Monday, December 30, 2013

Spanish in a Nigerian Accent?!

Feliz Ano Nuevo!
How was Christmas?? Sounded like everyone had a good time. I had an awesome Christmas. We went to the temple like I told you and did traffic control. It was really cold and those hand warmers saved my life. It was so much fun though! I talked with a lot of people while I was carrying my lighted baton and directing stuff. I made sure all the Hispanics received a warm,"Feliz Navidad" when they came in, hahah. Two things surprised me while I was out there. 1- There are a ton on people that aren't from this country that go to the temple. 2- Way more people aren't LDS than I thought that visit the temple. Pretty awesome!
Well I'm sure you all are wondering where I am going because of transfers this week. It's going to be really hard to say goodbye to this branch. But good thing I don't have to worry about that for another 6 weeks because I'm staying! Hahah. The assistants joked that they are going to move my records from Arizona to Columbia. I'm pumped to be here still!
So I went on an exchange this week and we had some awesome miracles. We went to a Nigerian man's house to visit him because he had recently moved to a different area in the Ward. He is less active and his family is all in Nigeria. So we went over and because my second favorite race is Africans we hit it right off! Then he surprised me when he found out I spoke Spanish and started speaking broken Spanish in a Nigerian accent! Turns out he lived in Mexico for a year and was baptized there. Super awesome guy, the coolest part was that he came to church yesterday!
Same exchange, we go to a house where these Elders had set an appointment with the husband a week before. They've never met missionaries before. We go in and they were amazingly prepared. They both are going through struggles but really feel like something is missing. We set expectations and talked about the Spirit. When I shared John 14:26 the husband said that he was feeling the Spirit and that he knows that this is what their family needs right now. Huge miracle!

While I was gone on my exchange, Elder Hitchcock had a great lesson with the "C's". They really felt the Spirit and they all ended up coming to Church on Sunday. It was a huge tender mercy. It's amazing how the Spirit can touch people's lives and help them to change.
Well this week will be a wild one to see the least. Meetings, transfers, and 2 days of no proselyting (new years eve/day). I love these kind of weeks though. It shakes it up and keeps us on our toes, hahah. I hope you all have a great new year. I can't believe how fast time flies, Collin's leaving, Ava's baptized, and Connor is on his last transfer! 2014 seems like it could be a interesting one for all of us! I love you all!
Elder Greene
Side note: I went to the doctor, she's really cool. I told her I didn't do as good on my diet the past two week because of Holiday goodies and she understood. They took my A1C so we'll see what it is, I'll let ya know. She still wants me to consider going on that Dexcom continuous glucose thing. It sounds cool but I know you said it's lame so maybe I'll just worry about it later. I think the other diabetic in our mission has one so I'll ask him. Let me know your thoughts. Also, she said you should try and get an appointment for me for an endocrinologist in Arizona sometime in June/July. And last thing, the nurses said I can tape up the needles in boxes and trash them, so I guess I'll just do that?
Side note 2: Do I need to do anything with school yet? Like apartment stuff or registering for classes? Let me know.
Side note 3: I still didn't get the whole story with Jared's crash! (Jared was in a minor car accident in Provo (snow, someone else's car, awesome)

Christmas Eve setup

These things saved my life!

This picture is both to say thanks for the DVDs and to show how sweet this Indian sweater is. I call it "El Lamanita."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Greene Family!
Well I'm not sure what happened to all the months between July and November but it is actually Christmas this week. Crazy. I'm super excited though, it's going to be a great week. On Tuesday we are going to be pretty busy with members, and on Wednesday we had some stuff going on but now we have a different opportunity. The mission has asked us and 6 other Elders in our Zone to go and direct traffic at the DC temple on Christmas. So from 4:30 to 8:30pm we will be celebrating Christmas in the best way possible, doing service on the driveway of God's house! So we will need to make our call time slightly earlier. Would 1 be ok? So 11 your time? Respond quick, because if not I need to call you again today (don't get any ideas mom).
This week was super fun actually! We had our mission Christmas Devotional/Party on Friday. At 8:15 am me and Elder Hitchcock arrived to start setting up (because they use our Stake Center for all the mission activities). At 1:30 the Devotional started and at 7:00 we left to go proselyte! We were beat, hahah. But it was so fun. Dennis Pitta came again and Elder Aubrey told me his wife is from Gilbert so I was talking to her for a little bit too. She said she dated Craig Breinholt for a bit, hahah. Anyways, there was a devotional segment that was really powerful and afterwards a talent show and of course a ton of food. We had a good time. It was interesting to see how the mission has all grown in the past 4 months. I had a great time talking with Elder Green and Elder Knudsen!
The next morning we got to help a less active family move. It was fun moving stuff with them because they brought friends and when a lot of Hispanics are together they talk differently than how they talk to missionaries. So I learned a lot of new vocab, hahah. The mom in the family actually invited her brother who is really inactive and we were able to talk to him a lot during the day. So we're hoping this is the start of helping him to open up to the missionaries again (he hasn't let missionaries come over in almost a year).

