The words of the bard, William Shakespeare, have survived the tests of time, inspiring countless audiences - in auditoriums and bedrooms alike. Throughout his playwrighting masterpieces, he doesn't just portray elements of the human condition, but he evokes through his words fear, love, awe, joy, and misery. Of all the countless lines that have etched themselves a place in the library of time, I have found my favorite. "No man is free who is not a master of himself."
BAM. HOW RAD IS THAT?!
I forgot to mention I hit my 8 month/one third mark last week! What the!?
It's felt like a looong week. Looking back on earlier in the week, I almost didn't believe that stuff happened only a week ago. It's been a less successful week here as far as finding and teaching goes, which is discouraging. Our main problem is that we have a handful of investigators that seem super solid... but we have the hardest time getting to see them... ever. They're always canceling appointments. Bunch of Frosted Flakes. Trying to get those *Golden* Grahams. All we seem to find are a bunch of people that are coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.
Anyway. Even though the week didn't have much success, it did bring with it some stories. On to those.
On P-day, we got together as a zone, and went to Urban Air, a trampoline park place that was pretty fun! They had these American Ninja Warrior courses that were awesome. (I was sore for the next 3 days though haha)
The next day, we had our MLC (Mission Leadership Council meeting) and that was good. Yeah, not sure what else to say about that for once. It was good.
On Wednesday, we had our district meeting, got that Wendy's 4 for $4, and exchanged w the missionaries in Choctaw. I stayed in Conway w/ Elder Mair and that... was also good. Found 1 or 2 people who said we could come back, so I was happy about that.
Some members took us to Cafe 501, a kind of upscale restaurant that was very very tasty. I got a burger with some kind of subtle orange sauce on it, and ghost pepper jack cheese... it was so good.
After dinner, we went and visited Rickey, this cool older gentleman we've visited a couple times. He is content with the Bible and doesn't see why we have a need for the Book of Mormon. For the millionth time on my mission, I just wished I could bluetooth my testimony over to his brain. Or even just the questions I would have only having the Bible to go off of. Why aren't there prophets on the earth anymore? If all these apostles were writing their epistles to correct false teachings in one singular church, where is that church now? What the heck is this about baptisms for the dead, and Jesus teaching dead people? What does it mean to "inherit" the kingdom? What does God want me to do? Profess my faith and that's it? Do I need to be baptized? Am I saved just once?
So many questions the Book of Mormon helps answer! I would have a pretty hard time believing the Bible at all if not for the Book of Mormon.
On Thursday, we exchanged back, and went to the UCA Campus to give out candy and passalong cards to let people know about the LDS Student Association club we are starting on campus. Right after Elder Evans and I were sent to buy more candy, I guess the rest of them had some lady inform them they needed to register a table or something to do that. Ooops. So there went our afternoon haha.
Later that night, we went to try to meet a former investigstor, who, as it turned out, had moved. As we walked up to the house, there were 2 young boys, probably 8 or 9 years old, jumping on the trampoline in the back yard.
"What are you doing?" One of them asked.
"Talking about Jesus," I responded.
"Can you go to my house, too?" He asked. "I'm house 18."
So, a little dubiously, we went to house 18 and knocked on the door. A 12 and a 14 year old girl answered the door, and the kid came running over and basically asked for us if we could "come in and talk about God with us." Their parents weren't home, so I was quick to agree with the oldest daughter's "no, not while mom is gone."
"Okay, I'll bring chairs out here," the kid said, and ran inside to bring two chairs out onto their little porch, while 3 dogs walked around us and tangled us in their leashes. We showed a video to the 3 of them and the neighbor friend and talked about how cool it is to have living prophets!
That night we had Book of Mormon class, with a pretty small group, plus... I'll just say a pretty weird dude. This guy has been calling us and the Conway 2 missionaries changing his mind back and forth between going to the 9 o'clock and 1 o'clock services. Every time he calls he asks the same questions. We finally met him at Book of Mormon class, and I was able to more fully diagnose his "Dory syndrome" cause he asked the same questions again. "Do y'all have pastors? Are y'all Catholic, or nondenominational? What are prophets like? Do they have long beards? Was Joseph Smith an englishman?" He's nuts. But he cracked us up. He's a good guy. He's going to like 3 churches every Sunday.
On Friday, we got a call from a lady asking for help to move her son in. It started raining as soon as we got there, so that was fun. Afterwards, we visited with a recent convert in the 2nd Ward that Elder Evans has taught while he was serving there. She was also a little nuts. A really well meaning lady, and she told us she felt a lot better after our visit. She shared that before Elder Evans and his companion knocked on their door, she had been praying that Elders from her Jehovah's Witness church would come visit her. And then in come the Mormon Elders! That's a sign from God, no?
My main lesson from that visit was how terrifying and awful addiction is, going back to the Shakespeare quote at the beginning of the email. She said she had let in and smoked a few times recently. She downed a Diet Coke and she and her husband were talking about all these prescriptions they were changing and how hard that was. They have a daughter that is a recovering meth addict, and... you can tell. It's just so sad. It made me reflect on how I can better control and master myself. My sins may not smell as bad, but there's always something more I can do.
The best news of this week, though, is that that couple I was able to teach on exchanges last week, just set a baptismal date!! After having met w/ the missionaries for just over 2 weeks, or 3 or 4 appointments, they are planning to be baptized in early March!! I'm so excited for them!
Alright. So that's the week! Now here's those things that I included in the title of the email.
1. The Chili Cook Off Incident.
Some members invited us to attend their Blue & Gold Banquet for their kids, which was held at another church. The gym was full of excited cub scouts and parents, and in the next room over, was 25 different crock pots full of chili. Within these 25 pots were such flavors as pumpkin spice chili, chili with cocoa powder in it, deer chili, ghost pepper chili, and... peanut butter chili.
Now, some of those sound pretty gross, right? Peanut Butter Chili? Really? Like... I almost hate to admit it, but like, I'd recommend it to a friend. It was good! ...Was. The first time it was in my mouth.
From the chili cook off, our cool Indian recent convert, Prashanth took us to Andy's, and we buried our several bowls of chili in frozen custard, and then went to the church and convinced Prashanth to stay for a YSA Valentine's Dance haha. He enjoyed it, though!
We went to bed, and I was starting to feel a little off. I fell asleep, and then came 12:30PM.
There was no falling back asleep. The bulk of the next hour was spent in the bathroom.
If you're squeemish, I'll just leave it as "it was coming out of my nose," and let you scroll past this next paragraph.
If you're not squeemish, (or if you are, and are reading this anyway, even though I warned you) I'll add the details that it felt like being waterboarded and that I don't think I've ever thrown up that hard or that much in my life. Fun stuff. I honestly can't remember the last time I've thrown up, but it's been years. I've gagged a few times on the mish, and Buffalo Wild Wings has done me wrong, but hey, if you don't throw up on the mission, did your mission even happen?
Okay, sorry. back to more reverent things. i was just jokin about that last part.
After extending his mission 1 month, Elder Jennings is heading home today! But there is still the rest of February left in this transfer. So what is his companion, Elder Shelley to do? Well, Elder Shelley has joined Elder Evans & I for the rest of the transfer, so we are in a trio for a few weeks! I'm excited about it haha. We picked him up yesterday after church!
Then, this morning, we got a notification from the APs that our emergency drill is happening, so everybody in the mission had to get to their emergency contact/member safehouses. Once our whole zone was in (over an hour after the notification haha) we were able to continue with our P Day. We got our shopping done, and went to Tacos 4 Life. Man, that place is another one of my favorites in Conway. So good.
And now I'm here, writing this email. Feeling quite a bit better than I did Saturday night and Sunday morning! So now you're caught up!
I hope your week has significantly less vomit than mine did! Love y'all!
Be silly & beware of bad chili!
Tell me about your week! (And what the heck this whole "tide pod" meme is about)
Tell me about your week!
3080 Pebble Beach Rd., apt #1
Conway Arkansas, 72034
This weekly email is brought to you by:
- William Shakespeare
- Cub Scouts of America
- Regrettable amounts of chili
- Cafe 501 & Tacos 4 Life for not making me throw up and bringing me joy
Well, it's been 7 days and I'd like to think I'm a slightly better Elder Oliver Dahl than last week! Here's what went down.
(But first just a really quick cool miracle I forgot to write about last week)
We were trying a less active member in an apartment complex that I had been to just twice before in my entire time in Conway so far. The member wasn't home. As we were walking away, a lady calls down to us from the upstairs of the apartment building, "missionaries!" Apparently she, her non member husband, and her 5 boys had just finished moving in that day from downtown Little Rock! How awesome that we were able to be in the right place at the right time to welcome them into the area, the first day they got here, before anyone else knew they were even here!
Okay, sorry, that was just one of those cool little moments that is too cool to be an accident, and I had to share it. On to this week.
I have just been so stinkin tired the past little while. Especially this week, in large part due to our two consecutive days of exchanges in North Little Rock. They were exhausting, but so so fun, and the definite highlight of my week.
We met Elders Jennings, Shelley, Brownell, and Stiles-Culver (the NLR & Office Elders respectfully) at good ole David's Burgers. We split off from there, Elder Shelley and I going tracting and walking around a few neighborhoods. We found one kinda potential investigator, but didn't find a ton of success. Elder Shelley, who has been out for almost 3 months now, seemed to enjoy my door approaches and was trying to take mental note of them, so that helped me know that even if we weren't finding success then, hopefully the things I was demonstrating could lead to eventual success as Elder Shelley implements them down the road.
We met up again at the Millers, an awesome young family in NLR who fed 8 of us missionaries in the area, and then we played a game called signs with them before heading out to their missionary correlstion meeting. Spent a good chunk of time there reviewing our main takeaways from last week's visit from Elder Holland & Uchtdorf. I was trying to come up with a one sentence summary as requested, and I didn't realize what it really was until I said it. It has since become my goal. To not just wait around for my mission to change me because "missions change people," but to actively change myself while on my mission. Because that's the only way it really works. And you don't have to be on a mission to change yourself into the best version of you that you can be!
That night, we played ping pong in the office elders apartment again until midnight. Slept on a couch, and then started day 2. Had studies and then went to exchange with the Office Elders after a taco bell lunch, but Elder Stiles-Culver was sick. So... Elder Evans went w Elder Brownell to do office stuff, Elder Jennings stayed w/ Stiles, and... I had another day of exchanges with Elder Shelley haha.
This time, we got dropped off in South North Little Rock, in a primarily African American part of town. I was able to give away a bible to a lady that asked for one, but that was about as much success as we had. But it was still judt really fun to explore and walk around a new part of the world that before my mission I never would have thought I'd be in.
While walking past an old car, an adorable little girl (probably 4 or 5) startled me a little bit by looking out the back window at us. I waved at her, and she just beamed and waved back, her little beaded dreadlocks bouncing as she giggled. Further down the road, I turned around and she was still looking at us. I waved again and she ducked out of sight haha. What a cutie. Just a few doors down, a 7 or 8 year old kid looked at us through the window after we knocked on the door. He told us his parents weren't home and asked what we were doing.
"We're missionaries, so we talk to people about Jesus. Do you like Jesus?" I asked.
"Yeah," he responded. "He died but then he came back to life!"
"Yeah! How cool is that?! He sure helps me be happy!"
Little kids are the future!
That night, all 4 missionaries, (the North Little Rock and office Elders) had an appointment with a couple they had helped move in last week. I guess they had seen a friend and talked about how they needed help moving, and the friend had another friend who had talked about the Mormons helping them out. So this couple showed up at the church one day and asked for help, and these 4 guys spent the majority of the day helping them move.
Since Stiles-Culver was sick, I was able to take his place and have dinner and share a lesson with the couple. I'm so glad I had this opportunity, because it was the definite highlight of my week.
We had some pizza and then the conversation naturally flowed toward the gospel. We walked in at 6:30, and didn't leave til almost 10:30, which is kinda against mission rules, but they just kept asking awesome questions and loving our answers. (So how could we leave??) They talked about how excited they had been all week to have the missionaries back over, since they felt so much peace and happiness around them last time.
When we explained a question they had, one of them always asked the other what they thought about it. They would always nod and say something like "I like that. Yeah. That's right." They especially liked the doctrine of Baptisms for the Dead and how that resolved some of the "plot holes" they had recognized in past religions. Toward the end of the lesson, I asked them if they had felt the spirit, and they were quick to say that they had. I promised them that what we were teaching was true and that they could find more of that spirit in the Book of Mormon. They were sad to see us go, and we left with Elder Jennings dedicating their home. Received some hugs as we left and we were all glowing on the way home. It was awesome.
Stayed up til midnight again as Elder Evans and Jennings dribbled a ping pong ball back and forth until they hit 200 consecutive hits. After (a lot of) failed attempts, they hit 200 and kept going til 333. It was hype. Sleeping on a couch again left us pretty zonked out the next day, though, for our Zone Conference.
Zone Conference was good, though! Pres. Hansen instructed on some of the finer details I hadn't thought about regarding some new testament stories, and that was cool.
Afterward, we took our dinner hour and just napped instead of having dinner. But then we did service at that one church kitchen again and had some leftovers. Book of Mormon class was awesome again.
Spent the next day wandering around the shady small town of Mayflower, AR. There were some sights, including a wolf or something someone had strung up to a tree in their front yard. #Arkansas!! (Picture below)
Had a lesson w a guy who walked into church a few weeks ago. We sat around his bed in a back room of his trailer and he, too, talked about how he felt something different about us and the other members of the church he had met. Hoping we can keep meeting with and helping this guy!
While trying to contact someone [else] in an apartment building, [we do that a lot haha] they weren't home, but I heard the tv playing in the next apartment, and felt a prompting that we should knock on it. Elder Evans had turned around to go down the stairs, but I suggested we try this one, and knocked.
Lo and behold... no one answered! My turn to turn around and go down the stairs. But there was one more door on that floor, and Elder Evans started walking to that one.
But this time... no one answered! We were on a roll. So we headed down the stairs, and half way down, that last door opened. The guy ended up inviting us in and turns out he actually knew a lot about the church and was eager to have us over to answer some questions about the Book of Mormon!
So anyway, I include this story cause it was a cool example of how the spirit guides us and works in companionships, and how just because we don't see results from a prompting right away, doesn't mean it's not from God, just that we should keep working and waiting.
Later in the day, another person we were trying in another apartment complex had moved, but the new resident told us to "Stay on the battlefield, fellas," which was funny and kept us going haha.
We had our monthly meeting w the Stake & Mission President yesterday, and we got the scoop on some top secret, cutting edge deeds coming to the mission. So that's exciting. There'll be some [more] cool stuff [and people!] coming to the mish.
We drove back to Conway after that and I was able to stand in the circle for Prashanth, (Elder Evans super cool, Indian recent convert) to receive the Aaronic Priesthood! It was super cool to participate in the gospel and priesthood being able to bless more of the people around the world!
Sorry this email is so sporadic haha. But hopefully some of the stories were enjoyable! I can feel myself improving as a person and missionary, and just need to keep up the momentum! I'll issue the same challenge to y'all - be a slightly better person the next time you read an email from me. Share what you change!
Have a good week! Love y'all!
Email contact info for people we can teach in Conway:
Mail us people in big boxes who we can teach in Conway:
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. #1
Conway, AR 72034
This weekly email brought to you by:
- David's Burgers
- Apartment buildings
- The surplus wolf population?
- The Sketchy parts of NLR & Mayflower
I was trying to think of other things to include in the title of this email, but nothing else really compared to the highlight of this week. But we'll get to that.
On P Day, I got to spend a good hour or two on the grand piano in the chapel playing while everyone else played basketball and that was just... really really nice. I feel like my piano skills may be improving (or at least are not getting worse!) even though I'm not able to practice super often, so that's a definite blessing!
We had our first district meeting of the transfer, and that went pretty alright. After a Wendy's stop, we did exchanges with some of the elders in the 2nd ward. It was probably the hardest exchange I've been on... my companion for the day really struggled to plan out what we would do, and then fell asleep for 30 minutes while praying... That whole time, we only knocked on 2 doors. I tried my best to get him up and going, and hopefully I left him with something new to think about, but idk. It was rough. Of those 2 doors, one of them didn't answer, and the other one was an adventure.
This older lady, a member we were going to introduce ourselves to, answered the door with tears in her eyes, and said "maybe you can help me, come in." So we sat down and she talked for a little bit. By the end of it, we were thinking she might have dementia, but she was talking about how her daughter was stealing from a hotel and had told her she was going to send her away. So she was trying to get to her other family in Illinois, and didn't seem to have a solid understanding of the fact that she was in Arkansas. She had locked all her windows and doors and mentioned something about knives to keep the doors closed. As I looked around, I saw that she had actually put a butter knife through the molding around the back doorway to try to act as a second deadbolt in the door. (But in practice, if someone were to open the door, it would just tear the molding off... which is what happened to her front door.) So that was interesting.
We biked back to our apartment in time to pick up dinner from another member, and then spent an hour finding the 2nd door we knocked on during that exchange. Thankfully, biking is still a breeze compared to what it was in Collierville. I guess biking slower and having the seat at the right height makes a difference haha.
The next day their Ward Mission Leader took us to Quiznos for lunch and we exchanged back. It was good to be reunited with Elder Evans haha. Went into houses on opposite ends of the spectrum, some very nice, and others... less so. Like hoarder houses w/ calendars from 2011 hanging, and the very air just saturated with animal pee. I'm definitely learning a lot about what I do and don't want in life and in my home, and so on.
[We met a cat named "Seven." Not because it was the 7th cat the people had adopted, but because it had 7 toes. On more than one foot. Picture below.]
Found another trailer park to tract in, and had some success there. (One person said we could come back, and we were able to chat with another guy for a while who just wanted a better understanding of what we believed.)
That night was actually one of the other spiritual highlights of the week. The sisters found somebody a few weeks ago who they had been trying to teach but just weren't able to set a solid appointment with. They had asked him if he would want a Priesthood blessing, and he said yes, so they let us know and we were able to join them and give the guy a blessing. Back in 2008, he had been shot, and the bullet is still in his back. (That's the extent of the story that I know.)
When I first met the guy, I was feeling a little cynical and like this guy was just trying to be polite to the sisters, but it ended up being awesome. I was able to give the blessing, and as we visited afterward, he was just a different person. He was smiling, and said things like "I can feel it," and "That was exactly what I needed." It led to the sisters being able to set a more solid return appointment, and being able to explain some more about the Priesthood to him. He wasn't the only one who learned and felt something that night, though.
We then had our Book of Mormon class, and had a less active guy join us who shared his testimony about wanting to come back into activity in the church because he saw how happy it made his younger sister. We were in charge of teaching the class, so I was trying to keep the tears in haha. I hope that my younger siblings can see how happy the gospel makes me, and want to be involved in it more, too.
Friday was a little more rough. I started out so excited! We had five appointments for the day. This is like... unheard of. Having two teaching appointments is enough to get us pumped for the day. So five?! Long story short, every single one of those five appointments either canceled, or wasn't home when we knocked on their door again. Which is, you know, annoying. But at the same time, we got to the end of the day and were able to feel good about what we did. We did our part. We met our expectations. We kept our word and gave people their chances. It was other people's decisions that led to them missing out, not our own weaknesses or mistakes. That's definitely a freeing feeling, and one I've learned to appreciate on the mission. We can be happy with the things that we do and the way we react to the situations we find ourselves in. We don't have control over what other people do, so why feel bad/angry/sad/upset over it? We need to choose to be happy about those things we do have control over. (hopefully this makes sense lol)
After one of those 5 failed return appointments, our ward mission leader took us to Andy's Frozen Custard, which was pretty dang good, and that added to our "feel-good" feeling despite the "failures" we had today. He then dropped us back off at the church, and we were able to help load up almost all the chairs in the building to be taken to North Little Rock for the apostle visit the next day.
And then it was Saturday!
Got up at 5AM and picked up the trio serving in the 2nd ward and headed to North Little Rock. We had breakfast there and were arranged on these risers like it was 4th grade class photos again, and then waited for the apostles to come in. After a few kinda painful minutes squished in between ~184 missionaries, in walked Elder Holland, somberly strolling from the entrance to the gym and only looking up to see us til he got closer. Elder Uchtdorf came in a few seconds later, and then Elder and Sister Klebingat. The feeling I had as they walked in was kinda hard to describe, so bear with me as I use the word "huge" to attempt that. Maybe you've heard the phrase "giants among men" before, but I gained a deeper understanding of that seeing them. Like you just feel that they have these big souls. They don't command attention or really look like anything other than normal people. But when they walk in, you feel it.
They told us we looked great and has beautiful smiles, ("most of you," - Elder Uchtdorf) and then we took the picture and then got in line to shake their hands. They asked us to tell them their name and where we were from, and I'm pretty sure I was smiling pretty wide when I introduced myself as "Elder Dahl from Boise, Idaho!"
We sat down in the chapel in our pre-assigned benches. I was the first of our zone in there, so I got to sit in the front row off in the right row of benches, close enough to see Elder Uchtdorf's eyes tearing up a little bit during the 10 minutes in which Elder Holland praised him. That was one of the most powerful parts of the meeting, I thought. "Let me talk to you for a minute," he began. And then he just talked about how wonderful Elder Uchtdorf is.
Pres. & Sister Hansen spoke, and then Elder Beheshti, (the area 70) and then Elder & Sister Klebingat (General 70 and wife) and then Elders Uchtdorf and Holland. It was like having a spiritual dump truck unload on top of us, in the best kind of way. After Elder Holland had finished extolling E. Uchtdorf, he added, "In a second language, I just wanna get up and slap his face! That he can teach that well in English, his second language, and I can't even get a 'guten morgen' out in German. If I did, it wouldn't be that 'gut.'" Outside of General Conference, they were all really really funny. Also a little less organized in presenting their thoughts (largely because they didn't come prepared with a talk, they just spoke extemporaneously) but I think I liked it that way, because we got more, and it's making me study and organize their thoughts myself in a way that helps me internalize what they shared.
After the missionary meeting, we blitzed North Little Rock with the missionaries there, and then returned to the church after a trip to David's to catch the evening young adult session. Elder Jennings and I walked all over NLR, and past some kinda sketchy places with boarded up apartment buildings and stuff haha.
The evening session was just as good. So many incredible one-liners and mind-blowers. Missionaries were invited to come if they brought investigators/recent converts, and we had Prashanth with us, so we could go. People came all the way from Memphis, which was awesome for me, cause I got to see a couple people from Collierville there! Including Caroline and Wendy! It's so so good to see that they're doing well and getting to hear such awesome stuff from our apostles.
Got back to Conway kinda late, and, much like Lehi, "cast[ed] [myself] upon [my] bed, being overcome with the spirit and the things which [I] had seen." And then Sunday came, and they had a third 2-hour meeting that was broad-casted to all the church buildings in the mission. So all in all, I have notes from like 7 or 8 hours of different church leaders. A little overwhelming at first, but man they shared so much good stuff it's crazy. A point that was made in each of these meetings was essentially, "Of all of the [missionaries/young adults in the church/church members] in the world, it's pretty likely that you are the luckiest ones in the world right now." Definitely felt that that was true.
Here are some of the lines/thoughts/takeaways that I'll share rather than relate more boring stuff about meetings hahaha.
- "There are no vertical movements in the kingdom of god, except in our personal righteousness. We have one head, the lord Jesus Christ, and all the rest of us are disciples. A leadership position is just a diversion from what we really are. The issue is the cleanliness and purity of our souls." (Holland)
- The dots of life connect only in retrospect or from a spiritually higher vantage point. (Uchtdorf)
- Going through life thinking it will be easy is like going to the gym and hoping there will not be weights. (Klebingat)
- "True friends are like angels, they will lift us to our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly." (Uchtdorf - how poetic is that??)
