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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another week in Croydon - 22 June 2015

Dear Family,

This week had it's ups and downs as every week does but they seem to be amplified as a missionary. The low points and the high points. There are 2 families that we have been teaching, and each of them made both the high and the low points in the week.

On Saturday we had an appointment to teach a family from India that was referred to us by their extended family who are members of the Church in India. About a week earlier we taught the mother and her 24 year old son and it was a really good lesson that had us really excited to teach them. When we showed up on Saturday her husband answered the door and seemed nervous and honestly pretty scared that we were there. He told us that the rest of his family were busy and that we would have to come back next week but seemed hesitant to even say that we could come back so that had us pretty disappointed.

The other family we teach, I've mentioned before, is Allan, Sadie, and Keyan. We saw them yesterday after church and had lunch with them and seeing them was the highlight of our week! When we teach them they have a lot of questions, especially Allan's son Keyan, but it still goes well. We are planning on inviting them to be baptized this week and are really excited about it! They are so interested in our lives and getting to know us as people as well as finding out more about the church! Teaching them always makes our week!

We taught Jonathan a couple of times as well and his progress as been continuing since he was confirmed! He was interviewed to receive the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday and passed so he will be ordained next Sunday!

Thank you for the birthday package! I got the  package on Tuesday and have been itching to open it ever since! It's always nice to get mail, especially from home. I've been meaning to send more written letters and other things so I will work on doing that! Look forward to letters with the Queen's face on the stamp!

Elder Probst and I get along great! He's from Midway, UT (there's always gotta be one) and has been on his mission for about 20 months. We've been finding and teaching a lot over the past 2 weeks so we've had good chances to work hard and help the people in Croydon!

It's hard to think what to write about because as you know many parts of being a missionary are routine and set so a lot of things that might be interesting or different than life in other parts of the world get sucked into the routine of missionary life. I'll try to watch for more that I can write about and get out of my comfort zone more so we can have cooler experiences. ;)

Repentance pictures are on their way. This week I will take more of my own so I don't have to rely on others for pictures. Croydon is a cool place so I will take pictures of a lot of the places we go everyday so you know more of where I am! Again any requests would help as well.

I want you to know that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ and the restoration of it's fullness in our day is true. Our personal relationship with the Savior and the Atonement is vitally important to learn the lessons we need to and be able to find true joy and peace in this life. Trust Him, rely on Him, learn of Him, and love Him.

I love you all.
Elder Draney

Monday, June 15, 2015

No Fancy Title - 15 June 2015

Dear Family,

This week was truly an amazing week, but it usually tends to be that way when you hear directly from your favorite Apostle! This last Friday the London South and London missions met together at the Hyde Park chapel in London to listen to Elder Holland speak to us and receive council on our missionary work. It was a very good experience. It was really cool to have a very personal conference with the apostle that ​we've all listened to many times and have him speak to us in such a close way.

He said many memorable and edifying things that would deserve their own letter so I will include a few of the highlights. One thing he particularly spoke about was how much his mission changed him and how much he does and always will cherish it. He bore powerful testimony of how important it is to serve a mission and to serve with all of your heart and soul. In conjunction with that he talked about the challenges of living the gospel and how opposition and pain are essential to God's plan. A quote that really stood out was "Embrace the anguish of salvation,". We all know that life is not an easy thing, and being faithful in living the gospel is even harder but I know that greater happiness comes as we stick with it and labor even when it may seem impossible.

I didn't take any pictures because we had to rush to and from the conference and we had to leave right afterward or else 400+ missionaries would have spent the rest of the day chatting in the Hyde Park chapel.

This Sunday was also very special because Jonathan was finally confirmed after waiting a week from his baptism. Confirmations are always special but it was particularly memorable because Jonathan asked me to give the blessing! I can't say enough how awesome Jonathan is, he has grown so much over the past 2 months and his countenance is brighter than ever since his confirmation. I'm so glad we've been teaching him and blessed to continue doing that for the next month at least.

I feel like a broken record saying this but pictures will have to wait until at least later today. I'm waiting on Elder Belnap to send me pictures from the baptism and some of the members of the ward so I will get those out as soon as possible.

Time is short so I will have to end for now but I promise pictures are on their way!

I love hearing from you and sharing my mission experiences with you! I love you all dearly.

