Friday, October 31, 2014

The last time he set foot in a church, it burned down.

I have definitely come to admire President Johnson's inspiration at sending me to this area. I was at the point in my mission where the forward momentum of youth was tapering out and the pressure of an imminent homecoming hasn't yet set in. Going here has pushed me in many different ways and has forced me to continue to learn, develop, and not get complacent-something I have noticed happens to some missionaries in my point of the 2-year cycle. It says a lot, I guess, about his trust of me and also him knowing what I needed to keep me sharp, focused, and hardworking. And I am seeing it pay off. A lot of progression, a lot of strong friendships with the Branch members, and just a really good challenge. I have this feeling I’m not going to stay in Dover too long (shorter than my last two areas, I mean) so I really want to give everything and work really hard here.
Elder L told me on his last exchange with Elder D, a past Zone Leader, that he was challenged, “ Be the member missionary you wish you had on your mission." It made me think a lot of how I'd want to be as a member again.  Take a look at Elder Bednar's last talk in GC, he said something about the most sure sign of a member's conversion to the gospel was that they would have a desire to share it. Interesting thought.
Our families are doing way good. Z and A passed their baptismal interview! Big milestone! They are way excited, not using tobacco; A  is attending the Addiction Recovery Program, which is a big help, and Z has started a savings account with the money he isn’t spending on chew. The first time he's ever had savings in his life!
C is way good! She came to church, felt the Spirit there. She still just has so much confusion about churches because she has heard so many things, but she knows that she feels the Spirit when we speak. She accepted the W of W the other day, no problem. She'd already done and quit everything on it, except for iced tea. So that is what she has to do! What was interesting was her brother R came to church too, and he was deathly afraid to. The last time he set foot in a church, it burned down. So he had a bad taste about it... but he came!
 Love, Elder Wright
PS Fall leaves are pretty awesome

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

I don't know how you can turn down well-dressed free labor, but they did it.

Well, here are some missionary adventures for you:
New area:
Tough. Things are picking up but not at the rate I'd like. It's hard because it feels like all the skills and tools I've learned this far on my mission are not as needed here, I am having to learn new ways to find and rescue and everything. It's a bit discouraging. What is really making it good is that we are getting along really well with the members. And the branch leadership is really missionary oriented. Last week was our first ward council because of the conferences and stuff and so being able to report we had contacted every person on the list they'd made, and being able to report a lot of progress, was all really good. We made a strong first impression and showed them what we could do.
New comp:
The Chili pepper thing- well, I definitely didn't encourage him... but I didn't stop him. Elder B will do just about anything for a dare. This pepper was a bit too much for him... Our assistant ward mission leader, a recent-ish convert named Z, is trying to go into the hot sauce business. He got ghost pepper seeds this year (at a dollar a seed!) at he ran out and gave us the pepper after a lesson we had at his house. He left us with a strong warning to not swallow- it's a good thing he didn’t or he would have been in unending agony. As it was he barely survived. The guy who gave it to us told us when he makes hot sauce he has to wear a respirator and take breaks every 15 minutes or he could seriously injure himself. I don't know about you but that sounds too hot. Just too hot.
Weekly Service opportunities:
Here is an excerpt from my letter to president. “Well, we tried really hard to set up a weekly service opportunity. We were told by basically everyone that they just didn't need any help. I don't know how you can turn down well-dressed free labor, but they did it. We bounced around from the library to the food bank to the clothes tree to the rescue mission, and were politely turned away (and in one case, kicked off the premises.) But it's okay. We're going to keep trying. “
The work:
There's this LA guy named Brother C. He's built like a small tank and has a voice like rolling thunder and a personality to match. He knows the church is true but is a girl’s softball coach and their practices are always Sundays. Ergo, he's been inactive for a long time. The first time we came by, he was really in our faces. Very confrontational, I believe Elder B almost peed his pants. We basically finished off by powerfully testifying, confounding him, and then leaving. So we decided to come by again. This time, we focused more on helping him. We got to know him, broke down his gruff exterior, and really talked with him. He expressed his testimony and his vision of getting to the temple. He really wants it- but at the same time, he doesn't want to give up Sunday practice. He has a vision, but no goals or plans, so it is essentially worthless. I straight up told him so. Next time we meet, he agreed to create goals and plans to achieve his vision of the temple. Hopefully we'll see a sign of progress soon!
We also had a cool experience going through our member records; we stopped at a trailer park to find some person, and instead got a new investigator! The member hadn't lived there in years, but this lady was really nice. Her name was C; she had only recently started to get back into religion at all. We taught the restoration and she told us "All the things in this church just make sense." So that was cool. What was not cool was her crazy dog, an Australian sheepdog that leapt around a bunch and head-butted me twice, nearly biting off my nose. It wasn't fun. But so is life.
 Here's the story of C. So she has had a really rough past, she has been bounced from foster home to foster home, believes that God must not like her if He does exist. Wouldn't even pray when we first met. As we have taught her, her heart has softened a ton! She has been reading the Book of Mormon, and she told us that she feels "tingles" whenever we talk, telling her that this is right, and she needs to give prayer another try. She's been praying. She doesn't feel like she's gotten much of an answer yet but she wants to keep trying. I thought it was pretty cool.
Elder Wright

Monday, October 13, 2014

Long time coming. Big time payoff.

