Hello, friends and family! Yet another week has come and gone in the Benton Zone. As much easier as it would be for me to just leave it at that... there's some fun stuff from this week.
On Tuesday, we went to another district council, and then I stayed in Little Rock on exchanges with Elder Albertson. We raked some leaves and then tried to find some people interested in learning more! Mostly... people weren't home. At the end of the night, though, we were tracting in the dark and a hispanic lady lets us right in! Apparently she had met with missionaries in the past, but had moved and lost contact with them. She spoke about as much English as I spoke Spanish, but it was actually really cool cause we were able to teach her a good part of the Restoration. She had her Spanish Bible, and I knew the references to scriptures at least, so we led her through a little scripture chain explaining the need for a restoration! She seemed to get it and said she'd love to have the Hermanas back to study with her!
When we got home, Elder Albertson gave me another haircut. If I said he did a better job than Great Clips, I'd be telling the truth, but it also wouldn't be saying much! :) Nah, he did good.
When we exchanged back, Elder Ramage had picked up some bags of leaves from someone we had raked leaves for last week, with the intention of dropping it off to someone close to the church who had requested leaves for compost. Well... they'd typed the address in wrong, and they actually lived like a 30 minute drive into the middle of nowhere in our area, but we'd said we were going to drop them off, so... we made a day of it. Scrapped the plans and spent the day in and around Sardis, Arkansas, trying less-active members and formerly taught people. Not a lot were home again. But we actually met another Hispanic guy, who was the husband of that one lady who paid for my groceries at Walmart a few months ago! He spoke a little bit more English, so we did some back and forth between English and Spanish with him. But he ended up asking for a Book of Mormon. We talked about la cena del Senor, and showed him where in the Book of Mormon it talked more about that. It was cool! Spanish is kinda fun, but it makes me wish I was fluent. It kinda reminds me of like pictionary or charades. Like I can't say exactly what I'm thinking, but I can kinda gesture around and scribble with my words until they get the idea haha.
In another neighborhood, a dog that looked kinda like a tiger started following us around. It was nice, fortunately. But it was also a wimp, cause when like 13 other tiny neighborhood dogs started yapping at us and running at our heels as we walked as fast as we could away, it just started whining. Some tiger. As we walked away, someone peeked out the blinds of their trailer wondering who the heck was stirring up all the dogs down the road. She came out the front door and asked, "Can I help you?" Well there you go, we didn't even have to knock on the door. We introduced ourselves and she said she wasn't interested. Just then, though, her teenage daughter? came out the front door and caught the tail end of our spiel, and asked, "Mom, can I walk the neighborhood with them?" She sounded so excited haha. "No, honey," she said. We started backing out, too, saying we'd knocked on the whole street already haha. Her mom went inside, and we offered her a pamphlet at least, which she accepted. We had a good chat, and then she went back inside. In hindsight, we probably should've taken her up on the offer! Maybe we would've had better luck.
The next day, we had our own district council, and then met up with a member to do some service for a lady we found last week. She said she'd come to church if we helped her get rid of some of her garbage and scrap metal around her house, cause the city had given her a notice saying she had to clean it up. So we took her up on the offer, found a member with a truck, and called beforehand to make sure we'd be good to go. She said she'd be gone, but her son would be home. We knocked on the door. And rang the doorbell. And did it again and again. No, seriously, like we rang the doorbell like crazy. (She'd said beforehand that it was hard to hear from the back room, and that it was hard to wake up her son.) So uh... all of our preparation didn't work out that day cause her son was asleep. I've had teaching appointments fall through many a time, but appointments where we come help out don't usually get missed.
We spent a good part of the rest of the day visiting more less-active members in the Benton area, and met some interesting people. The most interesting was a young couple who was waiting to hear back from Salt Lake about the removal of their records from the church. They'd gotten into some parts of the church's history blown out of proportion and commentated on by less-than-favorable people looking through the lens of the present to judge negative parts of the past. They said they were done, and they just couldn't agree with it. It was sad. By their same logic, though, they should probably leave the United States, because many of the founding fathers have said and done far worse and offensive things.
On Saturday, we tried the whole scrap metal thing again. This time, it was like 20 degrees colder and raining. Perfect. But it all worked out, and I got to experience an Arkansas Scrap Yard. Wow. That was an experience! It's like another planet, like something out of Wall-E, or the remnants of a Mars settlement. And all the people there are like the "Walmart at 2AM" crowd, people coming in with rickety old cars full of metal junk hoping to sell it for a few dollars so they can pay their light bill. What a place!
Fortunately, the lady we did that for did come to church! She seemed to enjoy it and said she'd be back. So it was worth the effort!
We had kind of a slow Sunday afternoon, and after trying a few people, decided to try one more before heading over to our dinner appointment. It was a guy we'd tried a few times and were on the brink of giving up on, but he answered and actually came out and said he had some questions that had distanced him from Christianity a little bit. One was "if you can only be saved through Christ, what about all those other good people who have never heard about him?" A golden question to ask your local missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are people out there looking for truth! And there are people out there who don't want anything to do with truth. There are people who don't believe there is "truth," and there are people who live their lives based on the truth they know--real truth or perceived truth, for better or worse. All truth has to be in agreement. Truth is all-encompassing, and needs to be sought after! The Gospel of Jesus Christ includes ALL truth! Isn't that awesome?
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
I turned 21 this week! I'm an old fogey in the mission, now!
On Monday, we had our zone P-day and decided to explore downtown Little Rock a little bit. Like a bunch of little kids, the general favorite part of the day for everyone was crossing the Arkansas River. (On a bridge, not by swimming, thank goodness!) The same gusto just wasn't there for the Arkansas History Museum we'd picked out haha. But it's alright, the bridge was fun, too. I'm just a museum nerd.
On Tuesday, we raked some leaves for a guy who took us up on our Facebook post offering service to people in the area! It didn't look like that much, but 2 hours later we still had a little ways to go, so decided to come back the next day to finish it, so we could try to find some new people to teach while there was still daylight. Talked with some interesting people. A lady from Brazil, a guy from Costa Rica, and creepy cigar-smoking guy that cussed out our beliefs haha.
We exchanged with the Pinnacle Mountain elders on Wednesday, and finished raking those leaves. I thought it'd only take an hour or so, but again it took a lot longer than I expected! But we were able to talk about the Book of Mormon with the guy we did it for, and he said he'd give it a read!
Thursday was my birthday! And it was also Zone Conference! And our interviews with President Hansen! And our Stake Missionary Council thing! So we were at the church for just over 12 hours straight. But it was awesome cause I got to spend time with other missionaries I don't get to see too often, President Hansen, and President Dixon, who are some of the best people I've ever met.
Elder Ramage and I got to instruct a little bit in Zone Conference, and the night before I'd put together this "Follow-up Dice" for "Roll" Plays [get it?] with a different commonly heard excuse for why people don't come to church on each side. Somebody would roll the dice, and then use that excuse on a set of a missionaries who had to follow up, figure out the concern, and recommit them to come to church next week! It was fun and President asked to keep the dice for future meetings hahaha. If I'd known that was gonna happen I might've made it look a little more presentable
And then Friday it was back to work! We started teaching this lady who was reading the newspaper under this tarp tent set-up in the carport of this kinda sketchy halfway house. We informed her that everybody was going to be resurrected and she liked that. People don't know that kind of stuff! The Restoration needed to happen so we don't have to wonder and be confused about it! Truth brings freedom and direction and happiness!
We had dinner with a member that night who has been through a lot. He served a mission, and then fell into drug addiction and was homeless for a while, and then on a whim/spiritual prompting moved to Arkansas and has been putting himself back together, since. He's awesome.
Then we drove out to the middle of nowhere. We spent 92% of our time in a pretty big city, and it amazes me how a few miles out can make you feel like you're out in the boonies. The dense trees can hide anything. [Even bodies. Probably.] We met this guy who had ordered a Book of Mormon, and delivered that to him. We followed him through his garage into his mancave house and sat on barstools around a desk explaining some of the restoration while he smoked. He's mostly just curious about the Book of Mormon, so hopefully he feels the spirit strong enough from reading it to get him out of his "spiritual but not religious" rut. Yeah, it's not about religion, but the restored Gospel will give you tools to build your spirituality like nothing else!
He had an old film camera on his desk and I asked about it. He said it was his step dad's dad's, who was a surveyor in the 50s and 60s. I told him I got into film photography a while ago and he asked if I still did it. I said yes and he told me I could have the camera. Right after he was telling us he looked on eBay and saw the same camera going for $150. So... that kinda felt like a Birthday present God himself had arranged for me.
I drove back home, excited about the camera, but also just happy to be on a mission. I'm really going to miss being able to meet random strangers, be openly accepted into their homes/dens and being able to just talk about God with them! Like... It's not like when I get off my mission that's not allowed, but it just won't be the same and I'll miss it.
On Saturday, Elder Ramage and I decided to go surprise blitz some other areas in our zone. So in honor of my brother Henry's mission, I found a "Halifax Street" in South Little Rock and we tracted there for 2 hours or so and actually met some awesome people! I hope to be hearing more about them soon!
Sunday was good. We went with one of the counselors of the Elders Quorum to visit an older lady who had decided out of the blue that she wanted to come back to church after years of being a Baptist. It was cool to review the restoration with her, related Bible scriptures, and to help her feel good about coming back. "Oh, why did I ever leave?" She berated herself. Apparently the siren call of being in a Baptist choir was the initial temptation haha. But now in her mid 70s, she was so excited to be back in the restored gospel. She's a wonderful, quirky lady.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's church on the earth today! There are some weird things about it, sure. But tell me where else you can find all this truth? (Or if it's lies, where else can you find so many lies combined together so perfectly that it makes literally millions of people so happy?)
I know this isn't a lie! God is far too involved in my life out here for that. There is too much power in the Book of Mormon for that. There are too many miracles I see for that. This is true! This is real! And God loves you too much to watch you not be a part of it.
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Happy New Years! It's gonna be a good year. We had a good start to it here in central Arkansas!
On New Year's Eve, we gave a blessing to one of the people the sisters are teaching. We chatted in his big machine shop garage, surrounded by old equipment, race track flags, beer posters, and a pool table in the corner. We gave him a blessing and he definitely felt something powerful. It was special.
On Tuesday morning, President Hansen gave us a call and asked for some ideas about how to restructure our zone. After a quick call, the changes were made effective immediately, and now every district in our zone got mixed up a little bit! So that's been good but weird! Then we got a call from a member in Conway, and met her at a hospital in Benton to give her dad a blessing. He was in there for some crazy stuff, but that afternoon he woke up. So that was cool.
We exchanged with the Little Rock Elders, and spent a good chunk of time raking leaves, which was fun. We had a lesson with the Spanish sisters' recent convert and his brother. I took my turn reading verses in Spanish, and was able to understand a solid half of the conversation haha.
The next day, we exchanged back. It was rainy and we did some family history research in the local library for a while. Thankfully Elder Ramage knows a lot more about that than I do. We grabbed some dinner at a little taqueria that was super tasty, and then had an awesome lesson with the guy we met last week who said he only opened the door cause he thought we weren't mormons.
We had our new district's district council on Thursday morning, and that went well! It was another rainy day. We did some service for President Jones of the mission presidency again, and made some member visits. Tried out a cute little diner in Benton that became one of my favorite spots here! It's my vibe. And my BBQ plate was awesome haha.
We helped some members move in, went on exchanges with the assistants, and met some cool new people!
We had our first week of 2 hour church, which was good, and then that night we had a video call with the other leaders in our zone, which actually went really well!
I've learned a lot about leadership and missionary work in the last few weeks. It's all so awesome! And there is never a limit to how much we can improve and grow. Which can seem overwhelming, but actually is a cool indicator of our potential! Limitless!
It's another short one this week! But I love y'all and hope you have a great week!
I got my camera hooked up again so here's a recent fave along w a picture of some shady apts. in Little Rock. :)
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Hello! It's been a good week!
My brain is all over the place, though, so this email isn't the best!
On Christmas morning, we drove out to East End, Arkansas, which is pretty much the middle of nowhere. We had a yummy breakfast with some members out there, and then... went straight to a Chinese buffet with some other members. It was decent and I was already full from breakfast haha. But my fortune cookie read "enjoy yourself while you can." Which was both funny and foreboding.
A little while after that I got to Skype home and see my family! So that was awesome!
Then we went to President Jones' house and played a fun game called Skyjo.
We had a lesson the next day with a gal we met last week and her 5 year old son who was all over the place. It went okay haha! We had dinner with the member who came out with us for that, and that was good, too. He had this cool spaceship looking pizza oven that he cooked steak and pizza in pretty fast.
The next day was MLC! And that was good!
We exchanged with the Pinnacle Mountain elders, tried some people who weren't home, and even our finding fell through because the sisters had been in the neighborhood we had picked out like a week before.
On Friday, we had weekly planning and then went finding! I was kinda annoyed with apathetic "not interested" people, and when one lady said she wasn't interested in the Book of Mormon, I just asked her "why?" Like honestly. Seriously. Why wouldn't you be interested in the Book of Mormon?? She said she didn't really know, so we explained it again and she ended up accepting a copy and saying she'd read it! So being bold works!
Another guy an hour or so later said, "Oh, I opened the door cause I saw your nametags. I was afraid y'all were Mormons and believed in that crazy guy who had some crazy revelations and whatever." Uh... so we explained that a little better, and he was like, "Oh, that's not what I've heard at all!" And he also accepted a Book of Mormon! Heck yeah.
And then yesterday we had our last musical tribute of the tour! Here in Little Rock! And it was awesome. I'm sad they're over. But also kinda happy cause theyve been rough on our zone, certain missionaries going over to the Memphis side every other weekend and so on. I just felt the spirit so strong in this last one. Life is good in the mission field!
Hope y'all had a good Christmas, and a great end of 2018! See ya next year!
Transfer #14; Week 1
Well, it's the start of a new transfer! It's Christmas Eve, and it's been an interesting week.
I started it out with Elder Bolos, shooting 3 rolls of film in about 2 hours. It was like being given a stack of candy bars. Usually I'd space such a treat out and enjoy it over time, but... when you've got that much, it's a little easier to just blow through it haha. I think we got some good shots, though. Hopefully I get the results back before next p day. And hopefully the camera we were using works. We're not 100% sure haha.
We also visited a bunch of people. Some members, some investigators... people we've gotten close to here in Benton. It made me kinda glad I wasn't the one leaving.
The next day was transfer day, and I cleaned up the apartment while Elder Bolos packed. We had a good run.
We stopped at the Gus's chicken in Little Rock on our way up to transfers. Unfortunately the only location in Arkansas. It had been over a year since Gus's spicy fried chicken graced my palate. Gooood stuff.
