Monday, August 24, 2015

Ridin' around on my bicycle

Hey Y'all!

First off, thank you so much for all the care packages and mail! They really brighten my day and help me get through the rough times. It's amazing how much an email or letter from one of you can make me feel so uplifted.

Things in Virginia are pretty chill right now. The Confederate flag is a pretty big deal right now. Apparently Danville was the last Confederate capital before they lost the war, so there are a lot of people really passionate about the flag here. On the other hand, there are also a lot of people that don't like the flag at all so people are taking down Confederate flags in Danville and then other people are putting them back up. I heard that there's this really rich guy going around renting out little 5x5 plots of people's land just so he can put a flag pole up with the Confederate flag. It's pretty nuts.

They took our car away last week so we're now in a car share with the sister missionaries, which means we've been biking a ton. It took me until this week to realize how big and hilly Danville is. Not a huge fan of the bikes, but it has brought some interesting experiences.

The other day we were meeting with a less active woman on her porch, and some guy pulled up and asked if we were having a Bible study. I said we were and he asked if he could join and I said of course! Then the dude came over and before he even sat down he was trying to explain that our church wasn't true because our Elder's aren't married. He was using a scripture that I looked at later and saw it was giving the requirements for a Bishop so I'm not really sure what that was about. All he really wanted to do was argue with us, and then he basically told the lady we were talking with that her mom was going to hell because she wasn't baptized. You could tell the guy was just trained to take down Mormons, but really didn't know a thing about our church. He kept saying false things about the church and then we say "we actually don't believe in that" and then he'd say "yes, you do" and I was just thinking to myself, "thank you sir for telling me what I do and don't believe in." I could have sat there and Bible bashed with him, but I could tell no matter what I said he was too caught up in hatred to listen and understand so I just sat there and took it and then told him we loved him and pretty much left. All you can really do in that situation is just show them love.

I've spoken to a ridiculous amount of people here that have suffered from domestic violence. I have heard far too many stories of people's boyfriends getting drunk and beating them. I won't go into detail, but I've heard more detailed stories than I can bare. Alcohol and substance abuse seem to be the worst thing anyone could do to themselves. The sad part is, the people getting abused don't know how to deal with it so they turn to alcohol and smoking and drugs. There's so much filth here, and I can't think of any other way to describe it.

On a brighter note, Orson Scott Card is in my stake!!!! I'll be looking for him at Stake conference.

I really miss ya'll, but your letters and emails and packages really uplift me. Hope ya'll have a fantastic week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Vic Fitzgerald and the bloody napkin

Hey Ya'll! 

Things in Danville are going great! I apologize for not giving enough details in my previous emails, it's really hard to type out long emails on the iPad so the keyboard will really help. But now I'll answer all of mom's questions!

The first night in the mission home they fed us dinner and then sent us to bed. Haha, it wasn't super exciting. We'd all been up since 2 am so everyone was way tired and I'm pretty sure I was out by 8:30. All the elders stayed at the assistant's apartment and the sisters stayed at the mission home. I haven't really had the chance to meet my mission president and his wife since there were 13 of us greenies and we were only with them for a few hours, but they seem really nice! Elder Clarke is super chill. He likes to play basketball and has a really good understanding of the scriptures so we've had some pretty cool deep doctrinal conversations. He's from Huntington Beach California which is pretty close to San Clemente. On P day we usually just relax and play basketball but today we're going down to Greensboro for a zone cook out. The members occasionally feed us dinner but we mostly just cook our own meals, all though a few times we've gotten lazy and gone to Bojangles. We mostly make chicken and rice with peppers and sauce. I have lost like 5 pounds though which sucks because I want to be gaining weight.  I'm eating a decent amount of fruits and veggies but I've been told it's a good idea for missionaries to eat vitamins so they get everything they need.  Any suggestions on which ones I should buy? We don't really knock doors unless the Spirit prompts us to a specific door. We mostly just contact previous investigators, inactive members, and part member families. Member referrals are like our favorite thing ever though, but it doesn't happen very often. Our ward is much smaller than Cline Falls, it reminds me a lot of Madras. We cover the Danville ward along with a set of sisters. 

Funny story: we were out tracking looking for a former investigator by the name of Vic Fitzgerald. When we got to his house there was an old man chillin' on the porch, a common sight in Danville. We asked if his name was Vic. He didn't reply and just stared at us, so we walked a little closer and asked agin if he was Vic but he just stared at us. It was kinda creepy. Eventually we were up right next to him and we asked again and he let out this strange grunt that sounded somewhat like the word "what?"  And we said a little louder "Are you Vic?" He put his hand up to his ear so my companion yells "ARE YOU VIC?" And it takes like 39 seconds for him to process what we just said and then he grunts, like a legit grunt,  "what's a Vic?".   My companion then points at the door and yells "DOES VIC LIVE HERE?"  And the old man grunts "what?"  At this point I'm just trying not to laugh as my companion says all right, have a nice day. Honestly I'm not sure why we didn't teach him about the restoration right then and there.  Also the guy had a napkin in his hand covered in blood. 

Anyways, thank ya'll for the emails! A couple of you have said sorry that they're long but honestly the longer the better because I love hearing from ya'll! 

If you have anymore questions about what's going on here just let me know! I miss ya'll so much and hope yins have a fantastic week!

Elder Earnest
2 Corinthians5:7

A video from Danville

Monday, August 10, 2015

Yins and Ya'll

Hello from Danville Virginia!!!!

I'm totally living in the ghetto and it's nuts. Last week my companion went outside and heard a bunch of gun shots. I've seen some pretty crazy stuff already. No one has street addresses so they just spray paint the number on their garbage cans and almost all the houses have "no trespassing" signs on the front door. The other day I'm pretty sure I almost witnessed a hit and run and then we saw two guys trying to break into a funeral home in broad daylight. It really feels like I'm living in a 3rd world country. The tap water isn't even drinkable. All the people here are super easy to teach because they all sit on their porch all day but they're really hard to commit because they all are literally chained down to smoking and it's very sad. If I've learned anything so far it's to stay as far away as possible from any form of smoking and any other type of addictive substance because I've seen first hand that it will literally control and destroy your life. 

We've been working like crazy trying to find people to teach and the Lord has really been blessing us. Last night we taught a lesson to a random kid we found on our former investigator list and the Spirit was so strong and intense. The kid was really tearing up by the end and I could tell he's been waiting for the gospel for a long time. It made me feel so good to know I made a positive difference in his life that day. 

I also have a new companion named Elder Clarke. He's from Cali and is super chill. We get along really well so I'm very grateful to have him. 

I love yins and miss ya'll so much. Also I can read emails every night; I just can't send any until Mondays so if ya'll have a spiritually uplifting thought or just want to send me a story or what not I'd love to hear it throughout the week! 

Elder Earnest 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Arriving in Charlotte

The newest missionaries in the North Carolina Charlotte mission.

Elder Earnest with President and Sister Alexander.