Hahahahaha you guys this week was nuts.
Monday through Thursday was in Benton, AR. Friday was in North Little Rock, AR. And Saturday and Sunday have been in West Memphis, AR. Crazy weeks are fun, though. Here's the highlights!
On Monday night, we had dinner at the Simmons and I (kinda uncomfortably, for the goat) held a goat.
Tuesday was transfer day, so we drove up to the mission office, said a bunch of hi's and hopefully-not-bye's before picking up my Benton replacement, Elder Miller, and two new Spanish Elders who are coming to the zone. There were some hurdles to jump, though, because the Spanish elders apartment wouldn't be open until tomorrow. So we put them up in the Bryant sisters apartment before it got re-occupied friday night. But before that, we just dropped them off in the heart of south little rock to blitz while we got ready for a baptism at the church. Those poor guys were troopers. They didn't have much other than cards to give out, and didn't even know what time church started, let alone where the building was haha.
The three of us got ready for Madison's baptism! It took a solid 2 or 3 hours of filling the font, setting up chairs and moving the piano, downloading videos to play after the baptism, printing programs, and so on. And it all worked out great! I thought it all went pretty smoothly, and Madison was just beaming the whole time, and the ward just adores her and her kids. Ahh. She's so awesome.
We had dinner with the Richards, which was fun. It made me realize how long I've been in Benton. In the time I've been here, they've had a daughter leave on a mission, and 2 of their sons get married. They're a great family.
Before heading home, we stopped at Baskin Robbins and made a deal with Jayla, our dollar scoop ice cream scooper. If she came to church this Sunday, we/they would make her cookies. If she didn't, she would have to give them free ice cream one day. She said we had a deal! (And she came yesterday, yay!)
Being in a trio for those couple of days was interesting, but pretty fun haha. On Wednesday, we picked up the new Spanish Elders and met the office elders in an apartment complex in Little Rock, where they got all the signatures they needed to get the keys turned over to them, so they've got a brand new apartment. The outside is kinda sketch, but it's not too bad on the inside!
Then we drove back to Benton and stacked firewood for one of the people we were teaching. That was a lot easier with 3 people than it would've been with 2, cause we had a good line going. We changed back into white shirts and ties in a gas station (which is always fun) and then went to the library to type up reports for our meeting with the Stake President and President Hansen that had gotten bumped up to this evening, instead of tomorrow evening. So I was kinda sad that I was going to miss that meeting, but I lucked out and got to go to one more. (Unfortunately, it was at the cost of like 15 missionsries from the MTC not being able to get here cause their flight was gonna go thru Denver and Denver was getting hazed by a snow storm. So they had to go back to the MTC and try again the next day.)
But it was a good meeting! Between my time in Hope and Benton, I've spent just a few weeks short of a year in the Little Rock Stake. As we were leaving, Pres. Hansen told me, "I'm excited for you to be in West Memphis! You'll do great there! Don't get shot!" Hahaha. Thanks, President. (What the?!!? )
Thursday morning was supposed to be the day we had the meeting with the new missionaries, but because of the delay, it ended up being the day they actually got to Arkansas, and our meeting was postponed to Friday. So I got a bonus day on top of my bonus days in Benton. It was a good one!
We had a lesson with Madison about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. She had overheard some members talking about the Dallas temple, and had planned a trip to go to Dallas to see some family next week, and wondered what she had to do to see the temple. We made a plan for her to get a temple recommend after church on Sunday, and she did! Yay!
After that, we tried to visit a few people, including a referral the STLs gave us. She wasn't home, but another guy was and we got to talk with him for a while. He's a chainsaw artist so that's pretty cool.
Then, that night, we had a lesson with Wren and his girlfriend. He's the older guy that lives in the apartment next to his mechanic shop. It was a really cool, spiritual lesson. When we got there, and got started, the TV, which had been muted, broke into static and was loud. The lady's phone kept ringing with some obnoxious rap song as the tone. But they turned the TV off, silenced the phone, and were astounded at how calm and still their chihuahua was. (Which, if it's anything like any other chihuahua, its silence was pretty impressive.) "Somebody doesn't like you being here," the lady observed. But now that it was quiet, we were in good shape.
She'd been trying to find an answer to a prayer pretty urgently, and felt like her prayers just weren't being heard. We taught her how to pray, and Wren suggested that we give her a blessing. None of the 3 of us had thought to do that, but I think it was important that the spirit prompted him to suggest that. So we did, and she said she felt peace. We had her say the closing prayer and were very impressed with her faith and how badly she wanted an answer. It was cool.
The couple extra days in Benton kinda made me feel a lot of things! At times, like I just wanted to get out of the way, and other times like I never wanted to leave. It was like watching the start of a movie and knowing it's gonna be good, and wanting to see how the rest of the movie/transfer pans out. But Friday came, and it was time to move on, train a new missionary, and work West Memphis!
Friday was pretty long. All the trainers were there when I got there, and then the new missionaries arrived a little while later. We all introduced ourselves, and then the meeting started. Before lunch, they made the assignments. I'll be training Elder Bang! He's the oldest of 6 kids, and is from St. George, UT! President told him he'd probably be my last companion, affirming my joke, that I was "going out with a bang!"
After the meeting was over (at 4:30!) It took another hour and a half to get everyone's stuff loaded for the trek east to Memphis. I rode in the tiny middle seat between the driver and passenger in the pickup truck, which made for a fun ride across the state. But Elder Webb and I got to joke around, so that's always fun.
After stopping at a Taco Bell in Forrest City, (which is in our area in West Memphis) we drove another 45 minutes to West Memphis, got our stuff out of the truck and trailer, and hauled it upstairs to our apartment. It's pretty nice! We both have our own bathroom, and 2 closets, anyway. We had to throw away 90% of everything left over in the fridge and freezer, though. But we got all settled in by a little after 9, and then went to bed.
