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!
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Hope, AR 71801
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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