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

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