The missionary time phenomenon: In which it feels like I was just doing this, but last p day feels like a month ago, and somehow it all went by really fast anyway?
By popular demand, food reviews are back cause there were some new experiences this week. :)
Last P Day, a member took us to a BBQ place called Corky's. It was pretty dang good, especially for the price. I left feeling stuffed with pulled pork, which is a good feeling up to a point, but by now you can correctly assume it's safe to figure I overdid it. (I did.) All the same, 8/10, with 26/10 rolls. They probably use crack cocaine in those things wow
We also did some fishing up at the Gaar's farm. And by "we did some fishing" I mean "Elder Bingham caught 5 fish in like 15 minutes and I caught none."
We got back into town, and had my first real "weird" southern dish, yes! It's called "Country Ham" which sounds innocent enough. It's basically a ham that gets buried in salt, until the salt replaces most of the moisture in the ham, and it becomes encrusted in salt and layers of thick mold. Then you just cut the mold off, cook it up however, and eat it. Ham is already pretty dang salty, right? This stuff was almost enough to make my lips pucker a bit. My mouth is watering thinking about it haha. I liked it at first, and then it was almost overwhelming, and now every once in a while I'll crave it haha. I'd definitely have it again.
But the thing about this country ham is that I was still full enough from our bbq lunch that afternoon, that by the time I was done with it, I felt like I'd eaten an entire pig that day.
That's something I think a lot about. Like, what if we could look out over the crowd of animals who died for the food you have eaten over your entire life. Yikes. Like... you eat a hot dog, and then 3 pigs, a chicken, a horse, and a sea urchin get added to the crowd. (It's okay, I'm in the BBQ capital of the world, I'm not going to go vegetarian anytime soon. Sorry, sea urchin.)
Now, this wasn't "Buffalo Wild Wings BOGO" level bad, in large part due to the fact that everything, you know, tasted good, and I can still stomach the thought of having ham again thank goodness. But I was pretty dang full.
The staple feelings of missionary work: The Spirit, tired, hate-yourself-full, and thirsty.
After that, a member took us to the grocery store so we could get groceries. He needed groceries, too, so we split up and met back together when we were ready to check out. After stocking up for the next like 2 weeks, we go to check out and he starts putting some of our groceries in with his. We go to tell him, and then to try and steal them back to add to our pile, but he just keeps blocking us and putting our groceries up, and he ended up paying for them all. What. I was kinda mad at him, cause I'd saved my money really well this month, but I mean, it's hard to stay mad at someone who pays for your groceries.
So all in all, not a bad p day.
The next morning during studies, our investigator called us out of the blue. She said while she had been meditating, she had the impression that she should call us. I was glad she did! She told us how she had prayed to ask God if it was okay for her to wait a year to be baptized. Her answer was an overwhelming yes. She asked if He loved him, and her answer was "Even more, now." It reminded me of one of my own powerful spiritual experiences, so that was a very spirit-filled phone call. She talked about having talked with another lady in the ward who is a member but her husband isn't, and how much that meant to her. And she said she would bring her husband to church sometime! He didn't come this week, but it'll happen. And we are excited for that. But that was a cool way to start the day!
Another investigator has reached kind of a stand still this week. We went over and taught her and then spent a good deal of time talking her through her concerns about being baptized. She really likes her pastor and wants to support him as he moves to a different church. She knows the Book of Mormon is true, and that she needs to be baptized, but she feels like she won't be able to keep coming to our church. Which is frustrating.
For our 2nd lesson with her this week, we brought President Faulkner along, who she recognized from TV since apparently he had run for state Senate or something before? He's in our mission presidency now, and is a super cool former Baptist. I thought we had been bold in our last lesson, but this guy was bold. And it was a neat lesson for me to even sit in on. He talked about leaving his Baptist church after he had been baptized, even though he was next in line to be the pastor, and the former pastor had just died. And he said that before he was baptized, he felt the spirit tell him that the "Promised Land" prophesied of (yes, prophesied of) by Martin Luther King Jr., where people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, IS the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That was cool.
She's still thinking and praying about being baptized. If she is really praying about it, we know her answer will never be "no."
Another fun experience this week: getting to go to the booming metropolis of Potts Camp, Mississippi to conduct a baptismal interview! As the district leader, one of my responsibilities is to interview the investigators of my district members before they are baptized, just to make sure they know their stuff and are willing to keep the commandments they have been taught. The Elders in Holly Springs had been teaching Seth for not too long, but he is a super cool kid. He js 15 or 16 and we met him in his grandparents house out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by trees barely starting to change colors. It was awesome.
