Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016 Last transfer...last email home from North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Hey family! 

Thanks for the great email!

N.'s baptism was so good! I gave the talk on baptism, and for the Holy Ghost, they got a video from the first missionary who taught her in Japan. That was super super great, and she was crying a lot. There was a great spirit :)

On two different nights, we went to a luau based around missionary work. It was put on by family members of the Raleigh Mission President. I will send some videos, it was super amazing! I got to see lots of missionaries and members from past areas too, what fun! All in all, it was the craziest but best last week ever!

So it has come to the end...transfers have come. Biggest shocker I guess is that I'll be going home. That was a surprise! ;) haha, jk. Anyways, besides me, Elder H. also got transferred and he is going to Danville, Virginia! Elder B. is getting Elder R., and Elder T. is getting Elder N. They will be good :)

Thanks again for the emails, and I'm super excited to see y'all! Sorry if this email is short, but we were hanging out with D. and Ej. from rescue ranch, so it was kind of rushed, but if you have any questions, I'll tell you in person :) 

Sure love ya!
Elder Branch :)

This couple have hearts of gold and are so good to the missionaries. 
We love them!!
(Thanks for the pictures, Lisa)

Three of the Elders going home this week. 

They were all serving in the same zone. 

Farewell to the Rescue Ranch  <3

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 4, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Howdy ya'll,

I had my departing interview yesterday, and it was a blast! Really good and really spiritual. It was a great review and I am so grateful for all I have learned. It's weird that I start hitting my "last's" this week. I had my last zone conference last week, and bore my departing testimony. I am very excited for this last week, this is such a great area and I love the people here. Elder B. is great, he can do anything it seems!! I am just so grateful for everything this week!

N. had her interview and is getting baptized on Saturday! There were some wonderful testimonies on Sunday from the Bishop and his wife about being able to teach her, and it was so touching! There were many testimonies of Christ. The spirit was very real, it was one of the best fast and testimony meetings on my mission! We are teaching her a couple more times this week, and I can't wait for Sunday!

The other really exciting thing this week was exchanges! On Thursday, Elder J. (Spanish Elder) and I went to our area and spent the day doing service and teaching a couple families. Several said we could come back this week, so we should hopefully have some great new investigators once I leave! Then on Friday we had a Zone Conference and it was super good! We had a big training on the Atonement, it was such a great discussion to have for a last zone conference. Elder H., Elder W. and I got the chance to share our testimonies and none of us cried! We all felt like it, but our testimonies came out more powerful than reflective, and it was a good moment. We sang the mission song one last time with the missionaries, and then Elder H. and I spent the day on exchange. That was a super fun exchange, and we taught like 6 lessons with members present and had the best sushi in the world!

Church was fun in general, and I am way excited for this last week! More good stuff! :) Thanks for all the stories! Sure love you folks!

Elder Branch

We chopped down these huge trees at Sister F.'s with some dull ax's, and got loads and loads of blisters. It was in the middle of a rainstorm and the chainsaw was broken. All in all, we felt like real men. Twas good.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June 27, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Well hello hello familia!

N. is doing great! She is living with the Bishop's family now and is looking forward to her baptism on the 9th. :)

Our bishop is really supportive of us missionaries and the ward missionary program is getting running too! Elders T. and H. got lots of referrals from the ward. I found out our ward mission leader (who is also the bishop's son-in-law and served in this mission about 7 years ago) started his mission in Catawba. So we had some fun conversation there :)

J. unfortunately dropped us this week after his Pastor threw down. :(

E., the person we work with at Rescue Ranch is possibly going to meet with us! She found out that some of their best friends they have over in Winston where they live are Mormons too! They are also going to come to a Luau thing that the family members of the Raleigh NC mission president are putting on in Greensboro and in Charlotte. It's going to be super neat, and D. plans on going with us too. He's doing great and gave away his first Book of Mormon this week! Aw yeah!! So yup, life is good here.

We may have a new friend to teach named B. this week, just pray that she will be interested.

Thanks, sure love ya!

Elder Branch

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June 20, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hey buddies!

