Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year

Hello my friends and family!

This week I am very grateful that I was able to be a missionary and serve the Lord this Christmas! It boggles my mind that this is the second Christmas I've had on my mission. We had opportunities to visit people who didn't always have someone on Christmas which is something I am grateful we were able to do.

On Christmas Eve the ward had a carol night at 7 for a couple of hours, it was great to take time so close to Christmas and simply sing the songs of our hearts and relish in the spirit of Christ. Many of our good friends and members were there, and sharing that time with them definitely made it special.

On Christmas we began in the morning by walking to go see a family from Uruguay, the Pintos Family, to make English breakfast for them (Brother Pintos loves English breakfast) and then drove with them to go carolling to some of our investigator's homes and other members. It is a tradition in their family, a tradition of service that I definitely learned a lot from.

In the afternoon we visited our Ward Mission Leader's family to help them cook Christmas Dinner and that is where we Skyped from. A little while after that we visited the Vennerholm family from Sweden, and took food to a few single members. Christmas went by really quickly this year, it's still amazing to me that it has already the second Christmas I've had in England. I am very grateful that we were able to spend it serving others.

This year is gearing up to be a very fun year, 2016 will definitely be a good one! You are tired of hearing it but 2015 went by very quickly, it's the only year I will have spent entirely on my mission and honestly ai'm pretty sad that it is almost over. I know there will be many blessings and miracles in 2016 so I am looking forward to it!

Time is extremely short today, we are having trouble finding a place to email, so I apologise that is is short. I truly love you dearly. Thank you for everything that you do. Stay strong, stay faithful, and stay happy!

Love,

Elder Draney

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Christmas!

Hello my friends and family!

It's Christmas already! I think you will agree with me that December is always the fastest month of the year. That combined with about a thousand other things has made this last week cruise by.

Last Tuesday we were able to go to the temple with a third of our mission. The temple is always a highlight. Seeing other missionaries and being able to spend time with them is always great but by far the best part is the spirit that I felt both in the temple and in a meeting with President Gubler afterward. I love President Gubler so much! He loves the Lord, and this work, and us; you can see it in his face and in everything he does.

Christmas week is going to be a lot of fun! We have plans to do a lot of special things for some of our friends this week. We have received a lot of help from them and members of our ward this past few weeks so we will do what we can to help them out and ease their burden's this week.

We moved Nadir's baptismal date this week so that he could sort something's out with work and some other things. It isn't something we are sad about because his faith is unbreakable but we all want to make sure he is ready and able to have the greatest blessings that come as he does these things. We are looking forward to that soon!

I love the Lord and am grateful more than anything to be able to serve Him. I am surely still learning, but I've learned more in this past year what it means to give than I ever have. It is much easier said than done, but I am doing all that I can to give everything to Him. I know that He lives. I know He lives because I have kept His commandments and know that they come from a loving Heavenly Father that knows infinitely better than we do. (John 7:17) I know He lives because I have sought to lose my life in His service, and found more of myself than I could ever know was there. (Matt 16:25) I know that He lives because I have felt the power and love of His redemption fill every part of my soul and change and heal the broken and unsettled parts of me. Give all you can to Him and all of His children and I know that you will experience greater joy this Christmas than you have before.

I love you dearly.

Happy Christmas! 😉

Elder Draney

Monday, December 14, 2015

Another blessed week

Hello my friends and family!

This week was full of miracles and amazing things. We have been able to see great change and so much happiness in everyone that we taught. It has been a blessed week.

The first miracle came on Monday evening when we were teaching our friend Stephen. I've mentioned Stephen before and we have been teaching him the whole time I've been here. Stephen's wife is a member and he has been coming to church with her and being taught by missionaries for about a year and a half. After our teach with him on Monday we said a closing prayer and right as we were packing up our stuff to leave he said "I thought you should be some of the first to know, but I've seen a lot of blessings in my life this past week and I've decided I'm going to get baptised," Elder Chrimes and I were so stoked! I can't think of many times in my life when I have been speechless but this was definitely on of them!

On Tuesday we taught our really good friend Allen and that lesson was one of the most spiritual I've had on my mission. Allen talked about a lot of the spiritual struggles he has been facing and  his desire to improve because he feels trapped where he is. As we talked the Holy Ghost gave me all the words I was to say and the Spirit was as tangible as anything I have ever felt. I've been teaching Allen off and on the whole time I've been here as well and it was amazing to have that breakthrough. He came with us to church on Sunday and immediately when it was over he said "Let's do this again next week!".

Thursday we taught Nadir who is going to be baptised this Sunday! We answered a lot of his questions and some of the things we've taught before really clicked this time. Nadir has such great faith in Christ. There is always so much to learn but I have learned a lot from Nadir. Nadir works 3 jobs to pay for his family in Pakistan while he raises money to bring them over to England. Despite being working until he is bone tired he still makes time to meet with us and come to church whenever he can and is one of the happiest people I have ever met. He is one of our Father's choice children. Often we have to meet at cafes and no matter how many times we tell him it's our turn to pay he always buys us a hot chocolate and always says we can pay "Next time,".

On Friday something happened to us that all missionaries dream of. During a longer planning session we do on Friday mornings we got a call from a random number. The person on the phone was a lady named Emilia. The basic version of the phone conversation is that she called us to tell us she knows that the Church is true and has a Book of Mormon that her daughter requested but that she wants us to bring her another one that she can have so we. An come and teach both her and her daughter more about the Church! Again I was pretty much speechless. We are going to be calling her again today to figure out when we can see her this week!

This coming week is geared up to be a killer week as well! Tomorrow we are going to the London Temple for Christmas and a special meeting with President Gubler! It was recently that I was able to attend the temple right before Elder Chrimes came but it will still be amazing to be able to take the special spirit of the temple and use it to help us in our work.

Like Amulek I cannot say the smallest part of which I feel (Alma 26:16). Nothing we give and no labor we perform in the service of the Lord is truly a sacrifice, the blessings that come far outweigh anything we can give.

I love you all so much! I didn't take any cool pictures this week, but there will be plenty next week!

Elder Draney

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dec 7th, 2015

Hello my friends and family!

The first week of December has passed and now it's only 2 1/2 weeks until Christmas! Last years Christmas in Christchurch feels like it was only a few months ago and it's already time for Christmas in Croydon! Last year there was a distinct longing to be at home for Christmas, but while there is still a desire to be with you this Christmas, I'm excited to be able to feel the special Christmas spirit with friends that've made over here in England.

There were a lot of meetings this week that took up a lot of our time but we were still able to meet A LOT of new people! There is never a shortage of new friends in Croydon! It's been an exciting week as well because we were able to see some of the people we have been teaching for awhile but weren't able to see for a few weeks. It's not typical to stay in an area as long as I will be in Croydon, but is definitely a blessing.

This week should be interesting because we will be staying with the other Elders in our district for the week while our flat is getting repainted, it should be a lot of fun! We are all pretty close so it will be fun to stay with them, but their flat is TINY, we were so cramped last night when we went to bed! It's either going to be a really quick week or a really long week, I'll let you know when we get there!

I know this is exactly where I need to be right now. Ever since I felt that peace that came from knowing I'm where the Lord wants and needs me to be over a year ago now, I've felt a greater magnitude of love in ever sense of the word. Love from our Father in Heaven, love for my companions, love for the people, love for my family and all those close to me. I love you all so much! Talk to you soon!

Elder Draney





[Editor's note: Jacob was a pretty picky eater. He didn't like lots of common things (like lettuce and carrots). Now he's eating all kinds of ethnic and other strange foods.]

Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello my friends and family!

Another blessed week in Croydon! It was a little rainy this week but a lot of great things happened so it was a good week as they all are!

