

          We're also working with J and S who are South African. S and L are a part member couple. S was a member for a year, then left to join the French Army. He later married L, who isn't a member. 

          On Friday, we met with F. We taught her about weaknesses because she was having some difficulties and had questions about why she was having them. It reminded me about how amazing this gospel is! Do you understand that other people have no idea why we have weaknesses?? They may guess, and they may guess correctly, but they don't KNOW!!! How blessed we are!! 

          Speaking of which, I wanted to share a spiritual thought from my studies.

          So we all know (or at least, we all should know) Ether 12:27. It's a fantastic scripture. But as I studied this chapter, that verse took on new meaning for me. What was the context for what the Lord said? Why did He tell Moroni this? Read verses 23-25. Right now, preferably. I'll wait.

          Okay, so, when I read those verses, I made a realization. As you look through the Book of Mormon, how much did Moroni write in his own words? Very little. Almost all of what he wrote was him quoting or abridging something else that someone else had said. At this point, he's actually reading the prophecies of Ether, and of the brother of Jared. Their writings were so powerful, they overpowered those who read them! 

          (as a quick comical sidenote, I've often wondered how that worked. "I'm going to read this book. Oh this is good! This is really good! This is really really good! Oh no!" *plop*)

          Clearly Moroni was comparing his ability to write with those of his predecessors. It was probably pretty difficult for him as he abridged Mahonri's writings. Now he was at Ether, and his nerves were probably at a breaking point. I don't know why he considered himself lesser than these other men (granted, I've never read anything so good it made me plop to the ground), but he clearly needs a pick-me-up. And God did so. I don't know, it just made that verse seem more personal than before. 

          The A's did get a package, Mom, but they said it was from Elder McPherson's family. I can't help but wonder if that was the one you sent them and they simply mixed up the missionaries. They do that sometimes.

          I finally got a letter with an orange envelope. It says don't open until after the package. I haven't gotten the package, so I haven't opened it yet.

          The area I'm serving in is Shankill.  Shank and Kill in the name. Apparently it means Old Church. It's the most Protestant area in Belfast. I should've taken some pictures around July 12th, there were so many Union Jacks.  We never did go to Cave Hill.  Darn.

          So Dad went to 9 hours of church on his birthday?  Man what a birthday! Dad just never stops working hard. It's great.  And Claire, you went to Homecoming?  Scary!  I can't wait to see Claire again. I miss her.

          Mom, on your update, it's amazing to me just how many people have completely changed their lives around while I've been gone. It's amazing!

          You went to the Falls?  :) Aw, I miss the Falls. They're nice.

          Anyways, have a great day! Love you all!! Again, happy birthday Dad!

Elder Bates

Thursday, November 12, 2015

October 12, 2015 Productive Week!

Hiya Fam!

This week was fantastic. It had its ups and downs, of course, but overall it was just great.

So to start off, on Monday we had dinner with A.A. He made us some pasta. We had a pretty good lesson. He's always been a fun guy. 

On Tuesday was Zone Interview Training. That was fantastic. Lots of good messages. At it, the AP's wanted to clarify some rules. One in particular affects you guys. We're not allowed to do live chatting anymore. I was pretty bummed about that. I've enjoyed those few times when we've been able to chat. :( But oh well. If you are awake when I'm emailing, feel free to say a little hello or something, but I won't be talking back. Just letting you know.  It makes sense, and they don't want any of the guys live chatting with their gf's, especially.

But the rest of conference went well. I don't have my notes with me, but they talked about a lot of different things. One of the sister companionships gave a training on helping our investigators to feel the spirit. One of them looked like a blond Marie! It was really weird haha Unfortunately we ran overtime, and President Donaldson still hadn't finished interviewing people, including me! I was the second to last, as it so happened. Elder Schippers was after me. We had a good interview. He taught me something that I've come to love!

So I've been struggling with studying. As in I'm trying to figure out how I should study, if you take my meaning. In the past I've just read through the scriptures or PMG, but I can tell that there's more I can get from my study. I've been struggling with it my whole mission. I mentioned it to President Donaldson, and he said I should try "Studying to Teach." So I've been doing that. I've been studying as if I was going to teach an entire lesson on that one chapter/section/paragraph or whatever it is. And it's been fantastic!! I was barely able to make it through Ether 14, which is crazy when you realize that it is all story, and has no immediate doctrine contained in it. But there was so much! I'm in Moroni now. And while the chapters are only two or three verses long, they take up my whole study time. What a difference!

