It's been without a doubt one of the most eventful weeks of my mission. Mostly in a really good way!
On Monday we had our district P Day. We have seriously the coolest district in the mission. I love all those elders and sisters so much. We cooked fried chicken and fried up some Oreos and had a blast!
On Tuesday, we went back down to Lonoke and attended their district meeting. I stayed with Elder Albertson and spent the night there. We didn't have a lot of luck trying people. But we did get in my first bible bash in a few months. Gotta love it when people talk over you, ignore your responses, and think false perceptions about what we believe to begin with. I hate arguing with people [and always leave ASAP when it happens] but I always leave just feeling extra sure of myself.
That happened in a dumpy little town called "England." Like entire streets of houses were almost entirely abandoned. The wasps were out in full force but we made it out unscathed. It was starting to feel hot that day!
That night we also brought this Vietnam War Marines vet to tears in reading Alma 40 & reviewing the plan of salvation with him. He recently lost his wife. That was a cool cool lesson. This gospel is true and real and resonates with the soul.
Later, Elder Albertson and I just had a great conversation. I love that guy. He is so good. He hasn't had an easy mission so far, but he is just so good. That was one of those conversations that I hope I can use to forever be a better person. I felt the spirit and like one of the reasons I'd been called as a Zone Leader in the Searcy Zone had just been fulfilled. Maybe I didn't help him very much, but I know he helped me.
The next day we had a great leadership meeting. I love those and always leave feeling pumped. We got back to Searcy in time for the Beebe Elder's baptism! I got to do his baptismal interview last week, and it was cool to see everything come together for him to be baptized.
That night I had a weird nightmare that Elder Ogaard stayed in Searcy and I was sent to some other area in the mission. Searcy has become like my favorite area that I've been in. And that after just 1 transfer here. It'd suck to leave, cause I'm just starting to get to know the area really well, and I feel like I'm making a difference here.
On Thursday we did another exchange, up in Quitman. I went over there and didn't have a ton of success but did get to teach a cool lesson to this cool cat surfer dude that's been investigating the church for a while. Connected Mosiah 21 and 22 to him quitting smoking. It was cool.
I think about my teaching abilities now and compare them to my practice lessons in the MTC... It's clear that I've improved a lot. And I love that so much.
Friday morning I drove back to Searcy. We helped an older couple move in and planned out our week. Then we got to have a dinner/lesson with the family whose dad is on date to be baptized this month. Man they are so awesome!! Something changed for him after General Conference, and now he is finishing 2nd Nephi in his Book of Mormon reading. He asked some good questions and we enjoyed some pazole. (? I can't remember what it's called or how you would spell it but it was yummy!)
The next morning, we got transfer calls.
Elder Ogaard has been in Searcy for 7.5 months. And I have been here for like a month and a half. He was thinking he was leaving and I was really hoping he would stay one more transfer. I was pretty sure I'd be staying, whether he goes or not.
Well, Elder Ogaard answered the phone and President told him to be ready to serve another transfer in Searcy! I pumped my fist and got excited. Then he told him that he would be getting a new companion, and asked to talk with me.
Sooooo yeah. I've been honorably (and temporarily) released as a Zone Leader after 3 transfers. I've been given an assignment to serve in Hope, Arkansas as a District Leader, to be eventually reinstated as a Sr. Zone Leader somewhere, sometime afterward. [Hopefully back in Searcy!]
After hanging up, I was kinda shaking but just started busting up laughing. Mainly cause we had joked that Elder Ogaard would get sent to somewhere like Hope. Hope is one of those affectionately termed "armpits" of the mission that for some reason nobody wants to serve in. Then the laughing turned into kinda upset groaning because my nightmare from this week had come true.
Hope is a branch with like 20-30 active members in the town of the birthplace of Bill Clinton. The Texas border is about a 30 minute drive away. Dallas is as close as Memphis is. Hope is the furthest south-west area in the mission. I've heard mixed things about my future companion. But he plays the organ so hopefully he can teach me! The building our church meets in is the smallest church-owned property in the southeast region apparently. So that's cool haha.