That took most of our day, though, and we got back to Collierville right as our ward party was ending, which was a bummer. It was apparently a great event.
On Friday I had a pretty awesome mission experience! A local book club of ladies from both Collierville wards plus a nonmember lady had read my book "Lies" this month. And President Hansen gave me the "okay" to attend that! They recorded a video interview w some of the questions that were asked, and I think it turned out pretty awesome! You can watch that here - https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1474036109377648&id=100003138183987
Shortly after, we had interviews with President Hansen. He's so awesome. I love him more and more every time I see him. He's definitely inspired and leads this mission with power.
We had dinner with that awesome young family from Venezuela again this week, and they made one of my favorite things - empanadas! They were dang good. 12/10
The next day was Seth's baptism. The members in Holly Springs, Mississippi meet in a rented out Pentecostal church, so they had to come up to the Collierville church building for the baptism. We headed over early to fill up the font. Water filling the font is a good, motivating sound to hear. The baptism went well! As we were locking up, though, we realized that Elder Mair didn't pull the plug up in the font when he left. So he took his suit jacket off, rolled his long sleeves up to his shoulder, and pulled his pant legs well into his thighs, and waded back into the font, leaned out over the water, and... fell in.
Just kidding, he didn't fall in. But he almost did once. He got the plug, and also a little bit wet again haha. It was kinda funny.
That night we went to see some houses decorated for Halloween that we had heard about from a few people. How good could these really be? UM WOW. THAT GOOD. These 2 houses next to each other share expenses on a storage facility throughout the year, and pay people to hand candy out by the trashcan full because so many people come.
One house has like a full blown pirate ship, with skeletal pirates taking up their whole front yard. The thing is almost as big as their house. The other one is a grave yard, with animatronic everything, and a legit hearse! Parked! On! Their! Lawn!
On Sunday, we had a very special return missionary give a talk, and then take 3rd hour of church sharing stories from her mission. She is one of the 10 or so missionaries who were sent straight home early from Puerto Rico, rather than being reassigned. She had a full transfer left, but they sent her home early. She was devastated, and you could tell how much she would have loved to stay behind and starve and sleep on the ground to help the people she had come to love so much there. She left her area with food and a small backpack of clothes, to wait out the storm in the mission field. She didn't think she'd be sent home, or that nobody from that mission would probably see their areas again, the people there, the journals, gifts, and other things left behind in apartments. Crazy stuff. As she shared her different experiences, the spirit was really strong. Elder Bingham admitted later that he was like holding back tears the whole time and that everything she talked about was things he felt like he was going through... I was glad he admitted it first because I was the same way hahahaha.
It made me feel pretty stinking lucky to be in the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. I can't complain about a thing. And I can work a lot harder than I am.
My email might not make it sound like it, but it was another pretty slow week. We are gonna try to "go ham" this week. Hit the pavement hard. Not seeing "success" in the traditional sense hasn't bothered me as much, this week, but I feel like we can still do more than what we are doing. A part of this has been changing the way I look at success.
Obviously, baptizing someone is a success. Finding new people to teach is a success, giving out books of mormon is a success. Measurable, quantifiable, good stuff. But getting let down because we haven't been able to do much of that doesn't help anyone. So I've decided to measure success in: positive, meaningful interactions with people, and in the miracles that I notice happen each day. Feeling good about the work we put in at the end of the day has to become the real measure of success. On a mission, in life, anywhere.
I hope you liked whatever portions of this email you read haha. Sorry I'm so long winded, there's just so much good stuff to share!
Here's to even more of that next week!
Do not send photos of ham
Do not send actual ham
866 Schilling Rd, apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
Hey howdy hey! It's your favorite long-winded missionary again!
This week seemed really long, actually. But I can't believe another transfer is over! I'll get the big news out right up front: Elder Bingham and I are staying in Collierville for another 6 weeks! After this transfer, I will have spent 6 months in Collierville! 4th of July to Thanksgiving. A quarter of my mission. Dadgum, boi.
On Monday, we went to downtown Memphis. Elder Bingham hadn't been yet, and it had been a transfer since my last time there (because we didn't have a car and Brother Boggs was out of town/working haha). Sister Michaelis, the bishop's wife took us to the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis. It's like the Space Needle or Washington Monument or Golden Gate Bridge of Memphis. It's a giant pyramid building that used to be a basketball arena, that was bought by Bass Pro and turned into a giant store, with ponds, a bowling alley, a hotel, and a few restaurants in there. It also houses the tallest free standing elevator! Which we rode up to the top for a pretty fun view of Memphis.
