In the South, all these people read that you need to be baptized by water, and heard something about baptism by fire. So they invented the DEEP FRYER.
*and with that high-saturated-fat sizzling sound playing in your brain, lemme tell you about this week*
(It's been a good one.)
Met a 93 year old amateur radio ham who lives in a trailer in the middle of ~nowhere~ on a plot of land he got from his wife's family, who got it from one General Robert E. Lee back in the day.
Had a good lesson and another lesson fall through after that, and then we had a good ole summer storm as we rode back with the Lims to Hope. It poured. The fastest setting for the windshield wiper didn't cut it again, and the dip in the road going up to our apartment complex was flooded. Water splashed well above the windows as we drove through it. We ran from the car to our building and took cover under the balcony for a few seconds before braving the uncovered staircase going up go our floor. I dropped something on the way up, adding another 2 seconds in the rain as I bent down to grab it, before making it to our floor. All in all, probably barely 10 seconds in the rain in total? We might as well have taken a shower, though haha. Everything was soaked. I went back outside with a cup and filled it by holding it out under the awning for a few seconds. It was awesome. https://youtu.be/o_8b0d1q_Ww
Summer storms are back. We had hot, cloudless afternoons and stormy humid evenings most of the week.
The next day we raked leaves, which was about as fun as you'd expect. For better or worse it was hot enough outside that the top layer of leaves were dry, but there were a lot of soggy leaves under them. We came back Friday morning to finish her yard and it took a few more hours than we expected. We lined her whole side of the street with leaves, all moved one (small) wheelbarrow load at a time. Church bells went off in the distance, chiming several hymns, so that was really cool.
On Wednesday, we went back up to Debbie's, our 'wonderful' lady who is unable to speak. She picked on me to say the prayer again. She had read a few chapters ahead of what we had invited her to read in the Book of Mormon. We asked if she had prayed to know if what we were teaching her was true. She nodded.
"Do you feel like God answered your prayer?"
She nodded again.
"How did you feel when you prayed?"
We gave her her little notepad and she wrote her signature answer - "wonderful."
We then invited her to be baptized, and she accepted. June 16th is going to be a wonderful day.
That night we went to the Hibachi food truck in town to celebrate. Dadgum that stuff is good. Chicken fried rice, y'all. And yum yum sauce, can't forget that.
On Thursday we worked on putting together a facebook post to volunteer to serve people. We got a bunch of likes, but no bites. :( We just wanna help!
We met one of our former investigators that afternoon and discovered that he used to live in our exact apartment. So that was kinda cool!
In trying to help one of the members with a broken washing machine, we went to this old appliance store to ask if they knew any of the repair codes or something. (Idk, it all went over my head.) One guy came in and joked about Mormons having horns and asked a couple other random jokes. ("What kind of business is King Kong in? / Monkey business." And "What state is round on the outsides and high in the middle? / Ohio.")
The guy at the desk helping us informed us that that guy was his brother. And that he'd been dropped on his head as a child. I'm not certain he was joking.
Friday was the day we finished that yard, and that night the Routts from Conway were driving through Hope and stopped by to feed us dinner! We went to a burger place downtown that was pretty good. It was so awesome to spend some time with them again. They crack me up.
They asked what my adventures were in Hope so far, and I couldn't really give them an answer. I dunno. We haven't really had a ton of funny or crazy experiences out here in the 7 weeks I've been here. Which made me kinda sad, thinking about it haha. But in thinking about all the amazing and hilarious people I've met out here, I've come to look at them as the best adventure that's here.
We met with Debbie again on Saturday, and had a great lesson. She is reading a lot of the Book of Mormon and is enjoying it! She was excited for church on Sunday.
We had tried another one of our investigators, Carmelita, on the way up to Debbie, and we decided to try her one more time on the way back. She was home this time and welcomed us and Elder Lim right in. It had been a few weeks since our last visit, but she asked great questions about revelation, and prophets. She had heard that people go to heaven right after they die, and disagreed with that and didn't know why. She had been baptized as a kid because her grandma told her to, and she didn't feel comfortable with that. As we testified of the restoration again, you could see the puzzle pieces connect in her mind as tears filled her eyes. We invited her to be baptized as well, and she accepted. July 7th is going to be another good day. :)
That night, Sister Lim fixed a homemade dinner of turkey and cheesy potatoes and rolls and corn on the cob. Oh man that filled my soul as much as it did my stomach. I'm not a bad cook, but having something other than fast food and what I make was amazing hahaha.
