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! :)
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!"