Monday, July 7, 2014

10 - Fireworks in the Area

Why are there no knock knock jokes about America? ..........
Red, White and Blue Missionaries of the Bismarck Ward
Because freedom rings!

:)    Happy Fourth of July!

Fireworks at the Bismarck Capital Building
How was everyone's Fourth of July!? Well, ours was pretty great. It was pretty hot and muggy, over 100 degrees at one point, but that's ok! Anyway, our mission President even gave us permission to stay out and watch the fireworks past our 10:30 bed time! We got to bed an hour later, at 11:30. We came home and it was dark; we felt rebellious, Sister Easter moreso than me, seeing as she's more used to the strict clockwork schedule than I am.

We watched the fireworks at the capitol, the tallest building in North Dakota everyone, woo! The fireworks themselves were not super astounding, the ones in Mandan, just the next place over, are the crazy ones. But! We had a symphony orchestra playing along with ours! I've never had that before, and they played Stars and Stripes Twice! Such a genius song! John Philips Sousa is a genius. I mean, the trombones standing up at the end? What can be more glorious?

The Tyler Family
We spent the evening with a family in the ward. What an awesome family. I love them! Brother Tyler is in the Bishopric, and Sister Tyler is the Relief Society President, AND both of them served Spanish speaking missions and we came in contact with a new investigator who only speaks Spanish, so they came with us and translated! What a blessing! And it was really fun for them to go out teaching together and to practice their Spanish. They've never gone out teaching together before, and they really enjoyed it.

Which brings me to my next point. We actually have appointments set up for this week! We've been working on finding people to teach and it's finally starting turn into teaching lessons rather than just knocking and knocking and knocking. I have a lot of little stories, but those will probably be stories that I'll just tell at home. Plus, I think I promised you a story last week. I wouldn't want that promise to go empty. 

So here's the story of my first found investigator.

"My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes," (D&C 121:7-8)

It was the last Wednesday of the last day of April when I knocked on my first door.

An Actual Angled Door--Not an Illusion.
With a fist which now belonged to an official and set apart representative of the Savior Jesus Christ, I knocked on the door. And it opened, and scarcely after we had opened our mouths to speak our names, the man invited us in. His apartment reeked of smoke. His teeth were yellow, though not to the point of being missing quite yet. He had large glasses and thin hair gone completely gray. He sat down, his potbelly predominant on his figure which had the potential to be fit, and he smiled. And he wouldn't stop talking.

This man was lonely, it was clear, and he needed someone to listen to him. It was also clear that he likely had some mental issues. He was just strange. But aren't we too a peculiar people? He talked of strange and wonderful miracles that had happened to him, God given abilities that he possessed which he thanked the Lord for, and he knew we were good people.

It was difficult trying to teach him, and when I was still so unfamiliar with the structure of the lesson. When I would think of something to say which tied in with the one-sided conversation, he would veer and we would be left trying to think of a way to steer us back on course. And he would fill every blank part of the conversation with 'and stuff.' He would say things and we would laugh and he said, "See? I put a smile on your face. That's what I try to do, every day. I put a smile on somebody's face and stuff because that makes me happy."

Smiles. I believe it's a fitting name.

I was VERY proud of myself. I covered all the points of the restoration. I am more comfortable interrupting people out of necessity than Sister Easter is, so I was the only one who really got a word in. We were there for two hours, double the time we should be in a lesson. We left, smelling like smoke, and discussing what a strange character he was. We set up a return appointment for next week. Wednesdays were the day.

But before the appointment Wednesday, we found that during the Saturday of stake conference there would be a broadcast, so we invited him. He borrowed his son's nice clothes and his son dropped him off at the church. He loved hearing about all that he needed to do to be a missionary like us. I don't think he understands completely how missionaries well, how they're called and that you do have to pay for the mission upfront 'before' everything is covered for you, but we would get to explaining that later I suppose.

During the appointment on Wednesday, we committed him to read the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. We also committed him to church, offering a ride, but he wouldn't except it, saying he doesn't want to be a charity case and that he doesn't have good Sunday clothes to enter the house of the Lord and he can't always be borrowing his son's. The following Wednesday, we knocked on the door and he opened it, soup-like dinner in hand, and looked at us, mortified at the sight of the two young ladies who had committed him to read something which he had not yet read and who he forgot were coming. He apologized thoroughly and put his dinner down for the lesson. We explained to him upfront that we would be doing most of the talking, but even still, it was pretty difficult to keep the lesson on track. We gathered that he is afraid of going to hell, but the lesson wasn't able to be finished because it went over and we were already late for another appointment... and we were just about to explain about what really happens during life after death. sigh.

Then... a voicemail...

I had just come out of the bathroom at the library and Sister Easter looked at me solemnly. ...Tim had gotten into anti. He had "heard that we weren't a good Christian religion and he would like to discontinue our services." Our hearts were weighted... we didn't know what to do. What do you do with a call like this? ...

After some thought and prayer, we resolved that we would stop by this week at the same time and we would testify that the only way he was going to know of the truth of the Book of Mormon was to read it himself. It would be a powerful teaching moment, if he would answer that is.

Wednesday. We knocked... He answered and we testified boldly, and he opened up to us. He opened up that he doesn't feel like a man. That he's out of work because of medical problems which are resolved now but because of past issues people won't higher him. He told us his son was living with him and paying the rent. He told us his been told he's worthless from the day that he was born, that his bother would beat him. He told us of his wife's story and of her passing, how she was extremely bipolar and how she would hurt herself severely as well as him and how he loved her anyway, and how his son, the son living with him, told Smiles he should get rid of her, his own mother. He told us about how he walked in the house four years ago, his wife laying face down on the couch, an empty bottle of sleeping pills on the table. And he told us his son blames him for it. In this moment of him being overcome with grief, us being overcome and his trails in life which continue to press on him, we closed with a prayer as is routine, blessing him with the ability to realize that he is strong and he is winning the battle against Satan, praying that the Lord will bless him inasmuch as he is diligent and faithful. He told us he wanted to meet every other week now, that he needed to focus on finding a job before September when his son would be moving out, to find a job "so that he could be a real man again."

We prayed for him, are still praying for him...

Smiles story isn't done yet, and it does get better, but I don't want to spoil anything. I apologize, I didn't get as much written as I wanted and it left on quite a depressing note. His story is not done in letter or in real life, but don't worry, he's not in such a slump anymore! I'll tell you more next week!

Until then, cheer up seeing a picture of me by my favorite tree!

Me and My Favorite Tree!

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