Monday, June 29, 2015

A few notes from Elder Holland's Talks

The missionary's currently serving in Scotland got to meet Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Teixeira of the Seventy and his wife, and Elder Herbertson of the Seventy and his wife.  Unfortunately, Elder Bates is serving in Northern Ireland at this time and so he and the other missionary's serving in Ireland and Northern Ireland were unable to attend.  Elder Holland gave loving, yet aggressive spiritual instructions.  He didn't stand at the pulpit, but he walked around the chapel, yelling, making jokes, and staring the missionary's down in the eye - all in the most Christlike way possible!  Paraphrasing some of what he said:
  • Can you imagine an organization or a government that puts their future in the hands of 18-21 year old young men and women?  We expect you to save this church!
  • You are engaged in the salvation of a human soul.  It is the most important thing you could ever do.
  • Don't you dare leave this gospel after your mission!  If you do, I'll hunt ya, I'll find ya!
  • We have to go where our investigators go and what they go through in order to see change.
  • John 3:  Jesus taught a Pharisee, a "Master" in Judaism who could not understand the simple doctrine of being born again.  Then in John 4, Jesus went to the lowest of all people, a Samaritan woman, and taught her simple doctrines. 
  • We do not decide who learns.  It can be a Master of Religion, or a rejected sinner, it does not matter.  It is not our choice. 
  • Our responsibility is to talk with everyone.  Everyone.

On Sunday, there was a multi-stake conference broadcast from Edinburgh to 56 stakes and 4 Districts across the UK, Ireland, and Scandinavia. Paraphrasing the talks:
  • Elder Herbertson:  The Holy Ghost is not the only source of comfort and peace.  As disciples of Christ, which all of us promised to be when we were baptized, we are obligated to comfort and bring peace to those around us.
  • Edinburgh Stake President Alan Freed:  The "Miracle of Dunkirk" in 1940 during WWII.  There was 338,000+ Allied troops stuck in the North of France trying to get away from the advancing German military.  Large Navy ships could not attempt a rescue so they asked the citizens for help.  Over the next 8 days, 800 smaller ships, fishing boats, & pleasure yachts rescued all of them.  It was not the "experienced" navy ships that made the rescue, but the smaller, less experienced vessels.  No matter who you are or how insignificant you may feel, your impact, your "small vessel" will make the difference in the lives of those around you.  Disciples don't wait to be asked to help.  They just help.
  • Elder Holland:  Changing the age for the sister missionary's will change the future of the church.  He has had thousands of spiritiaul experiences in his life, some he would not be allowed to talk about.  But they all started with one thing:  Reading the Book of Mormon, testifying to him the reality of Jesus Christ.  Have you ever tried to write such a book as the Book of Mormon?  If Joseph Smith did not translate the Book of Mormon, then I would move heaven & earth to find the man who did!  Someone who claims to have written the Book of Mormon is a far more impressive miracle than the young boy translating is.  As I lay on my death bed, the last thing I will declare to the earth is that "This is God's truth."
  • To the missionary's he said, "Whatever the miracles of the past have been, they are nothing to what we will see in the future.  The work has only begun in these islands!"  This generation will live to see the manifestation of the scripture quoted by Moroni to the Prophet Joseph Smith 4 times from Joel 2.  It has scarcely been realized.  We've only seen the beginning.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

June 16, 2015 Sorry about last week!

Hiya Fam! 

We finally taught Fionnuala (it's Irish. It's pronounced Finula), which went really well. We taught her this week as well, and she came to church too!! She's got a lot of questions, but I think she's sincere in her reading of the Book of Mormon and such. She's probably at Enos now! She came to church this Sunday! She found it very different from the sunday services she's used to (Catholic), but she even said "I'm sure I'll get used to it." I'll take that as a good sign!  She's got a lot of questions, which she seems to get off the internet, which bothers me. Last lesson we talked about how the best answer she can get is from God, and the simplest answer is on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. 

Bo: still having difficult trials. He feels very unappreciated. And he always shrugs off our reassurances by saying that we "have to be nice".

John: we got a phone call from John one night. He was VERY drunk. He was saying something about how he had been at the Doctors office for chemotherapy and that he had some bad news to tell us. But later in the week, when we went by, he was sober and he didn't say a thing. I'm a little worried, but he seemed pretty normal. Lots of questions.