Oh, and also another thing President Donaldson mentioned in our interview. He said that Elder Schippers would be leaving at the end of this transfer, and he didn't want to whitewash us out (have both of us leave the area) so he was thinking of having me stay ANOTHER transfer after this one!! But then he asked me how long I've been in Cavehill, and when I told him that another transfer would be my sixth transfer here, he said "Oh... well, we'll just have to see where the wind blows..."

But personally, I'd be fine if I stayed. In fact, if I left Ireland next transfer, I'd be furious.


Yep, another Apostle is visiting the mission!! And knowing my luck... But hey, all Ireland missionaries are meeting him, so as long as I stay in Ireland I'll be fine.

Anyways, we had to rush to Ward Council after that. It went well. Our plans for a Halloween party were shot down. :(

Wednesday was fantastic. We spent nearly the whole day in the Shankill, and all total we got 4 potential investigators that day! One woman, T, asked us to come by that very night! In fact, all four of them set up return appointments! That doesn't happen often! Unfortunately, I only wrote down "Woodvale" for her street. We spent the next few days going through all 7 Woodvales to try and find her. We've narrowed it down to two: Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Street. We'll find her! 

Another person we found was a man named J. Nice guy. He's got some issues, and he's had a really rough life. His brother was murdered, for instance. We met with him on Saturday. It didn't go too well. He's a great guy, he just isn't ready yet. But he liked us! He gave us a ton of ties! He was cleaning out his wardrobe and he asked if we'd like some ties. So he went upstairs (in the middle of our lesson, unfortunately) to grab them. He came down and plopped a big pile of them on my lap! There were so many!! Unfortunately, most of them were skinny ties, which we're not allowed to wear. But hey!

So on Thursday we had an appointment with a man named O, another person we found on Wednesday. O is an old man that lives on his own. He is really into Native American stuff. He's met with Missionaries before, but it was back in the 80's. He still has his Book of Mormon! And, perhaps the best part, he doesn't believe in the Trinity! He's a staunch Protestant, but doesn't believe in the Trinity! That's one hurdle we don't have to go over. He came to this conclusion on his own, too, from reading the Bible. Our lesson went well. He doesn't understand the purpose of the Prophet. He seems to think that we look to him as our Pope, which he is firmly against. But he'll come around.

We also met with F that day and listened to a few Conference Talks. She enjoyed them. She's been watching Conference on her own time, which is a good sign, in my opinion. We're going to start setting plans with her to get her to the temple. 

So on Friday we finally met with S and L.  L kept asking us questions about what we believed. So it wasn't bad. The trick will be to get them to feel the spirit. Once they start to feel it, and recognize it, I think they'll become solid. But it might take a while. So please pray for them. S told us that he's a Buddhist now. We'll see what we can do about that.

So we were really excited for Sunday! We had gotten three appointments, practically in a row, right after church! The first was with J and S as well. We'd talked with J earlier in the week, and she told us that they wouldn't be able to make it to our church this Sunday, but she promised to come next week. Still, we were all set. 

Just before Priesthood hour, S called us and informed us that he had the flu, and it was really bad. Not only that but they were in the hospital for J. I think I told you that she has crones disease? We went to the other two appointments and none of them were there. We were firmly disappointed. But we had done all that we could do. 

And that was our week! Didn't end on a high note as we had wished, but it was good overall. 

On Saturday night we were called by Elder Harman, our District Leader. He told us that the Zone had a new goal: for every area to have a baptism within two transfers. This transfer and next transfer. Basically a baptism in each area before Christmas. That's 13 baptisms. It's never been done in our mission, but that's what we fasted for yesterday. It can happen!!

Anyhow, hope alls well. We're hiking Cave Hill today. I'll be sure to send pictures.  And Claire is going to Homecoming?  That's great!  (And scary!)

Thanks for all the encouragement, I really needed it. Being on a mission is difficult. I know it's not going to be less difficult when I get home, but at least it won't have eternal consequences ha! Next Monday is my 16 month mark, come to think of it. How crazy is that!? I love the gospel. I love it so much. I want to learn as much as I can about it. One of the Senior couples taught us on Tuesday about the Hosanna Shout. I'd never even heard of that before! It was fascinating! I have no idea why he was asked to share it, but I loved it!

