Tuesday, December 30, 2014

An extra letter...

An extra letter from Jacob this week because of transfers:

Dear Family,

These last 3 months flew by! It seems like I was new in Christchurch just a few weeks ago! It's been so fun serving here with wonderful missionaries, ward members, and investigators!

The email this week will prpbably be very short because I'm very limited on time. I said goodbye to Elder Poulino today and will be meeting Elder Rife later today! I've heard very good things about him and am super pumped to serve with him! He's been on his mission for about 17 months and is a convert to the church himself.

The sad news that I mentioned previously is that Bob wasn't baptized on Saturday as was planned. He had a few issues that he needed to "Settle in his mind" before he was ready and met with the Bishop this past Sunday. Elder Poulino and I taught him later in the afternoon on Sunday and helped him realize that he is completely ready for baptism and that it will be a huge blessing in his life and ours as well. Once my new companion gets here we will set up another date for him to baptized! He told us that his heart is telling him that this is right. He also made the observation that even if the Church wasn't true (which he knows it is) joining the Church would still be a really good thing. He has a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and is ready to make sacred covenants with the Lord.

Moves were so crazy! Elder Poulino and I were up until 2 AM packing all of his things for him to be ready to move. We spent yesterday evening with the ward mission leader and the sisters in our district having dinner and playing some games, as well as exchanging all of our pictures from the last transfer. I have loads of pictures to share but I have no time to upload them this week. I'm really sorry. I will make sure the pictures coming in next week make up for the drought over the past few weeks.

It was so wonderful to be able to Skype and see you on Christmas day. I will admit that it harrowed up a bit of homesickness but it quickly went away as I was able to enjoy the rest of Christmas with a family that we have grown particularly fond of. It was a great Christmas and it was a blessing to be able to spend this Christmas serving the Lord with an eye single to the work.

I love being a missionary more and more everyday. The Church is true! The world needs to know this message!

I love you all so much and look forward to your emails every week. I wish I could be in closer contact with you but I know that I need to focus 100% on the work that needs to be done here.

Elder Draney

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

I have some sad news, Bob wasn't baptized on Saturday. We had to postpone it until he could speak to the bishop this past Sunday. He is completely ready but we just need to help him get there. Elder Poulino is leaving tomorrow to go to Crawley with one of my MTC friends. I will be getting Elder Rife from Ohio. He's a convert and the only member in his family. I don't know if I will have time to reply to everything or type up the weekly email today but I will try. P-day is technically tomorrow so I should be able to sometime during the day tomorrow.​

Elder Draney

Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

Dear Family,

This week has been an amazing week! Elder Poulino and I were able to extend 2 baptismal dates and they were accepted! The first one is an investigator/kind of former investigator named Ian. Ian had a date previously but wasn't able to be baptised on that one. He is a very spiritual man that has a strong desire to change his life. He has to make a few changes before he is ready to be baptised on the 24th of January. We hadn't been able to meet with him for awhile before this week but he is still very eager to be baptised and make positive changes in his life!

The other as you might have guessed is Bob! We've seen a lot of Bob this week and he committed for this Saturday on the condition that he meet with the bishop and discuss how he would go about paying tithing and he was able to speak with him yesterday. We're planning out everything we need to do to be ready by then and we're even spending P-day with him today(I'm actually using his iPad to email) and having lunch! It's exciting to finally be planning a baptismal service!

We also had to move flat this week and that was very stressful. We found our new flat a few weeks ago and had everything worked out to move in but we just needed a few new furnishings before we moved in. We also had to clean our old flat, which has been an elders flat for ages, to make it acceptable for sisters to move in... The short story is that we didn't meet the sisters standard of cleanliness. We didn't have a lot of time to clean the flat because we were working with investigators, meeting with new investigators, working on the bus plans for us AND the sisters once they moved in, finding affordable furnishings for a new flat, packing up our stuff and things that were being moved, fixing an old broken bed frame for the sisters, arranging for help with the move and getting a van for the move so we didn't have a lot of time to clean the flat. Everything worked out but we were a little more than annoyed when we were called and told that the flat wasn't as clean as they wanted it. The worst part is that all of the things we missed were problems caused by previous elders and things we didn't even know about. I guess it shows that we're all still learning.

Our ward has also spoiled us quite a bit and gave all of the missionaries a lot of gifts yesterday. We seriously have an amazing ward here in Christchurch, it's been such a blessing to work with them and grow so many new friendships! I already know I have made lifelong friendships with people I've met on my mission and I am so excited to meet so many more amazing people!

Christmas will be a wonderful time for people this year but we have also been asked to make sure we get in some finding time on all three of the holidays this week being Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. We will be searching for those who don't have family to be with or no knowledge or belief of their Saviour because they are the ones who need it most.

Transfer week is a week from Wednesday, it's gone by so quickly! Elder Poulino will most likely be leaving, he's been here for 7 1/2 months, and I will be left to lead the area. We will know by next Monday what changes will be made! I'm fairly certain Elder Poulino will be called as Zone Leader in the Plymouth Zone so we'll see!

Now the part you've been waiting for. We've arranged a place to Skype on Christmas Day, we will be eating a Christmas dinner/lunch at a member's home at 2PM here and will Skype closer to 5PM. The hard part is figuring out exactly when we will be on but I will email you when we are at their home and with enough notice so you can be ready. I will probably email you and then wait for a reply or a call from you so we can Skype! At the earliest it should be 8AM on your end!

I love you all so much and can't wait to Skype on Christmas!
Elder Draney

PS Crackers are usually opened anytime during the season, usually at a meal though so you guessed it right.

PSS Jacob got his mission call to Japan! That's soooo crazy! I'm super excited for him!

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Dear Family,

Man the time flies sometimes! It's so crazy to think that it is already the middle of December!

