Monday, November 29, 2010

Snowy Scotland

Dear Family,
Guess what? As you could see from the pictures that I sent home, it snowed here in Scotland starting last Wednesday and it hasn't stopped since really. As of now we have about a foot of snow everywhere and the worst part is that we drive a car not really fit for the snow. In fact almost everyone's car isn't fit for the snow. Most people drive cars and there are very few trucks and SUVs. Plus, people aren't really used to snow in Elgin. Last year was the first time they really had several weeks of snow. Usually it doesn't. So it was a surprise to everyone that it snowed. So it has been interesting the past couple of days. We have been very limited as to where we can go and we are hoping though that we can use this weather to our advantage for example so people can have sympathy on us and let us in. It hasn't really worked so far, but we will really try it out this week. So to be blunt, this week has been quite hard as we continue to try and help those investigators that we have. We still haven't been able to meet with Sister Thomas, although we are hoping that we can have family home evening at a members house with them this evening. We haven't met with Brother Nain either. His daughter is till ill and he is busy comforting her along with his busy work schedule. We really hope that she gets better soon. They are going back to the hospital tomorrow and hopefully they will soon find out why she is so ill. Brother Waterson seems to be doing better. We still have difficulty having him quit drinking tea and smoking cigars, but I hope that he stops soon. On the other hand he seems to be reading much more and yesterday we gave him a baptismal calender and went through some qualifications to be baptized that are found on page 204 of PMG that you could look up, but I think we took a step in the right direction as he is now praying to know that he should be baptized on December 11. I just really hope that he is willing to act on the answer that he receives. The good thing about him though is that as soon as he promises that he will be baptized, he will go through with it. I just hope that he gets that spiritual witness and determination to be baptized.
We had a great meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday. We left on Wednesday to go to Aberdeen and it took us 2 1/2 hours to get there. Mind you it's only 60 miles away, but will all the snow that came down. We had to travel there very slowly. Then we got up at 4 on Thursday and left about 5:30 to go to Edinburgh. The roads were still bad until we got to about Dundee, then we got there on time, thankfully(the meeting started at 9). Then we had to travel back to Elgin afterwards. We left about 5 and got back at about a quarter to 10. It was a long day. Nonetheless, i enjoyed the meeting and we really start applying it this week and we are really going to be trying a lot harder. The things we talked about were the Book of Mormon, Prayer, and some other things. Nonetheless, these two elements are our very best tools in conversion along with the Spirit of course.
In other things that happened, on Tuesday we met with a man named Henry. He's in his 20s and to give some background, he studied theology and teaches religious education in the schools. So he was quite knowledgeable in all things religion wise, but it was still an amazing lesson where we taught the Plan of Salvation to him. It was amazing how many idea came into my head in how to explain different parts of it and we both felt like he understood it and is now aware of our views. I just hope that he earnestly about the Book of Mormon to know that is true. Yesterday we planned on going out to President Johson's for lunch. Oh yeah, because of all the snow, church was canceled (1st time ever in my life that has happened). Know President Johnson lives in the mountains near Glenlivet. So this would be like driving up to Mount Charleston in a mild snow storm when the roads weren't really plowed in a put-put car. We eventually decided not to go for fear that we would likely, very likely, get stuck somewhere. We were glad that we didn't go because it continue to snow yesterday.
So we continue to treck on and hope that through our efforts that we bring people closer to Christ. I hope that everyone is staying warm and now enjoying the Christmas Season. Oh and I did receive a Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday at Zone Conference. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, yorkshire puddings, veg, and apple pie. It was good and later we had McDonalds. Pretty good hugh? Hopefully i can find something good to send home to you. I hope everyting goes well for everyone and that Michelle and Matt have a wonderful time preparting for finals that are coming up quickly.

