Monday, June 29, 2015

Of Mountains and Men

This past week was pretty awesome. Here's a rundown of what happened!

Monday we spent the majority of the day up on Mount Magazine. I sent y'all the pictures. Really, that's the only thing of note there.

Tuesday was much more effective, as far as missionary work goes. Everything started off with a really good District meeting. Everybody was talkative, which helped make sure it just didn't turn into a lecture. Ever have a meeting where nobody talks? It's not any more fun for missionaries either. Luckily, the Morrilton-Danville District is freaking awesome, so we never have problems with boring meetings. They went on exchanges with the STL's that evening, but went against my loving advice to pull some pranks on them while the opportunity presented itself, deciding instead to be nice. Lol

We were able to talk with one of our neighbors, a retired history teacher named H***. She is pretty cool, and has talked with missionaries a little bit in the past. One of the things that peaked her interest the most initially was finding out what our actual church history was, because what is said in history books usually is far from the truth and just downright negative. So she went to the source, the Mormon Missionaries! She goes walking a lot in front of our apartment and it is there that she's talked with us in the past, but we were able to visit with her in her home, primarily talking about the purpose of the Book of Mormon and what it means to be or do something in Christ's name. It was a really good visit. 

Wednesday stated off rather weird, because we spent the first part of the day up at the Foster's helping them load bales of hay into their barn. Farmers of Everywhere, I salute youWe were only unloading 50 lb. bales, but after doing that for several hours (it was in the 90's that day) I was more than happy to call it quits for the day. We did enjoy a really good lunch with the Fosters before we left though, homemade hamburgers. After drinking what I'm sure is at least a gallon of water to replace what we had sweated out we headed for home. Once there it was a quick shower, a change of clothes, and then a much needed nap. We didn't even wake up that much earlier that morning, just 30 minutes, but I was completely wiped out after our farm-life activities. I set the alarm to go off at 2, enough time to sleep for a  little over an hour. About 3.40 Elder Thomas walks into the room to wake me up. I had somehow turned the alarm off without fully waking, and went back to bed for almost another two hours. It was nice, but I felt like a pile afterward. lol

We took a few minutes (by 'we' I mean 'I') to get changed into our "regular" clothes of a white shirt and tie. As a side note I think that is one of the most interesting things that change over time for missionaries, is the perception of what is normal. Clothes is just one example. Another is that if you don't get at least one door slammed shut during the week you start to wonder what you are doing wrong, because a totally peaceful week simply is bizarre. Anyway, we rearranged out plans for the rest of the day and then headed over to the Wockenfuss family for supper, a drive of about 20 minutes away. I always love driving out to their house, because the rolling hills make it almost too easy to believe that if you look close enough you could see hobbits running around. It is just that green and beautiful looking. I bought a pair of sunglasses designed for fishing, and one of the cool characteristics of the lenses is that it accentuates yellows and greens. Wearing those while driving in Arkansas is absolutely surreal. They made a really good meal of some sort of salad with cranberry juice. One of the daughters, Katie, is 27 and is a crazy awesome artist, both with pencils and with 3D stuff. There is something just awesome about being able to wield Loki's staff and wear Thor's crown, and then square off in mock combat against someone holding King Arthur's shield and the Sword of Gryffindor. #ThisIsAwesome

Thursday was really fun, because we spent nearly the entire day on bikes. All in all, I think we biked about 12 miles that day, and for all you professional bikers out there saying that that is weak-sauce I feel compelled to point out that the heat index was over 100, and we were in white shirts and ties, while carrying our shoulder bags. So yeah, I'll just give you all a run for your money when I get home. ;D Anywho, we started our trek over to the H***'s home for a short discussion on the Book Of Mormon and prayer. We left right around the same time our phone rang. It was G***, A***'s son, asking us to print a military form off for him so he can start receiving his post-service benefits. Since it is rather difficult to print things without a printer, we have been using the printer at the church to help him out. We get that taken care of, and then bike back to the center of town to go and visit a few more people before we stop and talk with G*** a little bit later. We drop off the form and then go back to the H*** home to eat supper with them. The Ward Mission Leader texts us asking where we were at and when we would get there right around 7.15, which really confused us because he wasn't scheduled to go teaching with us or anything that day. Then we remembered: weekly correlation meeting. The past two weeks' meeting had been cancelled for various reasons, so we totally spaced it. We taught a super-short lesson about how to keep the Sabbath Day holy, and then biked as quickly as we could towards the church. We were just approaching the church when we saw his car pull out of the driveway and turn up the road away from us.

By this point I was tired of biking. Really, the only reason we did it at all is because we needed to save the miles on our car and because Elder Thomas really really likes to bike still. I was that way at first, but then I realized just how much I enjoyed air conditioning. Yep, I've turned into my trainer. Regardless of how many miles we could save by biking back into town, there was a decently large hill right in our way that we had biked up twice already that day, and there wasn't a snowball's chance is Hades that I would be able to go up that stupid hill again for the third time. For the last little bit, a drive over to G*** and A***'s for a decent lesson, instead of a bike ride. It was a really good conversation, the majority of which G*** and I spent talking quietly amongst ourselves while A*** spoke with Elder Thomas. One thing more to mention here: another one of her kittens died that day, making all but one of a litter of seven that week. A*** was pretty shaken up about it, and I don't think I've ever seen someone care that much for any cat anywhere, particularly the kittens for a stray she had just taken in. The lone survivor: a solid black cat with one eye; he lost the other one to an infection, but the dude is still a trooper!