Elder Bolos headed up to Conway, and Elder Ramage came with me back down to Benton! We tried a few people with no luck, and started knocking around an apartment complex and knocked on the door of a JW lady we'd talked with before. Oops. She was nice, but wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon even though she'd liked what we had read and had been preaching to us about being open minded and studying all religions. So uh. That was a little contradictory. Give me a Quran, give me a JW Pamphlet, give me your full verse-by-verse commentary on the Bible. I don't care. I'll read it. I'll even pray about it! I know what I've felt about the Book of Mormon.
Speaking of which. We went back to visit that Hispanic guy we gave a Book of Mormon to. It was raining a little bit, but he stepped outside with us to visit. He said he hadn't read any of it, but shared that he wasn't happy that his children were raising their kids to be Catholic. We stressed the importance of the Book of Mormon in uniting Christianity, and he kinda stepped back and said, "You might not believe this. But my granddaughter was standing with me at the door when you first knocked and talked with us. Every night since, she has asked to read one verse from that book." WHOA. He was mainly of the opinion that "eh, at least the Book of Mormon doesn't teach Catholicism," but we encouraged him to read it, too, and he said he would. That was cool.
We went on exchanges this week with the Little Rock Elders, who just moved apartments. They live upstairs in a locked building, and stood on the balcony to wave us over as we drove up. We got out of the car and they used an RC Helicopter to deliver the keys to us haha. Funny guys. Their was a sign on the inside door that called out whoever was smoking marijuana in their room haha. It told em to use their balcony instead. What a place.
The next day, we were invited to the Spanish Branch's fiesta, which ended up being a wedding reception. We got some fajitas and stuff and mostly tried to stay low while the dancing and karaoke was going on so we could sneak out haha.
Sunday was a special church service with lots of Christmas music. It was really good. We spent the rest of the day, pretty much, trying to find new people to teach. Mainly by knocking doors. We had some good conversations, and some bad ones. It seems like this week, Benton has been especially rough to us missionaries haha.
So after a discouraging day and week, we headed back to the apartment for dinner and call-ins. Basically for the night. But Elder Ramage's area book map showed a member as living in our apartment complex. She didn't show up in my area book, and I didn't recognize the name. So we decided to try the member before we headed in. We knocked and a lady came out and we asked if she was so and so, and she said no and looked kinda nervous. So we introduced ourselves and she asked us "What's the difference between Mormons and Christians?" (A question analogous to "What's the difference between a tree and a plant?") We explained and bore testimony of the Savior and she just started crying. She said she's been running from God and kinda angry at Him since she lost her 10 year old daughter in a car accident a few years ago. She said she knew He had sent us to her door that night, and we shared the miracle it was that we knocked on her door at all. She cried some more and gave us hugs and we set up a time we could come back.
The Lord leads this work! And we don't even know it most of the time. I'm so thankful to be a part of it, and to be representing Him during Christmas this year! I love Him and I need Him!
Merry Christmas! Love,
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well hello! It's been a crazy week! (When has it not been a crazy week?) Here's all about it.
We started the week off with an appointment we set with a guy we met last week. We were gonna meet him at Taco Bell, but uh... he never showed up. Or responded to our messages. So that's great. But, while we were in the Taco Bell, BYUtv was on, [in Arkansas?! In a Taco Bell?!] so we figured thst was a sign that we were supposed to be there. As we sat in a booth waiting, somebody gave us some money to order lunch, and then another guy walked in wearing a "Halifax" sweater, which is the mission my brother is going to! So we talked with him for a while and felt like that was why we were supposed to be there.
That night, we exchanged with the Little Rock Spanish South elders! Spent the next day bikin' around and trying to find people. Spent some time in a trailer park and ended up helping this funny older lady put up Christmas lights around her trailer, so that was a memorable highlight. Then we biked to have dinner at this place called "Sharks," a hit franchise across central Arkansas. Honestly, I've been wanting to try it for a while, but every Sharks location I see looks sketchier and more questionable than the last. But Elder Worley and I took the plunge. I got catfish nuggets, and he got frog legs. And they were both extremely... decent. About what I expected. Although the consequences came sooner than we thought. 4/10
Exchanged back and had our mission Christmas Social on Wednesday! That was fun. We've got an awesome mission.
My brother Henry also reported to the MTC that day! He's headed for the Canada Halifax mission. Brr!
On Thursday, we got back to it with a District Council that became one of my favorites, and then went to lunch at our favorite hibachi place. (They turned down my suggestion to try Sharks haha)
Worked on my BYU application essays at the church and finished those in time for a dinner at Red Robin with an older couple in the ward who are pretty great. Then we went back up to the church for our meeting with the Stake President and President Hansen, and that was good, too! Apparently the Memphis temple is getting close to completion. Close to opening? Nobody knows. But I hope it's open before I go home! We will find out soon I guess.
After the meeting, President spilled the beans that we were going from 9 zones in our mission to 7. Yikes! So then we got nervous for transfers, cause we didn't know which zones were closing and wondered if Benton was getting the boot.
Friday was rainy all day long. We did our Weekly planning and visited a few people, including an older couple who invited us in and we talked for a while about family history so that was fun. He's not on board with the idea of baptisms for the dead just yet, even with 1 Corinthians 15:29, but we'll get him. :)
And then Saturday was crazy busy. Tried to find some new people to teach. Talked with some crazy people instead. In the middle of our conversation, one guy just pulls out his phone and he's like, "look at this fish I caught."
Me: "Uh... wow. That's... pretty big. Is that a catfish?"
Me: "...When did you catch it?"
Him: *looks at his phone* "July of 2017"
Quit living in the past, Craig. Go get you some big fish this year.
Went to a baptism in the Spanish branch and I played the piano! Then we found 2 more people, and went shopping with $100 Elder Bolos' mom gave him as a family tradition each Christmas to use it to serve other people. We got a christmas tree and a visa and kroger giftcard for a returning member we've been working with for a while. He's grown and changed and recovered and brightened so much. We love that guy. We dropped it off outside his hotel room door, knocked, and ran away.
Then we went to IHOP for dinner cause we had gift cards. Yeah I don't think I'd go if I didn't have a gift card.
We got home and played the waiting game, refreshing our emails over and over again until transfer news came. Elder Bolos is headed to Conway. I'm gonna miss him! I'm staying in Benton! And the Benton Zone is staying. It might be the smallest zone in the mission, though. So there are only 2 companionships we can do exchanges with, now haha. But I'm glad to be staying! This will be a good place for Christmas and my birthday! Central Arkansas is awesome.
I had the opportunity to share my testimony at the mission Christmas party, and in our district council. At the heart of it was my gratitude to be a missionary! Representing Jesus Christ during a season all about Him just makes me appreciate Him more than ever before.
I'm so thankful for my missionary nametag. I wish when we knocked on people's doors, they knew everything that it meant to me. Sacrifice, being away from my family, hours of scripture study every day, change and growth and fervent prayers, the brink of exhaustion being met day after day, miracles witnessed and lives blessed and changed. The nametag isn't about me. It's not about past areas or companions or experiences. It's about Him, Jesus Christ, and His gospel and His church ON. THE. EARTH. TODAY. AND PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW!!
This isn't a vacation. It's fun. There's good food and wonderful friends and people all around. But it's also hard and tiring and depressing. But somehow joyful and rewarding all at the same time? "I can't say the smallest part of what I feel." I'm so glad I've got 4 more transfers ahead of me to do this thing. To let people know! To change and grow some more. To spread the spirit of Christ[mas] in every season, to every person, wherever the Lord needs me. I'm scared of not realizing just how WONDERFUL this opportunity and privilege is until I'm home.
So let's do this.
I love y'all!
On Monday night, my presence darkened the doorstep of the Bryant Great Clips again. I know I said this last time, but yeah I won't do that again.
After that, though, the week grew back. Er, I mean, got better. We exchanged with the assistants to the President that night, and I got to go up to Pinnacle Mountain/downtown Little Rock with Elder Ridgwell.
On Tuesday, we went to a district council meeting, and then Elder Ridgwell got word that Sister Hansen needed some help at the mission home ASAP. So we left the meeting early and hurried to the mission home. I'd stated in a hotel my first night in Arkansas, under the last mission President, and the next transfer was under Pres. Hansen, and the elders stayed in the mission home, too. So I'm one of just a few people left in the mission who hasn't been to the mission home. Until Tuesday, anyway! I got to see it about 6 months earlier than I thought I would haha.
We moved all the furniture out of the living room, and then some maintenance guys took a little chainsaw to the walls in there looking for something. Then we peeled up the carpet, hauled out soaking wet flooring cushions, and tried to pry out some of the floor boards, but it just crumbled instead of coming up, cause they were so wet. I guess a waterline that went into the fridge had gotten a tiny hole in it and leaked who knows how many gallons into the floor. There's a parable in there somewhere.
So that was fun. I got to climb behind the fridge and replace the lil tube. Life pro tip: don't use the plastic kind. Use the braided kind.
We exchanged back that night and then stayed busy the next day just visiting people. Someone pointed us over to try their neighbors. An older lady answered the door and said we could come in. I asked if she was sure, cause... We aren't invited in before introducing ourselves, ever haha. "Yeah, come on in and get warm." Her husband was there, and was 91. Apparently he served in World War II. It was hard to teach them anything new, but it was cool to hear how they credited every blessing in their life to the Lord.
On Thursday, I stayed in Benton on exchanges with Elder Peterson, who I'd served with in Hope. It was fun to relive some Hope adventures! It was a rainy, drizzly day. We were gonna rake some leaves but that didn't happen. We tried visiting a few members. One of them also directed us towards their neighbor.
It was dark, and we couldn't really see around their yard. We ducked under a tree with some low branches and climbed some squeaky wooden steps up the front door, all the while hoping there wasn't a dog loose in their front yard. There was a TV on inside, but no one answered. As soon as we turned to go back down the steps, the porch light turned on and then off again... and a mean sounding dog started barking. Crap. My heart slowed back down a bit when I saw that it was chained up, but didn't relax completely til we got back to the car. When we did, another door in the house opened and someone shouted after us, "Can I help you??" We reluctantly walked back to the house to explain ourselves. The intimidating silhouette in the doorway gave way to the form of what turned out to be a really nice Hispanic guy and his daughter. We told him we were the missionaries, and he gave us the whole "I have a church already" spiel, but I found myself testifying of the Book of Mormon, showing him the picture in the front of Christ visiting the Americas, and telling him what the book had done for me. He came to be so grateful I gave him the book. So that was a highlight of the week.
Another one happened on Friday, after exchanging back, having some Little Caesar's, and catching up with Elder Bolos. A couple we've been working eith for a while said we could come over that night, so we had a good visit. We'd originally intended to just answer their questions about the Plan of Salvation, and not teach them too much new stuff, but one of their questions was what commandments they'd need to keep to be baptized. Golden sounding question. But uh they weren't too fond of the whole tithing idea. They weren't 100% on board about no coffee, tea, or alcohol, either, but they could understand why that's a commandment for the most part. We invited them to do a church tour again and this time they accepted, when we set it up for later that night rather than further into the week.
So we went to the church for a baptism in our zone, and then afterwards set things up for a church tour that went pretty well!
Saturday was busy. We cranked out our weekly planning session, and then drove around town trying to visit people who for the most part weren't home. But that night was also our ward Christmas party! And it was awesome. Because a member of the ward smoked like 1-200 pounds of pork for barbecue. I was in heaven. There were 2 big, deep dishes of the stuff, and a cauldron of barbecue sauce and the whole cultural hall smelled like BBQ. By the time the 100+ people there had eaten, there was still more than half of one of those dishes of meet left. So we were gifted a gallon zip lock bag and grabbed a few pounds. Aw.yeh.
And that gets us to Sunday! Church was good, and we headed up to North Little Rock right afterwards to practice for the missionary musical devotional that night. It ended up being really good, and a lot of fun. It helped not being sick this time around. Got to see some familiar faces from Conway, which was great, too!
It's already Wednesday, now, but I'll save Monday and Tuesday of this week to write about next Monday. Here in a just a few days! It's been good!
So there's the report of the [last] week! My younger brother reports to the MTC today to head to the Canada Halifax Mission! I'm excited for and proud of him! I'm so glad I decided to serve a mission, it's been the best 18 months ever. Hard and tiring and at times boring and nerve-wracking, but always rewarding. I've grown a lot. And I'm so glad I've got another 6 months out here to change and grow some more!
Well I've officially been on my mission for 18 months. 3 weeks in Provo, Utah, and then a few months in Collierville TN, and then it was over to Arkansas, in Conway, Searcy, Hope, and now Benton! It's been the craziest, most adventurous and rewarding 18 months ever!
So just cuz we thought it was funny I thought I'd tell you a story from last P day. Every week, we're supposed to write President Hansen, specifically mentioning the people we are teaching, our companion, things we're studying, and so on. And we were sick last week. So I jokingly wrote that "Elder Bolos is a big fat meanie head because he got me sick," and meant to show it to him as a joke after I finished writing my email. Well... I forgot I'd written that and just copied, pasted, and sent it off to President Hansen haha. We had a good laugh about it in interviews this week.
Started the week off with a District Council in one of the districts in our zone. It was good and I felt like I was back in the MTC during the role plays cuz I got humbled real quick haha. They went to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch afterward. Yeah. I haven't been back in a BWWs since the incident. You know, the transfer 2, "everything is chicken" incident. So I wasn't super thrilled about going back there, and didn't want to relive that at all, so I got a pulled pork sandwich cuz barbecue is the best. Well... not at BWWs! The State of Delaware was further south than that "southern barbecue." (Yeah, I know, who gets pulled pork at a BWWs?) Plus, they took forever and we were all getting antsy to leave cuz we were burning daylight!
On our way back to the church, we got a call from the mission nurse telling us one of the sisters in our zone was headed to the ER. As it so happened, we were like 3 miles away from the hospital they were going to. And if we'd been pretty much anywhere else in our zone, or had exchanged on time as planned, we'd have been at least a half hour away. So I guess BWWs did us a favor, as much as I hate to admit it.
So we went and gave her a blessing in a little "prayer room" they had, and headed back to exchange. The dumb hospital made them wait for hours in the waiting room. So I kinda wanna punch that place, cuz they weren't admitted until like 10:00 that night. :(
But anyway. We got a really late start on our exchange, and had a 30 minute drive back to Benton. So we got started and headed off to an appointment we had with a lady. One of the young men in the ward came with us. We got there a little early, and decided to knock on some doors while we waited.
Door #1, no one home!
Door #2, no one home!
Door #3, a really nice kid who was so grateful we stopped by and shared a Book of Mormon with him! He seemed to really get how cool it is to have more of God's word! Set an appointment for Saturday!
We crossed the street back to door #1, because there were people out and about, now, and had a good talk with the people there, and then went to our appointment, which was door #4.
Door #4, no one home! Dangit. So with one of our missionaries, and a young man from the ward looking at me wondering what we'd do, we decided to just keep tracting. We picked a house with the lights on across the street.
Door #5, a really awesome couple came out and talked with us to escape their noisy house and the 5 kids horsing around in there. We had an awesome visit with them, and they ended up being our 2nd and 3rd new people to teach that night!
