Hahahahaha you guys this week was nuts.
Monday through Thursday was in Benton, AR. Friday was in North Little Rock, AR. And Saturday and Sunday have been in West Memphis, AR. Crazy weeks are fun, though. Here's the highlights!
On Monday night, we had dinner at the Simmons and I (kinda uncomfortably, for the goat) held a goat.
Tuesday was transfer day, so we drove up to the mission office, said a bunch of hi's and hopefully-not-bye's before picking up my Benton replacement, Elder Miller, and two new Spanish Elders who are coming to the zone. There were some hurdles to jump, though, because the Spanish elders apartment wouldn't be open until tomorrow. So we put them up in the Bryant sisters apartment before it got re-occupied friday night. But before that, we just dropped them off in the heart of south little rock to blitz while we got ready for a baptism at the church. Those poor guys were troopers. They didn't have much other than cards to give out, and didn't even know what time church started, let alone where the building was haha.
The three of us got ready for Madison's baptism! It took a solid 2 or 3 hours of filling the font, setting up chairs and moving the piano, downloading videos to play after the baptism, printing programs, and so on. And it all worked out great! I thought it all went pretty smoothly, and Madison was just beaming the whole time, and the ward just adores her and her kids. Ahh. She's so awesome.
We had dinner with the Richards, which was fun. It made me realize how long I've been in Benton. In the time I've been here, they've had a daughter leave on a mission, and 2 of their sons get married. They're a great family.
Before heading home, we stopped at Baskin Robbins and made a deal with Jayla, our dollar scoop ice cream scooper. If she came to church this Sunday, we/they would make her cookies. If she didn't, she would have to give them free ice cream one day. She said we had a deal! (And she came yesterday, yay!)
Being in a trio for those couple of days was interesting, but pretty fun haha. On Wednesday, we picked up the new Spanish Elders and met the office elders in an apartment complex in Little Rock, where they got all the signatures they needed to get the keys turned over to them, so they've got a brand new apartment. The outside is kinda sketch, but it's not too bad on the inside!
Then we drove back to Benton and stacked firewood for one of the people we were teaching. That was a lot easier with 3 people than it would've been with 2, cause we had a good line going. We changed back into white shirts and ties in a gas station (which is always fun) and then went to the library to type up reports for our meeting with the Stake President and President Hansen that had gotten bumped up to this evening, instead of tomorrow evening. So I was kinda sad that I was going to miss that meeting, but I lucked out and got to go to one more. (Unfortunately, it was at the cost of like 15 missionsries from the MTC not being able to get here cause their flight was gonna go thru Denver and Denver was getting hazed by a snow storm. So they had to go back to the MTC and try again the next day.)
But it was a good meeting! Between my time in Hope and Benton, I've spent just a few weeks short of a year in the Little Rock Stake. As we were leaving, Pres. Hansen told me, "I'm excited for you to be in West Memphis! You'll do great there! Don't get shot!" Hahaha. Thanks, President. (What the?!!? )
Thursday morning was supposed to be the day we had the meeting with the new missionaries, but because of the delay, it ended up being the day they actually got to Arkansas, and our meeting was postponed to Friday. So I got a bonus day on top of my bonus days in Benton. It was a good one!
We had a lesson with Madison about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. She had overheard some members talking about the Dallas temple, and had planned a trip to go to Dallas to see some family next week, and wondered what she had to do to see the temple. We made a plan for her to get a temple recommend after church on Sunday, and she did! Yay!
After that, we tried to visit a few people, including a referral the STLs gave us. She wasn't home, but another guy was and we got to talk with him for a while. He's a chainsaw artist so that's pretty cool.
Then, that night, we had a lesson with Wren and his girlfriend. He's the older guy that lives in the apartment next to his mechanic shop. It was a really cool, spiritual lesson. When we got there, and got started, the TV, which had been muted, broke into static and was loud. The lady's phone kept ringing with some obnoxious rap song as the tone. But they turned the TV off, silenced the phone, and were astounded at how calm and still their chihuahua was. (Which, if it's anything like any other chihuahua, its silence was pretty impressive.) "Somebody doesn't like you being here," the lady observed. But now that it was quiet, we were in good shape.