Love you!

Elder Bates

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

October 5, 2015 Conference Conference Conference!

Hiya Fam!

I hope you enjoyed Conference as much as I did! I'm sure you enjoyed it more, actually! For no other reason than that we haven't seen Sunday Afternoon session yet. But we will! I'm looking forward to it!

So this week was Moves week. On Monday we had a partial P-Day, then we met with F out on the lawn in front of the City Center. In retrospect, I should have taken a picture. Sorry. It was a beautiful day, so that's why we did it. You remember that guy I mentioned last week who thought kissing was lascivious? He showed up in the middle of the lawn and started preaching to the people! He went on for a few minutes before security escorted him off the property. I just thought it was crazy seeing him twice in such a short period of time!

We then had dinner with the A's, whom we haven't seen in a while. That went well, They're just as fun and kind as ever. They gave me two bundles of socks! "The way to a Missionary's heart, is through his socks." - A.A.

The next day we had TWO dinner appointments! We were so worried that we'd get too full, but we didn't want to cancel either of them. One was with the M's, see, who are Less Active (on paper, that is). Luckily, both meals were fairly light, so we were able to push through with minimal indigestion. ;) Our first appointment, the W's was great food. The kids had the tv on which really distracted us. So the lesson with the M's was much better. We talked about conference with both families and emphasized preparing for it. 

Wednesday was moves day. Our phone has been acting up so we had the Zone Leaders take it to Edinburgh for us so we could get a replacement. So we met up with them at the bus terminal that takes missionaries to the ferry and gave away our phone. We assumed we'd have it back by Friday, maybe Saturday if we were unlucky. We were very unlucky, and I'll get to that in a moment. 

Thursday went well. It was Weekly Planning day, but unfortunately we don't have any new planners, so we had to write all our stuff down on a different paper. But it wasn't a major issue. Nothing else happened Thursday beyond doing finding.

On Friday we wanted to know how we would get our phone, but we had no way to communicate. So we got our change together, and went to a phone booth. Yep, a phone booth!! You'd be surprised how many people actually use those! Again, looking back I probably should've taken a picture. So sorry. We were able to call the Zone Leaders who told us that our new phone was left in Edinburgh: no one was bringing it over until Monday. 

Everything on Friday that could have gone wrong went wrong after that. We got on the wrong bus which took us a ways away from our target. We left the map at the flat so we didn't know where exactly to go. Our appointment with S and L fell through because they'd moved the day before (if we had had our phone, we'd have been able to call and confirm and get their new address), we traveled all the way out to F's so we could make sure she could get to General Conference. After that we had an appointment in 30 minutes. But a bus never came. We had to walk the whole way to the appointment. We arrived a half hour late.


It was a South African family. J and S are the parents. They have two children: Sh, who's 13, and J, who's 9. And they are boss!! They were found by Elder Schippers and Elder Penman last week. S kept saying how impressed he was that we actually showed up! J told us stories throughout the lesson of her spiritual experiences, and they told us that they were looking for a church to go to! They'd only just moved to Belfast, see. S kept asking about the Book of Mormon, what it's about and such. We had a great lesson. They even invited their children to listen! J told us that her father's girlfriend, who lived across the street, was feeling very depressed, and needed what we had been sharing. So we're meeting with them as well on Sunday! I am so excited to meet with them!!

The best part is that I've been praying for weeks now for us to find and teach a family. Elder Schippers, on the way back home, turned to me and reminded me that they were in answer to that prayer. What joy!!

Saturday went well too. The Saturday morning session started at 5 pm. We went and I loved it! I especially loved Brother Lawrence's talk. I really enjoyed all the talks from the other General Authorities, not just the Apostles. The B's gave us a lift home afterwards.

On Sunday at 10 am we watched Priesthood session at the Stake Center. Between the sessions, a wonderful member provided the missionaries with lunch. Then there was the Saturday Afternoon Session at 1 pm. After that one was a two hour gap. The Zone Leaders organized a blitz, and we went out to do some finding, telling people that a Prophet was speaking!! Sadly, people were busy. Then at 5 pm we watched the Sunday Morning Session. Then, because we didn't have a phone, we gave our numbers in person to Elder Harmon, which felt weird haha! Brother M gave us a lift home afterwards. 

