Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Week 51: Marshall, MN. New area and address

Hello Everyone,

My new companion's name is Elder Lete (Leh-Tey). He is from Mesa Arizona, but originally lived in North Carolina. He really likes fencing which is what he did before the mission.

So a lot has happened since the last time I emailed. Tuesday was spent finalizing my departure by finishing packing. We also spent the rest of the day traveling to Fargo to get on a bus to travel to Brookings. It was hard saying goodbye to Sister Sargent. We took a lot of funny photos though.
When we got to Fargo, Elder Briggs got a haircut and we ate at Huhot Mongolian grill. I was surprised when we were about to leave by the Assistant to the President Elder Salmon asking me to drive the Nissan Frontier truck to Brookings behind the Transfer train. So instead of riding in the van, I drove the whole way. It was very fun. When we got to Brookings it was very late so we decided to stay the night in the Zone leader's apartment.
On Wednesday we were pointed in the direction of Marshall and told to drive there. We once again have a 2013 Chevy Cruze as our car. We got here and didn't even know where our apartment was and even what number it was. So we started calling everyone with stars by their names in the phone contact list until we were able to find it.  The rest of the day went really well. We shopped for food and ran into a sister Sa in Dollar tree. She invited us to Dinner at Burger King and also told us a lot about the area. We then found the church building (3-4 times bigger than the ones in Chamberlain and Bagley) we have around 90 active members.

President Jones was there for activity days and as we were talking with him, Sister Gregerson texted us asking if we would give a recent convert named Brandee a blessing of comfort and counsel. So we went over with President Jones and gave the blessing. He then set up an appointment for us the next day.
The lesson went well the next day after a brief planning session followed by walking around everywhere to find out where everything was. The lesson focused on the importance of scripture study and how the Lord is able to help us overcome our weaknesses as we turn towards Him.
On Friday we tried putting out names down as clergy at the hospital and met the Chaplain there. He was happy that we showed up because he needed the information about the LDS church leaders to help when any members of our church entered the hospital and wanted to have the clergy come over. So we told him we'd get that info for him and also gave him a mormon.org card.

We also managed to have a great district meeting where we met the Elders from Redwood Falls, MN and also Pipestone MN. Elder Heninger is in Redwood falls so I was glad to see him again. He was my district leader in the MTC.
On Saturday we helped Brother Savage move from Ballatin (20 miles away) to here in Marshall. He then took us out to Lunch at El Rancho Mexican Restaurant. As we were walking around afterwards we ran into two people sitting outside a music store. They invited us to talk with them after we introduced ourselves. They had a lot of questions relating to the Plan of Salvation and we will continue teaching them tomorrow in Liberty Park. Tyler is a born again Christian and Seth is Jewish. After the giant question and answer session we had with them we went over to the Gregerson's home for dinner. Sister Gregerson is a convert to the church and her husband actually served his mission here in Marshall. They are both really awesome.

Sunday was great. It is my first time having 3 hours of church on my mission. We taught the lesson in Elder's quorum and also enjoyed the potluck afterwards. The lesson was based on Elder Scott's talk, "I have given you an example". Later in the night we helped with Family Home Evening and then were shown around town to people we could go see by Sister Gregerson and her husband.
It's been wonderful and a new experience to be in a town this big of 10,000 people. I enjoy it a lot.  It actually is about the size of Blackfoot.

I love serving my mission and also love you all so much.
With love,

Elder Davis

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 50: I am being transferred to Marshall, MN.

First things first: I'll get this out of the way. I am being transferred to Marshall, MN. I am going to be opening the area with another Elder who is coming from the Minot ND zone of our mission. I don't know how to spell his name and won't attempt to now.

