Monday, November 28, 2016

Stickers!

Happy Thanksgiving! The holidays are great on a mission!



Elder Andersen of the seventy came to tour the mission. He spoke a lot on the importance of teaching by the Spirit. Also, there was a great deal of time he set aside for a Q&A for the missionaries. I asked a scriptural question that led to a large discussion of the law of consecration. My mind was opened and enlightened to an understanding I have never before beheld. Of that experience, I ponder what it must feel like to live life without the gospel, then to feel the Spirit and feel the light while being taught it. Although I see it often, I may not know what that must feel like to the fullest extent, but being edified by the Spirit must feel something pretty close.



There is a small town called Larned near Great Bend. It is still in our area, but we are only able to travel there once a week. There is a historical sight that appears to be a historical quarry. I couldn't help myself, I climbed all over it and explored every nook and cranny. Elder Christensen was kind enough to snap some action shots.








I learned that Elder Christensen has a fear of heights, but past the face of fear I thought this was a good picture. I'm not quite sure why it is he went up there in the first place...






By the time I was finished messing around, I acquired a lot of stickers. Elder Christensen just thought that was hilarious, but he was kind enough to help me pull out the majority of them.






We had Thanksgiving dinner with a family quite a distance from Great Bend. All the way in St. John. It was quite a feast, there was a ton of food and we were even sent with leftovers! Turkey! Turkey sandwiches! Turkey soup! Is it time to start quoting Christmas Story yet?





I hope all of you had a most wonderful Thanksgiving and made time to ponder of the many things we have to be grateful for, particularly a belly full of food. I love America! Thank you all for your concern for my well-being, the prayers for those whom Elder Christensen and I teach, and all the emails! I am so lucky, and so grateful to have such great people behind me in this sacred endeavor.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Major Award

Man! Saying goodbye to Wichita was tough. But my last day was grand. Elder Wood and I won a major award! We had the cleanest apartment! When it was announced at Zone Conference, everyone was surprised Elders even made it in the top three let alone the winners of the contest. The prize was the housing coordinators cleaning our place one p-day and taking us out to lunch.






I found this poem in my studies and I thought, "Well, revelation doesn't get any clearer than that."



“Father, where shall I work today?”

And my love flowed warm and free.

Then He pointed out a tiny spot

And said, “Tend that for me.”

I answered quickly, “Oh no; not that!

Why, no one would ever see,

No matter how well my work was done;

Not that little place for me.”

And the word He spoke, it was not stern;

He answered me tenderly:

“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine.

Art thou working for them or for me?

Nazareth was a little place,

And so was Galilee.”



-- Meade McGuire



I do love Great Bend. My companion is Elder Christiansen and I am serving with another companionship of elders in this area. They are Spanish-speaking, so that's interesting. Elder Christensen is just out of training so it's my job to "Greenie-Break" him. He's a really good guy, except he likes the Broncos... We still manage to be friends.





The other elders are Elder Winegar and Elder Leishman. Elder Winegar has been out for about ten months and is from Sandy. He has this innate talent of sounding exactly like David Spade, but Elder Winegar doesn't hear it. I think he sounds exactly like Richard from Tommy Boy. Elder Leishman is from Logan! He's been out for his two years, nearly.



We've been knocking on a lot of doors because we do not have a lot of progressing investigators. One such door we knocked in the dark and the cold had a sign upon it that read, "Due to the high price of ammunition, we will no longer be firing a warning shot!"




Elder Christensen tentatively read the sign aloud. I felt a mischievous grin on my face and reached over him to knock on the door, and I did so nice and loud. Elder Christensen did not appreciate my humor at that moment. A man answered the door hurriedly, said, "Get the outta here!" to shut the door in our faces.



The ward here is tiny. I know I said that about Hays, but this time I'm not messing around. We don't even have pews! And the back of the chapel is a half-court. This elder from northern Utah has never seen anything like that before.



