I'm kinda overwhelmed by having to email about this week. If you couldn't tell by the email subject... a lot of random stuff happened. Fortunately, a lot of awesome lessons with awesome people did, too!
After our P-day ended, we had a great lesson with a recent convert and his wife and their little baby. He was baptized the week or two before I got here. And he's in a screamo band. He's seriously the coolest guy ever. Aside from his long black dreads, you'd never guess that's what he did cause he is a really sweet, softspoken guy. He has all kinds of connections in the music industry, from Evanescence (who apparently has some bandmembers that live in this area??) to Pit Bull's photographer haha. So it was pretty cool hearing about all that.
On Tuesday, we did an exchange in Pinnacle Mountain/downtown Little Rock. I went with Elder Murdoch there. They share an apartment with the Assistants to the President, so that was fun. They gave us a ride or two and saved us from an hour of biking at least, so I was very thankful for that. We spent a lot of time finding, and met our first of two 90+ year old 7th Day Adventists. One was like, "I don't want to get to the other side, and have God scold me and tell me I can't get to heaven because I worshipped him on the 1st day instead of the 7th." Don't get me wrong, they were both super nice, strong, faithful followers of Christ and so I respect them, but... I dunno, doesn't that just sound not right? You really think God is gonna review your checklist and then kick you out cause you worshipped Him on the wrong day?
Anyway. After talking with a black guy playing gangster rap from a speaker taped to the handlebars of a princess bicycle meant for a 10 year old girl, we stopped to talk with an older lady who was sitting on her porch with a flyswatter. She said she'd accept a card, and we had a great visit with her. We read Moroni 10:3-5 with her, and she caught the spirit of it instantly. She kept reading, and reading, and then had to stop herself so we could actually talk about it! She kept saying how amazing it was, and E. Murdoch invited her to be baptized right there on the spot. She said she'd been baptized already, and our explanation didn't get through to her, but apparently they were able to see her again and had another good visit!
The next morning, the APs made some scrambled duck eggs for breakfast before driving up to North Little Rock for zone conference. It was wonderful as usual. They held the last portion of it after diving the elders and sisters into two groups. We spent some time polishing each other's shoes. Mine definitely needed it hahaha. I didn't feel as bad when Pres. Hansen confessed that the first time he had polished his shoes since being out here was the night before haha.
Back in Benton the next day, we had a lot of good visits! One with our second 90+ year old 7th Day Adventist, who was really sweet but just as stubborn. We were invited in by another lady who just treated us like her personal psychiatrists and told us all kinds of family drama, and we promised blessings from the Book of Mormon. It was a long, but good visit. And finally, we also visited with one of the two ladies that had joked about chasing us away with a broom last week. She asked for another Book of Mormon to give to a coworker, and had some great questions! We are excited about her!
Had kind of a harder day the next day, but it was still good. We had a lesson with a guy who has been meeting with the missionaries for a while, now. Elder Bolos explained how we teach him well when he said, "We basically just Bible Bash with him and he just accepts everything we say after we show it to him in the Bible." So, rest assured there isn't any arguing eith him, he just has a question or concern and we show him a zillion scriptures in the Bible to answer it. He'll sit back and try to come up with something else, but as he is asking it, he will remember what we said and answer his own question. He's pretty fun to teach haha. You can tell gears are turning.
That night, a member called us and said they had a ton of leftover pot roast and were wondering if they could give it to us. Um... yes! It was really good. We had pot roast bbq sandwiches for lunch the next 3 days haha. It was a definite blessing.
They say fall is getting close. But. It was pretty hot on Saturday when we tried to find some new people to teach. Can't wait for it to cool down. Sweaty tracting is always a blast.
We were invited to a wedding reception of a member, and that was about as awkward for two random missionaries to walk in to as you'd expect, but there were yummy desserts, and a couple of the family's work friends we were able to visit with, so it ended up being good.
Sunday was crazy cause we had like 5 or 6 appointments planned that could each take a while. We were worried we would have to miss some of them cause we were so busy, but we managed to at least give everyone a chance! A few didn't work out, and we cleared out our teaching pool a little bit. :/ But a few did and they were good.
The "chase us off with a broom" lady agreed to meet us at 6 that evening. When we got there, we didn't have another guy with us so we couldn't go in her home. So she woke up one of her neighbors and asked for him to come join us so we could get out of the heat. She opened up about the death of her son a few years ago which was really sad. Things went kinda downhill, though, cause there were just a lot of distractions going on and people walking in and out, phones ringing, baby screaming, breast feeding happening... So this lesson plan we'd been stressing out about didn't go through at all.