Armstrongs: yes they are members, but they don't come to church. Andrew gave me a paper with his conversion story on it, and it's pretty great!

Vincent: He was going to come to church this last Sunday, but both of his brothers are in terrible shape health wise, so he stayed home, "waiting for a phone call". One has cancer, and the other broke his collar bone by falling. Scary!

Also last week, we had a very special conference. Elder Holland was in Edinburgh, and they broadcasted the conference across the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland! So I got to listen to Elder Holland!!! IT WAS AWESOME!! He bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon. He had some amazing things to say. He said that the Book of Mormon was written to "try our faith"! I've never thought of that before, but for those people learning about the church, yes it really does! He said so many cool things.

This week was an All Ireland Conference! All the Missionaries from Northern Ireland and the Republic met in Dublin. I was in Dublin!!! :) :) It's a nice looking city! Much newer than Belfast. Absolutely beautiful countryside going down, too! I tried to take pictures, but they didn't really capture the beauty of it. In the train station, btw, there was this big screen that kept playing the trailer for the new Jurassic World movie. Not gonna lie, it looks pretty sweet! Made me trunky! ;)

Anyhow, it was probably the last time I'll ever see President Brown as my Mission President! That's sad... But it was great! He made a challenge for every missionary which I'd like to repeat for you guys: have a small notebook with you at all times. Whenever you receive a prompting, no matter what it is, write it down. At the end of the day, review the list of promptings, and write down whether you followed them or not, and what became of it. I've been doing it. It's interesting! I urge you to try it!

On Wednesday, we committed Hilaire to be baptized on the 27th! And he accepted!! We met with him again on Saturday, and he was very different from normal! Hilaire doesn't really display his emotions. Like, he rarely smiles. Even in photographs. He's also pretty quiet unless we ask him a question. But not on Saturday! He was so excited to be baptized!! He was so giddy, it was awesome!! :) He won't be able to come to Church this past Sunday nor the next Sunday due to premade plans. We'll be teaching him about keeping the Sabbath day holy next... he's awesome!! :)

Everyone else is doing fine. We were able to actually commit John to reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. He said himself that what really caught his attention was when I was telling him about how we have Modern day Apostles and Prophets. Bearing testimony is always the best way to teach! 

So yesterday was Zone Development again! That's why I'm emailing on Tuesday. It was super fun! We were right next to a beach, and we played a massive game of Zombie Tag. That's where two people start off as Zombies, and everyone else is a survivor, and they wear a bandanna tied across their forehead (Rambo style!). The survivors are armed with dodge balls, and they have to hit the zombies before they tag them. If a zombie gets hit, they have to spin five times and then keep chasing the survivors! At the same time, the survivors have to be solving a puzzle, looking for clues and such. And if they figure it out, they get the "antidote" (a couple of nerf guns) and they have to shoot all the zombies, which cures them! It was really fun! I became infected pretty quickly, so if the Zombie apocalypse does happen, you don't want to be on my team! Haha I'm pretty sore from all the running, honestly! It's tough being the undead!

Mom asked if I see alot of red heads.  There really isn't, actually. A few, but not a lot. I see maybe one a day. There are many Mcsomethings, but again, it's not as common as people think. Also, there is a difference between, say, McDonald, and MacDonald. One is Irish, the other is Scottish. Just an interesting bit of trivia!  They say "yous" here so I have started saying it too.  I'm drinking in the culture! 

Well, that's a good rundown of my week. Got to hear from an Apostle, saw President Brown for the last time, committed Hilaire for baptism, had Finula at church, and became a zombie. Pretty successful week, wouldn't you say?

Anyhow, love you guys! Keep on working hard! This week is my year mark! A year from today, I'll be sitting with you guys, eating Monkey Bread, playing Kube, and joking. That's enough thinking of that. I still got work to do! :) 


Elder Bates

PS  I love my mother!!!!!!! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pictures of MANOP

Moves Anticipation Night of Pizza!  24"!

Elder Bates and Elder McPherson finished the whole thing!

June 8, 2015

Dear Mother,

Actually, Zone D-Day is next week. So thanks for the note! :)

I am extremely jealous about that!!! You HAVE to take me now! Skydiving... Elder Christofferson... Dance Festival... everything awesome happens when I'm gone! :( ;)

Things are going really really well! Elder McPherson and I have been really working hard to become better more consecrated missionaries. And we've had some success!! Our friendship has been growing, and we're becoming better teachers and better preachers ha

I got an email from Julie today! She said that she met you! It's so weird that she's home! I haven't heard from Andrew. I think he's home too.