(That said, I have become very very proud of my roasted potatoes and chicken pesto gyro cooking game. They are dang good. So... look forward to that, future wife of mine.)
After dinner, we did a lot of planning. Both Debbie and Carmelita were planning on coming to church the next day, and we had gotten a text from the mother of one of the main families in the branch asking us to speak and play piano. 2/3 members of the branch presidency were also going to be gone, and so we were kinda worried if there would be anyone else at church at all!
But, I prepared a talk that night, and gave it to a good group of 25 people in the branch the next morning. It ended up being good, and both Debbie and Carmelita enjoyed church! Yay!
I've been learning a lot this week. Mostly the hard way, it feels like haha. But it's been well worth the cost of admission. I guess the main takeaway is the need to show evidence of Repentence. Repentence isn't just feeling bad and asking for forgiveness. When we show just how much we want forgiveness by the things that we do and change in our life, that is when the heavens open and the joy and peace we are seeking are given. It's a simple idea and probably one I would have just nodded along to before this week. But I feel like I get it more this week. I'm thankful the Lord is patient. He is so good.
I'm so thankful for the opportunity I've had to really feel like an instrument in His hands this week. We've helped two bible referrals come to church and accept to be baptized. In Hope, Arkansas - the "armpit" of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I'm so excited for each of them and for all the good, blessings, miracles, and crazy people that will yet cross my path here. [Romans 12:12]
Sending my love, and hoping you can feel His. Happy Memorial Day!
I hit my year mark on Thursday!?
I hit my year mark on Thursday!?
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Well hello, my friends! I hope you know how much I love you. Truly.
It's been a long week. But not one void of goodness and miracles, cause that's how the Lord works. So I'll share those!
We had our district meeting in Camden. Instead of me telling you how my own district meeting went, I'll just share my takeaway with you in the form of a quote by Pres. Spencer W. Kimball.
"Each of us has more opportunities to do good and to be good than we ever use. These opportunities lie all around us. Whatever the size of our present circle of effective influence, if we were to improve our performance even a little bit, that circle would be enlarged. There are many individuals waiting to be touched and loved if we care enough to improve in our performance."
BAM. For more goodness, you NEED to read his article, "Jesus: the Perfect Leader," found in the August 1979 Ensign Magazine. It makes sense though, right? As we become better people, God will trust us to bless more of His children.
After the meeting, we went to the Red Habanero, a little Mexican restaurant. Even though they got my order wrong, my chile relleno was the best I've had in the south. (Which, granted isn't saying too much, but it really was very good!)
We then exchanged with the missionaries in Camden, and Elder Smith and I rode with the Lim's back home to Hope. 20 minutes down the hour long drive, we get a call. Elder Anderson had accidentally taken the car keys. Which also had our apartment key. So we found a half way point and drove back.
We had our second appointment with Debbie, the wonderful lady we met last week who can't speak. We asked who she would like to say the opening prayer, and she pointed at me again. I did, and then we taught her the Restoration lesson in full. When we asked if she had any questions, she wrote on her little notepad, "You said there was a living prophet today?" (There is!) And we explained that to her and showed her a picture of Russel M. Nelson and explained what a cool guy he was. I love that man.
"Any more questions?" We asked. She shook her head no and wrote, "what's my homework?" So we gave her chapter 2, the restoration pamphlet, and a DVD of the First Vision to watch. When asked who she wanted to say the closing prayer, she again pointed at me, and I obliged. What a sweet lady.
That night, we had one of the three socials for the branch in Hope. There were others in the neighboring towns of Nashville and Prescott. The members in each of those towns would get together for a spiritual thought and some dessert and games. We set up the church building for the one in Hope, and the Lim's came with Sloppy Joes and brownies. ...nobody else came hahaha. But we still did everything. Elder Lim conducted, I played "Give, Said the Little Stream" for the opening song, we had a prayer, the thought, and then played scripture trivia. I lost by one point cause I didn't know all 12 of the tribes of Israel smh. I was close, though! (Zebulon got me.)
