Thursday, January 21, 2016

December 14, 2015 Such a great week!

Hiya fam!

This has been such a great week!

So on Tuesday we met with P F and St. I'm not sure if I've mentioned P F before? He's an interesting fellow. He's addicted to video games, but he's fine with it. "It's better to be addicted to something that only costs about forty a year and doesn't hurt anybody than to be addicted to alcohol, which costs about forty grand a year and definitely hurts others!" Well... can't exactly say he's wrong... He's been a member for a few years, but what really holds him back is tithing. He says he takes a while to decide on things,and he always uses the fact that it took him five years to decide to join the church to prove his point. That's fine. But the problem is that no one will ever gain a testimony of tithing until they follow it: by paying tithing. So we've decided to have a special fast with him. We've met with him in the past and discussed the significance of fasting, and on Tuesday we decided that next Monday, the 21st, we would go over to his house in the evening, have dinner, and then say a prayer to start the fast. I don't want you to fast with us, but if you could pray for us that'd be great.

Tuesday we decided to watch Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with St. J McD also hadn't seen it, so added bonus! The movie does a great job at explaining some of our core doctrine as well as outlining a bit of church history. Plus it's a great church film! He enjoyed it, but we didn't have enough time to truly discuss it. We had to absolutely book it back to our flat.

On Wednesday we had All-Ireland with Elder Kearon of the Seventy. It was really good! He was so fiery! He said "Attack the day from morning until evening!" I really liked it. Plus his Welsh accent was quite entertaining. That night we also had English class, which went well. "We had two more than last week!" - Elder Stoker. Which is wonderful, because last week we had none! But that's Elder Stoker for you. You could fill half a glass, and he'll discuss how full the glass is and make it seem like it's overflowing. 

On Thursday our appointment with J B was cancelled. Because of the rain, we decided to do our Weekly Planning then, instead of Saturday like we'd planned. That was a fantastic decision because we didn't have any time to do anything like that!! Funny how the spirit works sometimes, isn't it?

Later that day we went with Co, a Romanian member of the Branch council, to visit a lady he works with, A, to do some service for her. We were taking care of weeds and moss on her driveway. She invited us in afterwards. We talked with her and she told us a bit about her life. It's quite sad, really. She has no family, never married or anything. And most of her siblings are dead, and the ones that are left don't talk to her. Apparently there was a big family feud after her mother died and it was all over the will. It was so sad to hear! It made me so happy to belong to a family that would never do that! I love you guys so much! :)

That night we met with M. I can't really talk about M. Every time I even think about him I start getting angry. Suffice it to say that after an hour of him insulting our most cherished beliefs about our Father in Heaven, he concluded the evening by reminding us that "I'm not entirely sure if there is or isn't a God", so we can certainly come back. I'm not sure if I want to. But we do have an appointment booked for tomorrow.

We met with St again right after M. There wasn't a member with us. Which, I must say, is the first time that that has happened with St! I am so proud of this Branch! We've had 12 lessons total with St, and each and every one has had a different member present!! That is unheard of!! Tonight is the first time we'll be meeting with St with a repeat member.

Anyways, we started talking with him and he got into a lot of "end of the world" conspiracy theories he's gotten from his research. He was asking us what the Church is doing in preparation of such things. We spoke of food storage and fast offerings and all that, but he wasn't buying it. But we tried to also tell him that it doesn't really matter because we have a Prophet, and that we're promised that, no matter how bad the Last Days get, as long as we follow the Prophet we'll be okay. He wasn't buying that either. Elder Stoker finally just told him straight out that he needs to start praying and reading the scriptures or he'll never know anything that will actually help him. Then he got on his knees and asked him to pray right now. And we did. We all got on our knees and we asked St to tell his Heavenly Father about everything he's feeling about the church, about the world, about everything. He never spoke a word. It took just a moment for me to catch on, and I began to silently pray as well. Elder Stoker did the same. For a minute or so, the only sound in the church building was that of the ticking clock. It was perhaps one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my mission! Finally, St finished his prayer and got up. We finished ours and got up with him. St was facing Elder Stoker, so I didn't see, but Elder Stoker swears that St's eyes were red. I'm not entirely sure how accurate that is, because like I said, the way he describes things, you'd think the glass was overflowing. But never mind. Elder Stoker asked him how he felt. And he said he didn't feel anything different.

That just killed me. I don't even remember what else happened, I was too in shock that he had denied such an experience. But oh well. 

Friday wasn't our best day either. We had five appointments set up. One of which was a dinner appointment that St was coming to! The first one we had cancelled during our studies. Ch and G. It's been tough getting back with them! We had a bit more Weekly Planning to finish, so it wasn't too bad. We had lunch, then went out to one neighborhood to knock doors. On the way, our second appointment cancelled, and then we bumped into our third appointment! Y. She didn't cancel, she just asked about a large-print copy of the Book of Mormon. There was one at the church, so we went back to get it, then back out to the neighborhood. While we were chatting with one old man who was in the middle of decorating a tree in his front yard, we got a phone call. I took it. Y cancelled. One of her daughters was sick, I think. It was hard to tell. We dropped by anyways to drop off the Book of Mormon, which she was fine with. Then we made our way over to the G'ls. We watched the new Christmas video the church came out with. The reception wasn't the best. None of them are really interested. Except the oldest daughter. When we asked them all if they wanted to come to church, everyone else said no, but she said maybe. Both Elder Stoker and I agree: if her family hadn't been there, she would've said yes. You could tell. 

