(I'm tempted to leave my weekly as just this sentence and the subject line, just to mess with y'all.)
It's been an AWESOME week in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I won't leave ya hanging. In fact, this is a really long email. Sorry. But I used my novelist skillz in this one so I hope you enjoy.
Thursday is my 3 month mark! (Whaaa?!?!?)
Last Monday was the best P Day ever. We got kidnapped.*
Allow me to explain.
*More accurately, Brother Boggs took our Zone Leaders, (Elders Jennings and Breen) Elder Henderson, and I to do a puzzle escape room. In this particular escape room, (w/ a 33% pass rate) we started off blindfolded and handcuffed to a cot in a dark room, with 1 hour to escape. After solving a bunch of puzzles, riddles, codes, passwords, etc, we escaped the room with like 3 minutes to spare. It was super fun. Then we went to Gus's Chicken again. Gr9 as always. (Better than gr8.)
- E C L I P S E - time!
We went to the Pink Palace museum in downtown Memphis, got our swaggy
- E C L I P S E - glasses.
Sat down on the lawn to wait for the - E C L I P S E -. We actually saw Caroline and her mom walking around there, too! It was a hopping place. Tons of people in their swaggy - E C L I P S E - glasses waiting for the 94% coverage "event of a lifetime." There were tv stations, school groups, the whole shebang.
We got to the point where we could see about 2/3 of the sun covered, and then the WHOLE sun got covered!!! And the moon too!!! Cause it was cloudy!!! And then it rained.
- E C L I P S E -
That was still fun, though. The rain went away after the - E C L I P S E - was over and we still had a few hours before we had to drive back to Collierville so we decided to check out the Lorraine Motel, the motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. The inside is now a museum (which we didn't check out) but the outside, including 2 gorgeous old cars, looks exactly like it did, with a wreath over the spot where MLK was shot. Pretty amazing piece of history. It made it feel close and real and extra sad to be there. People are crazy and dumb and stupid. And the whole racial divide thing isn't close to over yet, I keep hearing snippets of the news today. Crazy stuff going on.
We went back to Collierville and spent most of the rest of the day playing Settlers of Zarahemla. (Settlers of Catan, Book of Mormon-themed.) I lost. I won the next round though, by a lot. And then I lost twice again. I think I hate that game.
So yeah Monday was just the best! And then Tuesday came along, which was probably the worst day of my mission so far. (And honestly if this is the worst day, I'm still doing pretty good.)
We had district meeting in the morning. Then the aforementioned zone leaders thought up this great idea. A food challenge. At Buffalo Wild Wings. 200 boneless wings. 8 people. (Do the math.) We thought this would be a fun idea. I wasn't opposed to it at the time, but had I known what horrors lay in store, I'd have sooner eaten my tie.
So we went. A large box of boneless wings is $18.99. But wait, there's more! It's Tuesday and so it's buy one get one free. Bam. 2 larges for each companionship. 48 wings total/2 people. We started w three orders of 2 larges. (Spoiler alert: We didn't get to ordering the final pair of larges.)
4 wings go by: Eh these aren't too bad. They're not great. I like Gus's more.
8 wings go by: Hmm they have some interesting flavors at least
12 wings go by: Hot diggity dog I am full on wings
16 wings go by: I don't think I can take another bite. Their flavors are becoming one - the flavor of pain. Heat and garlic and synthetic lemon rub are merging into lava acid chicken all over my mouth.
20 wings go by: just kidding I think I had to stop at 19.
Reinforcements came, and finished off the remaining 20 or so wings. It had just been the 6 of us before they came. They are full enough when they're done, and we are too wrecked to even think of eating 1 more - let alone 48 more - wings, so we call it a day at like 144 wings between 8 people. I think at my 19 wings, I actually came in last place for "most wings consumed."
We drive back to Collierville and I'm just stuffed. I hurt, and I can feel the chickens kicking my stomach lining out. I justify a 25 minute nap to myself before we go out to work. My alarm doesn't go off. (Or maybe I was in a coma state through it?) 1 hour later, I awake.
I feel forty pounds heavier, I'm sweating, dizzy, and worst of all - everything is chicken. Air is chicken. Nose is chicken. All is chicken. Every breath I take feels like the act of consuming Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Wings. This must be what a hangover feels like. I wake up Elder Henderson and we shakily make our way to the car to try contacting some people. I feel like throwing up for about an hour. Nobody answers the door, thank goodness. But I survive, slowly feeling better after walking around in the sun and having a full plate of Mexican food for dinner. (Idk either, only that it felt like burying the chicken massacre in my stomach so it helped).