AND, MY PERSONAL FAVORITE QUOTE:
"The great tragedy in life is not failure. It is not struggle, or heartache, or pain. The great tragedy in life is success... when we aim too low." (Holland.)
They also had some funny ["funny" if you are mormon, at least haha] lines like Elder Uchtdorf's "I went into the Stake President's office and they still had the wrong picture of the first presidency in there!" and "After 10 years in the first presidency, I get to finally sit between Elder Holland and Elder Bednar. Wow!!"
And Elder Holland's "When I hear stories about missionaries going home and leaving the church, it about makes me want to hurl myself into the Arkansas River!" and "I know of some Stake Presidents who, after fasting and prayer were released and assigned to the nursery! Of course, the ones who didn't fast enough to be assigned to the nursery were called as Scout Leaders." Man, Elder Holland had some jokes, I'm telling ya. Maybe I wouldn't have found them as funny before my mission haha.
He talked briefly in the missionary meeting about the importance of representing the image of an LDS Missionary well. He said something to the effect of "don't go home and tell people about that time you short-sheeted your companion, tell them you are a different person." So... I was a little bit rebuked by the spirit with that one, haha.
Pretty often, [read, "very often,"] my emails are about the crazy stuff like... dead rats and eating 200 Buffalo Wild Wings haha. I try to also include the spiritual things, but maybe I don't give those the weight I should. So here's me making clear a few things:
I am a different person now than I was when I left on my mission. If you expect me to come back as the same "Oliver Dahl" you will... not be disappointed, because this Oliver is a better Oliver. I have been changed not just because of "my mission" or from "living in the South," but changed through the Atonement of Christ. It is real. This is his church. There are too many "coincidences," miracles, and lives eternally changed for this to be anything but real. If God exists at all--and I know that he does, then this is His church and kingdom on the earth today, led by prophets and apostles like the very church He established in the New Testament. I am His disciple, and no other thing on this planet matters besides my ability to stand at the judgement bar and tell Him I gave it my all. I'm not at that point yet, and every day is a gift from Him allowing me to get closer to it.
I feel like maybe me not being clear about what all my mission is doing for me could be distancing me from that point. Yes, it's fun, yes, I laugh a lot. But this is changing my life, it's changing me. It's true and it's all that matters, and I have come to know that. I want everybody to come to know that. Thankfully, God has provided one simple way for us to know, and that is reading the Book of Mormon. Get ahold of a copy, and read that thing. Nothing evil could have written it, and nothing good would have written it, unless it truly came from God.
So anyway. This has kinda been a different type of email than I usually do. Hopefully it made some sense and helped you feel something good, warm, happy, curious, or wanting more. This is the "more" in life you need. Not gonna apologize for being "preachy" or testifying of what I know is true, cause that's what I do. (And increasingly, not just what I do, but who I am.)
I hope y'all have a fantastic week and can feel God's love for you within it!
Spiritual questions immaterially:
Spiritual questions tangibly:
3080 Pebble Beach Rd., apt. #1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
(Emails/letters/boxes/etc. are not limited to spiritual questions. Y'all can send whatever you want, like cool pictures or memes or a deluxe, high-pressure showerhead for example)
This weekly email brought to you by:
- Elder Dahl's long-as-heck writing style. Sorry.
- Andy's Frozen Custard
- The Arkansas River (don't go less-active after your mission)
- David's Burgers, as always
- The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ
- and readers like you, thank you!
Another week has come and gone, and now we're most of the way through January. What?!
This week was transfers week! Both Elder Evans & I are staying in Conway. Transfer day itself got postponed a day because of snow, though! Seriously. Come 7AM, while some people in far out areas had already hit the road to transfer locations, we got a text saying to stay off the roads because of the snow and ice, and to wait to transfer until the next day.
It was also a snow day for the local schools! Kinda... like, you guys... the grass was like a powdered donut. If you blew off most of the powder and licked the rest off. The roads were kinda wet, but not icy. It must have been worse in other sides of the mission. (I think Collierville actually had like 3 snow days in a row, but their snow actually stuck.) By about 11AM, all the snow was gone, and all the kids were still out of school. Riiight. "Snow day."
That day was also the day Pres. Nelson held his broadcast and press conference, and a bunch of us missionaries got together to watch that. (We figured it was safe to drive since... the snow was gone.) That was cool, and I was thinking how awesome these like 13 old dudes are. They're all just such awesome, Christlike people. I definitely sustain Russel M. Nelson as the world's prophet! That guy is legit the coolest 93 year old on the planet.
Later in the afternoon, as we were trying to contact some people, we got out of the car and walked around to do so for about 25-30 minutes. I had my big peacoat on, and a sweater. And my oh my, was it the coldest my face has ever felt in my entire life. I say that after having been outside in Idaho winters when it dips into the negatives. I think then it was in the high 10's, or low 20's. But it was a humid cold, which I'd heard about from more seasoned missionaries, but figured it couldn't really be that different from dry cold, right? Wrong. The best way I can describe it is like how your hand gets slow when it's been out in the cold for a while. Only that happens to your face. So if you make a funny face, you might actually have reason to fear that it might freeze like that.
Thankfully, it was a little bit warmer the next day, and we brought hand warmers with us. We had the hardest time planning in the morning, and half way through, just decided to embrace the fact that we would spend most of the day knocking doors. A lot of our investigators have dropped us, or have just vanished, or are just not available often enough for us to visit with them regularly.
So we picked a few streets, and started knocking doors in this trailer park. (We like those.) There were some pretty nice people there, and a handful of people who spoke only Spanish. In one or two of those instances, I kinda deferred them to Elder Evans, who had something like "Hello, we're the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We don't speak Spanish, but we know some other missionaries who do. Would you be interested in meeting with them?" memorized in Spanish. One lady said another time, so we figured we were doing pretty alright.
And then we met Geronimo! [This is the cool part/the highlight of my week!]
After we knocked on his door, we went across the street to the next trailer, but then he came out and started talking with us. Elder Evans delivered his line, and he continued trying to talk with us. "Solamente hablo un poco Español," I apologized. He just kinda stood there expectantly after that. I looked at Elder Evans and tried to come up with the vocabulary in my head to explain some of our message to him. I started super simply, and before I knew it, I had asked him how long he had had faith in Christ, and I understood his answer. I explained that we believed in Him, and that we have prophets and apostles on the earth today, just like what we read about in the Bible. He shared some of his Catholic faith with us, and I was able to understand that, too! He asked about the Book of Mormon, and I explained that as best as I could. It was probably the worst Spanish he had ever heard, but by the end of it, he accepted my invitation for us to come back and bring him a Spanish Book of Mormon!
As he went back inside, and Elder Evans and I walked away, we both just started laughing. What the heck just happened?! Getting called to the Arkansas Little Rock Mission, English speaking, I didn't think that my Spanish would really come in handy, or that I'd get to have a cool "experiencing the gift of tongues" story for my homecoming talk. But like... that's what it was. It was all said in what little Spanish I knew, but many of the words I did use, I'd forgotten existed until they left my mouth. I know the Lord was with me in this small way to testify of the truthfulness of His church on the earth today.
We had dinner with that Peruvian family again that evening, and the adorable grandmother cooked an amazing dish... I forgot what it's called, but it was rice with homemade french fries on top, and then like fajita steak filling on top. It was really good. She and her daughter spoke back and forth in Spanish a lot, and I guess the gift of tongues had left me cause I didn't understand a lick of what they were saying haha.
On Thursday, we helped out for a little bit at this other church that hosts a food kitchen type thing that feeds people in need. That was pretty fun, there were some characters there. We then went straight to the Book of Mormon class we put on every Thursday night, and nobody but the sisters and our Ward Mission Leader came. We still went over a chapter, though, and I learned a lot! I love how many new details and insights you get just by reading the Book of Mormon again. It's impossible to soak it all up at once.
That reminds me of something I forgot to include in my last email. At Book of Mormon class last week, we did have somebody show up, a recent convert from India named Prashanth. He had been reading in the Book of Mormon on his own, and had gotten to the Isaiah chapters. (Where portions of the book of Isaiah are quoted by the prophets at the time in the Book of Mormon.) Since he was the only one there, we decided to just pick up where he left off and read through some of the Isaiah chapters with him.
His English is pretty good, but it has taken him a while to get past the scriptural language. (Thee, thou, ye, etc.) And now we were going into Isaiah. He would stop us every once in a while to say, "I don't know what this means." We were kinda like... "Yeah, we don't really know what this means either. Let's figure it out!" So there we were, using the Institute Manual to help explain Isaiah to ourselves and to this Indian guy with no Christian background. That was fun haha.
While in the class this week, an email came from our mission president, announcing which Apostle was going to visit our mission. (We'd gotten the news back in December that one would be visiting, we just didn't know which of the 12 it was. There were rumors it was going to be (now President) Nelson, but since he is now the prophet, things must have gotten shuffled around.) He told us that it wasn't just going to be one apostle, but 2! So Elder Uchtdorf & Elder Holland will both be visiting the Little Rock, AR area this Saturday!
To those of you who have no idea who they are, they're kinda the modern equivelant of like James or Paul in the New Testament. They might as well have announced my favorite band is going to put on a concert for us, I'm so so so excited. They are just funny, poignant, brilliant, Christlike men who I strive to be like. Anyway, I'll have that to write about in my next email! :)
Saturday was fun! Last week, Elder Evans & I were invited to speak at a "Super Saturday" event for the youth. We prepared 10 minute talks, and they had Little Caesars for lunch, so we were happy about that. I talked about how the hobbies and habits I was into at home helped prepare me for my mission, and I tried to make it kinda funny. I think I succeeded. (That or they were just laughing at me.) Sounds like a couple folks might end up getting my books haha.
Later that day, while we were walking around, a guy shouted at us. Elder Evans and I each caught a part of what he said, and when we put it together, we realized he told us "LaVell Edwards is a legend!!" which... was a much funnier thing to be yelled than what I expected.
Then, on Sunday, we had another guy just come to church. He opened up a lot in Sunday School, and a few of the members were able to bear testimony and help comfort him. We now have an appointment to visit with him later in the week!
One of the members of the bishopric told me he had been looking at my Amazon page earlier, and saw that I played piano. The cat was out of the bag. I played an opening song for 3rd hour haha. (But I didn't mind, I'd much rather play piano than have a bunch of people who aren't Pentatonix sing a capella)
The week ended off really well, when we had a lesson with another guy we've been trying to teach. We had a member over with us, and it was awesome! Not much really went according to plan, but it ended up better than we had planned. I love when that happens. Seeing the guy even just holding the Book of Mormon as we talked made me so happy. This book is everything!
Oh yeah! Tuesday/Wednesday was dang freaking cold, but it warmed up all the way to 65 degrees on Sunday! It was SOOO NICE! It's a little cooler today, but a long sleeve shirt will keep you comfortable. This whole week is supposed to have highs in the mid50s so I'm excited.
But, boring weather stuff aside, I say that because I guess the low to high temperature move wreaked some havoc. Cause last night was THE CRAZIEST STORM I have ever been through. It wouldn't have taken much to convince me the Second Coming was about to happen, this was some 3rd Nephi-level stuff.
Rain was pounding, that's nothing new, but still exciting. The wind was blowing, that's not super uncommon. Although, it was a lot windier than usual. But then there was the lightning and thunder. I seriously thought somebody put a strobe light outside our window. (And I'm not saying that, I literally looked out of the window to find where the spotlight was that kept flashing our window every 2-3 seconds.) And the thunder felt like it was all around us. It stayed like that for about 20-30 crazy minutes and then quieted down really fast.
Apparently, tornadoes happen in the silence after the storm, and not in the thick of them. Fortunately, our roof wasn't torn off, and Conway is still in tact. I don't think any tornadoes happened. But it was exciting, anyway!
So that's my week! How was y'alls? Sending my love,
3080 Pebble Beach Rd., apt. #1
Conway, AR 72034
This Weekly Email Brought to You by:
-19 individual flakes of snow
-Little Caesar's Pizza
-The Book of Mormon
Well another week has come and gone. This one didn't have any rats or elephant poop, but it was still good!
On Tuesday, we had a district meeting, and a recent convert in the area asked to join in. So we invited him along, and that was awesome!
After district meeting, Elder Evans and I drove to North Little Rock. A former missionary, one of my first zone leaders, Elder Breen, was driving through on his way to school, and stopped by the church there while we were there. It was fun to hear from him about life after the mission and the iPhone X and imagine dragons new album haha.
We then exchanged for just a few hours with Elder Jennings and Shelley, and then went to dinner at the Millers, a young member family in the area who fed 8 of us missionaries that night haha. We played the game "signs" and it came out that my birthday was the next day. Turns out, they had half of a "CTR" cake leftover from their son's 8th birthday/baptism last weeked, and some BlueBell 2-step ice cream. (It's cookie dough + cookies n cream combined. Yum!) So the whole North Little Rock District and the Millers, who I hadn't met til that day, sang to me and we all enjoyed some cake and ice cream!
From there, we went to their missionary correlation meeting, where they started a fast as a district, ward mission, and bishopric, fasting for the missionary work in the area. We then went over to their apartment, and before we got there, the sisters texted saying the lady they had on date to be baptized had asked to move her baptism even closer! Yay for miracles!
We all went over to the Office Elders' apartment, just around the corner from the North Little Rock Elders' apt. They managed to fit a full size ping pong table in there, and we stayed up until midnight playing ping pong. I didn't win a round, but I came close! :)
The next day/At 12:01AM, I turned 20.
On Wednesday, (my birthday) we had a meeting from 9AM to 4PM. But I think I preferred it that way! It was a good meeting. I felt the spirit, felt motivated and inspired, and got to hang out with a bunch of missionaries. We spent a few hours role playing teaching, and Pres. Hansen observed a group of 4 of us doing that. It wasn't intimidating, and he offered some awesome suggestions. He's so great. Plus, at this meeting, there was chicken spaghetti for lunch, so that was a plus.
Sister Johnson & Sister Anderson (the poor sisters we gave the dead rat to last week) came up to us during the meeting, and after the now-typical shade-throwing, they kindly gave us one of two $25 Tazikis gift cards a member had given them. (Taziki's is this REALLY REALLY good greek chain they have. There was one in Germantown, TN, and there's one in Conway, at least. Definitely one of my favorite places to eat at.) We were a little dubious, wondering if maybe they'd used the whole gift card and given us an empty one so when we go use it we have to pay for it ourselves, but they assured us that wasn't the case.
So anyway. I've been well taken care of during my birthday week this week haha.
That night, Elder Bingham & Elder Barney called me from Collierville and I got to hear a bit of an update from them. And Bro. Boggs called, too! It was so good to hear from them, it was a definite highlight of the week!
The rest of the week wasn't super exciting. Tracted in a few older-demographic neighborhoods. Old people are either the nicest or the meanest. Seems like we got more of the mean ones. Sweet is the work!
On Friday, after weekly planning, all the elders in our zone got together and watched Pres. Monson's funeral broadcast. Definitely felt the spirit confirming to me that Pres. Monson was a prophet of God, and I felt all the more ready, too, to sustain Pres. Nelson as the new prophet.
Friday was cold. I guess it snowed in Collierville this weekend, and a few other places around the mission. It hasn't hit Conway, yet.
On our 2nd exchanges of the week, I stayed in Conway w/ Elder Lee, and we had some adventures. We visited with this 97 year old lady in a retirement home, who didn't consider herself a member anymore, but was very sweet. "Why, I talk to God all day, every day!" She said. "If I didn't do that, I'd probably forget how to talk entirely!" And, my favorite quote of hers, referring to God: "That rascal lets me struggle on my own for a while until I learn a lesson before he steps in and helps me." You could just tell that she had a relationship with God, by more than the fact that she called him a "rascal" hahaha.
On Sunday, there was a regional broadcast stake conference. They streamed the event in Salt Lake to all (?) the members of the church in the Southeast United States. Elder Bednar gave an awesome talk on repentence. One takeaway from that: "You can't repent with real intent, if your real intent was to sin." *cue the mic drop*
Right after that, we had a meeting with the Stake Pres., Pres. Wing. (Who actually served his mission in the Boise mission!) We talked about what the missionaries and members can do better, and it was just cool getting to hang out with he and Pres. Hansen in a much smaller setting than usual. It was Elder Evans and I, Sister Anderson & Johnson again, and then I skyped in the other ZLs within the stake on my tablet.
SOMEHOW, Elder Evans convinced/connived/conspired with Sis. Anderson and got her to give us their other $25 Taziki's gift card. After we'd given them a rat last week. They are both leaving the Conway Zone, so probably won't be by a Taziki's. And they won't be able to exact their revenge on us. Still, I dunno how Elder Evans got that gift card from her, but maybe their revenge is just proving to us that they are more Christlike and angelic than we are. :/
That night for dinner, we went over to the Routt's. They made Chicken Spaghetti, and (after asking what kind of dessert I would like for my birthday) a peach cobbler!
I was kinda tired from the week, and not feeling super motivated to go out and knock doors at 7pm in the cold dark on a Sunday night, but we did it, contacting some former and potential investigators. We were able to set like 3 or 4 return appointments for the week, so I'm excited! It was a definite morale boost, since it seemed like most of this week was spent waiting for doors that never ended up opening.
So, thanks to good food, the good Lord, and some successful contacts, I had a good end to the B-Day week! So that's that!
It's also the start of a new transfer! Elder Evans & I are staying together in Conway for another 6 weeks! After this, he'll have served in this ward for 7.5 months! We are losing Sis. Anderson, Sis. Johnson, Sis. Shumway, Elder Clayton, & Elder Billman. I am actually like really really sad about losing every single one of them. I'm gonna miss them a ton! But they're off to spread the light of the Conway Zone to other parts of the mission. :)
So we'll have new people to meet this week, a bunch of appointments to keep, potentially some snow, and more adventures! Everybody seems to be getting pretty sick around the mission. Most of the missionaries have avoided it, but there are a lot of members who have it, and people who use it as an excuse to not meet with us haha. Apparently something big is going around? doTERRA, save me! :)
Love you all! Have a stellar week! Stay warm and healthy!
getchoself a hotmail:
getchoself a stamp:
3080 Pebble Beach Rd. Apt.1
Conway, AR 72034
This email was brought to you by:
BlueBell 2-Step Ice Cream
Chicken Spaghetti (which I hadn't heard of til I got to Arkansas. It's pretty dang good. Would recommend making it and enjoying it for dinner this week. It's not just spaghetti w/ chicken instead of meatballs. It's more than that.)
And readers like you! Thank you!
By the title of this email, you can probably tell that this was a pretty exciting week. If somehow you missed that, allow me to formally say that this was a pretty exciting week. It had a high concentration of stories that I think I'll be telling long after my mission is over.
But before we get to the dead rat, the police, and the elephant poop, there was other good stuff that happened this week, too. :)
On Tuesday, we had our District Meeting, where we talked about finding people, and using family history as a resource for that.
That same afternoon, a miracle happened! (Yay, I like miracles!) We knocked on this lady's door and she opened it and shared with us that she had just been watching a bunch of videos about our church for some reason. She eagerly accepted a Book of Mormon, and gave us her number so we could get in touch for a return appointment. As we were putting her name in the phone, we asked where her last name came from, and she knew! She told us a little bit about her ancestors, and how her uncle had given her a huge binder of family history information, and said that she hadn't been able to find a good, free website to do family history on. After Elder Evans and I excitedly looked at each other, we were able to tell her all about FamilySearch.org, and that just got her even more excited for us to come back.
I was thinking later how eager her ancestors are to be able to have their temple work done. They are working with us to help her join the church and be baptized for them. It's just super duper cool to think about.
On Wednesday morning, I found myself thinking about President Monson and what would happen if he passed away. Lo and behold, we got the news just a few minutes later. What an example of Christlike character, and surely a prophet of the Lord.
Remember that guy that let us in last week and pretty much bashed with us for an hour and a half? Well... he invited us to "meet up for coffee or something sometime" and that happened on Wednesday. (Not the coffee part, the meeting up part.) I guess I wanted to show him we were cooler than the Jehovah's Witnesses that flaked out on him the last time he tried that. Turns out, the JW's had the right idea haha.
We met at a Waffle House, and that basically made it worth it. I only had a glass of water there, but now I can say that I've literally bashed with a preacher in a Waffle House in the Bible Belt. Maybe I shouldn't be so proud of that. But it's just a cool statement haha. He's a nice guy, and he was trying to "save us" and whatnot. I had a scripture out the Bible for every little thing he disagreed with us on, but I just enjoyed yawning while he talked and letting him go. After it all, he recommended a bunch of fun things to do in Arkansas. 95% of those things were either: A) Out of our mission, B) Involved swimming or rafting, or, C) Involved guns. So other than one hill we could hike, it would be against the rules for us to do any of the other stuff, anyway. Oh well haha.
After that, we went to a teaching appointment that canceled, and then drove out to the "boonies" of our area, around Lake Conway and a tiny town called Mayflower. As we were driving into this one "settlement," (a little pod of ~20 trailers and small houses in the middle of nowhere) three or four little dogs started running boldly at our car. I was worried I'd run one over, but they survived. They followed us all the way up a hill. We got out of the car, and they didn't touch us or anything, but after a minute or two, a few more dogs joined and yapped at us. The hills were alive with the sound of... dogs barking. We tried the person we were going to try there, and it turns out they had moved ages ago. Another dog, a big and really old one started following us around, too, but it scared the other ones off, I think haha. It became my favorite.
As we were driving, there were maybe like 2 dozen other cars on the roads out there, and about a third of them were big ole trucks that rode my tail until they finally impatiently passed me. (There's a machine in our car that warns us if we exceed the speed limit, etc. So that's frustrating.)
That night, a missionary who served in this mission was in the area and volunteered to meet us for lunch. We went to Stroud's Country Diner, and I tried a country-fried steak sandwich. I thought it was pretty good. Until we got back that night. I brought a trash can into our bedroom because I was pretty sure I was gonna puke. Thankfully, I did not. But I don't think I'll be going back there again.
The rest of the week, like every single appointment we had got canceled. Pretty frustrating, but that's life. It even happened a lot as a photographer back home. People don't like to stick to plans, I guess.
We did visit with a potential investigator we found a while ago, and, well... that was a trip. This guy seemed like super cool, and down to earth, but he was pretty up in space. Literally. He talked about talking to trees and animals, and showed us this YouTube video with all the conspiracy theories he believes in, including (but not limited to) the fact that Nazis landed on the dark side of the moon in 1949, the government has people's brains in jars connected to robots "like in Futurama!" and there is a hidden ice planet directly behind the sun that houses a military base and bird-looking aliens. Elder Evans and I kept exchanging looks and trying not to lol because this guy was like really opening up to us. So that was another highlight of the week.
*The Part of the Email Where I Finally Talk About the Dead Rat*
We had dinner at the Routt's again, and they gave us a bunch of their leftover cookies and candies from the holidays. As we were leaving, we saw a dead rat in the road in front of our car. The conversation went something like this.
Elder Evans: "Hey, Elder Dahl. We should empty out one of those cookie boxes the Routt's gave us and put the rat in there to give to the Conway 2 Elders."
Me: "What? No, that'd be gross!" (Also dying laughing at the thought of doing that.)
Elder Evans: "C'mon, it'd be funny!"