Last night we had our Branch Christmas Activity and it was funny. They had me and Elder Hitchcock put on Antlers and run around like Reindeer. Everyone was laughing like crazy. I was just glad they didn't call us up to sing!
This week I went on exchanges up north in Reisterstown. We taught a bunch of people but one lesson that I thought was pretty cool was teaching this guy named "B". "B" is 91 years old and is a World War 2 Veteran! I thanked him for his service and he said, "no thank you for supporting us, we couldn't have done it without the food and ammo... well maybe thank your parents I guess." I thought to myself, I would have to thank my great grandparents, but hey no worries, hahah. We had a good Restoration lesson with him, so hopefully he continues to progress!
I love this time of year. I am so grateful for my knowledge and testimony of the Saviour Jesus Christ. I hope that you all have an amazing Christmas. I will see you and talk to you on Wednesday!
I love you all! Feliz Navidad!
Elder Greene

PS So I will be sending a package today, I probably won't wrap anything so just open it when you get it I guess, hahah.
PPS Yeah Elder Aubrey came to my area this time, so he learned some Spanish. And the sisters waited for 6 months for visas to Argentina.

Oh Christmas lamp Oh Christmas lamp how lovely are thy light bulbs!

Soy un venado de lluvia, jajaj
(I am a reindeer)

Monday, December 16, 2013

How Can We Help You Spiritually?

Well hello Greene Family!
Thanks for all the letters! So funny story, I was typing e-mails to send to Jared and Macey and right after the fire alarm went off at the library. I just kept going to see if they would just shut it off but then the intercom came on and they said "Get out, this is not a drill!" Hahah so we left and came to a different library after grabbing some lunch. Anyways, funny stuff.
Glad to see Jared won the Division two tournament! (BYU co-ed volleyball) That's way cool, do you get a shirt? It's funny, we saw President Richards on Sunday morning and he looked at me and said,"I saw that someone manages your facebook while you are out here." I replied "yeah it's my dad." President says,"That's cool, I was looking at your pictures and you seem to be a pretty good volleyball player! I really liked the St. George tournament." Hahahah I was laughing, my own mission President facebook stalked me. Hopefully there isn't anything on there that is compromising...
I got another funny part of the week before I get into the nitty gritty. So we were teaching a new investigator named "C". He's an interesting guy from Honduras. We started to do some "How to Begin Teaching" and my companion asked, "C", how can we help you spiritually?" He thought for a couple seconds and responded,"I need a new jacket, I'm a triple XL." He's a work in progress, hahah.
This week we were on exchanges (actually I was with Elder Aubrey) and we had some awesome miracles. The first happened with the "S"'s, a less active family. We got in and we wanted to talk about the meaning of Christmas and the Atonement. So we started and I realized it would be good to focus on the kids because everyone needs to be taught simply and these kids haven't been to church in a long time. They are 11 and 7, but haven't been to church since the older got baptized. Anyways I ask them, so what did the Savior do for us? Blank faces, so I explain that he died for our sins. Blank faces, so I ask, what is sin? Blank faces, alright what is a commandment? Nothin. Alright so we explain the basics and then explain that Christmas time we remember Jesus Christ and what he did for us. Then we taught them to pray. It was a really cool experience and Hermano "S" was super grateful afterwards. We now will be going over every week to teach his kids/him.
Same night we are going back towards the house but we had time to see one more person. I knew there were several people we could try but I decided to go see an investigator named "P" that we were getting close to dropping because he won't keep commitments. So we go over and I ask him if he read the pamphlet that we left him. Nope. Well I was a little crestfallen (that's a word right?) but I thought, alright last shot. We introduced the Book of Mormon. After explaining that it isn't another version of the new testament and that it's an ancient record of God's dealings in the Americas, he just changed instantly. He started asking tons of questions and even said, this makes a lot of sense. The Spirit was testifying really strongly to him and I believe this will be the start of him becoming converted!
Despite the weather it's been an awesome week. On Tuesday we walked about 10 miles in the snow, that was an adventure. Then on Saturday we got grounded again at night and me and Elder Hitchcock walked a couple miles on the median of a freeway to get to a member's home in the pouring icy rain. It was no joke one of the highlights of my week! As we walked back from the members home I felt so good. The rain was coming down hard and the temperature was about 30 but me and Elder Hitchcock just laughed as we walked for an hour to get home. I love being a missionary!!
Well I hope you all have a good time having Jared home! This week we have a mission Christmas party and a Branch Christmas party as well. Oh and the Sisters in our branch got their visas to go to Argentina so me and Elder Hitchcock will be getting a swarm of new investigators and a whole lot more busy (trust me we are already busy). Should be an interesting week!
I love you all!
-Elder Greene

