Well, it's been another kinda tough week here in Collierville, Tennessee. I feel like I don't have a ton to report on this time, so I'll just have a bunch of random stories from this week. One piece of good news is that our investigator, Wendy, whose husband told her she can't be baptized, has softened a little and will let her be baptized! ...After she waits a full year. So that's a good change.
We taught Anette about tithing, fasting, and church callings this week. We are hoping to finish all the lessons before her set baptismal date in late november, and convince her to move the date up.
One last thing before I move onto the fun stories - on exchanges, we got chatting w this nice guy whose door we knocked on. He said he thought it was crazy to dismiss the idea of living prophets, and accepted a Book of Mormon, so that was good! That doesn't happen very often, unfortunately haha.
Okay, fun stories!
Last p day, desperate for an excuse to leave our apartment, we helped one of the priests in the ward build a Warped Wall, from American Ninja Warrior. All from scratch. He finished it later this week, and it looks good!
We had our 3rd district meeting on Tuesday. I kinda put it together last minute, (or at least the day before) but I thought it was probably our best district meeting so far. Had some good discussion and all that. Our district is pretty awesome.
We were taken out to dinner one night to tag along for the Whitaker's son's 13th birthday! He's a super cool kid. We went to Firebird Steakhouse, and there wasn't much on the menu under $20. There was a group of about ten of us. The bill was like $350, and Bro. Whitaker added an even hundred dollar tip on top of that. He does a lot of real estate in the Memphis area and does very well, living next door to Mike Conley, who just signed like a $100+ million 5 year contract for the Memphis Grizzlies or something. Anyway, seeing that kind of generosity really makes me want to get to a point in my life where I can leave hundred dollar tips.
Had dinner with another family, and the mother told me she had read my book, "Lies"! A book club in Collierville is reading it this month, so that's pretty exciting! A bunch of the ward members have been reading it and spreading the word! They've got me feeling like David Archeletta or something.
On our way out of the apartment complex, I almost got hit by a cement truck on my bike! Just kidding, it wasn't that dramatic. They're doing construction next door, and the road is divided so one side of the road goes one way, there's a big divider w trees, etc., and then the other side of the road goes the other way. Well, this big truck hauling cement comes going down the wrong freaking side of the road. Oh well, I make eye contact w the driver, nod, and make my way along the side of the truck, expecting him to give me the 3 feet on the road *required by law.* lol nope. If anything he starts hugging the side of the road. So now my handlebars are getting really close to the bed of the truck, and my front tire is about scraping the side of the road. I slam on the breaks while this guy edges past me, rather than hit the truck or ride up on the gutter and fall into the truck. That annoyed the heck out of me, cause I kinda really hate biking, and that is without the threat of giant vehicles killing me stacked on top of my own clumsiness.
It was another hot week. Idk how to describe it, Cause it has started to feel like fall, but it is still so hot outside. There are leaves on the ground and a breeze, but we come in from biking just drenched haha. It has started to cool down a little bit, but even this week it says the temperatures go back up to 80 day by day.
Anyway, I survived that encounter, and then we went tracting in this cursed neighborhood. People would open the door before we even get to it and tell us they aren't interested. We had a cat following us around for a while, and it darted into one house of a lady telling us she wasn't interested... twice. So she had to go chase after it and throw it outside again. That was funny. We said a prayer with one lady which was interesting. Usually when people ask, hand holding is involved, but she just stuck her arm out and we put our hands in the middle like we were gonna do a team cheer haha. So that was different.
We knocked a lot of doors this week. On one day, we spent a quick afternoon in one neighborhood, knocking 81 doors. Of those, only 19 doors opened. 16 of the people listened to us long enough for us to ask if we could share a message, and 0 of them wanted to hear us out. We had one guy let us in and give us water, which was awesome. He was a pretty cool muslim from India, and gave us an English copy of the Quran. He found a verse in there about how "God doesn't have offspring so Jesus was only a prophet, etc." We looked past the difference and asked him questions and there are a lot of similarities, honestly. We traded him his Quran for my Book of Mormon haha. So I spent the rest of the day knocking doors w my bible and the Quran which was kinda fun haha.
I read some of the Quran when we got back that night, and there were some cool thoughts and good ideas, and it's clear that anyone who claims they aren't God fearing, peaceful people, hasn't read what they believe. (And for that matter, neither have the people who are the reason for people thinking they aren't peaceful people!) While I think there are great concepts in there to follow, I could tell that the spirit that I'm used to feeling when I read the scriptures isn't there. I'm thankful for the Holy Ghost that helps us recognize truth and that testifies of Christ.
On Sunday, I spoke in church! I didn't quite take up the full 15 minutes alotted to me, but I thought I did pretty dang good, not to toot my own horn or anything. But since I've been focused on preparing for that all week, I'm once again left today with not much planned for our district meeting tomorrow. Dang.
And finally, after church yesterday, we got a ride up with the missionaries from Holly Springs to another church building, where we practiced for the musical fireside for a few hours, had dinner, and then performed! We had invited like 6 or 7 people to this, and only Anette came. But I think she enjoyed it, so that was good. Still disappointing to not see anyone else, there. They missed out, cause it was awesome.
Another missionary said that the gift of tongues must apply to music, too, cause it's the only thing that could have made us sound good haha. I thought that was funny and probably true! Cause I am not a singer at allllllll but we sounded good! There were about 200 people there, so not as many people as there were chairs set up (ouch!) but everyone seemed to enjoy it. We get to do it again this weekend further into Memphis!
Well, this is the last P Day of the transfer! This Saturday, we will get an email telling us transfer news--whether we are staying here in Collierville, or where we are going and with whom. If I stay one more transfer, that would be a full 6 months in Collierville, which I would really love! (Though I might love it more if there was more traction and progress happening.) After the email on Saturday, we have Sunday to get packed, and then early Monday morning we meet at the church building in Memphis. So it is quick! I'd love one more transfer here, but we will see!
I hope you all have a fantastic week!
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
(Different address in case I get transferred, so letters go to the mission office and can be forwarded, rather than sent somewhere I am not anymore)
So many things happened this week that it was very difficult to title this email.
Other key points from the week: My 2nd District Meeting, bad news from a few investigators, Area Book 2.0 memes, an expensive steakhouse, awesome new friends, getting chastened by a German member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and a fire alarm going off during church.
Before getting into that, some random thoughts from this week:
I have decided our upstairs neighbors either have a horse in their apartment, or else various hopscotch courts on which they frequently jump, about 23/7.
I think I've had more hamburgers in the past few weeks than I usually do in several months. Not one of them has been bad, so I can't complain one bit. But there's been a lotta burgers.
Okay, onto the meat.
(Well, not yet, that part comes later. First up is District Meeting!)
My 2nd District Meeting as the District Leader went pretty well, I thought! I don't dare poll the district to see my approval rating, though. Coming up with stuff to teach without being assigned a topic is hard!
We went to Firehouse Subs afterward for lunch, and a nice lady, not of our faith, bought each of us a cookie while we were waiting for our sandwiches. What?? How sweet is that??
Later that day, we went to contact 2 of our new investigators. 1 wasn't home, and the 2nd was. His wife was outside and told us to wait because he had something for us. A few minutes later he comes out with the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet we gave him. Yup. He explained his wife didn't want them in the house. Ugh.
Elder Bingham and I talked about the lesson we were supposed to learn from that experience and I was reminded of a funny story from last week I forgot to tell.
After I'd given this guy my Book of Mormon, we kept tracting and ran into this other guy who must have had a bad experience with missionaries before. He came out ready to go, arguing with us about grace vs. works, the classic boring bash stuff. He wouldn't let us get a word in. "I don't wanna none of whatever's in your stupid book," he told us, going as far as to jab the cover of my remaining book with his finger. I raised an eyebrow and held the book so he could read the cover. ("The Holy Bible") he stammered and went back inside pretty quick after that hahaha.
So we didn't get any words or defense in, but I still felt like victory was unquestionably ours. Maybe that experience will make him think about how he interprets the bible or something, I dunno. It's a funny story for us, at least.
We spent some time tracting but it felt like no one was home. Thankfully, the day the guy gave us back the Book of Mormon ended on a slightly better note. (This is where the meat comes in.)
The Smiths took us out to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse, and (after giving us a ~~$200~~ gift card to Subway...!! SERIOUSLY WHAT?!) told us to not look at the prices on the menu, and even ordered extra stuff for us to take home. So after a steak and a slab of ribs and mashed potatoes that I couldn't finish, he got us each two (!!) pieces of cake to save for later. The mashed potatoes and fried green potatoes he ordered as an appetizer blew my mind. (34/10, will probably crave for the rest of my life) Goodness, what awesome people, though. Apparently he makes a good chunk of change visiting/supervising different nuclear power plants.
It amazes me how well the people here, (and God, ultimately) treats us. We're trying I guess, but we are still just more lucky and blessed than we can ever earn or work for. I wish we had more to show for all that we are doing!
The next day, we taught Wendy, our most promising investigator I've talked about before. The lesson went well, but we learned that her husband told her she can't be baptized. And she wants to be, pretty bad. Dangit. What's with people's spouses keeping them from the restored gospel?? So that was a big time bummer. We will continue to meet with her, and she will keep trying to soften her husband's heart and show him that the gospel isn't a scary thing.
That night, I got a much needed haircut and felt a lot lighter and more good-looking. My bicycle helmet needed some tightening the next day lol.
And then there was Thursday!
In the morning, there was a voice mail from our Zone Leaders, which was a scary thing to see at first. But it was an invitation to come help take down the Memphis Temple for its closure and remodeling over the next ~20 months. Elder Bingham and I were both stoked at the prospect and managed to get a last minute ride that morning from Brother Gaar.
We showed up and saw that the cornerstone had been removed, and parts of the ceiling were out. The temple was pretty empty and weird feeling. We were led to the attic of the temple, where we were helped move spare parts and excess building supplies out to a trailer, or to the trash. After a while of that we took a break in the empty celestial room. (The most sacred and reverent part of the temple, supposed to be a model for what heaven will be like.) The spirit was definitely still there. But it was different. Wallpaper had been peeled back in one spot, revealing the mold that was the impetus for the remodel.
The temple had been modeled after those in the west, but hadn't been adapted for the humid climate, so the mold was pretty bad. They will do quite a bit of other remodeling, though, too.
After the break, we helped take each crystal from the chandeliers off one at a time and roll them in bubble wrap. There were a lot of little crystals, but it was a really neat experience.
There was a crew of other workers there, and I heard a few of them talking about having just finished the new Provo MTC buildings I enjoyed, and another guy, upon hearing I was from Boise, said he just finished working on the Meridian, Idaho Temple! That was really cool. (Apparently the open house public viewing of that starts this week, so if you're in the area, please go for me!!!)
That evening we did some biking and decided to visit this older lady we'd chatted with a couple times before. Her daughter was there, and her two sons were there, too, plus a girlfriend to one of them. We had an awesome, normal conversation for the better part of 2 hours, ranging from travel to Alternative Music, (!!!) and concluding in a thought from the Book of Mormon they all seemed to enjoy. They then gave us a ride home in their minivan with our bikes in the back since it was dark and they (like us) didn't want us riding back the 3-4 miles to our apartment on the same roads as Memphis drivers haha.
On the ride back, the lady's daughter thanked us for bringing the spirit into their home, and talked about how much her sons kinda needed it. As she dropped us off, she told us any time we are in the area and need a ride, we can knock on the door and ask, "like we're family." That was so nice. Idk, that just meant a lot. They're really great people. Unfortunately her sons and the girlfriend aren't local, and have gone back to school since that visit. Hopefully we made an impression on them, so the next time missionaries come knocking on their door, they'll let them in!
We use an app called "AreaBook" to plan our day, and it has lists of members and investigators and so on. Well, this week the old version got deleted from our tablets and replaced with a "new and improved" version. It's kinda the worst, least intuitive thing ever. It hurts to plan and takes twice as long. In spare time before bed, we have enjoyed reading the reviews on Google Play. It kinda became like "missionary twitter," and the reviews page was the birth of the AreaBook2.0 memes. I was proud of my addition, "'No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing...,' but AreaBook2.0 might! Within the first day there were over a hundred pretty funny reviews, but they keep getting deleted haha.
So anyway, that's been painful to get used to.
On Friday, Elder Klebengat of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to the Memphis side of the mission! It was awesome. He's from Germany and didnt really mince words haha. There was some chastening that happened, but it was good. I left feeling motivated and inspired and just amazed by this guy. He could name a half dozen scriptures for anything. He blew my mind with scriptures about our premortal life, and how our calling as missionaries transcends and precedes our mortal life. Dope stuff.
When we got home, Elder Bingham and I agreed on how going comatose like some people in the Book of Mormon did sounded pretty good right then. There was so much wisdom to digest! I think I'll be referring to my notes for a long time.
That night for dinner, we had 12/10 homemade pizza rolls at the apartment of a young couple, with another couple from the ward and their kids. We played "Last Word" which was a new game to me, and a lot of fun. I didn't come in last place, so that's a good change in pace haha. The husband of the visiting couple, Bro. Stanbaugh, was on the cover of the October 2003 New Era Magazine. :)
On Saturday, we met with Anette, and she pushed her baptismal date back to late November. :( It's whatever, if she will be more ready then, then that will be good for her. Nobody else we tried that day was home/answered the door. That night we had Red Robin with this awesome Indian guy who became a member of the church after having the impression that he should just go to the church building one day. He showed up on Sunday and was told the meeting was over. So he came really early the next Sunday, and waited a while for anyone else to show up. Next thing you know, the missionaries in India are teaching him, and then he is going out teaching with them as a member! :)
Anette thankfully came to church on Sunday, and that less active lady who we visited before conference right as she was praying for answers also came! I've never seen her at church before so it was awesome to see her there, even if she ducked out early with her kids.
Oh, and the fire alarm went off! As we were evacuating sacrament meeting, it was discovered a little kid had just pulled the alarm so we went back and finished the meeting haha.
Anyway, it was a busy week, but it didn't feel super productive. Our baptismal hopes got pushed back a little, and we didn't find new people to teach, but it was still good.
This week is my 3rd district meeting (yikes I need to prepare a discussion by tomorrow again ahhhhh) and then our Missionary Musical Fireside thing is next week, which should be awesome!
I hope you all have a delightful week and are enjoying more fall-like temperatures than we are!
For photos, memes, sick jams
866 Schilling Rd, apt.103
Collierville, TN 38017
For your forwarded jury duty summons and leftovers
I feel like I haven't had a "normal missionary day" since last transfer. It's been another weird, busy, week! There were a couple "in the right place at the right time" moments that help me know I'm doing God's work and that He is leading us, no matter how weird the rest of the week is.
First up on the Weekly Email Agenda:
I had my first District Meeting of the transfer! Which is significant because I am the District Leader and had to teach for a good little section of the 1.5 hr block. It went well, though! I based the instruction off of Matthew 10:16, which is Jesus' advice to his disciples as He sends them out into the world. He tells them "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
So we discussed the symbolism of each of those animals and then looked for other biblical "spirit animals" in the scriptures that we can learn from. I think it was good??
We forgot to do a district photo after the meeting so... we will do that this week.
Later that day, we had about an hour long block in our day to get to this lady's house, hope she was home to teach her, and then get back to our apartment to be picked up for another teaching appointment. We biked out to this lady's house, thankfully not too far away, and discovered she wasn't home. Dangit.
So, in what felt like the hottest day in a long time, we biked back to our apartment. As I got on the sidewalk and rounded the corner, I saw that there were sprinklers going off over the sidewalk. I might have been able to dodge them by biking down the hill into the road, but... I just went for it and biked through the sprinklers. I was sweating so much already it wasn't like I could get *more* wet. I was gonna have to change my shirt at the apartment anyway. It felt good haha.
At the apartment, we stood in front of a big fan on full blast for a while and then were picked up for our next lesson, with Anette. We taught the word of wisdom and she told us she had quit smoking and drinking cold turkey long ago! So that helps. We are hoping to baptize her at the end of this month, but we will see if she decides to keep coming to church regularly.
In terms of other lessons, we had a 2.5 hour long one with Wendy. She wants to be baptized and knows that it is right, but is worried about how her family will react. Her kids have been coming to church events and have a lot of Mormon friends now, so I don't think they will be as opposed to her decision as she thinks they will. Her husband on the other hand will pose a greater challenge. We are hoping to be able to teach the rest of her family - at least from a "this is why your mom/wife is making the decision she is" informational standpoint. So we will see. She is awesome, though, and knows this is all true.
Elder Bingham had a doctors appointment just for a prescription renewal thing, but the mission nurse set the appointment in West Memphis? (Which is not in Memphis... It's a separate town, and in the state of Arkansas, just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, TN.) It's kind of a dump of a town haha, so it's charming in that sense. And it's a 45 minute drive away. An awesome nuclear physicist (?) ward member drove us out there and back for the 30 min. apppintment. It was at a church building, one of those cute half church buildings without a gym, and only a small chapel.