Elder Smith and I drove back towards Camden the next day and exchanged back. We had the keys this time. :) we had a great lesson with another lady who was kinda distraught. She works in the elementary school kitchen, and had apparently left the dishwasher on over the weekend? (I guess you need to turn those big ones off when you're done?) Anyway, the pressure and water had built up in the pipes and dripped on the ceiling tiles until they burst and water flooded the kitchen. They had to turn the water off for the whole school haha. I felt bad for her, but it was also kind of a funny story worth sharing. She's a great lady.
Another day, we were looking for service opportunities and went to ask the lady who runs the museum in town. (The one with the Bill Clinton cutouts lol) She was confused, and another lady pulled up to where we were talking with her, and she pointed at the lady in the car and basically told us, "I dunno, guys, why don't you ask her for service? She's old." So... We did. And she did need our help! So we'll see what we can do this week haha.
Random note: I love giving hispanic people copies of the Book of Mormon cause they think it's cool that their ancient ancestors might've known about Christ, too. And also cause their receiving a Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of prophecy in 2 Nephi 3:15 and D&C 3:16-18, (and a few other places, too!)
On Saturday, Elder Anderson had a doctor's appointment in Little Rock, so with 200+ extra miles under our belt for the day, I figured we should at least stop at Tacos 4 Life on our way home. Awww yeah.
That afternoon, we followed up with Debbie. She picked on me to say the opening prayer again and told us by holding up two fingers and a smile that she had watched the Restoration DVD twice. (And kept her other commitments!) When we asked at the end if she had any questions, she pointed at the "Come Worship With Us" page at the end of the pamphlet and committed to come to church next week!
When we got home, we had a Baptist church pamphlet in our door. Our whole apartment complex got them haha. The one in our door was about a baseball player's deathbed repentence. And "just say this prayer and you're saved" type of stuff. I mean prayer is important. But also the verse after the one they quoted talks about being baptized! And Christ told a guy who was keeping all the commandments to go sell everything that he owned and give it to the poor. If Christ expected that much of one guy then, do we really think he's changed? I dunno. I don't think I can buy into a "religion" that isn't hard. That doesn't expect a lot from you. It sure would be nice if a prayer was all it took. But it wouldn't be as fulfilling. I don't think those people are going to hell by any means. They're just missing out on the blessings of doing hard things.
On Sunday, Elder Beheshti, our area seventy here, came to the Hope Branch to accompany his wife who was on assignment to speak about JustServe.org. He spoke on the Sabbath Day and it was great. Afterward, we gave our chicken catching friend a blessing for his hands, which were swollen about like when you inflate a rubber glove like a balloon. The chicken catchin' life is not for me, y'all.
We also did some service in downtown Hope, chipping plaster off a brick wall with a hammer and mallet. The original building burned down and was rebuilt in 1912. Dadgum. That's some old plaster. Hopefully I don't get cancer and my sore arms are the end of it.
Got transfer news and both Elder Anderson and I are staying in Hope! It's gonna be a good one. I'm excited to keep working with the amazing people we have! More miracles are in store!
Who am I?
~3 Nephi 5:13~
What am I doing and where am I doing it?
Love y'all! Have a good week! Do some service! - justserve.org
Tell me about this week!
Tell me about last week!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
It's been a more difficult transfer, but man oh man. So many prayers came true this week. It's been a good one.
It began with some Arkansas Pineapple Whip (which I can only describe as like soft serve gelato) and a David's Burger. So with a start that wonderful, how could the week not follow suit?
I instructed in what I thought was one of my best district meetings on Tuesday. We talked about baptism and just how essential it is. Refocusing on that (teaching repentence and baptizing converts) as our divine purpose was really good for all of us.
Afterwards, I was able to stay in Hope while Elder Turner joined me and Elder Anderson went to Pine Bluff for the day. After some chicken fried rice hibachi, we tore it up in Hope and Prescott. So many miracles in that short time.
It seemed like everyone we talked to was open and receptive. In reality, there were still hecklers and people who waved us off, and people who pretended to be interested who later had given us fake addresses and phone numbers, but hey! We found a wonderful lady that day who, when we called that night to follow up on her reading, had already started reading the Book of Mormon and was just glowing on the other line.
We talked with a bunch of people that day, including a group of little kids in bright orange boxer briefs who ran around the other side of the house, and invited us to follow them. We arrived at the back yard, where a pool party barbecue was going on and Elder Turner and I were the only white people on the whole block, probably haha. Someone asked if we were there for the pool party and we laughed. The kids treated us like celebrities and asked for cards and pamphlets, but the adults didn't seem like they could care less haha.
Another lady was from El Salvador, and was stressed from work and her kids. We talked to her over her backyard fence, and testified of the Book of Mormon. She told us at one point, "okay, I'm more interested, now!" And when I testified that it was the word of God written by her ancestors specifically for her, the spirit was strong and I know she felt it. It was a highlight of the week.
There was one less-than-wonderful thing this week and that was when I was getting ready to shower on Wednesday morning and discovering a tick lodged in my butt. At first I thought it was too big to be a tick. But nope. I couldn't pull that sucker out, but good ole Elder Turner became Dr. Turner for me and managed to get most of him out. No swelling ensued so he did a good job and I think I will survive! But hey, there's a good story from the ALRM for ya. My zone leader pulling a tick out of my buttock on exchanges.
Okay, sorry, back to the good stuff.
We had a few other good lessons this week. It's so fun to teach. I've really come to enjoy it, and like to think I've gotten good at it. The gospel is pure and simple. A cool principle I've been thinking a lot about is the idea that "all truth is in agreement." Which makes sense, right? One truth cannot contradict another truth. One of them wouldn't be a truth. There is no contradiction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything lines up in ways that I would love to take 5 lessons to explain to y'all. :)
We helped a couple move some loose ends to their new home at the end of a long dirt road that goes through a few creeks. Cows crowded the road, and their little address-less cabin at the end was just a fun time. Yellow flowers painted the fields, the afternoon sun was cooling down, and it was gorgeous outside. Something about it was how I imagine Texas is like.
On Friday, we cooked a big pre-weekly planning breakfast, and Elder Anderson and I just had a good long conversation about everything. Our frustrations and hopes and goals and ideas and struggles. It wasn't what either of us hoped to have accomplished in the time that it took, but we came to realize that we probably couldn't have spent that time any better.
I got to have a stromboli from a pizza place we stopped at. I anticipated it being a personal size but it was like a huge thing and so I had it for lunch the next day, too. Was it as good as my mom's? No. (But it was super tasty.) Happy Mother's Day to the best at everything from stromboli-making to traveling and advice-giving and everything else good in this world!
Saturday was WONDERFUL because Eric was baptized in Searcy, and I was able to attend! Our 1.5hr drive to the halfway/pickup point turned into a 2.5hr drive due to a burning semi truck and a few other accidents, but we still arrived in time for some members from Searcy to pick me up and get me to the baptism in time! Eric and his family are some of the main reasons for my love and missing of Searcy, and I know his wife had been praying for a long time for that day. It was so special to be a part of it, even with the 2 hour drive back to Hope that night, getting back at 11pm.
But seriously, I was not sure if I would be able to attend that, and I'm so thankful that I was. 5 hours of drive time between the Lims, Wandlings, and Webbs, and being able to be a witness for the baptism, accompany the musical number, and answer questions from one of my other Searcy friends was wonderful. So proud of Eric!
On Sunday, there were 17 people in church at the start of the meeting (Including us missionaries and the branch presidency) but by the time pot luck rolled around, there were a few more people. :)
[If you read one part of my email this week, this is the part to read.]
That afternoon, we had a Bible to deliver to a lady who had, over text, been very excited for us to come over. We followed the map to the middle of nowhere and asked a guy mowing his lawn for directions. He pointed us to a path going between a thick line of trees, so we followed that around to a little commune of trailers, apparently all family-owned.
We found the right trailer and knocked. A woman in a wheelchair opened the door and beckoned for us to come in. We stepped over a litter of kittens into the kinda dark trailer. It didn't take us too long to figure out she was unable to speak. She communicated via little nods and by pointing. We briefly explained the Book of Mormon, and then she opened it up. Finding the pictures, she started from the beginning and I explained the Book of Mormon again, using the pictures at the front, and teaching as simply as I could.
"Will you read that first chapter before we come back on Tuesday?" I asked. She gave a tiny nod. Elder Lim invited her to ask one of us to say a closing prayer. After a kind of long period of silence, she pointed at me, and I felt so humbled by that, that she would ask me to pray. I offered the prayer, and afterward she reached for a note pad. (Which, had I noticed, I might've utilized sooner.) She wrote a brief explanation that she had some kind of palsy and couldn't speak. Elder Lim asked her how she felt about what we had shared with her that day. She reached for the notepad again, and simply wrote one word.
