So I just wanted to let ya'll know that first off I'm fine. Today for Pday we went down to Garden of the Gods and essentially when we got there (it was about 20-30 miles south of us) the low fuel indicator went off. I started panicking cause there were no nearby fuel stations. I saw one that was about 12 miles north, so we ignored Garden of the Gods and headed straight for that. Unfortunately the GPS lied to us, which was quite peculiar since it was relatively new. Driving a further 15 miles we safely reached Eldorado and were able to fill up. Here's just a short clip of the mayhem that we were experiencing.
Note: Something to learn from this is to always maintain a positive attitude, even when you are in a really rough spot.
Okay so this week was pretty fun. Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture it all on camera due to the fact that we have new iPads now, but it was still great.
So on Monday we went fishing with an investigator and frankly it was a bit annoying. We tried going down the river a bit where we could get closer to the water, but due to the snow and rain, the ground was crazy muddy. Elder Stange's and my shoes were both really really messed up before we decided to head back the half mile we had already come through the mud and head for the bridge which crossed over the river.
Walking a cool trail. Elder Stange is on the left, our investigator is in the middle, and his dog is on the right.
After catching nothing, the investigator and Elder Stange started messing around and for some reason, Elder Stange started kicking off his shoes. The first shoe landed on the bridge, the second shoe... In the river. I started filming a quick video saying he "might as well chuck the other one."
Not my best picture, but this shows Elder Stange's shoe floating down the river. I sent a video of what happened to my mom and hopefully she may have posted it in the last week’s update.
The shoes were pretty old and worn out, but he was sad to see them go nonetheless. He later bought a $10 pair at Walmart so he's okay now. After that we went on a long walk with the investigator and his stray dog friend. It was a really cool trail and hopefully I'll be able to obtain a picture of it from my USB where I saved a lot of pictures on it.
The Ohio River. It is kind of thawing in this picture from all the snow and ice which explains the foggy look of it. We cross this bridge every time we leave Illinois.
Tuesday through Wednesday I went down to Paducah, KY on exchanges with Elder Porter who is a much older missionary than I am. We had a blast, but teaching wise was kind of rough. He is a Spanish missionary and since I know very little Spanish (enough to understand what was going on), I couldn't help out too much. I did learn some phrases in Spanish and practiced bearing my testimony in Spanish-- Something like "Soy un hijo de Dios. Yo sé que José Smith (Joseph is translated to José) es un propheta de Dios. Y yo sé que el libro de mormón es verdadero." I'm 99% sure that all translates to "I am a child of God. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. And I know that the Book of Mormon is true." (I forgot how to say "I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior" and so I didn't want to mess that up here).
I didn't have too many opportunities to bear my testimony on the exchange, but I did have a blast working with an elder who was older than I was again. We also had dinner with a member family who was from Tucson, Arizona and actually was the primary teacher for Elder Moeller, my second companion in the field. It was a crazy coincidence for sure.
While on exchange on Wednesday we did contact an English-speaking person and I was able to take the lead on this one. She was a cool Baptist riverboat cook that had been going through some rough times-- Kind of strange however. She was very adamant in her beliefs including the doctrine of the Trinity which she firmly believed. When we offered to show her in the Bible where it shows God and Jesus Christ as separate beings (Acts 7:55-56 for starters, if you were wondering) she quickly stopped us and said "Nope! I'm very set in my beliefs." We referred her to the sister missionaries and that was that.
Thursday we had a fantastic zone meeting. President Andersen was in attendance as was his wife and her sisters. They were introducing the new iPads and training us on how we will be using them. I was very excited to get started on this new idea. Basically the church, through revelation, figured out a way to teach youth (especially missionary age) the ways technology can be used for good. As missionaries, we will learn these techniques and then teach them when we return home. It's a brilliant idea to encourage the safe use of the Internet.
Later in the evening we had dinner with the Russell's who are an awesome family in the branch. Bro. Russell is the branch mission leader so we are over there frequently.
Friday I finally got to see the northern side of the area. For the most part I had only been working in Saline (Suh-leen) County for the past 5 weeks or so, but that day we went up to practically the top of the area with a member. Our first stop was picking up car keys in Muddy, IL (population 100) and then up to this city called McLeansboro,IL where we got a ride with a member to Carmi, IL.
Overlooking the plains from Ledford Cemetery
I literally have no clue of any historical background about either of these places, but it was fun getting to see new areas. We talked to a bunch of less actives who live up there. Most of them don't come down due to the long drive (it's about 45-55 minutes in good conditions) and others just because there are closer churches than ours. It's sad, but understandable. The Eldorado branch has one of the larger boundaries in the states, covering about seven counties. It's hard to get people so far away to come.
Saturday we didn't do anything too special other than teach a lesson over the phone to an investigator Elder Stange and Elder Dobson found while on exchanges up here. She was super solid after throwing a bit of anti at us. But after explaining a bit more, she was really into the Book of Mormon. She's a pretty cool miracle for us to teach, hopefully.
Sunday was interesting. Our sacrament meeting attendance essentially tripled! It was great! I passed the sacrament, and we emptied 2 of the 3 trays we had. Approximately 70+ people showed up. Some were visitors, others coming back after the bad weather. I was surprised and happy at the increase.
After church we went to go see a couple people and then had dinner again with the Russell's.Their puppy got loose so I went running to catch it. I was covered in mud, but I got it.
Overall we had a pretty fantastic week thanks to all the member exchanges we went on. Today, since it’s P-Day, I believe we are headed to this place called Garden of the Gods which I've heard is incredibly beautiful. I may send those pictures as well. But anyways I'm having a lot of fun out here serving the Lord, and I'm hoping ya'll are doing the same. This upcoming week I will hit my 10 month mark and I believe this also marked the week that I got my mission call a year ago. Crazy how time flies.
So in explanation, this week we got our new iPads, and had to trade in the old ones. So most of these pictures are from Thursday and up. I haven't had time to take too many, so this will have to be it for this week. We are going to this place called Garden of the Gods today which is usually a really pretty cliff area that overlooks a bunch of the forest. I will take pictures there and may send those to ya’ll later on.