Another night, the Collierville 1st Ward had a Book of Mormon fireside. Literally. At the Gaar's farm, members of the ward surrounded a campfire and had a few people talk about reading the whole Book of Mormon between the April and October sessions of General Conference. It was really good, and not just because Brother Gaar made venison stew using deer he had shot on the property haha.
Like I said earlier, there were a couple really cool experiences we had this week in regards to being at the right place at the right time.
1. When we were finally able to do some solid tracting after all the busy-ness and craziness of the week, we hadn't found so much as one new person to teach all week. Which isn't unusual, but it is discouraging. We were doing one loop of a neighborhood, and it was looking kinda dead. As we were walking though, we saw a guy reaching down under the drivers seat of his car, struggling with something. I turned to Elder Bingham and shrugged, bracing myself. (I've been trying to improve in my street contacting abilities. I'm not a fan of it because I feel like I'm interrupting people, and it's easier to talk to people when you knock on their door because they already expect you to say something. But it can be a more effective way of finding people to teach.)
So I gave a "hello, how's it going?" type thing and an older gentleman stood up and said hi. I asked what he was working on and he said he was trying to get one of those rubber floor mat things back into his car. He was clearly struggling. I told him I could help, expecting all the while that he would say something along the lines of "Oh, that's fine, I've got it covered, thanks though," but he didn't protest, so I quickly snapped in the floor mat. (The poor guy was trying to put it in sidewise.)
We shook hands and introduced ourselves, and asked if we could share a message. He shrugged and said if we didn't mind standing in his driveway, we could then and there. We got to know him a little, and discovered he'd just remarried after his first wife had passed away. We shared some of the restoration and plan of salvation with him, and after a smooth transition from Elder Bingham (way to go, Greenie!) We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, too. He said we could come back. Yay!
If we hadn't picked that street to tract, at that time, starting on that side and not going backwards, and if the person who we initially tried had been home after all, we wouldn't have found Fred.
2. We went to help Anette figure out General Conference on her TV, on Saturday morning but she didn't answer the door. (She was probably still asleep... can't blame her.) So we went over to one of her neighbors houses, a (kinda crazy) less active lady to tell her about General Conference, too. We knocked on the door and she was almost in tears as soon as she saw us. She told us she had just been in the kitchen praying to God and asking him "why?" in response to all of the trials she is going through. And then we knocked on the door to tell her about General Conference. I was able to look her in the eye and promise her that God will answer her questions through His prophets during GenConf. It wasn't me making that promise, though. :)
So that was cool, and helped set the mood for the rest of the conference weekend. It's different hearing the talks with investigators in mind, wondering how this could help them, or what they would learn from this talk, and so on.
We watched all the morning/afternoon sessions at Brother Boggs' house, with various board and card games between the sessions. I didn't win a single one haha. (It's just a weakness to keep me humble and to prevent me from rising into pride, that's all)
The 2nd Ward had a "Priesthood Session Tailgate" before the Priesthood Session, involving burgers and brats, guac, jalapeno poppers, jambalaya, and so on. It was good stuff, and really fun to see the awesome folks of the Collierville 2nd Ward again.
As we sung "How Firm a Foundation" during that session at the church, I turned around to look at the sparse couple dozen Priesthood holders in attendance in the chapel that evening and felt the spirit and God's love for these people pretty powerfully. What an awesome part of the world, and what a privelage it is to be able to serve here, alongside these incredible people.
Anyway, conference was awesome, 10/10 would recommend. You can watch it all on lds.org, now.
We have another kinda weird week coming up since Elder Kliebengat of the Seventy is coming on Friday. And I have yet to prepare a district meeting lesson for tomorrow. (yikes!) But it should still be good. I'm excited to have an extra day or two on a slightly more regular schedule this week. :)
Enjoy General Conference if you haven't yet, and have a stellar week!
Email your favorite weirdo missionary -> firstname.lastname@example.org
Or if you only have a typewriter or quill pen with ink, you can:
A. Get with the times, and/or
B. Pay an exorbitant shipping fee to send hate mail, ransom notes, and nonperishables to
866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
P.S. RIP Ole Miss, Alabama destroyed them. (We caught part of a football game Saturday night in this sno cone shop after the Priesthood Session. I'm about as apathetic as it gets when it comes to football but they got whooped)
This week went by a lot faster than last week. The fact that it has only been 6 days since the last time I emailed home helps a lot haha.
We got to go to the Memphis Temple! It closes at the end of this month for a 20-month long remodel, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to go before then! It'll be fun to come again when it has re-opened and see how it has changed. I'm hoping I'll be able to help with tours and missionary related stuff for the temple open house, etc. when it reopens! But we will see!
After we visited the temple we had the opportunity to have kind of a Q and A session with the Memphis Temple President which was cool! We got back later that night, but from then through all of the next day I could just really feel the spiritual difference in myself having been to the temple.
We were gonna have an awesome lesson that next day but the lady was sick so we had to cancel. So we adjusted plans and did some biking. We were outpacing a train for a little while, which was fun! Train horns are loud.
We got to teach Anette after almost 2 weeks without seeing her. I've been teaching her once or twice a week since I got here 3+ months ago. She's a sweet old black lady with some back problems, and some learning disabilities. We read another chapter of the Book of Mormon with her and talked about the importance of coming to church with us. She has been really struggling with leaving her old church behind, even though she loves the Book of Mormon and President Monson... it has been a little frustrating. So I asked her if she still wanted to be baptized on October 14th. To my pleasant surprise, she said she still wanted to try. And she said she would come to church this week! Yay! It's awesome to see her progressing! And it would be very very awesome for her to be baptized! We just have to keep working with her to make sure she is "all in."
Later that day we got talking with this sweet 80 year old lady who was living in the same cute little southern home that she grew up in. She talked about her family, the growth of Collierville, her flowers, and in classic southern style, talked for a good 15-20 minutes. She seemed like she enjoyed the company, and we probably coulda sat and listened to her for a full hour but we had places to be, doors to knock, souls to save, all that. Fun stuff, though. She invited us back another time to tell her all about Idaho and Arizona. :)
We have biked less this week than last week. Members have given us rides quite a bit, which we appreciate very much. I feel bad asking for rides so often, though, and it really makes me miss having a car to drive around. :/ it's kinda like not having a driver's license again.
Oh yeah and we now have Facebook and smart phones.
On Thursday, we had our zone conference. After rumors and all that, we finally got smart phones to replace our fun flip phones and received the "go" to begin using Facebook as a tool for missionary work!
So now the tablet I had to buy for the mission, and the phone we are using are Samsung. My inner Apple fanboy is dying a little bit because of all the weird quirks and confusingness of everything, but it's a major upgrade from those flip phones. Going back to Apple at the end of my mission will probably be another headache haha.
Apparently we are one of 12 missions the First Presidency has chosen to begin using smartphones. Lucky us!
Facebook has been weird. I didn't like Facebook very much after like my freshman year, and my liking declined since then. It felt weird logging in and seeing everyone's dumb political posts and memes and stuff for a while haha. It was like "oh yeah that's why I don't like this lol"
(I saw that there is so much new music out though, yiiiiikkkeerrrrrs)
(Because Facebook bought Instagram it keeps showing me ads for Instagram and tells me I have 101+ notifications from Instagram, but I can't download it or anything, and it makes me miss it a lot yiiiiiiikkkeesssss)
So I pretty much muted/unfollowed everyone but my family, LDS related pages, and other missionaries, rather than unliking/unfriending because we are supposed to keep our (good) likes up so people can tell that we are real human beings haha.
I can respond to church related questions there anytime, but I'm still expected to only communicate with family, friends, etc. via email on my p days. I can't use Facebook to do that.
I wish we got a little more instruction on how to like... actually use Facebook as a missionary tool. Because I'm friends with a bunch of the awesome members down here, now, but like... finding new people to teach on there? Idk I guess we will figure it out as we keep moving! Any ideas??
So yeah that's the big news from this week!
We did some more biking on Saturday. Had some high schoolers jeer at us out of their cars which was weird. I try to please everyone and I'm pretty used to being on people's good sides, so idk I had a prideful moment like "don't those stupid kids know that I'm a multipublished author and professional photographer and an eagle scout and...and... [essentially] If they knew how cool I was, they wouldn't be doing that." (Ok so my thought wasn't exactly that dumb sounding, but you get the idea.)
It made me think about how Christ himself must have felt being mocked and scourged during his earthly ministry. "Don't you know who I am? I created the ground beneath your feet. I am the God your fathers worshipped, I parted the red sea. Billions have and billions will worship my name. I knew you before this life, and I am here to make it possible for you to be forgiven of the things you are doing right now."
So thinking of that really helped put me in my place and just kinda enjoy the moment of being shouted at by some dumb kids who just don't know what they're doing. It's impossible to suffer more than He did. (See 1 Nephi 19:9)
Biking was hard that day, though, we did a lot of it. As we biked home in the dark, the road to our apartment from where we were was pretty hilly. Downhill is pretty fun. But biking uphill is tough, my dudes. Especially when you have biked all day and aren't in shape. We got back to the apartment drenched and I, at least, was very sore the next day. Gotta do what you gotta do to get the thunder thighs.
At the same time, though, biking up and down hills of a country road in Tennessee past the occasional firefly after sunset sounds pretty cool. All in the way you look at it, I guess.
Wendy and Anette both came to church on Sunday! And apparently Wendy went to a relief society bake off thing and actually won hahaha. (I was a little miffed they didn't hit us up to be the judges but itsk) But it was awesome to have them both there! We then had two dinners and a game night. Sundays are good.
Anyway, it has been a good week! It hasn't felt super busy, but looking back on it, we actually did a lot. We are looking forward to a pretty awesome week this week, meeting with Anette and Wendy again, plus a few of the people who said we could come back, plus my first District Meeting as the District Leader, and a quick trip to Arkansas for a Doctors appointment for Elder Bingham.
So yeah! All kinds of good stuff behind and ahead of us. Things are good in Collierville. I have managed to stay out of additional bushes while on my bike, so y'all must be praying harder for my safety. I appreciate that. My clumsy butt needs it. :)
Love you all! Have a super week, and enjoy General Conference!!
Send emails, music reviews, memes, favorite scriptures, selfies, floral ties etc. to email@example.com.
866 Schilling Rd, apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
if you're feeling adventurous :)
And if you haven't added me on Facebook, you can find me by searching "Oliver Dahl missionary." You'll get the occasional spiritual thought and cool video there. :)
Since September 8th, every day has been ABSOLUTELY CRAZY. I dunno if things will get back to the calm-before-the-storm levels, but that's okay! Because somehow, despite the craziness, things are still moving and going well!
Let's rewind back to last Monday, shall we? [*Tape rewinding sounds*]
"This is me. I'm sure you're wondering how I got stuck in this situation."
Just kidding, if you read my last email, you would know.
We drove to the Memphis Temple to drop off Elder Henderson and to report for duty! Elder Henderson is now back home safe in the land of potatoes, the good ol' Idahome itself.
I, on the other hand, got stuck in a big ol van sitting cheek to cheek with like 9 other missionaries for the 3 hour drive to Little Rock, Arkansas. We got to the church, got our luggage and stuff, and then I piled into a car with Elders Evans and Hoyle and Sabey to head to Conway, Arkansas for a couple days.
Slept 2 nights on the Conway Couch, and had a blast and a half serving in a quadpanionship with those guys haha. We split up 2 and 2 to go knock doors, but for teaching appointments, all four of us would file up the sidewalk to the door. They have an awesome investigator who read and studied the Book of Mormon while he was in prison for a while. He just got out this year, and he's so excited to be baptized! Hearing him talk about how "real" the church is was awesome to me. He said something like "the Holy Ghost, the power of God, prophets like Moses... it's all real! Right here! Right now!" So I guess for me to just put myself in his shoes and think about how awesome the gospel is from an outside perspective was super cool!
Anyway, four of us walking up to a door was fun. It was awesome. We laughed a ton. Which made attending the funeral interesting.
Finally, the day came to meet the new missionary I would be training!
"Wait, what's that? You want to hear about the funeral? Oh, okay." [*rewinding noises again*]
It's our first morning in Conway, and the first thing on the schedule after studies is to attend an ash burial for someone that none of the missionaries knew. We arrived at the cemetery and it was rightfully overcast and sprinkling. The Confederate flag blew in the wind over the occaisonal grave. It was probably like 50 to 60 something degrees outside and felt awesome. The first time I have felt cold since coming out. A family from Oregon had driven way out here to bury their mother?'s ashes in the plot her father had bought for her. It looked kinda like what you'd imagine an Arkansas funeral to be like. Blue jeans, cowboy boots, and bedazzled shirts that didn't completely cover muffin tops. It was these 4 members of the family, two members of the local bishopric, us four missionaries, plus the local sister missionaries. Thankfully the sisters could sing well cause the rest of us couldn't.
So that's the funeral story. [*fast forwarding noises.* Do fast forwarding noises sound different than rewinding noises?]
On Wednesday, we met at the North Little Rock church building and got to meet all 24 of the incoming missionaries! There were a lot of them. We had lunch, watched videos on bicycle and driving safety, other housekeeping stuff, and then finally we got to hear about our companions! President Hansen talked about the revelatory process and how these assignments really are divinely guided and not his own work. I really felt the spirit as he said it, and my worries went away.
I'm now serving with Elder Bingham from Mesa, AZ! He's a stud, excited to work hard and get talking to people! He's doing great.
We drove back to Memphis that night. Brother Boggs picked us up and drove us to Collierville after a stop at Sear Shack for some yummy burgers.
And then the rest of the week. Phew!
Among the many changes to our area (me training, me as the district leader, and sister missionaries now in half of Collierville & us in the other half) is the fact that we are now on bikes full time and without a car.
So Thursday was my first day biking in the mission, and my first day biking in years, probably since I biked to my Drivers Ed classes my sophomore year?
Anyway, all the roads seemed more flat when we had the car...
Our first appointment was at noon so we biked about 4 miles up in the cooler part of the day. Not too bad, I thought. I could feel my legs burning, and walking felt a little weird at first after we got there. That said, it was tolerable!
But we had a great lesson with this lady. She was the one who had all those questions, and was kinda apprehensive about a lot of things in the church. She told us that on her way over to the appointment, she had received the impression that she should "just stop fighting." (HOW COOL IS THAT??) We were able to formally teach her the full 1st lesson on the restoration, and help her with her concerns about Joseph Smith. Apparently her 16 year old daughter went to early morning seminary on Monday! (HOW COOL IS THAT??)
We are meeting with her again tomorrow, but are super excited about her progression and growth of faith!
We did some more biking, and was starting to feel the pain. We walked and did some door knocking. Had one person say we could come back. And then we biked to the Bishop's house so we could have him give Elder Bingham a customary "new to the area" Bishop's blessing. His wife didn't want us biking home in the dark, (and we didn't really want to, either) so she drove us home, and then picked us up the next morning and took us to Chik-Fil-a for breakfast and then back to their house for our bikes, which we rode home that morning.
Hoooooooo Boyyyyy. My body. It was a miracle we made it home. I only crashed once. (It wasn't that bad, yay for people praying that the missionaries will be safe!)
We had studies and planned our day, and Sister Gaar, the saint that she is, volunteered to drive us around the rest of the day. She dropped us off for our one appt, who wasn't home. So Elder Bingham and I did some walking around the main street of Collierville, to show him around and to knock some doors. We made a Wal-Mart trip, where priority number one was a new bike seat. (The best $15 I've ever spent. It hurt to sit down anywhere lol, my butt has 0 cushion on it)
Through the rest of the week, Elder Bingham has been a source of great motivation and work ethic. He's excited to knock doors. So we knocked doors. And even got a map from the town hall so we can mark off the streets we have tried. Yay for organization!
We had one "bible bash" which is never fun, but I felt like I came out on top at least haha. The whole "not adding or taking anything from this book" quote from Revelations is old news. Written solely about the book of Revelations, (not the whole bible) which actually predates many of the other books of the New Testament, meaning if you're gonna use that to try to disprove the Book of Mormon you're also including a good chunk of the NT, too, so...? Agh. Satan tries really hard to keep people from wanting to read the Book of Mormon. The BoM is either inspired by him, or is, in actuality, God's word. That's it. And because it brings us closer to Christ, it is not something Satan would inspire. Put it to the test. See if you get closer to Christ by reading the BoM.
We had another lady say she would pray for us that we find out the truth and abandon the false notions that we are teaching about. [We will pray for the same thing for her haha.]
We also were invited right in to teach a younger mom. She said she was doing her bible study anyway, and welcomed us in to share a quick message. She kinda just nodded along like she wasn't really interested, but was just too nice to kick us out, but to our surprise said we could come back! So we will see what happens.
