Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feb. 22, 2016 in Catawba by way of Fort Mill, South Carolina

Hello All!!

So we just had (once again) one of the best p-days ever!!! We had a zone activity that probs surpassed all others. We went to a place called Sky High in Pineville. It's a trampoline park with all the things a trampoline park should have. It also had a room that had a bunch of lasers all over, and you had to avoid them and get to the other side of the room to click a button. Then you have to make it back to the front and click the other buttons to stop the timer. It was pretty sweet, and we set a record on a tag team round. The best part though was laser tag, it was a party!

Anyways, so now to people's salvation! Our week worked out pretty well. We had some good lessons and even though we only had like 10 lessons, we were able to invite 2 different people to baptism! One of them is a lady named G. and she accepted once she knows it is true! The other is a lady was S. and we are excited for her. We hope to have G. at church next week. I love the spirit that comes as people accept a baptism invite, it is the most electrifying feeling! :)

The C.'s are still good, but we weren't able to see them last week. We also weren't able to see Brother S. or like any of the other people we are trying to teach consistently.

R. is doing great! She is a blast :) Tomorrow night we will be going out with 2 priests in our ward to some appointments, as well as just tracting. It will be fun!

We move back to our apartment probably tomorrow. We got our new beds, and Orkin did an inspection and said we are clean. Hooray! Lets hope it's for keeps!

We are down to the final week of the transfer, and of Elder P.'s training. It has been a very fun, humbling, and special experience to have been able to train him. We are excited for the future of the area!

So other than that, there aren't too many updates for this last week. Life is good!

Sure love all of you!
Elder Branch

Thanks Sister L. for this happy picture of the Zone Activity!   :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Feb. 16, 2016 in Catawba by way of Fort Mill, South Carolina

Howdy all!

Darn Bed Bugs! At least we are safe here in Fort Mill. The adventures have continued to pile up, some good and some bad. But first, an update with our investigators:

B. has kind of dropped us, he still has committed to read and pray but it is less and less likely it seems that he will come to church :( We are just praying that he will have some new spark of interest or insight.

The C.'s are doing great though! We went back and had a Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson on Wednesday with Brother R. and it was super solid! We reviewed the whole gospel using verses from 2 Nephi 31 and at the end invited her to baptism again. She still wouldn't accept a date, and said it will still take lots more thinking and praying, but at least she is moving on the right track, and she likes everything she is learning. She is reading the Book of Mormon and really enjoying it a lot!

Pastor C. is hopefully going to be able to meet this next week. We are super excited for that!

We also have a new man named R. that we will be hopefully teaching at the church this coming week (we think), and he may have some real potential if he doesn't end up moving!

So our main miracle this week was our finding! We were so blessed this week to find a whole 5 new people! A bunch of them were all on Friday. We went out to this one street that we have had planned for a while, and literally 3 of the first 5 people we talked to accepted return appointments. On one of the doors, we noticed as we were walking up that they had a no trespassing sign. We trespassed anyways, and as we got to the door, we noticed that the house had like 3 big padlocks and a couple of chains on the other side so it couldn't get kicked in or anything. We knocked and heard some footsteps. I honestly thought we might get someone answering with a gun, but it was actually a 50 year-old woman who introduced herself as T. We started talking with her and she was way open!! Elder P. shared a fantastic brief Restoration message, and she started asking questions about the Prophet. She told us that she has had a rough life and that she had a testimony of God but doesn't understand why there are so many churches. The best part of the whole thing was she started committing herself to do everything! She was like "So if you could schedule me for 45 minutes next Friday, I would love to read this pamphlet and we could discuss it. I'll read this and write down my questions on a piece of paper.." It was amazing! I am super excited for her, she is so great :)

R. is doing swell, she had her temple recommend interview for baptisms this last Sunday! She is also a Bronco's fan, so we were happy about the super bowl. We are seeing her tonight.

Anyways, that's about it for the week. Life is good here. My foot is feeling better. Living with Elder W. and S. is pretty fun. Living with 4 Elders is always a wild experience, but we are getting along and working hard. We got the pizza from Sister P. and it was delicious! Thanks lots Sister P.! I also got the package and it was super fun!

I sure love y'all!
Elder Branch

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Feb. 8, 2016 In Catawba by way of Fort Mill, South Carolina

Return of the Sith (AKA: Bed Bugs)

Hi family. So I figure that after that title, you probably want to know what I'm talking about. But you will have to wait as I lay out the many adventures that befell us this past week.

It all began one bright and sunny post p-day Monday night. We were able to go to the Bishop's home and have a family home evening with him, his wife, and Sister B. who is returning to activity. The lesson mainly focused on how to raise kids and help them be independent in a very firm, but still loving way. In other words, Elder Peterson and I just sat there and nodded our heads as they talked, and we occasionally offered quotes about the subject from different General Authorities. Then on Tuesday things continued to be great as we taught different lessons and found a couple people.

