Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas.

"Yinz"....Means You all!

So i am not sending a long email like i usually do since i will be talking to you guys in 3 days.  plus i don't feel like it:)  I have a headache. 
I got the last package!  You should see our fireplace...   I'm anxious to see what you sent me...  hahah i can't really imagine what i have:)  I got Julie's package and the Larson's (Dad's sister) sent me one as well. .  I'm sad a missed the party.  I'm glad it was fun though.  Oddly enough, some of the things i miss the most are getting together with the usual people, Family Christmas parties, BINGO with Julie and Rich, as well as, watching football with Jonnie and Natalie and Kristine.  I always really enjoyed doing things with them.  Wish them a merry Christmas for me:)   It seriously doesn't feel like Brandon has been gone for that long!  I feel like he just left!  I also can't believe that i am almost at my 3 month mark!  It feels like it has been forever, but also in the blink of an eye!
Elder Birrell
Christmas Presents.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Prayers are answered.....It Snowed!!!!!


That basically sums up our week.  It was, to say the least, awesome!  We started off a little slow, but exploded in the end!  Being a missionary for the Lord's true church is the only way to spend the remainder of your teenage years.  It is way more fun, busy, and exciting than i thought it would be!  So here was our week.
Monday: We had our P-day as usual.  We cleaned the WHOLE house!  Your could have eaten anywhere, and on any surface.  It was that clean.  Later that night, we had an appointment at a members house at 8.  We arrived 30 minutes early, so we decided to tract around.  One house had their lights set up to a song.  So obviously we had to tract it!  That didn't turn out very well so went and had that meeting with the members.  We have been meeting with them frequently to get them to give us a referral.  They are inviting 2 people to church this Sunday, and then the first week of January they are going to have us meet them!!!
Tuesday:  We went and taught the guy who lives down the street from us.  We answered all his questions,  His mom was there and She kept asking us why we were there, and that her house was not a house for Bible study.  We started to talk to her, and her heart instantly softened.  She was describing a way she wishes church's were, and she totally described ours!  We didn't end up having time to teach them though:(  Next we taught one of our investigators,  We talked about how much our Heavenly Father loves us, and he really liked that.  Sister Mcclendon was there as well.  She is so powerful, and she bore her testimony so many times. 
Wednesday: We had zone conference that took pretty much the whole day.  That was really fun!  President Topham is the coolest person ever!  Ah i love him.  I'm so sad him and his wife are being released at the end of June :(  That night we had Book of Mormon class, and after taught the Plan of Salvation.  We are teaching the new member discussions, which is teaching lesson 1-5 in Preach My Gospel again.
Thursday:  This is when the week really got awesome!  We went to teach one of our investigators and have lunch/dinner with her.  Her daughter was there, and she isn't a member.  She told the last missionaries that she wanted to wait until she was 14 to get baptized.    She sat in the first little bit of the lesson, but then someone called and she went to talk to them in the other room.  I felt the strongest feeling that we needed her in the lesson.  I asked her if her daughter was going to be joining us, and she had her come back and listen to the lesson.  Then at the end of the lesson, Elder Johnson asked the daughter what we need to do to get to heaven.  She said: "Pray, Church, and Baptism."  I was so happy!  I immediately invited her to be baptized, and she said yes!!!    Later that night we went to teach a guy who is less active.  We went over, and his dad (who is active) let us teach him.  Right at the beginning though he came down and sat in the lesson as well!  It was so great!  We taught him about the atonement.
Friday:  We went to go teach this lady who is less-active, and actually got baptized into the Baptist church >:(  We showed up right when she had gotten home.  As we were teaching her, she asked what Joseph Smith did.  We didn't have time to really teach her, so we gave her a little over view and we are going back this Friday to teach her more!  
Saturday:  The sisters had a baptism!  The girl who got baptized 2 weeks ago, it was her mom.  It was really really nice!  I love baptisms.  It also snowed ALL day!  I was so happy, it was unreal.  I pray for snow pretty much every week.  Driving in the snow is a nightmare, but i love looking at it! 
Sunday: ONE OF OUR INVESTIGATORS CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!  Finally.  It was SO nice to see her there!  She really liked it as well.  Later that night we went to the stake Christmas devotional in Cranberry.  It was really good!  That's all we did on Sunday though.  It was sad not to be able to teach anyone.
The mission has been so much fun thus far!  I feel like i have grown so much!  Thanks for all you guys do!  Love ya!
Elder Birrell

