August 29, 2010
Today, I am in a very good mood. So is Elder Bartle. This past week we have worked hard, but the rewards are starting to pile in. Tomorrow, we have 4 teaching appointments, and we’re also teaching seminary. We have 2 service opportunities. We officially have 7 people who count as “progressing investigators.” The leadership is really happy with us, and I’m happy with us. It feels kind of like how it was back in Springvale that second transfer, over 2 months ago. We’ve been doing heaps of finding, and the Lord has put people in our path who were prepared and willing to listen. Where to start?
I will say that this week was not easy. We were tired as. Some times, I have no clue where we are needed. Sometimes, the best thing to do is just kick yourself out the door and go say hello to somebody, even if you don’t have much reason to. On Thursday, doing that much got us something great. I’ll start there.
Last week while tracting, we had talked to someone at the doorstep who was there visiting his old house that he had been renting to someone and recently evicted. This tenant had trashed everything. This guy, Jason, was in Shepparton to clean it up over the weekend before heading back home in Melbourne. We offered to help, but he said he was okay. So we said goodbye. Fast forward to Thursday this past week, and we had nothing to do in the morning. We tried to visit a potential, but not home. So, we went to tract the other side of the same street. Thing is, we were sick of doorknocking, and the morning is a lousy time for it anyway because nobody is home. But we went anyway. There was Jason, loading junk onto his trailer. From the other side of the street, I said, “G’day!” “G’day,” he replied. “Cleaning up? Want some help?” He shrugged and said, “Nah, I’m alright.” I wasn’t convinced (and also didn’t want to knock on doors), so I said, “You sure? We’d love to help, we really have nothing planned, and that is a huge mess.” He thought about it for a moment and said, “…Yeah, but what about those clothes?” I explained we could change and be right back. So we did.
I hope you can receive my pictures in the separate emails of the mess. Furniture torn apart, dirt everywhere, cat litter (used) in the yard, wet mattresses infested with grubs, the works. So we got our hands dirty. We spent the morning and afternoon loading up his trailer with dirt and junk, and dumping it at the tip. It was tough work, but also pretty fun. Jason was also a really cool guy to talk to. He’s writing a book, and he’s accomplished in multiple academic fields. One of those was personal training. He told us that breathing through your nose during excercise prevents your body from using adrenaline to fuel yourself, so you can run for longer without getting tunnel vision or horribly exhausted. We’ve been doing that in our morning runs and it works! He wasn’t interesting in the gospel, but we sped up his work significantly, and we’ll be reconnecting with him later to finish the job. It felt good to spend time helping someone. He really appreciated it, and bought us lunch. Mmm… battered hamburger. 🙂
We’ve also been having good experiences in our finding. Street contacting is still not very productive (one kid my age swore me off with fear saying he’s scared of church. Poor guy), but some doors have opened up warmly. Last Friday, we decided to pray for a portion of Shepparton to focus finding on, and Elder Bartle chose a street. It is in the more rich parts of Shepparton (all the streets are named after cars) in the northeast corner. We got to Harrier street in the early arvo (sorry, afternoon) and it looked like nobody was home. But we went down. Albanian person who didn’t speak English, nope. One woman who looked at our badge and closed the door without a word, no. I was thinking the street was a waste of time, we’d try it later, nobody here, but we kept going. Last door, I told Elder Bartle it was his turn. A young mother answered, and Elder Bartle said we were sharing a simple, happy message that families are forever and we can live with them after this life. He asked, “Is this a message that appeals to you?” She responded, “Yes!” I think there was a short pause as we both weren’t sure exactly where to go from there. But we set up an appointment for tomorrow, and were off. It’s so funny how those things happen. Ether 12:6 witness after the trial of your faith. I didn’t have faith, and boom. Potential investigator. And Elder Bartle got it too!
