Monday, May 30, 2016

Transfer week

Hey Y'all! 

Hope you've had a great week cause I sure have!!! First off, transfers: Elder Snyder is taking off to Albamarle and I'm staying here with my new companion, Elder Leach. I'm super excited to have Elder Leach come here. He served up in Greensboro for the majority of the time I was there and is a stellar missionary. He was trained by Elder Blanco, another one of my favorite missionaries. So anyways I'm really happy he's coming and that Elder Watson and Elder Dortch are staying in Weddington because we're also really tight. And better yet, Elder Everett is coming to Catawbawaba!!!!! As you can imagine by its name, Catawba is an Indian reservation which is so perfect for Elder Everett because he basically grew up on the res. Back in the early days of the church, some missionaries came down here and converted the whole Catawba tribe (lamanites?????) and they've been pretty strong in the church ever since. So super excited to around him again!

Yesterday we went to a cook out at Allen's house. They made SO MUCH FOOD. Southern hospitality is for real. They had bunch of friends and family over and it almost felt like Sunday's at grandmas.  We had a ton of fun and ate good food and were able to have a pretty good gospel conversation with Allen about eternal marriage. He's pretty sad Elder Snyder is leaving so be invited us over this afternoon to play board games and I'm making pizza. Should be fun.

On Saturday we had a baptism for a lady named Hellen Duru. She's from Nigeria and the Sisters have been teaching her for awhile. It was the first convert baptism here in over a year so that was super exciting. She also has a cousin that's being taught now and her little boys go to primary every week. Now we're just desperately searching for people to bring to church.

I went on exchange to Weddington this week too. We had dinner with some investigators and the first thing she says is "I hope you like salmon!". Ug, my life. Luckily they also had steak so it all worked out and she gave me a hair cut too!!!! She works at a salon and gives missionaries free haircuts all the time.

Here's some pictures from today, it was super fun! I love y'all so much!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2016

This week...

Hey y'all! It's been another great week! 

This week I went on exchange with Elder Blanco. He's from Bogota and is the best missionary ever! It was super fun. We had some pretty good doctrinal conversations about the Book of Mormon and I learned a ton. He was telling me he was thinking about how the Book of Mormon has the fullness of the gospel, but doesn't have a lot of detail about all of the plan of salvation (war in heaven, pre earth life, kingdoms of glory, etc). While he was thinking about that he read Alma 2, which is kind of randomly placed in the Book of Mormon and talks about Amilici trying to overthrow the Nephite government. He pointed out that if you read that story thinking about the war in heaven and putting Amilici metaphorically in the place of Satan, the story pretty much tells the war in heaven. 1/3 of the total deaths in the battle were Nephites, and Amilici wants to take the people's rights and privileges. There's a lot of other neat details in there, but now I'm going to be looking through the Book of Mormon for more metaphorical plan of salvation pieces.

While on exchange we met up with Tommy and his friends. I was pretty happy to have Elder Blanco with me because we threw down on them by the Spirit and they realized how out of context those prophecies were and how little they knew about the sources they got them from. It was petty good. We committed Tommy to read the whole Book of Mormon cover to cover before he developed his opinion of Joseph Smith. He said he'd read up to Mosiah by Tuesday so hopefully that goes well!

Transfers are this week! I don't think I'll get transferred, but you never know. If I don't go Elder Snyder most likely will. It'll be weird having a different companion, it feels like I just got to Providence but I'm also used to teaching with Elder Snyder. When I went on exchange with Elder Blanco, we taught this guy the restoration and I realized how different everyone's teaching style is.

Allen started a new job so we haven't been able see him much, but it sounds like we're going to teach his kids this week. Keep praying for them because they're super ready.

On Tuesday we got a call from a film maker that works for a YouTube channel I used to watch. He said he was on a shoot and one of the volunteers was from NC. They started talking about his mission and this volunteer, Nick, was really interested in the church. So he sent us over to meet Nick, a 19 year old kid studying film in college. I was really excited to meet him because he's a lot like me. Turns out he loves all of the standards our church teaches and would totally be a Mormon, but he's doesn't believe in God. So this week we're gonna go teach Nick how to pray so he can figure out if there's a God. Sadly he leaves in a week of two for California for the rest of the summer, but I'm hoping he'll want to learn more and meet up with missionaries in Cali. I'm so happy the guy that called us wasn't afraid to open his mouth though, MEMBER MISSIONARY WORK!!!!!