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 8, 2013

Ward Christmas Party.
It finally snowed here in Picksburgh (That's how the locals say it...)  I was filled with joy!  We were in church yesterday, and it just dumped.  It was super scary to drive home in.  The roads are very narrow here, and there isn't a flat one in sight.  We almost crashed into this truck at a stop sign, because our car wouldn't stop moving!  Needless to say, i was very happy for the snow:)
Monday:  We had our P-day.  I took a nap.  I was dead.  It was awesome to sleep a little bit longer!  I am always so tired!  If they would just give us 1 more hour of sleep, i would be perfectly fine.  For dinner we went to the Mama and Papa Z's.  It was delicious as usual!  It's always such a fun time when we are at their house.  I don't think we taught anyone...  I cannot remember.  I think it snowed this day as well. Not sure though.  Your memory kind of goes when your on a mission.  Every day blurs into one.
Wednesday: We had the Book of Mormon class.  We taught it, and it was Alma 53.  It was great as usual.  Not a whole lot of people showed up, but we are grateful for the ones that did.
Thursday: We went and taught this a guy, and he said we could come back at anytime.  He has had some questions about differences in the BoM and the Bible.    He asked us again about some of his questions, and in my mind i just kept remembering what Elder Johnson said.  Something along the lines of "We have been set apart to answer any question people throw at us"  I TOTALLY DID THAT!  Every single question he asked, i immediately thought of an answer.  It was sweet!
Friday: we decided we would go OYM.  We gave this guy a card, and ended up talking to him for 40 minutes!  He asked us all of these questions about our church that all pertained to the restoration.  We kept trying to find something he didn't agree with, but he found we basically believe everything he does!  I was so happy!  It was snowing, we were outside, and we were spreading the gospel.  It was a dream come true.  After we went to a members house for dinner.  The Snow's.  It was delicious!  
Saturday: We went to lunch at the Z's, and it was super fun and awesome!  It's fun to go there, because it's kind of like a break to recharge, and head out and spread the gospel some more!  We then went to Turtle Creek and tried to contact a referral we had received.  They weren't there, so we just OYM'd.  Then we drove home, and got a ride to the church for the Christmas party.  That was a lot of fun!  I never liked ward parties growing up, but now i love them!
Sunday:  None of our investigators or less-active members came.  That made us super sad.  Ahh I wish people would come to church.  It's fun i promise!  I still felt the spirit super strong though, and it was awesome!  Later that night we went to the Z's to watch the Christmas devotional.  They picked us up with the sisters.  Their car is entertainment central.  We popped in a Mormon Message, and we all watched them.  It was super fun!  Mormon Messages are da best.  
Our area is going good!  For some reason, we are teaching one less lesson a week.  It's getting frustrating.  No one has time to visit with us.  Some how, i have managed to always be happy though.  I really haven't felt super down since i have been on my mission.  I just go with the flow, and if something doesn't work out, i know the Lord is preparing something else for us to do.  It's been a great week regardless, and i still love serving a mission!  There isn't anything else I'd rather be doing!  Love ya!
Elder Birrell 

Monday, December 2, 2013

First Transfer down!!!

The most comfortable couch ever!!!!

Finally!!!!! A Dunkin' Donuts!!!!!!!
First transfer down.
Where has time gone?  Time moves by ridiculously fast here!  It feels like these past 6 weeks have been 1 long day.  So much has happened.  I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!:)  It's way better and a lot more fun than i thought it was going to be.  Well here's a little of what happened this week.
     So we picked up a new investigator this week.  It turns out, she wants to know everything about the gospel!  We were talking to her about the Book of Mormon, and she's like "It's basically like another Bible!"  We were so excited!  The lesson went perfectly... a little too perfect.  It followed PMG to the tee.  So she's basically the coolest person ever, because she's so open and receptive to the gospel.  The only problem is, she says she's already been baptized... So we'll cross that bridge another day.
     We went on another exchange this week.  This time, i went to Greensburgh.  It's about 30 minutes east.  I was with Elder Little, and Elder Martin (DL) came to our area with Elder Johnson.  We had a pretty awesome time!  The spirit pops things into my head so naturally (patriarchal blessing).  I am starting to really realize that.  It's awesome!  Ahh i get so excited just thinking about it.   Later that night, they went to try and visit a family. They are a recent progressing investigator, and his wife .  They had an awesome time fellow shipping.  He is a chef, so he always cooks us amazing food when we go over.  I can definitely tell he wants to know more.  They basically said they could be Mormon.  They are super inactive Baptist.  They said "We just chose this route to know Jesus better, but there are more ways to learn about him."  They talked about eternal families, and they LOVED that! they then asked how our whole church started, and basically taught her the restoration!  I was so said I missed it.  ANOTHER investigator!  We dropped a lot last week, so the Lord is blessing us with new ones.  I had a fun time on the exchange!  Where their house is located is in a town called Jennette.  I guess there were a couple drive by shootings, murders, robberies, etc. all within the last couple of weeks.  They live in the ghetto part of their area.  We walked around at night trying to OYM.  With every car that passed, i braced my self for bullets to come flying at me.  It was an adventure!
          Yesterday at church was amazing! We had and investigator come!  He's been investigating for a while know, and we were so happy to see him!  It was the most powerful Fast and Testimony meeting i have ever been to.  Everyone that bore a testimony was super inspired!  I love church so much!  I never thought i would say that...  hahah! 
     Our area is doing pretty awesome.  It has it's ups and down's.  We are getting there though.  Elder Johnson and I are having a pretty grand time!  We both have a strong desire to serve, and i am so grateful he is my trainer.  I look at other people being trained, and those that are just finishing, and i feel like I have already caught up with, if not surpassed them on missionary work.  Not at all to brag or anything!  I am trying to be as humble as i can to say that.  It's all because Elder Johnson has trained me so well, and our goals are similar, and we both want to be 100% missionary.  The Lord has blessed me with him.  I wouldn't have been able to grow as quickly with any other trainer. 
    That's been our week!  Love ya, and have an awesome week!
Elder Birrell

The Sisters in our area

My District

Monday, November 25, 2013

Week 5!

