It is with mixed emotion that I share with you that I took a nap after our study schedule today, and I woke up at 11:30, some 3 hours later. I've been fighting a bit of a cough this week, and running on fumes, but the nap helped lots, even if it took up a big part of our P day haha!
But anyway. We had a pretty good week.
On Tuesday, we had our MLC meeting which was awesome as always. I love those so much. It gets me PUMPED!
We had dinner with the Neilson family that night, and they made some super yummy chicken noodle soup and cornbread, and it was just what I needed.
It's definitely been a fall-weather week. The trees are just starting to change color, and every day I'm starting to think we are in "peak fall" until the next day. Wearing a sweater and a jacket in Arkansas is so much nicer than sweating through your tie.
We met a cool guy named Bryan who actually grew up going to our church for a few years. He welds boats and hunts and is a pretty cool, goofy guy. He's been reading the Book of Mormon, too!
I went on exchanges with the Assistants this week, and went to downtown Little Rock with Elder Cepeda. He's from Mexico and cracks me up. We had a good time, talking with a crazy person who ordered a Book of Mormon because the angel Gabriel told him to. (Hey, whatever gets him to read it works for us! But when he started talking about listening to the crows, getting heavenly currency, and becoming the world's first trillionaire, we just went along with it until we could leave haha. There are some crazy people out here.)
We had better luck knocking doors in another neighborhood. In fact, we only knocked on one door before dinner time, because a really cool agnostic guy answered the door and we talked with him for a while. He ended up being wide-eyed intrigued by the Book of Mormon, and it makes me wonder how anybody can possibly react with anything other than "whoa! That sounds so cool!" Because seriously... what isn't cool about Jesus visiting more of His children?
Friday was kind of a mess. I'd gotten back to Benton the night before, and we started the day out helping our investigator, Craig, move some stuff into storage while he moves to Little Rock. We are sad to see him go. But it'll be good for him. We postponed our district council an hour or so today (after having to postpone it for several days because of conflicting exchange schedules). District Council was good, though. We talked about unity. How can I not love these other missionaries? As different as we all are, the amount of things we have in common as missionaries is astounding!
We gave out a bunch of Books of Mormon that afternoon. 1 to a mom who used to be a funeral director, and to 2 other women who were walking around an apartment complex. We got confused for Jehovah's Witnesses (by 2 actual JW's haha) and offered them a Book of Mormon, too, but they politely declined.
On Saturday we had a zillion plans and none of them happened, but we were still so busy! After 2 fallen-through appointments, we decided to try some people we met a long time ago. Not home, not home, and... oh! Sitting outside with his wife and 5 out of 6 of his kids! We talked with them for a while. They are super funny and really nice, and the dad was eeally intrigued by the Spirit World. (Because it makes sense and is a missing part of the puzzle for people who try to explain that God is loving but that people who never heard about Him are damned.) That was a definite highlight of the week. I really really hope we will be able to teach them more!
We left there at 3:00, and had a baptism in our zone we needed to get to on the other side of town that started at 3! Oops! We hurried as fast as Tiwi would allow us and got there just in time for the curtains to part and the baptism to begin, but... There wasn't enough water in there, so they filled it up more and then performed the baptism. Two sets of sisters in our had people that were being baptized that day! It's just so cool to see the light in those people's eyes!
After another baptism the next day in our zone, we had 6 this month. Our goal had been 3, so we are feeling pretty good right now!
That night was our ward's trunk or treat, which was pretty fun. But we got there late and so the only things left to put on the burgers (cause yes, it was mice enough outside to grill) were iceberg lettuce, mustard, and chili. Which wouldn't be something I'd pitch to a burger joint as their next specialty menu item or anything.
After that, we had a "Zone Skype call" to just share some of the takeaways we had from MLC. But most of the zone was at our church for the trunk or treat anyway, so it was almost like a mini zone conference, and the remaining 3 companionships just Skyped in.
