There's a lot about my email subject line that probably doesn't make sense.
I thought about starting these emails from Hope, Arkansas off with weekly titles like "Hope is dope," "trying to cope in Hope," "Hope, Arkansas: where the Pope isn't," "No one would elope to Hope," "Hope: home of the antelope," "Don't mope, I'm in Hope!" "You can't really hit the slope in Hope," "Wish? Nope. It's Hope," "ran out of rope in Hope," "cleaning Hope with soap," "using a miscroscope in Hope," or "pushing the envelope in Hope." But I don't know how long I'd be here and I don't wanna resort to using most of these, and I sure as heck wouldn't wanna have to come up with one using the word "grope" to keep my streak going.
So here I am with "The Organ, the Tornado, and the Bucket Seat."
Let the explaining begin.
Transfer day happened. I locked the door to the Searcy apartment one last time. [For now. I keep telling people I'll be back.] Drove to North Little Rock, and waited around for my new companion, Elder Anderson. He is from Box Elder County, Utah. And he is like a serious genius. He's good at setting up plumbing, electricity, or the internet, and at sewing, cooking, ham radio, programming, and like a zillion other things. And yes, the organ, too. [The big jazzy church piano thing, not like your liver. But I wouldn't be surprised if he could also operate on someone, too.] Right after I finished writing this, he just about stuck his finger in my ear and then proceeded to quote Pokemon hahahaha. I couldn't make this up. He's awesome, and I'm learning lots from him!
It was really hard saying goodbye to people, and getting into a car [a nice Nissan Rogue! No more truck for Elder Dahl. I probably won't miss it too much tbh] bound for the edge of the mission with someone I'd never really talked to before. But before the 2 hour drive was over, everything was good.
Elder Anderson told me that as he was looking through a list of people in the mission trying to discern who his next companion would be, that my name stood out, without ever having met me. He said the elder I replaced felt the same thing, and kinda testified to me that I was sent there for a reason. And well, the spirit testified to me of that like we just got t-boned. When things have been hard this week, I remember that feeling and keep moving forward. I'm excited to discover the reasons why I'm here.
We stopped at the grocery store upon coming into town. Got a water filter for the sink (cause apparently it was pretty bad and didn't pass a lead test with flying colors) and a loaf of french bread real quick cause you can use it for everything. Had I known how little food was in that apartment I would have gotten more. Cause literally that French bread, some shredded cheese, and candy was all I ran on this week haha. They had a lot of candy.
After shopping, I got to experience one of the things I was looking forward to most about Hope.
Last transfer, the missionaries here met a Presbyterian Pastor. One thing led to another, and uh... We have a key to the front door of the gorgeous Presbyterian church in town, so that Elder Anderson can practice the organ for our missionary musical tributes! (Our church building is too small to even fit an organ.)
We walked in at night and it was kinda creepy at first, but we turned the lights on and entered the sanctuary and it reminded me of the gorgeous cathedrals I saw in France and Italy. Not as big, but almost as pretty! I accompanied Elder Anderson on the piano while he organ-ized. And then I helped him pick out some left hand notes for a variation we were making to the song, and so...
Now I can say that I first played an organ in a Presbyterian church in Hope, Arkansas. So that's super cool. I'm a long ways away from learning it, but the keyboard part I've got down haha.
The next day, I got to meet the Lims, a senior couple working in the Hope branch with us. They're from Blackfoot, Idaho and are just amazing. He used to be a Stake President and they get along so well with everyone we meet. They are so funny and have been spoiling us lots.
We went over to a ward members house and helped with their water pipe in their front yard. Dug up a bunch of mud and threw some cinderblocks down to cover the pipe and then buried it again. Across the street was a huge meadow and a bunch of trees. I had no idea what I was doing and was just kinda laughing to myself about how different this was from Collierville. Literally as far apart geographically and area wise as you can get in our mission. (2 wards in a city compared to a tiny branch in bunch of small towns.) So it's fun!
Elder Anderson went on to fix the guys sink, too, so that was impressive. We then sat down with the Lims and made some plans for the next day, in which we drove about 150 miles around our area trying to visit a bunch of less active people. The Lims drove, and we rode bucket seats. We did another trip like that on Saturday. Both were fun and productive, even if most people weren't home. We've been able to make a good dent in who still even lives here, and have contacted some promising referrals while we are at it!