Deep fried Oreos.


I cannot believe it has already been a whole week!  Time goes by SO fast!  It's unreal.  This week was pretty grand though.  Thanks for sending me my iPod and the Salt and vinegar chips!  I have been craving those! We have been listening to a lot of Christmas music!  We have to enjoy it while we can;)
On Monday we went and played tennis after emailing.  It was pretty fun!  I'm not good, but it was still fun.  We had dinner at a members home.   They are awesome!  They are hilarious. 
Tuesday was...  Not so great.  Not a lot happened that day.  It just prepared us for Wednesday!:)
Wednesday was pretty swell!  We had district meeting and Elder Johnson gave the lesson. After we went to the Memmotts for dinner.  Brother Memmott is our ward mission leader.  They are an awesome family!  It's was so nice to eat home cooked food again!  I mean, we have home cooked food as well... only it's in the form of a Cup of Noodle, or eggs. <-- My favorite! :/.  We had B.o.M. Class that night as well.  Elder Johnson plays the violin, so the ward has definitely used  his talent with that.  He's very good, and while I was teaching the B.o.M. class he was practicing with some members of the ward.  It was hard to teach by myself.  It's definitely helpful to have Elder Johnson there, so that we can have different ideas flowing, and well as a different voice.  It went pretty well though!  We read Alma 51, and we just take the chapter a couple versus at a time and discuss what each of us learn.
Thursday was really fun!  We had exchanges that day!  Elder Martin (DL) came to our area with me, and Elder Johnson went to their area (Greensburgh) with Elder Little.  It was really fun and stressful!  Since Elder Martin wasn't familiar with our area, i literally had to do everything.  Now i know how Elder Johnson felt while he was training me.  It's so hard to do missionary work, with someone who doesn't know the area or people.  He can talk really really well with others, but as far as getting revelation on who to teach.  Well it was up to me.  Thankfully we had a full day planned.   I saw this pregnant lady walking up the street.  I can talk to anyone about anything, unless it's gospel related...  So i was super nervous, but i decided we would go talk to her.  She actually turned out to be awesome!  We bore our testimonies and all that.  She really seemed to like it!  Ahh, i felt so energized after that.   After we went and saw this lady.  We talked to her, and she has a child who has a lot of health problems.  A blessing saved his life, as well as her grandmothers.  So she has such a testimony of the gospel!  She just can't make it out to church!  AHH it's so sad, because she loves church so much.  We are working with her though and continuing to encourage and commit her to come. After we went back to the house and ate dinner.  Elder Martin is a really funny guy, and we just talked about random things. 
Friday we switched  back to our old companions.  It was really really fun to be with someone else for a while, but i really missed Elder Johnson.  He is so good at leading us.  It's really hard doing everything by yourself, and we have also learned how to work and teach together to be most effective.  I really took for granted some of the things that he is able to do, and it was nice to see how much harder it was without his gifts.  So it definitely made me way more appreciative of him!  This day was weird.  The spirit was there, but it just felt weird.  We've been teaching a man, and realized that he hasn't prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true!  He said he isn't going to until he's read the whole thing.   We had dinner at Sister Knights house That was really fun! 
Saturday one of our investigators texted us back and wanted to meet with us!  We were sooooo happy!  The spirit was so strong.  We read D&C121 with her.  When we left, it was snowing outside!  we were so happy, because i have been praying for snow every day!  I love when it snows, and so it just made the day that much better! 
Sunday We had church!  Church is awesome!  It's the best part of the week!  After church we went and had lunch with the Bohrer family.  They are so good at cooking!  We met with them, and had a lesson to help them find someone to have in there home that we could teach.  We later met with another family and had a lesson to seek more referrals.  Sunday's are the best!
I love being a missionary.  It isn't always super fun, and easy, but it is always rewarding.  No matter what we do, as long as we put our trust in the lord and do what we can!  This work is incredible, and it is definitely picking up!  It's not picking up on the missionary side.  It's the member side.  The key to the work hastening is the members.  They can reach out to people and introduce them to the gospel that we never could.  Once they've got the person interested, that's where we come in and we teach with the members.  It's amazing the fire this ward has!  They love helping us out to complete this wonderful work.
Elder Birrell

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013

Austin was running late so he finished flossing his teeth in the car!