Most of the interesting things happened on Sunday, Sunday is usually the highlight of the week anyway.

One of the coolest things was seeing a new member of the church named Esther that was actually taught by one of the sisters, Sister Mahaffey that was with me in the MTC but is in the London Mission, not London South. The reason we saw her is because Esther is originally from the Croydon area but moved away for university but came back to visit her family. The coolest part by far is that a couple of weeks ago through Sister Mahaffey we were able to get into contact with Esther's mom and start teaching her! So because we knew each other in the MTC we are able to teach members of the same awesome family! :)

Another highlight was a familiar face from Christchurch popping up at church yesterday! My first Ward Mission Leader on my mission, Russ Babidge, came to Selsdon Ward to visit his son-in-law and neither of us had any idea! Just before the sacrament hymn started he walked in an we had a quick hug before we had to sit down for the hymn. We got close while I was serving in Christchurch and seeing friends after so long is always awesome! Everywhere I go there are connections to Christchurch.

This week Elder Chrimes and I found a lot of new friends and we are looking forward to seeing them next week! We had a pretty mixed week of teaching, finding, and some service opportunities as well. On Saturday we had a belated Thanksgiving dinner with an American member of the ward and one of our investigators! I've eaten a lot of food at dinners on my mission and it wasn't the most I've eaten, but I was still really full so it accomplished its purpose!

My mission is the single most defining and stretching experience of my life, and I know it's meant to be that way. I wouldn't trade any of it or the time I have left for anything. I love the Lord for calling me on this mission, and I will forever be in debt to Him for all He has done for me.

I love you all!

Elder Draney



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas in Croydon!

Hello everyone!

This week was a really solid week! We saw a lot of our friends that we haven't seen in awhile and got the ball rolling with them. We also spent a lot of time painting the inside of one of the members flat, which took up a lot of our day yesterday but has been rewarding to help out those in need.

As you may guess by the title, we found out whether or not I would be getting moved to a new area this week but I will be staying in Croydon for another 6 weeks! That will make it more than 8 months in total! I'm really glad that I get to stay with Elder Chrimes and keep working with all the great people I've come to know over the past 6 months! This transfer will take us in past Christmas so it will be a Christmas in Croydon!

The sad news is that our missionary district got split and most of the companionships are now part of two other districts. Now our district is just the 4 of us serving in Selsdon Ward, but it will still be a lot of fun to work together in the district!

There should never be routine weeks on a mission, and this week wasn't, but in terms of things to write about in an email it seems pretty routine! As always, but especially in the past few months, the work is progressing very well in our area. Even if those we teach don't choose to join the Church or do the things they need to do in order to gain a testimony, we are still able to be successful and do our part when we raise a warning voice to all those we meet and invite them to enjoy the blessings of following the Savior.

My testimony has deepened throughout my mission and it has come through simple habits of study and prayer. Doing those things more is part of our missionary schedule and I am so grateful for change that it has wrought in me. I love the scriptures and I love communicating with my Father in Heaven.

Love you all! Have a good week!

Elder Draney

(Serious district picture, everybody got the memo except for Elder Chrimes)

Monday, November 16, 2015

16 November 2015

Hello my friends and family!

The nasty English weather has officially arrived! This past Friday the cold weather turned on like a light switch and the rain followed shortly after on Saturday. I feel like my blood has definitely thickened since last year and the damp cold doesn't penetrate as deep, but the rain combined with the cold adds a new meaning to the phrase "soaked to the bone". Weather like that always teaches/reminds us what it means to work, and that's what Elder Chrimes and I did this week, we worked.

I finally ventured(was forced into) to eat a particular food that I have been avoiding for the past 14 months, doner kebabs. We were invited to grab some dinner with one of our close friends on Wednesday and I ended up finally trying one. I had been avoiding it before because I didn't want the possible health risks ending my mission halfway through! These aren't the perfectly sanitary meet and vegetable sticks, they are much more risky! I will let you Google what lamb doner meat looks like as it is being cooked and how it is served! :) I'll include a couple of blurry pictures as well! It was really good!

Overall this week went quickly as they all do. On Tuesday we went on exchanges with missionaries in another town called Maidstone. Maidstone has a lot of English architecture, a lot of cool archaic buildings and cobbled streets. No pictures of it though, exchanges are always really busy, sorry... :)

On Thursday we had Zone Conference which is always a highlight! It's always good to see missionary friends and past companions (it might be the last time I will see Elder Probst before I come home) but the biggest take away is always the training from President Gubler. I have no doubts that he is an inspired leader, the one we all as missionaries need right now, and conveyed the Lords message to us. I know when I feel a power beyond my own, and I felt the Spirit very powerfully as we were there. One of the biggest indicators for me that the Spirit has spoken to me is the drive and desire to improve, no matter how good I may think I am doing, and I definitely feel that now.

The updates this week are a little short because a lot of the fruits of our labors were less obvious, but nonetheless there. I love the Lord and doing His work. I feel Him working with me(which only He has the patience needed to do) and through me. I love Him and I know He loves you. You are my family and I love you too!

Love, Elder Draney

PS. They are upside down but I have noooooo clue how to fix it. Sorry :)



Monday, November 9, 2015

Hello!

Hello my friends and family!

Another quick week in Croydon, probably one of the quickest I've had. We had a lot of meetings as well as an exchange so it went by fast. It's officially Christmas season, all the shops have Christmas trees and all the works up for the past week. The second mission Christmas is going to be weirder than the first because it doesn't feel like it's Christmas in two months at all. I always complain about time though, so I'll stop wingeing for now. :)

Elder Chrimes and I have found a lot of new friends this week which has been really exciting. By far my favourite part of my mission is meeting lots of new people, Croydon is definitely a good place for that!

The craziest part of this past week was a new addition to our district! On Wednesday Elder Chrimes and I walked into one of our meetings and we walked past the sisters in our district without realising that there was a third sister. When we finally realised it the third Sister turned around and it was one of the first times I've ever been speechless. The sister is Sister Linford, one of the YSAs from Christchurch Ward that we all got on with really well and she's come to do a "mini- mission" with another Sister I served around in Christchurch, Sister Lydiksen! I couldn't believe it! It made me realise how long it's been since I left Christchurch, I really hope I get to go back before the end of my mission.

Today as a district we are going to meet up and play some games and other things for P-day so I'll take some pictures of that as well and include them in the email.

I'm so grateful to be able to serve as a missionary at this time. As I've learned more about how my call was assigned but also more of the details surrounding when I came out on my mission I know now more than ever that I am where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be. I know that the same is true for all of us as we walk the way God has promised will lead us the the greatest happiness.

I love you all so much!

Elder Draney



Monday, November 2, 2015

Remember, remember

Hello dear friends, and family,

My second lack-luster English Halloween is over and now it's on to the next fun holiday that we can't participate in as missionaries, Guy Fawkes Day or "Bonfire Night". In celebration of Guy Fawkes failing to blow up Parliament everyone lights off fireworks and stays up late having bonfires, but it's not as fun as it sounds when you only get to listen to the fireworks... ;).

As I've said before repeating seasons on my mission has been one of the weirdest experiences of my mission in general so far. The weather has also come full-circle since I've been in Croydon. I started out here wearing sweaters and jackets to then losing them during the summer, and now we are back in sweaters and jackets again! I'm completely fine with that though, I love the colder weather!

Elder Chrimes and I are very blessed to be serving in Croydon at this time. We are able to see miracles everyday, things beyond coincidence or probability but undeniable evidences of the Lord's hand in our work. As we have done all we can to be obedient and work diligently we have been exactly where He needed us to be and been able to take part in wonderful blessings. We've been able to reconnect with some our closest investigators, help those who are truly in need of our help, and met new friends that are ready love the gospel; because we sought and followed inspiration and were right were the Lord needed us to be. I like to keep sacred experiences sacred, but I bear my heart and
testimony that God lives and is actively and anxiously involved in all of our lives.

