Hey ya'll! I hope everything has been going good down in, well, where ever it is you live. I was about to say Utah, but a good chunk of the people who are getting these letters don't even live there, so yay for me being politically correct! This past week was pretty wild with all sorts of abnormal stuff going on, so instead of adding more pleasantries that most people don't care about anyway, I'll just jump straight into the meat of the story!
Monday, because truly a Missionay's week starts on their PDay: After emailing and watching some of the other Elders play pingpong we drove over to our apartment to do groceries and laundry and all those other mundane tasks that makes the rest of life seem so pleasant in comparison. I had gotten a little behind on laundry and had a bit of a bigger load than normal, but our washer is a fairly large top-loader so I wasn't worried about it not being able to handle it. Drop the clothes in, set it to "Large", add soap, and call it good, right? Unfortunately for us it only started out that way. Since Elder Price and I were sent to live in this apartment we knew that the washer was a bit on the rattly side, doing its best to noisily shake its way into the stratosphere every time the spin cycle came along. The first time this happened we were reasonably certain that it was either about to rip itself to pieces or spontaneously combust so we made sure we were on the other side of the apartment until it finished. When the clanking was over we were equally grateful and disappointed that no combustion occurred (or at the least that's how I felt about it all). So from that point on we just used it like normal and did our best to ignore the sounds coming from it during it's spin cycle, which I am reasonably certain sounds very close to how it would sound if two armor-clad Knights started swinging swords at eachother. Unfortunately for me, my adding extra clothes and water to the machine last week was more than the poor beast could handle and sometime during its now-infamous spin cycle it started to spin across the floor, pulling the poorly attached outlet hose out of the wall and spraying water everywhere. We realized something was wrong after the noises stopped and we noticed that we could now see the ceiling reflected off of the floor. (Flashback to Harry Potter #2 anyone?) We had fun cleaning that up and putting the washer back to where it belonged, so now to prevent further mishaps we just sit on it while it is running to keep it in place. It's like a massage, but in a place I will probably never have worked on. Once 6 pm rolled around we headed over to R*** R***'s place for supper (baked beans and hotdogs), and later tried without much success to find people to teach the gospel to. We did run into a few of our old investigators, but all of them were sick, so we just called it a night.
Tuesday was a little more successful than the day preceding it. We split out studies up to go and try to see a guy who asked us to come by at 9 since there wouldn't be any sport games of any kind going on at that time. When we got to his house nobody answered the door. Judging by the four trash bags full of beer cans, we assumed that he was probably hungover from the night before and left him to his alcohol induced coma. Finished up our studies, I found a bunch of awesome scriptures on the resurrection and off we went again! We again tried to find a few people to teach, and again met with limited success. We then thought of a guy named B*** whom Elder Smith had met at the Ward Christmas breakfast a few weeks back. He is the non-member father of a member here in Jonesboro who recently moved in around that same time. We punched the address into the GPS, saw it was about 6 miles away, and decided that we were going to do it anyway.
It took a minute or two to find the right trailer, but find it we did. After we knocked on the door he told us he was feeling a bit sick at the time, but invited us in to talk for a few minutes and get out of the cold. Those few minutes turned into a fairly decent discussion about the Book of Mormon and why we should read it. He loved the idea that our Heavenly Father would provide multiple ways for us to understand His word, through the Bible, Book of Mormon, modern prophets, and also personal revelation. Heavenly Father truly is aware of all of our needs and has provided multiple ways for us to receive the knowledge that we need to return back to Heaven again.
Right after we got out of the appointment we got a call from P*** asking for help moving her stuff to her new place. The old one was riddled with roaches and mice, so we were really glad to help her get out of it. We cleaned up a bit afterward and then headed over to the B***'s for supper. We had an appointment right afterwards which sadly also fell through, but that was OK because it opened the door for the major miracle of the day - having a 15 minute discussion on faith in Spanish with a man who doesn't speak a lick of English! It was super cool and was a very real indication to me that the the gift of tongues is real, because I know a little bit of Spanish, but I was using words and verb tenses that I hadn't used since I was back in High school. Sure, I have been speaking Spanish with Elder Ceron at every opportunity just because it is so much fun, but there is no way that is the sole place those words came from: It was a miracle. To wrap up the day we had a solid lesson with a guy named J at McDonalds. The Land of Golden Arches is also the Land of Golden Investigators!