Happy Monday!
  This week was, well... HARD! !  Every plan that we had just fell through this week.  But the end of the week was awesome!  Right now we are feeling great!  So when you put your trust in the Lord, he always rewards you times10!
  Monday: We had our P-day, and that was really fun! (Today we are going to play tennis after emailing).  We have all of this furniture we don't need, but it was just sitting in a box so we built it for fun:)  We also went to Target and got MUCH needed items to stay warm here.  After P-day we went to a members house, and had real authentic Korean food.  Elder Johnson was SO excited, and i was nervous.  I love foreign food, but Americanized foreign food.  Like panda express and cafe rio.  HAHAH!  It was really good though!  Very different from what i am used to, but i loved it! 
  Tuesday: A full day of tracting.  Yay!  Our plans didn't really work out again.  But later that night, we went and taught  an awesome lesson to a less active who really is in a tough situation.  She's the only member, and she has a lot of negative things around her.  I feel so bad for her!  She is really great though!  That was a lot of fun, and it made the day worth it!
  Wednesday: We had zone training in Butler.  It's about an hour away, and it's nice to get with a bunch of missionaries again. 
Thursday: Full of finding and 2 more cancellations.  So we talked to a lot of people.  Right before we were going to head home, we decided to see a less active family.  We knocked on the door, and they let us in!  We taught the mom (the kids are active) and came back later that night at 8 to give the kids blessings.  It was an awesome spiritual experience!
  Friday: We taught this guy.  We called and set an appointment.  It was an awesome lesson, and he is really starting to progress faster!   He is committed to come to fast and testimony meeting for December, and i know that when he goes, things will just explode from there.  It will really help him!  They key with him is just staying consistent.  The spirit works on him every time we go.   He is awesome and would be such a good Mormon :) We did some more tracting and that.  We had another cancellation.
Saturday: We fasted for some of our investigators.  I was so hungry!  We had this family history things from 9-12 that we helped out with which was pretty good!  For dinner, we had Ramen, Rice, sandwiches, basically a little bit of everything, and most of it is unhealthy.  Hahah!  But it was awesome to eat!
  Sunday:  We had a lot of less active members come to church.  None of our investigators :( But church was awesome!  One  lady we've been working with  is now coming to church! yippee!
     Elder Johnson is awesome!  He continues to help me, and we are become more and more of a tool in the Lord's hands!  He is a great missionary.  He has SUCH  desire to serve!  He is definitely someone who is going to be a missionary the rest of his life, no matter if he is set apart or not.  Which is something i really hope to develop!  He just does whatever!  No second thought.  The spirit prompts him to do something, and he does it before Satan can try and make him second guess himself.  Which is such a gift!   We are really becoming more and more unified which is amazing!  It really helps the work and pushes it forward.  I try every day to be a blessing and not a burden to him. I keep trying and praying!  He's great!  The Lord has truly blessed me with him, and he represents the Lord very very well:)
  I love this work!  It is amazing!  Thank you for everything that you guys do!  We definitely feel your prayers, and it helps!  Thank you!  This week was hard, but it only means a great week is to follow!  If you always put your trust in the Lord he will deliver you, and things will be WAY better than you thought they ever could be!  Love y'all!
  Elder Birrell

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

I cannot believe it has already been a week, let alone a month!  Time seriously zooms by.  Each week feels like a day.  The work is definitely hastening!  We teach about 15 lessons a week! We got one reactivation yesterday, and are close to another one.  We have another baptism coming up at the end of the month or the beginning of December.  We also added a whole family to our teaching pool yesterday, and they absorbed every word we said!  I love this work and mission!  There isn't any place I'd rather be!  I'm glad I'm in the USA.  The members here are so strong.  I love the people here!  They truly are awesome!  It doesn't matter where you are in the world, you encounter the same type of people with similar situations.  The setting is just different.  We only teach whom the Lord has prepared.  Someone was saying that my mission is 3rd for the least amount of members and church influence.  Hardly anyone has heard about the church, and if they have it was through commercials. 
My companion is awesome!  He's a great missionary, and super in-tune with the spirit.  He has taught me a lot, and helped me gain experience so i can learn for myself!  He is a blessing!
So on Tuesday we had our baptism!   It was awesome!  The spirit was so strong, i though i was going to get translated on the spot and float up to heaven.  He is so prepared it is ridiculous.  Elder Johnson baptized him.  I'm glad he did, because he was here the whole time for him.  I just happened to show up and be there when it actually happened.

We taught another guy this week.  He is progressing slowly but surely.  He has been investigating for a couple years on and off.  We finally found out that he really does have a desire to learn and know if this church is true or not.  Ever since, he has been making such good progress!  He wants to really be sure what he is getting into, but we committed him to come to fast and testimony meeting for December, and he really liked that idea.  He isn't sure how to feel the spirit, but we can see it in his eyes when he feels it.  Everything just makes sense to him. 
We taught some other people by looking through our list of Former investigators, and potential investigators.  we want to make sure we haven't left anyone out before we try and to find new people to teach.  Last night we went to visit one of the formers.  Our whole day was kinda messed up, because everyone we planned on teaching canceled.  Except for her.  So we decided to have faith and not give up.  I got kinda sad inside, because as we were teaching her i knew she wasn't the one we were supposed to find and teach tonight.  We went ahead with the lesson, and asked to say an opening prayer.  As we were praying, her husband popped out of no where and joined in our prayer. 
He. Was. The. One.
We taught him the whole first lesson, and he agreed with everything!  He is so prepared it is awesome!  He really liked the lesson, and he said that he's open ......Well he said that we are really similar to their faith, and the negative things he heard about us were not true.  So we are going to see him next week, and their whole family is awesome!
That was basically my week in a nut shell.  This area is awesome!  I love being a missionary!  I cannot wait for this week!  Missionary work is not easy at all!  But it is so worth it!  I have learned SO much!  Before i know it I'll be home.  I am really trying to enjoy every moment of everyday!  Love you all!
Elder Birrell

