Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015 - Typical English Weather

Dear Family,

This week was filled with a lot of rain! It started raining in the afternoon on Wednesday and pretty much kept raining up until this morning! The water level of the river running outside our flat was very high most of the week because of the rain, but this morning it was barely running to the point were all the boats and docks that were once floating are now stuck in the mud on the bottom of the river. The weather changes so quickly and unexpectedly here that it is hard for us to ever be completely prepared for how it will be that day! I've never been more thankful for an umbrella in my life.

There are always ups and downs in the weeks but there are also weeks that are harder than others. This week was one of those weeks. I wouldn't class it as the hardest week I've had on my mission but it definitely has been one of the most challenging times I've had recently. I attribute a lot of it to adjusting to a new area and new people, but also a bit of slackening on my part in my studies and attitude toward missionary work. Based on the way I had been feeling I set out to try hard each day to find a way that I can improve, at the moment I'm focusing on the two flaws I mentioned earlier. The Lord is keenly aware of all of our limits and what trials we need to face to reach our full potential and will never allow it to go beyond out breaking point.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to go with Stuart and two of the members in the Hamble River Ward to the Visitors' Center at the London Temple. It is always a blessing to visit the temple grounds and is especially satisfying to go with an investigator or recent convert. Stuart really enjoyed the experience and looks forward to getting a recommend and beginning to do work in the temple!

The members in the Hamble River Ward are really good people and have helped us in many ways already. We have a good amount of dinner appointments during the week and we have members present for most of our lessons. The members that took us to the temple and our ward mission leader are especially helpful. I really got to know and love the members in the Christchurch Ward and I'm excited to get to know these members!

I appreciate all of your prayers and emails and always look forward to writing back to you about my experiences on my mission. I love serving God's children and helping them feel the love that Heavenly Father has for all of us! Continue to put your trust in the Lord and he won't let you down!

Love Elder Draney

Here's our picture at the Temple:

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16, 2015 - A Week of New Things

​Dear Family,

I never realized how much changes when missionaries move to a new area until I moved away from Christchurch! I was surprised I was moving so soon and didn't get to say enough goodbyes but I am looking forward to the time I have ahead of me in Hamble River! Hamble River Ward is the second ward in Southampton and covers most of the eastern part of the city. It's a really weird area because our flat is almost in the middle of Southampton but it doesn't feel or look at all like a big city.

Just about the best thing that can happen during a missionaries week in a new area happened to me! One of the investigators Elder Remon and his previous companions have been working with got baptized this Sunday! I feel really bad for Elder Hayes (The elder that I replaced) because he was here for most of the teaching but only got to serve here for 6 weeks! His name is Stuart and he met the missionaries through his brother who was being taught by them and was invited to go to an activity with them. He's made really good progress in his live since he's been investigating and has a strong testimony of the church and reality of his Heavenly Father. A recent convert in the ward named Matt, who was baptized in October, was the one that baptized him! Definitely a good way to start a new area!

Elder Remon is such and awesome guy! We already get along really well and have worked hard everyday since I came into the area. We've faced a lot of rejection and really harsh treatment over the past week but Elder Remon has been a great example of perseverance and humility when faced with those hard things. Though the work has been hard we've both continued to put our trust in the Lord and tried our best to look forward to the future! Through these things we've been able to see and feel the importance of a testimony of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is so powerful and is truly God's words to ancient prophets recorded and then translated by Joseph Smith. More happiness, direction, guidance, and peace comes from careful study of the Book of Mormon than anything else and I know it to be true

I felt this week leading up to emailing that I would have so much to say but my brain is still experiencing a lot of transitions so I'm having a hard time finding more to write about! :P

I love all of you. I appreciate so much and often rely on the support you give me.

Elder Draney

Here is a picture from Stuart's baptism:

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9, 2015 - Moves

Dear Family,

There is a lot on my mind this week as we prepare for a lot of changes and interesting things happening in general. I found out through the 1st counselor in the mission presidency (President Martin who is part of the Christchurch Ward) that I will be moving to a new area this week. It was only semi-expected and most everyone we talked to agreed with us that I probably would be staying for another 6 weeks, but we were wrong. :P

It's hard for me to accurately describe how much I've grown to love so many aspects of the Christchurch Ward and the area we have worked in over the past few months. It's definitely changed since my first few weeks here. I will really miss the people in this area. But the good news is that there are many opportunities to get to know new people and a new companion this week as I move to a different area!