This email is short, I'm sorry! Know that I am happy, I am grateful for the time I have to be a missionary in England, and I love the Lord. We live in the greatest of all dispensations, the "times of
restitution of all things" and by virtue of our testimonies we must all be engaged in this great missionary work. Don't hide your light under a bushel, stand tall and let it shine on all those that you
know. The Book of Mormon is the anchor of my testimony, and I know with great conviction that it is true.

I love you so much!

Elder Draney

Monday, October 26, 2015

13 Months?!

Hello dear friends and family,

It definitely doesn't feel like the end of October! Part of it might be the continued warm(at least by English standards) weather or the fact that Halloween is still largely seen as a pagan and heathen tradition over here and not a lot of people celebrate but either way the fact that it will be November next week is crazy.

Elder Chrimes and I were very busy this week! On Tuesday we exchanged with other Elders in the district and I was able to go into their area. Working in a different area made the time go by really quickly and the rest of the week Elder Chrimes and I had a lot of appointments which filled our days and made them fly by. I'm happy that I get to serve another transfer with Elder Chrimes! Seeing the growth that he has made over the last 7 weeks has been awesome to see and inspires me to continue striving to change as well.

I know I've said it 100 times but I love serving in Croydon so much! There are a lot of dodgey things that happen in some parts of Croydon but it is such a cool place as well. The amount of different cultures and nationalities is amazing and it's fun to learn more about the parts of the world the people we talk to everyday are from. In terms of people within the mission and missionaries serving the England London South mission is one of the most diverse in the world. It always keeps us on our toes! It's a lot different than the visions of top hats and tea time(though they do love their tea) that I expected!

On Saturday Elder Chrimes and I had an experience that helped me to understand deeper the urgency of the work we are doing. We were walking on the street after an appointment fell through and we started talking to an older English lady named Rebekah. At first she seemed a little scared or just confused that we were talking to her but as she saw "Jesus Christ" on our badges she relaxed and started to talk about her own faith. She told us "17 years ago you never would have found a more godless person than me." and explained to us the change and joy that has come into her life since she's learned more about the Savior. The most interesting part was that she talked about some of the doctrine of her church and that she believes that God will establish His kingdom on the earth again before the Savior comes again. As soon as I opened my mouth I felt the Spirit strongly confirm to us and to her the promise we made to her as we explained that we are representatives of the Lord and that we are sharing that exact message, that the restoration of the Kingdom has happened and that she can enjoy the blessings of it right now. She accepted a Book of Mormon and told us that she would treasure it and study it with interest and the desire to know if it is true. We said a prayer with her on the street and as we finished she was noticeably holding back tears and said "Thank you, God bless you,". She texted us a few minutes later thanking us for the time we shared and wants to see us again soon!

I will never be able to deny the unique and powerful feeling of the Holy Ghost in my life, and especially on my mission. It is by that feeling that a midst confusion, misunderstanding, and darkness that I have felt peace and direction. That isn't unique to me or anyone, but is a blessing that Heavenly Father wants for all of His children. Being a missionary has helped me to live in a way that the Spirit can always be present and it is the standard I want to live the rest of my live by, to do nothing that will hinder or offend the Spirit in my life. Thank goodness for repentance for I am infinitely imperfect, but I will always keep trying and I expect you to as well! :)

Love you all!

Elder Draney

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another Autumn

Hello my friends and family!

This week was a good week! I'm very converted to the belief that happiness is a choice, Elder Chrimes and I were able to see that this week! Even though we weren't able to do as much "sit down" teaching with people in their homes as we would have liked we were still able to spend a lot of time out working hard to meet new friends and teach them the truths they need to hear and have fun doing it! There is always a peace that comes from working hard and doing the hard thing and we felt it this week, and we were also able to find new friends so the only way to describe it is that it was a good week!

Time to email is limited today so this won't be an incredibly long letter but a I will do my best!

On Wednesday we welcomed Elder McCombs and Elder Foster into Selsdon Ward and they are already doing a lot of good work! It's nice to have another companionship in the ward again, even though it was only 3 months it feels like it has been ages since we had more missionaries. We played some football (English football) and ping pong with them and another companionship today for P-day and I will include a picture of that as well!

Last week I mentioned that Elder Chrimes and I were excited to be very bold and fearless this week, and that's exactly what we did. We saw a lot of blessings come from heeding the advice of our mission president. I know that he is an inspired leader. I love President Gubler! It makes me sad to think I have less than a year to serve with him, but I'm happy that I still have quite awhile yet to serve with him.

I have to agree with you mom and dad that the second year seems to be going by a lot quicker. In a lot of ways it doesn't feel like this last transfer even happened It's an odd feeling realising that I have
served for more days than I have left to serve on my mission. So weird.

Elder Chrimes is doing so well! Going into this second transfer, he is training me! I'm really glad that we get so serve together for another transfer. Other than my trainer and Elder Probst he's the only other companion I have served with for 2 transfers. I can't wait, it's going to be a lot of fun! This transfer will be really busy as well so I know it will fly by, which I don't want to happen because I love Selsdon Ward. But there are always fun new things to come with a new area, so we will see where the Lord needs me to be next.

I love you all greatly! God is good. Trust in Him in all things and you will always have the peace and happiness that you need. It's simple and I am definitely not the first to say it, but it's true. I know it to be true, not of myself or of my own learning, but by the Holy Ghost revealing those things to me. A testimony is within us and is sustained largely by us, but it comes from conviction that can only be revealed to us by the Holy Ghost, and I am so grateful that I can act as one to guide others to their own experiences with the Holy Ghost as well. I love Heavenly Father, I love His Only Begotten Son, I love my mission, and I love you too.

Elder Draney

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Moves?!

Dear Friends and Family,

Another transfer down :( it goes so quick! It feels like a couple of weeks ago that I went to the Temple with Elder Probst to pick up Elder Chrimes and now we are already 6 weeks into our companionship!

The good news is that I am staying in Croydon! Even though we both knew that we have 6 more weeks of training together Elder Chrimes and I were a bit nervous that one of us might be moving, but thankfully we are both staying! Five transfers in an area is by far the longest I have spent in an area so far but I am truly blessed that I have been able to stay here as long as I have!

The other good news is that we aren't going to be the only missionaries in our ward anymore! Tomorrow with another group of new missionaries coming into the mission there are a few more areas in the mission opening up and the second area in Selsdon Ward is one of them! Tomorrow an Elder I don't know yet (Elder McCombs) and a new missionary he will be training are coming to serve with us in Croydon! We spent a few days last week cleaning up the flat they will be living in and doing other things to prep it for them and now we are just waiting for them to get here. Another companionship in our district will be nice too, should be a lot of fun!

Yesterday we had a training meeting with President Gubler and the whole zone, it was very powerful. We spent a large amount of time discussing the miracles that we are seeing in our areas and how we need to be more bold. Being bold is so much fun. :) Naturally at the beginning of my mission and for awhile afterward being bold and confident in situations that are uncomfortable was probably my weakest point. Over the past few months I have improved a lot but President Gubler has asked us as a mission to be as bold and loving as we can, to fear no man. After the meeting yesterday that is exactly what Elder Chrimes and I did, we went out and preached the gospel fearing nobody but the Lord. We have already seen improvement in our work and the way that we need to work to find everyone the Lord is preparing. We are excited to continue working and fearing no man!