And then began day 1 in West Memphis. We had daily planning, our studies, and after the unfortunate (and late) realization that there wasn't a square of toilet paper leftover from the last elders, we decided to make a Wal-Mart trip for some essentials before starting the day.
We got out to the car, and the remote unlock didn't work. Weird. We manually unlocked it, hopped in, and... The battery was dead. We had a neighbor out washing her car, and asked if she'd be able to give us a jump. She kindly did, and once the electronics were up and running again, I saw something else. We had a tire pressure alert, with a psi reading of 4. Crap. Walked around to the rear passenger tire, and sure enough... We had a super flat tire. So we put on the spare (and had to ask our neighbor for another jump) and drove up the street to Goodyear tire, which was fortunately only about a mile down the road. We parked and they said it'd be 3-4 hours before they get to us.
We called our branch mission leader, Bro. Jones, and he happened to be free, so he picked us up and drove us around West Memphis, helped us get our bearings, and even paid for some groceries for us.
That night, the Young Women were doing a spaghetti fundraiser dinner for girls camp or something, and someone had bought us tickets, so Bro. Jones drove us over to the church (which is bigger than the Hope Building!) for that. We got to meet a bunch of the members there, and learned that the majority of the branch is related to 1 of 2 big families down here.
Before dropping us off back home, Bro. Jones reminded us to wear green ties to church tomorrow for St. Patrick's day, cause "them women'll pinch the crap outta you," and so we made note of that haha.
Church was good! Lots of friendly people, and warm introductions. And no pinches!
Got home, had studies, and decided to walk to try to meet some of the people in our area book close by. We found 3 new people to teach in that short time, and didn't get shot! (So far, so good, President!) It definitely wasn't the best side of town though haha.
We had mainly been talking to people who were just out and about, soaking up the springtime, but I had the thought to knock on the door we were walking by. We hadn't knocked on any doors yet, but figured I'd follow the prompting. A lady came out and we talked about her family for a while. She eventually shared that ever since a loved one had passed away 15 years ago, she's been looking for a sign from her telling her what heaven is like. I told her the little voice telling us to knock on her door might have been her! (A thought that never would've occurred to me until she told us that.) She accepted a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and said we could come back next week! So that was cool!
So there you have it... some of the highlights of this big, long, fun, crazy week. It's after 2, now, and we still haven't gotten a call about our car being done yet... pray for us haha.
I'm thankful for the miracles I've been able to see this week! They just keep on coming.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Well, it's Monday again! My time in Benton hasn't yet reached its end, but transfers came, and I'll be leaving! I get a couple days grace period here, though, before I leave on Thursday to pick up a brand new missionary to whitewash West Memphis, Arkansas with me! So that'll be fun! I'm excited hahaha. Staying in Arkansas, but dying on the Memphis side.
It's been a good last week, though!
On Monday, we got to visit the recent convert who's in the screamo band. Man, he's so awesome. The member we took with us happened to have bought an old sleeper recording studio, where apparently Rolling Stones and maybe the Beach Boys had recorded a few things between tour stops. It had fallen into disuse years ago, but he got pretty excited about checking it out, and started talking about fixing it up. I hope he gets it up and running again!
On Tuesday, we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with Madison, and she was all good, but... wasn't too sure about Joseph Smith, yet. Which made us panic a little bit cause her baptism was scheduled for a week out. So we explained the Book of Mormon more and sent her a link to the awesome, hour-long "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" movie and crossed our fingers.
We went to Tacos 4 Life for lunch cause President had confirmed that I will be a training district leader somewhere else this coming transfer, and I wanted to get another fix before I left. Then we spent most of the rest of the day trying to hunt down members who lived out in the middle of nowhere. We had about as much luck as usual with that. (Not very much).
After dinner that night, we went to Baskin Robbins for $1 Scoop Tuesday's (and to talk with the scooper, who we've been trying to teach for a while.) She was there, but someone else was scooping ice cream until 8. She clocked out while we were talking with the lady we came to see, and on her way out the door, stopped to read my nametag. She got really excited, and in a thick Filipino accent, read it outloud. "Yeah!" I said. "Do you know that church?" She went on to explain that she had actually joined the church in the early 90s with the rest of her family. She had moved to the states 5 months ago, and that very morning had prayed to meet someone from the church, because she didn't know where to find it here.
We were just there for ice cream and a chat. She "happened" to have picked up a shift outside of her usual weekend hours, and we "happened" to come in before she left and it "just so happened" that.... Yeah there's no such thing as it just so happened.
In less exciting news, I stayed in Benton on an exchange and we went to try to find a referral the sisters had given us before they left. We knocked on the door and a guy answered and used the f word more times in a minute than I've heard since high school haha. He told us the guy we were looking for wasn't interested, and, "Do I need to get an effing broom?" It made us laugh afterward, but he didn't seem like a very cheerful, happy guy. His loss.
After planning some of Madison's baptismal program, we went home to weekly plan. But then we decided to mix life up a little bit, cause the last few weekly plannings we have done have taken forever and have been kinda painful. So we went over to the temporarily closed Bryant sisters apartment, brought chairs out onto their 2nd story balcony, and planned up there. It was almost 60 degrees, and super foggy, which almost made it feel warmer, actually. It was sad planning for Benton for my last time, but it was made a little more fun by doing it outside.
We also visited our guy who works/lives in the mechanic shop, and he had two buddies join him for the lesson, so that was cool! And when we went by again on Sunday, he introduced us to another friend! He's a new investigator factory. And same with that lady we've had back at church the last few weeks. She's gotten 3 new people into the church building this week like it's nothing, while we struggle to get 1 haha. That's a good example of the power of member missionary work! She is so awesome. During the potluck on Sunday, she said, "I like it here. I think I'm gonna keep coming!" and that filled my heart.