The Temple was amazing! Like I mentioned last week we went to the London Temple with a few of the other Zones from around the mission last Tuesday and did an endowment session together. We woke up at 4 AM to make sure we could get to the train on-time and still ended up running to make it to the platform before it left! We took the train from Christchurch and switched trains in Clapham Junction in the middle of London, which is the busiest train station in all of England. We then took another train to the temple area and got picked up there and drove to the temple. It was so fun to see other missionaries I hadn't seen since the MTC and be around so many other wonderful people. The temple grounds are gorgeous and there are a lot of cool areas to take pictures(yes I took some).

Afterward we all had lunch with President and Sister Millar and sang some hymns and carols together. When we left to get on our train back we saw that it had been delayed and was slotted to come over an hour later so 30 or so missionaries sang carols in the train station until the train came. We got to Clapham again and had 45 minutes til our train so Elder Poulino and I, along with about 8 other missionaries, hurried out of the station to see London a bit and get some food. We then hurried back to get on our train which was so packed that all of us had to stand for most of our journey back. We got back to our flat at 9:30, just in time for daily planning! It was a really fun day.

Sadly we weren't able to extend a date to Bob because his meeting with the Bishop was pushed until sometime this week and he doesn't want to commit until the bishop councils with him about how he will pay tithing. He is really eager and has a strong desire to do what the Lord wants him to do and I am confident that he will enter the waters of baptism soon.

The other sad part is that he is our only investigator that we see on a regular basis or is progressing. We spend the majority of our time contacting and trying our hardest to find new investigators. It's hard work but I know it is the Lord's work. I listened to a talk/compilation called "Missionary work and the Atonement" which mostly consists of Elder Holland talking to mission presidents. He spoke about why missionary work is often so difficult, because it was never meant to be easy. Salvation and gaining Eternal Life was never supposed to be easy. For a while I wondered why so many people were wasting there time on this earth if the Plan of Salvation is perfect but I understand a lot more that it is such a wonderful blessing and privilege to gain all that our Father has that many will fall short. All of us have equal chance and opportunity to follow with as much exactness as possible the words and teachings of the Savior but many will still choose to follow other paths. It's hard when it seems like everyone we talk to is too caught up in worldly pleasures to change their hearts and desires to follow the Father of their spirits' and His Only Begotten. But there are those that are searching and willing to change and follow Him, we just need to work as hard as we can and trust that the Lord will guide them to us or us to them.

Thank you much for the Christmas package! I really needed the pants and gloves that you sent, and I promise to leave the stocking un-touched until Christmas! I can't promise anything about the Oreos though... Elder Poulino is grateful for his little stocking as well!

I love all of you more than I could ever express with words. Your prayers carry me everyday.

Elder Draney

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Dear Family,

This week went by so fast! I've said before that time seems to be speeding up every week and this one was no exception. This week Elder Poulino and I handed out little Christmas cards with the link to the "He is the Gift" video as well as our names and phone number on it. It went fairly well and people excepted them but we haven't gotten a new investigator because if it as of yet. We have appointments and plans to teach new people in the near future and I have the feeling that we will soon see the fruits of our efforts as well as many missionaries before us in the Christchurch area.

Bob is doing really well! We've seen him a lot over the past week. We taught him in a member's home on Thursday with his wife and that went really well. He's admitted many times that he knows the church is true and knows he needs to get baptized. The only thing holding him back is the fact that his wife doesn't want him to pay tithing on their money. He talked with the Bishop about what he should do yesterday so we'll see how that went. He also came to the ward Christmas party, which was a huge success, and I spent 20-30 minutes just talking to him and helping him open up to us more. He is SO close to making the commitment to be baptized. Elder Poulino and I are going to extend the commitment this week no matter what. He know's that Elder Poulino is leaving after this transfer, he's been here for 7 1/2 months, and wants him to be there when he gets baptized. So we keekp encouraging him and joking with him that he really can be baptized before then. I'm not particularly worried about him getting baptized but we are trying to help him make the solid commitment now instead of waiting another 2 years.

We were also able to set up and appointment with a former investigator that Elder Poulino taught a few months ago. Her name is Jessica and she's 18 years old. She has been taught everything and has told members that she has a testimony of the Church! The only problem has been that she works a ton and we haven't been able to teach her at all since I've been here. As soon as we get the chance we will teach her and invite her to be baptized as well. She's super smart and says she knows our Church has a feeling that no other she's been to does.

Another exciting thing is that our zone along with a couple of others are going to the London Temple tomorrow! The sad part is that we have to be on the train at 5:20 AM... But it will be well worth it. It will be nice to see people that were with me in the MTC and are at the same exact point on their missions as I am. Seeing President and Sister Millar is always nice as well!

I really thought I would get homesick around Christmas time but I haven't been too bothered by it. I've noticed that especially over the last few weeks I've grown a lot more used to being a missionary and being set apart from the world for a little while. It hit me one day how short a mission really is and how many priceless experiences I've had already! I'm so happy I get to be a missionary! It's still hard and I still wish I was home sometimes but I know that I couldn't possibly be doing anything better than being a missionary right now. In one of his letters to us President Millar said "you can never get these days back, so be careful not to waste them."

Email time is so nice because I can get updates on the lives of all those that I love back home. I'm glad everything is going well with the family. I love hearing about mission experiences from my friends also serving in other parts of the world or preparing to serve shortly. The Church is true. No matter how many atheists look down at us or yell at us on their doorstep, or how many Muslims tell us we should do ourselves a favor and read the Qur'an, or how many people tell us that they have their own religion and don't think we should be preaching to them about ours. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God's Kingdom restored on this earth and is the only church that has the Priesthood Authority to act in the name of Christ and perform saving ordinances. I know it and I want the whole world to know it. It's so sad that many will reject the gospel no matter how many blessings they've received or how many witnesses they've seen of the truth.

I love you all so much and pray for you everyday!

Love you most!

Elder Draney

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 1, 2014

I'm not sure what excuse will make me feel better, but Sunday last (the 23rd) was exceptionally tiring for me. Both Keri and I feel asleep before sending our emails to Jacob, and we got going with the morning routine before remembering too. Thus, Jacob got on to read email from us (he gets on about 5:00 a.m. Idaho time) and found... NOTHING. (deep sigh)

His email from the 24th was addressed to us and several friends but did not include the usual responses to our queries, etc. We spent the week fretting about having let him down.