The dinner appointment wasn't too bad. St enjoyed it. The member was a single woman who was born in Germany, grew up in France, and now lives in Ireland. Really nice lady! She made this fish pie. It was basically potatoes on top of chopped up pieces of fish and mussels. It wasn't bad! Really, the only problem with the evening was St. The only problem with St is that, because of all his "research", he's a bit arrogant. And opinionated. He's not the worst person I've seen with such problems, don't get me wrong. He's great! But sometimes, without realizing it, he'll say something, and it could be offensive to others'. He made a few comments in dinner, but the member seemed fine. 

Saturday was a mixture. Primarily, it was our best day of the week. And the reason behind that was A. I told you A is the Js' Au Paire? Well Saturday was her first official lesson (though she's sat in on two lessons before now). And it was really powerful. Her family is in Brazil, and she's got a strong Catholic background. She knows the scriptures really well, and just has a gift for understanding them. As an example, during the lesson, we had her read James 1:5. Without even telling her about Joseph Smith's actions in relation to that verse, she said "Huh. I think I need to pray and ask God which church is His." "Oh my days that's flippin' mental!" That's how Elder Stoker described it. Afterwards, of course haha It was a fantastic lesson! She said the prayer in Portugese, but she translated it later, and one of the things she said in her prayer was that she hopes that the Missionaries (us) will find more people that will be willing to listen. 

Oh, and on a funny note, she kept having trouble pronouncing the word "baptize". She kept saying "Bapti-zed". Ha!

She also came to church as well! So did St and T and H. It was a great Sacrament meeting too! And after church we had TWO meal appointments! One with the Bl's, which St came along for, and one with the B's. President B is the Branch President. But he's been in the Philippines visiting family and doing business for the past month. He got back earlier this week. It was at the B's we got our call.

I'm staying in Bray with Elder Stoker!!! I am so excited! This branch is awesome, and Elder Stoker is fantastic!!!! This is going to be a great transfer! This coming one is actually going to be a 7 week transfer to make up for the 5 week transfer we're in right now. Apparently, very few people will be moving across the whole mission. Which I thought was nice. 

But yeah, that was our week!!

It's looking like Christmas, although it is more merry in Dublin than in Bray.  They call the round ornaments "baubles." There are a few giant ones strung across Main Street! I'll take a picture.  I was laughing so hard when you sent the picture of the tree!!! Oh it was glorious!!! Typical Bates Family Christmas!  Yes I did get to listen to the video, and so did Elder Stoker. Thanks! Send more! I enjoyed the one of Brielle and Rosalyn sitting on Santa's lap.

Yep, we are using the chocolate adent calendars you sent! We are Halfway through, do you realize that!?

Our Christmas boxes will be delivered the day before Christmas Eve! A little scary, I think. Remember last year??? That's a funny story. Did you get my letter?

I got a similar prompting, Mom, last night, only it was for me to listen better to people. Remember that talk from Conference about how the Spirit really does give personalized messages? Love it!

When I remember to put on thermals yeah, I'm warm enough. Sometimes I forget ha! I wore my Christmas tie for the first time yesterday!

You don't know how much your emails mean to me! I love you so much! While Elder Stoker finished emailing, I finished watching Meet the Mormons, and I almost started crying at the end with the Missionary Mom. I miss you and I love you beyond words.

For a spiritual thought, I want to tell you about what we taught Ch, the member we had dinner with, with St. We watched the Christmas video, and then we shared our favorite stories of the Savior. Mine is in 3 Nephi 11:14. Really, it's the first line of that verse. I read it, and I picture the Savior saying it with longing, and eagerness. "Please, come forth unto me and behold these hands!" I would encourage each of you to think about your personal favorite story of Christ.

Elder Stoker picked the story of Jesus healing the man sick with Palsy. But he told it from the perspective of Jesus, which I'd never thought of before! So Jesus had been out preaching for probably all day. And tons of people wanted to hear Him. He finally came home, probably looking forward to some rest. And what happens? His home is completely filled with people, so much so that no one can come in!! And if that's not enough, some guys that want in decide to take apart some of His roof to let in their friend!!! Kinda puts a new perspective on it, huh? Yet through it all, our great Exemplar shows nothing but kindness and mercy. Beautiful.

Anyways, love you all! One week until Christmas!! Whee!!

Elder Bates

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Mike's Scripture Chain

The missionary's were challenged by their Mission President to make a Scripture Chain connecting scriptures.  This is Mike's (which he had printed and formed into an actual large chain, and sent it to Claire for her Christmas Present!  It is proudly hanging in her room!)


1.  Title Page Second Paragraph - What is the purpose of the Book of Mormon?

2.  Jacob 1:6-8:  What did the people of the Book of Mormon do with their knowledge of Christ?

3.  Ether 3:14:  What did Christ do for us?

4.  3 Nephi 9:15: These next few verses prove that Jesus Christ created the Earth.  Why Him but not Father?