I don't have any pictures form the week, sorry! But I still love you all!!!

Elder Earnest

Monday, May 16, 2016

Fishers of men

Hey Y'all!

We've had a nice week here. Allen had us over for breakfast Saturday morning and I made him 7 layer bars to thank him for his kindness. He's also having us teach his kids now and seems to be pretty interested in the church.  We're really excited for him and his family.

We also had zone conference on Wednesday. President talked a lot about repentance and how we need to make sure we're teaching repentance before baptism. A lot of missionaries are so focused on getting someone baptized they don't even think about teaching repentance first. So he did a training on teaching different commandments with repentance as the focus. He also told me and elder Snyder he wants to come out teaching with us this week which would be super fun, so I'm looking forward to that.

Today we had district activity. I got one of the less active returning members to take our district out fishing. We went to this stocked pond in a neighborhood just across the street from where we live. There were tons of blue gills and most of the missionaries caught one. There were tons of turtles, too, so Elder Watson and I got this great idea to use one of the small fish we caught as bait to get a turtle. Worked super good and we ended up catching this giant turtle. All in all it was a really fun p-day.

Earlier in the week Elder Snyder and I rode our bikes by this lady trying to break into her car. She had locked her keys in there and was using a coat hanger to pry it open. We stopped and offered to help.  Turns out Elder Snyder is really good at breaking into cars! She said she was really familiar with our church and we left her a pass along card so who knows, maybe she'll want to learn more now!

We were also teaching this guy named Tommy who went to this Christian high school around here that won't let Mormons go to school there and pretty much indoctrinates it's students with anti-Mormon info. He gave me this list of "false" prophecies from Joseph Smith to look at to prove he wasn't a real prophet. On our way back from dinner we looked at them with Brother Anderson, a really smart seminary teacher in our ward,  and literally all of them were actually fulfilled or were taken way out of context. So that should be fun going back to tell him they're all garbage and if he isn't interested in joining our church we can't meet anymore.

Welp, I'm off to have dinner with the Clowards! Hope y'all have a great week and can't wait to here from yins soon!

Shopping in South Carolina "'cause it's cheaper":

Monday, May 9, 2016

Staying busy

Hey Guys!

It was nice talking with y'all yesterday. Kinda weird how long it's been since we actually spoke, but I guess that's missionary life.

This week we taught Allen again (the single dad of four kids). He's really great and is more in tune with spiritual promptings than any other investigator I've had. I'm fairly positive that if he keeps reading and praying like he's doing, he'll be baptized next month. My district is doing crazy good all of a sudden! Literally everyone in the district has a solid baptism lined up for the end of May, except for us. Weddington had an absolute miracle with some lady and her daughter randomly visiting our church and now they're getting baptized in two weeks. The sisters have a really good investigator named Helen from Nigeria getting baptized and Pineville baptizes about every month anyways. So that's got me feeling pretty good!

The guy we had lined up to get baptized this week is kinda falling off. I don't think he wants to quit drinking coffee and I'm starting to think he's not ready to be baptized. He's come to church every week since June so not really sure what to do with him.

On Saturday we did a ton of service. In the morning we went to the Whitmans' and pulled weeds. It was pretty fun because I got to talk to Brother Whitman all about law school. There's a ton of lawyers here and I've learned a lot about law schooling and jobs and whatnot. I've been thinking if the whole animation program doesn't work out that might be a nice back up. I can get a degree in physics or chemical or nuclear engineering, and then go to law school and be a patent lawyer. There's a ton of demand for them right now and I'd be able to study something I love and still make money.

I had Elder Dortch come here on exchange this week. He's from Idaho and is just about done with his mission. We had a really good exchange! I received a few spiritual promptings that we followed and ended up with a Book of Mormon placed and found some new people to teach. That's been something I've been really working on, recognizing and following spiritual promptings. It's been nice on my bikes these last few weeks because it gives me a lot of time to think and feel out spiritual promptings.

We've also got zone conference coming up this week. It'll be fun to see president Alexander and Elder Clarke. The stake has been asked to start making goals with us in ward council and I'm hoping he'll give us some training on it. The mission is really starting to focus in on sacrament meeting attendance and new investigators. I think Elder Zwick gave a bunch of council on that when he was here.

