Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015 - a baptism

Dear family,

This week was one of the most rewarding of my mission. Jasmine was baptized this last Saturday and was confirmed on Sunday! It was so spiritually uplifting to be a part of teaching her and witnessing her baptism! She has made so many changes in her life to allow the gospel in and has definitely been so much happier because of it!

It's hard to think of  anything else to write about! I wasn't prepared for how happy I would be to be such a big part of her being baptized! It truly was a miracle, everything fell into place at the right time! I mentioned it before but we texted her on P-day to see when she was available and decided to teach her because she was available in the afternoon. We're here to be missionaries and primarily to teach people, not play basketball with other missionaries so that's what we did! ;)

The Elder who originally contacted Jasmine and began teaching her was able to come down to Christchurch to perform the ordinance and one of the members in the ward that has been a part of the whole teaching process, David Smith, confirmed her. It was such a fantastic day! It seems fit that missionaries be happy on a day with a baptism but it was a good day for so many other reasons as well.

While we were waiting for Jasmine to change out of her wet clothes I had the chance to bear my testimony and I felt inspired to pour my heart out about how much I love the people of this ward. I truly love so many members of the Christchurch ward and will be forever grateful for the help they have given me as a missionary and as a person as well. I made a joke about how shell-shocked I was my first Sunday and how much I had changed since then and I was a little offended at how loud they laughed! I didn't think I had looked to frightened but apparently I looked pretty scared and sad on my first Sunday in the ward. But everything has changed so much since then, I know that it was revelation given to President Millar that lead me to come here. I love this place and the people so much. I know this is where I am supposed to serve.

The gospel is love. Pure, simple, but more powerful than anything else. I love it so much and I know that is the purpose of our existence at all, is to experience love to it's fullest.

I love you all so much!

Here are some of the pictures from the baptism!

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015

Dear Family,

The time is going by so fast! I feel like I say that a lot but it really does feel like it gets faster and faster every week! The work has been hastening over the past few weeks and it has been awesome to reap some of the rewards of the work we've been doing over the past few months to build up the ward in Christchurch!

There haven't been too many developments on our investigators this week but Jasmine is still planning on being baptized this Saturday! I'm so excited! It's been a privilege to be able to teach her over these past few weeks and see the growth she has made in that short time! The light that has come into her life is so apparent and we can tell she has a lot more hope for the future! She's even talked about serving a mission! It's a long ways away and is a big commitment so we'll see what happens but it shows her dedication to living the gospel already! She's getting a new job so she can come to church on Sunday!

I'm really glad to see that my EMT certification came in the mail! I was getting a little worried about it when I never heard anything for so long! I'm glad it lasts until March of 2017 as well! Hopefully that way I can do enough continuing education to keep the certification up to date and not have to re-test!

I'm really glad to hear about Oscar as well! I know he can be a pain sometimes but I love him to death and appreciate so much you taking care of him while I'm gone! It'll only be 2 years anyway!

I realized the other day how much I've been blessed on my mission but especially with the people around me. My companions and those in my districts have always been such wonderful people and every one of them have built me up in one way or another. The Christchurch Ward is also filled with amazing people! They feed us often enough that we don't get even close to starving and always make sure we have a fun time when we come. Many of the members have helped us with our investigators and the times when we prayerfully involve a family in the teaching process are the ones that make the most progress! The Smith's have been perfect for Jasmine and have helped us so much over the past few weeks! Paul Greenacre and his family are the main reason that Bob has made so much progression recently. During Zone Conference this week we were strongly encouraged to involve ward members as much as possible and I can definitely see why! I love the members of the Christchurch Ward!

It's been such a blessing to be on my mission so far and I know that it is just the beginning of the blessings that will come into my life and the lives of others during my time here. Missions are blessings in so many ways it's impossible to quantify it. It is hard sometimes but those are vital to our personal progression in the gospel as well as strengthening us against the buffetings of the Adversary. A hymn that has quickly become one of my favorites since I've been serving is "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul". One of the lines in the 3rd verse is "Chasten my soul till I shall be in perfect harmony with Thee" and that really struck me the first time I heard it. It shows perfect faith and submission to the Lord and willingness to change completely to adopt that attitude about this life. I like to repeat it in my mind and always have it as a goal whenever I feel like I fall short. I know I will never get anywhere close during my time on this earth but it is the purpose behind our lives at this time and forever, to be refined until we are in perfect harmony with our Heavenly Father and His Son. I wish I could write lyrics like that. Vocal Point does a very good version of it and is definitely worth a listen.