5.  Mosiah 3:8:  Why is Jesus sometimes referred to as the Father?

6.  2 Nephi 2:14:  What does Lehi mean by "things to act and things to act upon?"

7.  2 Nephi 2:19:  The next few verses deal with the Fall.  Elder Holland said it is critical to know about the Fall to understand Christ.  Why do you think that is?

8.  Alma 12:22:  What happened because of the Fall?

9.  Ether 3:2:  Evil is a strong word!  Why did Mahonri, who's just about to see Jesus Christ, use such a description?

10.  Mosiah 3:19:  How do we overcome the Fall?

11.  Mosiah 4:6-7:   How did God solve the Fall?

12.  Helaman 14:15-19:  There were two things Christ saves us from.  What are they?

13.  2 Nephi 17:14:  These next few verses speak of His Birth.  Why is it significant?

14.  2 Nephi 19:6:  This isn't a question, it's a quote to help answer #23:  C.S. Lewis said, "God became a mortal man.  How can we understand that?  Imagine, for a moment, choosing to become a lowly gnat, or even a single-cell organism.  That still does not compare to what he did."

15.  Alma 7:10:  Why did Alma say Jesus would be born at Jerusalem?

16.  1 Nephi 12:3-12:  Nephi was shown this in answer to his question about the meaning of the Tree of Life.  What was his answer?

17.  3 Nephi 12:3-12, 44, 48:  The next few verses deal with his Ministry.  As you read the Beatitudes, ponder on why each Beatitude is where it is.

18.  1 Nephi 11:26-29:  Look up the word Condescension.  How does these verses show His condescension?

19.  3 Nephi 13:9-13, 31-33:  These are more of His teachings.  As you read His prayer, think about what He said for his example of a prayer.

20.  Mosiah 14:2-4:  I firmly, and with all my heart wish we could read some of Jesus' journals.  I'm sure He had some.  What do you think He wrote in them?

21.  3 Nephi 14:7-11:  If this is true, why doesn't God always give us what we want?

22.  3 Nephi 17:9, 21:  I would highly advise you to carefully study and ponder upon this whole chapter.  It's beautiful.

23.  Alma 7:12:  Remember the C.S. Lewis quote?  Think about that as you read this verse.

24.  Mosiah 14:4-5, 7-9:  My heart is pained whenever I read this.  How He loves us!

25.  2 Nephi 26:24:  He commandeth NONE to not partake of His Salvation!  He loves the whole world!

26.  Ether 12:33:  Too many people believe that the spirit world is relaxing.  He didn't rest, and neither will we.

27.  Alma 11:42-44:  Dad probably loves verse 44!  I want you to understand, however, how amazing it is that we have this knowledge.  Others either have a false conception on what resurrection is or who gets it.  Amulek lays it out plainly.

28.  Mormon 7:5, 6:  How is the sting of Death swallowed up?

29.   Mosiah 15:20:  If the chains of death are broken, why do we still die?

30.  3 Nephi 11:1-17:  I particularly love the first sentence of verse 14.  I picture the love and the eagerness in His voice as He says, "Come unto me!" 

31.  3 Nephi 26:6:  The good news is that we can still learn some of those things through our own studies and ponderings.

32.  2 Nephi 25:26:  Again, this is the purpose of the Book of Mormon

33.  2 Nephi 33:10:  This is my wish for you.

34.  Ether 12:41 - This is my invitation to you.  These are only a few links that you can make.  Make your own!

December 7, 2015 Ringing bells! Ringing bells! Ringing bells all day!

Hiya Fam!

Think Jingle Bells:

Ringing Bells, Ringing Bells, Ringing bells all day!  (Door bells!)

The truth is, we've done barely any chapping this week! It's been a great week! :)

On Wednesday, we were talking to people in the street, when we stopped a man named J B. His father is in the hospital, can't remember what for. He was on his way to visit him, but he said that if his father is all right, he could meet with us at 4:30! We had St at 4:30, but he was fine with moving our appointment. More on St later. J was good! We taught him the Restoration, and he said it made sense! It was different in some parts from what he believed, but he did commit to reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it as well as baptism! There really was only one minor hiccup: He's gay. But once he gains a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, I'm sure it won't be a problem.

We were also meant to teach H that night, but he wasn't in. Bummer. 

Thursday was nice and busy. It was raining quite hard, so we decided to do our Weekly Planning then. It was fun because during our Lunch break we started watching Meet the Mormons, which I haven't seen. I think it's pretty good. It really is a string of I'm A Mormon videos, but still good. Later that day, we were with Y, and we talked with her a bit about the Holy Ghost and watched Elder Eyring's talk from this last General Conference. That night we met with the S's, a member family from America! The S's were at the Thanksgiving dinner. They've got four kids: H, J, and two little girls whose names escape me. The Dad is Less Active. We shared with them the Christmas video, and we all committed to do one of those papers saying "He was born so I _____" You know those? We had a nice dinner with them too.

Friday was a long day of Finding, but it was all GQing. It was good. We had an appointment, but the guy didn't show up. Why do people give you their numbers, tell you they'll meet up with you, and then never respond and never show up? It doesn't make any sense. But that night we had dinner with the R's. Their son just returned from a mission to France. They're Spanish. 

