Arkansas is a pretty amazing place to serve a mission.
We started this week off with a Zone P-Day at Third Realm, a trampoline park in Little Rock. Because we got there at 11AM on a Monday, we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves, so it was fun! And even worth being sore this whole week haha.
On Tuesday, I got to go on exchanges in downtown Little Rock again, and didn't hear any gunshots this time. Before we exchanged, we were able to put our bikes on the bike rack on our car, and got a ride to where Elder Draper and I ended up doing service most of the day. This guy lived in one of the many VERY hilly neighborhoods of Little Rock. And it was like 40 degrees outside, so I counted myself blessed for not having to bike that at least one of the ways.
We helped this guy spackle his trim around his windows and doors, and also finished putting in hardwood floors in his upstairs. I learned a lot and it ended up looking pretty good! While I'd be happy to help out again, I also learned that I'd probably prefer to contract that out, myself. :)
After we finished the job, he offered to give us a ride home! And he had a truck that we could put our bikes in! Um... yes. We spared no time in taking him up on that. We were blessed. And then we were blessed even more when our dinner appointment was also able to give us a ride! Saving us a frigid bike ride in the dark. God answers prayers.
They share an apartment with the Assistants to the President, and sometime over the summer, their heating and air went out. So the apartment complex gave them a cooler, and they had yet swapped it out for a heater. So when we got back to their apartment after dinner, it was probably like 50-something degrees in there. I went to bed almost missing the exchanges a few short months ago there when the A.C. was out and it was too hot! (Nah, I'd take cold sleeping over hot sleeping any day.)
The next day, we had Zone Conference! It was great! And it snowed outside during the last 4-5 hours of it! None of it really stuck to the roads, but the grass got dusted a li'l bit. So that was fun! Also... the Routts from Conway were there, and it was so awesome to catch up with them. We drove back home from North Little Rock, had a quick dinner, and then rode with another member up to try this guy who lives out in the middle of nowhere. He's a less-active member of the church, and we had a good visit with him. He's kinda crazy, but the best people are.
Thursday was pretty awesome, too. We got to tour New Life Church, a pop megachurch here in Bryant. They've got a few locations all over Arkansas, including in Conway. And so it seems like most of my mission I've been running into people who are "not interested" and "go to New Life" haha. They've all been really super nice to us, though. So Pastor Kevin showed us around their "campus" and it's pretty impressive! It's a cool, elegant, modern building, w/ a huge backlit stage in their auditorium. I've been to a lot of concerts on much smaller stages than theirs haha. He was super cool, and we left impressed. But my testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was also strengthened. Because, other than two crosses in the auditorium, there weren't any other symbols or pictures of Christ, and not once during the tour was the Savior brought up. If He's what it's all about... let's make it show? idk, that's my thought process anyway.
Then we met a guy named Juice. Yup, like apple juice.
A returning member we'd been working with for a while but lost track of gave us a call, too, and we visited him in his Days Inn hotel room for a while. Things are still hard for him, but going so much better. He's staying strong despite so much being thrown at him. He's awesome.
We tried to find some people in our records out in the middle of nowhere, but by the time we started it had been dark for an hour and was like 6:30. And people in Arkansas - especially those in the middle of nowhere - don't believe in making their street address visible. So slowing down to read addresses in the dark on a two lane windy road with like 3 cars following you and high-beaming your rear view mirrors is super fun.
On Friday, it was like 65 degrees outside, which was nice. We did some finding. Started talking to these 3 Hispanic guys and their English wasn't any better than my Spanish, so I tried my best and they nodded along. One of them kinda explained what we were all about to the other two, as I caught a phrase here and there. Idk how much we really understood one another, but I think one of them complimented my accent? Hahaha. I think I need to do some more spanish exchanges. Wendy's had a $1 any size fry deal and that made for a great end of our evening haha.
On Saturday, we had a long visit with this couple we've been teaching for a few weeks, now. We taught them the whole Plan of Salvation, which I think was a little overwhelming for them, but I can't blame them. After answering most of their questions and getting ready to go, her 15-year-old sister walks in the front door and starts asking a bunch of questions, which actually started to become really good once she cleared up the fact that we weren't a polygamist cult. So that was a cool miracle this week. It's not often we're the ones inside and someone knocks on the door and finds us to be taught! :)
Sunday was good! We had leftover thanksgiving dinner stuff, and so it was awesome to be able to enjoy the leftovers aspect of thanksgiving before the week even started. We were blessed. Thanksgiving leftovers are the best.
So that's this week in short! It's been hard, it's been good. It's been cold, it's been nice. I know I'm where I'm supposed to be!
Love y'all and have a happy thanksgiving!
Well, the 1st week of the transfer is over already. I use the word "rollercoaster" a lot to describe weeks and missionary work in general, but this week was more of a rollercoaster than usual. Especially that part of the rollercoaster in between nearing the top and hurtling towards the ground hahaha. It's been interesting.
I've written a bit about Tabitha before. She is so awesome. She started out joking about chasing us off with a broom, and last week she came to church and has been preparing to be baptized on the 17th, a special day to her. We had a lot we needed to teach her this week. Things started out great. She has noticed all kinds of blessings in her life since coming to church, which is so cool! She talked about how she's seen herself change since meeting with us. She even signed up to feed us and the sister missionaries the next day, so we were excited!
While waiting for a member to come with us, she showed us how to make paper cranes and with [a lot of] help, mine even turned out pretty alright! Dinner went well, and then we started the lesson reviewing the Plan of Salvation before teaching the Word of Wisdom. (God's law of health, which includes things like not smoking, drinking, coffee, tea, etc.) That one was a hard one for her. And understandably. Changing that is so hard. So... since that lesson on Wednesday we haven't been able to have another lesson with her. And she didn't come to church yesterday, which means that she won't have attended church enough times to be baptized on the 17th. :( So please keep her in your prayers. She's goin' through a lot. Idk if I've ever been so stressed out by another person before in my life, but I hope she comes around.
We did a lot of finding this week and it went pretty well! Some days it was rough, other days it was better. One little white-haired lady who wasn't interested at all at least told us a few jokes before closing her door haha. ("How do you get a squirrel to like you? Act like a nut!" and "What do you call someone who takes care of chickens? A chicken tender!")
I wish more people told us jokes when they weren't interested haha.
Down the road we got into a frustrating conversation with a guy who was very convinced that he was right, to the point of rejecting logic, God's universal love, and the need for additional revelation beyond the Bible. Closing the scriptural canon does nothing but limit God, who said all power in heaven and earth was given to HIM, not the Bible. (As great a book as it is.)
Talked with another lady who used to be a member of the church. She has 6 kids and her husband isn't a member. And at some point, their 2 oldest kids were going to be baptized, but then they moved and fell out of it. Here's to hoping we can make that happen!
We were trying a guy we met a few weeks ago, and he wasn't home. But his nextdoor neighbor blasts rap and hip-hop music all day long. Apparently it's this old lady that's had the cops called on her a bunch of times, but the whole neighborhood has just given up on fighting it. His neighbor across the street has a goat, and it was just a funny thing to be looking at this goat grazing in an otherwise quiet neighborhood with gangster rap playing loudly from across the street. #Arkansas
We helped set up another Christmas tree, this time for President and Sister Jones, the 2nd counselor of the mission presidency and his wife. They're so wonderful. Also, Mariah Carey's Christmas song played in Wal-Mart this morning, but I'm in denial.
It is cold outside, though. One day had a low of 27, and it's been in the 40s most of the week. Which, out here, feels like 20s or 30s in Idaho. Layerin' up the sweaters. Humidity is weird.
Made some French toast for dinner one night, that was delightful.
On Sunday, we didn't have anyone come visit the church, which was a bummer cause we'd invited a lot of people and had been hoping for Tabitha and her daughter to be there, but she'd kinda stopped responding to our messages...
After church, though, we were able to go teaching with the stake president, Pres. Dixon, to some patients of his that had been looking at a Book of Mormon in his office lobby. We visited with husband and wife and their son, who's a senior in high school, for like two and a half hours. Mainly because the dad was super talkative and spoke in such a way that he managed to repeat every aspect of each story he told twice haha. But they all asked a lot of really good questions! So we will see what happens!
It's gonna be a good week because I say so! Love y'all!
1916 Brandon Rd., apt A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I tried for the longest time to fit "near-death experiences" in the title of my email, but I didn't wanna make my mom worry. So I just used "gunshots" instead.
There is no way this email [or any other attempt to record or describe all that happened this week] is going to scratch the surface in conveying all that this week was. It was amazing, incredible, scary, rewarding, exciting, sad, and exhausting both spiritually and physically. All that considered... when I look back on my mission, I hope it's a week like this that comes to mind. 2 district councils, a Leadership Training Meeting, 3 exchanges, a bunch of lessons, a bunch of interesting people... sweating and freezing and raining in the same week. It was a good time.
We had kind of a lazy P Day last week which was nice. We had one appointment that evening, and it was one of the best lessons of my mission. We taught Amber & Jase (that couple who figured out America was the promised land) about the Plan of Salvation. We only got through the first little bit, but it was awesome anyway because they just GOT it. "So... earth is kinda like God training?" Amber asked. "We're here to practice to become Gods. I can see why people might have a problem with that, but... that makes a lot more sense than playing the harp forever." So that was just so cool to me. They are awesome.
Tuesday was interesting. We went to Pinnacle Mountain's [the downtown Little Rock Elders] District Meeting and then exchanged with them. I stayed in downtown Little Rock with Elder Walker. They're a full bike area, and I'd biked there before, but I definitely hadn't biked as much as I did that day since I was in Conway or maybe even Collierville almost a year ago haha. But I survived! It's hilly up in there, too. The worst part is a stretch by their apartment with a curb to your left and a busy road on the other side, no sidewalk, a path of matted-down grass 4 inches across, and then tall grass on your right side going down into a ditch. Oh, and traffic cones to your right that you have to swerve around without falling off the curb, too. It'd have been fun if I wasn't worried about the consequences of biking 3 inches too far in either direction haha.
But anyway, our first stop didn't work out, so we parked our bikes and walked down the street like 2 blocks, and tried somebody they'd met in the corner house across the street. No answer. From their door, I could see further down this perpendicular street. A guy was sitting out on his porch and I told Elder Walker we should go talk to him. So we crossed the street again towards our bikes, but turned right and talked with the guy in that kitty-corner house. He wasn't interested and kinda blew us off, but said we could try his neighbor.
So we go try his neighbor, the 3rd house on that side of the road, around the corner from where we parked our bikes. We walk up to the door, and can't see around the house towards the guy we had just talked with. We knocked, no answer. And then POP POP POP POP POP! We jumped and stepped a little closer into the corner of the house. POP POP came a distant response. We held our breath.
Obviously, my first thought was that they were gunshots. We were in kind of a shady part of downtown Little Rock. But then I thought they could maybe be fireworks? Then 2 guys who were smoking weed in their car in the next house over rolled their window down, and were like "Auwwhhh [I'll let you fill in the blank] what wuz that?!"
We went over and talked with them and they were pretty stoned, but told us that's a part of life in the hood. What the heck haha. A police officer drove by and asked us if we heard gunshots. We walked back towards our bikes, and as we rounded the corner, I saw a shell, and then another and another... 5 bullet shells just there on the street corner. Nobody ended up getting hurt as far as we heard! So that's good. All the same, we biked outta there pretty quick haha. But hey! You've gotta have one of these kinda stories from your mission.
We got back to their apartment early and were picked up by a member around 4:30 to go help a single mom and her 7 kids move across town. The sister missionaries had beat us there, and left after 30-40 minutes for an appointment. A lot of stuff was boxed up, but... There was a lot of stuff left. The member we rode with had a jeep, and they didn't have a uhaul or a trailer or a pickup truck... and for 2 hours we were the only ones helping. So we loaded like 10 boxes into the trunk of his jeep and went over to her new house with the keys. But... The landlord had changed the keys on her, cuz the ones she gave us didn't work.
So we sat in the driveway of her new house for the better part of an hour waiting for her landlord to come. By the time we started unloading the first jeepload, it was dark outside. When we returned to her house, the Elders Quorum President had arrived with a small pickup truck and a furniture dolly, but that was all the reinforcements we got. We made another 2-3 trips, filling the truck and jeep to max capacity and going back and forth. We didn't have dinner until going through the Little Caesar's drive through at 9:15 after like 4 hours of that. Man, Little Caesar's never tasted so good. The poor member with the jeep that took us home went back again to help longer. What a saint.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Council, which Elder Bolos and I planned in the 20 minute drive between the Pinnacle Mountain apartment and our church building. It turned out alright. And then we drove home. It was E. Bolos' week to drive, and we were sitting at a yield left turn light. Across from us were two lanes of traffic, and for some reason the guy in the left lane over there was at a stop. We waited, and he didn't move. Another car came speeding around the corner and Elder Bolos started to turn left, because his view was blocked by the car sitting there. "Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!!!!" was all I could say, shouting with increasing fear and volume as I saw this car coming directly for my side window.
At some point as we turned, I remember thinking, "okay, we are far enough now that the car isn't going to hit my door, but there is no way it's not going to hit us." When we got safely in our desired lane without an impact to our backseat, I was surprised. The other car had slowed down some, and likely turned to avoid us, but... The first thing I said was to ask if the other car had just phased through us like a hologram, because there is no way...
So we figured we probably had some important stuff to do that day. So we went off and then I filled out our miles sheet a little late for the day and discovered... Oh no, we only have 10 miles left for the whole day. So we pulled into the first neighborhood we could and scrapped our plans. Spent a while finding there without a ton of success, which was a bummer. Talked with a Jew, and then a Messianic Jew, and some other interesting people.
We had a group of little kids trick or treat our apartment, but that was it because it rained, rained, rained later that night. I tried making enchiladas without a recipe and... I'll be darned, they actually turned out pretty good!
Thursday was good! We had a Leadership Training Meeting in North Little Rock, and didn't almost die! Yay! Afterward, I exchanged with Elder Albertson and stayed in Benton this time. He had just gotten a haircutting kit and wanted to give it a try, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to be experimented on. I was a little worried after hearing such things as "oops," "wow, I think this is a two," and "how much scalp do you want to see?" But... I'll be darned, it actually turned out pretty good! It's been a week of pleasant surprises haha.
Friday was also good! Elder Albertson and I put in some good work and found 2 new people to teach. It was sweet. We then exchanged back with Elder Ramirez and Elder Bolos, and then went right into our 3rd exchange of the week, with the Little Rock Elders. I went there this time. We started the night off riding around with a recent convert and making a few visits, but no one was home. We went to visit a referral, but as we walked up towards the house in the dark a dog started bolting after us so we just turned around and played it cool as we walked back to the car. I'm not about to get bit again haha.
We biked around some more on Saturday. Started in a trailer park and I was able to give a half-decent door approach in Spanish to one lady! She was patient with me and said the Spanish missionaries could come back over haha. Score! Had a pretty good lesson and then signed ourselves up to help move some freshly cut oak logs in our white shirts and ties haha. Those suckers were heavy. But we had a good visit with the family we helped and they appreciated it. RIP my legs and back after this week haha.
That night we got the transfer email, and... Elder Bolos and I are staying! He'll be my first companion I've been with for longer than 2 transfers, and I will have been in Benton as long as I was in Conway and Searcy combined. Wow, time flies! Our zone is changing a little bit... The Little Rock Elders got "pinkwashed," and one of the sisters taking their place is just moving from the Benton ward, so she will still be in our district haha. So our whole district except Elder Bolos and I is sisters, now. So we also have one less companionship that we exchange with, for better or worse. Benton is the place to be!
On Sunday... Tabitha came to church!! (She's the one who originally joked about chasing us off with a broom, and who is preparing to be baptized on Nov. 17th!) She was a little overwhelmed, but I can't blame her! Her 10 month old seemed to do pretty good, even if she choked out another baby haha. We've been trying to get her to church for a long time, now, so it was a good day! After church, we had our Stake and Mission President correlation meeting which was awesome as usual. One of the counselors in the stake presidency had been in a bishopric for as long as I've been alive haha. It's cool learning from them.
We had stake and mashed Idaho potatoes for dinner so I was a happy happy camper. Had call-ins with the zone, and the blessing of the "renewing of their bodies" started to expire real quick. I was exhausted, but in a really good way. The Benton Zone is doing awesome. Our zone goal for baptisms in November is 3. We had 1 this weekend, and have 13 more people preparing to be baptized in November across the zone. It is so awesome. We are so blessed. People are being prepared to accept the restored gospel and the peace and answers it brings!
I know this church is led by Jesus Christ Himself. It is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth. How can I possibly claim that? I am not claiming it... I am quoting it. Jesus Christ said it. Pray and talk with Heavenly Father about it. (See “Ye May Know”, by Keith B. McMullin, April 1996 General Conference)
Well I love y'all and hope you know I know. Have a great week!
Too much leftover Halloween candy? I can fix that
1916 Brandon Rd, apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
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
It's been a doozy. Last week feels like a month ago haha.
Tuesday welcomed us to the season of Autumn in the south. Colored leaves and pumpkin spice and a brisk wind? No, our car thermometer read 102. :') Drippy.
On Wednesday we had our last district council of the transfer. It went pretty well other than the voicemail left on our phone during the meeting from one of our investigators dropping us. We went to hibachi for a district lunch and that was tasty as ever.
We made a few visits, and then came back to the church for Book of Mormon class, which Elder Bolos and I taught, pretty much figuring out what chapter we were on when we got there. It ended up good, though! There were quite a few new people there, and 2 of them were deaf! So one of the sisters signed while we talked and that was pretty cool.
On Thursday, we had our MLC (mission leadership council) and this time it was in Memphis. So we met at the mission office at 6:30 in the morning, and got in the transfer van for a ~2.5hr drive. Studied through most of it, and slept through the rest. The meeting was good! We took pictures in the parking lot of the church building there... right in front of the Memphis Temple, which is under construction. Dang it's looking almost like a whole new building, now! It is coming along! Hopefully it gets done soon!
In the second half of the meeting, President Hansen shared his goal for baptisms in November: 31. Each of the 9 zones got together (Zone leaders & STLs) and prayed about what number of baptisms our zone could contribute to the goal of 31. We felt good about 3. As each zone reported their goal, it added up exactly to 31, first try. Whoa. I mean, mathematically there are a lot of different ways and orders 9 numbers could add up to 31, but... even more ways for it to not add up to 31. Revelation? Coincidence? You can be the judge, but I know what it is. :)
We drove to Memphis when it was dark in the morning, and after a stop at Subway, drove back to Little Rock when it was dark in the evening. From the mission office, we headed to the Pinnacle Mountain elders apartment and exchanged with them. I stayed there with Elder Walker and we had a good exchange!
That Friday morning, we did service for a lady. Her friend, the member guy who drove us over there, said she wanted to hang up a mirror and do something with her outdoor patio lights, and it shouldn't take long. We stepped into her entryway and she explained some of the same stuff she needed help with, and then we walked into her living room and WHOA there was a 12 FOOT CHRISTMAS TREE in her house.
So yeah like the next hour and a half was spent adding more lights, ornaments, and a gaudy tree topper on this giant tree, the both of us on ladders, holding an ornament here or there until we got he thumbs up. The tree started leaning to one side because we were putting so much stuff on it, so we got bungee cords and wrapped them around a cinderblock and the trunk, to little avail. The lady was telling us, "oh yeah, I out up my first little Christmas Tree in my study on my birthday!" When was her birthday? Early August haha. This lady likes Christmas. After the tree, we hung a mirror, oiled her garage door, hung outdoor lights, and had pizza. As far as service goes, this was about as good as it gets. Inside, air conditioned, putting up a Christmas tree, and pizza was involved.
We went back to work afterwards, having to adjust our schedule a little bit. They're full bike, so we biked up to some neighborhood for just enough time to knock like 15 doors before biking back for dinner and then a ride from the APs to another appointment. That's where we met Nolan.
Nolan took about 10 minutes to get up and in his wheelchair and to the door. He used to run a gang in Chicago, and had been meeting with missionaries there until something happened and he had been shot in the head. When he came to, it felt like the next day to him, but the doctors informed him he had been in a coma for a year and a half. What?! So he had some help and moved to Little Rock to start fresh. And the missionaries found him again on Sunday. We went over and talked a little bit. I started setting the scene to invite him to be baptized, but he had "been baptized before," a situation we run into a lot. I think he'll get it soon, though. He is pretty cool.
We exchanged back, and it was good to be back in Benton. The next morning, Tad R. Callister, the General Sunday School President of the church had a meeting for the missionaries! So we rode up to the mission office again and enjoyed that. Stopped at Jimmy John's for a free sammich on our way home. The hot weather had left last night, and I don't think it got above 75 the rest of the weekend. It just rained buckets.
We stayed pretty busy from that afternoon on through 6, trying to contact a few people before heading back to Little Rock for Bro. Callister's public event. We visited our guys in the rehab home, and some of their roommates. They're all kinda intimidating, but trying to turn their life around and surprised by how "not-weird the Mormons are."
2 of them came to the public devotional thing that night and loved it. It was really good. Of course God speaks today! Of course the Book of Mormon is the word of God! We could sit here and try to prove it, but even if we had the "gold plates" right here in front of us, people wouldn't believe or be blessed by them unless they read it!
