The weather is slowly warming... When it's not pouring rain.
I mentioned our p-day in last week's email, but now I'll share more cause it was fun and the sunburns on my arms have faded a little. But anyway! We decided to bike over the Mississippi River into Memphis, TN last week and that was pretty fun. They have a really nice pedestrian bridge, and a place to park and everything for people who do that, but... the gate on the West Memphis side was locked. What. So another biker, coming from the Memphis side, reached the gate and said if we wanted to cross, we'd have to ride on the narrow sidewalk of the freeway bridge.
So... That's what we did! There was probably a 2 or 3 foot cement divider between the road (heavily frequented by enormous 18 wheelers) and the sidewalk haha. Going over the bridge was fun, though, trying to not get dizzy watching the Mississippi River slowly pass under you. We stopped to take a picture in the middle, and only then realized how much the bridge shook every time a truck thundered by. Yikes.
We checked out the civil rights museum, walked through Beale St., and ate at Gus's Chicken. Cause... you gotta. It was fun to be back in Memphis.
After biking back, taking a nap, and getting ready again, we had some good success finding that evening. Which introduces the title of my email, "Half-Miracles."
We found 4 new people to teach that night, which is awesome, and 3 of them actually found us! One guy called after us and we set an appointment, and another couple called to us from their parked car and asked for a bible. She'd been shot 9 times while living in Atlanta. (I got the impression it wasn't 9 different occasions, but who knows?) They all wanted to turn their life around, get back into church, and thought it was so cool that they'd seen us.
But I use the phrase "half-miracle" because... the first guy gave us a fake/old address and a nonfunctioning phone number, and the other couple didn't keep their return appointment, and we haven't been able to get back in touch with them. What's up with that?
Tuesday was good. We had our last district council of the transfer, and had a great lesson afterwards. We asked the person we were teaching what they thought God was like, because they hadn't grown up with a strong paternal figure in their life and worried that it was warping their perspective of Heavenly Father. Through some tears, they just managed to say "just... sweet." And the spirit was so strong, I almost started crying with em.
After that, we exchanged with the Blytheville elders, and had a good rest of the day, too. We saw our person on date and had one of the weirdest lessons ever. We'd say something, or ask a question, and he'd just go off on not just a tangent, but into like a whole other dimension. Like if we were teaching a class on sculpting like Michelangelo, he was off painting like Picasso, or maybe Jackson Pollock. (It's a weird analogy, I know, but it's as close as I can get to describing it.)
We went from there to our next appointment, and they weren't ready yet, so we went to pizza hut for dinner and then tried again. We reviewed a chapter of the Book of Mormon with them, and then they asked if we'd share the Joseph Smith story again, and so we did, and also shared a short video on it. He tried to hide the tears but we caught him wiping them away. We told them about the Memphis temple open house, and they happened to be off of work on the day we were planning the trip, and they were SO excited to go! (...Half miracle.)
The next morning, Brother Jones took us to Shoneys for breakfast, so that was a good start to the day haha. We exchanged back shortly afterward, and then went to visit that guy from Monday, and there discovered his address wasn't right. A big guy answered the door and said there was nobody by that name that lived there. What. The guy who answered ended up having converted to Islam while in prison haha. But we told him about the Book of Mormon and he said we could come back!
Then we tried a guy we met last week who seemed kinda interested. When we stopped by, much to our surprise, he welcomed us in, we sat down, he asked us questions about the Book of Mormon, and said he'd try to have the whole first book of Nephi finished by this weekend! So... We are pretty excited about him!
Afterward, our Branch President took us out to sharks, and then we had Book of Mormon class, reading Alma 62. (There's a lot of war and political drama that happens in that chapter.) Best comment of the night was made by one of the sisters' investigators that came: "Are you sure this isn't talking about West Memphis?"
Thursday came along, and we had another good lesson, a lot of rain, and we led the Come Follow Me, Bible study that night. I learned a lot, and the spirit helped remind me of a lot as I taught, so it became a good highlight of my week.
Then it was Friday! We'd checked with 6 different people about coming to the Memphis Temple open house! We followed up a few hours before with person number one, and they'd had something come up and couldn't make it anymore. Then person number two said they were still good! But then couple number one, and ciuple number two both fell through, and they were going to be our rides. Finally, person number two also texted and said they wouldn't be able to make it anymore, even though less than an hour ago they said they were ready. Gah. So that's why this was another half miracle.
We even rescheduled with couple number two to Saturday, but things came up again and that didn't work, either. Sad days.
We did meet a cool lady who was really open, and had even ordered a bible and Book of Mormon awhile ago, but had never received them because she was busy and lived out in the boonies. But she changed jobs, moved to the city, and we happened to knock on her door.
We got transfer news that night, too. My last one! Elder Bang and I are staying.
Easter Sunday was good! We had a lesson with that one family again. 3 of the boys and their grandma were home, anyway. They're fun to teach. Next, we went to one of the counselors in the branch presidency's house for an Easter dinner and watched their grandkids do an Easter egg hunt, which was pretty fun. We spent the rest of the night trying to follow up with people and get back in touch with them. We are really working with a lot of really promising, solid people who recognize the truthfulness and power in what we share with them! Just getting them to do things based on that knowledge is tough. #FaithWithoutWorksIs...
But anyway! Here we are! 99 weeks down. Lots of miracles seen, and... Lots of half-miracles, too. I don't remember how or when that phrase came to mind this week, and I felt bad for even thinking of it. I didn't want to short-change God, or sound like I'm complaining for only getting half of a miracle. But what I then realized was that it's okay. They are only "half miracles" because I only know half of the story. Or only half of the story has even happened, yet!
I'm sure whoever the missionaries were that tried to deliver the Bible and Book of Mormon to the lady we met this week thought it was kind of pointless, getting a referral they never got to meet. That was a half-miracle. And the other half is just happening now.
Easter commemorates the most glorious second half of a seeming "half-miracle" that ever happened. Jesus Christ performed miracles in His life... one after the other. People were healed, people were changed, and yet His was a life prophecied to heal and change the whole world! I wonder if His disciples, even if just for a moment, wondered, "was all that for nothing? He did those great things, performed miracles, walked on the sea, and... for what? Here He is on the cross, defeated."
But of course, those miracles didn't end when the stone was rolled over the tomb. They were just half of the bigger miracle. Sunday was coming with the other half.
For myself, and for all of us, I hope that we can always take comfort in the fact that Sunday is coming! The other half of our miracles will come soon enough. Maybe we won't see it, maybe it's not what we expect. But I guess all of this to say [mostly to myself] that there's no such thing as a half-miracle.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
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