Me: "...Okay, let's do it." (The laughing continued)
So, we took out all the Chips Ahoy cookie bags out of a Nutter Butter box, and we prodded the rat in there. We then buried it in the aforementioned Chips Ahoy bags, put it in the back of our car, and then proceeded to go to the Thursday Night Book of Mormon class.
Afterward, we were going to give the Conway 2 Elders a ride home to their apartment since they are full-bike. Elder Lee went to dig for a nutter butter in the box and touched something weird at the bottom.
But lo! The sisters parked next to us had rolled down their window and were trying to tell us something. Elder Evans rolled the window down, and Sister Johnson asked if we had any Brother Routt shirts (shirts w/ Bro Routt's face on it, just because) that she could have. We responded that we forgot them, and she got a little bit mad. Elder Evans turned around to Elder Lee and gestured for the Nutter Butter box. (Can you see where this is going?)
"Here, here," said Elder Evans. "If you guys take these Nutter Butters, we'll get you your Brother Routt shirts."
"I don't want any Nutter Butters!" Sis. Johnson argued.
"I do!" Sis. Anderson said from the passenger seat. So Sis. Johnson sighed, grabbed the Nutter Butter Box, and then Elder Evans told me to "Go, go, go!" So we took off out of the church parking lot, and as we turn around, we saw them run out of the car. Elder Evans and I are having a laughing fit, and Elder Clayton and Elder Lee have no idea what was going on.
"There's a rat in the box!" we manage to say. "What?! I touched a dead rat!" Elder Lee exclaimed. About one and a half minutes later, the sisters called us to say the war was on. Thankfully, they were good sports. I was feeling kinda bad about doing that to them, especially since it was meant for the Conway 2 Elders. But when they sent us the video they had recorded soon after discovering there was a rat in the box, it was all worth it. Thankfully they were pretty good sports and don't hate us too much. :)
Alright, back to the usual. Miracles and Food. Oh, and this is where the "Trailer Parks" aspect of the email comes in.
So anyway. The next day, we went on exchanges with the Choctaw elders. Before driving up there, though, our Ward Mission Leader took us to Burgers, Pies, and Fries. I got a burger and one of their fried Oreo Pies. "Eating healthy" and "living in the south" are pretty difficult. Thankfully that wasn't my New Years Resolution haha.
While Elder Andreason and I were in Conway, we spent a good amount of time in this trailer park. We were gonna stop by one guy, and then try to find 2 other trailers. Trailers rarely have the address number on them, and when they do, it's usually faded, covered, or missing a number so you kinda have to guess. Well, we found one of them, and were able to visit with the less active part member family that lives there. Nice couple that's been through a lot in the last few months. Their car busted, and they were on the last of their paycheck. They'd just spent a good chunk of money taking a cab ride to the nearest AutoZone to buy a wrench to fix the car, but they'd gotten the wrong size wrench and were getting ready to go buy another cab ride. We volunteered to get it for them. When we came back with the right size wrench, he was able to fix the car in less than 5 minutes. Cool that we were able to be in the right place at the right time.
Then we went to find the 2nd trailer. Got talking with a super drunk guy sitting by a fire in front of his trailer at like 4 in the afternoon. Then found the trailer we were looking for. It was totally abandoned and hollowed out, and had a hand print and the word "help" written in red paint on the door. Classy. Across the gravel road were more trailers and two police cars. As we were leaving, one of the officers called us over. "Elders!" We stopped and turned around to meet him. "Hey guys, come back another time alright? This isn't a good time or place to be right now."
Didn't need to tell us twice! Though I'm curious as to what was about to go down haha. Thank your local police officer for keeping your missionaries safe.
*The Part of the Email Where I Finally Talk About Elephant Poop*
Now, when you read "Elephant Poop" in the title of this email, what were you thinking? Probably something along the lines of how I was probably exaggerating something that happened, right? Wrong. This is where I get to talk about pure, unadulterated, genuine, elephant feces. Elephant. Feces.
On Saturday, we exchanged back with Choctaw. But we did a little bit more than that. We went to exchange back a little bit early, and we brought our service clothes. One of the hidden gems of Arkansas in the existence of a legit "Elephant Sanctuary" in the middle of nowhere. It's home to 2 retired circus elephants. Somehow, the missionaries got the hookup to go do service there once a month. So once we got our service clothes on, we drove through the hills to this gate. The lady who operates the place opened it up for us. She had short hair, dyed blue and green in spots, three tear drops tattoo'd on her face, and was rarely far from a cigarette. We rode in the bed of her pickup truck over to the elephant barn, where we met Booper the elephant, and had the pleasure of shoveling a lot of elephant poop and cleaning the barn.
This place reminded me of Jurassic Park. It was sweet. And I'm definitely going to brag about having scooped up elephant poop in Arkansas for the rest of my life.
After poop-scooping, we bucked hay. (Threw bales of hay down from a big tower onto the bed of a pickup truck.) We were going to do two trips, but decided to just put all 35 hay bales on at once and do it in one trip. We then rode on top of those 35 hay bales in the back of a pickup truck back over to the elephant barn, and unloaded them there.
Unfortunately, that was all that we had time for. But it was definitely a mission highlight so far hahaha.
So there you have it! Dead rats, trailer park adventures, and elephant crap! Plus arguing with a preacher in a waffle house, getting chased by dogs, and being exposed to the truth of the government's ice planet behind the sun. Sprinkle in a few miracles here and there, and it's been a DANG fun week in Arkansas. We're going HAM this week, and I also will begin my 3rd decade this week, so I'm planning on more miracles.
The Lord definitely leads this work! Too many things "just work out" for it to be anything else. Jesus Christ lives, he's my Savior, and this is His church on the earth today! Let the world know!
Love, soup, and elephant poop!
Tell me 'bout your favorite conspiracy theory, animal feces, or something, idk.
Plz don't send rats or elephant poop, the sisters are already gonna get me back. My punishment is sure, my consequence is fixed. Pray for me.
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. 1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
This email is brought to you by:
Booper the elephant
The Conway Police Dept
Deceiving Chips Ahoy
and readers like you, thank you!
Merry New Year!
This week was nuts. We had a district meeting, 3 different exchanges (companion swaps for a day) and a MLC meeting.
1st up: Exchanges with North Little Rock gone wrong/fun. The office elders drove Elders Shelley & Jennings to Conway from Little Rock, and then left to do errands that took so long that instead of going back to North Little Rock with them, they both just stayed in Conway with us all day. Which ended up working out since we were double-booked for dinner appointments haha. So we made both appointments and got to introduce Elder Jennings to the Routts, an awesome member family in Conway. They had ordered my books "The Dreamers" and "Lies" so it was fun to hold copies of my books again.
That night, the NLR Elders crashed at our place. We all stayed up playing/watching ping pong on a tiny table. Elder Shelley, who crashed on the couch, snored way loud so that was entertaining.
The next day we drove them back home and went to meet the Office Elders for our 2nd exchange of the week. On the way, our car's mileage range kept dropping faster than a mile a minute. We got down to 13 miles left while on the highway, and it was dropping fast. After debating going all the way without filling up, we took an exit and filled up. Close one! We had lunch at David's Burgers, an Arkansas specialty. It's kind of like a more expensive, better tasting In n Out, very near and dear to Arkansas Little Rock Missionaries.
We met up with the Office Elders. Elder Stiles-Culver and I ran some errands. We dropped off furniture and mail to some missionaries in downtown Little Rock, and then... We DROVE TO MEMPHIS!
There, we met up with the Bartlett Elders, who were being fed by one of the folks Elder Evans taught and baptized! She got us milkshakes, and then we crashed at the Bartlett Apartment, which is the proud home of a pool table. I won the one round I played haha. That day, I had been in 6 different missionary apartments. They're each pretty funny, with their own personalities and quirks and messes. (See photos below).
The next morning, we had to get up at 4:45AM! Quickly got ready and to the church building in the big ole van and left with the missionaries we picked up there by 5:45. After a stop in West Memphis, Arkansas to pick up one other companionship, we drove BACK TO LITTLE ROCK with all the Zone Leaders going to the MLC meeting. Definitely slept a little bit on the 3 hour drive back. The fact that dinner last night and breakfast that morning consisted of Reese's Clusters, half a can of Mountain Dew, the rest of the can of flat Mountain Dew, and a milkshake didn't help.
MLC was good! Pres. Hansen shared the number of people who he believes are ready to be baptized in the first quarter of the year, and then challenged each of the zone leaders to pray to come up with a number of people within our zones to be baptized. We received the number 11! So in the next 3 months, we will have 11 baptisms in the Conway Zone/Zion!
After MLC, the APs (Assistants to the Mission President, just 1 companionship of 2 elders that help and lead the mission) had a meeting before we were going to split up for our 3rd exchange in a row/of the week, so we got to our dinner appointment super late. Thankfully they were patient with us and we were able to give them a heads up.
This was probably my favorite exchange of the week. Elder Parks and I were in Conway, while Elder Evans and Wall were in downtown Little Rock. I learned a lot from Elder Parks, he is awesome!l
We started the day of the exchange off joining the Conway 2 Elders for their weekly planning session. After that, we went to the David's Burgers in Conway, thus marking my unofficial missionary rite of passage in having David's twice in one week haha.
Elder Parks and I baked some cookies for members of the ward, and then went to contact some folks and do some door knocking before delivering them. While we were knocking doors, a woman peeked through the window at us and then called for her husband. He opened the door and warmly invited us in. Super nice, cool looking guy. Somewhere along the way, a switch flipped, and he spent the next hour arguing with us.
But! This was no ordinary bible bash. The guy let us have our turn to talk, and we decided to mostly just ask him questions to make him realize what he was doing and to recognize that there are just so many different ways to interpret the Bible that the Book of Mormon is necessary to help us know the gospel perfectly! The guy still tried to kinda belittle us and save our souls and whatnot, but in the end, our testimonies were strengthened, and he said he would try reading the Book of Mormon. So we'll see! Usually in such situations, we just try to bear testimony and move on, but Elder Parks said something was holding him back from doing that, so I hope things can work out well!
When we went into his house, it was light outside, and when we came out, it was dark. We were able to deliver one batch of cookies, and that was fun! Before we made it back home, we got a call from the bishopric asking us to stand in for someone who got sick and speak in church in 2 days.
We exchanged back that night, and I slept very well. 3 exchanges in a row will take it out of ya! But it was fun and I learned and laughed lots and lots!
When Sunday rolled around, there were about 5 cars in the parking lot, which was also about how many degrees it was outside. I was starting to think they had canceled church without letting us know, but come 3 minutes before 9AM, people started coming!
Don't tell anyone, but I actually just recycled/adapted the last talk I gave. What was cool, though, was that both of the talks before mine went perfectly with it. (On courageously standing up for and sharing our beliefs) How cool is that?
After church, we visited with an 83 year old member of the ward who kinda reminded me of my Grandpa Wrigley. He was very talkative and funny and every force of nature from the winds, snow, bushes, trees, and Canadian geese, was a "mystery" to him. Every time we tried to walk back to our car in the cold, he'd be like "Oh, and lemme tell you something else!" By the end of it, Elder Evans and I were in tears laughing at this sly guy. "You need to know this!"
That night, we had dinner with our "investigator," Steve. He's had the lessons and read the Book of Mormon several times. He had been in prison for the last 20 years. While there, he turned to the Bible and came up with some of his "own" theories. Then a nurse gave him a Book of Mormon, and it supported all of his theories! He started teaching out of it to his cell mates. And now he is ready to be baptized, he just needs a permission letter from the 1st Presidency. (His letter has been in the mail since early October, so... hopefully it comes soon!)
Anyway, we were having dinner with him over at another member family's house. After dinner, we went up into their decked out attic-turned-movie theater and watched "How Rare a Possession," which tells the story of this Italian guy who found a Book of Mormon without a cover or title page, and at
after preaching out of it without knowing where it came from, only that it was true. He was fired from the ministry, discovered the church, but missionaries weren't able to find and baptize him until he had fought in 2 different wars, including WW1. Pretty cool story, though!
After the movie, Steve was like, "Lake Conway is right there, man. You have the authority, let's baptize me right now!" We were like "yeah!!" and then he shut us down, saying "nah, we don't have permission yet," which was pretty funny. Cool to see how well Steve could relate to Vicenzo.
And now it is 2018! And today is our P Day!
The Routt's invited us over today for a New Years party. So Elders Evans, Lee, Clayton, and I arrived and we quickly discovered that the sisters had received the same invitation from the Routt's, and that they had decided to make it their "Sister P Day." So... there were us 4 elders crashing the 12-sister P day haha. My books were still laying around, so that was a conversation topic for a while. I'm not super vocal about the fact that I have written 3 books, so it was pretty funny seeing people be like "What?! You wrote these??"
So anyway. It's been a crazy crazy week. Lots of exchanges, 6 new missionary apartment visits, a drive to Memphis and back, being an office elder for a day, and other laughs.
Here's to a fantastic, incredible, faith-promoting, successful 2018!
One year closer to the 2nd Coming. :)
Love you all! Happy New Year!
I like emails, so...
My 20th Birthday is on January 10th so...*
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. 1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
*and I'm freaking out about it a little bit.
Merry Christmas, y'all! Hope your day and season has been splendid and that you have been able to feel the joy of Christ's birth. He gives me hope!
This has been one of the more fun weeks of my mission, and somehow being on bikes was a part of that!
By way of explanation, our car had been dented pretty good before I got to Conway, and our appointment at the collision repair place was from the 18th through the 22nd. So, for those few days, we were on bikes!
Additional background information: on transfer day, I left my bike in the mission office because we were hosting 2 other missionaries for the next few days and there wasn't room in the car to bring it. When we dropped them off later in the week, I forgot to grab it. Well... it had been given away to another missionary. Thankfully, I was able to get it back after one of the many meetings we had last week. When I braced myself for the cold misery that is riding a bike in the Arkansas winter, I quickly realized that my bike seat had been adjusted a little higher, and that something was up with my gears. (It won't go into the 3rd gear on the left handlebar? Idk if that's the right terminology or whatever). Which, at first was very annoying. And then it became very humbling, because... Biking had become easy. Either this week was a miracle and angels were peddling for me, or... I just needed to raise the seat of my bike a little bit.
Whatever it is! Biking without my legs dying made it a lot more enjoyable! We started out pretty close to our apartment, just knocking doors. Didn't really find anyone interested, but it's like that sometimes. (Read: a lot of the time.)
One of our investigators texted us out of the blue asking how we were doing. How cool! We had a brief, nice conversation about our day so far, and then they asked if they could borrow $200 and pay us back haha. Sooo that was fun. And then the investigator in that neighborhood we were waiting to see canceled our appointment.
After that exchange, the overcast sky gave way to sprinkling rain. It didn't stop until like 8:00 that night. It was just sprinkling most of the day, but there were some times when it was pouring.
While we were close to the apartment, Elder Evans and I biked back. He changed his shoes, cause the ones he wore that morning were soaked through and went from a tan color to a wet cardboard color haha. We put our clothes in the dryer and tried again!
This time we went across town, and it was raining pretty good. The sidewalks were covered in puddles, and there was just no way to avoid getting completely soaked. The spinning tires of the bike are always misting your front and back, and puddle splashes get your legs pretty good. But the good thing about being soaked, is once you're soaked, you can't really get any MORE soaked. :)
We locked up our bikes and walked into a trailer park. I guess the sister missionaries aren't supposed to be there at night or on bikes. But as we were walking, a member driving by with the sisters in her car passed us. They had a lesson with someone in there, too haha.
Ours was with a less active member who has been coming to church more regularly lately. He's a sharply dressed older black gentleman, who is renting out a single room of the double wide. He had had some questions about life after death following a lesson in sundsy school. We gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and started to teach him, but before long he had effectively told us to be quiet and he just mumble-read the pamphlet to himself while Elder Evans and I looked around at his room and at each other. He would ask a question about a word here and there, and would nod along every once in a while. I guess that's what they call "teaching by the spirit"? We didn't have to do much, but he thanked us and was happy about it all making sense now! It was a pretty cool experience, even if it was a little weird haha.
We biked back across town and it was dark, now. We try to stay on he sidewalks, because I don't trust drivers, and my bike is the only one with lights right now. But man, the sidewalks are just awful haha. Tree roots have busted a bunch of them, and there often aren't "dips" to get onto and off of the road from the sidewalk. So pretty often you'll have to hard fall on the road or brake and lift the bike onto the sidewalk again haha. So while we were doing this and bumping along, it was dark and raining, and thankfully not too cold. But it was actually pretty fun. Like mountain biking almost!
We met some members at Stoby's, a Conway specialty restaurant, that I wasn't terribly impressed with. But from there, the member drove us out of town a bit and joined us for a lesson with that guy who wants to go to the Temple! (He came to church this week, yay! Such a cool guy!)
Sometime during that lesson, it stopped raining. But our bikes were back at Stoby's. So the member dropped us off back there and then we biked home at like 8:30 from Stoby's.
And that's just Tuesday!
Wednesday was our mission Christmas party, which was pretty fun! We got there early and helped set up, and move all the presents from missionaries' parents to the gym from the mission office. It was like Santa's workshop in there! We spent the morning playing games and doing a white elephant gift exchange. Then in the afternoon, we watched the movie The Testaments, which (though pretty cheesy) was also really good.
People before Christ had to have the faith to look forward to His coming. They had to hope that the Savior would come to allow them forgiveness for their sins. (Mosiah 3:13) Now, we know he has come! We get to live knowing that the atonement has been performed for us. We just have to have the faith to use it.
After that, we had a testimony meeting that was supposed to be 35 mins long, but went for an hour and half. President was going to instruct, but he had to save it for another time, which was kind of too bad. But the testimony meeting was good, too.
President shared the exciting news that we will be having an entire mission conference in late January, because... (dun dun dun dunnn!) one of the apostles will be visiting! We don't know who yet, but I'm excited. That's a sweet Christmas present.
After the party, we hurried back to Conway for dinner at Don Pepe's (kinda like a hole in the wall chipotle) with some members. The mother is from Peru I think, and her mother is Italian (and doesn't know a lot of English). She has an 8 year old son, and the dynamic between those three is pretty funny. The son was snitching on his grandma for driving 80mph to get to Wal-Mart, and his mom wouldn't believe him. Then the grandma admitted to it, and the son said something about her being old, to which she responded in spanish: "your pants are old!" Elder Evans and I lost it haha.
And, since we were dropped off to dinner, we walked the 4.4 miles back to our apartment from Don Pepe's. We ended up getting home right at curfew haha. Thankfully, it was actually gorgeous outside! Like high 50s, low 60s, even at night. And no rain!
As we were walking back, a member texted us saying he was moving and he had a little keyboard that we could have if we wanted. He lived in our apartment complex so we stopped by and he let us take his piano keyboard, and sent us with groceries, too. There was a bottle of balsamic vinegar in there and that made me very happy. Merry Christmas from the Lord! He's definitely looking out for me.
The next day was a beautiful day to bike! Again like high 50s. It started out kinda cold, but we actually took off our sweaters later in the day. That night for dinner, the members made us gumbo. Homemade gumbo, and it was very yummalicious. Chicken, shrimp, and sausage in that yumminess.
And then it rained again! Thankfully, our car got finished earlier in the day than we were expecting. So after weekly planning, our ward mission leader drove us to the collision repair center and we got the car! Yay!
We had dinner w someone Elder Evans baptized last transfer, this cool Indian guy named Prashanth. We went to Tacos for Life, which (on top of being very good) was also playing the Idaho Potato Bowl game. I don't know much about football, and I don't remember who was even playing, but I can recognize that Boise Smurf turf anywhere! :)
That night, we picked up cookie dough from Wal-Mart to bake for Christmas eve caroling. I saw a cookies n cream flavored cookie dough, and thought we'd give it a try. We got other dough for everyone else. Well, it turns out Hershey's Cookies N Cream Cookie Dough is not very good. So that was a bummer. 2/10, would not recommend.
After that failed experiment, Elder Evans and I made a nativity puppet show /silly sketch with some puppets my mom sent me. It ended up being pretty dumb, but in the kind of way that is also kinda funny. I'll see if I can attach that somehow.
On Friday, we did a day exchange with the elders in the 2nd Ward. I was with Elder Clayton in their ward boundaries, biking around again cause they are a full-bike area. Got to visit with a few members there. We were going to have a dinner appointment a half hour drive away, but the member called and said he was bringing food to us instead. Which worked out, because literally just a minute or two later, the 2nd ward sister missionaries called and one of them needed a blessing cause she was feeling sick. But we needed a member with us to be able to be in their apartment. Thankfully, the member dropping off dinner was available, so within 10-15 minutes we were able to be there. She said her naseated feeling went away after the blessing. How cool that the Lord provided a way for us to very quickly be able to give her a blessing, when our original plans would have put us pretty far away. Things just seem to work out right in the mission field.
After exchanges, Elder Evans and I wrote a Jingle Bells "remish," or a missionary remix/parody to the tune of Jingle Bells. It ended up being... very awesome. I'll try to remember to include the lyrics at the bottom.
On Christmas Eve, both the 1st and 2nd wards combined for one sacrament meeting at 10:00. Afterwards, the other Elders in our area joined us to practice our "Remish." I played piano, knocked, and shouted "go away!" during the chorus. We went over to the Routts, a really great family here who hosted 5 companionships of missionaries in the Conway area. We had an awesome lunch and then went caroling in their neighborhood, played Bean Boozled (I gagged a few times) and laughed a lot. We got a bunch of Brother Routt shirts. (Shirts w/ Bro. Routt's face on them. Yup.)
After our dinner for the night, we went caroling again with most of the same missionaries as earlier. Not a lot of people were home though, haha. But the ones who were appreciated it!
I slept really well last night haha. Had a strange morning, opening presents in our apartment with Elder Evans. Went to the Routt's for breakfast which was fun again, but Elder Evans and I were the only missionaries this time. We got called out early, though, because the sisters locked their keys in the church building haha.
And now we are caught up to this moment! A few of us missionaries are chilling in the church. I've finally finished this long email.
Thanks for reading my emails, and thanks for the cards and notes! Those were probably my favorite presents! I hope you've had an awesome Christmas!
Love, rains, and candy canes!
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. #1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
This weekly email brought to you by:
Your tax dollars, which are going towards everything but fixing the sidewalks
The ghost of Christmas past
And readers like you, thank you!
Our irreverent nativity video:
1. Zone selfie!
2. The Conway Zone, woooo!!!
3. Merry Christmas!
4. My one grungy artsy photo for the week
5. That time when the pamphlet (and the spirit) taught the lesson
Jingle Bless "Remish" lyrics:
Biking in the rain,
Getting doors slammed in my face
Got called to Arkansas,
Where even is this place?
I left for two whole years
to preach the gospel from my mouth,
now I'm here bible-bashing
with a preacher in the south!
Ding-dong bells, Ding-dong bells,
Ding-dong (GO AWAY!)
Oh what fun it is to tract on this cold and dreary day, hey!
My companion goes home soon,
he's been acting a bit funky.
He keeps talking to the sisters
I think he's getting trunky!
Don't call us the JW's
We don't do polygamy
You might think we're a little weird
'cause we don't drink coffee or tea!
We're always together,
I wonder if they think we're gay
as we hit the streets
knocking all the way. [knock knock knock]
I wanted to go home,
but I'm so glad I tarried
I got a letter from my girl,
she says she's getting mar... [crestfallen silence]
Well hello again! Can you believe next week is Christmas? Because I can't believe next week is Christmas. But this isn't about next week. This is about last week.