Saw a lot of people from the Conway ward there and that was so fun! Also, Michelle, a recent convert from the North Little Rock ward I had taught once or twice, was there and remembered me. And it turns out, she also knew one of the guys we brought with us! They caught up, and Michelle just bore testimony to him and insisted he start reading the Book of Mormon. That was so cool to me. To go from that first lesson with her, when she's asking all these questions and loving every answer, to less than 8 months later and she's being a missionary herself... that is just so cool. That's what it's all about.
On Sunday, Craig came to church. Yay! We spent the rest of the day except for dinner doing our weekly planning. Got through most of it. It's been a crazy week. Usually weekly planning is done on Fridays, but we are gonna have to finish it tonight. My goodness hahaha.
But busy weeks are good weeks!
Elder Bolos and I are both staying another transfer in Benton! Yay! We're going to bring this place to its knees... to pray about the Book of Mormon to know if it is the word of God!
Love y'all! Have a great week!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
Missionary work is a trip. Usually days are long and weeks are short, but this week felt like 27 super fast days in a long week.
On Tuesday, we had another Spanish District Meeting followed by a spanish language study that kinda hurt my brain (but was interesting!) and then went on exchanges with them afterward. I stayed in Benton this time, with Elder Ramirez, who is a recent convert of 3-4 years from Mexico City. He's super cool, and his English is way better than my Spanish is haha.
We spent a lot of time finding, and then had dinner at a member's house. I couldn't put my hands under the table cause one of their 4 dogs would lick my fingers for me haha. But they live on kind of a farm type thing? And brought in a baby duck and have some goats and geese and stuff. They sent us home with homemade jerky and candy.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Meeting, which we had planned for on an all of 15 minute long conversation over the phone the day before haha. It ended up being pretty good.
We made some cookies for one of our investigators we haven't been able to get in touch with in a while, and she was home! We haven't caught her again since, though... :(
That night we had our missionary correlation meeting, and gave Sister Shumway a blessing afterward. Then we worked on some reports for the Stake President until the assistants to the president came and we went on exchanges with them!
Elder Smalling and I went all over the place in downtown Little Rock. Met some characters. We were talking with one lady for a while, and asked her about blessings she has seen in her lire from prayer. She told us that her son had been sentenced to 5 years in prison after shooting somebody, and she prayed and he only had to serve 4! #blessed?
The sisters over there had an investigator in the hospital, and asked if we could give her a blessing, so we did that. She seemed like a really special lady.
Headed back to Benton for a meeting with the Stake President, and our interviews with the Mission President! Both went well and were awesome. We're getting excited for Tad R. Callister to come this Saturday and talk about the Book of Mormon in Little Rock in anticipation for the musical coming to town haha.
With exchanges done for the week, we spent our Friday weekly planning and then going on a road trip with a member of the ward to some of the outlying members in the area. Pretty much nobody was home, so that's the usual.
Saturday was a weird day.
We had a cool lesson with a less active member and his roommate outside of their rehab facility on a picnic bench. They're both pretty cool and have been through a lot.
And then later, the first door we knocked on ended up being a Baptist preacher. Usually, they just say so and go back inside. Sometimes, they'll throw scriptures at us that we've heard before and we'll give some back. But this guy... idk. He didn't do that, he just went straight to discrediting our testimonies. After a lot of post-experience analysis, we noticed so much contradiction and fallacy in what he said. We left not just not feeling the Spirit, but feeling a bad spirit off of him. I haven't met many evil people in my life, but he'd be on my list. Not just because he thinks differently or was mean, but it was like psychological, spiritual warfare. People who know me wouldn't peg me as the type to storm off someone's porch, but when you discount my testimony and ask me if I'm really worshipping the same Savior... yeah.
So anyway. That was no fun. But church was good, even though people flaked and none of the people we are teaching came. We spent some time trying to find new people in that same neighborhood as the Baptist preacher and ended up totally changing a few people's perspectives on the Book of Mormon, so that success outweighed the bleh from the day before!
So it was a packed week! Now we are waiting outside the Jacksonville, AR church building (back in the Searcy Zone boundaries!) Waiting for our mission p day to begin! The whole Arkansas side is getting together today, so it should be fun!
Love y'all! Chase everything good, peaceful, loving, and joyful in the world!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
This week has been a hoot and a half! I didn't proof read this email so good luck.
Last Monday night we had a cool experience. We were trying to get in contact with people who used to meet with the missionaries. But it's getting dark earlier, and it seems like the work kinda stops when that happens. But we tried another guy, and he came out and talked with us for a while, and then his 17 year old son did, too. They breed miniature schnauzers, which is pretty neato! He doesn't want to have to work on Sundays at his full time job, and I felt very prompted to promise him that if he read the Book of Mormon, whether it took him 3 weeks or 3 years, the Lord would provide a way for him to not have to work on Sundays. Uh What!? That's a little bold, isn't it? But I haven't felt that impressed to say anything else before in my life. So we will see what happens.
On Tuesday, we went to another Spanish District Meeting! Which was fun, and was followed by some Hibachi. And then I went with Elder Short and tracted in some Hispanic trailer parks. I remembered a few Spanish words here and there, but otherwise felt like a Jr. Companion again, which was kinda fun! We met a guy who welcomed us in and was really interested in the Libro de Mormon.
We went to another trailer park and talked with some more people. As we went up the rickety stairs, we saw a cute little puppy on the other side. We took another two steps up to the patio and saw another dog. Now, when I say that the second dog was an ENORMOUS pitbull, you will probably think I'm exaggerating to make the story better, but seriously, y'all. This dog was huge. It raised its head and sniffed. Elder Short, right behind me, whispered, "run," like in a movie, and we BOOKED IT. We whirled and ran, but the dog's chain just kept extending. Finally, it reared back as the chain caught and just growled at us. Oh man. It took us a long second to get our breathing and heartbeat back to a semiregular pace. But we laughed it off.
We had dinner with a member in mostly Spanish, and then had English class, which was pretty fun, too!
The next day, we exchanged back and had leftover hibachi and then a good lesson and then our English Book of Mormon class. None of the people our entire district had invited came, so that was a bummer.
On Thursday, we had our District Meeting, and then exchanged with the Little Rock Elders again. It was rainy off and on and it only cooled things off a little and made everything more humid. We didn't have a whole lot of luck haha. It was not the funnest time, but like if you don't have a slow, rainy, door-knocking day every once in a while... you're not serving in Arkansas. We biked to the church and had dinner dropped off by a member. Had rice and beans and chicken. Yummy!
It was good to be back in Benton after that. We did some weekly planning and then went to this Thai food place called "Sullivan's" with a member and the sisters. It was pretty dang good, and I had some more fried rice. (For those of you who are counting, that's day #4 with rice! Yum!)
We went to try the schnauzer breeding guy after that, and as we pulled up, he ran inside from his porch, turned the lights off, and then didn't answer when we knocked. Grrrrr. Why do people do that? And why does it happen so often?
We spent a lot of Saturday tracting, with not much luck. But we heard from the sisters, who had just had an awesome lesson with a referral we gave them, and so that brightened the mood!
We helped a lady and her daughter and parents move into an upstairs apartment. And then talked with their downstairs neighbor, who was pretty interested... But also may or may not have been a flat earther.
We didn't know how to finish our day, and so we decided on a whim to try a guy who said we could come back sometime. He was on his way to a DJ gig, (yeah... He's a DJ) but had some time, so he offered that we meet up at McDonald's. So we drove over there, he bought us slushies, and we talked all about the Book of Mormon. Yeah!
And then on Sunday, our investigator Craig came to church!! He had been once before, before I got here, but Sunday was his first day back. He said it felt like his biggest step yet, and every talk and class seemed to be just for him. He loved it and felt the spirit, and it was awesome for us, too, cause you could see how much the gospel was blessing him, actively, in the very moment.
Happiness is out there. And it's in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!
So. Some good highlights from my week! Hope y'all have a good one!
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
I run on fumes until my two hour p day nap and then I'm good to go! :) it's been another good, sweaty, tiring, week in Benton, Arkansas!
Started out the week with a District Meeting... In Spanish. We have a group of Spanish missionaries in our zone, and we have to go to their meetings so there are odd numbers of Elders and Sisters. I was surprised by how much of it (in parts!) I could actually pick up!
That afternoon, we went on an exchange with the Little Rock Elders, and we started out in a trailer park out in some place I never would have guessed to be in the "Little Rock Area." It was out in the middle of nowhere. I got to practice my recently-tested Spanish skills with a lady who was more sympathetic than she was understanding hahahaha.
We chatted with a guy for a few minutes as he was working on his truck. He couldn't get it to start, and then during our chat and right as he needed to get going, the truck started, surprisingly enough to the guy we were talking to. He said we could come back haha. Miracles on miracles. You could choose to see that as a coincidence but it's more fun to think God was involved.
We then went to a more downtown LR neighborhood, to visit a Bible referral. She was looking for patience in her life and has some challenges. And a lot of warning signs on her house about getting shot lol. We tried a former investigator down the street, who had moved years ago, but met a cool guy named Amos who we chatted with for a while, so yay for following promptings!
The next morning, we had our own District Meeting, which went pretty good. My first one in Benton! We've got a good group.
Elder Bolos and I went out to visit an investigator we hadn't seen in a while. He's progressing pretty well, but has only been to church once, a month or two ago. He welcomed us in and we talked for a long time. He talked about all the ins, outs, physics, and strategies of sailboat racing, and it was honestly pretty fascinsting. And on top of that, it turns out sailboat racing and physics makes for a perfect analogy for living the gospel. So all of our minds were blown as we started connecting the metaphors together. It was really awesome.
On Thursday, we had our MLC (Mission Leadership Council). We took a wrong turn going into North Little Rock, and the GPS ended up taking us through this really nice neighborhood along a river... It was pretty.
President Hansen shared the baptism goal for the month of October, which is 28, and then each zone prayed about how many baptisms we could contribute toward that goal. When we all came together, we were only 2 off. So please pray that the Benton Zone can help 4 people in September, and 3 people in October to enter the waters of baptism!
Sis. Hansen pointed out that a lot of the MLC group (consisting of the Zone Leaders & Sister Training Leaders of the mission) is pretty young. I mean I'm still pretty young, too, but I was one of the handful in there that had been in those meetings for longer than 6 months.
In related news, I hit my 15 month mark this week, so I'm down to 9 months left. WHAT. I'm getting old in mission age.
