Missionary work is a trip. Usually days are long and weeks are short, but this week felt like 27 super fast days in a long week.
On Tuesday, we had another Spanish District Meeting followed by a spanish language study that kinda hurt my brain (but was interesting!) and then went on exchanges with them afterward. I stayed in Benton this time, with Elder Ramirez, who is a recent convert of 3-4 years from Mexico City. He's super cool, and his English is way better than my Spanish is haha.
We spent a lot of time finding, and then had dinner at a member's house. I couldn't put my hands under the table cause one of their 4 dogs would lick my fingers for me haha. But they live on kind of a farm type thing? And brought in a baby duck and have some goats and geese and stuff. They sent us home with homemade jerky and candy.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Meeting, which we had planned for on an all of 15 minute long conversation over the phone the day before haha. It ended up being pretty good.
We made some cookies for one of our investigators we haven't been able to get in touch with in a while, and she was home! We haven't caught her again since, though... :(
That night we had our missionary correlation meeting, and gave Sister Shumway a blessing afterward. Then we worked on some reports for the Stake President until the assistants to the president came and we went on exchanges with them!
Elder Smalling and I went all over the place in downtown Little Rock. Met some characters. We were talking with one lady for a while, and asked her about blessings she has seen in her lire from prayer. She told us that her son had been sentenced to 5 years in prison after shooting somebody, and she prayed and he only had to serve 4! #blessed?
The sisters over there had an investigator in the hospital, and asked if we could give her a blessing, so we did that. She seemed like a really special lady.
Headed back to Benton for a meeting with the Stake President, and our interviews with the Mission President! Both went well and were awesome. We're getting excited for Tad R. Callister to come this Saturday and talk about the Book of Mormon in Little Rock in anticipation for the musical coming to town haha.
With exchanges done for the week, we spent our Friday weekly planning and then going on a road trip with a member of the ward to some of the outlying members in the area. Pretty much nobody was home, so that's the usual.
Saturday was a weird day.
We had a cool lesson with a less active member and his roommate outside of their rehab facility on a picnic bench. They're both pretty cool and have been through a lot.
And then later, the first door we knocked on ended up being a Baptist preacher. Usually, they just say so and go back inside. Sometimes, they'll throw scriptures at us that we've heard before and we'll give some back. But this guy... idk. He didn't do that, he just went straight to discrediting our testimonies. After a lot of post-experience analysis, we noticed so much contradiction and fallacy in what he said. We left not just not feeling the Spirit, but feeling a bad spirit off of him. I haven't met many evil people in my life, but he'd be on my list. Not just because he thinks differently or was mean, but it was like psychological, spiritual warfare. People who know me wouldn't peg me as the type to storm off someone's porch, but when you discount my testimony and ask me if I'm really worshipping the same Savior... yeah.
So anyway. That was no fun. But church was good, even though people flaked and none of the people we are teaching came. We spent some time trying to find new people in that same neighborhood as the Baptist preacher and ended up totally changing a few people's perspectives on the Book of Mormon, so that success outweighed the bleh from the day before!
So it was a packed week! Now we are waiting outside the Jacksonville, AR church building (back in the Searcy Zone boundaries!) Waiting for our mission p day to begin! The whole Arkansas side is getting together today, so it should be fun!
Love y'all! Chase everything good, peaceful, loving, and joyful in the world!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
This week has been a hoot and a half! I didn't proof read this email so good luck.
Last Monday night we had a cool experience. We were trying to get in contact with people who used to meet with the missionaries. But it's getting dark earlier, and it seems like the work kinda stops when that happens. But we tried another guy, and he came out and talked with us for a while, and then his 17 year old son did, too. They breed miniature schnauzers, which is pretty neato! He doesn't want to have to work on Sundays at his full time job, and I felt very prompted to promise him that if he read the Book of Mormon, whether it took him 3 weeks or 3 years, the Lord would provide a way for him to not have to work on Sundays. Uh What!? That's a little bold, isn't it? But I haven't felt that impressed to say anything else before in my life. So we will see what happens.
On Tuesday, we went to another Spanish District Meeting! Which was fun, and was followed by some Hibachi. And then I went with Elder Short and tracted in some Hispanic trailer parks. I remembered a few Spanish words here and there, but otherwise felt like a Jr. Companion again, which was kinda fun! We met a guy who welcomed us in and was really interested in the Libro de Mormon.
We went to another trailer park and talked with some more people. As we went up the rickety stairs, we saw a cute little puppy on the other side. We took another two steps up to the patio and saw another dog. Now, when I say that the second dog was an ENORMOUS pitbull, you will probably think I'm exaggerating to make the story better, but seriously, y'all. This dog was huge. It raised its head and sniffed. Elder Short, right behind me, whispered, "run," like in a movie, and we BOOKED IT. We whirled and ran, but the dog's chain just kept extending. Finally, it reared back as the chain caught and just growled at us. Oh man. It took us a long second to get our breathing and heartbeat back to a semiregular pace. But we laughed it off.
We had dinner with a member in mostly Spanish, and then had English class, which was pretty fun, too!
The next day, we exchanged back and had leftover hibachi and then a good lesson and then our English Book of Mormon class. None of the people our entire district had invited came, so that was a bummer.
On Thursday, we had our District Meeting, and then exchanged with the Little Rock Elders again. It was rainy off and on and it only cooled things off a little and made everything more humid. We didn't have a whole lot of luck haha. It was not the funnest time, but like if you don't have a slow, rainy, door-knocking day every once in a while... you're not serving in Arkansas. We biked to the church and had dinner dropped off by a member. Had rice and beans and chicken. Yummy!
It was good to be back in Benton after that. We did some weekly planning and then went to this Thai food place called "Sullivan's" with a member and the sisters. It was pretty dang good, and I had some more fried rice. (For those of you who are counting, that's day #4 with rice! Yum!)
We went to try the schnauzer breeding guy after that, and as we pulled up, he ran inside from his porch, turned the lights off, and then didn't answer when we knocked. Grrrrr. Why do people do that? And why does it happen so often?
We spent a lot of Saturday tracting, with not much luck. But we heard from the sisters, who had just had an awesome lesson with a referral we gave them, and so that brightened the mood!
We helped a lady and her daughter and parents move into an upstairs apartment. And then talked with their downstairs neighbor, who was pretty interested... But also may or may not have been a flat earther.
We didn't know how to finish our day, and so we decided on a whim to try a guy who said we could come back sometime. He was on his way to a DJ gig, (yeah... He's a DJ) but had some time, so he offered that we meet up at McDonald's. So we drove over there, he bought us slushies, and we talked all about the Book of Mormon. Yeah!
And then on Sunday, our investigator Craig came to church!! He had been once before, before I got here, but Sunday was his first day back. He said it felt like his biggest step yet, and every talk and class seemed to be just for him. He loved it and felt the spirit, and it was awesome for us, too, cause you could see how much the gospel was blessing him, actively, in the very moment.
Happiness is out there. And it's in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!
So. Some good highlights from my week! Hope y'all have a good one!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I run on fumes until my two hour p day nap and then I'm good to go! :) it's been another good, sweaty, tiring, week in Benton, Arkansas!
Started out the week with a District Meeting... In Spanish. We have a group of Spanish missionaries in our zone, and we have to go to their meetings so there are odd numbers of Elders and Sisters. I was surprised by how much of it (in parts!) I could actually pick up!
That afternoon, we went on an exchange with the Little Rock Elders, and we started out in a trailer park out in some place I never would have guessed to be in the "Little Rock Area." It was out in the middle of nowhere. I got to practice my recently-tested Spanish skills with a lady who was more sympathetic than she was understanding hahahaha.
We chatted with a guy for a few minutes as he was working on his truck. He couldn't get it to start, and then during our chat and right as he needed to get going, the truck started, surprisingly enough to the guy we were talking to. He said we could come back haha. Miracles on miracles. You could choose to see that as a coincidence but it's more fun to think God was involved.
We then went to a more downtown LR neighborhood, to visit a Bible referral. She was looking for patience in her life and has some challenges. And a lot of warning signs on her house about getting shot lol. We tried a former investigator down the street, who had moved years ago, but met a cool guy named Amos who we chatted with for a while, so yay for following promptings!
The next morning, we had our own District Meeting, which went pretty good. My first one in Benton! We've got a good group.
Elder Bolos and I went out to visit an investigator we hadn't seen in a while. He's progressing pretty well, but has only been to church once, a month or two ago. He welcomed us in and we talked for a long time. He talked about all the ins, outs, physics, and strategies of sailboat racing, and it was honestly pretty fascinsting. And on top of that, it turns out sailboat racing and physics makes for a perfect analogy for living the gospel. So all of our minds were blown as we started connecting the metaphors together. It was really awesome.
On Thursday, we had our MLC (Mission Leadership Council). We took a wrong turn going into North Little Rock, and the GPS ended up taking us through this really nice neighborhood along a river... It was pretty.
President Hansen shared the baptism goal for the month of October, which is 28, and then each zone prayed about how many baptisms we could contribute toward that goal. When we all came together, we were only 2 off. So please pray that the Benton Zone can help 4 people in September, and 3 people in October to enter the waters of baptism!
Sis. Hansen pointed out that a lot of the MLC group (consisting of the Zone Leaders & Sister Training Leaders of the mission) is pretty young. I mean I'm still pretty young, too, but I was one of the handful in there that had been in those meetings for longer than 6 months.
In related news, I hit my 15 month mark this week, so I'm down to 9 months left. WHAT. I'm getting old in mission age.
After MLC, we got back to Benton in time for breakfast for dinner. Then we did some finding after that and met some characters. One guy was smoking on his porch and told us one side of his families is criminals, and the other side of his family is gypsies. #Arkansas
Another lady was probably in her late 60s and was on her phone walking around kind of all over the neighborhood. We caught up to her and started talking. Turns out she was playing Pokemon Go hahaha. We had a good visit with her, though, and she started talking about geneology! Her nephew is a member of the ward here, and she said we could come back with him. So we are excited about that! Pokemon Go: putting the elect in the missionaries' path.
We did a lot of service on Friday. It started out as just laying brick in a side yard. Or, that's what we thought we'd be doing, but we just leveled the sand for it, so we basically just played in a sandbox. Then another member called and asked for some help picking up "large tree limbs" from the side of the road to use as firewood. Yeah those "limbs" were big ole cedar logs. It was like high noon, the sweat was shiny, and dirt was sticking to it all. I'm still a little sore haha.
On Saturday, we had a zone miles call with the guy in charge of all the cars for the missionaries. We have mile limitations each month, so we were just reporting all of that stuff. Had a good visit with the "chase you off with a broom" lady, sharing parts of Moroni 8 because her 3 year old son had died in a gun accident several years ago.
We went to Chili's for dinner cause Elder Bolos had a gift card. When we finished and were ready to pay, though, he couldn't find it. We figured he had accidentally dropped it and it had gotten picked up between the car and our table somewhere. Our waitress went to look for it, and came back with one, but the cars number didn't match the one on his receipt... So that kind lady just got us a whole new gift card. People are so nice!!!
Church was good on Sunday. We gave that investigstor who's been struggling to come to church a wake up call. He answered, said he was up, but sleepy, and then we headed to church. He never came cause he had fallen back asleep. So next week, he's getting the wake up call, AND two guys pounding on his door. :)
We got back and had studies, and then headed out to visit some people that we had met this week. Unfortunately, the 2 or 3 we had hoped to visit both had their spouse answer the door, and the spouse wasn't half as interested as the other we were hoping to talk with. So that was a major bummer.
Did some tracting and found a few semi-interested people. One guy was busy but said we could come back in a few hours. So we returned home and ate after fasting all day. It was a harder fast than usual cause I was sweating so much out. But we then went back to try him, and lo and behold, no one answered the door.
We finished our weekly planning when we got home and had call ins with the missionaries in our zone. Things are going awesomely!
From here on out, each week gets busier and busier until the end of the transfer and September. There's a lot going on, and it's all good!
Thank you for your prayers! Please send more of them towards the people of Arkansas. They need em haha.
How's life treating you?
For other treats
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I'm kinda overwhelmed by having to email about this week. If you couldn't tell by the email subject... a lot of random stuff happened. Fortunately, a lot of awesome lessons with awesome people did, too!
After our P-day ended, we had a great lesson with a recent convert and his wife and their little baby. He was baptized the week or two before I got here. And he's in a screamo band. He's seriously the coolest guy ever. Aside from his long black dreads, you'd never guess that's what he did cause he is a really sweet, softspoken guy. He has all kinds of connections in the music industry, from Evanescence (who apparently has some bandmembers that live in this area??) to Pit Bull's photographer haha. So it was pretty cool hearing about all that.
On Tuesday, we did an exchange in Pinnacle Mountain/downtown Little Rock. I went with Elder Murdoch there. They share an apartment with the Assistants to the President, so that was fun. They gave us a ride or two and saved us from an hour of biking at least, so I was very thankful for that. We spent a lot of time finding, and met our first of two 90+ year old 7th Day Adventists. One was like, "I don't want to get to the other side, and have God scold me and tell me I can't get to heaven because I worshipped him on the 1st day instead of the 7th." Don't get me wrong, they were both super nice, strong, faithful followers of Christ and so I respect them, but... I dunno, doesn't that just sound not right? You really think God is gonna review your checklist and then kick you out cause you worshipped Him on the wrong day?
Anyway. After talking with a black guy playing gangster rap from a speaker taped to the handlebars of a princess bicycle meant for a 10 year old girl, we stopped to talk with an older lady who was sitting on her porch with a flyswatter. She said she'd accept a card, and we had a great visit with her. We read Moroni 10:3-5 with her, and she caught the spirit of it instantly. She kept reading, and reading, and then had to stop herself so we could actually talk about it! She kept saying how amazing it was, and E. Murdoch invited her to be baptized right there on the spot. She said she'd been baptized already, and our explanation didn't get through to her, but apparently they were able to see her again and had another good visit!
The next morning, the APs made some scrambled duck eggs for breakfast before driving up to North Little Rock for zone conference. It was wonderful as usual. They held the last portion of it after diving the elders and sisters into two groups. We spent some time polishing each other's shoes. Mine definitely needed it hahaha. I didn't feel as bad when Pres. Hansen confessed that the first time he had polished his shoes since being out here was the night before haha.
Back in Benton the next day, we had a lot of good visits! One with our second 90+ year old 7th Day Adventist, who was really sweet but just as stubborn. We were invited in by another lady who just treated us like her personal psychiatrists and told us all kinds of family drama, and we promised blessings from the Book of Mormon. It was a long, but good visit. And finally, we also visited with one of the two ladies that had joked about chasing us away with a broom last week. She asked for another Book of Mormon to give to a coworker, and had some great questions! We are excited about her!
Had kind of a harder day the next day, but it was still good. We had a lesson with a guy who has been meeting with the missionaries for a while, now. Elder Bolos explained how we teach him well when he said, "We basically just Bible Bash with him and he just accepts everything we say after we show it to him in the Bible." So, rest assured there isn't any arguing eith him, he just has a question or concern and we show him a zillion scriptures in the Bible to answer it. He'll sit back and try to come up with something else, but as he is asking it, he will remember what we said and answer his own question. He's pretty fun to teach haha. You can tell gears are turning.
That night, a member called us and said they had a ton of leftover pot roast and were wondering if they could give it to us. Um... yes! It was really good. We had pot roast bbq sandwiches for lunch the next 3 days haha. It was a definite blessing.
They say fall is getting close. But. It was pretty hot on Saturday when we tried to find some new people to teach. Can't wait for it to cool down. Sweaty tracting is always a blast.
We were invited to a wedding reception of a member, and that was about as awkward for two random missionaries to walk in to as you'd expect, but there were yummy desserts, and a couple of the family's work friends we were able to visit with, so it ended up being good.
Sunday was crazy cause we had like 5 or 6 appointments planned that could each take a while. We were worried we would have to miss some of them cause we were so busy, but we managed to at least give everyone a chance! A few didn't work out, and we cleared out our teaching pool a little bit. :/ But a few did and they were good.
The "chase us off with a broom" lady agreed to meet us at 6 that evening. When we got there, we didn't have another guy with us so we couldn't go in her home. So she woke up one of her neighbors and asked for him to come join us so we could get out of the heat. She opened up about the death of her son a few years ago which was really sad. Things went kinda downhill, though, cause there were just a lot of distractions going on and people walking in and out, phones ringing, baby screaming, breast feeding happening... So this lesson plan we'd been stressing out about didn't go through at all.
Fortunately, her 9 year old daughter loves church and Jesus and she was the most attentive of them all. She reminds me of my younger sisters and just has this glow about her despite the kind of negative home life. She ate up everything we said and was excited about the Book of Mormon. It was just so neat to see her faith and excitement, that one book about Jesus was good, so two must be better! I hope for the very very best for that girl.
Got home and had our weekly phone calls with the missionaries in our Zone. Lots of awesome miracles happening all over the place, ahh!! There are too many things going on to even consider any of this as coincidence. This is the Lord's work! I'm so lucky and blessed to be a part of it.