Today we've got zone activity at the church, should be pretty fun. Looks like we're playing volleyball­čśĆ

Here's a baptism picture of a family I taught for a long time in Danville. Elder Everett (the one I trained form Alaska) is on the left and Elder Galvin is on the right (Canadian)

And then there's Sam holding a baby raccoon...I hope it isn't rabid...

Monday, May 2, 2016

I guess he's allergic to fish...

This week was great. We've really been putting a lot of effort into planning and finding and it's starting to finally pay off. On Friday we were talking to this guy who was fixing his car and some other guy walked out of his apartment and call over to us. He came up and introduced himself and asked us a bit about what we do and then requested for us to come and teach him later that day. That kind of thing literally never happens unless they just want to bible bash with us so I was pretty much convinced he was just a preacher that wanted to anti us. At lunch I was tabbing all my theological warfare bible verses so I could be quick to the draw if I need to defend myself. (I've been antied before and it's way more fun when you're winning). So we show up to the appointment and he invites us in and has us sit down in his living room. We start chatting, trying to get to know him a little better, and it turns out he's been searching through churches for a long time and just feels all the ones he's been to are corrupt. Now he's looking for more truth and wants to hear what we have to say. So we taught him the restoration and he ate it up, absolutely loved it. We taught him again last night, about the Book of Mormon, with a member and he can't wait to have us back again. His name is Allen and he's a single father of four and like the best investigator I've ever had. And it's totally heaven sent that we met him because there was really no reason we should have been up there that day. It was only because all of our appointments fell through and we were desperate for someone to talk to.

Earlier in the week I went on exchange with Elder Watson. He's from Sandy, Utah and was trained by my MTC companion, Elder Hampshire. When he was 13 he got leukemia and almost died and has a super strong testimony. It was a great exchange. As we were walking up to one of our appointments we noticed a raccoon poking its head out of the chimney. When we asked the member about it he told us it's been clawing at his walls and asked us to go get it out of the chimney. The only reason we agreed to help was because Elder Watson used to work for his uncle's company "Critter Wranglers" and has some experience in raccoon removal. So we start rummaging around the back yard looking for some kind of rope to use to get the raccoon out but all we could find was an extension chord. We tied the extension chord in a slip knot and Elder Watson stuffed it down the chimney and started bouncing it up and down. Then he looked at me and was like "he's ticked off" and he pulls super hard to try and snag it, then he yells "crap he's charging!" And runs back towards me. It wasn't until that point I thought about what we were planning to do if we actually snagged the raccoon. The raccoon didn't end up coming out of the chimney and we eventually gave up due to poor equipment, but next time we'll come back more prepared.

We also had interviews with President this week. He told me I'm about to "light this area on fire". He also used the phrase pistol whip somewhere in our interview and I remember thinking it was pretty funny but I can't remember the context.

Last night we had dinner with a great family in our ward, the Tousas. We showed up and I could tell by the smell we were having fish. Mom: I remember telling you a few years back I was allergic to fish because I had salmon that one time and threw up that night and you told me it was just bad salmon. Well you were wrong. I am most definitely allergic to fish. So I'm sitting at the Tousas and they pull this huge salmon out of the oven and put it on the table and just by the scent and sight I know my stomach doesn't want any of that (remember it was fast Sunday too so it wasn't just I don't like fish because I'll eat just about anything when I break a fast). I couldn't be rude though so I just took a little and put it down with mash potatoes. Bad idea. We get on our bikes after dinner and start heading back towards our apartment and I'm feeling pretty queasy. By the time we got back I had a killer headache and was definitely going to throw up. IM FREAKIN ALLERGIC TO FISH, MOM!!!!! The thing that sucked is we had a solid appointment with Allen that I did not want to miss
so I was like, whatever, I've got to magnify my calling. So I go in the bathroom and try to get it to just come up stream, but it ain't coming. I was scared to death we were gonna show up at Allen's and I'd puke everywhere so I sat down and just relaxed a bit. I was still feeling really sick as we walked up to Allen's but I just held it in
and toughed it out. Ended up making it out alright and never threw up, but I was still feeling pretty sick this morning when I woke up. I'm never eating fish again, that was awful.

Sunday we're eating dinner with the Grants (hopefully not fish), and they said we can FaceTime from there. (Side note:  Mother's Day and Christmas day are the two days each year missionaries can call or FaceTime their families.)  The Grants are probably my favorite family here, they've got a ton of little kids and a blast to eat dinner with. I attached pictures from when they took us out to ice cream. 

I love you guys and can't wait to talk to to y'all in a few days!