It's been another week. It feels like I'll just keep having weeks in the mission field indefinitely, but uh... people keep telling me I only have one more left after this?
So, I guess... welcome to my second-to-last weekly!
We had a zone conference in Searcy which was great as usual. And its always good to be back in Searcy. We had dinner with a less-active guy that night who ended up being pretty cool. He had 3 big pit bulls so that kept things exciting, they kept their teeth to themselves, but their tongues weren't as solitary haha.
On Thursday, we rode out to Forrest City and Wynne again, visiting a Bible referral we'd received earlier in the week. He was a cool guy, just wanting to see his kids after his wife put a restraining order on him... He was playing it tough and cool, but we taught him how to pray and had him say the closing prayer. If was such a genuine, heartfelt prayer, it was awesome. By the end of it, there were more than a couple of his tear drops on the floor, and the spirit was really strong. I felt a lot of love for him and for missionary work in that moment! That's what it's all about - connecting people to God.
Everything else on that trip pretty much fell through and didn't happen, but I felt good about the day, still. Ricky, our ride, drove us into Memphis for dinner at Rendezvous, a famous BBQ joint there. I was a little let down, though, to be honest. But we got back home, tried somebody else who wasn't home, and then had our Come Follow Me Bible Study that night.
The sisters told us they'd met someone while tracting that answered the door and said, oh! "I thought you were the guys. Yeah I met them a few days ago, and they gave me a pamphlet. They're coming back, right?" But... we didn't remember the guy. And we'd never been on his street before. Hmm.
So on Friday after weekly planning, we head over there and try the house. No answer. We look him up in our area book and find someone with the name the sisters told us, who missionaries had stopped teaching a few months ago. We figure he's the guy (although he lived at a different address) and give him a call. He answered, and was open to us coming over next week, but didn't remember meeting sisters the day before, aaaand also still lived at the address we had on record. Not the one the sisters sent us to. Weeeiiird.
We tried back at that house on Sunday, and someone answered, and said yes, he had met the sisters earlier in the week, and we were able to set another appointment.
So... as far as we can determine, we have two people by the same first and last name in our area book, and both are interested in meeting with us. But we're still not sure how or when this second guy met missionaries, cause it wasn't us! (3 Nephites maybe?)
We spent a lot of time finding this week, and tried to do it in "nicer" parts of West Memphis. So we had a little less luck than in other parts of town, and throughout this week were exposed to some pretty unique perspectives and interpretations of the Bible. It's amazing how each denomination really does have its favorite scriptures that support their viewpoint, and totally ignore and explain away any contradicting scriptures. And while they blame the contradicting scriptures on imperfect translation, they adamantly deny the need for the Book of Mormon without squaring themselves up to bother reading it. (Or alternatively say the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible, when in fact all it does is "contradict" or correct their interpretation of the Bible.) It's frustrating, but also just heart breaking.
I'm thankful for the divine restoration of Christ's gospel, that smooths all the confusion down and answers essential questions. We need not wonder or debate, the answers are clear when we really believe that God still loves us enough to send us His word.
So it's been a difficult, and yet faith-promoting week! Funny how those 2 things tend to go hand in hand.
This morning we went to the National Civil Rights Museum as a district and were way impressed. They've done a great job, there. There's more information that you can soak up in one - or seven - visit(s). At one point, they have Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech playing. I could feel the Spirit as powerfully from those inspired remarks as I have in any other time in any other place. It really was powerful.
As we go into this next week, I'll be the first to admit that I'm exhausted. There have been a few moments in the last month or so where I've thought, "man, it sure would be nice if a mission was only 23 months!" But I think for Elder Dahl, its 24 months for the same reason that Gideon's army was only 300. I could think I did it by myself if it was 23 months. But I need to know that I can only do it through Christ. When I can't go anymore, all the sudden I'm out the door and knocking on others.
President Hansen told me to make this week the best week of my mission, and I'm determined to do that. But please pray for me that I can have the strength and energy to do that!
Thank you. I love y'all!
Hi everyone! It's the week before my last week before it's my last week. So it's starting to feel a little more real, but only when I think about it, which I try not to do!