Last week I mentioned going to Leeds Castle as a district but I wasn't able to send a lot of pictures so there will be more coming this week! Castles are cool. It's that simple. Hopefully we will visit more soon!

My mission is a testimony to me of the truthfulness of this work in so many ways that it is hard to describe. There are many spiritual experiences that I hold close, but the missionaries and people that I have met are a huge boost to my testimony as well. A few weeks into my mission a member got up to bear testimony and quoted from a friend of theirs saying "Missions are where the fun is." and I wholeheartedly agree! Back then I wasn't so sure, but now I cannot deny it.

Love you!

Elder Draney

(I tried to send some panoramas from my iPad but they are too big to send so I apologize for that)





Monday, October 12, 2015

P-Day

P-day is tomorrow because of moves, Elder Chrimes and I are staying in Croydon. We had another zone training today and President gave us permission to send this. We will email tomorrow! Love you!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fun week!

Hello my friends and family!

It's Fall already! I'm starting to repeat seasons on my mission now, I don't know if I'm ready for that. Only one more English Autumn is a sad thing to think about, but only having one more rainy English Winter makes up for it!

I'm emailing later today because we had a really cool P-day as a district to Leeds Castle! It's the first time I've been to what I consider a "proper castle" since I've been here! It was a lot of fun, we took loads of pictures and we haven't shared them yet so we will have to do it that later on but I will include some that I took! It's a really old castle in the middle of a lake with a moat and huge scenic grounds and the works! Everything you would expect from an English castle.

This week was really busy but we were able to teach and work with a lot of God's children that have been prepared to live the Restored Gospel. I've enjoyed my time serving in Croydon so much and it all has to do with the people. I've been privileged to serve alongside great companions, in a fantastic ward, and been able to make so many lifelong friends in the short time that I have been here. That is a witness enough for me of the divinity of this work. I will forever be in debt to Heavenly Father for the experiences that I have had on my mission and the areas I have served in. And I still have a year left! :)

General Conference is always great on a mission, it's already my third time watching conference in my mission! Last year I was still in the MTC during Conference and I remember distinctly thinking that it would be a looooong time before October Conference again, but I stand corrected. I felt the speakers give messages tailored to my needs and questions by the Holy Ghost. Having 3 new Apostles sustained was interesting indeed, I miss the apostles that have passed especially Elder Packer, but I look forward to hearing more from those that were called and sustained this last weekend!

Yesterday we have a very cool lesson with a friend of a member in our ward. She invited us to come to their home and teach her friend with her and her husband yesterday and it went very well. The experiences we have as missionaries especially spiritual experiences are hard to describe in words so I won't try to. The best way that I can describe it is that she is very prepared to hear the gospel. She has been searching for a long time and she felt strongly about what we discussed in the lesson and expressed so much thanks for the things we taught her. It always makes everything we do worth it to teach those that are ready and have been waiting!

Time is especially short today but I hope I got enough across! I love you all so much! I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you greater than I do, turn to them and I know you will feel their love greatly.

Elder Draney

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wake me up when...

Hello my friends and family!

I don't think I will ever stop complaining about how fast time is going. So I thought I would get it out of the way early! Might as well get used to it.

Croydon never ceases to amaze me! So much can go on in a week! We were busy with service projects and teaching this week so we weren't able to contact as much as we would have liked but it was a wonderful week nonetheless.

On Tuesday we met with all the missionaries in the zone to council and train each other on ways that we can improve our work. Elder Chrimes and I were asked to give a training for about 3o minutes to 2 different groups of missionaries and it went really well! I'm learning a lot more how to be confident in front of many people and it all comes down to being guided by the Spirit. I would never be able to deny the feeling of speaking words that aren't of my own crafting to those who need it that I have felt on my mission, and I know I felt that when we presented on Tuesday.

The highlight of the week was a lesson that I wasn't even a part of! Last Saturday we got a referral from missionaries in a bordering area for a man that they had invited to a baptism earlier that day and had actually received a referral for themselves but found out that he lives closer to our area so they passed his information. We gave him a call a few minutes later and he sounded really excited and wanted to come to church with us the next day! We set everything up but he wasn't able to make it due to work but met with us at the chapel just after church and we were able to get to know him a little more.

His name is Robert and he his from Holland! He has actually been in contact with the church and missionaries for several months in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He recognizes the light and joy that he feels from the church and it is something that he knows comes from God. We made a solid connection with him immediately and I had the strong feeling that Heavenly Father guided him to us and us to him, technically the other missionaries made a mistake referring him to us because he doesn't live in the ward boundaries but he is actually planning on moving into our ward. The part that I missed due to exchange was a lesson on Tuesday where Elder Chrimes and another Elder where able to get to know him a lot more. During the lesson they asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said that he has been thinking about it for a long time and has decided to do it! We haven't figured out exactly when, because he is on holiday in Holland this week, but we will be seeing him later this week and going to watch Conference with him this weekend! I will let you know more as time goes on!

Elder Chrimes and I are still having loads of fun in Croydon! This week was easily one of the fastest of my mission! I'm very grateful for the opportunity to be Elder Chrimes' first companion and help him to maximize his potential! He's already grown so much! He's a way better missionary than I am. :)

I am very excited for General Conference this weekend. Elder Scott's passing this week was a sad loss, but just as all others who have gone before he has finished his mortal probation and is one do continue his work elsewhere. It will be interesting to see 3 new apostles be called and sustained, it seems like it has been ages since new apostles were called. I look forward to sustaining them this weekend and hearing the words of the Lord spoken to us! I hope you are too!

I've got pictures this week!
The first one is of our zone training this week! Not my best picture.The second is an introspective moment on the train. Train rides are nice!The last one is chickens sitting on a drying rack in a members back yard! They could fit in my hand when I first got to Croydon! Hopefully the pictures aren't upside-down!

I love you all so much!

Elder Draney





Monday, September 21, 2015

Hump Day!

Hello my friends and family!

This past week was a really fun week! It went by so fast. There were lots of interesting things that happened that made it an enjoyable week!

It's not the only thing that has gone by fast though. The title says it all. This week I will have officially been in England for a year! I don't know what to think. It's a crazy feeling but is scary at the same time, only having a year left is a mixed bag of emotions so I won't even try and to explain it!

Elder Chrimes and I were able to do a lot of good work this week but we saw a lot of miracles on Tuesday. We received 2 different referrals from missionaries in other areas with people they met or have been teaching that are moving to Croydon and want to be taught, referrals are always great!

The coolest part of the day happened as we were trying to contact another referral at an address we had been given. We tried their house but they also had a neighbor living below them and another flat above them. After no success with the address we were given, 11A, we tried 11C downstairs and got an answer but he said he knew that a man lived in 11A but didn't know much else. As we went to walk away I felt to try 11B and so said to Elder Chrimes "Let's try 11B" so we went to ring the doorbell to see if we could teach them. A little while after we rang we heard a someone ask who it was on the other side of the door and after saying we were missionaries, a woman answered the door and talked to us through about a 6 inch gap. We began talking to her and after a few moments asked us to come in! We went in and taught this woman, her name is Patricia, all about the Restoration and she was very interested throughout the time we were there. Patricia accepted everything we taught and was especially grateful that we asked her to pray and receive her own answer rather than just believing us. We are going to see her again tomorrow! That's the second time I've been let in my whole mission, and both of them have been with Elder Chrimes!

On Wednesday we went on exchange and the Elder that I went with is in the Marine Corps back home so woke up early and did some crazy bicep exercises which I've been recovering from all week!

The rest of the week wasn't filled with particularly exciting experiences but it was still a very good week! I love serving in Selsdon Ward so much! I'm grateful I have 2 months, in theory, more to serve here with Elder Chrimes!

