Monday, July 23, 2012

WEEK 12- illness and wellness

WEEK 12- illness and Wellness

Hello from Ashburn!
I was asked how transfers work... Normally, transfer days are Tuesdays. So, the Assistants and the President are at the transfer board starting around Friday night. Before then, the DLs are supposed to write "outlines" recommending who stays and who goes from their district. They give those to the Zls, who make a summary and pass it up, and the APs and Pres will use those and the spirit to figure out what happens! Tuesday night, the APs call the ZLs, who call the DLs, who call the companionship with what we call "transfer calls." Basically, you get told whether or not you're staying or going and that's it. If you are both staying, that's the end of that. If either one or both of you are going, you meet at the Centreville Stake Center Thursday and we sit in the back half of the chapel. Then Pres stands up and calls out, reading the entire list of who is where, and the new companion ships sit together in the front half of the chapel.
I love what mom said in one of her letters: "There are such highs and lows in the mission, but it really is one of the highs of life." So true
Dad, I liked your stuff for mom while you were at camp! I'll have to take notes for 20 years or so from now when it's my turn... haha
That's so cool that our ward is doing a 40 day fast! Ashburn ward did one just a bit ago. And I was placed here on day 37... No pressure, right?
So, I'm starting to get reviews back on my “scare”... so far, I know I got mom and Rachel. Anyone else fall for it? Dad says mom almost called the mission home!!!  ( HE IS SUCH A BOOGER!)
Rachel, I'm sorry about the guy who looked like Peeta. I meant it as a joke not to trust him, but I guess my brotherly instinct was just too accurate... I do have a new rule for you and Rebecca though... You have to marry guys who served in D.C. South... Nobody else will cut it. If you want pictures, or recommendations, let me know ;)
Rachel asked a really good question: What's it like being the missionary? Well, it goes something like this: Being a missionary, working hard, focusing on work, what time is it? I check the time, notice the watch, remember who gave it to me, smile, enjoy it for a moment, then look back up and I'm a missionary again! Focused and ready! Then I realize, I never really looked at where the hands were on the watch, so I look again, note the time, and keep moving. As we're riding our bikes along, I'm anticipating where we're going, thinking about what we'll do there, maybe singing a hymn, then I see a restaurant we used to eat at, or se something I would normally text her and tell her about. But I can't, so I keep riding my bike and go back to my hymn. but I've gotten really good at smiling, enjoying the moment and the memory, then getting back to what I need to be doing.
Now, this week.
Oh, just a heads up, I may not be able to write next week... Our P-Day is getting moved to Friday, and we'll likely be busy for most of that. President Riggs may say "email on Monday still," but if he doesn't, you won't be hearing from me for two weeks. So, don't worry if that happens. I'm alive and well.
So, crazy flashback: About a year ago, we were in Kirtland, Ohio visiting the temple. There was a stake youth conference going on there. At one point, I was in the gift shop, reading a book, when one of the youth leaders comes running in: "Hey!" he says, "We're all waiting for you! Let's get back on the bus!" I was very confused obviously, then figured out that he just thought I was one of his youth. "Oh, I'm just here with my family." I said, pointing to dad (who successfully identified the truth of my story [twinners!]). The leader grew a very puzzled look on his face, but accepted my story. "Oh, ok. weird." He said. I asked him why. pointing over his shoulder, he says to me: "Well, some of the girls on the bus just told me specifically to not forget you." Guess what stake that was? Ashburn! haha. Yes, I'm serving my mission in that same stake right now. So far, I've avoided recognition ;) haha. Just a funny story to start.
We had a SLOW week this week. Elder Ravia was down for a couple days sick, so I was very grateful to have received those talks you sent. He's doing better now, but lets just say we have big goals next week to catch up.
I attended two baptisms this week, but Nate was unable to join me at either. It was pretty sweet. Ashburn led the mission in baptisms this week! I'm pretty sure that's unheard of :D We're pretty excited.
