Saturday, July 25, 2015

Castle in Belfast

July 14, 2015 (July 12, well really the 13th)

This was written after the missionary's were on a "Lock Down" because of activities happening in Belfast the weekend of July 12th.

Hiya Fam!

I'm still alive! Yay! :)

Because the 12th is on a Sunday, the big parade was moved to Monday. We were really lucky! It went RIGHT PAST US!! So, I talked with John about it a few days ago, and he told me that the parade starts in East Belfast, then walks somewhere. I don't know where. But after they arrive, they stay there for a few hours to rest and eat and drink, and then they go back the way they came. He said the part to watch is the part in the morning.

In all honesty, it wasn't a big parade. Officially. The people walking with the parade doubled the size of it, actually. There were 19 bands in it, each numbering about the same as the Tumwater Marching Band. But we had a good time in our flat. We were hoping before-hand to get some other Elders to come over to play games, but everyone had stuff to do, so it was just us. We played RISK, Monopoly, listened to talks, etc.

So Elder Schippers arrived Wednesday night at 10:30! And on Thursday at 10:30 we had to pick up 6 other Elders from the bus station. They stayed overnight before they left for Dublin the next morning. Moves Week madness! But everything went well. Samantha's baptism went through. The water was really cold again! We're gonna have to figure that Water heater out, because it was absolutely Baltic for Hilaire! Lourdes, Samantha's mother, asked if I could baptise her! I was honored! 

Hilaire recently got back from his trip to France. We're meeting with him tonight. He's doing well, though. He had a good trip. Can't wait to see him! :)

So Finula came to church again! I'm not worried about her in regards to gaining a testimony. I am worried about getting her fellowshipped at church. Because she's 18, so most of the ward is her senior. She really doesn't have any friends at church yet. I am certain that if there was a YSA Ward in the area, she'd be fine, but there isn't. So please pray for her and us, so we can find a way to help her.  I do love the ward here.  I love them individually! 

Oh! And on our way back from District Meeting today, we were leaving the train station, and I heard someone yelling "Look! Missionaries! Hey Elders!" We looked over and saw a group of people waving near the station. We crossed over, turns out every one of them are from Utah! We talked with them a while until their bus came. It was a nice change of pace. :)

Anyhow, Elder Schippers is a fun guy! We've had a good time so far. Looking forward to this transfer, and this week! :)

I am so sorry to hear about Angela! I knew Shelby.  That must be devastating!

Thanks for the pictures! Funny story about Dad! Hope he also gets to go to Camp Helaman, balance out the estrogen with some testosterone! Ha

Yes! I got the package today in fact! Can't wait to go through it! I also got a letter from Laura with some great news! ;)

Mom asked what to send over with the Jacobs.  I'm good on shirts and ties and socks. Only got a few holy socks. ;)  We're supposed to stay in our white shirts on P-Day unless we're playing sports, so I'm good with P-Day shirts.

Love you sooooo much! Thought about you a lot this week! :)

Have a great week! 

Elder Bates

Sunday, July 19, 2015

July 6, 2015 Elder Schippers

Hiya Fam!

Well, it's true. Elder McPherson is leaving, off to Dumbarton in Glasgow to serve with Elder Dickinson!! You remember him? He was my Zone Leader in Aberdeen. As for myself, I'm getting Elder Schippers! He actually served up in Newtonabbey not that long ago. Newtonabbey is the area just north of us. Beyond that, I really don't know much about him. I've met him before, but didn't get to really talk with him. 

Anyhow, that's exciting! Who knew? 

We had a pretty good week this week. On Friday we met President Donaldson and his wife! The day before, the Zone Leaders sent a voice mail around the Zone, telling us that President Donaldson had asked that each of us stand in line as a district so President Donaldson could shake everybody's hand. He also had requested that there be no talking so it could be quick. When we heard that, we were like "Uh oh, he sounds strict! That's the Military man in him!" But it wasn't like that, actually. We all lined up, waiting for President Donaldson to arrive. When he did, he got right to it and started shaking people's hands. When he got to me, he shook my hand, asked where I was from, and how long I had been out. Then he looked me right in the eye and said "You are loved, Elder Bates." And then he moved on. He's a very spiritual man.