Stake Conference was this last weekend! Caroline came to the adult session, it was good to see her again! I'm gonna miss teaching her! But she is so solid. President Hansen spoke, and said that the last time he attended a Memphis Stake Conference was in 1980 as a missionary here himself, when they split the stake into the 2 stakes it is today. Cool that 37 years later, he's back as the mission president. (Cool, but probably not cool enough that it's something I'd aspire to hahaha)
Bike riding got better, especially with the new seat! I did fall off one more time, very slowly into the accommodating branches of a very comfortable bush. (Took a turn too fast and didn't lean into it enough so I just teetered over and fell off haha. I'm sure it looked hilarious.) Man, it's a good thing people pray that missionaries will be safe. (Thank you!) My legs are still pretty sore, but it's easier now than it was on day one. It's good for me. And the members are so good to us and can give us rides every once in a while!
Being district leader hasn't been too bad so far. I only have to relay weekly numbers and daily check in times to the zone leaders. But next week I'll get to teach a district meeting, so that will be interesting, and when the real challenge begins.
Training is good! Elder Bingham is great. His eagerness to work and to find people is so contagious.
It's been a very long, very busy week! Being in Conway feels like forever ago. Maybe it's cause our p day is on Tuesday this week. But today we are taking it easy. Cleaning the apartment, emailing, and napping. Until we get to go to the temple this evening!!!! I'm so excited to see the Memphis Temple before it gets renovated!
So there were 8 days between my last email and today, but next week my p day goes back to Monday, so now you only have to wait 6 days before another overly long email from Elder Dahl graces your inbox!
Have a great rest of your week! Read your scriptures!
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
P.S. the "training wheels" mentioned in the subject line was supposed to be a clever way to reference the fact that I'm training a new missionary, on bikes now, and also at the beginning and learning phases of each of those things. It's a layered metaphor!)
It's been a looooong week! Let me quickly catch you up to speed.
- We went paintballing on P day and I endured far more pain than I anticipated.
- I drowned my pain in the oil of fried food
- I killed Elder Henderson
- Our mission president challenged us to invite 70 people to take the missionary lessons this week. That is harder than it sounds.
- I got a pretty interesting phone call from our mission president.
- Caroline got baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, hopefully that quick catch up works like a clickbait news headline to get you to read the rest of this email. ("You won't believe what happened to Elder Dahl this week!")
We went paintballing in a group of like 10 missionaries, and 6 other members from Mississippi. We drove down to 'ssippi and shot at each other. I wore a suit jacket as armor that Elder Henderson was going to retire We did 1v1 rounds that were really fun and I won mine and avoided getting shot. Only got shot twice, which was a little disappointing honestly. But I did still get a lot of pain as, in our last round, I heard and felt something fly up my mask and get stuck in there. Assuming it was a fly, I reached my hand up to take the mask off, and as i was doing that, my thumb got stung. Hurried out of the arena and got my mask off ASAP. Didn't get stung in the face, yay! But my thumb hurt like crazy til the next day.
The Gaars had us over for dinner, and hosted a "Fry Day" that we had talked about doing with their granddaughter. Oh man there was a lot of fried food. We fried: mushrooms, pickles, onions, turkey, mac n cheese, peanut butter Oreos, snickers bars, cookie dough, and chocolate Twinkies. None of those tasted bad. They were all v yummy but I have a feeling fried food won't sound good again for a little while. (Or at least until the next time it is put in front of me lol)
The next day, we had district meeting. Afterward, we held a funeral service for Elder Henderson. I gave an extemporaneous eulogy that I was kinda proud of, and we took some fun pictures. I've now killed off both of my dads. ("Dad" is missionary slang for your trainer. To "kill" is to be their last companion before they go home, don't worry.)
We did a lot of door-knocking this week. Probably knocked about a hundred doors on the longest day, with most of the other days of the week coming in close behind. About 15 of those per day were actually home and opened the door long enough for us to ask if we could come back to share a message. About 1 a day said maybe. So... we've got like 4 or 5 maybes to work with haha.
The weather was so nice this week!!! Wednesday was literally the most perfect weather you could ever imagine. We got some epic storms from Hurricane Harvey, and now super nice weather potentially from Hurricane Irma. We are definitely getting the better end of the deal than everyone else. Sounds like those are pretty awful right now. :(
Anyway, we set a goal of 75 invites this week, 5 more than our Mission President's challenge, in order to meet our transfer goal. We made exactly 75 by the end of Sunday. So cool to see how the Lord provides a way for us to reach our goals.
On one day we wanted to get 20 invites in a day, and meetings fell through and got postponed so I was really worried we wouldn't get it, to the point of thinking there wasn't any hope. But we went to the neighborhood we planned on, and managed to get to 20 in an hour! It reminded me of the story where the Lord keeps diminishing the amount of soldiers in the army until it would be impossible for them to boast of their own strength. They are forced to recognize that it was God that provided for their success. Similarly, there is no way that we could have gotten that many invites... in one hour... in Collierville.. without the Lord preparing the area.
On Friday, I got a phone call from President Hansen. We chatted for a bit about how both of my companions have gone home after one transfer with me. Then he said he was gonna send me a companion who had just come out.
So yeah... I will be training! Which means, most likely, at least two more transfers in Collierville!
And then Pres. Hansen said I was also gonna be a district leader. What.
And then he changed his mind, saying Elder Smith was going to be a district leader. Phew!
And then he was like "oops, just kidding, I read that wrong... you ARE gonna be a district leader." Yikers
So yeah... I'll be a district leader! Over myself and the greenie, the sister missionaries coming into Collierville, and the Elders in Holly Springs, Mississippi. So that will be interesting!
Furthermore, we just learned Saturday night that our Collierville area is going to be all-bike, now. Also yikes.
So honestly I lost some sleep Saturday night kinda worrying about this upcoming transfer and all this extra stuff that is expected of me, now. But, silly as this sounds, I remembered the pioneers had to cross the whole country in wagons and handcarts with no food, so I can definitely ride a bike a few miles every day, if only to counteract all the food I'm eating. I have it so so good.
CAROLINE GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AHHH IT WAS THE BEST!!
We drove to the church building early to fill the baptismal font. Had everything ready to go, but the key we had wouldn't open the main curtain for everyone to see the font so the whole thing started fogging up. The sister missionaries called their bishop and we had to drive 15 minutes to the bishops house and back to get the key to the curtain, like 45 minutes before the baptism is supposed to start. Stressing ensued, especially as the bishop didn't appear to be home for about five minutes. But we got the key and got back! (Not without me earning my very first "Agressive Driving" alert on the little robot that checks our car speeds, etc. Man, that thing sucks and I'm a safe driver. It was interfering with our ability to be punctual, effective missionaries.) We did get there, though, with time to spare, and time to change, especially since the baptism started late. We were sad that her parents weren't there.
Took pictures [v v awkward not being able to hug or even put an arm around... mission rules smh] and practiced baptizing a little bit with Caroline in the hallway, and then played prelude music. The first speaker arrived late but it all worked out. And then it was time for the ordinance itself! I walked into the font, and we got situated, I said the prayer, and baptized her! Everything went perfectly! I got into the changing room and just felt awesome.
With Caroline, I'd kinda gotten into this mindset that any old missionary could have taught her and she would have been baptized, I was just lucky enough to be in the right area at the right time. She was so prepared, and her faith is so admirable. Her baptism wasn't anything that I did. But as I changed I felt like Heavenly Father was letting me know that this was one of the reasons I had been sent to the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. It felt so peaceful and bright.
Then we had the opportunity to confirm her and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. Then it was official!
That Sunday was VERY LONG. We got up extra early to attend 2nd Ward Correlation, where we spilt the news that we won't be over that ward anymore. They are excited for sisters, but it sounds like we will be missed! I'm glad to be so close still to so many of the people who have become such close friends in that ward. Then we had 2nd Ward sacrament meeting, and then a few minutes to spare before 1st Ward Sacrament Meeting. Elder Henderson gave a talk, and then I played my piano rendition of "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul," and as soon as I was done, we had to leave the meeting (with our record 3 investigators present!!) to drive the next town over to confirm Caroline! (A lot of people told us they were able to visit with the investigators that came to church, and said that they felt very welcomed. Yay!!)
After that sacrament meeting, Caroline went to get her temple recommend interview so she can do baptisms for the dead! She is so awesome, and is going to go on to do some great things! It has been so awesome to have seen her from first missionary contact to now.
Last week, we had a lady call us and say she has some hard questions for us to answer about Mormonism. She has been struggling to understand a lot of stuff about it for a long time, now. We were able to meet with her this week. I was pretty nervous going into it, because I had done a lot of research to be able to answer her questions, and I just really wanted the spirit to be there, and for it to not get bible bashy. It ended up being awesome. For almost 2 hours, she jumped from question to question and we were able to answer every single one. Some of them I hadn't studied for, but could remember random things I had read weeks ago. Pretty awesome how the spirit helps with remembering things. It was so cool to watch the gears turning in her head and you could really see light come to her eyes.
We met with her again on Sunday, and she realized how important it is for her to read the Book of Mormon. She and her family may be our next baptism, which would be so cool. We will be meeting her again on Thursday!
This next week is gonna be super weird.
Today I drive further into Memphis to send Elder Henderson home, and then I will be on extended exchanges kinda, in Conway, Arkansas! And then on Tuesday, I will meet all the new Elders and Sisters coming into the mission, and then Wednesday I think I will learn who I am training and meet my new companion!
In the mean time, I will have to get in touch with the new members of my new district, and get them pumped to tear it up in Collierville and Holly Springs! I was way nervous for this responsibility, and probably still will be for a while, but now I am also hecka pumped.
AND, on top of it all, my next P Day won't be til Tuesday the 19th. So one day later than usual. But we will be able to go to the Memphis Temple that day before it closes at the end of the month, so I am very excited for that, too! So you will hear from me next on Tuesday, not Monday.
Phew! It has been an awesome week. Definitely, without question, one of the longest! But also probably the most rewarding. Caroline baptized, 3 investigators at church, and a new investigator that may be our next baptism! Upcoming training and district leader positions, plus an all bike area will make the next week and transfer interesting, but I'm excited to see what lies in store!
My heart is full of love for you and the whole world right now! The gospel is true!
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
866 Schilling Rd, apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
It's been a week! Complete with Graceland, Memphis, a bonfire, a hurricane, and planning a baptism!!!
Also, I hit my 3 month mark, and had my 4th Fast Sunday yesterday. This week didn't feel very productive, but even though there weren't a lot of good things, there were a few incredible things. And we are gonna go HAM for Elder Henderson's last week of the mission this week.
(PSA: fried macaroni and cheese exists and is even better than you think it would be. Yeah.)
Brother Boggs took us and some past missionaries who came to visit him all around Memphis last P-Day.
We went to Graceland! (Elvis's house.) It was pretty sweet. There's definitely some super out-there 60s/70s era decor, but I think I've decided I really like a lot of it. Idk about green shag carpet on the ceiling, but a leafy green colored kitchen, peacock stained glass, old tv's, grand pianos, mirrors going down the staircase... c'mon that is a little cool.
Then we went to Central BBQ, one of Memphians' first picks usually when you ask them where the best barbecue is. I could see why, even under their outdoor patio with the rain hammering the ceiling. It was awesome.
Next up was the Gibson Guitar Factory, where they hand make gorgeous guitars. It was pretty cool, because the tour goes right down alongside the people and machines making them. There's no glass to look through, it's all right there. It made me wish I was a guitar master. (Or that I could even play at all lol)
We walked around Beale Street, which was a little disappointing. There weren't a lot of people which was good, and there were a ton of cool old buildings and signs, but like... literally every single one is a bar haha. Still pretty sweet.
After that, we did another escape room. This one was Egyptian themed with different bonus rooms and closets that opened up when you put in the right codes and stuff. It was soooo cool!! We got out with almost 15 mins to spare, 30 sec short of making the leaderboard.
So that was P day!
Another day, we went over to a ward members house and made a bonfire and cooked s'mores and hot dogs. They were in a subdivision, but their back yard is right against a canal, and then woods beyond that, so it feels like you're out in the country, it was sweet. They had a treehouse, too. Took some fun pictures but I really wish I'd have had my actual camera there. Oh well.
Alright, so the extra exciting stuff: a hurricane? A baptism? I'll start with the hurricane so we can end on a good note!
Hurricane Harvey stopped by through Memphis area of TN. I guess I thought we would just get some residue rain but no it was a little more than that. Collierville was under flash flood warnings. In the morning, it wasn't raining very hard. And then a siren went off. A few minutes later, our Zone Leaders texted everyone saying that if you heard sirens, you needed to get back to your apartment. Well, we see already in our apartment, and it wasn't raining very hard, and we had an appointment at 2:00. As 1:45 rolled by it completely stopped raining, so we texted the zone leaders and went to our teaching appointment. While we were there, it started *actual* raining, still nothing we hadn't seen before, though.
We went to the church to do additional planning and to practice piano. We got a call from a ward member saying the Collierville Police had seen some roads begin to flood. Oh! We got in the car and tried to make it back to our apartment. We did so safely, without really having to worry, but the car windshield wipers on their fastest setting weren't fast enough. Truly. There were puddles on the side of the road you could about float a kayak in. We had to drive in the turning lane to avoid them in some cases. The wind was blowing and leaves and branches were falling around. Chik-fil-a was still busy as ever, though.
So that was really fun haha. Didn't think I'd get to say that I have driven through a hurricane before, especially coming to Arkansas/Tennessee, but hey, it was a cool unexpected adventure! We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on house arrest in our apartment bored out of our minds and watching the rain come down like a waterfall over every square inch of the road.
We were close to the Mississippi sign, so we stopped to take a picture. We usually go once a week to 'sippii for district meeting.
We also went to Johnson Park one evening in Collierville. It's a cool miles-long boardwalk over forest and wetlands. It was really pretty!! Different kinda green from Idaho, that's for sure!
And now the best stuff of all: Caroline is getting baptized THIS SATURDAY AAHHH!!!!
We taught a lesson on the word of wisdom on Wednesday and she accepted it without hesitation. Caroline has been such an awesome example to me of how God prepares and the Spirit teaches. I like to think I'm a pretty decent teacher, but no teacher, (no matter how good!) can teach someone gospel related things to the point where the person being taught accepts it. The person being taught has to want it and has to come to believe it through the Spirit.
On Friday, we Skyped her and planned the details for her baptism. It'll be at 12:00 on Saturday, Sept. 9th. I was asked to play piano, and... also be the one who baptizes her. I am so excited, and just so humbled and amazed and stoked out of my mind.
I have been reading through the Book of Mormon and have been really impressed with the stories about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. Being asked to be the one to baptize Caroline really helped me relate with Ammon as I read Alma 26 in my personal studies the next morning. All of Alma 26 is awesome, but I wanna just bring out a few things that I found myself kinda spooked by to be able to relate to so much.
Verses 6-7: yea they [the converts of Ammon] shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea neither shall they be narrowed up by the whirlwinds, but when the storm cometh, they shall be gathered together... They are in the hands of the Lord... and they are His.
-> Caroline is so solid and has developed just incredible faith. I know that when her faith is tried (because it will be!) by her parents, by friends, by life just being hard, that she knows where she stands, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be the single thing she can rely on the most. He is watching over her.
Verse 27: now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us
-> check, I have felt that before!
Verses 28-29: we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world [and of God] and we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea and we have taught them upon their hills... and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks...
-> check, check, check. Okay so I haven't been spit on or slapped so far, but the point remains... this is like exactly what we have been doing knocking door to door, talking to people in the street, getting rejected. The people of Collierville are nicer than the Lamanites, thankfully.
So I could relate with all of this after like my first week. But what struck me was the rest of the chapter, talking about Ammon's joy, carrying away unto boasting of his God. Especially after getting excited for Caroline's baptism.
Verse 35-37: Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God... [you oughtta read the rest. It's awesome, and you will benefit more by reading this chapter than I will by typing the rest of it lol]
-> so Ammon and his brothers had converted like thousands of people, but this one person who I have had the opportunity to have taught and to baptize this week makes me feel just as happy as Ammon. Not because I'm super awesome, but because wow! God really does prepare people and answer their prayers. And because baptism is going to open the way for so so so much happiness in Caroline's life.
Anyway, I'm sure thankful for each of you, and for your prayers and emails throughout the week. I'm thankful for the gospel and the peace and joy it brings into my life. I know this is true. I know it.
866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
(I'm tempted to leave my weekly as just this sentence and the subject line, just to mess with y'all.)
It's been an AWESOME week in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I won't leave ya hanging. In fact, this is a really long email. Sorry. But I used my novelist skillz in this one so I hope you enjoy.
Thursday is my 3 month mark! (Whaaa?!?!?)
Last Monday was the best P Day ever. We got kidnapped.*
Allow me to explain.