There was a 7 stake youth conference this week, which was way neat. we spent most of Thursday helping load up a truck with set prices for that. It was four elders, and 3 other guys. I gained a couple new nicknames for my performance there. I was the "packer." They started by giving us a pile of stuff and saying: "if we can fit this into half of the truck, we're in good shape." So, I climbed in, they handed stuff in, and I got it into 1/4 of the truck :) (Thanks for the genes dad). It was pretty crazy, we used these frames that we stacked up that had lots of space underneath, and I was just climbing all over the inside of those frames as they passed huge pieces of lumber in and I would tetris them into place while slowly being lifted closer and closer to the ceiling. Then, they wanted more stuff in the back when it was almost full, and I wiggled my way in there with the stuff and got it all the way up. It was pretty fun! It felt like when we were living in Grandma and Grandpa's house during their mission in Japan. They had one room they had put all their stuff in and I used to challenge myself, seeing how many routes I could find to touch the back wall.
One problem with the service. It was a record-breaking day. Triple digit heat, about as much humidity as if we were SCUBA diving, and we were in a truck doing heavy lifting in a small space... Long story short, we were literally soaked in sweat. And I mean SOAKED!!! It looked like we'd gone swimming. Wood was sticking to us, we could leave wet spots in the shape of our bodies on the ground, and we were dripping. I've never experienced anything like it. No joke, I lost five pounds. Literally, in the seven hours it took us to load the truck, I lost five pounds of water from sweating!!! It was crazy! So much fun though.
Illnesses are being recovered from, wellness is happening in the area, and we're all loving our missions. I love you too, and I pray for you all. I hope all is well. Until next week! (or the week after) Hopefully I have something new to report by way of people then :)
-Elder M. Larmer Hodgson (formal, eh? don't worry, I'm still a pretty informal guy... haha)
P.S. - listen to "The hardest things I've ever loved to do" by the Nashville Tribute Band. I'm pretty sure it's my current favorite missionary song.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Week 11 - A Little Bit of Everything

This week pretty much had it all! The good, the bad, the ugly. We set new all-time heat records for the area this week, AND had lightning storms. We got promising new investigators, and faced more screaming, cussing and opposition than before. And, as in all trials, I found new lows I could descend to, and new strength I never knew I had. There really is nothing like a mission to make us realize who we truly are and what we can do.
N is doing really well. He has such great faith, but his mom just isn't realizing that this is his choice that he's making. He's determined to get baptized and says for sure his mom will come around, just maybe not before August 15th... Hopefully I stay here one more transfer :)
I spent a good deal of time going through old area books and found probably 5 or 6 new people we're going to check on that look promising! That's pretty exciting.
We visited a referral that we were given, and he noticed Elder R well-used shoes, and up and gave him $50 to get new ones! Welcome to Ashburn!!! Didn't even dent his pocket...
Last week, we were riding our bikes and Elder R's pedal fell off... I guess the stripping on the bolt holding it in place is stripped. We're not sure how that happened... maybe his fall... either way, we spent a day or so walking until we found him a new bike. Of course that was the hot day. Apparently walking makes you an easier target for ticks, too... The stupid ones at least. The idiot dug in on the back of my hand... "FOUND YA!!" haha. Wasn't too tough. (it wasn't a deer tick, so I'm not worried about Lyme).
I think the big story of the week is D. You may remember him, he's the guy who had been meeting with missionaries for 20 years, but never was invited to read and pray about the book of mormon. We stopped by his house unexpected, and he opens the door with the Stick of Joseph in his hands! We're like, okay, that's a good sign! We walk in, sit down, and immediately, he looks me in the eye, and says "Why did you tell me about proxy work in the temple last time?" I did a double take. Did we talk about that? Then I remembered we had. It had felt totally strange, but the spirit told us to bring it up, so we shared with him how we perform ordinances (such as baptism) for the deceased in the temple. It made no sense to us at the time, but we're never ones to ignore the spirit because it doesn't make sense. Well, apparently, The day after our last conversation, Danny went to the doctors, and they kept him there to run some tests and make sure he didn't have cancer. He has a clean bill of health, but it got him thinking: "maybe this is God's way of telling me that I'm gonna die eventually and I need to be ready." Then he remembered what we had said about proxy work, and immediately became worried: "I can't make these guys do all that work for me in their temple!" So, he's committed to reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover, and has asked us to give the discussions. He is currently on an Alaskan cruise, but he has the Book of Mormon with him, and we're really excited for his return.