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4 ,2013

Fall leaves in Pennsylvania

Hey yinz! (means y'all here.  These people are crazy)
Many times i think to myself "Am i still in America?"  It's a whole different world out here!  But i LOVE EVERYONE HERE!  The people here are amazing!  I don't know what everyone is talking about, when they say all of the work is down in South America. ;) We have 2 scheduled baptisms this month, and could potential pick up a 3rd!  The work here is definitely hastening.  Elder Johnson is an amazing companion.   This week, we made some goals to revolutionize our area.  The work is on the tipping point, we just need to give it that extra push.  The solution: Do the Lords work His way!  It's funny how you always hear how to do things, but you don't understand it, or believe it, until you do it.  That has been true with missionary work.  We are continuing to strive for exact obedience, and change little things, and turn towards the Lord a lot more, and hearts have definitely been softened, and miracles are happening all around us!  I love being a missionary, and i love serving the people here.  There isn't any other mission i'd rather be in.  This is exotic enough for me ;)
On Monday, is when we really set the goal to be exactly obedient, and that day we had a miracle!  There is this less active family that got "offended"   Anyway, we go to the door and no one answers. But when the Lord wants to talk to you, he will!  Low and behold, they pull up into the drive way and she gets out and says that it isn't a good time.  However, her husband told us to come in. (miracle).  We sit down with them, and have a really good fellow-shipping moment.  Then we ask if we can share a quick scripture that turns into a 45 minute lesson!  It was awesome, and the spirit was so strong!  They definitely know they need to make changes in their lives, and we're gonna make sure they do them :)
This week we have really seen real progress.  One lady, who feels she doesn't have any friends in the ward, got a friend when she came to church!   She's awesome, and i love visiting with her.  There's this 80 year old woman on our street who calls us her Mormon grandsons.  She's awesome.  She says she is born catholic and she's gonna die that way.  We're teaching her, she just doesn't know it yet.  I love her so much.  She's super funny.  We met this lady who recently had a baby, and she's a non-member.  She really shows promise, and she seems really prepared to hear the gospel.  We also met with a family who seem SUPER prepared to hear the gospel.  Ahh!  The work here is picking up like crazy!  We have so many promising potential investigators!  Holly, who is one of our progressing investigators, talked to another lady about the gospel for so long, and now we are going to have a new person come to our Book of Mormon classes we have each Wednesday.  There are seriously so many people prepared here, we just have to find them, and teach them!  The work here is about to explode.  I can feel it!
For Halloween we had to be in by 6pm.  So we deep cleaned our house.  Pretty fun.  It was really warm here last week, but his week has definitely been more cold!  We didn't have any kids come to the door.  Oh well, their loss.  We were only going to teach them how to receive eternal life!  JK!  But we were going to hand out BoM's.
That's all i can think of.  I'm in a hurry this week.  Oh we get iPad's in January, and it's CRAZY what they will be able to do!  They will help SOOOO much!  It's gonna be amazing.  Love you ALLLLL!!!!!
Elder Birrell

