Monday, August 8, 2011

I CAN SHOOT FIRE FROM MY FINGERTIPS

Something that is incredibly awkward here in the Kentucky culture has to do with potty words. I'm sorry if this offends you, but then you'll know how I feel all the time. The people don't mean to offend me, they just don't see a problem in telling me all about it. They especially like a word that sounds like "diorama".  I'm talking men, women, children, non-members, members, speakers over the pulpit in Sacrament Meeting. All of them feel no shame in saying that word and then going into detail about it. Why? Don't ask me. I have no idea. I feel my face flush every time they say it. But I'm serious when I say that I can't go more than three days without hearing about it. If you ask someone why they missed church: they had really bad diorama.  If you ask someone how they like a certain restaurant: it gave them really bad diorama.  If someone is returning your call: they couldn't answer the phone because they were in the bathroom with really bad diorama.  We were in a lesson with this lady who we really don't like to teach, but she wants us to teach her. She welcomed us in, offered us water and then said, "I'll be back in a little bit, I've had really bad diorama all week." The bathroom door was connected to the room we were sitting in. That was the one time Sister Ralph said it was ok to turn up the volume on this lady's tv and focus on the people in the show. There's a greenie in the area next to ours and she's from Vegas and we were talking about culture shock and stuff when she mentioned the diorama conversations she's run into already. As we were talking about how awkward it is, I got a call from one of our investigators. He proceeded to tell me about his farm and the animals he has for twenty minutes. The last ten minutes of that conversation was all about his horse's diorama. Please! I'm sure you're uncomfortable reading this, but I can't go another week without telling you about something I've had to deal with since I got here.

Speaking of awkward, last week we picked up a former investigator that the Bishop wanted us to go check on. Her name is Lucy. She started investigating the church about five years ago. The Elders then had brought a member named George to help teach her. Instead of her joining the church, this member moved in with her, later married her and became inactive. So, we went to visit Lucy and she told us all about how much she's grateful to the church because it brought her to George. Then she told us about how she and George like to hunt ghosts. Then she told us how George thinks that Paul in the New Testament is the Anti-Christ. Then she told us how much she loves being married to someone who is ordained. I'm pretty sure our eyes got big when she said that. She then got a happy, tender look in her eyes and told us how her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend were over at Lucy and George's trailer saying how they wanted to get married but didn't want to have to go to the courthouse. Then George remembered that he was "ordained" so he married the two of them right then and there in the trailer. Uuuuuuuuuuh....... How do you tell someone that her daughter technically isn't married? We left and immediately called the Bishop and told him about the "marriage" George performed. First thing Bishop said was, "Oh dear Looks like I need to make a visit out to George and inform him of a couple things, don't I?" Yes, Bishop. Yes, you do.

I know I've mentioned Logan before and his CRAZY dad, Randall. Well, this week we met Randall's older brother, Johnny. And he might have actually been worse than Randall. He got SO caught up in words and how things are said and saying that all preachers are liars. He said, "For example: I had a preacher tell me I need to quit smoking. That's a lie! I don't smoke. The cigarette smokes, I puff on the back of the cigarette." "Well, that's just the term we use for puffing on the back of a cigarette." "It's a lie." Then he told us that he doesn't have any kids. "I didn't have them. I'm not a woman. And I'm not their father or their dad. And their not mine. Don't call me their father." "Then what should I call you?" "Their DADDY." "Isn't that the same thing?" "No. God is their father, I'm their daddy. It's a lie to call me anything but daddy." How do you talk sense to people like that? Logan told us from now on he'll try to meet with us when he's home alone or meet somewhere else.

We set a baptism date with Kendra Lundy for September 24th. But she still hasn't quit smoking or come to church more than once so we might have to push it back.

We haven't been able to get ahold of Jackie Sturgill since the week after his baptism so we went to his work on Friday. He's told us all about Fish Friday and how people come from miles around to get the fish. I tried it, not expecting much because the last catfish I had tasted like I was eating fried mud. But this fish was THE BEST fish I've ever had. They import it from Viet Nam where they raise the catfish with a net that restricts them from feeding on the bottom of the lake. The meat was pure white and it was DELICIOUS. So were the hush puppies. Also, I had chicken and dumplings last night and they were to die for.  Anyways, Jackie works at a gas station diner and we went in and got some food and then sat down with him to try and get him to come back to church. He moved back in with his wife last month which is not a good thing. He told us that he liked his experience with the church and that he thinks it is true but that God is leading him in a different direction because he just can't live the standards of the church. He thinks that God wants him to help people instead of attend church. It's weird, he had to run and help with something for a minute and Sister Ralph looked at each other and said that we both felt like we should testify and invite him back, but that we shouldn't push anything. For some reason, the Spirit told us to let him be for now. Even though it makes us REALLY sad, I feel calm knowing that things will somehow work out for him. We'll still keep in contact with him, but mainly to let him know that we care about him.