I understand my purpose in being here more everyday. I know I was called to serve in England and that Christchurch is where I need to be right now. Nothing else I could be doing would be nearly as important. Thank you all for supporting me and keeping in contact with me while I am here.

I love you all!
Elder Draney

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 12, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was such a fantastic week! It's the best week I've had for teaching so far on my mission. I definitely know it was a result of the consecrated time we used to teach last P-day when we could be doing personal things. We taught Jasmine everyday this week and were able to go with her and members in the ward to the Temple on Saturday! It was so wonderful to go to the Temple and see the joy she found in the things she was taught and saw while we were there!

I think I mentioned it in an email previously but Elder Poulino and I both felt like the work would begin hastening in January and so far it definitely has! We were able to get into contact with many of the people that were potential investigators before and set up appointments to teach them or at least get into contact with them. We had a lesson everyday of the week, and sometimes two, which is something that I've never experienced before! Jasmine accepted the 24th as the date of her baptism while we were in the car back from the Temple!

The sad news is that there hasn't really been any progression with Bob and Ian. Bob told us when we were teaching him on Thursday that he won't accept any solid commitments at the moment and that is extremely frustrating. The biggest problem we see is that he is very informal when he prays and won't commit to pray everyday after he reads the Book of Mormon. We've expressed to him many times that the only way he will know if the Book of Mormon is true is if he prays about it. But he won't commit to pray about it everyday. Part of me thinks he is scared of the answer he will get because he knows that he needs to be baptised but he just won't make the step of faith and do it.

Ian is another story as well. The last time I saw Ian was the day we extended the baptismal date and he committed to read the Word of Wisdom leaflet we gave him. He moved flat a few days later and we weren't able to find his new flat and he wasn't answering the phone. We called him several times and tried to find where he lives but were unsuccessful. We went to go look again on Wednesday and I didn't know about it at the time but Elder Rife had prayed for a sign or indication of what we needed to do to find Ian or see if he was interested. When we got to the part of the road where his flat was supposed to be I found a Book of Mormon in a puddle in the street. I quickly realized that Ian would be the only one living on this street that would have a Book of Mormon. I picked it up and I knew that it was Ian's. Based on where the Book was I knew exactly where he lives and I marched up to the door and rang his flat number to return it to him and figure out why he did it, but he wasn't home. We haven't stopped by since but we both took that as a very clear message he was sending to us. We will try again soon to return it to him but we're pretty sure he won't be baptised on the 24th.

It sounds like a weird week but overall it was a very positive week. I felt some struggles to feel happy and feel the Spirit this week, but I know that it was my fault based on some of the things I was doing. I wasn't doing anything awful but I wasn't being exactly obedient so I didn't receive the portion of the Spirit that I could have. Selective obedience grants selective blessings. I'm working on being as obedient as I can to ensure that those I am supposed to influence aren't left out in the rain (literally) because I wasn't doing what I was supposed to. I know that we are the most blessed when we follow the teachings of the Lord with as much exactness as we can muster!

More pictures will hopefully be on the way, I left my camera at the flat so I will have to steal some from Elder Rife! But for now here is Jasmine and Wendy (the member that drove us, love her to death) and Elder Rife and I in front of the Cristus statue in the London Temple Visitors Centre (Center)

I love you all so much and want you to know that I know the Church is true. By the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things. The gospel is great and is for everyone. It is the only way we can receive true happiness, peace, and joy in this life and the life to come. No matter what anyone says, the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet of our Heavenly Father called restore the truth of all things!

Elder Draney

Monday, January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015

Dear Family,

This week was definitely an interesting week! It was so weird to say goodbye to Elder Poulino as he moves on to a new area and get a new companion this week! The only bad part is the goodbyes though because I love the new people serving in my district!