Jacob mentioned not having heard from his parents that week to his mission president in the weekly email missionaries send to him. President Millar called us from England to make sure we we're dead or apostate or something...!!! (double deep sigh)

All of this is prologue to Jacob's letter from this week, so his comments about forgiving us make sense. ;-)

On to Jacob's letter...

Dear Family,

I really do forgive you for forgetting to send the emails on time, I didn't have any doubts that everything was okay but I still wanted to find out in less than a week so that's why I emailed President Millar about it. The funny thing about the package is that we left the flat on Wednesday before it got there so we missed it that day. The delivery man left a note and an address of where we could pick it up. So to get the package we had to go to a Post Office in Christchurch and pick it up on Thursday. It was nice to have a package and I saved it until we got back that night to open it. We've already eaten more stroopwafels than we probably should have and I love the beanie!

You were right in assuming Thanksgiving would be different than in America. The English don't celebrate it at all. The day wasn't any sort of struggle though because we're so busy all the time anyway that I didn't really notice that it was Thanksgiving. The only hard part was realizing that it wasn't the only Thanksgiving that I would miss... But we did have a Dinner Appointment which was nice! It was with an English family that didn't celebrate it at all but it was still a really good dinner. The whole family is semi-active but they all have strong testimonies. The father, Andy, is one of my favorite people I've met on my mission so far! We have a DA at their house once a week and I always look forward to going. We laugh about so many things and talk about other missionaries that have done funny things in the past. So Thanksgiving was definitely still a good day.

The sad news is that we weren't able to meet with any of our investigators, again. Bob was away in London most of the week so we weren't able to see him and Dan was ill all week. Bob came to church this Sunday and had a really good experience. He's been coming to church for over 2 years and he really enjoys it. Yesterday was a particularly good Sunday because Bob told us he really felt the Spirit and we had a good lesson in Gospel Principles with him. He even said the prayer at the end, which is something we struggle to get him to do during teaches let alone in a classroom full of members. He talked with one of the members after the class and told him that he knows that he should be baptized and he really wants to. The issues are that Bob likes to have a glass of wine with his meals sometimes and his wife doesn't want him to pay tithing. We have faith that he will understand the reasons for those things and he will make the sacrifices he needs to as we teach him and strive for inspiration on his behalf.

The big push this Christmas season, especially for missionaries, is the video "He is the Gift" I'm fairly sure you already know about it and have watched it but if you haven't definitely do. It's a really powerful video and is the focus of our missionary efforts this month. It's seriously huge. We're getting special pass-along cards and other materials to use for this campaign. It has already helped our missionary efforts a lot. We did a presentation on it during the 3rd hour of fifth Sunday to all of the ward members and they really loved it. A lot of the ward members have shared it and I encourage you to do that as well.

The funniest part of the whole week was Tuesday morning. At about 1:00 a.m. my companion and I woke up to scurrying noises above our heads, specifically my head, and figured there was a mouse running around in the ceiling above us. The worst part is that the ceiling above my bed had to be repaired because there were big holes in it about a foot across. But past missionaries had repaired them so the only thing keeping a big ol' mouse from falling on my head while I was sleeping was a few sheets of notebook paper taped to the ceiling. I moved my mattress over to the floor and went back to sleep. When we woke up we heard the scurrying but it was in our kitchen now. So armed with a flimsy dustpan I marched into the kitchen to solve our problem. The short story is that I solve the problem and the dustpan now has a proper name denoting the foes that it has slain. "Rodent Slayer" is now hanging on our wall. The best part is that Elder Poulino videoed the whole thing on his camera! I will try and send the video in some way but there are no promises.

[He was able to send the video... here 'tis...]

I love you all so much and know I couldn't be doing this without all of your support!

Elder Draney

Pictures from this week:

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

​Dear Family,

​There haven't been many recent developments in the work since my last letter. We weren't able to teach any of our investigators that we've been teaching for awhile. Bob was away in Budapest and didn't get home until Thursday night and is planning on going to London for most of this week so we won't be able to see him until later in the week.

Another investigator, Dan, is a bus driver and has really busy hours so it's hard to find times to meet with him but he is always interested in learning more and has been to church a handful of times in the past couple months. I think if we are able to meet with him regularly a few more times he will accept the invitation to be baptised. He has already told us that if he knows that the Book of Mormon and what we're teaching him is true that he will be baptised. So the focus of our next lessons will be on the importance of the Book of Mormon. If he knows the Book of Mormon is true, then he knows Joseph Smith is a true prophet and the teachings and revelation he received is true. A testimony of the Book of Mormon is the key to conversion but I'm sure you all know that.

Like I've mentioned before "Finding", which includes all the ways of approaching people or knocking on doors or anything really to find people to teach, isn't much of an issue any more. Of course there is a natural amount of stress to be expected when approaching a random stranger who can tell who you are by the badge you wear and has already decided what their response will be to you and usually won't hesitate to express the disdain they feel toward us missionaries and the church that we represent, but even that has begun to recede because of how many times Elder Poulino and I have done exactly that over the past month. It's become a little more clear to me why people in the Church often consider European missions to be difficult but I've also seen that the Lord always provides many ways for His work to be done in any area of the world. Regardless of whatever factors come into play in England and not in other parts of the world, there are still many people being prepared for and searching for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are ready to change so that they may incorporate it into their lives.

 A recent bit of "mission drama" unfolded this week. The Apostle Quinton L. Cook is coming to London tomorrow to council missionaries from the London Mission as well as the London South Mission. The Area Authorities have asked that all missionaries able to be in London by 9:30 to be there for the meeting but the Mission President and his assistants were the final word on who gets to go. When we first found out we were originally told that the eastern half of Poole Zone (which includes Christchurch) would definitely be going. On Saturday we were then told that only a few areas from Poole Zone would be going but that Christchurch wouldn't be included. The crazy part about that is that Christchurch is the closest area to London in the Poole Zone and areas further away from London were allowed to go. In the end none of Poole Zone is going apart from the Zone Leaders because they have a car. I have to admit I got a little more involved than I should have but I really wanted to go to London! At least I have a few more opportunities to go to London if I'm called to serve in the Wadsworth Zone.