So first thing is first: I'm actually really excited to serve in Hope. I don't feel like 2 years in the ALRM would be complete without serving in a tiny branch. I can already see a zillion different ways this is going to prepare me to be a better person and leader. So it is going to be sweet.
Second thing, though... I am at least as sad to be leaving Searcy as I am excited to be in Hope... I've been in a funk since transfer day.
The family we are teaching feeds us amazing Mexican food every Friday and Saturday night and he's getting baptized this month, the sisters were starting up an ASL class this transfer, and the mission office is toying with the idea of moving us from our apartment into a really nice single-wide trailer in a member's back yard. (Which would be SO FUN getting to say you've lived in a trailer for a bit!) The ward is awesome, the work is awesome, and there are other awesome people I'm going to miss working with. I won't go to MLCs for a bit, and I'll be pretty far away from everyone. I've already had my last Sunday in the Searcy ward and didn't even know it. It's probably been the saddest I've been on my mission, honestly.
So. I'm trying to look on the bright side haha. I really really am excited, but man I'm sad to be missing out on so much.
Anyway. After transfer calls, we had personal study, which might as well have not happened cause I couldn't think about anything other than Hope, Arkansas.
That day we had my first (and last!) missionary correlation meeting. And snow crystals fell from the sky. It was like 30 degrees. What. I'd been gone on exchanges the past few times correlation had happened, so I just told the ward mission leader that I was visiting, cause I'd never even met him in church before and I wouldn't be there for it next week.
We then went to help another lady move. Holy moly. This lady was crazy. Her daughter had texted us a week or so from Kansas City or something to gather the Elders Quorum to help move her mom. Well... This lady was kind of an old hoarder cat lady and didn't want anything thrown away. Her apartment was small and there were some boxes packed up. Buuut like she had barely started packing stuff into boxes. And the rental place where the lady had rented the moving truck was closed on Saturdays and she had lost the owners number. SO she had to drive to the next closest location in Little Rock to get that while us and a few other saints from the Searcy ward packed a bunch of cat stuff and knick knacks into boxes while she complained about how one time some guys had dug through her underwear drawer and stolen her gun. And how she had threatened to whip someone with a bull whip once. She was a character!
But fortunately the week ended off on a good note. We were able to get a ride to North Little Rock to attend Tim and Michele's wedding! They were that investigator couple I taught 2-3 times while in Conway, on exchanges in NLR. They are so awesome and were so prepared! They got married, and then Michele was baptized. Tim will be baptized soon, too! Got to sit by President Hansen during the ceremony. I love that man. Michele shared her testimony afterward, thanking the Lord for "handpicking" the missionaries who taught them. Super proud of her and Tim both. They love the gospel.
That night we helped clean up the wedding and reception stuff, and didn't end up leaving the church til 10. Slept on some couch cushions in the office elders apartment.
The next day, Sunday, Michele was confirmed and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Elder Shelley. Super cool. SO much love for him and the whole NLR district. I miss seeing them all the time. And will see them even less now aha.
President Hansen then gave us a ride to Jacksonville. He talked about a few companions from his time serving in this same mission. Once in Jacksonville, we waited around for a bit until we practiced for our missionary musical tribute and then performed that. It was really good. I delivered the 2nd paragraph of the Living Christ memorized as a part of it and a bunch of people complimented that so I guess it was good. I don't think I missed any words haha.
The musical itself was pretty powerful. I think my singing ability has improved since coming out.
It was so good to see so many missionary friends there. And hard cause I feel like I won't see a lot of them as often, now. It's honestly pretty funny to see the surprise and sympathy in people's eyes when I tell them I'm going to Hope. But I talked with the elder I'm replacing there and he said when he saw that it was me coming in, he breathed a sigh of relief and said his prayers had been answered. So that was good.
Last night we stayed in the Beebe Elders apartment. Another night on couch cushions haha. Just a 25 minute drive away from home... So today is my last day in Searcy.
It's been good, Searcy. Until next time! #perfectbrightnessofHope
Love y'all! Have a good week!
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