You asked about hair cuts and sister missionary's.  I got my hair cut at this barber shop in downtown Belfast. Quickest hair cut I've ever had! Probably because I didn't have him do much with it, but even so! 
Aside from District Meetings and Zone stuff, no I don't have much to do with the sisters. But they're bosses!  Have you ever heard of Missionary Goggles? 

I also have to tell you, I had this dream a few nights ago. I was coming home from my mission! But somehow I missed my plane, so I had to get on a later one. I finally arrived at the house, opened the front door and shouted "I'm Home!" I walked through and found you all eating at the dining room table with a pair of missionaries. Anyhow, to make a long story short, everyone was in bed but, because of the time difference, I was wide awake, so I was just roaming around the house. You came down and told me it was really late and I should be going to bed. Then you started tearing up and said " I'm so glad to see you!" then you gave me a big hug. I woke up then, and I could still feel the hug. It was distinctly your hug. And I could hear you saying " I love you Elder Bates." It was a really amazing experience. 

Elder Bates

 PS  Claire asked me about Patch Crowe. He's serving in Belfast. I've played sports with him several times. He's a cool guy. But now she'll badger me for a picture haha ;)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 1, 2015 Hello!

Hiya Fam!

Hope you all had a good week! We were told by our Bishop shortly before Church started about Elder Perry's passing. What sad news! He was a great man, a great Apostle. I always enjoyed his talks. I can't believe he's gone! He seemed just fine at General Conference! I thought he would be the next Prophet, but I guess the Lord has other plans. Well, he must be happy on the other side. No more pain, ya know?

Anyhow, let's get to a more happy subject! 

This week was Moves Week. Obviously, with us staying together, we didn't have any changes. We've been a bit discouraged lately. All of our appointments with investigators or potentials fell through, often with Members coming with us, sacrificing their time to come out. Here's some of the updates on everyone:

Hilaire: He was sick all week! We weren't able to meet with him at all!! However, he did come to Church on Sunday! Second time in a row! He brought his kids with him again, and they seemed to have a good time as well. 

Vincent: After over a week of no contact, Vincent called us on Wednesday. He said he's been very busy at work, and his knee's been very painful for him as well. We met with him twice this week, and we read the Book of Mormon with him. We really don't know what to do with him. He's not really progressing, but he really doesn't get much, if any, human interaction, so we don't want to abandon him.

John: We stopped by him earlier this week, and talked with him a bit. He said he might be coming to church, but he didn't come. He said he'd have us over for dinner this Friday. We gave him an Addiction Recovery book and he was very interested in that. He said it sounded very different from the group he used to go to, Alcoholics Anonymous. Mostly because we actually focus on Christ and His Atonement. It's difficult with him, because he gives away all the stuff we give him! All the pamphlets, both Book of Mormons, everything! He gives them away to people! But he doesn't know this stuff himself! He's just a very kind guy. It's cool working with him.

Bo: Bo is a Less Active we're working with. I don't remember if I've really mentioned Bo in the past, simply because I run out of time.  He's done some really bad stuff, and he's basically given up. His life has been absolutely wrecked because of the stuff he's done, and he doesn't want to make the effort to go back to Church, because he knows it will be very hard. He's a very depressed person, as well. However, I know that if he came back, he could be a spiritual giant. He was before he fell! And you can still feel such a strong spirit when you're with him, but he doesn't realize it. He's very self-depreciating, self-criticizing. So PLEASE pray for Bo. We have no idea how to help him. We've done all we feel we can do. 

Armstrongs: I don't know if I've really talked about the Armstrongs. There's a son and his Mom. The son is in his 40's, and he is a Star Trek fanatic. What he does for a living, is he buys Star Trek memorabilia, waits for it to appreciate value, and then sells it. He showed me his room once. We're talking whole bookcases completely filled with everything from models to action figures to Monopoly games, to calendars from the 80's, to phone cards. His Mum is a wonderful woman! They're both so kind! They give us so much stuff! Each time we visit them, they ask if there's any stationary we need, anything at all, and they get it for us! They often give us food as well! They used to have Missionaries over every Monday for dinner, but Sister Armstrong's health is deteriorating. It's sad. 