We make it through missionary correlation meeting and I go straight to bed when we get back to the apartment. I learned the next morning that I slept through Elder Henderson throwing up for at least an hour in his bathroom. The next morning I feel better, but too full for breakfast.
All in all: 0.3/10 experience, would not recommend or repeat
The rest of the week went better!
We had a lesson with Caroline in which she readily accepted the Law of Tithing. She is seriously the coolest. Still on track to be baptized Sept. 9th!
We met with our other long term investigator, Anette, who we've been teaching since before I got here, even. She has had a hard time reading and remembering what we have taught, and coming to our church because she already likes hers. She has grown so much! She has a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon, and her reading and comprehension skills have improved so so much. We met with her again on Saturday and asked what she thought the Holy Ghost was trying to tell her as she read the Book of Mormon. After some silence, she said she wanted to be baptized. So she is back on date for Oct. 14th! She also came to church yesterday, yay! (The first time we've had an investigator come to church that we can sit with, anyway, since Caroline has been going to the YSA ward. So yay!)
One of the ward members told me that my book "Lies" is gonna be their book club pick in October! Ahhh I'm so excited about that hahaha.
On Friday we went ham knocking doors and trying to find new people to teach. Not a ton of big dramatic successes, but some cards given here, an email received there, and a house tour received!
(Yup, a house tour.) We complimented this lady's house and she just kinda out of the blue asked if we wanted a tour! We were like "uhh... sure!" It was beautiful. Apparently it had burned down a while ago, and they were in the middle of rebuilding. They had an awesome picture of Venice over the mantle, and we talked about how cool that place is for a little while. We didn't end up sharing much of the gospel, but she was so so nice, and we will definitely be back.
We helped move furniture Sister Gaar bought from the previous owners house to her truck. We complimented her piano in her home and she invited us to come back to play it some time! Baby steps. :)
It really is the little things every day that make them feel good. When we work hard, regardless of the outcome, it feels good. That's a life lesson right there. I hate being unproductive and not using time wisely.
I could probably bore you with more stories not quite as exciting as getting kidnapped or helping people prepare for baptism and eternal salvation, but I think this email has gone on long enough. Until next week!
866 Shilling Rd. Apt. 103
Collierville, TN 38017
How's school going? Life? What's new? What did you do this summer? What are you doing this week? What's your favorite color? Your favorite healthy, cheap, fast recipe? How do you keep yourself from eating too much? What was the name of your childhood pet? What do you believe in? What's your middle name?
The answers to these and many more unasked questions can be found in... the emails you send me! (Plz! I love love love hearing from anybody... I miss you!) -> email@example.com
It's been a slower going week, but still really good! I feel like there is less to report on this week, but don't worry - you will still get all the highlights. :)
I've been wanting a pair of navy dress pants since before I left on my mission. On our last p day we went shopping and store after store didn't have any for less than like $60... kinda out of my missionary budget. Well, the last store we go into, I find the last pair in my size... marked down to $15. So yay! The Lord cares about the little things when they matter to us. :)
RELEVANT SCRIPTURE OF THE EMAIL:
"And after that they did separate themselves one from another, taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on. And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith." ------ Alma 31: 37-38
Had my first official zone conference since the last one was President Hanson introducing himself and so on. It was really really good. I learned a lot, felt motivated, felt the spirit, and got excited about changes coming to the mission. Apparently church headquarters in Salt Lake has mysterious plans in store for our mission that have to do with online interactions... so it'll be cool to see how the Lord helps us use this new tool to further the work! Plus, it sounds like I will be training next transfer already...
While we were tracting in a typical nice Collierville neighborhood, I saw a snake against someone's sidewalk. We followed it through their yard for a while before knocking on their door. They told us they weren't interested too fast for us to warn them about the snake in their yard. Oh well - their loss.
As we walked up to a dinner appointment with a member, we noticed something weird in a cage in their yard. They had caught a raccoon hahaha
It rained like CRAZY on Thursday, it was so cool. I was glad we had a car. We watched it come down hard for a while and then drove to the church, where Elder Henderson and I played piano while we waited out the storm. Call us wimps, but not much happens efficiently in the rain. And I'm going to be playing in sacrament meeting next month!