I wish 3/5 was a more consistent ratio, but it's cool to see how the Lord magnified our time, gave us all a good experience, and led us to his prepared children. He is good!
The next morning, we went to see that couple we'd met, and they weren't there. Dangit. But we crossed the street again and talked with another lady... who was kinda crazy. She's had a really hard life with abuse and whatnot. And told us how she hunted down one of the pastors that had abused her and threatened him at gunpoint to resign from the church. He did. "Some days I wish I pulled the trigger," she said. Phew. I'm glad to be in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! There's some crazy drama that goes down in some places down here hahaha.
We exchanged back after that, and Elder Bolos and I spent some time trying to visit a bunch of people we hadn't seen in a while. Had a lesson with a less active family. There were li'l roaches crawling up the walls. But their kids are pretty bright and liked having us over.
We put all our couch cushions in our car to give to some elders who forgot to bring their own while they stay with another companionship for a week. So our back seat was full of couch cushions. And then we gave them a ride to their temporary apartment. I'm not sure how they squished in there, but they did hahaha.
On Thursday, we had MLC, which was great! And then we went and had dinner with the Clarks, the parents of the young man who came out teaching with us. We had some yummy deer steaks, and then had a pretty good lesson with his girlfriend afterward! It's cool to see how the Lord prepares people! She's awesome.
Then on Friday, we had our own District Council, and then met with President Jones, of the ALRM mission presidency at his house for a personal leadership training meeting that was really cool. I've come to like being humbled and seeing how much distance I have yet to go, because it just shows me my potential! I've got a lotta potential and a lotta room for improvement, which means if I do all I can, things are looking good. :)
Visited a few more people, and then a member dropped dinner off for us before we headed up to the Stake Nativity Festival the church put on this weekend. They gave us chicken spaghetti and it was so so good. Chicken spaghetti is a blessing.
At the nativity festival, Elder Bolos got recruited to be Joseph in the live nativity, and a 2 other missionaries and I were snagged to be wise men. So that was fun haha. At least the other missionaries not involved in it sure thought so! :)
Afterwards, we got the whole zone together in the high council room and just shared stuff we learned from MLC. It's fun having the whole zone in one place.
Saturday happened, and I hit my 18 month mark! We met some of the family we had day-after-thanksgiving with last week at a Starbucks for a lesson on the Book of Mormon. Before we even started they had presents for us. Mine had 3 rolls of film, and Elder Bolos got a thrifted film camera. WHAT. That was way too nice and I'm way too excited to shoot some film. I don't have my film camera with me, though, so I'll have to search or get it sent out here or something.
They were pretty well-researched... unfortunately just in those parts of the gospel that people seem to disagree about the most. Lack of archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, grace vs. works, the trinity, becoming like God...
They were still very respectful, and didn't ask any questions I hadn't already asked myself. I wish I could explain better that 90% or more of their concerns can be answered by the Bible, more than the Book of Mormon. And that the Book of Mormon doesn't contradict the Bible, but that it may contradict one's interpretation of the Bible. One of 'em said "If I could just see the plates..." Well, that wouldn't change as much as we'd like to think it would.
I know this is Christ's church! I don't know where else I could go to find doctrine of God's universal love to the living and dead, or to find prophets and apostles that maintain "unity of faith," or teachings that bring so much joy and help us become more Christlike in such real ways.
So anyway. We had interviews with President Hansen after that, and then were surprised to see our apartment manager lady at the nativity festival that night! Our power had gone out that afternoon and we'd stopped in to ask about it, and given her an invitation. She brought a friend and seemed to really enjoy it, so that was cool! I guess that's probably why the power had gone out. To get us to invite her.
Church was good yesterday! We had a few less active/returning members we've been working with for a while at church, so that was good. We made fried rice for dinner and it was actually really tasty. Then we headed to a member's house to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, which was wonderful btw. (I think it should be on www.lds.org, if you haven't seen it!)
During testimony meeting, one lady shared her testimony from the pulpit on "the Miracle of the Egg," which I will abridge for you as follows:
"The last egg in my carton had a little crack in it, but being the frugal woman that I am, I put it in my next carton of eggs to save the morning. I wasn't going to make it for my husband in case it made him sick, but I planned to make it for myself for breakfast. Well, the next morning, when I went to make breakfast, the egg was gone brothers and sisters. I know that Heavenly Father made that egg disappear because it would have hurt me real bad if I'd eaten it."
She was so serious she looked a little confused as to why people were chuckling. But hey, who am I to say whether it was a miracle or not? Miracles still happen!
It's been a busy week. But I like busy. The mission field is the place to be! Especially if it's in Arkansas.
P.S. next week, my p day will be on Wednesday, so if you're worried cuz you haven't heard from me next Monday, that's why. :)
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well I'm super duper sick right now, with a crummy faucet of a nose. The PSI inside of my skull sets a personal record, and everything hurts! Life is great, though!
"I'm sicker 'n a drunk pig on a fishin' boat"
So we canceled our dinner tonight cuz we don't wanna spread this garbage to anyone else. So... if anybody wants to buy us pizza for dinner, that would bring us a lot of joy. I always like ham + tomato. Elder Bolos says he likes ham & black olives.
Bryant Pizza Hut: (501) 847-4818
Bryant Dominos: (501) 847-6100
-> 1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2, at around 5:00!
You're the bestestestest. Thank you in advance!
We started the week off with a Spanish District Council, and then exchanges. I stayed with Elder Albertson, and we and the Spanish South Elders played soccer for a while with these little kids (ages 5 and 7) and that was really fun. They found any excuse to fall over themselves onto the ground. (Kinda like real soccer, I guess?) and I made a few good blocks and goals, so my ego was improved more than if I were to have played basketball haha. Or golf.
He wasn't sure where to go finding, so I pulled out my area book map, and scrolled around until I found a street called "Zion St." in South Little Rock. We figured there had to be somebody prepared to accept the gospel there, so off we went. The second door we knocked was an atheist lady, who surprisingly said we could come back, and then we went around a corner onto another street and met a guy who put down the tailgate of his truck for us to sit on and dragged over a camp chair. He had a pocket in his hoodie specifically designed to hold a beer, haha. We had a really good talk with him. And then when we were reporting on the contact, realized that he was 2 blocks outside of their area. Whoops.
From there we went to the church for a little bit, and were blessed to have Hermana Melo, a Spanish missionary from Venezuela, make arepas. Arepas are so good, y'all.
Then we went to the VA Hospital in Little Rock and gave a guy a blessing before his surgery/foot amputation scheduled the next day. He's been through some rough stuff.
We exchanged back the next day, and got busy! We did some door-to-door tracting until well after dark, and people asked us what we were doing out so late, but it was like 5:45?
Then it was Thanksgiving!
We had our District Council that morning, which was good. Sister Bolton brought a banana cream pie so that was a bonus! We then went to our lunch/dinner with the Richards family, who is pretty awesome!
Then it was Thanksgiving, day 2!
(I mean, if Black Friday is now an all-week thing... why can't Thanksgiving be the same way?)
So a week or two ago, we were going to text someone, but as we searched their number, a name neither of us recognized popped up first, so we clicked on it and a very short conversation from some past missionaries popped up. So we just texted them to ask how they were doing, and the response we got was an invitation to their Thanksgiving dinner on Friday! So, naturally, we accepted the offer.
After our weekly planning, we drove over to their house and slowly realized more and more how weird this was going to be haha. We'd never met either of them, and we kind of assumed they were expecting the past missionaries to be the ones they'd invited. We didn't know what kind of house or food we'd be getting ourselves into, but we were so pleasantly surprised! The Wilson family is awesome! They were so nice, and their daughter and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law were both into film photography! So that was fun to talk about but also made me miss my cameras. We ate on TV trays on their couches and just told stories while the Razorbacks lost like 38-0. So I mean I feel bad for the Razorbacks, but it was just a funny, cherry-on-top part of this awesome Arkansas Thanksgiving with total strangers at first, and good friends by the end of it all. Arkansas is awesome and the people are amazing.
Then that night we stopped by Tabitha's and she was still open to having us come over, yay! They're just not feeling well at the moment. And neither was Elder Bolos. I'd been sick already this season, so I figured I'd gotten off easy.
But nope. The next morning, I woke up with a little sore throat. Yippee.
The Otter Creek sisters had a baptism we went to, yay! So the Benton Zone has had 8 baptisms in November! Our goal was 3!
We had church the next morning, and I woke up without a sore throat. Yippee! But then the runny nose hit. Yippee.
I'd pay 11% tithing if it meant the church would invest in better toilet paper. That one ply isn't good to begin with, but it's also bad on your nose. Especially after the 20th-30th times. I made it through a baptismal interview with an awesome lady who just kept saying she was "so ready" and excited for her baptism in December! Man, that kind of excitement just makes me excited, too.
We'd been looking forward to our first missionary musical tribute in Searcy all week! Because Elder Bolos used to be in my district when I was in Searcy. He served in Beebe for 9 months, and I was in Searcy for a whoppin' 6 weeks. It was awesome to go back! But it would've been like 10x more awesome if I didn't feel like death. And if I didn't have to sing and be packed like a sardine with a bunch of other missionaries around me while I blew my nose into one-ply toilet paper every 1-12 minutes. And then just because there was a chapel full of people in front of us, that didn't mean it got any better, unfortunately. But I made it and only looked like a high, emotional rudolph every once in a while, I hope.
The drive home felt a lot longer than the drive there, and I ran out of tissues just a few minutes from our apartment. Got home and went to bed ASAP. And woke up feeling more like a 2/10 than a 0/10, so that was an improvement haha.
And that pretty much gets us up to now! It was a good week, made better by some good people. Arkansas is awesome. God is good. This is His church, no doubt about it. He lives and leads it down to orchestrating the littlest of details so Elder Dahl can be spoiled a little bit on Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for you! And you! And you! Love,
For pictures of pizza?
For pizza delivery?
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Arkansas is a pretty amazing place to serve a mission.
We started this week off with a Zone P-Day at Third Realm, a trampoline park in Little Rock. Because we got there at 11AM on a Monday, we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, so it was fun! And even worth being sore this whole week haha.
On Tuesday, I got to go on exchanges in downtown Little Rock again, and didn't hear any gunshots this time. Before we exchanged, we were able to put our bikes on the bike rack on our car, and got a ride to where Elder Draper and I ended up doing service most of the day. This guy lived in one of the many VERY hilly neighborhoods of Little Rock. And it was like 40 degrees outside, so I counted myself blessed for not having to bike that at least one of the ways.
We helped this guy spackle his trim around his windows and doors, and also finished putting in hardwood floors in his upstairs. I learned a lot and it ended up looking pretty good! While I'd be happy to help out again, I also learned that I'd probably prefer to contract that out, myself. :)
After we finished the job, he offered to give us a ride home! And he had a truck that we could put our bikes in! Um... yes. We spared no time in taking him up on that. We were blessed. And then we were blessed even more when our dinner appointment was also able to give us a ride! Saving us a frigid bike ride in the dark. God answers prayers.
They share an apartment with the Assistants to the President, and sometime over the summer, their heating and air went out. So the apartment complex gave them a cooler, and they had yet swapped it out for a heater. So when we got back to their apartment after dinner, it was probably like 50-something degrees in there. I went to bed almost missing the exchanges a few short months ago there when the A.C. was out and it was too hot! (Nah, I'd take cold sleeping over hot sleeping any day.)
The next day, we had Zone Conference! It was great! And it snowed outside during the last 4-5 hours of it! None of it really stuck to the roads, but the grass got dusted a li'l bit. So that was fun! Also... the Routts from Conway were there, and it was so awesome to catch up with them. We drove back home from North Little Rock, had a quick dinner, and then rode with another member up to try this guy who lives out in the middle of nowhere. He's a less-active member of the church, and we had a good visit with him. He's kinda crazy, but the best people are.
Thursday was pretty awesome, too. We got to tour New Life Church, a pop megachurch here in Bryant. They've got a few locations all over Arkansas, including in Conway. And so it seems like most of my mission I've been running into people who are "not interested" and "go to New Life" haha. They've all been really super nice to us, though. So Pastor Kevin showed us around their "campus" and it's pretty impressive! It's a cool, elegant, modern building, w/ a huge backlit stage in their auditorium. I've been to a lot of concerts on much smaller stages than theirs haha. He was super cool, and we left impressed. But my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was also strengthened. Because, other than two crosses in the auditorium, there weren't any other symbols or pictures of Christ, and not once during the tour was the Savior brought up. If He's what it's all about... let's make it show? idk, that's my thought process anyway.
Then we met a guy named Juice. Yup, like apple juice.
A returning member we'd been working with for a while but lost track of gave us a call, too, and we visited him in his Days Inn hotel room for a while. Things are still hard for him, but going so much better. He's staying strong despite so much being thrown at him. He's awesome.
We tried to find some people in our records out in the middle of nowhere, but by the time we started it had been dark for an hour and was like 6:30. And people in Arkansas - especially those in the middle of nowhere - don't believe in making their street address visible. So slowing down to read addresses in the dark on a two lane windy road with like 3 cars following you and high-beaming your rear view mirrors is super fun.
On Friday, it was like 65 degrees outside, which was nice. We did some finding. Started talking to these 3 Hispanic guys and their English wasn't any better than my Spanish, so I tried my best and they nodded along. One of them kinda explained what we were all about to the other two, as I caught a phrase here and there. Idk how much we really understood one another, but I think one of them complimented my accent? Hahaha. I think I need to do some more spanish exchanges. Wendy's had a $1 any size fry deal and that made for a great end of our evening haha.
On Saturday, we had a long visit with this couple we've been teaching for a few weeks, now. We taught them the whole Plan of Salvation, which I think was a little overwhelming for them, but I can't blame them. After answering most of their questions and getting ready to go, her 15-year-old sister walks in the front door and starts asking a bunch of questions, which actually started to become really good once she cleared up the fact that we weren't a polygamist cult. So that was a cool miracle this week. It's not often we're the ones inside and someone knocks on the door and finds us to be taught! :)
Sunday was good! We had leftover thanksgiving dinner stuff, and so it was awesome to be able to enjoy the leftovers aspect of thanksgiving before the week even started. We were blessed. Thanksgiving leftovers are the best.
So that's this week in short! It's been hard, it's been good. It's been cold, it's been nice. I know I'm where I'm supposed to be!
Love y'all and have a happy thanksgiving!
Well, the 1st week of the transfer is over already. I use the word "rollercoaster" a lot to describe weeks and missionary work in general, but this week was more of a rollercoaster than usual. Especially that part of the rollercoaster in between nearing the top and hurtling towards the ground hahaha. It's been interesting.
I've written a bit about Tabitha before. She is so awesome. She started out joking about chasing us off with a broom, and last week she came to church and has been preparing to be baptized on the 17th, a special day to her. We had a lot we needed to teach her this week. Things started out great. She has noticed all kinds of blessings in her life since coming to church, which is so cool! She talked about how she's seen herself change since meeting with us. She even signed up to feed us and the sister missionaries the next day, so we were excited!
