So many things happened this week that it was very difficult to title this email.
Other key points from the week: My 2nd District Meeting, bad news from a few investigators, Area Book 2.0 memes, an expensive steakhouse, awesome new friends, getting chastened by a German member of the Quorum of the Seventy, and a fire alarm going off during church.
Before getting into that, some random thoughts from this week:
I have decided our upstairs neighbors either have a horse in their apartment, or else various hopscotch courts on which they frequently jump, about 23/7.
I think I've had more hamburgers in the past few weeks than I usually do in several months. Not one of them has been bad, so I can't complain one bit. But there's been a lotta burgers.
Okay, onto the meat.
(Well, not yet, that part comes later. First up is District Meeting!)
My 2nd District Meeting as the District Leader went pretty well, I thought! I don't dare poll the district to see my approval rating, though. Coming up with stuff to teach without being assigned a topic is hard!
We went to Firehouse Subs afterward for lunch, and a nice lady, not of our faith, bought each of us a cookie while we were waiting for our sandwiches. What?? How sweet is that??
Later that day, we went to contact 2 of our new investigators. 1 wasn't home, and the 2nd was. His wife was outside and told us to wait because he had something for us. A few minutes later he comes out with the Book of Mormon and the pamphlet we gave him. Yup. He explained his wife didn't want them in the house. Ugh.
Elder Bingham and I talked about the lesson we were supposed to learn from that experience and I was reminded of a funny story from last week I forgot to tell.
After I'd given this guy my Book of Mormon, we kept tracting and ran into this other guy who must have had a bad experience with missionaries before. He came out ready to go, arguing with us about grace vs. works, the classic boring bash stuff. He wouldn't let us get a word in. "I don't wanna none of whatever's in your stupid book," he told us, going as far as to jab the cover of my remaining book with his finger. I raised an eyebrow and held the book so he could read the cover. ("The Holy Bible") he stammered and went back inside pretty quick after that hahaha.
So we didn't get any words or defense in, but I still felt like victory was unquestionably ours. Maybe that experience will make him think about how he interprets the bible or something, I dunno. It's a funny story for us, at least.
We spent some time tracting but it felt like no one was home. Thankfully, the day the guy gave us back the Book of Mormon ended on a slightly better note. (This is where the meat comes in.)
The Smiths took us out to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse, and (after giving us a ~~$200~~ gift card to Subway...!! SERIOUSLY WHAT?!) told us to not look at the prices on the menu, and even ordered extra stuff for us to take home. So after a steak and a slab of ribs and mashed potatoes that I couldn't finish, he got us each two (!!) pieces of cake to save for later. The mashed potatoes and fried green potatoes he ordered as an appetizer blew my mind. (34/10, will probably crave for the rest of my life) Goodness, what awesome people, though. Apparently he makes a good chunk of change visiting/supervising different nuclear power plants.
It amazes me how well the people here, (and God, ultimately) treats us. We're trying I guess, but we are still just more lucky and blessed than we can ever earn or work for. I wish we had more to show for all that we are doing!
The next day, we taught our most promising investigator I've talked about before. The lesson went well, but we learned that her husband told her she can't be baptized. And she wants to be, pretty bad. Dangit. What's with people's spouses keeping them from the restored gospel?? So that was a big time bummer. We will continue to meet with her, and she will keep trying to soften her husband's heart and show him that the gospel isn't a scary thing.
That night, I got a much needed haircut and felt a lot lighter and more good-looking. My bicycle helmet needed some tightening the next day lol.
And then there was Thursday!
In the morning, there was a voice mail from our Zone Leaders, which was a scary thing to see at first. But it was an invitation to come help take down the Memphis Temple for its closure and remodeling over the next ~20 months. Elder Bingham and I were both stoked at the prospect and managed to get a last minute ride that morning from Brother Gaar.
We showed up and saw that the cornerstone had been removed, and parts of the ceiling were out. The temple was pretty empty and weird feeling. We were led to the attic of the temple, where we were helped move spare parts and excess building supplies out to a trailer, or to the trash. After a while of that we took a break in the empty celestial room. (The most sacred and reverent part of the temple, supposed to be a model for what heaven will be like.) The spirit was definitely still there. But it was different. Wallpaper had been peeled back in one spot, revealing the mold that was the impetus for the remodel.
