Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mama Rika Missionary Update

So this letter is coming in a day late because Pday was switched to Tuesday this week due to Interviews with President Pitt. Sorry I was unable to give you a heads up on that, they didn't let us know until a couple days after I had last emailed home.
As usual, Pday was spent emailing home, shopping, having a bit of fun, etc. Apparently E. Guthrie has been craving fries since he went into the MTC, so we made sure to stop by Wendy's and grab some for lunch. I also had another appointment with the Chiropractor, he popped my shoulder around, twisted my neck, and called it good. Boy do I feel better! 
We had a couple of less-active members we visited, and they were excited to hear that we wanted to help them out with their next FHE. We're excited to hear that they want to start becoming active again! The branch could certainly use them.
Since E. Guthrie's in training, we have an extra hour of study in the morning. As a result, we were a late to our regular service scheduled at the food pantry. The guys there gave us a hard time for a little while, but after explaining, they understood the importance of our study time.
Next, E. Guthrie wanted to go tracting, so tracting we did! We took about an hour and a half to "knock and walk". (the distance between houses can be pretty far depending on what part of the county you're in. It was great, we had maybe one person answer the door the whole time, and they weren't interested! That'll break you in right!
Immediately afterwards we had  lesson where we read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon, and discussed the principles therein. When we finished, it was back out to tracting again. This time was a little more productive. There was a little boy outside playing ball by himself when we first started, so we threw the football with him as we walked to the next door. He was a little disappointed when we told him we had to go talk to his neighbors, but he seemed to brighten up as he ran up to the door and knocked for us. He then proceeded to tell us the names and background of every person on the street, and he would lead us up to the door and knock before we could beat him to it. Gotta love kids!
Then he started getting really excited as we got closer and closer to his house, so he ran inside and told his dad we were coming. His dad came out and talked to us for a while, and after giving him a copy of the Book of Mormon, he asked us to give him a couple weeks so he could read it a couple of times through. Yes!
We were able to have a good lesson with the Ra's later that day, it was pretty spur of the moment, but it worked. We were able to set up two more appointments, re-commit D to live the word of wisdom, set a baptismal date with her, and set up two future appointments, one of which would be in a member's home. Yes!
We picked up a former investigator couple, and tried to start teaching them again. It was probably one of the least effective lessons I've had on my mission, we basically listened to them ramble on for about an hour and a half, and then we tried to give them a couple of scriptures to read. However, one good thing about it was that they committed to read from Alma 36. We'll see how it goes with them.
We visited a couple of less active members before we had a great dinner/lesson with R. We taught on the plan of salvation using the pamphlet. He started asking some really great questions about the Fall of Adam and Eve. So instead of finishing the pamphlet, we read the majority of 2 Nephi 2 and explained the importance of the fall in our lives, and how we need to rely upon the savior's atonement because of it. He dives so deep into everything we teach, it's always fun to teach R.
We taught the Ra's again, they were very happy to have us. Unfortunately, their power was off when we got there, and a storm was coming in. The storm made things really dark in the house, so we had to rely on candlelight and a small flashlight to read any scriptures. The spirit was there during the lesson, and the actual teaching went pretty well, it was in a very interesting setting though.
E. Guthrie hits his month mark from entering the MTC!
Super busy day today, we had 4 separate investigator lessons, found 2 new investigators, a recent convert lesson, gave away a couple of books and had a couple of hours of service.
We started off the day at the food pantry, and immediately afterward, we had lesson with the Ra's in the home of one of the members in the branch. We were trying to help D with her smoking habit by introducing a member who had already overcome the addiction. The lesson went really well, and we hope that D will be able to quit, especially with some more support.
Next we drove over to another investigator's house, and read through another chapter of the Book of Mormon with them. The mom prayed for the first time aloud! Progress!
We had an appointment scheduled in Honaker, but when we got there, our investigator wasn't home. Instead we knocked the doors all around his house. We could tell with pretty much every door we knocked on that someone was home but didn't want to answer (the street was full of Southern Baptists and Old Baptists). The door would be open and no one would answer when we knocked, or window blinds would move and we would hear the kids giggling but no one came to the door.
Well, after about 6 doors or so, we knocked again, and this guy with no shirt and a big wad of chew in his lip answered the door. Immediately, before we said anything, he said, "come on in boys!" (everyone out here calls everyone else "boys", I guess it's a southern thing.) We stood awkwardly in the entryway for a little bit, and he silently motioned us to take a seat. His wife and son were sitting down with us. We started talking, and apparently missionaries had stopped by before, but he started mixing up a lot of Jehovah's Witness doctrine with our doctrine. ( a common mistake out here)  After we cleared up that we believed in Jesus Christ and we didn't believe that only 144,000 people would make it heaven, he brightened up. 
We helped to clear up a lot of other misconceptions, polygamy, worshiping Joseph Smith, the golden bible instead of the King James version, the usual routine. He didn't believe that Joseph Smith could've seen God though because "no one had seen God in the Bible!" as he put it. Well, I didn't protest that right off the bat because I didn't know any references off hand to use. However, I looked up later, and Genesis 32:30, Exodus 33:11, Exodus 19:11, Deuteronomy 34:10, Isaiah 6:5, Acts 7:56, and other scriptures show otherwise.
Anyway, we were able to further explain the Book of Mormon and gave them each a copy,we hope that they'll be able to read it soon.
We had a lesson with some investigators in the park while their kids ran wild on the swings and slides. Overall the lesson turned out alright, but they keep asking the same questions and don't understand the importance of the answers we give them.  We'll see how it goes with them
3 investigators at Church! Yes! We were all smiles because of it.
We also had dinner and a lesson with a less active member and his non member fiance. Everything went over longer than what we wanted, so we were unable to finish everything we had planned for the day. This week, however, was one of the most productive so far that I've had in the mission. We've been exhausted every night, and the Lord has been blessing us for our efforts. It's better to wear out in the work than to rust out without it.
Had interviews with President Pitt. I always enjoy meeting with him. It looks like I'll be able to stay on my mission even with my shoulder. I guess mom is sending me a brace that will help, as well as having a few other things in the works.
On our way back from interviews, we stopped in Tazewell to meet with a few members, one of the less active ones wasn't home, so we gave away two copies of the Book of Mormon to her neighbors. We also went to an active member's home, and helped her practice and learn how to better share the gospel with her friends.
This has been a "wear out" week! We've had a lot of results, thanks so much for the prayers!
Elder Brayden Connole

