I tried for the longest time to fit "near-death experiences" in the title of my email, but I didn't wanna make my mom worry. So I just used "gunshots" instead.
There is no way this email [or any other attempt to record or describe all that happened this week] is going to scratch the surface in conveying all that this week was. It was amazing, incredible, scary, rewarding, exciting, sad, and exhausting both spiritually and physically. All that considered... when I look back on my mission, I hope it's a week like this that comes to mind. 2 district councils, a Leadership Training Meeting, 3 exchanges, a bunch of lessons, a bunch of interesting people... sweating and freezing and raining in the same week. It was a good time.
We had kind of a lazy P Day last week which was nice. We had one appointment that evening, and it was one of the best lessons of my mission. We taught Amber & Jase (that couple who figured out America was the promised land) about the Plan of Salvation. We only got through the first little bit, but it was awesome anyway because they just GOT it. "So... earth is kinda like God training?" Amber asked. "We're here to practice to become Gods. I can see why people might have a problem with that, but... that makes a lot more sense than playing the harp forever." So that was just so cool to me. They are awesome.
Tuesday was interesting. We went to Pinnacle Mountain's [the downtown Little Rock Elders] District Meeting and then exchanged with them. I stayed in downtown Little Rock with Elder Walker. They're a full bike area, and I'd biked there before, but I definitely hadn't biked as much as I did that day since I was in Conway or maybe even Collierville almost a year ago haha. But I survived! It's hilly up in there, too. The worst part is a stretch by their apartment with a curb to your left and a busy road on the other side, no sidewalk, a path of matted-down grass 4 inches across, and then tall grass on your right side going down into a ditch. Oh, and traffic cones to your right that you have to swerve around without falling off the curb, too. It'd have been fun if I wasn't worried about the consequences of biking 3 inches too far in either direction haha.
But anyway, our first stop didn't work out, so we parked our bikes and walked down the street like 2 blocks, and tried somebody they'd met in the corner house across the street. No answer. From their door, I could see further down this perpendicular street. A guy was sitting out on his porch and I told Elder Walker we should go talk to him. So we crossed the street again towards our bikes, but turned right and talked with the guy in that kitty-corner house. He wasn't interested and kinda blew us off, but said we could try his neighbor.
So we go try his neighbor, the 3rd house on that side of the road, around the corner from where we parked our bikes. We walk up to the door, and can't see around the house towards the guy we had just talked with. We knocked, no answer. And then POP POP POP POP POP! We jumped and stepped a little closer into the corner of the house. POP POP came a distant response. We held our breath.
Obviously, my first thought was that they were gunshots. We were in kind of a shady part of downtown Little Rock. But then I thought they could maybe be fireworks? Then 2 guys who were smoking weed in their car in the next house over rolled their window down, and were like "Auwwhhh [I'll let you fill in the blank] what wuz that?!"
We went over and talked with them and they were pretty stoned, but told us that's a part of life in the hood. What the heck haha. A police officer drove by and asked us if we heard gunshots. We walked back towards our bikes, and as we rounded the corner, I saw a shell, and then another and another... 5 bullet shells just there on the street corner. Nobody ended up getting hurt as far as we heard! So that's good. All the same, we biked outta there pretty quick haha. But hey! You've gotta have one of these kinda stories from your mission.
We got back to their apartment early and were picked up by a member around 4:30 to go help a single mom and her 7 kids move across town. The sister missionaries had beat us there, and left after 30-40 minutes for an appointment. A lot of stuff was boxed up, but... There was a lot of stuff left. The member we rode with had a jeep, and they didn't have a uhaul or a trailer or a pickup truck... and for 2 hours we were the only ones helping. So we loaded like 10 boxes into the trunk of his jeep and went over to her new house with the keys. But... The landlord had changed the keys on her, cuz the ones she gave us didn't work.
So we sat in the driveway of her new house for the better part of an hour waiting for her landlord to come. By the time we started unloading the first jeepload, it was dark outside. When we returned to her house, the Elders Quorum President had arrived with a small pickup truck and a furniture dolly, but that was all the reinforcements we got. We made another 2-3 trips, filling the truck and jeep to max capacity and going back and forth. We didn't have dinner until going through the Little Caesar's drive through at 9:15 after like 4 hours of that. Man, Little Caesar's never tasted so good. The poor member with the jeep that took us home went back again to help longer. What a saint.
