Well hello again! Can you believe next week is Christmas? Because I can't believe next week is Christmas. But this isn't about next week. This is about last week.
Last week recap, here we go:
As a Zone Leader, I kinda figured there would be meetings. Even a lot of meetings. But this week had an unusually large amount of meetings, even for some of the veteran Zone Leaders. We had a Mission Leadership Council meeting (for ZLs and Sister Training Leaders) on Tuesday AND Friday, plus a Zone Conference (with everybody on the Arkansas side of the mission) on Thursday.
The 1st MLC, (the one on Tuesday) was in Memphis, actually. So we got up at like 5AM to get ready and drive to North Little Rock, where we then rode in a transport van the 2.5-3hr drive to Memphis. Man, I can't get away from that place. (Which is OK with me because I kinda like Memphis!) On the drive there, I lucked out with a bucket seat, but the luck wore off on the drive home. I got sandwiched w/ 3 other elders in the back seat, and somehow my arms were sore by the end of it haha. But the meeting was awesome. We talked about finding through Family History, and there was a lot of emphasis on teaching by the spirit, and receiving revelation. During a "real play" (a role play, but... for real) they had us pray about a specific investigator and what we could do to help them. We all kneeled on the ground in the church room, and then went on to plan. It wasn't til President Hansen pointed it out that I realized how awesome that was. Like yeah, we got some good ideas for how to help one of our investigators, but... that was a room full of kids learning to receive revelation from God. What an awesome skill to have, that not a lot of people are seeking to develop. God wants to talk to us, and help us fulfill His work, we just have to get good at asking and listening!
Anyway! All these meetings were about exciting stuff! Plus, on top of being one of the 12 pilot missions with smart phones at the moment, the church will also be testing a new referral system on us. They'll be putting out a lot of ads on Google and specific search results (like "What is the purpose of life? How can I know God? etc., within our mission's zip codes) so that when people click on them, they can begin being taught by missionaries in a visitor center somewhere. After they have been taught for a little bit, they will then be referred to us in the field, as investigators who already have some background info and interest! It's supposed to multiply our current number of referrals by 3-5x, and add 100 baptisms to the mission next year. So... we are on board! :)
On Wednesday, most of our Zone got together and we blitzed our area for the sister missionaries serving with us. They've been struggling to find people the past few transfers, and by the end of an hour, we had 5 new potential investigators for them! It was pretty fun. We got a lot of rejections in that hour, and even a frustrating argument with one guy, but the last door we knocked on (and isn't it always the last door?) a nice lady warmly accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and a return visit! Yay!
That evening, we met with a less active member who wants to become more active and be able to attend the temple! What an awesome goal! It's so awesome seeing people want to change and grow closer to God. It's refreshing after so many people express their contentment and disinterest.
Then came Thursday! We had our Zone Conference and that was fun. I'm used to going to the Memphis-Side ones, so there were a lot of unfamiliar faces. But also a few familiar faces! It was good to see some people who had been transferred over to Arkansas before I had been again! The focus for this Zone Conference was teaching skills, and especially teaching to needs. This idea was reinforced in the 2nd MLC the next day. We have these 5 lessons that we kinda like to jump into teaching as soon as we can. But some great advice we received from Bro. Donaldson, who works for the church's missionary team, was to abandon the structured lessons and just connect with people and teach what comes up, when it is relevant, and when prompted by the spirit. It is definitely a challenging mindset change. But we got plenty of time to practice that during the rest of the week!
After that MLC and some fun discussions w/ Bro. Donaldson, Elder Evans and I had interviews with President Hansen. (These happen once a transfer just so he can check up on us and give us advice, etc.) President Hansen is so awesome!
We got back to Conway and used a BOGO Free coupon at this make-your-own-pizza place that was pretty good. Then we went to deliver a Bible to a Bible referral and ended up chatting with that guy for like an hour. Interesting fella. He knew his Bible really well, and actually started quoting a bunch of scriptures that WE usually use in our lessons! We resisted our impulses to just jump into teaching, and we let him do most of the talking. It was really weird! But it ended up being awesome. He said we could come back, and now we know exactly what we will share next time!
On Saturday, we got to practice our listening skills on some more talkative people haha! We chatted with this one guy on his porch for a solid 45 minutes. He talked about how he was losing hope in God after his attempts to "make it big" in Basketball. So he joined some ministry thing and gave his time to God, and things turned around! Through that ministry, he was drafted and he showed us a few newspapers with him on the front page. Cool how that works.
That afternoon, we went to visit a potential investigator, planning to spend about thirty minutes there. 30 mins turned into 2 hours. Really, just of us playing psychiatrist for the guy. He's going through a lot, and you would never be able to tell meeting with him. As we listened without really interrupting, or jumping into teaching, the perfect opportunity to introduce the Book of Mormon arrived. He told us that he hoped he could say that in a few months, this changed his life. (We are hoping so, too!)
From there we arrived late to an Elders Quorum activity, but that was ok cause there were like 8 people there. (And it was supposed to be a joint ward thing!) They were watching Star Wars and having pizza, but it looked like most everyone took the pizza and dipped. When we went in to grab some pizza, one of the guys said that his mom's mission president let her go to the theaters and watch Star Wars when it came out, because of the "lessons on Good vs. Evil," etc. So... we stayed and watched it, too. KIDDING! We did what everyone else did: grab pizza and dip. We microwaved it in the kitchen and just chatted in there for a while before going to try visiting some other folks.
Then it was Sunday again already! Church was good, and we got home and warmed up leftover Little Caesars again for lunch. Walked around a cool part of town that reminded me a little bit of Boise's North End, and got to chatting with this cool hipstery guy writing a book on Masculinity haha. Cool dude.
We then drove downtown and met our whole zone at this festive little square there with a giant Christmas tree and a ferris wheel! The plan was to go caroling, but there were about 3 people there for most of that time. So we went to Walmart and caroled outside the doors. It was pretty fun, and I needed (and I think maybe improved from!) the singing practice, but I dunno how good we sounded hahaha. During "Angels We Have Heard on High" in the "gloooooooooria" part, it just sounded like a bunch of us moaning hahaha. Thankfully the sisters helped. :)
As we were singing, a few of us noticed this guy who walked out doing sign language. We pointed it out to two of the ASL sister missionaries and they ran after him! They brought him back and signed "Silent Night" for him and they talked for a good while! It's pretty cool to watch. I was proud of our Zone. A few people took photos/videos of us caroling and all, but that was the highlight for me. This deaf guy being able to "hear" us caroling thanks to some awesome sister missionaries! (2 Nephi 27:29-30)
So yeah, our Zone is pretty awesome. We've got a pretty stellar group of missionaries.
And now it's today! I got a haircut from some members in the other ward. I guess they have a relative that works for Mars, so they had some experimental/unreleased candy there. (Including espresso m&ms and snickers, and "Sweet Heat" skittles & starbursts.) I only got around to trying the Sweet Heat skittles and those were weird. But... I have to admit they were also kinda good.
Elder Bingham called this morning, too! Sounds like things in Collierville are still kinda slow, but they've had some awesome stuff, happen! I'm proud of those guys. Sweet is the work!
Next week is Christmas, whaaa?!!?
Love you all!! Thanks so much for reading these and for all your support and stuff. It means a lot! Merry Christmas! Talk to y'all on the 25th!
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