Monday, November 13, 2017

The Palisade of Atheism

The morning of preparation day last week was fantastic. Brother Slaven (slay - vehn) invited us to join him in his home to lift weights. If you have per chance seen the historical fiction TV series ‘Vikings’, then you may have an idea of how strong Brother Slaven is. As we are deadlifting, I come across a weight I have trouble raising level even with my knees. I take a quick breather and challenge my undertaking once again. With some trouble, I manage to completely lift the bar. Brother Slaven taught me a lesson. He says, “I’ve seen it only three times in the gym someone lift something they couldn’t lift the first time.” This may adequately indicate I simply made a conscious decision to stop being a pansy, but I also learned the power of faith and persistence. Psychologically, it’s not difficult to allow ourselves to become discouraged when the feat before us seems insurmountable after a first endeavor. At the times we see a similar moment in our lives, we can choose to realign our heart and minds. We can allow ourselves to be strengthened through an omnipotent, loving Savior and Redeemer.

Interviews this week was comical. I am on deck, ready to be interviewed, chatting with Sister McCuistion. In looking for a bin to throw away my fruit gusher wrapper, I manage to clumsily disarray the custodial closet. A row of ruckus later the custodial closet is cleaned up, albeit a tad reorganized, and a trash can was procured. In an instant later I am ushered into a room with President McCuistion. After some conversation of the required reading he asks me, “Anything else you want to talk to me about Elder LaMont?” I hesitate but gradually bring myself to ask a question I introduce with a sheepish smile, “Soooo I was reading in Abraham-“ “Of course you have!” President laughs. He knows I love to ask deep questions at the conclusion of our time together in interviews.

Had lots of fun on exchanges with Elder “Fluke” Fluckiger! We visited an investigator with a snake and lots of guns, ate ribs, and saw the sights of Manhattan.

Elder Richins and I have a couple fun experiences teaching those with an atheistic belief. The first man is kind and simply says, “Give me your spiel.” Fancy this: the definition of spiel is, “A long or fast speech or story, typically one intended as a means of persuasion but regarded with skepticism or contempt by those who hear it” (Apple Dictionary). I cannot find a more accurate manner to describe the scene! Though this man displayed skepticism rather than contempt, it’s unlikely he will make any progress.

It’s nearly the end of the week as we find ourselves visiting Brother Howard. Because we express our interest in guns, he finds his AR upstairs. Brother Howard was kind enough to show us a thing or two about taking it apart and letting us take pictures.

This night, Ian Englebright came to visit myself and Elder Richins. We caught up and ate at the local Chinese buffet, Imperial Garden. Ian told me fantastic news: Vaida is going to be baptized in the coming weeks. She wants Elder Bischoff and I to be there. With Ian’s help, we may be able to attend the baptismal service. Ian had me cut his hair and he went home shortly after. It was great to see him again.

After church Elder Richins and I meet with a new investigator, Trey. His roommate tells my companion and I up front he is a strong Atheist though at one time he was Southern Baptist. In a polite way, we told him to sit down and join the lesson because he simply has nothing to lose. The Atheist challenges, “I could not follow God unless his existence was proven to me.” Unfortunately our testimonies of faith fall upon deaf ears. Laman and Lemuel saw an angel and chose to disobey. On the other hand Alma the Younger saw an angel, but “fasted and prayed many days that [he] might know these things of [him]self” (Alma 5:46). Alma continues, “Now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made hem manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit.” Without faith, seeing an angel alone will do nothing for you.

Perhaps the message we share will stir the unbelieving soul unto repentance. Elder Richins and I will be following up this upcoming week.

Much love to all of you from Oz. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Discipleship (noun)

Discipleship (noun)

- a position of someone who believes and follows

Our week began with a zone activity: football in Junction City. I saw Elder Bischoff again! We had a great time playing football and hanging out.

Halloween was glorious! After district meeting, many of the elders convened at Sonic to take full advantage of 50 cent corn dog day! Elder Richins and I received a referral in no-man’s land we attempted to contact. You would think because the terrain is so flat for miles we would spot the house with no trouble! On the contrary we had a difficult time, but the trip was not wasted. We found a really cool bridge!

All upon a sudden, it’s November! Satan tries real hard to throw a wrench in my day to start the month poor. Long story short, Elder Richins and I are teaching an investigator of ours and the door to her home becomes defective. It will not shut. A lightbulb turns on in her mind, “Oh! I will call my preacher!” Please don’t call your preacher... “Would you like us to come another time?” we ask. She replies, “No, stay. It’s fine.” Now I did not say it, but I sure am thinking, “Don’t you think this is going to be a little, you know, awkward?”