And then Sunday was the primary program! Which was super cute, with all the little kids singing. Unfortunately, none of our investigators came, or even responded to our invitations. I was getting kinda mad at one in particular, but she was in the ER apparently, so I mean I guess that's a fair excuse.
We had a late lunch with the Stake President and his family. They are awesome. And kinda goals. (Without the whole "being stake president" thing necessarily haha)
Tried a bunch more people and planted some good seeds! Benton is awesome! Even if people don't like coming to church here. We get transfer emails on Saturday and I'm hoping Elder Bolos and I are staying another transfer. We will see!
This is a great work! I'm happy to be a part of it and to wear out my life in the South for this part of my time on earth. It's hard, it's tiring, but it's so rewarding.
1916 Brandon Rd. Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
We started the week out with some pumpkin festivities. The original plan was to carve pumpkins, but enough of the zone complained about that idea that we came up with a bunch of games involving pumpkins that included everything but carving them. (Including, but not limited to: hiding them around the church building, and rolling them across the gym floor through goals.) So that was pretty fun.
We had an awesome lesson that night with the gal and her husband who figured out America is the promised land. One of the best lessons of my mission, I think. They told us we were the 5th people in their home in the 8 years they have lived there. Including their mother [in law] down the street. So... yeah. An actual quote: "I feel like... God is telling me I should be baptized, because I opened the door for y'all to begin with. I don't even open the door for the UPS man." They are super excited about the gospel, but not as excited about the idea of coming to church. Like, at all. They say they're introverted, but it seems like by saying that, they not only define themselves but also limit themselves, because they're seriously the coolest people, and would love church if they opened themselves up to the possibility.
That was a great start to the week! The next day, we went to the Spanish District Meeting and then I went w Elder Ramirez and did some rainy trailer park finding. He had to do all the talking, and I could manage a "Mucho gusto, hermana!" at the end of a visit. But it got my Spanish brain moving and I can almost bear my testimony and pray in Spanish!
We got in contact with one of their investigators that had fallen off the map for a while and had a good visit with him. He started reading the Book of Mormon for the first time that night, so that was really cool.
The next morning, we did service for a lady in the Spanish branch, rolling up and throwing away a big above ground pool full of green water and acorns. That was kinda fun, and we were more than paid back with this super yummy peruvian soup she made. Ahh. Food is so good.
That night, Elder Bolos and I were able to teach a part of a combined activity with the youth. Man what a bunch of hooligans. But they've got some solid testimonies buried down in there. We feel a lot closer to the ward, now.
Thursday was great because we had a new member lesson with the guy in the screamo band. He lives like a 25 minute drive away into the country. We got out there after dinner, right at dusk. And we had our lesson outside in the cold around a table on their deck with a little campfire to our backs. (That's a lot of prepositional phrases!) Then we roasted Smores after the lesson and got sent home with the extra stuff. Aw. Yeah. They're the coolest.
Oh yeah but our gas light turned on on our way out to see him, and so at like 8:50 We were trying to find a gas station in these boonies, and found a sketchy one that eventually just told us to ask the cashier for help, but it was closed. RIP. But we were prospered to be able to make it to another one. Phew!
We weekly planned on Friday. Had an actual member-present lesson. I haven't had a lot of those, but it went pretty well! It rained a lot that day (and throughout this week in general) but we stayed dry thanks to having a car. We were spoiled. And then we got even more spoiled cause we visited a member and were sent home with a super yummy loaf of homemade bread. AND a grocery sack full of huge Idaho potatoes. My joy was full.
On Saturday, we had our interviews with President Hansen and they were great and comforting and empowering! Our zone is doing so well lately.
We had a Plan of Salvation lesson with a cool cat named Tyler (he was a person, not a cat) and then had some tacos at Tacos 4 Life (yeehaw) and then helped inflate the member who took us there's tires. Then we moved a bunk bed box upstairs for an office couple in Benton, and they took us out for ice cream after.
Man, Benton has been good to me!
Sunday was a rollercoaster!