(We were gonna reach our goal of 4 people at church, but we didn't remind one of the members in charge of picking someone up about Daylight Savings, and so we only got 3 haha. Elder Ramage is from Arizona, and they are smart enough to not do Daylight Savings Time there. But he hates it a lot haha. I guess it's kinda like the old testament law of circumcision. When you grow up under it, it's painful but it's not too bad. But trying to win over a convert...?)
On Saturday, Bro. Bailey took us out for BBQ in Little Rock before we went to one of the sisters in our zone's baptism. Madison came to watch, and even though it was all in Spanish, the Spirit was strong, and she really enjoyed it. (Shoutout to the hermanas for translating some of it!) Afterward, she had her baptismal interview and it went well! She's excited, we're excited... it's gonna be awesome. She is so amazing.
After all of that, there was also a wedding reception at the church for a couple who met on their missions like a year ago haha. They're great. We made a few visits that night inviting people to church to hear us speak, but a lot of people weren't home.
Elder Ramage and I spoke in church, and Sister Hansen, the mission president's wife happened to be there haha. But we did good, I thought. She and a few of the members seemed to think so, too. I've been trying to develop the gift of preaching. :)
Madison was there, too, and her kids even enjoyed primary... everything's coming together for her baptism on Tuesday! And because I'm training, I'll get to stick around for it. Otherwise, I'd be getting on a van with all of my stuff at 6:30 that morning, just less than 12 hours before her baptism. Phew! I'm definitely very blessed that I'll be able to make it!
Then, come Thursday, I'll get to get on that van with all my stuff, and a brand new missionary, and we'll go raise some righteousness up in West Memphis!
Love y'all! Pray for my greenie, Madison, and the good folks of West Memphis!
P.S. sorry for comparing daylight savings time to circumcision
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
Hello! I'm a bundle o stress about transfers next week, but this week was probably one of my favorite weeks in Benton! It's been great. Had a lot more pizza than usual this week for whatever reason haha.
On Monday, our desperation to find a good, cheap, barber other than Great Clips reached its peak. On Google maps, we found a little barber shop in downtown Bryant that appeared to be in someone's house. There were no hours posted, and so we called the number. It went something like this:
"Uh, hello, is this Here's barber shop?"
"Uh... the missionaries?"
"...The Mormons? You're with the Mormons?"
"Oh. Yeah, this is Herb. I had a good friend back in the military who was a member of your church. He was a great guy. And I actually had some missionaries come see me about 5 or 6 times a ways back. Y'all should come see me!"
So. That was interesting. We decided that we could postpone our haircuts until Friday, when his shop was open again.
That evening, we kinda ran out of things to do, so made it a point to drop off a Come, Follow Me Manual to someone we had been meaning to drop off for a while. It just so happened that she needed a blessing before a surgery the next morning, and she'd been worried about not being able to get one when we called to see if then would be a good time. So that was cool. We felt like slackers for not getting the book to her sooner, until we realized that God's timing was better.
We had district council the next day, which was good. It's still kinda funny being in a "district" with just another set of sisters. We ended up joining the little rock district for their district lunch at good ole Chik-Fil-A cause we were going on exchanges with one of the sets of elders. Which happened to mean I got to do an exchange with Elder Bingham, my "son," (or, the missionary I trained almost 18 months ago!)
So that was fun to catch up with him and laugh about some of the Collierville days. Good times. We rode the public bus to a few stops and talked with some interesting people on there. While tracting, a guy let us in and his little kid kept yelling in my ear about how cool his sonic the hedgehog game was, but I just took it so I could distract the kid while Elder Bingham went for the teaching. The guy got distracted as the mailman delivered a box. He explained that it was his new phone, and in passing mentioned that he ordered it cause he'd put his last phone in the microwave.
"Wait..." I asked. "The microwave? Why'd you put your phone in the microwave?"
"I thought it was a piece of pizza!" He shrugged.
Little Rock. It's a heck of a place!
After we exchanged back the next day, we had a great Facebook video lesson, where we taught the second half of the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom (no smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, coffee, tea) to a lady. Later in the week, we taught her the rest of the commandments, like tithing, etc., and it was just amazing to see how willing she was to live the commandments. She really saw them as ways to show her love for God and her desire to follow Him.
We did some service at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store place, and then had a Bible study at President Jones's. A while back, we had asked a returning member if she had any friends she would like to have come to church with her. She said yes, and has had a good friend of hers come to church now for over a month, and to these bible studies for a while, too. She's been loving everything, and is such a strong believer in Christ. She bought a tablet so she could have the gospel library app, and even though another missionary had to physically hold her finger and help her tap on things (she's pretty old, and hasn't ever used a touch screen anything before) it was really really amazing to see how overwhelmed she was by the wealth of the treasure trove of doctrine and teaching there are available at her fingertips. She got pretty emotional and I realized I have kinda taken the resources available to me for granted!
On Thursday, I had my 12th MLC. (If I'm counting right!) We have 1 a month, except we had a bonus one in February. So I've been in zone leadership for longer than I haven't! It's been amazing. But President made some hints about people being released as zone leaders to go train and be district leaders [who function under ZLs) and so when I hugged him after the meeting, I just jokingly said, "It's been a good last MLC!" And he just laughed and said, "So you picked up on my hint!" So we'll see what happens this next transfer haha. I'll miss... well... I'll miss parts of being a zone leader haha.
On Friday, we did some service unloading a big truckload of hay and stacking it under a little shed thing, so that was fun and itchy. Then we went to Herb's barber shop and didn't get out of there until 3 hours later haha. It was an experience.
Herb is kind of an older guy. He served in the Vietnam War, and has lived in this area since before there was even just a pizza hut. Back when the population was around 600. So, that to say... he had some stories. But not as many stories as the almost 90 year old guy who had come in for a shave right before us. After he was done, he just sat back down in the waiting chairs, and talked our ears off. He didn't take a breath haha. The end of one story would remind him of another, and in the middle of another story, he'd have to fill you in on the life stories and backgrounds of each of the people involved, and how he knew their parents, and what they're doing nowadays.