While waiting for a member to come with us, she showed us how to make paper cranes and with [a lot of] help, mine even turned out pretty alright! Dinner went well, and then we started the lesson reviewing the Plan of Salvation before teaching the Word of Wisdom. (God's law of health, which includes things like not smoking, drinking, coffee, tea, etc.) That one was a hard one for her. And understandably. Changing that is so hard. So... since that lesson on Wednesday we haven't been able to have another lesson with her. And she didn't come to church yesterday, which means that she won't have attended church enough times to be baptized on the 17th. :( So please keep her in your prayers. She's goin' through a lot. Idk if I've ever been so stressed out by another person before in my life, but I hope she comes around.
We did a lot of finding this week and it went pretty well! Some days it was rough, other days it was better. One little white-haired lady who wasn't interested at all at least told us a few jokes before closing her door haha. ("How do you get a squirrel to like you? Act like a nut!" and "What do you call someone who takes care of chickens? A chicken tender!")
I wish more people told us jokes when they weren't interested haha.
Down the road we got into a frustrating conversation with a guy who was very convinced that he was right, to the point of rejecting logic, God's universal love, and the need for additional revelation beyond the Bible. Closing the scriptural canon does nothing but limit God, who said all power in heaven and earth was given to HIM, not the Bible. (As great a book as it is.)
Talked with another lady who used to be a member of the church. She has 6 kids and her husband isn't a member. And at some point, their 2 oldest kids were going to be baptized, but then they moved and fell out of it. Here's to hoping we can make that happen!
We were trying a guy we met a few weeks ago, and he wasn't home. But his nextdoor neighbor blasts rap and hip-hop music all day long. Apparently it's this old lady that's had the cops called on her a bunch of times, but the whole neighborhood has just given up on fighting it. His neighbor across the street has a goat, and it was just a funny thing to be looking at this goat grazing in an otherwise quiet neighborhood with gangster rap playing loudly from across the street. #Arkansas
We helped set up another Christmas tree, this time for President and Sister Jones, the 2nd counselor of the mission presidency and his wife. They're so wonderful. Also, Mariah Carey's Christmas song played in Wal-Mart this morning, but I'm in denial.
It is cold outside, though. One day had a low of 27, and it's been in the 40s most of the week. Which, out here, feels like 20s or 30s in Idaho. Layerin' up the sweaters. Humidity is weird.
Made some French toast for dinner one night, that was delightful.
On Sunday, we didn't have anyone come visit the church, which was a bummer cause we'd invited a lot of people and had been hoping for Tabitha and her daughter to be there, but she'd kinda stopped responding to our messages...
After church, though, we were able to go teaching with the stake president, Pres. Dixon, to some patients of his that had been looking at a Book of Mormon in his office lobby. We visited with husband and wife and their son, who's a senior in high school, for like two and a half hours. Mainly because the dad was super talkative and spoke in such a way that he managed to repeat every aspect of each story he told twice haha. But they all asked a lot of really good questions! So we will see what happens!
It's gonna be a good week because I say so! Love y'all!
1916 Brandon Rd., apt A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I tried for the longest time to fit "near-death experiences" in the title of my email, but I didn't wanna make my mom worry. So I just used "gunshots" instead.
There is no way this email [or any other attempt to record or describe all that happened this week] is going to scratch the surface in conveying all that this week was. It was amazing, incredible, scary, rewarding, exciting, sad, and exhausting both spiritually and physically. All that considered... when I look back on my mission, I hope it's a week like this that comes to mind. 2 district councils, a Leadership Training Meeting, 3 exchanges, a bunch of lessons, a bunch of interesting people... sweating and freezing and raining in the same week. It was a good time.
We had kind of a lazy P Day last week which was nice. We had one appointment that evening, and it was one of the best lessons of my mission. We taught Amber & Jase (that couple who figured out America was the promised land) about the Plan of Salvation. We only got through the first little bit, but it was awesome anyway because they just GOT it. "So... earth is kinda like God training?" Amber asked. "We're here to practice to become Gods. I can see why people might have a problem with that, but... that makes a lot more sense than playing the harp forever." So that was just so cool to me. They are awesome.
Tuesday was interesting. We went to Pinnacle Mountain's [the downtown Little Rock Elders] District Meeting and then exchanged with them. I stayed in downtown Little Rock with Elder Walker. They're a full bike area, and I'd biked there before, but I definitely hadn't biked as much as I did that day since I was in Conway or maybe even Collierville almost a year ago haha. But I survived! It's hilly up in there, too. The worst part is a stretch by their apartment with a curb to your left and a busy road on the other side, no sidewalk, a path of matted-down grass 4 inches across, and then tall grass on your right side going down into a ditch. Oh, and traffic cones to your right that you have to swerve around without falling off the curb, too. It'd have been fun if I wasn't worried about the consequences of biking 3 inches too far in either direction haha.
But anyway, our first stop didn't work out, so we parked our bikes and walked down the street like 2 blocks, and tried somebody they'd met in the corner house across the street. No answer. From their door, I could see further down this perpendicular street. A guy was sitting out on his porch and I told Elder Walker we should go talk to him. So we crossed the street again towards our bikes, but turned right and talked with the guy in that kitty-corner house. He wasn't interested and kinda blew us off, but said we could try his neighbor.
So we go try his neighbor, the 3rd house on that side of the road, around the corner from where we parked our bikes. We walk up to the door, and can't see around the house towards the guy we had just talked with. We knocked, no answer. And then POP POP POP POP POP! We jumped and stepped a little closer into the corner of the house. POP POP came a distant response. We held our breath.
Obviously, my first thought was that they were gunshots. We were in kind of a shady part of downtown Little Rock. But then I thought they could maybe be fireworks? Then 2 guys who were smoking weed in their car in the next house over rolled their window down, and were like "Auwwhhh [I'll let you fill in the blank] what wuz that?!"
We went over and talked with them and they were pretty stoned, but told us that's a part of life in the hood. What the heck haha. A police officer drove by and asked us if we heard gunshots. We walked back towards our bikes, and as we rounded the corner, I saw a shell, and then another and another... 5 bullet shells just there on the street corner. Nobody ended up getting hurt as far as we heard! So that's good. All the same, we biked outta there pretty quick haha. But hey! You've gotta have one of these kinda stories from your mission.
We got back to their apartment early and were picked up by a member around 4:30 to go help a single mom and her 7 kids move across town. The sister missionaries had beat us there, and left after 30-40 minutes for an appointment. A lot of stuff was boxed up, but... There was a lot of stuff left. The member we rode with had a jeep, and they didn't have a uhaul or a trailer or a pickup truck... and for 2 hours we were the only ones helping. So we loaded like 10 boxes into the trunk of his jeep and went over to her new house with the keys. But... The landlord had changed the keys on her, cuz the ones she gave us didn't work.
So we sat in the driveway of her new house for the better part of an hour waiting for her landlord to come. By the time we started unloading the first jeepload, it was dark outside. When we returned to her house, the Elders Quorum President had arrived with a small pickup truck and a furniture dolly, but that was all the reinforcements we got. We made another 2-3 trips, filling the truck and jeep to max capacity and going back and forth. We didn't have dinner until going through the Little Caesar's drive through at 9:15 after like 4 hours of that. Man, Little Caesar's never tasted so good. The poor member with the jeep that took us home went back again to help longer. What a saint.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Council, which Elder Bolos and I planned in the 20 minute drive between the Pinnacle Mountain apartment and our church building. It turned out alright. And then we drove home. It was E. Bolos' week to drive, and we were sitting at a yield left turn light. Across from us were two lanes of traffic, and for some reason the guy in the left lane over there was at a stop. We waited, and he didn't move. Another car came speeding around the corner and Elder Bolos started to turn left, because his view was blocked by the car sitting there. "Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!!!!" was all I could say, shouting with increasing fear and volume as I saw this car coming directly for my side window.
At some point as we turned, I remember thinking, "okay, we are far enough now that the car isn't going to hit my door, but there is no way it's not going to hit us." When we got safely in our desired lane without an impact to our backseat, I was surprised. The other car had slowed down some, and likely turned to avoid us, but... The first thing I said was to ask if the other car had just phased through us like a hologram, because there is no way...
So we figured we probably had some important stuff to do that day. So we went off and then I filled out our miles sheet a little late for the day and discovered... Oh no, we only have 10 miles left for the whole day. So we pulled into the first neighborhood we could and scrapped our plans. Spent a while finding there without a ton of success, which was a bummer. Talked with a Jew, and then a Messianic Jew, and some other interesting people.
We had a group of little kids trick or treat our apartment, but that was it because it rained, rained, rained later that night. I tried making enchiladas without a recipe and... I'll be darned, they actually turned out pretty good!
Thursday was good! We had a Leadership Training Meeting in North Little Rock, and didn't almost die! Yay! Afterward, I exchanged with Elder Albertson and stayed in Benton this time. He had just gotten a haircutting kit and wanted to give it a try, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to be experimented on. I was a little worried after hearing such things as "oops," "wow, I think this is a two," and "how much scalp do you want to see?" But... I'll be darned, it actually turned out pretty good! It's been a week of pleasant surprises haha.
Friday was also good! Elder Albertson and I put in some good work and found 2 new people to teach. It was sweet. We then exchanged back with Elder Ramirez and Elder Bolos, and then went right into our 3rd exchange of the week, with the Little Rock Elders. I went there this time. We started the night off riding around with a recent convert and making a few visits, but no one was home. We went to visit a referral, but as we walked up towards the house in the dark a dog started bolting after us so we just turned around and played it cool as we walked back to the car. I'm not about to get bit again haha.
We biked around some more on Saturday. Started in a trailer park and I was able to give a half-decent door approach in Spanish to one lady! She was patient with me and said the Spanish missionaries could come back over haha. Score! Had a pretty good lesson and then signed ourselves up to help move some freshly cut oak logs in our white shirts and ties haha. Those suckers were heavy. But we had a good visit with the family we helped and they appreciated it. RIP my legs and back after this week haha.
That night we got the transfer email, and... Elder Bolos and I are staying! He'll be my first companion I've been with for longer than 2 transfers, and I will have been in Benton as long as I was in Conway and Searcy combined. Wow, time flies! Our zone is changing a little bit... The Little Rock Elders got "pinkwashed," and one of the sisters taking their place is just moving from the Benton ward, so she will still be in our district haha. So our whole district except Elder Bolos and I is sisters, now. So we also have one less companionship that we exchange with, for better or worse. Benton is the place to be!
On Sunday... Tabitha came to church!! (She's the one who originally joked about chasing us off with a broom, and who is preparing to be baptized on Nov. 17th!) She was a little overwhelmed, but I can't blame her! Her 10 month old seemed to do pretty good, even if she choked out another baby haha. We've been trying to get her to church for a long time, now, so it was a good day! After church, we had our Stake and Mission President correlation meeting which was awesome as usual. One of the counselors in the stake presidency had been in a bishopric for as long as I've been alive haha. It's cool learning from them.
We had stake and mashed Idaho potatoes for dinner so I was a happy happy camper. Had call-ins with the zone, and the blessing of the "renewing of their bodies" started to expire real quick. I was exhausted, but in a really good way. The Benton Zone is doing awesome. Our zone goal for baptisms in November is 3. We had 1 this weekend, and have 13 more people preparing to be baptized in November across the zone. It is so awesome. We are so blessed. People are being prepared to accept the restored gospel and the peace and answers it brings!
I know this church is led by Jesus Christ Himself. It is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth. How can I possibly claim that? I am not claiming it... I am quoting it. Jesus Christ said it. Pray and talk with Heavenly Father about it. (See “Ye May Know”, by Keith B. McMullin, April 1996 General Conference)
Well I love y'all and hope you know I know. Have a great week!
Too much leftover Halloween candy? I can fix that
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
It is with mixed emotion that I share with you that I took a nap after our study schedule today, and I woke up at 11:30, some 3 hours later. I've been fighting a bit of a cough this week, and running on fumes, but the nap helped lots, even if it took up a big part of our P day haha!
But anyway. We had a pretty good week.
On Tuesday, we had our MLC meeting which was awesome as always. I love those so much. It gets me PUMPED!
We had dinner with the Neilson family that night, and they made some super yummy chicken noodle soup and cornbread, and it was just what I needed.
It's definitely been a fall-weather week. The trees are just starting to change color, and every day I'm starting to think we are in "peak fall" until the next day. Wearing a sweater and a jacket in Arkansas is so much nicer than sweating through your tie.
We met a cool guy named Bryan who actually grew up going to our church for a few years. He welds boats and hunts and is a pretty cool, goofy guy. He's been reading the Book of Mormon, too!
I went on exchanges with the Assistants this week, and went to downtown Little Rock with Elder Cepeda. He's from Mexico and cracks me up. We had a good time, talking with a crazy person who ordered a Book of Mormon because the angel Gabriel told him to. (Hey, whatever gets him to read it works for us! But when he started talking about listening to the crows, getting heavenly currency, and becoming the world's first trillionaire, we just went along with it until we could leave haha. There are some crazy people out here.)
We had better luck knocking doors in another neighborhood. In fact, we only knocked on one door before dinner time, because a really cool agnostic guy answered the door and we talked with him for a while. He ended up being wide-eyed intrigued by the Book of Mormon, and it makes me wonder how anybody can possibly react with anything other than "whoa! That sounds so cool!" Because seriously... what isn't cool about Jesus visiting more of His children?
Friday was kind of a mess. I'd gotten back to Benton the night before, and we started the day out helping our investigator, Craig, move some stuff into storage while he moves to Little Rock. We are sad to see him go. But it'll be good for him. We postponed our district council an hour or so today (after having to postpone it for several days because of conflicting exchange schedules). District Council was good, though. We talked about unity. How can I not love these other missionaries? As different as we all are, the amount of things we have in common as missionaries is astounding!
We gave out a bunch of Books of Mormon that afternoon. 1 to a mom who used to be a funeral director, and to 2 other women who were walking around an apartment complex. We got confused for Jehovah's Witnesses (by 2 actual JW's haha) and offered them a Book of Mormon, too, but they politely declined.
On Saturday we had a zillion plans and none of them happened, but we were still so busy! After 2 fallen-through appointments, we decided to try some people we met a long time ago. Not home, not home, and... oh! Sitting outside with his wife and 5 out of 6 of his kids! We talked with them for a while. They are super funny and really nice, and the dad was eeally intrigued by the Spirit World. (Because it makes sense and is a missing part of the puzzle for people who try to explain that God is loving but that people who never heard about Him are damned.) That was a definite highlight of the week. I really really hope we will be able to teach them more!
We left there at 3:00, and had a baptism in our zone we needed to get to on the other side of town that started at 3! Oops! We hurried as fast as Tiwi would allow us and got there just in time for the curtains to part and the baptism to begin, but... There wasn't enough water in there, so they filled it up more and then performed the baptism. Two sets of sisters in our had people that were being baptized that day! It's just so cool to see the light in those people's eyes!