Friday was another surprisingly fun morning, because we had Round 2 of the hay bale stacking tournament! We got up at 5 to get a bit more of an early start on it because the last time was a scorcher. Once we got there we learned the real reason that they wanted to start extra early: there was one more trailer to unload than last time. I have to confess that I whimped out a bit towards the end. Usually when your vision goes a little blurry it means it's a good time to take a break. I also learned something cool and new about my companion, Elder Thomas while we were working. He had done this quite a bit back home, and was able to throw the bales around like they were nothing. By the end we were all sweating like stuck pigs, but he was able to go hard until the very end. The Fosters told us afterward why they were pushing to get them in so quickly, that we had finished stacking about $4000 dollars worth of hay, and that if it hadn't gotten under a roof before the storm hit later that day it all would have been ruined. So we were VERY glad to be able to help them. They said that they want to make it up to us, but honestly the super awesome breakfast Sister Foster made afterward made up for it no problem.

We were also able to see a woman named Z*** with Brother Stover, an older convert to the church. Z*** has been meeting with the missionaries for some time now, so she and Brother Stover were already acquainted. It was a really good lesson, and we are just praying that she will come to church with us one of these Sunday's.

Later that evening we went to go and see a less-active family who lives not far from us. They are having a really hard time financially, and their water got shut off. We showed up, saw what was going on, and drove back to our apartment with a bunch of their jugs and a cooler to fill up with water. We were lucky in that not too much of it spilled out on us while we were carrying it back to the car, and then later, out of the car. I feel kinda bad for them in that they are having such a difficult time, but they are missing out on a great source of peace and comfort by not attending church like they need to. The Lord can and does bless those who keep His commandments. Every blessing we can receive is based upon our doing something, whether that something is paying a full-tithe or simply believing in the name of Christ.

Saturday was busy, but honestly not what I was expecting, or what we had down in our plans. The majority of our appointments fell through, but we had Troy Parks with us the majority of the day, so that made things fun. Troy is working on submitting his paperwork so he can go and serve a mission too, so we like to take him with us as often as we possibly can. He showed up for studies that morning and we had a really good conversation between the three of us. It was also the last day we spent an extra hour on studies, as Elder Thomas is now no longer a "baby" missionary. He's upgraded from a tricycle to training wheels! Hurrah for Elder Thomas! After studies though, things just collapsed. Appointments fell through, things got rescheduled multiple times, it was just crazy. We had a really good dinner with Troy's mother though, some sort of pizza-like breadstick thing. Think of the chocolate swiss rolls that Hostess and Little Debbie make, but make it a lot bigger, not chocolate, and filled with cheese, ham, and pepperoni instead of that frosting stuff. It was super good.

That same evening we had an interview with President Wakolo at the Church building. It was really good to be able to sit down and talk with him again and to hear his advice about the area. There are some things he's asked me not to repeat, but what he said has made me very excited to be serving in this area right now. He also said that his favorite scripture comes from the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 19:9. It is a wonderful description of the Sacrifice Christ made for us, and a herald to how we should live our lives.

Sunday was extra awesome, because not only did A*** come to church, but her son, G***, did as well! He really has made incredible progress and I am looking forward to what the Lord has in store for him in the future. K*** and K*** also came, Sis. H***'s kids who are staying with her for the summer. We've been working with them for a few weeks now and hope to help them set a date to be baptized  this week. Also at church were two of Brad Park's old students, attending church for an assignment. They seemed pretty cool, and I hope to be able to see them again. We had potluck after church, and I loved the social aspect of it. Yes, the food was awesome, but I particularly enjoyed being able to sit and talk with people. A lot of the members were expecting this to be my last Sunday in Morrilton, so it was nice to speak with all of them just in case I was leaving. The Wockenfuss family went out of their way to be extra awesome. They live in a small community called Toad Suck, and they gave both myself and Elder Thomas an official Toad Suck shirt. One of the daughters, Katie, is very talented with artistic stuff and make a paper crown with different little pictures and such she drew onto it. I was really touched by how loving and just all around awesome this ward is.

We later were able to go and watch "Meet The Mormons" with the H*** family a little after the potluck. Elder Thomas was super tired and nodded off a couple of times which inspired me, being the noble type of person I am, to take a picture of it for him. He is very grateful; he just hasn't realized it yet. =D To wrap up the day we had dinner with Bishop, and then an appointment with a young couple and some friends who are staying with them. Both were excellent conversations, and you could really feel the Spirit of the Lord when the Gospel was being taught.

And that brings us to today! I hope you enjoyed the massive epistle! I was writing it a little bit in advance, so as the week went by I would just add a few more paragraphs to it. With that being said I recognize that most missionaries probably won't read this (too long) and if you are not immediate family or a very close friend, my hat comes off to you for sticking with it! Anyway, neither myself nor Elder Thomas are leaving. Honestly, it was a surprise to just about everyone. Most of the time the Trainer and the Trainee don't stay put together after the first 12 weeks, but then again President Wakolo is very good at doing what is normally unusual. It keeps things interesting! Transfers is this Wednesday, and although we aren't leaving, President Wakolo has asked that I play the piano for the meeting, so we get to go anyway!

Y'all are awesome, and I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

~Elder Jayden Barker

No comments:

Post a Comment