Well, y'all. The baby calves are getting bigger, the trees are getting greener, my soul is growing stronger, and the astrological phenomenon of the earth getting slightly closer to the sun means the weather is getting warmer!
In addition to some minor sunburns, I've also gained a stronger conviction of the reality of this work. This isn't a vacation. And when we treat a mission like the sacred work that it is, we are going to be all the better for it.
Personal growth seems to happen the most on tougher weeks, which is kind of annoying.
But anywho! I was able to do a 2-night exchange in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, [AKA "Crime Bluff"] with our zone leaders. I've looked up to Elder King for a while, now, and so it was awesome to do an exchange with him!
We didn't experience or witness any crimes, but, we did:
- Have a peanut butter, jelly, banana, marshmallow sandwich. (Toasted, of course.) It was good. But of course, how could it not be?
- Go for a morning jog. This happened on Wednesday and I'm still kinda sore. But it's something I wanna get into cause it seems like every successful person who has their life together also manages to go for a 5k every morning.
- Do service at an assisted living facility. Okay, this one deserves its own paragraph.
We hung up these spinny shiny butterfly things from the ceiling. They hung just low enough that I might have to duck to the side a bit to avoid getting them in my hair. But all the residents were in wheel chairs and were just enchanted by those suckers. It was funny seeing their eyes light up, and hearing them consent to catch me if I fell down from the ladder.
After that, we were recruited to bring some bags of ice from a pickup truck into their industrial kitchen freezer outside. We were given a flat-topped cart to do it. We loaded the ice on and carefully steered it back through the brick-layed patio. Each bump shook the cart a little bit and we probably got about half way before the ice started sliding off the cart. We each grabbed whatever fell off and hurried to unload it in the freezer. Fortunately there weren't many witnesses to that, but I thought it was super funny. One of the ladies working there came out to us putting the ice bags in the freezer in our white shirts and ties and asked if we worked for Reddy Ice. Had she come out just a few minutes earlier, she probably wouldn't have asked that question.
We had a lesson after that that was pretty good. It started raining a little bit before we arrived. We couldn't teach in the guy's house cause there were like 9 dogs in there, and some cats. And it was raining outside. So the guy was quick to volunteer their abandoned RV, being used as a "storage shed" in their side yard, as the ideal place for a sit down lesson. Thankfully I got to sit in a chair by the open door. Cause that thing was nasty. After confirming there had never been a history of bed bugs in it, we taught the lesson and continued through our day.
We had one more lesson that night, thankfully in an actual house that didn't smell. The guy was super cool and open, and I loved seeing how much he actually agreed with the message of the Restoration. He lost his legs awhile ago up to the thighs. Cool dude! I watched some beetles scurry across his floor and desk across the room, though. And right before we said the closing prayer, he added, "hey, if anything bites you in that couch, it's not my fault," with an old southern black man laugh. He explained that his wife had sold the couch to someone, but they'd never paid for it, so she went into their house and took it back hahaha.
...so... We got home and showered and put our clothes in the dryer just in case. So far so good.
The next day was Zone Conference, which was awesome. It was a powerful reminder to raise my vision and expectations, and not to settle for mediocrity from anyone or anything, especially from myself. I'm making changes and sacrificing more to be better, stronger, and to invite more miracles.
Friday was one of those "best of times, worst of times" days cause the cool couple we found last week dropped us when we called to set up an appointment. They sounded mad after our very pleasant visit last time, leading us to believe they got "anti'd" pretty bad. (Which means they found or someone told/showed them some "anti-mormon" literature. Which happens kind of a lot. And that stuff is definitely out there. But not one piece of it is truth, or cannot be explained by additional truth. I've heard it all. I can answer it all. It doesn't shake my testimony--not because I ignore its existence, but because there has always been opposition to truth.) So that was a bummer.
But we taught an amazing lesson to a super sweet lady that felt like a textbook example of a perfect lesson. I'm excited to follow up with her! And then we came home and Elder Anderson made enchiladas. And they were DANG GOOD.
