Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eclipse and the Oubliette

Monday, Ian gave Elder Bischoff a tour of the WSU campus. Lots of pictures incoming! 

In Ian's car arriving at Wichita State University

A museum dedicated to the original Pizza Hut established in Wichita, Kansas not far from this spot 

A unique sculpture of a millipede named Milly

Selfie with Milly

Easter Egg: underneath one of the many shoes Milly wears humbly hides this strange gnome. 


A butterfly we fortunately met near Milly the Millipede

A charming pond near the entrance to a campus chapel complete with Koi 

Elevator cheesin' with Ian


Bischoff's hesitant smile as he stands in front of the charming chandelier I mean to capture

The following day while Elder Bischoff and I were walking through the apartment complex courtyard, a man smoking on his second story balcony calls to us. "Hey you! Come here! What'cha guys selling?" We oblige and stand underneath him, "Nothing sir. In fact we are sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ." The man lights up, "Nah, really? That's righteous! Well I'll tell you what: come on over Thursday morning and we will have breakfast. You can tell me more." Throughout the week we meet with this man, Orlando Patton. Elder Bischoff and I teach the restoration, but what really perks Orlando's interest is the purpose of life. Why are we here? We have plans to recap the plan of salvation with Orlando. Elder Bischoff and I are very excited. The very evening to follow, a picture was captured of me as I rage in shame after spilling a full glass of water passing pizza casserole across the Atwood family table. 

That's me. Ruining family night / FHE since 1996. 

Enormous announcement were proclaimed in zone conference this transfer. 

First, the Kansas Wichita Mission has been chosen to become a Samsung Smart Phone mission. This is most exciting news because the work can now be more effective than ever before! Missionaries can reach hearts that were once out of grasp! With this, Facebook will now be a tool for the missionaries in Kansas. 

Second, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the quorum of the twelve apostles will be visiting Wichita, Kansas on Saturday August 26th. Each missionary in this mission will have an opportunity to shake hands with an apostle of the Lord. How excited I am! 

District pictures following a zone meeting in preparation for the apostle (Elder Bischoff and I just returned from a moving service project). 

I learned a powerful lesson from Stake President Chandler of the Wichita Stake and it is this food for thought: It's not always about being right, it's about being kind. 

As Elder Bischoff and I sit in an appointment with Ian and his father, we learn a great deal. Brother Englebright in his vast wisdom began to explain Ian is a believer that is demonstrating the signs described in Mark 16:7-8 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." 

Mosiah 3:16 -- Devils are cast out as the heart is changed
2 Nephi 31:14 -- New tongue, the tongue of angels
Helaman 8:14 -- Take up serpents, or lift up Christ as the serpent symbolizes
3 Nephi 11:11 -- Ready to drink the bitter cup, to sacrifice for the Lord
Mormon 9:24 -- Heal as the Savior does through home teaching

Ian's heart has been changed. The devils are cast out. As Ian bears testimony the Spirit is powerful. He speaks in a new tongue. Ian lifts up Christ, makes the Savior the first priority in his life. Ian has left his fraternity because he wanted to rid himself of the negative influence it was in his life. He has sacrificed what a lot of kids his age can only dream of attaining. Ian goes hometeaching with his father to consistently heal the hearts of those his father has been assigned. 

Ian Englebright will be baptized the morning of the 26th at 9:30am. 

In sacrament meeting I was blessed to offer a five-minute talk on the importance of missionary work. In particular, my heart was impressed by the words of Daniel: 

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure (Daniel 2:44-45).

I'm happy to report Amie was able to attend the Mission President's Devotional yesterday. She had a great time and was pleased to hear (as was I) many conversion stories that filled the room with a most powerful presence of the Spirit. 

This is Jesus Christ's church. I know it. I feel it. 

[picture of the eclipse]

Love from Wi-Chee-Tuh! <3 

Monday, August 7, 2017

A New Padawan

A New Padawan

Elder Tippetts said the ultimate goodbye to the Bel Aire and the mission. His work and faith touched very man hearts in this area. I'm sad to see him leave, but happy he is able to honorably return home to family and friends.

Thank you Tippetts family for sharing your son with Kansas! I am honored to be his final companion!

House of Cards by Tippetts

Transfers and the time for me to meet my companion came Wednesday. The name of my new associate is Elder Jaymz Bischoff. This is Elder Bischoff's first area, lucky duck. He is from Henderson, NV though he's lived a great deal other places including Alabama. Elder Bischoff is really intelligent, sarcastic, courageous, and outgoing. It was this very day I was fated to eat squid at a Korean restaurant, fun fact.

Introducing Elder Bischoff

The day after transfers was difficult. Elder Bischoff and I are at the home of the volunteer member to feed us and the sisters that evening. We wait for the sisters, and wait, and wait some more. Thirty minutes pass after the scheduled time to meet when we learn they were in a car wreck. Both Sister Thompson and Sister Setoki are alright. They could not stop the vehicle quickly enough to refrain from hitting the car in front of them at a red light. The sisters left the wreckage with scrapes and bruises.