Well, this week was full of exciting turns! First we got to watch Meet the Mormons, which was great! A very cool missionary tool that should help to break down tons of barriers about the church. Ignorance and prejudice abound regarding the Mormons as a whole, our investigator C was fed a whole bunch of lies recently and was quite confused. She was told we could say the “F word" but were not allowed to drink caffeine… oh well.  I liked it a lot. My favorite was the Candy Bomber! His story about living a good, service filled life really struck me.  Who was your favorite? I think it's funny that the ties are what you noticed... I noticed the very last image before the credits is a Mormon missionary-that is subliminal and intentional. I actually did recognize Darius Grey in the movie,  I did not realize his voice was just like James Earl Jones’. Seriously. 

This is what our mission president sent us about the movie: 
Box Office Surprise: It was wonderful to see each of you last week at our screening of Meet the Mormons. I hope you enjoyed our pre-opening screening of this moving film. The box office results for this past weekend showed Meet the Mormons had the eleventh highest ($2.7 million) ticket sales of any movie in the country.  This ranking came despite the fact it was playing in only 317 theaters (the top ten movies were playing in an average of almost 2,800 theaters).  On a per theater sales basis, Meet the Mormons had the second highest ($8,500) of any movie!  Hopefully, in the coming weeks many more will see it and be touched by its’ message.

The cool thing was this weekend we had  President’s interviews as well as Stake Conference. All of this took place in Littitz, about 30 miles away, and so it would make little to no sense for us to drive down for interviews, back, then down for Saturday night session, then back, then down for Sunday morning. So we blitzed Lancaster that day! And can you believe it? M was getting baptized! I will not relate the story of why this took so long to happen, but basically it involved conflicting schedules and being out of town and lots of things and should have happened a month ago, easy. So that was great. She was really surprised and shouted "Hermanito!" when she saw me, meaning "Little brother!" which is what she always called me in lessons. I got to give a talk on baptism, which was very nice. Then I had my interview with President J, then back for... another baptism! This was A. He’s 9, and he is so awesome! So this was such a great thing. 

Then we got to spend the rest of the day in Lancaster before heading to Stake Conference. It was honestly a big miracle. I didn't realize that I would be able to be present for either one of these events. Long time coming. Big time payoff. The church is true.
Love Elder Wright

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dover, PA

                                                 Posterity Picture
                                               No longer a "walk" elder.
                                         "Straight-up swanky"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

So now our apartment looks straight-up swanky.

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes! I definitely felt remembered-I have received the shoes, the comic book, and the box-as of yet unopened. Plus an assortment of cards and gifts from friends and family. I will send thank you cards-do not worry!
That is very sad that C passed away. She was a nice old lady and I know that she had a hard life. She will be missed by me, and many others I am sure. The consolation is that in the Spirit world, those handicaps will be done away. And she will be resurrected in a perfected body free of physical or mental obstructions and she can have a fuller and richer peace and joy. That’s a helpful perspective to have in times like these.
General Conference was very interesting. I enjoyed it so much. A couple of themes I picked up, one of them was sustaining the prophet. Another was that the members of the Church need a personal conversion-relying on the functions and organizations of the Church is not enough or even the way it should be. Christian charity and love needs to be evidenced in everyday action. I felt that Saturday was almost a little rebuking-a cry to repentance for a lot of members who allow little things to lead them astray. I really liked Elder Christofferson's talk on the role of agency-that will become a classic- and also the 70's talk about the 6 things we can do. The one that stood out most to me was President Uchtdorf's talk in priesthood-"Lord, is it I?" ( watch it for yourself because it's LEGIT). It was a great experience.
On a somewhat funny note, we watched Sunday Afternoon with some old folks in the branch-kind of “dooms-dayers"-who seriously thought that the Independence MO move would be announced, and that we would settle in camps like the olden day pioneers. Wasn't quite sure to make of that.
 The week this week was a good one. Weird, but good. We just had reminders that God puts in the right place at the right time. We asked Branch President H. and his family for some referrals, and they gave us several. We immediately went to contact them, and while most were not interested, we stopped by a neighbor named S. She was interested and invited us back. When we taught her this week, she told us that she had been having a crisis that other evening and had sunk to her knees, overwhelmed, pleading for help. Less than two hours, we came by- and she did not see that as coincidence. We didn't either. Our stake has been praying and fasting for those who have been prepared to be found-or for them to find us. And this was a good example of that happening. Very cool thing.
A and Z were able to watch conference this weekend too! That was great! They enjoyed it and have a lot of great questions. After the Saturday morning session Z said that learning about choices had made him realize tobacco was such a bad and stupid choice for him. SO now he has a lot more desire to quit, which he didn't have as much before.
SO that's a couple of cool things. Pictures of stuff to follow.
The birthday boy

P.S. Here's a cool story (that you may not believe.) So when we got to the apartment in Dover, it was a (lightly stated) pigsty. Empty soda bottles everywhere, food left out, dishes in the sink, and it just smelled bad. So we embarked in an epic cleaning project, and the Lord blessed us for it! Namely, we got donated two sofas and two bookshelves, which is exactly what we needed! So now our apartment looks straight-up swanky. Just a thing for you to remember-I thought it was a stupid myth that you couldn't feel the spirit as well in a dirty room, until here. Now I know it's actually true!
Elder Wright