We have a Zone conference tomorrow (our first one with President Riggs), so that's another thing we're looking forward to. It'll be neat to see how he does stuff like that. How different/similar will he be to Albright?

One thing I find really funny is people... that sounds strange... allow me to explain. I mentioned we faced more screaming, swearing, etc. this week than ever before, and I honestly have the hardest time not laughing. I mean, why are people so afraid of us? We're two young men (19 and 24) riding around on bicycles. Pretty big threat, right? I really do find it funny that people are so afraid of us. If the two of us walked into any professional situation, people would say we're too young to have any effect on a business or anything like that. But out here on the streets, where we have been set apart to spread the word of the Lord, people are legitimately scared that we'll have an effect. Once I've finished laughing about that, though, I find myself very sad. They're scared of us because they know that the Lord does give us power. They're scared of us because people do receive our message. They're scared of us, when they themselves know nothing about us. They know people change when they talk to us, but they never want to know why or how they change. They're too scared of becoming closer to Christ to even let us get a word in edgewise. They recognize that power, and attribute it to Satan. We work for the devil, they say, and that's how we get our power. The Savior said "by their fruits ye shall know them." These people may have had other experiences, but I've never seen an active Latter Day Saint promoting Satanism, or trying to kill, cheat or abuse people. The only fruits I see are news stations saying the "two churches" that saved the starving country after the earthquake were the "Mormons and the LDS church." I see young boys setting aside perfectly good lives for two years to share the message we have; a message that centers on Jesus Christ and how we can become closer to him. I see hardworking citizens with a light in their eye providing community service and participating in their community, raising strong families and promoting age-old values. Judging by the Savior's "by their fruits ye shall know them," I would conclude we are not of the devil. Yet, I also reaffirm that we do carry power with us. So, if our power is not of the devil, than who is it from? Well, I know two guys in shirts and ties who would love to answer that question. ;)
I think I've discovered the theme of my mission (at least thus far): covenants. My farewell talk I was asked to give was on how serving a mission fulfills covenants we've made, and pretty much every sacrament meeting in the field has been about covenants, or ordinances, or temples. On top of that, I'm stumbling across it in my personal studies all the time! The Lord wants me to learn SOMETHING about covenants, so I'm paying attention and studying hard, so I can be where I need to be, when I need to be there, and ready to do what I need to do while I'm there.
One thing I wish I'd realized when I gave my talk: the Abrahamic Covenant!!! Why didn't I THINK of that? Under the Abrahamic covenant, the house of Israel, as the Lord's chosen people, are not chosen to be "better" than everyone else, but to be better FOR everyone else. The covenant God made with Abraham asks that the people of Israel (the Lord's chosen people) answer their call as they are chosen to spread the word of God. To the rest of the world! I centered my entire talk on covenants I've entered into recently, but I didn't think of the age-old covenant I am a part of. As a son of the house of Israel through the tribe and family of Ephriam, it is my covenant duty to preach the word of God to the rest of the world! So preach I will. :)
One final thought: I had my ipod on shuffle the other day and came across the song "just another ordinary miracle." It really got me thinking. Do we notice all the miracles around us? I encourage you to listen to that song and pay special attention for the "ordinary miracles" the Lord blesses us with every day. Then thank him for them. I can promise that as you do so, you will find yourself more cheerful, more in tune with the spirit, and more pleasant to be around (nobody likes a mr. Grumpy) ;)
God bless you all, and may the Lord watch over you now and always. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
P.S. - Please everybody, keep my family in your prayers. They lost our sweet Brodie this week, marking two sons lost in two months. They'll be in need of some testosterone tearing through the house at top speed, causing noise when it's totally unnecessary, and cuddling up to mommy while she watches her chick flicks by the fireplace.... Although, lets leave that last part to my dad, to avoid unnecessary creepiness...

Monday, July 9, 2012

WEEK 10 - A week of Change

So, just a heads up. I don't think the mission office saw fit to notify you, but just wanted you to know I'm doing good. Most people here in Virginia stop about 30 feet back at a red light, and when I saw a van approaching a red, and I had a green, I thought it was safe... Apparently not everyone stops that far back... haha. We spent most of Thursday in urgent care, but we're back out on our bikes and working hard again. My helmet is a little damaged from being run over, but it still fits okay and I shouldn’t need a new one. Thanks everyone for your prayers! They truly work miracles!!!
Don't you love how, if you take events from the week, and combine them just right, it sounds really scary? Let me fill you in on the truth here... 1) The mission office has nothing to notify you about 2) the van did come very far over the crosswalk as I was riding through, but I avoided getting hit by a few inches 3) Wednesday, Elder R took a curb too shallow, and sprained his shoulder, so that's what we were in urgent care for. He's fine now, and just rests it in a sling when we're in our apartment. Very minor. cool miracle though. His pants, forearm, belt and shirt were way scraped up, but his garments and anywhere his garments cover are fine! there are miracles everyday if you're watching, we didn't catch that until we tried to find the Gs he was wearing and couldn't distinguish them from his others 4) My helmet was left on top of a fleet car when unloading bikes and fell under the tire as they were backing up 5) Your prayers really are working miracles :)
now to hit your questions....
-L was from South Jordan
-R is from Fiji. He says from the capitol. I want to say that's Suva?
-I'm learning a LOT with DLs as trainers. It's been cool too to see the different things they do. Lgot me very familiar with the duties and clockwork of it, and R has had a tough district (two ETs and a few other "nights on the phone" [sick people, requests for blessings, companionship disagreements, etc.]) so I've gotten to see him resolve a lot of things, which is good because L never even encountered those.
-A FSO is a Foreign Service Officer. They work through the state department on an international level. They're treated as military officers, so are some of the safest people from the draft, and they get to work with people from all over, sometimes even getting stationed in embassies!!! It takes a lot of tests to become one though... Something like 2% of applicants make it...
-Of the bike problems, only one was me. I just readjusted my derailer, nothing big. Elder R has had some troubles though, flats, broken gears, bent tires. He keeps saying: "Man, these cheap american bikes can't do the Fijian guys!"

Some really exciting stuff has happened this week. Tuesday, we were at district meetings and some random dude walked in. Then I noticed he was wearing a nametag. Then I realized it was president Riggs!!! He came to our district meetings and fed us lunch and ate with us, so we all got to get to know him a bit. He's an AMAZING guy. I was wondering how they would EVER come close to Albright, but they got the right man for the job. They're different, but they're both EXACTLY what this mission needs at the time it needs it.
Tuesday night, we had our second discussion with N, and he kept just talking about baptism like it was already decided. We didn't even need to invite him. We just pulled out the calendar and said: "well, it sounds like you want to do this. When works for you?" He is so excited! We picked August 15th, and the rest of the lesson, he just kept saying: "I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't believe I'm actually DOING this!" It was hysterical. He read what we asked him to and said he felt the spirit really strongly and that he hadn't prayed about it because he knew it was true. So, we encouraged him to take Moroni's challenge anyway, emphasizing the importance of receiving such a direct answer to a specific question and testifying of the strength it would bring to his quickly growing testimony.
He came back for another lesson Friday, and says that his mom isn't too keen on him getting baptized, but not to cancel it. It's kind of a delicate situation now. I guess N's older brother dated a member who very obviously "just wanted to dunk him." His mom kind of has a bad taste in her mouth from that. She says she's okay with Nate getting baptized, but "doesn't want him making any life-changing decisions until his temporal lobe has completely developed."  Anyways, she tried to get him to sign a contract that he wouldn't get baptised until he was 22, and he wouldn't do it. It's hard, because he's technically 18, he doesn't NEED parental permission, but we don't want to do it when his mom isn't supporting him in his decision. We're praying lots and hoping things improve soon. We were prompted during our lesson to promise him that if he took Moroni's challenge, the spirit would guide him in what to say and do to soften his mother's heart. So, small stumbling block, but we're all very confident and have great faith that she will come around before the 15th of August.
The Riggs had two half-mission meet n' greets to meet all the missionaries and introduce them to their family. They have six kids, four of whom are with them here. Their Oldest Daughter, R is currently expecting their first grandchild, and their oldest son is off at Arizona state. Then here in Virginia they have with them Ra (18), K (15), A (12) and B (9). R is turning in his mission papers in a few months and will likely depart and return from here.
Their family is hysterical! Sister Riggs at one point started telling a story about when they were dating, and President Riggs jumped up to correct the account and was met with a stiff arm! Sister Riggs, never taking her eyes off the laughing missionaries just said: "Honey, sit down. I got this." and finished her story her way. haha. Then, President Riggs gets up to speak and Kstarts moving the podium up and down. "Sweetie." He says. "I have a scripture for you." He then thumbs his scriptures a bit and starts out: "We have learned by sad experience...." And that was all it took to send every Elder in the room rolling. He tried to speak over the laughter as he finished reading Doctrine and Covenants 121:39. Then as he was talking about his education, he was talking about how he was jumping majors back and forth for years, and as he's telling this, we just hear Sister Rigg's voice: "He has commitment issues." More laughter, this time coming more from the sisters than from the elders. They are very spiritual, too, and I already have LOTS of notes I took from their insights. I'm excited to be serving with them :D
Overall, it's been a good week. Just two quick thoughts for you.
First one. Is this weird or what? I mean, I'm on my mission!!! I've been waiting for this my whole life, and I'm already two months in!!! Where does it all go? It's weird. Every now and again I'll just be like: "Wait, I'm a missionary!" It's so weird. I see my nametag every day as I put it on, but sometimes, I SEE it. It's remarkable that I'm here. For so long, I've known it's been coming, and I'm out! I'll be talking about this time in my life for the rest of my life. For the rest of eternity even. And I'm living it all right now. Sometimes that really just hits me.
Secondly. Has anyone ever heard Jeffrey R. Holland or John Bytheway talk about the armor of God? They point something out that I just love. Look at the pieces of the armor of God. We have the Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of faith. Our loins are girt with truth, our feet our shod with the gospel of peace and, what is all of that? It's all defensive! I don't know about you, but I'm not just in this battle to not get killed. The Lord has not asked us to simply hold our position and fend off Satan and his temptors. In the words of Holland: "We are supposed to advance in this and win a battle that started in heaven long ago." we have been given a weapon with which we may advance. You'll notice Paul mentions one final piece of armor: The sword of the spirit. The spirit literally is your weapon. It is how we advance. The Lord has asked us to defeat the enemies of truth and to spread righteousness. He has asked us to fight for his cause, carrying forth the banner of liberty! How can we do this if we have not the spirit? The spirit is our sword. With everything else, we can only withstand, but with the spirit, we can attack, we can advance, we can win. Why do you think that Satan tries so hard to remove the spirit from our grasp? He is disarming us! When we engage in activities that drive away the spirit, Satan stands as a bouncer at the door saying: "I cannot let you in the presence of such darkness so armed." He will disarm us and make us face this battle as nothing more than a shell. So often, when we talk about the armor of God, we talk about "not going into battle naked." But are your chances any better if you enter the war unarmed?
I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and letters.

Monday, July 2, 2012

WEEK 9- Flood, sweat and Gears

Flood, Sweat and Gears. Kinda has a good ring, right?
First off, there's this place we go every P-Day called Carolina Brothers that has LEGIT North Carolina Pit BBQ, and they feed Elders for free!!! So, I've decided that's my "Ashburn thing." So, I'm getting a T-shirt!!! surprise... Anybody else want one? I'm getting Mom and dad one for their Birthdays so they can have matching "Here's where my son doesn't starve" shirts, but anybody is welcome to one
We were over at a members house the other day and I decided I totally want to be a FSO. Any objections? Because I think the idea is SWEET!!!
