Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mar. 30, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

Our week was pretty great this week, because we were able to teach tons of people!! Unfortunately, none of those people are actually progressing!! So please pray for the people we're teaching, that we will be able to teach them and they will actually understand and do. Thank you!

Time is once again short, so I will write quickly and send many pictures!!

So as far as my week goes, we have been showing "Because He Lives" 

(new Easter video) to everyone!! I love the message and how it defines us as a church!! We love Christ and we love His resurrection!!!! :D It has been specially good for this month, because there has been tons of death all around. I feel really sorry for all these people we have been meeting, just in the past month there has been the E's, the S's, a family named the N's, a woman we helped move named C., and more. It's been so sad. I am so grateful for the atonement though, and life after death.

One story. On Friday night Elder S. and I were on exchange and just as we got home for dinner a man stopped us in our apartment complex and asked us if we could help him move a washer and dryer to his new house. We said yes, let the other Elders know, and took off. The man's name was J. and he explained that he was buying this washer and dryer from a woman who had cancer named C. She had to move out of her apartment, so she had to sell it for cheap. We got to C's place and helped bring the washer and dryer to his truck, then took it to his place and unloaded it. He was super grateful, and we were able to share quite a bit about the gospel with him. He's not super interested, but he understands lots more about the church than he used to, and we were excited to plant that seed. We told C. we offer free service, and she asked if we were available the next day on Saturday! We said yes, so on Saturday we got to go help her move with a bunch of her friends! It was a great seed sowing opportunity as well! They were definitely sweet serendipities for us, and just good moments I'll always remember. :)

I sure love yall!

Elder Branch

Helping C. move. (This is Elder S.)

The 4 of us Elders share an apartment. Elder B. is transferring this week. He was also one of my totally awesome trainers back in Concord, NC.

 Helping Bro. B. provide service for an older couple.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mar. 23, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

This week seemed so long! It was in a good way, we just had tons of different things going on. A member's daughter passed away, and they had the funeral this week, so we were able to go to that and support him. He was shattered by the passing, especially because he is divorced and his daughter was not a member. Instead of our church, they held the funeral at her Baptist church she went to with her mom and step family. It was a very interesting experience to get to attend the service, with their preaching and singing. There was some tension at times in the service and some false doctrine preached like when the second preacher said not everyone is a child of God and that little children are going to hell. That really bothered us!

Nine people were saved at the service, and that was interesting, because even thought there were those moments throughout the preaching where they were sharing false doctrine, when the people went up to be saved, there was a certain measure of the spirit there. It testified to me of the good that can be found in all religions. It also helped to strengthen my testimony of the Restored gospel. I know we are blessed with the fullness of the gospel and the priesthood authority and prophets today, and that because of the Atonement we can live again with our Father in heaven.

We also were able to do lots of service this week, as well as receive wonderful training from Elder Kapischke. My favorite part of the meeting was where he promised us more success as we relied on the members more. I also loved singing the hymn "I'll go where you want me to go". That hymn was so perfect, especially with transfers coming up. Whether Elder A. and I stay or go, I have a strong testimony of transfers and the revelation that takes place to determine where we serve.

We set up appointments this week with a number of investigators for this coming week, so hopefully those go through.

I do know this church is true, and not just partially. God is fair and he is good. There is a Spirit world where people have the opportunity to learn about the gospel. We are all his children, and he loves us unconditionally. Elder Kapischke shared a quote he heard Elder Holland say, that said " I hope that somehow, God has a backdoor opened for my brother Judas Iscariot." What a quote! Charity never faileth.

I sure love you all!! Thanks for your letter!! Yall are da best!

Love Elder Branch

ps. You asked about forsythia plants. We see even more here than in Utah! I told all the other elders about the game, and now we get super competitive. Elder A.'s been awesome at it recently!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mar. 16, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC


Man, I really want to send pictures, but it will have to be next week. This week has been mad wild today, we had a Zone Activity and hiked a "mountain". Haha, it was fun though.    :)

I'm sorry I can't respond to all yall, p-days are just ridiculous! We woke up at 5:30 today to clean before studies, finished that and still got swamped with other stuff during the day! Grrrr, struggle is real.

Our ward is great to work with and at giving us referrals, and we had a good week this week. In fact, we're teaching 2 people who committed to baptism, A. and M.    A. is already 10 chapters into the Book of Mormon!

Something I studied this past week was envy, and how to get rid of it. There is a talk by Elder Holland in an Ensign called The Other Prodigal and its really good!! I love his closing testimony, it says:
"Brothers and sisters, I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us--insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, “robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.” May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I think it is so great because we are to encourage, not compete with each other. He loves each of us, and when we remember which way we should be facing (towards God), then we aren't worried about how much praise we receive, but rather how we can help others and how we can serve our God.

Well, I sure love yall!!! I have lots of other stories from this week, I will try to include a couple in next week's email. Love ya!!

