Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Delights

Thanksgiving dinner with the Davis family

A grand week yet again in Castle Rock.  The Castle Rock ward delivered big time to delight the missionaries serving here.  We started off the day by rendering some service to Sister King.  In hopes that we would work some of the grub off that would soon be consuming.  After an hour of wood hacking we left Sister King to travel and see Sister Bradley who had prepared some Thanksgiving Wild Cherry Pepsi for us.  Sister Bradley accidentally made ham a day early and got upset about forgetting which day Thanksgiving was... Therefore, she cancelled her Thanksgiving day plans.  Luckily we were there to succor her distress from the cooking of ham a day too early. The visit to Sister Bradley concluded and we were off to prepare dinner at the Davis home.  Tamales galore!  The Davis family took their Thanksgiving holiday and invited us over to grub out and play card games... for this I could not be any more grateful.  Wanderers in a strange land and we are provided for each day.  Cared for on special holidays.  One of the best days of my mission thus far.  The week was filled with good service.  Service and member visits seem to be more fruitful than tracting.  Once it gets dark around 5 the native WARSHINGTONIANS assume it is very late in the evening.  Tracting past 6:30 is like tracting when the Seahawks are playing.  You just don't do it.  Brother Hillesland’s wife again fed us after doing service.  Her Vietnamese noodles seem to always hit the spot.  Wish I knew what she was saying when she talks though...  My kind legal guardians sent us a Christmas tree to spice up the shindig we live in.  The aroma of vanilla fills the room and the light of a Christmas tree lights it up. We have been sipping much cocoa and nog by the heaters.  A little too much.  The nog may be making us slightly intoxicated.  A quick little miracle I would like to share.  We tracted Camleot Drive the other day and found 3 or 4 potential investigators.  Just those nice people that tell you to come back in a week because they don't want to talk to you on the doorstep in the cold.  We take them up on it though and we went back to Camelot Kingdom a week later.  We caught Brandy outside.  We talked for about 25 minutes in the cold weather about the restoration and the purpose of life.  Brandy was willing to offer the closing prayer out in the cold and told Heavenly Father that she really needed to hear the message we shared today as tears fell down her face!  A really great experience all due to looking at a list of former investigators, praying and showing up at Camelot Drive to tract it out.  Miracles never cease!  Just look, pray and ask for them.  Good week as usual.  Setting up for the festival of nativities down here which occurs every year in Longview.  Huge event for the community and we have the GREAT opportunity of setting up and heaving many large pieces of scenery to increase the size of our muscles.  CHRISTMAS MUSIC IS ON THE MIC!  Scotty Mcreery Christmas album is real good.  I would recommend purchasing it.  Included at the bottom is a posterity picture.  My grandpa (who trained my trainer) my son (who I trained) and my grandson (who my son trained). 
Posterity Pic!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Vietnamese Noodles and Ward Choir

Another week has yet gone by in the Castle Rock area and I most likely could not love serving a mission any more than I do now.  But I say that every day.  A few miracles happened this week with a few rough patches as well.  The rain and 40 degree weather put a damper on door knocking this week.  We were feeling bold again and tired of sitting in the car all so we went out to knock a few doors and looked like we jumped in the Colombia river in about 30 seconds.  You would think the good people of Washington would react much kinder / sympathetic in the pouring rain.... But these folks don't seem to care in the slightest.  All the missionaries say the more you tract in the rain the better your life will turn out to be.   I'm hoping to score a Lord of the Rings pinball machine at this rate.  Got to do some serious service this week moving lumber and moving furniture.  Someone in the ward moved and one of our investigators had us over to move some lumber.  After the heavy heaving his wife Yun fed us some very authentic Vietnamese noodles to quote "chow" on.  Noodles with thanksgiving turkey in the middle is actually delicious.  I just wish I could understand at least one word she was saying to me!  Just yesterday we participated in the ward choir and were called upon to give short talks because the original speaker cancelled.  Following the ward choir performance which was greatly enhanced due to our attendance we bore testimony.  My companion hasn't been this happy in the 4 weeks I have been with him.  I am certain it was because he was finally the center of attention.  The Castle Rock ward is amazing. We had 3 investigators show up to church whom we weren't expecting.  While we sat up behind the pulpit due to choir... We almost started fist pumping and yelling when one of our investigating families walked in.  We haven't heard from them in two weeks.  The in-laws moved in and said they aren't comfortable having us over.  THIS DIDN'T SEEM TO STOP THEM.  They said we will just go out to eat now :)  After church we weren't sure what to do... Therefore, we prayed.  WE felt the need to go check on a single sister in the ward.  We pulled in and gandered upon a no trespassing sign with details of a few of the amendments... I definitely did not want to enter the premesis but luckily Elder Furlow was courageous.  He said we better just go in.  Well, this lovely sister had recently remarried and her husband is not a member of the church.  He happened to be studying Genesis in the bible and had many questions.  Elder Furlow studied Genesis this very week.  God doesn't do random.  I am very happy to say on Thanksgiving we will be scarfing with one of the best families in the Castle Rock ward.  The Davis family converses with us about larping and playing the harp.  We will be dining on Tamales and pumpkin pie. Always a great week.   Always miracles.  Took a few pics of the endeavors this week.  Camelot definitely wasn't a
castle.  It was the exact opposite.
Elder King and Elder Furlow