On Saturday morning we were with the G's again. We almost finished their fence. We were going to share a message, but it had taken too long. We set up an appointment later in the week though! That evening we also had a lesson with W, the LA brother of a member. Again, he wasn't there.

On Sunday we were disappointed when St didn't come to church. He slept in. :/ Still, T came! We also had another lesson with another potential, but he didn't show. We weren't totally surprised about that one, because we think he was high when we spoke with him. We also had a Dinner Appointment that was cancelled because the family was sick. I think, all total, we had six appointments fall through. Not a great record. But hey, so long as we did our part, that's what matters, right?

Okay, so onto more happy topics!! St is a BOSS!! We have him with a Baptismal Date of December 30th. We both fasted for him yesterday. We met with him 5 times this week! The first time was at the J's with A. I think I mentioned her on Tuesday. We didn't see her later in the week, but we will this week. The next two times was on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He doesn't seem to grasp what Sin is. He has the belief that when bad people do bad things that they don't think it's bad. Which is probably true! But sin isn't so much about how we feel, so much as how God feels. But anyways, the fourth time was on the Word of Wisdom. Unfortunately, he has a problem with the Word of Wisdom. But it's not what you think.

He doesn't like verse 16. More specifically, he doesn't like the first thing it mentions.

That's right. He doesn't believe that Grain is actually good for you.

Probably the first and only time I'll ever hear that one!!

So St has a problem. He's very curious about things. But he doesn't like to read. More specifically, he doesn't like to read books. He's fine with online articles. Which he does look up extensively. He hasn't looked up anti-Mormon stuff, thank goodness, but he does believe a lot of what he reads. Kind of like B from Inverness. You remember him?

Anyways, St believes that one of the worst things you can eat is Gluten. It gives you all these diseases, it gives you cancer, yadda yadda yadda. He also doesn't like most of today's food in general because of herbicides and all sorts of stuff. But he did admit that even though he knows it's bad, he still eats it anyways. So the Word of Wisdom really won't be a problem for him, in reality. I just thought that was an interesting problem.

We met with him again on Sunday and talked about the commandments, and we finally committed him to baptism. Earlier in the week we committed him to read from the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. He said he would, but for various reasons he hasn't. But he finally got it on his tablet, so hopefully that'll help. He'll be busy with work this week, so we're not sure how many times we'll get to meet with him. Some prayers on his behalf would be great! He's not sure if he believes in God, and the more we try to press him on that point, he gets more aggressive about it. 

Another thing to mention, President Donaldson has set a goal for the mission that we are to get 40 baptisms in December, and he's set a few new strict rules to reach that. One of them is that we are never to leave our areas (except for All Ireland this Wednesday). This means no exchanges for December. I'm sure the only exceptions are for Baptismal interviews as well. But yeah! It's cool! 

We shared this with several members: Enos 1:12. It outlines the three steps to receive revelation, miracles, whatever we desire from the Lord: 1: We must pray for it. You'll never get anything without asking. 2: We must "labor with all diligence". I love the quote that says "When you pray to move mountains, don't be surprised when the Lord hands you a shovel!" 3: We must have faith that the Lord will grant according to our desires.

So part of our Christmas day time is to be sent doing some form of service. I was thinking of spending it baking some cookies for our neighbors. Or maybe a cake. Just something. I was wondering if you have any recipes for some delicious cookies? I'm not entirely sure what we have, but we do have an oven!

Oh and if you have any other ideas for service, I'd love to hear it.

President Thompson committed us to make our own Scripture Chain at Elder Ballard's visit. You pick a topic, and then go from one scripture to another to form all you can about that topic. So I decided to do that.  All the scriptures are about the Savior and all the scriptures are from the Book of Mormon.  I'll send it to you!

Anyways have a great week! Enjoy the Christmas season! :)


Elder Bates

December 1, 2015 Little time to spare, but here we go!

Hiya Fam!

St is doing fantastic! We taught him the Plan of Salvation this week, and he said he thought the plan was "too perfect". We also got him to pray!! He also came to church and loved it! AND yesterday a member had us and him over for dinner so we could teach Am (more on her in a bit) and he even answered some of her questions! It was good! I'm very hopeful for him!

Am is the Au Pair, as they're called, for the J's. She's basically a maid. Cleans the house, babysits the kids, helps with the food, etc. She's really cool, and the family love her. She's from Brazil. And Sister J asked her if she wanted to learn about the gospel, and she said yes! So we taught her the Plan of Salvation!! She was asking all the right questions too. It was really good, and we're meeting with her again later this week.

We also met with Ga. Ch wasn't able to make it, but it was still good. We hadn't fully explained the Book of Mormon, so that's what we did with them. And yes, they work for Doterra!! How crazy is that!? What are the odds.

We met with H for the first time. H has had a really trying few weeks. His daughter, her husband, and their three children, five people in all, died in a fire. He's taking it really hard. We were really quick with him, but it was a good lesson.

We also met with several LA's, two of which were Part-Member families: the G's and the C's. Just got to know them a little better, shared a spiritual thought on prayer, nothing too formal. At one of them, the C's, the little girl was practically begging her mum to take her to church! It was so cute! 