Wednesday reared his ugly head and everything came crashing to a screeching halt. In our efforts to exercise, we had gone on a 2 mile run and along the way my left leg was really really hurting. My right felt fine, and eventually the left leg got feeling better, but at about 3 that day, while we were out tracting, my foot started hurting super bad and it was to the point where I was having to limp everywhere and couldn't continue tracting. The foot continued to hurt pretty bad for a couple days, but we called the mission nurse and she gave me some treatments that have helped a lot and it is almost better.

Then comes Thursday night. We had an exchange planned with Elders L. and R. after a meeting on Friday, and as we planned for it over the phone we mentioned that we had had bed bugs. Elder L. freaked out (poor fella already went through fleas with me) and really didn't want bed bugs. On Friday Elder P. got up and looked at his arm, where new bumps had appeared! We decided to look at the bottom of his bed and sure enough, there were like 40 bazillion huge massive red bugs. (More like 12) We cussed a lot and then I looked at the bottom of mine, where there were a couple more. We cussed some more and then called the office peoples. They told us that they would get Orkin back to exterminate once again. We realized that the reason they survived is because we had these special bed bug proof covers on the beds, but when we set them on the bed frames it ripped holes in the covers so the bed bugs were able to escape.

We ended up throwing away our beds, our couches, our chairs, and went and cleaned all our clothes in a laundromat until like 10:20 at night. Then we moved in with the Fort Mill Elders, Elder S. and Elder W. We are staying here for the next 2 weeks while Orkin does chemicals and then checks to make sure they are dead (15 days later) before we go back in. So with this whole update we ended up having very little time to proselyte the rest of the week, but we fit in what we could. We are definitely determined. Recently we have been praying lots more as companions, and our area is on its way back up. I have such a testimony of having the spirit with us as we work, it is just not possible without the spirit.

R. is doing great and life is good other than bed bugs. Thanks for the prayers!

Elder Branch

Sister C. is letting us teach her. :) These were at her house. They are soo neat!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Feb. 1, 2016 in Catawba, South Carolina A week of many funerals.


So this was a very interesting week. We were able to see some good blessings this week and found a couple people who seem pretty interested! We decided to go and tract a couple streets that I hadn't been on before and on one of them we had like 0 success, besides a conversation with a elderly fella who talked about how birds are racist because they segregate between the different species. 

Then as we were walking along a big main road knocking a couple doors along there. We knocked on this one house and right after knocking we looked up and there was this wild looking devil head above the door with 666 on its forehead. We looked around the yard and there were a bunch of other demon-angel things, and the house was all black and stuff. It was super creepy! Fortunately no one opened the door.

The very next house was a family who had tons of scriptures and things all over their porch and the father came out of the house, told us his whole experience of being saved, and then tried to save us, despite our assurances that we had already accepted Jesus as our personal lord and savior. So he talked with us for about 20 minutes and then we were late to dinner.

The next day though, just one road down from all those interesting experiences, we found like the best road. Everyone was just homies with us, and 2 different families said we could come back this next week! Even the people who weren't interested were super chill, and would offer us water or refer us to everyone else on the street. So that was a plus.

I guess the other main focus of the week was funerals. The members say that in this area, people always pass away in waves. Well, the next wave just happened, and we have had 3 funerals in the past 4 days (and possibly 2 more coming up).

The first was for the Assistant Chief in the Catawba Tribe, and while he wasn't a member, they did the funeral at the church because he was buried in the graveyard behind it. The current chief offered the prayer and in the prayer he said something like "We come before thee with much sorrow and rejoicing, which we know is a contradiction, but it is because of the sorrow of loosing W. and the rejoicing that we were able to know him." After he spoke, they played a Blake Shelton song called God Gave Me You over a CD player. Then a member in the Rock Hill Ward talked about Jesus and the Plan of Salvation which brought the spirit. A lady sang Amazing Grace for the closing song then everyone headed outside and they had some Indian drumming as well as a 21 gun salute for him.

The second funeral came the next day and was much more spiritual. I think they had her cremated because there was no burial. Brother B. sang Amazing Grace at this one and it was nice.

The third was today, and it was for Brother B. He was the only one of the 3 that I knew, he had been super healthy just a month ago and gave us tons of rides to Charlotte and all over. His service was probably my favorite. There were lots of good stories shared, as well as strong testimonies born of the Plan of Salvation. Once again, a lady sang Amazing Grace. 

At the funerals, we had several people come up and tell us to come by, and lots of other people were in the church feeling the spirit, so we are hopeful some good will come.

We are seeing blessings as we continue to work forward through trials.

Thanks for your prayers, love y'all!

Love, Elder Branch