We waited til the sacrament portion of the meeting outside in the 40-something degree weather for our investigator and her daughter's to come, but they never did. During sacrament meeting, she texted saying they'd just woken up, and asked if there was a second service. The Little Rock ward meets at 12, so we told her about that, and... she didn't come! Gah. 2 disappointments in one day. But when we stopped by, she had already arranged to have her daughter again next weekend just for church, even though it was her ex's turn to have her for the weekend. So yay, that is a blessing. And next week is the primary program, so it will be a great first week for her to come.
And then this morning, I got a crappy 14$ haircut at great clips, we played frisbee golf as a district, and then went to Zaxby's. So a mostly good day haha.
A bit at a time, the work here in Benton is moving forward! There is a power in the gospel that you just can't get anywhere else, or any other way.
This is the best! Live the gospel running full speed ahead.
Love ya bunches,
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
To whom it may concern:
There is nothing to be concerned about, everything's great!
We had a tough week, but as ever, not without its miracles and good times!
On Tuesday we did some extra studies, preparing for our zone conference instruction and writing new and improved questions to use to gather information for our meeting with the Stake President. We then went out to find some new people to teach and... our tire was losing pressure. So we swapped a few quarters for some air and went on our way.
On Wednesday, I stayed in Benton on exchanges with Elder Draper! We had a great time! Spent a lot of time tracting on a very beautiful day, and didn't have much luck, but one guy said we could come back, so that's something! We also visited the lady who believes America is the foretold promised land and shared a few more scriptures with her (Ether 2:12, 2 Nephi 1) which she really enjoyed. She said she feels like the Book of Mormon fills in some big missing puzzle pieces for her. So uh... if America being the promised land fills in a big missing piece of the Bible for you, then... Wait til you read the rest of the book!
That night we did some service for President Jones, of the mission presidency, and were also fed some grilled cheese sammiches. It's been a rainy week and is still kinda drizzly and so grilled cheese sammiches just sound great all the time.
Thursday was also awesome because it was zone conference day! I got to conduct the first half of it, and Elder Bolos and I were able to instruct for a while after lunch on goal-setting. I thought we did pretty good haha. Learned a lot from Pres. Hansen and the other mission leaders as usual. This is the best dang place and time to be serving a mission ever.
After Zone Conference, we hurried to southern Benton to try some people, but had no luck. We met a little Hispanic family and played catch with their little kids and their neighbor friends, which was pretty fun. They accepted our offer to come back the next day to help them rake leaves! Last week, our car thermometer peaked at 104, this week we've almost hit 52, or half of last week! But it's mostly been in the mid 60s with rain and clouds and cool breezes. It's wonderful until the rain hits, as a missionary.
We hurried to a dinner appointment, where the mom complained that the devil was "working the hell out of this house," with some trouble making kids. Before I could catch myself, I said, "Well, Jesus can work the hell out of your house!" Which she thought was funny enough to choke on her food at. Oops. But it's true!
We then hurried back to the church for our meeting with the Stake and Mission Presidents. So many good people! That went well and then we got home and basically collapsed. We sat in a chair for like 85% of the day but it was exhausting in a good kind of way!
The next day, we did rake leaves for that family. Unfortunately, the dad wasn't interested in hearing us out, even after 3 hours of packing grocery cart load after grocery cart load of leaves from their front yard hahaha. Oh well. We got to help. And it was fun, and got us out of the shirt and tie.
We then had to drop our car off at Firestone to gey the tire checked out and an oil change, so we went to a fast food place next door and tried to weekly plan but really were only able to get some contacting done. It was rainy and just soaked into your soul and made you wanna take a nap.
Saturday was rainy, too, so we opted to try Wal-Mart finding since we weren't having much luck while tracting. There were a ton of people at Wal-Mart, but we didn't have much luck there, either. It's kinda hard to start up a natural conversation and tie it to the gospel there. But as we were heading out, one of our investigators we'd lost contact with came in and said he was doing good, that he had been reading the Book of Mormon, and gave us his phone number. Yay, it has been an inspired decision to come to Wal-Mart! The odds of us running into each other in the super sized store as busy as it was seems pretty slim if things were just up to chance.