Shortly after that, we heard from both of them. Sister Donaldson told us a bit about them and such. She was a real firebrand! Then President spoke, and talked about what he was hoping to do with us. They both emphasized sanctifying the mission. They gave us a scripture to study, I wish I could remember what it was! But it was really good! I had a great experience reading that! :)

Also, this week was the "Tall Ships Races" in Belfast! Basically a bunch of sailing ships were on their way to somewhere (I honestly don't know where) to start a race! And they were stopping at a lot of places, like New York, and Belfast! So there was a big festival, and we volunteered there to do some service. We were just holding collection buckets for charity. There were 10 of us missionaries doing this. But it was fun! It was a really cool festival! It started on Friday, and the ships sailed away on Sunday. But there were a lot of foreigners in Belfast! Some were sailors. One ship came all the way from Brazil! And I was THIS CLOSE to buying this awesome wooden crossbow as a souvenir, but I never did. It was from Poland! :)

So we met with Finula this week. We brought Brother Moffet to it. We usually brought Brother Haddock, who is an AWESOME joint teach! He literally just sits there and doesn't say a word unless we ask him something or Finula asks a question. But he just got a new job, so we won't be able to bring him out much. Brother Moffet is the most available member we have. Finula came to church on Sunday! Which is funny because both times she's come have been Fast Sundays!! I'm worried about her, I keep getting this feeling that we need to do something more for her but I'm not sure what. It'd probably be good for her to get more involved with YSA. I dunno. Just please pray for her and us. 

We're thinking of dropping Bo. Each time we start to make progress, he gets into some sort of depression, and he goes back to how he was before. Each time we try to help, he turns us down. We're going to have to just leave him in God's hands. It's sad, but I can't think of any other way we can help him.

We're getting a baptism this week!!!

So her name is Samantha. She's the daughter of a recently reactivated Mother, who wants her daughter baptized. The Home Teachers have been teaching her, but she turned nine last week, so technically she's a convert baptism! Hey, numbers are the important thing, right? ;)

So that's pretty much us. Nothing else to really report. Sad to hear about President Packer, but not that unexpected. I'll miss him.

Hope you guys have a great week! Love you sooooooo much!! :)

Elder Bates

June 29, 2015 Hilaire's Baptism!

Hiya Fam!

Everything's good over here! Hilaire's baptism had sooooo many little issues, but it all worked out. For example, the water heater isn't working, so the font was FREEZING!! You should have heard Hilaire gasp when he went in. Elder McPherson baptized him, and I confirmed him yesterday. 

And guess what???  This week, Riley is going to the Temple for his Grandpa! And Gail, his mother, is getting her endowments out!! :D
We met with Finula on Wednesday, and guess what? She actually taught her friend about the Plan of Salvation!! No kidding! Her friend said she was afraid of death, and Finula said she wasn't, and then taught her about the Plan! Also, she's reading Hugh Nibley! She actually went out and bought a book for £20!! She said herself, she's gotten an answer, it's just difficult to come to grips with what that answer means. It's difficult! No one can deny that! She came to the baptism, but she left before we could speak with her. She also couldn't come to church again. But I'm certain everything will work out.

We met with Vincent on Tuesday, and a lot's happened since then! We did a lot of finding, but we really didn't find many people that were interested. Shame. 

Mom asked how people we approach treat us.  You do get those people. But most are at least polite, even if they aren't interested. I've gotten people actually saying "I don't mean to be rude, but I'm not interested", all the time actually. 

We do use a phone. We actually just got a new one this week! It's a Samsung. It's the most durable phone you can find! Ha

Is there anything you need from me? Anything I can improve on in my emails?   Thanks for all that you have done! :)

Love you all! Have a great week! The house looks great! You guys look great! The girls look big!! And so does the TV! Jealous! We're getting a heat wave this week! Unfortunately, it's supposed to rain along with it!!

Elder Bates

Monday, July 6, 2015

June 22, 2015 I saw the Tabernacle Choir Yesterday!

Hiya Fam!

I'm glad you all had a great Fathers Day!! Did Dad get my picture? If not I'll resend it to him. I love those pictures by the way!! They're so beautiful! I'd forgotten that Washington could be that beautiful!!

This week has been really good, overall!

Hilaire: This whole week, Hilaire has been going through a grueling Football Coach trials thing. He's been absolutely exhausted, so we never were able to meet with him. :( However, despite his exhaustion, he made the effort to come to church!! It went well, and he expressed in a prayer he gave just how excited he was for Saturday! We're excited too! It'll be held at 7 pm. A Ward Barbecue is that morning. Can't wait for that! :9

Finula: We met with Finula on Wednesday. She was just starting Mosiah! King Benjamin's speech. We had a great lesson talking with her, just explaining things, answering questions, and talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. At the end of it, Elder Preece (my District Leader. We were on exchanges that day) asked that, if she knew the Book of Mormon was true, if she would be baptized. She said she would! She also told us about how a lot of her friends have told her all these things about us, like that we're a cult, etc. However, she actually defends us to her friends!!! After the lesson Elder Preece said "I'm pretty sure she's gotten her answer. She's just afraid about what that will mean." I agreed. She was busy so didn't come to church, but I'm not worried. 

