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.