Eventually he'll remember the truth and take some responsibility. I know that he'd be happier if he would come to church and keep the commandments, but I've seen a bunch of people out here come back to the church after going inactive. For some people it takes them longer and more cycles to have the gospel stick. He'll be back though. Hopefully sooner rather than later. On Sunday I was realizing that only 2/3 of my converts are active right now. (Breanna's mom hasn't come in a couple months which means she hasn't come either). 1/3 has already fallen away. It's heartbreaking. But, how heartbreaking was it for 1/3 of the Hosts of Heaven to leave God in the pre-existence. Could He have forced them to stay? Maybe. But He wouldn't. Our agency is so important to Him. How sad it is that Lucifer fell from such a high place. How much potential did he throw away? Could he have been a leader on earth for good? A prophet maybe? But he used his agency to fall, to leave his Father, to try and get others to leave as well. And how sad that he succeeded with a great deal of God's precious spirit children. All of the people here have already conquered Satan once. How sad if they fail the second time around. Something I believe very strongly is that no one is born wicked. We all have the potential to be good. We all have the ability to make it back to our Heavenly Father. Because of where I was born, my odds increased on me making it. But I look at some of the people we teach. They're good people. They've just grown up without a clear knowledge.

Consider two people: The first was born into a home of 11 children. He didn't have running water or electricity till he was in his teens. His father and brothers taught him how to bootleg and chew tobacco before he got into school. His mom died when he was 15. He was in jail by 17. He was a father by 19. He taught his kids how to do all of the illegal things his dad taught him. He lived with woman after woman. He knows every drug dealer and bootlegger and cock fighter around. He's fought more men than he can remember. He's got tattoos and bad health because of the things he did in his youth. He gets kicked out of every place he lives because of the bad company he keeps. His children won't talk to him anymore.   Consider the second person: he's a worthy priesthood holder. Someone who reads his scriptures and prays every day. He's someone who loves his wife and his children more than anything. He's someone who is meek, submissive, humble. He truly wants to follow the Lord. He hears something once and immediately does it. He works hard and doesn't complain. He is so friendly and helpful to others that there are flocks of people who come to sit with him and talk and get advice from him and see if they can help him at all. He's someone who knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. He knows that the Book of Mormon is true. He knows that the priesthood has been restored. He knows that he can be with his family forever. He's someone who has committed himself fully to serving the Lord. And he's not ashamed to tell you or invite you to learn about it. What is the main difference between these two men? The Gospel of Jesus Christ. How are these two men related? They're the same man, just three months apart from each other.  And that man is someone that I know and love very much. There aren't any bad people, really. They're just misled. They're alone. They're uneducated as to the things of the Lord.  We are here on this earth for three reasons. Drugs, money and power aren't any of them. Don't ever be ashamed to "inconvenience" someone by telling them the reason they're here. They are here to get a body, learn to make the correct choices and make covenants with their Heavenly Father so that they can enter into a life without worries and sickness and evil.

Sorry this is so scattered. I feel scattered this week. I want to share one more story with you. Steven Rodriguez and Keith Parker were introduced to the gospel by a girl named Maddie. She also introduced the church to a guy named Chuck. Chuck hasn't joined the church... yet. He comes every once in a while with Steven now that Maddie has moved. He has a Book of Mormon and is very intelligent. He's a black guy in his early twenties from " the hood" of Cincinnati. He just graduated and got a job teaching history and job skills and coaching football in a town called Pineville. He feels very strongly that the Lord wants him exactly where he is and doing exactly what he is doing. He told us that God tells him things in very deliberate ways. He finally agreed to the discussions and as we taught him the first lesson and got to the part where he needs to pray about the Book of Mormon, he was interrupted by a friend. When he came back to listen to us he opened up his Book of Mormon and found a $100 bill in the pages. He looked at us and was like, "Did you put that in there?" "NO." "What the?" "You weren't lying when you said God is deliberate with you." "No joke!" It was awesome. I think he'll be baptized within the next couple months.

Yesterday Willard passed the Sacrament again and Judy Jones bore her testimony. It was very powerful. She told about how long she had prayed to find the right church and how over years and years she was led to Kentucky and then led to the church and that she knows that it is true and that she loves the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was a prophet and it was SO POWERFUL. REALLY. I was so proud of those two yesterday. It's sad that Jackie wasn't there, but it's great what those two are doing and it's only been a month since they've joined the church. On Saturday Willard is going with us and the ward to the Louisville temple and he can't wait and I can't wait and it's just really awesome. I love being a missionary so much. The Spirit is the most wonderful thing. Zion is being built here on the American continent, just like Joseph Smith prophesied. It really is. And how lucky are we that we are a part of it!  Also, we taught Willard the Restoration again this week as a follow-up lesson and he was crying the whole time, especially during the first vision. Afterwards he said, "Whenever the Spirit is on me as strong as it was when you were talking about Joseph Smith, I feel like I can shoot fire from my fingertips." He's so awesome. He's already in the middle of 3rd Nephi again and he makes his friends listen to parts that he really liked that day and tells them all about the plan of salvation and he's just so awesome. He's SO awesome.

Ok. I'm sure that most of this was jumbled and confusing, but it's the best I could do to get it all down.

Word of the Week: Bar. Davey Crockett kilt him a bar when he was only 3. Willard likes to call himself a grizzly bar but he's really as docile as a possum. Some people out in Gray County seen them a bar on Judy's property.

Extra Blessings: Sister Gossett, Lauren & Christian, Paige & Nick (your postcard from a month ago finally got here)

Also, I got a haircut and asked for three inches off and she took about 5 off. Mom, do you think Meredith would be willing to fly out here in a month or so for my next haircut? I honestly can't trust anyone else with it.

The Church is TRUE! Share it!

Love Yuns,
Sis Nelson




1 comment:

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