Last week recap, here we go:
As a Zone Leader, I kinda figured there would be meetings. Even a lot of meetings. But this week had an unusually large amount of meetings, even for some of the veteran Zone Leaders. We had a Mission Leadership Council meeting (for ZLs and Sister Training Leaders) on Tuesday AND Friday, plus a Zone Conference (with everybody on the Arkansas side of the mission) on Thursday.
The 1st MLC, (the one on Tuesday) was in Memphis, actually. So we got up at like 5AM to get ready and drive to North Little Rock, where we then rode in a transport van the 2.5-3hr drive to Memphis. Man, I can't get away from that place. (Which is OK with me because I kinda like Memphis!) On the drive there, I lucked out with a bucket seat, but the luck wore off on the drive home. I got sandwiched w/ 3 other elders in the back seat, and somehow my arms were sore by the end of it haha. But the meeting was awesome. We talked about finding through Family History, and there was a lot of emphasis on teaching by the spirit, and receiving revelation. During a "real play" (a role play, but... for real) they had us pray about a specific investigator and what we could do to help them. We all kneeled on the ground in the church room, and then went on to plan. It wasn't til President Hansen pointed it out that I realized how awesome that was. Like yeah, we got some good ideas for how to help one of our investigators, but... that was a room full of kids learning to receive revelation from God. What an awesome skill to have, that not a lot of people are seeking to develop. God wants to talk to us, and help us fulfill His work, we just have to get good at asking and listening!
Anyway! All these meetings were about exciting stuff! Plus, on top of being one of the 12 pilot missions with smart phones at the moment, the church will also be testing a new referral system on us. They'll be putting out a lot of ads on Google and specific search results (like "What is the purpose of life? How can I know God? etc., within our mission's zip codes) so that when people click on them, they can begin being taught by missionaries in a visitor center somewhere. After they have been taught for a little bit, they will then be referred to us in the field, as investigators who already have some background info and interest! It's supposed to multiply our current number of referrals by 3-5x, and add 100 baptisms to the mission next year. So... we are on board! :)
On Wednesday, most of our Zone got together and we blitzed our area for the sister missionaries serving with us. They've been struggling to find people the past few transfers, and by the end of an hour, we had 5 new potential investigators for them! It was pretty fun. We got a lot of rejections in that hour, and even a frustrating argument with one guy, but the last door we knocked on (and isn't it always the last door?) a nice lady warmly accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and a return visit! Yay!
That evening, we met with a less active member who wants to become more active and be able to attend the temple! What an awesome goal! It's so awesome seeing people want to change and grow closer to God. It's refreshing after so many people express their contentment and disinterest.
Then came Thursday! We had our Zone Conference and that was fun. I'm used to going to the Memphis-Side ones, so there were a lot of unfamiliar faces. But also a few familiar faces! It was good to see some people who had been transferred over to Arkansas before I had been again! The focus for this Zone Conference was teaching skills, and especially teaching to needs. This idea was reinforced in the 2nd MLC the next day. We have these 5 lessons that we kinda like to jump into teaching as soon as we can. But some great advice we received from Bro. Donaldson, who works for the church's missionary team, was to abandon the structured lessons and just connect with people and teach what comes up, when it is relevant, and when prompted by the spirit. It is definitely a challenging mindset change. But we got plenty of time to practice that during the rest of the week!
After that MLC and some fun discussions w/ Bro. Donaldson, Elder Evans and I had interviews with President Hansen. (These happen once a transfer just so he can check up on us and give us advice, etc.) President Hansen is so awesome!
We got back to Conway and used a BOGO Free coupon at this make-your-own-pizza place that was pretty good. Then we went to deliver a Bible to a Bible referral and ended up chatting with that guy for like an hour. Interesting fella. He knew his Bible really well, and actually started quoting a bunch of scriptures that WE usually use in our lessons! We resisted our impulses to just jump into teaching, and we let him do most of the talking. It was really weird! But it ended up being awesome. He said we could come back, and now we know exactly what we will share next time!
On Saturday, we got to practice our listening skills on some more talkative people haha! We chatted with this one guy on his porch for a solid 45 minutes. He talked about how he was losing hope in God after his attempts to "make it big" in Basketball. So he joined some ministry thing and gave his time to God, and things turned around! Through that ministry, he was drafted and he showed us a few newspapers with him on the front page. Cool how that works.
That afternoon, we went to visit a potential investigator, planning to spend about thirty minutes there. 30 mins turned into 2 hours. Really, just of us playing psychiatrist for the guy. He's going through a lot, and you would never be able to tell meeting with him. As we listened without really interrupting, or jumping into teaching, the perfect opportunity to introduce the Book of Mormon arrived. He told us that he hoped he could say that in a few months, this changed his life. (We are hoping so, too!)
From there we arrived late to an Elders Quorum activity, but that was ok cause there were like 8 people there. (And it was supposed to be a joint ward thing!) They were watching Star Wars and having pizza, but it looked like most everyone took the pizza and dipped. When we went in to grab some pizza, one of the guys said that his mom's mission president let her go to the theaters and watch Star Wars when it came out, because of the "lessons on Good vs. Evil," etc. So... we stayed and watched it, too. KIDDING! We did what everyone else did: grab pizza and dip. We microwaved it in the kitchen and just chatted in there for a while before going to try visiting some other folks.
Then it was Sunday again already! Church was good, and we got home and warmed up leftover Little Caesars again for lunch. Walked around a cool part of town that reminded me a little bit of Boise's North End, and got to chatting with this cool hipstery guy writing a book on Masculinity haha. Cool dude.
We then drove downtown and met our whole zone at this festive little square there with a giant Christmas tree and a ferris wheel! The plan was to go caroling, but there were about 3 people there for most of that time. So we went to Walmart and caroled outside the doors. It was pretty fun, and I needed (and I think maybe improved from!) the singing practice, but I dunno how good we sounded hahaha. During "Angels We Have Heard on High" in the "gloooooooooria" part, it just sounded like a bunch of us moaning hahaha. Thankfully the sisters helped. :)
As we were singing, a few of us noticed this guy who walked out doing sign language. We pointed it out to two of the ASL sister missionaries and they ran after him! They brought him back and signed "Silent Night" for him and they talked for a good while! It's pretty cool to watch. I was proud of our Zone. A few people took photos/videos of us caroling and all, but that was the highlight for me. This deaf guy being able to "hear" us caroling thanks to some awesome sister missionaries! (2 Nephi 27:29-30)
So yeah, our Zone is pretty awesome. We've got a pretty stellar group of missionaries.
And now it's today! I got a haircut from some members in the other ward. I guess they have a relative that works for Mars, so they had some experimental/unreleased candy there. (Including espresso m&ms and snickers, and "Sweet Heat" skittles & starbursts.) I only got around to trying the Sweet Heat skittles and those were weird. But... I have to admit they were also kinda good.
Elder Bingham called this morning, too! Sounds like things in Collierville are still kinda slow, but they've had some awesome stuff, happen! I'm proud of those guys. Sweet is the work!
Next week is Christmas, whaaa?!!?
Love you all!! Thanks so much for reading these and for all your support and stuff. It means a lot! Merry Christmas! Talk to y'all on the 25th!
It's been a week of change! Conway, Arkansas is a different place than Collierville, that's for sure. I miss a lot about Collierville, but... We actually taught people this week!
Conway: With a population of nearly 60,000 people, this central Arkansas town is known as the "City of Colleges," the largest of which being University of Central Arkansas.
There are 4 sets of missionaries here, 2 over each of the 2 wards. I'm in the Conway 1st Ward, after coming from the Collierville 1st Ward. "Co.1"
Elder Evans and I have been having some good times. There have been several doors where we have had to take a deep breath and wipe tears from our eyes before knocking. (Only cause we were laughing so hard, don't worry!)
But before it was just Elder Evans and I, we were in a quadpanionship again. Elders Webb and Hall stayed with us Monday through Thursday morning, in our kinda small apartment with one bathroom. Using all four stovetops at once got a little crazy, too.
Our first night, we followed the Light the World initiative's service idea to love our neighbors. We baked cookies and delivered them to our neighbors in the apartment building. We knocked on 4 doors. One wasn't home, but all 3 of the others welcomed all four of us in and we were able to share the video with them and come to feel like friends.
That same night we chatted for a while and shared lesson 1 with a guy on his doorstep. Apparently he had had Pres. Eyring as a professor back in the day. The guy wasn't a member, but he told us when he heard the news that Pres. Eyring had been selected an apostle, he was like, "they couldn't have picked a better guy." Cool stuff.
Thankfully, it wasn't always the four of us, we split into pairs quite a bit and tracted a lot, and found some cool people. One night, we went downtown and street contacted people by the big christmas tree and ferris wheel they have set up. That was pretty fun, and we got to show the Light the World video with a bunch of people again.
We also visited a lady that one of the visiting missionaries had taught in a previous area. She and her 6 kids (from a few different fathers, 2 of which got out of prison recently) were a handful, and their trailer had low ceilings originally built for a guy with a wheelchair. It was a big change from Collierville, for sure. But even with the flies buzzing and dogs barking, it was really fun. The kids gave us hugs and welcomed us right in.
We had a few teaching appointments this week, and just wow! Open minded, friendly people, who hear us out! It feels like a totally different mission over here. I did get like really yelled at for the first time, too, but if one of those every so often is the price to pay to get more people to teach, I'll take it!
We also got to go blitz with 3 other areas this week. One of the fun perks of zone leadership. So I got to go knock some doors in the Conway 2nd area, North Little Rock, and in Choctaw. (Where we had the best dang chili I've ever had, out of this member's shady looking BBQ truck called "Mo' Betah" ["more better" for those of you who need the translation) We also chatted for s good 20 minutes with this guy who had gotten a free Book of Mormon years ago at a flea market. He wasn't interested, but he was nice, and a pretty funny guy. He's a 6th generation Arkansasan. Arkansasian?
On Sunday, we got roped into being a part of the like 12 member choir in sacrament meeting. I think my singing has actually improved a bit since the start of my mission. (Which, granted, does not mean very much at all.)
And then today we went bowling as a zone and that was a lot of fun. I love my zone! We've got a dream team line up, and are gonna tear things up and give people some heaven this transfer. Viva la Conway Zone!
This next week, we have a bunch of meetings lined up! Which I'm actually kinda excited for. Another ZL perk.
This week's email is a little short, but I hope it conveys how much I'm loving Conway so far! Good stuff is happening, better stuff is coming!
Sending love to ma from Arkansas
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. 1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
This email brought to you by:
Elvis's rendition of "How Great Thou Art," aka my new mission theme song
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Well, well, well. After almost 6 months in Collierville, I've come to my last week! It was a good way to finish my time here. I'll miss the people a lot, but I'm also really excited to give the people of Arkansas some heaven.
But first, last week.
We had an AWESOME last P Day in Memphis. We went to Sun Studios and Central BBQ. So a good day "Walkin' in Memphis." Sun Studio is where Elvis first recorded and has hosted and recorded other artists like BB King, Johnny Cash, Def Leppard, U2, Maroon 5, Ringo Starr... It was pretty cool. World changing stuff happened in that little room. They also had a microphone in there donated by one of the bigger artists that recorded there. Apparently it's the same one that all those OG Artists would've used. So... had to get a picture with that.
Apparently it took Elvis trying and trying to get the owner to agree to record him again, so there was a good lesson on persistence mixed in there with the good ole rock n roll that was in my head all week, too. "Rocket 88," man.
The next day, we unburied a big box from my closet full of Christmas stuff from past missionaries and decked the halls of our apartment with lights, wreaths, and like 4 mini Christmas trees. Making things festive up in there.
We then walked a few miles into the downtown for the Christmas tree lighting that was happening that evening. On the way, some members passed us and returned with burgers and fries from Sonic. Whaa? We're so spoiled here.
The Christmas Tree Lighting was good! We handed out a bunch of Light the World cards there and it started to sink in that it was Christmas time! That is, until the rest of the week was in the 60s degrees. It's been so gorgeous outside. I've barely even needed my jacket.
Friday was a definite highlight for the week. We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Robbins in the morning, who is a President of one of the Quorums of the Seventy. (In other words, a pretty big wig haha) He talked a lot about different principles that apply in and outside of missionary work and the gospel. Things like accountability, goal setting, and handling relationships with love and high expectations.
Afterwards, we got back to Collierville in time for the Collierville Christmas Parade, which was an amazing way to end my time in C-Ville. The wards had 2 floats in it: the JustServe.org one, and another for #LightTheWorld. As per parade rules, we weren't allowed to pass out cards or anything during the parade. (Not even candy, can you believe that?) BUT they didn't say anything ahout before the float. So while we were waiting to move and while other people were trying to find spots, we handed out a LOT of cards. Planting seeds.
It seemed like the whole town showed up for this parade, there were so many people. I felt more strongly than usual how much each of those people needed the gospel, and I wanted to just teach them all! But I'll leave that up to Elder Bingham and Elder Barney. :)
The next day, we were able to help the Gaars out at their new house, and tried a BBQ place I hadn't been to before. We found out the reason I hadn't been there until this right time, too. The owner was there, and when he saw my Book of Mormon on the table, he told us he had read it and the Pearl of Great Price before. Whoa! Hopefully seeing us made him think back on some of the things he had read. Planting seeds again!
Most of the rest of the day was spent making tamales with Bro. Boggs. From scratch. I had no idea it would be such a long process. But we did it, and they even tasted really good!
The Blender Blunder: in which I was removing blended peppers from a blender and went to twist/unhook the blender jar from the blender device, and instead removed the entire jar from the blender and spilled pepper sauce like a volcano eruption all over the blender. This incident was made more embarrassing by the fact that I didn't need to unlatch the jar at all, all I had to do was just pick it straight up. Thankfully, Bro. Boggs was able to find the humor in this, and didn't even tell the sister missionaries when they joined us for dinner haha. Adulting is still hard sometimes. Elder Dahl: 0, Blender: 1
Yesterday was Fast Sunday, and it was really good. Lots of awesome testimonies shared from some of my new favorite people in the world. Wendy, our like 1 and only investigator, went up and shared a beautiful testimony, almost 3 months to the day after the day she first called us. It's been so awesome to have a kind of front row seat to her progression. She's awesome! I'll miss the Collierville area and the people in it a lot!
After church, we said goodbye to a few more people. Bro. Jacobs, who just got back from a trip to China, brought Elder Bingham and I gifts back from his time there! I got a porcelain pen and a cool bookmark. There were some hard goodbyes, but I know somehow, someday, I'll make sure to see everyone again! Ideally in October for Wendy's baptism. :)
Well. I'm writing this email in the small backseat of the pickup truck hauling everybody's stuff from Memphis to Little Rock. I'm getting transferred to Conway, Arkansas, and I'll be the Jr. Companion Zone Leader there after 6 months in one area. Yikes. I'm super duper stoked out of my mind, though. My new companion is Elder Evans, who I served with in Conway as a part of that quadpanionship I was in for like 2 days a few months ago. We are gonna tear it up and have so much fun.
I'm excited to meet more of my future favorite people in the world! Arkansas here I come!!
Love, peace, and chicken grease!
SAME email address:
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. 1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
This week's been a doozy. I think I've eaten more meat in the past week than any other week in my life, with the possible exception of the Buffalo Wild Wings incident. The work has been slow, but it's been a good week regardless. Seriously so much fun. I'm just gonna shoot stories your way, so brace yourself.
On Monday after our "walking to Arkansas" experience, we had a wonderful dinner and then went grocery shopping with Bro. Boggs again. Afterward, he handed each of us a pair of pants and a shirt from Nike. He works for a company that Nike Golf hires for logistics, and they'd had an employee giveaway that day. So I'm now the proud owner of some mission-wide coveted Nike Golf Pants - the coziest, most perfect dress pants you can dream up. Plus a cool Nike polo made for golfers who are sponsored by Nike haha. I'm worried about how I'll be able to pack everything up again when I am transferred!
On Tuesday, we had our last district meeting of the transfer. We held a missionary funeral for Elder Wilson, who is going home next week, and then us Collierville missionaries worked the rest of the afternoon on making a JustServe parade float, which was pretty fun. (JustServe.org is a website sponsored by the church that brings volunteers and service needs together! If you're looking for service hours, or just a time to serve in the community, check it out!)
We had dinner at Corky's that night, a BBQ place in town with amazing rolls and pretty dang good muddy ribs.
I was feeling the rolls pretty well the next day. It was the coldest day so far by a long shot. I had gloves and a coat on and was still shivering knocking doors. But biking was the worst cause you still start sweating when you're wearing all of that. We biked down a fairly lengthy, hilly road and I was about an inch away from just walking my bike instead. Biking is not my thang.
Fortunately, the thought of thanksgiving the next day kept me going, and the fact that we were getting haircuts that night helped, too. I was in need of one pretty bad haha. I feel lighter now!
Alrighty, and then it was Thanksgiving. It was one to remember for sure. I had such an awesome time. The Whitakers took us to a buffet, but not just any buffet... a fancy shmancy buffet at the swanky Peabody Hotel. We were dropped off near the valet parking lot and watched people going in and out for a while. A guy walked up to us and was about to ask us how he got his car back when he squinted at our nametags. "Oh, wrong guys," he said. We laughed and agreed. As he walked away, he joked, "You're who I'd call to fetch my bicycle!" and left Elder Bingham and I to crack up over it haha.
Inside, we were brought to a table with the Whitakers and some of their family, and then we were pretty much let loose to serve ourselves, different stations of food lining the whole hallway around the second floor. A section for meats, a section for potatoes, for seafood, for bread, for cheese, and most importantly, a whole wall full of desserts.
So, long story short, we stuffed ourselves. I tried caviar for the first (and likely last) time. Their prime rib was dang good. But the highlight was the dessert bar. Fried apple pie with eggnog ice cream, brownies, chocolated nuts... the works. After dessert, Bro. Whitaker & Elder Bingham both went back for another slice of prime rib and mashed potatoes. What. I had no room for that haha.
After dinner, we went to the roof of the hotel and admired the view up there, and then rode the elevator down to the lobby to watch the Memphis-famous Peabody ducks walk from their fountain in the lobby up to the elevator back up to their home on the roof. On the elevator ride down, a random guy joined the 12 of us of the Whitaker party. Bro. Whitaker made the goofiest fart noise with his mouth and made the guy just turn purple laughing. The rest of us were having a fit, too. They really felt the most like family right then and there haha.
We watched the ducks, and that was pretty fun haha. While I was waiting, Sister Whitaker tapped my shoulder and handed me a bag with a shirt from the gift shop. Man, they treat us too well.
We got back home from there, and then after all that excitement, we went to our 2nd thanksgiving stop! We went to the Jacobs, and enjoyed the tastiest berry waffles ever. It was a much needed, lighter end to thanksgiving!
[I'm sure you're wondering where the whole dead opposum thing comes in. Thankfully, that little feller didn't make an appearance on Thanksgiving, but I'll get to it soon enough.]
The next day we did sneak away in the morning to go do some Black Friday shopping. Really, we just did some service and helped fit a ladder and a table saw into a Toyota Carolla, and we happened to stop by Academy, and I happened to get a much needed light, layerable puffer jacket for tracting in for $30 instead of $50! It's the little things. We stopped at Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, and still got home in time to finish studies and weekly planning before the zone leaders arrived to help us out for the day.
We helped Brother Boggs again by putting up this cool greenhouse thing for his citrus plants in his garage, and then he fed us a tasty lunch of homemade chicken pot pie. Dadgum. Really yummy stuff.
With the Zone Leaders, we went to the mall. (Not to shop, though, but to hand out the new #LightTheWorld cards.) It was hopping, and we gave a bunch of cards out! What an awesome thing to be spreading the word about! Go check out www.mormon.org right now and see how you can spread the light of Christ to people around you in 25 different ways over 25 days, Dec. 1st through 25th!
Elder Bingham spoke in church on Sunday and did a pretty good job. Then one of the most crazy hours of the week happened.
We stopped by Bro. Boggs house after church (can you tell we really like this guy?) and as I was about to knock on the door, Elder Bingham points at something in his yard. I turn to look at it, and there it is... The dead possum.
Brother Boggs opened the door. "Um... there's a dead cat in your yard," we joked. Soon enough, he had a shovel and I was holding open a garbage bag. I didn't think I'd be that disgusted by it, but I was hahaha. Possums play dead all the time, right? The whole time I was looking at this ugly, cat-sized thing with its little exposed teeth and grabby hands and stubby, scaly tail, thinking "Oh man if this thing so much as twitches I'm outta here and freaking out."
Fortunately for everyone involved*, it didn't twitch. I just had the pleasure of feeling something the weight of a soggy tomcat hit the bottom of the plastic bag I was holding open. Nasty.
(*everyone except the oppossum)
So anyway! I felt like I was actually serving in the south for once, ya know? Where picking up dead 'possums in your yard is as commonplace as fryin' okra, eatin' chicken, and Wednesday night Bible Studies. Hopefully I've got more of that to look forward to as I leave the little bubble of Collierville, Tennessee.
Oh, did I say leaving Collierville? That was the other thing that made this hour one of the most crazy of the week. Right as I sat down to some Cajun dirty rice for lunch, Pres. Hansen called and informed me of some changes taking place next week. Ooh boy. There's some change a-comin'.
So with that in mind, probably wait to send me stuff until I have my new address. Transfers don't actually happen until next week, but I should be able to get the new address by Monday. Exciting stuff!
Today was a fun P Day! I'll save it for next week, though, since today's email is already pretty long. Suffice it to say, though, today was my 2nd time this week having about a half rack of ribs, and neither of those occasions happened on Thanksgiving. However, Thanksgiving did include such meats as salmon, shrimp, sushi, caviar, turkey, ham, and prime rib. I've come to realize that meat is the bread of Memphis. There's so much meat.
Well that's that! A memorable and fun Thanksgiving week here in Collierville, Tennessee. Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings, ate a superfluous amount of food, and realized just how hard it is to count all your blessings. Keep lighting the world!
Hello hello hello! The sun is shining in Memphis, and the air is cold. It's been a good week, even if I was in a different state than my companion for a short time. Oops. But I will talk about that later.
Last p day was kinda boring, but we got to actually leave our apartment and see other missionaries, so that was nice! The highlights of last P Day were undoubtedly:
1. A very nice Chik-Fil-a that had a mouthwash dispenser with cups in their bathroom. Yup.
2. Getting massaged. By a car. Let's just say I wouldn't mind having a Mercedes-Benz.
After P Day ended last week, we got a text from the Assistants to the President saying they were in the area and needed a place to crash. So we cleaned up our apartment a little extra and hosted them for the night, which was a lot of fun. It was nice having other missionaries to joke around with for a bit, and to receive advice from in planning the next morning.
I guess I'll jump right into probably the highlight of my week, which was going teaching with President Hansen, our mission president. We were able to set up an appointment for while he was here, and it was really good! As far as I knew, he had alotted himself an hour or so for the lesson. It went for almost 3 hours... But it was super neat to see how he jumped around, followed the spirit, and showed love and support. Sister Hansen came, too, and there was a member there as well. I've been in Sunday school classes with fewer people! But it was really cool. Sister Hansen may have stepped on the member's dog, though hahaha.
After the good, long lesson, we had Pres. Hansen drop us off in a neighborhood to contact people we'd met before and try finding some new people. As he drove off, he shouted "Hurrah for Israel!" and we kinda rolled our eyes after he'd driven off, but having a great lesson in for the day, and the mission President encouraging you on was a pretty good morale boost. President Hansen is awesome.
