The longer I look at the word "hundredth," the less it seems like a real word. Doesn't it look made up? That's right, though... isn't it?
Whether it is a word after all or not, there's definitely something that seems imaginary about this being my 100th week!
This last Tuesday was probably one of the fastest of all the days in my mission. We had 3 [admittedly too long] lessons, plus some time for contacting, reporting, and all that. But by the time 7 o'clock rolled around and our 3rd lesson was about to begin, it felt like 3 in the afternoon. All three lessons were really good, though. We are getting somewhere! It's so awesome to see things starting to click in people's minds and hearts.
There wasn't anything too exciting through most of the week, so I'll just run through some highlights.
- On Wednesday, a new member named Ricky took us to a Chinese buffet. They're usually at least decent, right? This one was pretty good, though! In West Memphis, AR of all places!
- My fortune cookie was "any day above ground is a good day," which, seeing that the euphemism for a missionary going home is "dying," or being "killed off," I thought was pretty appropriate haha.
- We had Book of Mormon class that night, which was good. The sisters' and their new missionary got back in time for that, too. So now they're in a trio! I guess President must think that if a new missionary can make in West Memphis, they can make it anywhere!
- We helped set up a yard sale
- I gave a Book of Mormon to a Jehovah's Witness (and have only been able to do that a couple times, try as I might)
- We had a lesson with a guy who, (long story short) broke up with his girlfriend, after he... beat up her husband. ...Yeahhhh he's a character
- We made a trip to Wynne, AR, to have dinner with some members who'd invited us and the sisters over. It's like 40 miles one way, so a big mileage commitment. Well, we got there, and then they canceled saying their kids were sick, so that was sad. But it put us in the right place at the right time, because we got to visit some other members up there and saw some cool miracles with that, That we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't made the trip.
And then that gets us to my 100th Sunday! A few weeks ago, a member of the branch presidency asked me to speak in church on that day, so I prepared a talk this week, and it started getting kinda long. I was worried I wouldn't give the high councilor enough time to speak after me, so I kinda trimmed the talk here and there to shorten it.
Well, we show up Sunday morning (after a few of our investigators that committed to coming to church flaked... again...) and I get informed that the high councilors had a family emergency and wasn't going to be able to make it. So I'd be the only speaker, and they'd just finish sacrament meeting whenever I finished.
It's actually kinda cool, cause at the start of my mission that would've freaked me out hahaha. I never had anxiety about public speaking or anything, but being the only speaker, and trying to take up more than about 10 minutes would've been a challenge. But yesterday, I just thought it was funny. The meeting only ended ~<10 minutes early. And it was the least nervous I think I've ever been to give a talk. It was a cool opportunity to reflect on how I've grown on my mission.
One of the couples we are teaching came to hear me speak, too, so that was awesome. The rest of the day we were just busy contacting people, and hunting people down who didn't come to church haha. We played basketball (which is called "hoopin'" on the streets) with one of the kids in the family we've been teaching, and that was fun. It keeps me humble, anyway!
So that's the highlights of week one hundred! It's been a good hundred weeks, and I'm glad to have another handful of them left!
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
The weather is slowly warming... When it's not pouring rain.
I mentioned our p-day in last week's email, but now I'll share more cause it was fun and the sunburns on my arms have faded a little. But anyway! We decided to bike over the Mississippi River into Memphis, TN last week and that was pretty fun. They have a really nice pedestrian bridge, and a place to park and everything for people who do that, but... the gate on the West Memphis side was locked. What. So another biker, coming from the Memphis side, reached the gate and said if we wanted to cross, we'd have to ride on the narrow sidewalk of the freeway bridge.
So... That's what we did! There was probably a 2 or 3 foot cement divider between the road (heavily frequented by enormous 18 wheelers) and the sidewalk haha. Going over the bridge was fun, though, trying to not get dizzy watching the Mississippi River slowly pass under you. We stopped to take a picture in the middle, and only then realized how much the bridge shook every time a truck thundered by. Yikes.
We checked out the civil rights museum, walked through Beale St., and ate at Gus's Chicken. Cause... you gotta. It was fun to be back in Memphis.
After biking back, taking a nap, and getting ready again, we had some good success finding that evening. Which introduces the title of my email, "Half-Miracles."