Elder Buxton

Lady Hill Monument in Elgin at night

Lady Hill Monument

Bridge on the way to Edinburgh

Elgin at night

Snow in Elgin

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting Colder

Dear Family,

How are you doing? I am doing well. We had a zone conference in Dundee on Tuesday that we had to drive to. So we were supposed to be there at 8:30 in the morning. We were to drive from Elgin there in the morning. So we woke up at 4 to leave by 5 which we did. We printed off some directions from Google to take us the direct route to Dundee through the mountain basically instead of traveling from Aberdeen and then to Dundee. So we went off driving, got lost a couple of times which delayed. Combine that with some spin outs, all equates to being late. In fact we arrived at the chapel at 9:40. The conference started at 9, but we didn't miss much, just some videos they watched. Thankfully we were in time to receive some instruction before we went home at 4 in the afternoon. This time we went home via Aberdeen. To say the least, we arrived home safely and much faster than that morning. It was an adventure to say the least. I believe we were protected though as we were traveling, especially when we spun out a couple of times (ie. fast speed + ice on side of road + mountains + twisty roads = spin out). Also did I mention that I was driving? Well I was, so no need to fear, we're alright and so is the car. It was a good thing that no one was around. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't be writing right now. On Thursday we have another zone conference this time in Edinburgh. We are driving Wednesday night to Aberdeen and then staying the night before driving there Thursday morning. This time we'll take the dual-carriage ways (4 lane highway, meaning fast) from Aberdeeen to Edinburgh so it shouldn't take us very long, unless we get lost in Edinburgh which would be a problem.

I'm sending home a picture from this months Ensign. Elder Erickson is in it on page 49 which this is picture is that I'm sending home. Isn't that neat that my companion is in the Ensign? It was taken of course when he was still in Ireland. It's from the recent stake conference in Dublin and there happened to be this guy who takes pictures for the Ensign and he had them line up and walk as if they were going to stake conference. I know it looks like all the Elders are chasing a sister missionary, but her companion got cut out. This pretty much make him famous. In fact he has even signed a few for the members. That's a fact. Maybe he'll sign your one day.

So in other news, we had a tough week. It seems that whenever we try to see our investigators, something comes up or they aren't in, or something else. So we were left to do some finding. The problem is that a lot of Elgin has been tracting already by Elder Stewart the 4 months that he was here. So I'm trying to figure out where the best places are to find. I think that we'll have to go to some of the the small towns and villages around Elgin and try them. Hopefully we'll find some people to teach out there. So to fill you in on some of our investigators. Brother Nain I think really likes us. He talks quite a bit to us on the phone when we call him, more than he did when we first met him. Brother Waterson is still struggling with the Word of Wisdom. We continue to try and convince him to throw it all away, but he never seems to do it. He continues to read from the Book of Mormon and he came to church on Sunday, which was marvelous. I felt that the speakers were really talking at him. I hope that he took their messages to heart and will make the necessary changes. We still haven't met with Sister Thomas. We have called a few times, but always seems to be busy. Her son still wants her to be baptized. Hopefully he can continue to help her along. We have started teaching some other now as well. They are Stuart, Scott, and Paulo. Hopefully they will read from the Book of Mormon and pray and find out that it is true.

This week we're really going to try and make contact with some less-actives to try and re-activate them and see if they know anyone that we can teach. We have identified some that we plan on going by and hopefully they will be kind enough to let us come in. So hopefully we can continue to further His work along.

So, what do you want for Christmas? The only things that I can think of for me would be the things that I have said already plus warm socks and maybe even candy corn and a butterfinger. That would be great. Thank you for being so supportive and I hope that you all have a nice thanksgiving. i hope we get fed something nice at zone conference. Maybe that's why there is one so that we can have a thanksgiving dinner. Well, maybe. I can hope. I love you all. It's getting colder and colder. This morning it was 2 degress C, but we haven't had any snow yet in Elgin. There supposed to be snow this week in the mountains and places where President Johnson lives and in Keith. Hopefully the roads will be cleared. And yes I have been to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple. That's where Sam was endowed.