She'd been trying to find an answer to a prayer pretty urgently, and felt like her prayers just weren't being heard. We taught her how to pray, and Wren suggested that we give her a blessing. None of the 3 of us had thought to do that, but I think it was important that the spirit prompted him to suggest that. So we did, and she said she felt peace. We had her say the closing prayer and were very impressed with her faith and how badly she wanted an answer. It was cool.
The couple extra days in Benton kinda made me feel a lot of things! At times, like I just wanted to get out of the way, and other times like I never wanted to leave. It was like watching the start of a movie and knowing it's gonna be good, and wanting to see how the rest of the movie/transfer pans out. But Friday came, and it was time to move on, train a new missionary, and work West Memphis!
Friday was pretty long. All the trainers were there when I got there, and then the new missionaries arrived a little while later. We all introduced ourselves, and then the meeting started. Before lunch, they made the assignments. I'll be training Elder Bang! He's the oldest of 6 kids, and is from St. George, UT! President told him he'd probably be my last companion, affirming my joke, that I was "going out with a bang!"
After the meeting was over (at 4:30!) It took another hour and a half to get everyone's stuff loaded for the trek east to Memphis. I rode in the tiny middle seat between the driver and passenger in the pickup truck, which made for a fun ride across the state. But Elder Webb and I got to joke around, so that's always fun.
After stopping at a Taco Bell in Forrest City, (which is in our area in West Memphis) we drove another 45 minutes to West Memphis, got our stuff out of the truck and trailer, and hauled it upstairs to our apartment. It's pretty nice! We both have our own bathroom, and 2 closets, anyway. We had to throw away 90% of everything left over in the fridge and freezer, though. But we got all settled in by a little after 9, and then went to bed.
And then began day 1 in West Memphis. We had daily planning, our studies, and after the unfortunate (and late) realization that there wasn't a square of toilet paper leftover from the last elders, we decided to make a Wal-Mart trip for some essentials before starting the day.
We got out to the car, and the remote unlock didn't work. Weird. We manually unlocked it, hopped in, and... The battery was dead. We had a neighbor out washing her car, and asked if she'd be able to give us a jump. She kindly did, and once the electronics were up and running again, I saw something else. We had a tire pressure alert, with a psi reading of 4. Crap. Walked around to the rear passenger tire, and sure enough... We had a super flat tire. So we put on the spare (and had to ask our neighbor for another jump) and drove up the street to Goodyear tire, which was fortunately only about a mile down the road. We parked and they said it'd be 3-4 hours before they get to us.
We called our branch mission leader, Bro. Jones, and he happened to be free, so he picked us up and drove us around West Memphis, helped us get our bearings, and even paid for some groceries for us.
That night, the Young Women were doing a spaghetti fundraiser dinner for girls camp or something, and someone had bought us tickets, so Bro. Jones drove us over to the church (which is bigger than the Hope Building!) for that. We got to meet a bunch of the members there, and learned that the majority of the branch is related to 1 of 2 big families down here.
Before dropping us off back home, Bro. Jones reminded us to wear green ties to church tomorrow for St. Patrick's day, cause "them women'll pinch the crap outta you," and so we made note of that haha.
Church was good! Lots of friendly people, and warm introductions. And no pinches!
Got home, had studies, and decided to walk to try to meet some of the people in our area book close by. We found 3 new people to teach in that short time, and didn't get shot! (So far, so good, President!) It definitely wasn't the best side of town though haha.
We had mainly been talking to people who were just out and about, soaking up the springtime, but I had the thought to knock on the door we were walking by. We hadn't knocked on any doors yet, but figured I'd follow the prompting. A lady came out and we talked about her family for a while. She eventually shared that ever since a loved one had passed away 15 years ago, she's been looking for a sign from her telling her what heaven is like. I told her the little voice telling us to knock on her door might have been her! (A thought that never would've occurred to me until she told us that.) She accepted a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and said we could come back next week! So that was cool!
So there you have it... some of the highlights of this big, long, fun, crazy week. It's after 2, now, and we still haven't gotten a call about our car being done yet... pray for us haha.
I'm thankful for the miracles I've been able to see this week! They just keep on coming.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Well, it's Monday again! My time in Benton hasn't yet reached its end, but transfers came, and I'll be leaving! I get a couple days grace period here, though, before I leave on Thursday to pick up a brand new missionary to whitewash West Memphis, Arkansas with me! So that'll be fun! I'm excited hahaha. Staying in Arkansas, but dying on the Memphis side.