It wasn't til another guy walked in that Herb actually started on Elder Ramage's hair. And he'd stop quite a bit to talk with the other guy, and to go check on something, or open the door for someone... It was kinda funny.
Then it was my turn... And the same thing happened haha. And this time I noticed how shaky his hands were. I was a little nervous, but Herb was a pro haha. (And only 10$!)
We weekly planned the rest of the afternoon, and treated ourselves to David's Burgers for dinner that evening. They had a deal with the radio station that if you mentioned them, they'd give you a free chicken sandwich. So hey! We couldn't pass that up. (Even though we don't listen to the radio station...)
Saturday was BUSY! After that other facebook lesson, our elders quorum president took us to Corky's BBQ up in Little Rock for lunch. They'd had one in Collierville and I'd forgotten how good it was. Man. A half slab of good ribs and some baked beans can do a lot for my morale. :)
We had a lesson after that with a guy we've been working with for a while. He had a friend over who joined us for a reading of Enos from the Book of Mormon. He, his friend, and his friend on behalf of his wife all committed to come to church the next day, but it didn't happen. :(
We stopped by a less active members house to use the bathroom, and ended up getting treated to a slice of dairy queen ice cream cake, and got to give a Book of Mormon to his mom, so that was cool!
Then we went to Carolina's for dinner, she's the lady who joined the church as a kid, but after we did service for her, she brought it up and we discovered that she was a member. Last week was her first time back, and this week was her first time having the sacrament again. The ward has been great about fellowshipping her. We watched Elder Soares' general conference talk, "One in Christ," and I felt like it was given for her. I felt the spirit really strongly watching it. This is Christ's church! It's full of imperfect people, but the least we can do is love one another.
Then we stopped by Salvador's and had a good visit with him. He's still in the Day's Inn, and is going through a lot. But man, I love that guy. He's so awesome. But the night wasn't over yet! We pulled into the Zaxby's parking lot and used their WiFi for a zone leadership zoom call, and just talked about how we can help the zone get to the next level. Then we filled up on gas and went home.
Church was good. The lady planning on being baptized this next week or so came! We're still trying to figure out details with that, including whether or not I will still be here for the baptism. So that's a little stressful. But it will happen! I'm grateful to have been an instrument in the Lord's hands in helping her.
After church, we visited a guy in a nursing home who was a little loco. He likes his western books, and seemed to think that's what the Book of Mormon was. I mean kinda, when you think about it. A western that took place, was written, and that really happened, about 2000 years ago.
We also visited Tabitha again. I'd seen on Facebook that she'd mentioned that she was quitting smoking. That was her main hold up about joining the church a few months ago, was she didn't want to. But kinda out of the blue, she decided she wanted to quit. So we stopped by and just said we wanted to support her in any way that we could. She seemed a lot happier than I've seen her in a while. She's awesome.
Any time I had to get out of the car, (especially Saturday and Sunday) it seemed like I was about an inch and a half from falling asleep. And my body didn't want to do much of anything. But as soon as I opened the car door and my feet hit the ground, the Spirit must've taken over and carried me like a marionette puppet haha. I've been relying on that happening more and more, recently. I'm a tired kiddo. But there is work which remains unfinished!
Looking forward to this last week in Benton. Gotta make the most of it!
905 Kierre Dr.,
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Hello! Here's your weekly highlights from Elder Dahl's time in Arkansas!
We started the week off with a day exchange with the assistants. Elder Turner and I had a good day despite the freezing rain. Had a really powerful lesson with a guy that they'd dropped a while ago. You could see gears turning in his head and that's always cool. We said a kneeling prayer with him on his tile floor, and this guy really wants to know what's true, and what God wants him to do!
Later, we gave a blessing to a guy in a big Baptist Health Hospital. It was raining when we went in, and pouring when we came out. That made running to the car fun. But really, trying to get to the car without getting as wet is like thinking that if you fan yourself as you jump into a pool, you'll come up dry.
Everything else pretty much fell through that day. During our planning session that morning, I'd gotten to pick out a street to do some knocking on if nothing else worked out. Well. Nothing else worked out, so here we were with an open hour and a half, a street picked out, and a lot of rain. We tried thinking of something else we might be able to do, but ultimately decided that we felt good about the street that morning, so we'd stick with the plan. So we did, and almost as soon as we pulled up onto the street, it stopped raining. Whoa.
And we actually got to have several really good conversations with people there. Nobody told us to go away, or that they weren't interested. Anytime we were on someone's porch, the rain would pick back up. But any time we needed to cross the street or walk to the next house, it slowed down again. So I mean... that's a miracle.
On Wednesday, we had our zone conference, which was pretty good. We had calzones with some members that recently got home from their missions. They showed us a video of babies swimming and having the time of their life and we were all dying. Idk what was so funny about it, but it was one of those "what the heck is my life right now? I'm in an apartment in Arkansas watching a video of babies swimming"
Come Thursday, we had a video lesson over Facebook that went really well! And we'd planned to go on exchanges with Elder Bingham and Elder Hughes that day, but then we got a call from the Pinnacle Mountain Elders saying that one of the people that they're teaching asked if he could move his baptism up a week... to Saturday.
Our goal as a zone was to help 2 people be baptized in the month of February, and it was looking like [up until that phone call] we'd only get one. But we had felt really good about 2, so in the back of our minds, we'd kinda been wondering where we went wrong. But! I was already packed for an exchange, and after some shuffling around, I was in that guy's living room giving him a baptismal interview and making sure he was ready to go! He's super cool! He actually grew up Jewish, and back in high school, some missionaries had given a spiel about the Book of Mormon in his homeroom class and had copies if anybody wanted one. He ended up with a copy, and now like forty years later, he's a member of the church!