Elder Branch :) 

(Zac sent this picture a few weeks later. This is the top of Crowders Mountain in Gastonia, NC.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mar. 9, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

This week we had a Zone Conference with President C.! It was the best! Easily one of my top 5 meetings we've had on my mission so far. But more about that latter.

I got a letter from Kaylene again too, which brightened the week.  :)

We do have daylight savings and it killed us too! We had a meeting at 7:30 and we ended up waking up at 7 by accident (which felt like 6), and had to get ready in like 10 minutes. It was wild! But we made it.

We've seen lots of people who were sick this week and got to give like 6 blessings!

That's great that grandma likes her new place. Good food makes everything better!

Speaking of good food, here in Rock Hill, one of the members is super generous and owns some restaurants that he lets the missionaries eat at free once a week. Their chicken is the most tender chicken I've ever had! I love southern food sooo much!

Yeah Spencer!!! Congrats on the Eagle! Atta boy! :)

Haha, the picture of Baggs is too funny! Last p-day we went to Winthrop University (in Rock Hill), and played ping pong with a recent convert named K.! It was a party and a half. It was a big open area with a high ceiling, and it was pretty much the prime ping pong location you could hope for.

Haha, so back to the inspiring Zone Conference, it went from 9-3 on Thursday, and President and Sister C., as well as the Assistants were there with our Zone. I'll focus on just a couple of highlights:

It started off with some really good talks from the Zone Leaders. Elder M. told a story of he and a companion biked 12 miles to get to an area (that didn't usually show much success) because they were prompted to. They ended up talking to a man in his car who happened to be a former investigator, and who wanted to be baptized. Then Elder M. said this quote which was sweet. "There is always a price for a success. But if you don't pay the price for success you pay the price for failure." Then Elder B. quoted the poem "The Masters Hands" and talked about how we are God's hands. Following those talks, I got to sing with some other missionaries in a special musical number.

Following the music, President C. gave a training on the spiritual gift of being "quick to observe" as found in Mormon 1:2. It was a great great great training! He talked about when giving a blessing, it's being "quick to observe" if you take the time to put on a shirt and tie. At church, it is being "quick to observe" to wear a white shirt, not a colored one. He quoted Elder Holland saying "Anytime I see a returned missionary return home and grow a beard, I have to be held back from going up to him, putting my fingers on his neck, and shaking him!" Then President said "Only Jeffery R Holland could say that with a feeling of charity." ;) he talked about how being "quick to observe" is jumping in to serve, not just offering to help. It was a great training and he committed us all to pray for the gift of being "quick to observe".

President talked all about the commandments and the doctrine behind them. Essentially it was the "what we should know" version of lesson 4 in Preach My Gospel, not the "what an investigator should know". He got very specific about what we should and should not do, especially when it came to the Word of Wisdom, Law of Tithing, and the Law of Chastity. After he talked about the Law of Chastity, he included the part of "if you are guilty of these things, you need to set up an interview to make sure you are clean. If you went to your Bishop or Stake Presidency, and talked to them with total honesty, without the desire to hold anything back, and happened to forget some minor details that have happened to come to memory latter, you need to let those go and trust in the Savior's atonement. Once you've repented, you need to completely let the very attitude and desire go. True repentance is not just a change in behavior, but a change in character."

Rock Hill is good. The work here so far has been a bit slow for Elder A. and I, but we're hoping to change that. We did get to paint the front of a house this week! It's for a member named M. and her husband M. They are super great people. The front of their house was a bright blue so we painted it white so that the Zoning Police wouldn't fine them, as they had been threatening to do. It was fun, and really good for them, but we weren't able to teach as much because of it. So we're going to teach more this week!

I love yall and I love this gospel!! 

Love Elder Branch :)

(Zac sent these pictures a few weeks later of them painting M & M's house.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mar. 2, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

Hello wonderful family!!

Rock hill is going good. So super fun story, I actually got to see J. yesterday! We took 3 new members to a Mission President Fireside yesterday, and Brother B. from Huntersville brought J. and the Sister Missionaries that are serving there now! It was so fun to get to see him! He and I got to talk after the Fireside quite a bit. It was really funny when J. was introduced to President C.! President said "You are J.!? You're famous!!" J. smiled and smiled :) it was great! I also got to see Sister W. from Concord! She came up to me at the end and said "Hi", and to tell you "Hi"   :)  haha, it was so fun  :)  The Mission President Fireside was really good for our new members, especially A. 

We're getting updated iPads so I need to send a whole ton of pictures and notes to myself so that I can download them on my new iPad. So I'm sorry this week is so short! Main story was seeing J. yesterday, and it was sweet! Elder B. and Elder S. also baptized .. last week and we got to go, so that was super great!!! We had a really good weekly planning this last week, and I'm excited to have a great week with lots of miracles!
Thanks so much for your emails. The stories and pictures were all great!! I sure love yall so much, and pray for you each day!

Elder Branch