Monday, October 12, 2009

Shotguns in the "Hollar"

Well, things are moving along fairly smooth here in the land of Hazard. We still have a ton of referrals to contact, and some are so far out there that we can't do it without members. Ideally, we shouldn't be trying to do the work without members anyway, but it's difficult when the closest ones are a good 20 minutes away. I know that as we have faith and make a real effort, the work will accelerate as never before. Truly, we are the only ones that keep the gospel from sweeping quicker over the earth. The Lord is in charge, but if we aren't doing our best, we will miss out on some choice blessings.

Our branch president, President Phillips, is a very knowledgeable guy and understands what missionary work is about. He served a mission and thankfully is endeavoring to keep that same spirit today. He comes with us every Tuesday night and always takes us to dinner as well. I'm not gonna complain about that one! I was also introduced yesterday to a new fast Sunday tradition: Potlucks! They have one every fast Sunday, and there is usually a great deal of food to be eaten. Not as much food or people as usual yesterday, but plenty to eat for those of us who were fortunate to be there! On another positive note, the branch ordered a ton of copies of Preach My Gospel to give to members who don't have them! As you may be aware, I have been striving to help members study and apply the teachings in this book, for it promises that unity will come between members and the missionaries. Also, I have to respect members' time because they have lives to live too, so pushing them to do missionary work doesn't help at all. Only by loving, serving, and teaching them can success come.

Currently, we don't have any investigators who are progressing, but there are several that are extremely close. The only thing stopping them is Church attendance, and as I said earlier, some are so far out there that it has been a challenge trying to see our investigators regularly. We basically pick an area or two each day to contact and follow up with these referrals, and we've actually had a pretty good deal of success in teaching them and getting a return appointment. The people out here are very gracious and will usually invite us in....once they figure out who we are. I say that because apparently this is the time of the year in this part of Kentucky for "certain people" to harvest their drugs that they grow back in the "hollars." That's a slang term for a narrow, windy road, and they are EVERYWHERE! Anyway, some of the people have been surprised that we found their address and a few have asked if we were from the government, the reason being that, well, they obviously were growing illegal drugs or something along that line. One guy said he was about to get his shotgun until we told him who we were and why we were there. Yep, that's Kentucky!! All those circumstances aside, the people are pretty open-minded and interested in hearing what we have to say. They may not all understand it or even believe it, but the thing I've understood more on my mission is that the Spirit knows no boundaries....anyone and everyone can be influenced by that power. If we create an environment where the Spirit can be present, boy do the lessons go a whole lot better!

Let's see, the weather here is slightly more consistent than Ohio, but not by much. It rains a whole lot more, and floods are apparently frequent in this part of the state. The weather is still decent, but it's slowly starting to turn colder....which I'm not looking forward to. I'm doing fine with warm clothing and garments also, I even inherited a scarf from Elder Janiec when he went home! The leaves are starting to change color, and it's more evident in some places than in others. I'll have to take pictures so you can see it. It appears that fall is trying to skip past Utah from what you were saying. I miss those drives up the canyon during this time of year, it was always very nice. Then again, pretty much this whole area is nothing but canyons, so I guess it's all right. Let's see, what else could I say about this area? Oh yes, we live right next to the rec center in Hazard, so we get to go there every morning to work out in the weight room! I was pretty excited to discover that, and so I'm enjoying sweating again! I am doing my best to keep both feet planted in this area as well. It isn't easy when you were in your last area for 9 months, but your continued counsel and encouragement has helped me the past few weeks. Thank you for your letter, and thanks to Kenz for hers as well.

So, Bro. Heaton finally got released, did he? I was thinking he'd serve in that calling forever! I just might write him as well! Bro. Rogers will do an excellent job in that calling. Both of them have had a great influence on me and were definitely influential in helping me prepare for a mission. There are so many people that I could thank in that regard, and I make it a point of doing so each night in prayer. I would not be where I am today without family, friends, and leaders to point me in the right direction. Only now have I understood how important their examples were to me. It will stick with me for the rest of my life, I can promise that. There are many ways that we can "consecrate [our] performance" to God, and through selfless service and sacrifice we can accomplish wonders. I can testify to that, being a missionary and all. I hope that this week holds many such blessings for each of you, and that the things we learned from General Conference will not be forgotten anytime soon! Love you all, and God Bless!

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