I loved conference! I can't wait to re-read and re-listen to them! All of my questions were answered (which is fantastic because I had written down more questions than usual and I was worried I wouldn't get them all)!  I noticed how President Monson was struggling. He started out a little timidly, but then got more enthusiastic! I'm thinking that it sapped him of energy, which is why he had slumped so much. I felt so sad watching him. But it was inspiring at the same time watching him struggle through and deliver his message!! What a man. The new Apostles look good too. I've always enjoyed Brother (now Elder) Stevenson's talks, so I'm looking forward to hearing more from him. 

Love you guys lots! Hope everything's going well back home!! Congrats on the baby girl, Laura!! That is SO good! I'm very happy for them. Three girls! Poor Jeff haha!

That'll be good that Dad is taking Grandpa to the condo. Be sure to say hi to him for me. I hope Dad has a great time with his father. 

Mom,  I Love the Book of Moses! Great stuff.  That is a really good insight that I had never thought about!! That's cool. Hm.  I was listening to a talk, and the speaker was using that scripture. He took a moment and said "Can you imagine what that must have been like? To hear and see Satan laughing and rejoicing? That's probably the scariest verses of scripture in all of our canon. It's chilling." and then he went on to the next verse and called it the "saddest verse in all of scripture." I wonder who it was, I can't remember. I think it was John Bytheway. 

Everytime there's a shooting in the US, people keep asking us about it. They're always condemning our laws on guns.

Also, they found water on Mars?. WAIT WAIT WAIT WHAT!?!?!? TELL ME MORE! That's like the greatest thing to be discovered since we discovered Pluto!

I did buy some new shoes.  They were 95 pounds. They're nice. They ought to last the rest of my mission. Elder Schippers said that these are probably the shoes I'll be walking through the airport in. THAT was crazy!!   Also, about the coat I sent home, it was just bulky, and I've already got a coat, so I didn't need it.  I won't need boots this winter. It never snows. Or rather, it never snows heavily.


Elder Bates

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What is Chapping all about?

This is Mike's Mom.  I asked him to tell us about finding and this is what he sent:

Chapping is what they call knocking on doors to find new people to teach the gospel to.

What is finding/chapping doors like?

Well depends on the neighborhoods. Most of the time, the "houses" are really big but split in two, so that they're really two houses. There's also what's called "Council Housing", which is basically given to people that ask for special benefits i.e. young single mothers, addicts in general, etc. 

What are the doors like?

It's funny. They're either really small, or massive! And none of them have doorknobs. Some don't have anything at all, just a lock. Like ours! I'll send you a picture of it. It's so weird! 

Do they have doorbells? Most have doorbells. Everyone seems to have a knocker as well, though most are purely for decoration and have no weight in and of themselves. I actually have come to like knockers. I saw one that was fashioned to look like a woodpecker! Pretty clever! 

Does everyone answer? No not always. 

Do you feel like they're home but don't answer? Sometimes, but again not always. There's those doors where you literally see them but they don't come. There's also some people that just wave at you through their windows to go away. Or they don't even come to the door, they just stick their heads out the window, Romeo and Juliet style! 

Is chapping very effective? Because most people work and are not even home during the day. Is that what you find? 

In the nicer neighborhoods, yes. In the council housing, nobody works, so you'll always find somebody. Not to mention you'll usually bump into a stay-at-home mother. 

For every door you knock, how many people answer? Depends on the time of day. In the evenings there's more likely to get an answer, though there's also the possibility of them being out to eat or drink or party. It also depends on the day too. Saturdays and Sundays, for the most part, are better. At the same time, Saturdays and Sundays are the days that people usually go out, or at least want to spend as much time as possible with their families. 

What do you say when they answer?  Do you take turns?

Yes we take turns, and we try to change what we say each time. "Hello we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! Have you ever heard of that church?" "Hello! My friend and I are asking people 'What makes you happy?'" "Hello! My friend and I are talking with people about a book called the Book of Mormon. Have you ever heard of that book?" "Hello! My friend and I are talking with people about families. Would you say your family is very important to you?" 

What do the people say? When it comes to excuses, the most common is "I'm busy doing such and such", or "I already have my religion and I'm happy with it", or just simply "I'm not interested." But we usually get a few responses from people before they say those.   Unfortunately we also hear a lot of swearing.

