Monday, September 8, 2014

August 18, 2014- Taking Flight

First off, I would like to apologize in advance about the long nature of this email. It is long because of, well, you will soon find out. ;D
We were driving along the interstate to get to another city for district meeting when there was a bug flying around in the car. This bug had flown in when I first got in the vehicle and had been bothering is for a few minutes, so we both tried to kill it. I was using my hands and Elder Raiford grabbed a weighted GPS mount from off the top of the dash. This was a mistake, because in doing so we both had our eyes off of the road for a good full second or two. The particular part of the road we were on started to curve to the right; us being hellbent on killing the over sized critter didn't steer the car to follow suit. (Can you guess from the subject line where this is going?)

I looked up first just in time to see the car fly off the interstate at 60 mph, crossing the other lane of traffic, and into a ditch. It was our remarkable good fortune (#God'sBlessings) that there were no cars in the lane at the time. I was in the process of warning my companion to stay on the road, but by that point it was a bit too late. We were already driving through the weeds on the side of the road. All I managed to say was "Holy Crap!" (I guess you can tell I'm a Mormon. lol)

Elder Raiford looked up right around the time we hit the ditch running alongside the road. It was mostly dry, so it was just an impressive spray of earth and fauna that erupted when the car impacted it, striking the far embankment by the driver's side wheel. This, as you can imagine, slowed us down considerably, but we still had enough momentum to continue flying forward and succeeded in getting all four wheels off of the ground.

I don't know about your mission, but in Arkansas we have a couple of terminology for cars. "Baptizing" a car means you take the speedometer needle, bring it all the way forward and then bring it back again. "Confirming it in the Spirit" means you make it temporarily a non-earth bound vehicle. For "An Election Made Sure" you have to roll the vehicle and use it again later. We had no baptism, but we definitely confirmed our vehicle and almost made its election sure! Luckily there was no election because we took of and landed on all four wheels.

Shortly after take-off Elder Raiford gave off an very energetic shout and slammed on the brakes once we had some semblance of control over the vehicle. We slid to a stop after traveling roughly another 50 feet in the same direction as the road, ending up in a rice field 5 feet from the ditch and about 20 from the road. A very concerned woman, who we had scared the daylight out of when we flew off the road, stopped and called 911 after making sure we were OK. Several officers arrived and a tow truck to get us out.
Eventually we got the car out and we had large quantities of rice sticking out of the car in places where there normally isn't rice. The officers gave us back our licenses, wished us the best, and continued on their way. The tow truck guy, who drove the car out of the field, said it seemed to be running fine, and also went on his way. By this time about half an hour has gone by and, for fairly obvious reasons, were late to district meeting. We had just piled back into the vehicle to start the drive to Paragould, mud-caked vehicle and all ("Everyone will find out sooner or later"), when the tow guy showed back up. He expressed some concerns that if we drove off and there was something wrong with the car then the insurance wouldn't cover it because they could claim it was worsened by the driving. Or something like that. Anywho, he lifted the car up with some seriously cool contraption on the back of his truck and started looking around for anything suspicious. He found it, by way of a greenish-blue fluid leaking out almost directly beneath the front-left part of the hood. After calling our vehicle coordinator it was decided that we would get towed to a repair place.
Suffice me to say that we did not make it to District meeting that day.
In a way this was an answer to my prayers, because although we just had a head-on collision with the world, I still wanted some way to turn this into a missionary opportunity. After everyone drove away that first time in rapid succession I was seriously bummed. But the tow truck guy came back, we found something abnormal with the car, and we were given a second chance. We had a very good conversation during our short drive, basically amounting to "what are two Utah boys doing in Arkansas"? We were quite happy to tell him all about it.
At the repair place we had the car examined yet again, and it was determined that the leaking fluid was not coolant like we had feared, but instead it was the highly-crucial Windshield Washer Fluid. So we would have been fine if we really had gone to District Meeting anyway, but Se La Vie. The car was towed once more to a repair place that specializes in tires to check out the alignment (it was fine, we later found out), and we walked home. On the plus side we did talk with several nice people about the gospel, one of whom (tow-truck guy) we hope to be able to find and talk to again sometime later.
That day we were called by the Vehicle Coordinator, Elder Cahoon, that my comp is now red-dotted. AKA, not allowed to drive church vehicles for one year. He has 3.5 months left, so he basically gets to kick it and let someone else worry about driving for the rest of his mission, meaning me. Which I am OK with; I rather missed driving and it was strange not doing much of it for 6 months. We got the car back a few days later with the majority of the mud and such washed off. Sorry folks, I don't have any good pics, and all of the damage was minor cosmetic damage (with the exception of the fluid reservoir). I'll send what I've got, but it's rather unimpressive.