After another baptism the next day in our zone, we had 6 this month. Our goal had been 3, so we are feeling pretty good right now!
That night was our ward's trunk or treat, which was pretty fun. But we got there late and so the only things left to put on the burgers (cause yes, it was mice enough outside to grill) were iceberg lettuce, mustard, and chili. Which wouldn't be something I'd pitch to a burger joint as their next specialty menu item or anything.
After that, we had a "Zone Skype call" to just share some of the takeaways we had from MLC. But most of the zone was at our church for the trunk or treat anyway, so it was almost like a mini zone conference, and the remaining 3 companionships just Skyped in.
And then Sunday was the primary program! Which was super cute, with all the little kids singing. Unfortunately, none of our investigators came, or even responded to our invitations. I was getting kinda mad at one in particular, but she was in the ER apparently, so I mean I guess that's a fair excuse.
We had a late lunch with the Stake President and his family. They are awesome. And kinda goals. (Without the whole "being stake president" thing necessarily haha)
Tried a bunch more people and planted some good seeds! Benton is awesome! Even if people don't like coming to church here. We get transfer emails on Saturday and I'm hoping Elder Bolos and I are staying another transfer. We will see!
This is a great work! I'm happy to be a part of it and to wear out my life in the South for this part of my time on earth. It's hard, it's tiring, but it's so rewarding.
1916 Brandon Rd. Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
We started the week out with some pumpkin festivities. The original plan was to carve pumpkins, but enough of the zone complained about that idea that we came up with a bunch of games involving pumpkins that included everything but carving them. (Including, but not limited to: hiding them around the church building, and rolling them across the gym floor through goals.) So that was pretty fun.
We had an awesome lesson that night with the gal and her husband who figured out America is the promised land. One of the best lessons of my mission, I think. They told us we were the 5th people in their home in the 8 years they have lived there. Including their mother [in law] down the street. So... yeah. An actual quote: "I feel like... God is telling me I should be baptized, because I opened the door for y'all to begin with. I don't even open the door for the UPS man." They are super excited about the gospel, but not as excited about the idea of coming to church. Like, at all. They say they're introverted, but it seems like by saying that, they not only define themselves but also limit themselves, because they're seriously the coolest people, and would love church if they opened themselves up to the possibility.
That was a great start to the week! The next day, we went to the Spanish District Meeting and then I went w Elder Ramirez and did some rainy trailer park finding. He had to do all the talking, and I could manage a "Mucho gusto, hermana!" at the end of a visit. But it got my Spanish brain moving and I can almost bear my testimony and pray in Spanish!
We got in contact with one of their investigators that had fallen off the map for a while and had a good visit with him. He started reading the Book of Mormon for the first time that night, so that was really cool.
The next morning, we did service for a lady in the Spanish branch, rolling up and throwing away a big above ground pool full of green water and acorns. That was kinda fun, and we were more than paid back with this super yummy peruvian soup she made. Ahh. Food is so good.
That night, Elder Bolos and I were able to teach a part of a combined activity with the youth. Man what a bunch of hooligans. But they've got some solid testimonies buried down in there. We feel a lot closer to the ward, now.
Thursday was great because we had a new member lesson with the guy in the screamo band. He lives like a 25 minute drive away into the country. We got out there after dinner, right at dusk. And we had our lesson outside in the cold around a table on their deck with a little campfire to our backs. (That's a lot of prepositional phrases!) Then we roasted Smores after the lesson and got sent home with the extra stuff. Aw. Yeah. They're the coolest.
Oh yeah but our gas light turned on on our way out to see him, and so at like 8:50 We were trying to find a gas station in these boonies, and found a sketchy one that eventually just told us to ask the cashier for help, but it was closed. RIP. But we were prospered to be able to make it to another one. Phew!
We weekly planned on Friday. Had an actual member-present lesson. I haven't had a lot of those, but it went pretty well! It rained a lot that day (and throughout this week in general) but we stayed dry thanks to having a car. We were spoiled. And then we got even more spoiled cause we visited a member and were sent home with a super yummy loaf of homemade bread. AND a grocery sack full of huge Idaho potatoes. My joy was full.
On Saturday, we had our interviews with President Hansen and they were great and comforting and empowering! Our zone is doing so well lately.
We had a Plan of Salvation lesson with a cool cat named Tyler (he was a person, not a cat) and then had some tacos at Tacos 4 Life (yeehaw) and then helped inflate the member who took us there's tires. Then we moved a bunk bed box upstairs for an office couple in Benton, and they took us out for ice cream after.
Man, Benton has been good to me!
Sunday was a rollercoaster!
We waited til the sacrament portion of the meeting outside in the 40-something degree weather for our investigator and her daughter's to come, but they never did. During sacrament meeting, she texted saying they'd just woken up, and asked if there was a second service. The Little Rock ward meets at 12, so we told her about that, and... she didn't come! Gah. 2 disappointments in one day. But when we stopped by, she had already arranged to have her daughter again next weekend just for church, even though it was her ex's turn to have her for the weekend. So yay, that is a blessing. And next week is the primary program, so it will be a great first week for her to come.
And then this morning, I got a crappy 14$ haircut at great clips, we played frisbee golf as a district, and then went to Zaxby's. So a mostly good day haha.
A bit at a time, the work here in Benton is moving forward! There is a power in the gospel that you just can't get anywhere else, or any other way.
This is the best! Live the gospel running full speed ahead.
Love ya bunches,
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
To whom it may concern:
There is nothing to be concerned about, everything's great!
We had a tough week, but as ever, not without its miracles and good times!
On Tuesday we did some extra studies, preparing for our zone conference instruction and writing new and improved questions to use to gather information for our meeting with the Stake President. We then went out to find some new people to teach and... our tire was losing pressure. So we swapped a few quarters for some air and went on our way.
On Wednesday, I stayed in Benton on exchanges with Elder Draper! We had a great time! Spent a lot of time tracting on a very beautiful day, and didn't have much luck, but one guy said we could come back, so that's something! We also visited the lady who believes America is the foretold promised land and shared a few more scriptures with her (Ether 2:12, 2 Nephi 1) which she really enjoyed. She said she feels like the Book of Mormon fills in some big missing puzzle pieces for her. So uh... if America being the promised land fills in a big missing piece of the Bible for you, then... Wait til you read the rest of the book!
That night we did some service for President Jones, of the mission presidency, and were also fed some grilled cheese sammiches. It's been a rainy week and is still kinda drizzly and so grilled cheese sammiches just sound great all the time.
Thursday was also awesome because it was zone conference day! I got to conduct the first half of it, and Elder Bolos and I were able to instruct for a while after lunch on goal-setting. I thought we did pretty good haha. Learned a lot from Pres. Hansen and the other mission leaders as usual. This is the best dang place and time to be serving a mission ever.
After Zone Conference, we hurried to southern Benton to try some people, but had no luck. We met a little Hispanic family and played catch with their little kids and their neighbor friends, which was pretty fun. They accepted our offer to come back the next day to help them rake leaves! Last week, our car thermometer peaked at 104, this week we've almost hit 52, or half of last week! But it's mostly been in the mid 60s with rain and clouds and cool breezes. It's wonderful until the rain hits, as a missionary.
We hurried to a dinner appointment, where the mom complained that the devil was "working the hell out of this house," with some trouble making kids. Before I could catch myself, I said, "Well, Jesus can work the hell out of your house!" Which she thought was funny enough to choke on her food at. Oops. But it's true!
We then hurried back to the church for our meeting with the Stake and Mission Presidents. So many good people! That went well and then we got home and basically collapsed. We sat in a chair for like 85% of the day but it was exhausting in a good kind of way!
The next day, we did rake leaves for that family. Unfortunately, the dad wasn't interested in hearing us out, even after 3 hours of packing grocery cart load after grocery cart load of leaves from their front yard hahaha. Oh well. We got to help. And it was fun, and got us out of the shirt and tie.
We then had to drop our car off at Firestone to gey the tire checked out and an oil change, so we went to a fast food place next door and tried to weekly plan but really were only able to get some contacting done. It was rainy and just soaked into your soul and made you wanna take a nap.
Saturday was rainy, too, so we opted to try Wal-Mart finding since we weren't having much luck while tracting. There were a ton of people at Wal-Mart, but we didn't have much luck there, either. It's kinda hard to start up a natural conversation and tie it to the gospel there. But as we were heading out, one of our investigators we'd lost contact with came in and said he was doing good, that he had been reading the Book of Mormon, and gave us his phone number. Yay, it has been an inspired decision to come to Wal-Mart! The odds of us running into each other in the super sized store as busy as it was seems pretty slim if things were just up to chance.
Sunday was my 72nd Sunday in the mission field. That's weird to think about. We gave a wake up call (or two!) to one of our investigators so he could come to church, but he didn't answer either time. We went to his house and knocked on his door, and even his bedroom window. No luck. C'mon, man. Come to church!! You know it'll be good for you!
So we had studies after church and tried to contact more people, and man it just seemed like no one was home or healthy all day. We had dinner, and then got dropped back off by our car a few minutes before our next appointment. We were going to have President Jones and his wife come with us to that next visit, but he texted saying he was running late. We were parked right by one of the last people we tried before dinner. And we decided to try her again before heading off to the next appointment.
She was home! We chatted and reminded her of her desire to be baptized. We caught up a little bit and reminded her of her desire to be baptized and explained how setting a baptismal date as a goal helps people. She agreed, and we told her the date we had in mind: November 17th. Her jaw dropped and she looked surprised, worried, afraid? We started backpedaling to explain that we don't want to rush her or anything, but that's when we felt she could be ready. She asked us how we got that date and we tried to explain prayer. She told us that November 17th was the day her 2 year old son had been killed 2 or 3 years ago. She considered our decision on that date as a pretty solid indication that she was on the right path. (And we did, too!)
It just seems so clear to me that the Lord - my God and my Savior - is so involved in the mission field. One person out of a whole suburb of Little Rock "happens" to meet us in Wal-Mart. One day out of 365 "happens" to fall on a Saturday and mean as much as it does to this young mom. Week after week for 72 weeks, now, things just "happen" to work out. Not every time. Not in the same way. But always enough for me to remember who is in control and whose work this is. I'm just lucky enough to play a little part in it all!
And you can, too! :-)
I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and love.
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AT 72022
Well hello there! It's been another week, and the space-time continuum has returned to its regular rapid pace, as perceived by Elder Dahl. It went faster when General Conference (https://www.lds.org/general-conference) was on.
I always have to laugh at how the Lord can make the best of bad situations. For example:
We set an appointment with one of the people we were teaching, and even had a member who was willing and able to come. We met the member there, and then waited for the person we hoped to teach to get home. We each waited in our cars on opposite sides of the block, and it felt kinda like a stakeout. We were across the street, and kept turning our heads behind us to see if they pulled up. And then--a honk.
We whirled around and rolled down the window to a lady angrily asking what we were doing parked by her house. We explained that we were waiting for someone we were teaching. "Teaching?" she asked. We explained a little more, and shared the person's name. We were told that that person didn't live there, and we said "across the street!" She relaxed some and apologized, explaining that her fifteen year old daughter had been home alone and we looked kinda suspicious. Haha. I guess I would've been nervous, too.
Well, the investigator didn't get home, and so we decided to apologize to the lady for parking by her house. She apologized to us, and we got talking about the gospel, and found out... she believes in a premortal life, and in holes and missing pieces from the Bible! So that's pretty cool! She also explained these things called the "Terra Papers," to us, which she told us were an ancient american text carved on stone tablets, about aliens visiting the early Native Americans and teaching them how to farm. We gave her a Book of Mormon and explained it was a liiiiittle different. She promised to read and pray about it if we did the same with the Terra Papers. Deal!
So yeah, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
The next day, I stayed in Benton on exchanges with Elder Watts. We mostly did a lot of finding. We found a neighborhood with several members on it and wanted to ask one of them to pray with us about an area where we could go do some tracting for a little while. I felt pretty distinctly about one of them, so we visited her, a stay-at-home mom with two young kids. She was pretty nervous about sending us on a wild goose chase, but after a prayer, and telling us she felt good about two streets nearby for some reason, we felt really good, too, and hurried off to see who we could find there!
After several doors, I was starting to get worried we wouldn't have anything to report back to this member, but then we met another young mom, with kids the same age as the member who sent us, who said that we could come back! We had another good visit with a lady we invited to church, and then yet another good visit with a gal who explained that she and her husband, in their study of the Bible, had concluded that America should be the promised land, and, "is there anywhere in the Book of Mormon that talks about America being the promised land?" Uuhhhh yeah!!
So that was sweet. And when we reported back to the member, she was so surprised and happy! She said that she had been thinking about our missionary lesson in church last week, and had prayed that morning for a missionary opportunity, feeling kinda overwhelmed and unsure of how she would do that as a stay-at-home mom. And now she and her husband are open to having the other little family we met in their home for a lesson!
We helped another couple move some furniture on our way to exchange back. I love when people take us up on our offers to help them!
The next morning was our district council, and then afterwards we figured we would keep our end of the deal and research the "Terra Papers." So we did, and uh... well, that's where the "Lizard People" part of my subject line comes from, cause literally that's what it's about. The text reads like a poorly written (but well-researched) scifi book from a college creative writing class, and explains how just about every conspiracy theory and culture are connected. So... it might be worth an entertaining read if you're bored, but it's not about to shape my view of reality or inspire me to be a better person.
We had a good visit with one of the people we're teaching that night. We invited him to live the Word of Wisdom, but he's kinda overwhelmed with everything else going on in his life. We could see that as we were there, though, extra peace entered his home. It seems obvious to us that freeing himself from some addictions would help bring peace more consistently in his home and relationships, but change is hard, even if we know it is for our best!
Friday was awesome. We had our weekly planning and talked about spicing up our finding techniques and door approaches a little bit. We gave it a shot, and still fell into old habits, but were granted success from trying! One guy let us right in to show us a replicated copy of a 1600s original KJV Bible he had, which was pretty cool. He was talking about some of his "unique" interpretations of the Bible, and mentioned sharing the gospel with the Jews. We read the title page of the introduction to the Book of Mormon with him, which talks about how the Book of Mormon exists to convince Jew and Gentile of the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was hooked!
We also went to try a gal who said we could come back sometime, and met her boyfriend. He was really cool, and could definitely relate to some Book of Mormon stories we shared with him about turning our lives around and feeling peace. He loved the Plan of Salvation and said we could come back.
We visited the lady who missed our appointment with the member, and she was home. We told her about General Conference and she said she'd plan to come to the Saturday afternoon session! She didn't, though. :( When we followed up, she explained that she thought she was having a Kidney Stone. So... hopefully she's alright. Those sound miserable. As far as excuses for missing General Conference go, that might be a good one, but still.