It's been a fun week, though. On Tuesday we had the big "Memphis side" of the mission P-day, just playing field games and all of that. It was good to see a bunch of friends from past companionships and zones. A member picked us up there and drove us home, but asked if there was anywhere in Memphis we'd want to check out on our way back to West Memphis. I'd heard about this place called the "Crystal Shrine Grotto," and we decided to check it out.
It's in the middle of this big old cemetery, and is a man made crystal cave that, as you go around, has a series of scenes depicting the life of Christ. It was pretty funky, but I liked it. (I didn't count this trip in my tally of "three trips," cause it seemed like it happened ages ago, not earlier last week.)
We got back in time for an evening appointment we had, but they canceled right as we were pulling back into town. So that was a downer. But it happens!
On Wednesday, we had our district council. I've only got one more of those, now. Sad. Afterward, we had to drive the Blytheville elders up to their car, which was parked at a member's house in Wilson, Arkansas. We stopped to try a place called Top's Barbecue on the way, and it was pretty good. Just alright, though. We finished the rest of the trip and headed back to West Memphis.
My head wasn't bobbing, but it sure got hard to keep my eyes open as we were driving. The road was just a straight shot, and there's not much for scenery to look at, so eventually my drowsiness got bad enough we pulled into a gas station for a little break, which helped. Before my mission, I couldn't really sleep in cars well if I tried, but now if I so much as sit still and do nothing for longer than 10-15 minutes I can probably crash anywhere.
On Thursday, the Sotos had signed up to take us out for lunch, and they picked Top's BBQ as the place to go hahaha. But I tried the BBQ nachos this time, and they were good, too.
Afterward, we helped a sister in the ward work on her car. Kinda. All we had to do was replace the light bulbs that illuminate the license plate above the trunk and apply some Rain-X. I didn't even know there were such a thing as light bulbs for that purpose, but after looking over the trunk for long enough, we figured out how to unscrew the back bumper off and wee able to successfully swap out the light bulbs.
That day was probably the first really hot day of the summer. Here I was thinking I'd dodge the bullet. (I probably still will, July and August get quite a bit hotter than May haha.) But when we got back to our apartment after that, it was pushing 80 degrees in there. So we put the A.C. down some more and headed back out. We were able to find a lady who had met with the missionaries years ago, and wanted to meet with us again! When we came home for the night, it was 80 degrees in our apartment. Our A.C. was out. And still is.
Friday came around and we stayed really busy. We saw some people before weekly planning, and saw more people afterward. One lady admitted she'd read some less-than-favorable stuff online about Joseph Smith, and after explaining more about the Book of Mormon, she mused, "Ohhh, that's why I kept having the thought 'Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon' come to mind while I was reading all of that." That was really cool. Attack Joseph Smith all you want, that doesn't explain away the existence of the Book of Mormon. But people go about to disprove him backwards - by attacking his character, not diving into the Book of Mormon. (But that's a fulfillment of prophecy.)
We taught a lady and her mother who was visiting from the Bronx. We had a really good visit with her, and were able to send a solid referral for her to the missionaries up there.
And we also got back in touch with a guy we'd met a month ago but never saw again. He was 18 chapters into the Book of Mormon, which... might be the most I've ever had a person read on their own between contacts. Granted, he had a month to do it, but it was so good to have someone read it and understand it fairly well!
On Saturday, what was planned as a day trip to the town of Wynne, became an afternoon drive. We rode with Ricky, a recent convert (who received the Melchizedek Priesthood the next day!) in his mustang, dropping off a Book of Mormon to a referral in Earle, AR, and then getting to sit down and visit with another referral up in Wynne. We'd planned to visit with some members up there, too, but they were all busy, and so we just made the ~50 minute drive back to West Memphis.
We then made another quick trip to the town of Marion, AR, which is a much shorter drive. We were just going to try to contact someone we found a while ago - he wasn't home. But in his neighborhood I almost hit a four wheeler...
(2 kids had been driving on the road, and we were following them. They pulled onto the grass and stopped ahead of us, I presumed to let us pass, but right before we were level with them, they darted into the road! I slammed on the brakes, got an "aggressive driving," and they drove off.)