Sunday was my 72nd Sunday in the mission field. That's weird to think about. We gave a wake up call (or two!) to one of our investigators so he could come to church, but he didn't answer either time. We went to his house and knocked on his door, and even his bedroom window. No luck. C'mon, man. Come to church!! You know it'll be good for you!
So we had studies after church and tried to contact more people, and man it just seemed like no one was home or healthy all day. We had dinner, and then got dropped back off by our car a few minutes before our next appointment. We were going to have President Jones and his wife come with us to that next visit, but he texted saying he was running late. We were parked right by one of the last people we tried before dinner. And we decided to try her again before heading off to the next appointment.
She was home! We chatted and reminded her of her desire to be baptized. We caught up a little bit and reminded her of her desire to be baptized and explained how setting a baptismal date as a goal helps people. She agreed, and we told her the date we had in mind: November 17th. Her jaw dropped and she looked surprised, worried, afraid? We started backpedaling to explain that we don't want to rush her or anything, but that's when we felt she could be ready. She asked us how we got that date and we tried to explain prayer. She told us that November 17th was the day her 2 year old son had been killed 2 or 3 years ago. She considered our decision on that date as a pretty solid indication that she was on the right path. (And we did, too!)
It just seems so clear to me that the Lord - my God and my Savior - is so involved in the mission field. One person out of a whole suburb of Little Rock "happens" to meet us in Wal-Mart. One day out of 365 "happens" to fall on a Saturday and mean as much as it does to this young mom. Week after week for 72 weeks, now, things just "happen" to work out. Not every time. Not in the same way. But always enough for me to remember who is in control and whose work this is. I'm just lucky enough to play a little part in it all!
And you can, too! :-)
I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and love.
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AT 72022
Well hello there! It's been another week, and the space-time continuum has returned to its regular rapid pace, as perceived by Elder Dahl. It went faster when General Conference (https://www.lds.org/general-conference) was on.
I always have to laugh at how the Lord can make the best of bad situations. For example:
We set an appointment with one of the people we were teaching, and even had a member who was willing and able to come. We met the member there, and then waited for the person we hoped to teach to get home. We each waited in our cars on opposite sides of the block, and it felt kinda like a stakeout. We were across the street, and kept turning our heads behind us to see if they pulled up. And then--a honk.
We whirled around and rolled down the window to a lady angrily asking what we were doing parked by her house. We explained that we were waiting for someone we were teaching. "Teaching?" she asked. We explained a little more, and shared the person's name. We were told that that person didn't live there, and we said "across the street!" She relaxed some and apologized, explaining that her fifteen year old daughter had been home alone and we looked kinda suspicious. Haha. I guess I would've been nervous, too.
Well, the investigator didn't get home, and so we decided to apologize to the lady for parking by her house. She apologized to us, and we got talking about the gospel, and found out... she believes in a premortal life, and in holes and missing pieces from the Bible! So that's pretty cool! She also explained these things called the "Terra Papers," to us, which she told us were an ancient american text carved on stone tablets, about aliens visiting the early Native Americans and teaching them how to farm. We gave her a Book of Mormon and explained it was a liiiiittle different. She promised to read and pray about it if we did the same with the Terra Papers. Deal!
So yeah, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
The next day, I stayed in Benton on exchanges with Elder Watts. We mostly did a lot of finding. We found a neighborhood with several members on it and wanted to ask one of them to pray with us about an area where we could go do some tracting for a little while. I felt pretty distinctly about one of them, so we visited her, a stay-at-home mom with two young kids. She was pretty nervous about sending us on a wild goose chase, but after a prayer, and telling us she felt good about two streets nearby for some reason, we felt really good, too, and hurried off to see who we could find there!