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bold as BBQ Sauce

The Longview Zone

A great week it has been.  Rainy, cold and festive.  My consumption of Egg Nog is increasing every day.  Castle Rock is one of my favorite places in the world (well, it has to be right now).  Here’s a few stories I would like to share about the week.  I went on exchanges with Elder Clarke the zone leader about mid-week.  It was interesting.  We received a call during companion study from a man saying "I'm dying you need to come give me a blessing".  Then hanging up... We called back and finally got his name to go visit or get someone to go visit.  15 minutes later, we hadn't found anyone to visit him.  We knelt to pray and felt the need to go ourselves to this man (he lived in another set of missionaries area who we could NOT seem to contact).  As we arrived, he forced us to drink soda (which was easy for me), had me feel his "wet back" , showed us his arrowhead collection in the basement next to the historical museum in his basement, had us call his sister to tell her he was okay, pray with him 3 times while holding hands and gave him a blessing which he instructed us to keep giving the blessing and not stop when we were going to.  WHAT a morning!   But this man was awesome and surely needed someone to be there for him.  Really cool to be there in his need!  After we let the thankful heart he expressed was priceless.  Elder Furlow & I decided to tract earlier in the week because, due to the rain, we haven't been out as much... So when a ray of shine came out we hit the streets.  Feeling bold as barbecue sauce we hopped a LOCKED fence to knock some apartment doors, when suddenly an old man (most likely the apartment manager) flew out the door and cussed me out like I killed his first born in the wilderness. I definitely deserved that... Don't do that on your mission.  Even if you're feeling bold & stuff.  We decided to join the ward choir this week and the sound of the choir has gone substantially downhill since that day.  Although I sing a good “Misty Mountains” rendition, I do not sing the hymns as well. The choir director is feeding us on Thanksgiving so we thought it would be appropriate to join. The Castle Rock Ward sings hymns kind of like that moment in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when the teacher is calling the roll and no one answers.  But it's awesome.  Just this morning our stake president in the Longview stake decided to feed us some grub and do a get to know you activity.  After such a feast we decided to take a zone pic and Elder Winn jabbed my love handles at the very moment the pic was taken.  More egg nog = more love handles ( which is a sacrifice I’m willing to make).  The work is good. The church is true.    Miracles happen every single week.  No matter how hard one day is, there is always something good to come after. No such thing as a dead area.  Miracles happen when we exert faith.  Moral of
the story is drink Nog.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Freezer Antics and Craft Night