We found 4 new people to teach that night, which is awesome, and 3 of them actually found us! One guy called after us and we set an appointment, and another couple called to us from their parked car and asked for a bible. She'd been shot 9 times while living in Atlanta. (I got the impression it wasn't 9 different occasions, but who knows?) They all wanted to turn their life around, get back into church, and thought it was so cool that they'd seen us.
But I use the phrase "half-miracle" because... the first guy gave us a fake/old address and a nonfunctioning phone number, and the other couple didn't keep their return appointment, and we haven't been able to get back in touch with them. What's up with that?
Tuesday was good. We had our last district council of the transfer, and had a great lesson afterwards. We asked the person we were teaching what they thought God was like, because they hadn't grown up with a strong paternal figure in their life and worried that it was warping their perspective of Heavenly Father. Through some tears, they just managed to say "just... sweet." And the spirit was so strong, I almost started crying with em.
After that, we exchanged with the Blytheville elders, and had a good rest of the day, too. We saw our person on date and had one of the weirdest lessons ever. We'd say something, or ask a question, and he'd just go off on not just a tangent, but into like a whole other dimension. Like if we were teaching a class on sculpting like Michelangelo, he was off painting like Picasso, or maybe Jackson Pollock. (It's a weird analogy, I know, but it's as close as I can get to describing it.)
We went from there to our next appointment, and they weren't ready yet, so we went to pizza hut for dinner and then tried again. We reviewed a chapter of the Book of Mormon with them, and then they asked if we'd share the Joseph Smith story again, and so we did, and also shared a short video on it. He tried to hide the tears but we caught him wiping them away. We told them about the Memphis temple open house, and they happened to be off of work on the day we were planning the trip, and they were SO excited to go! (...Half miracle.)
The next morning, Brother Jones took us to Shoneys for breakfast, so that was a good start to the day haha. We exchanged back shortly afterward, and then went to visit that guy from Monday, and there discovered his address wasn't right. A big guy answered the door and said there was nobody by that name that lived there. What. The guy who answered ended up having converted to Islam while in prison haha. But we told him about the Book of Mormon and he said we could come back!
Then we tried a guy we met last week who seemed kinda interested. When we stopped by, much to our surprise, he welcomed us in, we sat down, he asked us questions about the Book of Mormon, and said he'd try to have the whole first book of Nephi finished by this weekend! So... We are pretty excited about him!
Afterward, our Branch President took us out to sharks, and then we had Book of Mormon class, reading Alma 62. (There's a lot of war and political drama that happens in that chapter.) Best comment of the night was made by one of the sisters' investigators that came: "Are you sure this isn't talking about West Memphis?"
Thursday came along, and we had another good lesson, a lot of rain, and we led the Come Follow Me, Bible study that night. I learned a lot, and the spirit helped remind me of a lot as I taught, so it became a good highlight of my week.
Then it was Friday! We'd checked with 6 different people about coming to the Memphis Temple open house! We followed up a few hours before with person number one, and they'd had something come up and couldn't make it anymore. Then person number two said they were still good! But then couple number one, and ciuple number two both fell through, and they were going to be our rides. Finally, person number two also texted and said they wouldn't be able to make it anymore, even though less than an hour ago they said they were ready. Gah. So that's why this was another half miracle.
We even rescheduled with couple number two to Saturday, but things came up again and that didn't work, either. Sad days.
We did meet a cool lady who was really open, and had even ordered a bible and Book of Mormon awhile ago, but had never received them because she was busy and lived out in the boonies. But she changed jobs, moved to the city, and we happened to knock on her door.
We got transfer news that night, too. My last one! Elder Bang and I are staying.
Easter Sunday was good! We had a lesson with that one family again. 3 of the boys and their grandma were home, anyway. They're fun to teach. Next, we went to one of the counselors in the branch presidency's house for an Easter dinner and watched their grandkids do an Easter egg hunt, which was pretty fun. We spent the rest of the night trying to follow up with people and get back in touch with them. We are really working with a lot of really promising, solid people who recognize the truthfulness and power in what we share with them! Just getting them to do things based on that knowledge is tough. #FaithWithoutWorksIs...
