Monday, September 8, 2014

August 4, 2014- Problem Identified... Beginning Reconstruction

Good morning/afternoon/evening/other, Children of Humanity!
At the request of my Maternal Parental, and also because I'm really not sure what else to talk about, here's the down-low on the Pocahontas (Pokey) branch. There are about 150 members within branch boundaries, and about 50-ish of them are active. Most of them are over the age of 60, and all of them have both an extensive collection of interesting life stories to share. One of my top 50 people in the branch is a woman by the name of P***. She used to be in charge of the largest Elvis Presley Fan Club in the US, possibly the world, and used to work at Graceland as the President. She also knows more about Elvis than anyone else that I know, for obvious reasons. Example: before he died he was taking the missionary discussions, had extensively studied and annotated the Book of Mormon, and had a baptisimal date set in August. The inside of her home is just filled with signed Elvis memorabillia along with signed pictures from other artists who performed with him at one point or another. Random trivia about Elvis: If Michael Jackson was to sell the same number of records as Elvis he would need to release a song as popular as Thriller at least once every year, for 25 years running. The King is the King for a reason!
The branch building is a Tier 2 building. To put it into perspective, Ward buildings are tier 3, and tier 1 don't have a basketball court inside the cultural hall. We don't have pews, but it is still a very nice building. We are across the street from a J.W. Kingdom Hall, and not far down the street from the hospital. Due to the location it is very humid, but we have de-humidifiers running nonstop to combat the problem. Sacrament (i.e. Lord's Supper, Commumion, Bread and Water) is first, followed by the various classes. The missionaries are in charge of teaching the Gospel Principles class, a class geared toward helping others understand the basics of the gospel. We cover topics such as faith, repentance, priesthood authority, gifts of the spirit, tithing, fasting, prophets, Christ's mortal life on Earth, what happens after death, and others. Last week (yesterday) it was our turn to teach, so next sunday will be the Sisters' turn.
One of the big problems Elder Raiford and I have found has to do with the large number of Less Active members.  So, we are changing the majority of our focus from off of non-members to less-active members to try and strengthen the branch as much as possible. This involves going and visiting as many members as possible. So we did. One of them, R***, heard that I was hoping to get a Confederate flag while I was in Arkansas. He happened to have two, and so gave me one of them. (see the pic) I'll be sending it home when I get transfered.
Another family we visited is the S*** family. They are super cool and we talked with them for a good 2 hours. In fact, we will be going over there to eat with them next sunday night. While we were there we discussed why they weren't going to church. Long and short of it is that they didn't think that the branch was strong enough for their youth aged children, so they are going somewhere else. They said that if it gets stronger they may come back in the future. Young families like the S*** are some of the biggest focuses of us missionaries, mainly because most of the strong branch members are more wise than youthful. While we were on our way out from the S*** they gave us a large bag of various peppers. We used the shells in a rice dish we made for dinner last night, but we are going to keep the seeds to see if we can use them to prank the Sister Missionaries somehow. We'll think of something.
Not long ago we were on Bike Week. During the midst of it there was a freak storm that showed up. Elder Raiford and I thought that we had more time that we otherwise did, and sat there for about 5 mintues discussing the storm ("Oh, I'm pretty sure it's a good 30 minutes away" -me) and trying to decided if we had time to go and visit someone before it hit ("Meh, it looks more playful and exciting than mean. We'll be OK." -me). The storm started coming on faster than we had anticipated and we booked it for home only 5 minutes after starting our discussion. While we were on the road the storm hit with a great deal of ice-cold wind ("You were so wrong!" -Raiford). With the wind at our backs we started flying down the road, almost litterally. If the cars passing us were any indication we were probably going about 40 Mph. We turned down a couple of side streets to make it home faster, nearly getting blown over when the wind hit us broadside, and got in-doors just seconds before the rain came down. We flipped the lights on, sat on the couch, and began watching the storm dump itself on us in angry torrents ("I'm pretty sure the storm isn't playful, bro." "It was an honest mistake!"). After about 15 minutes the power began to flicker. 30 minutes after that it went off for good. We just sat there in the dark and played card games under the light of a flashlight. ("Is this exciting enough? Haha." "Hush you. It's your turn to draw.") Eventually the power came back on, but by then the day was basically over. I've not seen that much lightning in a long time.
Missionary thought for the day: Moroni chapter 7. If something is helping you to believe in Christ, then it is good. If it doesn't, then it's bad and of the Devil. If you are uncertain of something, and whether it is of God or not, ask yourself if it will bring you closer or further away from God. We are to judge righteously, and this is a good way to do it. Stay strong my Brothers and Sisters. The Devil would have us judge that which is good and of God to be of the Devil, and that which is of the Devil to be good and of God. Choose carefully, and pray often.
Remember the Savior, for He is your strength.
Elder Jayden Barker

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