Wednesday we had transfers and things got really crazy for a couple of days. Here's the shake-down: Both Elder Geddes and and Elder from Paragould were getting transferred to the Memphis side, so they would need a ride. Sister Boudrero said that she would be willing to give them a ride (I love that woman) and I got the miles on our car waived for the trip to Little Rock. President Wakolo said that every missionary needed to be in attendance for this transfer meeting, so Elder Price and Elder Lewis (two of the other missionaries from Jonesboro) and Elder Smith (my current comp) were going to go with Sister Boudrero, and Elders Ceron, and Hansen (the other Elder from Paragould) were going to go with me to Little Rock to pick up the new missionaries there. The reason Elder Smith and I had to split up was (1) to make room in our car for the way back since bringing 6 Elders plus two sets of luggage back in a Corrola isn't feasible and (2) to make mission rules ok for the other guys coming back from Memphis. So split up we did! Everyone in my car left at about 9 am to make it there in time, with the others leaving to Memphis a short time later. Elder Smith was soooo happy to be able to see Memphis, if only a little bit; apparently it's been a life dream of his, so we're glad that worked out.
While we were driving to the meeting we get a text from Elder Cunningham, one of the Zone Leaders, asking us to stop by his appartment and pick up his iPad since he was getting transfered. To make things more fun, this is the first time in forever and a half that they actually remembered to lock their door on the way out, so we had to go and ask the nice people in the office to let us in. They handed us the key, we walked over to their door, only to find that the key will not get the lock to turn. It was frustrating like nothing else was at the time since we were by this point late to the meeting. So we head back to the office, ask for some more help, and received it - they got a secondary key and walked out with us to try to get it to work. Much to our embarrassment it worked on the first time. After just a sec we were able to get the iPad and walked back part of the way since our car was parked at the office. Perhaps all of this happened for a reason though, because we were able to clear up a lot of things about what it is we believe about Christmas. You'd be surprised the sort of things other are told we believe! Anywho, once we got to Transfers a couple of crazy things happened. First we found out that the Elders in Paragould were being put in a trio, which means we still had 6 Elders to try and get back to to our areas, plus 3 sets of luggage and several bikes. Our little Corolla simply wasn't big enough for such an endeavor! Second, President Wakolo announced that that Transfer meeting would be the last one ever held, and that Transfer meetings around the world were being done away with. It is now up to ourselves to find rides to our new areas upon receiving notice that we are getting moved. Honestly, I'm pretty glad that I don't have to mess with it! #OutInTheNickOfTime
Well, we had the whole car situation to figure out, and honestly I'm still not sure how we managed it. Some of them took their luggage and went to Pocahontas, and others, including me-self, Elder Ceron, Elder Hunt (an elder heading to Paragould), and Elder Schoenfeld, our new District Leader and Elder Ceron's new companion, got to hang out for the night in south Little Rock with the Spanish Zone Leaders. We did some service that evening raking a bunch of leaves and stuffing them into bags, and later ate with that family. The Sisters were there just before us, and so by the end of the night that family had had 14 missionaries in their home for a meal. It was crazy! This family has a book that has the names of every missionary they ever fed going back to the 1960's, and it was pretty fun to put my name in the book too! I was hanging out with Elder Hunt as his temporary companion, and since he was feeling pretty sick we went in early for him to sleep and for me to do some hard-core studying. That was fun, sleeping in my suit and on the floor. =\ We woke up the next morning on Thursday, went to a meeting for the Leaders of the mission (I got to dink around on the piano for a couple of hours instead. #Bliss!), and finally got on the road... only to have to turn around and go back because Elder Hunt had left one of his bags in another missionay's truck. It was crazy. So on we drove, stopping in Searcy to pick up more luggage that had been taken there, and then drive up to Paragould to drop off Elder Hunt to his other companions. It was really strange being there again, since the last time I was there was over a year ago on exchanges. I felt pretty pleased with myself in remembering where the other Elder's used to live, and guided them over to there, only to discover that the Elders and Sisters had switched apartments sometime within the last year! That was fun! But we got it figured out and headed off to the Sister's old apartment (which I also remembered luckily). We finally got back to Jonesboro at about 8-ish PM following being on the road for almost the entire day. Oh, did I mention that we were without a phone for the last few days also? Yep, flying by the seat of our pants without any way to communicate with the other Elders! This is how Elders roll!