Also, I would like to make it known that nobody was injured in the accident. Unfortunately this includes the bug that started everything. I hope it drowns in the rice. (Is that mean of me? I really hope not)
We were over at a member's home a while ago, and that is were I got the video of the singing dog. If you can't see it, I do appoligize; it is quite hilarious. There are several families over in the city of Corning that we try to visit, but for us to go up there it is a 120 mile round trip. For comparison we are alotted 1200 miles per month, or about 40 per day. So we don't get to go up there much, unless a member takes us. There is a man in the branch by the name of Bro. Hendricks, and he is a trooper. He can afford to take us up there every two weeks, and so that's what he does. We, the missionaries in the Pocahontas branch, have been trying to get the members pumped up about missionary work and we are happy to see that they are taking it to heart.
While we were in Corning we visited another less-active member of the church. He is difficult to get a hold of, and has been away from the church for so long that he has lost a great deal understanding about the Church. He still has a strong desire to learn and be close to God, but is a bit confused. He's ex-military, I think, and because of his service he thinks of everything in terms of combat. Getting to know him is a great learning experience for me because it really drives home the concept that, in any situation, you have to speak in terms that both people will understand. So for this conversation and most other ones we liken the gospel to military combat, about preparing our spiritual 'equipment'  and ourselves for active duty by reading (studying strategy), praying (talking with the Commander and Intelligence Officer), and going to church (in-field training). If we talked with him in a way that wasn't specific to his needs we would have gotten nowhere. However, because we did it the way we did everything worked out.
We also had a baptism in the Pocahontas brach this past Saturday. The Sisters found and taught a man by the name of B***. He's pretty cool and his baptism was a huge uplift for the branch. I was on the piano the entire time and thus got no pictures from it, but it was a super awesome experience. As icing on the cake B*** was there as well. As I've mentioned before (I think) he is a preacher at another local church, but he has a testimony of the BoM, Joseph Smith, and of keeping the commandments. Although he has dropped the invitation to be baptized before, he made a special effort to be at B***'s, leaving a relative's birthday a little early to make it in time. He also will be attending church with us on the 31, which just so happens to be the day that the speakers of the sacrament service are the Branch's missionaries. So we are really looking foward to two weeks from now.
You may have heard about the really bad train wreck. It was happened down the road from us. Granted it was about 6 miles down the road, but still. It was pretty cool to see all of the excitement that it caused. Sad about the fact that it happened, but exciting nonetheless. From what I've heard from locals (we don't get the news in any proper form) citizens were evacuated within about a 2 mile radius. This included a few of our investigators and a few members, but as we have been unable in getting a hold of them we can only assume that they are OK, as all of the other residents are now living back in their homes.
I think that's everything of note. Any questions about the area? About me? If so, please let me know!
Inspirational Quote: "Preach the Gospel at all times and, when nesessary, use words." -Saint Francis of Assisis (1181-1226)
Elder Jayden Barker

We have tree frogs in this area.  'Nuff said.

Apparently I am married, and am a retiring Church of God pastor.  Wait 'til I tell my parents...and wife!!!

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