Monday, January 30, 2017

It's been a really good week. Last night we had dinner at the Alexander's with Maxwell and afterwards he was interviewed for baptism. It was an interesting night. We sat down in their living room and President asked Maxwell to tell us about himself. He started off by telling them about the time he was in prison and they only had a bucket to use the bathroom in so the whole cell smelled terrible and they'd have to get up on their tippy toes to suck fresh air out of the small barred window in the wall. Then he told them the story of how he got his name as a young boy and about how his mother died when he was a child and his father's other wives didn't like him so he was sent off to another village to go to school. The school was super strict so he ran back to his father and his father sent him back to the school. For some reason he needed to change his middle name when he went back to the village and now his name translates to 'slave of god'. While he was telling this he'd get up and jump around and stretch his arms out to tell his story. President and Sister Alexander were just like 'what's going on?'. I was dying laughing inside. So then he tells us about how he ran away from school and went to another city where they mine for diamonds, and all the different odd jobs he did to stay alive, and about this lady he met that had no children so she adopted him and she was super wealthy.  Then he told how he was falsely accused of harming the village chief's wife so they threw him in prison but his adopted father went and spoke with the President of Sierra Leone and he got out of prison. Somewhere along the way his original father and stepmothers tried to poison him so they could take his inheritance from his adopted parents and then he got married and then the civil war broke out, and on and on. We were seriously listening to him for an hour or so telling us about his story of how he got here. Finally President was just like "Maxwell, can we carry this conversation over to dinner?" So at the dinner table he tells us about how he forged documents so he could flee the country and the UN put him in Russia where it was so cold that 'your pee pee would freeze before it hit the ground'. He explained the miracle of him getting a job there and finding a new wife and finding a Christian church and then how when the Soviet Union fell they started killing foreigners so he fled again wanting to go to Canada but he ended up in North Carolina all so he could find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There's a ton of details I left out, but it was quite the story. I was actually thinking about recording him telling it and then writing it as a book; it'd be pretty good. So he goes into the interview and they're in there for a bit while we talk with Sister Alexander and then after 30
mins or so he comes out. President is smiling and Maxwell throws his arms in the air and screams "praise GOD" "thanks be to GOD!!!!!!". He had this huge grin on his face and was so excited and he ran over and hugged Sister Alexander. It was pretty funny. So he'll be baptized this week by Brother Y who's a convert from Liberia.

I also went on exchange with Elder Richins this week. He came out with me and we stayed in the same room in the MTC so that was a fun reunion. He's in Greensboro, which is a 2 hour drive from here, that was terrible. But we found 2 new investigators and I got to play basketball in the morning with Elder Everett! He had a baptism on Saturday.

We also did a lot more transfer planning and had a broadcast on Wednesday from the missionary department. They changed some things up in our schedule so we're planning in the morning now instead of the evening. They also lowered the amount of key indicators we report from 9 to 4. Now we're only focusing on new investigators, Sacrament, baptismal dates, and baptisms which our mission was already focusing on so not a big deal. We really like the new schedule though, it's been a nice change.

Today we went to the Charlotte Museum of Southern History. It was a pretty good deal and only costed $5! This week we have Zone conferences so I'll be driving around the mission a lot.

Love ya!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Hey there, 

It's been another super busy week. D was baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday. That only took like 18 months. (Speaking of 18 months, I was reminded by Elder Ruth and Elder Christensen, two Elders that came out with me, that yesterday was my 18 month mark!) President Alexander interviewed him on Tuesday night at the mission home and it was pretty apparent he's a repentant man. Last Friday Elder Rasmussen and I went over the baptismal questions with him and he was like "I used to drink to get buzzed" and then he picked up his Book of Mormon and said "this is my buzz now!". Then on Sunday of last week he didn't show up for church and we got pretty concerned and went to see him. Turns out he got really sick, it was kind of a Zeezrom deal where the memory of his sins made him physically ill. So we gave him a blessing and then everything went smooth from there. He and G, his brother who is a member, are moving back to Daytona Beach this week to be with their parents. I'm a little bumed to see them go so quick, but D really wants to share the gospel with his parents now so it could turn out to be a good thing. D moved up here about two years ago to get away from some bad things he was getting involved with in Florida and it seems like his time in North Carolina was just what he needed to turn his life over to God. Now he's going back and all his friends are going to see a huge change in him, and that's what the atonement is all about. Not a change of outward actions but a change of inner character.

We've also been transfer planning this week a bit. Elder Peterson and I go over to President's home where he's got a huge T.V up on the wall that's hooked into his lap top. It used to be done on a white board with magnets, which apparently was a lot of running from the board to the mission president for the assistants, but now it's all done over the internet. It's been an interesting experience hearing President talk about all the missionaries and what we can do to help them succeed. It makes me feel like I need to get to know the missionaries better. 

I also went on exchange to Gastonia. It's a town just west of here. Elder Johnson and I talked a lot about studies. I think that's one of the most valuable skills you can develop on a mission. I hope I don't turn into one of the RMs that gets home and never studies the scriptures. Luckily I've got Elder Hampshire to keep me in check. He and I are going to have a get together every Monday night at BYU and talk about all the deep doctrine we've been feasting on throughout the week. I'll have to hold my ground because he's looking at becoming a CES instructor.