So we are doing great! N. accepted a baptismal date of the 9th of July!!! We got to teach her 3 times this week, all with members, and she has been reading the Book of Mormon. She had started kind of slow, so we read a chapter with her and we told her how she could insert her name into verses where it used someone else's name, and yesterday she told us she has been doing that and really really liking it! Hooray!! Please pray that things will continue to work for her, as she is still in a very tough situation. She is having to live with some members for a while, and moving back and forth, so just pray.

J. is also good, and plans on coming to church with us this week! He likes the Book of Mormon, but doesn't seem to understand that it is scripture just like the Bible. He keeps praying and asking God if it will be ok for him to read more of the Book of Mormon, thereby taking away time from the Bible. I love how much the south loves the Bible though, it has given me new respect for it since serving.

Happy Father's Day! It was fun here, we got to go eat with the P.'s, some of my favorite members, and the awesome B.'s are having us over later this week. We took Father's Day pictures with D. and Bro. B. :)

Thanks again for the fun fun stories! I love hearing from you :D

Elder Branch :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 13, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hey there!

I'm 20! No longer a teen! You asked if I feel any different? Nah, not really.

Anyways, I realized this morning that I only have one month left. And honestly each day it gets closer I get less excited. Maybe that will switch during the last few weeks, but for now I guess I'm like "I can be normal for the rest of my life! I only have one month left to be a missionary! And that right there is a sad thought.

J. is doing great! He is still reading, and this week we were able to read some with him. That went really well! He had said that he was having some trouble understanding, but after reading first Nephi 16 with him all about Lehi's vision, he really enjoyed it! He said he understood it really well and it is interesting him a lot! On top of it, he actually asked his pastor about going to our church and the pastor said it was fine as long as we taught about Christ. So keep praying for him.

N. is also doing good, though she had a real hard week this week. She wasn't going to come to church, but the Bishop's wife texted her and encouraged her that hard weeks are when we need to come most. She agreed and came, though it was tough for her. She is moving in with 2 sisters in the ward, so we are going to be able to teach her a couple times, which is nice :)

D. took us to work out with him on my birthday. We got permission to go with him to the YMCA and we did a tabata class, which means that we bounce back and forth between circuit work-outs (which are tough but I like), and exercise bikes (which are absolutely awful, because the trainer is driving you hard). At the end of the workout I all of a sudden got light headed and almost fainted. I rested and drank gatorade and water, and ate a granola bar that the trainer lady
brought. I got feeling better, and later that day gave a baptismal interview. That was super fun! D. went out with us a couple times later on in the week and it went great! He's the best!

You asked about district activities. As far as the district goes, we are too spread out to do district activities every week, but we do at least 1 district activity and 1 zone activity a transfer. Today though, for p-day, we are at the church and playing games with D. :)

You asked about the new "My plan" online training. It's really interesting, essentially you take 1 class per week and it includes videos and quotes and places for you to answer questions. I actually really like it. This week I am suppose to be signing up for institute, and 3 of the teachers are Brother Crimin (10th and 11th grade seminary), Brother Hardy (9th grade seminary), and Brother Craven (President Craven's brother)! Wahoo! So btws, what does my school schedule look like again so I can register for institute? Thanks :)

Thanks again, sounds like a blast of a week! Sure love y'all! :) :)

Elder Branch

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June 6, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hey there everyone,

Wow, what a week! Transfers were Tuesday and my new companion is Elder B. He's a great missionary and a good teacher. We're getting along great. Elder H.'s new companion is Elder T. and he is from Idaho Falls. In the rest of the district, we got an Elder J., and Sister L. They are both great, and our district in general is really good. We have 3 or 4 people wanting to be baptized this month! One of them is going to be this Saturday, and on Wednesday I get to give him a baptismal interview! I couldn't ask for a better birthday present!

Speaking of which, let's move on to our own area! So we got to teach the M.'s again, but unfortunately they just seem to be too wrapped up in the end of the world. (Literally). We encouraged that as much as being prepared physically is good (they loved the 1 year food storage), the most important thing is to be prepared spiritually. We're sure trying and praying for them to understand.
D. came with us for that lesson and he is so great! We didn't get to see J. as his brother overdosed this last week.   :(
We have a new friend we're teaching named N. She is from Japan and was friends with a Sister missionary there. She moved out here, but stuff went down and now she is really struggling. Her friend called our bishop and asked him to contact her. He was able to do so, and she was able to come to church. We have taught her twice now and she is super. We got 4 referrals at the very end of this week that we're excited to contact too! The B's got the Book of Mormon Reader and are enjoying it, thanks! Thanks for all the super fun stories!!!! 