That's pretty much everybody! We do have an appointment with a girl whose name is pronounced Finula. I don't have my old planner with me, so I can't tell you how it's actually spelled. We're really excited to go by her, because she actually told us she's been reading the Book of Mormon, all the way to 2 Nephi! We meet with her on Tuesday. Tuesday is going to be a very busy day for us!! Love it!

Thanks for the information on the Dance Festival! Claire seems to have really enjoyed it! There were also a lot of boys in her pictures...

We taught Sharing Time in Primary yesterday! We taught about the Holy Ghost. We had a volunteer get blindfolded, had everyone else arrange the chairs in an obstacle course, and shouting and yelling, and the volunteer had to get to the end. Then we taught a bit about the Holy Ghost, and then had another kid go through, only this time I was guiding him. The kids seemed to have a blast! Including Hilaire's kids. :)

So next Sunday Elder Holland is speaking in Edinburgh to all the stakes in the UK I think! It's going to be so cool! I'm looking forward to it! What a fantastic opportunity to hear from an Apostle! 

Anyhow, as a last spiritual thought, I remember what Elder Holland said in Conference: "One cannot fully comprehend the Atonement... without acknowledging that there was an actual Adam and Eve." I echo that statement, and wish to expand it. One cannot fully comprehend the Atonement OR Jesus Christ Himself without studying the Old Testament. Something that actually boggles my mind is that there are many Christian churches that refuse to read the Old Testament. They only read the New Testament. Their reasoning is that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law, and so the Old Testament is unnecessary. I can kind of see where they're coming from, but it's honestly a very, very foolish notion. Has the Law of Moses been fulfilled? Yes. Does that mean we need not abide by it? Or even ignore it completely? Absolutely not! I found some DVD's for seminary on the Old Testament. Watching some of the videos has really opened my eyes to the importance of the Old Testament. We cannot fully understand the importance of Jesus Christ without a careful study of the Old Testament. Now, there are many things which are difficult to understand, often due to the loss of "plain and precious truths", but Joseph Smith taught that anybody with the Spirit of God will be able to understand the teachings in all the Bible. 

And another thought, which came from the talk I gave in Sacrament meeting yesterday: I want you all to read The Living Christ. If I remember correctly, we have it on our wall in the Family Room. Or we used to. In any case, read it. We read it the other day in Companionship Study, and it has a lot of great things. I realized that about half of the stuff in that document we know through Modern Revelation. The rest of the world either doesn't know about such things, or they believe something totally different. Incredible! I love Jesus Christ. I've really come to love Him even more on my mission than at any other time in my life! He's done so much for us, and He asks a pittance in return. 

I love you all so much! I miss you! Stay strong, and do not be afraid! Remember the scripture in Ephesians 6:13 .......   and having done all, to STAND. 

Elder Bates

Thursday, June 11, 2015

May 26, 2015 Prune the hedges of many small villages

 "Pruning the hedges of many small villages....."
That's what I did yesterday instead of emailing you. Made me think of you guys though! :)  I was doing service for Brother Ward, the Ward Mission Leader. As an interesting side note, his wife is from Poland! I love her accent. 

This week has been good! Here's some updates:

Finding: Finding has had some great success! We taught the Restoration on this one woman's doorstep! She's a Uni student (that's what college is called, Uni) and she's Catholic but she was very willing to give the Book of Mormon a try. 

Hilaire: Hilaire brought his two children to a Ward Picnic on Friday! His kids had a blast, and, after a little hesitancy, Hilaire had a good time as well. They all came to church too!! Our Primary President, Sister Beattie, was absolutely FANTASTIC with the kids!! :) His 9-year old girl even asked for a Faith in God booklet!  Hilaire is still having some difficulty deciding whether to join with us, or stay with the church he's currently going to. But we taught him about fasting, and he agreed to fast about it. We're pretty confident that his coming to church will be a great catalyst for it too. 

Vincent: we haven't heard from him all week! We're really worried about him! So please pray for him. We are!

John: Sorry I forgot to say his name last week!! We went by this week. He was completely sober, and he was SO teachable!! It was fantastic!! He hasn't come to church.  We HAVE to get him off his drink to teach him!!

As for building a ship vs. a barge, Building a barge requires GREAT faith in the Lord!! You can't steer a barge!!  You just have to get in and go where the Lord takes you.

