I posted a while ago about how much I love snow. Well these past few days we received more than we asked for which reminds me of the gospel. Heavenly Father has limitless blessings for us when we obey his commandments and follow the example of Jesus Christ. #snowgoodness
Oh man, this current transfer has been something. There are so many things to talk about, and now that my companion and I have been snowed in for the past three days (only have gone out once to get wifi for emails), I have had time to do so! I will first off explain what's been going on in the past three days.
So on Sunday (15th) we got out of church and were alerted that a gigantic storm was coming through Hendersonville, TN -- and it would hit that night. Now, when people around here talk about storms, usually they are talking about 2-3 inches of snow and that's it. So I didn't give much attention to it. 2-3 inches turned more into 7-8 as the mission essentially had us do pretty much nothing except stay in and clean Monday. That turned into Tuesday, and then even up to Wednesday. I couldn't alert anyone what was going on till Tuesday night when I was able to finally get to a source of wifi and send off a message to my parents. But now that the roads are a little safer, we've been permitted to finally get out and go to a source of wifi. So here's the week:
So Monday (9th) Elder Hansen and I went over to the stake center and messed around there. It was to be my last time playing basketball with missionaries on Pday for at least the next three months. Kind of a sad day. Later that evening we went over to the Bushong's who are a member family for dinner. It was a "make your own pizza" night which was loads of fun. Definitely something to try out again when I get back home.
Tuesday morning (10th), Bro. Pyne, the member who gave us a ride from district meeting almost 6 months previously, gave us a lift to transfer meeting. He worked for a music company and let us hear a bit of a song he had written with some of the Nashville Tribute Band members. He also told us how his kids were featured in the My Call To Serve album which was cool.
He also told us stories about some of his scarier areas on his mission which was entertaining. When we got to the Franklin stake center, Elder Hansen took off to the trainer meeting since he would be training with another missionary. Bro. Pyne and I chatted with a sister missionary named Sis. Cotton who would be going home on Wednesday after completing a truly stellar 18 months.
The new Hendersonville missionaries (Elder Jorgensen is far left
and Elder Hansen far right, with the trainee in the middle)
She had served in my first area and tore it up with miracles all around as well as in Hendersonville for pretty much half of her mission with miracles there too. It was a good transfer meeting and I got to meet Elder Stange, the missionary I would be spending at least six weeks with. We were friends from the beginning. I was so grateful to have a companion who is more like me and has more of my interests.
We boarded "the Paducah bus" which was a giant van that carried the 4 sets of missionaries from the Paducah, KY stake to the stake center. Elder Stange and I sat in the row between the row of sisters (Gates and Curtis), and the zone leader with the district leader and trainee (Nez, Porter, and Dobson). The other zone leader (Van Valkenburg) rode in the front.
Kentucky border (I didn't get the Illinois border since I was driving)
Most of the time was spent talking to the sisters and the zone leader. Elder Stange fell asleep. The drive was about 2 and a half hours so not that bad. About 2/3 of the way there the sisters remembered and remarked to each other "Oh! You don't have a GPS?!"
They started worrying about it so I piped up saying "Y'know I actually haven't gotten a GPS on my mission but I was looking for one. Elder Stange said he has an old one so you can use the new one I'll buy temporarily." They were grateful, and I know that it was no coincidence that there was one quality and cheap GPS remaining in the Paducah Walmart. The Lord watches out for His missionaries and will help them when they need it. Especially when they are in the service of others. We ended up staying the night at the zone leaders apartment since the drive to Eldorado would waste miles since we would be coming back the next day for district meeting. We ended the night playing basketball at the ward building with the zone leaders and a few Paducah members and their non member friends.
Wednesday (11th) we had district meeting and it was fantastic to meet the rest of the missionaries in the district. We had a great training from Elder Nez on the importance of certain words. Instead of saying, "The gospel of Jesus Christ CAN help you..." The better word is "The gospel of Jesus Christ WILL help you..." And so on.
After district meeting I handed off the GPS to the sisters who once again thanked me and promised that they would get their own soon from another set who had an extra one. We started on the drive to Eldorado afterwards.
With the giant Superman in Metropolis, IL (yes it's called Metropolis)
Just across the Ohio River is a city called Metropolis. It has this gigantic Superman statue so obviously, I wanted to take a look at that. It was pretty sweet and even had its own dedicatory prayer which was funny to see. In it was the acknowledgment that the statue was not meant to be an idol for worshiping which I also chuckled at. On the base of the statue were the words "TRUTH. JUSTICE. - THE AMERICAN WAY." I thought that was brilliant.
After looking around a bit we got back into the car and I immediately discovered the first thing that challenged the companionship: Elder Stange's sense of direction. The poor guy literally didn't have a clue where we were, even though he had been in the area for six weeks. It didn't help that he had forgotten his GPS back in Paducah (we found out about this when we got to our home). After about 30 minutes or so, I found the right road and we were back on course.