How was Trump's inauguration? There were tons of people watching it on Friday morning while we were trying to find people to teach. They'd all tell us we were missing history and we should find somewhere to watch it. Somehow I feel like we weren't missing much. 

This week will be a lot of transfer planning and preparation for the Zone Conference Trainings we're doing. We'll be focusing a lot on planning skills. 

Alright I'm off to Ming Fu and Urban Outfitters, should be a good P-day!

Love ya!

Elder Earnest

Monday, January 16, 2017

Howdy y'all!

This week was so hectic. We went to Hickory twice and then up to Winston and then had a meeting with President and had to do two exchanges and find 5 new investigators and on top of all that I rebound my scriptures with alligator skin.

On Wednesday we went up to Hickory for their zone meeting. It was the first time I've seen mountains since I came out. The Appalāchians are pretty weak looking, but it was still it was neat to see what the rest of the mission looks like. I've never been west of Charlotte, which is where all the good hiking is. Their Zone Meeting was pretty fun. The theme was "Potential is Out There", a spin off of "adventure is out there" from Up. At the end they had us all write things we want to give up to be more consecrated on a piece of paper and put it in a house that was strapped to a bunch of balloons. Then they let it fly into the sky. After that I was on exchanges with Elder Hatch. He's from Cali and played competitive water polo so we had a lot of fun.

A few days later we went to Winston for their Zone Meeting. I got to see Elder Watson  and eat at a place that played really good music. That was fun. After that we had to drive to Lexington to drop something off and then get back to Charlotte in time for our appointment so we could exchange with the Pineville Elders and it was so stressful because traffic is the worst thing ever!

David should be baptized this week. He got sick and couldn't come to church Sunday, but he should be doing okay. Maxwell came and loved it. We also had a guy named Gary come. His family is from Cambodia and were refugees of the Vietnam war. He wants to be baptized and we're teaching him this evening. Pray they continue to do well.

Welp I'm super tired and I need a nap. I'll send you pics of my alligator skin scriptures next week. Love ya!

Monday, January 9, 2017

This week Elder Peterson and I found this elect African guy. He was taught two years ago and got all the way to the baptismal interview, but because of some problem he got offended and disappeared. We knocked on his door this week and he let us right in and started to tell us about how he'd repented and how he's now ready to be a member of Christ's true church. The guy was jumping up and down and crying and going through his whole life story about being raised in Sierra Leone as a Muslim and getting moved to Russia where he converted to Christianity and then God brought him to America where he could find Christ's true church. At the end he prayed and asked if he should be baptized on February 4th and at the end he said, quite loudly, "by God's grace I will be baptized on the 4th of February and no one can stop God, not even myself!" It was incredible. We're still trying to figure out how no one found him for two years straight.

David Blackwell is also doing really well! We had some great lessons this week with him. Yesterday after church the old stake president invited us over for lunch and we brought David too. It's pretty incredible how much this guy has changed since I first met him a year ago. He's pretty much gone from a godless man to a regular church attender. It'll be a pretty special day for a lot of missionaries when he gets baptized in a few weeks.

I also went on exchanges twice this week. The first was back to Welcome Ward. That was kinda odd, we had ward coordination and I hadn't missed one since I left. The new Elder there had to come to Charlotte for a doctor's appointment so we made an exchange out of it. Elder Hampshire is still doing really well. I got to teach Nancy and the Crouses so that was fun. Then on Friday I went on exchanges with the Charlotte Central Zone Leaders. I was with Elder Bingham. He just got called as a zone leader and has been out just a transfer more than I have. He's a solid missionary from northern Utah and owns a big ol' ranch. We had fun finding all night in the freezing rain. Doesn't sound like fun, be we found two new investigators.

Elder Peterson and I get along really well and are having a ton of success. It seems like all the people are super solid and ready to be baptized. We have four with a baptismal date right now and statistically 50 percent of the people we put on date get baptized.

Alright I love y'all!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Howdy y'all

Back to the big city! It's so nice to have more shopping options than Walmart and Lexington BBQ!!! Today I 
bought myself a new tie with some of the Christmas money I received.

Matthews is a pretty great ward. I feel like I know a ton of people already. There are two families that were in the Providence Ward and another couple of families that are related to members in Providence. Our ward mission leader is a super solid guy and the Bishop is pretty fired up about missionary work. They've had 6 baptisms in the past two months so the members are really excited too. We've got a few solid investigators and are spending lots of time out finding new ones. David Blackwell has a baptismal date for the end of the month. I taught him in Providence and now he lives in Matthews. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the job this time. I almost feel like God has given me a second chance from Providence here. It's pretty much the same area, same dynamics and everything, except this time I'm gonna harvest some real fruit.

Being an assistant is pretty okay. It's not too much different than being a Zone Leader, just different responsibilities. Some missions have what they call office missionaries that pretty much sit in the office all day, but instead we have all of the administrative responsibilities along with full proselyting responsibilities. So we have to work crazy hard to hit all the standards of excellence and have to be super great at planning. I get to see President a bit more often but most of my time will be spent on exchanges and out proselyting like a normal area. I'm really enjoying it though.

I really like my new companion. For some reason he really reminds me of Luke (Sam's cousin). They have really similar personalities. He's a really hard worker and I think we're going to see a lot of success.

Here's some pictures from the week.