Do they invite you in? Not usually. I've been let in, probably half-a-dozen times on my mission. Some missionaries are bold, and when they say "Oh, I'm having dinner" they say "Do you have room for two more?" Sometimes it actually works! 

Sept 28, 2015 A Fantastic Week!

Hiya Fam!!

This has been a great week, in my opinion. It went by so quick, too! Funny how that happens, huh?

So basically we went on two exchanges this week, and went to a BAPTISM!!!  It wasn't ours. It was a girl that had turned 8 named Thina. The "h" is silent. Still!!

Anyhow, on Wednesday our District did a Blitz of Belfast. Elder Harman and I went to Fort William, Elder Schippers and Elder Sheppherd went to Ballysillan. It was an interesting day! Unfortunately we didn't find anybody willing to learn more about the gospel. But it was greatly appreciated!

That same day, I had my first Mass!!  Yep. I went to Mass in the Falls. F thought it'd be funny if we went, and I've always wondered what Mass was like, so we went for it! 

In all honesty, it was kind of creepy. The priest in these elaborate robes read passages from the bible, reciting prayers, and at certain times the congregation would repeat them and/or stand up/kneel down. The head priest also had basically an assistant priest with him who would occasionally ring a bell. I dunno, it was just different. The church was nice! Oh, and don't worry, I didn't drink the wine. ;)

So Thursday, we just did some finding. We were actually at this street called "Mount Carmel" strangely enough! Do you guys know what Mount Carmel is? I'll give you a hint, it's in the Bible.  It's the mountain that Elijah chose for the big "showdown" between him and the 300 priests of Baal! You remember, they both pray for fire to come down and consume their sacrifices, the pagans pray all day long and nothing happens, and Elijah dumps 3 buckets of water on the sacrifice, then prays and fire consumes the whole thing, stones and all!! 

Anyhow, Friday I went on an Exchange with the Zone Leaders. I went with Elder Beckstrand, while Elder Schippers was with Elder Penman. We were in Hollywood area while they were in Cavehill. It was a great exchange! Elder Beckstrand was trained in Cumbernauld just before I got there! I replaced him, in fact! So we had some good memories to share. First we painted their Ward Mission Leader's bathroom. Let me tell ya, their WML, E, he writes songs. But not normal songs. He had us listen to one while we ate lunch (ham, cheese, and jalapeno sandwich :9). It's called "Poop Street." Perfect for Lunch Time. Nice guy.

Then we met with their investigator, J, who had a date a few weeks ago, but he smoked the day before the baptism, so he couldn't get baptized. He's a great guy, he knows its true and really wants to be baptized! His family and friends are just completely un-supportive. 

Then we stopped by a LA's house. He let us in for a moment. I am sorry, but I am very guilty of Covetousness, because I want his house!! It's so cool! I don't even know how to describe it. He's a coding guy (listen up JC!) and he would work up in the attic in a little Man-Cave. He had three computer screens and was hoping for a fourth. I don't know what you would need four screens for, but okay! It looked so cool with all the lights and the decorations. Like a secret lair haha He's also a professional airsofter (listen up JB!), and he has SUPER high-tech stuff! He had everything a real soldier would wear/use, only Airsoft. Oh, it was sweet... But I digress! We do see a lot of really nice houses. So many different styles of decorating. It's given me a lot of good ideas haha

So then we did some finding at a park nearby a university. And oh my goodness, Elder Beckstrand is a FANTASTIC finder!! I want to be like him! Within an hour and a half, we had I think 6 potentials. SIX! Oh, it was great. Then the Rosetta Elders came by and we blitzed the park for a while, and got another two potentials. 

One guy was very interesting. This is going to sound bad, and I don't intend it to be, but he was a Law of Chastity Pharisee. I think Spencer W Kimball talked about how some people get too focused on one commandment, say the Word of Wisdom, and it just consumes them. That kind of thing happened here. He believed that kissing a girl before you marry her was "lasciviousness." And when Elder Beckstrand told him that it's okay to kiss before marriage, he completely flipped out and rebuked us. The sad thing is that he probably would have listened to us if he hadn't brought that up. He had a really good grasp of the Bible and the Gospel. He was 21 too.

Anyhow, then we had dinner with this awesome family. Then we all (including the Rosetta Elders) slept at the Rosetta flat. It was a fun sleepover. In the morning we exercised together by going to the Rosetta building and playing volleyball. I lost, sorry. 

