Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1 Letter

What a crazy week it has been! Holy.
First, it's worth noting that we are in the finally hours of President Christianson's presidency. President Francis is probably on the plane right now, and his keys go into effect immediately and President Christianson's become ineffective immediately as the plane touches ground. I'm excited to meet President Francis, and we will get to meet him on the 5th when we have interviews... but President Christianson is going to be a tough guy to replace!
Know what is crazy? Also on the 5th will be the one year anniversary of me checking into the MTC. Bizarre. It's a weird feeling, where you don't quite know how to look at it. Haha a lot of times, I don't feel like I've accomplished as much as I could have/should have, which makes the idea of being half way done pretty intimidating.
Anyways, this week. It was a good one, that is for sure!
On Thursday, we were picking up a table for Laura (a member who lives next door to us) from her aunt's apartment. We got over there, chatted a little bit, and carried the table out to the truck. We made sure to leave our stuff in her apartment, though, so we could guarantee coming back for at least a little bit. On our way back, we started asking her about Pageant. She said she'd been, but would love to go again. We asked her if she'd read the Book of Mormon, which Pageant is based on. She had. We asked her what she thought of it. "Well, I loved it. How could you not??" Haha, we asked if she had ever taken the missionary lessons. She hadn't. We asked her if she would like to. So we gave her the first lesson right then and there and are going back this week! Probably not nearly as cool of a story to read as it was to be there. It was just such a casual transition from picking up a table to having a new investigator, it was very neat.
Then Saturday, we were able to finally meet up with Lee again! I love that guy! But, the branch is REALLY frustrating me with him. So, here's a guy who was baptized decades ago, and eventually moved out to Utah at the suggestion of the missionaries who baptized him. At one point, he was the Elder's Quorum President, the Single Adults representative, and a stake missionary - all at the same time. He said for a few years he was going on splits with the missionaries every Wednesday night, at the very least. For 5-10 years, he figures he was no less than 90% on his home teaching. Now, that being said, sure he has a number of issues. One of the big ones is that he is living with his girlfriend, who is a former investigator, herself. Apparently he's ruffled some feathers in the past, and a lot of people got upset at how he treated past relationships (I don't know much about any of the stories, in particular.)
But here's the deal: His daughter, Emily, wants to start coming to church. If he does, eventually I imagine Julie - his girlfriend - and her two daughters will come, as well. In our branch, we have two groups of people: 1) A group of pretty new members who are enthusiastic, but don't really know how things function, and 2) A group of really old members who have been doingeverything for the past twenty years and are tired of it. There's not middle. But Lee would fit right in the middle. He knows how things work, and he hasn't been doing them for a while. Plus, we could really used a family like his and Julie's (assuming they get married soon, which I think they are already planning on, even without any church pressure). But, he is afraid of coming to Warsaw because he doesn't want to start any drama. He figures he'd drive the extra 20 minutes to Geneseo. We tried to assure him that there wouldn't be any drama, and that people would be excited to see him come back finally. We told him that Warsaw really needed someone like him and a family like his.
So yesterday at church, we started asking different members if they would call him and help assure him that he would be fine back here. We asked the branch president, who told us to talk to someone else. We asked the secretary of the Elder's quorum, who flat out told us no. We asked probably four different people, all of which either handed us off to someone else or said no. Good freaking grief. Here we are teaching about a welcoming, forgiving group of saints, trying to help a less active member feel comfortable coming back to church, and NO ONE will do anything to welcome him. It really makes me irritated at everyone.
We have a few referrals that I'm pretty excited about, though! One of them is a girl names Laurel, who has been asking Racheal (whose house we go to every Sunday afternoon) a lot about the church. Racheal had suggested she meet with us, but had kind of forgotten all about it, until the other week, Laurel asked Racheal when she would be able to meet us! Haha so we're planning on meeting up with her on Saturday. Not too often that you have a referral begging to meet us.
BUT, that's not even the only one! Sister Strang got a text from one of her friends earlier this week, asking about the Church. Her friend is Catholic or something, but has been getting irritated at it and is looking for something else. Sister Strang asked if she'd like to learn a little about the LDS Church, to which she said yes. So, we're going to be meeting her at the Strang's hopefully sometime very soon!
Haha oh, and here's a picture that shows why Grant is my favorite kid on Earth. We were over at Amy's house, talking a lot about how to help her family recognize the importance of the gospel. It was a great conversation, but not too much that I can really talk about in an email. It just is really epitomizing Elder Nelson's quote about how full time missionaries' calling is to assist members in their missionary work. We are definitely taking the third-party position here, which is great! But, that doesn't explain this picture haha. We were sitting at the table, talking, and I look down and Grant is taking everything out of my backpack. "Grant, what are you doing?" I ask. "Yes," he answers. "Do you want to get into my backpack so you can come home with us?" "Uh-huh," he said haha. So we put him in my backpack! He's the coolest kid ever hahaha.
At church yesterday, we had 89 people show up!! I was so stoked! It was more people by at least 15-20 than I have ever seen at Warsaw!
Then, guess who has a baptismal date!!?? Jesse! Do you remember him? He was the guy we randomly street contacted in Freedom back when I was still with Elder Frost. Apparently he has been coming to church pretty regularly, has met the stake president, everything! I'm so stoked about it!
Okay, I've been saving this one, but could hardly hold it in, I'm so stoked about it. On Monday or Tuesday, I can't even remember which, all of our appointments cancelled, and we had nothing to do. It getting late, so we didn't really want to tract and the library wouldn't be open. We figured we could walk over to the church, and talk to anyone we saw along the way, hoping that he family history library would be open so we could do some internet work from the church. We got there, though, and the library there was closed, as well. Frustrated, we sat thinking of what we could do. We suddenly decided we should just call all of the numbers in our phone whose name we didn't recognize! Most of the numbers had been disconnected, and the rest just went to answering machines. When there was an answering machine, we would just bear our testimonies over the phone, and ask them to call us back if they wanted to learn more. No one did.
But, after a while, I came to a contact named "Tops Girl." Tops is a big chain grocery store out here. This clearly was not the most promising of contacts if we had never even learned her name. But, I figured we had nothing to lose, so I called it anyway. She answered! I introduced myself, and asked if she remembered meeting with the missionaries in the past. She said she thinks she met them like three years ago when she was still working at Tops, but they'd never met or talked outside of Tops. I asked if she would like to meet. She was really funny, because she said yes, but really didn't know what to do. "Do I just tell you a time and a place, or what?" was her response to us asking if she wanted to meet haha. But, we finally worked out sometime that we could meet up. She then asked us what made us different from other Christian churches, so I gave a little two minute version of the Restoration and explained what a prophet is, and their role in Christ's church. She seemed pretty interested, but then shared a story that blew my mind so much, I don't think I got excited enough about it!
She said that she'd been raised Christian, but had fallen away over the years. "But my life started going downhill. I'm pretty much at rock bottom, now," she said. But get this! She said this morning she was so miserable, that she woke up and said a prayer for the first time in years, asking God to help her find a way out of all of this. A few hours later, we called!! Haha how do you even respond to that!?
Unfortunately, our appointment last week fell through because she was out job-hunting. We called her up that night to figure out what happened, and got talking about the circumstances surrounding our call. She didn't even realize until then that I wasn't the missionary that she'd met years back, and that we had really never met. We talked a little bit more, and when she hung up, she said, "Well, goodnight my miracle friends!" Haha we're meeting with her in about three hours! Pray for us!
Well, here are some of my blog posts from the past week. Read them and enjoy them! haha
I love you, but I don't miss you!
Elder Allen

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