Elder Buxton

Elder Erikson, Jeff's companion. This picture is also on page 49 on the November 2010 Ensign

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Companion

Dear Family,
How are you doing? I am doing well. My companion is Elder Erickson from Declo, Idaho. He is great. I am the senior companion which I am somewhat getting used to. It's sometimes a challenge to make decisions as to what to do, but I am working on gettng better. We still switch off everyday so that Elder Erickson can learn the area better. In fact, I don't know it completely well. I still turn to the map often to know how to get to places, but the more that I am here, the more familiar it will become. We will have a challenge tomorrow since we have a zone conference in Dundee and neither of us have ever been there with the exception of taking a train through there on the way to Aberdeen. No worries though since we will print off the directions and hopefully get there. It will be fun though. I hope that you enjoy the pictures I am sending home. We went to the driving range a couple of weeks ago to hit some balls. It was fun. There is also a picture of my district last moves. The tall one is Elder Bland, my former district leader. The one of me and another elder is of me and Elder Manning who is normally in Inverness. We were on exchanges on Tuesday and took a picture in our flat in Elgin. The others are of when we went to Duffus Castle again and a rainbow that was very vibrant, but the picture doesn't do it justice. There is one of Elder Manning and Elder Sindylek, my new district leader from the Czech Repbulic. His English is quite good as well. I believe that we will be in good hands with him. Oh and there were some higland cows next to the driving range. That's what those furry creatures are. Soon I plan on getting a picture with one to send home so that you can place that on the Christmas card. In way of Thanksgiving, that's a good question. We will see if anyone wants to feed us next Thursday. Otherwise, it'll probably be just a normal meal and we probably won't celebrate black friday, we have missionary work to do. It's colder here as well. Normall it's about 5 degrees C. We were at the Branch President house yesterday. He lives near Glen Levit and the temperature got down to freezing there. This morning there was frost on our car as well. Apparently, this winter will be bad. Last year it got down to -20 degrees C. So hopefully our car and my clothes will keep me warm.
So in way of investigators. They are doing well it seems. David Nain is progressing nicely and came to church on Sunday. We haven't been able to make contact with Sister Thomas though. She has had a bad ear ache, so we weren't able to teach her. Brother Waterson were working on helping him live the Word of Wisdom. He smokes a cigar every night and drinks tea. We have tried to convince him to throw it all away, but he seems to want to use up what he has and then live it. Hopefully he just puts in all in the rubbish bin.
On Sunday I had a marvelous experience. I was sitting in the back next to Brother Nain and I guess I was really discouraged since we hadn't had such a good week, then something hit me and I remembered the hymn, "Count your many blessings." Then I cheered up and realized. I'm in the true Church. We have an investitgator at church and I am in the midst of the Saints. What could I ask for more? Counting your blessings really cheers you up. Just like in President Monson's talk on gratititude how in the midst of the light from the latern, they could truly see how much they are blessed.
Oh and that reminds me. Elder Erickson is the Ensign for this month! If you look there's a picture of some missionaries in Dublin and he's the one that's quite tall and next to the one making a funny pose (that's Elder Beal who I met a BYU before I came). Well that's all for now folks. Tune in next week. I love you all and hope that you are all doing well.

Elder Buxton

A Highland Cow

What a lovely pose!

New Companion!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Transfers Again