*More accurately, Brother Boggs took our Zone Leaders, (Elders Jennings and Breen) Elder Henderson, and I to do a puzzle escape room. In this particular escape room, (w/ a 33% pass rate) we started off blindfolded and handcuffed to a cot in a dark room, with 1 hour to escape. After solving a bunch of puzzles, riddles, codes, passwords, etc, we escaped the room with like 3 minutes to spare. It was super fun. Then we went to Gus's Chicken again. Gr9 as always. (Better than gr8.)
- E C L I P S E - time!
We went to the Pink Palace museum in downtown Memphis, got our swaggy
- E C L I P S E - glasses.
Sat down on the lawn to wait for the - E C L I P S E -. We actually saw Caroline and her mom walking around there, too! It was a hopping place. Tons of people in their swaggy - E C L I P S E - glasses waiting for the 94% coverage "event of a lifetime." There were tv stations, school groups, the whole shebang.
We got to the point where we could see about 2/3 of the sun covered, and then the WHOLE sun got covered!!! And the moon too!!! Cause it was cloudy!!! And then it rained.
- E C L I P S E -
That was still fun, though. The rain went away after the - E C L I P S E - was over and we still had a few hours before we had to drive back to Collierville so we decided to check out the Lorraine Motel, the motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. The inside is now a museum (which we didn't check out) but the outside, including 2 gorgeous old cars, looks exactly like it did, with a wreath over the spot where MLK was shot. Pretty amazing piece of history. It made it feel close and real and extra sad to be there. People are crazy and dumb and stupid. And the whole racial divide thing isn't close to over yet, I keep hearing snippets of the news today. Crazy stuff going on.
We went back to Collierville and spent most of the rest of the day playing Settlers of Zarahemla. (Settlers of Catan, Book of Mormon-themed.) I lost. I won the next round though, by a lot. And then I lost twice again. I think I hate that game.
So yeah Monday was just the best! And then Tuesday came along, which was probably the worst day of my mission so far. (And honestly if this is the worst day, I'm still doing pretty good.)
We had district meeting in the morning. Then the aforementioned zone leaders thought up this great idea. A food challenge. At Buffalo Wild Wings. 200 boneless wings. 8 people. (Do the math.) We thought this would be a fun idea. I wasn't opposed to it at the time, but had I known what horrors lay in store, I'd have sooner eaten my tie.
So we went. A large box of boneless wings is $18.99. But wait, there's more! It's Tuesday and so it's buy one get one free. Bam. 2 larges for each companionship. 48 wings total/2 people. We started w three orders of 2 larges. (Spoiler alert: We didn't get to ordering the final pair of larges.)
4 wings go by: Eh these aren't too bad. They're not great. I like Gus's more.
8 wings go by: Hmm they have some interesting flavors at least
12 wings go by: Hot diggity dog I am full on wings
16 wings go by: I don't think I can take another bite. Their flavors are becoming one - the flavor of pain. Heat and garlic and synthetic lemon rub are merging into lava acid chicken all over my mouth.
20 wings go by: just kidding I think I had to stop at 19.
Reinforcements came, and finished off the remaining 20 or so wings. It had just been the 6 of us before they came. They are full enough when they're done, and we are too wrecked to even think of eating 1 more - let alone 48 more - wings, so we call it a day at like 144 wings between 8 people. I think at my 19 wings, I actually came in last place for "most wings consumed."
We drive back to Collierville and I'm just stuffed. I hurt, and I can feel the chickens kicking my stomach lining out. I justify a 25 minute nap to myself before we go out to work. My alarm doesn't go off. (Or maybe I was in a coma state through it?) 1 hour later, I awake.
I feel forty pounds heavier, I'm sweating, dizzy, and worst of all - everything is chicken. Air is chicken. Nose is chicken. All is chicken. Every breath I take feels like the act of consuming Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Wings. This must be what a hangover feels like. I wake up Elder Henderson and we shakily make our way to the car to try contacting some people. I feel like throwing up for about an hour. Nobody answers the door, thank goodness. But I survive, slowly feeling better after walking around in the sun and having a full plate of Mexican food for dinner. (Idk either, only that it felt like burying the chicken massacre in my stomach so it helped).
We make it through missionary correlation meeting and I go straight to bed when we get back to the apartment. I learned the next morning that I slept through Elder Henderson throwing up for at least an hour in his bathroom. The next morning I feel better, but too full for breakfast.
All in all: 0.3/10 experience, would not recommend or repeat
The rest of the week went better!
We had a lesson with Caroline in which she readily accepted the Law of Tithing. She is seriously the coolest. Still on track to be baptized Sept. 9th!
We met with our other long term investigator, Anette, who we've been teaching since before I got here, even. She has had a hard time reading and remembering what we have taught, and coming to our church because she already likes hers. She has grown so much! She has a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon, and her reading and comprehension skills have improved so so much. We met with her again on Saturday and asked what she thought the Holy Ghost was trying to tell her as she read the Book of Mormon. After some silence, she said she wanted to be baptized. So she is back on date for Oct. 14th! She also came to church yesterday, yay! (The first time we've had an investigator come to church that we can sit with, anyway, since Caroline has been going to the YSA ward. So yay!)
One of the ward members told me that my book "Lies" is gonna be their book club pick in October! Ahhh I'm so excited about that hahaha.
On Friday we went ham knocking doors and trying to find new people to teach. Not a ton of big dramatic successes, but some cards given here, an email received there, and a house tour received!
(Yup, a house tour.) We complimented this lady's house and she just kinda out of the blue asked if we wanted a tour! We were like "uhh... sure!" It was beautiful. Apparently it had burned down a while ago, and they were in the middle of rebuilding. They had an awesome picture of Venice over the mantle, and we talked about how cool that place is for a little while. We didn't end up sharing much of the gospel, but she was so so nice, and we will definitely be back.
We helped move furniture Sister Gaar bought from the previous owners house to her truck. We complimented her piano in her home and she invited us to come back to play it some time! Baby steps. :)
It really is the little things every day that make them feel good. When we work hard, regardless of the outcome, it feels good. That's a life lesson right there. I hate being unproductive and not using time wisely.
I could probably bore you with more stories not quite as exciting as getting kidnapped or helping people prepare for baptism and eternal salvation, but I think this email has gone on long enough. Until next week!
866 Shilling Rd. Apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
How's school going? Life? What's new? What did you do this summer? What are you doing this week? What's your favorite color? Your favorite healthy, cheap, fast recipe? How do you keep yourself from eating too much? What was the name of your childhood pet? What do you believe in? What's your middle name?
The answers to these and many more unasked questions can be found in... the emails you send me! (Plz! I love love love hearing from anybody... I miss you!) -> email@example.com
It's been a slower going week, but still really good! I feel like there is less to report on this week, but don't worry - you will still get all the highlights. :)
I've been wanting a pair of navy dress pants since before I left on my mission. On our last p day we went shopping and store after store didn't have any for less than like $60... kinda out of my missionary budget. Well, the last store we go into, I find the last pair in my size... marked down to $15. So yay! The Lord cares about the little things when they matter to us. :)
RELEVANT SCRIPTURE OF THE EMAIL:
"And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on. And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith." ------ Alma 31: 37-38
Had my first official zone conference since the last one was President Hanson introducing himself and so on. It was really really good. I learned a lot, felt motivated, felt the spirit, and got excited about changes coming to the mission. Apparently church headquarters in Salt Lake has mysterious plans in store for our mission that have to do with online interactions... so it'll be cool to see how the Lord helps us use this new tool to further the work! Plus, it sounds like I will be training next transfer already...
While we were tracting in a typical nice Collierville neighborhood, I saw a snake against someone's sidewalk. We followed it through their yard for a while before knocking on their door. They told us they weren't interested too fast for us to warn them about the snake in their yard. Oh well - their loss.
As we walked up to a dinner appointment with a member, we noticed something weird in a cage in their yard. They had caught a raccoon hahaha
It rained like CRAZY on Thursday, it was so cool. I was glad we had a car. We watched it come down hard for a while and then drove to the church, where Elder Henderson and I played piano while we waited out the storm. Call us wimps, but not much happens efficiently in the rain. And I'm going to be playing in sacrament meeting next month!
Our golden investigator, Caroline, has been attending the young single adult ward, and her parents have become a little hesitant about the speed at which she has been progressing. There was some debate this week about having the sister missionaries over the YSA ward take over in teaching her, but that just didn't sit right. Thankfully, we were able to come to the decision to just have the sister missionaries help teach every other lesson. I felt like that was a spiritually guided decision that let us keep our golden investigator, will lead to a definite baptism, and will be the best for Caroline! It was awesome hearing Caroline say how determined she is to be baptized. She is so amazing, and her faith and testimony grow so much between every visit.
While we were in another town about 40 minutes away from Collierville, we went to contact someone who had ordered a Bible and Book of Mormon from lds.org. We knocked on the door, someone answered and said she wasn't home. We decided to just leave the books with the guy who answered the door so that he could give them to this person. I didn't feel good about it, cause it wouldn't let us set a return appointment, or even teach her anything about the Book of Mormon. Thankfully, just then, she pulled into the driveway as we were ready to leave. We were able to personally give her the books, meet her, tell her about the restoration, share our testimonies, and set up a return appointment. Yay! Our 100 mile day hadn't been wasted after all! Cool little miracle for the week!
This week I feel like I've reached a good amount of confidence in missionary work. I feel good about my current abilities to knock doors, plan a day, talk to people, and so on. But I know I have a looooong way to go in improving my abilities to do all those things. Which, instead of being discouraging, is really encouraging. Cause I know I can only get better from here. And while 2 years still feels like a long time, it's a great laboratory type opportunity where I can learn and grow and improve so much!
Thank you for your prayers, love, example, emails, and willingness to read all of this! Love you all!!
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
And now... the food section of the email! For those of you who are extra bored and/or hungry.
Tried Popeyes for the first time. It wasn't too disappointing, but just as expensive as the real good stuff at Gus's Fried Chicken across town. 4/10
I drew a really good picture of a pizza slice... On an etch-a-sketch. I impressed myself. (Ok this isn't really food but kinda, right? I wasn't sure where else to fit this, but it did have to be mentioned) 5/10, it was only a picture, but it was on an Etch-a-sketch
Burnt a pesto pizza I made. Just the crust though, everything else was fine. 6/10
The awesome Venezuelan family who just moved from Idaho had us over again and we had Sopa Crusado - a super yummy savory soup w chicken, ham, pumpkin, lime, and corn. Plus more arapas. 12/10
On Saturday, we drove out to a distant small town in the boonies, ans my hankering for Mexican food got the best of me. We found a pretty good spot. We ate there for lunch and were so stuffed the rest of the day. 7.5/10 Then the Gaars took us out to Chili's. And got the volcano dessert cakes. I was REKT til Sunday afternoon.
Went over to two members Sunday dinners. Enough said. 20/10 (get it, 2 meals?)
My metabolism has been doing an incredible job, and I applaud it and also apologize to all that I have put it through this week. I tried the jeans I brought out with me on my mission and they still fit around the waist fine. But they are WAY more skinny than they were when I came out. Like... idk if I can get away with wearing pants that skinny. All the fat must be going to my legs? (I would say it's all gained muscle from walking but... let's be real, here.)
It's been a week!
I think I forgot to mention in my last few emails that I am the designated driver this transfer. This isnt a super difficult place to drive in, but its still new and different, and I don't know my way everywhere, and before this transfer I hadn't driven in like 2 months straight. Poor Elder Henderson has to be my navigator, and he gets distracted a lot so I get a lot of directions late. I'd have him just drive, and he would love that a lot, but... I tried that once and he is even scarier a driver than I am. So putting up with driving here is more of a life preservation thing than a fun thing haha. :P
Had our first district meeting with a new district in Southaven, Mississippi! We talked about being led by the spirit, and creating a teaching environment conducive to teaching by the spirit, which was really good. We then went on exchanges, and Elder Jennings, one of our zone/district leaders, came with me to Collierville, and we succeeded in reaching our goal of inviting 10 people to take the lessons from us! We got 2 return appointments out of the deal, so it was a good exchange! Plus, I got my first "GET OFF MY PORCH!" So that was awesome haha.
I just kinda laughed that off, especially since she preceded that by telling us she was a born-again Christian, while another guy's neighbor full on called him a Satanist and he politely told us he wasn't interested and to have a great rest of our day. :) the irony, right?
Wednesday was my first book's 6th birthday. Crazytown. On Wednesday, we moved our one baptismal date with Caroline back to be not on labor day weekend. She is doing super well, going as far as reading Isaiah side-to-side with the Book of Mormon, and doing the "additional studies" in the back of the pamphlets. She is so awesome. She shared a story from church on Sunday where the teacher decided to teach from a talk by Elder Holland in 2006, rather than the scheduled lesson outline. Turned out that talk on managing burdens was just what Caroline needed to hear after the week she had had. How cool is that little miracle? God cares about us all individually, and he shows that I so many cool little ways.
Here are two more of those other little ways I saw this week.
1. Last week we helped a ward member move one of their pieces of furniture into the truck of a person buying it from them. We then called the missionaries where the buyers lived and had them ready to help them unload the thing when they got back. It took maybe 10 minutes, and the lady tried to pay us for the help haha. We got a text from the member a few days later sharing a Facebook post from the lady who we had helped, who I guess was just so amazed by our help that she bragged about Mormons on Facebook. It was pretty cool.
2. This is my favorite story this week. We have been trying to find new people to teach, which is not going super well, honestly. And that gets pretty disheartening. It's not even that people aren't interested, it's that they aren't even home or opening the door. After a particularly seemingly fruitless day of tracting, I was looking at the sidewalk and saw somebody's temple recommend! It came to me that the youth were doing a temple trip to do baptisms for deceased ancestors today. But without their temple recommend, they weren't going to be able to go in. We hurried back to the car, and drove to the church as fast as the little speed monitor thing would let us. We got there in time to give the girl her temple recommend before they left.
Idk, that taught me a couple things. When we feel inspired to be in a certain area at a certain time, maybe it's not because our next golden investigator is going to be there. But there is a reason, and God uses us for a lot of things! Secondly, I think whoever she was baptized on behalf of in the temple that day, was really eager to receive that ordinance. And our Heavenly Father wanted to make sure that no lost temple recommend would keep that from happening. So he used his servants the missionaries to make sure it would happen. So that was a cool thing that helped me recognize that Heavenly Father is guiding us.
And now, the food section of the weekly email.
Brother Boggs has spoiled us too much this week, I feel bad.
On Friday, we went to a Hibachi grill, and had some incredible fried rice, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables, cooked on this giant grill in the middle of a table by a master chef who would light things on fire and throw knives around and all that. It was sooo good.
On Saturday, he had us over for most of the day to make jalapeno poppers and this strawberry shortcake roulade dessert for the ward social after church tomorrow. That was really fun and now I have a good jalapeno poppers recipe up my sleeve.
After that, he took us to this Italian restaurant in the back of an antique mall. I'd seen it before on p days, but hadn't looked at the menu or anything. I kinda assumed, since it was in the back of an antique mall it wouldn't be too spendy. After some killer manicotti and other pasta, he told us that was 2 nights in a row where the check had been over 100$. Um! Henderson and I told him we would do the McDonald's dollar menu for the remaining times we went out with him haha.
And then on Sunday, after the ward social/potluck, we made another dessert from scratch (lemon zucchini, very good) and cooked up giant steaks and baked potatoes and a baguette w dippy.
Constant states of being a missionary: tired, and hate-yourself-full. It's a good thing we do a lot of walking.
Funny story time: the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on our door while we were doing studies haha. They gave us a flyer invite to the 2017 "Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses." I was happy to see we made them look a little nervous haha. But we were nice and accepted the flyer and they moved on before we could give them a pamphlet of our own. We cracked up once the door closed haha.
The Sinclairs, some friends of mine from back home, sent a thermos water bottle that has been awesome this week. Thank you so much!!
This week I was also extra thankful for the sacrament. I read Moroni 10:33 while it was being passed to the congregation, which talks about how we can be sanctified through Christ and become "without spot." That was just really comforting to me and helped motivate me to do better this next week!
So that's this week! It's felt kinda slower, but there have been enough little miracles that help me know we are on the right track. Here's to another great week! Love you all!
866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville TN, 38017
It's been another good week!
My last companion, Elder Johnson has returned home to Salt Lake City, Utah! I got a new companion, Elder Henderson of Blackfoot, Idaho, and we are both serving in Collierville still. Elder Henderson was Elder Johnson's companion the transfer before I was, also in Collierville, so it's been helpful having someone who kinda knows the area already!
The missionary work highlight of this week was getting our golden investigator to commit to baptism! She's 18 and getting ready for college in the next month, and it's just awesome to see her recognize the holy ghost and act on it, and seek after doing the right thing!
We've been doing a lot of door to door knocking, and it finally seemed to pay off on Wednesday! We got 2 return appointments with 2 younger mom's with a couple younger kids - perfect potential investigators whose lives I know the gospel could bless immensely. When we went back at our designated appointments, one wasn't home and the other had the tv on and didn't answer the door. Soooo... that was a bummer.