But anyway! Here we are! 99 weeks down. Lots of miracles seen, and... Lots of half-miracles, too. I don't remember how or when that phrase came to mind this week, and I felt bad for even thinking of it. I didn't want to short-change God, or sound like I'm complaining for only getting half of a miracle. But what I then realized was that it's okay. They are only "half miracles" because I only know half of the story. Or only half of the story has even happened, yet!
I'm sure whoever the missionaries were that tried to deliver the Bible and Book of Mormon to the lady we met this week thought it was kind of pointless, getting a referral they never got to meet. That was a half-miracle. And the other half is just happening now.
Easter commemorates the most glorious second half of a seeming "half-miracle" that ever happened. Jesus Christ performed miracles in His life... one after the other. People were healed, people were changed, and yet His was a life prophecied to heal and change the whole world! I wonder if His disciples, even if just for a moment, wondered, "was all that for nothing? He did those great things, performed miracles, walked on the sea, and... for what? Here He is on the cross, defeated."
But of course, those miracles didn't end when the stone was rolled over the tomb. They were just half of the bigger miracle. Sunday was coming with the other half.
For myself, and for all of us, I hope that we can always take comfort in the fact that Sunday is coming! The other half of our miracles will come soon enough. Maybe we won't see it, maybe it's not what we expect. But I guess all of this to say [mostly to myself] that there's no such thing as a half-miracle.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Most of this week seems like it happened about a month and a half ago by now, but nope... that was this week!
On Monday night, we went straight into finding, and found 3 new people to teach. Not a bad start to the week!
On Tuesday, we met some more characters. We knocked on one guy's door and he got after us for walking past his no trespassing signs. But then talked with us for like an hour. So hey!
Later, we went to visit a referral from the sisters. I think they just think it's funny to send us sketchy and/or crazy people. The latest of these was in some kind of rehab place. He's been in there for like 8 years after being run over by a backhoe. It wasn't just his leg that was damaged, if you know what I mean. He was talking about getting a spaceship to escape to an island, and selling the rocks he pulled out of his pockets as diamonds to make a billion dollars. Then we met his girlfriend, who was in a slightly better mental state, but probably about a five year old mentality. She fell of a balcony a few months ago. Kinda sad. She gave us a picture she drew and walked us to our car.
Wednesday was Zone Conference, and it just so happened to be in Searcy, Arkansas! Our branch president drove our district up there, a solid hour and forty five minute drive one way. He's awesome, and sounded like he enjoyed zone conference almost as much as I did! We talled about prayer and a new planning technique that has been really good.
That night, one of the assistants called us and asked if we would trade our morning shift at the temple for a media event, for a 12pm-8pm shift helping with the tours. That ended up being such a blessing!
So Thursday, instead of going to the morning shift, we got to see one of the people we are teaching for a good, quick visit and then we headed to Memphis to help at the temple which will be dedicated come May! This week wasn't open to the public, at least that's what they said, but they didn't turn anyone away either haha. Within the first few minutes of us being there, a couple from Denmark walked in wanting to tour the temple, so everyone scrambled to accommodate haha. They said they'd gone to the Rome, Italy open house and were now roadtripping across the United States and wanted to tour another temple! So we joined them and got to see the inside. It's so beautiful! And seems a lot bigger than before the remodel, but is apparently the same size.
As their tour was ending, another tour group consisting of missionaries was just starting, so we went through again with them. Then they sent us to a room in the church building to wait for assignments, but they didn't come for a while, and there was just a table full of enough cookies for an army. So when someone did come asking for volunteers, I was quick to raise my hand. We ended up getting the best job haha. Everyone else helped with parking.
We ended up being the guys in charge of opening the temple doors for each group coming in and out. It was cool to hear people's reactions coming out. To name a few:
- "Wow! Wow wow! Wow!"
- (in response to, "how do you feel?") "I feel like I've just finished a journey."
We got back really late that night after trying to navigate Memphis's freeway system amidst crazy drivers haha. The usual.
Then the next day, still a little worn out, I got to go to Jonesboro on exchanges with our zone leaders. It's about an hour drive up there. After studies and trying to visit a few people, we drove another hour out to Pocahontas, Arkansas, where I got to do 3 consecutive baptismal interviews for 3 brothers from the Marshall Islands. The oldest was a junior in high school, and said the closing prayer in Marshalese. The youngest was in 8th grade and in his closing prayer, asked God to bless me and my family, which I thought was really special.
We then drove back to Jonesboro, and visited a less active member with about 1.2 legs. The floor of his house was bubbled, warped, and falling in in some places, poor guy.
We got back to their house (literally, a 2 story house the mission rents from a member. They share it with a set of Spanish elders who are super funny) and didn't have the imagination to think of anything else to cook besides another quesadilla, so we went to Chick-fil-a and that was great haha.
We drove back to West Memphis the next morning, weekly planned, and had our interviews with President Hansen. It's crazy thinking we are going into the last week of the transfer. And then it's the last transfer of my mission, eek!
As we were driving home, I was thinking about one of the sister's investigators, enough that I felt like I should call them to see how he's doing. When they answered, they said they were on their way right then to see him. So that was a cool confirmation to me that I've learned to recognize promptings at least some of the time! :)
On Sunday, no one came to church again, but I think we are getting closer to having people ready for this Sunday! (Even if I'm having to give one of my belts to a guy so he will come haha) We had some good lessons that night, though, and closed the week out with call-ins!
Today's been fun, too, but it's not over yet, so I'll probably wait til next week to write about it! It does involve biking over the Mississippi, though, so...
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Usually I try to say something clever right here before I jump into the rundown of the week. If I think of something as I'm writing, I'll go back and change this. Otherwise this will just have to stay.
On Tuesday, we had another district council that went pretty well. We talked about using the Book of Mormon, and then went on an exchange! I got to go to Blytheville, Arkansas, the furthest Northeast area in the mission. We didn't make it into Missourri that day, but we did get to walk around ~Osceola~. I don't wanna say it's nothing special, cause it's a cool little town. But it's just a few more run down buildings shy of being a ghost town haha. But we met some cool people, and some little kids even told us to knock on their door and that went really well, actually!
After Osceola, we walked around a town just outside of Blytheville where the elders up there live, trying to contact a few people who didn't end up home. They've got a pretty fun little duplex up there from long before whenever the air force base closed down. So it's got the colorful tile in the bathroom, and an old kitchen and everything. It'd be kinda fun and not much work to make it look like a retro movie scene. (Aka, my vibe)
The next day, we exchanged back somewhere close to where Johnny Cash grew up, so that was cool! His old house is out there, somewhere. We had a great lesson first thing back in West Memphis. It was really cool to see how this lady's situations were being talked about so closely in the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon. It was really special for all if us.
Next, some members took us to Cracker Barrel. I'd never been there before, but now I can rest a little easier knowing that there is still a place back West I can go to get my fix of southern home cooking.
Later, as we were walking around in a neighborhood, some little kids started talking with us. (Little kids are almost always a lot more friendly and teachable than adults... I think Jesus said something about that haha. Although one girl did ask if my tie was a woman's tie because it had flowers on it lol.) A neighbor down the street brought this group of kids a box of donuts and they shared with us haha.
We had our Book of Mormon class that night, and got in touch with someone we were teaching to ask if he needed a ride. He said yes, and 18 minutes later, we and our branch mission leader were in his driveway, but he didn't answer or seem to be home. Solid. We had a lot of that kinda flakiness all week. Especially with people coming to conference. We were expecting a good half dozen people to come to at least one session, but nobody came. Sad, sad days. But still happy, cuz... General Conference.
Thursday was rainy, so we weekly planned and met a guy at Wendy's the sisters had set up an appointment for us with. They had been teaching him, but felt like we might be better for him. When asked why he went to church, he explained it was "for the beautiful women and because I've got nothing else to do." Ahh. That's why the sisters sent him to us haha. So we'll see where that goes.
But then after that, we had one of the best "intro to the Book of Mormon" lessons of my mission. He was already somewhat familiar, and so we just read a few key passages and he was writing down the references to study later. I compared 3 Nephi 11 and so on, when the Savior visits the people of the Americas, to the Holy of Holies in the old testament tabernacle. The whole book is a holy place, but those chapters in particular are sacred and powerful. I felt the spirit really strongly as I explained that, never having explained it that way before. It was cool.
General Conference was great! You can watch it online if you missed It!
We also got to give another one of the sisters investigators a blessing between sessions on Saturday. This tough looking guy had tears rolling down his face and was feeling some pretty serious regret for some decisions he had made for... not the first or second time. He wanted to change. So we talked for a while, and both those words and the words of the blessing seemed to come a lot more clearly than they typically have. Speaking confidently, and yet knowing your words aren't your own is another really special feeling.