Of course, everybody out here thinks I should do something different. Somehow our wand fight made it to the ward in general and many of them think I should go into movies, while a piano store owner here thinks I should major in Piano Performance. And some people think I should just never go home and be a missionary my whole life. haha
Cool quote I found: "If I die, I will be with God. If I live, God will be with me." Such a cool point to make. We really have nothing to fear out here as long as we're doing what we should be. We'll be with God one way or the other by doing all we need to. So, maybe that van that almost hit me wasn't really that close? Who knows? haha. Anyways, just thought that was cool. Not that I'm planning on... Haha... Yeah, anyways...
As it sounds like you saw on the mission blog, we had a half mission conference to bid farewell to the albrights. It was very cool.After we all had a chance to say goodbye to the Albrights personally and when it was my turn, sister Albright said that she was sorry she didn't get to work with me longer, because she expected great things. Very humbling to hear form people that I respect so much, but associate with so little.
The departing missionary fireside was really cool. It's a fireside they hold where all the people leaving can talk for a bit. The Albrights spoke too since they were "departing missionaries." At one point, the missionaries organized a flash mob where we stood in clusters and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth." It was very neat.
Elder L got very quiet his last few days in the field. Up and down and overall just very distracted when we were at our apartment. His last night we were riding home and he asked to go see fireflies one more time, so we went back to the WNOD, which is just filled with them and sat there for a while talking. It's gotta be weird coming home. I mean, this is all we know right now and we LOVE it. I asked how much he wanted to go home on a scale of 1 to 10 and he said 4. I'm glad I don't have to worry about those sort of emotions for a while.
At the transfer meeting, I was put with Elder R. He's from Fiji and is an awesome guy. It's kinda funny going from 5 foot 6 165lbs L to 5 foot 11 250lbs R. It's a blast though. He played rugby, so he's in shape and is fast on a bike and strong in the spirit, so it's sweet. At the end of the transfer meeting, we had organized another flash mob thing without Pres knowing. When it was over, we all stood, called out "We love you President and Sister Albright," then sang "Called To Serve." Wow. I've sung that song how many times? and with how many missionaries in the MTC? But with just 150 of us there, that song meant more than it ever has to me. It was very neat.
Pres told us too, how mission presidents are called. He was at work one day and his secretary came in: "Mark, There's some guy named Bednar on the phone. He says you'll know who he is."... lol
We went with the Sisters from here the other day and drew huge chalk drawings on the WNOD, so if those show up on the blog, that was me :)
Fun story, apparently they tried to get a GA out here for a youth conference and Salt Lake denied their request with a note that said: "find someone from your area. You have amazing people there. D.C. is the church's training ground for worldwide leadership."
Poor Elder R, this is his first time as DL and he had two Emergency Transfers in the first two days. The first everyone kind of saw coming. The second was just some elder somewhere who decided he didn't want to be the DL on a bike in the summer, so complained. That's what it sounded like when R told me at least. Anyways, I'm starting to believe it. This new guy who is here now was supposed to be our ride to the library, but we can't get a hold of him. R says he's probably asleep. So we rode here on bikes. Very nice guy, just not the drive I'm used to seeing out here in D.C. South where EVERYONE just has a fire within them.
We taught two really good lessons this week. D, a guy missionaries have been working with for 20 years was one of them. We challenged him to read and pray about the book of mormon and the idea seemed totally foreign to him. Apparently the Elders, for the past 20 years, have been giving him little "bible thoughts," which are great, but.....
The second lesson was N, and THAT is the reason I'm on a mission. Moments like that when the spirit is just so strong. He says he's been considering baptism for a while, and likely will be, but he won't set a date yet. We meet with him again tomorrow. We're excited. S was a huge benefit to have there too. It was my first lesson actually having a member there to help us, and I wasn't sure how to "use" the member present, but then the spirit told me to invite her to bear testimony about Joseph Smith. She was caught off guard just as much as I was, but bore a very sweet testimony that brought the spirit very strongly. After she was done, I asked N if he felt the spirit, and he - usually very loud and enthusiastic - whispered with tears in his eyes: "yes, I do." Those are the moments that make it all worth it for missionaries. We ride all over and knock doors all day, but in the end, moments where people change for the better are why we're here. We invite them to come unto Christ and there is nothing like when they do. I've seen it multiple times with Less Actives we've met with, but this was my first time seeing it in an investigator, and wow. I can't wait to meet with him again tomorrow.