The next day in Zone Conference, President referenced our lesson together, and how as he and Sister Hansen saw us knocking doors right after being dropped off, they started tearing up, and feeling proud of us for not just going back home and kicking our feet up. Even though not a single person heard us out the rest of the day, the good lesson from the morning, and this awesome kind of validation made the rest of the week.
And then it kept going!
Right after zone conference, we had a second teaching appointment for the week with our Bible Referral we met last week. Super cool guy. We invited him to be baptized, but he wasn't quite ready for that. But it didn't scare him away, either!
A member had dropped us off at his house, which is at the very top of our long, narrow area. After we got out of the lesson, it was dark already, and the member who was picking us up was still a good 15-20 minutes out. So, rather than hanging out in front of this guy's house, (and because we both needed to pee really bad) we made our way to a gas station around the corner from him. That was an adventure.
One of the neighbors around this guy has a gorgeous husky dog that followed us for a while as we walked on the narrow, muddy shoulder of this windy, busy, 2 lane road. It was dark and cloudy, cars were whizzing by, we had this wolf-like dog walking by us, we're all still dressed up in suits from Zone Conference... It was a cool moment haha.
Now, this gas station, on the other hand, was interesting. The bathroom was... functional. They had a little BBQ place inside, but everything was under a heat lamp counter. Nothing says "fresh" like a salad bar with marijuana grow lights on it to keep those turkey legs warm. They had this brand of chips with Rappers featured on the bags, so that was cool.
After dinner that night, we played pool for a while with the family that had us over, rather than going back to our apartment early. Somehow, I beat Elder Bingham 2/3, and then 3/5 games, but it was really close. Then we were on a team and got smoked by Bro. Mortensen and his daughter haha.
The next morning, we went to fulfill a third (!?!?!) Teaching appointment, but our luck ran out and the guy wasn't home. That was after biking 4 miles to get to his house. We tried a few more people in his neighborhood that we had met but nobody was home. Oh well.
Elder Bingham was asked to speak in church next week, so we spent a good chunk of time inside during the latter half of the week for him to stay in and work on that. I was very very tempted to just nap while he was working on it, but I used the extra hours as additional study time. It was actually awesome. I'm learning more and more how everything in the scriptures are connected and are a part of one singular message. "Jesus is our Savior, and we are to be like him. Here's how." And then the smaller details that are a part of that are cool, too.
For instance, I learned this week that the Sabbath Day isn't just to commemorate the 7th day of the creation, but also to commemorate the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian Bondage. (Maybe everybody but me knew this, idk, this was new to me!) In that sense, then, the Sabbath is also a way to celebrate deliverance from bondage and sin, thanks to the power of our Savior.
Anyway! My Gospel knowledge grew a lot this week.
We had one of those rare times when we didn't have a dinner appointment this week. So we went to Subway to try to make a further dent in to our $200 gift card there so kindly given to us by the Smiths. I go to get my Steak and Cheese sandwich, and it's looking real good, all crispy from being toasted, and the pepper jack cheese is all melty. "A few jalapenos," I say, after adding some green pepper and other ingredients. In a flash, the lady behind the counter "repeats back" what I said and reaches for something that is NOT jalapenos. I turn my head to read the label on the bottle and realize with dread what it was she said back to me. Somehow she heard my request for "a few jalapenos" as "a lot of mayonnaise."
Now. The thing about that is... I don't like mayonnaise. And heck, even if I did, no human being who "likes" mayonnaise would ever want "a lot" of mayonnaise, the way this lady interpreted "a lot." Like... I'm talking almost the weight of the bread in mayo.
I didn't wanna say anything to make the lady feel bad, and figured I could just kinda scrape the mayo off, anyway. So I make it through half of this mayo-soggy footlong before just going back and ordering a mayo-less 6inch. There was no rescuing it, it was too far gone. Thankfully, we still have $139 on the card.
Remember that lady I wrote about having given a blessing to in a hospital a week or two ago? Well... she passed away peacefully like the next afternoon. I wrote the email sharing the experience after she had passed, and didn't even hear about her passing until a day or two after that! But the blessing she received was one of peace and comfort, not necessarily healing, so that was powerful.
We visited her husband again this week in the assisted living home not far from our apartment. The ward council encouraged us to go over there and read from the Book of Mormon with him. Trouble is, he is really hard of hearing. So we read 2 Nephi 31:20 with him, and talked about having a "perfect brightness of hope," when all the sudden he interrupted, "Well, it wasn't perfect. But it was pretty good" and then I realized that he hadn't really heard any of what we said. But we got him talking a little bit and then closed with a prayer. After we said "Amen," he still had his eyes closed and head bowed, so I shouted "Amen" like a Baptist preacher and he either woke up or heard me, and said "amen," too, hahaha. Awesome guy.
The Smith's took us out to dinner again at Longhorn Steakhouse. Man, they're too good to us. He got pulled over on the way to pick us up, and neither of them were feeling well, sadly. But not only did they let us get our steaks, but they actually ordered second steaks for both of us to take home as leftovers. What. Idk if there is such a thing as being "too blessed," but if that line exists, I may have crossed it.
In non-Mission related news, the Meridian Idaho Temple was dedicated this week! The morning of the youth cultural celebration I felt the spirit so strongly thinking about it! What a powerful force for good both the temple and all those youth participating in the celebration will be for the whole world! I miss Meridian a lot, and can't wait to see the temple completed myself! But I'm just so happy knowing so many people have gotten the opportunity already, and that it will be up and running this week!
Turns out, I'm not just related to the Dahls in this ward! Sister Olsen's Maiden name is Bingham, and can trace her geneology back to good ole Erastus Perry Bingham. And she and Elder Bingham both have family that owned some mine around Salt Lake. After using the "relatives around me" feature in the Family Tree app, Elder Bingham and I discovered we are 10th cousins, once removed. So there's that!
Oh, and I met a dog named Oliver! It barked at us all the way down the street!
Aaaand this email is a little later because Bishop Michaelis kindly invited us to go walk to Arkansas with him this morning. (Which doesn't sound as crazy when I inform you that we just walked over a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River from Memphis into Arkansas.) But it was cool! There is a point on the pedestrian bridge that marks the state line, so Elder Bingham and I got a picture together while standing in different states. (Shh, don't tell President Hansen! :)
After that, we went to a little brunch cafe that claims to be the oldest in Memphis. It was refinished in the 50s and so it looks like my kinda photography heaven, but I didn't get a lot of pictures because we were in an annex and there were a lot of people haha. But it was a fun spot. We had their specialty french toast, figuring we would see what makes it so special. I should've known. It was fried. (It was also really good, but in the way I imagine people inhaling crack cocaine probably thing cocaine is pretty good haha.) Not a nutritious breakfast, I just wanted to nap after that. Good thing it is P Day and that my weekly email is done, now! :)
Love, Peace, and... French Toast Grease?
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOM!
ALSO, HAPPY THANKSGIVING
If you have secrets to hide from the post office:
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866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
(I could be transferred on Dec. 4th so keep that in mind)
I forgot to mention last week that I had dinner with the Dahl Family! I forget the exact relation, but we are like 2nd or 3rd cousins, because Bro. Dahl's grandpa, and my Grandpa Dahl are cousins! It was kinda fun, and affirmation that Dahl's are cool wherever you go. (Also, their son Chase has been following me on Instagram since before I even knew I was coming to Arkansas/Tennessee! How cool is that?)
Is skimboarding against the rules as a missionary?
Whether it is or isn't, it might be a stretch to call what I did in the muddy, grassy stream that formed from falling rain in the back yard of our apartment complex on a skimboard I found by the dumpster a few months ago "skimboarding."
It was fun anyway.
That night the sky was glowing this crazy red/orange color. I thought for sure the world was ending right then and there, I've never seen anything like it.
Besides my failed skimboarding attempt about 10 yards from our door, going to the parking lot of our apartment complex to pick up dinner was about as far from our apartment as we had gotten all day on our p day thus far.
Dinner came in a box. A large box. With a whole sheet of enchiladas, another full of taquitos, another with rice, and another with refried beans. Plus a bag with a salad and a generous plate of cookies. I dunno if they realized we don't share our apartment with another set of missionaries haha. We even had the Elders from Holly Springs help us with the leftovers and we didn't finish them all! Good stuff.
Thankfully, at the end of our P Day, Brother Boggs came to the rescue. We got to leave our apartment and go to the exciting destination of Kohl's. I dont remember why we went there in the first place. Maybe to look at ties?
Elder Bingham found a pair of black work jeans and I found a pair of black jeans as well, since the ones I brought with me are now too skinny to fit me. And there was a BOGO 50% off pants deal, but even with that, the pants would've been more than 50$/each... A little out of my missionary budget.
Brother Boggs joked that if Elder Bingham could fit in my pair of pants, he would pay for them. Before I knew it, they'd shaken on it, and he was trying my pants on. To Bro. Boggs' surprise, (and maybe Elder Bingham's, too haha) he fit! Needless to say, we got some new jeans that night haha. And I thought he was joking.
And, as someone who before my mission practically lived in black skinny jeans, it's soooooo nice to have a pair that fits me again. Oh man. Seriously the best thing.
Had district meeting the next day, and I felt good about it. Like maybe I was called to be district leader for my own benefit. To help me feel important and contributing and making a difference. Because like, I know that I am, and I that I am in missionary work as well, but not seeing the fruits of that gets pretty disappointing sometimes. So being able to say that district meeting was good, is the kind of success that helps boost me up for the rest of the week. And I learn a lot from that group.
Wednesday was a definite highlight for the week! We had received this Bible Referral (meaning, he ordered a free Bible from mormon.org) like a month ago, who lives a pretty good distance away. The number we had didn't work, and he never responded to our email. We decided to help Bro. Gaar out with their new house they are remodeling kinda near where this guy lives, and then go try to meet him.
After a stop at this family owned gas station for a sketchy looking ham sandwich (that ended up being some of the best tasting ham I've ever had... I guess that's their specialty?) Bro. Gaar drove us to visit the bible referral in person. He is on dialysis 3x a week, and we happened to catch him on one of the days he was home! (A "happy coincidence" or sweet miracle in and of itself!)
Turns out this guy is super cool. He reminds me of one of my good friends from back home, and expressed a lot of opinions and desires that exactly fit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is super cool. We gave him a Book of Mormon, too, and he talked about his family, and the miracles he has seen in his life. He made sure we got his correct number, and then called us the next day to talk about how he thinks God put us in his life for a reason. Then he texted us the next day haha. We will see him again on Wednesday of this week!
We then helped out at the Gaar's new house for a bit, moving furniture, chucking moldy logs off their property, and testing out their cool rope swing. :)
That night we had Chinese takeout with the Whitakers for dinner, and my fortune cookie was kinda spooky. I've come to believe in the magic of fortune cookies while on my mission. Every one I've had has been pretty relevant. (For example: like the 2nd fortune cookie I got, early on in my mission said: "don't give up, the beginning is always the hardest." Spooky, huh??) Anyway, this fortune cookie said: "You constantly struggle for self improvement - and it shows."
At first I was a little salty, cause I was like "dang, I just got roasted by a fortune cookie," interpreting it as it shows to people that my endeavors to improve are clearly a struggle. But Bro. Whitaker helped me interpret it another way, that it is clear to others that I am trying to improve. I liked that interpretation better haha.
Self improvement has been a struggle. And still very much is. But it's not like we ever get to the point where we don't have to worry about self improvement anymore. And that won't ever be easy.
(Since we had just come from service, Sis. Whitaker complimented our new black jeans and normal outfit saying it looked like we just walked out of a J. Crew magazine haha. It was good to feel like myself again.)
Had another fun dinner appointment with a younger family in the ward, whose 3 year old daughter was really funny haha. She kept calling us "missioranies," [mish-oh-rain-ees] asked if we were husbands, and informed us that "red light means stop." Her dad was telling us he had let her make a character on one of his video games before, and she made a skull-faced robot with axes for arms that just murdered on that game. She named him "Mr. Dingles" and I was dying laughing haha.
We went over to Brother Boggs' house on one particularly slow afternoon and raked all the leaves in his back yard. I was reminded of the scripture that talks about how even if we spend our whole lives in God's service, we will still be unprofitable servants. There's no way our raking a few leaves--or even a lot of leaves--could "repay" him even just for our new pants on Monday, let alone the rides places, the fun p days, and the yummy meals. And then he just kept spoiling us after that. We can't repay that guy, the same way the Lord is always gonna bless us more than what we can ever work for.
A lady I've been teaching since I got here in Collierville almost 6 months ago dropped us, saying she just wants to keep going to her own church. Not a huge surprise, but definitely a bummer. I've grown a lot as a teacher since my first visit with her, and I have her to thank for a lot of that. But I kinda felt walking in there that it might be the last time I teach her. So its not wasted effort or time at all, it's just disappointing that it ends like this for us. Some other missionaries will get her eventually.
Biking back home that day was rough. The weather has been mostly gorgeous this week, like long sleeve shirt weather. But we were biking home kinda late, right at sunset. Sunset started when we left (shortly after meeting someone we later learned had killed somebody with a steak knife before!) And it was dark by the time we got back to our apartment. It gets dark fast here. It was cooling down, too, so my nose, ears, cheeks, and hands most of all, just froze while biking back. But I still got back hot and sweaty. It was such a painful feeling. And biking hasn't gotten much easier since starting, so I had one of my first real "what the heck am I doing with my life" moments on one of the slight inclines before getting back. My legs are burning, I'm sweating, but my hands are frozen, and we'd just gotten dropped by a long time investigator. Not a fun time, but the sentiment passed after having sat down for a good long time haha.
That night, Kohls was doing some kind of sale, and Brother Boggs had some newly acquired Kohls cash to spend. :) he called us and volunteered to buy us gloves or scarves since it's getting cold out, now. That definitely helped me know the Lord is looking out for me. He won't just make all of my pains disappear, but he will use some awesome people to help me out a bit. Those gloves are gonna save me from so much pain.
On Saturday, we helped a young couple move, and I got to be a speed bump while they moved an old upright piano down the stairs. (Thankfully they didn't need me to actually do my job. Too bad only so many people can fit around a piano going down a staircase.)
Then we helped another couple move some cabinets from their garage upstairs to a bathroom, which took all of about 3 and a half minutes. They then took us out to eat at Interstate BBQ, and that was pretty dang good. Cole slaw on the bbq sammich is the way it comes from the kitchen. (And the way it's generally done in the south. Good stuff.)
We continued helping prep Brother Boggs yard for fall after that, with another break in between with a stop at Burlington Coat Factory (which made me miss wearing normal clothes) and this international farmers market that was so cool.
Like this place made me feel like I was in a different country. They had a hispanic/latin side of the store, and an oriental side of the store. They had all kinds of cultural items and food, etc., ranging from Maseca and ketchup to dried squid, this weird aloe vera drink, and rambutans. There was a butcher shop and a seafood market in there, and that place was hopping. I saw one other white person in there. It was cool.
Fun food experience of the week: that aloe vera drink I mentioned. We got a peach flavored one (because I am addicted to peach juice yikes) and it is SO GOOD. It tastes like normal peach juice, but there are little "globules" (for lack of a better word, I know "globules" doesn't sound appetizing) of aloe that have been flavored as well. It reminds me of those little squishy water sphere things you can use to water plants, or like boba tea, but smaller little gooies in the drink. I guess its really popular somewhere in asia, and is about as cheap as water. Too bad walmart doesnt have it. 14/10.
Probably the spiritual highlight of this week was actually the Primary Program. (The Sunday once a year where children under the age of 12 sing songs and share their testimonies for the majority of the main meeting.) It was fun seeing so many of the kids who had been so fun with us at dinner appointments over the past 6 months. Like siblings for an evening at a time haha.
I started my morning not feeling very great about my accomplishments and our progress this week, and just prayed that I'd be able to feel the spirit that day. And boy, did I.
Troy Dahl, one of those 3rd cousins or whatever I talked about earlier, actually played a piano solo as a part of the program. He did a really really good job. He missed a few notes here, and hesitated there, but it was awesome! I watched as he sat down, made eye contact with his mom, and just looked disappointed in himself. His mom shook her head and mouthed that he did a great job, and he wouldn't accept it. In my head, I wanted to tell him "A few mistakes doesn't make it not awesome!" I felt so strongly that he shouldn't feel disappointed by such an awesome performance.
As I thought about that, I realized that it was that very message that my Heavenly Father was trying to tell me. When I realized it, I felt the spirit so strong I almost started crying haha. "Just because you make a few mistakes here, miss something there, mess this one thing up, doesn't make your performance or service not awesome!"
And man, did I need to hear that.
The primary then sang the song "Nephi's Courage" and I was moved again by Nephi's bold declaration that he would "go and do the things the Lord commands, I know the Lord provides a way, he wants me to obey!" I felt reenergized to do just that. And I thought about how I already have decided to "go and do" by being out here to begin with.
And finally, they sang "When I Am Baptized," one of the songs I played at Caroline's baptism about 2 months ago. It brought back some of the happy, proud, spiritual feelings I had then, and reminded me of the joy that comes with baptism.
So by the end of this primary program, it was a struggle keeping my eyes dry haha. I had been comforted, reminded, and encouraged, in just the right ways. Our Heavenly Father surely communicates to us through music, and through promptings of the spirit through our own thoughts.
It's been another kinda slow, tough, week, but I've definitely seen the Lord's hand in my life. I want so badly to be a means by which others can feel His hand, too. His love is the best feeling ever and I want more opportunities to help others feel that. I pray that there will be more instances of this to write home about next week!
Until then, look for ways that God is blessing you in your life this week, and then BE a way that God blesses others!
Love, peace, and chicken grease,
Emails make me happy:
Letters make me happy:
866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
Spookweek is over, and the spookiest thing that happened was that I hit my 5 month mark. (May 31st-October 31st.)
After several slow weeks, I feel like we finally caught some traction this week and it feels good! Which, may sound weird, given the fact that we didn't teach a single formal lesson this week. But hear me out!
1st up, a quote. Apparently J. Golden Kimball has once said, "The only way you can save the South is to burn it to the ground and do baptisms for the dead."
(Probably don't forward this quote out haha)
We had the 1st District Meeting of the transfer on Tuesday, and it was pretty good! It may have been the last district meeting I got to 100% plan, because starting this week, every district leader has assigned topics. Which I am very thankful for. But this meeting was good! We talked about the importance of making our purpose clear to others. And, put dramatically, the difference between, at the door, saying:
"Hello! We are your local missionaries, and we are sharing a message about Jesus Christ with people!"
"Hello! We are your local missionaries, and what that means is that we have literally been called of God through His living prophet on the earth today to represent Jesus Christ. As His representatives, we want to let you know that Jesus Christ loves you and wants you to be a part of His church. He is proud of your faith and, and on His behalf we want to promise you that you can recognize His voice in the Book of Mormon."
While practicing what I had been preaching, we had an awesome experience on Saturday where this ended up working very well. We gave a guy a Book of Mormon and he said he'd read it. He sounded open to coming to church and everything. We were kinda surprised with everything that he said. He seemed too genuine to be pulling our leg haha. He's got a family, and they aren't tied to any certain church yet... I don't wanna jinx anything, but it would be golden. I know the gospel could bring them so much joy. (Don't pray for me, pray for this guy, and another lady we gave a BoM to this week, that they will read it and love it and want to know more!)
Halloween was fun! We got to do service at a community center, put on by another church. They had a trunk or treat next door, and then funneled people into the center for carnival games and a bouncy house, etc. Last year they had like 2200 people come in. It was kind of a drizzly Halloween, but we definitely saw over a thousand people in there.
I was in charge of a carnival game where kids threw hula hoops and tried to get them to land around one of 3 pumpkins. I got a hula hoop to the face a few times but it was a blast. As a kid from Wonderbread Land Idaho, I don't think I've ever seen so many black people in one place. It was a party. All those little kids were pretty adorable haha.
The next day, my baby legs were sore from bending down and picking up 4 hula hoops a zillion times. We biked a little ways to a neighborhood, and spent like 3 or 4 straight hours there knocking doors. It rained off and on, nothing too bad, though. We did get 2 or 3 potential investigators out of it, including that lady I briefly mentioned before. We biked back to our apartment, and I either
1. Was pushed by angels
2. Was so sore I became numb
3. My muscles grew enough to make the ride home feel a lot easier.
But... honestly, option 3 seems like the least likely of these to me hahaha.
Got home super tired though. It was like 58 degrees, but felt like 90 after biking back. Had mud drops all over shoes and pants, and the back of my shirt, from being kicked up from the spinning bike wheel somehow. A member dropped off dinner with homemade bread and that made it all right again haha.
Had my first mission leadership conference! All the Zone, District, and Sister Training Leaders get together with the mission president for additional instruction and stuff. It was really good! Elder Bingham went with another district leader's companion and knocked doors the whole time so I made sure to enjoy the meeting haha.
The next day, we went to visit an older couple in an assisted living facility within walking distance of our apartment. When we arrived, we were told that Sis. Vaughn was in the hospital. They asked if we were the ones sent to visit Bro. Vaughn by someone who had called earlier that morning. We didn't even know about what happened, and said no. "Well, just a good coincidence you're here, then! Mr. Vaughn will be so happy to see you!"
Yeah, just a good coincidence, that's what that was. :)
The next day, after helping someone move, we went to visit Sis. Vaughn in the hospital to help give her a blessing. We got back to our apartment and had a long rest of our day! We biked up to a petting zoo/farm thing that a member told us about. Apparently missionaries years ago had helped out there, and the lady who owned the place missed seeing them. So we got to meet her, and it sounds like your city-suburb boi Elder Dahl will get to work on a farm this week. I'm excited haha.
A few hours after that, we met the super solid guy we gave a book of Mormon to. Not a lot of people were home, or at least answering the door, so that one solid contact and planted seed made up for the past several days of not much happening. Yay!
In that neighborhood, we found a cool walking path that was gorgeous because fall is here!!!!!
There are still flowers. And a lot of green trees. And it still feels hot when you are biking. But other than that, it is gorgeous outside, there have been lots of wonderful cloudy days this week, and the trees that have changed are gorgeous. And they are so packed together, that it's just a rainbow of trees sometimes.
Brother Boggs, who works for Nike Golf, kinda, took us to the Nike Clearance Outlet store in downtown Memphis. Oh man. I probably coulda spent a lot of money in there on clothes and shoes that I would only get to wear once a week anyway, but it was pretty awesome. I exercised my self control pretty well, but couldn't keep myself from getting a pretty sweet retro looking jacket, normally 120$, on sale for $50, and $30 w/ Bro. Boggs' family and friends coupon. Yay for stealin' deals and funky jackets. We went to a Korean barbecue place again that was really good, afterwards.
Subway Gift Card progress: $165/200 remaining.
So anyway! It's been a good week. We got to share the gospel with a few people who actually heard us out! We were able to be guided by the spirit to help the Vaughns. District Meeting was good, and the leadership meeting was motivating. The weather was rainy, but otherwise amazing. We got to do service, and I had french toast for breakfast a couple times. The ball is rolling, y'all. Good things are happening, in Collierville, Tennessee. Slowly but surely.
I hope you all have an awesome week! I'll burn off my candy weight faster than you will! :)
Pictures of all the Halloween candy you stole from your younger brother, you jerk:
Halloween candy you stole from your younger brother, you jerk:
866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
The missionary time phenomenon: In which it feels like I was just doing this, but last p day feels like a month ago, and somehow it all went by really fast anyway?