I can't believe September is around the corner! September is gonna be a dang good month. Here's to finishing up August the best we can!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well I'm not in Hope anymore. But I'm still hopeful. You can take the Elder Dahl out of Hope, but you can't take the Hope out of Elder Dahl! That said, it's been a great first week in Benton, Arkansas.
Benton is the big ole sprawly suburbia south of Little Rock. There are a lot of people here and endless streets, seems like. We've got an awesome zone, and I'm excited to be here! We've had a great first week, and are gonna have an awesome transfer.
Ended my time in Hope with some Big Jake's BBQ with the Lims. I'm gonna miss them a lot! After dinner, we headed out for some final hours of proselyting. Went up to Prescott and nobody was home except for Alex, and we had a great visit with him! He was really sad to hear I was leaving, and we got him thinking about baptism, so a bittersweet note to end off on! He's a cool guy.
The next day, we drove up to the mission office. Said goodbye to Elder Ogaard and some of the other missionaries going home this transfer. Gonna miss em!
Drove to Benton with my new companion, Elder Bolos from Ogden, UT! He is awesome and we've had a great week. Super excited to be able to serve with him. He was in my zone in Searcy!
In our first full day, we did a lot of finding and were able to find a few people who were interested in learning more. We tried out an idea our mission president suggested with the couple that was having us over for dinner. We went over an hour early, shared Mormon 9:36-37, and invited them to pray with us and come up with a street in their neighborhood that we could go tracting in. They did, and came up with the same street we had in our planning session that morning. So off we went, tracting in the rain, meeting a few people, but none really interested. We had a good chat with a kid playing basketball, and a bad chat with a shirtless guy in rainbow suspenders doing something to his lawnmower while it rained. He cussed us out and said the Book of Mormon was a bunch of nonsense. But like... he's an old guy wearing rainbow suspenders vicing two boards to a lawnmower seat while it rains, so we didn't take him too seriously haha. He can't really call us crazy.
Had a few good chats to report, and that couple had one of our investigators and the sisters over as well, so we had a good visit and a great lesson afterward on Mosiah 21.
On Wednesday, we got a referral from my MTC companion in Hot Springs, Elder Miller, who had an investigator who was now in Benton cause he was in jail here. So on Thursday we went to the jail and waited around until we were able to ask someone if we could see the guy. We were told to wait, and a few minutes later, another lady asked for our "credentials" so we shared our ministerial certificates and were told we would receive a call back. So we didn't get to meet the guy that day, and we haven't heard back yet... So idk what will happen.
We continued trying to find new people to teach, and approached these two ladies who were sitting outside an apartment with a bunch of little kids. One was on the phone and the other didn't look too thrilled to see us. When the first ended the call, she said it was her mom and that she had told her to shoo us away with a broom. We laughed and then they asked what we believe. We ended up having a really awesome like 30 or 40 minute discussion with both of them, and by the end of it, they both had a Book of Mormon and didn't think we were that weird! So that's a win. I love seeing people change their perspective as the gears start turning in their head.
We had a dinner that night with a lady and her husband. She had served in the same mission when she was younger, and also served in Collierville, Conway, and Benton. She met her husband in the Benton ward. But that's a story for another time haha.
We hurried off to a church tour we had scheduled with a guy we met, but he never ended up coming. We stuck around for a few rounds of volleyball before heading in for the night.
Things kinda slowed down on Friday. We had a long weekly planning which was both aided and hindered by our discovery of some gourmet hot chocolate packs in a cupboard. It was good stuff haha. We didn't find too many people that day, but had a really weird chat with a guy we felt some bad vibes from.
Saturday started off with helping an older couple move... They had a ton of stuff. And when we thought we were done, there was a piano to put into a truck bed. There were a lot of people there to help, but... not a lot of help, ya feel? "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians" as someone said haha. We spent the rest of the day trying to contact people and keep appointments that had been set, but nobody was really home so that was a bummer. On our way in for the night, we passed the Amplify Fest, a big Christian Rock festival that it seemed like the whole town went to. It was a huge deal. We may or may not have taken our time driving through the parking lot haha.
It's cool that so many people are open to go sing and hear about Jesus, but too bad it only gets their attention when it comes in the form of just "hoo-ra" rock and shallow doctrine. :/ There's nothing wrong with it, and a lot good about it, but there is just so much more! Let us tell you about it! :)
Had my first Sunday in Benton and it was pretty good! Met a lot of people. It's gonna take a little longer to get to know everyone than it did in the Hope Branch. But there are a lot of good folks. Including the Burkes, who served a senior couple mission with my grandparents in the Salem Oregon mission! I'd had lunch with them before coming out on my own mission, and was able to have dinner with them again last night.
We also found a cool guy with a big long beard who talked with us for a while about the apostasy. We've met some people with some interesting opinions who think they have it all figured out. But there are just loopholes and disconnects and plotholes in their theories. Christ's church fell apart without his apostles, and without any inspired singular source to correct the saints, they went in all kinds of directions and interpretations, and that's why there are so many churches today. That's why the Bible has an end, and that's why we needed the Restoration! I know this is Christ's church on the earth today. If he loves us today the same as he did in Bible times, and leads us the same way he did then, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has got to be it.
I sure wouldn't be out here getting cussed at by guys in rainbow suspenders if I didn't really believe that. And because I do, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the miracles and blessings we see and are trying to share every day!
Another highlight from this week was hearing that my brother, Henry, got his mission call!!! He leaves in December to go to the Canada Halifax mission!! Super excited for and proud of him!
Support your local missionaries: take the lessons, send em to your friends, feed em something good.
Have a great week! Love,
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
If anybody can figure out how it feels like 80 years ago but at the same time 20 mins ago since my last email, I'd be really interested to know. Still trying to figure that one out.
We were able to have some really good visits this week, and of course: the Hope Watermelon Festival. It was a good grand finale to my time here in Hope. Yup. I'm getting transferred to Benton! I'm really sad to be leaving, but also all kinds of nervous-excited to be back in zone leadership. I'd have loved another 6 weeks here, but there's other people the Lord wants me to help, elsewhere, I guess.
One of our good visits was with a member who hasn't been to church in years. He was an amphibian vehicle driver in the Vietnam War and was giving us all the tips about how you would drive off of the back of a big airline carrier boat or something. So that was really interesting. He made some comment and asked what country Trump has been dealing with lately. We aren't supposed to be keeping up with the news, or participating in political conversations, but I couldn't help myself from jokingly suggesting, "Russia...?" Which he found hilarious.
Another good visit was when we you about an hour and a half of open time. Which is kinda hard to work with in the middle of the day when all your appointments have fallen through and nobody is home. But I found a former investigator in our old notes that I remembered trying once. We pulled in his driveway and the truck behind us did, too. He welcomed us right in and we were able to have s good conversation with him, too. There are a lot of wonderful people here.
One of those is Debbie, who we were able to baptize last transfer. I had my last lesson with her and it was actually so cool because she talked! From time to time in the past she would say a word here and there. But when we asked her what she thought about her trip to the temple, and started looking for her notepad so she could write a response, she managed to quietly tell us how impressive she thought it was, and how nice the people were there. Again on Sunday, she talked a little bit, asking where I was going and whatnot. I thought of the promised miracle to those who have faith that the "dumb shall speak." (Mark 7:37, D&C 84:70, 2 Nephi 31:13) Does it get any cooler?
We were able to have another great lesson with a guy in Prescott. He is humble and willing to learn, but it takes him a lot of explaining. He's a super cool guy, and I'm gonna miss being able to see the gears turning in his head.
We also had a "drop visit" with a couple who we had kinda already assumed we would drop. They welcomed us in and told us they weren't all that interested. I know a big part of that is that they never read the Book of Mormon, and another part is that it is just impossible to feel the spirit in their home. There were 6 dogs running around, and all the possible clues they leave behind. They had shredded a couch, and so fluff was everywhere over the cigarette-scented carpet. It was kinda hard to breathe. I was nervous to sit on the couch, but didn't want to be rude. (When I got home and changed into pajamas, I discovered a dog turd matted against my slacks and a large brown stain on the back of my white shirt.) I don't want to talk down or anything, it is just really sad to me that people can choose to live that way. Order, peace, cleanliness, and light provide so much in our lives. If we are to feel the spirit, we need those things.
The next day was spent getting ready for the Watermelon Festival. Printing off questionnaires, organizing media, and so on. We had dinner at Tailgaters burgers with the Lims, and their daughter and granddaughter who flew in from Idaho to visit them and come to the Festival this weekend. Afterwards, we went over to our spot and started setting up our booth as much as we could!
We finished it up the next morning of the Festival after our district council. Our whole district was able to be there that day, which was really fun, but it was kinda the slow day of the festival, though. Which is to be expected cause it was a Thursday. But if was still fun. We got ourselves a "slice" of watermelon for the experience. It was 2$ a slice, and so we were expecting some little slice, right? Oh no, they weren't messing around. They literally give you a quarter of a watermelon. And not just any watermelon. A HOPE watermelon. Extra big, extra sweet. They were dang good. We talked with the people who run the camel rides for a while, but never ended up riding them. I also remembered that August 9 was an important date for something... oh yeah! My 1st book came out 7 years ago that day. Woooowww. "The Dreamers" is getting old haha.
On day 2 of the Watermelon Festival, we started noticing just some funny quirks about humanity. Like how many people saw our booth, and turned around to go into the next row of booths a different way besides passing in front of us. Or how many people looked the opposite direction as they walked by. We got a lot of rejection, but people were nice, and we also got a lot of good leads. Opposition in all things!
Had a BBQ sandwich for lunch. Y'all know how much I love BBQ.
Went and talked to our friend Bob who was selling knives. He had a discount box, 1 for $3 Or 2 for $5 and got one of those. He told us to keep him updated about transfers. I was expecting to stay another transfer, but then President Hansen called and told me he had finished figuring out transfers and extended a call to be a senior zone leader in Benton. Whoa! I told him I'd do it, cause I would, and cause I don't wanna be the guy who makes Pres. Hansen have to re-figure out transfers haha. So I'm excited! Nervous, and sad to be leaving Hope, but excited!
We made our way back to Bob's booth and shared the news. Without hesitating, he reached into his display case and handed me a really nice pocket knife. He is seriously one of the coolest, nicest, people out there. Gonna miss that guy. I told him I'd be back to visit, though!
That night, Elders Turner, Billings, and Barnes arrived at our apartment to help out for Saturday. We had a good time having them with us. They're great.
Saturday ended up being the busiest and best day, unsurprisingly. They had a watermelon eating contest that we caught the tail end and free leftover watermelon slices of, and a seed-spitting contest. (As opposed to a speed-sitting contest!) I didn't catch the whole thing, but overheard distances surpassing 20 feet. Way to go?
Had a guy ask me if I was a Jehovah's Witness. I told him no and he looked kind of disappointed. I asked him why and he explained he had had this question he wanted to ask them. I figured I'd try my hand at it and asked what his question was. What he said cracked me up hahaha.
"You know they don't celebrate like national holidays or whatever, right?" "Yeah." "So I mean, if they don't celebrate holidays, what I really want to ask them is: if the Razorbacks score a touchdown... do they celebrate then? Or would that be against their rules, too?"
People are awesome.
We also had a member of the branch presidency call us Saturday morning and ask us to come prepared for a talk on Sunday in case the visiting speaker from Little Rock didn't show up. So Sunday morning before I even got in the shower, I wrote a few notes down, and wouldn't you know it, the visiting speaker did come, but only after we had confirmed with Bro. Ridgell that we were ready to speak and had been put in the program. So I gave what I thought was a pretty good talk on James 1:5, and then we had potluck afterward. A part member family we had hoped to start teaching when I first got here showed up to church for the first time since then. An exciting little miracle for the Hope missionaries, and a good way for my last Sunday in Hope to go. Plus, Debbie brought a "yellow-meated" watermelon that was orange inside and is on my list of best watermelons I've had.
Spent some time writing down notes for Elder Peterson and my replacement and then went through our people notes from the Watermelon Festival with the Lims. We've got a good handful of pretty promising people! I'm excited for all the good stuff going on here, and feel rest-assured that I've left my mark on Hope, and that it's better than I found it, and that it will soon be better than when I left it. That's what it's all about.
Gonna miss the Lims a lot! They are so awesome and I've learned so much from them and their example. I'm so thankful for all that they've done for me and this area. They're headed home in a few weeks. We had a fun visit with them and their family last night, and are headed to my last supper in Hope at (you guessed it) a BBQ joint tonight.
Off to more new adventures in a different part of Arkansas! 5th Area, 5th Zone, 9th companion.
But in the mean time... I gotta pack, yikes
Love y'all! "I still believe in a place called Hope." - Bill Clinton & Elder Dahl
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
I did shower this week, though, okay?
Maybe some explanations are in order.
On Tuesday, I had a leadership training meeting in North Little Rock at 9:30AM, and rather than get up at 5AM to drive there that day, we got permission to drive as far as Hot Springs, AR on Monday, stay the night, and head out that morning.
So we spent a good part of last Monday checking out Hot Springs, which was fun. We didn't stray far from the touristy sites, but they were still cool. For a couple minutes, cars were driving by the main street, and there were actually some tall buildings, and people walking along the sidewalk... I just took it in. Little slivers of street corners brought back memories of New York City and Paris and Boston. But that's probably just cause I've been away from Memphis for almost a year, now. I wouldn't call myself a city kid, but wow did it feel good to be in something that felt like a city for a little while. There's something exciting about the hustle and bustle of it all. ...Unless you're driving in it. (I got an "aggressive driving" from the tiwi machine in our car.)
We toured one of the big bath houses there, managed by the National Park Service, and that was actually pretty sweet. It would be neat to have gone in its prime days. People were taking all kinds of funky varieties of baths and treatments.
After our P-day ended, Elder Miller and I headed to a "Family Home Evening" that a few members of their ward were putting on. We met in a little trailer and had a cute object lesson, and even some brownies. It was a good time. We then went to visit one of the people they're teaching and that was good, too! Elder Miller and I were MTC companions, and Elder Barney was in our District, then, too. So it was super fun reminiscing on that and laughing at how far we've come. (And also playing a game called "Exploding Kittens.")
Our meeting the next day was awesome. And not just cause Elder Ogaard was there or because of the amazing homemade pulled pork sammiches. Learned a lot and felt a good boost of fire that I needed under me.
After that, I went on exchanges w the Zone Leaders in Pine Bluff. We had a birthday of a recent convert that we went to, but we were too full from lunch to eat much more haha. But did that stop us? Hahahahahaa
[On a slightly unrelated note, I've actually been losing weight in Hope. My Collierville-Conway member dinners are gone. I was already a twig and now I'm more of a twig, yikes]
After some finding and another appointment, Elder Billings and I were talking to people at a gas station while we filled up, and this lady complimented my tie and said I should get some highlights in my hair. (So... objective number one when I get home?? Highlights. Actually, on second thought...)
We exchanged back Wednesday night, and it was kinda weird having only like half of the week left in Hope. But it was good to be back and we got some good stuff done. District Council, getting an air conditioning unit to Sis. Martin (the lady with the monkeys) going to Nashville, AR and having both appointments there fall through, but managing to help a guy on his riding lawnmower out of a ditch... you know, the usual. That was just Thursday.
Friday was kinda similar cause we went to Prescott, AR and had both appointments there fall through, too. And one of those was supposed to include a dinner, too, so that was a downer. But we had a nice chat with a family holding a yard sale, and met with another guy we met a few weeks ago who seems really excited to study the Book of Mormon, even asking us to bring highlighters or scripture markers the next time we come. I'm hopeful for him!
Saturday was an extra good day! In the morning, we went to try some people that said we could come back, and one let us in. He was chillin on the couch in his boxers watching "The Partridge Family" which... seemed like as much of a time capsule as a TV show could ever be. Talk about retro vibes haha. We had a good visit with him, though, and he was also pretty willing to study things out on his own.
We helped Bob out at his building again, scraping glue and plaster off the brick entry way. Nothing glorious but we did get Subway out of the deal.
We spent some time that afternoon trying to find new people to teach. In the process, we prayed over a large black family picnic, taught a former investigator about the Plan of Salvation, and got sketched out by one street as it was starting to get dark and people were hiding out when we walked by, or else riding a horse right in our path and making us step off the road. Yes, really.
But the best part about Saturday was that the Lims were able to take Debbie to the Dallas temple, and she was able to have her son baptized by proxy, as well as be baptized for a few others that day. She was really excited about that.
On Sunday, we ended up starting to teach "Gospel Principles," (Sunday School) and so that was fun. Otherwise, we have just been getting hyped for the Watermelon Festival this week! Aug. 9-11, come on down, come say hi! We'll have a booth there and it's gonna be awesome. As long as it doesn't rain. Which... it might haha.
But, it's been a good week! Things are ever looking up in Hope.
"I still believe in a place called Hope." -Bill Clinton (Yes, really.)
Y'all be bless' now!
Send gravy or maybe some chicken spaghetti*
Male, female, and email
Female snail, snail male
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
*Actually, you probably better not. That'd be gross to get in the mail.
