Monday, February 25, 2013

Journal King

Querido Familia Verde,
How's everyone doing? I loved the letters and the stories. I'm amazed at how fast life goes and now all Jared's friends are getting calls. Troy is going to be an amazing missionary. I still remember quite vividly how he said he was super pumped to serve a mission after my farewell. The 58 new missions thing is crazy! Me and my companion were looking at all of them and I was so pumped that they are making two more Arizona missions. But yeah the transfer has two weeks left and me and Elder Gundersen hope we can have one more at least together. But I've learned from experience that it doesn't always happen the way we like, so I just keep my fingers crossed (not literally, that would be crazy). Oh and by the way I'm the Journal King. I have never missed a day.
So this past week was super stressful, tiring, and just hard. It just seemed like appointment after appointment kept falling. Then we'd just have random challenges including: the person who did R.'s interview filled the form out wrong, our car died on Saturday night and we had to take it to Pep Boys, the man I interviewed in my old area didn't show up to his baptism, and just a lot of things that tried my patience. It all came to a peak on Sunday when I think Satan was trying his hardest to just bother me and my companion. But through all the hard stuff this week it still ended up being one of my favorite weeks of my mission because R. was baptized yesterday! I have been to quite a few baptismal services in my time but this one was so powerful.
R. has been through some hard trials in his life. He was born in Guinea, in Africa in the middle of war basically. They moved here to escape and Baltimore hasn't been rainbows and sunshine for this family either. We met with R.'s mom this week who is nice but really not interested. She related some hard things about R.'s life that maybe I'll have to tell you about one day but long story short, he was depressed, angry and suffering when the Elders here found him several months ago. But then his mom told us of how much change she's seen in him and she can't even believe it. It was so amazing to see the Spirit work in her.
So when the baptism came and he came out you could see some emotion (which isn't the norm). After drying off he came back and was asked to bear his testimony. I wasn't sure what to expect but it ended up being so powerful. One thing he said was,"I'm proud to say, honored to say, and so grateful to say that I'm a Mormon." It was amazing and his family was all affected strongly. His brother G. wants to be baptized so bad and his mom came and hugged us (we couldn't do anything, she's big).
I've learned that when the most important things in life are getting close (i.e. a choice to be baptized or serve a mission) Satan tries his hardest to get you down. But it all works out in the end. I love this Gospel and I'm so grateful for the life I've had thus far. I love you all so much.
-Elder Greene

Me and Elder Gundersen

Me and Felix (back in Baltimore!)

R.'s Baptism

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Baptism!

Buenas afternoon! (I'm coming up with some good bilingual phrases)
Well I don't know if I got you depressed yet that a letter wasn't coming, but here is your letter! Monday we couldn't e-mail and yesterday we had Zone Training and an exchange (more on this later) so we decided to nix the E-Mails until now. But yeah we had an awesome week this past week and to answer some questions, me and Elder Gundersen are Zone Leaders of Baltimore. He is from American Fork Utah. He has three younger siblings and his dad is a type 1 diabetic. (That is the tip of the iceberg on our similarities, hahah) Also we live with two Spanish Elders. They are good Elders they just don't like to speak Spanish if they aren't out proselyting so I don't really speak with them sadly.
But the good news is is that I just got back from Baltimore East, my first area! I was with an Elder that's been in the mission for 7 weeks, named Elder Green. He is a great missionary and it was trippy to see how similar his situation is to how mine was. But we did the exchange so that I could interview their investigator named T. He is a really cool 60 year old Mexican man. We had a lot of fun the past 24 hours, I got to spend time with Felix and talk to some of the members I knew. It's so weird to think it has been 5 months since my time there, a lot has changed! But Felix is moving to Utah in March so this may have been the last time I see him before I return to Utah eventually! But yeah basically everyone I talked to said something like, "you speak Spanish good now!" hahah
So little side note, we ate dinner with a real cool family that the Wards know. The Perrin family. Her parents live in their ward, the Curtis family. They were excited to find out I was the Ward's nephew, hahah.
So we will be having a baptism this Sunday! His name is R. He has been through huge changes to come this far and we are so excited to see him get baptized, I'll be sure to send pictures on Monday. D. and T. couldn't come to church so we had to postpone their baptism. But they are still super solid. We taught the Law of Chastity to them and T.'s sister S. S. didn't agree to live it, sadly. But D. and T. were all for it. D. said a closing prayer that was too classic, he said, "Thank you for letting the missionaries come and teach us about adultery, because I wasn't sure what it was, even though I wasn't doing it. Also please help S. with her sinful ways and her adulteryness. Also please bless the missionaries that they can get home in 5 and a half minutes" (we were running late, hahah)
Anyways I love being a missionary and this transfer is flying so fast it makes me kinda sad. I hope me and Elder Gundersen can stay together for another transfer at least. I loved your letters and I miss you all and pray for you guys. Have a great week!
-Elder Greene

