Monday, February 5, 2018

5 February 2018

By way of explanation of the title, trailer parks don't have the best roads. So bad, in fact, that we can go no more than a few miles an hour on them. And if it rains, forget it. They're just about impassable. As are all of the driveways leading up to the trailers. In fact, just a few days ago, we got stuck. There were a whole bunch of little connecting roads to this main road that we had to turn onto to make it to our appointment, but they were all flooded. So, we were trying to turn down one of them that looked clear and all of a sudden there was a huge puddle that covered the entire road. (This was at night and so it was dark too.) We thought it would be alright to go through, but we only made it halfway across before the wheels started spinning. My companion was driving, and we both opened the doors to see how bad it was. I had water going up to about five feet off to my right. So my companion got out and I slid over to the driver's seat. He started pulling on the bike rack and some random guy came up and started helping. I had to turn off all of the car's electronic safeties because they were limiting tire spin, but we got out after a minute or two. So now our bike rack is kind of bent. Which is okay because the mission was going to replace it this transfer anyways and we've not been able to use bikes because it's such a huge area anyways and I don't have my helmet. Once I get one, I'll be able to use it again to help get around a little better though. The person who helped us ran off right after so we couldn't talk to him any more. I would call him one of the three Nephites, but he was smoking so... Anyways, we made it to appointment, we just had to go on foot. It turned out she didn't have a man home so we couldn't go in, but we were able to talk to her a little bit more. We're visiting her again on Thursday with a member, so hopefully that'll pan out. We went back to another trailer park for a return appointment who wasn't there, but we did have that same dog come up to us and follow us a bit again. We were about to leave when he found us, but he had learned from our escape last time and was determined to not let us leave. When we got in the car he came up to me and stuck his head in the car so I couldn't shut the door. I had to push him away and get going pretty quick. It's too bad we're not allowed to have pets out here, otherwise I'd just let him hop in the back and take him. Clearly he doesn't have anyone caring for him right now, and no collar. It makes me sad sometimes.
The coolest moment that we had this week was during tracting. We knocked on someone's door but as soon as we mentioned Jesus Christ, she said "Oh, we don't believe in that kind of thing," and shut the door. This really confused us, because she was wearing a cross. Later, as we were walking down the street, she walked up to us again. She apologized for being rude and said that she's always shut out people like us because she always felt bad for not knowing about this kind of thing. She started to ask us some really great questions about the purpose of life and what will happen after this life. We could answer all of her questions, and she said that it really helped her. She wasn't familiar with God and had never even seen a Bible before (which is really surprising in the South) and had only heard what people had said before she'd closed her door. Then, she asked us what made us so different from other churches, so we were able to share the Restoration with her. She loved it and invited us back! It's amazing how much the Spirit can open the hearts of people who previously wouldn't be willing to listen to us at all to then let us come back. The only downside is that she wasn't Spanish and so we had to refer her to the English missionaries, but hopefully she'll progress. 

That's all, folks!

Monday, January 29, 2018

29 January 2018

Yes, we are a technology mission. The long awaited day (for some) has finally arrived. Personally, I'm not the biggest fan because I know some missionaries will use it as a crutch in their work rather than just a tool to help improve it. Most of all, I hope I won't use it as a crutch. Still, onward and upward. I haven't had the chance to use the Area Book and Planner apps yet, but I've heard that they're phenomenally useful. Unfortunately, I'm having some technology issues right now that are hopefully getting resolved.
This week has mostly been a lot of knocking doors. So much knocking doors. I haven't done this much since Raleigh, and that's saying something. Still it's bringing us in contact with some great people who seem like they could be really ready to accept the gospel. Our biggest problem is how huge our area is. In all of my previous areas, I could ask "When would be a good time for us to come back?" Now I have to ask "We'll be in the area on (insert day here). Can we come back that day?" Still, we're working. The best places to find people to teach are trailer parks. So we sat down with some members and discussed the locations of every trailer park they could think of. We have quite a few, but we're running through them pretty quickly. Still, we're finding a lot of people and if they keep their return appointments then we won't have to tract quite as much! And tracting in trailer parks is pretty funny. You'll be knocking on someone's door, and they'll say that they're not interested. We respond by asking them if there's anyone in the area who speaks Spanish, because we mostly teach in Spanish. Every time, they'll look you in the eye and say something to the effect of, "Son, (or honey, sweetie, baby, or however they feel like addressing us that time. Yup. I'm in the South.) EVERYONE around here does." Which boosts your confidence about finding someone in the area who does until 4 or 5 unopened doors later you repeat the exact same experience. Which makes you begin to wonder about how much people actually know their neighbors. Still, you get to see some interesting stuff while tracting. Like stores out of the back of trucks, weirdly friendly dogs, and burned out trailers. ​​​​​ 
Some dogs that followed us around for a few minutes
 
Just a completely burned out trailer that looked like it had been sitting there for a long time.
 