We watched the Saturday Morning session with our other main investigator, and he liked it. My favorite part of General Conference this time around were how perfectly the M. Joseph Brough and Steven R. Bangerter talks seemed WRITTEN FOR THIS GUY. Conference is so personal and powerful. I got a lot of answers to my own questions, too.
Driving by so many people on Saturday and Sunday, it was sad to think that like none of those people knew that God's prophets and apostles on the earth today are about to address the needs of our world in October 2018! I'm so thankful to spread the word and be a recipient of that counsel and peace and direction and joy!
Where else are you going to find that? Where else can you go, and what else can you be a part of, where truth doesn't change, where divine help is available, the "secrets" of happiness are shared openly and freely, and that's just in 2 seamless and inspired semiannual worldwide broadcasts, let alone the other 50 weeks of the year!
Idk if praying that people will just magically change their minds and lives and want to be baptized works, but if you'd be willing to give it a shot we'll find out! :)
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Transfer 2 in Benton! Here we go! Today is my 16 month mark, which means I've only got 8 months to go. Ummmm can I go back to just having a year left still?
This week was the first week in a while that actually flew by. I think I like that?
Last week, we visited recent convert and got there kinda early, so we went to knock some doors in his neighborhood, but ended up playing basketball with a kid and explaining the restoration to him in the mean time. Good thing Elder Bolos is a better shot than I am haha.
Our zone got 2 new district leaders, Elder Albertson and Elder Draper. I've been their zone leader before, in the Searcy Zone, and they're awesome! We also got 2 brand new missionaries, both fresh from the MTC. They will be in Elder Albertson's Spanish District. He's been out for almost a year, now, and has been a Spanish missionary for all of... 6 days, now?
We did a lot of tracting and contacting this week. Got dropped by a few folks, but also talked baptism with a few folks... so things are looking good! Our investigators have been going through some trying times... angry exes and restraining orders to stubbornly naughty teenage daughters...
It's kinda like watching an intense movie, when you walk out of the movie theater, or their house, you just kinda breathe a sigh of relief that you're in different shoes. I definitely feel so fortunate to have grown up with the gospel around me. It fixes problems that are hard to even imagine happening in the first place.
In weekly planning last week, we had planned to visit one of our investigators, Craig, more often. When we saw him on Tuesday and asked how we could best help him prepare for baptism, he suggested that we come by more often. So we did! That was cool.
We planned out the Benton Ward mission plan, met some new folks, and even went on a road trip with the bishop of another ward.
On Wednesday, we invited our whole zone to fast to find families to teach this transfer. At least in our own area, we saw that happen big time! We talked with 3 different moms who said we could come back, and 3 of the people we were already working with had family members come into the picture and say that they were interested, too! On Fast Sunday I fasted and prayed again that we will be able to continue to work with those wonderful people, that they will be willing to read and pray and come to church, and that they can be blessed by what we share. So I'm good as far as prayers go, but there's small branch-worth of people out here that could use A LOT of them! Baptism is the gate to the path, but because it's a gate, it's also an escape from a lot of the trials and adversities these people are experiencing. It may not make them go away, but it'll give them a lot of tools and extra help to deal with them!
So it kinda feels like we are juggling a chainsaw, a rake, a bowling pin, a heavily medicated cat, and a small child. I wish I could say the symbolism goes deeper than the fact that it's simply overwhelming and dangerous, but... that's as far as it goes. People out here are crazy and I've never had to push people so much for them to just come to church.
Seriously. We had like 6-10 pretty solid church commitments for this Sunday. You wanna know who all came to church? Not one of them. So I'm kinda mad at our investigators right now, but that just means some extra bold flavoring in the salt Elder Dahl will have to use with them. Hopefully that does the trick. And the Spirit, of course.
I'll share one awesome story from this week. We've had a hard time getting in touch with one of the people we're teaching lately. We stopped by on Friday, half expecting she wouldn't be interested in meeting with us anymore, if she was home at all. Fortunately, she was and that didn't happen! We talked about recent trials, and then talked about church this Sunday. Her friend came around the corner and started talking with us, too. As we did, she asked the question missionaries dream of hearing. "Do y'all baptize people? Cause I need to get baptized real bad!"
"Me too," added her friend.
"And my daughter... I think she's been baptized before, too, but... we can just do it again!"
So yeah. That was awesome.
It turns out that she had had a dream about being baptized a few nights before, that was really special. The way it resembled 1 Nephi 8 and Mosiah 18 gave me some chills. She'll have some stuff to work on before baptism happens, but I think it'll happen. Baptism is so important!!
After that and on Saturday, Elder Bolos and I visited and contacted a few more people and they all sounded excited about church on Sunday. I already told you about what happened. So many awesome people, but they're also kinda frosted flakes so that's a bummer.
We taught a part of the "5th Sunday Lesson" on member missionary work at church in front of the whole ward, and that was fun. We joked a lot about members feeding us, and I think it helped. The Thompsons, the Senior Couple Mission Nurse(s?) filled in our vacancy for that night, and that was wonderful! Sister Thompson realized after dinner that she'd left an important notebook at the church, and they didn't have a key, but we had one! So we hurried over to the church and thankfully found it! So there you have it... the blessings of feeding the missionaries! :)
Hope y'all have a great week! Keep our investigators in your prayers, seriously. I think Benton is about to explode in a very good way.
1916 Brandon Rd., Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
It's been a doozy. Last week feels like a month ago haha.
Tuesday welcomed us to the season of Autumn in the south. Colored leaves and pumpkin spice and a brisk wind? No, our car thermometer read 102. :') Drippy.
On Wednesday we had our last district council of the transfer. It went pretty well other than the voicemail left on our phone during the meeting from one of our investigators dropping us. We went to hibachi for a district lunch and that was tasty as ever.
We made a few visits, and then came back to the church for Book of Mormon class, which Elder Bolos and I taught, pretty much figuring out what chapter we were on when we got there. It ended up good, though! There were quite a few new people there, and 2 of them were deaf! So one of the sisters signed while we talked and that was pretty cool.
On Thursday, we had our MLC (mission leadership council) and this time it was in Memphis. So we met at the mission office at 6:30 in the morning, and got in the transfer van for a ~2.5hr drive. Studied through most of it, and slept through the rest. The meeting was good! We took pictures in the parking lot of the church building there... right in front of the Memphis Temple, which is under construction. Dang it's looking almost like a whole new building, now! It is coming along! Hopefully it gets done soon!
In the second half of the meeting, President Hansen shared his goal for baptisms in November: 31. Each of the 9 zones got together (Zone leaders & STLs) and prayed about what number of baptisms our zone could contribute to the goal of 31. We felt good about 3. As each zone reported their goal, it added up exactly to 31, first try. Whoa. I mean, mathematically there are a lot of different ways and orders 9 numbers could add up to 31, but... even more ways for it to not add up to 31. Revelation? Coincidence? You can be the judge, but I know what it is. :)
We drove to Memphis when it was dark in the morning, and after a stop at Subway, drove back to Little Rock when it was dark in the evening. From the mission office, we headed to the Pinnacle Mountain elders apartment and exchanged with them. I stayed there with Elder Walker and we had a good exchange!
That Friday morning, we did service for a lady. Her friend, the member guy who drove us over there, said she wanted to hang up a mirror and do something with her outdoor patio lights, and it shouldn't take long. We stepped into her entryway and she explained some of the same stuff she needed help with, and then we walked into her living room and WHOA there was a 12 FOOT CHRISTMAS TREE in her house.
So yeah like the next hour and a half was spent adding more lights, ornaments, and a gaudy tree topper on this giant tree, the both of us on ladders, holding an ornament here or there until we got he thumbs up. The tree started leaning to one side because we were putting so much stuff on it, so we got bungee cords and wrapped them around a cinderblock and the trunk, to little avail. The lady was telling us, "oh yeah, I out up my first little Christmas Tree in my study on my birthday!" When was her birthday? Early August haha. This lady likes Christmas. After the tree, we hung a mirror, oiled her garage door, hung outdoor lights, and had pizza. As far as service goes, this was about as good as it gets. Inside, air conditioned, putting up a Christmas tree, and pizza was involved.
We went back to work afterwards, having to adjust our schedule a little bit. They're full bike, so we biked up to some neighborhood for just enough time to knock like 15 doors before biking back for dinner and then a ride from the APs to another appointment. That's where we met Nolan.
Nolan took about 10 minutes to get up and in his wheelchair and to the door. He used to run a gang in Chicago, and had been meeting with missionaries there until something happened and he had been shot in the head. When he came to, it felt like the next day to him, but the doctors informed him he had been in a coma for a year and a half. What?! So he had some help and moved to Little Rock to start fresh. And the missionaries found him again on Sunday. We went over and talked a little bit. I started setting the scene to invite him to be baptized, but he had "been baptized before," a situation we run into a lot. I think he'll get it soon, though. He is pretty cool.
We exchanged back, and it was good to be back in Benton. The next morning, Tad R. Callister, the General Sunday School President of the church had a meeting for the missionaries! So we rode up to the mission office again and enjoyed that. Stopped at Jimmy John's for a free sammich on our way home. The hot weather had left last night, and I don't think it got above 75 the rest of the weekend. It just rained buckets.
We stayed pretty busy from that afternoon on through 6, trying to contact a few people before heading back to Little Rock for Bro. Callister's public event. We visited our guys in the rehab home, and some of their roommates. They're all kinda intimidating, but trying to turn their life around and surprised by how "not-weird the Mormons are."
2 of them came to the public devotional thing that night and loved it. It was really good. Of course God speaks today! Of course the Book of Mormon is the word of God! We could sit here and try to prove it, but even if we had the "gold plates" right here in front of us, people wouldn't believe or be blessed by them unless they read it!
Saw a lot of people from the Conway ward there and that was so fun! Also, Michelle, a recent convert from the North Little Rock ward I had taught once or twice, was there and remembered me. And it turns out, she also knew one of the guys we brought with us! They caught up, and Michelle just bore testimony to him and insisted he start reading the Book of Mormon. That was so cool to me. To go from that first lesson with her, when she's asking all these questions and loving every answer, to less than 8 months later and she's being a missionary herself... that is just so cool. That's what it's all about.
On Sunday, Craig came to church. Yay! We spent the rest of the day except for dinner doing our weekly planning. Got through most of it. It's been a crazy week. Usually weekly planning is done on Fridays, but we are gonna have to finish it tonight. My goodness hahaha.
But busy weeks are good weeks!
Elder Bolos and I are both staying another transfer in Benton! Yay! We're going to bring this place to its knees... to pray about the Book of Mormon to know if it is the word of God!
Love y'all! Have a great week!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Missionary work is a trip. Usually days are long and weeks are short, but this week felt like 27 super fast days in a long week.
On Tuesday, we had another Spanish District Meeting followed by a spanish language study that kinda hurt my brain (but was interesting!) and then went on exchanges with them afterward. I stayed in Benton this time, with Elder Ramirez, who is a recent convert of 3-4 years from Mexico City. He's super cool, and his English is way better than my Spanish is haha.
We spent a lot of time finding, and then had dinner at a member's house. I couldn't put my hands under the table cause one of their 4 dogs would lick my fingers for me haha. But they live on kind of a farm type thing? And brought in a baby duck and have some goats and geese and stuff. They sent us home with homemade jerky and candy.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Meeting, which we had planned for on an all of 15 minute long conversation over the phone the day before haha. It ended up being pretty good.
We made some cookies for one of our investigators we haven't been able to get in touch with in a while, and she was home! We haven't caught her again since, though... :(
That night we had our missionary correlation meeting, and gave Sister Shumway a blessing afterward. Then we worked on some reports for the Stake President until the assistants to the president came and we went on exchanges with them!
Elder Smalling and I went all over the place in downtown Little Rock. Met some characters. We were talking with one lady for a while, and asked her about blessings she has seen in her lire from prayer. She told us that her son had been sentenced to 5 years in prison after shooting somebody, and she prayed and he only had to serve 4! #blessed?
The sisters over there had an investigator in the hospital, and asked if we could give her a blessing, so we did that. She seemed like a really special lady.
Headed back to Benton for a meeting with the Stake President, and our interviews with the Mission President! Both went well and were awesome. We're getting excited for Tad R. Callister to come this Saturday and talk about the Book of Mormon in Little Rock in anticipation for the musical coming to town haha.
With exchanges done for the week, we spent our Friday weekly planning and then going on a road trip with a member of the ward to some of the outlying members in the area. Pretty much nobody was home, so that's the usual.
Saturday was a weird day.
We had a cool lesson with a less active member and his roommate outside of their rehab facility on a picnic bench. They're both pretty cool and have been through a lot.
And then later, the first door we knocked on ended up being a Baptist preacher. Usually, they just say so and go back inside. Sometimes, they'll throw scriptures at us that we've heard before and we'll give some back. But this guy... idk. He didn't do that, he just went straight to discrediting our testimonies. After a lot of post-experience analysis, we noticed so much contradiction and fallacy in what he said. We left not just not feeling the Spirit, but feeling a bad spirit off of him. I haven't met many evil people in my life, but he'd be on my list. Not just because he thinks differently or was mean, but it was like psychological, spiritual warfare. People who know me wouldn't peg me as the type to storm off someone's porch, but when you discount my testimony and ask me if I'm really worshipping the same Savior... yeah.
So anyway. That was no fun. But church was good, even though people flaked and none of the people we are teaching came. We spent some time trying to find new people in that same neighborhood as the Baptist preacher and ended up totally changing a few people's perspectives on the Book of Mormon, so that success outweighed the bleh from the day before!
So it was a packed week! Now we are waiting outside the Jacksonville, AR church building (back in the Searcy Zone boundaries!) Waiting for our mission p day to begin! The whole Arkansas side is getting together today, so it should be fun!
Love y'all! Chase everything good, peaceful, loving, and joyful in the world!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
This week has been a hoot and a half! I didn't proof read this email so good luck.
Last Monday night we had a cool experience. We were trying to get in contact with people who used to meet with the missionaries. But it's getting dark earlier, and it seems like the work kinda stops when that happens. But we tried another guy, and he came out and talked with us for a while, and then his 17 year old son did, too. They breed miniature schnauzers, which is pretty neato! He doesn't want to have to work on Sundays at his full time job, and I felt very prompted to promise him that if he read the Book of Mormon, whether it took him 3 weeks or 3 years, the Lord would provide a way for him to not have to work on Sundays. Uh What!? That's a little bold, isn't it? But I haven't felt that impressed to say anything else before in my life. So we will see what happens.
On Tuesday, we went to another Spanish District Meeting! Which was fun, and was followed by some Hibachi. And then I went with Elder Short and tracted in some Hispanic trailer parks. I remembered a few Spanish words here and there, but otherwise felt like a Jr. Companion again, which was kinda fun! We met a guy who welcomed us in and was really interested in the Libro de Mormon.