You know what else is DANG GOOD, though? Carrot cake Hershey's kisses. Yeah. I didn't even know those existed til this week. And apparently they're a limited edition deal? But they were so good.
On Saturday we did some super cool service! A member of the branch here works with a lot of the civil war history related stuff in Arkansas. We were able to go out and follow people with metal detectors around a civil war battle field with shovels, digging up whatever beeped.
I remember as a kid asking for a metal detector for Christmas cause I wanted to be an archeologist when I grew up. (That was after my paleontology phase.) So this was way cool, and very fun, even if it confirmed in my mind the fact that I don't really wanna be an archaeologist. I guess the field we scanned was a part of the battlefield technically, but the present plan was to turn it into a parking lot for the Praire-De'Anne (?) Civil War visitor center they will eventually make. We just had to scan it all to make sure they weren't paving over anything cool.
The metal detector beeped a few times, and we found such thrilling items as wire, a nail, some more wire, an old farm file, some wire, and half a horseshoe. So even though none of it was really civil war related, it was still pretty fun to hear the beep and start digging. I guess it's gonna take a few weeks, so we will have to plan a day to do it again in a more exciting part of the process. :)
Later that afternoon, we visited a member of the branch who is working as a chicken catcher for Tyson. He's had the job for about a month and hates it. But he had some funny stories. I guess after so long at it, you develop what are called in the industry, "chicken-catcher hands," that just get polished and worn down so much it rubs your fingerprints off! He wears a pantyhose with a head hole over his arms to keep the dust and ammonia off of himself. Each house, he said, has 20,000 chickens. (Sometimes 35,000) and they usually empty 2-3 houses a night. Wow. So there's your southwestern Arkansas chicken trivia of the week.
Had my first full Sunday in the Hope branch. All 2 hours of it haha. The visiting high councillor was the only speaker, and the heel of a loaf of bread was all we used for sacrament. And we had leftovers. I think we had 31 people total. This mission is so cool cause I've experienced polar opposites. A branch of 31 people in Arkansas, and being assigned over 2 large wards in Tennessee. But wherever you go, the church is true! The same gospel is taught. The way the Apostles and Jesus Christ himself set up. The way we read about in the Bible. Cool stuff!
We left right after, though, and drove to Little Rock for the musical tribute there. Only one more left, over in Memphis. I probably won't be able to go to that one, but it's ok. They've been very fun and spiritually powerful. Plus, the cookies and socializing at the end is fun. I've come to love a lot of people out here. Especially the missionaries haha.
Drove back to Hope that night, and have just done some shopping today. We tried another Mexican restaurant and checked out the museum in the train station today, and it's pretty awesome haha. They've got a train section of the building, and a Bill Clinton side of the building. Cracks me up. Got a hold of "Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe." Can you believe they'd give something like that away for free? "Hope is dope, y'all."
Tomorrow I hit my 11 month mark! Almost been out here a year. That can't be right. Sometimes it feels like I've been at it for my whole life, but most of the time I feel like I got off the plane last week haha.
Missions are a blessing. So is the gospel. Live it, love it!
This is Elder Dahl, sending his love, and signing off from Hope Arkansas, "Birthplace of America's Best President, and a 200+lb watermelon, Mike Huckabee."
Send your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes:
Send your favorite chocolate chip cookies:
303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
[Been a while since I did these, but there were some good ones for this week lol]
This week's email is brought to you by:
- Grammatically incorrect phrases insinuating Mike Huckabee is a watermelon
- The thrill of a metal detector beeping
- The ensuing disappointment of digging up a rusty piece of wire
- Hillary Rodham Clinton (and her chocolate chip cookies)
- Your friendly neighborhood chicken catcher
- The bugs hiding in your couch
- Reddy Ice
Serving A Mission!
What's all this about? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is expected of me that I will serve a two-year mission. (And yeah, the "riding bikes and wearing nametags and knocking on doors" kind of mission.) But this isn't something I'm doing because it's expected of me... I'm doing this because the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life SO much, in SO many ways. I can't think of a greater honor or responsibility than being able to play a part in someone's story of finding and enjoying these blessings, too.
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(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116