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!

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!

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