Vincent: We met with him once. He's still the same. He said, again, that next Sunday he'll come to church. The issue is that the gospel isn't a priority right now. I think his brothers are his priority. Which is understandable, of course. Perfectly understandable. One of his brothers is improving, which is good. Please continue to pray for him.

We didn't meet with any other investigators. We did meet with Bo and the Armstrong's, which both went well. We committed Bo to make an effort to pray every day. Actually, he committed himself, which is a good sign. And the Armstrong's we taught about Temples and Family History. Now, a big thing they're trying to do is to get Missionaries to start using Family History more because, according to President Kimball, "it is the same redemptive work." I'd always accepted that, but never understood it, really. But that day while teaching about temples, I don't know how to describe it, I just finally understood how they are the same work. It was really cool! I don't know if I ever told you about an experience I had, it was a few weeks ago. I was thinking about the temple and how much I missed it (in the mission, it's called "temple-trunky"). And the Spirit whispered to me that "that is one of the reasons you are here: to give you a greater appreciation for the Temple and the peace it brings." I can't wait to go back to the temple! First thing I want to do when I get home! Straight from the airport to the Seattle Temple!! Ha! 

Interesting story! We were out knocking doors (I didn't say chapping because that's a Scottish term) and we came across this Pastor. He did the usual bit, about how we need to rely on Christ and Christ alone (do they really think we don't do that...), and when we offered him a Because He Lives card, he gave us a pair of bookmarks with John 3:16, and a hymn on it. But here's the funny part: we looked at them later, and we realized that there isn't a picture of Jesus on the bookmarks. There's only pictures of CATS!! I just thought it was funny.

So there's a road we often go down, the Shore Road. If you go far enough, you get to the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle. It's a MASSIVE building with a big spire on top. Elder McPherson has always wanted to go inside! A lot of missionaries have this deal that, because we always invite others to come to our church, it would be hypocritical of us to not go to someone else's church when they invite us. I haven't been to anyone's yet. But the other day, while we were out knocking, a guy invited us to the Tabernacle! We were so excited!! Most churches have a service on Sunday evenings. Theirs was called the "Evangelical Rally"! From the moment I found out what it was called, I was DYING to see what that's like!! So we went!

It is a lot like the Conference Center! I didn't take any pictures inside the church, I thought that would be disrespectful. I will send a picture I took of the outside, but it doesn't quite capture the immensity of the building.  (Picture at bottom of this post.)  You can probably just look it up on Google Images But it was magnificent! All these chandeliers, and a massive stage with a full band. And a CHOIR!! So we got to listen to the Tabernacle Choir yesterday! :) The first half hour or so was all singing. And there were so many hands in the air, I thought they were "sustaining" someone! Ha! Finally, it came time for the Pastor to preach. His sermon was on the Second Coming. It was entitled "Here I come, ready or not!" :) He actually had some really good insights! He talked about the Five Foolish Virgins, and the Parable of the Talents, and the Parable of the Servant. He pointed out that each and every one of these people knew the Bridegroom or their Master was coming, but they thought to themselves that He wasn't coming yet. It was interesting, his preaching style. Sometimes his voice would get all deep and gravelly, saying "Are you ready? Are you ready?" It was as if Batman was preaching. :)
Anyhow, it was a good service! Afterwards a young man came up to us and spoke with us a bit, then invited us to meet the Pastor, who turned out to be his dad! So we did! We shook his hand, and thanked him for the sermon and such. There were a lot of good people there! I really wanted to meet their leader, Pastor McMillan. I've heard a lot about him, both good and bad. His story is pretty cool though! Unfortunately he wasn't there last night. He's in a bit of trouble for preaching that Muslims are of the devil.

So that was an interesting end to the week!  I'd heard about the shooting at the church! That is so sad! But what a fantastic group of people!  So forgiving!

The past week or two has been so HOT! Or at least humid, which is worse! And to answer your questions, I haven't had soda bread since that time when I was at O'Blarneys with you. I haven't had stew from a member in Ireland. Nor corn beef and cabbage. We do see a lot of "prayers" around, but most of them are actually serious. They're not, "oh that's nice" kind of things, they're actual prayers the Catholics recite, and some of the Protestants. Shamrocks are on some of their crests, particularly for the Republican paramilitary stuff. Beyond that, though, you'll only see them on tourist stuff. I have seen plenty of short people! But no leprechauns. :(

Thanks for the emails! If there's ever anything else you want to know, just ask! I'll try to answer. :)

Happy Fathers Day everyone!! I love you all!! :) Something Elder Holland said last week was that "the Last Days officially began when God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820. These are the Last Days! We've been in them for a while now!" So, family, "are you ready?" You'd better be! Cuz I want to be with you when that great day happens! :)

Love, Elder Bates