PS So I have a bunch of the old pods and I'm not sure what to do with them? Trash them? Keep them? Send them home? Sell them to drug addicts? Let me know.

Missionaries and President Flores family (we went to temple lights with several investigators)

Our investigator "M" (kind of, she leaves in January to Argentina so we can't really do much) Her mom and her sister are members in Argentina so hopefully she gets baptized there!

Me and Hermano Hernandez, Elders Quorum President

Monday, December 9, 2013

Staying "Uphill"

Dear Greene Family,

Well I almost couldn't e-mail you today but it worked out! They shut down the library until 12 today. Yesterday it snowed a couple inches here in Columbia. Maryland is funny, if it snows, they shut down everything. Anyways it's been an interesting preparation day, hahah. So, crazy how everyone is getting old! I can't believe Macey can get her permit and that Ava is getting baptized soon (Grandpa told me that one). Also that's cool the house is coming along. I kinda hope it's done after I get back so I can help move and stuff, hahah.

So yeah the snow yesterday made things interesting. First they grounded all our cars, so we had to get a ride to church with members. Then once we got there we just had sacrament and then went home, no talks or anything. We ended up going straight from the church to President Flores house to cook/eat dinner. It was a good time. Then the rest of the day we walked in snow to get to appointments. But it was like 25 degrees, definitely higher than 12 (sorry Jared)! Elder Hitchcock and I had a lot of fun hahah. Also, we couldn't report at night because it wasn't possible to get to the church without a car so it was the first day in about 10 months that I got home before 10:15 on a Sunday! Good times. Thankfully they gave us back our cars this morning.

This past week we had a really awesome miracle. The assistants had contacted a Spanish guy earlier last week and gave us his information. We went by and set an appointment with his wife. When we went over we were able to have a really amazing lesson with them. They both want to learn more and are possibly going to come to the temple lights this Sunday! We've been praying to find families to teach so this was cool answer to our prayers!

We also had a really effective Branch activity this week. It was a Christmas piano recital with all the youth. There were 4-5 non members there as well as some less actives! We all ate after and I got talking to a man named "I". He was invited by a woman in our branch who watches his daughter during the day sometimes. He taught Spanish in the Military and he flipped out when I told him I learned Spanish in the streets of Baltimore. We had a good chat and he might be coming to the temple too! Simple invitations to activities are great ways to do missionary work!

I went on an exchange this past Saturday and we were teaching a really cool family in an English ward. I was getting to know them and they asked me how long I've been out. (Not my favorite question) I told them a year and a half, and she said,"Oh you're on the downhill slope now!" I've been told that several times now and I've been thinking about that phrase the past couple weeks. Really, I don't want, nor do I plan to have my last 6 months be downhill. I honestly want these last months to be the most uphill part of my whole mission! I'm grateful for all the things I've learned on my mission and I'm excited to learn more! So next time you have an old missionary in the Ward tell him to work his tail off until the end, and there's no such thing as downhill hahah.