Elder Chrimes is such an all-star! He has overcome a lot of challenges over the past few weeks and has grown a lot. He's a hard worker and has a sincere desire to help God's children. I love serving with him! He's teaching me a lot more than I feel like I am teaching him!

I love you all! I want you to know how grateful I am for my mission. I have learned more, hurt more, struggled more, rejoiced more, and loved more this year than I ever have in my life. Seeing the change that serving a mission with a true heart and desire to work has wrought in me and so many others strengthens my testimony greatly. I know that some missionaries aren't the best examples, and some walk away from everything they have done, but I know that it all comes back to the way they serve and their love for the Lord. As we serve with all our heart and are obedient to all His commandments, I know we will see His hand in our lives and sustain our testimony through all things. I don't believe that, I know it.

Thank you for everything you do! :)

Love,

Elder Draney

Monday, September 14, 2015

Elder Chrimes

Hello Family and Friends!

These past few weeks have been some of the busiest/most stressful of my mission so I have to apologize for not sending a weekly letter last week! Things have settled down a bit so there is more time today to sum up the past few days!

The first bit of news is my new companion Elder Chrimes! Elder Chrimes is from Swindon, England and has been in the mission field for about a week and a half and we have already done a lot of good work! ​It has been a big adjustment for sure but we have seen the hand of the Lord in all things. I know that He controls every phase of this work. We are able to be part of many miracles and are so grateful for that!

This past week has been pretty intense, a lot of changes have been made across the mission and in our area as well so there is a lot of adjusting. I'm grateful for the opportunity to stretch and grow because I know that it means the Lord loves me and trusts me enough with these situations. Putting our complete trust in Him is the only way forward at times, I know that He doesn't leave us, no matter how long it may seem that He has sometimes.

Elder Chrimes and I were visiting some people on Thursday when as we were walking along we said "Hello" to a man just a few feet up the sidewalk. As soon as he looked at us he said "Can I have your Bible?" and pointed to the Book of Mormon I was holding. Of course you can have it! As we gave it to him he talked about how he knew a little bit about the church but asked us to give him the basics of our message. We were able to teach him about the restoration and at the end he expressed his thanks and interest in finding out more! His name is Henry and he is originally from Ghana, he left his home in search of truth and answers to many of the questions he has. We promised him that he will find them as he learns more and prays for guidance and a confirmation of the things we will teach him! We will call him today to set up another time to teach him in the near future! That was our miracle this week!

I'm so grateful for all you do! Let me know more of what is happening with you! I love to hear it! I love you all so much! Talk to you soon!

Elder Draney

P.S. Here are some pictures of Elder Chrimes and I as well as an exchange I went on with another missionary, Elder Mutariswa from Zimbabwe! The last one is a picture of a house that we found Elder Chrimes' first time knocking haha!





Monday, September 7, 2015

Hey!

I'm on finally! Here with Elder Chrimes! He's from Swindon England and he lives about 3 hours away from Croydon... But we've had a lot of fun so far and he has a good attitude about it! You mentioned that raining might be a lot harder than I thought it would be at first, and you were right. Things have settled down a lot but the first few days were really draining, haha. Elder Baum that is friends with Carson who was in the MTC with us came back into the mission this transfer and I
thought a lot about training him but it didn't happen. I love Elder Chrimes! He was really quiet at first but he's opened up a lot, still very nervous to contact people but he is already a really good teacher. As soon as I hugged him for the first time and talked with him on the way back I knew that he would be a lot like me at the beginning of my mission. I'm on for a little so I can chat as well and will try to do a big email but it will probably be short!

[Editor's note: I don't think he ever got a chance to send "a big email." I don't recall seeing one from that day. There were several pictures!!]



London Temple the night Elder Belnap and Rife left, the night before Elder Chrimes(silent "h" by the way, pronounced "Crimes") got here.



Elder Probst and I right before he left the flat for the last time! Comp Mario visors from McDonald's!



Croydon clock tower at night as well, just a random picture!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Zone Conference pics




[Editor's note: This photo came directly from Jacob's mission president. The second image is detail from the first so you can see Jacob's handsome face. Click on either to see a closer view.]

Moves, moves, moves

Dear Family,

​You can tell by the title that it is moves week! I'm sorry I didn't mention it earlier but I didn't want to jinx anything by talking or speculating so I didn't mention it at all!

Last transfers moves were crazy and this time is even crazier! There are lot's of areas being white washed (two missionaries moving in with no knowledge of an area and moving the other two out) and there are a few areas opening as well.

This transfer I have been called to train a new missionary! I will be staying in Croydon to train him as well! I will serve for 7 months in Croydon! I'm so excited! The new missionaries will arrive on Wednesday but all of the trainers will be going to the Temple tomorrow to prepare for the new missionaries to get here. Elder Probst was also called as a trainer and will be white washing back into his first area, where he was trained, with another brand new missionary! There are a lot of exciting things happening in the mission!

Because that this week is very busy and especially today so our P-day has been moved to tomorrow, and so we have been asked to limit emailing time today and save most of our emailing for tomorrow. This morning I only have time to send a short letter but I will be able to email you tomorrow and let you know more of what is happening!

I love you so much! More is on it's way soon!  ​
Elder Draney

Monday, August 24, 2015

24 August 2015

Dear Family,

Right now Elder Probst and I are inside the library typing up our email whilst the rain is pouring down outside, so summer is officially over for us. :(

Today(as Mom so kindly reminded me) is 11 month mark on my mission. It really doesn't feel like I have been gone anywhere close to 11 months! I'm probably the worst broken record when it comes to talking about how fast the time has gone by but I wouldn't say it if it weren't true!

This week was still very busy, but that is a constant for missionaries as long as we are working hard. This week we actually had a lot more time to spend seeking to find new friends to teach which has been scarce for the most part over the last month or so. It was nice to be able to meet more new people and have good conversations with people on the street! Croydon will never run out of new people for us to talk to so we are very blessed!

I've mentioned in the weeks before that Nadir was working towards the 29th as a baptismal date but because he has been very busy over the past couple weeks we will have to move back his date but not very far. He loved coming to church with us last week so hopefully that excitement will carry on while we continue to teach him!

On Wednesday we were able to set another baptismal date with one of our friends named Collin. Collin is friends with President Eaton of the mission presidency and has met with missionaries a lot in the past but health problems and life circumstances kept him from coming for awhile and he was too busy to meet with them. Last month we had dinner with the Eatons and they invited Collin to come and he really enjoyed the meal as well as the scriptures and thoughts we all shared after dinner and asked if we could come and see him during the week, so we did! We taught him twice and he already knows everything about the Church and has a testimony of it's truthfulness for a lot of different reasons and at the beginning of the second lesson we asked him if there was anything holding him back from being baptized and he said no. Naturally after that we invited him to be baptized and he accepted to be baptized on September 16th! We are teaching him this week and will keep you updated on how things go in the coming weeks!

This week rather than drag things out and try to think of things to write about I will echo some of the things I have mentioned in previous letters that still hold true. I am grateful for the opportunity that I have to serve my Lord in England and do my best to forget myself and focus on others, just as He has always done. My testimony has grown and been strengthened more than I ever thought it could, despite the great opposition that has been thrown at my companions and I. I know as a matter of logic and of testimony given by the Holy Ghost that "the restitution of all things" spoken of by Paul has taken place and that the God's Kingdom is again upon the earth. I know more than I ever did before that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all. I know He lives. I will never be able to repay anything that He has done for me, but at this time I am especially aware of the great debt I owe because of the wonder that I have experienced on my mission.

I love each one of you.