 Bagley is doing awesome. I'm leaving a great area. Deana came to church again. She loves fellowshipping and is excited for the activity on Saturday for Pioneer Day. She is on date for baptism on August 23 and she is rapidly progressing, so fast that there is a visible change in her demeanor each time we see her. We attribute this to the Book of Mormon. She is reading every day. She participates in classes at church. It's been awesome serving here in Bagley.
I've enjoyed it immensely and am saddened to leave. I love the branch and people here more than anywhere else because I have worked the hardest in this area. Although the area was challenging, I love the people and wouldn't trade this experience for anything because it has taught me about the savior's love for me. I came to know for myself here in Bagley that the message of the Restoration is true. It has deep personal meaning to me now and I know that it occurred by the power of the Holy Ghost. I am a different person than when I came. I view myself and the world differently.
I will really miss serving here, but am looking forward to the challenges, experiences, and serving the Lord in Marshall in the future. So here is a summary of my last week serving in the Clearbrook branch in Bagley MN.
Tuesday was an interesting day. We were asked the day before if we would help usher for a funeral in Bemidji at the church. This was a great opportunity to talk to many non-members who recently had a family member pass away. As I was there I realized that funerals are where we get some of the best instructions from Heavenly Father about how we need to improve our lives. There’s something about the way people share memories and qualities of an individual who has died that gets you thinking about what people would say about you if you had died. That starts the process of asking critical questions that allow the spirit of a funeral where the veil is thin come into your life as you are pondering those questions. I suppose they would be different for everyone, but it was very special to be there and feel the spirit so strong as family members bore their testimonies of the plan of salvation to those in the congregation who were not members. It was very powerful.
Wednesday proved to be very interesting and very inspired. We tried to meet with Deana at 11, but we apparently didn't knock loud enough because she was there, but she didn't hear us. So we decided to walk back. As we did so we passed the food shelf and were inspired to go in and volunteer if possible. Turns out it was the branch's day for running the food shelf that day and they needed help. We even got to see Deana later and teach her a lesson because we ran into her later. It truly was inspired. The rest of the day included service at the homeless shelter here in Bagley that is under construction. We ended up sanding and staining what will be the stairs. It was a lot of work and the mosquitos seemed to appreciate us standing there outside.
Friday was Zone Training Meeting in Fargo. We learned a lot about family history work and unfortunately I also learned that Elder Smith is being sent home for surgery on his knee. He tore his ACL somehow, but he plans on coming back out on a mission as soon as is possible.
It took all of our day between traveling and the actual meeting so we ended up not doing much else. On the way back however, Elder Briggs was inspired to go see a part member family in Rice Lake. So we drove over there and I turned onto the wrong road. For some reason it seemed like the right one to me. We decided to keep going despite not knowing if it would go back out to where we needed to be. This also proved to be inspiration from the Holy Ghost because we passed a 15 year old on the side of the road whose car had run into the ditch. His phone had died and he had no way of contacting anyone to help him out. So we let him use ours and helped clear out the area around the car to prepare for when a truck could come and pull it out with a strap. It shows me how much Heavenly Father truly cares for all of us and how he can guide us to where we need to be even if it seems like an "accident".
Sunday was very exciting. Alvin and Leslie also came to church and Mia brought her niece Raine who really liked church and wanted to come back every week. The spirit in the branch truly touched everyone and I know that the branch will be a significant strength to everyone in the area. Looking back I see how much I have learned here. I can't believe I've been here for 6 months. It's been speeding by. I am grateful to have been sent here to Bagley and appreciate every second of it, even the hard and difficult ones.
So today is a lot of packing... Packing... Packing until finally we are done and now typing up this letter in Bemidji. So later tonight we will see the Niswanders, eat a seafood and steak dinner there, and also finish up everything that needs to get done before I leave. Tomorrow we will leave at 1:30 in order to get to Fargo by 4 so we can eat and then I head of on the Transfer van to Brookings South Dakota where I will then travel east to Marshall MN. It will be interesting.
Again, I love each and every one of you. I am very excited to write every week and am grateful for the opportunity to email.

 With love,

 Elder Davis

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 49: We had a great planning session

So on Monday we didn't end up going on a bike ride, we did however go bowling and that was a lot of fun involving two balls that got stuck on someone's finger (I'm not naming who it was) and flew into the other lane's gutter. It also involved renting the lane for an hour between the 6 of us for 30 dollars total so 2 games for 5 dollars was a really great deal.
After P-day was over we had dinner and a picnic with the Niswanders and Mia's family in the park in Bagley. We were able to grill some hamburgers and while we were doing so it poured down heavily for about 5 minutes. Everyone ran to the pavilion, but Elder Briggs and I stayed and finished the hamburgers, dripping wet. It was fun though and made me and everyone laugh.