This past week was awesome.  The 3 elders that I live with make it even better.  All week we have been putting one another's stuff in the freezer every second we get.  When I came home from tracting the other day my shoes, hats, pens, pencils and lamp were all in the freezer. Even the pumpkin I put Darth Vader arms and a head into ended up in the freezer.  Along with that my parents sent me a rodent-like stuffed animal for Halloween that is very life-like and somewhat scary.  It ends up in random places throughout the apartment.  Elder Brown hopped in the shower and reached for his shampoo... only to find a rodent-type creature instead.  Elder Lloyd just arrived in WA this transfer and is waiting for his visa to Sweden.  We went on exchanges this week.  The frigid air moved in that very morning.  We knocked doors with no success for most of the morn.  BUT we knew something good must be coming.  After a seemingly incredibly awkward dinner we gathered ourselves with a medium chocolate cone from C&L Burger and our spirits were ignited.  After a prayer asking for inspiration we felt prompted to tract Front Rd in downtown Castle Rock.  The first three doors smelled like weed.  One home even expressed to us how the weed they had just smoked was approved in the bible.  BUT we knew we were there for a reason. We continued on and Rhonda opened the door and invited us in without hesitation.  Rhonda is studying to get her masters in psychology. She is only in Castle Rock periodically because her home is in eastern Washington.   She accepted the Plan of Salvation, a Book of Mormon and a return appointment.  No weed smoked in her apartment.  Elder Furlow and I attended the Relief Society craft night to mooch food for the evening. Our favorite investigator family attended the craft evening too.  The Castle Rock ward is amazing.  All these great saints treat us like gold.  I sent a picture of Elder Furlow & I.  I swear we didn't make any crafts!  A few weeks ago we knocked on Gayle's door late in the evening.  Gayle recently moved here from Alaska but wanted us to come back and sit down for a study session.  We showed up just yesterday evening to hopefully convert her with some good gospel teaching.  She answered the door with a confused face and began to tell us she thought it was 8 AM!  She did her best to wake up.  We sat down and taught the restoration.  Gayle wants to be baptized now!  No weed in this home either.  The bishop in the Castle Rock ward served in the Air Force.  This means  we converse about WWII over dinner often.  The Ward Mission Leader read Lord of the Rings 6 times before I arrived.  This sparked another great dinner conversation.  It was yesterday eating dinner with the Ward Mission leader and the Bishop I felt most definitely I was called to the Washington Vancouver mission for a specific reason. I hope and pray when I get home someone will have a list of the good WWII movies that  I need to see.  Always a good time in Castle Rock!  On a random note,  many local gas stations look like haunted houses.  Elder Furlow goes to the bathroom more than any companion I have ever had.  We are getting to know these haunted-house gas stations very well.
Elders King and Furlow at R.S. Craft Night!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Halloween

Castle Rock Ward Halloween party

I hope you all had a great Halloween weekend and watched a plethora of scary movies.  ( The pg-13 ones ).  The Halloween night in Longview WA really wasn't the craziest of things, but we did eat vast amounts of candy and stabbed pumpkins instead of carving them.  Each of our parents sent us bags of candy for this great holiday.  We put all of our candy outside in a bowl for trick-or-treaters to take... within 15 minutes those buggers had taken most of the whole bowl.  AND WE KNOW FOR SURE THERE WERE ONLY ABOUT 10 PEOPLE THAT CAME BY!  For Halloween we were supposed to come in at 6 and weekly plan for the remainder of the day which was difficult..  but we did so.  Then, created a "rave" video with glow sticks that Elder Browns mother sent himJ  This new transfer has been interesting.  Castle Rock typically shares elders with another ward for a reason.  We have been doing all we can to get things going again.  The night before transfers Elder Brown and I sat in Red Lobster with the Steele family chowing on cheddar bay biscuits and lobster scampi when our Mission President called.  Elder Brown said "Oh no! It’s President, you answer"  I said, "No, you should answer,  I have a feeling it’s for you" ( which I really didn’t, I was just enjoying my food thoroughly ).  It turns out it was for him and President made an emergency transfer change tonight and wants Elder Brown to be a new trainer.  He has only been out 6 weeks!!  I bought him some diapers for his soiled pants shortly after.
Elder Furlow is my new companion and he is awesome.  He is straight from the swamp-lands of Louisiana.  He brought many spices from his homeland to spice up our mac and cheese.  Along with spices he brought stinky cologne, stinky farts and many laughs.  We spent our MTC experience together.   Most of his mission has been spent in Portland, very different from Castle Rock.  The spaced out homes and forestland climate is different for him. Yesterday we had a grand experience.   It was stake conference this weekend and we neglected to fuel up our car before Sunday due to the hustle and bustle of Halloween and stake conference.  Castle Rock is 20 minutes away from where we live and we had no dinner appointment for Sunday.  No gas, 20 minutes from home , and my stomach was upset from Halloween candy and Fuji Teriyaki Chicken the night before.  The situation really was bad.  We just tracted on our long walk home for most of the evening and came home for some Mac & cheese to end our Sunday night.  But for a moment, we decided we were stranded in Castle Rock with no gas and irritable bowels and it made for a good story. This week we were teaching Sister Bradley about Jesus Christ and the atonement.  We showed a video of his death and resurrection when she said "I think I need to come back to church and worry more about what God thinks instead of what others think."  A
couple cool things to learn from that... 1) The Savior really is the only one that can cure all wounds, heal all scars, and in turn strengthen us.  2) The Holy Ghost does the real teaching.  We simply taught what we felt was right.  Sister Bradley was taught by the Holy Ghost what she needed to do.