I will be moving to Hamble River tomorrow which is really close to Southampton so I'm not moving very far! I've heard good things about the ward and people living there! My new companion will be Elder Remon! I hesitate to say this because I'm not 100% certain but I believe he is from Spain! I really hope so! Getting to know so much about Holland was a great part about being companions with Elder Poulino and it will be fun to find out more about Spain. (maybe)

I've said it before (even in this email) but I really love Christchurch. As I'm preparing to leave I'm quickly realizing how much it feels like home to be here, even though I've moved flats and many missionaries have come and gone. I will always have a soft spot in my heart  for the Christchurch Ward and I know I have been privileged to make many eternal friendships. It will be stop #1 on the mission tour! ;)

There isn't too much to say during transfer week and not a lot of time either but I still feel the strong desire to serve with all my heart wherever I go and have great hope for the future! I feel sorry for all of the other missionaries and missions in the world because I have been enlightened and come to the knowledge that the England London South Mission is the best in the world. I look forward to the future areas and people I will serve!

I love you all so much!

Here are some pictures:

One is a pictures of actual snow in England! Dorset is especially famous for never getting snow so it was really cool.

The pictures with Jasmine are from when we went to the London Temple with her! We stopped by Legoland and Windsor Castle to take pictures and to say we went to Legoland on our missions.

The last one is me holding a snake that belongs to a member that we re-activated in the ward. She asked if I wanted to hold their snakes (they have 3) a few times before but I said no. She made me do it this time and told us we couldn't leave til I held the snakes!

Friday, February 6, 2015

February 2, 2015

​Dear Family,

Happy Birthday Mom! Yes I did remember, I even mentioned it to a few ward members and explained why so many people confuse your birthday with Feb 2nd. It would have been nice to have P-day on your birthday so I could send an email on your birthday but the day a​fter is pretty close.​

Every single week I talk about how much I love England, because every week I realize how much I love so many of the people here and being in this country. I know this is where the Lord needs me to be. Hearing about people from home getting their own mission calls and preparing to serve is a huge boost to my confidence and love for missionary work! I hope and pray that they will find joy and love for the area where they are serving just as I have been so blessed to find in England! I remember about a year ago when I started seriously thinking about where I was going to serve my mission and how close the time was to when I could actually serve and the expectations I had then vs. the way it is for me now. England never even crossed my mind as a place I could go or a place where I wanted  to go, but I have felt a confirming witness many times since I received my call that this is where I need to be and I will always love the time I have spent and have yet to spend serving here. As with any mission or country there are differences in the people and the work in general (I know Europe has a certain reputation) but the Lord prepares the missionaries and the people to hear His word no matter where they are.

I don't know if it's just me or something that missionaries do in general but I felt a bit of a slump going into this week after Jasmine's baptism. It was such a spiritual experience and something we were working toward and looking forward to for so long that I wasn't even thinking about what we would do after the baptism. Elder Rife was sick on Tuesday so we stayed at home after going to a member's house for lunch. It was nice to take a nap and listen to talks but I understand why most missionaries never want to stay in the flat. It was so boring! The worst part is that even though I took a good nap and went to bed early I was still just as exhausted when we woke up the next day! I'm more tired as a missionary than I ever have been in my life! I used to only get 5-6 hours of sleep when I was working this summer and I am still twice as exhausted with almost twice the amount of sleep. But it's worth it.

​We had a cool experience last Monday that was really rewarding for both of us. Last week we had a dinner appointment in the evening with a part-member less-active family. We were really excited because it was a good opportinity to strengthen the mother (the member) and try to leave an impression on her husband as well. When we came into their home we walked into a room with a little girl laying on her stomach on the couch watching netflix on her iPad with her nose about 3 inches from the screen. Her name is Anna and she has Down's Syndrome. She even had on a Frozen shirt on with Anna and Elsa on it! She was so sweet and reminded me so much of Caitlin! When it was time for us to leave she gave us both a hug and while we were talking to her parents on the way out she tried to sneak her iPad to bed without her parents looking! Ahhh I almost died! I was so happy to have met her and hopefully we can continue meeting with her family in the future.

Working with Bob has been a mixed bag. He has made great leaps of progress and had really spiritual experiences since I've been teaching him, but he goes weeks sometimes without making any progress. He is a really spiritual man, he knows that everything we teach him is true and he knows he needs to get baptized but there is always something keeping him from it. I said it before but I have felt very strongly that​ we need to focus on his wife as well. Whatever the reasons have been that he hasn't been baptised yet I think the biggest one is that he feels like she wouldn't be supportive of his decision. If we can start teaching Monica as well I know they will both be baptized. Her heart has been softened greatly since Bob started investigating and Elder Rife and I both feel like it's time to be bold and just go for it. Hopefully everything goes well so pray  for us!

​Jasmine has been in a rough spot recently so it would be good for you to pray for her as well. Everything will be okay but she does need some support. ​

The library we are emailing in doesn't let us upload pictures but I have a few that I haven't sent yet that I know you would like to see. Hopefully we will be going to the chapel with computers so I can send some but either way I will try!

​Thank you for your emails every week! I try not to look forward to it too much during the week but I always love hearing from you. I love you all and grateful for all you do to help me and your interest in my mission! It's such a blessing to be on a mission and meet so many fantastic people!


Elder Draney​