It's been a good last week, though!
On Monday, we got to visit the recent convert who's in the screamo band. Man, he's so awesome. The member we took with us happened to have bought an old sleeper recording studio, where apparently Rolling Stones and maybe the Beach Boys had recorded a few things between tour stops. It had fallen into disuse years ago, but he got pretty excited about checking it out, and started talking about fixing it up. I hope he gets it up and running again!
On Tuesday, we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with Madison, and she was all good, but... wasn't too sure about Joseph Smith, yet. Which made us panic a little bit cause her baptism was scheduled for a week out. So we explained the Book of Mormon more and sent her a link to the awesome, hour-long "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" movie and crossed our fingers.
We went to Tacos 4 Life for lunch cause President had confirmed that I will be a training district leader somewhere else this coming transfer, and I wanted to get another fix before I left. Then we spent most of the rest of the day trying to hunt down members who lived out in the middle of nowhere. We had about as much luck as usual with that. (Not very much).
After dinner that night, we went to Baskin Robbins for $1 Scoop Tuesday's (and to talk with the scooper, who we've been trying to teach for a while.) She was there, but someone else was scooping ice cream until 8. She clocked out while we were talking with the lady we came to see, and on her way out the door, stopped to read my nametag. She got really excited, and in a thick Filipino accent, read it outloud. "Yeah!" I said. "Do you know that church?" She went on to explain that she had actually joined the church in the early 90s with the rest of her family. She had moved to the states 5 months ago, and that very morning had prayed to meet someone from the church, because she didn't know where to find it here.
We were just there for ice cream and a chat. She "happened" to have picked up a shift outside of her usual weekend hours, and we "happened" to come in before she left and it "just so happened" that.... Yeah there's no such thing as it just so happened.
In less exciting news, I stayed in Benton on an exchange and we went to try to find a referral the sisters had given us before they left. We knocked on the door and a guy answered and used the f word more times in a minute than I've heard since high school haha. He told us the guy we were looking for wasn't interested, and, "Do I need to get an effing broom?" It made us laugh afterward, but he didn't seem like a very cheerful, happy guy. His loss.
After planning some of Madison's baptismal program, we went home to weekly plan. But then we decided to mix life up a little bit, cause the last few weekly plannings we have done have taken forever and have been kinda painful. So we went over to the temporarily closed Bryant sisters apartment, brought chairs out onto their 2nd story balcony, and planned up there. It was almost 60 degrees, and super foggy, which almost made it feel warmer, actually. It was sad planning for Benton for my last time, but it was made a little more fun by doing it outside.
We also visited our guy who works/lives in the mechanic shop, and he had two buddies join him for the lesson, so that was cool! And when we went by again on Sunday, he introduced us to another friend! He's a new investigator factory. And same with that lady we've had back at church the last few weeks. She's gotten 3 new people into the church building this week like it's nothing, while we struggle to get 1 haha. That's a good example of the power of member missionary work! She is so awesome. During the potluck on Sunday, she said, "I like it here. I think I'm gonna keep coming!" and that filled my heart.
(We were gonna reach our goal of 4 people at church, but we didn't remind one of the members in charge of picking someone up about Daylight Savings, and so we only got 3 haha. Elder Ramage is from Arizona, and they are smart enough to not do Daylight Savings Time there. But he hates it a lot haha. I guess it's kinda like the old testament law of circumcision. When you grow up under it, it's painful but it's not too bad. But trying to win over a convert...?)
On Saturday, Bro. Bailey took us out for BBQ in Little Rock before we went to one of the sisters in our zone's baptism. Madison came to watch, and even though it was all in Spanish, the Spirit was strong, and she really enjoyed it. (Shoutout to the hermanas for translating some of it!) Afterward, she had her baptismal interview and it went well! She's excited, we're excited... it's gonna be awesome. She is so amazing.
After all of that, there was also a wedding reception at the church for a couple who met on their missions like a year ago haha. They're great. We made a few visits that night inviting people to church to hear us speak, but a lot of people weren't home.