Fortunately, her 9 year old daughter loves church and Jesus and she was the most attentive of them all. She reminds me of my younger sisters and just has this glow about her despite the kind of negative home life. She ate up everything we said and was excited about the Book of Mormon. It was just so neat to see her faith and excitement, that one book about Jesus was good, so two must be better! I hope for the very very best for that girl.
Got home and had our weekly phone calls with the missionaries in our Zone. Lots of awesome miracles happening all over the place, ahh!! There are too many things going on to even consider any of this as coincidence. This is the Lord's work! I'm so lucky and blessed to be a part of it.
I can't believe September is around the corner! September is gonna be a dang good month. Here's to finishing up August the best we can!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Well I'm not in Hope anymore. But I'm still hopeful. You can take the Elder Dahl out of Hope, but you can't take the Hope out of Elder Dahl! That said, it's been a great first week in Benton, Arkansas.
Benton is the big ole sprawly suburbia south of Little Rock. There are a lot of people here and endless streets, seems like. We've got an awesome zone, and I'm excited to be here! We've had a great first week, and are gonna have an awesome transfer.
Ended my time in Hope with some Big Jake's BBQ with the Lims. I'm gonna miss them a lot! After dinner, we headed out for some final hours of proselyting. Went up to Prescott and nobody was home except for Alex, and we had a great visit with him! He was really sad to hear I was leaving, and we got him thinking about baptism, so a bittersweet note to end off on! He's a cool guy.
The next day, we drove up to the mission office. Said goodbye to Elder Ogaard and some of the other missionaries going home this transfer. Gonna miss em!
Drove to Benton with my new companion, Elder Bolos from Ogden, UT! He is awesome and we've had a great week. Super excited to be able to serve with him. He was in my zone in Searcy!
In our first full day, we did a lot of finding and were able to find a few people who were interested in learning more. We tried out an idea our mission president suggested with the couple that was having us over for dinner. We went over an hour early, shared Mormon 9:36-37, and invited them to pray with us and come up with a street in their neighborhood that we could go tracting in. They did, and came up with the same street we had in our planning session that morning. So off we went, tracting in the rain, meeting a few people, but none really interested. We had a good chat with a kid playing basketball, and a bad chat with a shirtless guy in rainbow suspenders doing something to his lawnmower while it rained. He cussed us out and said the Book of Mormon was a bunch of nonsense. But like... he's an old guy wearing rainbow suspenders vicing two boards to a lawnmower seat while it rains, so we didn't take him too seriously haha. He can't really call us crazy.
Had a few good chats to report, and that couple had one of our investigators and the sisters over as well, so we had a good visit and a great lesson afterward on Mosiah 21.
On Wednesday, we got a referral from my MTC companion in Hot Springs, Elder Miller, who had an investigator who was now in Benton cause he was in jail here. So on Thursday we went to the jail and waited around until we were able to ask someone if we could see the guy. We were told to wait, and a few minutes later, another lady asked for our "credentials" so we shared our ministerial certificates and were told we would receive a call back. So we didn't get to meet the guy that day, and we haven't heard back yet... So idk what will happen.
We continued trying to find new people to teach, and approached these two ladies who were sitting outside an apartment with a bunch of little kids. One was on the phone and the other didn't look too thrilled to see us. When the first ended the call, she said it was her mom and that she had told her to shoo us away with a broom. We laughed and then they asked what we believe. We ended up having a really awesome like 30 or 40 minute discussion with both of them, and by the end of it, they both had a Book of Mormon and didn't think we were that weird! So that's a win. I love seeing people change their perspective as the gears start turning in their head.
We had a dinner that night with a lady and her husband. She had served in the same mission when she was younger, and also served in Collierville, Conway, and Benton. She met her husband in the Benton ward. But that's a story for another time haha.
We hurried off to a church tour we had scheduled with a guy we met, but he never ended up coming. We stuck around for a few rounds of volleyball before heading in for the night.
Things kinda slowed down on Friday. We had a long weekly planning which was both aided and hindered by our discovery of some gourmet hot chocolate packs in a cupboard. It was good stuff haha. We didn't find too many people that day, but had a really weird chat with a guy we felt some bad vibes from.
Saturday started off with helping an older couple move... They had a ton of stuff. And when we thought we were done, there was a piano to put into a truck bed. There were a lot of people there to help, but... not a lot of help, ya feel? "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians" as someone said haha. We spent the rest of the day trying to contact people and keep appointments that had been set, but nobody was really home so that was a bummer. On our way in for the night, we passed the Amplify Fest, a big Christian Rock festival that it seemed like the whole town went to. It was a huge deal. We may or may not have taken our time driving through the parking lot haha.