Love ya,
Elder Branch

Elder B. 


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

This week we had a super big blessing of referrals! I think all in all, we received 6 from church headquarters, and 3 have become new investigators! The one I feel the most confident with is a man named J. He lives out in the boonies and ordered a Bible but was also interested in the Book of Mormon. The man is pretty elect and prepared by God. He has quite smoking, drinking, and drugs. He absolutely loves going to church AND reading the actual word. :D What more could you ask for!? He committed to read the Book of Mormon and if he finds out it's true he said he would be baptized! Hooray! Pray that he will keep his commitments :)

We saw the M.'s on Monday night right before she had her eye surgery. Since then though we haven't seen them, so we will get back in contact. We gave her a blessing on Monday and that was good.

C. seems to be coming around to feeling the spirit, but their work is still keeping them from church.

Sister T. still hasn't been coming. She sleeps in or has a bad headache the morning of church but she'll get there.

D. is getting less stressed even though nothing has really changed. Thanks for praying for him and his family. We'll keep it up.

I am beginning the "My Plan" training courses this week, because I'm starting my final transfer. (What!!!??!?!?!?!?!) We had interviews this last week so that was awesome! That being said, lets get into some transfer business!!!!

So going into transfers on Tuesday, two of the four of us Elders in Statesville are staying and two are leaving - one has finished his mission and is headed home. The other, Elder P., is being transferred to Charlotte. My companion, Elder H. is taking their area with a brand new companion that he'll be training. He is super nervous, but excited. I'll have our area and will have a new companion, Elder B who's been out for 15 months. Exciting times! We all have some good people to start teaching and it sounds like we have a really good district this coming transfer.   :)

Thanks for all you do!

Love ya!
Elder Branch

The fattest tie there ever was!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 23, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Life is going good! We found some really good people this week through referrals and personal contacting. The M.'s are doing well, but they still haven't come to church. We are going to see them tonight in order to give P. a blessing before some eye surgery tomorrow. Brother L. was able to go and read the Book of Mormon with them which was also good. But they still need more! Please pray for them :)

Another family, the C.'s, haven't been coming to church since being baptized mostly because of their work schedule. Recently that changed though and they have been doing good at coming, and are even ready to work towards the temple! Unfortunately, Satan doesn't want that to happen, and everything crazy and bad that could happen has been. So please pray for them too, they could use the help!

D is doing okay though he hasn't been to church for 2 weeks. He hasn't lost his testimony, it's been some hard times though. He will be at church this week though, as it is Elder H.'s last week. Elder H. will be singing a solo, and during 3rd hour we will be teaching.

All in all, there are many miracles happening, and even more ready to come! Sister T. is still struggling to come to church :/ But lots of good is on the way!

Thanks for the fun emails :) I sure love ya!

Elder Branch

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 16, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hello Everyone!

This week was crazy busy but so fantastic in the end! C. got baptized! I think one of my favorite parts was when we saw C. hug her Mom while us Elders sang a special musical number. The confirmation went well the next day too.   :)

D. is struggling to understand the Godhead, and is pretty set on the Trinity, so her baptism is off for now. We had a really good lesson with the M.'s, then on Friday, they came to the church for a church tour, and we had a lesson in the chapel. That was a good lesson too, we were able to read Alma 32 and they are coming along. They couldn't come to church this week, but they said they could come next week!

Sister T. is doing good, and she also plans on coming to church next week! Hurray! I love it when great things happen with the people we teach!

Things are on the up and up here, and we are seeing great things from the members. They pray for missionary experiences often, and even pray for us by name. We love them!

All in all, life is great! Thanks for everything! LUVS!

Elder Branch

C.'s happy day!   :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 9, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hello everybody! 

Happy Mothers day to all, it was a blast to talk to you, family! What a fun fun time. I don't have much time today, and we talked yesterday, so I will keep it short.