It's been a fantastic week! All in all, we taught 14 lessons!!! I've had whole TRANSFERS where we didn't get that many!! Things are taking off!! Woo!

Can't believe it's almost 2016!  It is so weird too!! The year that you spend completely in the service of the Lord is referred to as your "Black Hole Year". It's not a very accurate representation, but oh well. And this is the last month of my Black Hole Year. Scary! I got your package earlier today, btw. Exciting!!! 

You asked what I thought of Haggis and Blood Pudding...... Haggis: Good. Blood Pudding: Meh. Most people call it Black Pudding instead of Blood Pudding. Sounds a bit more... sanitary... 

It's probably a bit late to give you a Christmas idea, but my camera is dying. I think all the rain has seeped in and it just doesn't work too well. It's just slow, really. I'm just nervous that I'll be out here without a camera!! :/

Really? You got a live tree? Where did you go? Did you take pictures?

President Donaldson sent us some rules for our phone call. I'll forward them to you.

Questions from your other emails:

Who is T? T was a member who had her name removed from church records. She still believes in the church, comes to church every Sunday, and does a TON of missionary work, her main problem is smoking. She's too scared to stop. :( She has us over nearly every week, and feeds us every time :9

Why are so many Romanian's in Bray? Really, from what I understand, Romania is to the UK (and Ireland, there's a difference) as Mexico is to the USA. They come for work, better living, less corruption, and for benefits (such as free health care). And being part of the EU allows them to travel quite cheaply. I've been so surprised. Flying from Dublin to Amsterdam is cheaper than flying from Seattle to San Diego. It's less than 100 Euros!! 

As for Elder Ballard, could I tell him about the gospel, yes. Could I TEACH him about the gospel, I kind of doubt it. How could I teach an APOSTLE anything about the gospel!? But I'm still trying to better my teaching skills.

We don't use the Restoration movie too often. We prefer to teach about the Restoration than to watch it. We usually use it more for LA's, Members, or to help re-teach or reinforce the message of the Restoration to Investigators.

What is Shaman? A Shaman is a Native American priest. They were also the village medicine man. So Soaking Shaman.

It's been more windy than rainy. Do you have a good umbrella? Don't really need one. waterproof coat? Yeah, got a good one! Sorry Mum, but showers don't bring investigators. People want nothing more than to go inside when it's raining, so the best thing we can do is to knock doors and hope that someone will let us in. Which does sometimes happen!  Elder Stoker is 23 and just over 6 foot if I remember correctly He's from the same part of London, same town as the temple!

I love you so much!! My love grows much stronger while we're away!! Can't wait to talk to you again!! :D  Love you all! The church is true, the book is blue.

Elder Bates

PS did you hear that Elder Wells is engaged? He's getting married on the 19th!!!! THAT'S QUICK!

November 30, 2015 Miracle Story!

So I was at the Garda office at 6:30 am this morning. Had to wake up at 5 to be there with all the missionaries getting cards (there's only four of us in Dublin. One was a sister, so her companion had to come along). The line was long and we were nervous that we would be there until 5 PM, at best.

But the Lord works in mysterious ways.

The first Missionary finished before 11 am. 

I was the last one, and we got out by 11:45. What made it better was a member who was also getting her Garda Card, who bought us all hot chocolate while we were waiting outside in the cold!!

Unfortunately, due to a series of circumstances, I won't be able to email you all today, but I just had to tell you about the Miracle in Dublin! I KNOW it happened because of your prayers!! Thanks!

Talk to you tomorrow! Thanks for the emails!
Elder Bates

Monday, January 11, 2016

November 23, 2015 False Alarm!

Hiya Fam!

I'm not entirely sure when I will email, but it'll probably be on Wednesday.

I'm sorry I wrote and told you I wouldn't be able to email today.  I have to get my Garda Card. Basically, if I don't, I have to be removed from the Republic of Ireland. Many missionaries have told me about how long it takes to get it. Apparently some have gotten to the office in the morning, but didn't get back home until 11PM!! But we found out later in the day that the Zone Leaders organize when all the missionaries go to the Garda offices to get their cardsAnd it will happen NEXT Monday.   So unless a miracle occurs (which would be fantastic), I won't be emailing next week. :(    And in case you're wondering,  The Garda is the Police out here. It's funny. They're called Gards. 

This week has been FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The highlight was getting to meet Elder Ballard, but it was ALL good! We got 9 lessons this week! NINE! I haven't had that many in a looooooong time! And six of those had a member with them. And we got 5 New Investigators! We are working with SO MANY PEOPLE! I honestly can't even remember them all!!! But I'll do my best:

On Monday we met with M. I'll be honest, I don't have much hope for this guy, but good ol' Elder Stoker has faith in EVERYONE!! M is an older man who is dead set as an Atheist. He's very studious in Psychology, and he was absolutely twisting us around when we first showed up. We'll see what happens.

On Tuesday I was on an exchange with Elder Elsmore, who's being trained by Elder McCappin, our District Leader. Their area is called Terenure. It includes, primarily, Dublin city center. We spent most of our time on a street corner trying to talk with people. We also had a lesson with a man named C, who is a golden investigator!! We taught him the first lesson, and he'd already shared the Book of Mormon with someone!! It was a really great lesson. Pity he's not ours.