We went to another trailer park and talked with some more people. As we went up the rickety stairs, we saw a cute little puppy on the other side. We took another two steps up to the patio and saw another dog. Now, when I say that the second dog was an ENORMOUS pitbull, you will probably think I'm exaggerating to make the story better, but seriously, y'all. This dog was huge. It raised its head and sniffed. Elder Short, right behind me, whispered, "run," like in a movie, and we BOOKED IT. We whirled and ran, but the dog's chain just kept extending. Finally, it reared back as the chain caught and just growled at us. Oh man. It took us a long second to get our breathing and heartbeat back to a semiregular pace. But we laughed it off.
We had dinner with a member in mostly Spanish, and then had English class, which was pretty fun, too!
The next day, we exchanged back and had leftover hibachi and then a good lesson and then our English Book of Mormon class. None of the people our entire district had invited came, so that was a bummer.
On Thursday, we had our District Meeting, and then exchanged with the Little Rock Elders again. It was rainy off and on and it only cooled things off a little and made everything more humid. We didn't have a whole lot of luck haha. It was not the funnest time, but like if you don't have a slow, rainy, door-knocking day every once in a while... you're not serving in Arkansas. We biked to the church and had dinner dropped off by a member. Had rice and beans and chicken. Yummy!
It was good to be back in Benton after that. We did some weekly planning and then went to this Thai food place called "Sullivan's" with a member and the sisters. It was pretty dang good, and I had some more fried rice. (For those of you who are counting, that's day #4 with rice! Yum!)
We went to try the schnauzer breeding guy after that, and as we pulled up, he ran inside from his porch, turned the lights off, and then didn't answer when we knocked. Grrrrr. Why do people do that? And why does it happen so often?
We spent a lot of Saturday tracting, with not much luck. But we heard from the sisters, who had just had an awesome lesson with a referral we gave them, and so that brightened the mood!
We helped a lady and her daughter and parents move into an upstairs apartment. And then talked with their downstairs neighbor, who was pretty interested... But also may or may not have been a flat earther.
We didn't know how to finish our day, and so we decided on a whim to try a guy who said we could come back sometime. He was on his way to a DJ gig, (yeah... He's a DJ) but had some time, so he offered that we meet up at McDonald's. So we drove over there, he bought us slushies, and we talked all about the Book of Mormon. Yeah!
And then on Sunday, our investigator Craig came to church!! He had been once before, before I got here, but Sunday was his first day back. He said it felt like his biggest step yet, and every talk and class seemed to be just for him. He loved it and felt the spirit, and it was awesome for us, too, cause you could see how much the gospel was blessing him, actively, in the very moment.
Happiness is out there. And it's in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!
So. Some good highlights from my week! Hope y'all have a good one!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I run on fumes until my two hour p day nap and then I'm good to go! :) it's been another good, sweaty, tiring, week in Benton, Arkansas!
Started out the week with a District Meeting... In Spanish. We have a group of Spanish missionaries in our zone, and we have to go to their meetings so there are odd numbers of Elders and Sisters. I was surprised by how much of it (in parts!) I could actually pick up!
That afternoon, we went on an exchange with the Little Rock Elders, and we started out in a trailer park out in some place I never would have guessed to be in the "Little Rock Area." It was out in the middle of nowhere. I got to practice my recently-tested Spanish skills with a lady who was more sympathetic than she was understanding hahahaha.
We chatted with a guy for a few minutes as he was working on his truck. He couldn't get it to start, and then during our chat and right as he needed to get going, the truck started, surprisingly enough to the guy we were talking to. He said we could come back haha. Miracles on miracles. You could choose to see that as a coincidence but it's more fun to think God was involved.
We then went to a more downtown LR neighborhood, to visit a Bible referral. She was looking for patience in her life and has some challenges. And a lot of warning signs on her house about getting shot lol. We tried a former investigator down the street, who had moved years ago, but met a cool guy named Amos who we chatted with for a while, so yay for following promptings!
The next morning, we had our own District Meeting, which went pretty good. My first one in Benton! We've got a good group.
Elder Bolos and I went out to visit an investigator we hadn't seen in a while. He's progressing pretty well, but has only been to church once, a month or two ago. He welcomed us in and we talked for a long time. He talked about all the ins, outs, physics, and strategies of sailboat racing, and it was honestly pretty fascinsting. And on top of that, it turns out sailboat racing and physics makes for a perfect analogy for living the gospel. So all of our minds were blown as we started connecting the metaphors together. It was really awesome.
On Thursday, we had our MLC (Mission Leadership Council). We took a wrong turn going into North Little Rock, and the GPS ended up taking us through this really nice neighborhood along a river... It was pretty.
President Hansen shared the baptism goal for the month of October, which is 28, and then each zone prayed about how many baptisms we could contribute toward that goal. When we all came together, we were only 2 off. So please pray that the Benton Zone can help 4 people in September, and 3 people in October to enter the waters of baptism!
Sis. Hansen pointed out that a lot of the MLC group (consisting of the Zone Leaders & Sister Training Leaders of the mission) is pretty young. I mean I'm still pretty young, too, but I was one of the handful in there that had been in those meetings for longer than 6 months.
In related news, I hit my 15 month mark this week, so I'm down to 9 months left. WHAT. I'm getting old in mission age.
After MLC, we got back to Benton in time for breakfast for dinner. Then we did some finding after that and met some characters. One guy was smoking on his porch and told us one side of his families is criminals, and the other side of his family is gypsies. #Arkansas
Another lady was probably in her late 60s and was on her phone walking around kind of all over the neighborhood. We caught up to her and started talking. Turns out she was playing Pokemon Go hahaha. We had a good visit with her, though, and she started talking about geneology! Her nephew is a member of the ward here, and she said we could come back with him. So we are excited about that! Pokemon Go: putting the elect in the missionaries' path.
We did a lot of service on Friday. It started out as just laying brick in a side yard. Or, that's what we thought we'd be doing, but we just leveled the sand for it, so we basically just played in a sandbox. Then another member called and asked for some help picking up "large tree limbs" from the side of the road to use as firewood. Yeah those "limbs" were big ole cedar logs. It was like high noon, the sweat was shiny, and dirt was sticking to it all. I'm still a little sore haha.
On Saturday, we had a zone miles call with the guy in charge of all the cars for the missionaries. We have mile limitations each month, so we were just reporting all of that stuff. Had a good visit with the "chase you off with a broom" lady, sharing parts of Moroni 8 because her 3 year old son had died in a gun accident several years ago.
We went to Chili's for dinner cause Elder Bolos had a gift card. When we finished and were ready to pay, though, he couldn't find it. We figured he had accidentally dropped it and it had gotten picked up between the car and our table somewhere. Our waitress went to look for it, and came back with one, but the cars number didn't match the one on his receipt... So that kind lady just got us a whole new gift card. People are so nice!!!
Church was good on Sunday. We gave that investigstor who's been struggling to come to church a wake up call. He answered, said he was up, but sleepy, and then we headed to church. He never came cause he had fallen back asleep. So next week, he's getting the wake up call, AND two guys pounding on his door. :)
We got back and had studies, and then headed out to visit some people that we had met this week. Unfortunately, the 2 or 3 we had hoped to visit both had their spouse answer the door, and the spouse wasn't half as interested as the other we were hoping to talk with. So that was a major bummer.
Did some tracting and found a few semi-interested people. One guy was busy but said we could come back in a few hours. So we returned home and ate after fasting all day. It was a harder fast than usual cause I was sweating so much out. But we then went back to try him, and lo and behold, no one answered the door.
We finished our weekly planning when we got home and had call ins with the missionaries in our zone. Things are going awesomely!
From here on out, each week gets busier and busier until the end of the transfer and September. There's a lot going on, and it's all good!
Thank you for your prayers! Please send more of them towards the people of Arkansas. They need em haha.
How's life treating you?
For other treats
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I'm kinda overwhelmed by having to email about this week. If you couldn't tell by the email subject... a lot of random stuff happened. Fortunately, a lot of awesome lessons with awesome people did, too!
After our P-day ended, we had a great lesson with a recent convert and his wife and their little baby. He was baptized the week or two before I got here. And he's in a screamo band. He's seriously the coolest guy ever. Aside from his long black dreads, you'd never guess that's what he did cause he is a really sweet, softspoken guy. He has all kinds of connections in the music industry, from Evanescence (who apparently has some bandmembers that live in this area??) to Pit Bull's photographer haha. So it was pretty cool hearing about all that.
On Tuesday, we did an exchange in Pinnacle Mountain/downtown Little Rock. I went with Elder Murdoch there. They share an apartment with the Assistants to the President, so that was fun. They gave us a ride or two and saved us from an hour of biking at least, so I was very thankful for that. We spent a lot of time finding, and met our first of two 90+ year old 7th Day Adventists. One was like, "I don't want to get to the other side, and have God scold me and tell me I can't get to heaven because I worshipped him on the 1st day instead of the 7th." Don't get me wrong, they were both super nice, strong, faithful followers of Christ and so I respect them, but... I dunno, doesn't that just sound not right? You really think God is gonna review your checklist and then kick you out cause you worshipped Him on the wrong day?
Anyway. After talking with a black guy playing gangster rap from a speaker taped to the handlebars of a princess bicycle meant for a 10 year old girl, we stopped to talk with an older lady who was sitting on her porch with a flyswatter. She said she'd accept a card, and we had a great visit with her. We read Moroni 10:3-5 with her, and she caught the spirit of it instantly. She kept reading, and reading, and then had to stop herself so we could actually talk about it! She kept saying how amazing it was, and E. Murdoch invited her to be baptized right there on the spot. She said she'd been baptized already, and our explanation didn't get through to her, but apparently they were able to see her again and had another good visit!
The next morning, the APs made some scrambled duck eggs for breakfast before driving up to North Little Rock for zone conference. It was wonderful as usual. They held the last portion of it after diving the elders and sisters into two groups. We spent some time polishing each other's shoes. Mine definitely needed it hahaha. I didn't feel as bad when Pres. Hansen confessed that the first time he had polished his shoes since being out here was the night before haha.
Back in Benton the next day, we had a lot of good visits! One with our second 90+ year old 7th Day Adventist, who was really sweet but just as stubborn. We were invited in by another lady who just treated us like her personal psychiatrists and told us all kinds of family drama, and we promised blessings from the Book of Mormon. It was a long, but good visit. And finally, we also visited with one of the two ladies that had joked about chasing us away with a broom last week. She asked for another Book of Mormon to give to a coworker, and had some great questions! We are excited about her!
Had kind of a harder day the next day, but it was still good. We had a lesson with a guy who has been meeting with the missionaries for a while, now. Elder Bolos explained how we teach him well when he said, "We basically just Bible Bash with him and he just accepts everything we say after we show it to him in the Bible." So, rest assured there isn't any arguing eith him, he just has a question or concern and we show him a zillion scriptures in the Bible to answer it. He'll sit back and try to come up with something else, but as he is asking it, he will remember what we said and answer his own question. He's pretty fun to teach haha. You can tell gears are turning.
That night, a member called us and said they had a ton of leftover pot roast and were wondering if they could give it to us. Um... yes! It was really good. We had pot roast bbq sandwiches for lunch the next 3 days haha. It was a definite blessing.
They say fall is getting close. But. It was pretty hot on Saturday when we tried to find some new people to teach. Can't wait for it to cool down. Sweaty tracting is always a blast.
We were invited to a wedding reception of a member, and that was about as awkward for two random missionaries to walk in to as you'd expect, but there were yummy desserts, and a couple of the family's work friends we were able to visit with, so it ended up being good.
Sunday was crazy cause we had like 5 or 6 appointments planned that could each take a while. We were worried we would have to miss some of them cause we were so busy, but we managed to at least give everyone a chance! A few didn't work out, and we cleared out our teaching pool a little bit. :/ But a few did and they were good.
The "chase us off with a broom" lady agreed to meet us at 6 that evening. When we got there, we didn't have another guy with us so we couldn't go in her home. So she woke up one of her neighbors and asked for him to come join us so we could get out of the heat. She opened up about the death of her son a few years ago which was really sad. Things went kinda downhill, though, cause there were just a lot of distractions going on and people walking in and out, phones ringing, baby screaming, breast feeding happening... So this lesson plan we'd been stressing out about didn't go through at all.
Fortunately, her 9 year old daughter loves church and Jesus and she was the most attentive of them all. She reminds me of my younger sisters and just has this glow about her despite the kind of negative home life. She ate up everything we said and was excited about the Book of Mormon. It was just so neat to see her faith and excitement, that one book about Jesus was good, so two must be better! I hope for the very very best for that girl.
Got home and had our weekly phone calls with the missionaries in our Zone. Lots of awesome miracles happening all over the place, ahh!! There are too many things going on to even consider any of this as coincidence. This is the Lord's work! I'm so lucky and blessed to be a part of it.
I can't believe September is around the corner! September is gonna be a dang good month. Here's to finishing up August the best we can!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well I'm not in Hope anymore. But I'm still hopeful. You can take the Elder Dahl out of Hope, but you can't take the Hope out of Elder Dahl! That said, it's been a great first week in Benton, Arkansas.
Benton is the big ole sprawly suburbia south of Little Rock. There are a lot of people here and endless streets, seems like. We've got an awesome zone, and I'm excited to be here! We've had a great first week, and are gonna have an awesome transfer.
Ended my time in Hope with some Big Jake's BBQ with the Lims. I'm gonna miss them a lot! After dinner, we headed out for some final hours of proselyting. Went up to Prescott and nobody was home except for Alex, and we had a great visit with him! He was really sad to hear I was leaving, and we got him thinking about baptism, so a bittersweet note to end off on! He's a cool guy.
The next day, we drove up to the mission office. Said goodbye to Elder Ogaard and some of the other missionaries going home this transfer. Gonna miss em!
Drove to Benton with my new companion, Elder Bolos from Ogden, UT! He is awesome and we've had a great week. Super excited to be able to serve with him. He was in my zone in Searcy!
In our first full day, we did a lot of finding and were able to find a few people who were interested in learning more. We tried out an idea our mission president suggested with the couple that was having us over for dinner. We went over an hour early, shared Mormon 9:36-37, and invited them to pray with us and come up with a street in their neighborhood that we could go tracting in. They did, and came up with the same street we had in our planning session that morning. So off we went, tracting in the rain, meeting a few people, but none really interested. We had a good chat with a kid playing basketball, and a bad chat with a shirtless guy in rainbow suspenders doing something to his lawnmower while it rained. He cussed us out and said the Book of Mormon was a bunch of nonsense. But like... he's an old guy wearing rainbow suspenders vicing two boards to a lawnmower seat while it rains, so we didn't take him too seriously haha. He can't really call us crazy.
Had a few good chats to report, and that couple had one of our investigators and the sisters over as well, so we had a good visit and a great lesson afterward on Mosiah 21.