By popular demand, food reviews are back cause there were some new experiences this week. :)
Last P Day, a member took us to a BBQ place called Corky's. It was pretty dang good, especially for the price. I left feeling stuffed with pulled pork, which is a good feeling up to a point, but by now you can correctly assume it's safe to figure I overdid it. (I did.) All the same, 8/10, with 26/10 rolls. They probably use crack cocaine in those things wow
We also did some fishing up at the Gaar's farm. And by "we did some fishing" I mean "Elder Bingham caught 5 fish in like 15 minutes and I caught none."
We got back into town, and had my first real "weird" southern dish, yes! It's called "Country Ham" which sounds innocent enough. It's basically a ham that gets buried in salt, until the salt replaces most of the moisture in the ham, and it becomes encrusted in salt and layers of thick mold. Then you just cut the mold off, cook it up however, and eat it. Ham is already pretty dang salty, right? This stuff was almost enough to make my lips pucker a bit. My mouth is watering thinking about it haha. I liked it at first, and then it was almost overwhelming, and now every once in a while I'll crave it haha. I'd definitely have it again.
But the thing about this country ham is that I was still full enough from our bbq lunch that afternoon, that by the time I was done with it, I felt like I'd eaten an entire pig that day.
That's something I think a lot about. Like, what if we could look out over the crowd of animals who died for the food you have eaten over your entire life. Yikes. Like... you eat a hot dog, and then 3 pigs, a chicken, a horse, and a sea urchin get added to the crowd. (It's okay, I'm in the BBQ capital of the world, I'm not going to go vegetarian anytime soon. Sorry, sea urchin.)
Now, this wasn't "Buffalo Wild Wings BOGO" level bad, in large part due to the fact that everything, you know, tasted good, and I can still stomach the thought of having ham again thank goodness. But I was pretty dang full.
The staple feelings of missionary work: The Spirit, tired, hate-yourself-full, and thirsty.
After that, a member took us to the grocery store so we could get groceries. He needed groceries, too, so we split up and met back together when we were ready to check out. After stocking up for the next like 2 weeks, we go to check out and he starts putting some of our groceries in with his. We go to tell him, and then to try and steal them back to add to our pile, but he just keeps blocking us and putting our groceries up, and he ended up paying for them all. What. I was kinda mad at him, cause I'd saved my money really well this month, but I mean, it's hard to stay mad at someone who pays for your groceries.
So all in all, not a bad p day.
The next morning during studies, our investigator called us out of the blue. She said while she had been meditating, she had the impression that she should call us. I was glad she did! She told us how she had prayed to ask God if it was okay for her to wait a year to be baptized. Her answer was an overwhelming yes. She asked if He loved him, and her answer was "Even more, now." It reminded me of one of my own powerful spiritual experiences, so that was a very spirit-filled phone call. She talked about having talked with another lady in the ward who is a member but her husband isn't, and how much that meant to her. And she said she would bring her husband to church sometime! He didn't come this week, but it'll happen. And we are excited for that. But that was a cool way to start the day!
Another investigator has reached kind of a stand still this week. We went over and taught her and then spent a good deal of time talking her through her concerns about being baptized. She really likes her pastor and wants to support him as he moves to a different church. She knows the Book of Mormon is true, and that she needs to be baptized, but she feels like she won't be able to keep coming to our church. Which is frustrating.
For our 2nd lesson with her this week, we brought President Faulkner along, who she recognized from TV since apparently he had run for state Senate or something before? He's in our mission presidency now, and is a super cool former Baptist. I thought we had been bold in our last lesson, but this guy was bold. And it was a neat lesson for me to even sit in on. He talked about leaving his Baptist church after he had been baptized, even though he was next in line to be the pastor, and the former pastor had just died. And he said that before he was baptized, he felt the spirit tell him that the "Promised Land" prophesied of (yes, prophesied of) by Martin Luther King Jr., where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, IS the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That was cool.
She's still thinking and praying about being baptized. If she is really praying about it, we know her answer will never be "no."
Another fun experience this week: getting to go to the booming metropolis of Potts Camp, Mississippi to conduct a baptismal interview! As the district leader, one of my responsibilities is to interview the investigators of my district members before they are baptized, just to make sure they know their stuff and are willing to keep the commandments they have been taught. The Elders in Holly Springs had been teaching Seth for not too long, but he is a super cool kid. He js 15 or 16 and we met him in his grandparents house out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees barely starting to change colors. It was awesome.
That took most of our day, though, and we got back to Collierville right as our ward party was ending, which was a bummer. It was apparently a great event.
On Friday I had a pretty awesome mission experience! A local book club of ladies from both Collierville wards plus a nonmember lady had read my book "Lies" this month. And President Hansen gave me the "okay" to attend that! They recorded a video interview w some of the questions that were asked, and I think it turned out pretty awesome! You can watch that here - https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1474036109377648&id=100003138183987
Shortly after, we had interviews with President Hansen. He's so awesome. I love him more and more every time I see him. He's definitely inspired and leads this mission with power.
We had dinner with that awesome young family from Venezuela again this week, and they made one of my favorite things - empanadas! They were dang good. 12/10
The next day was Seth's baptism. The members in Holly Springs, Mississippi meet in a rented out Pentecostal church, so they had to come up to the Collierville church building for the baptism. We headed over early to fill up the font. Water filling the font is a good, motivating sound to hear. The baptism went well! As we were locking up, though, we realized that Elder Mair didn't pull the plug up in the font when he left. So he took his suit jacket off, rolled his long sleeves up to his shoulder, and pulled his pant legs well into his thighs, and waded back into the font, leaned out over the water, and... fell in.
Just kidding, he didn't fall in. But he almost did once. He got the plug, and also a little bit wet again haha. It was kinda funny.
That night we went to see some houses decorated for Halloween that we had heard about from a few people. How good could these really be? UM WOW. THAT GOOD. These 2 houses next to each other share expenses on a storage facility throughout the year, and pay people to hand candy out by the trashcan full because so many people come.
One house has like a full blown pirate ship, with skeletal pirates taking up their whole front yard. The thing is almost as big as their house. The other one is a grave yard, with animatronic everything, and a legit hearse! Parked! On! Their! Lawn!
On Sunday, we had a very special return missionary give a talk, and then take 3rd hour of church sharing stories from her mission. She is one of the 10 or so missionaries who were sent straight home early from Puerto Rico, rather than being reassigned. She had a full transfer left, but they sent her home early. She was devastated, and you could tell how much she would have loved to stay behind and starve and sleep on the ground to help the people she had come to love so much there. She left her area with food and a small backpack of clothes, to wait out the storm in the mission field. She didn't think she'd be sent home, or that nobody from that mission would probably see their areas again, the people there, the journals, gifts, and other things left behind in apartments. Crazy stuff. As she shared her different experiences, the spirit was really strong. Elder Bingham admitted later that he was like holding back tears the whole time and that everything she talked about was things he felt like he was going through... I was glad he admitted it first because I was the same way hahahaha.
It made me feel pretty stinking lucky to be in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I can't complain about a thing. And I can work a lot harder than I am.
My email might not make it sound like it, but it was another pretty slow week. We are gonna try to "go ham" this week. Hit the pavement hard. Not seeing "success" in the traditional sense hasn't bothered me as much, this week, but I feel like we can still do more than what we are doing. A part of this has been changing the way I look at success.
Obviously, baptizing someone is a success. Finding new people to teach is a success, giving out books of mormon is a success. Measurable, quantifiable, good stuff. But getting let down because we haven't been able to do much of that doesn't help anyone. So I've decided to measure success in: positive, meaningful interactions with people, and in the miracles that I notice happen each day. Feeling good about the work we put in at the end of the day has to become the real measure of success. On a mission, in life, anywhere.
I hope you liked whatever portions of this email you read haha. Sorry I'm so long winded, there's just so much good stuff to share!
Here's to even more of that next week!
Do not send photos of ham
Do not send actual ham
866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
Hey howdy hey! It's your favorite long-winded missionary again!
This week seemed really long, actually. But I can't believe another transfer is over! I'll get the big news out right up front: Elder Bingham and I are staying in Collierville for another 6 weeks! After this transfer, I will have spent 6 months in Collierville! 4th of July to Thanksgiving. A quarter of my mission. Dadgum, boi.
On Monday, we went to downtown Memphis. Elder Bingham hadn't been yet, and it had been a transfer since my last time there (because we didn't have a car and Brother Boggs was out of town/working haha). Sister Michaelis, the bishop's wife took us to the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis. It's like the Space Needle or Washington Monument or Golden Gate Bridge of Memphis. It's a giant pyramid building that used to be a basketball arena, that was bought by Bass Pro and turned into a giant store, with ponds, a bowling alley, a hotel, and a few restaurants in there. It also houses the tallest free standing elevator! Which we rode up to the top for a pretty fun view of Memphis.
I have this weird thing that I started doing a few years ago. In notable places, I'll use the restroom just to say I used the restroom up there. So I can now add the Memphis Pyramid to my list including the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the New World Trade Center. So now when you look at those buildings from here on out, you'll think to yourself "oh man Oliver Dahl has used a bathroom in there before."
After the pyramid, she took us to lunch on Beale St., and we ate at the Blues City Cafe which was dang good, dadgum, boi.
And then Tuesday came along, and I had our last District Meeting of the transfer! I tried to do a scavenger hunt type thing, which I think worked! For the sisters, anyway haha. Their competitors, Elders Wilson and Mair, had some trouble haha, but it was kinda fun.
The rest of that day was pretty good. We went to teach Anette, and we gave her a priesthood blessing for some of her chronic back pain. It was a neat experience. I didn't feel like I could bless her to just be miraculously healed all at once, but felt that the miracle would come for her as she exercised her faith, and promised her that in the blessing. Afterwards, she said her back wasn't hurting anymore. (Whoa.)
She went to her own church this week, though. So... We will see if she is still recognizing the power of the blessing when we see her on Tuesday. It's been frustrating trying to help her understand that this is where she needs to be. The social influence of her current church is very strong on her. And it's hard to blame her, she's like the only black person in the entire congregation when she comes. If she were further into Memphis, the wards there are more diverse. But alas.
Later that day while tracting, I thought for an instant that we found our next golden investigator. I literally felt tears of joy beginning to form. Yes! We have been working and working, and dont have anyone to teach to show for it, and now the next golden investigator finds us! As we were tracting a guy in his pickup truck stopped in the middle of the slow neighborhood road to chat with us. "Y'all Latter Day Saints?" We responded affirmatively and he talked about how in the past he'd had doubts about his Baptist faith, and had looked into the LDS church for a while. "I'm on way to something right now, but you'll have to come over sometime!" What a friendly guy!
And then the 180 happened. Idk what triggered it, but we spent the next 15 solid minutes talking with this guy in the drivers seat of his truck, and him trying to use scriptures to "prove" why the Book of Mormon isn't the word of God. Mainly he just complained about how there's no archeological evidence for it, [because supposedly, he wouldn't believe in the Bible if there weren't archeological evidence for that?] and just tried tearing us a new one. Poor Elder Bingham just kinda stood there like I did when Elder Johnson and I got in bashes. But I was ready for this guy. There was nothing he said I didn't have an answer for. Trouble is, he didn't like giving me time to answer.
This is called "Bible Bashing" which is kind of a misnomer, because that's what people think we are doing. But boy-oh-boy, if I thought for an instant the Bible went against what the Book of Mormon taught, or vice versa, I wouldn't be carrying the Bible with me everywhere I go.
The guy drove off, after praying that we will "find the truth," and giving us his business card in case we "wanna meet up for coffee sometime and chat." What a Jackwagon haha. Coffee? He really doesn't know anything about us, does he? I'm super tempted to call him back, but like... We said a prayer there on the sidewalk afterward to invite the spirit back. "Bible bashes" are oddly faith promoting, in that you really see how Satan convinces people to put limits on what God can do, and you see just how necessary the restoration is, but the Spirit isn't there, which is a bummer cause I can remember a lot more scriptures when it's with me.
In happier news, I won 2/2 rounds of bananagrams this week! I love that game.
On exchanges this week, I went to Southaven, Mississippi with one of the Zone Leaders, while the other stayed in Collierville w Elder Bingham. We had dinner with this inactive returned missionary of only about 4-5 years. He and his wife were just super cool, really awesome, incredibly kind people. We were over there for a few hours, but it all felt like time well spent. He taught us his family's favorite card game, called Hand and Foot. There are 6 decks of cards involved, and I got hooked. I didn't win a single round, but it is a fun game. It's like Phase 10 meets Castle. And there was celestial Caramel Apple Dump Cake involved, so that helped.
(P.S. can someone Google this game to see if it's one their family just made up, or if it's a real thing? There are so many rules it seems like Calvinball in playing card form, but it's actually super fun haha)
The Zone Leaders have these Batman/Spider-Man sunglass masks that Elder Jennings and I wore on the way back to Collierville. The goal was to look out the window at people to make them laugh, but I was the one who ended up laughing. I couldn't keep a straight face for nothing. But did succeed in making some guy laugh so that was good haha.
After teaching Wendy the Word of Wisdom this week (which was interesting because giving up coffee will be a tough one!) We decided to walk home. We got a right up to the member's home we have been teaching her in, and didn't have our bikes, but there are houses most of the way back down to our apartment. Kinda. On the particular street we took back, there *were* houses all the way down... And the property they were on. So probably like a dozen houses a mile haha. These places were huge. The biggest houses I've knocked on.
Pretty much nobody was home, but one of the flew people who opened the door actually asked us some solid questions, and though we had differing opinions, was polite, respectful, asked meaningful questions, and we left on good terms, feeling enlightened! That's how disagreements should be handled!!! He's my favorite person this week.
Yesterday, we had our 2nd and final Missionary Musical Fireside, which was good! None of the people we invited came though, which... was bad. Kind of a bummer. But it was still a good event.
Anyway, there has been some good momentum built up in Collierville. As a mission, a lot is changing! We are focusing more on the needs of people, and on spending time meaningfully rather than trying to stay busy, which I like, but it is definitely a mindset adjustment. It's hard to stay busy in Collierville, when no one is home in the early afternoon. But meaningful activities... I think we can do that.
One statistic that was shared is that someone, on average, has to have 7 good contacts with the missionaries, or with members of the church, before they agree to meet with missionaries. So every time we have had a good contact this week, I have been thinking "6 more to go!" Which is a better way of thinking about things than "dang, another rejection" haha.
Anyway, I'm excited for the next bit in Collierville! I've come to really love it here. I just wish there were more people for us to teach.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!!
If you wanna keep the mailman busy:
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
Collierville, TN, 38017
Or, if you want to keep the NSA busy:
Well, it's been another kinda tough week here in Collierville, Tennessee. I feel like I don't have a ton to report on this time, so I'll just have a bunch of random stories from this week. One piece of good news is that our investigator, whose husband told her she can't be baptized, has softened a little and will let her be baptized! ...After she waits a full year. So that's a good change.
We taught our investigator about tithing, fasting, and church callings this week. We are hoping to finish all the lessons before her set baptismal date in late november, and convince her to move the date up.
One last thing before I move onto the fun stories - on exchanges, we got chatting w this nice guy whose door we knocked on. He said he thought it was crazy to dismiss the idea of living prophets, and accepted a Book of Mormon, so that was good! That doesn't happen very often, unfortunately haha.
Okay, fun stories!
Last p day, desperate for an excuse to leave our apartment, we helped one of the priests in the ward build a Warped Wall, from American Ninja Warrior. All from scratch. He finished it later this week, and it looks good!
We had our 3rd district meeting on Tuesday. I kinda put it together last minute, (or at least the day before) but I thought it was probably our best district meeting so far. Had some good discussion and all that. Our district is pretty awesome.
We were taken out to dinner one night to tag along for the Whitaker's son's 13th birthday! He's a super cool kid. We went to Firebird Steakhouse, and there wasn't much on the menu under $20. There was a group of about ten of us. The bill was like $350, and Bro. Whitaker added an even hundred dollar tip on top of that. He does a lot of real estate in the Memphis area and does very well, living next door to Mike Conley, who just signed like a $100+ million 5 year contract for the Memphis Grizzlies or something. Anyway, seeing that kind of generosity really makes me want to get to a point in my life where I can leave hundred dollar tips.
Had dinner with another family, and the mother told me she had read my book, "Lies"! A book club in Collierville is reading it this month, so that's pretty exciting! A bunch of the ward members have been reading it and spreading the word! They've got me feeling like David Archeletta or something.
On our way out of the apartment complex, I almost got hit by a cement truck on my bike! Just kidding, it wasn't that dramatic. They're doing construction next door, and the road is divided so one side of the road goes one way, there's a big divider w trees, etc., and then the other side of the road goes the other way. Well, this big truck hauling cement comes going down the wrong freaking side of the road. Oh well, I make eye contact w the driver, nod, and make my way along the side of the truck, expecting him to give me the 3 feet on the road *required by law.* lol nope. If anything he starts hugging the side of the road. So now my handlebars are getting really close to the bed of the truck, and my front tire is about scraping the side of the road. I slam on the breaks while this guy edges past me, rather than hit the truck or ride up on the gutter and fall into the truck. That annoyed the heck out of me, cause I kinda really hate biking, and that is without the threat of giant vehicles killing me stacked on top of my own clumsiness.
It was another hot week. Idk how to describe it, Cause it has started to feel like fall, but it is still so hot outside. There are leaves on the ground and a breeze, but we come in from biking just drenched haha. It has started to cool down a little bit, but even this week it says the temperatures go back up to 80 day by day.
Anyway, I survived that encounter, and then we went tracting in this cursed neighborhood. People would open the door before we even get to it and tell us they aren't interested. We had a cat following us around for a while, and it darted into one house of a lady telling us she wasn't interested... twice. So she had to go chase after it and throw it outside again. That was funny. We said a prayer with one lady which was interesting. Usually when people ask, hand holding is involved, but she just stuck her arm out and we put our hands in the middle like we were gonna do a team cheer haha. So that was different.
We knocked a lot of doors this week. On one day, we spent a quick afternoon in one neighborhood, knocking 81 doors. Of those, only 19 doors opened. 16 of the people listened to us long enough for us to ask if we could share a message, and 0 of them wanted to hear us out. We had one guy let us in and give us water, which was awesome. He was a pretty cool muslim from India, and gave us an English copy of the Quran. He found a verse in there about how "God doesn't have offspring so Jesus was only a prophet, etc." We looked past the difference and asked him questions and there are a lot of similarities, honestly. We traded him his Quran for my Book of Mormon haha. So I spent the rest of the day knocking doors w my bible and the Quran which was kinda fun haha.
I read some of the Quran when we got back that night, and there were some cool thoughts and good ideas, and it's clear that anyone who claims they aren't God fearing, peaceful people, hasn't read what they believe. (And for that matter, neither have the people who are the reason for people thinking they aren't peaceful people!) While I think there are great concepts in there to follow, I could tell that the spirit that I'm used to feeling when I read the scriptures isn't there. I'm thankful for the Holy Ghost that helps us recognize truth and that testifies of Christ.
On Sunday, I spoke in church! I didn't quite take up the full 15 minutes alotted to me, but I thought I did pretty dang good, not to toot my own horn or anything. But since I've been focused on preparing for that all week, I'm once again left today with not much planned for our district meeting tomorrow. Dang.
And finally, after church yesterday, we got a ride up with the missionaries from Holly Springs to another church building, where we practiced for the musical fireside for a few hours, had dinner, and then performed! We had invited like 6 or 7 people to this, and only Anette came. But I think she enjoyed it, so that was good. Still disappointing to not see anyone else, there. They missed out, cause it was awesome.
Another missionary said that the gift of tongues must apply to music, too, cause it's the only thing that could have made us sound good haha. I thought that was funny and probably true! Cause I am not a singer at allllllll but we sounded good! There were about 200 people there, so not as many people as there were chairs set up (ouch!) but everyone seemed to enjoy it. We get to do it again this weekend further into Memphis!
Well, this is the last P Day of the transfer! This Saturday, we will get an email telling us transfer news--whether we are staying here in Collierville, or where we are going and with whom. If I stay one more transfer, that would be a full 6 months in Collierville, which I would really love! (Though I might love it more if there was more traction and progress happening.) After the email on Saturday, we have Sunday to get packed, and then early Monday morning we meet at the church building in Memphis. So it is quick! I'd love one more transfer here, but we will see!
I hope you all have a fantastic week!
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
(Different address in case I get transferred, so letters go to the mission office and can be forwarded, rather than sent somewhere I am not anymore)
So many things happened this week that it was very difficult to title this email.
Other key points from the week: My 2nd District Meeting, bad news from a few investigators, Area Book 2.0 memes, an expensive steakhouse, awesome new friends, getting chastened by a German member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and a fire alarm going off during church.
Before getting into that, some random thoughts from this week:
I have decided our upstairs neighbors either have a horse in their apartment, or else various hopscotch courts on which they frequently jump, about 23/7.
I think I've had more hamburgers in the past few weeks than I usually do in several months. Not one of them has been bad, so I can't complain one bit. But there's been a lotta burgers.
Okay, onto the meat.
(Well, not yet, that part comes later. First up is District Meeting!)
My 2nd District Meeting as the District Leader went pretty well, I thought! I don't dare poll the district to see my approval rating, though. Coming up with stuff to teach without being assigned a topic is hard!
We went to Firehouse Subs afterward for lunch, and a nice lady, not of our faith, bought each of us a cookie while we were waiting for our sandwiches. What?? How sweet is that??
Later that day, we went to contact 2 of our new investigators. 1 wasn't home, and the 2nd was. His wife was outside and told us to wait because he had something for us. A few minutes later he comes out with the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet we gave him. Yup. He explained his wife didn't want them in the house. Ugh.
Elder Bingham and I talked about the lesson we were supposed to learn from that experience and I was reminded of a funny story from last week I forgot to tell.
After I'd given this guy my Book of Mormon, we kept tracting and ran into this other guy who must have had a bad experience with missionaries before. He came out ready to go, arguing with us about grace vs. works, the classic boring bash stuff. He wouldn't let us get a word in. "I don't wanna none of whatever's in your stupid book," he told us, going as far as to jab the cover of my remaining book with his finger. I raised an eyebrow and held the book so he could read the cover. ("The Holy Bible") he stammered and went back inside pretty quick after that hahaha.
So we didn't get any words or defense in, but I still felt like victory was unquestionably ours. Maybe that experience will make him think about how he interprets the bible or something, I dunno. It's a funny story for us, at least.
We spent some time tracting but it felt like no one was home. Thankfully, the day the guy gave us back the Book of Mormon ended on a slightly better note. (This is where the meat comes in.)
The Smiths took us out to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse, and (after giving us a ~~$200~~ gift card to Subway...!! SERIOUSLY WHAT?!) told us to not look at the prices on the menu, and even ordered extra stuff for us to take home. So after a steak and a slab of ribs and mashed potatoes that I couldn't finish, he got us each two (!!) pieces of cake to save for later. The mashed potatoes and fried green potatoes he ordered as an appetizer blew my mind. (34/10, will probably crave for the rest of my life) Goodness, what awesome people, though. Apparently he makes a good chunk of change visiting/supervising different nuclear power plants.
It amazes me how well the people here, (and God, ultimately) treats us. We're trying I guess, but we are still just more lucky and blessed than we can ever earn or work for. I wish we had more to show for all that we are doing!
The next day, we taught our most promising investigator I've talked about before. The lesson went well, but we learned that her husband told her she can't be baptized. And she wants to be, pretty bad. Dangit. What's with people's spouses keeping them from the restored gospel?? So that was a big time bummer. We will continue to meet with her, and she will keep trying to soften her husband's heart and show him that the gospel isn't a scary thing.
That night, I got a much needed haircut and felt a lot lighter and more good-looking. My bicycle helmet needed some tightening the next day lol.