Shared a short conference talk on the Book of Mormon from President Monson with one of our investigators (the one who dropped her baptismal date because she's not ready to leave her church.) I asked her what she thought about it and she just managed to reply "it's awesome," and as she said it I felt the spirit so strongly. How blessed we are to have a living prophet on the earth whose words are God's words for our time!
Another special thing about that is that I played the video over wifi. (Thanks, xfinity & brother Boggs for the hookup! ...or so I assumed). As we left, elder Henderson asked how I was able to play the video. I told him xfinity, probably. But then he said that his iPad hadn't showed any wifi signal at all. So, my new theory: Heaven has wifi and God put a little wifi hotspot in that room so we could testify of President Monson as a prophet of God. Cool little miracle!
As we were leaving her house, somebody (who may very well have been drunk?) approached me as I was getting into the car. I panicked a little bit, but he just asked for one of our books, so I gave him a Book of Mormon and he stumbled off haha. We'll see if anything happens from that. Planting seeds, I guess?
We also finally got in touch with the lady overcoming a heroin addiction again, it had been a while since we had gotten to teach her! She had just gotten back from rehab and was looking so much better. I gave her a book of Mormon, to which she incredulously asked, "You're giving this to me?" as if I'd just given her a million dollars or a pony. I then had one of those moments missionaries always talk about where they are able to testify and teach and then when they're walking away they realize they had no idea what exactly they said. The spirit definitely helped me teach her so much. I felt its help as I looked her in the eye and told her that the Book of Mormon was proof that the powers of Godliness are available to her, and that by reading this book God will help her continue to overcome her addiction. That was a promise from the big man through me, not from me. So it was awesome to recognize that I was being used go really help someone.
Had dinner at a Venezuelan family's house who just moved here from Idaho. We had arapas and they were super crazy good. So that's another culture's food I've had that I wasn't expecting!
Forgot to text our district leaders that we arrived back home safe one night and uh woke up to some missed calls and urgent texts that we somehow slept through. Lesson learned there!
Walked inside a taco bell for the first time. I've had TB before but I've never been in one. Elder Henderson had a gift card we used for dinner one night. The double chalupa is pretty dang good, just saying.
Saturday was the another eventful day! One of my favorite families in the area, the Gaars, and their daughter and her family, took us out to their farm for breakfast. The weather was perfect that day, it felt like a pleasant Idaho morning and it made me so happy. It was about a 40 minute drive away, and it was nice to just look out the window and enjoy the beautiful green countryside. We fished in their little pond for a while, catching catfish and carp (?) and just enjoying the morning. We were there for a good 2-3 hours and it was just so nice. Very fun way to end the week and start the day!
Then, after we'd gotten home to plan and study, the bishop of the 1st ward invited us over to a ward pool party to help finish off the leftover food. We figured that was a service we could render, so we headed over there and enjoyed hot dogs and desserts before carrying on with the day.
Well, we didn't get too far because in the first apartment complex we were in, Elder Henderson got stung 3 times in the ankles by some wasps. He was about half a flight of stairs ahead of me, and somehow didn't notice the nest of wasps under one of the stairs. As I rounded the corner and saw the nest and started backing up to say something, it was too late. He dropped his scriptures and iPad and we ran down 3 flights of stairs like it was nothing. Then he had to go back up the opposite staircase to grab his tablet and he managed to do that without further attacks.
We hurried back to the apartment and did some first aid stuff. Elder Henderson's ankles were pretty swollen, and he wasn't in much shape to keep walking around yet, so while he iced and elevated, etc., I got to take a nap. I've missed naps. Two days later and one of his stings is still pretty swollen, but he's surviving!
So anyway, it's been an interesting week! Lots of highs and lows as usual haha. But I wouldn't trade them!
PS: email me during the week sometime! firstname.lastname@example.org
And my mailing address is still the same!
866 Schilling Farm #103,
Collierville TN 38017
I worked long and hard on this subject line. How's that for an attention grabber?
Kind of a long email, cause that's how I roll. *ironically dabs*
It's been a fun week, full of highs and lows. The highs have been pretty high and the lows pretty low, but still a top notch, memorable week in Collierville, TN in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission!
Last P Day, we did service behind this guy's restored Civil War Era home. You cross this bridge-to-terabithia into a thickly wooded forest, with a giant tree and a an old farm he uses as a shed. We rode a four wheeler an acre or two into the trees, so not that far, but it felt like the middle of nowhere with as thick as the trees are. The member used a chainsaw to cut some fallen trees into logs, and we picked them up and put them in a pile. Not too bad. (We aren't allowed to use power tools.) A fly the size of a quarter (before wings) landed on the members back and wouldn't stop leaving him alone. He swatted at it and finally hit it. The forest floor shook as the behemoth fly collided into the dirt like a crashed plane. The thing had been sucking the members blood, and there were large red spots all over his white shirt. We escaped unscathed, and found a turtle. We got chiggers bites doing service another day, though. I'd rather have those than mosquito bites though, I think.
So yeah, the south. Fun stuff!
The first part of this week was ridiculously hot. The car thermometer read 110, not accounting for humidity. Which isn't exactly accurate but that's what it felt like. But these last few days have felt like paradise, especially mornings and evenings.
One of our member friends broke the door handle off her grandparents house while house-sitting, so urgently called us to see if we could help her fix it, cause the house is technically for sale right now. It's super nice, gorgeously decorated, and apparently has an elevator! We got into the garage and found a pair of pliers and a screwdriver and were able to twist the door open to get inside and repair the handle! So thats the "breaking into the mansion" story haha.
Had 2 of our other new investigators drop us. One because her pastor told us the book of Mormon is evil and there's only one bible and we're a cult. I don't understand, like if we are claiming we have more words of Jesus Christ, what about that is evil exactly? Weird.
Our golden investigator is doing so well, though! She was a referral from the stake president's son. When we first met with her, she had read through 2 Nephi 25 on her own already and had a notebook full of notes. (Whaa?? We haven't been able to have an investigator read the 1st chapter by themselves yet. So this is awesome)
We had the stake presidents wife come over with us on the 2nd lesson. Which was interesting. The girl's mom even came to sit in on the lesson, but then the stake presidents wife started out diving right into the word of wisdom and all the "rules" of Mormonism. -.- the lesson was /supposed/ to be the Plan of Salvation, or God's plan for us, which we eventually got around to after many an irrelevant tangent. Man, that was awkward.
We ended up having a good lesson afterward, and invited the investigator to say the prayer. She was hesitant at first, but did good! "I'm thankful for what the missionaries have taught me today... it's so awesome!! And... please help these boys travel safely to the other people they are teaching, and... that's about it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." So hearing that was a huge relief!
[She and her family live in Mike Conley's neighborhood, ($$ zone) but across a bridge down the street. They joked that the people on their side of the street were in the slums or projects comparatively to Mike Conley's street. Which is crazy, cause like... million dollar homes, man.]
We invited her to come to church, she said she was excited to go with us! Then over the next few days, the stake presidents wife and family invited her to go to the Young Single Adults ward, which we werent a fan of. We couldnt be there with her, and if she came to the ward we are over, then it would be easier to invite her parents along too, down the road. And then Sunday happened and it was like the church meetings that day were meant for her to be there. But she wasn't cause she was at the Young Single Adults ward. (Better there than not at all, though! And being with her own age group was good. She just missed out on some awesome youth testimonies of the book of Mormon, and her absence triggered the following painful moment.) Since going to church, she has been working on meeting with us again ASAP! She's so prepared and loves the gospel already, it's so awesome!
We had a less-active family come, which was awesome, but then the Sunday school lesson which was going to be a generic Plan of Salvation lesson became targeted at the less active family's struggles and weaknesses, and I'm afraid that scared them away. It was incredibly awkward and we didn't know what to do our how to intervene. We visited with them later that evening and they had a good attitude about it, but I was hurting for them.
I think as members of the church, we have a tendency to overcomplicate the gospel. What's up with that? And it's awful when that overcomplicating affects the spiritual growth of others. We need to focus on the simple parts of the gospel first, and quite frankly forget everything else until a good foundatiom of faith is there.
Oh yeah and then there's the thing about killing my dad.
So in missionary slang, your first area is where you were "born" and your trainer is your "dad." "Killing" someone is being their final companion before they head home. So this was Elder Johnson's last week! Lots of goodbyes were had, which oddly enough made me glad I was staying cause I'm already kinda attached to the people in Collierville. I'm gonna miss Elder Johnson!
Brother Boggs, a known-mission-wide member of the church here, is famous for treating the missionaries really well. He took Elder Johnson wherever he wanted for dinner, and Elder Johnson decided on Commissary BBQ. It was so freaking good. The plate came with a whole thing of ribs, about half a bbq chicken, slaw, rolls, baked beans, and a deviled egg. Plus we got pie. I had a lot of leftovers, and that was after eating a lot more than I should have haha.
So anyway, as I write this, I'm sitting in the Memphis side church building hub of the mission. Elder Johnson is doing a session at the temple next door, and then is headed off to return home tomorrow! My new companion is Elder Henderson from Blackfoot, Idaho. And this will be his last transfer, too. I'm hearing all kinds of fun things about him. :-) Should be a fun transfer!
Something fun I've realized in my pondering: the south is a dump.
Just kidding. (Mostly, anyway.) What I realized is...
If God loves all of His children, then naturally the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is His church. That's all it takes to know this is His church. The Book of Mormon shows that He doesn't limit the spread of His gospel to one people or continent or time, but wants all people to come to know it and be blessed by it! Yesterday, today, and forever. Super cool.
Think and teach simply!! Read the Book of Mormon! It's so cool and testifies of Christ and will increase your faith in him!
Love you all!
Is it even a weekly missionary letter if you don't say something about how fast the last week went?
Last p day was pretty fun! Got a haircut, checked out >$80,000 cars at some of the shmancy car dealerships in Collierville, went to an awesome army surplus store, and had a dinner appointment with a great family hosting three foreign exchange students from Brazil on soccer scholarships. We ended up teaching them about the Book of Mormon!
The one lady we had that awesome experience with weeks ago answered the door again finally! She admitted to us that she felt better after our first visit and that it had been God who had led us to her door that day. Life is still hard but she told us she had signed up for rehab in Nashville. We asked if we could come in and teach her and see what we could do to help. She told us in an hour. So we walked around the neighborhood.
There's a less active member who we had knocked on his door a couple times, and the last time had seen his finger through the blinds and then proceed to not answer the door. Well, I saw him park and go inside so we figured we would try him again. He answered the door this time, apologized for not answering last time, and gave us two Gatorades each. He grabbed our number and said he'd take us out to lunch sometime. What a change!
We returned to the first lady's house after an hour and she proceeded to not open the door. Ugh.
The next day, the less active guy called us and invited us to lunch the following day! Our ward mission leader advised we take along another ward member to be his friend. We called to make sure that was ok and he said it was, but then a few hours later called to cancel because his wife didn't feel comfortable with the other member coming over. I guess years ago some member had offended her so bad that she had her name removed from the records of the church. (Which shows the importance of having a strong testimony, a forgiving attitude, and of taking each success as it comes... lesson learned)
So both of those fell through.
Tuesday night we we were having dinner with this family, and got talking about member missionary work. The mom had come to lessons with investigators before with countless sets of missionaries, and had done her own missionary work but had never had success with it. We kinda got talking about what a struggle it is, and then bam... her son's boss came over, and the son invited in her in to join us for the spiritual thought at the close of dinner. Then we ended up spending a good 20-30 minutes on the book of mormon and our church, it was really cool! God has a sense of humor.
We had another investigator drop us but we helped our remaining ones quite a bit this week. We had interviews with our new Mission President, and that was good. I went last out of our district so I sat in the foyer with the mission presidents wife, sister Hansen for a while. She's pretty awesome.
At our district meeting, we learned how the parable of the good Samaritan in the bible is an allegory for the plan of salvation. My mind was BLOWN. In 5 verses, Jesus teaches an incredible lesson on loving and serving everyone. While at the same time providing a discourse in metaphor for everything from Adam to modern day prophets. (Check out "The Good Samaritan: Forgotten Symbols", from the February 2007 Ensign Magazine, p.40)
Elder Johnson's flight information home came this week! He heads home one week from today. I'm gonna miss him!
After a particularly hot day, we had dinner with an awesome couple in the ward. Their less active daughter and her family came, and one of the Brazilian exchange students was there, too! So we were teaching like 3 different people at once again, it was cool.
We had exchanges this week. I stayed in Collierville and elder Johnson went to Southaven, I think his first area that he served in. So he got to see some old member and investigator friends again. We kept busy here, knocking doors with little success. One potential though, and next door to her a KOOKY guy who kept going on about the Clinton scandals and then having a short term memory lapse and saying it again. He then called us and shared his thoughts on the Clintons AGAIN over the phone. It was pretty hilarious, but the guy is out of his mind, so it's also a little sad.
Had dinner at this Indian family's house. They made authentic chicken in sauce and bread from scratch... it was way good. I don't think I've really had Indian food before then, so it was something new. Killer Indian food was not one of the things I expected to be eating in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission but I'm glad it was!
We also had some killer sushi one night... the recent convert and his girlfriend we are teaching the post-baptism lessons to took us out to dinner. I've liked sushi in the past but really haven't had it more than a couple times, so this was way good.
While on exchanges the next day, we volunteered to help a less active and his family weed their yard at 10AM. There was a tiny little garden box along one side of the fence, not more than 12 feet long. And two smaller square garden boxes just barely big enough to surround a tree. So not a lot to weed. It only took us an hour to pull all the nasty viny grass out. (The grass here is different from back west... it's like a weed. You pull up on one strand and the root comes up and pulls out another food of grass, its weird.) So... not too bad right? An hour of casual weeding at 10AM? I've literally never sweat so much before in my life. I was dripping everywhere, constantly. It was so hot at 10AMalready. As we were leaving the guy told us he would see us tomorrow at church!
Got home and showered again haha. It was a good way to spend the morning, I felt really good after that. Exchanged back and reuniting with elder Johnson felt like seeing an old friend again. We spent most of the rest of the day in a car driving with a ward member out to the boonies to try more less active members with not a lot of luck, but it was fun.
Guess what? That guy came to church! And he dragged his whole family along, too. He told me "everybody always asks if there's anything they can do for us, but y'all are the first ones to actually do anything." So to hear that and then see he and his family at church the next day was awesome. I felt like I'd actually made a difference, even if just for one Sunday. I was also able to give another priesthood blessing for a lady seeking guidance on how to help her less active husband want to come back to church and be a good example to her kids. What a tough situation. The priesthood is so cool, though. I think it really helped her already.
Had an awesome lightning storm last night. Didn't really get rained on, but the sky couldn't go for longer than 5 seconds without some epic lightning strike. (I counted.)
So anyway, this is running long but it has been a good week! We've had some pretty big disappointments, but also some really good surprises and little miracles. I'm getting used to the whole waking up at 6:30AM thing a little more. The heat has been tough, but every night--and now most mornings :)--I am just full of gratitude for all that I've been blessed to have, do, feel, and experience. Life is good. Hard but good, and better with the gospel!
Hope y'all have a great week!
Fun quick stories for the week: talked with a lady who just moved from Nigeria, received a crash course in Hinduism, built a fence, had a guy complain to us that Jesus was black, met a WW2 AND Viet Nam veteran, and a guy with a swastika tattoo on the same day.
Oh yeah, and I went to Mississippi.
But first, I helped put a fence together, set a baptismal date with our one consistent investigator, and got to give my first priesthood blessing, which was really neat. It was cool to see how the words and promises came to mind as I blessed this guy with health and an increased desire and ability to quit smoking. The spirit was there, no doubt.
On Wednesday, we had a district meeting and then I traded places with one of my MTC buddies, Elder Barney, and got to spend the next day in Oxford, Mississippi on "exchanges." It's about an hour and a half drive away, and a pretty different feel. It was really fun. In the first neighborhood we went to knock doors in, we got like 5/7 people to open the door and give us a return appointment, which... is kinda unheard of?
I haven't heard how those appointments went but I hope they went well! The rest of the day, we had less success tracting, but did interupt somebodys weed smoking party in an apartment complex, and have this Indian guy invite us in to teach us about Hinduism and learn more about Christianity. That was pretty interesting, especially to see some of the commonalities. (33 million ["give or take about a million," the guy said] gods not being one of those haha)
The next day we drove back to Collierville and then that evening had the chance to have a member drive us to Moscow, a super tiny town about 30 mins away, to visit some less active members. It was around then that I started realizing I had a cold.
