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.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Power in the book....

So the transfers have changed a few things. Sister Wall is returning home to San Jacinto, CA. We are all so grateful for her honorable service and applaud her. Sister Wall leaves Tuesday (tomorrow). Elder Waldron, a missionary trained by Elder Hilborn before he trained me, is the zone leader replacing Elder Michaelis. Elder Michaelis is currently training in Topeka.

At our first district meeting after the changes transfers brought us, I met a Sister McArthur. Sister McArthur tells me a certain Elder Michael Sanders tell me "Hi"! What a coincidence! Sister McArthur met Michael on a plane ride to his mission destination in Chile.

At this same district meeting, I was asked to cut hair. I've begun a reputation. Because interviews were the following day, Elder Candland and Elder Wood were both desperate enough to place themselves seated in front of me with an electric razor in hand and a grin on my face. Like I say... Desperate. The haircuts are actually decent. I'm receiving a lot of opportunity to practice.


Funny story for you: As you may or may not know, missionaries, when backing a vehicle, must have another standing behind as to ensure there are no 'backing accidents'. Elder West, the clown he is, decides to seat himself on the trunk with a bike rack in front of him while I back the vehicle. In an attempt to jest with Elder West, I accelerate and brake quickly. Little do I know this will result in Elder West receiving a heavy blow to the groin from the bike rack in front of him. When we (Elders Clawson and Wood) realize what had happened, we can't help our manic laughter. Fortunately, Elder West is a good sport. He is not angry, and there are no hurt feelings... Just swelling to Elder West's nether unmentionables.




I've found a deep passion of mine is to testify of the Book of Mormon. Despite rejections, sneers, looks, threats, and all manner of discouragement, I LOVE the Book of Mormon! I am so grateful for this sacred scripture, for the valiant disciples within it's pages, for the love of our Heavenly Father so immense to provide this record to us His children in the latter days.







Here is a picture of a piece of the zone including the AP's. We had interviews with the president of the mission this weekend.


Elders Carling, Giliam, Goldsberry, Clifford, Candland, Labrum, Wood, LaMont, Cuadrado/Elder. Sisters Anderson Fernandez, Pedersen, and Wall.









I learned something about lawn mowers. They leak a smoke-like substance out of the muffler when there is too much oil in the engine, or perhaps when there is a sudden cold. The answer: put a zip-tie on the bar to allow the engine to run for a few minutes. You'll smoke up the neighborhood, but it will quit eventually and you can mow as usual. I'm grateful for all the things I am learning on the mission. What a blessing.



Elder Wood and I had a special opportunity to teach a lesson that healed a fragile heart. Just a week ago, we met Barbara. Barbara moved into the ward recently. She's downsized to an apartment closer to family and friends after her husband passed away from cancer. How fortunate where we to answer her tear-filled question, "Where is my husband?" We proceeded to teach her where exactly her loved one is, where he will be. We testified to her he lives as Christ lives. On the other side of the veil, cheering her on, helping her. The twelfth verse in chapter forty of the book of Alma never before entered my heart as powerfully as it did as I read aloud to Barbara, "The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow." The Spirit brought to my remembrance this is true for those I have seen pass in my own life, providing just an inkling of what Barbara could be feeling. I was nearly overpowered as I finished this verse of scripture. At first, I did not understand. I marveled why this verse was so powerful to me. I looked up when I finished the scripture, into Barbara's tearful face full of gratitude and I immediately understood.



Consider the words of our prophet who had this to say in our most recent General Conference: "Our Father’s plan for our happiness and our salvation is shared by our missionaries throughout the world. Not all who hear this divine message accept and embrace it. However, men and women everywhere... recognize its truths, and they plant their feet on the path that will lead them safely home. Their lives are forever changed."



I love so immensely how the message of the beautiful Plan of Salvation can heal such wounded hearts. I feel the power of prayer in my life every day from your utterances to our Heavenly Father in my behalf, and in behalf of those whom Elder Wood and I teach. I thank you immensely for that.