After MLC, we got back to Benton in time for breakfast for dinner. Then we did some finding after that and met some characters. One guy was smoking on his porch and told us one side of his families is criminals, and the other side of his family is gypsies. #Arkansas
Another lady was probably in her late 60s and was on her phone walking around kind of all over the neighborhood. We caught up to her and started talking. Turns out she was playing Pokemon Go hahaha. We had a good visit with her, though, and she started talking about geneology! Her nephew is a member of the ward here, and she said we could come back with him. So we are excited about that! Pokemon Go: putting the elect in the missionaries' path.
We did a lot of service on Friday. It started out as just laying brick in a side yard. Or, that's what we thought we'd be doing, but we just leveled the sand for it, so we basically just played in a sandbox. Then another member called and asked for some help picking up "large tree limbs" from the side of the road to use as firewood. Yeah those "limbs" were big ole cedar logs. It was like high noon, the sweat was shiny, and dirt was sticking to it all. I'm still a little sore haha.
On Saturday, we had a zone miles call with the guy in charge of all the cars for the missionaries. We have mile limitations each month, so we were just reporting all of that stuff. Had a good visit with the "chase you off with a broom" lady, sharing parts of Moroni 8 because her 3 year old son had died in a gun accident several years ago.
We went to Chili's for dinner cause Elder Bolos had a gift card. When we finished and were ready to pay, though, he couldn't find it. We figured he had accidentally dropped it and it had gotten picked up between the car and our table somewhere. Our waitress went to look for it, and came back with one, but the cars number didn't match the one on his receipt... So that kind lady just got us a whole new gift card. People are so nice!!!
Church was good on Sunday. We gave that investigstor who's been struggling to come to church a wake up call. He answered, said he was up, but sleepy, and then we headed to church. He never came cause he had fallen back asleep. So next week, he's getting the wake up call, AND two guys pounding on his door. :)
We got back and had studies, and then headed out to visit some people that we had met this week. Unfortunately, the 2 or 3 we had hoped to visit both had their spouse answer the door, and the spouse wasn't half as interested as the other we were hoping to talk with. So that was a major bummer.
Did some tracting and found a few semi-interested people. One guy was busy but said we could come back in a few hours. So we returned home and ate after fasting all day. It was a harder fast than usual cause I was sweating so much out. But we then went back to try him, and lo and behold, no one answered the door.
We finished our weekly planning when we got home and had call ins with the missionaries in our zone. Things are going awesomely!
From here on out, each week gets busier and busier until the end of the transfer and September. There's a lot going on, and it's all good!
Thank you for your prayers! Please send more of them towards the people of Arkansas. They need em haha.
How's life treating you?
For other treats
1916 Brandon Rd, Apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
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.
It's been a miracle filled week if your eyes are open to the miracles!
On Monday night, we had an appointment fall through, and so we went down a street and drove around to kinda scope out the area we were planning on knocking doors in. On a whim, we decided to drive a little further. As we crested a hill, a beautiful little sunset-lit valley of freshly harvested hay bales was on the other side. Being the hopeless romantics we are, we pulled over to take a quick picture, and in doing so, noticed a gorgeous little yellow 50s-something classic car.
Well, we said to ourselves, we had already pulled over, and we were supposed to be knocking doors anyway, so we walked down the gravel driveway. The two pitbulls fortunately left us alone. We ended up talking to an older guy named Henry. He asked what we were selling, and we explained we were missionaries. "Oh." He replied. "I think I probably have more devil in me than God." We asked if we could check out his car, and he waved for us to go ahead. It didn't take long before he strolled over to join us, letting us start the thing and saying that if he had the back wheels on he would take us for a ride.
"I'll sell it to ya," he said, trying to convince us that it ran on water, and saying "back in the day, we used to fit ten women in them things." He looked like kind of a grouchy grubby guy, but when jokes were flying he got a good little twinkle in his eye haha.
The next day in District Council, we planned out more for the watermelon festival coming up. We later made the biggest media order I've ever done, and checked out the spot we apparently will have. It's perfect! It's coming up fast and I'm excited! Of course, none of this was done until after having lunch at Allen's BBQ there in Arkadelphia. Aw man. Have I mentioned I love barbecue? What am I gonna do back in Idaho??
After a new member lesson with Debbie, (who is planning on going to the temple this weekend to do baptisms for her son who passed away, and other relatives!!) we were driving back to Hope when Elder Lim saw a four wheeler full of cantaloupe off the side of the road. We turned around and saw that there was a guy selling them. He got 2, and asked if we could share a quick message. He said we could, when his wife is home. That's exactly what we want haha. So we'll see where cantaloupe man goes.
As we were coming into town, Sister Lim remembered that Elder Peterson had judt hsd a birthday, and so we stopped for banana splits.
We met a cool guy in Prescott, and went back the next day to see him again, and to have another appointment we were really excited about! Neither worked out. We had 5 appointments lined up that day. Like 1 and a half of those happened. Which is better odds than I've had before haha. But it was still kinda disappointing. We did stop by the chamber of commerce there, and visited with a really nice lady.
The next day we helped out Bob at his old building again. This time stripping up tile. But like the rubbery plastic stuff just glued down on wood or plaster. So that was fun. We got back that afternoon worn out.
We had more people miss appointments, and nobody seemed to be home. That, in addition to how tired we were, made me kinda grumpy. On our way back home for the night, we decided to try one more person, a guy we had met months ago but hadn't seen since. We stopped by his house, hoping for a miracle, but lights were off, cars were gone, and nobody was home. As soon as I wrote a note on a card and put it in the door, he pulled up, said hi, and was still willing to meet with us. Yay!
That night I was still kinda feeling down, and journaled, and said my nightly prayer. I was kinda gently scolded and rebuked by the Spirit haha. I was basically compared to Laman and Lemuel, who saw miracle after miracle but still complained. And then I was compared to the later Nephi of the Book of Mormon who was reminded by the Savior to write a story about another prophet that he hadn't recorded. I realized I hadn't journaled about that that miracle at all! So I quickly mended that.
We went to help out Bob again the next day, and on our way into town passed by a booth set up by the Christian Motorcyclist Association. We were in service clothes, but when we parked, I was kinda like: "uuhh we have to check that out" haha. So we did. One of the guys in his leather jacket asked us, "when did they slacken your dress code?" We hadn't introduced ourselves as missionaries, but we were wearing our name tags. We explained we did service for people, and another lady perked up. Apparently she had just been talking about needing some help around the house. So we exchanged info, and even shared Mosiah 2:17 with them before a guy came around, and asked if what we had was the Book of Mormon. He then loudly announced himself as a Baptist preacher, and said, "I'll argue with you about the Book of Mormon."
That obviously wasn't what we were there to do, and we just shrugged it off, put on our "extra nice" hats, and testified of Jesus Christ. He was still confrontational after that, but our new biker friends kinda backed us up and even offered to buy us a soda. (He later admitted his sister was Mormon and that he thought our conference center was the most beautiful building he's set foot in haha.)
We watched the Restoration DVD with one of our investigators that afternoon. Getting it to play was a struggle, and she got a phone call or 2 during the 20 minute video. Funny how the adversary tries to district us. By the end of it, though, she said she felt the spirit and knew Joseph Smith was called of God. Well. That worked out!
We stopped at a gas station to use the restroom after that lesson. When I got out, Elder Peterson was talking to a kid our age who then said he was a Baptist preacher. We exchanged info with him and he was open to meeting with us. We will see where that goes. He was a lot nicer than the other Baptist preacher we met earlier that day haha.
Before Elder Peterson could have his turn in the restroom, another guy stopped us in the gas station and uh with a good level of confidence I can say that he was the weirdest person I've ever met. He asked if we believed in the Book of Mormon and we said yes! "Good," he said, and it piqued our interest. "I believe Jesus Christ visited the Americas, too. And I also believe that there were Jews that traveled here. But I don't think they came on a boat, I believe they dug a tunnel under the ocean and popped up somewhere in Arizona or New Mexico." I started to laugh a little bit but saw that this guy was being serious. He said some other wild stuff, and I was kinda shook hahaha. What the actual heck.
We had a slightly better encounter with a guy back in Hope. He's a super funny, somewhat crippled 70-something year old black guy with a mouth like a sailor. We tried explaining the premortal life to him and he interrupted to ask if that was in the time of the dinosaurs. "Mmhmm them things will bite yo a**." I was dead. He just went on talking about all these different things that would "bite yo a**," including the dog barking outside the door and it took me a second to get my composure back. Then talking about the resurrection, he started talking about cemeteries. "Man, when there gets lightnin' and thunder around them cemeteries, that's some spooky s***" which... idk, was also just hilarious coming from this little old black man.
I love the south hahaha. It is entertaining if nothing else.
The branch got a new piano/organ this week. They don't like change too much haha. I was the "branch organist" for the day just cause I was experimenting with it when people started coming in. Nobody else really wanted to touch it haha.
It rained like crazy after church, and again as soon as we got into Wal-Mart to do our shopping this morning. We ran to our car not that far away but got all kinds of soaked in the short distance.
Last night we had a good visit with a member who hasn't been to church in a long time. Another older black guy. He told us some of his life story of growing up in the house he still lives in today. He was the first black quarterback and first black boy scout in Hope, Arkansas back in the 60s. It was cool hearing his stories and that he'd be willing to come back to church!
Lots of crazy, funny, and wonderful people this week. God lets us be as happy as we let ourselves be over the blessings and miracles he gives us.
Try sending a package over email, see what happens
Try sending an email through the mail, see what happens
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Matthew 7:7 ("Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you") unfortunately only applies when we are asking, seeking, and knocking through prayer with God. Cause we've done a lot of seeking, and a lot of knocking, but not many doors were opened unto us.
But that's ok cause it was a good week anyway!
When we called to set up an appointment with our lady who is preparing to be baptized... she became our lady who was preparing to be baptized. She told us she knew what we were teaching her was true, but that she was just going to go back to her church.
I could write more than an essay about how much that wrecks ya, but I'll spare us both of that haha. Keep her in your prayers, we are hoping she comes back around.
We did a lot of trying to find new people to teach this week. In large part due to the fact that most of those who we have been teaching haven't been home. Our car thermometer read 111 on 2 different days this week, and was at least in the triple digits during most of the rest of the days. That made knocking doors interesting, cause with as sweaty as we were... I probably wouldn't let me in, either haha. But we found a couple people who said we could come back, so we will take what we can get.
We did get to visit our bible referral couple again. They invited us inside this time. (But before going in, we were asked, "Are you good with dogs?" and before we had a chance to really respond, we were just told, "Okay, just don't panic," which... after this month's dog bite didn't exactly put me at ease.)
A lone, bare purple bulb illuminated the room, (or was supposed to, I guess, but idk how they were able to read). They had a handful of little dogs walking around in there, a thick smell of cigarette smoke, and a large clock built into a painting of Elvis Presley. We took the introduction of the Book of Mormon and made it as simple as we possibly could. They're good people, and were looking forward to reading by the time we left, but they sure make me grateful for all that I know, have, and am.