And then this dog that followed us around for about an hour that would come up onto the doorstep with us. That got some interesting reactions. "Is that your dog?" "Actually, we have no idea who's he is." "Well he looks scary." It kind of made me sad to leave him, because as we were trying to drive away, he kept on walking in front of the car so we couldn't. We would stop, he would walk up to my door, I would start again, and he'd be right back in front of the car. Eventually, I got away, but he ran after the car for a while, then stopped. I don't think he's been given some love for a long time. Makes me wish we didn't have a rule against having pets out here. 
Sunday was interesting. Our branch president called us and asked if we could bear our testimonies the next day. We said sure, but then I started worrying. Now, my last ward was English with a Spanish translation. This branch is full Spanish like my first one. Now, this was the first time I've had to speak in front of a crowd since my farewell. Somehow I'd managed to avoid it up until almost six months into my mission. So the time came around and I got up and bore my testimony about member missionary work. I wish I could tell you more about what I said, but I don't remember. I don't like speaking in front of crowds, especially without having anything planned out. So, all I remember is the topic vaguely. Afterwards, members were coming up to me and congratulating me on my Spanish and testimony, and I was just sitting there like, "Well, it's a good thing that they know what I said, because I sure don't!" And then in third hour we had an English speaker that I was translating for, but the topic (keeping the Sabbath day holy) started to get really heated. You know how it's hard to keep up with a whole bunch of people talking really fast over each other? I invite you to try to translate that from a language you're still learning. I got maybe half of it done well. Then after church we were going to visit a member who's in the hospital to give her the sacrament with a couple of members. Now, one of the members had a meeting that we didn't know about, and so we waited until he was done an hour later. Our church ends at 4, so it was already almost 5:30. Then we had a very long travel time to the hospital, gave the sacrament, and then the members drove us to their house for dinner. They didn't tell us they were going to give us dinner until then, and so we had no idea. All in all, we didn't even get back to our car at the church until 8:30, so we couldn't really do that much. 
This morning we had a cool little moment with a Walmart greeter. She stopped us and asked who we were, and so we got to explain a little about what we do and why we do it. She  seemed interested, but very devout in her own faith. Maybe she'll feel that desire to keep learning. Who knows?

Have a great week y'all! (And I said "y'all" before the mission too so that's not new.)

Monday, January 22, 2018

22 January 2018

Well, I have officially been transferred again. And I have another companion who has only been out as long as I have. So we're both still working on the Spanish out here. Thankfully, we're in a full Spanish branch so that we can learn a little bit faster. My new companion's name is Elder Clement, and he's a big guy who used to play football, and is planning on playing for Southern Virginia after his mission. (I think.) Anyways, he seems like a good guy and is easy to get along with. Our biggest issue is that the previous people in this area broke the phone (we were double transferred in) and so we've gone down to a flip phone. Do you know how hard it is to text an investigator on a flip phone? Well, we're converting to a technology mission so that'll be over soon at least. There wasn't too much to do for this first week except try to meet the old investigators and get to know the members and find out how much they've been worked with. On Wednesday we drove 40 minutes out to district meeting, had about the first half, and then got a text from the assistants telling everyone to cancel district meeting because of the snow. So we then canceled and drove the 40 minutes back to the apartment. We didn't get anything more than a little bit of rain. Oh North Carolina and your unpredictable weather patterns.
Friday was our best day. We got out and worked from 10 until 9 and found a whole bunch of great people. Two of them were teenagers who were actually really open to hearing our message. The weird thing I've seen out here is that it's usually the younger people who are really open to receiving you, even though the same group is also the ones who cause the most trouble. Teaching them will be interesting because we want to teach the whole family, but it's not uncommon that the kids don't like speaking Spanish and the adults can't speak anything but Spanish, so we have to come ready to teach in both languages. It just makes it a little more challenging, but also more fun at the same time. The hardest part is making sure that you're not neglecting the ones who speak Spanish because they are harder to communicate with, even  though we're only allowed to teach in Spanish out here. (In some areas it's part English part Spanish because they don't have any English teaching out there.) Then we ended up helping this old guy change his tire and push his car because it wouldn't start. He was really cool, and it turned out that he already knew some members, which is surprisingly rare out here. It's not uncommon to talk to multiple people in a row who've never even heard of the church before. What we weren't expecting was that changing his tire was only practice for the next day. 
We had another really big day planned and were really excited to go out and work, and so we got out and started knocking a trailer park. This one didn't have any Hispanics, so we moved on. Or tried to. When we got back to the car, the front right tire was flat, and we found a screw in it. So we called our Fleet Supervisor and she said to take it to Firestone because they fix flats for free for the mission or something. So we threw on the spare and took off to the nearest Firestone 15 miles away. When we got there, they said it'd probably be a fairly long wait. So we went to the mall and started store contacting there. Store contacting is really hard because if it looks like you're there to teach people, they'll kick you out. Still, we had a few good conversations. After about two hours we decided to check back on the car. They hadn't even started on it yet. We decided to wait there and sat down and waited. And waited. Eventually we got the news that they had gotten to the car and declared the tire irreparable. So they wanted to replace it. Which wouldn't have been too bad, but it required a call to the Fleet Supervisor. Little did we know that just 15 minutes earlier all of the senior missionaries in the office decided to go out to a movie. So we were trying to contact them for the next few hours before we finally got through. Still, the tires got replaced and we were on our way at about 4:30. (We got there at around 11:30) When we were halfway back, Firestone gave us a call and said that they'd forgotten to put the spare back in the trunk. So we drove right back and got that taken care of and then headed back out, had dinner, and mostly taught some of the members for the rest of the night. So that was interesting. At least it (probably) won't happen again this week! 
Displaying IMG_0258.JPG​My companion's bike after it randomly just stopped pedaling. We have no idea how it happened. ​
 
