Monday, August 25, 2014

Aug. 25, 2014 in Concord, NC

Thanks so much for the letters y'all! So I only got a total of 20 minutes of email today cause just as mom suspected, I did get sick just the other day! I slept it off last night and this morning but that was so wild that you nailed it! So once again, sorry I couldn't write much this week or send pictures! I'll make up for it next week:D
Here's my letter to President C though. We had interviews with
him on Sunday and it was great!

Dear President C
Long time no see! Haha, Thanks for the interview yesterday, it really gave me motivation to be as obedient as possible. Probably the number one lesson I learned this week was when I was studying Preach My Gospel during Personal Study. One line in it really stuck out to me. It said "do Gods will and accept his timing".  We had 6 investigators commit to come to church and every one of them cancelled. I was really disappointed and had to pray hard and search the scriptures. The answer, though, came this Sunday during Sacrament mtg. The first speaker spoke about accepting Gods timing, and having faith that as we do as much as we can, God will bring about miracles in his own time. The second speaker spoke about a time in his life when trials weighed him down. Once he realized the testimony that he had the whole time, he was able to make it through those trials. So all in all, it was a really great ending to my week! The church is true!

Love, Elder Zac Branch
That sacrament mtg was just such a great witness that God hears and
answers my prayers and that he loves each of us :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Aug. 18, 2014 in Concord, NC

Answering some questions first:
The weather isn't actually too bad, many of the people we've talked to have said that its been a pretty mild summer so that's been helpful.

I'm allergic to something here and every morning I think I'm going to die! I cant even imagine Hunter being out here. Its like sticking your face in a bowl of freshly cut grass.

So once again the week started out a little rough. Most of our appointments fell through and we found ourselves with lots of time. So we put this time to use by trying to find less active members and former investigators. As we visited different houses, we found that many of the less active members didn't even live in those houses any more and we were able to talk to lots of new people about the gospel! Not all of them said we could come back but they were all kind and we were able to plant seeds in each person we talked to.

A funny but sad experience happened this week. We were out on Wednesday night near our apartment and it was almost time to head in. We walked up and down our street real briefly to see if there was anyone we could contact who was outside. We didn't find any people but we did find a tiny little kitten that followed us around the block and back to our house after we pet it. We got to our apartment and it sat outside the screen door and meowed!! It was horribly painful so we tried to give it some tuna fish. It didn't like the tuna though. We took a picture with it and then decided to walk with it over to the house we thought it had come from. We knocked on the door and it turned out to be theirs! It was a young couple named C and T and we talked with them a bit. We were actually able to schedule an appointment for the next night! 

At the end of the week we really got to see the power of inviting and following up with inviting people to church. One person we invited was named D and when we invited him he promised to come if we could find a ride. This was the night before church so we had to make a few different calls but we were able to find a member who could drive him. He had warned us that he stayed out really late last night so he wasn't sure if he'd be up unless we called him. We followed this up by calling him 3 different times that morning until he finally woke up. It was a good thing he did too because the ride was there 10 minutes later and he was able to come. He really enjoyed it and said he wanted to come again so we are planning on following that up tomorrow!

One other important principle I've been working on is how to measure my success as a missionary. A number of really promising investigators let lessons slip or just completely dropped us, including M that I wrote about last week. He said that the Plan of Salvation didn't agree with his beliefs. We're giving him a couple of days and then we will be going back to visit him and see if we can answer questions. So pray for him!

As I've been studying and praying, I've gained a testimony that my success is really based on how hard I work, how obedient I am, and how well I react like the Savior would react in different situations. I like how Isaiah put it in 1 Nephi 21:2-5. "...though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength." The Lord wants the people of North Carolina to accept the gospel even more than we do. But even if they reject the gospel as we share it, he definitely doesn't want us to fall away or feel like failures just because of someone else's agency. He is happy that we tried, and that we trusted, and continue to trust, in Him.

Thanks so much for the email! Love ya!
Elder Branch

Monday, August 11, 2014

Aug. 11, 2014

This week has been much more calm and I've really been able to focus on the work. We had lots of cancelled appointments by investigators all week but we were able to find back ups to help fill in. Because of all the cancellations, we actually have found about 20 new people so that has been really amazing! We also got the chance to do service for a number of different ward members. We did service for a man who builds semi-pro race cars and that was a blast! (See picture below of Elder Z and Elder B by a race car.)