I have this weird thing that I started doing a few years ago. In notable places, I'll use the restroom just to say I used the restroom up there. So I can now add the Memphis Pyramid to my list including the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the New World Trade Center. So now when you look at those buildings from here on out, you'll think to yourself "oh man Oliver Dahl has used a bathroom in there before."
After the pyramid, she took us to lunch on Beale St., and we ate at the Blues City Cafe which was dang good, dadgum, boi.
And then Tuesday came along, and I had our last District Meeting of the transfer! I tried to do a scavenger hunt type thing, which I think worked! For the sisters, anyway haha. Their competitors, Elders Wilson and Mair, had some trouble haha, but it was kinda fun.
The rest of that day was pretty good. We went to teach Anette, and we gave her a priesthood blessing for some of her chronic back pain. It was a neat experience. I didn't feel like I could bless her to just be miraculously healed all at once, but felt that the miracle would come for her as she exercised her faith, and promised her that in the blessing. Afterwards, she said her back wasn't hurting anymore. (Whoa.)
She went to her own church this week, though. So... We will see if she is still recognizing the power of the blessing when we see her on Tuesday. It's been frustrating trying to help her understand that this is where she needs to be. The social influence of her current church is very strong on her. And it's hard to blame her, she's like the only black person in the entire congregation when she comes. If she were further into Memphis, the wards there are more diverse. But alas.
Later that day while tracting, I thought for an instant that we found our next golden investigator. I literally felt tears of joy beginning to form. Yes! We have been working and working, and dont have anyone to teach to show for it, and now the next golden investigator finds us! As we were tracting a guy in his pickup truck stopped in the middle of the slow neighborhood road to chat with us. "Y'all Latter Day Saints?" We responded affirmatively and he talked about how in the past he'd had doubts about his Baptist faith, and had looked into the LDS church for a while. "I'm on way to something right now, but you'll have to come over sometime!" What a friendly guy!
And then the 180 happened. Idk what triggered it, but we spent the next 15 solid minutes talking with this guy in the drivers seat of his truck, and him trying to use scriptures to "prove" why the Book of Mormon isn't the word of God. Mainly he just complained about how there's no archeological evidence for it, [because supposedly, he wouldn't believe in the Bible if there weren't archeological evidence for that?] and just tried tearing us a new one. Poor Elder Bingham just kinda stood there like I did when Elder Johnson and I got in bashes. But I was ready for this guy. There was nothing he said I didn't have an answer for. Trouble is, he didn't like giving me time to answer.
This is called "Bible Bashing" which is kind of a misnomer, because that's what people think we are doing. But boy-oh-boy, if I thought for an instant the Bible went against what the Book of Mormon taught, or vice versa, I wouldn't be carrying the Bible with me everywhere I go.
The guy drove off, after praying that we will "find the truth," and giving us his business card in case we "wanna meet up for coffee sometime and chat." What a Jackwagon haha. Coffee? He really doesn't know anything about us, does he? I'm super tempted to call him back, but like... We said a prayer there on the sidewalk afterward to invite the spirit back. "Bible bashes" are oddly faith promoting, in that you really see how Satan convinces people to put limits on what God can do, and you see just how necessary the restoration is, but the Spirit isn't there, which is a bummer cause I can remember a lot more scriptures when it's with me.
In happier news, I won 2/2 rounds of bananagrams this week! I love that game.
On exchanges this week, I went to Southaven, Mississippi with one of the Zone Leaders, while the other stayed in Collierville w Elder Bingham. We had dinner with this inactive returned missionary of only about 4-5 years. He and his wife were just super cool, really awesome, incredibly kind people. We were over there for a few hours, but it all felt like time well spent. He taught us his family's favorite card game, called Hand and Foot. There are 6 decks of cards involved, and I got hooked. I didn't win a single round, but it is a fun game. It's like Phase 10 meets Castle. And there was celestial Caramel Apple Dump Cake involved, so that helped.
(P.S. can someone Google this game to see if it's one their family just made up, or if it's a real thing? There are so many rules it seems like Calvinball in playing card form, but it's actually super fun haha)
The Zone Leaders have these Batman/Spider-Man sunglass masks that Elder Jennings and I wore on the way back to Collierville. The goal was to look out the window at people to make them laugh, but I was the one who ended up laughing. I couldn't keep a straight face for nothing. But did succeed in making some guy laugh so that was good haha.
After teaching Wendy the Word of Wisdom this week (which was interesting because giving up coffee will be a tough one!) We decided to walk home. We got a right up to the member's home we have been teaching her in, and didn't have our bikes, but there are houses most of the way back down to our apartment. Kinda. On the particular street we took back, there *were* houses all the way down... And the property they were on. So probably like a dozen houses a mile haha. These places were huge. The biggest houses I've knocked on.
