First off, thank you so much for all the answers I received for my birthday request. I received multiple answers via packages, letters, and emails. I appreciated the many stories and have compiled them all into one giant collection which I will hang onto for the rest of my mission. I have really enjoyed reading them. I'm sure a lot of you were wondering what was the point in me asking that?
Well for one, I hoped a lot of you realized the cool experience and feeling you get when you write down and have to think about a time when you did something good or witnessed the hand of God in your life.
A lot of you remarked about how you were grateful for the experience. Not only did this benefit me to see so many, members and non-members of our faith, doing good in the world, but it also allowed those who sent one to reflect on when they have truly been blessed. I encourage each of you to write down these experiences, big or small, whenever you can. Cherish those moments.
Well, now for the week.
Monday we went over to see our investigator who is trying to quit smoking. We studied D&C 89 super in depth with her and came away with a lot of inspiration. That's one thing I've been amazed about myself is the amount of knowledge I've gained of the scriptures and spiritual things. It's cool to be able to understand doctrine so deep and explain it so simply. As I study and teach others, I am learning so much.
Tuesday was a bit rough cause most of our appointments fell through, however, we had a really good lesson with this lady who has a two year old son. We were able to get her the Book of Mormon Stories book (BoM with pictures) and she was able to understand that a lot better. We also found another less active at Long John Silvers, which was an amazing “coincidence.” In the evening we had dinner and a meeting with the BML family (the Branch Mission Leader).
Wednesday was... Frustrating. But also fun. We went down to Paducah, KY for district meeting. It was the last of the transfer so we took pictures.
The Paducah Spanish District
(Front row left to right): Sister Hess, Sister Ellis, Sister Gates, and Sister Curtis.
(Back row left to right): Elder Stange, Elder Senatore, Elder Nez, Elder Peery, Elder Van Valkenburg, and Elder Porter
The Foxcroft (Foxcroft, IL) sisters pranked the district leader by writing on their car. They wrote three different things: "Orlando Bloom stole my heart", "#Thug4Lyfe", and "Team Edward".
Elder Porter, Elder Stange, and Elder Senatore. Some people are Team Edward, but not Elder Porter.
It was hilarious. Unfortunately, Elder Stange forgot the phone in the district leader’s car and didn't realize it until we were 10 miles to Harrisburg, IL. After a very frustrating drive back down to Paducah, we got the phone, but weren't able to get much done after that.
Beautiful Eldorado skyline
Thursday we went over to see the lady with the baby again and she told us some of things that were kind of scary—mostly confessions and stuff like that. Her issue was that she could not forget what she did. Almost like it haunted her. We told her that through the atonement of Christ that she can be free of that guilt, but she still doesn't completely understand which is hard.
Friday we drove up to McLeansboro, IL where I helped out a member with their family history. I taught them how to scan and add their family photos to family history. It was a long and rather boring process, but it was good to be of help, so I didn't mind too much. We later went up to Carmi, IL where we got to see one of our investigators who turned himself in to the police for a drug charge. He's looking at 3-7 years but understands the point of repentance. He's also been reading the Book of Mormon in there which is great. He was really happy to see us.
Saturday we headed on down to Paducah again for stake conference. We were with the BML family again and had a fun time listening to the speakers. It felt like a long couple of meetings, but I didn't mind too much. The big focus was member missionary work. The stake president who is a convert from Japan is really focused on improving the work in Paducah, and it is very slowly increasing. We also received transfer calls and like I said before, I am very excited to get the chance to continue to work here. It will be fun.
Sunday (my birthday) we went down to stake conference again. For the most part I kept my birthday largely secret. I'm trying to be more humble. I got many text messages and emails responding to a birthday request that I had included in my blogs home. For dinner we went over to the BML's home again where we received ox tail... It's not as crazy as it sounds. It literally just tastes like a chewier and less meaty beef stew. They also gave me a birthday cupcake which was fun as well as a birthday card. They are a favorite family of my mission.
Ox Tail. (With potatoes and carrots)
Again I thank everyone for the birthday gifts. You all are awesome. I am looking forward to my new companion and another six weeks in this blessed state.
Chicago Cubs cookie
Hey everyone! Just wanted to say thank you again for all the birthday wishes, whether you said it on Facebook or email. I am grateful for all the responses to my birthday request. I got about 12-15 of them by letter and email. I don't feel 21 at all and it's a weird feeling. I certainly don't look 21. Anyways I'm having fun out here and I appreciate all the members in this area for making my birthday so special.
Here's a video of me blowing out the candle on my birthday cupcake at the BML’s home (The Russell's). You can tell the members love us a lot and feed us a lot by how big I look in the video.