On Wednesday we met with A. He's 18. Elder Stoker and his last companion, Elder MacFarlane, had met with him a few weeks ago, but then they'd completely lost contact with him. Elder Stoker was completely gutted about that, he completely raved about A! We finally got back in contact with him, and he's right! He's great! He's fairly early in his spiritual learning, he goes to a Protestant church normally. We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and it made a lot of sense. We also had a fairly recently returned missionary with us, and he was an absolute BOSS.

On Thursday we met with Ch. So her story is a bit long. So President Donaldson has called a man to be his representative in Ireland, basically. He's practically the Mission President of Ireland, and his name is President Thompson. He actually lives in Bray Branch, but we don't see him often. Anyways, three months ago he talked to Ch and he sent her as a referral to Elder Stoker and Elder MacFarlane. They've been trying to get in contact with her ever since!! All they had was a phone number, and they would call and call and text and text, and absolutely nothing. But President Thompson kept telling them to keep calling her! And just this last Wednesday she finally called us back and we set up an appointment.

She brought her husband, G. They're Romanian but they work for a company based in Utah that sells Essential Oils or something like that. And all of their bosses are Mormon, so that's one of the reasons they were interested. We met with them, and it was great! They said they'd been looking for the right church to join! We testified that this was it! It was a really good lesson.

Later on Wednesday we met with Y. She's an eterna-gator. We listened to Elder Holland's talk this last conference and spoke with her about Baptism. She said that if she does something she wants to go all in, but she doesn't feel ready to do that yet. She's a good friend of T's, and I'm worried that they're two peas in a pod. Don't want to be baptized because they love smoking too much. She said she'll be considering baptism next May, after the divorce is over.

We also met with J McD and really challenged him to come to church. He's LA. He lives with his brother, T, who comes to church fairly often. But T wasn't there that night. It was a good lesson, and I hope we got through to him. He didn't come yesterday and didn't come to Elder Ballard's.

On Friday we met with St. He's Romanian I think. He just asks question after question after question!!! We tried to teach the Restoration, but he kept stopping us and asking questions. The thing is, we have the answers to his questions, answers that no other church has! But we can't give him all the answers without covering the basics. Finally at the very end, after going an hour and a half over, Elder Stoker challenged him to challenge the Book of Mormon, because if it isn't true, then there's no point in asking us these questions! And if it is true, then you can know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet of God to deliver a message to the whole earth! When he said that, St perked up and asked what the message was. Elder Stoker and I started laughing. I mean, why couldn't he have asked us an hour earlier!? Oh well. Our next lesson with him will be better.

So that night, in order to get to the Stake Center on time, we stayed over night in Terenure's flat. That was fun. Then the next day we headed to All Ireland. We had All Ireland Conference from 10 until about 2:30. It was fantastic!! The AP's asked all of us to come with a question in our minds, and that we would receive an answer. So the night before I prayed really hard. And you know what? My question was answered BEFORE Elder Ballard came! It was sick!

And Elder Ballard. Man. What an experience. He's a lot shorter than you'd think, and looks a lot older in person. And, I'm gonna be completely honest: he was wearing the ugliest tie!

But that is honestly the only negative thing I have to say! He was so awesome!!!! When he arrived, he first had us all come and shake his hand. I was just freaking out as I went up to him through the line. I went through President and Sister Donaldson and Elder and Sister Kearon much quicker than I'd thought, so my brain was absolutely fried! Finally, and for the first time in my life, I got to speak with an Apostle of the Lord!!

He said "Hello Elder."

And I said "Hey."

And he said "How you doing?"

And I said "Thanks."

And then I walked off.

It took a few seconds for me to realize what had happened and I've been kicking myself ever since!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!?!? AAAAAHH!!!!  I totally butchered shaking his hand, but oh well!!

Anyways, Elder Kearon of the Seventy and his wife also spoke, but they both knew that we were all here to listen to Elder Ballard, so it was really them testifying of his generosity and his calling as an Apostle. Elder Ballard's been visiting the refugees here in Europe, trying to see what the Church can do to help, and he's going to be delivering a report tomorrow to the brethren about it. Anyways, finally Elder Ballard came up. We had about an hour and a half with him! He spoke for about an hour, then left it open to questions. Three Elders asked questions, and by then time was up. He bore his testimony, then left. 

So this is what he spoke about:

He started off talking about Paul on Mars Hill, speaking to the Athenians. He compared it to us. We're trying to teach people that worship "the Unknown God". "We KNOW who God is! He is our Father. And He's not far from us."

He also really focused a lot on us becoming great teachers, not mediocre. He said we have to know Chapter 3 of PMG so good, that we can meet with Elder Ballard and teach him the basics of the Gospel!!

He spoke of how important it is to be a missionary. He said that it's so important, that even death doesn't end the responsibility! He said "if death doesn't stop us from being missionaries, we ought to get good!"

He encouraged us too. He said "If there's one thing the Lord wants me to tell you it is this (then he paused for a moment. That was cool!) Be Great. Be Believing. Be filled with Faith. Don't underestimate the Power of God within you!" (Technically that's four things, but oh well...)