Pretty much nobody was home, but one of the flew people who opened the door actually asked us some solid questions, and though we had differing opinions, was polite, respectful, asked meaningful questions, and we left on good terms, feeling enlightened! That's how disagreements should be handled!!! He's my favorite person this week.
Yesterday, we had our 2nd and final Missionary Musical Fireside, which was good! None of the people we invited came though, which... was bad. Kind of a bummer. But it was still a good event.
Anyway, there has been some good momentum built up in Collierville. As a mission, a lot is changing! We are focusing more on the needs of people, and on spending time meaningfully rather than trying to stay busy, which I like, but it is definitely a mindset adjustment. It's hard to stay busy in Collierville, when no one is home in the early afternoon. But meaningful activities... I think we can do that.
One statistic that was shared is that someone, on average, has to have 7 good contacts with the missionaries, or with members of the church, before they agree to meet with missionaries. So every time we have had a good contact this week, I have been thinking "6 more to go!" Which is a better way of thinking about things than "dang, another rejection" haha.
Anyway, I'm excited for the next bit in Collierville! I've come to really love it here. I just wish there were more people for us to teach.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!!
If you wanna keep the mailman busy:
866 Schilling Rd. Apt. #103
Collierville, TN, 38017
Or, if you want to keep the NSA busy:
Well, it's been another kinda tough week here in Collierville, Tennessee. I feel like I don't have a ton to report on this time, so I'll just have a bunch of random stories from this week. One piece of good news is that our investigator, whose husband told her she can't be baptized, has softened a little and will let her be baptized! ...After she waits a full year. So that's a good change.
We taught our investigator about tithing, fasting, and church callings this week. We are hoping to finish all the lessons before her set baptismal date in late november, and convince her to move the date up.
One last thing before I move onto the fun stories - on exchanges, we got chatting w this nice guy whose door we knocked on. He said he thought it was crazy to dismiss the idea of living prophets, and accepted a Book of Mormon, so that was good! That doesn't happen very often, unfortunately haha.
Okay, fun stories!
Last p day, desperate for an excuse to leave our apartment, we helped one of the priests in the ward build a Warped Wall, from American Ninja Warrior. All from scratch. He finished it later this week, and it looks good!
We had our 3rd district meeting on Tuesday. I kinda put it together last minute, (or at least the day before) but I thought it was probably our best district meeting so far. Had some good discussion and all that. Our district is pretty awesome.
We were taken out to dinner one night to tag along for the Whitaker's son's 13th birthday! He's a super cool kid. We went to Firebird Steakhouse, and there wasn't much on the menu under $20. There was a group of about ten of us. The bill was like $350, and Bro. Whitaker added an even hundred dollar tip on top of that. He does a lot of real estate in the Memphis area and does very well, living next door to Mike Conley, who just signed like a $100+ million 5 year contract for the Memphis Grizzlies or something. Anyway, seeing that kind of generosity really makes me want to get to a point in my life where I can leave hundred dollar tips.
Had dinner with another family, and the mother told me she had read my book, "Lies"! A book club in Collierville is reading it this month, so that's pretty exciting! A bunch of the ward members have been reading it and spreading the word! They've got me feeling like David Archeletta or something.
On our way out of the apartment complex, I almost got hit by a cement truck on my bike! Just kidding, it wasn't that dramatic. They're doing construction next door, and the road is divided so one side of the road goes one way, there's a big divider w trees, etc., and then the other side of the road goes the other way. Well, this big truck hauling cement comes going down the wrong freaking side of the road. Oh well, I make eye contact w the driver, nod, and make my way along the side of the truck, expecting him to give me the 3 feet on the road *required by law.* lol nope. If anything he starts hugging the side of the road. So now my handlebars are getting really close to the bed of the truck, and my front tire is about scraping the side of the road. I slam on the breaks while this guy edges past me, rather than hit the truck or ride up on the gutter and fall into the truck. That annoyed the heck out of me, cause I kinda really hate biking, and that is without the threat of giant vehicles killing me stacked on top of my own clumsiness.
It was another hot week. Idk how to describe it, Cause it has started to feel like fall, but it is still so hot outside. There are leaves on the ground and a breeze, but we come in from biking just drenched haha. It has started to cool down a little bit, but even this week it says the temperatures go back up to 80 day by day.