Elder Bartle is learning a lot and progressing very well. He’s still green as, but he’s learning a lot and I’ve already seen profound changes in him. Haha, at one door his mind totally blanked for a good awkward second. I was laughing inside so hard. I always kick him around with jokes like “You just got door-slammed by a grandma” to loosen him up. Tracting is really a lot of fun, and the fun is what takes away the fear. So I have fun while he gets used to the hotseat. He has a unique testimony though because his family was inactive for about 2 years. It adds a lot in our teaching as people ask about our background in the church, because he has seen both sides. He also gets along with everybody, because he knows the sports and the culture better than me. I’m really glad to have him as a companion. Oh, and he cooks! He used to work in an Italian restaurant! He makes these pastas that are just MMM! So that’s a huge plus.
Okay, let me update you on some other investigators. On Saturday, we saw Lucinda and her family again. This time, we were able to teach about the Restoration to her and Daniel, her husband. To her it made sense, and she’s going to read the Book of Mormon with Daniel. Daniel doesn’t have much interest in religion, but he’s fine with whatever Lucinda wants. Lucinda is feeling a need to go back to a church of some sort, but she wants to explore her options first. She wasn’t at church yesterday, and I think it’s because she went to see another meeting. We’ll be asking about that probably tomorrow. I’m confident she’ll be back, though, because when I asked her how she felt at church with us, she said, “I loved it. I really did.” She also asked about the Word of Wisdom, and expressed concern about Daniel’s smoking and coffee. We’ll probably get to present our stop smoking program as well (which works, by the way). I feel good about that family. I think one day they will find great joy in the gospel. It will just be a process.
I have a story that Dad and the crew over at Glance are going to like. Last night, Elder Bartle and I drove to Euroa with President Faamoe to see the Newvines. Gary Newvine is a member from America, a convert. His wife, Dichelle, is not. Elder Faumui bumped into him in Shepparton and he invited the Elders to dinner. My first night in Shepp, we went to see them. Last night was the first time I’d seen them since then. The Newvines have a 13-month old boy named Dane and a dog named Bosso. Gary is really busy trying to make ends meet, and in my conversations with him he said he wants to be part of the church, but he wants to get himself comfortable. The church is about a half hour away, and it’s tough to get there, especially with Dichelle not pushing for it. We had a really great meal with them and chatted for a long time. Eventually, we got to the topic of what the Elders have to share. So, I shared from Matthew about “before ye seek for riches, seek ye the kingdom of God.” I talked about different families I’d seen who had and didn’t have the Gospel in their lives. Remember when I mentioned that family Elder Faumui had dinner with a month or two ago? They have the chapel down the road, and they don’t go. But, other families that are tight still live the Gospel and find great joy in it. We bounced around a bit, because he’s finding it tough to do all of those things but still trying to live the best he can to be honest and trustworthy. I think I’m diluting the power of the story with all these details, but here was the key moment: I told him that we can’t help him with those specific things, but we had a challenge. I looked him in the eye and said, “For one month, read, pray, and come to church, and see what happens.” The room was silent for about ten seconds. Gary stirred and finally said, “Not to take away from the meaning of what you just said, but I can see now why businesses look for Mormons because of what you just did. I work in sales! I could see it coming! You held eye contact and you were silent. That’s how you do it.” I was laughing, thinking of how Tom Scontras would feel to know I was told that. Anyway, he said he would do it. YES! So now he’ll be coming to church for the next four Sundays. Elder Bartle was blown away. He’s still at that point of view where words I toss over my shoulder are seen by him as bold as. I find it hilarious.
Our schedule is filling up. The leaders are patting us on the back. I’m just glad that my fears from a few weeks ago were for naught; at least, I hope so. I’m enjoying myself now, and it feels good to be back in the groove of teaching and sharing the Gospel. I still get stressed out when I look at the time with no clue what to do or where to go, but our efforts are gaining speed and this week will be very busy. I can’t wait to see what happens here a month from now.
Glad to know everything there is going well. I can’t believe August is finished! Wasn’t I writing about my six month mark last week? Tell everyone I say hi. Write me, as always. Letters make the sun shine. I love all of you so much!
-Elder Scott Baker