Monday, July 6, 2015

Week 57 in the Field: Big Foot, Great Catfish, and the Currant Bush

 Hanging out with Bigfoot (literally in the middle of nowhere this statue exists)

Okay, things have been going all right out here. It's been a very stressful week but I'm always trying to stay optimistic. We had a lot of fun adventures so this'll be a good one.

Bell Smith Springs entrance area

Elder Steed in the Bell Smith Springs canyon area

On Monday we decided to go down to Bell Smith Springs, which is a little south of Harrisburg. I had been there before with some members but this time it was just us. We went down to the place I went the first time, and it was completely different. So much forest, so little trail. Everything had overgrown since the last time. The water level was also kinda lower than the first time, but we had some fun nonetheless. We went over to an area I hadn't been before and there was this giant natural arch that was pretty sweet. We were able to climb on top of it using a ladder that had been made in the rock. Only got a few ticks but I was grateful that I wore jeans because there was a ton of poison ivy.
Walking through creeks in Bell Smith Springs. We only saw a couple of snakes here and there.

Giant natural arch in Bell Smith Springs

Looking down from on top of the arch  (I am at the bottom.)

Burden Falls. I've heard this is the tallest waterfall in Illinois, but I'm not sure.

Canyon at Bell Smith Springs

Old staircase at Bell Smith Springs carved out of the mountain

On Tuesday Elder Steed came down with something nasty and so we had to stay in most of the day. It was rather quiet, because there wasn't too much to do. I spent most of my time studying church history and some other stuff. In the Institute manuals in the Gospel Library app there is a manual called Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual. I recommend y'all to take a gander at that if you're ever bored cause it entertained me for a couple hours.

On Wednesday we had district meeting in Foxcroft, and I gave a training on being yourself and on companionship unity. Most of my focus was on the idea that every single missionary is unique in their own specific way that they act, teach, and be an example. It was something I had trouble with in my first transfer over figuring out why I matter. I encouraged the missionaries to read Preach My Gospel and the White Handbook and replace the word "you" with their names. After district meeting we went out with the first counselor in the branch presidency, and we went to go see a few people. In the evening we went over to the BML (Branch Mission Leader’s) house and helped load a fridge onto a truck. They were also kind enough to give us dinner.

Thursday afternoon we went out to lunch with the high priest's group leader, which was awesome. Elder Steed was still a touch on the sick side, but he still had some fun. In the afternoon we saw our former member coming back and we organized for dinner this week as well as the lesson I was supposed to teach yesterday. She ended up not getting a ride so I will teach it this week. 
With the Primary Counselor’s cute kids at the Ohio River

In the evening we went down with the Primary Counselor’s family to Elizabethtown, which is a city on the banks of the Ohio River in between Rosiclare and Cave-in-Rock. It was a really good meal of catfish and corn nuggets (deep fried cream corn balls).

At Elizabethtown is the Rose Hotel, which is one of the oldest functioning hotels in existence. It was made in like 1812ish and is pretty cool.

Gazebo at the Rose Hotel in Elizabethtown

Elder Steed and I outside the Rose Hotel in Elizabethtown

On the way back to Harrisburg we stopped by a Bigfoot statue which is literally in the middle of nowhere. There wasn't even a plaque or anything saying when it was made haha.

Later that evening, we went over to the Walmart to do some store contacting, and we contacted a group of teenagers who were all talking about various political topics going on currently--some of which I hadn't heard too much about. It was a lot of fun talking to teenagers again. They were all nice guys.

Friday we went over to Eldorado where we met with the recent convert family over there. They are still trying to get off working on Sunday's so they can come back to church. After some planning, we went back to Harrisburg where we had dinner and then went over to the BML's house cause we heard there would be fireworks that evening. Some guy thought it was going to rain so they moved the fireworks show up a day so we got to see it.

Fireworks on July 3rd. This was the biggest explosion.

Saturday we went up to Carmi to see our Norris City investigator who was in jail, but when we got there we found out that he had received a 2-year sentence in a prison in Western Illinois. He was looking at 3-7, so I'm sure he was at least a little happy to hear that. He's a good guy and I hope he will be okay.

We struck out with everyone else up there. And I guess one of the interesting things was that we got contacted by a Jehovah Witness who gave us the new website address to their new website which is kind of like where it talks about their beliefs. I tried to share information about our website, but they weren't interested.

We went over to Norris City and also struck out there except for the Relief Society President. We had a good chat on what life is like for the family of a policeman, which was interesting. It changed my view on becoming a police officer for sure. We had to go in early due to crazy people on the 4th of July, so while Nashville was having one of the hugest fireworks shows in the country, we were building a puzzle in our house in Southern Illinois. Not jealous of Nashville missionaries who could see it from their place at all--haha.

Sunday we had a new sister move into the branch so that was cool. Classes were mostly small ‘cause a lot of people left or were with their families. We had a really spiritual experience with a shut in when we went to give her the sacrament. I had recently downloaded the Mormon Message called The Will of God which talks about Elder Hugh B. Brown and the currant bush. 

Essentially the video talks about an experience Elder Brown had back when he was a farmer. He spotted a currant bush that had grown tall and was yielding no fruit. So he pruned it back drastically. He saw what he imagined were tears on the stumps of the bush as if the bush was crying saying, "How could you do this to me? I was growing so well and now you've cut me down? How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here!"

Elder Brown replies, "Look, little currant bush I AM the gardener here and I know exactly what I want you to be. I don't want you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree, I want you to be a currant bush. And some day little currant bush when you are grown with fruit you will say 'Thank you Mr. Gardener for loving me enough to cut me down.” 

Years later in the story Elder Brown was up for promotion to General in the Canadian Army, but even though he was fully qualified, it was denied him simply because he was a Mormon. When he got home, he shook his hands in rage at heaven and stated "How could you do this to me God? I've done everything I could to measure up and now you've cut me down!" And then suddenly he heard a voice that was his own voice state, "I am the gardener here. And I know what I want you to be." Elder Brown humbled himself and was later called to be an apostle.

The sister we were teaching, Elder Steed, and I all felt the Spirit strongly when we heard the words, "I am the gardener here." It sent chills down my spine and really humbled me. It was a neat experience. Here is the video.  Please take three minutes to watch it, too.

We ended the day going over to the former member's home and having a lesson with her.

So yeah it was a cool week filled with a lot of fun stuff. I am trying to be more humble and patient with myself and the area. We are working very hard, and it's still fun. I'm looking forward to the remainder of my time here. 

Have a good week.
Elder Peery

(effective July 17th)

Elder Andrew Peery
Tennessee Nashville Mission
1646 Sunset Road
Brentwood, TN 37027


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