Just like every week it had its ups and its downs but it was still a good week. I love serving in England and love meeting so many new people! Thank you all for the love, support, and prayers that you send my way!

Elder Draney

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 19, 2014

Dear Family,

​It seems that everywhere Christmas begins to creep earlier and earlier into November each year. Because of the lack of Thanksgiving in the UK Christmas is the focus of November as well as December. The picture of the high street in Boscombe a little while ago is already outdated. Within this last week it has been decked out with all sorts of Christmas lights and displays. While we were street contacting a lady said "Merry Christmas" to us as we were parting ways and Elder Poulino and I were both pretty shocked. November has definitely gone by quickly. It's getting easier to see why so many experienced missionaries say that the time goes by really quickly.

I still find it hard sometimes not to think about home and how nice it would feel to be back even for just a little while but it's getting better. The harder I decide to work and focus my efforts outward rather than inward, the easier it feels to be a missionary and quicker the time passes. It's still 2 years though. I have confidence that it will always continue to get better and I will enjoy my time spent on my mission. The hardest thing I think is to get out of the mindset that all that I'm experiencing is temporary. While it is true that it is all extremely temporary it's also long enough that I should completely focus on doing the Lord's work while I am here. It is especially hard when tough days come because the nature of the work as you are aware is that it is always there and needs to be done so it is very likely that we will be doing the same thing the next day. But as with all things we can turn to the Lord and receive help and guidance and joy in our times of trouble.

That's an awful lot of whinging (complaining) isn't it? I apologize for talking about some of my trials so much but as you mentioned in your letter it does help to just let it out sometimes. The principle of forgetting myself is often the best answer to feeling overwhelmed about the future. I should also focus more on the day and week that I am in rather than thinking about the rest of my mission ahead of me.

We weren't able to meet with any of our investigators really this week, so we spent a lot of time contacting. I get more comfortable with it every time we set out to do it. We have a lot of potential investigators and some lessons planned for the near future. I really do enjoy talking to new people each day and having happy conversations with them. There are so many different people from so many different places in England that it always makes contacting interesting. We spent a few hours finding in Manchester while I was in the MTC and I remember being absolutely terrified of talking to anyone, but now it's not much of a problem. The MTC was definitely easier than being in the field haha. One of the members in the Christchurch Ward is leaving for the Preston MTC as I'm writing this email. He's going to Leeds on his mission. I'm excited for him but I definitely don't envy him in some ways.

Regardless of what it may sound like when I vented a little bit I am adjusting to being a missionary. Every now and then I still get little pangs of longing for particular things from back home but then I think about all the experiences I've had and get to have while I am in England. .

The chocolate is worlds better over here! Cadbury makes the majority of the different kinds of chocolate bars. My favorite one so far is Cadbury Oreo! It's like a Hershey's cookies and cream inside of a normal chocolate bar! So good! I'm definitely planning on making some sort of Christmas package with some of the English things I've enjoyed that you can't get in the U.S. and sending it to you for Christmas!

Hershey's is kind of a joke over here! Cadbury Oreo is the best thing ever. Before I was born I'm pretty sure I was the angel responsible for the maker of it receiving the revelation to put Oreo inside English chocolate.

Tell Colton 'thank you' for sending me a letter! I loved reading it even though it was a little short! I couldn't quite tell but I think it was supposed to be me and my companion talking to someone about heaven? But either way it was really exciting to get a letter.

I haven't seen yours or Cailtin's yet :( I only have the first set from all of the family and then the one from Colton. I'm fairly certain that it might have gone to flat number 7 because the first batch were just inside the first set of doors to the flats and not delivered through the letterbox. We're gotten letters to previous Elders in the flat that are pretty late (like last January type of late) that didn't put the '7' in front of Dragoon Way and made it here fine. Either way probably before Christmas we'll be moving flat but staying in the same area. The Sister's current area is really dry and there's more than enough people for all of us to work in Christchurch/Bournemouth so they will be taking our flat and we'll be getting a new one. But I will know well enough in advance to tell you to change the address and if the sisters get it they will gust bring it to me anyway.

One of the members in our ward does a lot of woodworking and made us wooden name tags!

The work is still progressing but we're needing to work hard all the time to accomplish our purpose as missionaries. Our Zone Leaders have asked us to make sure we make full use of our exercise time in the morning and use all of our time wisely in general. So that's what we're doing haha. I know that we will find success as long as we're working as hard as we can each day. It's exhausting, but it's worth it. Tyson said in one of his letters right before I left that if I work hard I will be happy, and I know that is true. Hopefully it will go by a little quicker as well. ;)

I love you all so much and thank you for all of your prayers!

Elder Draney

November 17, 2014

Dear Family,

​I feel really bad because I wasn't able to tell you last week but because of moves this week P-day will be on Wednesday. I've only gotten on the computer to send and email to President and tell you about the P-day change today. This will be the only email I will be able to send today but at least you get to look forward to Wednesday and then it's only a few days until P-day again. Elder Poulino and I are staying but we're getting a new Sister and Sister Stuart is becoming the Sister Trainer Leader for the Poole Zone. No serious updates on investigators but we have been doing a lot of finding again.

Much Love,
Elder Draney!

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

Dear Family,

You don't get to complain about rain when your son is living in England. ;)

This week had it's own challenges just as every week does but it went by really quickly! So many aspects of what we do are the same each day and the things that aren't the same are so interesting that it makes the time pass by so quickly! Something that always helps me put it into perspective if I'm feeling down about the future is that a mission only lasts about 100 weeks. That's super short. I have to agree with dad, tithing settlement seem not very long ago at all.