We started off the next morning playing chair soccer in the downtown little rock building with the assistants, and then exchanged back. We had to take our mini van, Daphne, into Firestone to get an oil change, and that was fun. We had to wait for a while, mainly cause our vehicle coordinator in the mission office had to run some errands and wasn't able to get them the payment number they needed until like an hour after they were done haha. The TV they had on in the lobby played a unique sequence of Ancient Aliens, some old western, and a wacky game show. So that was distracting, and didn't at all make me miss TV. (Except for maybe the Ancient Aliens stuff... cause like... I've met people who really believe that stuff. And at least the TV show makes it sound cool.)
We had interviews with President Hansen that afternoon, and weekly planned after that.
The weekend was kinda rough. We keep on trying to visit people who have said they're interested, but it just seems like they're never home. The lady we helped take stuff to the scrap yard and clean her truck out ended up living a little letter addressed to us on her door. Missionaries will know what kinda letter. :) (She dropped us, but I think she'll come around!)
One of the less-promising people was home, though, and he was cool. Unfortunately, his drunk friend wasn't as cool, but had a surprising ability to recall and interpret bible scriptures. So yeah, bible-bashing with a drunk guy rapping about "living water" was an adventure. (I'm really wishing I'd asked him to rap it again so I could get it on video. I hope we see him again!)
The lady we raked leaves for that ended up being a member had us over again Saturday night! And then came to church for the first time in like 30 or 40 years. She seemed to really like it and everyone was so nice to her! Another one of the sisters' investigators came, too. He's been struggling with some health stuff lately, so it was really good he could come.
After church, we had kinda the same problem as Saturday. Trying lots of people, almost none of them being home. :/ We ended up going to that Bible study again. Everyone, including the pastor, was like 20 minutes late haha. But it was good. The Book of Mormon would just clarify so many of their questions and vague definitions. I love that book!
And that about catches us up to now! We tried a new mexican restaurant for lunch this morning. We walked in in-between two big construction crews... so I guess that's how you know if it's gonna be good out here. (It was!)
So there you have it! Every week is an adventure. There's ups and downs and miracles and exhaustion and everything in-between! But life is good!
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I don't have a whole lot to write home about this week. And I wrote out this whole email once already and for some reason it disappeared. So I'm kinda ticked about that haha. So... here goes round two!
I got to go on exchanges with Elder Billings, who was one of my zone leaders when I was in Hope. He's awesome! We started the exchange off by praying about where to go knock some doors. After picking a spot, we headed over, and found a cool person behind the second door we knocked on. She reluctantly walked outside and said she'd give us 5 minutes to hear our "spiel." By the end of the 5 minutes, she was excited about reading the Book of Mormon, and double checked with us a few times to make sure we would come back!
I also got to practice my Spanish with one of her neighbors, which impressed Elder Billings, but wouldn't have impressed anyone who passed Spanish II in high school. A few doors later, we walk up and get ready to knock and then mariachi music starts playing loudly from inside. Elder Billings just turned to look at me and said "You're up, Elder Dahl," and then we laughed hard enough we had to pray that nobody actually opened the door haha. Idk, it was funny. You had to be there.
Back in Benton the next day, we tried our neighbors we helped move in a while ago. They were super drunk, but only told us after welcoming us in. So we teased them a little bit in the way you can only really tease drunk people before leaving to try back at a better time. (Oh, you've been drunk every time we've stopped by? Maybe that's God giving you a sign you should stop!)
We also got to visit with a lady who works at Baskin Robbins about her grandmother's high school experience with New Orleans voodoo, so that was interesting!
On Thursday, we had our district council. The Hermanas walked in with another guy in a white shirt, tie, and nametag, and so we were kinda confused. Turns out he'd had a pretty bad bike wreck while serving in the Portland Oregon mission and is home for a transfer or so. So it was good having more than just 2 other missionaries in our district council!
Later that day, we also did some service. Cleaned out some flowerbeds, and then played tug-of-war with some rosebush trimmings in a tarp against the covered bed of a truck. We eventually won!
Friday had just what Elder Dahl needed. Elder McKay of the Seventy came and did a zone conference with all of the missionaries on the Arkansas side, and it was really really good. I learned a lot. Elder McKay is brilliant and I want to be as sharp and passionate and quick-on-my feet as he is. We had a MLC meeting with him afterwards, and I learned a lot there, too! We got some good counsel as to how we can help our mission keep improving in the next couple months!
Saturday was also good! I woke up to an email from BYU saying I got in! And then before we started personal study, we were able to have a lesson with someone in a member's home and set a baptismal date goal with her! It was awesome. And right before we invited her, she quietly exclaimed that she could feel "those chills," which was the phrase she used to explain what the Spirit feels like. Man. There's no better feeling than knowing you've been able to help someone feel of God's love in a way that is that powerful.
We had a pot luck after church yesterday, and then went to visit that lady that fed us lunch last week. We'd sent the hermanas over, since she's from El Salvador, and they'd learned that she was a member, actually! She just hadn't been since she was a teenager. So we had a really special visit with her. It was cool to hear her say that something has felt missing in all the time she's been away from the church. She's planning to come back for the first time in a decade or two (or 3) this Sunday.
So there you have it! I did have a cool little spiritual thought at the end of the first draft of this email, but I don't remember exactly how I expressed it. But it was great, take my word for it. Something along these lines:
The Book of Mormon isn't just true - it convinces us of the divinity of the Savior
The Church isn't just true - it is organized and operated by the Savior
I don't do the Lord's work - He does. I just get lucky enough to be used by Him sometimes. :)
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Hello! The temperatures this week went from mid 70s down to low 30s and rainy. So that's been fun! You get a little bit of everything out here, whether you like it or not.