It's been a miracle filled week if your eyes are open to the miracles!
On Monday night, we had an appointment fall through, and so we went down a street and drove around to kinda scope out the area we were planning on knocking doors in. On a whim, we decided to drive a little further. As we crested a hill, a beautiful little sunset-lit valley of freshly harvested hay bales was on the other side. Being the hopeless romantics we are, we pulled over to take a quick picture, and in doing so, noticed a gorgeous little yellow 50s-something classic car.
Well, we said to ourselves, we had already pulled over, and we were supposed to be knocking doors anyway, so we walked down the gravel driveway. The two pitbulls fortunately left us alone. We ended up talking to an older guy named Henry. He asked what we were selling, and we explained we were missionaries. "Oh." He replied. "I think I probably have more devil in me than God." We asked if we could check out his car, and he waved for us to go ahead. It didn't take long before he strolled over to join us, letting us start the thing and saying that if he had the back wheels on he would take us for a ride.
"I'll sell it to ya," he said, trying to convince us that it ran on water, and saying "back in the day, we used to fit ten women in them things." He looked like kind of a grouchy grubby guy, but when jokes were flying he got a good little twinkle in his eye haha.
The next day in District Council, we planned out more for the watermelon festival coming up. We later made the biggest media order I've ever done, and checked out the spot we apparently will have. It's perfect! It's coming up fast and I'm excited! Of course, none of this was done until after having lunch at Allen's BBQ there in Arkadelphia. Aw man. Have I mentioned I love barbecue? What am I gonna do back in Idaho??
After a new member lesson with Debbie, (who is planning on going to the temple this weekend to do baptisms for her son who passed away, and other relatives!!) we were driving back to Hope when Elder Lim saw a four wheeler full of cantaloupe off the side of the road. We turned around and saw that there was a guy selling them. He got 2, and asked if we could share a quick message. He said we could, when his wife is home. That's exactly what we want haha. So we'll see where cantaloupe man goes.
As we were coming into town, Sister Lim remembered that Elder Peterson had judt hsd a birthday, and so we stopped for banana splits.
We met a cool guy in Prescott, and went back the next day to see him again, and to have another appointment we were really excited about! Neither worked out. We had 5 appointments lined up that day. Like 1 and a half of those happened. Which is better odds than I've had before haha. But it was still kinda disappointing. We did stop by the chamber of commerce there, and visited with a really nice lady.
The next day we helped out Bob at his old building again. This time stripping up tile. But like the rubbery plastic stuff just glued down on wood or plaster. So that was fun. We got back that afternoon worn out.
We had more people miss appointments, and nobody seemed to be home. That, in addition to how tired we were, made me kinda grumpy. On our way back home for the night, we decided to try one more person, a guy we had met months ago but hadn't seen since. We stopped by his house, hoping for a miracle, but lights were off, cars were gone, and nobody was home. As soon as I wrote a note on a card and put it in the door, he pulled up, said hi, and was still willing to meet with us. Yay!
That night I was still kinda feeling down, and journaled, and said my nightly prayer. I was kinda gently scolded and rebuked by the Spirit haha. I was basically compared to Laman and Lemuel, who saw miracle after miracle but still complained. And then I was compared to the later Nephi of the Book of Mormon who was reminded by the Savior to write a story about another prophet that he hadn't recorded. I realized I hadn't journaled about that that miracle at all! So I quickly mended that.
We went to help out Bob again the next day, and on our way into town passed by a booth set up by the Christian Motorcyclist Association. We were in service clothes, but when we parked, I was kinda like: "uuhh we have to check that out" haha. So we did. One of the guys in his leather jacket asked us, "when did they slacken your dress code?" We hadn't introduced ourselves as missionaries, but we were wearing our name tags. We explained we did service for people, and another lady perked up. Apparently she had just been talking about needing some help around the house. So we exchanged info, and even shared Mosiah 2:17 with them before a guy came around, and asked if what we had was the Book of Mormon. He then loudly announced himself as a Baptist preacher, and said, "I'll argue with you about the Book of Mormon."
That obviously wasn't what we were there to do, and we just shrugged it off, put on our "extra nice" hats, and testified of Jesus Christ. He was still confrontational after that, but our new biker friends kinda backed us up and even offered to buy us a soda. (He later admitted his sister was Mormon and that he thought our conference center was the most beautiful building he's set foot in haha.)
We watched the Restoration DVD with one of our investigators that afternoon. Getting it to play was a struggle, and she got a phone call or 2 during the 20 minute video. Funny how the adversary tries to district us. By the end of it, though, she said she felt the spirit and knew Joseph Smith was called of God. Well. That worked out!
We stopped at a gas station to use the restroom after that lesson. When I got out, Elder Peterson was talking to a kid our age who then said he was a Baptist preacher. We exchanged info with him and he was open to meeting with us. We will see where that goes. He was a lot nicer than the other Baptist preacher we met earlier that day haha.
Before Elder Peterson could have his turn in the restroom, another guy stopped us in the gas station and uh with a good level of confidence I can say that he was the weirdest person I've ever met. He asked if we believed in the Book of Mormon and we said yes! "Good," he said, and it piqued our interest. "I believe Jesus Christ visited the Americas, too. And I also believe that there were Jews that traveled here. But I don't think they came on a boat, I believe they dug a tunnel under the ocean and popped up somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico." I started to laugh a little bit but saw that this guy was being serious. He said some other wild stuff, and I was kinda shook hahaha. What the actual heck.
We had a slightly better encounter with a guy back in Hope. He's a super funny, somewhat crippled 70-something year old black guy with a mouth like a sailor. We tried explaining the premortal life to him and he interrupted to ask if that was in the time of the dinosaurs. "Mmhmm them things will bite yo a**." I was dead. He just went on talking about all these different things that would "bite yo a**," including the dog barking outside the door and it took me a second to get my composure back. Then talking about the resurrection, he started talking about cemeteries. "Man, when there gets lightnin' and thunder around them cemeteries, that's some spooky s***" which... idk, was also just hilarious coming from this little old black man.
I love the south hahaha. It is entertaining if nothing else.
The branch got a new piano/organ this week. They don't like change too much haha. I was the "branch organist" for the day just cause I was experimenting with it when people started coming in. Nobody else really wanted to touch it haha.
It rained like crazy after church, and again as soon as we got into Wal-Mart to do our shopping this morning. We ran to our car not that far away but got all kinds of soaked in the short distance.
Last night we had a good visit with a member who hasn't been to church in a long time. Another older black guy. He told us some of his life story of growing up in the house he still lives in today. He was the first black quarterback and first black boy scout in Hope, Arkansas back in the 60s. It was cool hearing his stories and that he'd be willing to come back to church!
Lots of crazy, funny, and wonderful people this week. God lets us be as happy as we let ourselves be over the blessings and miracles he gives us.
Try sending a package over email, see what happens
Try sending an email through the mail, see what happens
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Matthew 7:7 ("Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you") unfortunately only applies when we are asking, seeking, and knocking through prayer with God. Cause we've done a lot of seeking, and a lot of knocking, but not many doors were opened unto us.
But that's ok cause it was a good week anyway!
When we called to set up an appointment with our lady who is preparing to be baptized... she became our lady who was preparing to be baptized. She told us she knew what we were teaching her was true, but that she was just going to go back to her church.
I could write more than an essay about how much that wrecks ya, but I'll spare us both of that haha. Keep her in your prayers, we are hoping she comes back around.
We did a lot of trying to find new people to teach this week. In large part due to the fact that most of those who we have been teaching haven't been home. Our car thermometer read 111 on 2 different days this week, and was at least in the triple digits during most of the rest of the days. That made knocking doors interesting, cause with as sweaty as we were... I probably wouldn't let me in, either haha. But we found a couple people who said we could come back, so we will take what we can get.
We did get to visit our bible referral couple again. They invited us inside this time. (But before going in, we were asked, "Are you good with dogs?" and before we had a chance to really respond, we were just told, "Okay, just don't panic," which... after this month's dog bite didn't exactly put me at ease.)
A lone, bare purple bulb illuminated the room, (or was supposed to, I guess, but idk how they were able to read). They had a handful of little dogs walking around in there, a thick smell of cigarette smoke, and a large clock built into a painting of Elvis Presley. We took the introduction of the Book of Mormon and made it as simple as we possibly could. They're good people, and were looking forward to reading by the time we left, but they sure make me grateful for all that I know, have, and am.
We also visited another bible referral this week, who apparently skipped her dialysis treatment so she could be home when we came over?? So that was concerning. But she seemed to be ok, and asked if we believed in modern prophets before we even got there, so that was cool. ("Why yes we do!")
We also had our interviews with President Hansen this week, and did a kind of double exchange, where one of our zone leaders went with me to one of the companionships in my district in Camden, and we blitzed with them and that was a lot of fun. ("Blitzing" is just missionary slang for more than one companionship working in an area at a time trying to find people who are interested, not blitzing like the Germans did, don't worry.)
Elder Shelley and I were able to visit with this lady who was a member of the church, but had been kinda dragged out of it by family circumstances. She was so nice. We invited her and her kids to the mutual activity that night, and they came! Plus they gave the Camden elders some pretty promising sounding referrals, so that was a success.
While the Camden elders were at the youth activity, Elder Turner and I stopped for a smoothie at McDonald's. We had been thinking about going to Sonic, but I figured we might be able to talk with more people at Micky D's. Well, that turned out to be a prompting cause both of the ladies at the registers happened to be people who the missionaries had visited and taught years ago, and both of them were open to having them back!
So, while it was with some chagrin that I realized we had more success grabbing a smoothie at McDonald's than we did in 4 hours of knocking doors, it was worth it I guess.
The next day we went to Taco Bell, and didn't have the same luck, but did get a kick out of their sign advertising the return of nacho fries. (Which, I never realized had gone away haha) "THEY BACK / NACHO FRIES"
Ahh Arkansas. What a place.
We were invited to a community meeting Thursday night, and we figured we could go see what it was all about and hopefully see what else is happening in town that we could help out with. Hope was awarded something that made them an official member of the "Main Street Arkansas" organization. So that's cool. Way to go, Hope! Afterward, a bunch of people came up and thanked us again for our help at the fish fry weeks ago haha. We met the chief of police and he was super nice, too. He said we could come by to rant or tattle on people any time we wanted haha.
We were invited cause we've been helping out this guy named Bob in his 100 year old building downtown. He kinda got to know us from the fish fry, and he gave us a tour of the building last week. We just showed up in work clothes one day and asked what we could do, and he gratefully put us to work! We've been working on the floor, mostly screwing boards in and whatnot. It's been really fun, and we just about finished what needed to get done this week. It looks good. I mean, it's all gonna get covered up by actual flooring later. But it'll still be cool to come back and say I helped put the floor in that place. One of the days we helped, Bob took us down the street to a little restaurant and we had a good ole southern catfish plate. Between that, how cool Bob is, and being able to do service in a pretty well-air-conditioned building, I'd say we found ourselves a pretty sweet gig.
Today was Elder Petersons birthday, so I found some leftover birthday decorations from past missionaries that never got used, and put them up while he was in the shower haha. And then this afternoon we checked out Old Washington, a small civil war era town that became the confederate army HQ after Little Rock was taken by the Union. So that was pretty interesting. History is cool!
That's pretty much the highlights from this week! Hope y'all have a good week and stay cooler than I'll be! God bless ya, now.
Elder Dahl, your new resident flooring expert*
Tell me something good
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
(1 Corinthians 9:10) - "...that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope."
(I didn't use a plow this week.) But... we kept planting our seeds and nourishing the vineyard. We didn't have to worry too much about irrigating this week, cause we got a good rain on Tuesday.
More plainly, I guess, it's been a good week where I've been blessed to see some of the first fruits of following the spirit. A few tiny promptings that at the time just seemed like good ideas led to some awesome little miracles. (That will hopefully continue to bring more and more miracles!)
Monday night was great, we were able to have two lessons. The latter of which was with a lady who hasn't progressed too much. We've asked and asked her to read the Book of Mormon, and she hasn't. And we've invited her to church a bunch of times, but she hadn't ever come. We just visited really quick and shared a short spiritual thought, and then I had the idea to explain the sacrament to her. She thought it was neat that we had it (also known to some as "communion") weekly, and liked the symbolism we shared for it. She said she would come and that we could call her Saturday night! We did, and she just kinda said, "okay, yeah," etc. without saying "I'll be there," so I admittedly didn't expect much. But come 9:57 AM on Sunday, she came just in time for sacrament meeting and seemed to enjoy it.
Tuesday was interesting cause we didn't get to see a single person we drove up to Prescott to see. Nobody was home. Or at least that's what they would have us think. And it rained really hard while we were walking around. But, we were able to check out a bunch of old cars just parked in a yard off the street before it did start raining, and we were able to take cover under a shallow roof protruding from a CME church. So it ended up being a pretty fun time, anyway.
Especially cause as we were walking to find a referral we had been sent (whose address we never did end up finding) I had one of those thoughts to go out of our direct path a little bit and try a few houses. The first one we did try had two big yellow rocking chairs, and one tiny one. I figured I'd ask whoever opens the door about the tiny one, thinking of it as just a good conversation topic, not really a prompting of the spirit or anything. But when I did bring it up, the kind lady that answered ended up sharing that her husband had passed away 3 weeks ago, and she asked several times for us to be sure to come back. We are planning to try visiting her tonight. Walked away with chills, cause that's what it's all about. God using us to reach out to His children to comfort them and invite them to Him.
We also got a text from the sisters who moved into Elder Peterson's old area of Germantown, TN. They were working with one of the people he had been teaching when he was there, and happened to mention that the first person I baptized had gone with them to that lesson. Anyway, it was just good to hear she's doing well and doing good!
Wednesday was another up and down day. We were only really able to see one or two of the people we'd hoped to see, but it was a great day. We talked with Carmelita about temples, and the spirit was there really strong. She said she could feel what the temple feels like inside as we shared our testimony of it, and you could tell there was a lot of good in the room helping her to understand and recognize truth. She is amazing.
From there, we drove up through Washington, a little civil war era looking town/state park thing? We stopped for lunch at the tavern there, which has been open since the 1830s or something. My red beans and rice were delicious. We asked the waitress, who shared that she was from Nashville, AR, if there was anyone we could see in Nashville while we were up there, and she told us about her dad, Bubba, who was in a nursing home. So after that yummy lunch, checking out the tree out front of the place that had been struck by lightning (!!) and a discussion with another lady who's been investigating the church, we went to the nursing home and asked for "Bubba." They knew exactly who we were talking about and led us right there, and he just loved our visit. Talkative good ole southern boy. As we left, he said he'd never forget us haha.
Elder Lim stopped to grab some peaches from a roadside fruit tent. Those are starting to pop up everywhere. Mostly with watermelon. But the locals keep telling us to wait until the signs say "Hope Watermelon" before getting any of them. I guess we've got another few weeks til those start hitting the streets like an influx of freshly imported cocaine.
We weren't able to teach anyone else back in Hope that night, but a guy did recommend the taco truck I keep meaning to try, and we had some time, so we stopped and got tacos. They were pretty dang good. Although I learned the hard way (by dumping a lot of it on my taco) that the orange salsa they gave wasn't quite like Valentina's, but more like pureed habanero peppers haha. Youch.
On Thursday, we had our zone conference (missionary meeting) in Little Rock. There wasn't really a lot that was said that stood out to me, too much. But I definitely came away from it with some awesome understandings.
1. I LOVE the doctrine of Christ. I am reminded of a quote by Neal A Maxwell. "The restored gospel is buoyant, wide, and deep--beyond our comprehension. It edifies, whether concerning divine design in the universe stressing the importance of personal chastity and fidelity. Only meek disciples can safely handle such a bold theology."
There are people who know every last little detail about Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, even going as far as to learn the languages of these fictional universes. I feel like I am getting to that level with the restored gospel. The difference is, this is real! This has lasting, eternal consequences. This brings joy into my life and into the lives of all those I share it with. Joy that inexplicably can't be found any other way or place than from God. And there is no end to it! There is no limit to our understanding or what we can learn before we have to start "writing fanfiction." No, we can learn forever. To draw a line in the sand where the limit is is to deny the fact that there is no limit to what we can learn about a God who is limitless in His love and wisdom. He wants us to know it all, but it's like a puzzle you can only put together one piece at a time. And there aren't any edge pieces. :)
2. We had the opportunity to share our testimonies at the end of zone conference. I occasionally do, and decided to this time. There was kind of a theme of going through hard times on your mission, and well... I could relate. Afterwards, a sister stopped me and thanked me for something I said: "maybe the joy we are looking for comes later" and I was like "dang, where'd that come from, I gotta write that down, too haha." On our 2 hour drive home (with a stop at David's Burgers, ayoo) I thought about that a lot and came to a cool conclusion.