On Thursday we had interviews with President Millar and it was the first ​time I had talked to him for more than a few minutes. The first thing he said when we sat down was "I'm so glad to have an EMT in the field!". It was really good to hear that. He then shared with me some stories about his time being a surgeon and crazy things he did to keep patients alive. The interview was really good and it was nice to get to know President Millar more and for him to get to know me as well!

I have to say that we weren't able to meet with Mark this week unfortunately. He is very busy and had to cancel the appointment we had set up for Wednesday. But the positive side is that I feel very confident that we, or other missionaries, will be able to meet with him soon. He was still very interested and enthusiastic when he cancelled the appointment. It's only been a week so I don't feel very worried about it. We had 2 very good lessons with Bob but not everything went perfectly. On Thursday we taught him in a member's home about the word of wisdom. Bear in mind that he has been coming to church for ages and has been taught all of the lessons numerous times. The lesson went very well and he committed to live the word of wisdom after we provided alternatives to drinking tea. On Friday we went over to teach him and his wife about temples and eternal marriage. Before we began the lesson he came out of his kitchen with a mug of tea! Immediately he said that he would begin keeping his commitment after he gets back from a trip out of country this coming week. It was the first time he's committed to live the word of wisdom in 2 years and he broke it the next day! Ahhhhhhh! He even told us a story about how he quit smoking and taking a pain medication he had been taking for a year both on the same day and has never looked back since. But he couldn't give up tea for a day?

Now I know where I get the "wimpyness" and vivid imagination. It reminded me a lot when you were talking about the devil living in the storage room about when we lived in that house. I was convinced that the boogyman lived in Karen Peterson's basement and would get you if you went down there at night. Even though we've lived in our house for 10 years and I still used to start running once I got halfway up the starts because I didn't like thinking about a dark empty room being behind me.

I'm so glad to hear that everyone is doing well. I'm confident that everyone will be okay while I am on my mission. In the two blessings that I've had since I've been here both have mentioned that I don't need to worry about your safety while I'm away. Does that make you feel comfortable? It's definitely helped me a ton. I still worry about Oscar from time to time though...

I try to email my friends every week but especially those that are on missions are just as busy as I am and I don't really blame them if they don't reply. From what I've heard our mission gets a little bit of an extension on email time. I haven't talked to Dillon yet and it's funny that you mention him because I've thought about him as well. I don't doubt at all that he is still eagerly working towards his mission, but I do want to share some of my experiences with him or get into contact in general.

While I am not yet completely adjusted to missionary life it definitely feels more normal. But during this last week I seemed to be feeling all of the adversities that I could possibly be feeling all at once. Again it was on Friday I was having a hard time. All day I had a hard time feeling ANYTHING. I felt like no matter what I did I couldn't escape this numb and questioning feeling fogging up my whole day. It was something that I'd never felt before and was one of the most frustrating things I've ever dealt with. It's gotten much better since then but I'm really learning the importance of study time and constantly building up my testimony. We're under attack in a spiritual sense all the time and as missionaries it's even more than usual. I know that this gospel is true without doubts but my testimony could always be stronger. That's something I'm going to focus on this week, effective study and bearing testimony often.

Every week I love England more! The more I get to know people and the country, the more I feel that his is exactly where I need to be right now.

I saved the best (or worst) for last. I know you want pictures badly so I grabbed the ones I wanted to show you the most.

Cameron and Mom will like the first one. I found a Tardis and it's actually used to make police calls.

The second one is the high street in a part of our area called Boscombe. It's a pretty dodgy area but it's the best place to go street contacting. In Christchurch itself there are tons of old people who are either strongly atheist or super loyal to the CofE but a lot of younger people live in Boscombe and are willing to stop and talk to us. Most of our Potentials are from Boscombe.

The third one is our little district in Christchurch. Me, Elder Poulino, Sister Dunlop (Australia), and Sister Stuart (Salt Lake).

The last one is correlation with our ward mission leader on saturday mornings. We usually have it at the chapel but we had pancakes at one of the bishop's councilors house instead. The WML is the one to the right of Elder Poulino. He's super funny. Ice cream on pancakes is something common over here. Fresh banana with vanilla ice cream on top of a warm pancake is literally the best thing ever. You have to try it.

The jacket was the jacket I was suggested the most and it's a ton warmer than it looks. It was also the most conservative one they had believe it or not.

(It looks like I can only send 1 picture at a time so the others are on their way.)

Elder Draney

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

Dear Family,

I'm really really really sorry about the lack of pictures. This week like I said before was "Consecration Week". Elder Poulino and I spent a lot of time finding new people to teach on top of everything else we have to do so it was a very busy week.

This week was a bit of a stretch for me because finding is definitely the most stressful part of missionary work for me, right now at least. We were asked to spend a minimum of 4 hours a day finding in different ways so that we could grow our teaching pool. I've definitely gotten more used to it but I enjoy teaching a lot more. The fruits of this week are a lot of Potential Investigators. We've set up a few return appointments for this week but for the most part we got a lot of phone numbers and addresses without a specific time or place to meet again. Daylight savings has cut into our finding time a bit as well. Anytime we go knocking while it's dark outside people get very rude very quickly. It starts to get dark here around 5 PM and anytime after that people consider it to be "nighttime" and rude to disturb anyone after that.

Friday was a particularly challenging day for me. We had arranged for 2 lessons with potential investigators in the morning but both of them were dropped early in the morning. Because of that we had to spend more time finding. I was feeling very discouraged and dreaded spending most of the day talking to random people on the street or at their door. I spent some time praying and asked for the strength to accomplish all that the Lord needed me to do that day and for greater faith in finding people ready and eager to learn. As we began walking we stopped and began talking to the first person we passed on the street. Immediately this encounter was different than most of our others. The man's name is Mark and he was really excited to talk to us. We were able to talk very openly and connected with each other almost immediately! He also expressed that he had prayed and had experiences in the past that lead him to know that he has a Father in Heaven. It was an amazing finding experience and we even hugged it out on the street when we were done talking! We haven't met with him yet but we've scheduled an appointment and he is very excited to meet with us again.We didn't have very many opportunities to meet with our current investigators but we're going to see Bob tomorrow.

