Merry Christmas, y'all! Hope your day and season has been splendid and that you have been able to feel the joy of Christ's birth. He gives me hope!
This has been one of the more fun weeks of my mission, and somehow being on bikes was a part of that!
By way of explanation, our car had been dented pretty good before I got to Conway, and our appointment at the collision repair place was from the 18th through the 22nd. So, for those few days, we were on bikes!
Additional background information: on transfer day, I left my bike in the mission office because we were hosting 2 other missionaries for the next few days and there wasn't room in the car to bring it. When we dropped them off later in the week, I forgot to grab it. Well... it had been given away to another missionary. Thankfully, I was able to get it back after one of the many meetings we had last week. When I braced myself for the cold misery that is riding a bike in the Arkansas winter, I quickly realized that my bike seat had been adjusted a little higher, and that something was up with my gears. (It won't go into the 3rd gear on the left handlebar? Idk if that's the right terminology or whatever). Which, at first was very annoying. And then it became very humbling, because... Biking had become easy. Either this week was a miracle and angels were peddling for me, or... I just needed to raise the seat of my bike a little bit.
Whatever it is! Biking without my legs dying made it a lot more enjoyable! We started out pretty close to our apartment, just knocking doors. Didn't really find anyone interested, but it's like that sometimes. (Read: a lot of the time.)
One of our investigators texted us out of the blue asking how we were doing. How cool! We had a brief, nice conversation about our day so far, and then they asked if they could borrow $200 and pay us back haha. Sooo that was fun. And then the investigator in that neighborhood we were waiting to see canceled our appointment.
After that exchange, the overcast sky gave way to sprinkling rain. It didn't stop until like 8:00 that night. It was just sprinkling most of the day, but there were some times when it was pouring.
While we were close to the apartment, Elder Evans and I biked back. He changed his shoes, cause the ones he wore that morning were soaked through and went from a tan color to a wet cardboard color haha. We put our clothes in the dryer and tried again!
This time we went across town, and it was raining pretty good. The sidewalks were covered in puddles, and there was just no way to avoid getting completely soaked. The spinning tires of the bike are always misting your front and back, and puddle splashes get your legs pretty good. But the good thing about being soaked, is once you're soaked, you can't really get any MORE soaked. :)
We locked up our bikes and walked into a trailer park. I guess the sister missionaries aren't supposed to be there at night or on bikes. But as we were walking, a member driving by with the sisters in her car passed us. They had a lesson with someone in there, too haha.
Ours was with a less active member who has been coming to church more regularly lately. He's a sharply dressed older black gentleman, who is renting out a single room of the double wide. He had had some questions about life after death following a lesson in sundsy school. We gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and started to teach him, but before long he had effectively told us to be quiet and he just mumble-read the pamphlet to himself while Elder Evans and I looked around at his room and at each other. He would ask a question about a word here and there, and would nod along every once in a while. I guess that's what they call "teaching by the spirit"? We didn't have to do much, but he thanked us and was happy about it all making sense now! It was a pretty cool experience, even if it was a little weird haha.
We biked back across town and it was dark, now. We try to stay on he sidewalks, because I don't trust drivers, and my bike is the only one with lights right now. But man, the sidewalks are just awful haha. Tree roots have busted a bunch of them, and there often aren't "dips" to get onto and off of the road from the sidewalk. So pretty often you'll have to hard fall on the road or brake and lift the bike onto the sidewalk again haha. So while we were doing this and bumping along, it was dark and raining, and thankfully not too cold. But it was actually pretty fun. Like mountain biking almost!
We met some members at Stoby's, a Conway specialty restaurant, that I wasn't terribly impressed with. But from there, the member drove us out of town a bit and joined us for a lesson with that guy who wants to go to the Temple! (He came to church this week, yay! Such a cool guy!)
Sometime during that lesson, it stopped raining. But our bikes were back at Stoby's. So the member dropped us off back there and then we biked home at like 8:30 from Stoby's.
And that's just Tuesday!
Wednesday was our mission Christmas party, which was pretty fun! We got there early and helped set up, and move all the presents from missionaries' parents to the gym from the mission office. It was like Santa's workshop in there! We spent the morning playing games and doing a white elephant gift exchange. Then in the afternoon, we watched the movie The Testaments, which (though pretty cheesy) was also really good.
People before Christ had to have the faith to look forward to His coming. They had to hope that the Savior would come to allow them forgiveness for their sins. (Mosiah 3:13) Now, we know he has come! We get to live knowing that the atonement has been performed for us. We just have to have the faith to use it.
After that, we had a testimony meeting that was supposed to be 35 mins long, but went for an hour and half. President was going to instruct, but he had to save it for another time, which was kind of too bad. But the testimony meeting was good, too.
President shared the exciting news that we will be having an entire mission conference in late January, because... (dun dun dun dunnn!) one of the apostles will be visiting! We don't know who yet, but I'm excited. That's a sweet Christmas present.
After the party, we hurried back to Conway for dinner at Don Pepe's (kinda like a hole in the wall chipotle) with some members. The mother is from Peru I think, and her mother is Italian (and doesn't know a lot of English). She has an 8 year old son, and the dynamic between those three is pretty funny. The son was snitching on his grandma for driving 80mph to get to Wal-Mart, and his mom wouldn't believe him. Then the grandma admitted to it, and the son said something about her being old, to which she responded in spanish: "your pants are old!" Elder Evans and I lost it haha.
