July 17, 2017

So for starters Scotland is amazing! Lots of cool scenery and amazing weather. It's a cool temperature out every day and because it's the middle of the summer, it hardly rains and it's quite sunny out. My companion is flippin' amazing. He really knows his stuff and he, in my personal opinion, is the best trainer I could have gotten. His name is Elder Mueller, he's from Washington state, is 20 years old and has been on his mission for nine months. The area I'm in right now is Livingston, which is actually really close to Edinburgh. (20 minute train ride) My companion and I walk every day, and our flat is really nice. We could ride bikes everywhere, but carrying our bikes up and down four flights of stairs every day isn't the most appealing thought. Now I know that I've only been here for just a few days, and I didn't really do much of the work; but I had my first baptism. We have another one coming up in two weeks, and the investigator is really excited for it. Livingston, before the last two baptisms here, there hadn't been any baptisms here for three years, so there is some really exciting work going on here. A little bit about Livingston, it's a moderately large area, and ALL of it is just a suburb of Edinburgh, so there isn't really much sight seeing here. Something that is cool though is that the centre of Livingston is just a huge shopping mall. There is tons of stuff there... but we can't proselyte there. Some Elders did in the past and they got kicked out and told they couldn't talk to people there again. So that puts a dent in asking people, but Elder Mueller and I still go chapping (door to door) and ask people. Lots of doors slammed in our face and people just flat out ignoring us but it's all cool. Something that I've learned thus far is that getting over approaching random people to talk about God isn't even really that scary once you do it once. Practice makes perfect I suppose. Now, even though the MTC theoretically teaches you how to be a missionary you don't even really learn until you get out into the field. At first everything is awkward, teaching lessons is weird and even though the lesson is weird you don't know what to say. However, as time goes on things will get better.

It is super cool that you have a new helper for the hard work. Even though it is Lizzy's boyfriend. Eli and Ember! I am so happy that both of you got some new cleats and shinguards! It sounds super awesome, and I personally wish that I had some hot pink cleats like Ember. (Sorry Eli) The weather sounds miserable. Something that's odd about the weather here is that the sun never even really goes down. It only really starts to get dark here at 11:00'ish PM and it gets bright out at like 4 AM. It was annoying at first trying to fall asleep but I'm all good now.

Here is some advice about sending packages, please don't send them to the flat. We're never there, so we can't sign for it when it arrives. So instead, send them to the mission home, and since I'm nearby maybe I can pick them up on P-day or something. Also, when you declare whats in the package, please say that what's inside costs less than $30. Basically make it sound like what you're sending me is basically junk and costs like $5. However, if it's not too much to ask for, I should've brought my cleats and a backpack rather that a shoulder-bag. I can survive a while with a shoulder bag so I'm fine waiting... but President Donaldson lets the missionaries use backpacks because they hurt a lot less, and you can pack a lot more stuff in them. Finally, my address is *****, Scotland. Send me lots of letters!

I apologize in advance for the super long email, I've got two weeks to tell you about

9th of July, Sunday

Super Spiritual day. I gave a talk today in church. I talked about the St. Louis arch and compared it to the keystone and the Book of Mormon. Later in a district meeting we had a testimony meeting and it was crazy. It's weird to think how people can struggle so much to go on a mission, but they just keep pushing through because they know it's the right thing to do.

10th of July, Monday

Today was an emotional day to say the least. Everyone was saying goodbyes because we're going to leave at different times tomorrow morning. The whole day was spent in workshops and it was actually pretty boring. But it was cool to get pictures with everyone and stuff like that. Tomorrow I go into the field and I couldn't be more excited.

11th of July, Tuesday

Scotland in flippin' beautiful. Huge green mountains, cities, accents, different and new smells... the list can literally go on forever. Palmer and I got our new companions today and that was a little sad, but I'm happy for him. He's going to Ireland. My new companion is Elder Mueller and I can already tell I'm going to like him a lot. When we got to our flat, my closet was full of hand-me-down missionary ties. So that was pretty cool to see. I also met Presidnet Donaldson today and he is a really amazing person. We went to Pratt's Hill upon arrival and there was an awesome view up there. (Look it up)

12th of July, Wednesday

Pretty good first day in the field. We have three appointments with investigators. Two of them were interesting. The first interesting one was a baptismal interview and she is a really cool person. She reminds me a lot of Lisa Musick. Cool personality and gentle heart, but a freakin B.A on the outside. The next one was a little bit of a wake up call for me. It was with a family of a mom and two daughters. She just got re-fellowshipped, and she is super happy she can take the sacrament again. There is a lot of family trauma there though, both daughters have different dads, and they also have a little brother but never get to see him because dad got custody. Even though none of them are baptized just reading the Book of Mormon and praying has brought their family closer together.

13th of July, Thursday

No appointments with investigators but we did do a lot. We spent a lot of time prepping for Cats baptism for tomorrow and chapping (door to door knocking). It's a fun thing to do, but it almost always results in doors getting shut on you. It's whatever though. Later that night we had a dinner appointment at a member's house, The Boyles, and they are really sweet people. It's just an older retired couple but they fed us well. We shared a spiritual thought and we left.

14th of July, Friday

Solid day. Talking to random people on the streets about Jesus is an awkward barrier to get over but I'm mostly over it. We did some more chapping and then later was Cats baptism. I met a lot of people in the Ward there and all of them looove their elders. After Cats baptism we went out with some YSA and Cat and we got Pizza Hut which was such a blessing. Pizza Hut is also an actual sit-in restaurant here so that was interesting.

15th of July, Saturday

We had another lesson with Robert in the morning. A little bit about Robert. He's barely over the mental age of eight so he's difficult to teach. He has some major learning disabilities. Then we met another investigator Antony. Antony is from Birmingham and he has quite the accent. Lemme try to explain it in words; AyeManAyeManSowhatarewegoingtotalkabouttodayman's? I freaking love him haha. He is ready to get baptized but can't because he is on peroll for just a few more months. Since he knows everything we just read Book of Mormon stories with him, and he understands stuff from the scriptures like no other I've ever seen. He just needs to read something once and he just instantly gets it.

16th of July, Sunday

Church here is great. It will probably be the best ward out of my entire mission. Everyone is really loving and supporting of their elders and they haven't lost their patience with me when I don't understand their accent. It's truly an amazing group of people. After church we had a lesson with Gary. His backstory is my favorite so far. He used to go to The Church of Scotland (which is a break off of The Church of England) and he stopped going. Later after he stopped, he found some general conference talks on youtube and he really liked what was said. He investigated the church on his own for FOUR YEARS. He contacted us and we've been having lessons with him. We set a baptismal date for him, and he asked me if I could baptize him. ME? OF ALL PEOPLE? It was such an honor.

(sorry for the lack of pictures, the internet here is different. Still trying to figure some things out)

Elder Erik Orchard