Anyway, I survived that encounter, and then we went tracting in this cursed neighborhood. People would open the door before we even get to it and tell us they aren't interested. We had a cat following us around for a while, and it darted into one house of a lady telling us she wasn't interested... twice. So she had to go chase after it and throw it outside again. That was funny. We said a prayer with one lady which was interesting. Usually when people ask, hand holding is involved, but she just stuck her arm out and we put our hands in the middle like we were gonna do a team cheer haha. So that was different.
We knocked a lot of doors this week. On one day, we spent a quick afternoon in one neighborhood, knocking 81 doors. Of those, only 19 doors opened. 16 of the people listened to us long enough for us to ask if we could share a message, and 0 of them wanted to hear us out. We had one guy let us in and give us water, which was awesome. He was a pretty cool muslim from India, and gave us an English copy of the Quran. He found a verse in there about how "God doesn't have offspring so Jesus was only a prophet, etc." We looked past the difference and asked him questions and there are a lot of similarities, honestly. We traded him his Quran for my Book of Mormon haha. So I spent the rest of the day knocking doors w my bible and the Quran which was kinda fun haha.
I read some of the Quran when we got back that night, and there were some cool thoughts and good ideas, and it's clear that anyone who claims they aren't God fearing, peaceful people, hasn't read what they believe. (And for that matter, neither have the people who are the reason for people thinking they aren't peaceful people!) While I think there are great concepts in there to follow, I could tell that the spirit that I'm used to feeling when I read the scriptures isn't there. I'm thankful for the Holy Ghost that helps us recognize truth and that testifies of Christ.
On Sunday, I spoke in church! I didn't quite take up the full 15 minutes alotted to me, but I thought I did pretty dang good, not to toot my own horn or anything. But since I've been focused on preparing for that all week, I'm once again left today with not much planned for our district meeting tomorrow. Dang.
And finally, after church yesterday, we got a ride up with the missionaries from Holly Springs to another church building, where we practiced for the musical fireside for a few hours, had dinner, and then performed! We had invited like 6 or 7 people to this, and only Anette came. But I think she enjoyed it, so that was good. Still disappointing to not see anyone else, there. They missed out, cause it was awesome.
Another missionary said that the gift of tongues must apply to music, too, cause it's the only thing that could have made us sound good haha. I thought that was funny and probably true! Cause I am not a singer at allllllll but we sounded good! There were about 200 people there, so not as many people as there were chairs set up (ouch!) but everyone seemed to enjoy it. We get to do it again this weekend further into Memphis!
Well, this is the last P Day of the transfer! This Saturday, we will get an email telling us transfer news--whether we are staying here in Collierville, or where we are going and with whom. If I stay one more transfer, that would be a full 6 months in Collierville, which I would really love! (Though I might love it more if there was more traction and progress happening.) After the email on Saturday, we have Sunday to get packed, and then early Monday morning we meet at the church building in Memphis. So it is quick! I'd love one more transfer here, but we will see!
I hope you all have a fantastic week!
905 Kierre Dr., North Little Rock, AR 72116
(Different address in case I get transferred, so letters go to the mission office and can be forwarded, rather than sent somewhere I am not anymore)
So many things happened this week that it was very difficult to title this email.
Other key points from the week: My 2nd District Meeting, bad news from a few investigators, Area Book 2.0 memes, an expensive steakhouse, awesome new friends, getting chastened by a German member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and a fire alarm going off during church.
Before getting into that, some random thoughts from this week:
I have decided our upstairs neighbors either have a horse in their apartment, or else various hopscotch courts on which they frequently jump, about 23/7.
I think I've had more hamburgers in the past few weeks than I usually do in several months. Not one of them has been bad, so I can't complain one bit. But there's been a lotta burgers.
Okay, onto the meat.
(Well, not yet, that part comes later. First up is District Meeting!)
My 2nd District Meeting as the District Leader went pretty well, I thought! I don't dare poll the district to see my approval rating, though. Coming up with stuff to teach without being assigned a topic is hard!
We went to Firehouse Subs afterward for lunch, and a nice lady, not of our faith, bought each of us a cookie while we were waiting for our sandwiches. What?? How sweet is that??
Later that day, we went to contact 2 of our new investigators. 1 wasn't home, and the 2nd was. His wife was outside and told us to wait because he had something for us. A few minutes later he comes out with the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet we gave him. Yup. He explained his wife didn't want them in the house. Ugh.
Elder Bingham and I talked about the lesson we were supposed to learn from that experience and I was reminded of a funny story from last week I forgot to tell.
