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