The situation out here is definitely interesting. It turns out that we live on the western edge of Fayetteville, but cover a huge area. As in (if you have a map) just north of the 295 in Fayetteville, our southern border is Marietta, as far east as Autryville, and as far west as Raeford/Silver City. (Different than Siler City.) To do this, we only have 1600 miles a month. With where the car was mile wise when we came in, we have about 43 miles a day. We've gone over the past three days because there are areas that are so far away that just going there and back take up everything we have and more. So today we're not going much of anywhere in order to save miles. In positive news, my packages have been located (or at least one of them) and they're waiting at the mission office. Hopefully I'll have them in just a few weeks.  I asked her not to ship them for fear of them getting lost again, so my Zone Leaders will pick them up when they go. I think they were planning on this Friday for some meeting or another, but I'm not sure. So ideally I'll have it by next Wednesday. (Our district meeting) And to answer the question about Fort Bragg, yes. Everyone. Almost. Out here, everyone either works on base, has someone who is stationed there, or has a friend who is. It's pretty crazy.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

16 January 2018

Well sorry I couldn't email yesterday, all the libraries were closed for MLK Jr. Day. So here it is today in a very abbreviated form. It was a cool week with a pretty good amount to do. We were always busy running to appointments, and the last few days we were going out and prepping our investigators for the new people coming in, because our area is getting whitewashed. Well, kind of. It's getting pinkwashed. That's when the sisters come in and replace the Elders, which is kind of good just because we had a ton of investigators who are single women and we couldn't catch up to them without a male member so it got pretty hard. But we have a few people who are progressing really well. I really hope that they continue to progress and that the Sisters keep up with them. We have a few really good members as well that love to go out with us, so hopefully they'll be able to keep that up. Sorry this couldn't be longer, but I promise I'll do better next week!

Monday, January 8, 2018

8 January 2018

So some snow happened this week. Probably with the worst timing it could have, but it was fun to drive in. The cars were grounded, but then President James decided that there was nothing, NOTHING going to stop him from doing interviews that day. So we got to drive around in the snow for about two hours that day, and still had district meeting because we were all there anyways. At the time, I was on exchanges in Pittsboro, which as far as we could tell, was one of the worst hit places in our mission. We know at least that it was the worst in the district. We were out the previous night and it had just started to snow when we got a call from our district leader that they were probably going to ground the cars soon and so we need to head back to the apartment right away. Well, turns out that yes, the cars did get grounded after we got back and so we were on foot for the rest of the night. We found about the only cool thing in Pittsboro, a 9/11 memorial. (It's even smaller and more spread out than Siler City.) But then the next morning, we got a call from President James that we were still going to have interviews and that the cars were mobile again for that. By this time, we had walked about a mile and a half to get to somewhere to knock doors and had to turn back again to make it to interviews/District Meeting in time. So that was fun.
Yesterday we had a cool experience with an investigator. His wife is a recent convert, and he has been investigating for a while(ish) but hasn't ever really felt the desire to do things like go to church, read the scriptures and pray. However, we found out that it was him who pushed his wife to go that morning, and that he had been reading the scriptures, had some questions about it, and that he had talked to the stake president while he was there and had a really cool moment where he felt that God had answered some of his questions! It was really awesome. We're hoping that he'll continue to have these sorts of experiences, and that he can quit smoking.
Well, transfers are coming up this next week and I might not be in Siler City anymore, so let's see how it goes!