After I'd given this guy my Book of Mormon, we kept tracting and ran into this other guy who must have had a bad experience with missionaries before. He came out ready to go, arguing with us about grace vs. works, the classic boring bash stuff. He wouldn't let us get a word in. "I don't wanna none of whatever's in your stupid book," he told us, going as far as to jab the cover of my remaining book with his finger. I raised an eyebrow and held the book so he could read the cover. ("The Holy Bible") he stammered and went back inside pretty quick after that hahaha.
So we didn't get any words or defense in, but I still felt like victory was unquestionably ours. Maybe that experience will make him think about how he interprets the bible or something, I dunno. It's a funny story for us, at least.
We spent some time tracting but it felt like no one was home. Thankfully, the day the guy gave us back the Book of Mormon ended on a slightly better note. (This is where the meat comes in.)
The Smiths took us out to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse, and (after giving us a ~~$200~~ gift card to Subway...!! SERIOUSLY WHAT?!) told us to not look at the prices on the menu, and even ordered extra stuff for us to take home. So after a steak and a slab of ribs and mashed potatoes that I couldn't finish, he got us each two (!!) pieces of cake to save for later. The mashed potatoes and fried green potatoes he ordered as an appetizer blew my mind. (34/10, will probably crave for the rest of my life) Goodness, what awesome people, though. Apparently he makes a good chunk of change visiting/supervising different nuclear power plants.
It amazes me how well the people here, (and God, ultimately) treats us. We're trying I guess, but we are still just more lucky and blessed than we can ever earn or work for. I wish we had more to show for all that we are doing!
The next day, we taught our most promising investigator I've talked about before. The lesson went well, but we learned that her husband told her she can't be baptized. And she wants to be, pretty bad. Dangit. What's with people's spouses keeping them from the restored gospel?? So that was a big time bummer. We will continue to meet with her, and she will keep trying to soften her husband's heart and show him that the gospel isn't a scary thing.
That night, I got a much needed haircut and felt a lot lighter and more good-looking. My bicycle helmet needed some tightening the next day lol.
And then there was Thursday!
In the morning, there was a voice mail from our Zone Leaders, which was a scary thing to see at first. But it was an invitation to come help take down the Memphis Temple for its closure and remodeling over the next ~20 months. Elder Bingham and I were both stoked at the prospect and managed to get a last minute ride that morning from Brother Gaar.
We showed up and saw that the cornerstone had been removed, and parts of the ceiling were out. The temple was pretty empty and weird feeling. We were led to the attic of the temple, where we were helped move spare parts and excess building supplies out to a trailer, or to the trash. After a while of that we took a break in the empty celestial room. (The most sacred and reverent part of the temple, supposed to be a model for what heaven will be like.) The spirit was definitely still there. But it was different. Wallpaper had been peeled back in one spot, revealing the mold that was the impetus for the remodel.
The temple had been modeled after those in the west, but hadn't been adapted for the humid climate, so the mold was pretty bad. They will do quite a bit of other remodeling, though, too.
After the break, we helped take each crystal from the chandeliers off one at a time and roll them in bubble wrap. There were a lot of little crystals, but it was a really neat experience.
There was a crew of other workers there, and I heard a few of them talking about having just finished the new Provo MTC buildings I enjoyed, and another guy, upon hearing I was from Boise, said he just finished working on the Meridian, Idaho Temple! That was really cool. (Apparently the open house public viewing of that starts this week, so if you're in the area, please go for me!!!)
That evening we did some biking and decided to visit this older lady we'd chatted with a couple times before. Her daughter was there, and her two sons were there, too, plus a girlfriend to one of them. We had an awesome, normal conversation for the better part of 2 hours, ranging from travel to Alternative Music, (!!!) and concluding in a thought from the Book of Mormon they all seemed to enjoy. They then gave us a ride home in their minivan with our bikes in the back since it was dark and they (like us) didn't want us riding back the 3-4 miles to our apartment on the same roads as Memphis drivers haha.
On the ride back, the lady's daughter thanked us for bringing the spirit into their home, and talked about how much her sons kinda needed it. As she dropped us off, she told us any time we are in the area and need a ride, we can knock on the door and ask, "like we're family." That was so nice. Idk, that just meant a lot. They're really great people. Unfortunately her sons and the girlfriend aren't local, and have gone back to school since that visit. Hopefully we made an impression on them, so the next time missionaries come knocking on their door, they'll let them in!
We use an app called "AreaBook" to plan our day, and it has lists of members and investigators and so on. Well, this week the old version got deleted from our tablets and replaced with a "new and improved" version. It's kinda the worst, least intuitive thing ever. It hurts to plan and takes twice as long. In spare time before bed, we have enjoyed reading the reviews on Google Play. It kinda became like "missionary twitter," and the reviews page was the birth of the AreaBook2.0 memes. I was proud of my addition, "'No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing...,' but AreaBook2.0 might! Within the first day there were over a hundred pretty funny reviews, but they keep getting deleted haha.