We also visited another bible referral this week, who apparently skipped her dialysis treatment so she could be home when we came over?? So that was concerning. But she seemed to be ok, and asked if we believed in modern prophets before we even got there, so that was cool. ("Why yes we do!")
We also had our interviews with President Hansen this week, and did a kind of double exchange, where one of our zone leaders went with me to one of the companionships in my district in Camden, and we blitzed with them and that was a lot of fun. ("Blitzing" is just missionary slang for more than one companionship working in an area at a time trying to find people who are interested, not blitzing like the Germans did, don't worry.)
Elder Shelley and I were able to visit with this lady who was a member of the church, but had been kinda dragged out of it by family circumstances. She was so nice. We invited her and her kids to the mutual activity that night, and they came! Plus they gave the Camden elders some pretty promising sounding referrals, so that was a success.
While the Camden elders were at the youth activity, Elder Turner and I stopped for a smoothie at McDonald's. We had been thinking about going to Sonic, but I figured we might be able to talk with more people at Micky D's. Well, that turned out to be a prompting cause both of the ladies at the registers happened to be people who the missionaries had visited and taught years ago, and both of them were open to having them back!
So, while it was with some chagrin that I realized we had more success grabbing a smoothie at McDonald's than we did in 4 hours of knocking doors, it was worth it I guess.
The next day we went to Taco Bell, and didn't have the same luck, but did get a kick out of their sign advertising the return of nacho fries. (Which, I never realized had gone away haha) "THEY BACK / NACHO FRIES"
Ahh Arkansas. What a place.
We were invited to a community meeting Thursday night, and we figured we could go see what it was all about and hopefully see what else is happening in town that we could help out with. Hope was awarded something that made them an official member of the "Main Street Arkansas" organization. So that's cool. Way to go, Hope! Afterward, a bunch of people came up and thanked us again for our help at the fish fry weeks ago haha. We met the chief of police and he was super nice, too. He said we could come by to rant or tattle on people any time we wanted haha.
We were invited cause we've been helping out this guy named Bob in his 100 year old building downtown. He kinda got to know us from the fish fry, and he gave us a tour of the building last week. We just showed up in work clothes one day and asked what we could do, and he gratefully put us to work! We've been working on the floor, mostly screwing boards in and whatnot. It's been really fun, and we just about finished what needed to get done this week. It looks good. I mean, it's all gonna get covered up by actual flooring later. But it'll still be cool to come back and say I helped put the floor in that place. One of the days we helped, Bob took us down the street to a little restaurant and we had a good ole southern catfish plate. Between that, how cool Bob is, and being able to do service in a pretty well-air-conditioned building, I'd say we found ourselves a pretty sweet gig.
Today was Elder Petersons birthday, so I found some leftover birthday decorations from past missionaries that never got used, and put them up while he was in the shower haha. And then this afternoon we checked out Old Washington, a small civil war era town that became the confederate army HQ after Little Rock was taken by the Union. So that was pretty interesting. History is cool!
That's pretty much the highlights from this week! Hope y'all have a good week and stay cooler than I'll be! God bless ya, now.
Elder Dahl, your new resident flooring expert*
Tell me something good
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
(1 Corinthians 9:10) - "...that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope."
(I didn't use a plow this week.) But... we kept planting our seeds and nourishing the vineyard. We didn't have to worry too much about irrigating this week, cause we got a good rain on Tuesday.
More plainly, I guess, it's been a good week where I've been blessed to see some of the first fruits of following the spirit. A few tiny promptings that at the time just seemed like good ideas led to some awesome little miracles. (That will hopefully continue to bring more and more miracles!)
Monday night was great, we were able to have two lessons. The latter of which was with a lady who hasn't progressed too much. We've asked and asked her to read the Book of Mormon, and she hasn't. And we've invited her to church a bunch of times, but she hadn't ever come. We just visited really quick and shared a short spiritual thought, and then I had the idea to explain the sacrament to her. She thought it was neat that we had it (also known to some as "communion") weekly, and liked the symbolism we shared for it. She said she would come and that we could call her Saturday night! We did, and she just kinda said, "okay, yeah," etc. without saying "I'll be there," so I admittedly didn't expect much. But come 9:57 AM on Sunday, she came just in time for sacrament meeting and seemed to enjoy it.
Tuesday was interesting cause we didn't get to see a single person we drove up to Prescott to see. Nobody was home. Or at least that's what they would have us think. And it rained really hard while we were walking around. But, we were able to check out a bunch of old cars just parked in a yard off the street before it did start raining, and we were able to take cover under a shallow roof protruding from a CME church. So it ended up being a pretty fun time, anyway.
Especially cause as we were walking to find a referral we had been sent (whose address we never did end up finding) I had one of those thoughts to go out of our direct path a little bit and try a few houses. The first one we did try had two big yellow rocking chairs, and one tiny one. I figured I'd ask whoever opens the door about the tiny one, thinking of it as just a good conversation topic, not really a prompting of the spirit or anything. But when I did bring it up, the kind lady that answered ended up sharing that her husband had passed away 3 weeks ago, and she asked several times for us to be sure to come back. We are planning to try visiting her tonight. Walked away with chills, cause that's what it's all about. God using us to reach out to His children to comfort them and invite them to Him.
We also got a text from the sisters who moved into Elder Peterson's old area of Germantown, TN. They were working with one of the people he had been teaching when he was there, and happened to mention that the first person I baptized had gone with them to that lesson. Anyway, it was just good to hear she's doing well and doing good!
Wednesday was another up and down day. We were only really able to see one or two of the people we'd hoped to see, but it was a great day. We talked with Carmelita about temples, and the spirit was there really strong. She said she could feel what the temple feels like inside as we shared our testimony of it, and you could tell there was a lot of good in the room helping her to understand and recognize truth. She is amazing.
From there, we drove up through Washington, a little civil war era looking town/state park thing? We stopped for lunch at the tavern there, which has been open since the 1830s or something. My red beans and rice were delicious. We asked the waitress, who shared that she was from Nashville, AR, if there was anyone we could see in Nashville while we were up there, and she told us about her dad, Bubba, who was in a nursing home. So after that yummy lunch, checking out the tree out front of the place that had been struck by lightning (!!) and a discussion with another lady who's been investigating the church, we went to the nursing home and asked for "Bubba." They knew exactly who we were talking about and led us right there, and he just loved our visit. Talkative good ole southern boy. As we left, he said he'd never forget us haha.
Elder Lim stopped to grab some peaches from a roadside fruit tent. Those are starting to pop up everywhere. Mostly with watermelon. But the locals keep telling us to wait until the signs say "Hope Watermelon" before getting any of them. I guess we've got another few weeks til those start hitting the streets like an influx of freshly imported cocaine.
We weren't able to teach anyone else back in Hope that night, but a guy did recommend the taco truck I keep meaning to try, and we had some time, so we stopped and got tacos. They were pretty dang good. Although I learned the hard way (by dumping a lot of it on my taco) that the orange salsa they gave wasn't quite like Valentina's, but more like pureed habanero peppers haha. Youch.
On Thursday, we had our zone conference (missionary meeting) in Little Rock. There wasn't really a lot that was said that stood out to me, too much. But I definitely came away from it with some awesome understandings.
1. I LOVE the doctrine of Christ. I am reminded of a quote by Neal A Maxwell. "The restored gospel is buoyant, wide, and deep--beyond our comprehension. It edifies, whether concerning divine design in the universe stressing the importance of personal chastity and fidelity. Only meek disciples can safely handle such a bold theology."
There are people who know every last little detail about Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, even going as far as to learn the languages of these fictional universes. I feel like I am getting to that level with the restored gospel. The difference is, this is real! This has lasting, eternal consequences. This brings joy into my life and into the lives of all those I share it with. Joy that inexplicably can't be found any other way or place than from God. And there is no end to it! There is no limit to our understanding or what we can learn before we have to start "writing fanfiction." No, we can learn forever. To draw a line in the sand where the limit is is to deny the fact that there is no limit to what we can learn about a God who is limitless in His love and wisdom. He wants us to know it all, but it's like a puzzle you can only put together one piece at a time. And there aren't any edge pieces. :)
2. We had the opportunity to share our testimonies at the end of zone conference. I occasionally do, and decided to this time. There was kind of a theme of going through hard times on your mission, and well... I could relate. Afterwards, a sister stopped me and thanked me for something I said: "maybe the joy we are looking for comes later" and I was like "dang, where'd that come from, I gotta write that down, too haha." On our 2 hour drive home (with a stop at David's Burgers, ayoo) I thought about that a lot and came to a cool conclusion.
If I were the show you a map of Mount Everest, where would you feel the most joy to be as a hiker? The top! Does that mean you won't feel joy at other places, after difficult days and at the top of certain peaks leading up to it? No, of course not. You'll experience successes that will bring you relief and joy. But will it be the same as the joy on top? Not quite, nothing matches that. And you will still have absolutely miserable days where your toes are frozen and you slide back into the snow, etc. But if you think in those instances, (or even in the times when you are feeling pretty good) that you are somehow entitled to the joy that is only yours at the top of the mountain, or at the end of the hard time, or even in heaven... you're gonna be disappointed all the time. So accept and enjoy the portions of joy you are given. Remember you are still climbing. Enjoy the view.
Another quote I found this week essentially encouraged you to be disappointed. Search for disappointment. That means we had high expectations and did everything we could to make something happen. Sure, it means that it didn't happen in the end, but as long as we are disappointed - and not discouraged or disappointed in ourselves - then we are doing pretty dang good! So I loved that thought. Go out and search for disappointment. You may just find success when you do.
We had a lesson on our way back into town with a bible referral and her husband. We couldn't find their house, so we asked a neighbor, who pointed us across the street and warned us, "I wouldn't go over there if I were you." That piqued my curiosity. I asked why not. "They've got five dogs. And they bite." the guy replied, hiking up his basketball shorts up over his knee, revealing a full set of teethmarks on the back of his leg behind the knee--covering the top of his calf and the bottom of his thigh. Wow. I made some feeble joke like "Well, I just got bit by a dog last week, what's one more?" So we drove across the street and a guy was standing on the corner. He ended up being her husband. He pulled some coolers out in the yard for us to sit on and we had a good, simple, restoration lesson with them haha. (The dogs were behind another fence) It was about the kind of thing I expected coming to Arkansas haha.
There was a little more to the end of the week, but not too much to write about. I gotta have some stories to tell when I get back home that y'all haven't heard before haha. And this email is long enough. So you'll hear from me again next week!