Friday was also a day of miracles. It started with us going to go and talk with a guy named Otis, who wasn't home. It was cold outside, I was still exhausted from the lack of sleep the previous two nights, and I honestly wasn't feeling all that good and was a bit disgruntled that we had put off our weekly planning for an appointment that I had expected wouldn't even pan out. One thing I really admire about Elder Smith is his optimism and enthusiasm for absolutely everything, but that morning I was absolutely in no mood to hear him tell me how wonderful that day was going to be and that we were there in that area for a reason. What made it even worse is I knew he was right, that the Lord undoubtedly had something in mind for us to do there. So we prayed and I felt that we needed to head just a little ways over to the East. Beyond that I had no idea what it was we were supposed to do, nothing specific, just a general "Get your sorry butt over there and stop whining". We bike over there and notice that there was just one house on the street, so what do we do? That's right, we knock on it. And guess what? Nobody Was Home!! Cue the fireworks, right? Nope. I wasn't really upset by this, just kinda resigned that it was going to be one of 'Those Days'. As we stood there we noticed a man in his PJ's walking down the street smoking a cigarette and walking his dog. We call out to him and start talking with him about the gospel and his belief in God. He said he was interested in what we had to say and invited us to walk with him and talk with him more. He said he was interested in history and so we told him all about the Book of Mormon, about how it was a record, a religious history book if you will, of God's dealings with the people who lived here in the Americas around the same time as much of the Bible. It turns out that he lives with a lost member of the church, a woman named Nancy, who just so happens to live right next to O***! It was nothing short of a miracle, and had we wanted to go home like I had wanted none of it would have happened.
We were able to teach several more lessons that day with other miracles happening in a similar way. Dropped appointments leading to more lessons with future awesome investigators, including the step-father of one of our other investigators. Lots of finding miracles! We also were able to teach the Law of Chastity to A***, one of our most awesome investigators. If things go according to plan she should be baptized soon. So please keep her in your prayers. She has been making huge changes in her life and it is so cool to see all of the other changes she has been making. Finished off the day with Supper with the W*** family.
Saturday we finally got to do that planning we had neglected the day before, and then got to help out usher a wedding! First time for everything! To make things even better was that I was able to talk with the F*** family there, since it was their son's wedding! I had been teaching them back in Walnut Ridge, and now I get a second chance to help get the family to the temple! I'm all over that! As shown that every sentence in this paragraph thus far ends in an exclamation mark! Later that night we got to go teaching with Freddie and teach both B*** and J**** N***, the awesome dog-walking investigator from the night before. We had a super awesome lesson on the Restoration, and he just ate it up! N*** was there too since the two live in the same house, and she had some really good comments. I really hope to get the two of them to the temple to. Of course he would have to be baptized first, but we are more than willing to help him there too! He really is prepared to hear all that we have to share; he even read the pamphlet we left behind with him, which is super rare for new investigators to do! Yeah, we're stoked!!!
Sunday was another fun day with lots of miracles! Both J*** and N*** came to church, as well as L***, B***, A***, R****, P***, B*** and O***! It was one of the biggest turnouts we've ever had. The only downside to everything was that by the time we got home from church I was feeling really sick. It had started the night before, about part-way through the lesson with J*** and N***, and got to the point that I couldn't stop shaking. Elder Smith essentially ordered me to bedrest for most of the rest of the day, and I slept a solid 5 hours that afternoon. The only reason I got out of bed was so we could teach A*** the Word of Wisdom and help her prepare for her upcoming baptismal date. It was one of the coolest experiences I've seen where, after the lesson, she just handed us the cigarettes she had on her so we could throw them away. We ran into her earlier today when we helped them move from their old home to their new one and she said she was doing great. Sitting on top of the garbage can was the coffee maker, another huge thing for her to overcome. Truly she is an inspiration to me. She has changed so much, and I am so lucky to get to be one of the people to help her come into the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you took the time to read my novella for this week, thanks! I'm glad to know that someone is taking the time to read it! I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, and remember the reason for this special time of year. Go and do something nice for someone else today to give your gift back to the Savior. Truly there is nothing we can give Him except our using our Agency to do good deeds for others and to give Him ourselves.
Until Next Time!
~Elder Jayden Barker