Our golden investigator, Caroline, has been attending the young single adult ward, and her parents have become a little hesitant about the speed at which she has been progressing. There was some debate this week about having the sister missionaries over the YSA ward take over in teaching her, but that just didn't sit right. Thankfully, we were able to come to the decision to just have the sister missionaries help teach every other lesson. I felt like that was a spiritually guided decision that let us keep our golden investigator, will lead to a definite baptism, and will be the best for Caroline! It was awesome hearing Caroline say how determined she is to be baptized. She is so amazing, and her faith and testimony grow so much between every visit.
While we were in another town about 40 minutes away from Collierville, we went to contact someone who had ordered a Bible and Book of Mormon from lds.org. We knocked on the door, someone answered and said she wasn't home. We decided to just leave the books with the guy who answered the door so that he could give them to this person. I didn't feel good about it, cause it wouldn't let us set a return appointment, or even teach her anything about the Book of Mormon. Thankfully, just then, she pulled into the driveway as we were ready to leave. We were able to personally give her the books, meet her, tell her about the restoration, share our testimonies, and set up a return appointment. Yay! Our 100 mile day hadn't been wasted after all! Cool little miracle for the week!
This week I feel like I've reached a good amount of confidence in missionary work. I feel good about my current abilities to knock doors, plan a day, talk to people, and so on. But I know I have a looooong way to go in improving my abilities to do all those things. Which, instead of being discouraging, is really encouraging. Cause I know I can only get better from here. And while 2 years still feels like a long time, it's a great laboratory type opportunity where I can learn and grow and improve so much!
Thank you for your prayers, love, example, emails, and willingness to read all of this! Love you all!!
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
And now... the food section of the email! For those of you who are extra bored and/or hungry.
Tried Popeyes for the first time. It wasn't too disappointing, but just as expensive as the real good stuff at Gus's Fried Chicken across town. 4/10
I drew a really good picture of a pizza slice... On an etch-a-sketch. I impressed myself. (Ok this isn't really food but kinda, right? I wasn't sure where else to fit this, but it did have to be mentioned) 5/10, it was only a picture, but it was on an Etch-a-sketch
Burnt a pesto pizza I made. Just the crust though, everything else was fine. 6/10
The awesome Venezuelan family who just moved from Idaho had us over again and we had Sopa Crusado - a super yummy savory soup w chicken, ham, pumpkin, lime, and corn. Plus more arapas. 12/10
On Saturday, we drove out to a distant small town in the boonies, ans my hankering for Mexican food got the best of me. We found a pretty good spot. We ate there for lunch and were so stuffed the rest of the day. 7.5/10 Then the Gaars took us out to Chili's. And got the volcano dessert cakes. I was REKT til Sunday afternoon.
Went over to two members Sunday dinners. Enough said. 20/10 (get it, 2 meals?)
My metabolism has been doing an incredible job, and I applaud it and also apologize to all that I have put it through this week. I tried the jeans I brought out with me on my mission and they still fit around the waist fine. But they are WAY more skinny than they were when I came out. Like... idk if I can get away with wearing pants that skinny. All the fat must be going to my legs? (I would say it's all gained muscle from walking but... let's be real, here.)
It's been a week!
I think I forgot to mention in my last few emails that I am the designated driver this transfer. This isnt a super difficult place to drive in, but its still new and different, and I don't know my way everywhere, and before this transfer I hadn't driven in like 2 months straight. Poor Elder Henderson has to be my navigator, and he gets distracted a lot so I get a lot of directions late. I'd have him just drive, and he would love that a lot, but... I tried that once and he is even scarier a driver than I am. So putting up with driving here is more of a life preservation thing than a fun thing haha. :P
Had our first district meeting with a new district in Southaven, Mississippi! We talked about being led by the spirit, and creating a teaching environment conducive to teaching by the spirit, which was really good. We then went on exchanges, and Elder Jennings, one of our zone/district leaders, came with me to Collierville, and we succeeded in reaching our goal of inviting 10 people to take the lessons from us! We got 2 return appointments out of the deal, so it was a good exchange! Plus, I got my first "GET OFF MY PORCH!" So that was awesome haha.
I just kinda laughed that off, especially since she preceded that by telling us she was a born-again Christian, while another guy's neighbor full on called him a Satanist and he politely told us he wasn't interested and to have a great rest of our day. :) the irony, right?