Sure enough, the kind preacher rolls up in the driveway and gets to work fixing the door. Not half a moment later did he say, “You guys out converting people?” LaMont’s brain: ‘uhmm I think it’s appropriate to say yes, but the Spirit is the true converter.. eh, I’ll just be friendly. I say with enthusiasm, “We sure are!” Not even skipping a beat this man rattles off all this critical, demeaning garbage. I tell you what: I’m going home in two months and I don’t have time for that refuse in my life. All I hear is “Womp, womp, WOMP, WOMP, womp,” he stumbles around with Galatians 1:8. I help him quote the verse and provide him the reference. “Let him be accursed,” we finish together. After more ranting, a pause. He asks, “Don’t you have questions about what you are told?” I smirk. “Every day!” I say with a smile. “I take my questions to God!” I shoot our investigator a big grin, *HINT, HINT* and think to myself, ‘not my preacher whose paycheck thrives on my being in the congregation.’ I’m sorry. Bad Keaton! Humility is a struggle!

After he is through telling me I’m being deceived he asks, “What translation of the Bible do you read?” Wryly I smile, “King James Version. It is the truest translation and the Shakespearean vernacularism has a most beautiful resonance to the soul!” I’m certain he shut out at ‘version’ because he calls out on his way to his Jeep, “Get a Bible you can understand!” Elder Richins and I wave as he leaves. It weighs on our hearts heavily a brother of ours will harden his heart so much to the fulfillment of the prophecy written in 2 Nephi 29. Murmur ye because ye receive more of my word?

My week was made when we met Earlisha (err-leash -uh). She has a real strong pit bull named Ginger that is my best friend. I love dogs. One of our investigators allowed us to draw some of his hunting bows. That was a blast too! Dogs and weapons.. Yup that’s about my happy place.

Elder Richins and I had the great blessing of home teaching with a semi-recent convert. We taught two families about discipleship. Mormon wrote in 3 Nephi 5:13, “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.” Mormon may have been making a statement about being an apostle, but it interesting to note the word ‘disciple’ according to Latin means ‘learner’.

Let us all be learners, believers, and followers like Mormon of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ!

Love all of you so much! Have an amazing week!

This plaque was hung on an exterior wall of the meetinghouse that doubles as the mission office.

The great ‘Kansas Witchita Mission’ of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “Dang it, Mitch!” This is why we can’t have nice things! Enough with the Oz jokes already!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Happy Halloween

I apologize in advance for the long email. For those who appreciate light reading, I am very alive and well. I’m enjoying my last Halloween and I’m having a blast! Check out the pictures!

It’s been another exciting week in Oz!

Last week we drive to Manhattan, KS to hang out at the institute building. That place is SO very neat! The building was erected in the nineteenth century making it the oldest building in Manhattan. The church bought the home and refurbished it to match the needs of a YSA branch meetinghouse. All of us have a blast playing pool. I introduce a lot of missionaries to the game of scum. Some had played it before, but it never became as intense as it has this day. It can’t be more fun!

The following day at district meeting is great. In a training of bringing the Spirit into our lessons, our district leader Elder Fluckiger (flu-kih-grr), makes a sculpture out of a broken plastic fork to keep his hands busy. He lays the small idol on the desk in front of him out of reach. Without warning the fork sculpture bursts apart! Elder Fluckiger (we call him ‘Fluke’ for short) did not touch it! Paranormal! We have a good laugh about it. After the training, Fluke and I proceed to explore the incredible institute building. We come across some very interesting models of a tabernacle and an altar of burnt offering.

While knocking doors in Manhattan with Elder Richins, I stumble across a recently deceased snake. Because I am bored, I take a selfie with it.

“And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15).

However, I am not bored long! Upon knocking a certain door, Elder Richins and I make the acquaintance of a wonderful woman named Rachel Shivers. Rachel, prompted by my companion and I, shares she knows some rather incredible things about our beliefs. The very first thing she mentions is a belief she shares with us concerning the renewal of the Earth. That’s deep! Elder Richins and I direct the conversation to the restoration of the gospel, the priesthood, and the Book of Mormon. After not much time, Rachel’s adopted son Malek (muh-leak) approaches us and says, pointing to the Book of Mormon, “That’s a holy book!” Somebody give this young man a cookie! Rachel and her son happily receive a copy of the Book of Mormon and commit to reading it!

“I love it when I win!”
— Atlantis

It’s Wednesday by this time. Elder Richins and I suddenly find we garner a great responsibility to work with a member of the church experiencing an immense trial of faith. I will call the name of this member Bobby. In recent months Bobby has taken it upon himself to fellowship a reckless less-active youth I will call Jake. Bobby and Jake are converts to the church, both have been baptized in recent years, and they live with only one house between their homes. Bobby has become immensely irritated with the behavior Jake is exhibiting. Though Bobby makes every effort to help Jake, it amounts to more frustration for both parties. The aggravation festers into a temptation in the mind of Bobby: request a release from the calling in the elders quorum presidency and remove his records from the church. Blessed be the name of the Lord because Bobby shared our concerns with Elder Richins and I.

Quick comic relief...
Look at the size of a single copy of the Book of Mormon in Braille!! Each binder is very full and there are a total of eight binders constituting the Book of Mormon with footnotes. Stacked one on top of the other, the binders reach nearly reach a height of the waist of an average man!