The apartment isn't too bad. I've done a lot of cleaning. The shower was particularly unsettling, but I attacked it with vinegar, scrubbing bubbles, and elbow grease. We have a spare room and a powered room adjoining the spare room. That's all Elder Christensen's space. He can clean his own bathroom!





Monday, November 14, 2016

One-hundred-fifteen days later...

"Everything is almost always usually okay."

I was faced with grief on Tuesday. You see, on July 31 Elder Andrasko and I had an amazing lesson with a Martha Prentice. Here's a segment from my journal from that date: 

"She's a 71+ year-old woman living in a health clinic. She has a neat roommate named Maryanne too. We awoke Martha. She said things like, 'I need more religion in my life. You boys will come back, right? Thank you for coming. Come back any time you like. I wish I had something to give you.' It was very difficult to understand her. The Spirit helped incredibly... I want to see her again soon. I feel so much sympathy and love for her..." 

One-hundred-fifteen days later on November 12, I finally returned to the rehabilitation center on Seville Street. Elder Wood and I signed in and started to her room. I had been there before and I was very excited to see Martha again, a promised return. I walked straight to room 108 with Elder Wood close behind. I arrived at the room and found a woman I did not recognize. I abruptly turned to the sign-in office and prayed and prayed I simply had the wrong room. I reached the nurse and asked for assistance. The nurse then kindly informed me of Martha Prentice's recent death. I was heartbroken. I still had the sense to ask for Martha's roommate for many years, Maryanne. The nurse led us to her room, but Maryanne was asleep. Elder Wood knows where she is, so I Maryanne will be well taken care of. 

I feel terrible I didn't return to Martha in time to see her again alive. But I can rest well knowing I kept my promise. I did return. It is my hope Maryanne will have the opportunity to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ with Martha helping her from the other side. Elder Wood will have to keep me in the loop. 

We have an investigator named Emma. She is a very stubborn lady who will not attend church for the life of her. We've been trying to soften her heart for weeks. It helps I absolutely love meeting with her. Emma is very intelligent. She is a professional therapist and we share a lot of interests. Emma taught me a valuable lesson, and that is this: everything is almost always usually okay. She admits it is nonsense she tells her young clients to make them smile after some rough sessions. There is a silver lining in everything. 

Elder Wood and I went on exchanges with the zone leaders, Elder Clifford and Elder Waldron. Fun fact: Elder Waldron was trained by Elder Hilborn also many transfers before my arrival in Kansas! Elder Clifford and I were privileged to meet some very neat people. The most significant of them being Raul and Ethan. 

Raul has worked with the missionaries for weeks. He's had a rough go in life because he is a few shadows older than me and has a three-year-old daughter. He went to court the very day we met with him and has been doing everything he can to stay out of jail to take care of his daughter. Since his arrest, he's wanted to make a change. The missionaries met with him soon after and committed him to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Elder Clifford and I had a great lesson with him. Both of us were inspired and impressed to promise Raul if he committed himself to following the example of Jesus Christ, court would go his way. He would not dread his court dates. it was a powerful promise the both of us were nervous to make. However, there is no denying the power of the Spirit when it comes to the heart with that magnitude. A powerful experience. 

Meeting Ethan was really fun. We approached a young family cleaning their garage and offered to help. Unfortunately we arrived too late and they were nearly finished. We offered the parents a copy of the Book of Mormon. Their son Ethan surfaced and inquired further about the Book of Mormon. We explained all we could in the five minutes before the family had to leave. Ethan would say as we read to him from Moroni, "It makes so much more sense than the Bible! Can I have my own?" His father wouldn't allow Ethan his own copy, but we committed the whole family to read those holy scriptures every night as a family to build their testimonies in Christ. Hopefully very soon we can commit them to continue in furthering their quest to learn and practice the very true gospel of Jesus Christ. 

During the exchange, I noticed Elder Waldron's rice-patty hat. I gently removed it from the rack and gestured for Elder Wood to take it with pleading eyes. Nothing needed to be said. Elder Wood jubilantly donned the hat and ensured we had adequate stereotypical facial hair for him. I snapped this picture as all of us laughed. 