And then there was Thursday!
In the morning, there was a voice mail from our Zone Leaders, which was a scary thing to see at first. But it was an invitation to come help take down the Memphis Temple for its closure and remodeling over the next ~20 months. Elder Bingham and I were both stoked at the prospect and managed to get a last minute ride that morning from Brother Gaar.
We showed up and saw that the cornerstone had been removed, and parts of the ceiling were out. The temple was pretty empty and weird feeling. We were led to the attic of the temple, where we were helped move spare parts and excess building supplies out to a trailer, or to the trash. After a while of that we took a break in the empty celestial room. (The most sacred and reverent part of the temple, supposed to be a model for what heaven will be like.) The spirit was definitely still there. But it was different. Wallpaper had been peeled back in one spot, revealing the mold that was the impetus for the remodel.
The temple had been modeled after those in the west, but hadn't been adapted for the humid climate, so the mold was pretty bad. They will do quite a bit of other remodeling, though, too.
After the break, we helped take each crystal from the chandeliers off one at a time and roll them in bubble wrap. There were a lot of little crystals, but it was a really neat experience.
There was a crew of other workers there, and I heard a few of them talking about having just finished the new Provo MTC buildings I enjoyed, and another guy, upon hearing I was from Boise, said he just finished working on the Meridian, Idaho Temple! That was really cool. (Apparently the open house public viewing of that starts this week, so if you're in the area, please go for me!!!)
That evening we did some biking and decided to visit this older lady we'd chatted with a couple times before. Her daughter was there, and her two sons were there, too, plus a girlfriend to one of them. We had an awesome, normal conversation for the better part of 2 hours, ranging from travel to Alternative Music, (!!!) and concluding in a thought from the Book of Mormon they all seemed to enjoy. They then gave us a ride home in their minivan with our bikes in the back since it was dark and they (like us) didn't want us riding back the 3-4 miles to our apartment on the same roads as Memphis drivers haha.
On the ride back, the lady's daughter thanked us for bringing the spirit into their home, and talked about how much her sons kinda needed it. As she dropped us off, she told us any time we are in the area and need a ride, we can knock on the door and ask, "like we're family." That was so nice. Idk, that just meant a lot. They're really great people. Unfortunately her sons and the girlfriend aren't local, and have gone back to school since that visit. Hopefully we made an impression on them, so the next time missionaries come knocking on their door, they'll let them in!
We use an app called "AreaBook" to plan our day, and it has lists of members and investigators and so on. Well, this week the old version got deleted from our tablets and replaced with a "new and improved" version. It's kinda the worst, least intuitive thing ever. It hurts to plan and takes twice as long. In spare time before bed, we have enjoyed reading the reviews on Google Play. It kinda became like "missionary twitter," and the reviews page was the birth of the AreaBook2.0 memes. I was proud of my addition, "'No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing...,' but AreaBook2.0 might! Within the first day there were over a hundred pretty funny reviews, but they keep getting deleted haha.
So anyway, that's been painful to get used to.
On Friday, Elder Klebengat of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to the Memphis side of the mission! It was awesome. He's from Germany and didnt really mince words haha. There was some chastening that happened, but it was good. I left feeling motivated and inspired and just amazed by this guy. He could name a half dozen scriptures for anything. He blew my mind with scriptures about our premortal life, and how our calling as missionaries transcends and precedes our mortal life. Dope stuff.
When we got home, Elder Bingham and I agreed on how going comatose like some people in the Book of Mormon did sounded pretty good right then. There was so much wisdom to digest! I think I'll be referring to my notes for a long time.
That night for dinner, we had 12/10 homemade pizza rolls at the apartment of a young couple, with another couple from the ward and their kids. We played "Last Word" which was a new game to me, and a lot of fun. I didn't come in last place, so that's a good change in pace haha. The husband of the visiting couple, Bro. Stanbaugh, was on the cover of the October 2003 New Era Magazine. :)
On Saturday, we met with our investigator, and she pushed her baptismal date back to late November. :( It's whatever, if she will be more ready then, then that will be good for her. Nobody else we tried that day was home/answered the door. That night we had Red Robin with this awesome Indian guy who became a member of the church after having the impression that he should just go to the church building one day. He showed up on Sunday and was told the meeting was over. So he came really early the next Sunday, and waited a while for anyone else to show up. Next thing you know, the missionaries in India are teaching him, and then he is going out teaching with them as a member! :)
She thankfully came to church on Sunday, and that less active lady who we visited before conference right as she was praying for answers also came! I've never seen her at church before so it was awesome to see her there, even if she ducked out early with her kids.
Oh, and the fire alarm went off! As we were evacuating sacrament meeting, it was discovered a little kid had just pulled the alarm so we went back and finished the meeting haha.
Anyway, it was a busy week, but it didn't feel super productive. Our baptismal hopes got pushed back a little, and we didn't find new people to teach, but it was still good.
This week is my 3rd district meeting (yikes I need to prepare a discussion by tomorrow again ahhhhh) and then our Missionary Musical Fireside thing is next week, which should be awesome!
I hope you all have a delightful week and are enjoying more fall-like temperatures than we are!
For photos, memes, sick jams
866 Schilling Rd, apt.103
Collierville, TN 38017
For your forwarded jury duty summons and leftovers
I feel like I haven't had a "normal missionary day" since last transfer. It's been another weird, busy, week! There were a couple "in the right place at the right time" moments that help me know I'm doing God's work and that He is leading us, no matter how weird the rest of the week is.
First up on the Weekly Email Agenda:
I had my first District Meeting of the transfer! Which is significant because I am the District Leader and had to teach for a good little section of the 1.5 hr block. It went well, though! I based the instruction off of Matthew 10:16, which is Jesus' advice to his disciples as He sends them out into the world. He tells them "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
So we discussed the symbolism of each of those animals and then looked for other biblical "spirit animals" in the scriptures that we can learn from. I think it was good??
We forgot to do a district photo after the meeting so... we will do that this week.
Later that day, we had about an hour long block in our day to get to this lady's house, hope she was home to teach her, and then get back to our apartment to be picked up for another teaching appointment. We biked out to this lady's house, thankfully not too far away, and discovered she wasn't home. Dangit.
So, in what felt like the hottest day in a long time, we biked back to our apartment. As I got on the sidewalk and rounded the corner, I saw that there were sprinklers going off over the sidewalk. I might have been able to dodge them by biking down the hill into the road, but... I just went for it and biked through the sprinklers. I was sweating so much already it wasn't like I could get *more* wet. I was gonna have to change my shirt at the apartment anyway. It felt good haha.
At the apartment, we stood in front of a big fan on full blast for a while and then were picked up for our next lesson, with our investigator. We taught the word of wisdom and she told us she had quit smoking and drinking cold turkey long ago! So that helps. We are hoping to baptize her at the end of this month, but we will see if she decides to keep coming to church regularly.
In terms of other lessons, we had a 2.5 hour long one with another investigator. She wants to be baptized and knows that it is right, but is worried about how her family will react. Her kids have been coming to church events and have a lot of Mormon friends now, so I don't think they will be as opposed to her decision as she thinks they will. Her husband on the other hand will pose a greater challenge. We are hoping to be able to teach the rest of her family - at least from a "this is why your mom/wife is making the decision she is" informational standpoint. So we will see. She is awesome, though, and knows this is all true.
Elder Bingham had a doctors appointment just for a prescription renewal thing, but the mission nurse set the appointment in West Memphis? (Which is not in Memphis... It's a separate town, and in the state of Arkansas, just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, TN.) It's kind of a dump of a town haha, so it's charming in that sense. And it's a 45 minute drive away. An awesome nuclear physicist (?) ward member drove us out there and back for the 30 min. apppintment. It was at a church building, one of those cute half church buildings without a gym, and only a small chapel.
Another night, the Collierville 1st Ward had a Book of Mormon fireside. Literally. At the Gaar's farm, members of the ward surrounded a campfire and had a few people talk about reading the whole Book of Mormon between the April and October sessions of General Conference. It was really good, and not just because Brother Gaar made venison stew using deer he had shot on the property haha.
Like I said earlier, there were a couple really cool experiences we had this week in regards to being at the right place at the right time.
1. When we were finally able to do some solid tracting after all the busy-ness and craziness of the week, we hadn't found so much as one new person to teach all week. Which isn't unusual, but it is discouraging. We were doing one loop of a neighborhood, and it was looking kinda dead. As we were walking though, we saw a guy reaching down under the drivers seat of his car, struggling with something. I turned to Elder Bingham and shrugged, bracing myself. (I've been trying to improve in my street contacting abilities. I'm not a fan of it because I feel like I'm interrupting people, and it's easier to talk to people when you knock on their door because they already expect you to say something. But it can be a more effective way of finding people to teach.)
So I gave a "hello, how's it going?" type thing and an older gentleman stood up and said hi. I asked what he was working on and he said he was trying to get one of those rubber floor mat things back into his car. He was clearly struggling. I told him I could help, expecting all the while that he would say something along the lines of "Oh, that's fine, I've got it covered, thanks though," but he didn't protest, so I quickly snapped in the floor mat. (The poor guy was trying to put it in sidewise.)
We shook hands and introduced ourselves, and asked if we could share a message. He shrugged and said if we didn't mind standing in his driveway, we could then and there. We got to know him a little, and discovered he'd just remarried after his first wife had passed away. We shared some of the restoration and plan of salvation with him, and after a smooth transition from Elder Bingham (way to go, Greenie!) We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, too. He said we could come back. Yay!
If we hadn't picked that street to tract, at that time, starting on that side and not going backwards, and if the person who we initially tried had been home after all, we wouldn't have found Fred.
2. We went to help our investigator figure out General Conference on her TV, on Saturday morning but she didn't answer the door. (She was probably still asleep... can't blame her.) So we went over to one of her neighbors houses, a (kinda crazy) less active lady to tell her about General Conference, too. We knocked on the door and she was almost in tears as soon as she saw us. She told us she had just been in the kitchen praying to God and asking him "why?" in response to all of the trials she is going through. And then we knocked on the door to tell her about General Conference. I was able to look her in the eye and promise her that God will answer her questions through His prophets during GenConf. It wasn't me making that promise, though. :)
So that was cool, and helped set the mood for the rest of the conference weekend. It's different hearing the talks with investigators in mind, wondering how this could help them, or what they would learn from this talk, and so on.
We watched all the morning/afternoon sessions at Brother Boggs' house, with various board and card games between the sessions. I didn't win a single one haha. (It's just a weakness to keep me humble and to prevent me from rising into pride, that's all)
The 2nd Ward had a "Priesthood Session Tailgate" before the Priesthood Session, involving burgers and brats, guac, jalapeno poppers, jambalaya, and so on. It was good stuff, and really fun to see the awesome folks of the Collierville 2nd Ward again.
As we sung "How Firm a Foundation" during that session at the church, I turned around to look at the sparse couple dozen Priesthood holders in attendance in the chapel that evening and felt the spirit and God's love for these people pretty powerfully. What an awesome part of the world, and what a privelage it is to be able to serve here, alongside these incredible people.
Anyway, conference was awesome, 10/10 would recommend. You can watch it all on lds.org, now.
We have another kinda weird week coming up since Elder Kliebengat of the Seventy is coming on Friday. And I have yet to prepare a district meeting lesson for tomorrow. (yikes!) But it should still be good. I'm excited to have an extra day or two on a slightly more regular schedule this week. :)
Enjoy General Conference if you haven't yet, and have a stellar week!
Email your favorite weirdo missionary -> firstname.lastname@example.org
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866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
P.S. RIP Ole Miss, Alabama destroyed them. (We caught part of a football game Saturday night in this sno cone shop after the Priesthood Session. I'm about as apathetic as it gets when it comes to football but they got whooped)
This week went by a lot faster than last week. The fact that it has only been 6 days since the last time I emailed home helps a lot haha.
We got to go to the Memphis Temple! It closes at the end of this month for a 20-month long remodel, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to go before then! It'll be fun to come again when it has re-opened and see how it has changed. I'm hoping I'll be able to help with tours and missionary related stuff for the temple open house, etc. when it reopens! But we will see!
After we visited the temple we had the opportunity to have kind of a Q and A session with the Memphis Temple President which was cool! We got back later that night, but from then through all of the next day I could just really feel the spiritual difference in myself having been to the temple.
We were gonna have an awesome lesson that next day but the lady was sick so we had to cancel. So we adjusted plans and did some biking. We were outpacing a train for a little while, which was fun! Train horns are loud.
We got to teach Anette after almost 2 weeks without seeing her. I've been teaching her once or twice a week since I got here 3+ months ago. She's a sweet old black lady with some back problems, and some learning disabilities. We read another chapter of the Book of Mormon with her and talked about the importance of coming to church with us. She has been really struggling with leaving her old church behind, even though she loves the Book of Mormon and President Monson... it has been a little frustrating. So I asked her if she still wanted to be baptized on October 14th. To my pleasant surprise, she said she still wanted to try. And she said she would come to church this week! Yay! It's awesome to see her progressing! And it would be very very awesome for her to be baptized! We just have to keep working with her to make sure she is "all in."
Later that day we got talking with this sweet 80 year old lady who was living in the same cute little southern home that she grew up in. She talked about her family, the growth of Collierville, her flowers, and in classic southern style, talked for a good 15-20 minutes. She seemed like she enjoyed the company, and we probably coulda sat and listened to her for a full hour but we had places to be, doors to knock, souls to save, all that. Fun stuff, though. She invited us back another time to tell her all about Idaho and Arizona. :)
We have biked less this week than last week. Members have given us rides quite a bit, which we appreciate very much. I feel bad asking for rides so often, though, and it really makes me miss having a car to drive around. :/ it's kinda like not having a driver's license again.
Oh yeah and we now have Facebook and smart phones.
On Thursday, we had our zone conference. After rumors and all that, we finally got smart phones to replace our fun flip phones and received the "go" to begin using Facebook as a tool for missionary work!
So now the tablet I had to buy for the mission, and the phone we are using are Samsung. My inner Apple fanboy is dying a little bit because of all the weird quirks and confusingness of everything, but it's a major upgrade from those flip phones. Going back to Apple at the end of my mission will probably be another headache haha.
Apparently we are one of 12 missions the First Presidency has chosen to begin using smartphones. Lucky us!
Facebook has been weird. I didn't like Facebook very much after like my freshman year, and my liking declined since then. It felt weird logging in and seeing everyone's dumb political posts and memes and stuff for a while haha. It was like "oh yeah that's why I don't like this lol"
(I saw that there is so much new music out though, yiiiiikkkeerrrrrs)
(Because Facebook bought Instagram it keeps showing me ads for Instagram and tells me I have 101+ notifications from Instagram, but I can't download it or anything, and it makes me miss it a lot yiiiiiiikkkeesssss)
So I pretty much muted/unfollowed everyone but my family, LDS related pages, and other missionaries, rather than unliking/unfriending because we are supposed to keep our (good) likes up so people can tell that we are real human beings haha.
I can respond to church related questions there anytime, but I'm still expected to only communicate with family, friends, etc. via email on my p days. I can't use Facebook to do that.
I wish we got a little more instruction on how to like... actually use Facebook as a missionary tool. Because I'm friends with a bunch of the awesome members down here, now, but like... finding new people to teach on there? Idk I guess we will figure it out as we keep moving! Any ideas??
So yeah that's the big news from this week!
We did some more biking on Saturday. Had some high schoolers jeer at us out of their cars which was weird. I try to please everyone and I'm pretty used to being on people's good sides, so idk I had a prideful moment like "don't those stupid kids know that I'm a multipublished author and professional photographer and an eagle scout and...and... [essentially] If they knew how cool I was, they wouldn't be doing that." (Ok so my thought wasn't exactly that dumb sounding, but you get the idea.)
It made me think about how Christ himself must have felt being mocked and scourged during his earthly ministry. "Don't you know who I am? I created the ground beneath your feet. I am the God your fathers worshipped, I parted the red sea. Billions have and billions will worship my name. I knew you before this life, and I am here to make it possible for you to be forgiven of the things you are doing right now."
So thinking of that really helped put me in my place and just kinda enjoy the moment of being shouted at by some dumb kids who just don't know what they're doing. It's impossible to suffer more than He did. (See 1 Nephi 19:9)
Biking was hard that day, though, we did a lot of it. As we biked home in the dark, the road to our apartment from where we were was pretty hilly. Downhill is pretty fun. But biking uphill is tough, my dudes. Especially when you have biked all day and aren't in shape. We got back to the apartment drenched and I, at least, was very sore the next day. Gotta do what you gotta do to get the thunder thighs.
At the same time, though, biking up and down hills of a country road in Tennessee past the occasional firefly after sunset sounds pretty cool. All in the way you look at it, I guess.
Wendy and Anette both came to church on Sunday! And apparently Wendy went to a relief society bake off thing and actually won hahaha. (I was a little miffed they didn't hit us up to be the judges but itsk) But it was awesome to have them both there! We then had two dinners and a game night. Sundays are good.
Anyway, it has been a good week! It hasn't felt super busy, but looking back on it, we actually did a lot. We are looking forward to a pretty awesome week this week, meeting with Anette and Wendy again, plus a few of the people who said we could come back, plus my first District Meeting as the District Leader, and a quick trip to Arkansas for a Doctors appointment for Elder Bingham.
So yeah! All kinds of good stuff behind and ahead of us. Things are good in Collierville. I have managed to stay out of additional bushes while on my bike, so y'all must be praying harder for my safety. I appreciate that. My clumsy butt needs it. :)
Love you all! Have a super week, and enjoy General Conference!!
Send emails, music reviews, memes, favorite scriptures, selfies, floral ties etc. to email@example.com.
866 Schilling Rd, apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
if you're feeling adventurous :)
And if you haven't added me on Facebook, you can find me by searching "Oliver Dahl missionary." You'll get the occasional spiritual thought and cool video there. :)
Since September 8th, every day has been ABSOLUTELY CRAZY. I dunno if things will get back to the calm-before-the-storm levels, but that's okay! Because somehow, despite the craziness, things are still moving and going well!
Let's rewind back to last Monday, shall we? [*Tape rewinding sounds*]
"This is me. I'm sure you're wondering how I got stuck in this situation."
Just kidding, if you read my last email, you would know.
We drove to the Memphis Temple to drop off Elder Henderson and to report for duty! Elder Henderson is now back home safe in the land of potatoes, the good ol' Idahome itself.
I, on the other hand, got stuck in a big ol van sitting cheek to cheek with like 9 other missionaries for the 3 hour drive to Little Rock, Arkansas. We got to the church, got our luggage and stuff, and then I piled into a car with Elders Evans and Hoyle and Sabey to head to Conway, Arkansas for a couple days.
Slept 2 nights on the Conway Couch, and had a blast and a half serving in a quadpanionship with those guys haha. We split up 2 and 2 to go knock doors, but for teaching appointments, all four of us would file up the sidewalk to the door. They have an awesome investigator who read and studied the Book of Mormon while he was in prison for a while. He just got out this year, and he's so excited to be baptized! Hearing him talk about how "real" the church is was awesome to me. He said something like "the Holy Ghost, the power of God, prophets like Moses... it's all real! Right here! Right now!" So I guess for me to just put myself in his shoes and think about how awesome the gospel is from an outside perspective was super cool!
Anyway, four of us walking up to a door was fun. It was awesome. We laughed a ton. Which made attending the funeral interesting.
Finally, the day came to meet the new missionary I would be training!
"Wait, what's that? You want to hear about the funeral? Oh, okay." [*rewinding noises again*]
It's our first morning in Conway, and the first thing on the schedule after studies is to attend an ash burial for someone that none of the missionaries knew. We arrived at the cemetery and it was rightfully overcast and sprinkling. The Confederate flag blew in the wind over the occaisonal grave. It was probably like 50 to 60 something degrees outside and felt awesome. The first time I have felt cold since coming out. A family from Oregon had driven way out here to bury their mother?'s ashes in the plot her father had bought for her. It looked kinda like what you'd imagine an Arkansas funeral to be like. Blue jeans, cowboy boots, and bedazzled shirts that didn't completely cover muffin tops. It was these 4 members of the family, two members of the local bishopric, us four missionaries, plus the local sister missionaries. Thankfully the sisters could sing well cause the rest of us couldn't.
So that's the funeral story. [*fast forwarding noises.* Do fast forwarding noises sound different than rewinding noises?]
On Wednesday, we met at the North Little Rock church building and got to meet all 24 of the incoming missionaries! There were a lot of them. We had lunch, watched videos on bicycle and driving safety, other housekeeping stuff, and then finally we got to hear about our companions! President Hansen talked about the revelatory process and how these assignments really are divinely guided and not his own work. I really felt the spirit as he said it, and my worries went away.
I'm now serving with Elder Bingham from Mesa, AZ! He's a stud, excited to work hard and get talking to people! He's doing great.
We drove back to Memphis that night. Brother Boggs picked us up and drove us to Collierville after a stop at Sear Shack for some yummy burgers.
And then the rest of the week. Phew!
Among the many changes to our area (me training, me as the district leader, and sister missionaries now in half of Collierville & us in the other half) is the fact that we are now on bikes full time and without a car.
So Thursday was my first day biking in the mission, and my first day biking in years, probably since I biked to my Drivers Ed classes my sophomore year?
Anyway, all the roads seemed more flat when we had the car...
Our first appointment was at noon so we biked about 4 miles up in the cooler part of the day. Not too bad, I thought. I could feel my legs burning, and walking felt a little weird at first after we got there. That said, it was tolerable!
But we had a great lesson with this lady. She was the one who had all those questions, and was kinda apprehensive about a lot of things in the church. She told us that on her way over to the appointment, she had received the impression that she should "just stop fighting." (HOW COOL IS THAT??) We were able to formally teach her the full 1st lesson on the restoration, and help her with her concerns about Joseph Smith. Apparently her 16 year old daughter went to early morning seminary on Monday! (HOW COOL IS THAT??)
We are meeting with her again tomorrow, but are super excited about her progression and growth of faith!
We did some more biking, and was starting to feel the pain. We walked and did some door knocking. Had one person say we could come back. And then we biked to the Bishop's house so we could have him give Elder Bingham a customary "new to the area" Bishop's blessing. His wife didn't want us biking home in the dark, (and we didn't really want to, either) so she drove us home, and then picked us up the next morning and took us to Chik-Fil-a for breakfast and then back to their house for our bikes, which we rode home that morning.
Hoooooooo Boyyyyy. My body. It was a miracle we made it home. I only crashed once. (It wasn't that bad, yay for people praying that the missionaries will be safe!)
We had studies and planned our day, and Sister Gaar, the saint that she is, volunteered to drive us around the rest of the day. She dropped us off for our one appt, who wasn't home. So Elder Bingham and I did some walking around the main street of Collierville, to show him around and to knock some doors. We made a Wal-Mart trip, where priority number one was a new bike seat. (The best $15 I've ever spent. It hurt to sit down anywhere lol, my butt has 0 cushion on it)
Through the rest of the week, Elder Bingham has been a source of great motivation and work ethic. He's excited to knock doors. So we knocked doors. And even got a map from the town hall so we can mark off the streets we have tried. Yay for organization!
We had one "bible bash" which is never fun, but I felt like I came out on top at least haha. The whole "not adding or taking anything from this book" quote from Revelations is old news. Written solely about the book of Revelations, (not the whole bible) which actually predates many of the other books of the New Testament, meaning if you're gonna use that to try to disprove the Book of Mormon you're also including a good chunk of the NT, too, so...? Agh. Satan tries really hard to keep people from wanting to read the Book of Mormon. The BoM is either inspired by him, or is, in actuality, God's word. That's it. And because it brings us closer to Christ, it is not something Satan would inspire. Put it to the test. See if you get closer to Christ by reading the BoM.