Dear family,
Well, it's been six weeks once again which means transfers. I am actually staying in Elgin for another move, however, Elder Stewart was sent to Ireland for a six week special assignment to boost one to the areas there. So my new companion is . . . Elder Erickson! He and I were in the same district in the MTC so I know him quite well. He's not here in Elgin yet, but will be tomorrow. So transfers were quite funny this time. So yesterday, Elder Stewart and Elder Bland (normally in Inverness, but transferred to Dundee) left Elgin at 2 pm so they could make it to the Mission Home that night so that Elder Stewart could then travel to Ireland today. So Elder Manning and I spent the rest of Tuesday together. Then this morning he and I went to Aberdeen to pick up Elder Crockett (my zone leader in Paisley) and Elder Shindalack (I don't think this is how he spells his name), anyways. Elder Shindalack is my new district leader. He's from the Czech Republic. He's English is quite well as well. So he will be serving with Elder Manning in Inverness. Elder Crockett is going to Invergordon for a six week special assingnment to boost the branch there. He'll be serving with Elder Whitmer, also from the MTC district. So we all traveled back to Elgin and will be spending the night here. Then Elder Erickson and Elder Whitmer are traveling from Ireland over here and will be in Aberdeen this evening and will then drive to Elgin tomorrow morning. So that's that.
So less about that and more to meat of things. Oh and by the way, Elder Erickson is from Declo, Idaho. So on to what happened this last week and beyond. We had some good success. Sister Thomas, Brother Waterson, and Brother Nain are all progressing. Brother Nain and Brother Waterson both came to church and loved it. Sister Thomas had a small fight with Brother Thomas, her son, so she didn't come, but things are better now. She was going to be baptized next week, but now she has an ear infection and won't be able to be taught for a couple and days which means that her date is moved back now to the 27th. Hopefully she will get better and be able to learn more and be baptized then. Brother Waterson finally accepted a baptismal date for the 27th. He said they he wouldn't promise, but that he'll try. He says that a lot. Also Brother Nain has invite us over for dinner this evening so that we can meet this children finally. Hopefully they will be interested as well. That's really what's been happening for the most part or really just the big news. We're working hard to increase our teaching pool. Hopefully we can get the ward excited as well.
Now to respond to Michelle's questions. The leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground rapidly. There are evergreens that stay green all year round, thus the name. Yes, that would be a great graduation present as long as you take me with you so that I could show you around. I wish you well with everything and hope that everything goes well for your teaching tests and observation. Mom, that's really exciting that you're a ordinance worker now. I wish that one day I can work in the temple. The Spirit in the temple is amazing and I have really enjoyed reading the temple edition of the Ensign, but I really can't wait for the November Ensign so that I can really study up on Conference. Hopefully they come soon. It takes a little while for them to come to the UK, then we have to wait for the next missionary meeting for us to get them. Oh that reminds me, if you send a package for Christmas, send it to the mission home. I'll get it right before Christmas since we will have a zone conference before then. So don't worry. I wish you well in all that you do and I love you all.

Elder Buxton

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Dear Family,
How are you doing? Since I don't have much time to write you an email I will write more in a letter that i will send home. So in response to the celebration of Halloween in Scotland. Yes they do celebrate it I believe similar fashion to Americans. However I don't think that many people trick or treated since it was on a Sunday. However in talking to some British elders, namely my district leader, Elder Bland, they seem to start trick or treating on the 29th and build up to the 31st. We really didn't see any on the 31st. I suppose that most went on the 30th or they could be doing it tonight. Hopefully not. Tracting with trick or treaters is not the best idea. So on Saturday we were trying to book our evenings as best as we could, but with really no luck. So we were left to tract so we went to an area not too far from the Chapel where a lot of elderly citizens live which we thought was a good idea. So we knock on this guys door and he wasn't interested at all. We then asked who he thought would be and he referred us to his next door neighbor. So went to his neighbors house and did our door approach and he amazingly let us in, which doesn't happen very much. So this man is named Gordon Alexander. He's 74 and lost his wife last Christmas. He has felt lonely and really appreciated our company. We taught him a little about the spirit world and the Restoration. He seems to like reading from the Book of Mormon and we have invited him to be baptized on the condition that he has found it to be true and he accepted. Hopefully he will be baptized on November 27. So that's really the miracle for this week.
The other good news is that Sister Martha Thomas who I told you about last week (I think I did anyways). She was able to come to Stake Conference. The Cummings (a member and in the branch presidency) were able to give her and her son a ride. She absolutely enjoyed it and feels very happy and lighter than air. She still isn't certain as to baptized just yet, but as we teach her more, that will come hopefully. I probably failed to tell you that she has already begun to quite drinking coffee even though we haven't even taught the Word of Wisdom to her. Simply amazing. Well that's really all the time I have for writing this day. I hope that you enjoy the pictures. Hopefully I can get one of me and a highland cow soon. Well I love you all and will send home Preston MTC tips in my letter home.

Elder Buxton