Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Apr. 27, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

Arrgh!!!!!!!! Sorry, but  my iPad, Deborah, deleted the entire draft of my email I had been working on for the past hour! So sorry, it was super long and brilliant until it got deleted. You get the spark-notes version this week :(sorry yall :/ hope it suffices!

So our week was again, super wild. We had a fire in our oven, and the fire extinguisher put it out but also sprayed powder all over the apartment because it was 10 years old and excessively used.

We also helped move some members this week and between all 4 of us missionaries, climbed a total of 3,600 steps in the process. (My thighs are killing!!) Our sink is leaking. And our church got broken into this past week, and they stole our microphone, our telephone off the wall, and a bunch of magnets in the relief society room that said "charity never faileth." We had church this week with a boom and a microphone hooked to the end, it was super wild!

The work is still kind of slow, no people to church. On the plus side, we met Brother R. this week. We had a fantastic lesson with him, and he wants to come back to church! He has five kids and a wife and he wants to bring them too! We are super excited! We also got a list of members who are available to go out during the week, so we are excited to have them :-)

Love, Elder Branch

On p-day we got to play disc golf

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Apr. 20, 2015 in Rock "Thrill", SC

Hello all!

This past week has been so wild, and I'm not even sure all what happened. I spent the majority of the week with Elder S. because the other Elders were still so sick. Then on Saturday Elder D. and I worked together while the other Elders went to Charlotte because Elder S. needed a shot for Poison Ivy because it has only gotten worse since 2 weeks ago when he first got it. Finally on Sunday we had a flash flood and tornado warning here in Rock "Thrill", so we decided to drive to the college, send in our report, and call it a day.

On Tuesday, Elder S. and I had a big long meeting/lesson/discussion on theology with a Baptist Preacher named M. He invited us back this week to continue the discussion. It was interesting, because he believes strongly that were wrong, and he was using the Bible to point out reasons why, but never once did he find something that obviously showed where we are wrong (because we're not). But neither could we show him anything to "prove" the gospel from the Bible alone. It built my personal testimony of the Book of Mormon, even if he didn't agree. Really that's what it comes down to, is that we have the full truth restored, and we know the way to not just salvation, but exaltation. The church is true because Joseph Smith is a prophet, and Jesus Christ loves us!! :)

Finally, Elder S. and I had a wild service opportunity. We helped bishop and a couple other Elders, along with the Relief Society President move a woman from her house, and it was a humbling experience, one of those that you don't get often. I felt for the woman. She has some special needs and was super nice. She loves cats! We would pick up something and cat hair would just cover us, and float through the air. We had to move a bed, and in the process happened to find 3 cats hiding down under the pillows. They bolted when we uncovered them, freaking us out super bad. One of the men swelled up on his neck from allergies, and I don't know how Elder S. and I survived, considering the day before a couple other cats had totally taken us out. It was a service project that will definitely stick out in my head.

It impressed me to see how happy and grateful the woman was for our help, and how willing these brothers and sister were to help her in such conditions. I'm grateful for disciples of Christ, everywhere, that are such great examples. It makes me think of the talk again of being Truly Good and without Guile.

B. and T. didn't come to church this week, but we are working with them. It's just hard to keep contact with them. Fortunately, we did have a great lesson with B. where we were really able to talk about testimony, and it was great! He believes the Book of Mormon, he believes in prophets, and knows pretty much all the doctrine behind the commandments, now it's really about helping him to learn more. So keep praying for him!

My go to scripture this week has been 3rd Nephi 5:13 from the talk by President Uchtdorf we got a while ago. I love that scripture, and I love that I have the same opportunity as Mormon did to share the gospel.

I sure love all yall! Thanks for the emails and pictures!! :D

Love, Elder Branch


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Apr. 13, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC, Last interview with Pres. C.


B. and T. are doing super great!! Both of them have a desire to learn and learn and learn, and they are super good friends. They have been reading the Book of Mormon, and understanding things even we haven't noticed before in it. On Saturday night, we had one of the most spiritual lessons on my mission. It started off super rocky, due to a super drunk man named wild B., who was talking and slurring words and kept forgetting he had already introduced himself. B. and T. told us to leave and meet them down the street at a field while they got wild B. inside and came to meet us. We tried that, but wild B. followed them. They told us to ignore him, and after a little bit he left (not until he held up his fists and threatened to fight me though) ;) but after that, we were able to talk to B. and T.

They are both facing some deaths in their families currently, and while the lesson started with talking about priesthood authority, it ended up with us watching Because of Him, Because He Lives, and talking about the hope of the Plan of Salvation. It was a wonderful lesson, and we were all emotional and feeling the Spirit. Downside is they still didn't come to church!! That is something we are definitely working on and need members to help, so keep praying for them!!