Elder Ramage and I spoke in church, and Sister Hansen, the mission president's wife happened to be there haha. But we did good, I thought. She and a few of the members seemed to think so, too. I've been trying to develop the gift of preaching. :)
Madison was there, too, and her kids even enjoyed primary... everything's coming together for her baptism on Tuesday! And because I'm training, I'll get to stick around for it. Otherwise, I'd be getting on a van with all of my stuff at 6:30 that morning, just less than 12 hours before her baptism. Phew! I'm definitely very blessed that I'll be able to make it!
Then, come Thursday, I'll get to get on that van with all my stuff, and a brand new missionary, and we'll go raise some righteousness up in West Memphis!
Love y'all! Pray for my greenie, Madison, and the good folks of West Memphis!
P.S. sorry for comparing daylight savings time to circumcision
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
Hello! I'm a bundle o stress about transfers next week, but this week was probably one of my favorite weeks in Benton! It's been great. Had a lot more pizza than usual this week for whatever reason haha.
On Monday, our desperation to find a good, cheap, barber other than Great Clips reached its peak. On Google maps, we found a little barber shop in downtown Bryant that appeared to be in someone's house. There were no hours posted, and so we called the number. It went something like this:
"Uh, hello, is this Here's barber shop?"
"Uh... the missionaries?"
"...The Mormons? You're with the Mormons?"
"Oh. Yeah, this is Herb. I had a good friend back in the military who was a member of your church. He was a great guy. And I actually had some missionaries come see me about 5 or 6 times a ways back. Y'all should come see me!"
So. That was interesting. We decided that we could postpone our haircuts until Friday, when his shop was open again.
That evening, we kinda ran out of things to do, so made it a point to drop off a Come, Follow Me Manual to someone we had been meaning to drop off for a while. It just so happened that she needed a blessing before a surgery the next morning, and she'd been worried about not being able to get one when we called to see if then would be a good time. So that was cool. We felt like slackers for not getting the book to her sooner, until we realized that God's timing was better.
We had district council the next day, which was good. It's still kinda funny being in a "district" with just another set of sisters. We ended up joining the little rock district for their district lunch at good ole Chik-Fil-A cause we were going on exchanges with one of the sets of elders. Which happened to mean I got to do an exchange with Elder Bingham, my "son," (or, the missionary I trained almost 18 months ago!)
So that was fun to catch up with him and laugh about some of the Collierville days. Good times. We rode the public bus to a few stops and talked with some interesting people on there. While tracting, a guy let us in and his little kid kept yelling in my ear about how cool his sonic the hedgehog game was, but I just took it so I could distract the kid while Elder Bingham went for the teaching. The guy got distracted as the mailman delivered a box. He explained that it was his new phone, and in passing mentioned that he ordered it cause he'd put his last phone in the microwave.
"Wait..." I asked. "The microwave? Why'd you put your phone in the microwave?"
"I thought it was a piece of pizza!" He shrugged.
Little Rock. It's a heck of a place!
After we exchanged back the next day, we had a great Facebook video lesson, where we taught the second half of the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom (no smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, coffee, tea) to a lady. Later in the week, we taught her the rest of the commandments, like tithing, etc., and it was just amazing to see how willing she was to live the commandments. She really saw them as ways to show her love for God and her desire to follow Him.
We did some service at a Habitat for Humanity thrift store place, and then had a Bible study at President Jones's. A while back, we had asked a returning member if she had any friends she would like to have come to church with her. She said yes, and has had a good friend of hers come to church now for over a month, and to these bible studies for a while, too. She's been loving everything, and is such a strong believer in Christ. She bought a tablet so she could have the gospel library app, and even though another missionary had to physically hold her finger and help her tap on things (she's pretty old, and hasn't ever used a touch screen anything before) it was really really amazing to see how overwhelmed she was by the wealth of the treasure trove of doctrine and teaching there are available at her fingertips. She got pretty emotional and I realized I have kinda taken the resources available to me for granted!
On Thursday, I had my 12th MLC. (If I'm counting right!) We have 1 a month, except we had a bonus one in February. So I've been in zone leadership for longer than I haven't! It's been amazing. But President made some hints about people being released as zone leaders to go train and be district leaders [who function under ZLs) and so when I hugged him after the meeting, I just jokingly said, "It's been a good last MLC!" And he just laughed and said, "So you picked up on my hint!" So we'll see what happens this next transfer haha. I'll miss... well... I'll miss parts of being a zone leader haha.