Love,

Elder Draney

Monday, August 17, 2015

Hope of Israel

Dear Family

I definitely have to agree with you that August, and this whole summer really, has completely flown by! I am definitely glad to be rid of the hot and humid side of English weather, even though it didn't last very long. The joke is that England only gets about 2 weeks of summer and these past few months have proved it to be more than a joke. I can count on both hands how many days we had with uninterrupted sunshine and apart from that we had cloudy skies that threatened to rain any minute. The lack of sunny days is probably what made it seem last only a few weeks! It's crazy that school is starting already!

Despite a lot of rain this week we still had a lot of fun. Most of the time that it rained we were indoors, but we still had a few hours of finding in the rain! We had Zone Conference this week as well and the whole time there was a huge thunderstorm going on outside but it stopped raining before the meeting was over so we were blessed to travel home dry. We took a big picture as a 3rd of the mission so as soon as I have the picture I will send it.

Working with our friends that we teach this week was really good! Last Monday we went to see Nadir with a member from the ward in Nadir's home. When we got there we found out that he has been staying with his sister and brother-in-law who are also from Pakistan. We had originally planned to teach Nadir about some of the commandments but his brother-in-law, Najaf, decided to join us for the lesson so we decided to review the restoration and the Book of Mormon and let Nadir help us teach it to Najaf. The lesson was powerful! Nadir really absorbed the lesson when we taught it to him 3 weeks ago and he showed it when he helped us teach Najaf, he remembers and understands all of it! Najaf really enjoyed the lesson as well and said he wants to come to church with us sometime! Even though he wasn't able to come this Sunday we are keeping in contact with him so we can go with him and his family as soon as we can!

I mentioned last week that another investigator, Stephen, left with his wife on a big holiday last week so we won't see them until the end of the month but we are still going to email them every week to see how their holiday is going!

The highlight of this week was Zone Conference with President Gubler. It was the first Zone Conference with him after they were able to get more experience over the last month. President Gubler has only been here for 6 weeks but we have all already felt the distinct shifting of the mantle and the raised expectations coming from the Lord and conveyed by President Gubler. During the conference we sang many of the hymns in the 240-260 section about fighting against the adversary and the Spirit was strong throughout the conference, not just during the hymns. The title comes from the spirit I felt as we all sang "Hope of Israel". As we sang the line "See the Chieftain signals onward" I looked to President Gubler. As I sang I felt the Spirit distinctly testify to me that the Lord, our Chieftain, has signaled the work of salvation onward and that President Gubler has "sounded the war cry" and asked us to fight alongside him as we do the Lord's work. The work is hastening all over the world and I can confidently say the Lord has signaled us all onward. Lengthen your stride and seek for His guidance through prayer and I promise He will tell you what more you can do.

I really wish I had taken more pictures last week but the only one I would have to share came from zone conference and I sadly don't have it yet. I've thought about taking pictures with all of the members we meet with during the week so you have faces to the names so I will do that this week! We have a dinner everyday this week so there will be lots of pictures!

I love you all. I pray that I can always be worthy of your friendship and love throughout my life. Thank you for the happy moments we have shared and I look forward to more in the future!

Love,

Elder Draney

Monday, August 10, 2015

Melissa's Baptism

There is never a slow week in Croydon! Elder Probst and I are loving how busy we are and being able to see so many people each day! The Lord is blessing us with new friends even though we have almost no time to spend contacting we are still able to see new people!

Some very cool things happened this week but the highlight of the week was Melissa's baptism! She was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday and is so grateful to finally have made that step! She has waited for a long time and none of us thought it would come as soon as it did but I am grateful to have been here to be a part of it! President Eaton of the mission presidency performed the baptism and she was confirmed by another member of the ward. We know that she is setting the example for her children and will be great influence for good to all those who are a part of her life!

Last week on Monday we went with other elders in the district to the Chislehurst Caves which is part of another area but we got permission to go and take a guided tour of the caves! It was a little overpriced but it was nice to break from the norm a little bit and it helped us feel ready for the rest of the week.

On Wednesday we taught Stephen and Carli and gave them some conference talks and other scriptures that they can read while they are on a 4 week holiday starting today. Stephen is planning on being baptized on the 26th of September a few weeks after their holiday. I really hope I stay in Croydon because transfers are at the end of the month and I don't want to move to a new area away from them!

We also taught Nadir and he is learning a lot! He is still trying to get Sundays off to come to church and he really wants to come! We taught him about the basics of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he understood it all but also had some questions about the Trinity. We explained why we believe and know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be separate but one in purpose and he said that his whole life the Trinity has never made sense and used every example to show why he never agreed with it and then ended by saying "Yeah, I agree with you guys,"! He is excited to be baptized on the 29th of this month! It's the 10th already! Time flies.

I attached the pictures from the baptism as well! One with a funny face and one without.

I love you all so much! I wish I could be with you sometimes but know that I feel my purpose in being here as well. I hope that my letters are enough for you to see the love of God that is being felt here and the love I have for you!

Thank you.

Love,
Elder Draney

[Editor's note: The original picture files Jacob sent are rather small, unfortunately, so it's difficult to see details.]



Monday, August 3, 2015

"Croydon is still blowing up" - 3 Aug 2015

Dear Family,

So this letter might be a little bit shorter than other ones because I didn't keep track of time as well as I try to so I don't have loads of time but I will try to include everything.

Croydon is still blowing up! Even though Elder Probst and I were sick for a couple days at the end of the week we still got a lot of work done!

Melissa is preparing to be baptized on Saturday! We are so blessed to be a part of it! We have been doing service for her a few times over the past few weeks to help some of her physical needs but also to teach her and build up her spirits as well! We've been encouraging her sons to help her out and the boys have been really good about that. Everyone is reaching in to help her and she is grateful for the love we are showing. She has anticipated being baptized for a long time and her baptism is the fulfillment of many blessings so it is a very exciting time for her and us as well!

We dropped a few of our investigators this week but we still spent the majority of our time teaching fantastic people. Stephen is going to be baptized on the 26th of September but is going on a 4 week holiday at the end of the week with his wife so we made a packet for him to take and study from while he is on holiday.

Nadir is doing really well also. We haven't been able to teach him since last week but he is still working towards the 29th of this month to be baptized! He has been very prepared and is in love with the gospel and is working on gaining a personal testimony. We are again very blessed to teach him and every experience we have had with him has strengthened our faith and boosted us up as we seek to build him up. I understand a lot more how much God really knows and the love and guidance He gives to all of us, whether we recognize it or not or it doesn't make sense for a long time.

I've mentioned it before but I have gained an absolute adoration for African food since I have been graced with the opportunity to have some in Croydon. I love it so much. This week we had fufu twice, fufu is very similar to mashed potatoes but a bit stickier and can be made out of lots of different things and you eat with your hands and usually dip in a soup or sauce. The picture is of a goat soup we had with yam fufu, which we ate all of with our hands! So much easier! The family that made it, the Hansens, are from Ghana and always invite us and Jonathan over for lots of food whenever they have time!




Thank you for all that you do and to amazing times that we have shared with each other. I love being able to share some of my experiences the Lord has blessed me with on my mission. Keep on being the greatest this world has to offer!



Love,
Elder Draney

Monday, July 27, 2015

Blessed Croydon - 27 July 2015

Dear Family,

This week was a pretty crazy week in Croydon, truly every week is crazy in Croydon but this one was especially eventful!

The first thing that Elder Probst and I have noticed about the beginning of this new transfer being the only missionaries in Croydon is that the Lord is blessing us in many ways but especially with amazing people to teach. When the other companionship closed we started teaching everyone they were which made our teaching pool a lot bigger so we spend the majority of our time teaching. Even though we don't have much time to try and find new investigators the Lord is still blessing us with new people to start teaching!