He said we've always gotta be happy. We need to get up each morning and say "We've got one more day to try and bring someone to Christ." 

He said "When you have a bad day, stop and just think of Him and of Gethsemane."

He said "Knowledge of the Gospel leads to confidence."

He told us his favorite scripture is in 3 Nephi. It's Jesus speaking: "I came to the Earth because my Father sent me." He said it always sends chills down his spine.

He also said some funny things. He was quite humorous actually! "Most people here, including the Senior couples, were still in the Spirit World when I was a Missionary!" And when he opened it up for questions, he emphasized that the questions had to be related to the work. "I don't know where Kolob is!" We all laughed so hard! It was especially funny because President Thompson had warned us the exact same thing and made the exact same joke just before he arrived!!!

There was a lot of things he said. My notes took up more than two pages! But that's the essentials. Really great day.

Yesterday, we met with F again. We watched the Restoration film with him. I think it helped him to understand better about our message.

But yeah! That was our week!

So something I've been really struggling with my whole mission is studying. How to study, really. I was praying really fervently earlier this week and got the impression to study more. So I decided to use travel time and meal breaks to study! And this particular insight came last night while I was on the train:

So in Mosiah 12:31 Abinadi is confronting the Priests of King Noah. And he asks them if Salvation comes by the Law of Moses, which they say it does. Abinadi then agrees with them. I've always wondered why he asks this of them? He just agreed with them! But as I read further it started to click: after they say that it does, Abinadi testifies that it does, then quotes just two of the ten Commandments, and asks if they've kept them. He answers for them with a resounding "Nay, ye have not!" So this is what happened: Abinadi caught them in their lies. To do this, he asked them how they believed they could be saved. When they told him, he showed them that they have not been righteous and caught them in their trap. It's genius really! Abinadi was truly a master teacher. 

To answer Mom's questions, could you send me some gloves for Chrismtas?  Not snow gloves, regular gloves?  I hope I don't move just before Christmas again! I want to be here for Christmas!! The Branch is great!!

Dad, how are you?  I think he's had three surgeries since I left! Poor guy! I wish I could be there for him.

Mum asked if we get snow here. Mmm, not sure. Probably not. It is going to be below freezing tonight, but I really don't know. I'll ask.

I might keep calling Mom, Mum.  The long use of Mum is Mother. Mother is pronounced with a Mu instead of a Mo, thus the difference.  Never hear "Mom" here.

A little about Elder Stoker.  He's got such strong Greenie Faith! It's both inspiring and a bit exasperating haha but I love him, he's great. :) He's 23 and of course has a British accent? I love it! It's so funny... We are becoming friends, at least I like to think so. He said before that he feels like he can be much more open with me than with his previous companions.

Bray is right on the sea side, but it is quite cold so we don't spend much time there. It is really windy too, which is terrible. It was so windy, in fact, that while Elder Stoker and Elder McCappin were on exchanges, a glass bottle that was sitting on top of a rubbish bin flew off and smashed into a wall!!! Very nice people so far. I'm told that Bray is renowned for being home to a lot of crazies! The Branch is great! Lots of youth and YSA and everything. VERY multicultural. We've got Brazilians, Phillipinos, Poles, Romanians, Americans, Irish, etc.

Anyways, love you all! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving! I'm having Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday with an American family: the J's. They've invited a nonmember family and a part-member family to join them! Should be good! :)


Soaking Shaman

ps speaking of which, the weather report reports rain every single day this week. As Elder Ballard's trainer told him back when he was a missionary, "We've gotta be persecuted like Paul!"

Sunday, January 3, 2016

November 16, 2015 It's Bray-ning, it's pouring!

Hiya Fam!

It's Bray-ning, it's pouring!  I think I'm really going to enjoy this place! So many puns!

Anyways, I've had an absolutely mad week! Totally bonkers! (my companion's from London. I'm starting to pick up some of his terms...)

To start off, I spent Monday, Tuesday, and most of Wednesday with three other Elders: Elder Giles (his companion was Elder Fassold, who went home), Elder Stanley (who came over on the ferry with me to NI! And we're both going to Dublin Zone too, so we're following each other around!), and Elder Penman (the Zone Leader). Of the four of us, only Elder Penman was staying, and only Elder Giles could drive! I was not only packing but I also had to clean up the flat and write notes for the new Elders! And on top of that, Elder Giles' area, Omagh, was also getting closed down so he had to do the same thing with his area! Except Omagh is about two hours drive from Belfast. It was honestly a miracle that all three of us got most everything done. The Cavehill flat wasn't as clean as I'd have liked, but it was for the most part tidy. 

It was sad leaving H and F and Ph. I got their emails though.  I hope the new Elders take care of them.  It was weird leaving an area I'd spent 7 1/2 months in, but it also felt good.

Jeff asked if I needed anything.  I'll take anything American you can send me! I left behind my American flag back in Cavehill, so I'd love to have a replacement. Thanks for asking! Can't wait to see you guys on Christmas! Any idea what the Christmas Holidays are going to be like for you?

So Wednesday night I arrived in Dublin around 6. I quickly realized that I know absolutely NOBODY!! It's crazy how much the mission has changed! There were two Elders I knew but both had been moved. Fun. But hey, now I get a chance to get to know more Missionaries! The district I'm serving in has Sisters, btw. But they're Sister Training Leaders, so they're never around, from what I'm told.