I'm really glad to hear the dog exchange went well. It's nice to know that Oscar is home even though I didn't have any doubts that he would be safe with Erin. I'm also glad to hear that Halloween was fun for everyone! Halloween isn't much of a thing in England. From what I understand it's growing in popularity but isn't much of a holiday compared to Halloween in America. The next big holiday is Guy Fawkes Day. It really captures British humor and attitude toward things. I don't know a lot about it or even exactly what day it is but it's celebrating Guy Fawkes' unsuccessful attempt to blow up Parliament. So everyone stays up late lighting fireworks in celebration.

I'm very excited for this coming week and have faith that some of our potential investigators will become regular investigators. This week was hard but Elder Poulino and I are already seeing the benefits that came and are to come from it. The weeks are starting to go by so fast! I've heard countless times since I've been here that the time will fly by. To some extend that is already true but it doesn't in anyway change that we have to work and teach each day. I'm excited for the experiences that are to come and have increased faith that I will grow to love my mission more and more everyday. I will try to write more later but I can't guarantee that I will be online again. Elder Poulino has some pictures of me and our district so I will try to send those today.

I love you all so much, your support and prayers give me the strength to do this.

Elder Draney

Monday, October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014

Dear Family,

​I feel really bad knowing that you've been expecting my email since this morning and that we didn't really get an opportunity to take advantage of the time change over here (email wise at least, I definitely loved the extra sleep) because we waited until the afternoon to email.

As far as the work in Christchurch it has changed a lot in this short week. We've either dropped or been dropped by 3 different investigators that all had plans to be baptized. It was extremely disappointing every time I realized that they didn't want to be baptized anymore. ​Because of that our teaching pool has shrunk considerably and we still have planned to drop another "investigator" who hasn't really seemed to interested for awhile.

One of the investigators that we aren't seeing anymore was a 19 year old Uni student who recently finalized a gay divorce. He seemed so eager to be baptized and was willing to live all the aspects of the Gospel, including giving up smoking. Last Monday we had planned to teach him the 3rd lesson but he had a lot of questions which took the lesson off-track. We thought we had explained clearly that homosexual relationships weren't really allowed but he had misunderstood from the beginning. He currently has another partner and doesn't want to change that anytime soon.

On a more positive note we have 2 investigators who seem to be progressing towards baptism in the near future. One of them is named Bob whom I mentioned before. Bob has been attending sacrament meetings for over 2 YEARS but hasn't agreed to be baptized. Until a few months ago his wife wouldn't allow missionaries into their home but now we have visited them many times. The only reason missionaries were ever allowed in their home was because Monica, his wife, needed help with her computer. Since then he's been taught every week or so. Since I've been here we've done a lot of service for them including helping them move, which took all day last Saturday. We've been able to witness service soften the heart of Monica and even though she herself still doesn't want to be taught she is opening up a lot. Bob also has been very impressed and non-members that were also helping him move were impressed by our help. We are planning on asking Bob to be baptized this week. We've seen many signs that he is ready but he just needs to give up tea and commit to pay tithing.

Our other investigator is named Dan. He is in his 30's and has a wife and 2 kids. He is the only one that is investigating and is really busy so we don't get to meet with him often. When we do he asks SO many questions. It's insane how much people here talk. Every single person I've met with and taught so far will go on talking for ages about anything we bring up. Regardless of all of his questions we have had good lessons and he has been coming to church recently as well. One thing we always try to do at the end of a teach is to bear testimony of a crucial principle pertaining to each lesson. We understand that the Spirit is what changes the hearts of people and ignites a desire to come unto Christ so we never leave without bearing testimony in a way that we hope will touch their heart and help them know what we are teaching is true.

We travel mostly by bus and the Church gives us extra money each month to pay for bus passes. Usually the bus can take us very close to where we want to go but sometimes we just have to walk. The chapel is one of the only places we go that doesn't have any bus going near enough to matter, so we have to walk 40 minutes to get to church unless we get a lift. The members are very good about this so we don't walk there very often.

We haven't really been fed any exotic food. The most exotic (and best) thing that I've eaten so far is Chinese food Elder Harris and I made in a members home where he and his companion stay. I even ate it with chopsticks! I also have to confess that I haven't eaten fish and chips yet but I plan on it. We get fed by members fairly often and it's fairly normal food. In the flat we scrounge up whatever we can to eat which is mostly canned soup or rice with soy sauce and tuna. The bread over here expires so quickly and we don't have 7 people to eat it all in a day so we have to freeze it all. The most interesting thing that I regularly drink is "squash". Squash is like Kool-Aid but it is concentrated juice that you mix with water. Anytime we eat at the flat or visit anyone in their home we always drink squash. It comes in a million different flavors and is super convenient. The one we have right now is "Blackcurrant" which is a really popular flavor over here.

The forecast for this week is a lot of finding. This week we are supposed to spend at least 4 hours each day finding people to teach. Finding is definitely the most stressful part of missionary work for me, at this point at least. I don't know what it's like other places but in Christchurch there are a lot of old people that aren't interested in changing their lives. It's surprised me how many older people are atheist in Europe. The majority of the atheists I've talked to have white hair. One man we met was a little old fellow with a high pitched voice who answered the door not knowing who missionaries were. As soon as he realized he took a few steps forward and spouted off about what he believed and that there is no God. While he walked forward his door closed behind him. When he turned around to go inside he realized he had locked himself out of his house! I was on an extremely temporary exchange with another missionary who is being trained and my companion continued to try and talk to him in anyway possible. No matter what he said the old man kept yelling "Go away!" in a very shrill manner as he retreated around his house to try and get in through his back door. So far that's been the funniest finding experience I've had so far.

Before I go I wanted to answer your question about the District. We're in a small district, the only other missionaries are Sisters. Sister Stuart from Salt Lake and Sister Dunlop from Australia. We're already a close little district and work well in the Christchurch area. There are funny little things about the UK I haven't really talked about either but I'm already using a bunch of South England phrases. Feety pajamas are really popular over here, and I have to confess I bought one. It's a cute little dragon with wings and a tail. My trainer has one and it's sort of a tradition in Christchurch to buy a onesie pajama. I love the humor over her and all the different words and phrases.