 That 9/11 Memorial, it was helicoptered in from New York, and that thing in front of it says the distance and direction to Ground Zero.​

 ​All the way back to the ward Christmas Party, my district leader and his companion dressed up as Wise Men because some people backed out last minute.​​​

 ​A sample of the snow that we had overnight. ​

 ​When you're in a small town that isn't prepared for snow, they use what they have.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2 January 2018

We recently had announced out here that we are getting a new mission president. President James is going home in July (I think) and we will have Matthew Holland, President of UVU and son of Jeffery R. Holland coming in. It will be interesting, and they've already met and President James is hyping us up for him saying how awesome he'll be. I hope so. Anyways, sorry for no warning on not sending out an email on Tuesday, I found out on Friday that Monday would be a regular work day because President James said that everyone would be home with their families. Well, he was right about that. The only problem is that no one would answer their door until two. Anyways, back to the start of the week. On Wednesday, we had a really cool experience with a former investigator that we had never taught before. We came by with a member who shared his conversion story and we taught a really powerful lesson with. By the end of it, the investigator was in tears and acknowledged that she had felt the Spirit and that it was telling her that she should go to our church. Unfortunately, when Sunday came, she wasn't there. There's always next week, but sometimes you want to take away people's agency and make them go with you because you know it's the best for them. Still, it's their choice and like it says in our purpose, we are to "Invite others to come unto Christ," not force them. We'll still work with her and make sure that she recognizes that the Spirit is there whenever we are and whenever she reads in the Book of Mormon as well. Hopefully she'll continue to progress. (By the way, I do apologize again Mom, no pictures because I don't have my camera with me and I can't recount the week too well because I left my bag in the apartment, which also had my camera. I never am quite ready for P-Days.) One more experience that stands out from this week is some work we did with a less active member. (Mostly because it happened yesterday.) But we had met this less active and he was pretty well to do, so we asked if he could help us. We're both new missionaries right out of training who haven't been able to do a whole lot of teaching in English (this is a split English/Spanish area) and we're trying to work on teaching. Could they help us? It turned out that he was very willing and so was his nonmember wife. We went over and taught the Restoration, and they gave a lot of very helpful feedback about how we could improve and how we could adapt to the area, because there a lot of Southern Baptists and Methodists. (The member was a Methodist, his wife is a Southern Baptist.) So that really helped. At the end of the lesson, we invited his wife to read the Book of Mormon, and she accepted for real, not just as a practice. So that was pretty cool. We're going back next Monday evening and working with them some more. That's all I have for the week, so have a good one everyone! And thanks to the ward for the letters, I just got those on Thursday!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

26 December 2017

Sorry for not giving y'all a warning about me not being able to email yesterday. I didn't know until yesterday that I couldn't have just about any time, but the mission president said we had a little time today. Well, Christmas was great! We opened presents with some other missionaries and I did really appreciate the gifts Mom! After presents, we went over to Bishop's house to make our calls. After that, we hung out for a few hours with them (it was both p day and Christmas, so...) and had a breakfast. They had a basketball shooting game that I went head to head with Bishop on, and lost. Just barely. He took that as an opportunity to go over again how Hoosiers don't have anything on Tar Heels when it comes to basketball. After that, we were over at another member's house for dinner and some games. We had biscuits with gravy, turkey, ham, and nachos. It was pretty interesting. The only game we ended up playing was Quelf, which was still pretty fun. After that, we were given the chance to watch a church movie, so we watched 17 Miracles. It was really weird after nearly 5 months without any tv.
The rest of the week has been a little strange. We haven't been able to get up with one of our investigators for a while, and we just found out why. Her husband (who she kicked out and tried to get a restraining order against because he beat her and their children) is back against her will. And we also now have a death threat against us if he ever sees us come over again. We'll just have to be a little more careful. (Okay Mom, a lot more careful.) But the finding here is still going strong! Everyone is super open to listen, especially around Christmas. Hopefully it'll tide over after Christmas as well. We're trying hard, but it's been a bit hard to keep up with some of them around now because everyone is leaving for other places. I'm pretty sure it'll all calm down after this season now, so we'll be able to work normally again.
I wasn't expecting a chance to email today, so I wasn't ready to upload pictures. However, I'll have plenty next week. Bye until then!