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