The days are passing by quicker now as I'm getting more adjusted to being a missionary. I love so many of the people I've met so far in just a month! Heavenly Father has blessed me with amazing people to surround me all my life and my mission is no exception. That has been the biggest blessing I've seen as I've been serving, getting to know and love so many of God's children. I'm definitely excited for the future.

I hope and have great confidence that everything is going well at home. I wish I hadn't worried you so much by spending so much time talking about how sad I was feeling a few weeks ago. It's hard, but it's also worth it. I'm really beginning to love being a missionary! A passage in Jacob chapter 5 inspired me as I was reading this morning. I don't remember the exact verses (11-13 I think) but it talks about the servants of the Lord laboring to save some of the trees in His vineyard. At one point He says "It grieveth me that I should lose this tree" and I realized how much He cares about all of us. It's a blessing to be called as His servant and be entrusted with the tasks of helping everyone come unto Him.

Again I apologize that it's a little late, but I hope you see this before P-day is over.

Elder Draney

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20, 2014

Dear Family,

Christchurch is definitely an interesting area to work in and it would be a lot harder if my companion, Elder Poulino, hadn't paved the way for me in a sense. We have a sizable teaching pool made up of Less Active members as well as investigators. Since I've been here we haven't been able to begin teaching any new investigators but we've been so busy with those we already meet with that our finding time has been less than it usually would be.

This week was very busy because of various meetings we had during the week like Zone Conference, District Leader Conference, and going on my first exchange as well. I went on exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Harris who is also from Twin! It was really cool to talk about some of the things about Twin that are unique to Twin Falls. After being in England for a few weeks and then spending a lot of time with Elder Harris I realized that Twin definitely has its own little sense of humor. It was a very productive exchange as well because we were able to teach a few lessons and spend a good amount of time finding. We went finding near Bournemouth University and were able to talk to many different people. At one point we had a little mini-lesson where we taught a group of 3 friends about how the Gospel could strengthen them and help them through hard times. In the end they were all interested in learning more and wanted to meet again. Kind of frustrating that the one time I was part of finding good potential investigators I was in a different area for the day and wouldn't have the chance to teach them.

Zone Conference was brilliant. Elder Adler from the seventy and his wife came and spoke as well as President and Sister Millar. I don't know if I've told you yet but President Millar is very short! My companion is about 5'6" and he is still taller than President Millar! Regardless it was a very spiritually uplifting meeting. It was also very cool to see some of my friends from the MTC! We only spent 2 weeks together but I already fell like they are my brothers.

The weird part about adjusting to the different systems of measurement here is that England uses bits and pieces of everything. All road signs for the most part are standard, so the speed limit is in MPH. The funniest ones are ones warning about bumps in the road. They call them "humps" and they use yards to measure how long they will continue, not even meters! All of them say "Humps for ___ yds".

I actually noticed that Brownsea Island is very close to where we are on the first or second day I was here. It's really cool that it's so close but I don't think I will ever have a chance to go. Ironically Scouting isn't a part of the young mens program over here or anywhere in Europe. There might be some wards or branches involved but the ward I am currently in isn't involved with scouting. But they did ask me to speak this Sunday... (yesterday) at first I was very annoyed but I quickly realized we're so busy there isn't any time to stress out about speaking to a room full of church members when we are usually spending our time approaching potentially hostile strangers about the gospel. The Ward Mission Leader is a real character and is passionate about missionary work. We always call him "Captain" because he always has new ideas and always tries to get the ward missionaries to do their part.

This week is already markedly better than last week. I've never been one to be very homesick or have a hard time adjusting to situations but my mission has really tested me so far. I've come to find that what makes me the most happy is interacting with new people and beginning to form a relationship with them. The ward is fantastic and the members feed us often. It's not all at once but there have been several points where I have felt so happy and content with being on a mission. It's definitely the most challenging thing I've done so far, but after just 3 weeks I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for anything. I'm also very blessed with a good companion and trainer. Elder Poulino knows how to work hard but also to have fun while doing it, we spend a lot of time laughing and having fun with whatever it is we're doing and that has helped me a lot.

My first area has definitely been a blessing. I've told you before that I love meeting new people and the Elders that I have met are some of the greatest men I have ever met. I know that I knew all of my companions in the pre earth existance but especially Elder Schulties. I feel like he was a very good friend of mine before this life very similar to the way I feel about all of my friends back home. His companion went home a week into the MTC and he joined our companionship as a tri for the rest of the MTC. I hope I get to be is companion in the future.

The money I spent was on a coat that more suits the cold but not freezing weather we have on and off in Christchurch. I plan on buying more things I need and will probably buy boots as winter sets in. It really isn't that different here at all. They even have Mountain Dew AND Dr. Pepper but I try to avoid it because sugar and caffeine don't do any favors to our constantly exhausted state. I feel like once I have my roots I will enjoy it a lot more. I will hopefully get to email later like I did last week, but regardless I still love you all very much. Please send pictures as well.

Elder Draney

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 16, 2014

We got a letter from Jacob's mission president with a couple of pictures:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Near the sea... first P-Day

Elder Draney's first area: Christchurch.
Take note of Southampton above to locate him relative to London in the map below.