You asked if we ride bikes or drive a car in this area. So we switch off every week with the other Rock Hill Elders. One week we're on bikes, next on car. We have 650 miles for the month for our companionship, and we have already used tons, so were in trouble! Haha :)

We had interviews with President C. this week, and its wild because it could have been our last interview with him! It was a very good one, and in part he asked how y'all were doing, and I told him about how fantastic you all were, especially when Hunter and Dad helped the lady who ran out of gas and then prayed for their blessings for the service to come to me. President C. loved that story. Also in the interview, he told me what my "role" in the mission has been. He said "You have the gift of optimism, of temperance. You're the steady-Eddie. We speak of Shiblons and Sams in the mission, missionaries who are diligent and obedient without looking for recognition." At the end of the interview, he thanked me for the good things in Huntersville that Elder S. and I helped to bring. He brought me in for a hug, and it was just a really good moment with him, easily my favorite interaction with him :) So thanks for raising me to work hard and be happy! It reminded me of the talk "Truly Good and Without Guile" from conference.  :)

I'm loving the mission more and more each day!! For example this week has probably been the craziest week in the entire planet, with our apartment situation, meetings, and a sickness that took out all the other Elders but miraculously passed me (allergies still got me though, but I just bought local honey, so I'll be good). Elder A. was sick Tuesday night, and is still sick today. Elder S. has poison Ivy on his leg, and got food poisoning one night. Elder D. got sick the day after Elder S., and just got better today. In the past when my companions have been sick, I've been content with the "day off," but not anymore! I was begging to go on splits with the other healthy Elder (whoever it was ) all week, and it was a blast! On top of that, despite 2 elders being out all week, we were able to triple the amount of lessons we taught this week! Elder A. and I started the week with a bunch, then Elder D. and I taught 10 times in one day! Elder S. and I had great quality lessons the next couple days, and we ended with like 21 lessons per companionship!

The next wild part of this wild week, was that Elder D. and Elder S. were assigned talks in conference, but then Elder D. got sick, so I had to give his. But because we were at M.'s house in the morning, we didn't even get to church in time for the Sacrament, and barely made it in time for the talks! The primary sang, and then next thing you know, I'm up at the pulpit with no time to prepare! We received a promise from President C., a counselor to President C., that if we were living worthy of the Spirit, our mouths would be filled. Well mine fortunately was, and I was able to speak for the 5 minutes I had been assigned minimum on charity and I don't even know what else. After church we were able to go back home and perform the Sacrament, after asking the Bishop, and the Spirit as we performed that ordinance was powerful and real, in a way I had never felt as strongly before. I love love love the Sacrament!!!!  :D so yeah, all in all, we lived through this week, but just barely.

Haha, well I sure love ya!

Elder Branch :)

(An older picture of Fountain Park and Elder Branch)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Apr. 6, 2015 in Rock Hill, SC

So on Saturday night right before the Priesthood session, we got a call from our apartment people telling us that the apartment next door had a fire! They got it put out before it burned to our place, but we got some major smoke damage up in the attic, which makes our whole place smell horrible!!! The fun side though is that we get to spend a couple nights in a hotel! So I am currently sitting on my queen bed with free wifi and a TV (which we can't watch) ;) haha, but it's been a fun adventure. So as a result we missed priesthood session of conference, but we were able to catch up the past 2 mornings, so we're good. So I have some pictures from our adventure so far that I will send to you.   :)

I loved President Eyring's talk from priesthood session!! I also really loved Elder Holland's and President Uchdorf's on Sunday Morning! They were the best!! Also, on Saturday afternoon, there was a run of 3 talks by seventies, and all 3 of those were so good!!

We each brought questions to conference that we wanted answers too, and all 3 questions I had were answered in those 3 talks!! It was fantastic!! The one that started it off was actually the one about hearing the music that you sent me the quote of. Conference is just the best, and I can't wait to study all the talks as they come out!! Probably my favorite quote from it all was by Michael T. Ringwood. He said "The service that counts most usually is recognized only by our Father in Heaven... All I really want in life is to please my Heavenly Father and my earthly father." Definitely true doctrine! :) I love the gospel which allows us to change and be better :)

Good news, K. came to conference (new member who's great!). Bad news was no one else came, even though we invited all them and their dogs multiple times, followed up pretty much daily, and even promised them if they brought questions, they would be answered. Ah well, what can you do. We did have some really good lessons this week with M. and also with a former friend we met again named B. He is super great! So please pray for M. and B. 

So when we first taught B. again, another man named T. came up and started talking to us. As it turns out he knows the bible super well, and asked lots of questions about prophets and things. Elder A. and I kind of split up and started teaching each guy individually. I was talking with B., and really listening to the Spirit as to how to answer his questions. We talked about the Book of Mormon, prophets, what modern prophets have taught and all kinds of stuff. He was stuck on the final verse in Revelations, and after talking about all his questions, I asked him "so when was revelations written?" He responded "around 30 years after Christ." "So when were the epistles of Paul?" "Around 200 years.. Oh! Oh wow, I'm gonna have to think about that! Oh man, you stumped me!" Haha, it was way fun!! It was the most spiritual peaceful mini bible bash I've ever seen, and actually really helped the environment of the lesson! Haha, I'm grateful for the Spirit that led that lesson!!

So we did a bit of service this week, including moving in a new family, and as we were moving them, I saw a familiar small blue suitcase and said "Oh! I'll bet you those are temple clothes! " to the other elders. The woman happened to be on the ramp and she heard and laughed and said yes, they were the temple clothes. It was super funny, she had the same case as Grandma Earl. :) Haha, so it was a great and very wild week!!!

Well, I'm sure glad y'all are doing good! Thanks for the emails!

Love ya!

Elder Branch 

Elder B. just before transfers.

In a hotel room because of smoke damage from a fire next door.

 Elder A. in the hotel

Elder S. and his new companion, Elder D.