Well, it's been 4 good transfers in Benton, Arkansas. This week, I get to start... transfer number 5 in Benton! Another 6 weeks, here we go!
This week was especially exhausting. It was good, and I learned so much, but man I am tie-erd. I could probably trace that fact back to Tuesday morning, when we got up at 5AM for a spontaneous trip to Memphis. Just kidding, it was planned in advance. We had a good MLC there, while construction noises went off the whole time outside the building. But it was the people working on the Memphis Temple, so we didn't mind a bit!
We left Memphis and stopped for dinner at a place called Cook Out [which is crazy, cause for 5 dollars you get an entree, two sides, and a drink. And you can get like a chicken quesadilla or a hamburger as a side haha]. On our way home, we realized #1., why it only cost 5 dollars, and #2, that our zone goal for the day was to schedule a church tour, and we weren't going to get back to Benton until after 9 o'clock. So we called one of the people we were teaching and... first try, scheduled a church tour. The sister training leaders in our zone had to try a few more people. But maybe their tour actually happened haha. (Cause our guy canceled last minute.)
We got back to the mission office, and instead of driving our Malibu home, we were given the mission's Toyota Sienna, affectionately termed, "The Mommy Van," and by its closest friends, "Daphne." We don't really know why they figured the Benton elders could put to use a mini van better than any other companionship in the missjon, but hey! It's been sweet haha.
On Wednesday, we had our district council in the morning, and went door-knocking in the afternoon. It was really really cold! But we talked with a guy who'd seen the Book of Mormon Musical and he was cool. And then his nextdoor neighbor was a missionary-baptist-gone-Jew, so that was also exciting.
We met with President and Sister Jones and a few others and read John 1 for the Come, Follow Me, program as a Bible Study and that was fun. I got a lot out of it!
That gets us to Thursday, where we had another all-day meeting, but this one was just in the mission office in North Little Rock. It was also good. President Hansen got a call during the meeting making official some rumors we'd heard that we'll be adopting the Tupelo, Mississippi Stake into our mission. Some 20-30 more missionaries, 12 areas, and everything else that comes with that. The problem is, that happens July 1st, and I'll be home before then. I'm kinda sad I'll miss that big change in the mission! It's exciting.
Saturday was a pretty fun day. We started it out by going back to the lady whose stuff we took to the scrap yard last week. This time, we emptied out a literal truckload of trash from the bed of a nonfunctioning pickup truck in her driveway. Fortunately, we had some help from Brother Clark and his two boys, and their truck and trailer. (We had joked about putting all the trash in Daphne, but first of all, there wouldn't have been room, and 2nd, it was all so wet and moldy and falling apart that the only way to clean it out afterward would be by fire.)
I had gloves, fortunately, but Elder Ramage wasn't as lucky as we dug through this soupy mix of old clothes, toys, newspapers, cans, random dishes and scraps, and so on. It was bad. Like after getting a foot or so down into it on one side, there were cockroaches crawling around. And then when Brother Clark hopped in the actual bed of the truck with a shovel, two big-as-your-hand rats tried to jump out, but just barely didn't clear the tailgate. One went by way of shovel, and the other by Brother Clark's boot. It was super gross but also at least a little bit funny.
And hey, she came to church again on Sunday, and brought a friend, too!
After that experience, we went to a little breakfast diner in town that one of the people we have been teaching works at. After almost 20 months in the south, I figured it was about time to try biscuits and chocolate gravy. And it was good, too! I can't even explain it. Saying it's like warm chocolate pudding on a biscuit sounds kinda gross, but that's as close as I can get to describing it.
Later that day, we raked some leaves with some help from the sisters, cause we'd been warned ahead of time that this was a big yard. We were given the ok to burn the leaves, which I didn't think much about - as long as we didn't have to bag em, I'd be good. Well, from 4 to 7:30, we raked the front yard and burned all the leaves, and the sisters got about a third of the backyard raked. We used her neighbor's hose to put out our fire some time after dark. It was hard to see, then, but hopefully the big pile of ash in her front yard doesn't stand out too much. You'd think we were the only ones raking leaves in January, but it was such a nice day, there were actually people raking leaves all over town as we were driving by. That should be a telling observation about "the south" and "procrastination." But I love it hahaha.
That night was transfer news. I was nervous all day, but about thirty minutes before the email came, I had a feeling I was staying. I was glad to see that feeling was confirmed! A lot of changes are coming to our zone this transfer, though, so that'll be an adventure.
On Sunday, we were making the rounds before church, making sure everyone was good to go. We stopped by the guy who had some good questions last week, but he was asleep. His mom and another guy told us so, but we got talking and his mom ended up waking him up and inviting us in. The other guy was Muslim, and so we got to learn a little bit more about some divisions in the Muslim faith. And then for the next hour and a half - seriously, we were late to church - he asked us all kinds of questions that kinda got to the annoying point, honestly. It's like he wants to have a problem with God, and has to understand logically every aspect of God's being. There's a lot of logic to it, I thought. But God isn't a computer. He's complicated and loving, and yet so simple at the same time.
The biggest thing I learned from that is that there are absolutely limits to what God can do. He can't stop loving His children. He can't interfere with our agency. He can't go back on His word. He can't not fulfill a promise or a covenant when conditions have been met. He has laws - spiritual, physical, scientific - that he, too, must abide by. He can't create us in our most perfect form - that is something we must grow into with His help. So it was interesting!
Church was good! It felt really good to feel the spirit and be around other people who love God and understand some of His plan. Afterwards, we went to a Baptist "discipleship class" we'd been invited to that was... actually pretty decent. I think we might go again, cause it's a small group and we can answer their questions about us before other, less friendly people do. They touched on a lot of good stuff, but a few truths from the Book of Mormon would help make everything click a little better for them, I think.
After our dinner appointment Sunday night, we had to head back home to do call-ins, but in order to meet the zone daily goal for the day, we had to invite one more person to be baptized. It was like 8:00, we were in our apartment, and I was thinking, "dangit, why did we set this goal? We could've ended the week of zone daily goals yesterday!"
But we were determined to reach it, and so we started calling people from our area book that had been taught months and years ago. A lot of the numbers didn't work anymore. One guy hung up on us. And then the miracle came! For like 45 minutes, I talked with this lady over the phone and it was so powerful. It was definitely one of those times when I took a deep breath afterward and just marveled. I don't know where the words I said came from. (Well... I do! Not from me, that's for sure!) The Spirit was really strong as I shared Alma 7:11-13, and explained that the Savior didn't just suffer for her sins, but also individually felt what it's like for her to go through fibromyalgia. Not just "fibromyalgia," but her experience with it. By the end of the call, she was saying she was excited to read the Book of Mormon, and that she hadn't thought about being rebaptized before. It was so cool.
We did some of our call-ins that night, and in one of them, I learned that one of the people we met on Halifax Street a few weeks ago had met with the missionaries that day at the church, and said he had found a lot of answers that day, and that he'd be willing to be baptized if he felt that the Book of Mormon was true! So... that's awesome!
Our zone saw a lot of other miracles this week through our daily goal challenges. It was really hard and made us work our tails off, but the Lord helps us reach our goals, when our goals are His goals.
I'm happy to be staying another transfer in Benton! And I'm happy to be representing the Lord and His church to the people of Arkansas. This is a special place.
(I've been sending out film prints to people who write me so... if you want some junk film photos from AR, say hi!)
1916 Brandon Rd., apt. A2
Bryant, AR 72022
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