The next day the cold got worse, and in the evening it finally poured rain on us while we were out. We had umbrellas, but the back of my pants from the knees down were soaked. It cooled down the air, thankfully, cause it had been hellishly hot and humid earlier in the day, so it actually felt really good. The rain came down the hardest I've seen it here so far. Thunder on the umbrella, rivers in the street and gutters especially. Socks got wet, and then the back of my shirt... a nice lady pulled over and gave us a ride back to our car but I had to put the umbrella away before getting in, and in the 2 seconds between doing that and jumping into her back seat, I feel like I might as well have dumped a gallon of water in her back seat haha. It was awesome. There was thunder and lightning, the whole shebang. That late in the day, and with as wet as we already were, it almost didn't even matter after that how wet we got cause we were on our way home anyway. Thankfully the cold only lasted about 3 days. If it were up to me I'd have slept for 55/62 of those hours but I kept to the schedule, and endured going out anyway. Wasn't easy but Heavenly Father didn't want the work to slow down, and he wanted me to know that I could do it.
Last fun story, in one of the wards Elder Johnson and I are over, there is a Dahl family! Only the dad is here for now, since he's working, but yesterday I learned that we are related! (Our grandpa's are cousins, so whatever that relation is!) So that's cool!
We had another kinda bible bash this week (it was very polite haha) and no one could win because that's how bible "bashes" work. Learned a couple awesome lessons from this one, though.
1. If there is a verse in the bible that the Book of Mormon supposedly "contradicts," there are 2 options.
Option 1: that contradiction is based solely on interpretation and personal opinion
Or, more commonly, Option 2: there is another verse in the bible that also contradicts the verse in question. Which doesn't help the bible's case for being "perfect and the only word of God you need."
2. Which is why I'm thankful for the Book of Mormon. It clarifies and answers so many questions, and helps us understand which interpretation is correct. It adds so much incredible doctrine that has been lost. It provides a single source to which everything we believe can lean on. We don't have to rely on just the Bible. That'd be exhausting, and millions of people have had to, and continue to so in such different and frequently opposing ways.
3. Furthermore, if the Book of Mormon is the word of God, (Which witness I have received by the Holy Ghost) then Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who restored Christ's original church back to the earth, and received the authority and power of God like prophets of old. And if that is true, then we have a living prophet on the earth today, and all modern revelation is of equal value to the scriptures. How cool is that?
So arguments over the Bible "vs." The Book of Mormon aren't fun, but I'm always left with a stronger testimony than before. The two books don't contradict, but as I've read more of the bible in my personal studies, my love for it has grown. There's so much evidence and support for modern revelation, it's awesome.
Anyway, another week has come and gone! It was fast, and as I was thinking about it, it didn't really seem like a lot happened. But as I'm reading over this, it actually was kinda eventful. Hope y'all are doing well and enjoying your summer! I'd love to hear all about it! Have a great week!
Address: 866 Schilling Rd. Collierville, TN. Apt. #103, 38017
I know they said the weeks fly by on your mission but wow! This was a quick one.
The mini version w highlights: (but not all the good stories cause I need to keep y'alls interest to read the whole thing somehow!)
Continued feeling the hand of the Lord in my life, had 4th of july steaks, saw Mike Conley and a Lamborghini Alventador, I gave away my first Book of Mormon, discovered the world of Cashew Milk Ice Cream, (thanks again to Brother Boggs) played a fun board game called "Forbidden Island," passed a whole pickup truck full of watermelon, had our old black lady investigator cackle about the word "stiffnecked" ("it's when you don't have no clothes on!") And then had a good ol traditional oreo fry in our apartment that left Elder Johnson and I feeling the need to repent afterward. (Although they were very very good, we ate.... a lot of them haha.)
It's definitely warmed up. The high so far has been 91, which isn't too bad... Boise gets over 100 quite a few times every summer. But it's the humidity, man. Allow me to explain. You know that feeling you get, when about 2 hours ago you sat in something kinda wet but you can still feel it even though it's been 2 hours and there's nothing you can do about it really? So imagine that but all over your body and the air is heavy and there's no clear cool air to be found. But it's not too bad. :)
Read in 2 Nephi 8:15-16 and felt that it has definitely applied to me already. "I am the Lord thy God... And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion: Behold, thou art my people."
I've definitely felt like the Lord has been shading me and taking good care of me as I'm trying to "plant the heavens." He has done this really well through the ward members here. There are some awesome people, and they treat us so well. Another way is through my companion, Elder Johnson. He is one stellar dude. So good at talking with everyone and just being friendly and having cool conversations with them. Learning lots from his example. He's going home after this transfer, though so I'll miss him! He told me I'm one of 3 companions he's had out of 13 that he's really liked. (Awww.) (And not [necessarily] because his other companions had been bad, but not like best friends or anything.) So that felt good and boosted my confidence, which I've needed!
I've been talking more, or trying to, and knocking on doors doesn't really scare me anymore. I've discovered I actually really like teaching. Problem is... we don't have a lot of people TO teach. We lost one of our 2 or 3 regulars, and probably have 3 or 4 others that have put us on hold or are out of town or so on. So the remainder of our time has been spent knocking door to door.
We have better success talking with people in their yards than knocking doors. Most people still aren't interested, but this week we did get a couple people tell us we could come back.
We've felt prompted to wait for the one lady with the addiction and whose mother passed away as she goes through this hard time. We're trying to ride this balance between "thinking about and being there for her" and "not scaring her away." So we will try again this week and see what we can do. Our first meeting was the coolest thing to happen in my mission so far, so I hope we can keep that up.
On the 3rd of July we did some service and then ate at "Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken" which is a fried chicken chain down here and is... amazing. Wowza. The member who took us let us get dessert so I tried their chocolate chess pie. Imagine everything you love about pie crust, rich and gooey brownie batter, and crispy brownie corner pieces all on one desert. It was legit one of the best things I've ever tasted.
We get fed really well here. Every night I go to bed feeling pretty darn happy and tired and full. (Still on the last belt loop hole, we'll see how long that lasts though haha. Thank goodness for a fast metabolism.)
Collierville did their fireworks show on the night of the 3rd, to avoid competing with the neighboring town Germantown, who had their fireworks show scheduled for the 4th. We didn't get to watch either, but we heard it was really really good and included a jet flyby!
On the 4th of July we reacted as usual but no one was really home or willing to listen (surprise surprise) but at the end of the day, we had killer steaks and guacamole at Brother Bogg's house. He's an especially awesome member who apparently really enjoys feeding and hanging out with the missionaries. He's such an awesome guy. It also rained pretty hard on the 4th, but only when we were inside.
It has rained pretty hard a few times since I've been here, but while we're outside we've never been hit with more than a pleasant sprinkle. Another way the Lord is shading us.
Elder Johnson has made it his final transfer goal to give Mike Conley a book of Mormon. He is the point guard for the Memphis Grizlies. (This is all news to me.) I guess that entails being super wealthy and famous because he lives in s gated community in a mansion w a Tesla and some other way nice cars. Well, a member of the ward lives in the same neighborhood so we have the key code. We tried him last week, but no one answered so we tried again, and no one answered. As we were driving out of the neighborhood, though, he drives in! Elder Johnson waved at him and he waved back with a lil nod. So that was fun.
As we were driving to our next appointment, the excitement from that wasnt even over before we drove past a Lamborghini Alventador in someones driveway. Elder Johnson parked in a nearby neighborhood and we walked over to take a picture. It's like a $450,000 car. Yeah. So that's Collierville for ya. (Ok the extreme of it, anyway.)
On the other side of things, there's a trailer park about 15 minutes away, and 20 minutes away into another town, smaller houses, garbage in the streets, and literally fried chicken remnants under people's doors. The range of wealth makes this such an interesting area. But the vast majority is a lot more wealthy, which makes finding good, humble, truth seeking people difficult, and the poorer areas have already been tracted to death by past missionaries.
We met our new mission President and his wife on Thursday! President Hansen is kind of a goob but in an endearing way. He's excited about the work, I can feel his love, and I like his way of thinking about baptisms. No monthly goal or quota except that we will baptize "every single person the Lord has prepared each month, whether that's one or two hundred." His thing is "Hurrah for Israel" which is super cheesy but it's ok
A returned missionary from the France Leon mission spoke in church yesterday and I guess one of their mission songs was "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," the Christmas song. Apparently the lyrics in French pack a bigger punch. Essentially the 2nd verse in English carries the same idea, but it's asking what the glad tidings are that all this rejoicing and all these singing angels are celebrating. That good news is the birth of Christ and we get the chance to rejoice and share those glad tidings with people today, too! As we sung that as our closing hymn, it wasn't weird at all, singing a Christmas song in July, but actually really cool. Music brings the spirit to me more consistently than anything else. (Speaking of which, I've missed playing the piano and listening to "normal" music. Just about every morning I've had a new favorite song stuck in my head like an itch I can scratch. But spiritual music is good, too.)
One more story!
On P day last week, I went to Wal-Mart to get a new electric razor since my old one was on its decline. Got one, brought it back to the apartment and upon closer inspection came to discover that the charging cable didn't fit in it, and... it had been used... there was hair all over it. Someone had opened the package, taken the new razor out and put their old one back in. (Joke is on them, their charging cable won't fit it) So we had to run back to Wal-Mart to return and replace it. Gross. But the new one was unused! :')
The work is hard but life is good! Life is hard, not the gospel. I so appreciate your prayers and support!
PS. I can get and read emails any day of the week. I can only respond on Mondays, though. (I can technically write draft responses in free time and send them on p day though, so...) if you wanna give me something fun to read during the week, email me anytime!
Before I start this email I realized after p day last week that I forgot to tell one last MTC story! Donny Osmond gave our last Sunday devotional and did a really good job. Funny guy, sang his "let's get down to business" line from mulan and another song he's working on for us, so that was cool.
Ok. Now this week.
After my email last week, we went tracting (door knocking) in the evening. There was a cool graveyard at the end of the street and Elder Johnson and I decided to check it out. Pretty cool, beautiful, and even some confederate soldiers--including an unknown--were buried there. Fireflies were starting to come out, it was cooling down a bit... it was awesome.
The next day we had a district meeting in Oxford, Mississippi. We drove down there and enjoyed a place called cook out. Basically 5$ for a ton of food, and $2 for any of like 40 different shake flavors.
On the drive back to Collierville, our promising investigator from China (with whom we'd scheduled a baptismal date my first day here) dropped us. I guess her parents had talked her out of meeting with us again for a while. Ugh. That was no fun.
We continued teaching this lady, who, bless her heart, is just very... slow. She has a very hard time reading but over this week has seemed to start remembering what exactly Joseph Smith did. We also taught this other lady and that's been going well, but she has a hard time finding time to read the book of Mormon. We keep telling her that's the only way to know if what we're teaching her is true, but for her and a lot of others it's just not a priority for them.
So those 2 plus another lady in the next town over have really been our teaching pool this week. So we've been trying to find new people. Members don't have referrals for us, so a-knocking we go. Probably 80% of the time no one answers the door. Probably 20% of those are people just ignoring us, peeking out the blinds or even going as far as to lock the door while we're waiting for them to open it. (That one was funny.) Of the remaining 20% of people who do answer it, not one has been rude us. They're kind, patient, and tell us they have their own religion already. Of those people that answer, maybe 1 in 40 say that we can come back. 1 in 100 let us in. Had an amazing experience with that this week.
We dont knock on every door. I was thinking to myself "we should knock on this one" when elder Johnson said we should try it. Sweet, we're on the same page.
We knock and this lady answers, she doesn't look to happy. We ask how her day is going, she says not good. Well, a message about Jesus Christ can help improve your day! Surprisingly enough, she lets us in. Within maybe 2 minutes she is crying. She tells us about a serious addiction and other issues she is struggling with. She admits right then that God sent us to her for a reason and I could feel the spirit nodding along to that inside of me. We talked about the atonement and about the love of her heavenly father for her. Elder Johnson shared an awesome video on addiction recovery, and as i shared my testimony of how I came to know my Heavenly Father loved me, the spirit came into that room so strong I was choking up a bit. (I'll admit it!) Long story short, we got her to say her first prayer in over a year and as we left, she seemed brighter. We walked quietly back to the car and just talked about how much this lady needs the gospel in her life. We knew we had been led to her and that she knew that too. I hope she could feel the holy ghost as strong as I could.
For that one experience this week, we spent literally hours every day knocking doors in humid hot and in pleasant evenings alike. Nothing quite like that had happened before, or since, but I'm okay with that because I know how much that meant to her.
Before I move on from this story, I want to add that we checked in on her yesterday. She looked rougher than before and told us her mother had died of a heart attack after having been in an argument with her. Life isn't treating her super well, and we just feel so much for her and want her to come around and open back up to us again because between the plan of salvation and the atonement of Jesus Christ, everything she's going through can be made easier. Don't pray for me this week, pray for her.
We helped a ward member move out this week. He had something like 40,000 rounds of ammunition stacked almost floor to ceiling in the backseat of his pickup truck. That was fun.
Bamboo grows a lot here, surprisingly and we came across some big pieces laying on the sidewalk so we did the only sane thing and grabbed some for our apartment.
Rather than canceling on us, a less active member invited us over to where he was working. (He was painting another ward members gorgeous home. The owner is a tax attorney for FedEx, which is headquartered here, and he does really well.) Visited with him for a while and then got to help clean up the tape and everything so that was also fun.
Ok and there are these really yummy chocolate pomegranate snack things that are amazing by themselves. But we put them in pancakes one afternoon and that blew my mind. Please try it and either tell me I'm 100% right or just totally crazy.
Brother Boggs, a member here who spoils a lot took us out to Cajun Catfish Co. We had sausage, fried catfish on rice, gumbo, and hush puppies. Boy I tell you, that blew my mind it was sooooo goood. He took us out to one of those grill your own meat at your table Korean barbecue places the next night and that was also yummy. We talked about our Italy trips for a while and that was fun to reminisce on.
While tracting, a guy showed us his gorgeous 65 (replica?) Cobra racing car in his garage. He told us about it for probably like 20 straight minutes, that was pretty cool haha. Lots of fancy cars here, and even more fancy houses.
Not ALL of the area is super rich, but most of it is at least upper middle class. There are some legit mansions here, though. Super gorgeous neighborhoods with enormous 2 story homes, but also like legit warehouse sized mansions. We don't have a ton of success tracting those. :)
It's been getting warmer. Into the 90s and humid. It's hurts a lil to be outside but I'm so grateful for our car. Usually we park somewhere and walk around the neighborhood in a circle, but it's still so nice to be able to come back to air conditioning after that.
Funny story of the week: while walking around we walked past this black guy sweeping branches out of the gutter. I had such a hard time understanding him. He introduced himself like so: "I'm Willy L. Mason, I'm not sure what the L. Stands for."
"Well, Willy, I think that's for your middle name."
"Yeah but I can't 'member it."
"Can we make one up for you? Give you a new middle name?"
"Hmm... how about Leonard? Willy Leonard Mason? That has a good ring to it."
He nodded and we said goodbye. So that was funny hahaha.
The ward members here are awesome, some really great, very generous people. Not a lot of progression with our investigators or with finding new people yet, but as we keep trying our best and teaching people a bit at a time, things are gonna start blossoming.
Have a good 4th of July everyone! Your prayers and support mean so much and are definitely felt here. Until next week!
Mail random stuff to me at
866 Schilling Rd. Collierville TN
Apt #103, 38017
So we can get a library card
Also tell me about life, new music reviews, memes, etc. at email@example.com
Hello All! Once again it feels like forever since I wrote last. A lot has happened since my last p day in the MTC.
I was a part of the first missionary departure devotional to be held in the gorgeous new buildings, so that was cool! Packed up over the course of two days and had our last classes.
Got up at 2:30 AM to leave the MTC and get to the airport. Waited there like 2-3 hrs for our flight to Atlanta. Went to Jamba juice and the guy in line in front of us paid for elder Miller and I's drinks. Found a member of my home ward in the airport, and just one thing after another worked out really well. The burrito place we ate at in the ATL airport's slogan was "burritos on a mission" which... idk shows me God's watching over me and knows me and has a funny sense of humor. I am a burrito.
Said goodbye to the awesome sister missionaries in my MTC district. I look up to each of them so much, they're amazing. They'll be serving in Atlanta.
As we were about to land in little rock, I looked out the window at all the fields and thought about the people I'd be meeting and helping in the next two years. Then proceeded one of the most powerful spiritual impressions I've ever had. I felt like I got a glimpse of what my Heavenly Father was thinking right then. I felt like he is SO FLIPPIN EXCITED that ELDER DAHL is right where he needs to be. Now he can get to work on certain people that he's been wanting to come to Him for a while, now. Tried to hide my tears from the nice lady I sat next to haha.
We landed in little rock, and met the mission President, Pres. Wakolo. We're his last group of missionaries he'll pick up before leaving to be a member of the seventy! As we were walking out, he stayed behind to give one of the airport workers a copy of the book of mormon and to schedule a return appointment bc he could tell the worker noticed something different in this group of missionaries than he saw in most people.