​Dear Family,

I was actually able to read the emails last week but I had to print them off and read them on the way to the mission home.
The area I was assigned to be trained in is the Christchurch area in the Poole Zone! Right after I got to the mission home I met up with Eric Harris, President Harris's son, also from Twin Falls! I also met the Elder who I was supposed to travel with but who didn't get his visa in time. My trainer is Elder Poulino from Holland! We get along very well and he has been an awesome trainer so far.
Elder Paulino from Holland. Elder Draney's trainer.
(This picture came from Elder Paulino's blog, so we don't actually have a picture of
Elder Draney and Elder Paulino together yet (though the mission office says one is coming)). 
Our flat is supposedly one of the biggest in the mission but it is absolutely tiny! The washing machine is so small that it fits under the counter in the kitchen. The kitchen itself is barely big enough for one person to turn around in. The living room is the only sizable room and it is about as big as the living room at home minus the dining room area.
Dad was right about the mission field being different rather than easier. There are definitely parts that are easier about being in the mission field but it has also been the hardest part for me so far. On Saturday I was feeling particularly homesick and even told my trainer that I wanted to go home. We called our Zone Leader and I talked with him for awhile and I felt much better. I think the thing that makes me sad the quickest is thinking about all that is in front of me. Two years seems like an eternity sometimes. But my Zone Leader has given me the advice of focusing on what is happening now and not really thinking that far in the future. It's still really hard to do that. Being right at the begining is hard no matter what way you slice it though.
The Christchurch area is already proving to be a fantastic area for me to start out in. The ward is a big ward by England's standards and has many wonderful people in it. The ward mission leader is a very funny guy and has come up with a lot of ideas to get the members involved in missionary work. Many of the families are eager to feed the missionaries on a regular basis so we will be fed pretty regularly.
All of the people we have met with to teach so far are less active members or investigators that have been taught a lot already. One of the investigators has been taught and has been attending church for more than two years but still hasn't been baptised because he is affraid that if he prays to ask if the church is true he will self-indoctrinate and convince himself that it is true rather than recieve a witness. One of the less active members is a man in his 60's that has been less active for a few years. He talks more than anyone I have ever met before. It's almost impossible to describe but at least 3 times already he has left us a voicemail that lasts over 10 minutes and goes off on all sorts of tangents. The best part is that everytime he leaves a message he starts by saying "Oh hi, it's Peter" in the most unenthusiastic manner. I haven't had the opportunity yet to teach any lessons where the person being taught doesn't talk 90% of the time. Many of the people that live in Christchurch are older or retired and always talk about their lives for a very long time.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. I know already that there have been times where I have relied on those blessings because my strength wasn't enough and that there are still more to come. I love you all very much and hope everything is going well.
Elder Jacob Draney

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October 1, 2014

Selected bits from Elder Draney's first real emails:

​I haven't read Dad's email yet so the reply will mostly to the questions that Mom asked and I'm replying to it because I know that Mom will be the first one to see the email. :)

My companion is one of the other Elders called from Vernal to my same mission. His name is Elder Mahrt. The first thing he said to me when I arrived was "So this is the Elder Draney your grandma talked about so much!" He worked in the Vernal Temple with Grandma a lot before leaving and listened to all the things Grandma had to say about me while he worked with her.

The MTC is a bubble I think and I won't really be able to tell how much I like it until I spend more time outside and speaking to people that live here. Most of the missionaries here are from the US so I haven't heard too many British accents but I have heard many other international accents.

Two other Elders that are staying in the same room as us are both from different countries. Elder Senkans and Elder Morelli, Elder Senkans is from Latvia and is 6 foot 3 with blonde blonde hair and a deep voice, Elder Morelli is from Italy and is 5 foot 5 or 6 with dark brown hair and a higher pitched voice. They are both very funny and have made my stay at the MTC easier.

There are things I love about the MTC but I am very eager to go out in the field. I understand what dad meant when he said that the MTC was a lot like EFY because it really is and I enjoy it but know that it will be different very soon. The days really do seem like weeks but looking back the week seems like at least 2 days ;). I love you all and I hope everyone is safe. I miss you very much but also understand the importance of the work I have ahead of me.

​"This is my District that we are taught in everyday. The tallest is Elder Senkans and he is companions with the shortest, Elder Morelli. The two sisters are Sister Mahaffey withe the brown hair and Sister Stigant with red hair. Sister Stigant is from the UK and actually lives closer to the MTC than she will in her mission in London South."

MTC companion, Elder Mahrt
I know that being out in the mission field will have challenges I haven't faced yet but the feelings I have gotten as I have prayed for comfort and guidance are that the field is where I will really lose myself and love my mission most. I have less than a week left in the MTC and I look forward to meeting President Millar and my trainer, but especially to meet those who have prepared to be taught by the Spirit and listen to what my companion and I have to share.

Being able to contact you has helped in some ways and made it harder in other ways but I know once my roots really grow (in the mission, not any specific place) that I will love being on my mission in the England, London South Mission. This is the work He has prepared f​or me, so I will work harder than I ever have before and focus all of my efforts on uplifting others to accomplish all that He needs me to do.

I pray for you often and I know our family and others are praying for me as well. I'm excited for everything the Lord has in store for me and those I will teach while I am on my mission. I love you. It won't be long before I will be wishing I had more time to serve and I know that I can always be happy my working my hardest and focusing my efforts on the people I will serve.

Elder Draney

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Safe arrival - Sept 25, 2014 1:16 p.m. MDT (8:16 p.m. GMT)


I am here safe. My flight out of London got delayed a bit so I didn't arrive until about 40 minutes ago. I've already met up with the Elders that Carson knew when they got their calls the same time as me.​ 

I don't have too long to email and I don't want to start feeling homesick. I love you very much and miss you very much too. 

I couldn't stop noticing things I wanted to talk to you about but I would stop myself, knowing that it would be [a] bit before I actually could.

I already feel the difference that comes with the calling of a missionary and I feel more ready than I ever have before to do the work I must do while I am here. Even though it was a very long day it went by quickly and I know that I will be home soon enough.

I love you lots! I will be able to email again on Wednesday because that is our P-day at least for now.

Elder Draney

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

He's on his way...

As I write this, Jacob is likely finding something to eat in the Salt Lake airport. In about an hour, he'll board a British Airways flight to London, and from there--sometime tomorrow-- he'll go on to Manchester and the England MTC in Preston.

This little house seems pretty empty, even with the remaining rambunctious four. It's exactly where we want him to be, but (as so many before us have said) it's very hard to see him go.

As he hugged his mother for the last time he said, "I'm ready now. I'm ready."