PS thanks for the package! I loved it. And yeah I think its lactose intolerance but we'll see. I drink Almond milk, it doesn't have protein but its better tasting than real milk! But I"m going to try lactose free milk.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Transfer of Miracles

Hwut up Greene Family,

Sorry just practicing my English (Reformed Baltimore English).  So yeah it's been a crazy week but things are starting to become more familiar, just takes a while to start a new area and learn the streets, investigators, and the 800 members in the Jones Falls Ward, and some of my new duties haha. Although it's been a lot all at once, I have been so excited and happy this past week. I think it starts with Elder Gundersen, who I already know will be one of my favorite companions as well as a good friend after the mish. We have a ton in common and we have the same style of doing missionary work. We know this transfer will be a transfer of miracles! I also have my old area with two other Spanish areas in my Zone, of which I am personally responsible for! I can't wait to go on exchanges (Early March sadly) and see my old investigators and members. 

So I wanted to start out with a little interesting thing I figured out this week. I went on exchanges with the assistants the 3rd day I was here and I went with Elder Weeks. He's an awesome missionary by the way. Anyways I popped a pill for my heartburn and he asked what it was for and I said heartburn. Turns out he had a bunch of heartburn too before his mission, the doctors couldn't figure it out either. Then they did a lactose intolerance test (don't drink milk for a couple days basically) and that's what it was! So I did my own "test" and turns out I may be lactose intolerant because I haven't had heart burn in three days which is the longest I've gone in like a year and a half! (You know how much milk I drink) So I guess I'll be making a couple switches on my diet and when I want to drink milk or eat milk products I'll just take heart burn meds! But yeah kinda crazy?

So when I got to transfer meeting I asked Elder Weeks who was going to shotgun into Winchester. Then he told me they were closing the area for a while til they got new missionaries. I was pretty bummed, especially after all the work me and Elder Ocasio got done out there. But I had to suck it up and have faith that God's plan is a whole lot better than mine. I called some of the English Elders out there and gave them some of our investigators that could understand enough. Including E., who we met with the day before transfers. She is so awesome and I'll miss her a lot too. When we asked where she was at in the Book of Mormon she opened up to Mosiah 17! I know she will get baptized, it just takes time.

So this area is amazing and I already love everything about it. We are teaching some super solid people. One is the P. family. They just went to the temple visitors center before I came here and they said they wanted to be baptized so that they could go in the temple. D. and T. are their names. I could tell they missed Elder Peterson (the Elder I replaced) but thankfully I figured out D. likes golf a lot so we became friends right away. The other two who are preparing for baptism are R. and G. They are two brothers from New Guinea (west Africa). They know English, French, and two tribe languages. They are so cool and although they have had hard lives, they really want to be baptized and start a new leaf. 

Well I must say I loved Winchester but Baltimore is where all the fun stuff happens so be expecting the good stories again! Hahah, I love you all and I'm glad to hear you are healthy(er). 

Elder Greene

PS No se precupen, todavia tengo el corazon de un Hispano.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Hey we dropped into the Library to send you all an email real quick! I'm back in Baltimore (the nicer area) and man it brings back good memories!  Sirens, fried chicken, j-walkers, city buses, it's the best. Anyways, my address now is 507 Kenilworth Dr Apt T4 Towson, MD 21204. My companion is amazing and me and him are super stoked for this transfer (5 weeks by the way). We have 4 people on date for this month and I memorized the first vision in English this morning, hahah. Anyways, love you all and I'm sure I'll enjoy some good responses to my last letter this Monday, haha.