If I were the show you a map of Mount Everest, where would you feel the most joy to be as a hiker? The top! Does that mean you won't feel joy at other places, after difficult days and at the top of certain peaks leading up to it? No, of course not. You'll experience successes that will bring you relief and joy. But will it be the same as the joy on top? Not quite, nothing matches that. And you will still have absolutely miserable days where your toes are frozen and you slide back into the snow, etc. But if you think in those instances, (or even in the times when you are feeling pretty good) that you are somehow entitled to the joy that is only yours at the top of the mountain, or at the end of the hard time, or even in heaven... you're gonna be disappointed all the time. So accept and enjoy the portions of joy you are given. Remember you are still climbing. Enjoy the view.
Another quote I found this week essentially encouraged you to be disappointed. Search for disappointment. That means we had high expectations and did everything we could to make something happen. Sure, it means that it didn't happen in the end, but as long as we are disappointed - and not discouraged or disappointed in ourselves - then we are doing pretty dang good! So I loved that thought. Go out and search for disappointment. You may just find success when you do.
We had a lesson on our way back into town with a bible referral and her husband. We couldn't find their house, so we asked a neighbor, who pointed us across the street and warned us, "I wouldn't go over there if I were you." That piqued my curiosity. I asked why not. "They've got five dogs. And they bite." the guy replied, hiking up his basketball shorts up over his knee, revealing a full set of teethmarks on the back of his leg behind the knee--covering the top of his calf and the bottom of his thigh. Wow. I made some feeble joke like "Well, I just got bit by a dog last week, what's one more?" So we drove across the street and a guy was standing on the corner. He ended up being her husband. He pulled some coolers out in the yard for us to sit on and we had a good, simple, restoration lesson with them haha. (The dogs were behind another fence) It was about the kind of thing I expected coming to Arkansas haha.
There was a little more to the end of the week, but not too much to write about. I gotta have some stories to tell when I get back home that y'all haven't heard before haha. And this email is long enough. So you'll hear from me again next week!
If you haven't read the Book of Mormon, do it. (And if you have, read it again. Always be reading it!) It's not really like a beach read, but it could be. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, just pick up the dang thing. The ebook is free, you can get it delivered for free, you've got no excuses. It will add as much light and truth and joy into your life as you let it.
Have some extra attention you wanna give away?
Have some extra foodstuffs you have the urge to mail away?
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
videos from the week: https://youtu.be/pO--Gl3o0TE
Passing judgement on this week based on title of this email might lead one to believe that it was something short of "great" but it was really pretty good haha. We're in the dog days, but things are going well!
Started off the week with transfers. Got up at 3:30AM so Elder Anderson could finish packing everything up. Including his big ole breadmaker haha. I ugly-slept most of the 2 hour drive to North Little Rock. A few hours later, Elder Peterson arrived from the Memphis caravan. He had been serving in Germantown, TN, another wealthy neighboring town to Collierville! Glad to have him in Hope! He's from Malad, Idaho.
That pretty much took our whole day, but we hit the ground running on Wednesday.
We had an appointment with our lady at the museum in town, and studied a little bit with her. She's read a lot of the Book of Mormon, and later this week even prayed about it and said she feels good, but... I don't know how much of it she understands cause she doesn't see what she needs to do or change because of that yet. Which is tricky.
We had our first new member lesson with Debbie, which went well, and then we introduced Elder Peterson to Gypsy and Devin, Sister Martin's monkeys haha. We did some finding in Prescott and gave a Book of Mormon to a Baptist minister. And then a less-active couple and their family had us over for a 4th of July cookout with hamburgers and brats. Man, brats are good.
As we pulled back into our apartment complex, there were cars parked all along the road on either side of the entrance. Turns out the Methodist church across the street was having a firework show. So we stayed outside a little longer and enjoyed a pretty doggone well-choreographed 15 minute firework show. Way to go, Methodists haha.
Did some walking around Thursday morning, sweating like a dog and met with another less active couple. One was pretty drunk which was too bad, and not just cause it was only like 4:00PM. :(
We had a good lesson that evening, though, with an investigator couple. I was way more bold than I ever would have been at the start of my mission. But they ate it up and enjoyed it, and said that they feel the spirit when we come over. When people recognize that, good things tend to happen. (Although they did cancel our appointment for yesterday...)
On Friday I introduced Elder Peterson to some of our favorite people around town, who we've helped out between chipping plaster off of walls and the community fish fry thing. We've gotten to build a really good relationship with them all, and they're as close to me as any of the members here are. One of them owns an antique shop that's actually super cool. We chatted with him and the ladies working at the store for a while, and then he gave us a tour of the building he's renovating and fixing to move into. It is dang cool!! It used to be an old department store, and looks like it hasn't been touched much since the 50s or 60s. (So uh... #vibes) It made me want to do a photoshoot in there. But it'll be all fixed up and painted over by the time I could. Rip.
We met with the lady at the chamber of commerce again, and got ourselves signed up to have a booth at the watermelon festival! I'm super excited for that even though I might get heatstroke and die. It'll be fun, though, and an awesome grand finale to the transfer. President Hansen even approved my request to bring members of my district down to join us. So that'll be fun!!
That evening was our branch Independence Day cookout. We arrived early and it was like 98 degrees in the car. Other people started showing up, and then the grill came, and then as soon as we got hot dogs and burgers on the grill, it got dark and crazy windy. Everyone had to hold onto their stuff. By the time we were serving up, it was sprinkling, and once everyone was eating, a lightning bolt struck close and LOUD! It was pretty sweet. We just kept enjoying our little barbecue in the storm and it all worked out. We were under a shelter fortunately, so we stayed pretty dry haha.
We were busy again on Saturday, but our time in Prescott went to the dogs. We had no luck whatsoever. We had a great lesson with Carmelita on the Word of Wisdom. She's living it already and it's just amazing how receptive and in tune to the spirit she is. She's amazing. (And even sang a few lines of some gospel hymn for us in her excitement about the Iron Rod in 1 Nephi 8. Dang, that lady can sing!)
Walked around Hope some more that night, walking around parts of this little town I had never seen before. Met some cool people that I'll hopefully be able to write more about next week! :) while walking, we passed this little shop in a sketchier part of town that we pass through on our way to church. Since I got here, there's been this little table sitting out front and I was sure it was a record player just sitting out there. Sure enough. A little note inside says that they got it at a yard sale but never ended up using if and that it works great. FREE.
So... if any of you wanna come pick that up and hold onto it for me... it'd be much appreciated.
Sunday was good! Carmelita came and we had pot luck afterward. We went out to find some new people in easily one of the nicer neighborhoods I've been in since leaving Collierville. Funny that the nice neighborhood is where I get bit by a dog.
We walk up to the first house. There are two cars in the driveway. Two pretty big, kinda intimidating dogs are leashed up and napping under the car on the left. We stepped onto the driveway and one barked but didn't move from the car. So we go around the other side of the car on the right, around towards their front door. Well I didn't get very far before the one dog that barked turned the corner around the car on the right and kinda ran toward me. I took a step back out of surprise, but still just expected it to circle me and bark and maybe nudge my legs like most people's loose dogs do. (I've gotten a lot more bold around dogs since the start of my mission, too. I'd never had a problem other than being annoyed by their barks. Big ones, little ones, cute ones, scary ones, they've all been ok. Until then.)
But nope. That sucker turned it's head and went for my left leg. I stepped back quickly, losing my pant leg from off its tooth, and let the adrenaline try to fade down. The owners had magically appeared out of nowhere and pulled back on the leash. I gave the shakiest "we're the missionaries" spiel of my life. The guy ended up being nice and kinda apologetic, but not even a sympathetic return appointment was to be had. As we walked away, I could see a tiny hole in my pants where a tooth had gone through, and a little bit of pain under it. Walked and talked around for another hour or so, meeting a prison chaplain biker guy who was pretty cool and said he had been on the run from the FBI for 2 years before turning his life over to Christ haha.
We got back to the car and for the heck of it, I hiked up my pant leg, expecting maybe a little scratch. But no, there was a good sized little scab already, a little smaller than an m&m. I didn't realize he drew blood but yup. I got off easy, but it still freaked me out a bit and gave me something to make my weekly email exciting. To add insult to injury, the dog's name was "Goofy," smh. Last I checked, Goofy didn't go around nibbling on the legs of the Lord's servants.
So uh... that's been the week. Cool people, sketchy people, hot days, rainy days, one fish, two fish, red fish, mean dog. Wait--?
Hope y'all have a blessed week. The people (and dogs) down here could use your prayers.
It might be funny if you sent pictures of puppies but at least say hi, too
Plz don't send a puppy, it's against the white handbook and probably the law
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
video collage: https://youtu.be/q7tzPlp7HsU
This weekly email brought to you by:
- Germantown, TN
- Goofy, the beloved animated Disney character
- NOT the dog that bit me
- just so that's clear
- Your local pound
- Frozen Oreos
- The 1960s
Happy July!? Did June even happen??
I've given up on expecting a thoroughly "good" or "bad" week. Every week is just a mixed bag of both haha. This one definitely had more of the "good," though.
The week started off with some barbecue. Monday evening we went up to Prescott, AR to visit some people there who have been tricky to get ahold of. We got to the first guy we wanted to try, (someone who had met with the missionaries a few years ago) got out of the car, the same dog started yipping at us as always, but there were people getting into a car.
"Is John here?" we asked. Two kids walked into the back yard, saying, "Dad, the white guys are here."
John came around the corner and warmly said hello, and then asked the golden question: "Do yall want some barbecue? Come back in an hour and I'll have some ready!
Didn't need to tell us twice! We tried making a few other visits, and then circled back around. He handed us a plate with an incredible piece of meat - glazed in now-crispy barbecue sauce after being slow smoked over charcoal and apple wood. If my words do it half justice, that's pretty good.
We chatted with him, and went over with him to the house of the member of the branch who catches chickens, and had a fun visit with the two of them before having to head back to Hope.
On Tuesday, we had our last district meeting of the transfer. Er, I mean... District Council. (They changed the name of the meeting on us with the update to Preach My Gospel.) That was good, and the Lims took us out to El Rinconcito, a Mexican restaurant in town, and that was also good.
That afternoon, we had great visits with Debbie and Carmelita, and later with a couple going through some stuff with some interesting ideas about how God and religion work. One of them just kind of expects that God will put His answer right in her lap without her having to do anything. Boy, wouldn't that be nice?
The next day was cool. We've made a few trips out to Nashville, AR, and sometimes we are able to see a lot of people, other times, not so much. Lately it's been more along the lines of "not so much." As I prayed that morning, I said we were going up to Nashville, and this is kind of our one shot to see a lot of the people we have there this week, so... please just let us see them! Well, not everybody we tried was home, but we were able to talk with all of the main people we had hoped to--Even if it was only in passing. And gave out a Book of Mormon. We also finally saw a referral we had received and met within my first week of being in Hope again! She has been reading, yay!
Things went downhill a little bit on Thursday as we realized:
1. We had like 20 miles left on our car for the month. (We are given a limit.)
2. The Lim's car, (affectionately nicknamed by yours truly, the "Lim-ousine") is in the body shop
3. The heat index was like 104-115!
4. Our cell phone no longer has cell service in Hope. Apparently T Mobile decided to drop coverage for this area. Yippee. (Today by some miracle it's working again? But I don't expect it will for long.)
A fun combination of things!
When we went to drop off Elder Lim to the body shop to pick up their car, our next door neighbor was heading out, too, and asked if we would want some dishes, cause he was moving out. So... We got some new dishes.
On our way back from the body shop, I also could no longer handle the length of my hair. It wasn't bad, just annoying. And hot. And I'd been trying to get a haircut for the last month. But no barbershop is open on Monday here, apparently. And Saturdays they're closed, too, we found out. So we went to one of the 2 hair cutting places. The first one was pretty foofy, and they said they were busy. Dang it. But I had had enough, and so we backtracked and sacrificed the miles to try the 2nd one, a tiny little barbershop off the main street in Hope.
We walked in and there were 2 stations, each with a slushy aqua green retro chair, and big mirrors. A handful of taxidermied deer hung on the limited wall space in there. A couple other guys were sitting around, and the one barber made quick work of each of them until it was my turn. We got talking a little bit and it turns out he had done a mission trip cutting hair to the Dominican Republic with his church. He's been cutting hair since he got out of high school, and had some cool stories. 2 more people walked in while I was getting my haircut, and while Elder Anderson was getting his done, the whole room got talking about the missionaries. What we do, all the missionaries who had come in in the past, and some genuine questions about the logistics side of a mission for us.
One of the guys that walked in said we had a "pretty great boss," and that he appreciated what we were doing and said the world needed more of it. He then proceeded to pay for both of our $12 haircuts. I prayed to thank God for Jerry that night. What a nice guy. As it turns out, I wasn't supposed to get a haircut from any other place at any other time, cause we were blessed by Jerry and by being able to have a great conversation with the whole tiny barbershop's worth of people in Hope, Arkansas that afternoon.
As an added bonus to that Thursday, we went to a Chinese buffet with the wonderful Mexican family in the branch. So that was a good experience haha.
Pretty much every week before a transfer, I have transfer nightmares. That night I dreamt I was transferred to Wyoming. Man, that would stink. Wyoming is great and all, but uh... this is the best place to be serving a mission.
Before our weekly planning session, the Lims had us over for chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. (The yummy stuff with grapes in it on a croissant. Yum.)
They shared that they had met a lady at the town museum who asked them if they were Mormons and informed them that she was reading our book. Turns out she is through the book of 3rd Nephi! So... We are excited about that. We knew exactly who they were talking about. We had given that lady a Book of Mormon back when I was on the prowl for some Hope, Arkansas stickers. We didn't think that much of it, then.
We had a good ole southern time back up in Prescott on Saturday afternoon. It was like a bazillion degrees, but there was a little breeze that helped. Elder Lim dropped us off, and we walked around. We had a great lesson with a guy named James we met a few weeks ago. He has a pretty good lazy eye, but a better understanding of the scriptures. He works with the chickens, too, and enjoyed studying with us again. We met on his porch this time, sweating ourselves dry and getting nipped by tiny ants on the sofa out there. I introduced a scripture and then had to wait like 5 minutes for an enormously long train to pass through across the street before I could read it. But something about the misery of it all, (and James' enjoyment of it nonetheless) was kinda endearing. One of those moments I think I'll look back on fondly and maybe even miss a little.
From there, we walked across town so Elder Anderson could fix another dryer for a great less-active couple. It took a while and standing around in the sun while he did that got pretty old pretty quick, but it was a good thing to have done.
Elder Lim picked us up on his way back to Hope. We passed a pizza hut delivery car and both kinda knew that that's what we'd end up doing for dinner. Exhausted and sticky as we were, the delivery man was an angel that night haha.
We got transfer emails that night! Elder Anderson is off to midtown Memphis. And I'm staying in Hope! He's sad to be leaving, and I was extra glad I wasn't transferred to Wyoming. I'm loving Hope a lot and am so glad to be staying!
Yesterday, Debbie was confirmed and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and that was really special. Another recent convert passed the sacrament for the first time. Elder Anderson started packing. The Lims had us over to play a round of Phase 10, which I... almost won. It was a good day.
Today, Elder Anderson has been saying goodbye to some people around town. The Presbyterian church reverend who let him practice the organ there, the owner of the hardware store, the lady at the chamber of commerce... she gave us both Hope shirts and asked if she could pray with us. She's a sweet Southern Baptist lady who doesn't "get" or agree with us 100%, but she didn't let that show or change her kindness towards us. Her prayer was wonderful and sweet, and it's been good seeing how loving, kind, passionate, and generous the people of this little town are. It's just funny to think "where else can you walk into a chamber of commerce and be asked to hold hands in prayer?" What a place. I love it.
I "Hope" y'all have a good week!
Don't have stamps?
Don't have an email account? (...wait a sec... well I guess you can write me, anyway!)
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
This week has taken more out of me than I thought I had to begin with. But I am a happy kind of exhausted.
I went on 2 exchanges this week, one in Hope with our zone leaders and one in Camden with some missionaries in my district.
With one of our ZLs, we found a potential family to work with!! And had Debbie's baptismal interview, and tried by Carmelita again. (She had been told some lies about us by her daughter last week and had dropped us.)
We knocked on her door, not really knowing what to expect when or if she answered. She did, she smiled, and... She welcomed us right in! She said she wanted to continue studying with us, but we weren't sure if that meant coming to church with us again, too. We read 1 Nephi 6 with her. I know that it was no accident that was the chapter she was on. We read verse 5, which talks about how Nephi doesn't write the things that are pleasing to the world, but the things that are pleasing to God. She opened up and told us that as soon as she hung up the phone to say she was going back to her church, she felt like she had made the wrong decision, and that she needed to "finish what she started," (using her words). So she is back on track and stronger than ever!
Got home and chatted for a while. We ended up talking til midnight. It was good being able to vent a little bit. Picked it back up in the morning and honestly just kinda bawled my eyes out for a while. This last transfer or two has been rough. I read a great talk by Elder Hales this week, though, that pointed out how we think of the last week of the Savior's life as being awful, (and it definitely was!) But it was also when some of the most important parts of His earthly ministry took place. Likewise, despite the hard times, I also feel like I'm the best teacher I've ever been, and that there is more potential in front of me than ever before. I've just been kinda beating myself up cause I haven't felt like I've been pushing myself to improve like I need to be, and it's felt like all I can do to keep my head above water and be happy.
