Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 - Coming up to Easter

Dear Family,

This weekend was the time change for England and it took it's toll yesterday morning and some of the effects carried over into today as well! I remember when I was younger, elementary school age, I could never wrap my mind around why anyone would ever want to take a nap because all it seemed like to me was losing time that you could be doing other things. Since I've gotten older, and especially since I've been on my mission I've realized how amazing naps can be! Moving the clocks forward is always hard but it didn't keep this week from being a good one.

As with many of my weeks in the past my companion and I spent a lot of time finding. It can be pretty discouraging to spend so much time working to find new investigators and not immediately seeing the fruits of our labours but this week we were able to see success from an experience we had a few weeks ago.

A couple of weeks ago we were walking to stop by a less-active member of the ward and stopped someone we passed on the street. We had a good gospel discussion with him, gave him a Book of Mormon, and got his address but didn't get a solid return appointment. We stopped by this week to see him but instead his mother answered the door and started chatting with us. She was really nice and talked with us for a long time and agreed for us to come over later in the week to teach her and hopefully her son. We brought a member to the lesson and it went really well but her son wasn't too interested in sitting down for a lesson. We won't be able to see her for a little while but she says she will get baptized if she gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon so we are pretty excited about it! It's our first new investigator in awhile and it helped us to remain excited about the work, we don't know what will be the outcome but it was nice to teach someone new and we look forward to teaching her in the future!

The weather is starting to warm up but in a similar way to how it does in Idaho. All of the sudden there is a really warm day and then the weather seems to go right back to being cold for a week or so with really warm days scattered around to make it hard to know whether to wear a coat or not. I look forward to warm weather but it will be interesting to see what English summer is like. Everyone says last year was really nice so hopefully we get a nice one this year as well.

I can't remember if I mentioned it last week but it was transfer week last week but no changes were made to our district so I will be in Hamble River with Elder Senkans for 6 weeks unless anything crazy happens before then. Hamble River is a fun area and a good ward so I am excited to spend more time here serving these people!

The new video made by the church "He Lives " came out this weekend and if you haven't seen it you should definitely watch it. It will be the focus of our missionary efforts over the next week and will probably be the same for missionaries over there. It is a really uplifting video and you should definitely share it with anyone you can.

There are good times and bad times but the Savior has descended below us all. He knows our trials, He knows our weaknesses, and He knows our potential and how to help us reach it. Trust Him and seek to do His will and you will never fall.

I love you all.
Elder Draney

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015 - 6 months!

Dear Family,

Every missionary talks about how fast their mission goes and I never believed them but I have definitely been proved wrong. It feels like only a couple months ago I left the MTC to enter the field and begin proselyting and now I've already hit the bump.

My second week in Christchurch a member told me that there are 4 days used to measure a mission. At 6 months it is Bump Day, 12 months is Hump Day, 18 months is Slump Day, and 24 months is Dump Day. Bump Day means your hopefully getting the hang of being a missionary and aren't homesick anymore. Slump is pretty self explanatory, a lot of missionaries get really lazy with only 6 months left, and then at the you get Dumped of the plane back into normal life!

The work is still moving in Hamble River but we haven't had any new investigators since I started working here. One of our investigators, Jennifer, came to church yesterday and said she really enjoyed it! She plans to invite us over for dinner sometime this week so things are going well with her! We invited a couple of other people to come to church and one was planning on coming but didn't in the end so it wasn't as good as we wanted it to be but that's okay! We're trying hard to bring others into the church through our efforts so the members can see and feel the excitement of new investigators and members so they will be more willing and anxious to do missionary work. Missionary work is always better when members are involved every step of the way and we're working to involve them more so there is more success in this ward.

It was announced a little more than a week ago but I forgot to mention it last week. My mission is getting iPads in the near future and were having a mission wide training in the end of April. They will be a good tool and will help make some aspects of missionary work easier but nothing can replace hard work. I was surprised at my reaction when President announced it because I thought I would be a lot more excited than I was/am. I can see how they will make things like Area Books and showing videos much easier but I don't want to "overhype" them at all. Some missionaries are way too excited about them! I know that they will be a good tool for sure, but it's something I can wait for.