Mia has really enjoyed all the fellowshipping she has been getting this week starting with the Niswanders. We also helped Brother Dyrdahl with his home teaching to her the other day which she really enjoyed.

On Wednesday we went back over to Sister Sargent's home to help her with her family history and teach her how to prepare names to be brought to the temple. After we helped her out we were able to enjoy our efforts at using the crockpot to cook some chicken for lunch. Earlier in the day we had placed chicken breasts in the crockpot and covered them in barbeque sauce mixed with a little chipotle. They were really good. We also had some strawberries that Sister Niswander had given to us and so we decided to sugar them and place them on top of angel food cake for some strawberry shortcake. It was delicious.
That night we had another lesson with Alonda and Jim. We had the lesson on the Plan of Salvation where most of the time was spent resolving Alonda's concern about why bad things happen to good people. We promised her that we would search for an answer in the scriptures and come back next Wednesday prepared to address that particular concern. We found several scriptures in Alma chapter 14, 2 Nephi chapter 2, and D&C 121 about how challenges in our lives are there for our benefit and if we endure them we will be rewarded. We are going to share some videos with her from Mormon.org that will show other people who have gone through trials and relied upon the atonement to help them overcome those trials in their lives. Elder Briggs had this great idea and it will be perfect because Alonda likes spending a lot of time on computers and watching videos. By using these scriptures we hope to show Alonda the importance of reading the Book of Mormon to answer our personal concerns and challenges and also testify of its power in our lives.

We had a great planning session on Thursday which has really helped us focus on the needs of those that we are teaching. It is the last week of the transfer so we really were praying for inspiration and for miracles and we have already begun to see the effect of those miracles and that planning. We have several possibilities for new people to meet, service to give, and people coming to church.
On Friday they had a big Golf tournament here in Bagley. We offered to help Roger from the senior center move the steam table from there to the golf course. He was grateful for the help and we met a new person because of it who now waves to us each time we pass his house. Later Friday evening we helped Alvin and Leslie cook Kielbasa and Brats for dinner. We ate dinner with Mia, Alvin, Leslie, and brother Dyrdahl. We then had a great lesson. We really appreciated testimony brother Dyrdahl gave about the purpose of home teaching. We also were able to have a great lesson with Alvin and Leslie on the Plan of Salvation. Before, Alvin didn't feel he was ready to be baptized and saw it as something very far into the future, but after the lesson when we testified of doing baptisms for the dead, both Alvin and Leslie were touched by the spirit and desired very much to be baptized. Alvin recently had his father pass away so this knowledge has made him more eager to accept the Gospel and learn all about it.
On Saturday there was an event in Bagley called "Art in the Park" It was like a mini farmer's market with crafts everywhere, but not produce. We ate there with President Niswander and contacted several people including James who works at the "Lighthouse" a soup kitchen here in town. He asked for our help doing some construction work, mainly staining, at the homeless shelter and we readily agreed to do so. He also asked us if we could get him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We are going to help him out on Wednesday and also teach him the Restoration while we are there. Earlier in the day we had taught the Jim in Ebro a very powerful review of the Restoration where we testified of the purpose of church and invited him to come. He didn't make it but we felt we had provided him with the opportunity and were not disappointed. In fact he has made it to 4 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and is excited to get to the end. He was describing to us in detail the events from it so we can tell he is not lying to us. What a blessing we have been seeing in this area. Many people are being prepared not just in Bagley, but everywhere to receive the Gospel and it is because the Lord is hastening his work all over the world. We then studied for the last hour of the day to prepare for the class we would teach and the talk I would give on Sunday.
On Sunday we were picked up by President Niswander and then we picked up Deana. She finally overcame the barriers she was facing and was able to come to church. It was great!!!