Elder Rife is my new companion and he's such a champ! He's the only member in his family and loves being out on his mission, he's a year ahead of me almost to the day. We get along really well and have seen many blessings take place in our area. Elder Poulino and I both expressed many times that we were certain that the work in this area would hasten during January and it definitely has! We've already been able to teach a handful of really good lessons and contact people who expressed interest in the past. We're looking forward to the coming weeks and have lessons planned for most of the days this week!

I am very concerned about Bob. He told us a few times before Elder Poulino left that he had really taken to us as a companionship and said we were a really good team. What I'm afraid of is him losing a bit of the fire as he transitions into getting to know Elder Rife. We met with him on Wednesday briefly and that's the last time we were able to see him other than church on Sunday. I called him on Saturday to see if we could stop by later in the evening and he said that we couldn't. Something in the sound of his voice when he said it really scared me and I'm worried about how the next few days will play out. I have faith that the Lord will guide us as to what we need to do. Both of us almost at the same time had the feeling that we need to help his wife, Monica, grow more interested in the church. She's really nice to us as missionaries but has never expressed any interest in our message. We will go forward prayerfully and have the faith that it will play out the way the Lord needs it to.

It's been such a fun time to be able to serve in the Christchurch ward for these past few months! I've grown to love the ward so much and can't wait to serve here for at least another month! It's crazy how fast the time goes by sometimes!

We were able to teach 2 lessons this morning and they went really well. The first lesson was a uni student that is studying theology. His name is Adam and he already has a solid Christian backround and belief in Christ! We taught him the Restoration on the street a few weeks ago and taught him about he Plan of Salvation today. He seemed way excited and his face lit up a few times during the lesson as we talked about the pre-mortal life! The other lesson we taught was to a long-time investigator named Jasmine. She has been taught just about everything and knows that the Church is true. She is already friends with a lot of the ward members and loves the missionaries. The only problem is that she works on Sundays and is busy every other day of the week. We have scheduled to teach her just about everyday this week because she is off of work and we are really excited to see how it goes. Both of these lessons happened on prompting. We felt prompted to call Potential investigators last night and called Andy to set up an appointment. We felt prompted this morning to text Jasmine and see when she was available and we were able to teach them both so quickly! Andy was planning on getting his hair cut today and we met him right afterward and Jasmine found out literally this morning that she would be off of work because of an injury!

I love being a missionary so much. We get so many opportunities to bless peoples lives and feel the Christlike love that the Savior has for them and also ourselves as we do that service.

Another prompting I felt this week was to call a potential named Rosemary that we had tried to teach in the past but she always canceled appointments. She is from Brazil and speaks English very quickly and can be super hard to understand sometimes. I called her and the first thing she said was "When are you guys coming to see me?!?". We scheduled to meet her later in the morning and when we got there she was in a bit of a state. She had locked herself out of her house and couldn't get inside and the Church where she had her spare key was closed until Sunday (the next day). We taught her a little from the Book of Mormon and for the most part just listened to her and tried to help her feel calm and at peace. She told us that she was Bi-polar and her meds were locked inside her house and that was why it was such a big deal for her and why she was so worried. We prayed with her a few times and she sobbed through the prayers both times. We then left to go get some food for her and try and contact the church and get her keys. We were able to get her some food and even buy some Brazilian soda for her so she wouldn't go hungry for the day. The look on her face made everything I've done on my mission so far completely worth it. She looked so touched and the relief that came to her face was so wonderful to see.

I have such a testimony of the worth of missions. I've only been out briefly but I know that it would have been the biggest mistake of my life to have not come on a mission. It is such a wonderful opportunity to grow and bless the lives of others. The other day I concluded that there isn't anytime wasted on a mission as long as you're always working. The happy times are wonderful and make it a happy experience and the hard times strengthen and refine us so that we are better prepared for the future and to enjoy more fully the blessings to come.

All of you perspective Elders need to go on missions. The Lord has been and will continue to prepare you and those you will meet. Not all missions are the same but the blessings that come to those you serve and that you receive are eternal and cannot be counted.

I love you all so much and pray for your safety each day. Finding ways to serve others along your way will fill your life will much joy.


Elder Draney