Wow, what a week! I had so many tender mercy moments, from seeing Dw. be baptized to talking to our families, to having lots of friends come to church. Our area is definitely improving, and we are mostly aiming on finding more people to teach even though we have lots of other things going on. 

C. is doing well, both her and her mom came to church so she will be getting baptized this Saturday! That means we have 1 big huge awesome week ahead of us, trying to plan that and finish up the lessons, so please pray for that!!

D. is also doing well and hoping to be baptized on the 21st or 28th, but if it is later that will be ok. We cut down some trees for her this week and got poison Ivy, but we were able to shower right after and use soap and never got the rash. Hooray!!

Service has also been fun at Rescue Ranch and Yokefellows, we haven't been to 5th street in a while though.

Some of the biggest news took place Friday and Saturday. Dw., the other Elders investigator, got baptized!!!!! His family has struggled with it but he knew it was true and got baptized! Please pray for his family. At the baptism, while Elder H. and L. were doing a musical number, the piano player lost all of his sheet music in the middle of the song! Luckily I had stayed on the stand and was able to grab it. He did an amazing job keeping the song going even while I was grabbing the sheets, the Elders didn't even know he lost the music! 

After Dw.'s baptism, we were having a luncheon and a random guy was walking past the church and said he felt lead to it by the spirit! Turns out he has been less active for years, but all of his family are not members. As a result, the other Elders now have 3 new investigators! How about that!

On Sunday Dw. was able to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost, and should get the Priesthood this Wednesday. The Alexanders (mission president and wife) came to see that happen at Sacrament, and as a result they also saw my Mothers Day talk. That in and of itself was miraculous, considering I didn't finish writing it until Sunday morning, and our church was at 9:00am. I had literally only read through it once, and I ended up praying my way through. I prayed probably 60 times that morning that it would be personal and spiritual, and Heavenly Father did not disappoint! I cried a couple times through the talk, especially when talking about the Savior, and mom. It turned out great I was just grateful that Heavenly Father helped so much! He's great!

Anyways, that is about it for the week, but it sure was good! I love ya!

Elder Branch

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 2, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina

Hello! It's a great day, cause I hear from you guys! :)

(Shorter letter this week because he wrote lots to Hunter about preparing for his mission.)

Elder H. (not the Elder H. my companion) got sick for like 3 days so we did some splits with Elder P. so that he could still get out and see their investigators. All in all, our main people we are working with are still solid and on date, and the other people are not. Only interesting new development is that D. called us crying today saying that she has been wanting the gift of the Holy Ghost super badly, and wants her baptism to come even sooner than the 28th! We are seeing her tonight, so pray that she will be able to keep all her commitments without any hiccups! Thanks again for your prayers, we sure appreciate it.

Our other friends are doing well too, a few are hoping to come back to church this coming week. We got to go see some of them this week with Brother M. He is a Pit Man for Nascar!  It was pretty fun.

Thanks again for the email! 
Love ya!
Elder Branch :)

This was at rescue ranch. 
I don't know why my face looks concerned, 
cause I actually love snakes, but oh well!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 24, 2016 in Statesville, North Carolina with a new companion

Hello All!

Wow, what a transfer friendly week this has been! It's been lots of fun! This week's adventures start with my new companion, Elder H.!  I really appreciate his drive and skills. He is a great missionary. He has been out almost 1 year, and was trained by Elder S., who came out with me from the MTC. He is from Kaysville, and his cousins are actually the W.'s (Like E. and L. from NDPA/NUAMES). He did robotics throughout high school and is planning on doing that for his living. We are getting lots of things done, and I have lots of faith for this area. 

So on to the area, the B.'s are planning for C. to be baptized on the 14th, and they came to church again! Keep praying for them, please.

We got to teach the M.'s twice, and the husband was there for both. They both started off telling us about some theory from revelations and science that this planet called Wormwood is going to crash and kill the earth. We were able to turn things back around into important doctrines, and actually had a super good lesson! C. is super interested now, and really wants to to find out if it is true. It was great! Please pray for them.