Elder Draney

Monday, June 8, 2015

Moves Week - 8 June 2015

Dear Family,

This week will be a quick one because of moves week as you can probably tell by the title! There are two changes in the district and my new companion is Elder Probst. He's from America and that is about all that I know, I will meet him later today. Elder Belnap got moved to an area about 30 minutes away called Crawley.

The most important update this week is that Jonathan got baptized on Saturday! It was a very spiritual ordinance and he was so excited to make the covenant and become a member of the church! In his prayers with us leading up to the baptism he would always ask to be prepared to make the covenant to follow Christ and to stay on the path, and he would always thank the Lord for "his missionaries"! He will be confirmed next Sunday because we had a special conference this Sunday.

This Friday Elder Holland is coming to speak to the London and London South missions and all of the missionaries from both of the missions will be going to the Hyde Park Chapel in central London to hear him address us. While Croydon is technically in London it will be really cool to go into central London and more importantly to hear an apostle of the Lord council us on how we can improve the missionary work in this part of the world. A few months ago Elder Cook came and half of the mission, including me, weren't able to go so it will be really nice to be there when an apostle speaks this time! Elder Holland quickly became my favorite since I came on my mission so that's a bonus as well!

I wish I had more time, I have a lot of pictures I want to send and to resend the ones from last week as well but it will have to wait.

I love you all greatly.
Elder Draney

Monday, June 1, 2015

1 June 2015

Dear Family,

It's so sad to hear about Elder Perry passing away on Saturday, it all happened so quickly after Conference. It is comforting to know that he spent so much time dedicated to the service of the Lord and that the Lord has a place and duty for him in the spirit world now. I have to admit that I never had any particular favorite talks given by him but I really enjoyed his talk in the last conference in April. I had forgotten that he set apart Grandpa Draney as a stake president as well. I will definitely be spending a little more of my extra time studying his talks and his life this week.

This week and past month really have flown by. Croydon is so different to any of the areas I have served in before but it felt like "home", as much as a missionary area can, quicker than any of the other areas I've served in before. Working with wonderful members and investigators makes missionary work such a blessing and makes it easy for the time to get away from you. Already due to a short 5 week transfer we have the chance to move to a new area next Wednesday. Elder Belnap has been here for close to 6 months so there is a good chance he will be moving. We will know by next week, but both of us hope we stay because we love the area and the people we are serving.

Jonathan is preparing to be baptized this coming Saturday! He has fully embraced the gospel over the past month and is ready to be baptized and start his new life as a member of Christ's restored church. As I mentioned before Jonathan is a very humble man with a heart of gold. He spends all of his time working to raise money to bring his girlfriend and young son over from Ghana to live with him in England and for the past 4 years hasn't done much but go to work and sleep. Learning about the Restoration and getting to know the members in the Selsdon Ward has helped him to be so much happier and feel God's love for him more everyday. He shines already and he has a deep conviction to follow Christ and continue learning about him all his life.

Yesterday we went with him and a member of the ward(also from Ghana,with a very similar story) to the Visitor's Center at the London Temple. There we were able to teach him more about temples and the blessings that come from the things we do inside. He wants to eventually  be sealed to his family and live with them forever. There is a special spirit around the temple and is something that helped him know that this is God's path for him and all of His children. We are all looking forward to his baptism on Saturday!

During the week we also taught Allen, Sadie, and Allen's son Keeyan. We taught most of the Plan of Salvation and will finish teaching it next week but we were able to interact with them more and really grow as friends. It always makes our day to see them and they are so interested in our lives and what we do as missionaries but also us as people. On Saturday they took us out to eat at a Lebanese restaurant that Allen partly owns and we had some amazing food! All of the food was laid out on a big table and we ate little bits and peaces of everything until we were stuffed! They are such nice people and we are excited to keep teaching them more!

We had a lot of teaching appointments this week but also a lot of time to spend contacting. On Friday after we had lunch we were heading out to do some contacting when it started raining and hailing like crazy! The weather turned from nice and sunny to an absolute gale in less than 5 minutes. We got soaked to the bone and everyone was hiding under awnings and at bus stops while we were just about the only ones walking on the street when all of the sudden a bus went flying by straight through a huge puddle right next to us. Like a scene out of a movie a the water sprayed all over us and got us even more wet. Elder Belnap was walking on the side by the street so he took the worst of it but both of us still got drenched!

Elder Draney

Editor's Note: Jacob tried to send some pictures, but they didn't come through successfully.