Plains off Route 45 in Illinois. I would say "the field is white
already to harvest," but it's actually all dead. It's still beautiful though.
The drive on the 45 was beautiful. Rolling plains, a two lane street, and no cars around for miles for about an hour drive north. It was awesome.
We got to the house (after being lost for another 30 minutes), and I stepped in to what would be my home for the next three months. It's kind of a cozy home. Wood walls with carpet and tiles. Certainly bigger than my past places I've been in. It was great. Except Elder Stange got sick so we had to stay inside that day.
Thursday (12th) he was still sick but we went to go see some people in the evening. We saw a less active who had a lot of health issues and was looking for a nursing home. We were able to go get her a vanilla shake which she appreciated. We also went to go see an excommunicated member who had been taking the missionary discussions and wanted to be baptized. Then we also went to go see a nice recent convert family and ended up teaching their relatives a lesson.
Later that day I got a call from Elder Jorgensen who was one of the missionaries who replaced me in Hendersonville. He told me that Shawn Brown, the guy I had been teaching for three months and the cookie story, set his baptismal date as March 7th the night before. I was overjoyed. I'm hoping to attend the baptism in person, but I will be happy to skype in as well. After serving there for 6 months I'm hoping for some leniency from President to get approved miles for the 3 and a half hour drive to Gallatin where the baptism will take place.
Friday (13th) was... Interesting. We went over and had a good lesson with a lady. On a lighter note I finally got to see the city of Eldorado. Or at least some of it. We went to the branch building and used the family history center computers for Facebook and planning. We also got to meet a part member family where the husband is taking the lessons. They are expected to be married in April so he will probably be baptized then if all goes well.
Saturday not too much happened other than we contacted a really talkative guy in the McDonald's. He told us all about his life essentially and unfortunately lived in Indiana area and wasn't interested in learning more. Since it was Valentine's Day not that many people opened up to us.
Sunday was brutal. Half the branch was sick, and President Place, the branch president, called to have me give a 7-10 minute talk on faith. And Elder Stange told me it was my turn to teach gospel doctrine. So yeah. That was fun.
I talked for about 6 minutes max and that was buying time. I'm usually better at speaking to larger crowds, but due to illnesses, only 27 members were present for sacrament meeting. Some of them had to leave right after due to sickness in their families back home. I also wasn't too prepared on the talk, but I was more prepared on the lesson which had to be 40-50 minutes. In gospel doctrine I taught the principle of agency, something I've grown to have a good knowledge about. The elderly people in attendance would take the conversation off track so it was entertaining to bring it back repeatedly. They all commented that it was a good lesson and a fascinating topic. This is going to be an interesting and growing experience in this branch for sure.
President Place was very glad I stepped up and was appreciative of the short notice efforts. In opening exercises for Priesthood, there were only 7 brethren there including us missionaries and the branch president, so we all had an off topic discussion about prayer based on the Ezra Taft Benson book given by one of the elderly high priests. It was entertaining for sure. Also none of the brethren play piano so guess who's stepping in for that?
Snow-pocalypse in Harrisburg, IL out the back window at the car.
Monday (16th) as I already stated, we were snowed in. We couldn't go anywhere or do anything. After playing Risk, Monopoly, and just sleeping, I was essentially done with the day. It was really pretty boring.
Same deal for Tuesday (17th), but then I had found a snow shovel so I went to work on the driveway and sidewalks. We were able to get the car out of the driveway and obtained wifi and a dinner at the branch mission leader's home. The Russell's are a really fun family and currently have a Norwegian exchange student with them. One of their daughter's is at BYU-Idaho and the other is coming home from her mission in a few weeks. That one is attending Southern Virginia University which is just a few hours south of me. They were awesome and I can't wait to start working with them.
Finally Wednesday (18th). I was actually planning on sending out this email this day but once again we were stuck. I finished shoveling the driveway and also finished building a snowman my companion had started but never got around to finishing. He's a mini version of me. We also went to go see one of our investigators with a member driving and that was literally about it. I ended the night watching The Testaments and writing ya'll and a few others.
I think that's about it. Lots happened. As I am currently writing this, it is freezing cold in the house which for some reason is not heating up. I'm trying to be patient with the weather and the circumstances.
Thank you all for your support and I apologize for not writing sooner. It's been a hectic and very cold week.
Thank you all for your support and I apologize for not writing sooner. It's been a hectic and very cold week.
There are many times in life where we will face trials that seem bigger than we can manage. A perfect example is found in the story of David and Goliath. Though Goliath was a huge giant and David was puny, David defeated him because the Lord was on his side. Whenever difficulties occur when you are trying to do the right thing, remember that the Lord is on your side.
Snow-pocalypse outside the back door
Snow-pocalypse outside the front door