If you haven't read the Book of Mormon, do it. (And if you have, read it again. Always be reading it!) It's not really like a beach read, but it could be. Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, just pick up the dang thing. The ebook is free, you can get it delivered for free, you've got no excuses. It will add as much light and truth and joy into your life as you let it.
Have some extra attention you wanna give away?
Have some extra foodstuffs you have the urge to mail away?
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
videos from the week: https://youtu.be/pO--Gl3o0TE
Passing judgement on this week based on title of this email might lead one to believe that it was something short of "great" but it was really pretty good haha. We're in the dog days, but things are going well!
Started off the week with transfers. Got up at 3:30AM so Elder Anderson could finish packing everything up. Including his big ole breadmaker haha. I ugly-slept most of the 2 hour drive to North Little Rock. A few hours later, Elder Peterson arrived from the Memphis caravan. He had been serving in Germantown, TN, another wealthy neighboring town to Collierville! Glad to have him in Hope! He's from Malad, Idaho.
That pretty much took our whole day, but we hit the ground running on Wednesday.
We had an appointment with our lady at the museum in town, and studied a little bit with her. She's read a lot of the Book of Mormon, and later this week even prayed about it and said she feels good, but... I don't know how much of it she understands cause she doesn't see what she needs to do or change because of that yet. Which is tricky.
We had our first new member lesson with Debbie, which went well, and then we introduced Elder Peterson to Gypsy and Devin, Sister Martin's monkeys haha. We did some finding in Prescott and gave a Book of Mormon to a Baptist minister. And then a less-active couple and their family had us over for a 4th of July cookout with hamburgers and brats. Man, brats are good.
As we pulled back into our apartment complex, there were cars parked all along the road on either side of the entrance. Turns out the Methodist church across the street was having a firework show. So we stayed outside a little longer and enjoyed a pretty doggone well-choreographed 15 minute firework show. Way to go, Methodists haha.
Did some walking around Thursday morning, sweating like a dog and met with another less active couple. One was pretty drunk which was too bad, and not just cause it was only like 4:00PM. :(
We had a good lesson that evening, though, with an investigator couple. I was way more bold than I ever would have been at the start of my mission. But they ate it up and enjoyed it, and said that they feel the spirit when we come over. When people recognize that, good things tend to happen. (Although they did cancel our appointment for yesterday...)
On Friday I introduced Elder Peterson to some of our favorite people around town, who we've helped out between chipping plaster off of walls and the community fish fry thing. We've gotten to build a really good relationship with them all, and they're as close to me as any of the members here are. One of them owns an antique shop that's actually super cool. We chatted with him and the ladies working at the store for a while, and then he gave us a tour of the building he's renovating and fixing to move into. It is dang cool!! It used to be an old department store, and looks like it hasn't been touched much since the 50s or 60s. (So uh... #vibes) It made me want to do a photoshoot in there. But it'll be all fixed up and painted over by the time I could. Rip.
We met with the lady at the chamber of commerce again, and got ourselves signed up to have a booth at the watermelon festival! I'm super excited for that even though I might get heatstroke and die. It'll be fun, though, and an awesome grand finale to the transfer. President Hansen even approved my request to bring members of my district down to join us. So that'll be fun!!
That evening was our branch Independence Day cookout. We arrived early and it was like 98 degrees in the car. Other people started showing up, and then the grill came, and then as soon as we got hot dogs and burgers on the grill, it got dark and crazy windy. Everyone had to hold onto their stuff. By the time we were serving up, it was sprinkling, and once everyone was eating, a lightning bolt struck close and LOUD! It was pretty sweet. We just kept enjoying our little barbecue in the storm and it all worked out. We were under a shelter fortunately, so we stayed pretty dry haha.
We were busy again on Saturday, but our time in Prescott went to the dogs. We had no luck whatsoever. We had a great lesson with Carmelita on the Word of Wisdom. She's living it already and it's just amazing how receptive and in tune to the spirit she is. She's amazing. (And even sang a few lines of some gospel hymn for us in her excitement about the Iron Rod in 1 Nephi 8. Dang, that lady can sing!)
Walked around Hope some more that night, walking around parts of this little town I had never seen before. Met some cool people that I'll hopefully be able to write more about next week! :) while walking, we passed this little shop in a sketchier part of town that we pass through on our way to church. Since I got here, there's been this little table sitting out front and I was sure it was a record player just sitting out there. Sure enough. A little note inside says that they got it at a yard sale but never ended up using if and that it works great. FREE.
So... if any of you wanna come pick that up and hold onto it for me... it'd be much appreciated.
Sunday was good! Carmelita came and we had pot luck afterward. We went out to find some new people in easily one of the nicer neighborhoods I've been in since leaving Collierville. Funny that the nice neighborhood is where I get bit by a dog.
We walk up to the first house. There are two cars in the driveway. Two pretty big, kinda intimidating dogs are leashed up and napping under the car on the left. We stepped onto the driveway and one barked but didn't move from the car. So we go around the other side of the car on the right, around towards their front door. Well I didn't get very far before the one dog that barked turned the corner around the car on the right and kinda ran toward me. I took a step back out of surprise, but still just expected it to circle me and bark and maybe nudge my legs like most people's loose dogs do. (I've gotten a lot more bold around dogs since the start of my mission, too. I'd never had a problem other than being annoyed by their barks. Big ones, little ones, cute ones, scary ones, they've all been ok. Until then.)
But nope. That sucker turned it's head and went for my left leg. I stepped back quickly, losing my pant leg from off its tooth, and let the adrenaline try to fade down. The owners had magically appeared out of nowhere and pulled back on the leash. I gave the shakiest "we're the missionaries" spiel of my life. The guy ended up being nice and kinda apologetic, but not even a sympathetic return appointment was to be had. As we walked away, I could see a tiny hole in my pants where a tooth had gone through, and a little bit of pain under it. Walked and talked around for another hour or so, meeting a prison chaplain biker guy who was pretty cool and said he had been on the run from the FBI for 2 years before turning his life over to Christ haha.
We got back to the car and for the heck of it, I hiked up my pant leg, expecting maybe a little scratch. But no, there was a good sized little scab already, a little smaller than an m&m. I didn't realize he drew blood but yup. I got off easy, but it still freaked me out a bit and gave me something to make my weekly email exciting. To add insult to injury, the dog's name was "Goofy," smh. Last I checked, Goofy didn't go around nibbling on the legs of the Lord's servants.
So uh... that's been the week. Cool people, sketchy people, hot days, rainy days, one fish, two fish, red fish, mean dog. Wait--?
Hope y'all have a blessed week. The people (and dogs) down here could use your prayers.
It might be funny if you sent pictures of puppies but at least say hi, too
Plz don't send a puppy, it's against the white handbook and probably the law
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
video collage: https://youtu.be/q7tzPlp7HsU
This weekly email brought to you by:
- Germantown, TN
- Goofy, the beloved animated Disney character
- NOT the dog that bit me
- just so that's clear
- Your local pound
- Frozen Oreos
- The 1960s
Happy July!? Did June even happen??
I've given up on expecting a thoroughly "good" or "bad" week. Every week is just a mixed bag of both haha. This one definitely had more of the "good," though.
The week started off with some barbecue. Monday evening we went up to Prescott, AR to visit some people there who have been tricky to get ahold of. We got to the first guy we wanted to try, (someone who had met with the missionaries a few years ago) got out of the car, the same dog started yipping at us as always, but there were people getting into a car.
"Is John here?" we asked. Two kids walked into the back yard, saying, "Dad, the white guys are here."
John came around the corner and warmly said hello, and then asked the golden question: "Do yall want some barbecue? Come back in an hour and I'll have some ready!
Didn't need to tell us twice! We tried making a few other visits, and then circled back around. He handed us a plate with an incredible piece of meat - glazed in now-crispy barbecue sauce after being slow smoked over charcoal and apple wood. If my words do it half justice, that's pretty good.
We chatted with him, and went over with him to the house of the member of the branch who catches chickens, and had a fun visit with the two of them before having to head back to Hope.
On Tuesday, we had our last district meeting of the transfer. Er, I mean... District Council. (They changed the name of the meeting on us with the update to Preach My Gospel.) That was good, and the Lims took us out to El Rinconcito, a Mexican restaurant in town, and that was also good.
That afternoon, we had great visits with Debbie and Carmelita, and later with a couple going through some stuff with some interesting ideas about how God and religion work. One of them just kind of expects that God will put His answer right in her lap without her having to do anything. Boy, wouldn't that be nice?
The next day was cool. We've made a few trips out to Nashville, AR, and sometimes we are able to see a lot of people, other times, not so much. Lately it's been more along the lines of "not so much." As I prayed that morning, I said we were going up to Nashville, and this is kind of our one shot to see a lot of the people we have there this week, so... please just let us see them! Well, not everybody we tried was home, but we were able to talk with all of the main people we had hoped to--Even if it was only in passing. And gave out a Book of Mormon. We also finally saw a referral we had received and met within my first week of being in Hope again! She has been reading, yay!
Things went downhill a little bit on Thursday as we realized:
1. We had like 20 miles left on our car for the month. (We are given a limit.)
2. The Lim's car, (affectionately nicknamed by yours truly, the "Lim-ousine") is in the body shop
3. The heat index was like 104-115!
4. Our cell phone no longer has cell service in Hope. Apparently T Mobile decided to drop coverage for this area. Yippee. (Today by some miracle it's working again? But I don't expect it will for long.)
A fun combination of things!
When we went to drop off Elder Lim to the body shop to pick up their car, our next door neighbor was heading out, too, and asked if we would want some dishes, cause he was moving out. So... We got some new dishes.
On our way back from the body shop, I also could no longer handle the length of my hair. It wasn't bad, just annoying. And hot. And I'd been trying to get a haircut for the last month. But no barbershop is open on Monday here, apparently. And Saturdays they're closed, too, we found out. So we went to one of the 2 hair cutting places. The first one was pretty foofy, and they said they were busy. Dang it. But I had had enough, and so we backtracked and sacrificed the miles to try the 2nd one, a tiny little barbershop off the main street in Hope.
We walked in and there were 2 stations, each with a slushy aqua green retro chair, and big mirrors. A handful of taxidermied deer hung on the limited wall space in there. A couple other guys were sitting around, and the one barber made quick work of each of them until it was my turn. We got talking a little bit and it turns out he had done a mission trip cutting hair to the Dominican Republic with his church. He's been cutting hair since he got out of high school, and had some cool stories. 2 more people walked in while I was getting my haircut, and while Elder Anderson was getting his done, the whole room got talking about the missionaries. What we do, all the missionaries who had come in in the past, and some genuine questions about the logistics side of a mission for us.
