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