She loved the fellowship and the feeling there and said she'd love to come back next week. The members were a huge part of this. Everyone talked with and welcomed her and she felt that it wasn't like other churches where she felt like an outcast. I know the Lord prepared her for this experience so that she would be ready to accept the Gospel and be baptized.
Well later today should be exciting. We have a dinner appointment with the Niswanders where we will be taught how to make stir fry. We also are trying to figure out what we need to do for fun today as a district and I also will be getting a haircut. It's been a great week. It is continuing to get better and a mission truly has been the best thing that I have ever done in my life. I recommend it to everyone.
With love,
Elder Davis

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 48: A lot of biking this week (See last weeks letter posted yesterday)

A lot of biking this week, we biked to Shevlin 7 miles away, also to Ebro 8 miles away, and also to a house 5 miles away. Also while we were in Thief River Falls we biked around twenty miles so, I would say our total biking miles this week would be around 60 miles. If we biked 5 more would be a one way trip from Bagley to Thief River. It has saved us a lot of miles though so we can do other things throughout the month. We are planning on biking around Lake Bemidji today as a P-day activity.

We had exchanges as planned. I went with Elder Wendell to the beautiful area of Cass Lake which is actually on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. We stayed with some members who fed us Brats for dinner. As part of the exchange, Elder Wendell and I showed Robb Johnson, a recent convert of about a year how to do family history work to take names to the temple for his ancestors. He is super excited to do so and is also planning on serving a full time mission soon.
On Friday we had a great District meeting and then proceeded to walk around Bemidji all day long talking to people about the Church. It was great. The fireworks were also very good and were very pretty when reflected off of the lake in Bemidji.
Tonight we are having a picnic with Mia and the Niswanders. It should be really fun and we also are going to have the opportunity to see Alvin and Leslie there again as well.
It's been a very fast week. I love each of you,

With love,
Elder Davis

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 47: We had many miracles this week

We had many miracles this week that I thank the Lord for over and over again. We managed to have one day (for about 4 hours) that it wasn't raining heavily so that we could bike out to see a referral we had received. They weren't home so we decided to do some tracing in the area and found a new investigator. Lorna Dahlke is super sweet and loves to listen about Christ. We are excited to teach her the rest of the Restoration when we meet with her again on Tuesday.

Thursday was amazing. We received much needed inspiration during our planning session on how to get the work moving faster here in Bagley. We also were able to teach two new people the Restoration. It was very powerful and they want to meet with us again. It has been exciting to see how the Lord is leading us to people or leading them to us as we strive to seek out those who have been prepared to hear the message of the Restoration and act on it. Later in the day we were inspired to search some apartments for a new member and found instead a less active member we had been trying to find named John Watts. He had no address and we were blessed by the Lord to come across the list of residents in the apartment with his name on it.
On Friday we had a wonderful district meeting and on the way back we were inspired to stop in the small town of 100 people called Shevlin. We tracted for a little bit and ran into a lady who referred us to her neighbor. Upon our return we decided to check the mail. Another bit of inspiration because a lady saw us there, asked us why were dressed up, and promised to come to church the next time she was in Clearbrook. (Where she lived for many years before moving to Bagley). Then we dropped off some old clothes that Bemidji gave us to take care of at the Bagley Thrift shop and the owner's brother is LDS and she talked with us a little bit. She also knows Sister Dyhrdahl really well.
Saturday was also really nice because we were able to get in with Jim again. He has been reading the Book of Mormon every day and in just 5 short weeks has gotten to Alma 51! We are excited to help him progress towards baptism. He believes the Book of Mormon is true. And we have already seen his testimony of Christ grow from reading it.

After the lesson we drove to McIntosh and helped Brother McCabe and his wife, carry some furniture downstairs and into the garage to help them prepare for their estate sale. We then also visited with Sister Reinbold again who said that she would be coming to church and she did. It was exciting.
Sunday was great. Sister and Brother Metallo, CES senior couple missionaries from Fargo, came up to speak in sacrament meeting on the importance of attending Institute and Seminary and how it helps us in our lives (anyone ages 14-30 should be taking these classes). They are very important and the Lord has provided them for a way to find direction in our fast paced and troubled lives. I know that they are great programs. They really helped me prepare for my mission.

After Church the Metallos inspected our apartment and then we took the sacrament to Val. She says to give everyone her love.
 
Last night was fun cooking, we wanted some peas. So we microwave defrosted them and then had the bright idea to try to sauté them which turned out to be putting milk, curry, and Sriracha sauce and letting it fry in that. It was really good.
I love every one of you. I am glad and grateful for all the support you have given to me. Thanks for everything!!!!

With love,
Elder Davis