Monday, November 18, 2013

Grateful for FHE

... Why hello.
Well not sure what happened to the past week but I feel like I email you all every other day. Thanks for the birthday package! And thank you to all who sent me letters or cards! I loved the ties and it's nice to have a couple more pairs of socks. I like the shoes and they fit lengthwise, but they kinda slip off my heels... so not sure what to do on that one. I can maybe make them work but if there's a way to exchange them let me know. Anyways, I ended up having like 3 birthday meals, haha. The night before a family gave us steaks because they thought it was my birthday (I didn't have the heart to tell them it was the next day...), the 15th we ate a big turkey dinner with the "C"'s and then on Saturday President Flores and his family gave us Spaghetti and a cake of just strawberries and whipped cream. Hahah. Marcos also got me an awesome satchel bag from Guatemala. I love this branch.
Well they're splitting up the Green(e) family (not you all, me and my companion). Elder Green is going to Mount Airy speaking English and I'm staying to train a new Zone Leader. His name is Elder Hitchcock (Hispanics have a really hard time with his name.) I knew Elder Hitchcock when he got to the mission, because I was his first Zone Leader, hahah. I'm starting to feel a little old. But he's great and I'm pumped to stay here for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and work our tails off here. I love this branch more than I can express. This will be the area I have and will have spent the most time in!
Well since last week we really focused on those families that came to church after the activity (the "C"'s and the "C"/"D"). We saw the "C"'s on my birthday and there was a pleasant surprise waiting for us. Hermana "C" (we'll call her Abuela "C"), the mom of Hermano "C" came in to visit for a month! The most exciting part of it is that she is a super active member in El Salvador. So guess who's going to help our investigator get to church for the next 3-4 weeks? Hahah. We had a really amazing/interesting lesson after dinner. Hermana "C" (his wife) asked us two question that kinda took us off guard. 1- Where does it say that Jesus came to the Americas in the Bible, and 2- Why doesn't your church talk about the Virgin Mary more? Now these questions wouldn't have thrown me off normally but Hermana "C" is a member of several years (not too active). We answered her questions with the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and our testimonies of course. But the best part was when Hermano "C" explained these concepts as well, adding his own testimony of the Book of Mormon/Restoration. It was a very amazing spiritual experience and we finished by giving Abuela "C" a blessing of health because she's having some diabetes trouble.
The other family, the "C/D"'s, we visited on Saturday. We had set a Family night up with them and we were anxious to see how it went. There is a wide range of people in this house. The mom is a less active member who has a testimony, her boyfriend/husband is our investigator. The oldest son believes it all, he just doesn't come. The next two sons are teenagers and claim to be atheists. And the youngest is 7. So we decided to focus on prayer and the Holy Ghost. We did an activity similar to what we did in volleyball one time before a match, one person (in this case, the youngest) is blindfolded and he has to navigate obstacles without anyone first and then with only direction from his mom, but he has to ask for the direction. It helped everyone to see that if we don't pray we tend to bump into things and make more errors in life. But if we do pray we have a whole lot more direction and although we will still make mistakes sometimes, we can be put back on the path with some help. We then watched a Mormon Message called Origin. It was a sweet experience because we were able to invite all of them to pray to know if it's true as well as what they need to do next. Let me just add how grateful I am that we had FHE's when I was growing up!
I'm glad to hear you all are doing well and staying busy. I loved what you said about work mom. Yesterday we woke up at 5:30 for a 7:00 meeting and had meetings from then until 3:00, lunch was peanuts while driving, then we taught 5 lessons from then until 9, and finally did call outs and reporting until 10. We were pretty tired but I remember thinking, it's been an awesome day. I know that we can only have true happiness by working and giving our all, o sea (not sure how to translate this phrase), consecrating ourselves.
I love you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Greene

PS- I'm sure you'll ask me what I want for Christmas soon, not that I have any ideas really, but a calendar for 2014 would be awesome.

PPS I already got accepted to BYU so that's pretty cool. I changed my email on there to my mission email so I should know when I need to register for classes. Crazy stuff!

Proof that I opened it on my birthday!

Me and my gifts

Birthday dinner group

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Plan of Happiness=Smile!

Greetings Greene Family,

May I just start with a big thank you to all who sent me letters or emails for my Birthday. It still hasn't hit me at all that I will turn 21 this week but we'll see. I'm grateful for all the prayers and testimonies that have been given to help me and our investigators. I love you all! Well I must say that your 90 degree comment mom made me a leetle jealous. It's 37 degrees outside right now and it was snowing in the northern part of our area. Ridiculous. Your comments about the temple made me really excited for there to be a temple there in Gilbert. It looks amazing from the pictures I've seen.
I'm really sad to hear about Todd passing away. I loved Brother Smith, he was my scout leader when I was younger. I was actually thinking about him and wondering how he was doing the other day because we passed by a map store and I remembered that he worked in a map store. Let his family know that I'm sorry and that I'll be praying for them.