Had some training that evening and met my new companion, Elder Johnson of Salt Lake City, Utah, and also learned what area I'd be serving in. Colliersville Tennessee! (The Arkansas little rock mission is the name of the geographical area that I've been called to serve in. It includes a good portion of TN, and tiny corners of missouri and Mississippi!)
Stayed the night in a hotel. It was so nice to have a real shower and to sleep in s real bed, not the MTC kind or a bunk bed.
The next morning we headed out and got some more training from the mission President and then drove to our areas that afternoon.
Colliersville is a super nice part of TN. Pretty wealthy area.
We got to TN in time for a dinner appointment with this awesome guy who works logistics for Nike golf. He used to house the missionaries, I guess, but now we have an apartment. Super nice single guy in maybe his early 30s? We went to a burger place that was really good and then went to our apartment for the grand tour and to unpack.
I knew daily studying was a big chunk of missionary schedule, but they weren't kidding. We get up at 6:30, exercise, shower, etc. And then from like 8 to 1pm with breakfast/lunch breaks... its all studying.
After studies, we went to our first appointment. We visited with this lady from China, actually, who somehow got her MBA from BYU being exposed to the church there. She's here for work now, and at the start of the lesson was open to there even being a God in the first place. We taught our 1st lesson on the restoration of Christ's original church on the earth today. Part of training to be a missionary is being challenged to extend the baptismal invitation on your 1st lesson. So I did! We asked her to be baptized and she said if she could come to know for herself what we told her was true, she'd be baptized on July 29th! So prayers for her are appreciated, so she can get answers to her own prayers about the Book of Mormon and so on. She asked lots of good questions, followed along, and then Elder Johnson showed her how to get the book of Mormon in Chinese on her phone so it'd be easier for her to read. Super neat lady.
Met more members of the local ward here. So many great people. And living in just gorgeous southern homes. This is a beautiful, beautiful area.
Had dinner with a nice family and one of their daughters dog sits for a neighbor. That neighbor pays her $100 a day, and hires someone completely different just to walk the dog. So yeah, that gives you maybe a "high end exaggeration" of what this area is like.
On the other hand, we did walk through a local "ghetto," in the area, basically a few steps up above a trailer park. Us two white kids in white shirts and ties walking by black people shouting at each other... its fun hahaha. There was literally a watermelon cracked open on the road with flies buzzing around it. It was hot and humid, and there were lots of old cars in everyone's back yard... it really felt like I was in the south haha. And it was awesome. Knocking doors is still hard and worrying, but just walking around made me so happy cause everything is so cool!
Met with a ward member who spent 30 mins showing us his custom made guns collection so that was cool.
Pretty much everyone here believes in Jesus already, which is awesome. Most people seem pretty content with their faith as it is, though. When we ask people how they came to be religious, or have faith in Christ as their savior, though, they really have to stop and think. They talk about how they like the community of the church they go too. And they talk about the bible a lot. So far it's not too often people say they know because they've really felt the holy ghost testify to them that it is. Which is sad!
We've had 2 kinda bashers so far. Both really polite people, both trying to convince us we're wrong, but both times I walked away even more sure that what I believe is true. They rely on bible passages open for interpretation and on using "logic" or taking some things very literally and others metaphorically. Their faith is based on archeological or historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived, not actual faith received from God telling them truth through the holy ghost.
The restored gospel, though, is absolutely logical! But I'm so glad my faith is founded on experience, on living it, on praying about it, on feeling the holy ghost in my heart as I read the book of mormon. The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Not just because people tell me it is or because there's historical evidence, but because I feel God's love for me as I live it.
Ate at red robin with this family from India one night. Another funny sight to imagine. It sounds like the start of a joke. A Red Robin full of white folks and black folks coming for their free birthday burgers, and then an Indian family and two white mormon missionaries come in. Their parents didn't speak much English and wore the cool traditional clothing you imagine. It was fun hahaha.
That's most of the highlights!
Yesterday was church and there are some characters. One lady with a legit mustache. And one of the congregation members preassigned to speak talked about breaking her arm at a family reunion and how her favorite part of going to the hospital is the level ten pain killers. ("Say 8!!!!" Anyone?) And then in elders quorum one of the teachers talked about the holy ghost's influence on science and its ability to measure distances in space?? I'm exagerating just a bit, and the rest of the church meetings were actually really great. There's some awesome awesome people. And a lot from Boise Idaho, too! I was told most of the members are either from Idaho or utah in these wards. It's fun to talk street names and fun things to do in Boise with people.
The weather has been awesome! We're in an all car area so we dont have to use our bikes. There's a tropical storm or something I guess earlier this week and we were getting the tendrils clouds up here, so it'd be cloudy and sprinking one minute and sunny the next. Kinda like Idaho but in a definite pattern. I think it's passed, though. Yesterday was gorgeous. 75-80 degrees maybe, not really humid at all. Walking around that evening felt like an Idaho summer evening. (Aka the best)
It was a busy week. Lots of adjusting and growing and improving I need to do. I feel very lucky to start my mission and that growth here in Colliersville.
I wanna hear from you!!! Send me emails plz. Tell me about your life. Your day. Your dog. Send me memes. Music reviews for albums I'm missing. Whatever!
You can also send mail to
866 Schilling Rd. Collierville TN
Apt #103, 38017
Big takeaway this week: life is hard, not the gospel.
Think about that for a while. I really like that.
Until next week!
Made it to Little Rock! It's hot and humid already, but not as bad as it will get, apparently. Ill be serving in Collierville, TN w/ Elder Johnson of SLC! President and Sister Wakolo are awesome! Saw some fireflies flashing in the church parking lot, and heard the cicadas buzzing outside. We're staying in a hotel tonight while the sisters stay in the mission home. Excited to be here and serving in TENNESSEE!
Well, it seems as though this last week went by even faster than the one before it. Which is fine by me! I've been really enjoying being at the MTC though. If I could stay here my whole mission I'd be tempted, but there are people to save, new places to go, non-cafeteria food to eat, and adventures to be had!
Last Sunday was one of the longest days of my life, though. Meeting after meeting. All good ones, don't get me wrong! It just was so long. 6:50AM to 9PM!
Oh and President Uchtdorf came.
(I didn't see him, but a couple people in our zone did. I guess he came to tour the new buildings on the MTC campus. For those who don't know, President Uchtdorf works closely with the Prophet, above the quorum of the 12 apostles.)
So while he was here, there was a rumor that he would be the speaker at the Sunday devotional. And then we heard he had gone home already so we were kinda disappointed. But the devo ending up being good anyway. As of that day, there were 1300 missionaries in the MTC, 700 of which were sisters! And then we got 500 new missionaries on wednesday! The sister missionaries are just crazy incredible. Like... I wanna be as good as the sister missionaries are haha.
On Monday, we started meeting with 2 new investigators. Even though they're acting, you really come to love them and hope they keep commitments and feel the spirit and choose to be baptized. Thankfully, it seems we managed to do that this week!
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I got up with a few other elders at ~3AM to say goodbye to the elders in the district that left the MTC for the field. They're all such great, hilarious, immensely spiritual guys that I look up to a lot. They're gonna be great. The next time I get up that early will be this Tuesday to leave for Little Rock!
(We got our flight itineries. Leaving the MTC at 3:30 for an 8:30 flight. A little earlier than it needs to be if you ask me, but...)
On tuesday, Elder Nielson of the 70 (The group of people under the quorum of the 12 apostles) visited for the Tuesday devotional. I realized that I had heard about him before from my parents. So my grandparents lived on the same street as them and their kids and my parents grew up together. So after the devo (Which was awesome, talking about how God protects his missionaries and is involved in this work) I made my companion go wait in line with me up front to meet him. It kinda felt like being able to meet band members after a concert? But anyway, I introduced myself as the grandson of the holmsteads and he asked who my parents were. I said Tiffany, and he brought his wife over and she was like "oh, are you Oliver?" So that's cool! She knew me before I introduced myself. We got to follow them out with the MTC presidency into this special room where the speakers and presidency hang out before the devotionals. Got pictures taken with them there and talked a little bit about my family and twin falls Idaho. It was cool to have someone who knows the people I love the most so well!
Another takeaway or 2 from the devotional (actually from sister Nielson):
-Qualifying for, receiving, and acting on spiritual promptings is the single greatest skill we can acquire in this life
-My whole life and the whole lives of my future investigators have been preparing us for this.
-Jesus Christ has called ME.
After the older district left, the janitors came to clean the room. They found a screw on the ground and looked up at the air vent. They found all kinds of goodies in there. We were freaking out next door like a drug bust was going on. Kinda hilarious.
So this isn't super organized at all, but... another thing I love about the MTC happens at about 9PM. As various districts go back to dorms, some of them will just sing a hymn on the way. As they walk past people chatting, they join in. So its just cool to see that spread across campus. I've sung "called to serve" more times in the past few weeks than maybe my entire life before then haha. But it's awesome when people you've never met before join in and spread the song around!
So my four square reign has continued stronger than it ever did in 4th grade. We decided to try something else last night. While most of the zone played volleyball again, a few of us tried botchee (sp?) Ball. Elder Miller and I won 6/12 games... and there were 4 teams. So we schooled haha. When it comes to basketball and volleyball etc. I'm pretty lousy, but with weird sports like four square, botchee ball, wallyball... I'm pretty good apparently?
Yesterday some of our district (me, and sisters Gardner, Pollard, and Landon) started practicing the song Nearer, My God to Thee for church tomorrow. To clarify, I'm playing piano, and they are singing and sound really good. I'll have to see about doing a video? https://youtu.be/DSKhtVfsIOo
Soooo that's this week, really. We went to the temple again today. No big impressions today, really, but as I was walking out I just felt really happy and like I'd done the right thing. That same feeling I'm hoping to get on the flight back home from Arkansas in 1.9 years. :)
Got a haircut here this morning, too. It took all of about 8 minutes, but turned out pretty good I think. I've been wanting to get a haircut since before I even reported to the MTC but scheduling an appointment was a pain. But anyway, My head feels a lot lighter now, Yay!
It's weird to think that my next email will be sent from Arkansas! P Day will most likely be on Monday, which means it'll be just over a week til you hear from me again.
So keep doing good things! Read the Book of Mormon. Pray to your Heavenly Father. He's there. And Jesus Christ is there to make your burdens light! My testimony of my Savior has grown so much while I've been here. I hope you can feel His love for you as much as I do here!
Until next time!
Time is weird here! It feels like forever since my last email, but on Monday of this week, we did a service project and that feels like yesterday. The days are long, the weeks are kinda faster?
I've made it to P Day! (P[reparation] days happen once a week and is basically the day we get to send emails, do laundry, all that stuff! My P Day while in the Missionary Training Center is Saturday.
It's already kinda hard to believe that this is my 4th day in the MTC already. Every day is pretty packed and long, but I think with the "less sleeping" part of things, it really just feels like one really long day altogether haha.
So after I got here on Wednesday, I went inside the MTC, got my nametags, my books, dropped bags off at our residency, and then went to our classroom to meet our teachers, and do some Orientation type stuff on the computers. Met my companion, Elder Miller from Surprise Arizona. He's kind of a quiet kid, but has definitely been warming up, and is really funny and very insightful when he wants to be. After that we went to a kind of "welcome" fireside/meeting in one of the older chapel-like buildings in the MTC. There were a lot of new missionaries in there! Definitely got the distinct impression while I was there that "yes, this is where I need to be" and further had the thought "this is where EVERYBODY needs to be." The spirit is definitely here. A clip from elder Holland this last conference was shared, when he said essentially Christ tells us to "Come as we are, but don't intend to STAY as we are." Man, Elder Holland gets me every time.
On Thursday, we experienced that first 6:30 AM alarm. It wasn't too bad! I think the novelty of being in a new place helped. Got up, got ready, and Elder Miller & I started studying for imaginary investigators we had already been assigned. We had a few classes throughout the day, and study time as well. Classes are usually an hour or so of instruction, ways of changing our perspective and the way we look at teaching. (Teaching to invite people to act on principles of the gospel rather than just teaching them information.) After that, we role play, and even Thursday afternoon (our first full day!) had a lesson with the teacher playing an investigator that we prepared in class. It went... okay. Thankfully, our lesson with her the next day went really well, and Elder Miller and I felt a lot more confident about it.
Thursday night, we met our Branch Presidency. (The adult leaders around to specifically help our group of missionaries.) They're all nice. We all introduced ourselves by sharing our name, families, where we were serving, what made us want to serve a mission, and so on.
So of the members of our zone (our group of missionaries here in the MTC) that came in on Wednesday, there are 4 Elders, including myself, and something like 16 sisters? I was moved by each of my fellow elders' introductions and stories, but wow. These sister missionaries are just incredible. They have such strong testimonies and faith. Afterward, we got some more orientation stuff, and were taken out one at a time for just a quick interview with one of the members of the branch presidency. They asked if we went to school or worked before our mission, if we'd taken mission prep classes before, and stuff like that.
After the meeting was over, the Branch Presidency came in and talked briefly about leadership positions. They said after prayerfully considering who should be District Leader, Elder Dahl was that person. Um yup so I'm district leader now. Within the new members of our zone, our district (that I am leader of) has the 4 elders [all going to Arkansas little rock w/ me], and 6 sisters [all going to Georgia, I think?] The other district within our zone is entirely sister missionaries, [Going to Georgia, oklahoma city, Cincinatti? We're all in-states, and the midwest/south area] and another one of them was asked to be Sister Training Leader.
So yeah, I was already kinda overwhelmed with all the newness and stuff I had to do before, and then I was called to be District Leader. Fortunately, most of what that means, I've discovered, is that I check the mail for everyone and just conduct our district classes.
The Elders of our zone (my district + the district of elders from each previous week) are all in one corner of the residency hall. Like 4 rooms of 6 beds each [3 bunk beds] and 4 Elders in each room. So lots of room, thankfully. Some of the Elders that have been here longer have taken the vent off of the A/C system [like the tubes that carry the cold air around the building? I forgot what those are called] and use it to put their extra sodas and treats in there to keep it cool. They then put the vent back on to keep it secret. I guess there's a banana up there that's been in there since before these Elders got there haha. The other guys in our zone can be kind a rowdy, but it's fun. And actually really cool to see them doing human-wheel-barrow racing down the halls after curfew one minute, but then planning lessons for investigators and saying really meaningful prayers the next. Idk, they work hard and play hard. Two of them are going to the Orem, Utah mission (yikes) and our "neighbors" downstairs are actually going to be serving service missions in Russia! Which I guess I thought was a totally closed mission. Apparently 1+ of these neighbors had actually been assigned to a different mission while they were here! Whoa.
Friday morning was a lot harder to get up haha. Pretty typical day already though. We had a part of one class outside, next to the new buildings on the MTC Campus, which are set to open next week. (Idk if you've heard about these, but I guess they've been in the works for a while, now, and the missionaries this month will be the first to ever use them!) Our teacher did some talking and got our district a chance to walk inside the doors to check out this cool wall-sized mural of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi. He said walking in that building was like walking into the temple, and that even though you can feel the holy ghost on the MTC campus, you can notice a difference in the feel of that spirit in the new building. With that in mind, we walked in the front doors. Wow. Yes. This mural was of Nephi overlooking Jerusalem, on the verge of something kinda scary, being "led by the spirit" but "not knowing beforehand" what he was going to do or say. And you could feel the spirit so strongly--stronger than I've ever felt it because of a building before. Temples are sacred, but the different power of the Holy Ghost testifying of the sheer amount of potential for GOOD that everyone who walks into that new building will have was just amazing. Exactly what I'd imagine walking into the Sacred Grove would feel like. This was definitely the spiritual highlight of the week.
We had our exercise time after that and played volleyball. I was reminded that I wasn't very great at it, but it was fun, and one elder from the UK with the perfect accent from our zone made it pretty hilarious.
So basically that's been life the last half of this week! Classes, study time, meals. Meals are pretty good! We're eating well, here. But I'm still on the same notch of my belt, so I'll keep you updated on that haha.
This morning we got up at like 5:45 and did a session at the Provo Temple across the street. It was hard to stay awake, but looking at the picture of the Savior in the celestial room there was also a spiritual experience. I felt like He was proud of me.
We got back and now i'm in a computer lab in the MTC writing this email!
As for a funny/embarassing story: last night I was kinda tired, and so, as one does, I grabbed my like toiletries bag and went to brush my teeth in the bathroom. I put the toothpaste on, wet the toothbrush, and started brushing my teeth. Man, this toothpaste didn't taste great. [spit, rinse, continue.] I look over at the "toothpaste." yeah, no, it wasn't toothpaste. I'd accidentally put anti-itch cream on my toothbrush instead of the same-travel-sized toothpaste I got from my last dentist appointment hahaha. I'm still alive to tell about it. I wasn't afraid to laugh about it, and got just about every other elder in the bathroom at the time laughing to tears. It was actually great.
