(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.
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303 West 23rd Street, Apt. 9C
Hope, AR 71801
videos from the week: https://youtu.be/pO--Gl3o0TE
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