So anyway, that's been painful to get used to.
On Friday, Elder Klebengat of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to the Memphis side of the mission! It was awesome. He's from Germany and didnt really mince words haha. There was some chastening that happened, but it was good. I left feeling motivated and inspired and just amazed by this guy. He could name a half dozen scriptures for anything. He blew my mind with scriptures about our premortal life, and how our calling as missionaries transcends and precedes our mortal life. Dope stuff.
When we got home, Elder Bingham and I agreed on how going comatose like some people in the Book of Mormon did sounded pretty good right then. There was so much wisdom to digest! I think I'll be referring to my notes for a long time.
That night for dinner, we had 12/10 homemade pizza rolls at the apartment of a young couple, with another couple from the ward and their kids. We played "Last Word" which was a new game to me, and a lot of fun. I didn't come in last place, so that's a good change in pace haha. The husband of the visiting couple, Bro. Stanbaugh, was on the cover of the October 2003 New Era Magazine. :)
On Saturday, we met with our investigator, and she pushed her baptismal date back to late November. :( It's whatever, if she will be more ready then, then that will be good for her. Nobody else we tried that day was home/answered the door. That night we had Red Robin with this awesome Indian guy who became a member of the church after having the impression that he should just go to the church building one day. He showed up on Sunday and was told the meeting was over. So he came really early the next Sunday, and waited a while for anyone else to show up. Next thing you know, the missionaries in India are teaching him, and then he is going out teaching with them as a member! :)
She thankfully came to church on Sunday, and that less active lady who we visited before conference right as she was praying for answers also came! I've never seen her at church before so it was awesome to see her there, even if she ducked out early with her kids.
Oh, and the fire alarm went off! As we were evacuating sacrament meeting, it was discovered a little kid had just pulled the alarm so we went back and finished the meeting haha.
Anyway, it was a busy week, but it didn't feel super productive. Our baptismal hopes got pushed back a little, and we didn't find new people to teach, but it was still good.
This week is my 3rd district meeting (yikes I need to prepare a discussion by tomorrow again ahhhhh) and then our Missionary Musical Fireside thing is next week, which should be awesome!
I hope you all have a delightful week and are enjoying more fall-like temperatures than we are!
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866 Schilling Rd, apt.103
Collierville, TN 38017
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I feel like I haven't had a "normal missionary day" since last transfer. It's been another weird, busy, week! There were a couple "in the right place at the right time" moments that help me know I'm doing God's work and that He is leading us, no matter how weird the rest of the week is.
First up on the Weekly Email Agenda:
I had my first District Meeting of the transfer! Which is significant because I am the District Leader and had to teach for a good little section of the 1.5 hr block. It went well, though! I based the instruction off of Matthew 10:16, which is Jesus' advice to his disciples as He sends them out into the world. He tells them "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
So we discussed the symbolism of each of those animals and then looked for other biblical "spirit animals" in the scriptures that we can learn from. I think it was good??
We forgot to do a district photo after the meeting so... we will do that this week.
Later that day, we had about an hour long block in our day to get to this lady's house, hope she was home to teach her, and then get back to our apartment to be picked up for another teaching appointment. We biked out to this lady's house, thankfully not too far away, and discovered she wasn't home. Dangit.
So, in what felt like the hottest day in a long time, we biked back to our apartment. As I got on the sidewalk and rounded the corner, I saw that there were sprinklers going off over the sidewalk. I might have been able to dodge them by biking down the hill into the road, but... I just went for it and biked through the sprinklers. I was sweating so much already it wasn't like I could get *more* wet. I was gonna have to change my shirt at the apartment anyway. It felt good haha.
At the apartment, we stood in front of a big fan on full blast for a while and then were picked up for our next lesson, with our investigator. We taught the word of wisdom and she told us she had quit smoking and drinking cold turkey long ago! So that helps. We are hoping to baptize her at the end of this month, but we will see if she decides to keep coming to church regularly.
In terms of other lessons, we had a 2.5 hour long one with another investigator. She wants to be baptized and knows that it is right, but is worried about how her family will react. Her kids have been coming to church events and have a lot of Mormon friends now, so I don't think they will be as opposed to her decision as she thinks they will. Her husband on the other hand will pose a greater challenge. We are hoping to be able to teach the rest of her family - at least from a "this is why your mom/wife is making the decision she is" informational standpoint. So we will see. She is awesome, though, and knows this is all true.