But! I think this week has been our best one here in Hope. We got rained out on one of our long driving days, but got to visit a few of the members that live further out. I love when it rains. Until it becomes a game of "how can I possibly stay dry the second I open this door?" (We usually don't even bother trying to play that haha)
On Thursday, we took our old dryer (Which Elder Anderson had fixed after the mission replaced it) out to a distant member, Sister Martin, who lives in a little trailer home without a functional dryer. They'd been hanging clothes up to dry on clothes lines and on monkey cages.
So we drove out there, recruiting the help of a less active member with a truck to help get the dryer out there.
--wait a second, what? Did that say monkey cages?
Uh... yeah. Anyway, we got the dryer unloaded and through the trailer to where it needed to go, and Elder Anderson worked on that while the Lims and I chatted with Sister Martin.
Yeah, that's what I said. I mean we had to use the dolly to get the dryer around all of those monkey cages in her trailer. But then I was chatting with Sister Martin and Gypsy.
Mmhmm. That's the name of her capuchin monkey. She also has a big Macaque that was in the big cage in the trailer. Its name is Devin. Devin and Gypsy.
(Yeah, they were pretty cool hahaha.) Gypsy had been trained to be able to unlock a padlock and give Sister Martin a kiss, and probably a whole variety of other mischievous things. So that was a highlight of the week haha. I was kinda hoping to get a picture with gypsy on my shoulder or something, but she was shy. I contented myself with watching her lick the salt off the inside of a peanut container lol.
After that, we had some great lessons with Debbie & Carmelita again, and then had another guy flake on us, but it's ok. 2 for 3 is pretty good haha.
I had my exchange in Camden and had a traditional dinner with members again haha. They were really cool. He was the youngest son of his father's 2nd marriage. His father was born in a US Territory--what a few years later became the state of Montana. Yeah. His dad was born in Montana before it became a state. And his great great grandpa? fought in the Revolutionary War I think haha. He's a neat guy. I pointed out the collection of cast iron skillets on his wall and he spent like 15 minutes talking with me about them and showing me how I can recognize the collectibles if I'm ever looking for 'em. Makes me wanna go hit up the DI's back home.
Of course, the real highlight of this week was Debbie's baptism. We held it after church services, and a few members from the stake, including the Stake President, stayed to attend. The font was filling up as fast as it apparentky had in the past, so we hooked a garden hose up and had that going into the font, as well haha. I was able to baptize her, and Elder Anderson was able to be in the font, too, to help her down the steps and back up. Afterward, she just smiled really big. She's a wonderful lady.
(For those who are just now reading this, a while ago, Debbie was involved in an accident that left her largely unable to speak. We received her as a Bible referral last month with very little information. She welcomed us in and eventually wrote on a little notepad that she couldn't speak. We explained the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the Book of Mormon. Elder Lim asked her how she felt about what we had shared, and she wrote one word on her notepad - "Wonderful." As we continued to meet, we learned how to teach and discern by the spirit, and "hear" her through nods, notes, smiles, pointing at verses, lingering on pages, and of course: her thumbs up. (Sometimes even two!) It was a "wonderful" day for a very wonderful sister of ours.)
After being at the church from like 8:30-3:00, I was pretty tired. But we went and tried a few more people with no luck, and swung by home to visit the Lims for a little bit. As we chatted, the power flickered and went off, and a half second later, we hear this huge "BOOOM" and thunder following right after like a jet plane crashing through the parking lot. We, and a bunch of neighbors nervously peeked out the doors to investigate. Then it happened again. We all ran inside haha. When we opened the door again to peek, you could smell smoke. A few guys ran to their cars through the rain and said something about seeing a fire. But we never saw it, only smelled it. Of course, the rain was coming down so hard it would've put anything out in a second.
As cool as it would be to say that you've been hit by lightning... I think I'll pass on that experience.
Today, the Lims took us golfing up in Arkadelphia. I understand Ether 12:27 on a whole other level, now. Color me humbled, I stunk at that game haha. It was fun, all the same. I'll probably stick with some different expensive hobbies, though.
So that's pretty much my week. The usual ups and downs. But again, it really has been probably our best week in Hope - And not just because Debbie was baptized. I figured a lot of things out after mentally stewing on them for a while. We are moving in a good direction, and there is a lot of good work to be done here! Transfers are next week and I hope I'm not going anywhere! This is where I'm supposed to be!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
This weekly email brought to you by:
- A diabetic monkey named Gypsy
- The US Territories
- Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Cookies (Which were on sale for 1$ a pack today yikes)
- righteous living: the best defensive measure for lightning safety
Video of monkeys: http://youtu.be/125wXPPUSU4
Video: Gypsy licking up peanut salt while Sister Martin explains that Gypsy is diabetic and "loves getting stuck." Apparently it'll eagerly offer a hand or leg for its insulin shot.
gypsy at Sis. Martin's.mp4
Another roller coaster week in Hope!
We got back in touch with several people who we were on the verge of giving up on, and we were able to teach a lot at the beginning of this week, which is about my favoritest thing to do.
The Lims, (The senior couple set of missionaries in Hope) had some of their family come and visit, and so they took them (and us!) to Tailgaters, the famous burger joint around here one day, and Big Jake's BBQ the next day. Man. I do love barbecue a whole lot. I'm gonna miss it back home.
Played a few rounds of Phase 10 at a branch social on Wednesday. The husband of one of the members there only speaks Spanish, and had never played Phase 10 before. He ended up winning. (With the help of pulling a wild card off the bottom of the deck on a round that he dealed hahaha. He cracked me up.)
We helped out at the Branch Presidents house again, swapping outlets and light switches. I pinched my thumb pretty badly in a pair of pliers but survived and the new outlets work, so I guess that's a success!
Debbie will be having her baptismal interview tomorrow, so we are excited for that and for her as she prepares to be baptized on Sunday!!
Our other lady preparing to be baptized was told some things about us by a well-intending daughter that are true about Jehovah's Witnesses... But not us. So we are not sure whether we will be able to continue teaching her or not. She called to tell us she was going back to her church, and asked if we believed in dialysis and blood transfusions. Um... yes we do? Despite our best efforts and even her admission that she knew what we had been teaching her was true, her daughter coached her along on the other line of saying she was just going to go back to her church. Man. That heckin stinks. I've been kinda beat up about it since it happened. Keep her in your prayers, I guess. We'll keep trying.
Walked around a little bit more of Hope one day this week. We walked around the Tyson Chicken Feed Plant, and man, you can smell that stuff from a ways out. We tried a former investigator there and he welcomed us right in, gave us each a Dr. Pepper, and chatted for a while. He even said he'd start reading the Book of Mormon again, so hey!
That afternoon, on our way up to Nashville, Arkansas, we stopped in the historic Washington, AR national park at the William's Tavern (eat. 1832?) again and got some tasty cobbler. Good stuff. But it didn't beat my Dad's Dutch oven cobbler. (And I'm not just saying that cause it was Father's Day yesterday. He is the best, though.)
On Saturday, we didn't have a lot of luck outside of our good lesson with Debbie. From there, we headed back to Hope and went downtown to help with their fish fry. We were assigned to the cooking tents, but don't worry, we just moved the French fries, hush puppies, and fried catfish and chicken by the boxload to the different tents where people were eating. And, above that, I didn't even drop a single fry. They had probably about 10 fryers running most of the time, going through cooler after cooler of yummy southern fried goodness.
It was a hot day, and we were in our slacks, white shirts, and ties, walking boxes of catfish around the streets of Hope while train horns sounded off every half hour or so and a train rushed right by us on the other side of a fence. Everybody was sweaty, but it smelled like the food section of the county fair, and we got to eat the fried catfish fillets that were too small to give to people. So that was a plus. The South is one heckuva place, y'all.
We helped take down the chairs, tables, and tents afterward. (Shoutout to all the Church events that trained me for this moment.) Dumped out the better part of probably a 10 or 15 gallon metal drum of leftover sweet tea into the street, like it was the Hope Tea Party. We were some of the last people to head home, and were told "thank you" more times than catfish bites I ate. (Which is to say, a lot.) The owner of Tailgaters even said she'd buy us dinner there whenever we came in. We were able to get to know a lot of the leaders of the community, chamber of commerce, and Lions Club there. Plus it was a lot of fun. ...And we were sent home w several to go boxes full of chicken and fries and fish.
On Sunday, I recreated Zaxby's Kickin' Chicken sandwhich again with the leftovers. That and church were really good, thankfully. Cause not a single investigator we tried to visit that day answered the door. Missionary work is weird. And people are crazy. We just get to hear and witness often how very strange people and their decisions are. Although I'm sure Heavenly Father thinks that way of me, sometimes, too haha. I'm one of the weird ones.
Did a lot of thinking and pondering this week, and as usual, despite the hard times I have definitely felt like I've learned and grown a lot. I love getting to study the scriptures so much every day. They are seriously my favorite books. There is power in every verse and word. Power that I don't want to give up by missing a day of reading. It's magic, I guess. :) I wish I could make people magically understand that. President Nelson said it best in quoting Brigham Young: "I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, 'I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people' to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon."
Maybe if people knew just how "marvelous a work and a wonder" this really was, they wouldn't miss appointments, not read, ignore our texts or go less-active haha. But I know! And that's what I have control over, and what I find joy in.
Hey. I love you all. Thanks for being awesome. Keep those prayers coming. <3
I'm usually quick at responding to emails. (By next Monday at least.)
But I'm slow at responding to letters, I'm sorry. But I do respond!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Extra train video: https://youtu.be/zrRCLhZYgOg
If I said that this week brought me to tears, on my knees, and to the verge of passing out, it would make it sound like a bad week. But I don't wanna do that haha. It's been a good one, don't worry.
We had a great lesson with Debbie this week, and she is continuing to progress. She is such an incredible lady. I feel very lucky to be able to teach and learn from her.
We stopped by a less active member's house on the way back into town and talked to him in his garage. There was a cool breeze going through it, and it wasn't too hot of a day. But, after standing on the concrete for as long as we did, coupled with my not drinking as much water as I usually do that morning, and the subject matter of the conversation (things that went wrong with this guy's surgery) led to me getting really light headed. Everything went white and fuzzy. I could make out shadows of outlines and hear the conversation continue as if I was underwater. I stayed standing but finally had to just sit down after a few minutes of that. When I stood back up again to leave, I was all pale and clammy, but felt a lot better.
Got a drink of water and went out and visited a few people. There's so much potential in this area. Lots of cool people, and some of them even want to hear the gospel! The only thing that would make it better is if they kept their appointments and used their phones! :-))
Got back that evening and Elder Anderson made dinner while I napped for 45 minutes. That turned my week around. Naps are the best.
The next day, every appointment we had canceled. Which stunk, but it was still a good day. I decided to try the next door neighbor of a house we tried, and we ended up giving a Book of Mormon to a young mom. We'll go back to check on her eventually, and it's cool to think about how much good that reading this book can do for her and for her kids for generations. And it's hard to see her or anyone not just read it. It's such a simple thing. But so many people just don't.
We stopped at a Mexican restaurant in town there with the Lim's in lieu of our appointments. My chimichanga helped fill the void. (Almost as much as giving that Book of Mormon away, anyway. That really helped me feel like the trip had not been wasted.)
We got back to Hope and tried visiting some former investigators. Both of the ladies we tried actually said we could come back. Yay!
The next day we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. They got in a small car accident a week or two ago, and so they had a brand new Malibu with less than 300 miles on it. On our way back to Pine Bluff, we stopped to visit their old car in the mechanics shop to make sure they got all of their stuff out of it. We had decided when we left Hope that we would challenge ourselves this exchange to ask every person we talk to for referrals, and to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon with them.
Well, here were these two mechanics in Poyen, Arkansas. (Side note. Arkansas pronounces things really weird. See note below.) They'd given a Book of Mormon to one the first time they came in, and it turns out the other guy had a lot of family that was LDS. So we shared a scripture with the two of them, just standing in their shop while they sat on a bench or worked on a car. We had a great chat with them and answered a few questions. Really nice guys. This was definitely a highlight of the week. There's no bad place to share the gospel! (Well, okay, maybe there are a few places, but at least we can remove a mechanic shop from the list!)
On Arkansas pronouncing things weird:
Poyen is pronounced "Po-wen"
El Dorado is pronounced "El Dor-ay-do"
Nevada County is "Ne-vay-duh"
The list goes on.
A lady we talked to there in Pine Bluff was pretty funny. "I'm surprised y'all are out walking on the streets talking to people. This is Pine Bluff! The crime rate is crazy." She said "Pine Bluff" as if she were saying "The slums of detroit during a gang war." The missionaries joke about it being called "Crime Bluff" but it's really not as bad as people make it out to be haha.
The next day was Zone Conference and a member gave us a ride up to North Little Rock, teaching us about how he tries to live the Nazarite law of health, and all about the sci-fi book he is writing. It was an interesting ride haha.
Zone Conference was really good, though. We had the whole Arkansas side of the mission together to hear Elder Perkins of the Seventy, and Elder Johnson, an area Seventy from Alabama. They were both awesome and I learned a lot and left with exactly the kind of motivation I wanted to feel afterward.
We stopped at another Mexican restaurant in a small town on our way back to Hope from Little Rock. Yum.
The next two days were Stake Conference, which was preceded really just by service and planning out our week. Elder Anderson set it up so that we could stream the broadcast at our church building, which was great. We had invited like 6 people to come watch it with us, but not one showed up. :( It was an amazing session, though. So was the Sunday session. Ill get back to Saturday night in a second.
After the Sunday session, we had pot luck with the branch. As we were stacking chairs, Debbie pulled one alongside her wheelchair literally an inch at a time. She managed to pick it up and add it to a small stack against the wall. I wanted to help her, but something kept me from it, and I think she felt a sense of fulfillment with having helped in the small way she could. She's incredible.
We got recruited by the Branch President to come to his place and help install some new outlets. This was right up Elder Anderson's alley and so I was afraid I'd have to stand around and twiddle my thumbs again, but President Porter showed me how, and by my 3rd outlet I felt like an accomplished electrician. We will probably go back and do some more of those!
Okay, back to Saturday.
Despite the wonderful Saturday meeting, I got home that night in kind of a bad mood, honestly. One of the themes of both conferences this week was that "enduring joy" is the result of living the gospel. And you know what? I didn't feel too happy. And it felt like it had been kind of a long time since I had. There have been plenty of great moments, and joyful experiences, but I've been in kind of a funk for a while.
So I poured my heart out in prayer, praying a little harder than usual. I asked for forgiveness, peace, comfort, and the joy I felt I was due. Elder Anderson was in the bathroom while I just wept in prayer. It's been hard. But through prayer, I felt very very loved by my Father and my Savior. I miss them and can't wait to see them again, the same way I can't wait to see my earthly family again. But the feeling I got was that if I didn't have the hardships I had, I probably wouldn't have prayed to the extent I had, and wouldn't have been able to feel the love that I did.
I'm still working on the "enduring joy" thing. Missionary work is so fulfilling, thankfully. And between the conferences we had, and that special moment, my faith is stronger than ever. I just want to beg with people in the streets to read the stinking Book of Mormon. I want them to feel how much I know it is God's word by the light and power that shine through me.
I know that book is true, and that this isn't just some "mission trip" that I'm doing. I am a participant in the work of salvation, representing the church that Jesus Christ Himself established and that He leads today. Does that sound crazy? (It kinda should.) Thankfully, he has given us evidence of that that we can hold in our hands and judge for ourselves. This evidence is, you guessed it - The Book of Mormon. There is just too much depth, spirit, symbolism, and purity of doctrine for an unlearned Joseph Smith to have dictated it without notes in two months. It's true, y'all. What more can I say?
Pray for me. Pray for the people out here. Pray for you.
Have a blessed week!
Print out your email and mail it to me, too, cause letters are fun
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Take a picture of your letter and email it to me?
Well, y'all. You've read about 365 days of my mission, now. On May 31st of last year, I walked into the missionary training center. And now, one year from me writing this email, I'll be walking off the plane into the cool, warm, nonhumid air of the Boise Airport. But I'm not ready for that yet. I've got work to do, and people to save, and a better person yet to become.
In the South, all these people read that you need to be baptized by water, and heard something about baptism by fire. So they invented the DEEP FRYER.
*and with that high-saturated-fat sizzling sound playing in your brain, lemme tell you about this week*
(It's been a good one.)
Met a 93 year old amateur radio ham who lives in a trailer in the middle of ~nowhere~ on a plot of land he got from his wife's family, who got it from one General Robert E. Lee back in the day.
