Monday, May 27, 2013
This is the last picture with President & Sister Thompson.
Elder Arrington and I had the sad realization that we're starting to
run short on p-days. As someone said today: "You have one month,
nothing more, nothing less." I've come to terms with that. I'm
content with my one month--so long as I keep on working. I'm going
home on a stretcher. There are blessings to be given, lives to touch,
and people to love. While I'm still here and still called to do it, I
won't rest. I can sleep on the plane.
This week was great! Augusto got the Melchizedek Priesthood, was
called to be the Executive Secretary of our branch, will baptize his
wife in the coming week, and is working hard with his kids, friends,
and neighborhood. He's on fire!
We found many new investigators this week and they're so much fun.
We're teaching so many men! And they're coming to church. It's an
awesome feeling to greet so many potential leaders for our potential
stake every Sunday as they come to church and feel the Spirit of the
special meetings we hold. Church is a miracle.
We taught like wild last week. We went over our numbers and realized
that even with a lot of unplanned disturbances, exchanges, interviews,
etc. we were able to meet 6 new people and teach 24 lessons. I'm not
really a numbers guy, but it's nice to see in some small measure what
I did during any given week.
I didn't stay sick last week which was a huge blessing. I was feeling
much better when I woke up on Tuesday morning and we went to work. We
sent off the Thompsons and had a trunky moment as Elder Arrington and
I realized that we were the next to go. We ran from that thought as
quickly as our mental legs would carry us.
Today we went to an Art Fair in Benfica and we got some really cool
stuff. I think you'll all like it. =) Haggling has become more fun.
The importance of questions has been on my mind lately. I think that
we downplay our questions sometimes and don't seek answers. If we
don't ever ask, how are we to know anything? In this Gospel, there's
an answer for just about everything. Admittedly, sometimes the answer
is "we don't know" and that's okay--we can rely on what we do know and
have faith that the answer to such questions will come one day.
Really, with more time and maturity in the Gospel I believe that many
such questions will resolve themselves in us. So, all that being
said, it's not a bad thing to ask questions or to have doubts!
Abraham and Moses knew that God had all knowledge and exercised their
faith by asking Him for answers which they then received. Nephi had
questions. The Brother of Jared had questions. They are very
different than Laman, Lemuel, Corianton, or a plethora of others who
also had questions and were nearly rebuked for so having. Why? The
former had questions coupled with the faith to receive answers. They
weren't seeking signs or trying to prove God or trying to satisfy some
selfish urge. They weren't seeking to justify some sin. They knew
God that God knew and they desired to also know. I think that we
should be this way as we pray and study our scriptures. Questions and
doubts can lead to greater knowledge if coupled with the belief and
faith necessary to find the answers. Never let your doubts, however,
overcome your faith. Question your doubts before questioning your
knowledge of the truth--they disappear much more quickly than the
eternal truths that you've learned and that ring truer than mere
logic. Just a little thought I've been having this week that I wanted
to share with you all.
I love my mission. I wouldn't trade this time for anything. I didn't
sacrifice a thing to be here. The gain is too great to say that I
had. The Lord is incredibly good to us. My life has been touched in
a way I didn't know possible and has been changed both for the better
and for good. I wish I could put all that I feel onto this page right
now in order to thank my Father for this service, but I'm incapable of
that. I love my mission. I'll think about it every day when it's
over. I'll take lessons from it for the rest of my life. I recommend
a mission to all who are considering one. It's hard, but you grow.
It's shorter than you think. It'll change you and you need it. At
least, I did. I do.
I love you guys.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Dear Everyone,I'm not really very good at writing greetings, I think. =)
Monday, May 13, 2013
This week we officially send off the last group to leave before Elder Arrington, Elder Harper, Elder Perry, Elder Richter, and I leave. Goodbye Elder Rainbolt and Elder Walker! They're having a dinner tomorrow night and, due to the Thompson's departure on the 22nd, we're all attending it together, having our exit interviews with President Thompson, having a testimony meeting, etc. Elder Arrington facetiously calls it our "funeral" and I find it curious that we're attending our own funeral. Still, I suppose that we're "dying" in about a month and a half and it's all in good fun to make the jokes. I feel for Elder Stewart and Elder Merkley--it's probably not easy to see 2 of the missionaries that you live with go home. I've been told that it's surreal, at least. For their sakes, I hope not.
It was weird to talk with the family yesterday. I just didn't have much to talk about. That, added onto the ever-increasing reality that I'm going home soon made it just a bit strange. It was nice to see you all, at least. =)
We had 11 investigators in church and are seeing some awesome progress in our area. Between the 3 companionships in Cassequel, we had 25 investigators in church! What a cool blessing to the branch.
Life here is running faster than I might wish, but I'm trying to take some wise advice I recently received and "sprint to the finish". I'm finishing strong and I'm seeing the blessings. I sure love being a full-time servant of the Lord and I hope for the opportunity to do it again someday. I'll have to plan a mission with my wife. I hope she's interested in Africa--I certainly am.
Elder Harper reminded me that he, Elder Arrington, and I are the only Elders who served in Angola from beginning to end without it becoming a mission. We are the poster boys of the mission that never was. I liked that.
I don't really have all that much to share. All is well! The folks we're teaching are taking real steps and making real progress. The church is still true. The people here are still teaching me so much. Being a missionary is still pure joy. I love my life and I love the gospel. Thanks so much for sharing these experiences and this belief with me. It's made my life. I don't buy into the "best 2 years" ideal of a mission--it's a great chapter and I know that there will be even better--but I do believe in what a mission does for a life. It just might be the best therapy, boot camp, training field, or what have you for the rest of forever. I don't think I'll pass many--or any--mortal days without thinking for a moment or two on what I've done here in Angola. I have so much to learn still. I feel very strongly that I now have the tools to learn it. Thanks for this Mom and Dad. You're indispensable in this process.
I love you all and I wish you happy days.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Dear everyone (and everyone else),Hey! This last week was a little uneventful due to an outbreak of Dengue Fever (we think) in my companion. He was down for about 4 days. Or, rather, he should have been--we went out to work one of the days and he got really sick. But that's all in the past and he's doing just fine as of Sunday. It just so happened (really!) that we had 2 exchanges planned last week, so I was still able to go out and do some things with other elders in their areas. That was fun and I learned much as I walked with Elder Mariquele and Elder Montgomery.