Raking leaves!!!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

 ******Austin's address for the next 12 weeks is******
313 Marshall Dr.
Penn Hills PA
It has been an amazing week!  I love Pittsburgh so much!  It is so pretty here.  The people are awesome and crazy, and i love serving a mission!  My trainer is awesome.  His name is Elder Johnson, and he just got done being trained... So he's learning how to do everything still.  He beats himself up a lot, because he doesn't feel like he is training me good enough.  But he's great, and i keep telling him that! It's been great so far.  He is from West Jordan.  He lived right by the temple i guess.  Knowing me, i ask a lot of questions, because that is how i learn best.  He's been doing a great job at answering. Sooo, where the heck to begin.
Sunday and Monday:  We had a devotional at the MTC, and then walked back to our apartments.  I finished packing my bags, then we went to bed around 10:30ish.  We woke up at 1am so we could get ready and all that, plus last minute packing.  Our bus was leaving at 2:30 for the airport so we needed to be early.  We went and weighed our bags again, and both of mine weighed 48 ibs.  The limit is 50 ibs, so i made it!  We got on the bus and drove up to the aiport.  We didn't get to the airport until 4ish, but they don't open the check counters until 4:45.  So we sat there for a while until i saw a phone and called you guys!  We got on the plane at 6am (no cafe rio for me>:( ) and i sat by this dude who is training for the winter Olympics.  It was awesome!  I talked to him forever.  Then, an elder gave me a pass along card to give to him, and i got nervous and shy and couldn't do it.  So i prepared his heart, someone else can save it :) heheh.  We had a 1 hour delay in SLC because something was wrong with the plane, so we missed our lay over in Minneapolis.  Instead of originally only having to wait 30 minutes between flights, now we had 5 hours.  It was awful.  I hate airports.  But hey, there was  PEI WEI so it wasn't as bad.  We talked to this one lady, and basically gave her all our pamphlets and told her everything about our church.  It was great.  We got into Pittsburgh around 8:30, and drove straight to the mission home.  We ate dinner, had a meeting then went to bed.  My mission president and his wife are awesome!  We had 4 elders going to Brazil in our group and one sister going to Australia in our group (Visa waiters). 
Tuesday: We got up, loaded in the cars, and drove to the church for the transfer meeting.  They "processed us through" and we ate lunch, and got paired with our new companion!  I am going to be with Elder Johnson for at least 12 weeks, that how long training is, then one of us will be transferred.  We are in the Pitts 3rd area.  It is north of Pittsburgh.  Some towns here are called Pitcairn, monnroville (don't quote me on that) and places around that.  I can't think of any of the names right now.  Tuesday night we had a lesson to teach.  We went to a members house, the Memotts, the best family ever, and taught this women named Holly.  SHE IS AMAZING!  We have had 2 lessons with her, and ALL OF THEM ARE AMAZING!  The spirit is so strong when we teach her it is unreal!  We are teaching her again tomorrow and i cannot wait:)  She's awesome.  She has such a strong desire to know.  After we went home, and went to bed.  It was a great day.  Except for the bugs... We had this bugs called House centipedes, and they are literally the sacriest things ever.  I hate them.  I prayed that they would all die, and i wouldn't see any.  I haven't since :)
Wednesday was not so good.  We woke up and did our studies.  Then we went and taught this guy named David.  He knows way to much about religion.  He is reading the Book of Mormon, but we feel as though he is scared to find out if it's true.  Also he talks forever, so we barely teach him anything.  We are meeting with him this week.  
Thursday was great!  We had all these plans to go meet with people, and none of them came together.  It was an awesome day though!  I don't remember what we did, but we just met a lot of people.  Oh we went to Pitcairn.  It's very humble.  We taught this guy who is so high on life, he is never coming down.  He said he felt the spirit though, so i guess that's good.  I just remembered.  I got the flu!  I threw up 8 times.  I couldn't eat anything!  I don't know what it was, but i felt awful!  My companion let me sleep for an hour, but then he woke me up so my sleep schedule wouldn't be thrown off.  Ahh, it was awful!  I also hate the water here.  It tastes really bad.  I am buying some at the grocery store today.  Every time i drink it, it hurt my stomach.  I guess they were saying something about it on the news here.
Friday was AMAZING.  We taught Holly again!  Every time we teach her the spirit is so strong, and it just an amazing day.  We are always so happy after we teach her and celebrate.  It was a 2 hour lesson, but it felt like 2 minutes.  The spirit was unreal.  We talked about 1 Nephi 8 with her, and also about the word of wisdom.  Oh We have a baptism on November 5th.  This guy named Brandon is getting baptized.  He's awesome.  Holly has a date for November 23rd!  So it's already so awesome here:)
Saturday: We did our usual things, and went around to teach people.  We had a trunk or treat/ chilli cook off from 4-7:30.  That was so fun!  We were the judges too!  Plus we got a free meal;)  After that, we went and visited with Sister Knight.  She is awesome, less active, but still awesome.  She came to church with us yesterday!  We had 5 less actives at church with us! 
Sunday was really good.  It was so nice to go to church.  I love church!  Then we went and did our studies in the afternoon, and had lunch with Brandon and a member family.  We just talked about his baptism.  Later that night we went to a members house and had Mexican lasagna.  It was really good, and we taught them the referral lesson.  We go and meet with members, and help them pray and think of people to have in there home for a lesson.  We give them 5 minutes to write down everyone one they know that isn't a member, and we have them use their phones, anything they can to help them remember.  After we have the pray about who the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel.  They circle some names, and we have them set a date on which they will have the person in their home before hand.  This family picked Christmas.  Referrals are so crucial out here!  Referrals usually get baptized, people we find on the street don't.  The support system is crucial!  So yeah, basically it was an amazing week!
It is so pretty here! The area is so beautiful!  Opposite of Utah.  Everything is different.  There isn't a single straight flat road out here, the cars are small, the houses are small.  If you think of Utah and everything in the opposite way, that's Pittsburgh.  But i love it!  The members here are unreal!  They are awesome!  There are 350 members in this ward, but only 125ish are active.  So there's a lot of work to do.  We are teaching about 7 investigators right now, and we have 5 or 6 potential investigators, and a million less active people.  I haven't tracked once!  Also everyone is so friendly here.  Very humble though.  