It's cool that so many people are open to go sing and hear about Jesus, but too bad it only gets their attention when it comes in the form of just "hoo-ra" rock and shallow doctrine. :/ There's nothing wrong with it, and a lot good about it, but there is just so much more! Let us tell you about it! :)
Had my first Sunday in Benton and it was pretty good! Met a lot of people. It's gonna take a little longer to get to know everyone than it did in the Hope Branch. But there are a lot of good folks. Including the Burkes, who served a senior couple mission with my grandparents in the Salem Oregon mission! I'd had lunch with them before coming out on my own mission, and was able to have dinner with them again last night.
We also found a cool guy with a big long beard who talked with us for a while about the apostasy. We've met some people with some interesting opinions who think they have it all figured out. But there are just loopholes and disconnects and plotholes in their theories. Christ's church fell apart without his apostles, and without any inspired singular source to correct the saints, they went in all kinds of directions and interpretations, and that's why there are so many churches today. That's why the Bible has an end, and that's why we needed the Restoration! I know this is Christ's church on the earth today. If he loves us today the same as he did in Bible times, and leads us the same way he did then, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has got to be it.
I sure wouldn't be out here getting cussed at by guys in rainbow suspenders if I didn't really believe that. And because I do, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the miracles and blessings we see and are trying to share every day!
Another highlight from this week was hearing that my brother, Henry, got his mission call!!! He leaves in December to go to the Canada Halifax mission!! Super excited for and proud of him!
Support your local missionaries: take the lessons, send em to your friends, feed em something good.
Have a great week! Love,
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
If anybody can figure out how it feels like 80 years ago but at the same time 20 mins ago since my last email, I'd be really interested to know. Still trying to figure that one out.
We were able to have some really good visits this week, and of course: the Hope Watermelon Festival. It was a good grand finale to my time here in Hope. Yup. I'm getting transferred to Benton! I'm really sad to be leaving, but also all kinds of nervous-excited to be back in zone leadership. I'd have loved another 6 weeks here, but there's other people the Lord wants me to help, elsewhere, I guess.
One of our good visits was with a member who hasn't been to church in years. He was an amphibian vehicle driver in the Vietnam War and was giving us all the tips about how you would drive off of the back of a big airline carrier boat or something. So that was really interesting. He made some comment and asked what country Trump has been dealing with lately. We aren't supposed to be keeping up with the news, or participating in political conversations, but I couldn't help myself from jokingly suggesting, "Russia...?" Which he found hilarious.
Another good visit was when we you about an hour and a half of open time. Which is kinda hard to work with in the middle of the day when all your appointments have fallen through and nobody is home. But I found a former investigator in our old notes that I remembered trying once. We pulled in his driveway and the truck behind us did, too. He welcomed us right in and we were able to have s good conversation with him, too. There are a lot of wonderful people here.
One of those is Debbie, who we were able to baptize last transfer. I had my last lesson with her and it was actually so cool because she talked! From time to time in the past she would say a word here and there. But when we asked her what she thought about her trip to the temple, and started looking for her notepad so she could write a response, she managed to quietly tell us how impressive she thought it was, and how nice the people were there. Again on Sunday, she talked a little bit, asking where I was going and whatnot. I thought of the promised miracle to those who have faith that the "dumb shall speak." (Mark 7:37, D&C 84:70, 2 Nephi 31:13) Does it get any cooler?
We were able to have another great lesson with a guy in Prescott. He is humble and willing to learn, but it takes him a lot of explaining. He's a super cool guy, and I'm gonna miss being able to see the gears turning in his head.
We also had a "drop visit" with a couple who we had kinda already assumed we would drop. They welcomed us in and told us they weren't all that interested. I know a big part of that is that they never read the Book of Mormon, and another part is that it is just impossible to feel the spirit in their home. There were 6 dogs running around, and all the possible clues they leave behind. They had shredded a couch, and so fluff was everywhere over the cigarette-scented carpet. It was kinda hard to breathe. I was nervous to sit on the couch, but didn't want to be rude. (When I got home and changed into pajamas, I discovered a dog turd matted against my slacks and a large brown stain on the back of my white shirt.) I don't want to talk down or anything, it is just really sad to me that people can choose to live that way. Order, peace, cleanliness, and light provide so much in our lives. If we are to feel the spirit, we need those things.