We gave sister T. a blessing this week and she liked that. She also started listening to conference, and was planning on coming to church but got a major headache at 4 in the morning on Sunday. So pray that her headaches will go away!! 

Finally, the day after Elder E. got transferred, we went to Rescue Ranch and the only thing they could find for us to do was to take the two tortoises outside and watch them while they explored and ate grass. EJ, the lady that runs it, felt super bad that Elder E. missed it by one day! Poor fella. It was super fun though, wild tortoises are much more entertaining than captive ones. Apple, the
small one, kept eating rocks. We weren't sure if that was good, so we would move him to the middle of a big patch of grass. Tiny, the huge one, just got angry at life and hissed at us when we tried to keep him from getting hit by cars. (Well, either that, or him trying to cause a wreck to kill people, which was actually probably his main goal. He was rescued because he was killing other tortoises. He's a crazy guy!)

Well, that's about it here! Thanks for the fun email!! I sure love y'all, thanks again! :D

Elder Branch

Saying goodbye to Elder E.

My new companion, Elder H.  =D

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 18, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Hello All,

This week we had a mission tour with Elder Zwick. He and his wife are super super amazing speakers!!!! They had some wild crazy stories from the missions they have been on. There was lots of good council too.

A.'s baptism went really well! His family is having very hard times right now though so please pray for them heavily!

We took Elder E. to East Coast Wings for his birthday (which is delicious!) We got transfer calls and Elder E. will be going up to Burlington. I will be staying here with an Elder H.

We had some good teaching appointments this week too. We didn't get to see the P.'s, but we did see the other D. who has been attending church, and she came to stake conference this week! Also, the B.'s came!!!! :D We spent 2 days there this week helping clean her house because the government was threatening to take C. away if it wasn't cleaned. We found tons of mold in the fridge, which explained why they were sick all the time. But since it is clean, everything is good and they were able to come. We are always working on finding more people here, and we expect some mighty miracles this coming week!

Other fun parts of the week included going to a Rescue Ranch volunteer appreciation dinner. Rescue Ranch is the place we volunteer that has tons of 'exotic' animals they take care of (tortoises, lizards, snakes, etc.) The had a dinner this week and we got to go. At it they were doing a casino based thing, but instead of real money we played for tickets to put into a raffle. Elder E. and I had no clue what we were doing, and the other Elders (who knew how to play) hadn't showed up yet, but the lady that runs the place showed us some of how to play roulette, so we did that for a little bit. It was fun, but probably the weirdest dinner for missionaries ever... haha.

Probably the funnest random thing we did this last week was on Saturday, we got invited to go with D. to a city celebration for Arbor day. We went on a 2 mile run, and then we got the chance to play bubble soccer for a couple minutes! It was pretty great! Ill send you some videos.

Well, that about covers it for this week. Thanks for the fun emails! Thanks so much for all your help! You're great! I love you :)

Elder Branch

ps...Hunter!! You got your mission call!!! Wow, I was so excited! Actually, Elder E. had just barely added mom and dad on facebook when you opened your call and they made the post about it, so I saw it and was freaking out for like an hour and a half. Haha, I am super excited for you, you will love it. It's fun that we are both on the east coast, too bad you're a durn Yankee ;P Haha, congrats Brother. Hey, when you have questions about what to buy, keep me involved, I have 60 bazillion pointers or things I learned since serving that I think will help when shopping and preparing and stuff. I'm glad we have a month and a half, we can do a mini 12 week program, except in 6 if you want :) Congrats again, I sure love ya!

A.'s baptism day!

Elder E. 

 This gentleman goes home this transfer! I'll miss him

EJ runs the Rescue Ranc

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 11, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Howdy!!Our area is going well but we figured out our apartment had mold. 
Adding to the apartment horror stories that are the last 6 months of my mission, on Tuesday, Elder H. and I were on exchange. As we were going to bed (Aka: talking for like 3 hours, and then sleeping), Elder H. asked what was up with our windows. Previous missionaries had put up these foam boards with tarps covering them to cover the windows so that no light came in.

Anyways, he took a look behind the tarps, and lo and behold, black mold everywhere. The worst window was the one that is right next to my head when I was sleeping, which was a big cause of allergies and sickness that has plagued us this whole transfer. So that being said, we actually felt pretty accomplished that we were able to still teach quite a few people while also cleansing our apartment. Hooray! Miracles!