That's a great story about Jeff going to the temple to get answers! It shows what kind of man he is. I miss the temple so much!! I love this gospel! It's so awesome!! :) I'm so sad all the time because I see so many people without it, and I know they're rejecting it. But I love it still! :)
Well, I have to go! Sorry! Love you all soooooooo much!!! :)
Elder Bates

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

May 18, 2015 Powerful Week!

Hiya Fam! 

Hope you all had a good week! We sure did! 

First off, I got that package with the goodies yesterday! Along with two letters from you! I liked the Irish words! They're mostly accurate! And thanks for the "20 reasons I love you" part too. :) Elder McPherson found that part, and I've had a few laughs explaining. I'm glad you like my package to you!  Cadbury's is HUGE here!  Everybody hates Hershey's.  They taste the same to me.

Life sure sounds crazy! I'll keep praying for everyone! Dad is such a busy guy, what a great man. I admire him so much. I don't know how I'm going to be so diligent when I get in his shoes. Just keep it up I guess.

Belfast is an interesting place. It's surrounded by green hills; completely covered in green grass. And you've got the ocean next to you.  There are reminders of the fighting that took place here all over.  There's only one castle in our area, and apparently it's not really a "castle", so much as a building with a roof that looks like a castle. BUT I AM DETERMINED to go see it. 

After a suggestion from our District Leader, Elder McPherson and I have started to pray about the streets we consider to chap. I used to do that, but I've unfortunately slipped off from that. Anyhow, it's been great!! Such fantastic experiences! We've felt the Spirit guide us to places and people. Three in particular. Two of them we're seeing within the next two days. The third is John.

We were walking down a street (later than we had planned because of various reasons) to get to where we'd felt like we should go chap. He started talking to us. He was really drunk, but he told us a bit about himself. He had been a multimillionaire! But he lost his money, and his family, due to his alcoholism. He'd gone to our church when he was 15 back in 1965! He said that experience had stuck with him his whole life, and he didn't know why. He didn't particularly enjoy going to our church, yet it stuck with him. Within the past few days before he'd met us, he'd been praying for him to find the true church. "And then I met yous! Crazy isn't it? You know what, there is no such thing as coincidences. What time does your church start? I'll be there! And you know what, I'll bring my friend with me! She's searching for the truth too. And if you guys want, you can come over and I'll feed yas dinner!" We gave him a Book of Mormon and a card with our number on it, and scheduled a dinner appointment the next evening!

In all honesty, I didn't think he'd be there the next day. Or, if he was, that he'd tell us to go away, he wasn't actually interested. But he was there! He let us in, and he fed us lasagna! He was Presbyterian, and his whole family was too. He'd spoken with them after meeting us, and they told him that "You let those Mormons in, they'll never leave!" He said they told him a lot of stuff about us and he asked a lot of questions. We tried to teach the Restoration lesson, but every time we tried he'd ask a question that'd be answered by the Plan of Salvation lesson! So we tried teaching that lesson, but then he started asking questions about Joseph Smith! It wasn't our best teaching appointment, but he said afterwards "Even if this doesn't turn out, you've totally changed my perspective on Mormons. You are good Christian people. And I'll tell my Family that too." He didn't come to church, unfortunately, but he's called us twice since the appointment, and told us that he enjoyed our company and he's reading the Book of Mormon. 

So for Hilaire, we met with him on Saturday, and we taught him about Baptism. We committed him to be baptized, and he agreed! But when we put forward our date (June 6), he declined, saying he'd have to think about it, and pray about it. We're seeing him again tonight, so hopefully he'll have an answer by then. 

So I have a question to ask you all!! I've thought about it and I think I have an answer but I'd love to get your thoughts on it. Why do you think the Jaredites crossed the ocean in barges while the Nephites crossed in a ship? Neither of them were seamen or mariners, and both were commanded of God to build the boats. So why did God have one build barges and the other build a ship?

Love you all! Miss you and can't wait to hear from you again next Monday!  ! I hope everything starts to smooth out a bit! Is there anything you'd like me to pray for?

Elder Bates

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mother's Day and Birthday Phone Call!

It was so fun to get to Skype with Mike on his actual birthday since it fell on Mother's Day this year!  When we first connected, Mike was wearing a birthday crown.  He is also wearing the birthday tie we sent him.

He looked so great and sounded even better!  It was pure joy! 
Thank you to the wonderful members who had him for lunch and to Skype us!