We had another lady say she would pray for us that we find out the truth and abandon the false notions that we are teaching about. [We will pray for the same thing for her haha.]
We also were invited right in to teach a younger mom. She said she was doing her bible study anyway, and welcomed us in to share a quick message. She kinda just nodded along like she wasn't really interested, but was just too nice to kick us out, but to our surprise said we could come back! So we will see what happens.
Stake Conference was this last weekend! Caroline came to the adult session, it was good to see her again! I'm gonna miss teaching her! But she is so solid. President Hansen spoke, and said that the last time he attended a Memphis Stake Conference was in 1980 as a missionary here himself, when they split the stake into the 2 stakes it is today. Cool that 37 years later, he's back as the mission president.
Bike riding got better, especially with the new seat! I did fall off one more time, very slowly into the accommodating branches of a very comfortable bush. (Took a turn too fast and didn't lean into it enough so I just teetered over and fell off haha. I'm sure it looked hilarious.) Man, it's a good thing people pray that missionaries will be safe. (Thank you!) My legs are still pretty sore, but it's easier now than it was on day one. It's good for me. And the members are so good to us and can give us rides every once in a while!
Being district leader hasn't been too bad so far. I only have to relay weekly numbers and daily check in times to the zone leaders. But next week I'll get to teach a district meeting, so that will be interesting, and when the real challenge begins.
Training is good! Elder Bingham is great. His eagerness to work and to find people is so contagious.
It's been a very long, very busy week! Being in Conway feels like forever ago. Maybe it's cause our p day is on Tuesday this week. But today we are taking it easy. Cleaning the apartment, emailing, and napping. Until we get to go to the temple this evening!!!! I'm so excited to see the Memphis Temple before it gets renovated!
So there were 8 days between my last email and today, but next week my p day goes back to Monday, so now you only have to wait 6 days before another overly long email from Elder Dahl graces your inbox!
Have a great rest of your week! Read your scriptures!
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
P.S. the "training wheels" mentioned in the subject line was supposed to be a clever way to reference the fact that I'm training a new missionary, on bikes now, and also at the beginning and learning phases of each of those things. It's a layered metaphor!)
It's been a looooong week! Let me quickly catch you up to speed.
- We went paintballing on P day and I endured far more pain than I anticipated.
- I drowned my pain in the oil of fried food
- I killed Elder Henderson
- Our mission president challenged us to invite 70 people to take the missionary lessons this week. That is harder than it sounds.
- I got a pretty interesting phone call from our mission president.
- Caroline got baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, hopefully that quick catch up works like a clickbait news headline to get you to read the rest of this email. ("You won't believe what happened to Elder Dahl this week!")
We went paintballing in a group of like 10 missionaries, and 6 other members from Mississippi. We drove down to 'ssippi and shot at each other. I wore a suit jacket as armor that Elder Henderson was going to retire We did 1v1 rounds that were really fun and I won mine and avoided getting shot. Only got shot twice, which was a little disappointing honestly. But I did still get a lot of pain as, in our last round, I heard and felt something fly up my mask and get stuck in there. Assuming it was a fly, I reached my hand up to take the mask off, and as i was doing that, my thumb got stung. Hurried out of the arena and got my mask off ASAP. Didn't get stung in the face, yay! But my thumb hurt like crazy til the next day.
The Gaars had us over for dinner, and hosted a "Fry Day" that we had talked about doing with their granddaughter. Oh man there was a lot of fried food. We fried: mushrooms, pickles, onions, turkey, mac n cheese, peanut butter Oreos, snickers bars, cookie dough, and chocolate Twinkies. None of those tasted bad. They were all v yummy but I have a feeling fried food won't sound good again for a little while. (Or at least until the next time it is put in front of me lol)
The next day, we had district meeting. Afterward, we held a funeral service for Elder Henderson. I gave an extemporaneous eulogy that I was kinda proud of, and we took some fun pictures. I've now killed off both of my dads. ("Dad" is missionary slang for your trainer. To "kill" is to be their last companion before they go home, don't worry.)
We did a lot of door-knocking this week. Probably knocked about a hundred doors on the longest day, with most of the other days of the week coming in close behind. About 15 of those per day were actually home and opened the door long enough for us to ask if we could come back to share a message. About 1 a day said maybe. So... we've got like 4 or 5 maybes to work with haha.
The weather was so nice this week!!! Wednesday was literally the most perfect weather you could ever imagine. We got some epic storms from Hurricane Harvey, and now super nice weather potentially from Hurricane Irma. We are definitely getting the better end of the deal than everyone else. Sounds like those are pretty awful right now. :(
Anyway, we set a goal of 75 invites this week, 5 more than our Mission President's challenge, in order to meet our transfer goal. We made exactly 75 by the end of Sunday. So cool to see how the Lord provides a way for us to reach our goals.
On one day we wanted to get 20 invites in a day, and meetings fell through and got postponed so I was really worried we wouldn't get it, to the point of thinking there wasn't any hope. But we went to the neighborhood we planned on, and managed to get to 20 in an hour! It reminded me of the story where the Lord keeps diminishing the amount of soldiers in the army until it would be impossible for them to boast of their own strength. They are forced to recognize that it was God that provided for their success. Similarly, there is no way that we could have gotten that many invites... in one hour... in Collierville.. without the Lord preparing the area.
On Friday, I got a phone call from President Hansen. We chatted for a bit about how both of my companions have gone home after one transfer with me. Then he said he was gonna send me a companion who had just come out.
So yeah... I will be training! Which means, most likely, at least two more transfers in Collierville!
And then Pres. Hansen said I was also gonna be a district leader. What.
And then he changed his mind, saying Elder Smith was going to be a district leader. Phew!
And then he was like "oops, just kidding, I read that wrong... you ARE gonna be a district leader." Yikers
So yeah... I'll be a district leader! Over myself and the greenie, the sister missionaries coming into Collierville, and the Elders in Holly Springs, Mississippi. So that will be interesting!
Furthermore, we just learned Saturday night that our Collierville area is going to be all-bike, now. Also yikes.
So honestly I lost some sleep Saturday night kinda worrying about this upcoming transfer and all this extra stuff that is expected of me, now. But, silly as this sounds, I remembered the pioneers had to cross the whole country in wagons and handcarts with no food, so I can definitely ride a bike a few miles every day, if only to counteract all the food I'm eating. I have it so so good.
CAROLINE GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AHHH IT WAS THE BEST!!
We drove to the church building early to fill the baptismal font. Had everything ready to go, but the key we had wouldn't open the main curtain for everyone to see the font so the whole thing started fogging up. The sister missionaries called their bishop and we had to drive 15 minutes to the bishops house and back to get the key to the curtain, like 45 minutes before the baptism is supposed to start. Stressing ensued, especially as the bishop didn't appear to be home for about five minutes. But we got the key and got back! (Not without me earning my very first "Agressive Driving" alert on the little robot that checks our car speeds, etc. Man, that thing sucks and I'm a safe driver. It was interfering with our ability to be punctual, effective missionaries.) We did get there, though, with time to spare, and time to change, especially since the baptism started late. We were sad that her parents weren't there.
Took pictures [v v awkward not being able to hug or even put an arm around... mission rules smh] and practiced baptizing a little bit with Caroline in the hallway, and then played prelude music. The first speaker arrived late but it all worked out. And then it was time for the ordinance itself! I walked into the font, and we got situated, I said the prayer, and baptized her! Everything went perfectly! I got into the changing room and just felt awesome.
With Caroline, I'd kinda gotten into this mindset that any old missionary could have taught her and she would have been baptized, I was just lucky enough to be in the right area at the right time. She was so prepared, and her faith is so admirable. Her baptism wasn't anything that I did. But as I changed I felt like Heavenly Father was letting me know that this was one of the reasons I had been sent to the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. It felt so peaceful and bright.
Then we had the opportunity to confirm her and give her the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday. Then it was official!
That Sunday was VERY LONG. We got up extra early to attend 2nd Ward Correlation, where we spilt the news that we won't be over that ward anymore. They are excited for sisters, but it sounds like we will be missed! I'm glad to be so close still to so many of the people who have become such close friends in that ward. Then we had 2nd Ward sacrament meeting, and then a few minutes to spare before 1st Ward Sacrament Meeting. Elder Henderson gave a talk, and then I played my piano rendition of "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul," and as soon as I was done, we had to leave the meeting (with our record 3 investigators present!!) to drive the next town over to confirm Caroline! (A lot of people told us they were able to visit with the investigators that came to church, and said that they felt very welcomed. Yay!!)
After that sacrament meeting, Caroline went to get her temple recommend interview so she can do baptisms for the dead! She is so awesome, and is going to go on to do some great things! It has been so awesome to have seen her from first missionary contact to now.
Last week, we had a lady call us and say she has some hard questions for us to answer about Mormonism. She has been struggling to understand a lot of stuff about it for a long time, now. We were able to meet with her this week. I was pretty nervous going into it, because I had done a lot of research to be able to answer her questions, and I just really wanted the spirit to be there, and for it to not get bible bashy. It ended up being awesome. For almost 2 hours, she jumped from question to question and we were able to answer every single one. Some of them I hadn't studied for, but could remember random things I had read weeks ago. Pretty awesome how the spirit helps with remembering things. It was so cool to watch the gears turning in her head and you could really see light come to her eyes.
We met with her again on Sunday, and she realized how important it is for her to read the Book of Mormon. She and her family may be our next baptism, which would be so cool. We will be meeting her again on Thursday!
This next week is gonna be super weird.
Today I drive further into Memphis to send Elder Henderson home, and then I will be on extended exchanges kinda, in Conway, Arkansas! And then on Tuesday, I will meet all the new Elders and Sisters coming into the mission, and then Wednesday I think I will learn who I am training and meet my new companion!
In the mean time, I will have to get in touch with the new members of my new district, and get them pumped to tear it up in Collierville and Holly Springs! I was way nervous for this responsibility, and probably still will be for a while, but now I am also hecka pumped.
AND, on top of it all, my next P Day won't be til Tuesday the 19th. So one day later than usual. But we will be able to go to the Memphis Temple that day before it closes at the end of the month, so I am very excited for that, too! So you will hear from me next on Tuesday, not Monday.
Phew! It has been an awesome week. Definitely, without question, one of the longest! But also probably the most rewarding. Caroline baptized, 3 investigators at church, and a new investigator that may be our next baptism! Upcoming training and district leader positions, plus an all bike area will make the next week and transfer interesting, but I'm excited to see what lies in store!
My heart is full of love for you and the whole world right now! The gospel is true!
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
866 Schilling Rd, apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
It's been a week! Complete with Graceland, Memphis, a bonfire, a hurricane, and planning a baptism!!!
Also, I hit my 3 month mark, and had my 4th Fast Sunday yesterday. This week didn't feel very productive, but even though there weren't a lot of good things, there were a few incredible things. And we are gonna go HAM for Elder Henderson's last week of the mission this week.
(PSA: fried macaroni and cheese exists and is even better than you think it would be. Yeah.)
Brother Boggs took us and some past missionaries who came to visit him all around Memphis last P-Day.
We went to Graceland! (Elvis's house.) It was pretty sweet. There's definitely some super out-there 60s/70s era decor, but I think I've decided I really like a lot of it. Idk about green shag carpet on the ceiling, but a leafy green colored kitchen, peacock stained glass, old tv's, grand pianos, mirrors going down the staircase... c'mon that is a little cool.
Then we went to Central BBQ, one of Memphians' first picks usually when you ask them where the best barbecue is. I could see why, even under their outdoor patio with the rain hammering the ceiling. It was awesome.
Next up was the Gibson Guitar Factory, where they hand make gorgeous guitars. It was pretty cool, because the tour goes right down alongside the people and machines making them. There's no glass to look through, it's all right there. It made me wish I was a guitar master. (Or that I could even play at all lol)
We walked around Beale Street, which was a little disappointing. There weren't a lot of people which was good, and there were a ton of cool old buildings and signs, but like... literally every single one is a bar haha. Still pretty sweet.
After that, we did another escape room. This one was Egyptian themed with different bonus rooms and closets that opened up when you put in the right codes and stuff. It was soooo cool!! We got out with almost 15 mins to spare, 30 sec short of making the leaderboard.
So that was P day!
Another day, we went over to a ward members house and made a bonfire and cooked s'mores and hot dogs. They were in a subdivision, but their back yard is right against a canal, and then woods beyond that, so it feels like you're out in the country, it was sweet. They had a treehouse, too. Took some fun pictures but I really wish I'd have had my actual camera there. Oh well.
Alright, so the extra exciting stuff: a hurricane? A baptism? I'll start with the hurricane so we can end on a good note!
Hurricane Harvey stopped by through Memphis area of TN. I guess I thought we would just get some residue rain but no it was a little more than that. Collierville was under flash flood warnings. In the morning, it wasn't raining very hard. And then a siren went off. A few minutes later, our Zone Leaders texted everyone saying that if you heard sirens, you needed to get back to your apartment. Well, we see already in our apartment, and it wasn't raining very hard, and we had an appointment at 2:00. As 1:45 rolled by it completely stopped raining, so we texted the zone leaders and went to our teaching appointment. While we were there, it started *actual* raining, still nothing we hadn't seen before, though.
We went to the church to do additional planning and to practice piano. We got a call from a ward member saying the Collierville Police had seen some roads begin to flood. Oh! We got in the car and tried to make it back to our apartment. We did so safely, without really having to worry, but the car windshield wipers on their fastest setting weren't fast enough. Truly. There were puddles on the side of the road you could about float a kayak in. We had to drive in the turning lane to avoid them in some cases. The wind was blowing and leaves and branches were falling around. Chik-fil-a was still busy as ever, though.
So that was really fun haha. Didn't think I'd get to say that I have driven through a hurricane before, especially coming to Arkansas/Tennessee, but hey, it was a cool unexpected adventure! We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on house arrest in our apartment bored out of our minds and watching the rain come down like a waterfall over every square inch of the road.
We were close to the Mississippi sign, so we stopped to take a picture. We usually go once a week to 'sippii for district meeting.
We also went to Johnson Park one evening in Collierville. It's a cool miles-long boardwalk over forest and wetlands. It was really pretty!! Different kinda green from Idaho, that's for sure!
And now the best stuff of all: Caroline is getting baptized THIS SATURDAY AAHHH!!!!
We taught a lesson on the word of wisdom on Wednesday and she accepted it without hesitation. Caroline has been such an awesome example to me of how God prepares and the Spirit teaches. I like to think I'm a pretty decent teacher, but no teacher, (no matter how good!) can teach someone gospel related things to the point where the person being taught accepts it. The person being taught has to want it and has to come to believe it through the Spirit.
On Friday, we Skyped her and planned the details for her baptism. It'll be at 12:00 on Saturday, Sept. 9th. I was asked to play piano, and... also be the one who baptizes her. I am so excited, and just so humbled and amazed and stoked out of my mind.
I have been reading through the Book of Mormon and have been really impressed with the stories about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. Being asked to be the one to baptize Caroline really helped me relate with Ammon as I read Alma 26 in my personal studies the next morning. All of Alma 26 is awesome, but I wanna just bring out a few things that I found myself kinda spooked by to be able to relate to so much.
Verses 6-7: yea they [the converts of Ammon] shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea neither shall they be narrowed up by the whirlwinds, but when the storm cometh, they shall be gathered together... They are in the hands of the Lord... and they are His.
-> Caroline is so solid and has developed just incredible faith. I know that when her faith is tried (because it will be!) by her parents, by friends, by life just being hard, that she knows where she stands, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ will be the single thing she can rely on the most. He is watching over her.
Verse 27: now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us
-> check, I have felt that before!
Verses 28-29: we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world [and of God] and we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea and we have taught them upon their hills... and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks...
-> check, check, check. Okay so I haven't been spit on or slapped so far, but the point remains... this is like exactly what we have been doing knocking door to door, talking to people in the street, getting rejected. The people of Collierville are nicer than the Lamanites, thankfully.
So I could relate with all of this after like my first week. But what struck me was the rest of the chapter, talking about Ammon's joy, carrying away unto boasting of his God. Especially after getting excited for Caroline's baptism.
Verse 35-37: Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God... [you oughtta read the rest. It's awesome, and you will benefit more by reading this chapter than I will by typing the rest of it lol]
-> so Ammon and his brothers had converted like thousands of people, but this one person who I have had the opportunity to have taught and to baptize this week makes me feel just as happy as Ammon. Not because I'm super awesome, but because wow! God really does prepare people and answer their prayers. And because baptism is going to open the way for so so so much happiness in Caroline's life.
Anyway, I'm sure thankful for each of you, and for your prayers and emails throughout the week. I'm thankful for the gospel and the peace and joy it brings into my life. I know this is true. I know it.
866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
(I'm tempted to leave my weekly as just this sentence and the subject line, just to mess with y'all.)
It's been an AWESOME week in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I won't leave ya hanging. In fact, this is a really long email. Sorry. But I used my novelist skillz in this one so I hope you enjoy.
Thursday is my 3 month mark! (Whaaa?!?!?)
Last Monday was the best P Day ever. We got kidnapped.*
Allow me to explain.
*More accurately, Brother Boggs took our Zone Leaders, (Elders Jennings and Breen) Elder Henderson, and I to do a puzzle escape room. In this particular escape room, (w/ a 33% pass rate) we started off blindfolded and handcuffed to a cot in a dark room, with 1 hour to escape. After solving a bunch of puzzles, riddles, codes, passwords, etc, we escaped the room with like 3 minutes to spare. It was super fun. Then we went to Gus's Chicken again. Gr9 as always. (Better than gr8.)
- E C L I P S E - time!
We went to the Pink Palace museum in downtown Memphis, got our swaggy
- E C L I P S E - glasses.
Sat down on the lawn to wait for the - E C L I P S E -. We actually saw Caroline and her mom walking around there, too! It was a hopping place. Tons of people in their swaggy - E C L I P S E - glasses waiting for the 94% coverage "event of a lifetime." There were tv stations, school groups, the whole shebang.
We got to the point where we could see about 2/3 of the sun covered, and then the WHOLE sun got covered!!! And the moon too!!! Cause it was cloudy!!! And then it rained.
- E C L I P S E -
That was still fun, though. The rain went away after the - E C L I P S E - was over and we still had a few hours before we had to drive back to Collierville so we decided to check out the Lorraine Motel, the motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. The inside is now a museum (which we didn't check out) but the outside, including 2 gorgeous old cars, looks exactly like it did, with a wreath over the spot where MLK was shot. Pretty amazing piece of history. It made it feel close and real and extra sad to be there. People are crazy and dumb and stupid. And the whole racial divide thing isn't close to over yet, I keep hearing snippets of the news today. Crazy stuff going on.
We went back to Collierville and spent most of the rest of the day playing Settlers of Zarahemla. (Settlers of Catan, Book of Mormon-themed.) I lost. I won the next round though, by a lot. And then I lost twice again. I think I hate that game.
So yeah Monday was just the best! And then Tuesday came along, which was probably the worst day of my mission so far. (And honestly if this is the worst day, I'm still doing pretty good.)
We had district meeting in the morning. Then the aforementioned zone leaders thought up this great idea. A food challenge. At Buffalo Wild Wings. 200 boneless wings. 8 people. (Do the math.) We thought this would be a fun idea. I wasn't opposed to it at the time, but had I known what horrors lay in store, I'd have sooner eaten my tie.
So we went. A large box of boneless wings is $18.99. But wait, there's more! It's Tuesday and so it's buy one get one free. Bam. 2 larges for each companionship. 48 wings total/2 people. We started w three orders of 2 larges. (Spoiler alert: We didn't get to ordering the final pair of larges.)
4 wings go by: Eh these aren't too bad. They're not great. I like Gus's more.
8 wings go by: Hmm they have some interesting flavors at least
12 wings go by: Hot diggity dog I am full on wings
16 wings go by: I don't think I can take another bite. Their flavors are becoming one - the flavor of pain. Heat and garlic and synthetic lemon rub are merging into lava acid chicken all over my mouth.
20 wings go by: just kidding I think I had to stop at 19.
Reinforcements came, and finished off the remaining 20 or so wings. It had just been the 6 of us before they came. They are full enough when they're done, and we are too wrecked to even think of eating 1 more - let alone 48 more - wings, so we call it a day at like 144 wings between 8 people. I think at my 19 wings, I actually came in last place for "most wings consumed."
We drive back to Collierville and I'm just stuffed. I hurt, and I can feel the chickens kicking my stomach lining out. I justify a 25 minute nap to myself before we go out to work. My alarm doesn't go off. (Or maybe I was in a coma state through it?) 1 hour later, I awake.
I feel forty pounds heavier, I'm sweating, dizzy, and worst of all - everything is chicken. Air is chicken. Nose is chicken. All is chicken. Every breath I take feels like the act of consuming Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Wings. This must be what a hangover feels like. I wake up Elder Henderson and we shakily make our way to the car to try contacting some people. I feel like throwing up for about an hour. Nobody answers the door, thank goodness. But I survive, slowly feeling better after walking around in the sun and having a full plate of Mexican food for dinner. (Idk either, only that it felt like burying the chicken massacre in my stomach so it helped).
We make it through missionary correlation meeting and I go straight to bed when we get back to the apartment. I learned the next morning that I slept through Elder Henderson throwing up for at least an hour in his bathroom. The next morning I feel better, but too full for breakfast.
All in all: 0.3/10 experience, would not recommend or repeat
The rest of the week went better!
We had a lesson with Caroline in which she readily accepted the Law of Tithing. She is seriously the coolest. Still on track to be baptized Sept. 9th!
We met with our other long term investigator, Anette, who we've been teaching since before I got here, even. She has had a hard time reading and remembering what we have taught, and coming to our church because she already likes hers. She has grown so much! She has a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon, and her reading and comprehension skills have improved so so much. We met with her again on Saturday and asked what she thought the Holy Ghost was trying to tell her as she read the Book of Mormon. After some silence, she said she wanted to be baptized. So she is back on date for Oct. 14th! She also came to church yesterday, yay! (The first time we've had an investigator come to church that we can sit with, anyway, since Caroline has been going to the YSA ward. So yay!)
One of the ward members told me that my book "Lies" is gonna be their book club pick in October! Ahhh I'm so excited about that hahaha.
On Friday we went ham knocking doors and trying to find new people to teach. Not a ton of big dramatic successes, but some cards given here, an email received there, and a house tour received!
(Yup, a house tour.) We complimented this lady's house and she just kinda out of the blue asked if we wanted a tour! We were like "uhh... sure!" It was beautiful. Apparently it had burned down a while ago, and they were in the middle of rebuilding. They had an awesome picture of Venice over the mantle, and we talked about how cool that place is for a little while. We didn't end up sharing much of the gospel, but she was so so nice, and we will definitely be back.
We helped move furniture Sister Gaar bought from the previous owners house to her truck. We complimented her piano in her home and she invited us to come back to play it some time! Baby steps. :)
It really is the little things every day that make them feel good. When we work hard, regardless of the outcome, it feels good. That's a life lesson right there. I hate being unproductive and not using time wisely.
I could probably bore you with more stories not quite as exciting as getting kidnapped or helping people prepare for baptism and eternal salvation, but I think this email has gone on long enough. Until next week!
866 Shilling Rd. Apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
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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(May 31-June 19 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
2005 N 900 E Unit 149
Provo, UT 84602
(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116
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