However, Elder Schippers and Elder Penman were able to get 8 potentials!!! Two of which were Return Appointments!! I don't know much about them, seeing how I wasn't there, but one of them is a South African family! We also got back in contact with S and L. Do you remember them? We went by them a few weeks ago, then they somehow slipped off the radar? Well, it was great. This coming week is going to be fantastic. Oh, and I forgot to mention: F went to Womens Conference! So excited for her!!

Oh, and I also forgot to mention the Moves! First off, for MANOK, I got a Boojums Burrito and Elder Schippers got Burger King.  Delicioso!

Okay, so for the news! 

Drumroll please!!

We're staying together!!

Bet you didn't expect that!! I know I didn't!! Well I did, but I didn't. I had an inkling that that was going to happen. But I didn't believe it. Who knew!? I'm going to be "killing off" Elder Schippers haha because it's his last transfer? He's dying this transfer? You get me. 

I'm glad! This area is starting to pick up again, and I want to be here for it! Ha ha!

So on Wednesday, we were heading to the church, when I got a phone call from the AP's. They were in the middle of planning the moves. Elder Haller, the AP I talked to, said this:
"Elder Bates, we're working on your moves, and we notice that you've been in Cavehill for a long time now. We're going to be seeking the Lord's will on this, but we just wanted to ask for your thoughts. Would you rather stay or would you rather move on?"
I was stunned, to say the least. I asked him if I could think about it for a moment, and he said sure. So we got to the church, and I went to the chapel to pray and think about it. Initially I was certain that I'd tell him to move me out of here, and as I thought it all over, it clearly seemed like the best choice for me. Then I prayed about it. I can't really explain it, all I can say is that I felt prompted to tell them that I'd rather stay. I was very confused, as you can imagine! I had just thought it over and I couldn't think of any good reason for me to stay! I've already been here for six months. Yet I couldn't deny what I was feeling. So I called them back. And told them I'd rather stay. They told me that they would still seek the Lord's will on the matter, so I shouldn't assume that that's what would happen. And then it was done. I initially thought that it was just a test, to make sure that I'd be willing to do what the Lord would ask. Like Abraham, though that's a little more extreme. It was really more of a hope than anything else.
Well, here I am! I don't know why, but I'm here.

Mom asked about the Brazilian food I like so much here.  Well, for the most part, it is rice and chicken. But both are cooked in a really good way!! I'll definitely get some recipes for you. It's either that, or I'll have to marry a Brazillian. One of the two!  This is kind of a funny story! One of the referrals contacted us last Monday and said he only talked to us because he thought we were very attractive!!

I'm staying warm enough.  My jacket will do. This week is going to be sunny sunny sunny! Every day in the 60's! Farenheit I mean.

I have gotten better about goals.  Elder Schippers has been great at getting me to understand the importance of goals. I made up my list and a quota. 

Last week I heard from Brother Duvall and Brother Runolfson! Last week was fantastic, I had over 30 emails!! It felt so good! :)  I've also been hearing from Dayton and Ben.

Love you guys so much! Hope you all have a great week!!!
Elder Bates

September 21, 2015

From a recording:

" Good Morning!  This is Elder Bates. 21st of September.  It's Monday, P day.  And you're getting your first taste of the noise of Belfast.  (Lots of noise in the background....traffic, a garbage truck, etc.) 

Yep, that's Belfast.  Hope you guys can understand me all right.  I'm standing out on our balcony right now talking to you peeps.  Our week's been all right.  I finally got my battery's so that's good.  Let's see.  F, we met with her earlier this week.  I  believe it was on Tuesday.  No, Wednesday, sorry.  We met with her on Wednesday and we watched Elder Holland's talk,  "Like a Broken Vessel",  because apparently she struggles with depression sometimes and when she does that's when she resorts to smoking and drinking coffee and such.  So we wanted to help her get over that.   It went well.  Hopefully we'll be able to continue to help her with that.  On Saturday we helped H move.  We got SB, a Return missionary in our ward to come over and help us with that and it went good.  We helped him reconstruct his bunk beds which he has for his kids but unfortunately Elder Schippers and I were working on that, while Elder, I mean Brother Scott helped him move everything else into his flat.  We made the bed wrong.  We made it backwards I guess.  But his room was too small for us to turn it around and we couldn't take it apart again because we didn't have any more time.  So it was a bit of a mess.  Ew.  A drunk guy just threw his bottle on the ground.  There's a group of drunk people who convene just across the street from our flat.  It's pretty fun  So we later talked to S about it and he talked to H about church and stuff and he got a good vibe from it.  He got a promise from him that he'll come back to church some day.  I know him well enough that I'm pretty sure he will definitely come back some day.  H told him he isn't going to any other church right now which is good, which is really good I think.  And S also told him he's missed at church which is true.  There's alot of people sad that he's not coming to church any more.  So that went really well. 