Hey, thanks for sending the ipod and other stuff with Justin. I don't think you even know this, but you included my FAVORITE picture of the Savior. And it's only been my favorite since the MTC. :) The ipod is great too. It feels like home now that I have Afterglow and Goodman Family :D
Last week at the zoo, we had some kids harassing us and they didn't know ANYTHING about what they were talking about. IT was almost sad. I came up with this great rebuttle , but the spirit told me not to use it (L says I should have haha [he had me write it in my journal too :P]). These kids would follow us around and say a few things, then leave. Then you'd see a security guard walk past, then they'd resume. People everywhere were watching us humbly "take it"  and they said they were very impressed by us and that the kids were timing their abuse specifically to avoid the security. Very interesting.
As we were leaving the zoo. a really cute thing happened. We hear this little voice behind us: "Hey!! I want to be a missionary someday!" We turned around and theres this little boy, probably 3 or 4, running towards us with ice cream dripping down his shirt and his mom trying to keep up with him. We stopped and talked to him for a bit and found out his name was W M and his dad served in Santa Rosa. He told us that when he was 12 we could start calling him "Elder Mr" and that he couldn't wait to serve. As we were leaving: "Wait! Um... you can call me Elder M now if you want..." He was adorable.
Now, the Flood, Sweat and Gears. The Flood from the storms, the Sweat from the heat, and the Gears because we've had to do 4 different bike repairs since I last wrote :P
IT's HOTTTTTT here in Virginia! One person we met with on Friday said the index was at 117! I don't know how true it is, but I believed it! IT's cooking! We were doing studies one morning and Elder R goes outside to feel the weather and comes back in saying: "Man, we're gonna need a snorkel out there today!"
Then Friday night, the storm hit! We saw lightning in the distance as we were riding home, but we were asleep for most of it. When we woke up in the morning, we started hearing all sorts of stuff about power outages all the way into Pennsylvania, Funnel Clouds over the Capitol Mall, and four fatalities in Springfield, just a few miles away! There are some missionaries without power, but they're all taken care of. We spent most of Saturday in service clothes on our bikes riding around looking for service to do. It was crazy. We said a prayer that we would be guided to those who needed to be served, said amen, and we started riding. We would turn here, or not turn there, and we would end up somewhere with a tree in the road! Then we'd leave from there, and we'd just know "keep going. Turn here, etc." And we'd wind up somewhere else! By the end of it, we were in areas I'd never been to, but I still knew exactly where to go. It was an incredible experience being guided by the spirit like that. After we were done serving, we were going to visit a potential in the area, when suddenly the promptings came again. "Turn left and get on the bike trail." We were in a suburb, there's no bike trail her- and there it was. So, we got on it, and I knew: "Follow this, then it will take you to a sidewalk. At the end of the sidewalk, there's another trail that will take you there." So we get to the sidewalk and start riding down it and it's a dead end! But no, I had to keep riding, and within about 15 feet of it I could see the trail, which took us straight to some guys who needed help. We truly are guided by the spirit here.
Saturday night and Sunday we had another little miracle. We met a Less Active Saturday night named L who wanted to come back to church and read scriptures again. So, we got her to commit to church and left that night, hoping to get her back to church, then passed off to the singles ward where she should be eventually. As we left, she shared that her biggest fear was not having any friends. So, we spent the evening calling people to meet her at church. Everyone was out of town or not going to be there or something. So, we put in another call on our knees, asking that a friend would be sent to church tomorrow that she could meet. The next day at church, we show up and there's a missionary homecoming, so half of the singles ward is there!!! Who holds a missionary homecoming on Fast Sunday?!?! But that was what was needed, and she's going to FHE tonight with a new group of friends and a testimony that is growing again.
This is the Lord's work. He asks that we thrust in our sickle, but does not promise overwhelming success with every swing. What he does promise though is that our burdens will be made light, that we will become stronger and that our testimonies will grow, so when we reach a fruitful portion of our service, we can reap with all our might. He guides this work, He supports this work, He does this work with us, and "I'll not rest, till I make of my hands what they can be. Till these hands become like those of Galilee."