And, since we were dropped off to dinner, we walked the 4.4 miles back to our apartment from Don Pepe's. We ended up getting home right at curfew haha. Thankfully, it was actually gorgeous outside! Like high 50s, low 60s, even at night. And no rain!
As we were walking back, a member texted us saying he was moving and he had a little keyboard that we could have if we wanted. He lived in our apartment complex so we stopped by and he let us take his piano keyboard, and sent us with groceries, too. There was a bottle of balsamic vinegar in there and that made me very happy. Merry Christmas from the Lord! He's definitely looking out for me.
The next day was a beautiful day to bike! Again like high 50s. It started out kinda cold, but we actually took off our sweaters later in the day. That night for dinner, the members made us gumbo. Homemade gumbo, and it was very yummalicious. Chicken, shrimp, and sausage in that yumminess.
And then it rained again! Thankfully, our car got finished earlier in the day than we were expecting. So after weekly planning, our ward mission leader drove us to the collision repair center and we got the car! Yay!
We had dinner w someone Elder Evans baptized last transfer, this cool Indian guy named Prashanth. We went to Tacos for Life, which (on top of being very good) was also playing the Idaho Potato Bowl game. I don't know much about football, and I don't remember who was even playing, but I can recognize that Boise Smurf turf anywhere! :)
That night, we picked up cookie dough from Wal-Mart to bake for Christmas eve caroling. I saw a cookies n cream flavored cookie dough, and thought we'd give it a try. We got other dough for everyone else. Well, it turns out Hershey's Cookies N Cream Cookie Dough is not very good. So that was a bummer. 2/10, would not recommend.
After that failed experiment, Elder Evans and I made a nativity puppet show /silly sketch with some puppets my mom sent me. It ended up being pretty dumb, but in the kind of way that is also kinda funny. I'll see if I can attach that somehow.
On Friday, we did a day exchange with the elders in the 2nd Ward. I was with Elder Clayton in their ward boundaries, biking around again cause they are a full-bike area. Got to visit with a few members there. We were going to have a dinner appointment a half hour drive away, but the member called and said he was bringing food to us instead. Which worked out, because literally just a minute or two later, the 2nd ward sister missionaries called and one of them needed a blessing cause she was feeling sick. But we needed a member with us to be able to be in their apartment. Thankfully, the member dropping off dinner was available, so within 10-15 minutes we were able to be there. She said her naseated feeling went away after the blessing. How cool that the Lord provided a way for us to very quickly be able to give her a blessing, when our original plans would have put us pretty far away. Things just seem to work out right in the mission field.
After exchanges, Elder Evans and I wrote a Jingle Bells "remish," or a missionary remix/parody to the tune of Jingle Bells. It ended up being... very awesome. I'll try to remember to include the lyrics at the bottom.
On Christmas Eve, both the 1st and 2nd wards combined for one sacrament meeting at 10:00. Afterwards, the other Elders in our area joined us to practice our "Remish." I played piano, knocked, and shouted "go away!" during the chorus. We went over to the Routts, a really great family here who hosted 5 companionships of missionaries in the Conway area. We had an awesome lunch and then went caroling in their neighborhood, played Bean Boozled (I gagged a few times) and laughed a lot. We got a bunch of Brother Routt shirts. (Shirts w/ Bro. Routt's face on them. Yup.)
After our dinner for the night, we went caroling again with most of the same missionaries as earlier. Not a lot of people were home though, haha. But the ones who were appreciated it!
I slept really well last night haha. Had a strange morning, opening presents in our apartment with Elder Evans. Went to the Routt's for breakfast which was fun again, but Elder Evans and I were the only missionaries this time. We got called out early, though, because the sisters locked their keys in the church building haha.
And now we are caught up to this moment! A few of us missionaries are chilling in the church. I've finally finished this long email.
Thanks for reading my emails, and thanks for the cards and notes! Those were probably my favorite presents! I hope you've had an awesome Christmas!
Love, rains, and candy canes!
3080 Pebble Beach Rd, apt. #1
Conway, Arkansas 72034
This weekly email brought to you by:
Your tax dollars, which are going towards everything but fixing the sidewalks
The ghost of Christmas past
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Our irreverent nativity video:
1. Zone selfie!
2. The Conway Zone, woooo!!!
3. Merry Christmas!
4. My one grungy artsy photo for the week
5. That time when the pamphlet (and the spirit) taught the lesson
Jingle Bless "Remish" lyrics:
Biking in the rain,
Getting doors slammed in my face
Got called to Arkansas,
Where even is this place?
I left for two whole years
to preach the gospel from my mouth,
now I'm here bible-bashing
with a preacher in the south!
Ding-dong bells, Ding-dong bells,
Ding-dong (GO AWAY!)
Oh what fun it is to tract on this cold and dreary day, hey!
My companion goes home soon,
he's been acting a bit funky.
He keeps talking to the sisters
I think he's getting trunky!
Don't call us the JW's
We don't do polygamy
You might think we're a little weird
'cause we don't drink coffee or tea!
We're always together,
I wonder if they think we're gay
as we hit the streets
knocking all the way. [knock knock knock]
I wanted to go home,
but I'm so glad I tarried
I got a letter from my girl,
she says she's getting mar... [crestfallen silence]
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