Elder Wood



Here is big news! I'm getting transferred to Great Bend!! Salina Episode 2! 

Transfer

Elder Wood (son), Elder LaMont (father), and Elder Hilborn (grandfather)


Grandfather, Father and Son

Monday, November 7, 2016

The leaves continue to fall in Wi-Chee-Tuh...

'Tis the season of melting Jack-O-Lantern's, trashed Halloween decorations, and November hangovers for the populace of whom have lower standards. America is looking to a day of giving thanks, then tearing each other apart for retail deals that have plans delving well into the Christmas holiday! 

The leaves continue to fall in Wi-Chee-Tuh Kansas, and my time in Rolling Hills may soon be coming to a close. Elder Wood has finished his training material and received his driving privileges. In doing so, the pupil has surpassed the master. He's a far better missionary than I could ever hope to become. My young padawan is strong in the power of the priesthood. But he sure needs to work on his driving! The record shows we've nearly been in one accident and mounted one curb with him behind the wheel. He's just been anxious to drive again. I'll know if I'm leaving Wichita one week from now, the fourteenth of November. 

During zone conference, I ran into a familiar face! Sister Christiansen! Here she is with Elder Wood and I: 




I served with her in Hays while I was training. She is now a sister training leader in the Derby zone. Sister Christiansen is so much fun. 

We had a baptism on Saturday for Amara Reyes! Amara is nine years old. She is the daughter of Lashauna Griffin, a less-active member of the ward. Amara has been looking forward to being baptized for years and years and asked I baptize her. The baptismal service was spectacular! Amara's big sister brought a baby doll that screams for food and a diaper change as assignment from a Home Economics high school class. It works with a series of magnets to indicate to the demonic machine it is being "taken care of". The baby screamed nearly through the entire first half of the service.


I am loving this work so much. So grateful am I to be a missionary in this fantastic mission. My thanks extends to each and every one of you for your undying support and myriad of utterances in the behalf of me, Elder Wood, and wonderful people of Kansas. Much love to you! Thank you! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween

Happy Halloween! 


District meeting this week was phenomenal. I invited the district to a series of role--plays in which we identify our weakness in teaching and attack it with the strength of the Lord while teaching an investigator imitated by another missionary. I'll share some of what I wrote in my journal of the experience: 

"I made an enormous effort to have charity and speak with boldness. I promised if 'Glen' attacked the Book of Mormon to find a flaw, he would simply frustrate himself. However if he would seek to build his testimony in Christ, he would succeed. I could feel the power of Christ inside me. No doubt, no fear. Just confidence and joy. It was as though the light of Christ became tangible and fearsome. Then and there, nothing else mattered. Nothing else could ever matter more." 

The power each and every one of us has in teaching the gospel no matter who we are, what we are, is immense because the Lord is on our side. As we recognize it, as we feel it, we are unstoppable. 

We heard word the housing coordinators were coming to inspect the missionaries living conditions. I take after my mother. I laser-cleaned every inch of the place like the prophet of the Lord was to be here to home teach. Hope you're proud, Mom. I'm ruined for life. Elder Wood helped out too. He slept on the couch because it was too difficult to make the bed for the inspection after making the bed once. 



The Fox family was kind enough to allow us to carve pumpkins with them on Thursday evening. Elder Wood and I had a lot of fun with that. Here is a picture with our beloved Jack-O'-Lantern...




... and the Jack-O'-Lantern once lit.



Riddle me this... What's a missionary supposed to do when his family sends him Zombie Makeup Kit? Answer: Dress up as an undead Elder at the ward Trunk or Treat, dance the YMCA in between putting tables away during cleanup as a zombie, scare the Sister Missionaries, and pick up a Coke from Mickey D's as a zombie! 

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Two of my favorite things: Halloween and missionary work! What a season to remember! It is a wonderful thing to serve the Lord in this way. I'm so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you all for your prayers, support, and love. I promise to serve my mission with all diligence and try to have some fun as well. I love you all! 

