Hi everyone! It's the week before my last week before it's my last week. So it's starting to feel a little more real, but only when I think about it, which I try not to do!
It's been a fun week, though. On Tuesday we had the big "Memphis side" of the mission P-day, just playing field games and all of that. It was good to see a bunch of friends from past companionships and zones. A member picked us up there and drove us home, but asked if there was anywhere in Memphis we'd want to check out on our way back to West Memphis. I'd heard about this place called the "Crystal Shrine Grotto," and we decided to check it out.
It's in the middle of this big old cemetery, and is a man made crystal cave that, as you go around, has a series of scenes depicting the life of Christ. It was pretty funky, but I liked it. (I didn't count this trip in my tally of "three trips," cause it seemed like it happened ages ago, not earlier last week.)
We got back in time for an evening appointment we had, but they canceled right as we were pulling back into town. So that was a downer. But it happens!
On Wednesday, we had our district council. I've only got one more of those, now. Sad. Afterward, we had to drive the Blytheville elders up to their car, which was parked at a member's house in Wilson, Arkansas. We stopped to try a place called Top's Barbecue on the way, and it was pretty good. Just alright, though. We finished the rest of the trip and headed back to West Memphis.
My head wasn't bobbing, but it sure got hard to keep my eyes open as we were driving. The road was just a straight shot, and there's not much for scenery to look at, so eventually my drowsiness got bad enough we pulled into a gas station for a little break, which helped. Before my mission, I couldn't really sleep in cars well if I tried, but now if I so much as sit still and do nothing for longer than 10-15 minutes I can probably crash anywhere.
On Thursday, the Sotos had signed up to take us out for lunch, and they picked Top's BBQ as the place to go hahaha. But I tried the BBQ nachos this time, and they were good, too.
Afterward, we helped a sister in the ward work on her car. Kinda. All we had to do was replace the light bulbs that illuminate the license plate above the trunk and apply some Rain-X. I didn't even know there were such a thing as light bulbs for that purpose, but after looking over the trunk for long enough, we figured out how to unscrew the back bumper off and wee able to successfully swap out the light bulbs.
That day was probably the first really hot day of the summer. Here I was thinking I'd dodge the bullet. (I probably still will, July and August get quite a bit hotter than May haha.) But when we got back to our apartment after that, it was pushing 80 degrees in there. So we put the A.C. down some more and headed back out. We were able to find a lady who had met with the missionaries years ago, and wanted to meet with us again! When we came home for the night, it was 80 degrees in our apartment. Our A.C. was out. And still is.
Friday came around and we stayed really busy. We saw some people before weekly planning, and saw more people afterward. One lady admitted she'd read some less-than-favorable stuff online about Joseph Smith, and after explaining more about the Book of Mormon, she mused, "Ohhh, that's why I kept having the thought 'Book of Mormon, Book of Mormon' come to mind while I was reading all of that." That was really cool. Attack Joseph Smith all you want, that doesn't explain away the existence of the Book of Mormon. But people go about to disprove him backwards - by attacking his character, not diving into the Book of Mormon. (But that's a fulfillment of prophecy.)
We taught a lady and her mother who was visiting from the Bronx. We had a really good visit with her, and were able to send a solid referral for her to the missionaries up there.
And we also got back in touch with a guy we'd met a month ago but never saw again. He was 18 chapters into the Book of Mormon, which... might be the most I've ever had a person read on their own between contacts. Granted, he had a month to do it, but it was so good to have someone read it and understand it fairly well!
On Saturday, what was planned as a day trip to the town of Wynne, became an afternoon drive. We rode with Ricky, a recent convert (who received the Melchizedek Priesthood the next day!) in his mustang, dropping off a Book of Mormon to a referral in Earle, AR, and then getting to sit down and visit with another referral up in Wynne. We'd planned to visit with some members up there, too, but they were all busy, and so we just made the ~50 minute drive back to West Memphis.
We then made another quick trip to the town of Marion, AR, which is a much shorter drive. We were just going to try to contact someone we found a while ago - he wasn't home. But in his neighborhood I almost hit a four wheeler...
(2 kids had been driving on the road, and we were following them. They pulled onto the grass and stopped ahead of us, I presumed to let us pass, but right before we were level with them, they darted into the road! I slammed on the brakes, got an "aggressive driving," and they drove off.)
So we went home after that and then drove to Bartlett, TN, for the adult session of stake conference, which was really good and all about the temple. We hadn't had our dinner hour yet, and so we decided to try Fat Larry's BBQ, not far from the church building. I got some brisket and it was soooooo good. I'd heard that the owner was a member, and he came in and asked us why we weren't at the conference yet (Which started in like 20 minutes) and said he'd just dropped off like 200 lbs of pulled pork sandwiches over there. Hahaha. Just our luck. (To be fair, we thought the dinner was for those attending the leadership meetings prior to the conference. Either way, there was leftover stuff we were sent home with, so that was a score.) When we went to ask for the check, the waitress waved us out, saying missionaries ate free there! Whoa! We left a good tip and hurried to the conference.
We got back home around 10pm, having been slowed down by some torrential rain as we were leaving. I'd driven in rain so hard the fastest wiper blade setting isn't fast enough many a time before, but in the dark on Memphis freeways was another experience haha.
Then the next day, we made the trip again, riding up there with our ward mission leader, Bro. Jones, this time. He keeps joking about how I'm starting to get a little fuzzy and transparent as I fade out of missionary existence haha.
When we got back, we had lunch, planned our day, and didn't even get to studies or most of our dinner hour. It felt good to be out working. We didn't reach all of our goals, but it felt good to be trying.
And then this morning, we made our third trip in a row to Bartlett, and this time went into the other building by the church - the Temple. The departing missionaries and their companions were able to go through with some of the senior couples in the mission. The temple hasn't quite been open a week, and we were the first group of missionaries to go through since it was closed for reconstruction. President and Sister Hansen were there in the celestial room waiting and both gave me a big hug. I really do love them like I love my parents. I couldn't keep my eyes dry after that. It felt like my prayers had to travel much less distance in there than they usually do anywhere else. Heaven felt close, and that in and of itself was an answer to prayer.
This is all God's work! It's as simple as that.
107 McCain Blvd Apt. D,
West Memphis, AR, 72301
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