One of the guys that walked in said we had a "pretty great boss," and that he appreciated what we were doing and said the world needed more of it. He then proceeded to pay for both of our $12 haircuts. I prayed to thank God for Jerry that night. What a nice guy. As it turns out, I wasn't supposed to get a haircut from any other place at any other time, cause we were blessed by Jerry and by being able to have a great conversation with the whole tiny barbershop's worth of people in Hope, Arkansas that afternoon.
As an added bonus to that Thursday, we went to a Chinese buffet with the wonderful Mexican family in the branch. So that was a good experience haha.
Pretty much every week before a transfer, I have transfer nightmares. That night I dreamt I was transferred to Wyoming. Man, that would stink. Wyoming is great and all, but uh... this is the best place to be serving a mission.
Before our weekly planning session, the Lims had us over for chicken salad sandwiches for lunch. (The yummy stuff with grapes in it on a croissant. Yum.)
They shared that they had met a lady at the town museum who asked them if they were Mormons and informed them that she was reading our book. Turns out she is through the book of 3rd Nephi! So... We are excited about that. We knew exactly who they were talking about. We had given that lady a Book of Mormon back when I was on the prowl for some Hope, Arkansas stickers. We didn't think that much of it, then.
We had a good ole southern time back up in Prescott on Saturday afternoon. It was like a bazillion degrees, but there was a little breeze that helped. Elder Lim dropped us off, and we walked around. We had a great lesson with a guy named James we met a few weeks ago. He has a pretty good lazy eye, but a better understanding of the scriptures. He works with the chickens, too, and enjoyed studying with us again. We met on his porch this time, sweating ourselves dry and getting nipped by tiny ants on the sofa out there. I introduced a scripture and then had to wait like 5 minutes for an enormously long train to pass through across the street before I could read it. But something about the misery of it all, (and James' enjoyment of it nonetheless) was kinda endearing. One of those moments I think I'll look back on fondly and maybe even miss a little.
From there, we walked across town so Elder Anderson could fix another dryer for a great less-active couple. It took a while and standing around in the sun while he did that got pretty old pretty quick, but it was a good thing to have done.
Elder Lim picked us up on his way back to Hope. We passed a pizza hut delivery car and both kinda knew that that's what we'd end up doing for dinner. Exhausted and sticky as we were, the delivery man was an angel that night haha.
We got transfer emails that night! Elder Anderson is off to midtown Memphis. And I'm staying in Hope! He's sad to be leaving, and I was extra glad I wasn't transferred to Wyoming. I'm loving Hope a lot and am so glad to be staying!
Yesterday, Debbie was confirmed and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and that was really special. Another recent convert passed the sacrament for the first time. Elder Anderson started packing. The Lims had us over to play a round of Phase 10, which I... almost won. It was a good day.
Today, Elder Anderson has been saying goodbye to some people around town. The Presbyterian church reverend who let him practice the organ there, the owner of the hardware store, the lady at the chamber of commerce... she gave us both Hope shirts and asked if she could pray with us. She's a sweet Southern Baptist lady who doesn't "get" or agree with us 100%, but she didn't let that show or change her kindness towards us. Her prayer was wonderful and sweet, and it's been good seeing how loving, kind, passionate, and generous the people of this little town are. It's just funny to think "where else can you walk into a chamber of commerce and be asked to hold hands in prayer?" What a place. I love it.
I "Hope" y'all have a good week!
Don't have stamps?
Don't have an email account? (...wait a sec... well I guess you can write me, anyway!)
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
This week has taken more out of me than I thought I had to begin with. But I am a happy kind of exhausted.
I went on 2 exchanges this week, one in Hope with our zone leaders and one in Camden with some missionaries in my district.
With one of our ZLs, we found a potential family to work with!! And had Debbie's baptismal interview, and tried by Carmelita again. (She had been told some lies about us by her daughter last week and had dropped us.)
We knocked on her door, not really knowing what to expect when or if she answered. She did, she smiled, and... She welcomed us right in! She said she wanted to continue studying with us, but we weren't sure if that meant coming to church with us again, too. We read 1 Nephi 6 with her. I know that it was no accident that was the chapter she was on. We read verse 5, which talks about how Nephi doesn't write the things that are pleasing to the world, but the things that are pleasing to God. She opened up and told us that as soon as she hung up the phone to say she was going back to her church, she felt like she had made the wrong decision, and that she needed to "finish what she started," (using her words). So she is back on track and stronger than ever!
Got home and chatted for a while. We ended up talking til midnight. It was good being able to vent a little bit. Picked it back up in the morning and honestly just kinda bawled my eyes out for a while. This last transfer or two has been rough. I read a great talk by Elder Hales this week, though, that pointed out how we think of the last week of the Savior's life as being awful, (and it definitely was!) But it was also when some of the most important parts of His earthly ministry took place. Likewise, despite the hard times, I also feel like I'm the best teacher I've ever been, and that there is more potential in front of me than ever before. I've just been kinda beating myself up cause I haven't felt like I've been pushing myself to improve like I need to be, and it's felt like all I can do to keep my head above water and be happy.
But! I think this week has been our best one here in Hope. We got rained out on one of our long driving days, but got to visit a few of the members that live further out. I love when it rains. Until it becomes a game of "how can I possibly stay dry the second I open this door?" (We usually don't even bother trying to play that haha)
On Thursday, we took our old dryer (Which Elder Anderson had fixed after the mission replaced it) out to a distant member, Sister Martin, who lives in a little trailer home without a functional dryer. They'd been hanging clothes up to dry on clothes lines and on monkey cages.
So we drove out there, recruiting the help of a less active member with a truck to help get the dryer out there.
--wait a second, what? Did that say monkey cages?
Uh... yeah. Anyway, we got the dryer unloaded and through the trailer to where it needed to go, and Elder Anderson worked on that while the Lims and I chatted with Sister Martin.
Yeah, that's what I said. I mean we had to use the dolly to get the dryer around all of those monkey cages in her trailer. But then I was chatting with Sister Martin and Gypsy.
Mmhmm. That's the name of her capuchin monkey. She also has a big Macaque that was in the big cage in the trailer. Its name is Devin. Devin and Gypsy.
(Yeah, they were pretty cool hahaha.) Gypsy had been trained to be able to unlock a padlock and give Sister Martin a kiss, and probably a whole variety of other mischievous things. So that was a highlight of the week haha. I was kinda hoping to get a picture with gypsy on my shoulder or something, but she was shy. I contented myself with watching her lick the salt off the inside of a peanut container lol.
After that, we had some great lessons with Debbie & Carmelita again, and then had another guy flake on us, but it's ok. 2 for 3 is pretty good haha.
I had my exchange in Camden and had a traditional dinner with members again haha. They were really cool. He was the youngest son of his father's 2nd marriage. His father was born in a US Territory--what a few years later became the state of Montana. Yeah. His dad was born in Montana before it became a state. And his great great grandpa? fought in the Revolutionary War I think haha. He's a neat guy. I pointed out the collection of cast iron skillets on his wall and he spent like 15 minutes talking with me about them and showing me how I can recognize the collectibles if I'm ever looking for 'em. Makes me wanna go hit up the DI's back home.
Of course, the real highlight of this week was Debbie's baptism. We held it after church services, and a few members from the stake, including the Stake President, stayed to attend. The font was filling up as fast as it apparentky had in the past, so we hooked a garden hose up and had that going into the font, as well haha. I was able to baptize her, and Elder Anderson was able to be in the font, too, to help her down the steps and back up. Afterward, she just smiled really big. She's a wonderful lady.
(For those who are just now reading this, a while ago, Debbie was involved in an accident that left her largely unable to speak. We received her as a Bible referral last month with very little information. She welcomed us in and eventually wrote on a little notepad that she couldn't speak. We explained the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the Book of Mormon. Elder Lim asked her how she felt about what we had shared, and she wrote one word on her notepad - "Wonderful." As we continued to meet, we learned how to teach and discern by the spirit, and "hear" her through nods, notes, smiles, pointing at verses, lingering on pages, and of course: her thumbs up. (Sometimes even two!) It was a "wonderful" day for a very wonderful sister of ours.)
After being at the church from like 8:30-3:00, I was pretty tired. But we went and tried a few more people with no luck, and swung by home to visit the Lims for a little bit. As we chatted, the power flickered and went off, and a half second later, we hear this huge "BOOOM" and thunder following right after like a jet plane crashing through the parking lot. We, and a bunch of neighbors nervously peeked out the doors to investigate. Then it happened again. We all ran inside haha. When we opened the door again to peek, you could smell smoke. A few guys ran to their cars through the rain and said something about seeing a fire. But we never saw it, only smelled it. Of course, the rain was coming down so hard it would've put anything out in a second.
As cool as it would be to say that you've been hit by lightning... I think I'll pass on that experience.
Today, the Lims took us golfing up in Arkadelphia. I understand Ether 12:27 on a whole other level, now. Color me humbled, I stunk at that game haha. It was fun, all the same. I'll probably stick with some different expensive hobbies, though.
So that's pretty much my week. The usual ups and downs. But again, it really has been probably our best week in Hope - And not just because Debbie was baptized. I figured a lot of things out after mentally stewing on them for a while. We are moving in a good direction, and there is a lot of good work to be done here! Transfers are next week and I hope I'm not going anywhere! This is where I'm supposed to be!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
This weekly email brought to you by:
- A diabetic monkey named Gypsy
- The US Territories
- Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Cookies (Which were on sale for 1$ a pack today yikes)
- righteous living: the best defensive measure for lightning safety
Video of monkeys: http://youtu.be/125wXPPUSU4
Video: Gypsy licking up peanut salt while Sister Martin explains that Gypsy is diabetic and "loves getting stuck." Apparently it'll eagerly offer a hand or leg for its insulin shot.
gypsy at Sis. Martin's.mp4
Another roller coaster week in Hope!
We got back in touch with several people who we were on the verge of giving up on, and we were able to teach a lot at the beginning of this week, which is about my favoritest thing to do.
The Lims, (The senior couple set of missionaries in Hope) had some of their family come and visit, and so they took them (and us!) to Tailgaters, the famous burger joint around here one day, and Big Jake's BBQ the next day. Man. I do love barbecue a whole lot. I'm gonna miss it back home.
Played a few rounds of Phase 10 at a branch social on Wednesday. The husband of one of the members there only speaks Spanish, and had never played Phase 10 before. He ended up winning. (With the help of pulling a wild card off the bottom of the deck on a round that he dealed hahaha. He cracked me up.)
We helped out at the Branch Presidents house again, swapping outlets and light switches. I pinched my thumb pretty badly in a pair of pliers but survived and the new outlets work, so I guess that's a success!
Debbie will be having her baptismal interview tomorrow, so we are excited for that and for her as she prepares to be baptized on Sunday!!