Well these next couple weeks will be busy but I really do love this time of year. I think one of my goals this month will be to make sure I take time to take it all in that it's Christmas time and what that means. Being a missionary makes life move so fast sometimes that we forget to slow down and remember what it's all about!

I love you all!

Elder Greene

PS.To answer a couple questions, yeah I got my pods, which was a tender mercy because I got them the day before my last pod expired, hahah. Also, you can add everyone on Facebook as a friend and if there are weirdos I'll delete them when I get back. Members take pictures sometimes and want to tag us in their pictures. 

PPS We'll be skyping/facetiming again this year (60 minutes). I'll call you sometime the week before Christmas to set it up as far as what time, etc. Love ya!

PPPS Mom is there anything I can get for the kids that would be cool for Christmas that only I could get out here? Let me know and I can make a package for the fam.

Master Rakers

Outside our apartment this morning

Ready to Walk to our Appointment in the Snow!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Surprise Packages

Greene Family (and friends),

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Sounds like it was good. Any turkey taquitos? I'll talk about my Thanksgiving in a bit. This week was an awesome and really busy one for me, but busy weeks are good weeks, especially in missionary work!

Let me just say my Thanksgiving was awesome. We did service in the morning raking leaves and then we ate with the "R" family for lunch/dinner and then we all got up and went to the "V"'s house for dinner round 2. (It was my day off from diabetes, hahah) We couldn't proselyte so we got to stay and hang out with the members which was a ton of fun, lots of laughs. The "R"'s and the "V"'s both have priest age boys that are competitive in sports and things like that. So when they played ping pong I couldn't resist playing. I started off by saying that I haven't played in about a year so I'm rusty. Then I went undefeated for a half hour, skunked my companion (11-0) and eventually got tired and gave up my paddle. The priests weren't too happy, hahah. 

This week we did exchanges with our new district leader and then immediately afterwards we switched and did exchanges with the assistants. Then once we switched back from that exchange it was Thanksgiving. The next day we had leadership training in Frederick and on Saturday we had to get all the planning things done that we didn't get done during the week. (Which was why when we heard a knock on the door in the early afternoon we were surprised. I got up all quick like, kinda like how Jared did in his younger years to chase people that wrung our doorbell, and I saw a package from the Greenes and Neilsens. We jogged down the stairs and said hi to Stanton and Amanda. Their kids are all grown up! Thanks a bunch if you're reading this! But anyways, great surprise, sorry for the long side story) And Sundays are just always busy. So it was a blur.

Last funny story, so it's late like 10:20pm and I'm reading my scriptures, just getting ready for bed. We get a call from Eldersburg Elders who I know are on exchanges and our district leader is there. So I thought, hmm, hopefully nothings wrong. I answer and its not my district leader, it's Elder Aubrey (not sure if I've mentioned that Elder Aubrey is in my zone, he's awesome)(Elder Aubrey is from a neighboring ward in our stake). He says,"Guess what Elder Greene! I finally hit 200 lbs!" I laughed my head off because Elder Aubrey has had that goal for a while now. Missions are great.

This week our branch had a baptism. The Hermanas have been working with a less active woman who's daughters are all not members. Her oldest daughter decided to be baptized. It was a great baptism and Elder Hitchcock and I were able to be the witnesses, as well as participate in her confirmation. It's never ceases to amaze me how the Gospel changes lives. And now her younger sister is preparing for baptism!

I love this time of year. Someone said it really well yesterday in our branch. During the Christmas season, if you're normally happy, you are more happy. If you're normally depressed, you are even more depressed. I really think that this time of year is an amazing opportunity to do the Work of Salvation. People are open and accepting. I know that this restored gospel can bless people's lives more than anything else, money, food, clothes, etc. And I'm so grateful to be a missionary and be able to dedicate by time to giving that gift! We have seen a lot of new investigators coming and we're excited to see what this week brings! I love you all and I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Greene

PS So I need more pods sent out, as soon as you can. I have a bunch of the old ones but only a few of the newer ones.

PPS I looked at your PMG assignment mom. It's not such an easy topic when teaching to members haha. But I like to focus on God's love is the reason we have a fall, a creation and an atonement, when teaching to investigators. The only other thing that I can think of is comparing the Apostacy and the need for a Restoration to a Fall and a need for an Atonement. But I won't lie, I didn't have a lot of time to think about it, hope it goes well!