On Wednesday, we had our district's District Council, which Elder Bolos and I planned in the 20 minute drive between the Pinnacle Mountain apartment and our church building. It turned out alright. And then we drove home. It was E. Bolos' week to drive, and we were sitting at a yield left turn light. Across from us were two lanes of traffic, and for some reason the guy in the left lane over there was at a stop. We waited, and he didn't move. Another car came speeding around the corner and Elder Bolos started to turn left, because his view was blocked by the car sitting there. "Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!!!!" was all I could say, shouting with increasing fear and volume as I saw this car coming directly for my side window.
At some point as we turned, I remember thinking, "okay, we are far enough now that the car isn't going to hit my door, but there is no way it's not going to hit us." When we got safely in our desired lane without an impact to our backseat, I was surprised. The other car had slowed down some, and likely turned to avoid us, but... The first thing I said was to ask if the other car had just phased through us like a hologram, because there is no way...
So we figured we probably had some important stuff to do that day. So we went off and then I filled out our miles sheet a little late for the day and discovered... Oh no, we only have 10 miles left for the whole day. So we pulled into the first neighborhood we could and scrapped our plans. Spent a while finding there without a ton of success, which was a bummer. Talked with a Jew, and then a Messianic Jew, and some other interesting people.
We had a group of little kids trick or treat our apartment, but that was it because it rained, rained, rained later that night. I tried making enchiladas without a recipe and... I'll be darned, they actually turned out pretty good!
Thursday was good! We had a Leadership Training Meeting in North Little Rock, and didn't almost die! Yay! Afterward, I exchanged with Elder Albertson and stayed in Benton this time. He had just gotten a haircutting kit and wanted to give it a try, so I somewhat reluctantly agreed to be experimented on. I was a little worried after hearing such things as "oops," "wow, I think this is a two," and "how much scalp do you want to see?" But... I'll be darned, it actually turned out pretty good! It's been a week of pleasant surprises haha.
Friday was also good! Elder Albertson and I put in some good work and found 2 new people to teach. It was sweet. We then exchanged back with Elder Ramirez and Elder Bolos, and then went right into our 3rd exchange of the week, with the Little Rock Elders. I went there this time. We started the night off riding around with a recent convert and making a few visits, but no one was home. We went to visit a referral, but as we walked up towards the house in the dark a dog started bolting after us so we just turned around and played it cool as we walked back to the car. I'm not about to get bit again haha.
We biked around some more on Saturday. Started in a trailer park and I was able to give a half-decent door approach in Spanish to one lady! She was patient with me and said the Spanish missionaries could come back over haha. Score! Had a pretty good lesson and then signed ourselves up to help move some freshly cut oak logs in our white shirts and ties haha. Those suckers were heavy. But we had a good visit with the family we helped and they appreciated it. RIP my legs and back after this week haha.
That night we got the transfer email, and... Elder Bolos and I are staying! He'll be my first companion I've been with for longer than 2 transfers, and I will have been in Benton as long as I was in Conway and Searcy combined. Wow, time flies! Our zone is changing a little bit... The Little Rock Elders got "pinkwashed," and one of the sisters taking their place is just moving from the Benton ward, so she will still be in our district haha. So our whole district except Elder Bolos and I is sisters, now. So we also have one less companionship that we exchange with, for better or worse. Benton is the place to be!
On Sunday... Tabitha came to church!! (She's the one who originally joked about chasing us off with a broom, and who is preparing to be baptized on Nov. 17th!) She was a little overwhelmed, but I can't blame her! Her 10 month old seemed to do pretty good, even if she choked out another baby haha. We've been trying to get her to church for a long time, now, so it was a good day! After church, we had our Stake and Mission President correlation meeting which was awesome as usual. One of the counselors in the stake presidency had been in a bishopric for as long as I've been alive haha. It's cool learning from them.
We had stake and mashed Idaho potatoes for dinner so I was a happy happy camper. Had call-ins with the zone, and the blessing of the "renewing of their bodies" started to expire real quick. I was exhausted, but in a really good way. The Benton Zone is doing awesome. Our zone goal for baptisms in November is 3. We had 1 this weekend, and have 13 more people preparing to be baptized in November across the zone. It is so awesome. We are so blessed. People are being prepared to accept the restored gospel and the peace and answers it brings!
I know this church is led by Jesus Christ Himself. It is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth. How can I possibly claim that? I am not claiming it... I am quoting it. Jesus Christ said it. Pray and talk with Heavenly Father about it. (See “Ye May Know”, by Keith B. McMullin, April 1996 General Conference)
Well I love y'all and hope you know I know. Have a great week!
Too much leftover Halloween candy? I can fix that
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