Wednesday was my first book's 6th birthday. Crazytown. On Wednesday, we moved our one baptismal date with Caroline back to be not on labor day weekend. She is doing super well, going as far as reading Isaiah side-to-side with the Book of Mormon, and doing the "additional studies" in the back of the pamphlets. She is so awesome. She shared a story from church on Sunday where the teacher decided to teach from a talk by Elder Holland in 2006, rather than the scheduled lesson outline. Turned out that talk on managing burdens was just what Caroline needed to hear after the week she had had. How cool is that little miracle? God cares about us all individually, and he shows that I so many cool little ways.
Here are two more of those other little ways I saw this week.
1. Last week we helped a ward member move one of their pieces of furniture into the truck of a person buying it from them. We then called the missionaries where the buyers lived and had them ready to help them unload the thing when they got back. It took maybe 10 minutes, and the lady tried to pay us for the help haha. We got a text from the member a few days later sharing a Facebook post from the lady who we had helped, who I guess was just so amazed by our help that she bragged about Mormons on Facebook. It was pretty cool.
2. This is my favorite story this week. We have been trying to find new people to teach, which is not going super well, honestly. And that gets pretty disheartening. It's not even that people aren't interested, it's that they aren't even home or opening the door. After a particularly seemingly fruitless day of tracting, I was looking at the sidewalk and saw somebody's temple recommend! It came to me that the youth were doing a temple trip to do baptisms for deceased ancestors today. But without their temple recommend, they weren't going to be able to go in. We hurried back to the car, and drove to the church as fast as the little speed monitor thing would let us. We got there in time to give the girl her temple recommend before they left.
Idk, that taught me a couple things. When we feel inspired to be in a certain area at a certain time, maybe it's not because our next golden investigator is going to be there. But there is a reason, and God uses us for a lot of things! Secondly, I think whoever she was baptized on behalf of in the temple that day, was really eager to receive that ordinance. And our Heavenly Father wanted to make sure that no lost temple recommend would keep that from happening. So he used his servants the missionaries to make sure it would happen. So that was a cool thing that helped me recognize that Heavenly Father is guiding us.
And now, the food section of the weekly email.
Brother Boggs has spoiled us too much this week, I feel bad.
On Friday, we went to a Hibachi grill, and had some incredible fried rice, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables, cooked on this giant grill in the middle of a table by a master chef who would light things on fire and throw knives around and all that. It was sooo good.
On Saturday, he had us over for most of the day to make jalapeno poppers and this strawberry shortcake roulade dessert for the ward social after church tomorrow. That was really fun and now I have a good jalapeno poppers recipe up my sleeve.
After that, he took us to this Italian restaurant in the back of an antique mall. I'd seen it before on p days, but hadn't looked at the menu or anything. I kinda assumed, since it was in the back of an antique mall it wouldn't be too spendy. After some killer manicotti and other pasta, he told us that was 2 nights in a row where the check had been over 100$. Um! Henderson and I told him we would do the McDonald's dollar menu for the remaining times we went out with him haha.
And then on Sunday, after the ward social/potluck, we made another dessert from scratch (lemon zucchini, very good) and cooked up giant steaks and baked potatoes and a baguette w dippy.
Constant states of being a missionary: tired, and hate-yourself-full. It's a good thing we do a lot of walking.
Funny story time: the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on our door while we were doing studies haha. They gave us a flyer invite to the 2017 "Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses." I was happy to see we made them look a little nervous haha. But we were nice and accepted the flyer and they moved on before we could give them a pamphlet of our own. We cracked up once the door closed haha.
The Sinclairs, some friends of mine from back home, sent a thermos water bottle that has been awesome this week. Thank you so much!!
This week I was also extra thankful for the sacrament. I read Moroni 10:33 while it was being passed to the congregation, which talks about how we can be sanctified through Christ and become "without spot." That was just really comforting to me and helped motivate me to do better this next week!
So that's this week! It's felt kinda slower, but there have been enough little miracles that help me know we are on the right track. Here's to another great week! Love you all!
866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville TN, 38017
It's been another good week!
My last companion, Elder Johnson has returned home to Salt Lake City, Utah! I got a new companion, Elder Henderson of Blackfoot, Idaho, and we are both serving in Collierville still. Elder Henderson was Elder Johnson's companion the transfer before I was, also in Collierville, so it's been helpful having someone who kinda knows the area already!