Well we actually did kinda celebrate my birthday yesterday. We went to Baltimore by bus! It was way sweet. Elder Green and I ate at Cheesecake factory for lunch as a gift to myself and then we went to all our favorite spots in the hood. I took some good pics. It really did kinda feel homey to be back and just roam around. (Elder Green and I both started in the same area so we both knew where we were going and what we wanted to do). But when we got back I was a little down. Being in Columbia makes you forget how sad life is down there in that city. I meditated a lot about God's plan for us last night and this morning. I really do know that God's plan is perfect, and that even though the world may seem like utter chaos sometimes, he is in control. I'm grateful that all men and women will have a chance to hear of this gospel.
Having Elder Carlson in our mission this week was amazing. He gave amazing instruction to us that I plan on using for the rest of my mission and afterwards. We talked a lot about consecrating ourselves. I really liked that and it's given me more desire to try harder and to sacrifice more. Another great comment he made was,"How can you expect to convince and testify of the Plan of Happiness if you never smile? Lets get it together people, Smile!" Hahah, how true that is. Elder Carlson is an amazing man and was serving as a 11 year old primary instructor when he was called! It's incredible how God works.
Well this week we had an awesome activity where families of the branch brought investigator families over for dinner and then we all came together at the church to watch Finding Faith in Christ and drink hot chocolate. The activity was a huge success and we had 7 investigators, 3 less actives and some of their under baptismal age kids. The Spirit was amazing and it helped a ton because the next day at Sacrament meeting 5 of the 7 investigators came to church. 3 are in the Hermana's area but the other 2 were Hermano "C" (who also came to clean the building on that same morning, he's a boss) and "D". "D" is the husband (that's Spanish for boyfriend) of a less active. It was such an amazing day. In addition to those two, Hermano "V" came again this week. I really believe he is on his way to being active again in the church!
We had another tender mercy this week as well. We got a call from our Branch President this week. There was a referral sent in from English members that there is a Spanish mormon family where they live, not on record. So we went to check it out. When we got to their house (I should say mansion, this thing was big, definitely not where me and Elder Green are used to going) she let us right in and her husband was there too. They are both older and are from Mexico. They were baptized 15 years ago in Utah and have lived here for 2 months but didn't really know where the chapel was. On top of it all, their son isn't baptized! So they are a new focus and we are super pumped to get to know them and help their son.
We're trying to save some time considering it's Tuesday so I'm cutting it a little shorter. I love you all, thanks for everything.
-Elder Greene
PS Well you are in luck, I actually found out my go-home day this week because we were helping in the office this week and Sister Pascoe was showing us the transfer days. So the next two transfer days are Nov. 20 and Jan. 1. My transfer day is May 7, so I would most likely get home May 8 (they be cutting me a day short of my mission! Not fair at all, hahah).

PPS I bought another bike that's 700x better. I took $20 off of my mission card so I used my home card for $20 of expenses to make up for it. Kinda hard to explain but anyways, I have a nice bike and all is taken care of. Plus I'll be able to sell it for more than I bought it for and make up the money for the dumb bike I bought, hahah.

Hometown of Highlandtown, must have cleaned up trash recently... Bummer

Backyard of old apartment

Studying da bus routes

Monday, November 4, 2013

One of the More Miraculous Weeks

Hey Family (and all others who choose to read this),
How is everyone doing? I haven't asked in a while, is your toe healed mom? No more boot? Just curious. Sounds like you all are keeping busy, I really liked your scripture mom (Alma 37:34). I don't think I've noticed that before either but I love it. I've met a lot of people on my mission that went inactive because they were just tired or weary of doing everything. I think many times we think we need to be perfect or attain a certain level of perfectness to return and live with God. But really we need to do our best to become like Christ and renew our covenants, and he promises us eternal life, not like some distant far off gift, but it is nearly in our grasp.
This week we ended up going to the church building on Halloween night and playing basketball and volleyball. I was rusty, I think it's been about 6 months or so since I last played, maybe more. But we had a lot of fun and the next day we were all super sore. But no I didn't really eat any candy really, although the day after Halloween Elder Green and I were walking for about an hour and we found 9 different sealed candy bars. Kids just don't take care of their candy like they used to... hahah. On another note, my health continues to improve and I'd say at this point my numbers are better than they were before my mission. My average over 45 days or so for blood sugars is 130 so thats nice. It makes it a lot easier to focus and just feel good!
This week may have been one of the more miraculous weeks of my mission. I've told you several times about Hermano "V", a less active man who hasn't come to church in over 4 years. Well this past Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with him and our Ward mission leader. The Spirit was just amazing and when we invited him to come to church, he said he would. The whole week we prayed for him and sent him messages some nights just to see how he's doing (he gets almost weekly surgeries for cancer). Come Sunday, I was just waiting to see him. 10 minutes before sacrament meeting starts, in walks his wife and two daughters. I walked over and shaked their hands and Hna "V" looks at me with the biggest smile and says,"He's here Elder." I looked up and in he walks with his shirt and tie! I couldn't stop smiling and everyone in the branch came and shook his hand or gave him hugs. During testimony meeting his younger daughter (12 years old) bore a powerful simple testimony. And I don't know if it was planned or not, but his older daughter (14 years old) gave the closing prayer in Sacrament. She asked in her prayer that all those who were able to come today would be able to come again next week. He stayed all three hours and his wife thanked me after church for all that we had done. We really didn't do much but I know that Heavenly Father was able to touch his heart when we visited him, and I am so grateful that we were able to watch that change take place.
On top of that amazing miracle, the whole "C" family came to church, "D" (another less active we have been working with), and Hermano "R" (same story as "D") all came. 3 of the members that bore their testimonies had been reactivated in the past 3 months. I don't think I stopped smiling yesterday, hahah.
Earlier in the week, we saw "J". He's a 20 year old from Peru, he's just a real good guy. We had an amazing Restoration lesson with him this week and he was feeling the Spirit big time. We have another lesson with him tonight and I'm praying he'll continue to progress.
This week we also will be hearing a Seventy speak to us, Elder Carlson. I'm really excited and I'll be sure to let you know what he instructs on.
Well I love you and I'm grateful for your letters and your prayers. Please keep Hermano "V" in your prayers that he can continue to progress.
Elder Greene
PS How is the house doing these days? We teach a super awesome less active family that is building a house and I told them about 2 months ago that you are too. So now they always ask how my new house is going and I never know what to say, hahah.

Elder Green's birthday salmon

I Ate Both of These Guys