This poor Elder Bischoff already is having what will be the craziest week of his mission when we are called upon, for the second day in a row, to dedicate a home. The first was a simple prayer to help an investigator family the sisters are teaching feel at home. The second however, was very interesting.

Elder Bischoff and I enter the home and meet a lovely young family with healthy Christian religious background. After preliminary pleasantries, the family tells of us of very odd things happening in the house: flickering lights, slamming doors, disembodied footsteps coming from the stairs, apparitions, and a haunting story of a neighbor committing suicide in a field adjacent to the house. We said a family prayer with them and left a Book of Mormon. That'll keep Casper's evil twin out. The realization that Elder Bischoff were living a realistic episode of Supernatural was priceless.

In our adventures of visiting Sister Lewis, we came across this lovely scene:

A hidden oasis

The Billy and Amie clan is faring very well. Of course, lingering financial and word of wisdom vices still exist that are problematic for the mandates of baptism but we have three or so lessons a week with them. The family has come to church every week since meeting with us and the ward is becoming very familiar with them. Such a blessing!

In the past two weeks we've had some interesting adventures with them like

spotting a menacing Racoon eating Figaro the cat's dry food on the porch,

building a fort with Vaida,

and adoring Cousin Theo's puppies (Three-toes and Capone).

Elder Bischoff seems to be having full of abnormal experiences. From day one he mentioned he had a distantly related aunt (Bischoff's mother's sister's sister-in-law) in Andover, KS by the name of Celeste Sant. We recently discovered Sister Sant is in our ward! Fancy that! The Sant's live in the sliver of Andover the ward includes. How funny he found her in his very first area. It paid off greatly, for they fed us two days in a row. No complaints!

Celeste & Jake Sant, Elder Bischoff

Brother Sant showed me his compound bow and recurve. In a moment of nostalgia, I requested a picture.

Keep dreaming, right Elder LaMont? Few more months of mission to go yet!

I had a blessing of a most unique opportunity to offer a service. Elder Bischoff and I are cleaning out our car at a gas station when approached by a very young child on a small bike not much older than eight with no parents in sight, "Do you have a dollar?" I nearly turn him away, but something inside me stirs. "What is it you need for a dollar?" I ask him. "Some shoes." is his shy response. I look at his feet and see shoes too big, torn and tattered. His eyes meet mine and the feeling inside becomes stronger. "Come on. Let's go get you some shoes." Elder Bischoff and I walk with this young boy to the Family Dollar next door. We reach the shoe aisle and I ask, "How much are the shoes you want?" He looks at me after checking the tag and tells me the amount. "Well how much do you have?" The boy looks down, crestfallen. "Zero dollars," he utters. The decision then was not difficult to make. I help him try the shoes until we find the right size, purchase the pair that fits, and place the shoes in his backpack to send him on his way. Either that was the greatest con in the world, or I felt scripture fulfilled in my heart, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Like King Benjamin I tell you these things not to boast, but to bear personal testimony to you service brings happiness. Indeed we serve God when we help one another.

Elder Bischoff and I were presented with a chance to teach with our Stake President, President Daley. Tyler and Nicole Evertsen, interns at a goliath business in Wichita, arranged the meeting with investigator friends Joe and Andrea. The meeting began with ferocious ping pong. Joe and I came out on top against Elder Bischoff and Tyler. Dinner followed, then our discussion took place. Each and every one of us was awestruck by President Daley's teaching. I was so inspired and learned much.

Let me tell you a most miraculous story. One evening Elder Bischoff and I receive a call from an unknown number, "Elders, my nineteen-year-old son is interested in the missionary discussions." We make the necessary arrangements and soon we are in their home. The man we spoke with on the phone is David Englebright. His son's name is Ian. Ian told us a story of his baptist mother dying almost a year ago. Before her passing he attended the baptist church, but without her Ian began to explore. He joined a Christian fraternity and swore himself against harmful substances and vowed abstinence until marriage. Ian's father patiently waited for the time to be right in order to show him the gospel of Jesus Christ. The message of the restoration was very well received by Ian's heart. The Spirit was so strong with him. We challenged him to pray and read the Book of Mormon, to ask if it is true.

Two days later it is fast and testimony meeting. Ian comes with his father and finds his way to a pulpit. He tells of an experience he has the night before in the car with his father, reading a restoration pamphlet given to him by missionaries. In a discussion of the Book of Mormon, Ian's father pulls over to show Ian Moroni 10:3-4. Ian explains the feelings as a 'tsunami wave' of love, peace, and joy like he never before felt. At the conclusion of his testimony, Ian announces he desires to soon become a member of this church as he knows with all his heart it is true. "It was right here in front of me all this time," Ian says, looking at his father's eyes. That night Elder Bischoff and I return to their home at the scheduled time and challenge Ian to be baptized on the 26th of August. Ian responds with an emphatic, "Yes!"

I'll never forget the beginnings of Ian's conversion. These things are very sacred to my heart. I'm so grateful to be in Kansas to share this gospel especially as it is so well received. Please keep Ian Englebright in your prayers!

Love to you all from Wi-Chee-Tuh!