So we went home after that and then drove to Bartlett, TN, for the adult session of stake conference, which was really good and all about the temple. We hadn't had our dinner hour yet, and so we decided to try Fat Larry's BBQ, not far from the church building. I got some brisket and it was soooooo good. I'd heard that the owner was a member, and he came in and asked us why we weren't at the conference yet (Which started in like 20 minutes) and said he'd just dropped off like 200 lbs of pulled pork sandwiches over there. Hahaha. Just our luck. (To be fair, we thought the dinner was for those attending the leadership meetings prior to the conference. Either way, there was leftover stuff we were sent home with, so that was a score.) When we went to ask for the check, the waitress waved us out, saying missionaries ate free there! Whoa! We left a good tip and hurried to the conference.
We got back home around 10pm, having been slowed down by some torrential rain as we were leaving. I'd driven in rain so hard the fastest wiper blade setting isn't fast enough many a time before, but in the dark on Memphis freeways was another experience haha.
Then the next day, we made the trip again, riding up there with our ward mission leader, Bro. Jones, this time. He keeps joking about how I'm starting to get a little fuzzy and transparent as I fade out of missionary existence haha.
When we got back, we had lunch, planned our day, and didn't even get to studies or most of our dinner hour. It felt good to be out working. We didn't reach all of our goals, but it felt good to be trying.
And then this morning, we made our third trip in a row to Bartlett, and this time went into the other building by the church - the Temple. The departing missionaries and their companions were able to go through with some of the senior couples in the mission. The temple hasn't quite been open a week, and we were the first group of missionaries to go through since it was closed for reconstruction. President and Sister Hansen were there in the celestial room waiting and both gave me a big hug. I really do love them like I love my parents. I couldn't keep my eyes dry after that. It felt like my prayers had to travel much less distance in there than they usually do anywhere else. Heaven felt close, and that in and of itself was an answer to prayer.
This is all God's work! It's as simple as that.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Another week has come and gone in West Memphis!
We started it off with district council, and an exchange with the Blytheville elders. I stayed in West Memphis with Elder Tilby. One of our objectives for the day was to find a guy we'd met last week. He wasn't home, though. As we walked by the house next door, there were a couple people sitting on coolers on the porch drinking and smoking weed, and wouldn't you know it, one of them was the guy we were looking for!
So we pulled up a cooler and talked. It went alright, until the wasps started buzzing around, and freaked another guy out so he left, and then the other guy left and then there wasn't anybody left to teach, so........
Some highlights from the rest of the week:
- We were tracting in Marion, a nicer town just north of West Memphis, and some lady drove by us in our car afterward, slowed down, and took a picture of our license plate...?
- Later that day, we were looking for a member we had a note for. As we came up on the road, we saw an address just shy of the one we were looking for, followed by a corner house, an intersecting street, and then more houses. We crossed the street, parked, and then walked back to the corner house. Assuming it was the address we were looking for. As we neared the front door, we saw the address didn't match after all, but decided to knock anyway.
Out came a pretty friendly guy who said he grew up in the church, but hadn't been since he joined the marines like 25 years ago. We had a good talk with him and then walked back to the car. I kinda assumed he was the member we were looking for after all, and the address we had was just wrong. But then we realized his name wasn't the name we were looking for, and the address we really were looking for was right by where we parked our car. But I think we weren't supposed to notice that, cause otherwise we would've missed talking to the other guy. We were supposed to knock on the wrong door. It's just cool to see how the Lord uses us, prepares His children, and cares for His sheep, active or not.
- Later in the week, we met a guy who goes by "Big Bubba."
- Isaiah came to church! Sunday morning was a bit of a rollercoaster, but he made it and enjoyed it. And he's now preparing to be baptized on June 22nd!
- On Sunday afternoon, we wanted to find some more people to teach. As we were driving, I had the thought to go to "Belvedere St.," but passed it before I could turn. We settled for another street, but after a few doors we weren't having any luck, and I kept thinking about that other street. So we stopped and got back in the car, and backtracked to Belvedere St., where we were able to find 3 new people to teach! We were just on the wrong street.
And then yesterday wasn't our p day, today is! (Tuesday). So Elder Oseen and I were in West Memphis on exchanges. And today we're headed to Arlington, TN for our mission p day. So that'll be fun and I'll write about it next week, assuming I live to tell the tale!
Love y'all! Have a great week!
915 Vanderbilt Ave,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
Another busy week!
A few days this week have just been going from lesson to lesson, which is a lot of fun, and also very exhausting! Also, Wren was baptized last week in Benton!