But I found Elder Stoker and we headed off to the train station to get to Bray. We had a dinner appointment that night! A lovely woman named T. She was a member of the church, but she had her name removed. Not sure why because she still comes to church every week, and to all the world she's a member. She even does missionary work! She just smokes.

There was also a member couple there too: R and F. F is from South America and looks like a Native American. 

The rest of the week was quite a blur. A ton of names and faces that I am not going to be able to remember too well. We did have a few lessons. One was a new Investigator named D. She's from Turkey. She brought a friend M, who's dating D's uncle. D is Muslim, but doesn't practice. M is kind of Catholic, but she's really her own thing. For example, she believes in Reincarnation. But the lesson went well and they both agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. They said they might not be able to come to church, but they'd try. Unfortunately they didn't, but they did sound sorry.

Another lesson was with F. He's an interesting character. He's really old, and we're honestly not sure how much of our teaching really goes through to him. But he does say that us coming over helps him a lot. His voice though, is my favorite. It's really deep and gruff and he has a very strong Irish accent. He sounds just like your stereotypical sailor! He couldn't come to church yesterday because, apparently, his chair was blocking the way.

On Sunday we had dinner with the B's. They're a very nice family. Did you know there are three families in the ward from Washington State?? Most are from the Spokane side of the state, but still! The B's, from what I understand, are not from Washington, but are American! Brother B actually served his mission in Bray, in fact his flat was just across the street from ours! They have a massive house out in the country side! It was beautiful. They also had a really nice book collection, all about the scriptures or the church or whatever. Nice family. 

We stand at the church doors greeting people every Sunday.  Always do.  And it will be great to see Elder Schippers again!  I'm so glad you went to hear his homecoming talk!  And he gave you the presents!  Good! Ha he joked that he'd just keep those! I'm glad you liked them so much! I tried the hat on, but it was a little small, so I worried that it wouldn't fit you guys!  I felt bad not getting something for the Jeffs. The hat was mostly for Dad, the scarfs for the girls, but I had no idea what to get the Jeffs. Any ideas?

Here's my comments on what Mom sent:

Things from Elder Schippers talk:

1.  There were only 30 people in your ward True

2.  People regularly tell you you're going to He_ _. I dunno about regularly, but yeah quite a few times.

3.  Blue is Protestant, Green is Catholic and you can hate someone just for the color they're wearing. Not everyone is like that, but too many are.

4.  Most people over there think the trinity is one person, or something.  The idea of 3 separate beings is crazy to them. Aye. To be fair, it's something they've just grown up with. It's like the trinity to us. It doesn't make any sense.

5.  He felt he was in some dangerous situations and even was almost stabbed. Never with me, but I do remember that story.  I honestly haven't had any experiences like that. I've been quite safe on my mission. The closest I've gotten to dying have been in cars with terrible/too fast drivers.

6.  He loved teaching people the gospel and he explained the Plan of Salvation beautifully and well, and his testimony was very sincere.

I'm very glad to hear about President Monson's comments about being positive.  One of the first things I thought of when I found out about the shootings in Paris, was the missionaries (funny how that works). We were going into a shop to purchase some essentials when I glanced at the headlines. When I saw that, I read a bit more before we left. The newspapers were definitely exaggerating things, saying at least 140 people were dead, but still. Scary! We were told by President Donaldson to avoid large groups of people, so no more going to Football games! 

So now about Elder Stoker!! He is actually a convert! He had only just passed his year mark when he left on his mission! So his knowledge of the scriptures isn't as great as most other missionaries, but having said that, he's got some of the greatest insights into the scriptures of any companion I've had!! This is what he showed me a few days ago:

Read 1 Nephi 17:5

Then read Ether 2:3

That blew my mind. I always wondered why they specifically mentioned honey bees.

Elder Stoker has told me a lot about his home, and it's crazy! He was completely Atheist just three years ago. And now he's walking around teaching people about Jesus Christ. Most of his family is fine with it. It was a little tough for his dad, who'd been taught since he was a little boy by his ministers that he shouldn't even shake a Mormon's hands (I've gotten that a few times), but he came around. His mother, however, is very against it. She keeps sending him scriptures. 

Anyways, great guy! I'm looking forward to this transfer. We're really excited about H. I barely met her on Sunday, but she wants to be baptized. She's only 16 too!

Bray itself is quite small. But we do a LOT of GQing. Which I'm glad about because I've been doing terrible at GQing! Oh, and it's rained every day since I've been in Bray! Literally! It even hailed once. On Sunday we were inside for quite a bit of the day (church, the B's, traveling in Brother B's car), and it was fine the whole day! But when we finally went outside to work, it was raining. We got back to our flat a little late, and it wasn't raining. I just thought it was funny :) In fact, it inspired my Indian name for Thanksgiving: Soaking Shaman.

So on Saturday Elder Ballard is coming to Ireland to meet with all of the missionaries!! I am SO excited for this!!! I'll FINALLY get to meet an Apostle of the Lord! What fun!

Have a great week! Love you all!! Just 6 more weeks until Christmas!

Elder Bates