On Friday, we did some service unloading a big truckload of hay and stacking it under a little shed thing, so that was fun and itchy. Then we went to Herb's barber shop and didn't get out of there until 3 hours later haha. It was an experience.
Herb is kind of an older guy. He served in the Vietnam War, and has lived in this area since before there was even just a pizza hut. Back when the population was around 600. So, that to say... he had some stories. But not as many stories as the almost 90 year old guy who had come in for a shave right before us. After he was done, he just sat back down in the waiting chairs, and talked our ears off. He didn't take a breath haha. The end of one story would remind him of another, and in the middle of another story, he'd have to fill you in on the life stories and backgrounds of each of the people involved, and how he knew their parents, and what they're doing nowadays.
It wasn't til another guy walked in that Herb actually started on Elder Ramage's hair. And he'd stop quite a bit to talk with the other guy, and to go check on something, or open the door for someone... It was kinda funny.
Then it was my turn... And the same thing happened haha. And this time I noticed how shaky his hands were. I was a little nervous, but Herb was a pro haha. (And only 10$!)
We weekly planned the rest of the afternoon, and treated ourselves to David's Burgers for dinner that evening. They had a deal with the radio station that if you mentioned them, they'd give you a free chicken sandwich. So hey! We couldn't pass that up. (Even though we don't listen to the radio station...)
Saturday was BUSY! After that other facebook lesson, our elders quorum president took us to Corky's BBQ up in Little Rock for lunch. They'd had one in Collierville and I'd forgotten how good it was. Man. A half slab of good ribs and some baked beans can do a lot for my morale. :)
We had a lesson after that with a guy we've been working with for a while. He had a friend over who joined us for a reading of Enos from the Book of Mormon. He, his friend, and his friend on behalf of his wife all committed to come to church the next day, but it didn't happen. :(
We stopped by a less active members house to use the bathroom, and ended up getting treated to a slice of dairy queen ice cream cake, and got to give a Book of Mormon to his mom, so that was cool!
Then we went to Carolina's for dinner, she's the lady who joined the church as a kid, but after we did service for her, she brought it up and we discovered that she was a member. Last week was her first time back, and this week was her first time having the sacrament again. The ward has been great about fellowshipping her. We watched Elder Soares' general conference talk, "One in Christ," and I felt like it was given for her. I felt the spirit really strongly watching it. This is Christ's church! It's full of imperfect people, but the least we can do is love one another.
Then we stopped by Salvador's and had a good visit with him. He's still in the Day's Inn, and is going through a lot. But man, I love that guy. He's so awesome. But the night wasn't over yet! We pulled into the Zaxby's parking lot and used their WiFi for a zone leadership zoom call, and just talked about how we can help the zone get to the next level. Then we filled up on gas and went home.
Church was good. The lady planning on being baptized this next week or so came! We're still trying to figure out details with that, including whether or not I will still be here for the baptism. So that's a little stressful. But it will happen! I'm grateful to have been an instrument in the Lord's hands in helping her.
After church, we visited a guy in a nursing home who was a little loco. He likes his western books, and seemed to think that's what the Book of Mormon was. I mean kinda, when you think about it. A western that took place, was written, and that really happened, about 2000 years ago.
We also visited Tabitha again. I'd seen on Facebook that she'd mentioned that she was quitting smoking. That was her main hold up about joining the church a few months ago, was she didn't want to. But kinda out of the blue, she decided she wanted to quit. So we stopped by and just said we wanted to support her in any way that we could. She seemed a lot happier than I've seen her in a while. She's awesome.
Any time I had to get out of the car, (especially Saturday and Sunday) it seemed like I was about an inch and a half from falling asleep. And my body didn't want to do much of anything. But as soon as I opened the car door and my feet hit the ground, the Spirit must've taken over and carried me like a marionette puppet haha. I've been relying on that happening more and more, recently. I'm a tired kiddo. But there is work which remains unfinished!
Looking forward to this last week in Benton. Gotta make the most of it!
905 Kierre Dr.,
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Serving A Mission!
What's all this about? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is expected of me that I will serve a two-year mission. (And yeah, the "riding bikes and wearing nametags and knocking on doors" kind of mission.) But this isn't something I'm doing because it's expected of me... I'm doing this because the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life SO much, in SO many ways. I can't think of a greater honor or responsibility than being able to play a part in someone's story of finding and enjoying these blessings, too.
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(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116