"A little bit of everything" is kind of a good way to explain Arkansas... and this week haha
We met with a guy a few times this week with some pretty interesting beliefs, some of which line up with ours... others of which are just plain crazy. But it's been cool to see how when we teach him simple truths, he sits back, thinks about it, starts smiling, and says it's cool, or that he never thought of that before haha. He's still a little crazy, but he said he was gonna do a deep study of the Book of Mormon, so that's awesome! After our 2nd visit, he let us borrow one of his favorite religious texts... [because I asked, cause I was really curious.] It's called "The Emerald Tablets of Toth-the-Atlantean," and kinda seems like a high school fantasy fan fic of the Book of Mormon... written by ancient atlanteans on emerald tablets. A few differences being that the book's translator is apparently a 36,000 year old immortal college professor, hiding out in Colorado, running a church that charges $36 for this book haha.
On Wednesday, we had our district council. Now, with the Bryant sisters gone, it was just us and the Spanish sisters. So we had to have a member there with us haha. But it was good. Tiny districts are interesting.
We had our SME with the Stake President that night, and none of the other missionary leaders in the zone could make it, so it was just us, Pres. Dixon, one of the counselors, and Pres. Hansen. They're awesome people, and I learn a lot from them!
The next day, we went to another district's district council, and then went to Chik-Fil-A for lunch. Elder Draper gave one of the workers there a card... and then we spent half an hour being lectured by her about how she doesn't believe Jesus came to the Americas because it doesn't say it happened in the Bible. (But ok... The people who wrote the Bible didn't know the Americas existed, and even if they did, how were the writers of the Book of Mormon supposed to let the apostles of Jerusalem know they'd seen Jesus? Send a pigeon? Use Facebook live? Row a boat? Hence the need for another book!)
We met a really cool lady later though, who showed us a picture on her Instagram she'd taken of an angel flying near the moon... #legit But she was really open, though!
We had 2 big appointments that evening! 1 was in a McDonald's with a guy we met a month or so ago, who we were finally able to get back in touch with. He's really looking for solid truth, and is sick of the contention between different denominations of Christianity. He asked some pretty pointed, honest questions, and then just gave us his list of questions and said we could study them, help him find an answer, and get back another time.
The second was with that shy-er couple we've been working with for a while. We read Alma 42 with them, and the thing she got from it was, "wow, I've been kinda glancing over Jesus when I pray. I need to give more consideration when I close my prayers, now that saying, 'in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen' makes more sense." Which... isn't what I would expect someone to get out of Alma 42, but it was cool to see how willing she was to change even in just that small way, now that she understood a little more. After that lesson, her husband showed us the inside of one of his big gun safes... wow. I didn't know you could fit that many guns in one safe. A lot of them are rare, collectors, or historic ones that are pretty sweet. I guess he placed in a Texas State Marksmanship championship. It's always fun listening to people talk about what they are really excited about. When they know they oughtta be quiet and let you go, but just can't hold themselves back. I love that! (And don't mind at all!)
On Friday, we just weekly planned all day long, with a short break to visit a few people who weren't home. We tried our neighbors we helped move in on our way home, and they were home, and let us in, and we'll see them again on Wednesday! For dinner a member took us to a place called "All Aboard," where they deliver your food by way of a model train set that carries your tray of food overhead. So that was fun, but with a fun idea they like, it didn't seem like they had much pressure to make the food very good haha.
Saturday came around, and you know what? We raked leaves. And then had a session of stake conference that evening that was kinda rough. I was given a microphone to pass to people during a discussion, and the 1st person I gave it to brought up a kinda random concern and derailed the whole rest of the conversation. :) But there was pie and ice cream after, so yeehaw!
Then the Sunday session of stake conference happened, and that lady we gave the church tour to last week? came with her 3 little kids! She's a trooper. 2 hours in the pew of a new church for the first time with 3 kids under the age of 6 isn't for the faint-hearted. I was kinda hoping the distraction of her kids, or maybe an intervention by the Spirit, would keep her from tuning in too closely to some of the cringey stuff brought up over the pulpit haha. But we had a good lesson with her this morning! (In only a semi-related note, In that session, I learned that the people killed in the Mountain Meadow Massacre were from Arkansas! #yikes)
We left stake conference and went to visit a lady we had raked leaves for! She'd actually invited us over for lunch Sunday afternoon. She's from El Salvador, and had some Spanish rice/sausage shrimp gumbo combination and pupusas. We had a really good visit with her and her son. Turns out, she used to attend the church in New Jersey as a kid when she and her family first moved to the states. She said she'd enjoy visiting the church, though, and said we could send the Spanish sisters over! Really sweet lady. She remembered some of the elders, and that they liked to eat. Not much has changed. :)
After this morning's lesson, we had our zone p day, and went to downtown Little Rock again and ate at good ole Gus's Chicken. Man. So good. Then we headed down to Central High School, famous for the "Little Rock Nine," and being the first desegregated school in Arkansas. Man, thats the nice way to put it. Not many people were fans of that idea back in the day.
I also finished reading "Saints," this week and that was really good. Between that and LRCHS, it's amazing how much evil people have been able to get away with in the name of misunderstanding and prejudice. Tarring and feathering, or spitting in people's faces just can't ever be okay. It's astounding how mean people can be. But I'm thankful to live in a time where, despite all that, there really is so much love.
I love my Savior, I love this gospel. I love being a missionary, and serving in Arkansas! I love my family, and I love you!
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
You know those movie scenes where it cuts faster and faster between a cycle of video clips? Like alarm clock - shower on - cereal hitting the bowl - tie being tied - sitting in traffic - coming home - lights off - alarm clock - shower - cereal - tie - traffic - ....
That was this week haha. But it was good!
On Monday, we spent the evening meeting some of the sisters' investigators with them, cause they're leaving the area and we're taking over. Mwahaha. Nah, we'll miss the sisters! We scheduled a couple appointments and our week filled up quick!