On one of those trips, (to towns like Prescott, Nashville, & Mineral Springs, Arkansas) we stopped in a town called Washington for lunch. I guess the whole town is like a museum cause it looks like a cute little colonial town from the 1830s. There was an adorable tavern Elder Anderson had heard good things about. It was built or has been running since 1832, so that's cool! Right up my alley. History and good food... sign me up. Had some killer chicken and dumplings, jalapeno corn bread, fried okra and mashed potatoes.
There are a lot of chicken farms out here. Like... A lot. Tyson farms and factories are everywhere. We've passed one or two truck loads of live chickens close to meeting their end. So next time you have chicken nuggets, just think: the chicken you are eating might have seen Elder Dahl more recently than you have seen Elder Dahl.
So I've talked about the organ and explained the bucket seats thing. And I've even thrown in some spiritual stuff and food talk. I guess you're probably wondering about the Tornado.
Elder Anderson found some weather news that our area was on a level 4 storm/tornado watch through most of Friday night. They were predicting golf ball sized hail, and potential tornados. Exciting, right?
Well we drove to the nearby town of Arkadelphia to have our interviews with President Hansen. It's clear he has a lot of trust and faith in me and I'm determined to live up to that and turn this area around!
We drove back to Hope and finished our weekly planning session. I had a baptismal interview with an investigator the other set of elders in my district were teaching. So after a stop at Wal-Mart to pick up a pizza, I Skyped in and was able to get to know their investigator for a bit. He has since been baptized and confirmed! Super awesome, down to earth guy.
We ate our pizza standing outside of the church doors, watching the sky. It was actually way cool. On our left, clouds were blowing to our right. And on our right, clouds were blowing to our left. They were meeting in the middle and just congregating into a bigger cloud. They were moving fast! At one point in time, rain was lightly falling straight down. Within a span of about 4 seconds, the rain blew sidewise. First to our right, and then totally flipped directions and blew to our left. Crazy cool.
We returned home without any problems, and our emergency weather radio only went off once or twice that night. Lightning was like the paparazzi in distant clouds, and the thunder got pretty loud, but there wasn't anything too dramatic. In the morning, the neighboring apartment buildings mailbox had been blown over, and a few tree limbs.
We went to the church to see how it fared. A few tiny things on the outside, but I guess they had a power surge cause the refrigerator and wifi both died. So Elder Anderson has been working on that haha.
On Sunday, we got to speak in church. Apparently that doesn't happen as often as I would think in a little branch this size. But I was glad for the opportunity to introduce myself and talk about repentence!
I also learned that day that the Hope Branch is on a 2 hour block, rather than the usual Mormon 3 hours. So that's cool! The 3 meetings are all just shortened down to about 45 minutes. Which meant that I was the concluding speaker of sacrament meeting. So that was weird and kinda cool. Another "first" for me in Hope, Arkansas haha.
We had to leave right after sacrament meeting though, to make the 2.5 hour drive back to CONWAY! For the musical devotional we had there. The same program is kinda touring its way through the mission. We arrived in Conway early enough to make it to their 1 o'clock sacrament meeting/fast and testimony meeting. It felt like I'd never left! It was so good to catch up with and see the Routts, Prashanth, Bro. Garcia, and all those awesome Conway people. I didn't realize how much I missed, Conway, too.
A lady went up and bore her testimony. It made my day. Because Elder Evans and I found this lady and her 5 sons while we went to try to visit a former investigator. The person we tried wasn't home, and so on our way back to the car, we had heard someone shout, "missionaries?" and it ended up being this LDS family, who had moved in that day from Little Rock. We got to visit them maybe once or twice later before we were both transferred out. So it was amazing to be there for her first day back in church in a long time, when she committed from the pulpit to stay in church!
So that was awesome. Seeing Conway people was awesome. And seeing missionary friends was also awesome! This Conway musical had the strongest spirit of the 3 that I've been to this year. I looked out and saw an older gentleman just bawling during one of the songs. Before I could finish the thought, "I want whatever he's feeling," I felt it and had a hard time finishing the song. Jesus is the Christ! Hosannas to His name!
That spirit is the best feeling ever. I hope y'all have felt it, can feel it, will feel it. It's peace, happiness, joy, confidence, and love. Do whatever you can to be able to feel it often.
I know this work is the Lord's, and that even though I miss Searcy, another little town in Arkansas needs me more. I'm excited to find out the who and why of why I'm here. There's people to bless. Godspeed!
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