After Pday finished (pday ends at 6pm according to the handbook) We headed up to the N's for dinner. Since it had been raining all day, they didn't have us split wood like we had originally planned. It's too bad, I think E. Guthrie was looking forward to it.
Dinner went well, and toward the end of it, Bro. and Sis. N told us how much they wanted to do missionary work, but had been really unsuccessful lately. They wanted to start finding more people for us to teach and be more involved with our missionary work. Sweet!
We decided to take full advantage of this, and asked if they would be willing to let us teach an investigator in their home that night. They thought that would be great, so we unexpectedly popped in on an investigator, we invited him back to the N's home with us, and we taught an impromptu Gospel of Jesus Christ Lesson. We also invited him to be baptized, and he accepted a goal date later in August for his baptism.  Not too bad for just a dinner appointment!
Not only that, but the Newtons also asked us to stop by their two neighbors as well. I love it when members are excited about the work!
We helped some of our investigators by doing some service for them for about 2 or 3 hours before we had a lesson with them as well. One of our investigators came out with a big wad of chew while we were working, which somewhat shocked us since we had never seen it in times previous with teaching them, and he had already committed to live the word of wisdom. Well, during our lesson, we confronted him about it.
He told us that this was the first time he'd chewed in 20 years. When we asked him why he chose to start up again, he told us that it was mostly because he wanted to know what we would do. We had to explain to him how the word of wisdom really wasn't just something we asked him to do, but something God had asked of him. We also explained how it really offends God when we put his commandments to the side.  We then asked him if he would stop now and never pick it up again, and he said he would. Just to make sure, he asked us to bury his tobacco in the yard so he wouldn't be tempted again. This we did quite willingly. When done with the right spirit,  boldness goes a long way.
When we got back into town, we were able to visit a less active member family before we had dinner with the C's. Yum Yum, Breakfast for dinner! Cinnamon waffles, Bacon, Eggs and OJ!
R had invited us over to meet his family who were in town from Ohio. We headed over there and met his sister, his niece, and his niece's two kids. They had tons of Questions about missionary work and the church. It was a great environment to explain and testify of the work we do.
After our planning session, pretty much everything fell through. We basically just knocked doors most of the afternoon/evening.  It was kind of an off day.
We had the food pantry in the morning, right after which, we saw the J family. M had read! yay! She'd been struggling with keeping commitments but she had finally read on her own! Yes! progress! We had a good lesson, and furthered her reading into chapter 6 of 1Nephi.
By the time we left, it was pouring rain, and E. Guthrie and I got soaked. We had saw a couple more people and tried to stay in doors as much as possible to keep our shirts and ties clean. It didn't work too well for me, I somehow ended up getting mud on my sleeves and back.
We found another new investigator, although he seemed to be pretty slow mentally because of old age. He wasn't really connecting to anything we were trying to teach him. So instead we started showing him the pictures in the front of the Book of Mormon, and explained what a prophet was. I guess something worked because as we were leaving we saw him open up his copy of the Book of Mormon, and start reading.
We helped a member work on their trailer, but weren't able to stay for long. (there wasn't a ton we could help with anyway, they were building cabinets.) We did what we could, then we stopped to see the Ra's. At first, D was a little hesitant letting us in which was odd for her, but we soon found out why. She was super stressed about R (her husband) who literally hadn't slept for 6 days, possibly had a stroke, and refused any sort of medical help, and also refused to go to sleep. When we got there, R was pretty confused and somewhat delirious. 
He kept refusing medical help, and would get more riled up whenever D mentioned it. He kept saying "God is the best physician, and he'll heal me. So pray over me. I don't need any doctors." We didn't know what to do exactly. We offered to give him a blessing,  and he accepted.
We got him to lie down on the couch, and we gave him a blessing that he would be able to rest without trouble and awake with a clear mind. Within minutes of finishing the blessing, he was snoring. He didn't even wake up when the neighbor's loud lawn mower drove right next to the trailer. It was a simple blessing, but through it, the power of God really was able to work.
We had a couple of investigators at church! E. Guthrie and I also had to give talks in Sacrament meeting. Guess what my topic was: America as the Promised Land. I had to do some research for that one. I found a really cool talk that Elder L. Tom Perry gave in 1976 at BYU.
Check it out, It's pretty good:
Love ya!
Elder Brayden Connole

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