One of the big highlights of the week came as a huge blessing. On Thursday we taught a man named Nadir and he is already working towards August 29th to be baptized. Nadir was contacted by the other set of missionaries almost 2 months ago and he had a card with their number on it but didn't hear back from him until Tuesday of his last week. He called them up and apologized that it had been so long but still wanted to meet with them, but because their area was closing they referred him over to us to start teaching him. Nadir has really been prepared to learn and accept the restored gospel. He is from Pakistan but was born into a Christian family and has been active in the faith his whole life. Recently he wanted to know more about the Church and really wanted to attend a church that has great faith but also acts on that faith rather than doing nothing and waiting for a miracle. After we taught him about the restoration and the Book of Mormon the Spirit got really strong and even though we were standing in front of a busy building and next to a road with loads of  loud double-decker buses going by we all felt touched in our hearts and were able to have a really good lesson. We met again with him this morning and we are continuing to have good lessons! We are so excited to keep teaching him!

Things are going really well with the others we are teaching also! Melissa is going to be baptized on the 8th, a week from Saturday, and is ecstatic about it. She has waited a long time to be baptized and now she will be! Stephen is also making good progress as well! He has been taught for awhile and knows everything but has made a lot of steps to be ready to be baptized at the end of September and support his wife! Martin is planning on being baptized on the 29th of August well but we might move the date as it gets closer.

We've felt a few different times and for different reasons that it is important for Elder Probst and I both to be in Croydon right now and we aren't the only ones who have felt that way. Yesterday we saw Allen briefly and he shared with us that he had been listening to bits of the Book of Mormon on his phone and that when we told him we were staying in Croydon for another 6 weeks that that he felt there is a really big and important reason that we are. Along with a handful of other things, we felt/confirmed with Allen that we are here to teach him truths that he has been waiting to hear and answer deep questions that he as had for a long time. Allen is a very smart guy and he recognizes the need to have more time to sit down and listen to our message. We will teach him and Sadie tomorrow and will try to see them more often than we have been.

Elder Probst and I are pumped for this next transfer! One of the members of the mission presidency is in our ward and he told us last week that there are actually over 400,000 people in our area. That gives us 200,000 each, we are going to have a lot of fun this transfer! I'm glad I'm staying with Elder Probst as well! We've had good times already and get along really well so another transfer with all of these blessings will definitely be a good time!

It always inevitably happens but there are a lot of things that don't translate into an email as cool as they were in real life and for some things you have to be there in person. Sometimes I wish I had a GoPro on my chest so I could record all the things that happen in Croydon, and then other times I'm glad I don't... But I really do wish you could see so many of these things! I guess that means I should take more pictures...

Sorry I don't have any this week. Next week, I promise.

I love you all! I truly know that helping others around you to be happy is the best way to find happiness in your own life. Share your gifts, talents, and joy with others and I know they will all multiply!

Love,
Elder Draney

Monday, July 20, 2015

Another Round of Moves - 20 July 2015

Dear Family,

This week was probably one of the craziest that I've had on my mission. So many good things happened but also so many important/significant things that it makes it hard to fit into one email with not a lot of time to write it but I will do my best!

The first thing to mention is that I'm staying in Croydon! The mission office emailed us all of the information about moves on Saturday and we were able to find out everything that will happen across the mission this time at transfers. As you know all of the missions around the world are getting smaller and our mission has been going down in the number of total missionaries for about the past year, but especially these last 3 months. Because of that many of the wards with more than one set of missionaries are losing the second companionship and that is what is happening with Croydon this transfer. Now our area has over 350,000 people. Elder Probst and I are going to be very busy this next few weeks!

There were a lot of big developments, miracles really, this week in our teaching pool.

The first one happened on Monday last week when we went to teach a part-member couple, Stephen and Carli. Stephen has been coming to church for about a year but hasn't felt the "spark" that he was looking for to join the church. On Monday we brought a recently returned missionary with us to teach them and bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and how significant it is to all of us. We then asked him to set a date to be baptized right there with us and he chose the 26th of September! They are going on a 5 week long cruise which so that is why it is so late and he still wants a few weeks to prepare but it is the most progress he has ever made and him and his wife both want to go through with it!

The other really big thing that happened this week was that another investigator, Melissa, asked her boyfriend Kyle to move out because they aren't going to get married anytime soon and she wants to live all of the commandments and be baptized as soon as she can! They are still on good terms and aren't really splitting up but they aren't going to live together until they get married. That was the only thing holding her back and he is moving out later today so we are going to teach her this evening and invite her to be baptized as soon as possible! We couldn't believe it when she told us! We are so happy right now!

The sad news is that we did end up moving Martin's baptismal date back to the end of August because he just wasn't ready. He's lost a lot of motivation and a lot more concerns have been brought to light since then so it's a good thing we moved it back but we will be working help him overcome everything during this month.

As well we haven't been able to contact Jonathan's brother Christian for more than a week so we have dropped the date for now, but we are going to go see him today so we will do all we can to teach him as well.

It's so crazy to see pictures of Draney Camp! Especially all of the cousins I haven't seen in a few years! It's so cliché but they are so big now! I would be lying if I said I didn't wish to be there, not in a homesick way at all but it is so fun that everyone was able to be there! Thank you for all the pictures!

Moves week is different than any other week so the time is all messed up but I will send some pictures of cool things we saw this week.

The first one is a sick tie and scripture case that Elder Piseth in the district gave me. He is from Cambodia and has a lot of cool ties and other things and we have been really good friends over the last three months.


The other one is the first proper American flag I've seen since I've been in England! We both did a double-take when we saw it and obviously took a picture!


I love you all greatly! If there is anything at all I can do for you, let me know. There is obviously a lot I can't do but I mean it when I say I love you.

God be with you.
Elder Draney.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Halfway through Summer - 13 July 2015

[Editor's note: I wish the pictures were bigger, but they came through pretty small from the email for some reason.]

Dear Family,

So the sad part about this week is that the plans to go into Central London didn't work out, but the good part is that we get to spend P-day in Croydon regardless! Still not as fun as going to London. But life goes on.

This week was the best week of my mission so far in terms of the amount of people we were able to see and teach. It feels so nice to be able to spend the majority of our time teaching as that is what we are called to do. We weren't able to see some of the people that we would have liked to see but we still got a lot done.

Martin, who was planning on being baptized this Saturday, probably won't be getting baptized this Saturday but very likely will be soon afterward. While we were teaching him this week a few more concerns came up and we decided it would be best to have more time before he is baptized but he is still making a lot of progress.

The highlight of the week happened while I was on exchange so I wasn't even there for it but I got to hear about it over the phone! My companion stayed in Croydon while I went with another missionary to his area, and they went to teach Jonathan a little while after I left. While they were teaching him Jonathan's brother, Christian, came home and they invited him to join in with the lesson and they started to teach both of them. At the end of the lesson they invited Christian to be baptized just like his brother and he accepted to work towards being baptized on August 22nd! When they called and told me I couldn't believe it, it's probably the best news I've ever received over the phone!

We are still working with Allen and Sadie but we weren't able to see them this week so there isn't anything to report on that. If we see them this week we will invite them to be baptized at the end of August and are confident that they will accept so pray for them this week.

Early in the week we also got to do a cool service project with one of the members of the ward, Dominic who I talked about last week. Dominic is a professional magician as well as other things and he goes through a lot of decks of cards but still has loads left over. So for a couple of hours we organized hundreds of playing cards and packed them into individual decks so he could re-use them rather than just tossing dozens of almost complete decks away. It was a pretty cool thing to see so I will leave a picture of it in the email.