A week or 2 ago, we posted to some Facebook groups for the area that we were volunteering to take leaves, chop wood, etc., and apparently like half the county has seen these posts, because members keep mentioning to us that their friends joke with them about asking if we can rub their feet or something haha. So far, we haven't had to rub any feet. Score! But we did stay crazy busy this week trying to stay on top of all the service requests coming in.
We spent a few hours on 3 different days raking like an acre of deep leaves and funneling them through a gate into a ditch in their back yard. That was rough. We went out to Sardis and cut back some brush, and a bunch of vines, about half of which were covered in thorns. I walked away unscathed, though, feeling like Samuel the Lamanite.
During one of those days, we had a church tour in the morning with an awesome lady with an awesome story that the sisters found a couple days before they left. She's just so cool and so excited about the church! We had another member there and it felt like something we could've recorded and sent to church headquarters. It was great! She wasn't able to come on Sunday, though, cause her oldest kid was sick, so pray for em please!
But after the tour, we had lunch and then spent like 3 or 4 hours with leaves, and then went to a Bible Study a member was hosting, and that we were supposed to take charge of. My arms were so sore from raking and awkwardly holding the leafblowers for so long that it kinda hurt to even lift my arms to put sunglasses off and on. To our guilty relief, nobody came to the Bible study, so we went home for our companionship study and dinner, only to see as we pulled into our apartments a U-haul, and people moving stuff in in the cold and dark. We got inside, and our consciences wouldn't let us rest, so we put the shoes back on and went to help them move in. They were really appreciative, and one of the guys even said he was looking for a church! So hey!
When we got back in, I was amazed I had enough energy left to make dinner. Doing dishes was another story, but suffice it to say I slept well that night. And every night this week. I'm gonna have to sleep an extra 3 days when I get home just to catch up on this week alone haha.
When we were out visiting some of the people we were teaching, one of their neighbors had a big dumpster sitting in their driveway. We asked about it, and they said they were gonna be cleaning up their house. Which, as nicely as I can say, sounded like a great idea, and a much-needed project! We offered to help, and man, that guy took us up on it so fast haha. His wife wasn't as excited about it when we came back the next day to actually help, but they ended up getting pizza for us and the ragtag group of other helpers that came.
Man. That was an experience. There was so much garbage everywhere. As I shoveled wet leaves laced with wrappers, soggy clothes, and other trash, one lady that lived there came out and had a panic attack, cause I guess she was the hoarder behind the mess. She started pulling junk out of the leaf pile, saying it just needed a good wash... And then she started freaking out at this other lady [who, btw, happens to have been in the Bandito Biker gang in the 70s/80s, and was low-key terrifying] who was digging in the dumpster for her box of cigarettes which I think I'd accidentally put with the rest of the trash and thrown away. She didn't want anyone digging in the dumpster before she did, cause she was afraid people would take stuff. Yikes. Her 8 year old son did as much as Elder Ramage or I did cause I think he thought we were cool. Unfortunately, the 3 of us made up less than half the people that were there, but we did a lot more than half of the work hahaha. It was a glimpse into a strange, dark corner of humanity, lemme tell ya.
We got Chinese takeout for dinner that night. We washed our hands really well first, though.
On Saturday, we got a break from service and actually fit a few good lessons in! I was actually missing knocking on doors by this time in the week. It felt good to be teaching again!
On Sunday, we were expecting to have 5-6 people at church, but only 1 came. One by one, they'd texted or called to cancel because they were sick, their kids were sick, or they got called into work, etc. That was rough. But I felt better about it than usual because I knew I'd done everything I could've to get them there.
We've got a good week and month lined up. I'm excited. Things are going well, slowly but surely! While it's fun to be able to say, "see you in 4 months!" I'm definitely gonna miss the crazy experiences and incredible people and just the things I get to live as a missionary. Like, we met this guy who was a leader of a congregation of the church on a Navajo Indian reservation. Now he raises bees, and recently went on a trip to Panama, where they rode a canoe through a river to an ancient native settlement. Like what?? This guy had some cool stories. I think you just get so many opportunities to really get to know people as a missionary in ways I can't imagine having anyway else. I'm gonna miss it!
...but before I miss it, I'm gonna enjoy these next 4 months! Here we go!
Sorry, not a lotta pictures this week. Just some southern vibes
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well, it's been 4 good transfers in Benton, Arkansas. This week, I get to start... transfer number 5 in Benton! Another 6 weeks, here we go!
This week was especially exhausting. It was good, and I learned so much, but man I am tie-erd. I could probably trace that fact back to Tuesday morning, when we got up at 5AM for a spontaneous trip to Memphis. Just kidding, it was planned in advance. We had a good MLC there, while construction noises went off the whole time outside the building. But it was the people working on the Memphis Temple, so we didn't mind a bit!
We left Memphis and stopped for dinner at a place called Cook Out [which is crazy, cause for 5 dollars you get an entree, two sides, and a drink. And you can get like a chicken quesadilla or a hamburger as a side haha]. On our way home, we realized #1., why it only cost 5 dollars, and #2, that our zone goal for the day was to schedule a church tour, and we weren't going to get back to Benton until after 9 o'clock. So we called one of the people we were teaching and... first try, scheduled a church tour. The sister training leaders in our zone had to try a few more people. But maybe their tour actually happened haha. (Cause our guy canceled last minute.)
We got back to the mission office, and instead of driving our Malibu home, we were given the mission's Toyota Sienna, affectionately termed, "The Mommy Van," and by its closest friends, "Daphne." We don't really know why they figured the Benton elders could put to use a mini van better than any other companionship in the missjon, but hey! It's been sweet haha.
On Wednesday, we had our district council in the morning, and went door-knocking in the afternoon. It was really really cold! But we talked with a guy who'd seen the Book of Mormon Musical and he was cool. And then his nextdoor neighbor was a missionary-baptist-gone-Jew, so that was also exciting.