It's really exciting to hear that Andrew Withers got his call to Leeds! The northern parts of England have the coolest accents because there like Scottish but you can actually understand them! We need missionaries in London South soon though so hopefully some get there calls to come to the Promised Land! The groups going home in the summer are huge so we'll be losing a lot of missionaries, basically all of our Zone Leaders, within the next few months. In the next 2 transfers close to 40 missionaries are going home with less than half of that coming into to mission so areas will start to get bigger and some will close completely. We only got 3 new Elders this transfer so we are in need of more!

The time really does go by too fast. I'm so happy I still have 18 months left and so many new people to meet! I heard of a Senior Sister who was asked why her and her husband had served multiple senior missions and she said "Because missions are where the fun is!". I fully agree, missions are where the fun is! They aren't always easy, but everything is always worth it. Keep serving or preparing to serve and many blessings will come.

These are pictures of the tide-range on the river outside our flat. We have a balcony and we throw bread to all the seagulls and swans that are around sometimes. They go insane when we start throwing bread.

I thought I had more to send but that will have to do for now, I promise to take more soon!

Elder Draney!

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015

​I truly tried to come up with a creative title but there wasn't anything title worthy this week, but it was still a really good week! We had Zone Conference on Saturday and it was a really really good. We were taught by Elder and Sister Dyches of the 70 and we were definitely spiritually fed! It was good to see other missionaries from other zones as well! I was able to meet up with Elder Poulino and it was great to see him! I realized how much fun we had as a companionship and how much I enjoyed serving with him! I also saw other people from my MTC group including Elder Mahrt my MTC companion! It was a really good conference!

Our teaching pool is pretty limited in Hamble River and goes about as far as 2 semi-progressing investigators and less-active and recent converts who we try to teach every week. One investigator is Ace from Barbados. He is a really good guy but hasn't kept any of the commitments we've left him and doesn't set solid return appointments so he hasn't progressed very much. The other one is Jennifer. She is American and pretty strongly Catholic. The biggest issue is that she isn't reverent at all during prayers. I was in the middle of saying a closing prayer and she interrupted me pretty loudly to ask a question and I almost had a heart attack! We have an appointment to teach Stuart's brother Dean who dropped us a few weeks ago so hopefully we can get back into rhythm with him and help him grow closer to Christ.

Like I've mentioned previously our area is pretty massive. We don't often have a chance to go to the southern most part of our area so we try to make it count when we do. Yesterday we were in the area for a dinner appointment and stopped by a referral from only to find out that it was a prank referral and that they didn't actually want to be taught. Pretty frustrating. Getting to know this area and the ward members is our present quest so we can involve as many members in our work as possible and help them reach out to their family and friends to help spread the gospel. Working with members is pretty vital in a big area like this so that is a lot of our focus at the moment.

The weather is at an awkward stage where the temperature shifts from "winter coat weather" to "almost need shorts weather" 7 times a day and only gets cold when we wear lighter coats. English people love to talk about the weather and it's no surprise. Nice, consistent weather is a rarity and is the go-to subject for the rest of the week when it does come. Hopefully it gets warmer soon and stays warm so the people will be a little bit happier and nicer!

Here's a picture from Zone Conference: Elders Mahrt, Senkans, Draney, and Redd

Elder Draney

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015 - A Lot of Walking

​Dear Family,

As you can probably guess by the title, we did a lot of walking this week! Our area used to have 6 missionaries and was split up into 3 areas but now there is just us to cover all of the 3 previous areas! The area starts at the River Itchen on the east side of Southampton and runs alone the coast all the way to a little town called Gosport, which is technically part of Portsmouth. It takes us about an hour to get to any of the outlying towns or villages and the buses aren't very regular so it makes it really hard to get around. Last night we missed our bus and walked for about 2 hours before we finally got back to our flat. Even the buses really close to our flat aren't regular in the evenings so we had to walk the whole way!