On Wednesday, we got a referral from my MTC companion in Hot Springs, Elder Miller, who had an investigator who was now in Benton cause he was in jail here. So on Thursday we went to the jail and waited around until we were able to ask someone if we could see the guy. We were told to wait, and a few minutes later, another lady asked for our "credentials" so we shared our ministerial certificates and were told we would receive a call back. So we didn't get to meet the guy that day, and we haven't heard back yet... So idk what will happen.
We continued trying to find new people to teach, and approached these two ladies who were sitting outside an apartment with a bunch of little kids. One was on the phone and the other didn't look too thrilled to see us. When the first ended the call, she said it was her mom and that she had told her to shoo us away with a broom. We laughed and then they asked what we believe. We ended up having a really awesome like 30 or 40 minute discussion with both of them, and by the end of it, they both had a Book of Mormon and didn't think we were that weird! So that's a win. I love seeing people change their perspective as the gears start turning in their head.
We had a dinner that night with a lady and her husband. She had served in the same mission when she was younger, and also served in Collierville, Conway, and Benton. She met her husband in the Benton ward. But that's a story for another time haha.
We hurried off to a church tour we had scheduled with a guy we met, but he never ended up coming. We stuck around for a few rounds of volleyball before heading in for the night.
Things kinda slowed down on Friday. We had a long weekly planning which was both aided and hindered by our discovery of some gourmet hot chocolate packs in a cupboard. It was good stuff haha. We didn't find too many people that day, but had a really weird chat with a guy we felt some bad vibes from.
Saturday started off with helping an older couple move... They had a ton of stuff. And when we thought we were done, there was a piano to put into a truck bed. There were a lot of people there to help, but... not a lot of help, ya feel? "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians" as someone said haha. We spent the rest of the day trying to contact people and keep appointments that had been set, but nobody was really home so that was a bummer. On our way in for the night, we passed the Amplify Fest, a big Christian Rock festival that it seemed like the whole town went to. It was a huge deal. We may or may not have taken our time driving through the parking lot haha.
It's cool that so many people are open to go sing and hear about Jesus, but too bad it only gets their attention when it comes in the form of just "hoo-ra" rock and shallow doctrine. :/ There's nothing wrong with it, and a lot good about it, but there is just so much more! Let us tell you about it! :)
Had my first Sunday in Benton and it was pretty good! Met a lot of people. It's gonna take a little longer to get to know everyone than it did in the Hope Branch. But there are a lot of good folks. Including the Burkes, who served a senior couple mission with my grandparents in the Salem Oregon mission! I'd had lunch with them before coming out on my own mission, and was able to have dinner with them again last night.
We also found a cool guy with a big long beard who talked with us for a while about the apostasy. We've met some people with some interesting opinions who think they have it all figured out. But there are just loopholes and disconnects and plotholes in their theories. Christ's church fell apart without his apostles, and without any inspired singular source to correct the saints, they went in all kinds of directions and interpretations, and that's why there are so many churches today. That's why the Bible has an end, and that's why we needed the Restoration! I know this is Christ's church on the earth today. If he loves us today the same as he did in Bible times, and leads us the same way he did then, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has got to be it.
I sure wouldn't be out here getting cussed at by guys in rainbow suspenders if I didn't really believe that. And because I do, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the miracles and blessings we see and are trying to share every day!
Another highlight from this week was hearing that my brother, Henry, got his mission call!!! He leaves in December to go to the Canada Halifax mission!! Super excited for and proud of him!
Support your local missionaries: take the lessons, send em to your friends, feed em something good.
Have a great week! Love,
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
If anybody can figure out how it feels like 80 years ago but at the same time 20 mins ago since my last email, I'd be really interested to know. Still trying to figure that one out.
We were able to have some really good visits this week, and of course: the Hope Watermelon Festival. It was a good grand finale to my time here in Hope. Yup. I'm getting transferred to Benton! I'm really sad to be leaving, but also all kinds of nervous-excited to be back in zone leadership. I'd have loved another 6 weeks here, but there's other people the Lord wants me to help, elsewhere, I guess.
One of our good visits was with a member who hasn't been to church in years. He was an amphibian vehicle driver in the Vietnam War and was giving us all the tips about how you would drive off of the back of a big airline carrier boat or something. So that was really interesting. He made some comment and asked what country Trump has been dealing with lately. We aren't supposed to be keeping up with the news, or participating in political conversations, but I couldn't help myself from jokingly suggesting, "Russia...?" Which he found hilarious.
Another good visit was when we you about an hour and a half of open time. Which is kinda hard to work with in the middle of the day when all your appointments have fallen through and nobody is home. But I found a former investigator in our old notes that I remembered trying once. We pulled in his driveway and the truck behind us did, too. He welcomed us right in and we were able to have s good conversation with him, too. There are a lot of wonderful people here.
One of those is Debbie, who we were able to baptize last transfer. I had my last lesson with her and it was actually so cool because she talked! From time to time in the past she would say a word here and there. But when we asked her what she thought about her trip to the temple, and started looking for her notepad so she could write a response, she managed to quietly tell us how impressive she thought it was, and how nice the people were there. Again on Sunday, she talked a little bit, asking where I was going and whatnot. I thought of the promised miracle to those who have faith that the "dumb shall speak." (Mark 7:37, D&C 84:70, 2 Nephi 31:13) Does it get any cooler?
We were able to have another great lesson with a guy in Prescott. He is humble and willing to learn, but it takes him a lot of explaining. He's a super cool guy, and I'm gonna miss being able to see the gears turning in his head.
We also had a "drop visit" with a couple who we had kinda already assumed we would drop. They welcomed us in and told us they weren't all that interested. I know a big part of that is that they never read the Book of Mormon, and another part is that it is just impossible to feel the spirit in their home. There were 6 dogs running around, and all the possible clues they leave behind. They had shredded a couch, and so fluff was everywhere over the cigarette-scented carpet. It was kinda hard to breathe. I was nervous to sit on the couch, but didn't want to be rude. (When I got home and changed into pajamas, I discovered a dog turd matted against my slacks and a large brown stain on the back of my white shirt.) I don't want to talk down or anything, it is just really sad to me that people can choose to live that way. Order, peace, cleanliness, and light provide so much in our lives. If we are to feel the spirit, we need those things.
The next day was spent getting ready for the Watermelon Festival. Printing off questionnaires, organizing media, and so on. We had dinner at Tailgaters burgers with the Lims, and their daughter and granddaughter who flew in from Idaho to visit them and come to the Festival this weekend. Afterwards, we went over to our spot and started setting up our booth as much as we could!
We finished it up the next morning of the Festival after our district council. Our whole district was able to be there that day, which was really fun, but it was kinda the slow day of the festival, though. Which is to be expected cause it was a Thursday. But if was still fun. We got ourselves a "slice" of watermelon for the experience. It was 2$ a slice, and so we were expecting some little slice, right? Oh no, they weren't messing around. They literally give you a quarter of a watermelon. And not just any watermelon. A HOPE watermelon. Extra big, extra sweet. They were dang good. We talked with the people who run the camel rides for a while, but never ended up riding them. I also remembered that August 9 was an important date for something... oh yeah! My 1st book came out 7 years ago that day. Woooowww. "The Dreamers" is getting old haha.
On day 2 of the Watermelon Festival, we started noticing just some funny quirks about humanity. Like how many people saw our booth, and turned around to go into the next row of booths a different way besides passing in front of us. Or how many people looked the opposite direction as they walked by. We got a lot of rejection, but people were nice, and we also got a lot of good leads. Opposition in all things!
Had a BBQ sandwich for lunch. Y'all know how much I love BBQ.
Went and talked to our friend Bob who was selling knives. He had a discount box, 1 for $3 Or 2 for $5 and got one of those. He told us to keep him updated about transfers. I was expecting to stay another transfer, but then President Hansen called and told me he had finished figuring out transfers and extended a call to be a senior zone leader in Benton. Whoa! I told him I'd do it, cause I would, and cause I don't wanna be the guy who makes Pres. Hansen have to re-figure out transfers haha. So I'm excited! Nervous, and sad to be leaving Hope, but excited!
We made our way back to Bob's booth and shared the news. Without hesitating, he reached into his display case and handed me a really nice pocket knife. He is seriously one of the coolest, nicest, people out there. Gonna miss that guy. I told him I'd be back to visit, though!
That night, Elders Turner, Billings, and Barnes arrived at our apartment to help out for Saturday. We had a good time having them with us. They're great.
Saturday ended up being the busiest and best day, unsurprisingly. They had a watermelon eating contest that we caught the tail end and free leftover watermelon slices of, and a seed-spitting contest. (As opposed to a speed-sitting contest!) I didn't catch the whole thing, but overheard distances surpassing 20 feet. Way to go?
Had a guy ask me if I was a Jehovah's Witness. I told him no and he looked kind of disappointed. I asked him why and he explained he had had this question he wanted to ask them. I figured I'd try my hand at it and asked what his question was. What he said cracked me up hahaha.
"You know they don't celebrate like national holidays or whatever, right?" "Yeah." "So I mean, if they don't celebrate holidays, what I really want to ask them is: if the Razorbacks score a touchdown... do they celebrate then? Or would that be against their rules, too?"
People are awesome.
We also had a member of the branch presidency call us Saturday morning and ask us to come prepared for a talk on Sunday in case the visiting speaker from Little Rock didn't show up. So Sunday morning before I even got in the shower, I wrote a few notes down, and wouldn't you know it, the visiting speaker did come, but only after we had confirmed with Bro. Ridgell that we were ready to speak and had been put in the program. So I gave what I thought was a pretty good talk on James 1:5, and then we had potluck afterward. A part member family we had hoped to start teaching when I first got here showed up to church for the first time since then. An exciting little miracle for the Hope missionaries, and a good way for my last Sunday in Hope to go. Plus, Debbie brought a "yellow-meated" watermelon that was orange inside and is on my list of best watermelons I've had.
Spent some time writing down notes for Elder Peterson and my replacement and then went through our people notes from the Watermelon Festival with the Lims. We've got a good handful of pretty promising people! I'm excited for all the good stuff going on here, and feel rest-assured that I've left my mark on Hope, and that it's better than I found it, and that it will soon be better than when I left it. That's what it's all about.
Gonna miss the Lims a lot! They are so awesome and I've learned so much from them and their example. I'm so thankful for all that they've done for me and this area. They're headed home in a few weeks. We had a fun visit with them and their family last night, and are headed to my last supper in Hope at (you guessed it) a BBQ joint tonight.
Off to more new adventures in a different part of Arkansas! 5th Area, 5th Zone, 9th companion.
But in the mean time... I gotta pack, yikes
Love y'all! "I still believe in a place called Hope." - Bill Clinton & Elder Dahl
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
I did shower this week, though, okay?
Maybe some explanations are in order.
On Tuesday, I had a leadership training meeting in North Little Rock at 9:30AM, and rather than get up at 5AM to drive there that day, we got permission to drive as far as Hot Springs, AR on Monday, stay the night, and head out that morning.
So we spent a good part of last Monday checking out Hot Springs, which was fun. We didn't stray far from the touristy sites, but they were still cool. For a couple minutes, cars were driving by the main street, and there were actually some tall buildings, and people walking along the sidewalk... I just took it in. Little slivers of street corners brought back memories of New York City and Paris and Boston. But that's probably just cause I've been away from Memphis for almost a year, now. I wouldn't call myself a city kid, but wow did it feel good to be in something that felt like a city for a little while. There's something exciting about the hustle and bustle of it all. ...Unless you're driving in it. (I got an "aggressive driving" from the tiwi machine in our car.)
We toured one of the big bath houses there, managed by the National Park Service, and that was actually pretty sweet. It would be neat to have gone in its prime days. People were taking all kinds of funky varieties of baths and treatments.
After our P-day ended, Elder Miller and I headed to a "Family Home Evening" that a few members of their ward were putting on. We met in a little trailer and had a cute object lesson, and even some brownies. It was a good time. We then went to visit one of the people they're teaching and that was good, too! Elder Miller and I were MTC companions, and Elder Barney was in our District, then, too. So it was super fun reminiscing on that and laughing at how far we've come. (And also playing a game called "Exploding Kittens.")
Our meeting the next day was awesome. And not just cause Elder Ogaard was there or because of the amazing homemade pulled pork sammiches. Learned a lot and felt a good boost of fire that I needed under me.
After that, I went on exchanges w the Zone Leaders in Pine Bluff. We had a birthday of a recent convert that we went to, but we were too full from lunch to eat much more haha. But did that stop us? Hahahahahaa
[On a slightly unrelated note, I've actually been losing weight in Hope. My Collierville-Conway member dinners are gone. I was already a twig and now I'm more of a twig, yikes]
After some finding and another appointment, Elder Billings and I were talking to people at a gas station while we filled up, and this lady complimented my tie and said I should get some highlights in my hair. (So... objective number one when I get home?? Highlights. Actually, on second thought...)
We exchanged back Wednesday night, and it was kinda weird having only like half of the week left in Hope. But it was good to be back and we got some good stuff done. District Council, getting an air conditioning unit to Sis. Martin (the lady with the monkeys) going to Nashville, AR and having both appointments there fall through, but managing to help a guy on his riding lawnmower out of a ditch... you know, the usual. That was just Thursday.
Friday was kinda similar cause we went to Prescott, AR and had both appointments there fall through, too. And one of those was supposed to include a dinner, too, so that was a downer. But we had a nice chat with a family holding a yard sale, and met with another guy we met a few weeks ago who seems really excited to study the Book of Mormon, even asking us to bring highlighters or scripture markers the next time we come. I'm hopeful for him!
Saturday was an extra good day! In the morning, we went to try some people that said we could come back, and one let us in. He was chillin on the couch in his boxers watching "The Partridge Family" which... seemed like as much of a time capsule as a TV show could ever be. Talk about retro vibes haha. We had a good visit with him, though, and he was also pretty willing to study things out on his own.
We helped Bob out at his building again, scraping glue and plaster off the brick entry way. Nothing glorious but we did get Subway out of the deal.
We spent some time that afternoon trying to find new people to teach. In the process, we prayed over a large black family picnic, taught a former investigator about the Plan of Salvation, and got sketched out by one street as it was starting to get dark and people were hiding out when we walked by, or else riding a horse right in our path and making us step off the road. Yes, really.
But the best part about Saturday was that the Lims were able to take Debbie to the Dallas temple, and she was able to have her son baptized by proxy, as well as be baptized for a few others that day. She was really excited about that.
On Sunday, we ended up starting to teach "Gospel Principles," (Sunday School) and so that was fun. Otherwise, we have just been getting hyped for the Watermelon Festival this week! Aug. 9-11, come on down, come say hi! We'll have a booth there and it's gonna be awesome. As long as it doesn't rain. Which... it might haha.
But, it's been a good week! Things are ever looking up in Hope.
"I still believe in a place called Hope." -Bill Clinton (Yes, really.)
Y'all be bless' now!
Send gravy or maybe some chicken spaghetti*
Male, female, and email
Female snail, snail male
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
*Actually, you probably better not. That'd be gross to get in the mail.
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.
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(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116