The missionary work highlight of this week was getting our golden investigator to commit to baptism! She's 18 and getting ready for college in the next month, and it's just awesome to see her recognize the holy ghost and act on it, and seek after doing the right thing!
We've been doing a lot of door to door knocking, and it finally seemed to pay off on Wednesday! We got 2 return appointments with 2 younger mom's with a couple younger kids - perfect potential investigators whose lives I know the gospel could bless immensely. When we went back at our designated appointments, one wasn't home and the other had the tv on and didn't answer the door. Soooo... that was a bummer.
Shared a short conference talk on the Book of Mormon from President Monson with one of our investigators (the one who dropped her baptismal date because she's not ready to leave her church.) I asked her what she thought about it and she just managed to reply "it's awesome," and as she said it I felt the spirit so strongly. How blessed we are to have a living prophet on the earth whose words are God's words for our time!
Another special thing about that is that I played the video over wifi. (Thanks, xfinity & brother Boggs for the hookup! ...or so I assumed). As we left, elder Henderson asked how I was able to play the video. I told him xfinity, probably. But then he said that his iPad hadn't showed any wifi signal at all. So, my new theory: Heaven has wifi and God put a little wifi hotspot in that room so we could testify of President Monson as a prophet of God. Cool little miracle!
As we were leaving her house, somebody (who may very well have been drunk?) approached me as I was getting into the car. I panicked a little bit, but he just asked for one of our books, so I gave him a Book of Mormon and he stumbled off haha. We'll see if anything happens from that. Planting seeds, I guess?
We also finally got in touch with the lady overcoming a heroin addiction again, it had been a while since we had gotten to teach her! She had just gotten back from rehab and was looking so much better. I gave her a book of Mormon, to which she incredulously asked, "You're giving this to me?" as if I'd just given her a million dollars or a pony. I then had one of those moments missionaries always talk about where they are able to testify and teach and then when they're walking away they realize they had no idea what exactly they said. The spirit definitely helped me teach her so much. I felt its help as I looked her in the eye and told her that the Book of Mormon was proof that the powers of Godliness are available to her, and that by reading this book God will help her continue to overcome her addiction. That was a promise from the big man through me, not from me. So it was awesome to recognize that I was being used go really help someone.
Had dinner at a Venezuelan family's house who just moved here from Idaho. We had arapas and they were super crazy good. So that's another culture's food I've had that I wasn't expecting!
Forgot to text our district leaders that we arrived back home safe one night and uh woke up to some missed calls and urgent texts that we somehow slept through. Lesson learned there!
Walked inside a taco bell for the first time. I've had TB before but I've never been in one. Elder Henderson had a gift card we used for dinner one night. The double chalupa is pretty dang good, just saying.
Saturday was the another eventful day! One of my favorite families in the area, the Gaars, and their daughter and her family, took us out to their farm for breakfast. The weather was perfect that day, it felt like a pleasant Idaho morning and it made me so happy. It was about a 40 minute drive away, and it was nice to just look out the window and enjoy the beautiful green countryside. We fished in their little pond for a while, catching catfish and carp (?) and just enjoying the morning. We were there for a good 2-3 hours and it was just so nice. Very fun way to end the week and start the day!
Then, after we'd gotten home to plan and study, the bishop of the 1st ward invited us over to a ward pool party to help finish off the leftover food. We figured that was a service we could render, so we headed over there and enjoyed hot dogs and desserts before carrying on with the day.
Well, we didn't get too far because in the first apartment complex we were in, Elder Henderson got stung 3 times in the ankles by some wasps. He was about half a flight of stairs ahead of me, and somehow didn't notice the nest of wasps under one of the stairs. As I rounded the corner and saw the nest and started backing up to say something, it was too late. He dropped his scriptures and iPad and we ran down 3 flights of stairs like it was nothing. Then he had to go back up the opposite staircase to grab his tablet and he managed to do that without further attacks.
We hurried back to the apartment and did some first aid stuff. Elder Henderson's ankles were pretty swollen, and he wasn't in much shape to keep walking around yet, so while he iced and elevated, etc., I got to take a nap. I've missed naps. Two days later and one of his stings is still pretty swollen, but he's surviving!
So anyway, it's been an interesting week! Lots of highs and lows as usual haha. But I wouldn't trade them!
PS: email me during the week sometime! firstname.lastname@example.org
And my mailing address is still the same!
866 Schilling Farm #103,
Collierville TN 38017
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