Though it makes it harder for us as missionaries members have told us that it is a good thing that we basically white-washed into the area not knowing much of the ward or the area or having a companion that has been here for awhile. We're having trouble maintaining our current teaching pool so we are spending a lot of time trying to teach Former Investigators and visit less-active members of the ward to find more people to teach. We're excited to contact these people and hopefully get to teach them!

Over the past few weeks the whole mission has been assigned AUPs or AUFs (Area Unknown Profile/File) which are less-active members who have moved out of their previous ward without telling anyone and the Church has found their address and asked us to stop by. There are a lot of mixed responses. Most of the time they have moved again but a lot of them also pretend that they don't know who we are and that they aren't members of the Church. One lady yesterday was really obvious. She opened the door before we had the chance to knock and asked what we wanted. When we asked her if she was (her name) she replied "Yes. Um no no no sorry." so we apologized and said we had been asked to come to her house to see if she lived there and she asked "How did you get this information" and we explained that we had just been given names and asked to stop by to see if she needed help finding the chapel or wanted us to teach her in anyway. It was so funny to watch her try to backpedal and play ignorance when it was so obvious that she was who we were looking for!

The ward members in Hamble River are great! Stuart, the recent convert, has helped us out a lot recently on lessons and has told us his testimony is still growing as a result of it! He's a boss! He doesn't hesitate to bare his testimony during lessons and jump into the conversation when he feels like he has something to add. He is truly converted. He will be ordained a priest next week in sacrament meeting and really looks forward to receiving the Aaronic Priesthood!

I fully admit that I deserve to be rebuked because of how long it has been since I sent pictures, I'll try to find time today to send them so cross your fingers!

It's crazy to think that in 2 weeks I will have been on my mission for six months! That's insane! It goes by so fast! There are still times when I feel a bit homesick or reluctant to do some of the harder parts of missionary work but I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had so far on my mission for anything, so I am so excited for the next 18 months!

Elder Draney

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015 - Unexpected Changes

Dear Family,

​This past week ended in a few surprises that I definitely wasn't expecting! I have a new companion and one that was in my MTC group! Elder Remon was moved unexpectedly and my new companion is Elder Senkans from Latvia! We were in the same district in the MTC and now we are serving together in Hamble River! I don't know the area very well at all though... but the Lord will provide!

My mood and outlook have greatly improved since last week and I am so grateful for my mission leaders and all of the support I receive from everyone back home as well. I feel much more ready work hard in the coming weeks!

There isn't too much to report on in terms of fun or interesting missionary experiences during the week but we worked hard and had a lot of fun a long the way! Even though I don't know the Hamble River area or ward very much I'm still excited to continue to serve here. The people I know well in the ward are wonderful people and have helped us a bunch already and I know they will continue to help us in the future! The members that took us to the temple with Stuart are especially helpful and have made our lives a lot easier.

The Area Authorities in the Church for the Europe areas have put for forth the Area Plan for the next few years for missionaries and members to be focusing on. The plan includes doubling active membership in the church over the next several years as well as getting more members and non-members involved in family history work. That will be the focus of our efforts over the next few weeks and we will be trying to get as many members as possible familiar with the plan and working to do their part in making it happen. It's an exciting time to be a missionary! Working more with members is something that I've wanted to improve on for awhile so it will be fun to use the Area Plan to begin working with them more effectively!

I know I should send more pictures but it isn't because I'm not taking any that I'm not sending any back. Every week I seem to either forget my camera entirely or I forget the cable to hook it up to the computer. Pictures are definitely on their way, just not this week, sorry.

President Millar has asked us as a mission not to let anything slacken our pace. If the adversary can get us to slow down our work in anyway he will do it. The we can do as missionaries is to continue working hard and place further trust in the Lord, because He is he only one that will never ever let us down. It seems to be a lesson that I'm finally and slowly beginning to learn, that the best way to overcome challenges is to work harder and place more trust in the Lord rather than slow down or droop in despair. It is something I am trying to do better at and I've already seen many of the blessings that come. I know that as we all put the will of the Lord first, we will find more true peace and happiness, even if it doesn't come when we want it.

I love you all. You've been examples to me and supported me throughout my life. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for me.

Elder Draney