This week is also the last week of the transfer so there is the possibility of me moving from Croydon, which is pretty scary. I've only been here for 2 transfers and I hope to stay for a lot longer so I have my fingers crossed I will stay! I will hopefully know by next Monday so I will let you know, but I have no ideas/predictions this time because anything could happen. It is the first transfers with President Gubler so things could change a lot, but again fingers crossed I stay in Croydon!

The one positive about not going to London is that I have the most solid excuse I've had in a while for not sending a lot of pictures! I was planning on taking lots of cool ones in London but that will have to wait. But I will send some of other things that happened this week. The boy is Ollie, one of the Primary kids who got on my iPad on Monday!





Thank you for your emails and prayers. I love you all!

Love,
Elder Draney



Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy 4th - 6 July 2015

Dear Family,

As you can imagine the 4th of July isn't quite as big of a holiday, or any sort of holiday at all, in England but we still found ways to enjoy it without any fireworks or BBQs, but I will start from the beginning of the week.

Like I mentioned last week President and Sister Millar finished their time presiding over the London South mission this week and President and Sister Gubler arrived on Tuesday, but we didn't meet them until Friday. I think I said it before but President Millar was the oldest mission president in the world when he was called and held that title until he was released so they were both very tired at the end of their mission. It is sad to see them go but the mantle and keys have shifted and our meeting with President Gubler surely proved that.

Friday afternoon was the Zone Conference where we met President and Sister Gubler for the first time and naturally we were all excited to met them. They started off by giving us all a hug or handshake and taking a little time to get to know each one of us and then we sat down to be taught, and we definitely were taught! President Gubler worked as a seminary/institute teacher for 35 years and knows the scriptures very well. He taught us about our calling in the pre-mortal life and our calling now as missionaries at this time. It was very powerful. We already felt very strongly the love that they have for us and the love already have for them. I'm looking forward to serving with President Gubler for the rest of my mission!

During the week we had a handful of lessons and got to teach Martin a few times which was nice. He is still moving towards the 18th to be baptised and has changed a lot to do so. His testimony of the Church and the finer details of it are growing a lot. We also had quite a few dinner appointments which is one of the greatest things for a missionary!

On Monday we went to one of our favorite families that we see just about every week, the Bowlers. The family is made up of a couple, Melissa and Kyle, and Melissa's boys Jacob and Oliver. Jacob is the only member because Ollie is too young and Melissa is waiting until her and Kyle get married to be baptised but is really excited for that, which should be very soon.

On Thursday we had dinner with the bishop's mom, Sister Gorgas, who is very "cheeky" and fun to get along with. The first day I was in Croydon we did some gardening for her and we hadn't been back since so it was good to see her. She's also a vegetarian and Elder Probst hates vegetables! I was surprised at how good the food was but I don't think I will ever be a vegetarian.

Yesterday we had a big lunch with a lot of the members of the ward! We ate at a family called the Read's house but they invited a few other members to have lunch with us. My actual first night in Croydon we went over to the Read's and it was a good introduction to the ward. The Read's have 5 boys all under 12 and they are crazy! They spend most of the time trying to steal our name badges and running around so it gets pretty loud. They also invited a sister that we call Mama Vega, and another couple Dominic and Esther. All of them are some of our favorites so it was an all-star DA for sure.

Dominic is a really cool guy that has an amazing conversion story as well. He grew up in a very Christian home and went to Bible College when he got older but found out some things about his church and ended up losing his faith for a while. He is very knowledgeable about the scriptures and as he was rekindling his faith decided he would make a list, according to the Bible, of components of God's truth throughout the New and Old Testament. When he finished it fit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perfectly but he had a huge dislike for the Church so he threw it away and started over with the same result. He finally knelt down and said the first prayer he had in a few years and asked Heavenly Father to send missionaries his way if it really was the truth. The next day he met 4 at the same time walking down the street. It took more than 2 years after that for him to decide to be baptized and he studied everything he could about the Church and knew it was true and got baptized about a year ago. He loves coming and teaching with us so we try to teach with him whenever we can.

On the actual 4th we went and to see Allen and Sadie during the day and spent the rest of the time at other lessons or finding so it wasn't super interesting other than that but seeing Allen and Sadie is always great! Allen made us omelettes and it was the best omelette I've ever had! We love them! In the evening Elder Probst and I sang the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and some other patriotic songs alone in our flat to celebrate but it was still pretty fun!


 We are getting worse and worse at managing our email time so that will be the update this week. I want you to know that I have a deep and abiding testimony that God lives. He loves us and is involved with every aspect of our lives. I know am where he needs me to be.

I love you all.

Elder Draney

Monday, June 29, 2015

One year older, but none the wiser - 29 June 2015

[Jacob's birthday was 27 June 2015]

Dear Family,

There is never a dull week in Croydon, but it is always especially exciting as a missionary. Besides any sort of special events that may have taken place during the week it was a good week for missionary work as well. We set a baptismal date with one of our investigators that I haven't mentioned before, Martin, and he's planning on being baptised on the 18th of July. We had a good amount of appointment and time to do finding as well so it was a really balanced and fun week!

The long anticipated and very bitter-sweet week of President and Sister Millar's departure has come. Today is the last day he will be my mission president and tomorrow the mantle will pass to President Ronald Gubler. I remember Dad saying that he had two mission presidents also so you will know how it feels to say goodbye to a beloved mission president but also be excited for the change and new relationship with a new mission president. I'm really looking forward to meeting President Gubler later this week and interviewing with him later on. There are lot's of new mission presidents and old ones going home this week all over the world so there is a lot of change going on. We had our last Zone Training with President and Sister Millar on Friday and President Gubler will be here tomorrow to take over. We took a picture as a zone so that will be coming with the email.

Though I said there is never a dull week in Croydon, there are definitely dull moments when it comes to writing about them in an email! Most of our hours are spent seeking new people to teach and invite so the majority of the experiences that we have are out contacting in the streets and this week especially it was a struggle to have good discussions with people or set another appointment with them so there aren't any cool contacting stories this week.

Saturday was a really cool day though. We started off in the morning doing service for the ward by clearing out a parking lot of a local clinic. We spent a couple of hours trimming shrubs and bagging all the branches and the people we did it for were really grateful. After that we went with the other missionaries to get pizza and wings for a "proper birthday meal". Regardless of what the picture looks like, it was really good! Later in the afternoon we went to see Allen, Sadie, and Keyan to play basketball with them in the park. They found out it was going to be my birthday about a week before so I knew they were planning something but had no idea what it was. When we went over to there place we sat down on the couch and a few minutes later they came in with a bag and a card! You know how I am about birthdays and gifts so after a bit of protesting I opened up the bag. The bought me a harmonica! Allen is way into music and we've talked about making music on P-day so he bought me a harmonica so I could start jamming and messing around back at the flat! I was so grateful! I couldn't believe it either!

The second part of the story will get it's own paragraph because it's way cool. After that we headed to the park to play basketball and started playing on half of one of the courts. After about 5 minutes a crew of eight kids from about 16-20 years old just started shooting on the same hoop and messing around so Elder Probst decided to challenge them! We played 5 on 5 with Elder Probst and I, Allen, Keyan, and one of them against the rest! At first we were a little bit worried but as soon as Keyan started us off we knew everything would be fine! Keyan is an animal at basketball! He's 11 and about 5'3" but he schooled them every time they challenged him. We ended up beating them in a pretty close game but we bonded a lot as friends as well as missionaries to investigators so it was one of the highlights of the day!

Thank you so much for the package! I love everything in it, but especially the Mountain Dews ;P. I'm savoring a lot of it so it will last and I really did wait until Saturday to open it! Thank you for the birthday wishes and everything!

Time is short so I will have to end for now, but I will include the pictures!

I love you all!
Elder Draney




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