So that's that! The days are long, already kinda blurring together, and it seems like the wednesday I was dropped off was simultaneously yesterday and a month ago. The MTC is good, though. I've had a great time here already, and have enjoyed at least most aspects of every day. :)
I love you all! The Gospel is true.
Elder Oliver Dahl
I was asked to speak in my home ward on charity. Specifically President Monson’s address during the Priesthood Session of this last General Conference. Here is the text of my talk, with the exception of quotations read from Preach My Gospel's section on Charity. (Which can be read here)
He didn’t speak for very long, so there wasn’t a lot of material from him to go off of. But somehow, the words he did speak seemed to have double the meaning packed into them, the way that prophets and apostles seem to be able to do really well. And fortunately, the topic of “charity” is a pretty vast concept. And an important one, too! Most of President Monson’s talk focuses on defining charity, and describing just how important it is.
To define Charity, he quotes Moroni 7:44-47:
- "Charity sufferereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked... / Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--but charity is the pure love of Christ and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him."
This definition includes the bold statement that “if ye have not charity, ye are nothing.”
President Monson, in his own words added: “brethren, we do not honor the priesthood of God if we are not kind to others.”
Those are pretty blunt. Between scripture and a living prophet, it’s clear that having Charity is important.
President Monson expands on the definition by quoting Elder Joseph B Wirthlin: "kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes. Jesus, our savior, was the epitome of kindness and compassion.”
Preach My Gospel has a chapter dedicated to Christlike attributes—what they are, how we can demonstrate and develop them, and how each one can bless lives.
P1 – This section also starts off by illustrating the importance of this principle.
P2 – “we are to seek to develop that kind of love”
2 commandments right there. 1) seek to develop it, and 2) develop not just charity for the people in our circles, or that we like, or that are easy to be charitable to. We’re to develop God’s “eternal love for all his children.”
P3 – “As you follow this counsel and strive to do righteous works…” promises, responsibilities, blessings… [a list of what changes]
We just read that Mormon said that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love.” So, to develop charity, we need to pray and do our best to develop it ourselves.
First and foremost, To understand and develop charity, we must (as usual) look to our perfect example of all things, Christ Himself.
Charity is "The pure love of Christ." ->>> We 'know' that Christ loves us. We’ve read how he loved the people of His time, and about the love He had for the Nephite children He visited in the Book of Mormon. And we know that he loves us so much that he suffered and died for us. But feeling His love for ourselves is so much different from knowing of it. When we have felt the love He so freely gives to us, it helps us realize how much He loves every single one of us, and how we should feel the same for everyone around us.
I testify that He does love you. And your Heavenly Father loves you. And if you haven’t experienced this for yourself, it truly is as simple as asking. Our Heavenly Father is a perfect father, who loves us so much. And when any of his children humbly, and meekly kneels to know whether or not their Eternal Father loves them... He's going to show them as best as He can just how much He loves them. As I prepare to serve and teach the people of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission, one of the experiences I look forward to having the most is being able to witness people feeling Heavenly Father's love directly from Him like I have as they pray to Him and ask if He loves them for maybe the first time in their lives.
This love is powerful, and humbling, and when I feel it directed at me, I want to be better and to share that love. It helps me realize why Heavenly Father organized the plan of happiness, and how exactly the Savior could fulfill His redeeming role by way of His atoning sacrifice.
Within our religion, the Book of Mormon is often called the “keystone” of our religion. It’s metaphorically the center brick of an arch, upon which everything else is leaning. If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, we have a living prophet today, and so on. A lot is leaning on the Book of Mormon. To further this analogy, I think the love of our Heavenly Father is the mortar that holds all of these bricks together.
Because He loves us, He provided prophets in ancient and modern days to teach us the plan that He created so that we could return to live with Him. He loves all of His children, so He didn’t limit the spread of the gospel to one continent of people, but made it available to everyone—living and dead, Nephite or Israelite. Through our charity, love, and kindness, we can be Heavenly Father’s hands as He reaches out in love to bless all of His children. We can do this within our families, our communities, or while serving a mission!
That’s quite the calling, especially considering Charity is a perfect thing—the essence of a Christlike attribute. It’s far from the natural man—long-suffering, not selfish, and so on.
We are imperfect people, and frequently give in to the natural man. We do what's easy and comfortable. We have to strive to become Christlike because we are imperfect. There are a lot of improvements that I need to make, but I came up with a short list of some of these as they relate to charity, that we can all work on together.
1. 1. Not judging. When we see how Christ treated people, and look at people through a Christlike lens, we don't see what they're wearing, or their past mistakes, or their current struggles, or what they lack. We see their potential, and love the person that they are right now, regardless of anything else. (1 Samuel 16:7 – look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.)
a. This goes back to understanding the love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us. When we know how much they love us despite our faults and mistakes, we can recognize the value they see in others.
2. 2. Not doing nothing. Charity, like faith, invites us to act.
a. "Never suppress a generous thought"
i. Tell people you love them, that they look nice. Commend them on accomplishments. What good is keeping those nice thoughts to yourself?
b. Serve (PMG – You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself)
i. Jesus spent so much of his ministry serving others. Serving others out of the love we feel for them is a powerful thing. (PMG – As you… strive to do righteous works….)
ii. We develop charity as we practice charity.
c. This goes along with service, but the final thing is to Be Kind. Stand up and do something kind. Go out of your way to just be nice. Be generous. Put others before yourself.
3. 3. Ultimately, the goal as we strive to be more charitable is to change our mindset.
a. To serve and love people regardless of xyz, not because we have to, or we’re taught to, and not even because it’s just the right thing to do. When we become more Christlike and charitable, we do so because we genuinely love the people around us, and want to serve them.
These all sound like fairly simple things, but quite honestly can be really challenging. These are things we may be striving to improve for the rest of our lives. And that’s okay, as long as we’re trying. Because while we may not attain a perfectly Christlike-amount of Charity in our lives, I would say that our love, and our charity (as imperfect as it might be) has a similar ability to change lives, and to point others to our Heavenly Father.
We don't have to be perfect in loving other people for them to feel loved. We don't have to be perfect teachers or leaders in order to help others feel the spirit, feel closer to God, or feel inspired to change. We’re pretty lucky that’s the case!
Anyway, I think that’s the main point I’ve been trying to get to. Even though we may not be an exhibit model for charity like Christ was, whatever efforts we do put forward will have immense power in improving others’ lives, and in reaching out to them on behalf of our loving Heavenly Father.
As a soon-to-be missionary, everything about this is comforting! I can become better, I can become more Christlike. And as I try my best to do so, my efforts will be magnified to have powerful results. PMG teaches us that as we develop charity, we obey God’s commandments and do all that we ca to serve others and to help them receive the restored gospel.
I’ll close with this call to action and promise from President Monson.
"Let us examine our lives and determine to follow the Savior's example by being kind, loving, and charitable." -> "as we do so, we will be in a better position to call down the powers of heaven for ourselves, for our families, and for our fellow travelers in this sometimes difficult journey back to our heavenly home."
Those are tremendous blessings promised to us by a prophet of God. I know that as we do our best to develop charity, these blessings and so much more will be ours, and that generations of our brothers and sisters stand to benefit from our charity. I look forward to realizing these and many other blessings on my mission. I know that charity is a powerful principle that is capable of blessing every life it touches. I know that this church is true. I know that President Monson is a prophet, and that Jesus Christ leads this church. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I pray that I may be able to continue growing up in Christ, and that I can be an instrument in His hands.
So I've talked about why I'm serving a mission. Now I want to share what it is I'm going to be teaching. I don't think very many of you reading this have to worry about me knocking on your door to share this message, but... since I might not be able to do that just now, this post is what I would tell you if I was ringing your doorbell right now. This is what I believe, and what I want everybody to know. I've done the best I can to explain these beliefs in my own words, but I have leaned on some of the particularly effective wording of the actual lesson manual for missionaries in a few instances. That said, my explanations are far from perfect, so if you have questions, or something doesn't make sense, get in touch or visit www.lds.org. If you want answers and you look in the right places, you will find them.
My testimony begins simply. I know that I have a Heavenly Father, and I know that He loves me. He is the perfect father. I like to imagine my barely seven year old sister asking our dad if he loves her. The answer she gets from my dad, and the answer I receive from my Heavenly Father when I pray to ask if He is there and if He loves me is the same. I feel his answer almost like He's right there giving me a hug and with tears in His eyes telling me, "Oliver, of course I love you." I know that you can feel this same love for yourself.
Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He wants us to be happy! God doesn't want us to be lonely, miserable, or despairing. While we'll definitely feel these and more throughout life, God has given us so much in order to be happy! We were created to have joy. (2 Nephi 2:25) Families are such a key part of His gospel and plan of happiness. God organized families to bring us happiness, and provide a place where we can learn the gospel, and prepare for eternal life. I love my family, and know that the principles we've been taught together have made our home a happier, more unified place.
These principles have been taught to people for thousands of years, through prophets. If you're familiar with the Bible, you know of the writings of prophets like Noah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on. Prophets in every age--including our own--received the Priesthood and through revelation testify of and teach about our Heavenly Father's plan for us to be successful in this life and to return to live with Him. This whole plan is centered around the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who suffered and died so that we can be freed from the burden of our sins and continually strive to improve. When we live as Christ did, and are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end as He did, we are following our Heavenly Father's plan. When people do this, they're blessed, and when they don't, they don't receive the blessings otherwise promised to them. When enough people choose to reject this message and live in spiritual darkness, this results in something called an apostasy. When this happens, God takes away his priesthood authority until it can be restored, sometimes through another prophet. This happened with Noah, Abraham, and Moses, who each were called by God to start a new "dispensation" of the gospel. (Basically another time when the Priesthood and Gospel is available on the earth.)
A few hundred years before Christ was born, the world was in another apostasy. When the Savior began His mortal ministry, He established His Church again on the earth, starting a new dispensation. Before his atoning sacrifice, death, and Resurrection, Jesus gave His Apostles the priesthood authority required to teach His gospel, baptize people, and establish His church. Unfortunately, the apostles were persecuted and killed. With the death of the Apostles, the priesthood was once again taken from the earth. Without this priesthood authority, people were left to rely on human wisdom to interpret scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ. False ideas were added, and a lot of truth was lost, like a game of telephone through the generations.
But then it's really cool cause during the Enlightenment following the Middle Ages, people like Martin Luther and others realized that what was on the earth then was not what was established by Christ. They realized that there were things missing, and things added. This realization, and their consequent organization of many Protestant churches, resulted in an emphasis on religious freedom, which helped pave the way for the final Restoration and dispensation.
So, knowing that our Heavenly Father has historically revealed his Gospel and his Priesthood through prophets to His children, His next "move" really isn't a surprise.
The early 1800s was a weird time for the United States. It was one of the only countries to really have religious freedom at the time, and so there was a lot of religious excitement, and even competition, especially in the eastern states. As a part of a religious family, the amount of different religions, (and the extent to which they all disagreed with each other over the same passages of scripture) was overwhelming to a young man named Joseph Smith. As he did his own research, trying to find out which church to join, Joseph read James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph Smith took that literally, figuring that he lacked wisdom, and trusting that he would receive an answer.
As he prayed, asking God what he should do, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. In this vision, they told him not to join any of the churches. Even though many good people believed in Christ and tried to understand and teach His gospel, they didn't have the full truth, or the priesthood authority to baptize. They'd inherited the state of apostasy from the last generations. As God had done with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and so on, He called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and to restore the fullness of the gospel through this dispensation.
The Bible tells of these prophets, and many others. But they're all located in a relatively small geographic location in the scope of the whole planet earth. To me, it just seems right that a Heavenly Father who loves all of His children and wants them all to return to live with Him would provide opportunities for his Gospel to be shared to all His children. That's where the Book of Mormon comes into play. The Book of Mormon is a record very much like the Bible. It testifies of Jesus Christ as our Savior, and relates stories of civilizations being taught this Gospel by prophets in the ancient Americas. It also teaches of the resurrected Christ's appearance and ministering to these people. The records that are now the Book of Mormon were translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God and testify of our Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, the atonement of Christ, and God's love for all of His children.
Today, this same gospel--the Gospel established by Jesus Christ during his life, with apostles, prophets, baptism by immersion, and the power of His atoning sacrifice still exists! Today, we have a living prophet, who is the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is the authorized successor of Joseph Smith, and can trace his Priesthood Authority back to Joseph Smith, and therefore to Jesus Christ himself. He and the present Apostles receive revelation from our Heavenly Father, and guide his kingdom here on earth.
They aren't the only ones capable of receiving revelation, however. While they are authorized to receive revelation regarding the church and world as a whole, any person, as a child of God, can pray and seek revelation for themselves.
This is a lot to take in and think about! And there's really only one thing holding it all up: The Book of Mormon. And there are two possibilities with The Book of Mormon.
One: The Book of Mormon is True. Accordingly, it was translated through the power of our loving Heavenly Father by a prophet of God in this day and age, and teaches truth about God's plan and Christ's atonement. It encourages men to do good and be more Christlike. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon validates Joseph Smith as a prophet, validates the revelation he received, and validates the revelation that continues to be received in the present-day through prophets and apostles who can trace their authority to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations through Joseph Smith.
Or, Two: The Book of Mormon is utterly false, potentially inspired by the devil, and exists to lead people away from God. Accordingly, it was written by a charlatan who never saw God or had His authority. If none of the events recorded in the Book of Mormon transpired, God's word wasn't ever available to continents of His children, and so maybe He's not that loving after all.
This is really the ultimatum. It cannot be decided without reading the Book of Mormon, and it cannot be decided without praying to our Heavenly Father to know for ourselves if what we've read is true, either.
I've read the Book of Mormon, and testify that it is the word of God. It invites God's children to follow Him, to utilize the atonement of Jesus Christ, and to do good. The devil would not have a part in advocating what this book testifies of. I know that God is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ suffered, bled, and died, so that my mistakes and sins can be overcome, and so I can improve myself, grow, and become more Christlike. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that we have a living prophet who leads the church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. I know these things are true, and I know that you can know these things for yourself, too! You can get a copy of the Book of Mormon, or read it online! However you can read it, do it. It will change your life, improve your days, and help you feel of God's love for you. If you really want to know whether or not this is true, God will do whatever it takes for you to recognize your answer. And it probably won't take as much as you think it will. I bear my testimony of these things in faith, knowing that I don't know everything, that I'm far from perfect, and that I have a long way to go. But I know what I've felt and I know it has brought me joy, so I want to share that. I do so in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Dear Elder Dahl:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is expected of me that I will serve a two-year mission. (Yup! The "riding bikes, wearing name tags, and knocking on doors" kind of mission.) But this isn't something I'm doing because it's expected of me. This letter didn't just come in the mail as a surprise. This is something that I've planned on, looked forward to, applied for, and chosen to do. I'm doing this because the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life SO much, in SO many ways. I'm serving a mission because I can't think of a greater honor or responsibility than being able to play a part in someone's story of finding and enjoying these blessings, too
And yes, that means being away from my family, away from social media, away from my hobbies, postponing college plans, and giving up a lot for two years. It means getting doors closed in my face, riding a bike through the humid south, and not getting to sleep in. It's not a super easy choice, but I can't imagine anything more spiritually rewarding or personally edifying. I'll enter the Missionary Training Center as... me. And I'll come back home in two years as a better me. With increased faith, new stories to tell, powerful friendships, and having "made a difference" of eternal value to those I encounter, and to myself!
I really would not be doing this if I didn't know for myself that what I will be teaching is true.
I do believe it. I'm eager to share it. I'm excited to develop my love for the people of Arkansas. (And Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, should I end up serving there... parts of those states are within the mission boundaries!) These next two years are gonna be tough. But my Savior has been through harder things, and I've already enjoyed blessings far greater than the difficulties that I will encounter. I'm excited to serve my Savior, and to serve with Him in His work. I'm excited for the people who will change my life, and for the opportunity it will be to watch the Savior change their lives. There's a lot to be excited about.
So here's the plan. I have one day per week where I can send and respond to emails. While I'm away, my Mom is going to be posting my weekly emails here on this blog. I should be able to send and include some photos, too, assuming no technical difficulties occur! So, with fifty two weeks in a year, for two years, there should be 106 posts on this blog before I'm back. (104 + this post & my testimony post.) It sounds like a lot, but it'll go by fast!
Serving A Mission!
What's all this about? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is expected of me that I will serve a two-year mission. (And yeah, the "riding bikes and wearing nametags and knocking on doors" kind of mission.) But this isn't something I'm doing because it's expected of me... I'm doing this because the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life SO much, in SO many ways. I can't think of a greater honor or responsibility than being able to play a part in someone's story of finding and enjoying these blessings, too.
Sign up to get my weekly emails!
(May 31-June 19 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
2005 N 900 E Unit 149
Provo, UT 84602
(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116
Hi! You made it all the way down to the bottom of the page!
Wow, thanks for all that scrolling! Hope you liked what you saw.
As a token of appreciation, I offer you this pointless button!