This has been an amazing week; a true highlight for my mission. It began on Tuesday with a companion exchange with the zone leaders over in Eola Hills! I went with Elder Draper in his area, and Elder Elias stayed in Monmouth SP (our area) with Elder Hicken. Elder Draper taught me so many valuable things about being a happy and successful missionary. What stuck out most to me was this: When we are taking to people, whether street contacting or lessons, we are fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. That is when we are going to find the most happiness and joy, and feel real, tangible success. What I specifically learned from Elder Draper is how to street contact people without it being weird, or deciding not to talk to them, since I judge them and think the gospel isn't for them. At the end of our exchange on Wednesday afternoon, the zone leaders extended us the invitation to talk with everyone about the gospel, and specially to take the challenge of Elder Ballard to our area. That is, to make 10 contacts daily that you previously didn't know. That means talk to 10 people you didn't previously know. We were excited to take this challenge to heart, and see how our area would improve.
Then, a miracle happened. The rest of Wednesday we had, from 4ish to 9:00, we ended up contacting 12 people, and 4 of them were new investigators!!! For someone to become a new investigator, we have to teach them a principle of the gospel, extend a commitment invitation, and set up a solid return appointment. We got home that night and I know I was so grateful to the Lord for allowing us to change to become missionaries we are actually supposed to be! I suddenly found myself out of a hole I didn't realize I was in. I was kinda in the slums a bit, and only sort-of motivated to do missionary work, but I truly see the statement Elder Draper make come true for me. I am suddenly so much happier and satisfied with the effort and work I have put into each day. I can truly say I did all I could to talk to everyone about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thursday was weekly planning, and so we had an amazing planning session as we applied the direction and council we received from the zone leaders about how to be more effective, smarter missionaries. As we planned for our investigators, we truly saw how we could best go about helping them come unto Christ, and help them progress and prepare to be one day baptized. Our ability to find new investigators that day was tough--right after planning, which took all morning up until right after lunch, we then helped the Ward Mission Leader, Brother Jackson, with some service around his house for an hour or so. Then, we had a lesson with one of the new investigators we found the previous night. His name is Juan Narváez (pronounced narv-ice), and we met him Wednesday night washing his truck on his driveway. We struck up a conversation with him, and he told us he doesn't affiliate with any church because he feels they preach one thing, and do another. We invited him to learn about our church, since we try the best we can to live the gospel of Jesus Christ as He, and we, teach it. He accepted, and we went back. There he opened up some things to us, that helped us understand the question he had. It was: does God really forgive those who have committed very extreme sins, such as committing adultery, killing, or anything like that? He wanted to know our stance on those things, and as we taught him, he seemed to like what we taught, even though he firmly believes that those people cannot be forgiven. We somehow got to the topic of families, and how families are sacred and important to God. We gave him the Family: A Proclamation to the World, and committed him to read from it. After that we went to West Salem, where hilarity ensued. 😉
We were walking along the sidewalk, when a guy on a bike comes up behind us, gets off his bike, and looks at us with a huge smile. We asked him how he was doing, and he just looked at us strangely, and told us to follow him over to the trees. Elder Elias and I look at each other, and had a silent conversation that went something along the lines of: "OK, he's either on drugs of some kind and wants our money, wants to bible bash with us, or he's cool. I really hope he's cool!" We proceeded to follow him about twenty feet in front of us, to a "group" of trees making a square U shape...facing the road. We sat down Indian style on the concrete sidewalk, surrounded by trees....and totally visible to all who drove by. 😂 So, there we are, two missionaries sitting crisscrossed on the ground ringed by trees barely taller than I am, talking to this guy. I don't thing we even got his name... We introduced ourselves, and talked with him for a minute. He told us he loves trees, and his job is working with them. He turned out to be a really sweet guy, and was super genuine, and seemed to be a little slow in doing things, if that makes sense. He shared his favorite scripture from the Bible in Psalms... about trees, go figure. :D We shared a verse in the Book of Mormon, and told him about the Book of Mormon. He told us he's Jehovah Witness, but that he liked our message. The funniest part came at the end; the entire time he misunderstood Elder Elias, and thought he was American Indian (Elder Elias is Mexican), and at the very end, grabbed Elder Elias by both shoulders (we knew he was harmless at this point), looked deep into his eyes, and asked, "what tribe are you from?" meaning, what American Indian tribe. He then asked, "can you speak your dialect?" Elder Elias was understandably confused a little, though he still knew what was going on. I was trying so hard not to laugh my guts out, and as this whole exchange took place, it got harder and harder until I was shaking, I had to laugh so hard. Elder Elias (with absolutely no help from me) finally explained he was Mexican, and we parted ways. I held in my laughter until we got to the car, and then I just died. :) I can't remember laughing that hard in a while. ;)
Friday was a hectic day! We had interviews with President and Sister Tateoka right before noon at the Eola Hils stake building, and that took up most of the morning and part of the afternoon. Then, we had District Meeting from 2:30 until 3:30! We proselytized from 3:45ish to dinner, and had after dinner as our time during the day to really be out in the field. We ended the day with the beginning of a companion exchange with the Monmouth 1st Elders! I stayed in our area with Elder Memmott, and Elder Elias went with Elder Pinkston in Monmouth.
Saturday was the day of companion exchanges, and it was amazing! Elder Memmott and I had a great day as we biked and walked around the area! We had some lessons fall through, so we ended up contacting people like crazy! We met a ton of hispanics outside, and tried to talk with them all. At the end of the day, Elder Memmott told me he thinks he wants to now be a Spanish missionary since all Hispanic people are super nice!