Monday, October 24, 2016

'What have you just done?'

And you thought last week was crazy! Well guess what? It's almost Halloween! My favorite time of year!


 
I bought masks for Elder Wood and I. This one is pretty awesome. Take a look.


















.... and here is the mask I bought for Elder Wood.













We are holding party favors. They are Diet Pepsi bottles meant to look as ghosts wrapped in white fabric and toilet paper. There is a story behind that. We have this family investigating the church, the Shaners. Sonya, the mother, asked us to come to the help her set up the party. Of course we stayed for the party after helping her set up and conducted the games for the neighborhood kids because her English is a little broken. We couldn't show up without costumes, hence the masks. It was a neat party despite having a surprise word of wisdom lesson after we were offered some rum disguised as liquid churros. I almost tried it until I read the label. That thing had a pretty high alcohol content. Thank you warning of the Holy Ghost! Judas.


When you are a missionary in a country or state where drinking is a big part of the culture you learn two things. One, investigators will not feel the Spirit under the influence. Two, it is really fun to teach drunk people. While their guard is let down and they try to begin thinking logically, silly doubts do not occur to them. If you've ever taught doctrine to a sunbeam, you know what it's like to explain the restoration to a habitual drinker. They are extremely impressionable and will believe virtually anything you say. The downside to teaching the intoxicated is their inevitable sobriety. Because their faith is obviously unchanged due to the lack of the Spirit's presence, no conversion can take place. We see this in the vast example of Laman and Lemuel. Though angels came down from heaven and commanded them to quit their whining, Laman and Lemuel were not converted. Miracles don't solve all your problems.


Therefore, my favorite circumstance when teaching at a party passing the tankards is to target someone who is not drinking. Teach while they are with their hammered friends. As a general rule of thumb, the mob principle will take effect. They will appreciate the lessons like a little child. If you time it right, you can remove your future investigator from the setting that hinders the Spirit and allow the Holy Ghost to work the magic. High risk, high reward.



Jacqueline is a perfect example of the above. Unfortunately for Elder Wood and I, Jacqueline lives very far away from our area. Fortunately, Jacqueline is taking steps to learn more from the Book of Mormon and attend the true and restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. No matter what, our conversation with her was our big lesson of the week.



Here's some more pictures of the Halloween party decorations:






















How about some other adventures? Take a look at Preston's hair. This guy cut it. Of course, Elder Wood wanted to be in the picture and Preston doesn't smile in pictures because he's a fourteen-year-old boy afraid to tarnish his image. Don't worry, bro. I've been there.







Crikey! We have an investigator who is way into animals. Especially reptiles of all types. His apartment is a zoo. There is a huge snake, a Tegu (a Squamata resembling a stereotypical lizard the size of an adolescent Komodo Dragon at adulthood), two cats, and a ferret.



So picture this: Elder Wood and I know the door of a potential investigator named Emily. Emily lives with her fiancé, Cody, whom we've never met. Emily answers the door, "Hey guys, sorry I'm really busy I have [whomp whomp whomp]..." I see Cody behind her holding a snake on his shoulders! I interrupt, "Woah! Hey! You must be Cody!" Cody responds, "Uhh.. yeah." Typical awkward response to over-enthusiastic missionaries. No blame to him. "Why on Earth," I begin to question, "did you not answer the door like that? You'd make the Jehovah's Witnesses dookie their pants!" Not proud of that comment. Honestly, the things that come out of my mouth sometimes... Regardless, it brought Cody right of his shell. We started talking and Cody asks me, "Do you want to touch her?" Like the affirmative response of a fat child who's been offered a mountain of chocolate I squeal, "Yeah!" I stroked this beautiful beasts scales a while until Cody's phone begins to blare. "Hold on a sec," Cody says, dropping the entirety of the snake in my hands and reaching into his pocket. Elder Wood caught this picture in the most beautiful moment...







The expression you see on my face is a fairly common reaction of 'What have you just done?' and a taint of fear when a reptile of that caliber is literally placed into your hands. We eventually became more comfortable and snapped some more pictures.