This area has so much potential, I can feel it. We had a great lesson with a new couple this last week named the P.'s and it was a good faith builder. Their first names are D. and D. We had received a Book of Mormon referral for her back at the beginning of this transfer (over a month ago), and had tried calling the phone number a couple times and never got in touch. We had their street they lived on, but not the actual address. One day we went to the street, prayed that we could find them, and then went out to knock. We didn't have very long, but we were given a huge tender mercy, because the very first door we knocked on, he opened. We talked a bit, and he took our number so he could add it to his phone contacts, and then informed us that her nephew in Mooresville was a recent convert. The next week, we got in contact with him, and had been trying to discuss when/how we could see them, as we still hadn't had an answer from the phone. Yesterday we went by and knocked on the door. They were both home this time, and they invited us in! We got along with them super well, and had a great Restoration lesson. At the end, we were able to invite them to be baptized and they accepted once they come to know it is true :) So we are going back this Wednesday, and are pretty excited. Please focus prayers on them! They are miracles for this area.

Every appointment we had with D. and J. fell through this week, so we will be meeting with them next week. She still wants to get baptized, so we will work on it. They are pretty hilarious and nicknamed Elder H. "grinny" this week, because I was already nicknamed "smiley". Elder E. is named "Poindexter," and D. doesn't recognize who we are if we go by any other name... It's interesting but fun.

Sister B. came to church Sunday but her daughter didn't. Bishop has good feelings that they will eventually come around. Please pray for them too. Thanks

Oh, One other fun story. On Saturday, our entire Zone got together to help with a Just Serve project in Morganton. It was actually a project sponsored by a group called KaBoom, and they go around and make playgrounds for kids. They use a hashtag, #playmatters. Anyways, 300 people put together an entire playground in 1 day! Starting at the dirt, and building the park, wood chipping it, and doing other projects like a stage with benches and an outdoor exercise cement pad thingy. It was intense, and lots of fun :D I will send some pictures of that too.

Love you all,
Elder Branch

At the beginning they had us all dance to warm up. 
I'm just left of the man in red pants. 

There were 4-6 inches of wood chips covering the whole ground. 

This is nearing completion. 
Elder G. is smack in the center 
with his back turned, right by the cement wheelbarrow. 
There are 8-10 missionaries in this picture.
The total project was 5.5 hours long. It was great! :D

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 4, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Hello y'all!

Wow, we sure had a busy week! We had some really good service opportunities for a neighbor of some members. One of the members contacted us and told us that this lady had just found out she had cancer, and needed help digging tons and tons of small weed-like onions out of her garden of rose bushes and flowers. So we spent most of our week with the other elders working in her yard. She was so amazed that we would come and do that for free (well, she did buy us Cook Out and Chick-fil-A). We got to know her and the best part was we ended up watching a session of Conference with her at her house! We asked if we could come back and share a message about our church, and she accepted! It will probably be the other Elders teaching her, but it was great none-the-less! The best was at the end, when she started to tear up from the help, even though it wasn't a big deal to us. I love service, and moments like that as a missionary are the best!

Along with that, we had a couple other miracles happen too! There was a child's baptism on Sunday before conference, and afterwards a member of the Bishopric told us there were some visitors who had attended. These same visitors witnessed the baptism, it touched the heart of one named D. and she asked the Bishop how she could be baptized! We set up a time to visit them, and they were even able to stay for Sunday Morning Conference when President Monson spoke. We will be going over to teach them this week! :) It was just another testimony to me that God will lead people to us, as long as we are ready and worthy. 

We taught A. and set a baptism date for the 16th! We watched a session of Conference with his family on Sunday afternoon, and it was super fun. D., who the other Elders are teaching, came too and stayed for dinner afterwards. He is super fun! We have met him lots, and he hangs out with the other Elders. He met the Church because he was hired by the BSA and was helping our Ward's scouts get some fundraisers done, and Sister B. invited him to meet with the missionaries. He sang with the Elders when he came to church, and this weekend he sang at that child's baptism (I played the piano, it was fun). He just needs the consent of his wife to be baptized, so you could pray for him!