After several doors, I was starting to get worried we wouldn't have anything to report back to this member, but then we met another young mom, with kids the same age as the member who sent us, who said that we could come back! We had another good visit with a lady we invited to church, and then yet another good visit with a gal who explained that she and her husband, in their study of the Bible, had concluded that America should be the promised land, and, "is there anywhere in the Book of Mormon that talks about America being the promised land?" Uuhhhh yeah!!
So that was sweet. And when we reported back to the member, she was so surprised and happy! She said that she had been thinking about our missionary lesson in church last week, and had prayed that morning for a missionary opportunity, feeling kinda overwhelmed and unsure of how she would do that as a stay-at-home mom. And now she and her husband are open to having the other little family we met in their home for a lesson!
We helped another couple move some furniture on our way to exchange back. I love when people take us up on our offers to help them!
The next morning was our district council, and then afterwards we figured we would keep our end of the deal and research the "Terra Papers." So we did, and uh... well, that's where the "Lizard People" part of my subject line comes from, cause literally that's what it's about. The text reads like a poorly written (but well-researched) scifi book from a college creative writing class, and explains how just about every conspiracy theory and culture are connected. So... it might be worth an entertaining read if you're bored, but it's not about to shape my view of reality or inspire me to be a better person.
We had a good visit with one of the people we're teaching that night. We invited him to live the Word of Wisdom, but he's kinda overwhelmed with everything else going on in his life. We could see that as we were there, though, extra peace entered his home. It seems obvious to us that freeing himself from some addictions would help bring peace more consistently in his home and relationships, but change is hard, even if we know it is for our best!
Friday was awesome. We had our weekly planning and talked about spicing up our finding techniques and door approaches a little bit. We gave it a shot, and still fell into old habits, but were granted success from trying! One guy let us right in to show us a replicated copy of a 1600s original KJV Bible he had, which was pretty cool. He was talking about some of his "unique" interpretations of the Bible, and mentioned sharing the gospel with the Jews. We read the title page of the introduction to the Book of Mormon with him, which talks about how the Book of Mormon exists to convince Jew and Gentile of the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was hooked!
We also went to try a gal who said we could come back sometime, and met her boyfriend. He was really cool, and could definitely relate to some Book of Mormon stories we shared with him about turning our lives around and feeling peace. He loved the Plan of Salvation and said we could come back.
We visited the lady who missed our appointment with the member, and she was home. We told her about General Conference and she said she'd plan to come to the Saturday afternoon session! She didn't, though. :( When we followed up, she explained that she thought she was having a Kidney Stone. So... hopefully she's alright. Those sound miserable. As far as excuses for missing General Conference go, that might be a good one, but still.
We watched the Saturday Morning session with our other main investigator, and he liked it. My favorite part of General Conference this time around were how perfectly the M. Joseph Brough and Steven R. Bangerter talks seemed WRITTEN FOR THIS GUY. Conference is so personal and powerful. I got a lot of answers to my own questions, too.
Driving by so many people on Saturday and Sunday, it was sad to think that like none of those people knew that God's prophets and apostles on the earth today are about to address the needs of our world in October 2018! I'm so thankful to spread the word and be a recipient of that counsel and peace and direction and joy!
Where else are you going to find that? Where else can you go, and what else can you be a part of, where truth doesn't change, where divine help is available, the "secrets" of happiness are shared openly and freely, and that's just in 2 seamless and inspired semiannual worldwide broadcasts, let alone the other 50 weeks of the year!
Idk if praying that people will just magically change their minds and lives and want to be baptized works, but if you'd be willing to give it a shot we'll find out! :)
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Transfer 2 in Benton! Here we go! Today is my 16 month mark, which means I've only got 8 months to go. Ummmm can I go back to just having a year left still?
This week was the first week in a while that actually flew by. I think I like that?
Last week, we visited recent convert and got there kinda early, so we went to knock some doors in his neighborhood, but ended up playing basketball with a kid and explaining the restoration to him in the mean time. Good thing Elder Bolos is a better shot than I am haha.