Christmas stuff, not sure. I'm good on clothes. Calendar with pictures of you all would be great! .... Hmm yeah nothing else is coming to mind. I'll try and meditate a little more on it, but I might be worse than Jared or Macey on this one. Love ya!

Me gusta chumpe!

A Member gave us ties from Peru!

Making Sacrament Sacred

Hola Familia Verde,
Well let me just start off my letter by saying it's amazingly cold here. Our car thermometer said 25 at one point yesterday. I think I'm about ready to team up with Rudolph and go find the Heat Miser and arrange something. But it sounds like you all are doing pretty good, so I'm happy. I really like you're Family mission plan ideas Dad. It sounds like the Work of Salvation is alive and well out there in Gilbert! Let me know when our neighbor Gary has a baptismal date! hahah.
Well it was harder to say goodbye to Elder Green than I thought. After 4 months of serving together everything becomes pretty fluid and we became really good friends. The good thing is that Elder Hitchcock is a an awesome missionary. He is from Idaho, he talks a lot about horses and he sings a ton. He's always excited and the members love him so it'll be good transfer!
I'll start with a funny story (kind of). So we (me and Elder Green) found a guy on the street a couple weeks back named Santana and he said that we could come back another day. So we tried by a couple days ago and as we're knocking the door Elder Hitchcock asks who is this? I told him he's a man we found named Santana. He responds, wow that sounds kinda like Satanas (Satan in Spanish). I chuckled. A few moments later Santana answers and I look at him and say Como esta Satanas- Uh Santana? He responds and we set a time to come by another day. But yeah I called a potential investigator Satan. I blame Elder Hitchcock, hahah.

On Tuesday night, before Elder Green left, we visited Hermano "V". He's been coming back to church and really making big changes. After our lesson he paused and he said, Elders, I just want to thank you for all that you have done. I really needed someone like you two to come and help me realize what's important. I know now that I need to be in church with my wife and daughters, and that's what I plan on doing from now on. His wife and daughters' mouths dropped and me and Elder Green just smiled from ear to ear. I'm so grateful that God gave us such an amazing miracle to watch happen. I know that the Spirit changed his heart. I also know that this is according to the Lord's timing as well, Hermano "V" has cancer in his eye and in his back. He also went to the hospital last week for a heart condition. They've burned three tumors in his back already. Yet he continues to work and come to church when the recovery process allows him to. Keep him in your prayers!
Elder Hitchcock and I visited Hno "H" this week. He said something that I thought was really profound. Talking about the Sacrament he said, "I just don't understand the need to have out iPads and phones during sacrament. Many times I've seen members pull out those things during the most important thing they do each week. If we were with the Savior before his crucifixion, taking the bread and the water at the last supper, would we pull out our phone? Definitely not!" (All my quotes are roughly translated, just so ya know). I thought a lot about that and he's right. We really are performing an ordinance during that sacrament meeting. We wouldn't pull out our phone while we are being baptized or confirmed either. Anyways, I don't share this to come down on anyone, more that it just really strengthened my testimony of the importance of the Sacrament and making it sacred.
One last cool experience. We have some neighbors who live on the second level and are always on their porch, smoking. When we first moved in, Elder Green and I would always be friendly and say hi as we walked by. At first they kinda just mumbled hi back and kept doing whatever they were doing. But day by day and week by week they became more and more friendly as we walked by. We started talking to them about bikes, the Ravens, and soon it was about their past and religious beliefs. This week they invited us in and we were able to share a little bit of the restored gospel. Although they aren't Spanish and we will have to pass them to other Elders, I really thought it was cool to see how just being nice can soften people's hearts.
Well I'm not going to lie, I'm pumped for Thanksgiving. They announced that we aren't allowed to proselyte during the whole day so we will be spending the day with members. I'll let you know what happens and we'll take some pictures. One things for sure though, I'm not going to eat as much as I did last year, hahah. Well I love you and appreciate you all. I say it a lot but I'm so grateful for the family I was blessed with and the example they are to me.
Elder Greene

The Elders Green(e) and Hermano "V"