The next day was spent getting ready for the Watermelon Festival. Printing off questionnaires, organizing media, and so on. We had dinner at Tailgaters burgers with the Lims, and their daughter and granddaughter who flew in from Idaho to visit them and come to the Festival this weekend. Afterwards, we went over to our spot and started setting up our booth as much as we could!
We finished it up the next morning of the Festival after our district council. Our whole district was able to be there that day, which was really fun, but it was kinda the slow day of the festival, though. Which is to be expected cause it was a Thursday. But if was still fun. We got ourselves a "slice" of watermelon for the experience. It was 2$ a slice, and so we were expecting some little slice, right? Oh no, they weren't messing around. They literally give you a quarter of a watermelon. And not just any watermelon. A HOPE watermelon. Extra big, extra sweet. They were dang good. We talked with the people who run the camel rides for a while, but never ended up riding them. I also remembered that August 9 was an important date for something... oh yeah! My 1st book came out 7 years ago that day. Woooowww. "The Dreamers" is getting old haha.
On day 2 of the Watermelon Festival, we started noticing just some funny quirks about humanity. Like how many people saw our booth, and turned around to go into the next row of booths a different way besides passing in front of us. Or how many people looked the opposite direction as they walked by. We got a lot of rejection, but people were nice, and we also got a lot of good leads. Opposition in all things!
Had a BBQ sandwich for lunch. Y'all know how much I love BBQ.
Went and talked to our friend Bob who was selling knives. He had a discount box, 1 for $3 Or 2 for $5 and got one of those. He told us to keep him updated about transfers. I was expecting to stay another transfer, but then President Hansen called and told me he had finished figuring out transfers and extended a call to be a senior zone leader in Benton. Whoa! I told him I'd do it, cause I would, and cause I don't wanna be the guy who makes Pres. Hansen have to re-figure out transfers haha. So I'm excited! Nervous, and sad to be leaving Hope, but excited!
We made our way back to Bob's booth and shared the news. Without hesitating, he reached into his display case and handed me a really nice pocket knife. He is seriously one of the coolest, nicest, people out there. Gonna miss that guy. I told him I'd be back to visit, though!
That night, Elders Turner, Billings, and Barnes arrived at our apartment to help out for Saturday. We had a good time having them with us. They're great.
Saturday ended up being the busiest and best day, unsurprisingly. They had a watermelon eating contest that we caught the tail end and free leftover watermelon slices of, and a seed-spitting contest. (As opposed to a speed-sitting contest!) I didn't catch the whole thing, but overheard distances surpassing 20 feet. Way to go?
Had a guy ask me if I was a Jehovah's Witness. I told him no and he looked kind of disappointed. I asked him why and he explained he had had this question he wanted to ask them. I figured I'd try my hand at it and asked what his question was. What he said cracked me up hahaha.
"You know they don't celebrate like national holidays or whatever, right?" "Yeah." "So I mean, if they don't celebrate holidays, what I really want to ask them is: if the Razorbacks score a touchdown... do they celebrate then? Or would that be against their rules, too?"
People are awesome.
We also had a member of the branch presidency call us Saturday morning and ask us to come prepared for a talk on Sunday in case the visiting speaker from Little Rock didn't show up. So Sunday morning before I even got in the shower, I wrote a few notes down, and wouldn't you know it, the visiting speaker did come, but only after we had confirmed with Bro. Ridgell that we were ready to speak and had been put in the program. So I gave what I thought was a pretty good talk on James 1:5, and then we had potluck afterward. A part member family we had hoped to start teaching when I first got here showed up to church for the first time since then. An exciting little miracle for the Hope missionaries, and a good way for my last Sunday in Hope to go. Plus, Debbie brought a "yellow-meated" watermelon that was orange inside and is on my list of best watermelons I've had.
Spent some time writing down notes for Elder Peterson and my replacement and then went through our people notes from the Watermelon Festival with the Lims. We've got a good handful of pretty promising people! I'm excited for all the good stuff going on here, and feel rest-assured that I've left my mark on Hope, and that it's better than I found it, and that it will soon be better than when I left it. That's what it's all about.
Gonna miss the Lims a lot! They are so awesome and I've learned so much from them and their example. I'm so thankful for all that they've done for me and this area. They're headed home in a few weeks. We had a fun visit with them and their family last night, and are headed to my last supper in Hope at (you guessed it) a BBQ joint tonight.
Off to more new adventures in a different part of Arkansas! 5th Area, 5th Zone, 9th companion.
But in the mean time... I gotta pack, yikes
Love y'all! "I still believe in a place called Hope." - Bill Clinton & Elder Dahl
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
I did shower this week, though, okay?