Thank you for everything though!  We are so blessed to live in Utah where everyone know the truth.    It really is a night and day difference.  I have seriously become so grateful for everything i had at home!  The members here are phenomenal and they are helping us so much to find people to teach.  The people out here are awesome, we just don't realize how good we have it in Utah.  The average size house in Utah is way bigger than the average size here.  Most people have 1 or no cars it's crazy!  The work here is pretty good!  We taught 10 lessons this week, and i can see the work increasing!  We do not have enough time each day to do everything!  Speaking of which, we drive a Chevy Cruze.  It's a great car.  I love it here so much though!  I love the people, and i love this gospel!  There hasn't been one second that I've wanted to come home.  I am so tired all of the time, but that's just because i am working so hard:)  I love my companion and i love this work, and i love you guys!
Love you!
Elder Birrell

So if parts don't make sense.  I'm
 typing fast, and remembering things as i go and just throwing them in:)


Austin with President and Sister Topham

Austin with his companion Elder Johnson

Sunday, October 20, 2013

October 18. 2013

Dear Mom and Dad/family and anyone else who reads this,
It's been another amazing week here at the MTC!  Everyone in my district describes me through the song "I'm Walking On Sunshine".  I guess it is because i am always optimistic and happy.  I love my district though!  I am always laughing around them.  So that makes it nice:)  Hmmm... where to even begin?!  I have been here for a week, but it feels like a month.  I have learned so much, and its hard to remember when and what day i learned it on.  Ya know?
So.. last Friday we had the awkward P-day and i really cannot remember what i did that day... 

Saturday was a normal day. class galore, and we taught our progressive investigator (our teacher acting like one of their investigators) We have this shy guy named Robert, but it is coming along great!  We are teaching him about families, and we are getting him to recognize the spirit.  It's awesome.

Sunday was awesome!  No class time, which is nice, just feeling the spirit 24/7.  I had to go to a branch meeting and all that, then we had personal study time while the sister did relief society and modesty classes.  After we had Priesthood (I could not stay awake.  I felt like someone was pushing on my eye lids soo hard!  I wanted to take a nap SOOOO bad!)  Then we had sacrament.  It was interesting to be in a sacrament meeting where there are no phones, kids, snacks, etc. to distract you.  It was dead quiet and everyone was listening.  After we had a "Sunday Walk" basically we went to Brigham's Landing to try and place a Book of Mormon, but there wasn't a soul in sight.  Go figure Sunday + shopping + utah = no soul in sight.  So it was unsuccessful.  It's been raining a lot too!  We always have to travel between rain tree and wyview all day long, so luckily i had an umbrella.  I made my companion go with me to choir practice later that day.  I joined the choir so i could see C-Rob.  It was an amazing experience though.  We performed at the Tuesday devotional.   OHHHH we had this AMAZING devotional that night.  We watched a talk Elder Bednar gave here called "The Characteristics of Christ" IT WAS AMAZINGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!  Basically when things don't go our way, we need to turn outward like Christ vs Inward like we usually do.  So instead of saying "pitty me, i just did this, give me some credit" we need to be like Christ and turn towards others and help them.  Not think about ourselves.  It was great.  I literally went back to my room, brain fired and feel right asleep.

Monday was Monday.  Same old same old.  Except later that night we had TRC's.  Basically we get a new investigator who they try and convince us that he is real, but we know he's a member.  But man is he good!  He's evil.  I love him to death, but he is hard to teach!  He does not believe in anything that is close to the catholic church.  So he doesn't believe in the Jesus Christ and the atonement.  Basically everything our religion revolves around.  It's hard to figure out how to teach him, but yesterday we finally did it!

Tuesday, It was just like Monday.  I am learning so much and i love it!  I am starting to recognize how to receive revelation, and teach by the spirit.  It is amazing!   I was nervous at first, but now i am getting the hang of it.  Later that night my companion and i went to the choir practice up on the main campus.  We were performing for the Sunday devotional.  As we were practicing, people were using mirrors to look under all of the seats, and feeling them.  So naturally we thought something was up.  When the meeting started, while we were singing one of the hymns everyone just stood up suddenly.  Elder Oaks walked in!!  We got an apostle for our devotional.  The second he walked in, i got the biggest goose bumps, and the spirit witnessed to me once again that this gospel is true!  His wife spoke first, and then he addressed us.  it was amazing! 

Wednesday was our week marker.  We did the usual class time activities, and taught our TRC investigator.  The lesson didn't go so well.  It was kind of like a bible bash sesh...  My companion would throw out some scriptures, and the investigator wouldn't care.  My companion told me that he cried during it.  It was because the guy wouldn't accept that Christ atoned for our sins, and he took it pretty hard.  I pumped him up though, and he felt much better after.  We decided that we are going to teach him what he wants to know.  Not what we want him to know heheh.  He wants to know how the gospel is going to help him NOW.

Thursday was great.  same old same old.  The food was all gross yesterday.  We went up to the main campus and did this in-field-orientation.  Basically we go from different workshops for 9 hours.  it was alright, i learned a lot.  I talked with a ton of people, so that was fun!  Some of the elders i was talking to are going to Brazil on there mission, and they said that they were getting their re-assginments that day.  I saw them a little later, and it turns out they are re-assigned to Pittsburgh!  I was sooo happy:)  They were cool guys, so it'll be fun.  I won't ever see them though...  We also taught Alexander (our TRC) last night.  We went in with plan to teach him about service, tithing, the word of wisdom, law of chastity, those time of things.  He started asking us quesitons and we go stuck back into our old routine of trying to prove that Jesus is the Christ.  The spirit was  not there, so i brought up how service will bless his life.  He instantly reacted positively to that, so we taught him how serving others will bring him closer to God, and he will receive blessings.  Next we talked about the Word of Wisdom.  We explained how that will help him, and i challenged him to live it.  He agreed, and before we ended i asked him to pray morning and night and tell us how it went.  He agreed again!  The spirit was so strong, and definitely there for the last part of the lesson.  Once we started teaching what we knew God has prepared us to teach he picked up on it so well!  I was so grateful and happy.  It was awesome!