When Elder Lim read her response aloud to us, the spirit about hit me like a truck. In that moment, I was able to feel just a part of the love that our Heavenly Father has for this woman. And I was able to receive an additional witness of just how wonderful everything is. The work we are engaged in is wonderful. The message we share is wonderful. Our Heavenly Father and His plan for each of us is wonderful. This good sister of mine is wonderful. And you, dear reader, are wonderful.
I hope your week is as wonderful as you are. :)
(Life pro tip: read your scriptures, say your prayers. That'll help!)
In case of the postal service being disbanded:
In case of the internet going down:
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
In case of [literally anything at all]
This weekly email brought to you by:
- Lyme disease
- Church potlucks
- Bumper to bumper traffic on the 30, and
- My wonderful mother. (Literally. This email was sent to you by her. Thanks, Mom!)
This week had its fair share of ups and downs, but it has definitely been a memorable one! Lots of good stories from the last 7 days. Sometimes I worry my emails are too long, so I'll just tell you the stories without all the fluffy context.
Story #1 - After our district meeting, we did an exchange and I went to Camden with Elder Taylor. After a stop at the Hibachi food truck, we spent the rest of that day doing service for a family who had recently moved in from Texas. We put in a bunch of extra posts for the barbed wire fence around their property. We rode around in their four wheeler thing with the 15 year old son driving, so that was a hoot and a half. We were tearing through fields and between trees, clearing 50mph hahaha. We definitely got air a few times and we went home dusty. It was awesome. I left feeling like I'd gained a whole new family of friends. Too bad they are in another area haha.
The next day we contacted some referrals, and before we exchanged back, Elder Taylor and I took a few pictures by this cool looking abandoned community center in Rosston, AR. Vibez.
Story #2 - On Thursday, we were invited to attend the funeral of an investigator's father. This was only my 2nd time actually meeting him. The funeral was held in a little baptist church in the woods at the end of a long dirt county road. The little chapel filled up while soft country music played over the speakers. I tell you what, the variety of characters that came in was a sight to behold. I loved the rag-tag community family feel of it all.
The preacher was a younger guy, but everything you'd hope for in a Baptist preacher. A very kind, bearded, smiley, fella with a real talent for drawing out words and evoking the occaisonal "amen" from the congregation. He mouthed along the words to another guy's (legitimately good) performance of "Amazing Grace." Everything I could've wanted in my brief time in a Baptist church. Including a smattering of people putting up their "Holy Spirit Antennae," AKA praise hands, AKA putting their arm up and moving it slightly in an effort to find the signal that the Holy Spirit is coming in on, so they can grab it and hold on tight.
Jokes aside, it was a great service, emphasizing the celebration of the man's life and where he is, now. The thing that struck me, though, was the focus they had on how death was also a freedom from the trials and pains of this life. Which like... It is, yeah. But life is more than just this trying tenure as mortals on earth until we die and get judged by God. We didn't just show up here. And we didn't just sign up to come here, either--we fought for this, and knew it would be hard, but begged to be able to come to earth to learn and grow and gain experiences we couldn't have had otherwise. So while we may rightly celebrate our return to the God who created and sent us here, we should also celebrate the time we've been given. Is it hard? Yup. But we get to do things like travel, cry, have warm apple pie, walk on the beach, and hug the people we love.
Story #3 - Finding people to teach, and then staying in contact with those we have found has been a real challenge. We looked for community events on Facebook on Saturday morning and couldn't find a dang thing haha. Well, we drove past the small downtown that afternoon and lo and behold, Hope's 4th Annual Train Days was happening. So that was kind of a funny thing.
Story #4 - Elder Anderson went to Memphis on Sunday again to play the organ, and I went to Benton with Elder Hall. 3 hours of tracting isn't my idea of fun, but we found some cool people. This morning, a member of the Benton ward was willing to cut our hair so that was wonderful! We drove to the address, and it ended up being an RV park so I got a liiiitle nervous, but the lady ended up being super cool and did a great job. She does doTERRA full time, and they are planning to visit all 48 contiguous states in their RV, homeschooling their 2 boys and their 2 cool lookin' geckos for the next year and a half. Definitely fed my wanderlust fire even more haha.
So there's the highlights from this week! Hope y'all have a good next 7 days! Happy Mother's Day! Celebrate life!
Love, Elder Dahl
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
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