We also had a record breaking week.  We had 3 dinner appointments this week.  Which is alot.  I don't think I've ever had a week that had more than 3 different dinner appointments.  First we ate dinner at the G's.  Bro. G, well he isn't a member, he remakes cars.  Not remakes, I don't know what the technical term is, he takes old cars and refurbishes them.  He's got a really nice Jag. He's really proud of it.  They made us Swedish meatballs... reminded me of home, made me a little homesick in all honesty.  It was good.  That was Wednesday.  On Thursday we had dinner with the L's.  She made us this really nice casserole or pie.  It was really good.  Potatoes and mince.  It wasn't Cheeseburger Pie, but it was still real good.  I've come to really love potatoes on my mission.  It's amazing what these people do with them.  There's a saying that you can go to Ireland or Scotland and have 5 different ways you can prepare a potato on a plate for one meal.  It's so true!   Anyhow, then on Friday we had dinner with the S's. Sis. S is Brazilian and I LOVE her food.  That's the family I skyped on Mother's Day with.  So good.  So good.  Elder Schipper's got the recipe.  I'll have to get it off of him.

All week long we've been doing our finding.  If you remember from last week, we had 8 referrals to follow up on.  Well only one of them had an address and we looked up the address and it doesn't exist.  Not in Britain .  Not anywhere.  Of the remaining ones, we gave each and every one of them a call.  One called us back and said we had a wrong number.  We're certain we did.  The referral was some kind of foreigner like middle eastern and the guy on the other end didn't sound like that so we're pretty sure that guy was legit.  Another one called us back.  It was two girls named Erin and, it is a strange spelling, Aiofe, pronounced E-fa.  All these crazy names I'm seeing out here.  It's actually really cool.  They set up an appointment but then they had to cancel it and we feel they dropped us as well.  I don't know. Elder Schippers has the phone. I haven't seen the text yet.  Nobody else has given us a call back but we'll probably call again this week.  We've been doing finding.  Oh, yesterday, funny story.  It was raining .  It was the only day it was raining while we were outside which was a blessing.  I'm not complaining about that at all.  It was raining yesterday and we were out knocking doors.  We came to this one door, this woman wasn't interested but she said, "I'm so sorry you guys have to be out there in the rain.  Do you guys want a muffin on your way?"  She gave us two of the greatest muffins I've ever tasted.  Well maybe not.  But still, they were really good.  It was Snickers, peanut butter, caramel, chocolate, it was so good.  It was a really nice woman and I'm certain she will be blessed for that.  We also met a woman who is a Christian Science person.  Do you know anything about them?  She gave us a pamphlet from their church.  I don't' know much about them. I just heard they were founded by a prophet who was a woman.  And that's all I know.  The pamphlet didn't help us because it basically said the same thing that any other Christian church believes.  Just thought it was interesting. 

Elder Schippers locked me out. Ok. 

I can't believe Claire went on a blind date!  I've never even been on a blind date!
Yes, it's getting colder and colder here. 
I'm pretty sure I'm getting transfered.   I've been here six months already! I think I might be going down to the Republic, which would be great. Most missionaries agree that the Republic, specifically Limerick Zone, is the "promised land Nope. Like I said, they're like those chewy sweet tarts, only not as strong.". 
Bon Bons here, like I said, they're like those chewy sweet tarts, only not as strong.  I'm going to come home and you are going to just flip out at all the food that I now eat!! ;) I like peas, for example. Well, to be fair, I really only like them when they're swimming in melted butter, but still!
I love you guys. Hope you have a great day. I can't wait to email you in a bit.  I'll see ya later.  I'll be getting some souvenirs today since my second to last P-day.  Any suggestions?  Well, too late!  BYE!"