Today we went to the temple, and it was so nice to be back there!  We ate lunch in the cafeteria, and then came back to the MTC.  My companion and I just went and played volleyball with some other elders, and now i am sitting here writing you:)

Elder Birrell

ps thanks for all the Halloween Candy! 

Austin and Cameron Robins at the MTC

October 11. 2013

Hello Family!
Well, it's my first 3 days in the MTC, and I love it!  It is awesome!  It is not nearly as bad as i though it was going to be.  People always so how awful and boring the MTC is, and i love it!  I'll just start with the first day.

When you dropped me off, i went to the bookstore and they gave me so manuals and stuff like that.  Then they took me to a bus stop that is going to take me to the west campus (wyview/raintree area) so that's where i am living right now.  I really wanted to stay on the main campus, but now i am grateful i am not there.  We have really nice apartments.  There is one other companion ship in the room next to us, and on the main campus they have 6 elders in a room our size.  In our room, it's just me and my companion.  Elder Grimmett.  He's an awesome companion.  So we have a huge apartment kitchen/bathroom/living room/ 2 bedrooms.  All of that just for the 4 of us.  So i am already getting blessed. heheh.  We dropped my bags off at my room, and they showed me to my class room.  I was one of the first to get to my room, so i had to wait for the others to show up.  I ended up sitting there for 2 hours, but i had the teachers to talk with.  That night we did this investigator night where 70 of us go in a room and watch elders teach and "investigator".  Then for the second half we raise our hand to speak, and act like the missionaries.  IT WAS AWFUL.  First of all, there are a million other new missionaries who have no idea what we are doing, so it got confusing.  Plus the "investigators" asked such hard questions!  Let's just say i felt a little discouraged when we got home.  Before we went to bed, i said a 15 minute prayer just asking for strength and that the next day would be a lot better, and that i would love my companion and my district.  

God hears and answers our prayers.  

Tuesday was awesome!  It was so much fun!  My prayers were answered, and i enjoyed every minuted of it!  I woke up right at 6:30, but didn't get in the shower until 7:15 (when study time should start) two of the elders took the whole 45 minutes to get ready.  But i'm fast so i was in an out really fast.  Once i was ready to go we had to walk to our class room.  We have to do all our studying in our classrooms.  Our class room is in Raintree and our apartment is in Wyview.  So it took a little time to get there.  We ended up being 30 minutes late, but the sisters still hadn't come so we were good.  We did our study and stuff and then went to lunch.  The food actually isn't to bad here.  However, we have to use metal utensils and those stupid plastic/glass cups.  But the lord is blessing me so i was able to use them.  I didn't need to ask for plastic and paper (not that they would have given it to me anyway).  After lunch we went back to our class room and had some more study time.  They gave us a lot of study time yesterday.  But we finally had our 3 hour class time where we learned how to plan.  We have notes from investigators on the white board, and we are supposed to prepare a lesson to teach them and receive revelation.  It seems like everything we do requires revelation to go with it.  They are always telling us to receive revelation for these people on what God wants us to teach them.  It gets a little intimidating, but i am trying!  The lesson was really good though.  They just started teaching us the basics on how to be a missionary.  There's a lot of teaching about how to teach, but a lot of it is also on just trying to fully convert us.  We can't teach someone beyond our conversion.  That night we had a zone meeting, and new zone leaders and district leaders were called.  I was called to be my districts leader, but i don't know that that means or what i do.  i pick up the mail and that seems about it, so not to hard.

Today has not been as awesome as yesterday.  We had our first teaching experience today, and i thought we were prepared but the "investigator" never said anything!  he just sat and listened and answer our questions with "i guess".  But he agreed to let us come back and teach him another lesson (of course).  I can say though i love my district.  They're are a bunch of fun and spiritual people in it!  I am going to miss being  surrounded by so many people too!  I love talking to all of the different missionaries, and it's going to be sad just talking to one person for 6 months.  I have met so many people and they are all awesome!  I love the MTC, it crazy!  But it's only 3 days in...  maybe I'll dislike it soon.  But i don't have long to wait!  We got our flight plans today and we fly out on October 21st at 6am.  We have to leave for the airport at 2:30am!!!!!!!!!!  I am going to die.  Plus we have a layover.  We arrive in Pittsburgh at 1:06pm.  But i am excited i cannot wait to serve out in the field.

Well that's it so far.  I love this gospel so much.  I feel as though i have already grown so much in just a couple of days!  I feel the spirit all of the time, and i pray harder than i ever have.  It's still sinking in that i am a missionary.  It feels like i am at camp, and will be going home in a week.  I'm not coming home for 2 years though!  I love you all so much, and I loved reading your letters.  It was fun to do my first night.  I know this gospel is true and i know my savior lives.  I had a perfect example of what the gospel is like growing up in my family, so know i know what to teach those who are searching for that.  


Elder Birrell

ps i didn't proof read this, so if it has a lot of typo's i am sorry.