The temple had been modeled after those in the west, but hadn't been adapted for the humid climate, so the mold was pretty bad. They will do quite a bit of other remodeling, though, too.
After the break, we helped take each crystal from the chandeliers off one at a time and roll them in bubble wrap. There were a lot of little crystals, but it was a really neat experience.
There was a crew of other workers there, and I heard a few of them talking about having just finished the new Provo MTC buildings I enjoyed, and another guy, upon hearing I was from Boise, said he just finished working on the Meridian, Idaho Temple! That was really cool. (Apparently the open house public viewing of that starts this week, so if you're in the area, please go for me!!!)
That evening we did some biking and decided to visit this older lady we'd chatted with a couple times before. Her daughter was there, and her two sons were there, too, plus a girlfriend to one of them. We had an awesome, normal conversation for the better part of 2 hours, ranging from travel to Alternative Music, (!!!) and concluding in a thought from the Book of Mormon they all seemed to enjoy. They then gave us a ride home in their minivan with our bikes in the back since it was dark and they (like us) didn't want us riding back the 3-4 miles to our apartment on the same roads as Memphis drivers haha.
On the ride back, the lady's daughter thanked us for bringing the spirit into their home, and talked about how much her sons kinda needed it. As she dropped us off, she told us any time we are in the area and need a ride, we can knock on the door and ask, "like we're family." That was so nice. Idk, that just meant a lot. They're really great people. Unfortunately her sons and the girlfriend aren't local, and have gone back to school since that visit. Hopefully we made an impression on them, so the next time missionaries come knocking on their door, they'll let them in!
We use an app called "AreaBook" to plan our day, and it has lists of members and investigators and so on. Well, this week the old version got deleted from our tablets and replaced with a "new and improved" version. It's kinda the worst, least intuitive thing ever. It hurts to plan and takes twice as long. In spare time before bed, we have enjoyed reading the reviews on Google Play. It kinda became like "missionary twitter," and the reviews page was the birth of the AreaBook2.0 memes. I was proud of my addition, "'No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing...,' but AreaBook2.0 might! Within the first day there were over a hundred pretty funny reviews, but they keep getting deleted haha.
So anyway, that's been painful to get used to.
On Friday, Elder Klebengat of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy came to the Memphis side of the mission! It was awesome. He's from Germany and didnt really mince words haha. There was some chastening that happened, but it was good. I left feeling motivated and inspired and just amazed by this guy. He could name a half dozen scriptures for anything. He blew my mind with scriptures about our premortal life, and how our calling as missionaries transcends and precedes our mortal life. Dope stuff.
When we got home, Elder Bingham and I agreed on how going comatose like some people in the Book of Mormon did sounded pretty good right then. There was so much wisdom to digest! I think I'll be referring to my notes for a long time.
That night for dinner, we had 12/10 homemade pizza rolls at the apartment of a young couple, with another couple from the ward and their kids. We played "Last Word" which was a new game to me, and a lot of fun. I didn't come in last place, so that's a good change in pace haha. The husband of the visiting couple, Bro. Stanbaugh, was on the cover of the October 2003 New Era Magazine. :)
On Saturday, we met with our investigator, and she pushed her baptismal date back to late November. :( It's whatever, if she will be more ready then, then that will be good for her. Nobody else we tried that day was home/answered the door. That night we had Red Robin with this awesome Indian guy who became a member of the church after having the impression that he should just go to the church building one day. He showed up on Sunday and was told the meeting was over. So he came really early the next Sunday, and waited a while for anyone else to show up. Next thing you know, the missionaries in India are teaching him, and then he is going out teaching with them as a member! :)
She thankfully came to church on Sunday, and that less active lady who we visited before conference right as she was praying for answers also came! I've never seen her at church before so it was awesome to see her there, even if she ducked out early with her kids.
Oh, and the fire alarm went off! As we were evacuating sacrament meeting, it was discovered a little kid had just pulled the alarm so we went back and finished the meeting haha.
Anyway, it was a busy week, but it didn't feel super productive. Our baptismal hopes got pushed back a little, and we didn't find new people to teach, but it was still good.
This week is my 3rd district meeting (yikes I need to prepare a discussion by tomorrow again ahhhhh) and then our Missionary Musical Fireside thing is next week, which should be awesome!
I hope you all have a delightful week and are enjoying more fall-like temperatures than we are!
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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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Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116