Elders Z and B are fantastic and I'm so grateful they are my trainers! As we work towards being exactly obedient, and building relationships with members (We went out with 6 different members last week!), we are seeing a number of miracles in our area. My favorite example of that this week is actually a man we met yesterday named M. 
Early in the week we were feeling disappointed that so many appointments were getting canceled, so we decided to have a fast on Tuesday. The fast went well, but we didn't begin to see the blessings until a few days later (namely, M and a few others). We got his address as a media referral from church headquarters and we had dropped by on Wednesday to see if he was there. He wasn't so we left a pass-along card with our names and phone number on it. It kind of faded to the back of our minds until he gave us a call on Saturday and we were able to schedule an appointment for Sunday evening. We brought a member from the ward with us and dropped by his house and he was there waiting for us. As we asked him questions and got to know him, we could tell that he had enormous potential and seemed very elect! He had come in contact with the church through researching some of his favorite YouTube channels, after he found out that a number of them were Mormons. He felt that he should order a Book of Mormon, and he also felt he should call us back when he found the card after praying about it for a day. The lesson went amazing, the Spirit was booming, and it was just wonderful to take part in that experience. We were able to invite him to read the Book of Mormon and pray, and to accept a baptismal date for September 7th!!! It was the best! It really strengthened my testimony that God will lead us as we try our best to serve him. 
We also had the opportunity this week to give 5 different priesthood blessings and I always love the Spirit that is present in those. So all in all, the mission has been fantastic and I'm absolutely loving it! I'm still working on not saying "Cool" or "Awesome" but my companions are helping with that.  

The atonement is the best!! As missionaries, that's the focus of everything we teach.  :)

Thanks so much for the email!!! Love you!!! Church is true ;)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aug. 4, 2014

We got a new companion. His name is Elder Z. He is fantastic! I loved Elder K though too!

Studies have been amazing. Right now I'm in 1 Nephi 12 and it's talking about the vision of the tree of life. Also I have read the book "Our search for happiness" and that is one of the best books I've ever read! You guys should try to read it as a family :) I'm also reading "Our heritage" and it's pretty interesting :)

We are back in Concord and the work is starting to really pick up in the area! As mentioned earlier, we have a new companion and district leader, Elder Z. He's from Orange County California and he says that I remind him of his brother in law :) 
There is actually a guy here from Utah named SB for the summer. We haven't even met him but he's called us a few times now and he has found 2 referrals through selling yard care!!! If we could all be member missionaries like that, then the Church would be going crazy with new converts!

So now for the week: the first half of the week was pretty much spent with the zone leaders. They told me that I'd probably been on more exchanges in my fist 2 weeks then they had been on in their first 4 months! It's been good to learn from them though. 
We got back to Concord Thursday and started working right away. As a result we ended up getting in 18 total lessons in those 3-4 days. (The goal is to get around 20 a week) We've been going out with members and finding new investigators too! We have one new investigator whose name is W.  Our first lesson with him was amazing! My first week here, our companionship had been going to a lesson but the people we were going to meet weren't there. We went around and marinated a bit, and then Elder K felt inspired to knock on this one door. We did and W told us we could come back.  He told us that something just told him to invite us back when we had knocked. Anyways, we taught the first lesson about the Restoration and he was saying that it all made sense. We're really excited to see where that all goes :) We also had a great experience with one of the referrals from SB named D. We dropped by her house late on Friday night with a soon to be missionary from the ward named BJ. She was there but she wasn't feeling good to meet cause she was almost involved with a really bad accident on her way to work today. We got to give her a priesthood blessing and the Spirit was just booming!!! It really strengthened my testimony of the power of the priesthood.

Unfortunately, just like with all good things, there is always opposition. We've probably had 7 different lessons canceled or moved in just the past 2 days, including one with D and 2 others with W. The adversary is real and it's hard to fight against him sometimes, but I know as we keep trying and do all that we can do that The Lord will reward us for our effort. People's agency can be difficult to deal with but I'm so glad we get to. It's been amazing to see the blessings and happiness that comes with the trials. I am beginning to understand what the phrase "The Best Two Years" really means :) 

Love you all so much! The church is true! 
Elder Zachary Branch