On Tuesday, we taught a lady about the premortal life and it blew her mind! She was so excited about learning that. You could tell it "clicked" with her and she recognized it as truth. The best part was, she called her mom right then and there to share what she learned. "Mom! You know how everyone says that our life begins at birth?" ("Yeah...?") "That's not true!" It was hard not to laugh, and I couldn't help but think that that's how excited EVERYONE should be when they learn about our premortal life!
We tried by that family of kids we've been working with. It wasn't a good time, but they showed us the little turtle they found and named Gloria. Cute lil thing.
A dinner and 4 long lessons later, we made it to the end of the night!
Later in the week, we met a couple for a lesson at Taco Bell, taught a little bit about the Plan of Salvation to a family, and what seems like a hundred other times we were able to teach. All the lessons are kinda blending together, honestly haha. It's cool to see how receptive people are here, the trouble is they're not super active about living what we teach... coming to church... reading the scriptures... So we're trying to figure that out haha.
It's been pretty disappointing to try time and time again to get someone at church, and time and time again they say they're going to be there, and time and time again we are waiting in the foyer and during the sacrament for them to show up, and they don't.
That, combined with what is now 23 months of missionary work is getting to be pretty exhausting. I didn't get discouraged this week, just... really tired. That feeling of running on fumes, basically.
But then on Wednesday, we had a Leadership Training Meeting in Bartlett, in the stake center by the temple, and that helped so much. A lot of it was on enduring to the end, and how the finish is more important than the start. 15 straight transfers of district and/or zone leadership won't be worth much if I coast the last month! I might be tempted to take it easy or slow down to accommodate my exhaustion, but Christ can strengthen me more than a nap can... if I work harder and stronger rather than letting myself slow down.
So I'm pumped, now! Last month, here we go!
During the meeting, the district leader companions were tracting the area, and out of the blue it started pouring rain HARD. Like top 10 times I've seen it rain. Elder Bang and the other elders came walking down the hallway a short while later and couldn't have been more soaked if they'd swan dove into the Mississippi. (Perks of being a district leader haha.)
After the meeting, I got to go on exchanges in Jonesboro with Elder Billman. He was brand new back in my Conway days, and we scooped elephant poop together. It was fun to be back around him, and we had a good time. A lot of things went wrong on our exchange, but it was fun haha.
For example, the Spanish elders had gotten a call from a lady asking for some help moving. We went with them, arriving around noon. We both had a lesson at 1:30, and were hoping to just crank everything out super fast. (Lol, when does that ever work?) We arrived and she had mostly everything packed, but... She didn't have the moving truck. And had to drive 45 minutes one way to get it. And wanted us to watch her house while she did that.
So... We organized the garage of stuff as best as we could, and then it was pretty funny, cause all four of us stopped working and sat inside around her nice kitchen table panicking, trying to figure out how we were going to make this work. Elder Billman and I, Elder Gomez-Perez, and Elder Padilla, who's straight from the jungles of Peru. Just sitting in this really nice house plotting, scheming, and trying to figure out how we were going to get out of helping this lady move hahaha. We couldn't just leave her stuff in the driveway with the garage open and doors unlocked.
What she thought we were doing: whistling as we're working, moving boxes, getting everything ready...
What we were actually doing: "crap crap crap what are we gonna do, we can't leave all this stuff, we should've said something, what've we gotten ourselves into??"
Finally, the Spanish elders were able to reschedule their appointment to stay there, and so Elder Billman and I took off to our lesson and then came back as she returned with the truck. So it all worked out! It always does.
Then we had to leave again and do service at a food pantry in the basement of another church, cause they'd signed up for a timeslot. And then we hurried back to West Memphis and arrived 20 minutes late for my own District Council. Haha, but it ended up being really good. One of my favorites I've done.
Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, was my 101st Sunday in the mission, and was also the day Elder Holland came to rededicate the Memphis, TN Temple! Hooray! I'll get to go on the 20th!
It's cool to me to think about the Memphis temple as symbolic of my mission. I started out alright, functional, and called of God. And within the last 2 years I've kinda been torn down and dismantled and reconstructed with better materials, to become a bigger, better, and improved servant of the Lord. Kinda cheesy, but hey. I'm not the first to say it. C.S. Lewis put it beautifully when he said:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: MacMillan Co., 1960, p. 160).
So there you have it. Growing pains. Chase after 'em!
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
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