Had a good lesson and another lesson fall through after that, and then we had a good ole summer storm as we rode back with the Lims to Hope. It poured. The fastest setting for the windshield wiper didn't cut it again, and the dip in the road going up to our apartment complex was flooded. Water splashed well above the windows as we drove through it. We ran from the car to our building and took cover under the balcony for a few seconds before braving the uncovered staircase going up go our floor. I dropped something on the way up, adding another 2 seconds in the rain as I bent down to grab it, before making it to our floor. All in all, probably barely 10 seconds in the rain in total? We might as well have taken a shower, though haha. Everything was soaked. I went back outside with a cup and filled it by holding it out under the awning for a few seconds. It was awesome. https://youtu.be/o_8b0d1q_Ww
Summer storms are back. We had hot, cloudless afternoons and stormy humid evenings most of the week.
The next day we raked leaves, which was about as fun as you'd expect. For better or worse it was hot enough outside that the top layer of leaves were dry, but there were a lot of soggy leaves under them. We came back Friday morning to finish her yard and it took a few more hours than we expected. We lined her whole side of the street with leaves, all moved one (small) wheelbarrow load at a time. Church bells went off in the distance, chiming several hymns, so that was really cool.
On Wednesday, we went back up to Debbie's, our 'wonderful' lady who is unable to speak. She picked on me to say the prayer again. She had read a few chapters ahead of what we had invited her to read in the Book of Mormon. We asked if she had prayed to know if what we were teaching her was true. She nodded.
"Do you feel like God answered your prayer?"
She nodded again.
"How did you feel when you prayed?"
We gave her her little notepad and she wrote her signature answer - "wonderful."
We then invited her to be baptized, and she accepted. June 16th is going to be a wonderful day.
That night we went to the Hibachi food truck in town to celebrate. Dadgum that stuff is good. Chicken fried rice, y'all. And yum yum sauce, can't forget that.
On Thursday we worked on putting together a facebook post to volunteer to serve people. We got a bunch of likes, but no bites. :( We just wanna help!
We met one of our former investigators that afternoon and discovered that he used to live in our exact apartment. So that was kinda cool!
In trying to help one of the members with a broken washing machine, we went to this old appliance store to ask if they knew any of the repair codes or something. (Idk, it all went over my head.) One guy came in and joked about Mormons having horns and asked a couple other random jokes. ("What kind of business is King Kong in? / Monkey business." And "What state is round on the outsides and high in the middle? / Ohio.")
The guy at the desk helping us informed us that that guy was his brother. And that he'd been dropped on his head as a child. I'm not certain he was joking.
Friday was the day we finished that yard, and that night the Routts from Conway were driving through Hope and stopped by to feed us dinner! We went to a burger place downtown that was pretty good. It was so awesome to spend some time with them again. They crack me up.
They asked what my adventures were in Hope so far, and I couldn't really give them an answer. I dunno. We haven't really had a ton of funny or crazy experiences out here in the 7 weeks I've been here. Which made me kinda sad, thinking about it haha. But in thinking about all the amazing and hilarious people I've met out here, I've come to look at them as the best adventure that's here.
We met with Debbie again on Saturday, and had a great lesson. She is reading a lot of the Book of Mormon and is enjoying it! She was excited for church on Sunday.
We had tried another one of our investigators, Carmelita, on the way up to Debbie, and we decided to try her one more time on the way back. She was home this time and welcomed us and Elder Lim right in. It had been a few weeks since our last visit, but she asked great questions about revelation, and prophets. She had heard that people go to heaven right after they die, and disagreed with that and didn't know why. She had been baptized as a kid because her grandma told her to, and she didn't feel comfortable with that. As we testified of the restoration again, you could see the puzzle pieces connect in her mind as tears filled her eyes. We invited her to be baptized as well, and she accepted. July 7th is going to be another good day. :)
That night, Sister Lim fixed a homemade dinner of turkey and cheesy potatoes and rolls and corn on the cob. Oh man that filled my soul as much as it did my stomach. I'm not a bad cook, but having something other than fast food and what I make was amazing hahaha.
(That said, I have become very very proud of my roasted potatoes and chicken pesto gyro cooking game. They are dang good. So... look forward to that, future wife of mine.)
After dinner, we did a lot of planning. Both Debbie and Carmelita were planning on coming to church the next day, and we had gotten a text from the mother of one of the main families in the branch asking us to speak and play piano. 2/3 members of the branch presidency were also going to be gone, and so we were kinda worried if there would be anyone else at church at all!
But, I prepared a talk that night, and gave it to a good group of 25 people in the branch the next morning. It ended up being good, and both Debbie and Carmelita enjoyed church! Yay!
I've been learning a lot this week. Mostly the hard way, it feels like haha. But it's been well worth the cost of admission. I guess the main takeaway is the need to show evidence of Repentence. Repentence isn't just feeling bad and asking for forgiveness. When we show just how much we want forgiveness by the things that we do and change in our life, that is when the heavens open and the joy and peace we are seeking are given. It's a simple idea and probably one I would have just nodded along to before this week. But I feel like I get it more this week. I'm thankful the Lord is patient. He is so good.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to really feel like an instrument in His hands this week. We've helped two bible referrals come to church and accept to be baptized. In Hope, Arkansas - the "armpit" of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I'm so excited for each of them and for all the good, blessings, miracles, and crazy people that will yet cross my path here. [Romans 12:12]
Sending my love, and hoping you can feel His. Happy Memorial Day!
I hit my year mark on Thursday!?
I hit my year mark on Thursday!?
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Well hello, my friends! I hope you know how much I love you. Truly.
It's been a long week. But not one void of goodness and miracles, cause that's how the Lord works. So I'll share those!
We had our district meeting in Camden. Instead of me telling you how my own district meeting went, I'll just share my takeaway with you in the form of a quote by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball.
"Each of us has more opportunities to do good and to be good than we ever use. These opportunities lie all around us. Whatever the size of our present circle of effective influence, if we were to improve our performance even a little bit, that circle would be enlarged. There are many individuals waiting to be touched and loved if we care enough to improve in our performance."
BAM. For more goodness, you NEED to read his article, "Jesus: the Perfect Leader," found in the August 1979 Ensign Magazine. It makes sense though, right? As we become better people, God will trust us to bless more of His children.
After the meeting, we went to the Red Habanero, a little Mexican restaurant. Even though they got my order wrong, my chile relleno was the best I've had in the south. (Which, granted isn't saying too much, but it really was very good!)
We then exchanged with the missionaries in Camden, and Elder Smith and I rode with the Lim's back home to Hope. 20 minutes down the hour long drive, we get a call. Elder Anderson had accidentally taken the car keys. Which also had our apartment key. So we found a half way point and drove back.
We had our second appointment with Debbie, the wonderful lady we met last week who can't speak. We asked who she would like to say the opening prayer, and she pointed at me again. I did, and then we taught her the Restoration lesson in full. When we asked if she had any questions, she wrote on her little notepad, "You said there was a living prophet today?" (There is!) And we explained that to her and showed her a picture of Russel M. Nelson and explained what a cool guy he was. I love that man.
"Any more questions?" We asked. She shook her head no and wrote, "what's my homework?" So we gave her chapter 2, the restoration pamphlet, and a DVD of the First Vision to watch. When asked who she wanted to say the closing prayer, she again pointed at me, and I obliged. What a sweet lady.
That night, we had one of the three socials for the branch in Hope. There were others in the neighboring towns of Nashville and Prescott. The members in each of those towns would get together for a spiritual thought and some dessert and games. We set up the church building for the one in Hope, and the Lim's came with Sloppy Joes and brownies. ...nobody else came hahaha. But we still did everything. Elder Lim conducted, I played "Give, Said the Little Stream" for the opening song, we had a prayer, the thought, and then played scripture trivia. I lost by one point cause I didn't know all 12 of the tribes of Israel smh. I was close, though! (Zebulon got me.)
Elder Smith and I drove back towards Camden the next day and exchanged back. We had the keys this time. :) we had a great lesson with another lady who was kinda distraught. She works in the elementary school kitchen, and had apparently left the dishwasher on over the weekend? (I guess you need to turn those big ones off when you're done?) Anyway, the pressure and water had built up in the pipes and dripped on the ceiling tiles until they burst and water flooded the kitchen. They had to turn the water off for the whole school haha. I felt bad for her, but it was also kind of a funny story worth sharing. She's a great lady.
Another day, we were looking for service opportunities and went to ask the lady who runs the museum in town. (The one with the Bill Clinton cutouts lol) She was confused, and another lady pulled up to where we were talking with her, and she pointed at the lady in the car and basically told us, "I dunno, guys, why don't you ask her for service? She's old." So... We did. And she did need our help! So we'll see what we can do this week haha.
Random note: I love giving hispanic people copies of the Book of Mormon cause they think it's cool that their ancient ancestors might've known about Christ, too. And also cause their receiving a Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of prophecy in 2 Nephi 3:15 and D&C 3:16-18, (and a few other places, too!)
On Saturday, Elder Anderson had a doctor's appointment in Little Rock, so with 200+ extra miles under our belt for the day, I figured we should at least stop at Tacos 4 Life on our way home. Awww yeah.
That afternoon, we followed up with Debbie. She picked on me to say the opening prayer again and told us by holding up two fingers and a smile that she had watched the Restoration DVD twice. (And kept her other commitments!) When we asked at the end if she had any questions, she pointed at the "Come Worship With Us" page at the end of the pamphlet and committed to come to church next week!
When we got home, we had a Baptist church pamphlet in our door. Our whole apartment complex got them haha. The one in our door was about a baseball player's deathbed repentence. And "just say this prayer and you're saved" type of stuff. I mean prayer is important. But also the verse after the one they quoted talks about being baptized! And Christ told a guy who was keeping all the commandments to go sell everything that he owned and give it to the poor. If Christ expected that much of one guy then, do we really think he's changed? I dunno. I don't think I can buy into a "religion" that isn't hard. That doesn't expect a lot from you. It sure would be nice if a prayer was all it took. But it wouldn't be as fulfilling. I don't think those people are going to hell by any means. They're just missing out on the blessings of doing hard things.
On Sunday, Elder Beheshti, our area seventy here, came to the Hope Branch to accompany his wife who was on assignment to speak about JustServe.org. He spoke on the Sabbath Day and it was great. Afterward, we gave our chicken catching friend a blessing for his hands, which were swollen about like when you inflate a rubber glove like a balloon. The chicken catchin' life is not for me, y'all.
We also did some service in downtown Hope, chipping plaster off a brick wall with a hammer and mallet. The original building burned down and was rebuilt in 1912. Dadgum. That's some old plaster. Hopefully I don't get cancer and my sore arms are the end of it.
Got transfer news and both Elder Anderson and I are staying in Hope! It's gonna be a good one. I'm excited to keep working with the amazing people we have! More miracles are in store!
Who am I?
~3 Nephi 5:13~
What am I doing and where am I doing it?
Love y'all! Have a good week! Do some service! - justserve.org
Tell me about this week!
Tell me about last week!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
It's been a more difficult transfer, but man oh man. So many prayers came true this week. It's been a good one.
It began with some Arkansas Pineapple Whip (which I can only describe as like soft serve gelato) and a David's Burger. So with a start that wonderful, how could the week not follow suit?
I instructed in what I thought was one of my best district meetings on Tuesday. We talked about baptism and just how essential it is. Refocusing on that (teaching repentence and baptizing converts) as our divine purpose was really good for all of us.
Afterwards, I was able to stay in Hope while Elder Turner joined me and Elder Anderson went to Pine Bluff for the day. After some chicken fried rice hibachi, we tore it up in Hope and Prescott. So many miracles in that short time.
It seemed like everyone we talked to was open and receptive. In reality, there were still hecklers and people who waved us off, and people who pretended to be interested who later had given us fake addresses and phone numbers, but hey! We found a wonderful lady that day who, when we called that night to follow up on her reading, had already started reading the Book of Mormon and was just glowing on the other line.
We talked with a bunch of people that day, including a group of little kids in bright orange boxer briefs who ran around the other side of the house, and invited us to follow them. We arrived at the back yard, where a pool party barbecue was going on and Elder Turner and I were the only white people on the whole block, probably haha. Someone asked if we were there for the pool party and we laughed. The kids treated us like celebrities and asked for cards and pamphlets, but the adults didn't seem like they could care less haha.
Another lady was from El Salvador, and was stressed from work and her kids. We talked to her over her backyard fence, and testified of the Book of Mormon. She told us at one point, "okay, I'm more interested, now!" And when I testified that it was the word of God written by her ancestors specifically for her, the spirit was strong and I know she felt it. It was a highlight of the week.
There was one less-than-wonderful thing this week and that was when I was getting ready to shower on Wednesday morning and discovering a tick lodged in my butt. At first I thought it was too big to be a tick. But nope. I couldn't pull that sucker out, but good ole Elder Turner became Dr. Turner for me and managed to get most of him out. No swelling ensued so he did a good job and I think I will survive! But hey, there's a good story from the ALRM for ya. My zone leader pulling a tick out of my buttock on exchanges.
Okay, sorry, back to the good stuff.
We had a few other good lessons this week. It's so fun to teach. I've really come to enjoy it, and like to think I've gotten good at it. The gospel is pure and simple. A cool principle I've been thinking a lot about is the idea that "all truth is in agreement." Which makes sense, right? One truth cannot contradict another truth. One of them wouldn't be a truth. There is no contradiction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything lines up in ways that I would love to take 5 lessons to explain to y'all. :)
We helped a couple move some loose ends to their new home at the end of a long dirt road that goes through a few creeks. Cows crowded the road, and their little address-less cabin at the end was just a fun time. Yellow flowers painted the fields, the afternoon sun was cooling down, and it was gorgeous outside. Something about it was how I imagine Texas is like.
On Friday, we cooked a big pre-weekly planning breakfast, and Elder Anderson and I just had a good long conversation about everything. Our frustrations and hopes and goals and ideas and struggles. It wasn't what either of us hoped to have accomplished in the time that it took, but we came to realize that we probably couldn't have spent that time any better.
I got to have a stromboli from a pizza place we stopped at. I anticipated it being a personal size but it was like a huge thing and so I had it for lunch the next day, too. Was it as good as my mom's? No. (But it was super tasty.) Happy Mother's Day to the best at everything from stromboli-making to traveling and advice-giving and everything else good in this world!
Saturday was WONDERFUL because Eric was baptized in Searcy, and I was able to attend! Our 1.5hr drive to the halfway/pickup point turned into a 2.5hr drive due to a burning semi truck and a few other accidents, but we still arrived in time for some members from Searcy to pick me up and get me to the baptism in time! Eric and his family are some of the main reasons for my love and missing of Searcy, and I know his wife had been praying for a long time for that day. It was so special to be a part of it, even with the 2 hour drive back to Hope that night, getting back at 11pm.
But seriously, I was not sure if I would be able to attend that, and I'm so thankful that I was. 5 hours of drive time between the Lims, Wandlings, and Webbs, and being able to be a witness for the baptism, accompany the musical number, and answer questions from one of my other Searcy friends was wonderful. So proud of Eric!
On Sunday, there were 17 people in church at the start of the meeting (Including us missionaries and the branch presidency) but by the time pot luck rolled around, there were a few more people. :)
[If you read one part of my email this week, this is the part to read.]
That afternoon, we had a Bible to deliver to a lady who had, over text, been very excited for us to come over. We followed the map to the middle of nowhere and asked a guy mowing his lawn for directions. He pointed us to a path going between a thick line of trees, so we followed that around to a little commune of trailers, apparently all family-owned.
We found the right trailer and knocked. A woman in a wheelchair opened the door and beckoned for us to come in. We stepped over a litter of kittens into the kinda dark trailer. It didn't take us too long to figure out she was unable to speak. She communicated via little nods and by pointing. We briefly explained the Book of Mormon, and then she opened it up. Finding the pictures, she started from the beginning and I explained the Book of Mormon again, using the pictures at the front, and teaching as simply as I could.
"Will you read that first chapter before we come back on Tuesday?" I asked. She gave a tiny nod. Elder Lim invited her to ask one of us to say a closing prayer. After a kind of long period of silence, she pointed at me, and I felt so humbled by that, that she would ask me to pray. I offered the prayer, and afterward she reached for a note pad. (Which, had I noticed, I might've utilized sooner.) She wrote a brief explanation that she had some kind of palsy and couldn't speak. Elder Lim asked her how she felt about what we had shared with her that day. She reached for the notepad again, and simply wrote one word.
When Elder Lim read her response aloud to us, the spirit about hit me like a truck. In that moment, I was able to feel just a part of the love that our Heavenly Father has for this woman. And I was able to receive an additional witness of just how wonderful everything is. The work we are engaged in is wonderful. The message we share is wonderful. Our Heavenly Father and His plan for each of us is wonderful. This good sister of mine is wonderful. And you, dear reader, are wonderful.
I hope your week is as wonderful as you are. :)
(Life pro tip: read your scriptures, say your prayers. That'll help!)
In case of the postal service being disbanded:
In case of the internet going down:
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
In case of [literally anything at all]
This weekly email brought to you by:
- Lyme disease
- Church potlucks
- Bumper to bumper traffic on the 30, and
- My wonderful mother. (Literally. This email was sent to you by her. Thanks, Mom!)