Our other lady preparing to be baptized was told some things about us by a well-intending daughter that are true about Jehovah's Witnesses... But not us. So we are not sure whether we will be able to continue teaching her or not. She called to tell us she was going back to her church, and asked if we believed in dialysis and blood transfusions. Um... yes we do? Despite our best efforts and even her admission that she knew what we had been teaching her was true, her daughter coached her along on the other line of saying she was just going to go back to her church. Man. That heckin stinks. I've been kinda beat up about it since it happened. Keep her in your prayers, I guess. We'll keep trying.
Walked around a little bit more of Hope one day this week. We walked around the Tyson Chicken Feed Plant, and man, you can smell that stuff from a ways out. We tried a former investigator there and he welcomed us right in, gave us each a Dr. Pepper, and chatted for a while. He even said he'd start reading the Book of Mormon again, so hey!
That afternoon, on our way up to Nashville, Arkansas, we stopped in the historic Washington, AR national park at the William's Tavern (eat. 1832?) again and got some tasty cobbler. Good stuff. But it didn't beat my Dad's Dutch oven cobbler. (And I'm not just saying that cause it was Father's Day yesterday. He is the best, though.)
On Saturday, we didn't have a lot of luck outside of our good lesson with Debbie. From there, we headed back to Hope and went downtown to help with their fish fry. We were assigned to the cooking tents, but don't worry, we just moved the French fries, hush puppies, and fried catfish and chicken by the boxload to the different tents where people were eating. And, above that, I didn't even drop a single fry. They had probably about 10 fryers running most of the time, going through cooler after cooler of yummy southern fried goodness.
It was a hot day, and we were in our slacks, white shirts, and ties, walking boxes of catfish around the streets of Hope while train horns sounded off every half hour or so and a train rushed right by us on the other side of a fence. Everybody was sweaty, but it smelled like the food section of the county fair, and we got to eat the fried catfish fillets that were too small to give to people. So that was a plus. The South is one heckuva place, y'all.
We helped take down the chairs, tables, and tents afterward. (Shoutout to all the Church events that trained me for this moment.) Dumped out the better part of probably a 10 or 15 gallon metal drum of leftover sweet tea into the street, like it was the Hope Tea Party. We were some of the last people to head home, and were told "thank you" more times than catfish bites I ate. (Which is to say, a lot.) The owner of Tailgaters even said she'd buy us dinner there whenever we came in. We were able to get to know a lot of the leaders of the community, chamber of commerce, and Lions Club there. Plus it was a lot of fun. ...And we were sent home w several to go boxes full of chicken and fries and fish.
On Sunday, I recreated Zaxby's Kickin' Chicken sandwhich again with the leftovers. That and church were really good, thankfully. Cause not a single investigator we tried to visit that day answered the door. Missionary work is weird. And people are crazy. We just get to hear and witness often how very strange people and their decisions are. Although I'm sure Heavenly Father thinks that way of me, sometimes, too haha. I'm one of the weird ones.
Did a lot of thinking and pondering this week, and as usual, despite the hard times I have definitely felt like I've learned and grown a lot. I love getting to study the scriptures so much every day. They are seriously my favorite books. There is power in every verse and word. Power that I don't want to give up by missing a day of reading. It's magic, I guess. :) I wish I could make people magically understand that. President Nelson said it best in quoting Brigham Young: "I might paraphrase President Brigham Young in saying, 'I wish I had the voice of seven thunders to wake up the people' to the truth and power of the Book of Mormon."
Maybe if people knew just how "marvelous a work and a wonder" this really was, they wouldn't miss appointments, not read, ignore our texts or go less-active haha. But I know! And that's what I have control over, and what I find joy in.
Hey. I love you all. Thanks for being awesome. Keep those prayers coming. <3
I'm usually quick at responding to emails. (By next Monday at least.)
But I'm slow at responding to letters, I'm sorry. But I do respond!
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Extra train video: https://youtu.be/zrRCLhZYgOg
If I said that this week brought me to tears, on my knees, and to the verge of passing out, it would make it sound like a bad week. But I don't wanna do that haha. It's been a good one, don't worry.
We had a great lesson with Debbie this week, and she is continuing to progress. She is such an incredible lady. I feel very lucky to be able to teach and learn from her.
We stopped by a less active member's house on the way back into town and talked to him in his garage. There was a cool breeze going through it, and it wasn't too hot of a day. But, after standing on the concrete for as long as we did, coupled with my not drinking as much water as I usually do that morning, and the subject matter of the conversation (things that went wrong with this guy's surgery) led to me getting really light headed. Everything went white and fuzzy. I could make out shadows of outlines and hear the conversation continue as if I was underwater. I stayed standing but finally had to just sit down after a few minutes of that. When I stood back up again to leave, I was all pale and clammy, but felt a lot better.
Got a drink of water and went out and visited a few people. There's so much potential in this area. Lots of cool people, and some of them even want to hear the gospel! The only thing that would make it better is if they kept their appointments and used their phones! :-))
Got back that evening and Elder Anderson made dinner while I napped for 45 minutes. That turned my week around. Naps are the best.
The next day, every appointment we had canceled. Which stunk, but it was still a good day. I decided to try the next door neighbor of a house we tried, and we ended up giving a Book of Mormon to a young mom. We'll go back to check on her eventually, and it's cool to think about how much good that reading this book can do for her and for her kids for generations. And it's hard to see her or anyone not just read it. It's such a simple thing. But so many people just don't.
We stopped at a Mexican restaurant in town there with the Lim's in lieu of our appointments. My chimichanga helped fill the void. (Almost as much as giving that Book of Mormon away, anyway. That really helped me feel like the trip had not been wasted.)
We got back to Hope and tried visiting some former investigators. Both of the ladies we tried actually said we could come back. Yay!
The next day we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders. They got in a small car accident a week or two ago, and so they had a brand new Malibu with less than 300 miles on it. On our way back to Pine Bluff, we stopped to visit their old car in the mechanics shop to make sure they got all of their stuff out of it. We had decided when we left Hope that we would challenge ourselves this exchange to ask every person we talk to for referrals, and to share a scripture from the Book of Mormon with them.
Well, here were these two mechanics in Poyen, Arkansas. (Side note. Arkansas pronounces things really weird. See note below.) They'd given a Book of Mormon to one the first time they came in, and it turns out the other guy had a lot of family that was LDS. So we shared a scripture with the two of them, just standing in their shop while they sat on a bench or worked on a car. We had a great chat with them and answered a few questions. Really nice guys. This was definitely a highlight of the week. There's no bad place to share the gospel! (Well, okay, maybe there are a few places, but at least we can remove a mechanic shop from the list!)
On Arkansas pronouncing things weird:
Poyen is pronounced "Po-wen"
El Dorado is pronounced "El Dor-ay-do"
Nevada County is "Ne-vay-duh"
The list goes on.
A lady we talked to there in Pine Bluff was pretty funny. "I'm surprised y'all are out walking on the streets talking to people. This is Pine Bluff! The crime rate is crazy." She said "Pine Bluff" as if she were saying "The slums of detroit during a gang war." The missionaries joke about it being called "Crime Bluff" but it's really not as bad as people make it out to be haha.
The next day was Zone Conference and a member gave us a ride up to North Little Rock, teaching us about how he tries to live the Nazarite law of health, and all about the sci-fi book he is writing. It was an interesting ride haha.
Zone Conference was really good, though. We had the whole Arkansas side of the mission together to hear Elder Perkins of the Seventy, and Elder Johnson, an area Seventy from Alabama. They were both awesome and I learned a lot and left with exactly the kind of motivation I wanted to feel afterward.
We stopped at another Mexican restaurant in a small town on our way back to Hope from Little Rock. Yum.
The next two days were Stake Conference, which was preceded really just by service and planning out our week. Elder Anderson set it up so that we could stream the broadcast at our church building, which was great. We had invited like 6 people to come watch it with us, but not one showed up. :( It was an amazing session, though. So was the Sunday session. Ill get back to Saturday night in a second.
After the Sunday session, we had pot luck with the branch. As we were stacking chairs, Debbie pulled one alongside her wheelchair literally an inch at a time. She managed to pick it up and add it to a small stack against the wall. I wanted to help her, but something kept me from it, and I think she felt a sense of fulfillment with having helped in the small way she could. She's incredible.
We got recruited by the Branch President to come to his place and help install some new outlets. This was right up Elder Anderson's alley and so I was afraid I'd have to stand around and twiddle my thumbs again, but President Porter showed me how, and by my 3rd outlet I felt like an accomplished electrician. We will probably go back and do some more of those!
Okay, back to Saturday.
Despite the wonderful Saturday meeting, I got home that night in kind of a bad mood, honestly. One of the themes of both conferences this week was that "enduring joy" is the result of living the gospel. And you know what? I didn't feel too happy. And it felt like it had been kind of a long time since I had. There have been plenty of great moments, and joyful experiences, but I've been in kind of a funk for a while.
So I poured my heart out in prayer, praying a little harder than usual. I asked for forgiveness, peace, comfort, and the joy I felt I was due. Elder Anderson was in the bathroom while I just wept in prayer. It's been hard. But through prayer, I felt very very loved by my Father and my Savior. I miss them and can't wait to see them again, the same way I can't wait to see my earthly family again. But the feeling I got was that if I didn't have the hardships I had, I probably wouldn't have prayed to the extent I had, and wouldn't have been able to feel the love that I did.
I'm still working on the "enduring joy" thing. Missionary work is so fulfilling, thankfully. And between the conferences we had, and that special moment, my faith is stronger than ever. I just want to beg with people in the streets to read the stinking Book of Mormon. I want them to feel how much I know it is God's word by the light and power that shine through me.
I know that book is true, and that this isn't just some "mission trip" that I'm doing. I am a participant in the work of salvation, representing the church that Jesus Christ Himself established and that He leads today. Does that sound crazy? (It kinda should.) Thankfully, he has given us evidence of that that we can hold in our hands and judge for ourselves. This evidence is, you guessed it - The Book of Mormon. There is just too much depth, spirit, symbolism, and purity of doctrine for an unlearned Joseph Smith to have dictated it without notes in two months. It's true, y'all. What more can I say?
Pray for me. Pray for the people out here. Pray for you.
Have a blessed week!
Print out your email and mail it to me, too, cause letters are fun
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
Take a picture of your letter and email it to me?
Well, y'all. You've read about 365 days of my mission, now. On May 31st of last year, I walked into the missionary training center. And now, one year from me writing this email, I'll be walking off the plane into the cool, warm, nonhumid air of the Boise Airport. But I'm not ready for that yet. I've got work to do, and people to save, and a better person yet to become.
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