That's about it for this week, besides the fact that General Conference was AMAZING! I loved all the talks, but some of the particular ones were Elder Bednar, President Uchtdorf in priesthood, both of President Monson's, and of course Elder Holland wrapping it up. All of us Elders were cheering once we heard he was the last talk. D. just looked at us like we were crazy until he heard the talk. His favorite though was President Uchtdorf's from Priesthood as well. Elder H. and I were freaking out, because this was our last General Conference on our missions. Man how time flies!

Thanks for everything! Love ya! :D
Elder Branch


Some pipes burst as we were trying to fill the font, 

which created quite an adventure!

This is the awful pollen 
that has been causing major allergies! 
It literally looks like yellow frost over everything!

Pollen, close-up

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mar. 28, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Hey there and Happy Day-After-Easter!

Life was pretty grand this week in Statesville. We didn't have tons of total lessons, but what we did have was new investigators! It's so crazy, how you feel like you are trying hard for so long and see nothing, and then all of a sudden, without even changing much that you are doing, you are lead to those people who are ready for you.

So anyways, we had 5 new investigators, and at least 2 seem like they could be solid. Their names are T. and J. We had received T. as a Bible referral from church headquarters, and Elder E. had met J. once before while trying to find T. to give her the Bible. He ended up giving it to J. instead. Well, we decided to drive out there and follow up , and they were pretty funny. J. came out first and was all like "Yeah, I remember you!" We talked for a while and then asked if we could show them Follow Him, the Easter video. He said yeah and invited T. out too. She was pretty quiet, at least until J. had to run in to quiet some young grandkids. Then she just told us she needed a vacation from all the craziness. We showed the video once he came back out, and after he just started talking about how much he likes it and likes Jesus and appreciated us coming out to spread the word. We were able to share a brief Restoration, and afterwards asked if we could explain the Book of Mormon briefly. He said yeah, but had to run back in to quiet kids. T. said she really needed a vacation again. Then he came back out and we started using the pictures in the front of the book to explain it, and when we showed the picture of Jesus he started asking us about if we thought Jesus was white or black. We were like "Well, first it doesn't matter, and second Joseph Smith said he was white. J. was all like "But the bible says hair like wool!! After we emphasized the whole "does it matter" part, he calmed down and eventually he just decided that Jesus must have not had a face or something, or at least not a nationality (again, does it matter?) It worked out though cause I said "either way we are brothers in Christ" and Jared really liked that. He was like "That's what I mean man! Brothers in Christ!" Then I stuck out my hand for a fist bump and he liked that a lot too. So we finished explaining the Book of Mormon and he decided to invite us over for dinner next Saturday and then we could talk more. So yeah, he's a homie. and T. still needs a vacation. :)

So we had some great lessons with the B.'s this week, and even set a date for C. to be baptized! Unfortunately, they didn't make it to church which was sad because we had a great testimony meeting and there was a pretty powerful spirit. I also got asked to prepare a talk for Mothers day in a month and a half, so that will be fun :)

Yesterday after church we got invited to a huge family Easter party after church. Apparently out here, Easter is a huge, Thanksgiving style holiday, and this family had sooo much food! It was all so delicious though! I literally don't think I have ever been more full, or hurt more in my stomach after a dinner in my entire life. It knocked all of us Elders out, and we had to take an extra hour long break/nap to give it time to digest. 

Final update, and the reason this email is rushed, is that we got a new car for the area today! What this meant is that we had to drive to Charlotte today while the other Elders went golfing :(
Plus side is that on our way back up, we took the time to go and see J. as we drove back through Huntersville!! It was a total party, he was so surprised!! :D Haha, it was almost like I never left, and it was so good to visit with him :) We are both excited for the visit in July with y'all. So yeah, all in all it was a great week and our area is on the up and up. Thanks for all you do for me and thanks for the fun stories!

Love ya :)

Elder Branch
Elder E. and a tree of life

This was at a lesson on exchange with Elder P. 
A member was bearing their testimony to the investigator, 
so I was doing my very best to quiet the kids as the spirit was pouring in. 
That means selfies and drawing pictures on the iPad notes.