This week had its fair share of ups and downs, but it has definitely been a memorable one! Lots of good stories from the last 7 days. Sometimes I worry my emails are too long, so I'll just tell you the stories without all the fluffy context.
Story #1 - After our district meeting, we did an exchange and I went to Camden with Elder Taylor. After a stop at the Hibachi food truck, we spent the rest of that day doing service for a family who had recently moved in from Texas. We put in a bunch of extra posts for the barbed wire fence around their property. We rode around in their four wheeler thing with the 15 year old son driving, so that was a hoot and a half. We were tearing through fields and between trees, clearing 50mph hahaha. We definitely got air a few times and we went home dusty. It was awesome. I left feeling like I'd gained a whole new family of friends. Too bad they are in another area haha.
The next day we contacted some referrals, and before we exchanged back, Elder Taylor and I took a few pictures by this cool looking abandoned community center in Rosston, AR. Vibez.
Story #2 - On Thursday, we were invited to attend the funeral of an investigator's father. This was only my 2nd time actually meeting him. The funeral was held in a little baptist church in the woods at the end of a long dirt county road. The little chapel filled up while soft country music played over the speakers. I tell you what, the variety of characters that came in was a sight to behold. I loved the rag-tag community family feel of it all.
The preacher was a younger guy, but everything you'd hope for in a Baptist preacher. A very kind, bearded, smiley, fella with a real talent for drawing out words and evoking the occaisonal "amen" from the congregation. He mouthed along the words to another guy's (legitimately good) performance of "Amazing Grace." Everything I could've wanted in my brief time in a Baptist church. Including a smattering of people putting up their "Holy Spirit Antennae," AKA praise hands, AKA putting their arm up and moving it slightly in an effort to find the signal that the Holy Spirit is coming in on, so they can grab it and hold on tight.
Jokes aside, it was a great service, emphasizing the celebration of the man's life and where he is, now. The thing that struck me, though, was the focus they had on how death was also a freedom from the trials and pains of this life. Which like... It is, yeah. But life is more than just this trying tenure as mortals on earth until we die and get judged by God. We didn't just show up here. And we didn't just sign up to come here, either--we fought for this, and knew it would be hard, but begged to be able to come to earth to learn and grow and gain experiences we couldn't have had otherwise. So while we may rightly celebrate our return to the God who created and sent us here, we should also celebrate the time we've been given. Is it hard? Yup. But we get to do things like travel, cry, have warm apple pie, walk on the beach, and hug the people we love.
Story #3 - Finding people to teach, and then staying in contact with those we have found has been a real challenge. We looked for community events on Facebook on Saturday morning and couldn't find a dang thing haha. Well, we drove past the small downtown that afternoon and lo and behold, Hope's 4th Annual Train Days was happening. So that was kind of a funny thing.
Story #4 - Elder Anderson went to Memphis on Sunday again to play the organ, and I went to Benton with Elder Hall. 3 hours of tracting isn't my idea of fun, but we found some cool people. This morning, a member of the Benton ward was willing to cut our hair so that was wonderful! We drove to the address, and it ended up being an RV park so I got a liiiitle nervous, but the lady ended up being super cool and did a great job. She does doTERRA full time, and they are planning to visit all 48 contiguous states in their RV, homeschooling their 2 boys and their 2 cool lookin' geckos for the next year and a half. Definitely fed my wanderlust fire even more haha.
So there's the highlights from this week! Hope y'all have a good next 7 days! Happy Mother's Day! Celebrate life!
Love, Elder Dahl
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Well, y'all. The baby calves are getting bigger, the trees are getting greener, my soul is growing stronger, and the astrological phenomenon of the earth getting slightly closer to the sun means the weather is getting warmer!
In addition to some minor sunburns, I've also gained a stronger conviction of the reality of this work. This isn't a vacation. And when we treat a mission like the sacred work that it is, we are going to be all the better for it.
Personal growth seems to happen the most on tougher weeks, which is kind of annoying.
But anywho! I was able to do a 2-night exchange in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, [AKA "Crime Bluff"] with our zone leaders. I've looked up to Elder King for a while, now, and so it was awesome to do an exchange with him!
We didn't experience or witness any crimes, but, we did:
- Have a peanut butter, jelly, banana, marshmallow sandwich. (Toasted, of course.) It was good. But of course, how could it not be?
- Go for a morning jog. This happened on Wednesday and I'm still kinda sore. But it's something I wanna get into cause it seems like every successful person who has their life together also manages to go for a 5k every morning.
- Do service at an assisted living facility. Okay, this one deserves its own paragraph.
We hung up these spinny shiny butterfly things from the ceiling. They hung just low enough that I might have to duck to the side a bit to avoid getting them in my hair. But all the residents were in wheel chairs and were just enchanted by those suckers. It was funny seeing their eyes light up, and hearing them consent to catch me if I fell down from the ladder.
After that, we were recruited to bring some bags of ice from a pickup truck into their industrial kitchen freezer outside. We were given a flat-topped cart to do it. We loaded the ice on and carefully steered it back through the brick-layed patio. Each bump shook the cart a little bit and we probably got about half way before the ice started sliding off the cart. We each grabbed whatever fell off and hurried to unload it in the freezer. Fortunately there weren't many witnesses to that, but I thought it was super funny. One of the ladies working there came out to us putting the ice bags in the freezer in our white shirts and ties and asked if we worked for Reddy Ice. Had she come out just a few minutes earlier, she probably wouldn't have asked that question.
We had a lesson after that that was pretty good. It started raining a little bit before we arrived. We couldn't teach in the guy's house cause there were like 9 dogs in there, and some cats. And it was raining outside. So the guy was quick to volunteer their abandoned RV, being used as a "storage shed" in their side yard, as the ideal place for a sit down lesson. Thankfully I got to sit in a chair by the open door. Cause that thing was nasty. After confirming there had never been a history of bed bugs in it, we taught the lesson and continued through our day.
We had one more lesson that night, thankfully in an actual house that didn't smell. The guy was super cool and open, and I loved seeing how much he actually agreed with the message of the Restoration. He lost his legs awhile ago up to the thighs. Cool dude! I watched some beetles scurry across his floor and desk across the room, though. And right before we said the closing prayer, he added, "hey, if anything bites you in that couch, it's not my fault," with an old southern black man laugh. He explained that his wife had sold the couch to someone, but they'd never paid for it, so she went into their house and took it back hahaha.
...so... We got home and showered and put our clothes in the dryer just in case. So far so good.
The next day was Zone Conference, which was awesome. It was a powerful reminder to raise my vision and expectations, and not to settle for mediocrity from anyone or anything, especially from myself. I'm making changes and sacrificing more to be better, stronger, and to invite more miracles.
Friday was one of those "best of times, worst of times" days cause the cool couple we found last week dropped us when we called to set up an appointment. They sounded mad after our very pleasant visit last time, leading us to believe they got "anti'd" pretty bad. (Which means they found or someone told/showed them some "anti-mormon" literature. Which happens kind of a lot. And that stuff is definitely out there. But not one piece of it is truth, or cannot be explained by additional truth. I've heard it all. I can answer it all. It doesn't shake my testimony--not because I ignore its existence, but because there has always been opposition to truth.) So that was a bummer.
But we taught an amazing lesson to a super sweet lady that felt like a textbook example of a perfect lesson. I'm excited to follow up with her! And then we came home and Elder Anderson made enchiladas. And they were DANG GOOD.
You know what else is DANG GOOD, though? Carrot cake Hershey's kisses. Yeah. I didn't even know those existed til this week. And apparently they're a limited edition deal? But they were so good.
On Saturday we did some super cool service! A member of the branch here works with a lot of the civil war history related stuff in Arkansas. We were able to go out and follow people with metal detectors around a civil war battle field with shovels, digging up whatever beeped.
I remember as a kid asking for a metal detector for Christmas cause I wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. (That was after my paleontology phase.) So this was way cool, and very fun, even if it confirmed in my mind the fact that I don't really wanna be an archaeologist. I guess the field we scanned was a part of the battlefield technically, but the present plan was to turn it into a parking lot for the Praire-De'Anne (?) Civil War visitor center they will eventually make. We just had to scan it all to make sure they weren't paving over anything cool.
The metal detector beeped a few times, and we found such thrilling items as wire, a nail, some more wire, an old farm file, some wire, and half a horseshoe. So even though none of it was really civil war related, it was still pretty fun to hear the beep and start digging. I guess it's gonna take a few weeks, so we will have to plan a day to do it again in a more exciting part of the process. :)
Later that afternoon, we visited a member of the branch who is working as a chicken catcher for Tyson. He's had the job for about a month and hates it. But he had some funny stories. I guess after so long at it, you develop what are called in the industry, "chicken-catcher hands," that just get polished and worn down so much it rubs your fingerprints off! He wears a pantyhose with a head hole over his arms to keep the dust and ammonia off of himself. Each house, he said, has 20,000 chickens. (Sometimes 35,000) and they usually empty 2-3 houses a night. Wow. So there's your southwestern Arkansas chicken trivia of the week.
Had my first full Sunday in the Hope branch. All 2 hours of it haha. The visiting high councillor was the only speaker, and the heel of a loaf of bread was all we used for sacrament. And we had leftovers. I think we had 31 people total. This mission is so cool cause I've experienced polar opposites. A branch of 31 people in Arkansas, and being assigned over 2 large wards in Tennessee. But wherever you go, the church is true! The same gospel is taught. The way the Apostles and Jesus Christ himself set up. The way we read about in the Bible. Cool stuff!
We left right after, though, and drove to Little Rock for the musical tribute there. Only one more left, over in Memphis. I probably won't be able to go to that one, but it's ok. They've been very fun and spiritually powerful. Plus, the cookies and socializing at the end is fun. I've come to love a lot of people out here. Especially the missionaries haha.
Drove back to Hope that night, and have just done some shopping today. We tried another Mexican restaurant and checked out the museum in the train station today, and it's pretty awesome haha. They've got a train section of the building, and a Bill Clinton side of the building. Cracks me up. Got a hold of "Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe." Can you believe they'd give something like that away for free? "Hope is dope, y'all."
Tomorrow I hit my 11 month mark! Almost been out here a year. That can't be right. Sometimes it feels like I've been at it for my whole life, but most of the time I feel like I got off the plane last week haha.
Missions are a blessing. So is the gospel. Live it, love it!
This is Elder Dahl, sending his love, and signing off from Hope Arkansas, "Birthplace of America's Best President, and a 200+lb watermelon, Mike Huckabee."
Send your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes:
Send your favorite chocolate chip cookies:
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
[Been a while since I did these, but there were some good ones for this week lol]
This week's email is brought to you by:
- Grammatically incorrect phrases insinuating Mike Huckabee is a watermelon
- The thrill of a metal detector beeping
- The ensuing disappointment of digging up a rusty piece of wire
- Hillary Rodham Clinton (and her chocolate chip cookies)
- Your friendly neighborhood chicken catcher
- The bugs hiding in your couch
- Reddy Ice
Fun fact of the day:
One chicken farm house (pictured below) has 12,500 chickens in it. According to some guy we talked to, who seemed like a pretty reliable source.
Elder Lim bet us an ice cream cone, though, for whoever guesses the closest number to how many chickens they are able to fit on the trucks that drive through town. They're just stacks of chicken cages on the bed of a pickup truck. My guess/calculation was 2,500 chickens. But we haven't figured it out yet, so if you wanna Google that for me, I'll share my ice cream with you. <3
Well, last Monday wasn't too eventful. We spent the morning at the church. And the afternoon. Elder Anderson called some local business and church higher-ups to figure out how to fix the internet. We finally left at like 3, without having had lunch or cleaned our apartment or shopped. Stopped by two internet provider shops in town. One was a nice office with a polite receptionist, and the other was set up in the back of an old radio shack that hadn't been redone yet. A morbidly obese guy sat in a specially made chair at a computer desk watching "700 lbs of popcorn popping at the same time" on YouTube. Well, we ended up going with those guys. Yeah....
Our appointment wasn't home that evening. And then during our proselyting hours, E. Anderson stopped by a cool gas station called TAB's in town advertising their "most unique bathroom in town" on their billboard. (It was decent, clean, and plastered in mostly suggestive bumper stickers.) He got a fried chicken plate and a key lime pie for his birthday. I guess he spent his birthday doing what he loves, so that's a good thing!
The next day, we had our first district meeting of the transfer. I instructed on teaching when you find, and finding when you teach. We've got a super solid district.
Afterward, we went to this Hibachi grill food truck, and the Lims very generously paid for everyone. They spoil us. And that stuff was dang good. Had the leftovers for lunch the next day, too!
From there, we rode back to Hope, and the internet company we found yesterday came and installed everything. Elder Anderson was about as involved in that as he could be. At 2, we were going to go visit some referrals with the Lims and have a lesson with a lady in Mineral Springs, some 45 minutes away. Come 1 o'clock, the Lims arrived, and come 1:30, he was still going! So we skipped being able to see our referrals, and then the GPS took us too far, so we were like 30 minutes late to our lesson.
Thankfully, she didn't mind, and the lesson went well. This lady has been to the holy land twice, and was commenting on some of the cool bits of the Book of Mormon that match the culture over there. Kinda neat. I'll talk about her more later.
We had dinner with some less active members that night. She was a little tipsy, confessing she'd had 3 beers after a rough day of work. So that was interesting. The food was good! And so was the Wal-Mart cheesecake, for those who are wondering.
Wednesday was day 3 of fixing the wifi. Thankfully, I think Elder Lim caught on to the fact that I was getting bored sitting at the church, cause he came with us and we went through the branch roster we've been working with. We planned who all we would see later that day around 2 again. Well... Elder Anderson didn't finish until later and then we had 10 mins to warm up leftover hibachi and hit the road. Let's just say, despite being late again, I'm glad the internet is fixed once and for all.
We've been trying to visit everyone in the branch. And that includes people who have not been to church in decades or who have told people from the church to not come by. So that's been interesting! Nobody has been mean, yet! :)
Well, since the wifi was fixed, Elder Anderson turned his focus to the rest of the church building and we documented all the things wrong with the building, so hopefully some people can come and fix it all. It'll be good!
We did another trip that afternoon to Nashville, (Arkansas, not Tennessee) and stopped at Sis. Lim's favorite fast food place, Burger King on the way back into town. Good ole booger fling, right Elder Evans?
While she and E. Anderson sorted through notes on people to out into the computer, E. Lim and I planned our next trip and just talked about boy scout adventures and stuff. This guy rebuilt a dam in southern Idaho in the 70s, and collects and restores cool old cars. He is one cool dude.
Friday came along and so did our weekly planning session. That morning, the lady we taught earlier this week kept coming into mind. Usually we follow an order of who we plan for first, but I decided to just start with her. We gave her a call and caught her right before she was heading out. While we were talking, her appointment canceled, we were able to answer some more questions, and she said that she would use the time that just opened up to immediately start studying the Book of Mormon. That was cool. The Lord encouraged me to plan for her first, even if I didn't understand why. And he gave her the time and reminder she needed to start reading. These little "coincidences" are the miracles that keep me going and make up a mission.
In an effort to spoil back the Lims, E. Anderson made barbecue sandwiches/Sloppy Joes and we had lunch together. Sis. Lim picked up a key lime pie from TAB's, though so it may have only been a fair trade.
On our trip that afternoon, we met a guy whose wife convinced him to get a chicken farm on their property. He said he was being delivered like 12,500 chickens over the next few weeks. Crazy.
That night, E. Anderson practiced the organ and I practiced the piano right on the stage with him when I could hear the notes even play haha.
Saturday we didn't have any trips with the Lims planned, so we had time to do some finding. We'd set a goal to find 3 New people to teach this week, and had found 0 up to this point. Which was kinda hard. So with some extra prayer and effort we were able to get all 3 of those today, even if our planning in the morning was discouraging. We stopped at a taco truck for dinner, and that helped lift the morale. And then we were able to meet with a funny couple who live in a pretty nice trailer decorated with watermelons. She was your chatty southern belle type, and he actually grew up in Palmyra, New York. Not far from Joseph Smiths house. Pretty cool! Wonderful people looking for truth, saying they felt something missing in their lives.
And then that night, Elder Ogaard called and told me Eric is getting baptized on May 12th! Yay! That made my week. I love that guy and his family.
We didn't get to attend our own branch Sunday morning, and went to the North Little Rock ward so that Elder Anderson could be there in time to leave for the Memphis musical concerts the missionaries are doing over there cause he plays the Organ. I think I've been to the NLR ward as many times as I have the Searcy ward haha.
Chatted with missionary friends before they all headed over to the Memphis side. And then I went to the Benton area with Elder Hall. We did some walking around but none of their people were available for a lesson. I ate a bunch of cookies, caught up on my journaling, and had some extra studies on top of the 2 hour drive from that morning. So it was a good time.
We drove back to North Little Rock today and got to go to David's Burgers for the first time in a while with Elder Ogaard and his new companion, also named Elder Anderson. We went to the one in downtown Little Rock, so we got to walk around down there for a bit. Before we even parked a guy asked us for change haha. But our trip there was much needed. I miss those guys.
