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: