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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Mar. 21, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Hello again!

Wow, so this last week has literally been like the longest week ever. It seems like 2 months since last week! So along with that, we actually had a pretty rough week. We joked all week between the companionships that it was the worst week ever, which it wasn't, but lots of annoying things happened. All of our set appointments cancelled, we spent all our money, we ran out of miles, we locked ourselves out of the house, and we had some wild food. I will expand on a couple of these stories, and then I will tell some actual good ones.

The other elders have a mom and daughter who are getting ready for baptism, and they couldn't find anyone available to come to the lessons. Since we had no lessons, they recruited us to join and my role was to play baby sitter to 2 of the younger kids, a girl and a boy. It was wild, but their lesson went pretty well and I got made hero status in the kids eyes, so all was good.

We also taught a less active man-woman who is Trans right now. He had his name changed last week. It was very very interesting, and honestly really sad. His wife was there too and we brought a member who used to be his scout master. We shared the Hallelujah video, but in all I just felt empathy for him. There are lots of youth and even adults here who are struggling with LGBTQ temptations right now, and I feel for them. That would be so ridiculously tough.

Anyways, off of those subjects, and on to the miracles!! That whole thing about sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven is totally true! At church we had 2 friends who have been attending for a while, named D. and J., ask us to come visit and possibly review the discussions! 
 Also, we have these members named the B.'s, and they have been trying to adopt an 8 almost 9 year old named A. for a while now, and this last week they got it finalized! :D They are one of the homie families in the area, and we were pretty excited for them. Our main goals are to find a new family this week! One that will actually let us show the Hallelujah video, and then teach them the gospel! :) So yup, good things are a comin.

Thanks for all the fun stories. 
I sure love ya!

Elder Branch


So in Carolina, there are all these fantastic trees 
that turn super white 
in the spring! 
They create the impression that there are 
70 billion tree's of life in every direction. 

This is Elder H.'s and my friend. 
She doesn't like Elder P. and Elder E. never tries to touch her
 because he is too busy playing with a tortoise. 
This is at the Rescue Ranch, 
a place we like to volunteer. 
The people are super nice there, and the animals are super neat! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mar. 14, 2016 in Statesville, NC

Howdy y'all!!

So life is good, the sickness is gone, and this week was full of crazy ups and downs. For the first couple days this week it was mostly down, because I was just frustrated with how the missionary work is going. Elder E. is great though. He is the nicest person ever and means good, and I learned more how to recognize that this week.

Our area is doing well, and I feel like we are on the verge of some really good things here! We have some new potential investigators that seem pretty solid, and our Bishop has been stellar at helping us with other families we can visit. I really like the new Easter video too, we will show that to everyone! 


On Friday we had a zone meeting and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Every training seemed like it was prepared just for me! It helped answer lots of questions I had, and gave us some good insights on what we can improve. I was also able to make some good friends with some of the zone members. 

So the week was rocky at the start, but we are doing good now! One update on someone we are teaching: We were able to see C. this week. She is 9 years-old and interested in being baptized. Her mom has attended church with her more in the past 3 months than she has in like 6 years, and we had a pretty effective lesson with her. 

Thanks for all you do!
Sure love ya!
Elder Branch

This is a common brand of t-shirt in the South. 
O.W., a priest from Catawba, bought this one for me.  :)

Mar. 7, 2016 in Statesville, NC Transferred from Catawba

Hey Everyone!

So I am now in Statesville, NC. My first week was pretty good, except that on Monday night I got sick and stayed sick until around Friday morning. So our week was kinda dead as far as proselyting due to that, but we were able to get out the last 3 days and make some visits. 
From what my companion has been telling me, the work in our companionship has been really slow recently, especially compared to the other companionship in our ward. Our main goal/vision as a result is to fix that.

We put forth some good efforts this week, and may have a couple promising people. The best part though was that after a long hard day, we came home and found that we had received a referral for a family who apparently have been talking to their nephew, who is a recent convert, about the church. It just showed me again that sometimes success doesn't come from what we do, but that when we put forth effort success will come in some other way.

As far as our companionship, Elder E. is super funny and is excited about the work. He has been out for 6-7 months because he served in the Boise, Idaho mission before coming to ours. He is from Pocatello, and his family has 11 kids (or step kids and half kids). He trained tortoises back home, and he is really really really good at puns. (For instance, he nicknamed our companionship "the Termites" because we are Eaton Branch).

The other Elders are Elder P. (blonde) who is 
the District leader and hits his hump day this week, and Elder H. who came out the transfer before me, and is real funny. Sister B. fed us twice this week and sent the picture of the four of us. 

We got to do lots of service this week, and it sounds like it is pretty regular, so that will be fun.

Elder Branch

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Feb. 29, 2016 Last week in Catawba, South Carolina with Elder P.


We had a great last week, with some good finding. That was really our focus as we didn't want to leave the area with transfers with few investigators. We were lead by the spirit for sure, and found some prepared people. I feel really good about my time in this area, it has been a great learning experience.

We found a couple new solid people this week that we are excited for!! We also got a referral from a member in Waxhaw. He is a pilot and knew these members back in Oregon before they came here as well. He has a copy of the Book of Mormon already and has been reading it pretty consistently apparently. 

Along with our finding success, I wanted to share how we found a couple people. We went to a street that we had wanted to try for a while, and the first 2 people we talked to totally accepted us back! One of them was friends with members for years and years, and when we talked to her she said she already had a Book of Mormon. She said we could come back this weekend too. The very next house we went to, we shared the Restoration with the lady who answered and she was also super interested, especially how the Restoration described why there are so many denominations. It was great fun :)

So as far as transfers, I am getting transferred. Elder Oaks cancelled transfer meetings worldwide, and as a result we get our transfer information earlier. That means I already know that I will be going to Statesville, NC in the Hickory Zone! Even better is that Elder L. got transferred to Hickory as a zone leader!! So we will be partying on. My companion will be Elder E., he came out with Elder P. and sounds pretty funny. Elder P. will be getting Elder N., who came out with me! It will be super fun.

That is about all I have time for, its been crazy trying to say bye to everyone so we are heading out.

Thanks for all you do!
Love you!
Elder Branch

Elder H., one of my favorite Elders who goes home this transfer. 

Zone Conference