And now we are to now. We are in the middle of our 2 hour drive back to the end of the mission in Hope, Arkansas. We are gonna have a killer week and we are gonna keep loving the scriptures and sharing them with the people of Hope.
So anyway. Definitely not the most exciting weekly email I've ever written. Lots of driving. Lots of chickens. A bunch of neat people who would make for great movie or book characters cause they're just so... cartoonish in an awesome way. But I hope you can see, as I have, the Lord's hand in all this. In small ways. He's good to us, out here.
Read your scriptures, you yayhoos. Love ya.
I appreciate messages and artifacts from the outside world:
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
There's a lot about my email subject line that probably doesn't make sense.
I thought about starting these emails from Hope, Arkansas off with weekly titles like "Hope is dope," "trying to cope in Hope," "Hope, Arkansas: where the Pope isn't," "No one would elope to Hope," "Hope: home of the antelope," "Don't mope, I'm in Hope!" "You can't really hit the slope in Hope," "Wish? Nope. It's Hope," "ran out of rope in Hope," "cleaning Hope with soap," "using a miscroscope in Hope," or "pushing the envelope in Hope." But I don't know how long I'd be here and I don't wanna resort to using most of these, and I sure as heck wouldn't wanna have to come up with one using the word "grope" to keep my streak going.
So here I am with "The Organ, the Tornado, and the Bucket Seat."
Let the explaining begin.
Transfer day happened. I locked the door to the Searcy apartment one last time. [For now. I keep telling people I'll be back.] Drove to North Little Rock, and waited around for my new companion, Elder Anderson. He is from Box Elder County, Utah. And he is like a serious genius. He's good at setting up plumbing, electricity, or the internet, and at sewing, cooking, ham radio, programming, and like a zillion other things. And yes, the organ, too. [The big jazzy church piano thing, not like your liver. But I wouldn't be surprised if he could also operate on someone, too.] Right after I finished writing this, he just about stuck his finger in my ear and then proceeded to quote Pokemon hahahaha. I couldn't make this up. He's awesome, and I'm learning lots from him!
It was really hard saying goodbye to people, and getting into a car [a nice Nissan Rogue! No more truck for Elder Dahl. I probably won't miss it too much tbh] bound for the edge of the mission with someone I'd never really talked to before. But before the 2 hour drive was over, everything was good.
Elder Anderson told me that as he was looking through a list of people in the mission trying to discern who his next companion would be, that my name stood out, without ever having met me. He said the elder I replaced felt the same thing, and kinda testified to me that I was sent there for a reason. And well, the spirit testified to me of that like we just got t-boned. When things have been hard this week, I remember that feeling and keep moving forward. I'm excited to discover the reasons why I'm here.
We stopped at the grocery store upon coming into town. Got a water filter for the sink (cause apparently it was pretty bad and didn't pass a lead test with flying colors) and a loaf of french bread real quick cause you can use it for everything. Had I known how little food was in that apartment I would have gotten more. Cause literally that French bread, some shredded cheese, and candy was all I ran on this week haha. They had a lot of candy.
After shopping, I got to experience one of the things I was looking forward to most about Hope.
Last transfer, the missionaries here met a Presbyterian Pastor. One thing led to another, and uh... We have a key to the front door of the gorgeous Presbyterian church in town, so that Elder Anderson can practice the organ for our missionary musical tributes! (Our church building is too small to even fit an organ.)
We walked in at night and it was kinda creepy at first, but we turned the lights on and entered the sanctuary and it reminded me of the gorgeous cathedrals I saw in France and Italy. Not as big, but almost as pretty! I accompanied Elder Anderson on the piano while he organ-ized. And then I helped him pick out some left hand notes for a variation we were making to the song, and so...
Now I can say that I first played an organ in a Presbyterian church in Hope, Arkansas. So that's super cool. I'm a long ways away from learning it, but the keyboard part I've got down haha.
The next day, I got to meet the Lims, a senior couple working in the Hope branch with us. They're from Blackfoot, Idaho and are just amazing. He used to be a Stake President and they get along so well with everyone we meet. They are so funny and have been spoiling us lots.
We went over to a ward members house and helped with their water pipe in their front yard. Dug up a bunch of mud and threw some cinderblocks down to cover the pipe and then buried it again. Across the street was a huge meadow and a bunch of trees. I had no idea what I was doing and was just kinda laughing to myself about how different this was from Collierville. Literally as far apart geographically and area wise as you can get in our mission. (2 wards in a city compared to a tiny branch in bunch of small towns.) So it's fun!
Elder Anderson went on to fix the guys sink, too, so that was impressive. We then sat down with the Lims and made some plans for the next day, in which we drove about 150 miles around our area trying to visit a bunch of less active people. The Lims drove, and we rode bucket seats. We did another trip like that on Saturday. Both were fun and productive, even if most people weren't home. We've been able to make a good dent in who still even lives here, and have contacted some promising referrals while we are at it!
On one of those trips, (to towns like Prescott, Nashville, & Mineral Springs, Arkansas) we stopped in a town called Washington for lunch. I guess the whole town is like a museum cause it looks like a cute little colonial town from the 1830s. There was an adorable tavern Elder Anderson had heard good things about. It was built or has been running since 1832, so that's cool! Right up my alley. History and good food... sign me up. Had some killer chicken and dumplings, jalapeno corn bread, fried okra and mashed potatoes.
There are a lot of chicken farms out here. Like... A lot. Tyson farms and factories are everywhere. We've passed one or two truck loads of live chickens close to meeting their end. So next time you have chicken nuggets, just think: the chicken you are eating might have seen Elder Dahl more recently than you have seen Elder Dahl.
So I've talked about the organ and explained the bucket seats thing. And I've even thrown in some spiritual stuff and food talk. I guess you're probably wondering about the Tornado.
Elder Anderson found some weather news that our area was on a level 4 storm/tornado watch through most of Friday night. They were predicting golf ball sized hail, and potential tornados. Exciting, right?
Well we drove to the nearby town of Arkadelphia to have our interviews with President Hansen. It's clear he has a lot of trust and faith in me and I'm determined to live up to that and turn this area around!
We drove back to Hope and finished our weekly planning session. I had a baptismal interview with an investigator the other set of elders in my district were teaching. So after a stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a pizza, I Skyped in and was able to get to know their investigator for a bit. He has since been baptized and confirmed! Super awesome, down to earth guy.
We ate our pizza standing outside of the church doors, watching the sky. It was actually way cool. On our left, clouds were blowing to our right. And on our right, clouds were blowing to our left. They were meeting in the middle and just congregating into a bigger cloud. They were moving fast! At one point in time, rain was lightly falling straight down. Within a span of about 4 seconds, the rain blew sidewise. First to our right, and then totally flipped directions and blew to our left. Crazy cool.
We returned home without any problems, and our emergency weather radio only went off once or twice that night. Lightning was like the paparazzi in distant clouds, and the thunder got pretty loud, but there wasn't anything too dramatic. In the morning, the neighboring apartment buildings mailbox had been blown over, and a few tree limbs.
We went to the church to see how it fared. A few tiny things on the outside, but I guess they had a power surge cause the refrigerator and wifi both died. So Elder Anderson has been working on that haha.
On Sunday, we got to speak in church. Apparently that doesn't happen as often as I would think in a little branch this size. But I was glad for the opportunity to introduce myself and talk about repentence!
I also learned that day that the Hope Branch is on a 2 hour block, rather than the usual Mormon 3 hours. So that's cool! The 3 meetings are all just shortened down to about 45 minutes. Which meant that I was the concluding speaker of sacrament meeting. So that was weird and kinda cool. Another "first" for me in Hope, Arkansas haha.
We had to leave right after sacrament meeting though, to make the 2.5 hour drive back to CONWAY! For the musical devotional we had there. The same program is kinda touring its way through the mission. We arrived in Conway early enough to make it to their 1 o'clock sacrament meeting/fast and testimony meeting. It felt like I'd never left! It was so good to catch up with and see the Routts, Prashanth, Bro. Garcia, and all those awesome Conway people. I didn't realize how much I missed, Conway, too.
A lady went up and bore her testimony. It made my day. Because Elder Evans and I found this lady and her 5 sons while we went to try to visit a former investigator. The person we tried wasn't home, and so on our way back to the car, we had heard someone shout, "missionaries?" and it ended up being this LDS family, who had moved in that day from Little Rock. We got to visit them maybe once or twice later before we were both transferred out. So it was amazing to be there for her first day back in church in a long time, when she committed from the pulpit to stay in church!
So that was awesome. Seeing Conway people was awesome. And seeing missionary friends was also awesome! This Conway musical had the strongest spirit of the 3 that I've been to this year. I looked out and saw an older gentleman just bawling during one of the songs. Before I could finish the thought, "I want whatever he's feeling," I felt it and had a hard time finishing the song. Jesus is the Christ! Hosannas to His name!
That spirit is the best feeling ever. I hope y'all have felt it, can feel it, will feel it. It's peace, happiness, joy, confidence, and love. Do whatever you can to be able to feel it often.
I know this work is the Lord's, and that even though I miss Searcy, another little town in Arkansas needs me more. I'm excited to find out the who and why of why I'm here. There's people to bless. Godspeed!
It's been without a doubt one of the most eventful weeks of my mission. Mostly in a really good way!
On Monday we had our district P Day. We have seriously the coolest district in the mission. I love all those elders and sisters so much. We cooked fried chicken and fried up some Oreos and had a blast!
On Tuesday, we went back down to Lonoke and attended their district meeting. I stayed with Elder Albertson and spent the night there. We didn't have a lot of luck trying people. But we did get in my first bible bash in a few months. Gotta love it when people talk over you, ignore your responses, and think false perceptions about what we believe to begin with. I hate arguing with people [and always leave ASAP when it happens] but I always leave just feeling extra sure of myself.
That happened in a dumpy little town called "England." Like entire streets of houses were almost entirely abandoned. The wasps were out in full force but we made it out unscathed. It was starting to feel hot that day!
That night we also brought this Vietnam War Marines vet to tears in reading Alma 40 & reviewing the plan of salvation with him. He recently lost his wife. That was a cool cool lesson. This gospel is true and real and resonates with the soul.
Later, Elder Albertson and I just had a great conversation. I love that guy. He is so good. He hasn't had an easy mission so far, but he is just so good. That was one of those conversations that I hope I can use to forever be a better person. I felt the spirit and like one of the reasons I'd been called as a Zone Leader in the Searcy Zone had just been fulfilled. Maybe I didn't help him very much, but I know he helped me.
The next day we had a great leadership meeting. I love those and always leave feeling pumped. We got back to Searcy in time for the Beebe Elder's baptism! I got to do his baptismal interview last week, and it was cool to see everything come together for him to be baptized.
That night I had a weird nightmare that Elder Ogaard stayed in Searcy and I was sent to some other area in the mission. Searcy has become like my favorite area that I've been in. And that after just 1 transfer here. It'd suck to leave, cause I'm just starting to get to know the area really well, and I feel like I'm making a difference here.
On Thursday we did another exchange, up in Quitman. I went over there and didn't have a ton of success but did get to teach a cool lesson to this cool cat surfer dude that's been investigating the church for a while. Connected Mosiah 21 and 22 to him quitting smoking. It was cool.
I think about my teaching abilities now and compare them to my practice lessons in the MTC... It's clear that I've improved a lot. And I love that so much.
Friday morning I drove back to Searcy. We helped an older couple move in and planned out our week. Then we got to have a dinner/lesson with the family whose dad is on date to be baptized this month. Man they are so awesome!! Something changed for him after General Conference, and now he is finishing 2nd Nephi in his Book of Mormon reading. He asked some good questions and we enjoyed some pazole. (? I can't remember what it's called or how you would spell it but it was yummy!)
The next morning, we got transfer calls.
Elder Ogaard has been in Searcy for 7.5 months. And I have been here for like a month and a half. He was thinking he was leaving and I was really hoping he would stay one more transfer. I was pretty sure I'd be staying, whether he goes or not.
Well, Elder Ogaard answered the phone and President told him to be ready to serve another transfer in Searcy! I pumped my fist and got excited. Then he told him that he would be getting a new companion, and asked to talk with me.
Sooooo yeah. I've been honorably (and temporarily) released as a Zone Leader after 3 transfers. I've been given an assignment to serve in Hope, Arkansas as a District Leader, to be eventually reinstated as a Sr. Zone Leader somewhere, sometime afterward. [Hopefully back in Searcy!]
After hanging up, I was kinda shaking but just started busting up laughing. Mainly cause we had joked that Elder Ogaard would get sent to somewhere like Hope. Hope is one of those affectionately termed "armpits" of the mission that for some reason nobody wants to serve in. Then the laughing turned into kinda upset groaning because my nightmare from this week had come true.
Hope is a branch with like 20-30 active members in the town of the birthplace of Bill Clinton. The Texas border is about a 30 minute drive away. Dallas is as close as Memphis is. Hope is the furthest south-west area in the mission. I've heard mixed things about my future companion. But he plays the organ so hopefully he can teach me! The building our church meets in is the smallest church-owned property in the southeast region apparently. So that's cool haha.
So first thing is first: I'm actually really excited to serve in Hope. I don't feel like 2 years in the ALRM would be complete without serving in a tiny branch. I can already see a zillion different ways this is going to prepare me to be a better person and leader. So it is going to be sweet.
Second thing, though... I am at least as sad to be leaving Searcy as I am excited to be in Hope... I've been in a funk since transfer day.
The family we are teaching feeds us amazing Mexican food every Friday and Saturday night and he's getting baptized this month, the sisters were starting up an ASL class this transfer, and the mission office is toying with the idea of moving us from our apartment into a really nice single-wide trailer in a member's back yard. (Which would be SO FUN getting to say you've lived in a trailer for a bit!) The ward is awesome, the work is awesome, and there are other awesome people I'm going to miss working with. I won't go to MLCs for a bit, and I'll be pretty far away from everyone. I've already had my last Sunday in the Searcy ward and didn't even know it. It's probably been the saddest I've been on my mission, honestly.
So. I'm trying to look on the bright side haha. I really really am excited, but man I'm sad to be missing out on so much.
Anyway. After transfer calls, we had personal study, which might as well have not happened cause I couldn't think about anything other than Hope, Arkansas.
That day we had my first (and last!) missionary correlation meeting. And snow crystals fell from the sky. It was like 30 degrees. What. I'd been gone on exchanges the past few times correlation had happened, so I just told the ward mission leader that I was visiting, cause I'd never even met him in church before and I wouldn't be there for it next week.
We then went to help another lady move. Holy moly. This lady was crazy. Her daughter had texted us a week or so from Kansas City or something to gather the Elders Quorum to help move her mom. Well... This lady was kind of an old hoarder cat lady and didn't want anything thrown away. Her apartment was small and there were some boxes packed up. Buuut like she had barely started packing stuff into boxes. And the rental place where the lady had rented the moving truck was closed on Saturdays and she had lost the owners number. SO she had to drive to the next closest location in Little Rock to get that while us and a few other saints from the Searcy ward packed a bunch of cat stuff and knick knacks into boxes while she complained about how one time some guys had dug through her underwear drawer and stolen her gun. And how she had threatened to whip someone with a bull whip once. She was a character!
But fortunately the week ended off on a good note. We were able to get a ride to North Little Rock to attend Tim and Michele's wedding! They were that investigator couple I taught 2-3 times while in Conway, on exchanges in NLR. They are so awesome and were so prepared! They got married, and then Michele was baptized. Tim will be baptized soon, too! Got to sit by President Hansen during the ceremony. I love that man. Michele shared her testimony afterward, thanking the Lord for "handpicking" the missionaries who taught them. Super proud of her and Tim both. They love the gospel.
That night we helped clean up the wedding and reception stuff, and didn't end up leaving the church til 10. Slept on some couch cushions in the office elders apartment.
The next day, Sunday, Michele was confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Elder Shelley. Super cool. SO much love for him and the whole NLR district. I miss seeing them all the time. And will see them even less now aha.
President Hansen then gave us a ride to Jacksonville. He talked about a few companions from his time serving in this same mission. Once in Jacksonville, we waited around for a bit until we practiced for our missionary musical tribute and then performed that. It was really good. I delivered the 2nd paragraph of the Living Christ memorized as a part of it and a bunch of people complimented that so I guess it was good. I don't think I missed any words haha.
The musical itself was pretty powerful. I think my singing ability has improved since coming out.
It was so good to see so many missionary friends there. And hard cause I feel like I won't see a lot of them as often, now. It's honestly pretty funny to see the surprise and sympathy in people's eyes when I tell them I'm going to Hope. But I talked with the elder I'm replacing there and he said when he saw that it was me coming in, he breathed a sigh of relief and said his prayers had been answered. So that was good.
Last night we stayed in the Beebe Elders apartment. Another night on couch cushions haha. Just a 25 minute drive away from home... So today is my last day in Searcy.
It's been good, Searcy. Until next time! #perfectbrightnessofHope
Love y'all! Have a good week!
It's been another awesome week in the Searcy Zone of the ALRM!
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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