That's when the subject of reptiles allowed us to enter the threshold of their home and Cody showed us his Tegu. I understand they are native to Argentina, but I was too busy playing with the little guy during the biology lesson.








Of course, Elder Wood wanted to hold him too.






















On the subject of adorable animals that are fun but dangerous to play with, I don't know if I mentioned Barbara's adorable kitten named 'Baby Shadow'. She had a granddaughter name the kitten because it looked just like a cat the granddaughter owned named 'Shadow'. Little kid logic, the kitten is a baby Shadow, the name stuck apparently. Here's some candid video footage I captured of Elder Wood playing with the kitten while I visited with Barbara after our lesson:



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On a serious note, a very good friend of mine has lost her father to hard-fought battle with cancer. Prayers on her behalf as well as the her family are more than gratefully received. Let us ask for a barrage of Heaven-sent blessings upon their heads as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you ever so kindly for your utterances to our Father in their behalf, as well as the mission field in Kansas, and little old me.



We love you Archibald family!







May your faith and joy in the Great Plan of Happiness and Deliverance from Death comfort your hearts and help you hold your heads high!


Love to each and every one of you from Wi-Chee-Tuh!

Alekken, in your honor, "I claim this land for Portugal!"



Just can't get enough of the jousting over our zone meal after our district meetings! Elder West has been practicing (sound effects included).






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Here is a clip of Elder West versus yours truly:



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Alekken, in your honor, "I claim this land for Portugal!"



Sister Wall has returned home to San Jacinto, CA and we have Sister Brady in the district now. Elder Wood, the sisters, and I went to the Epperson's to clean up their yard. Walnuts were scattered everywhere. They assumed the form of a nasty crab apple, but were walnuts on the inside true to form. Of course, both the Epperson's work. In the early morning, they couldn't be at home. They left us some tools and a mostly-full behemoth garbage can. We had to get a little creative. We would pile as many leaves, twigs, walnuts and dead grass into the behemoth then wheel it under a tall branch. Elder Wood or I would clamber to the branch and grasp it while jumping on the refuse to give way for more dead foliage.



Later in the week, Elder Wood and I pulled some more Nathan Drake-ery. We have an investigator, Alexis, who challenged us to climb to her overhang balcony. I taught Elder Wood how to give a proper boost and demonstrated a front roll to break a fall. Here's some videos:

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"That wasn't bad..."

"Are you dead?!"

"Nope! I'm alive."



The craziness gets crazier, I'm afraid. One night, we decide to prank the Auburn Hills Elders and take their car. We played the joke way too far and they filed a police report for a stolen vehicle! We gave the car back right then and there once we learned what they had done. In one evening, I talked to an officer of the law and the mission president the car was in fact not stolen. Talk about not being able to take a joke! In the end, no feelings were hurt and everyone walked away laughing. Including the cop and the mission president.



Wow did we have an amazing lesson this week! We started talking to a woman on her balcony one evening about Christ. Her name is Hailey. She came down to speak with us after a two-minute shouting match to hear one another. Hailey spoke with us until darkness came, telling us she had been worried for her friend who had committed suicide. For months Hailey has been concerned for the safety of her friend's soul. We taught her Christ is the perfect judge. He knows what goes on in each of our minds and hearts. Elder Wood and I bore testimony and expounded upon the wonderful Plan of Salvation. It truly is as Amulek has said to the people of Ammonihah, "The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous that they die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies never to be divided; that they can no more see corruption."


"...[and] the people began again to be astonished."


As it has once touched so many hearts of Ammonihah, the message of the Plan of Deliverance from Death, the Plan of Happiness, has reached another heart. May Hailey continue to meet with the missionaries and grow her testimony of the Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ!



As always, I thank you for your undying support, thoughts and prayers. I remind you again it builds me so high to know I have a vast circle of friends and family genuinely desiring yet another update on those I teach and how I am faring. I simply can't thank you enough.