But anyway! Those are the highlights of this week! Love y'all!
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
It's been a busy week! (But when isn't it a busy week, amiright?)
We spread out our last P-day a little bit because we had a few appointments during it. One of them even happened! And it was really good. Their little kids were running around all over the place distracting their parents, but it went as well as it could!
The other appointment didn't happen (we were greeted with the good ole "peek through the blinds but won't answer the door" treatment) and so we went into the next neighborhood to try a few people that had met with missionaries before. One was a grandma and some of her grandkids. They were home, and set an appointment for Sunday afternoon! More on that later!
On Tuesday, we had a district council on "How to make people more frosty, less flaky, and other missionary trix," just ways to help ensure people keep their appointments with us cause that's been a struggle here more than anywhere else I've been. But it was good.
We were able to plan a baptismal date with a guy named Gerald that night. He's awesome, and was talking about wanting to be able to lead and help others in the church. He's way cool. Buuut. This morning at 6:29, he sent one of those texts... He'd found/been told some anti, and dropped us. But dropping us is like trying to drop a spider web that you walk into. You think it's gone, but then you take a few steps and there it is again. (Weird analogy, just to say, we're not giving up on him that easy. Keep him in your prayers, and us, too, so we know how to best help him.)
Wednesday was crazy busy. One of those few dream missionary days where it's basically just going from appointment to appointment. One or two people canceled on us, but it worked out cause it saved us from having to rush so much between visits. But we had some good lessons! We taught that couple we saw on Monday, but while their kids were at school. We talked with another lady, who introduced us to her friend, who started warning her about us being a cult haha. But the lady totally backed us up, it was awesome! Another guy was telling us that there was some revival he went to where the pastor would "anoint" people, and when he did, they'd fall out of their chair, speak in tongues, or whatever. But when he went up, nothing happened and he just stared at the guy. He wasn't gonna fake it. He told us he felt something different around us, though!
Thursday wasn't as crazy. We went to a nearby town to try to find new people but basically didn't have much success. So that was a bummer. But then we had a bunch of lessons on Friday, after weekly planning. We set another baptismal date with a kid named Isaiah, whose my age. He went to a military camp in Japan for like 18 months, and was invited to attend the "Mormon church" up there. He said the first time he heard the word "Mormon," he felt like he should learn more. So he went to church up in Japan for like a month and a half before graduating and coming home. He's way cool.
We had another lesson with another couple we are working with that was kinda tough. He feels like his church is an exception to the apostasy... But he was interested in the Book of Mormon, so that's what we are talking about next time. We got home late and hadn't had dinner yet, and decided to make fried chicken but didn't think that through cause we didn't start eating til after 10. Oh well.
On Saturday, we did some service for a member. We picked a patch of turnips, which was pretty fun. And then we watched him fix his riding lawnmower cause we weren't much help other than handing him certain tools. (And even then, I wasn't always handy haha)
After that, our original plan was to drive out to some distant towns in our area cause we had a lot of leftover miles for the month, but changed plans cause the branch had been assigned to help clean the Memphis temple before the open house! But as we were getting ready to be picked up to go, we got a text saying that it had been canceled. :( So that's super sad.
And then Sunday! No one we invited came to church, sadly. But we still had a good day. We ended up teaching that grandmother and her grandkids we met on Monday. There was her, her husband who walked in and out of the lesson, and 4 kids ages 10, 11, 12, and 13. They were sharp, and were excited to read the Book of Mormon as a family! I'd never really taught a family like that, but it was fun! You have to come up with more creative and fun analogies to get through to them haha.
But they were a good example of why the Savior tells us to become as little children. They believe, they question, they accept, and they love! I think a lot of that came down to the fact that they had an awesome grandma that taught them to be like that. She basically helped teach the lesson with us.
Moral of the story: there's good people out there, bad people out there, and you can listen to either side. But the only one you should believe is God. He'll tell you what's skraight.
Well... until next time. This has been Elder Dahl, in West Memphis: teaching people and helping with the turnip harvest.
https://youtu.be/fHA7Nq3ioww "whistling window"
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.
Sign up to get my weekly emails!
(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116