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


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