We met with President and Sister Jones and a few others and read John 1 for the Come, Follow Me, program as a Bible Study and that was fun. I got a lot out of it!
That gets us to Thursday, where we had another all-day meeting, but this one was just in the mission office in North Little Rock. It was also good. President Hansen got a call during the meeting making official some rumors we'd heard that we'll be adopting the Tupelo, Mississippi Stake into our mission. Some 20-30 more missionaries, 12 areas, and everything else that comes with that. The problem is, that happens July 1st, and I'll be home before then. I'm kinda sad I'll miss that big change in the mission! It's exciting.
Saturday was a pretty fun day. We started it out by going back to the lady whose stuff we took to the scrap yard last week. This time, we emptied out a literal truckload of trash from the bed of a nonfunctioning pickup truck in her driveway. Fortunately, we had some help from Brother Clark and his two boys, and their truck and trailer. (We had joked about putting all the trash in Daphne, but first of all, there wouldn't have been room, and 2nd, it was all so wet and moldy and falling apart that the only way to clean it out afterward would be by fire.)
I had gloves, fortunately, but Elder Ramage wasn't as lucky as we dug through this soupy mix of old clothes, toys, newspapers, cans, random dishes and scraps, and so on. It was bad. Like after getting a foot or so down into it on one side, there were cockroaches crawling around. And then when Brother Clark hopped in the actual bed of the truck with a shovel, two big-as-your-hand rats tried to jump out, but just barely didn't clear the tailgate. One went by way of shovel, and the other by Brother Clark's boot. It was super gross but also at least a little bit funny.
And hey, she came to church again on Sunday, and brought a friend, too!
After that experience, we went to a little breakfast diner in town that one of the people we have been teaching works at. After almost 20 months in the south, I figured it was about time to try biscuits and chocolate gravy. And it was good, too! I can't even explain it. Saying it's like warm chocolate pudding on a biscuit sounds kinda gross, but that's as close as I can get to describing it.
Later that day, we raked some leaves with some help from the sisters, cause we'd been warned ahead of time that this was a big yard. We were given the ok to burn the leaves, which I didn't think much about - as long as we didn't have to bag em, I'd be good. Well, from 4 to 7:30, we raked the front yard and burned all the leaves, and the sisters got about a third of the backyard raked. We used her neighbor's hose to put out our fire some time after dark. It was hard to see, then, but hopefully the big pile of ash in her front yard doesn't stand out too much. You'd think we were the only ones raking leaves in January, but it was such a nice day, there were actually people raking leaves all over town as we were driving by. That should be a telling observation about "the south" and "procrastination." But I love it hahaha.
That night was transfer news. I was nervous all day, but about thirty minutes before the email came, I had a feeling I was staying. I was glad to see that feeling was confirmed! A lot of changes are coming to our zone this transfer, though, so that'll be an adventure.
On Sunday, we were making the rounds before church, making sure everyone was good to go. We stopped by the guy who had some good questions last week, but he was asleep. His mom and another guy told us so, but we got talking and his mom ended up waking him up and inviting us in. The other guy was Muslim, and so we got to learn a little bit more about some divisions in the Muslim faith. And then for the next hour and a half - seriously, we were late to church - he asked us all kinds of questions that kinda got to the annoying point, honestly. It's like he wants to have a problem with God, and has to understand logically every aspect of God's being. There's a lot of logic to it, I thought. But God isn't a computer. He's complicated and loving, and yet so simple at the same time.
The biggest thing I learned from that is that there are absolutely limits to what God can do. He can't stop loving His children. He can't interfere with our agency. He can't go back on His word. He can't not fulfill a promise or a covenant when conditions have been met. He has laws - spiritual, physical, scientific - that he, too, must abide by. He can't create us in our most perfect form - that is something we must grow into with His help. So it was interesting!
Church was good! It felt really good to feel the spirit and be around other people who love God and understand some of His plan. Afterwards, we went to a Baptist "discipleship class" we'd been invited to that was... actually pretty decent. I think we might go again, cause it's a small group and we can answer their questions about us before other, less friendly people do. They touched on a lot of good stuff, but a few truths from the Book of Mormon would help make everything click a little better for them, I think.
After our dinner appointment Sunday night, we had to head back home to do call-ins, but in order to meet the zone daily goal for the day, we had to invite one more person to be baptized. It was like 8:00, we were in our apartment, and I was thinking, "dangit, why did we set this goal? We could've ended the week of zone daily goals yesterday!"
But we were determined to reach it, and so we started calling people from our area book that had been taught months and years ago. A lot of the numbers didn't work anymore. One guy hung up on us. And then the miracle came! For like 45 minutes, I talked with this lady over the phone and it was so powerful. It was definitely one of those times when I took a deep breath afterward and just marveled. I don't know where the words I said came from. (Well... I do! Not from me, that's for sure!) The Spirit was really strong as I shared Alma 7:11-13, and explained that the Savior didn't just suffer for her sins, but also individually felt what it's like for her to go through fibromyalgia. Not just "fibromyalgia," but her experience with it. By the end of the call, she was saying she was excited to read the Book of Mormon, and that she hadn't thought about being rebaptized before. It was so cool.
We did some of our call-ins that night, and in one of them, I learned that one of the people we met on Halifax Street a few weeks ago had met with the missionaries that day at the church, and said he had found a lot of answers that day, and that he'd be willing to be baptized if he felt that the Book of Mormon was true! So... that's awesome!
Our zone saw a lot of other miracles this week through our daily goal challenges. It was really hard and made us work our tails off, but the Lord helps us reach our goals, when our goals are His goals.
I'm happy to be staying another transfer in Benton! And I'm happy to be representing the Lord and His church to the people of Arkansas. This is a special place.
(I've been sending out film prints to people who write me so... if you want some junk film photos from AR, say hi!)
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
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
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