Back to the story..
After some serious study, prayer, and a sleepless night, revelation comes to us concerning Bobby. We organize a time to meet at the church near the font and ask Bobby about his experience in being baptized. In recounting the sacred experience, Bobby’s heart was softened. It became clear walking away from the church would not be a solution. Bobby is not about to let the poor decisions of an individual affect his salvation. All of us, like Bobby, can remember powerful spiritual experiences when in a time of trial.

In a “bodaciously small town” (Better Off Dead) called St. George, Kansas, we meet a man named Micah Breshears. Upon Elder Richins’ saying we would like to share a message, Micah accepts. I begin to introduce the Book of Mormon and Micah, wide-eyed, says, "Ohh no, I don't want nothin' to do with no Mormons." Very quickly, Elder Richins and I teach the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ anyone who professed to be Christian would, at the least, experiment in reading. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, Micah accepts the challenge. He wants to change his life because he's felt he has strayed too far away from God. He converted his wife to Christianity and is sure it's the hand of God that caused us to cross paths. Micah has two really cute kids: Ryan, his daughter, and Luke, his son. Elder Richins and I make our return after stake conference. After sharing a few scriptures, Micah is really excited about the Book of Mormon. We make an appointment to meet with the family next week. I’m ecstatic!

The Wamego Ward Trunk or Treat is a blast! I zombie up and stay in perfect character the entirety of the night. I take a plethora of selfies with all the costumes I really like, and a dab for fun.

Our Sunday night is concluded by an inspired decision to visit a former investigator in the records named Trina Howard. Trina has three tireless fun-loving children I distracted in the yard for the majority of the lesson while Elder Richins provided a wonderful overview of the plan of salvation. I have a blast with the kids. I’ll never grow up!

Love all of you so much! Have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Still looking for that yellow brick road..

Guys! Wamego is great! I love it!

Saying goodbye to Bel Aire was heartbreak but it made for some fun moments like...

Cheesing with Sister Setoki..
(Elder Folwell’s photobomb game is ferocious)

Saying goodbye to the Conrady’s after ice cream at Braum’s. Love these amazing people!

And a white girl selfie at Krispy Kreme and man-card-restored-thug pic
(That’s for you Grandpa Wilkinson!)
with Elder Bischoff demonstrating his pole dancing skill.

Transfers were a blast! Guess who I saw there?

Oh yes! The Three Amigo selfie at transfers once again! Love these fools! Crazy how much we can change in *almost* two years (Eep)!

After transfers it was off to Wamego with Elder Andrew Richins! Elder Richins is really into parkour so we made sure to take a selfie on top of a wall surrounding the church.

One morning I caught glimpse of this awesome sunrise on the way to the gym!

Awesome news from Bel Aire! Ian Englebright went the Kansas City temple to do baptisms for the dead for the first time on the Saturday the 21st! He was able to supervise the proxy baptism of his late mother there as well. Here is a picture he captured for me of the KC temple:

As far as the work in Wamego, we’ve seen some wonderful success bringing some members of the church struggling with their activity to the primary program. All those kids are s’dang fedorable! Also, there were a few members that brought their neighbors to the program. What an experience! As the bishop of Wamego, Bishop Hall, said, “There is nothing more beautiful to hear than that of a concourse of children’s testimonies through song!”

In our teaching pool we have a family. The mother of this family is the nonmember 4th great granddaughter of George Q. Cannon! How cool is that?! She has two daughters, 10 and 8. Her husband is not a member either. Working on that!

My first night here we contacted a referral given us by a former denizen of Wamegonow living in Idaho. The referral’s name is Aimee Ralph. She has an 8-year-old boy named Jackston. With the magnificent Brother Ballard, an RM of a Michigan, Elder Richins and I taught Aimee and Jackston the beautiful message of the restoration and left them a copy of the Book of Mormon with a children’s copy too! We are excited to meet with them again.

Quick funny story for you: Elder Richins and I went to Sonic because that’s where you go when you’re hungry in Wamego and we had coupons! Both of us ordered cherry limeades because they are fire, right? Well Elder Richins takes a sip, holds it in his mouth and looks at me. I look right back at him with a look like, “Why in the world are you looking at me like that?” He nonchalantly opens the door, I’m thinking, “He’s either throwing something away or giving someone a card” and he just leans over and ralphs on the asphalt. “Richins!! The heck are you doing? That lady just watched you do that!” I say, laughing. “That!” Elder Richins exclaims, pointing to the cherry limeade he just regurgitated, “has Sprite in it! I haven’t had soda for eight years and I’m not breaking that streak today!”

Alright! I’ve rambled enough. Tell me how you are doing! I would love to hear from you. Love you guys so much! Have a great week!

New address is:
2009 Henry Drive #6, Wamego, KS 66547

Dixon Winn roping with his brother Shad before dinner

Selfie in the new apartment