Elder Greene

PS- I'm writing this on a sweet big Mac computer!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Leaving Winchester... and Spanish?

Hello Greene Family,

How is everyone feeling? I am sad to hear that more people are getting sick but I will pray some more, no worries. I've been high and extra tired lately so maybe I'm fighting something but so far it's all good. I drank my first diet coke I've had in like years this week and now I know why mom loves that stuff so much. It's a magical brew of instant energy! That talent show sounds hilarious! I wish I could have been there but I'll watch the video tapes.

Well this week may have been one of the best weeks of my mission and it was a lot of hard work, but I have felt the spirit so strong these past couple days. My district had the best week they have had in maybe the past year as well! So Winchester is growing like crazy. This morning was callouts, Elder Ocasio leaves obviously and then the Zone Leaders told me that I'm staying so I was pretty relieved, but I didn't think I was getting transferred anyways... Then I got a call from President Richards 20 minutes later and he told me they are shotgunning my area and I'm going to Baltimore! I was blown away but I wanted to know which area in Baltimore so I asked (there are 4). I was told then I will be with Elder Gunderson (one of my favorite missionaries in the mission) in Loch Raven... speaking English.... as a Zone Leader. Hahah, it was the craziest thing ever. I kept telling President to quit messing around and he told me he doesn't kid about these things.
So all of this saying goodbye stuff to the members with Elder Ocasio suddenly takes a more personal tone! But if there's any week I wanted to end my time here it would be this past week.

One of the biggest miracles of this week and maybe of my mission was with Hermana G. She is one of our most solid members and I sometimes refer to her as my Spanish Mom (not to her face). We ate dinner with her on Saturday and after we started to share a message. I was suddenly prompted to ask an off topic question and her response was heartbreaking. She began to express feelings of loneliness and doubt in church leaders and it quickly escalated to the point where she was weeping and saying how she wouldn't go back. I felt crushed as we sat and just listened. Once again I was prompted to just open my mouth because up until that point, I still didn't know what to say. I don't remember what I said to her but I do remember the feelings I had and as well as my own tears coming pretty heavy. My companion supported my testimony and at that point it was time to leave for another appointment that we couldn't miss. We invited her to get on her knees that night and to pray. That day I prayed and thought about Hermana G. all day/night. The next morning I went to Winchester ward to translate and Elder Ocasio went to Shenandoah (The ward that she goes to). When we met back up after church Elder Ocasio began to tell me how Hermana G. came to church with her three sons! And she bore her testimony on the power of the Spirit and how now she knows she was wrong and Satan was tempting her. Elder Ocasio also said that she mentioned me a lot in her testimony. I wish I could of seen it but I got to feel the peace that she was ok. We'll also be seeing her tonight to just followup and make sure they're ok. (and to say goodbye!)

We also have another investigator named C. (and her husband O.), she has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot and she has really progressed. Last week she kinda avoided us, or so it seemed. We decided it was time to drop by yesterday and we were invited in and we just taught a simple message and listened to her thoughts. Her daughter was there too, she's like 22 or something. All of a sudden C. opened up a little more and told us that the reason she's been so busy is because her daughter was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was able to provide a lot of comfort and they cried a little but I could tell they had some more hope after we left. I know without a doubt that God directs this work, not man. President makes assignments as directed by Him. I know I was called to this area, at this time, for a reason. I am grateful for the opportunities I've had and for what I will have in the future.

I love you more and more every day. It is amazing to hear how much you all have grown, physically and spiritually. I miss you but I wouldn't trade this time I have for the world. Have a great week and I'll send you my address next week!

-Elder Greene

Jenny & Dennis, kids Jonathan and Christian, Reuben, and Esperanza

Me and Elder Ocasio

Me and Elder Rebaza (exchanges in Petersburg)