Our zone got 2 new district leaders, Elder Albertson and Elder Draper. I've been their zone leader before, in the Searcy Zone, and they're awesome! We also got 2 brand new missionaries, both fresh from the MTC. They will be in Elder Albertson's Spanish District. He's been out for almost a year, now, and has been a Spanish missionary for all of... 6 days, now?
We did a lot of tracting and contacting this week. Got dropped by a few folks, but also talked baptism with a few folks... so things are looking good! Our investigators have been going through some trying times... angry exes and restraining orders to stubbornly naughty teenage daughters...
It's kinda like watching an intense movie, when you walk out of the movie theater, or their house, you just kinda breathe a sigh of relief that you're in different shoes. I definitely feel so fortunate to have grown up with the gospel around me. It fixes problems that are hard to even imagine happening in the first place.
In weekly planning last week, we had planned to visit one of our investigators, Craig, more often. When we saw him on Tuesday and asked how we could best help him prepare for baptism, he suggested that we come by more often. So we did! That was cool.
We planned out the Benton Ward mission plan, met some new folks, and even went on a road trip with the bishop of another ward.
On Wednesday, we invited our whole zone to fast to find families to teach this transfer. At least in our own area, we saw that happen big time! We talked with 3 different moms who said we could come back, and 3 of the people we were already working with had family members come into the picture and say that they were interested, too! On Fast Sunday I fasted and prayed again that we will be able to continue to work with those wonderful people, that they will be willing to read and pray and come to church, and that they can be blessed by what we share. So I'm good as far as prayers go, but there's small branch-worth of people out here that could use A LOT of them! Baptism is the gate to the path, but because it's a gate, it's also an escape from a lot of the trials and adversities these people are experiencing. It may not make them go away, but it'll give them a lot of tools and extra help to deal with them!
So it kinda feels like we are juggling a chainsaw, a rake, a bowling pin, a heavily medicated cat, and a small child. I wish I could say the symbolism goes deeper than the fact that it's simply overwhelming and dangerous, but... that's as far as it goes. People out here are crazy and I've never had to push people so much for them to just come to church.
Seriously. We had like 6-10 pretty solid church commitments for this Sunday. You wanna know who all came to church? Not one of them. So I'm kinda mad at our investigators right now, but that just means some extra bold flavoring in the salt Elder Dahl will have to use with them. Hopefully that does the trick. And the Spirit, of course.
I'll share one awesome story from this week. We've had a hard time getting in touch with one of the people we're teaching lately. We stopped by on Friday, half expecting she wouldn't be interested in meeting with us anymore, if she was home at all. Fortunately, she was and that didn't happen! We talked about recent trials, and then talked about church this Sunday. Her friend came around the corner and started talking with us, too. As we did, she asked the question missionaries dream of hearing. "Do y'all baptize people? Cause I need to get baptized real bad!"
"Me too," added her friend.
"And my daughter... I think she's been baptized before, too, but... we can just do it again!"
So yeah. That was awesome.
It turns out that she had had a dream about being baptized a few nights before, that was really special. The way it resembled 1 Nephi 8 and Mosiah 18 gave me some chills. She'll have some stuff to work on before baptism happens, but I think it'll happen. Baptism is so important!!
After that and on Saturday, Elder Bolos and I visited and contacted a few more people and they all sounded excited about church on Sunday. I already told you about what happened. So many awesome people, but they're also kinda frosted flakes so that's a bummer.
We taught a part of the "5th Sunday Lesson" on member missionary work at church in front of the whole ward, and that was fun. We joked a lot about members feeding us, and I think it helped. The Thompsons, the Senior Couple Mission Nurse(s?) filled in our vacancy for that night, and that was wonderful! Sister Thompson realized after dinner that she'd left an important notebook at the church, and they didn't have a key, but we had one! So we hurried over to the church and thankfully found it! So there you have it... the blessings of feeding the missionaries! :)
Hope y'all have a great week! Keep our investigators in your prayers, seriously. I think Benton is about to explode in a very good way.
1916 Brandon Rd., Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
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