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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(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116