Elder Bingham had a doctors appointment just for a prescription renewal thing, but the mission nurse set the appointment in West Memphis? (Which is not in Memphis... It's a separate town, and in the state of Arkansas, just across the Mississippi river from Memphis, TN.) It's kind of a dump of a town haha, so it's charming in that sense. And it's a 45 minute drive away. An awesome nuclear physicist (?) ward member drove us out there and back for the 30 min. apppintment. It was at a church building, one of those cute half church buildings without a gym, and only a small chapel.
Another night, the Collierville 1st Ward had a Book of Mormon fireside. Literally. At the Gaar's farm, members of the ward surrounded a campfire and had a few people talk about reading the whole Book of Mormon between the April and October sessions of General Conference. It was really good, and not just because Brother Gaar made venison stew using deer he had shot on the property haha.
Like I said earlier, there were a couple really cool experiences we had this week in regards to being at the right place at the right time.
1. When we were finally able to do some solid tracting after all the busy-ness and craziness of the week, we hadn't found so much as one new person to teach all week. Which isn't unusual, but it is discouraging. We were doing one loop of a neighborhood, and it was looking kinda dead. As we were walking though, we saw a guy reaching down under the drivers seat of his car, struggling with something. I turned to Elder Bingham and shrugged, bracing myself. (I've been trying to improve in my street contacting abilities. I'm not a fan of it because I feel like I'm interrupting people, and it's easier to talk to people when you knock on their door because they already expect you to say something. But it can be a more effective way of finding people to teach.)
So I gave a "hello, how's it going?" type thing and an older gentleman stood up and said hi. I asked what he was working on and he said he was trying to get one of those rubber floor mat things back into his car. He was clearly struggling. I told him I could help, expecting all the while that he would say something along the lines of "Oh, that's fine, I've got it covered, thanks though," but he didn't protest, so I quickly snapped in the floor mat. (The poor guy was trying to put it in sidewise.)
We shook hands and introduced ourselves, and asked if we could share a message. He shrugged and said if we didn't mind standing in his driveway, we could then and there. We got to know him a little, and discovered he'd just remarried after his first wife had passed away. We shared some of the restoration and plan of salvation with him, and after a smooth transition from Elder Bingham (way to go, Greenie!) We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon to read, too. He said we could come back. Yay!
If we hadn't picked that street to tract, at that time, starting on that side and not going backwards, and if the person who we initially tried had been home after all, we wouldn't have found Fred.
2. We went to help our investigator figure out General Conference on her TV, on Saturday morning but she didn't answer the door. (She was probably still asleep... can't blame her.) So we went over to one of her neighbors houses, a (kinda crazy) less active lady to tell her about General Conference, too. We knocked on the door and she was almost in tears as soon as she saw us. She told us she had just been in the kitchen praying to God and asking him "why?" in response to all of the trials she is going through. And then we knocked on the door to tell her about General Conference. I was able to look her in the eye and promise her that God will answer her questions through His prophets during GenConf. It wasn't me making that promise, though. :)
So that was cool, and helped set the mood for the rest of the conference weekend. It's different hearing the talks with investigators in mind, wondering how this could help them, or what they would learn from this talk, and so on.
We watched all the morning/afternoon sessions at Brother Boggs' house, with various board and card games between the sessions. I didn't win a single one haha. (It's just a weakness to keep me humble and to prevent me from rising into pride, that's all)
The 2nd Ward had a "Priesthood Session Tailgate" before the Priesthood Session, involving burgers and brats, guac, jalapeno poppers, jambalaya, and so on. It was good stuff, and really fun to see the awesome folks of the Collierville 2nd Ward again.
As we sung "How Firm a Foundation" during that session at the church, I turned around to look at the sparse couple dozen Priesthood holders in attendance in the chapel that evening and felt the spirit and God's love for these people pretty powerfully. What an awesome part of the world, and what a privelage it is to be able to serve here, alongside these incredible people.
Anyway, conference was awesome, 10/10 would recommend. You can watch it all on lds.org, now.
We have another kinda weird week coming up since Elder Kliebengat of the Seventy is coming on Friday. And I have yet to prepare a district meeting lesson for tomorrow. (yikes!) But it should still be good. I'm excited to have an extra day or two on a slightly more regular schedule this week. :)
Enjoy General Conference if you haven't yet, and have a stellar week!
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866 Schilling Rd, Apt. #103
Collierville, TN 38017
P.S. RIP Ole Miss, Alabama destroyed them. (We caught part of a football game Saturday night in this sno cone shop after the Priesthood Session. I'm about as apathetic as it gets when it comes to football but they got whooped)
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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Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116