Maybe some explanations are in order.
On Tuesday, I had a leadership training meeting in North Little Rock at 9:30AM, and rather than get up at 5AM to drive there that day, we got permission to drive as far as Hot Springs, AR on Monday, stay the night, and head out that morning.
So we spent a good part of last Monday checking out Hot Springs, which was fun. We didn't stray far from the touristy sites, but they were still cool. For a couple minutes, cars were driving by the main street, and there were actually some tall buildings, and people walking along the sidewalk... I just took it in. Little slivers of street corners brought back memories of New York City and Paris and Boston. But that's probably just cause I've been away from Memphis for almost a year, now. I wouldn't call myself a city kid, but wow did it feel good to be in something that felt like a city for a little while. There's something exciting about the hustle and bustle of it all. ...Unless you're driving in it. (I got an "aggressive driving" from the tiwi machine in our car.)
We toured one of the big bath houses there, managed by the National Park Service, and that was actually pretty sweet. It would be neat to have gone in its prime days. People were taking all kinds of funky varieties of baths and treatments.
After our P-day ended, Elder Miller and I headed to a "Family Home Evening" that a few members of their ward were putting on. We met in a little trailer and had a cute object lesson, and even some brownies. It was a good time. We then went to visit one of the people they're teaching and that was good, too! Elder Miller and I were MTC companions, and Elder Barney was in our District, then, too. So it was super fun reminiscing on that and laughing at how far we've come. (And also playing a game called "Exploding Kittens.")
Our meeting the next day was awesome. And not just cause Elder Ogaard was there or because of the amazing homemade pulled pork sammiches. Learned a lot and felt a good boost of fire that I needed under me.
After that, I went on exchanges w the Zone Leaders in Pine Bluff. We had a birthday of a recent convert that we went to, but we were too full from lunch to eat much more haha. But did that stop us? Hahahahahaa
[On a slightly unrelated note, I've actually been losing weight in Hope. My Collierville-Conway member dinners are gone. I was already a twig and now I'm more of a twig, yikes]
After some finding and another appointment, Elder Billings and I were talking to people at a gas station while we filled up, and this lady complimented my tie and said I should get some highlights in my hair. (So... objective number one when I get home?? Highlights. Actually, on second thought...)
We exchanged back Wednesday night, and it was kinda weird having only like half of the week left in Hope. But it was good to be back and we got some good stuff done. District Council, getting an air conditioning unit to Sis. Martin (the lady with the monkeys) going to Nashville, AR and having both appointments there fall through, but managing to help a guy on his riding lawnmower out of a ditch... you know, the usual. That was just Thursday.
Friday was kinda similar cause we went to Prescott, AR and had both appointments there fall through, too. And one of those was supposed to include a dinner, too, so that was a downer. But we had a nice chat with a family holding a yard sale, and met with another guy we met a few weeks ago who seems really excited to study the Book of Mormon, even asking us to bring highlighters or scripture markers the next time we come. I'm hopeful for him!
Saturday was an extra good day! In the morning, we went to try some people that said we could come back, and one let us in. He was chillin on the couch in his boxers watching "The Partridge Family" which... seemed like as much of a time capsule as a TV show could ever be. Talk about retro vibes haha. We had a good visit with him, though, and he was also pretty willing to study things out on his own.
We helped Bob out at his building again, scraping glue and plaster off the brick entry way. Nothing glorious but we did get Subway out of the deal.
We spent some time that afternoon trying to find new people to teach. In the process, we prayed over a large black family picnic, taught a former investigator about the Plan of Salvation, and got sketched out by one street as it was starting to get dark and people were hiding out when we walked by, or else riding a horse right in our path and making us step off the road. Yes, really.
But the best part about Saturday was that the Lims were able to take Debbie to the Dallas temple, and she was able to have her son baptized by proxy, as well as be baptized for a few others that day. She was really excited about that.
On Sunday, we ended up starting to teach "Gospel Principles," (Sunday School) and so that was fun. Otherwise, we have just been getting hyped for the Watermelon Festival this week! Aug. 9-11, come on down, come say hi! We'll have a booth there and it's gonna be awesome. As long as it doesn't rain. Which... it might haha.
But, it's been a good week! Things are ever looking up in Hope.
"I still believe in a place called Hope." -Bill Clinton (Yes, really.)
Y'all be bless' now!
Send gravy or maybe some chicken spaghetti*
Male, female, and email
Female snail, snail male
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
*Actually, you probably better not. That'd be gross to get in the mail.
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