Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Week 2 In the Field

I ATE FRIED CHICKEN!  Well, let me tell y'all, I'm never eating at KFC again! I'll explain later. 
Elder Kuhnen and Elder Beard relaxing in the Great Backyard. 

This week has been rough but challenging and finally paid off on Saturday. So here is the good, the bad, and the ugly this week. Let's begin with the ugly. 

The Ugly: If I had to describe this week in 4 words I would choose "The Week of FLAKES!" It felt like either everyone cancelled on us, or decided they wanted to get outright dropped. Dropping people is very depressing.  It is the same feeling you get when you have to go to the DMV in California. Yeah, you know you have to go and get abused and deal with the employees who hate their jobs, so you find every excuse not to go. We find every reason not to drop people from our teaching pool, but sometimes "it is unavoidable. It is their destiny" as Emperor Palpatine would say. Last Saturday we ran into a couple on the street who was interested in our message on eternal families. We called them on Friday to confirm our appointment for the next day, and the man abruptly hung up. 

The Bad: Last week we had 4 baptism commits, but this got bumped down to 3. One of our commitments just cannot seem to let go of smoking. The Mission President came out with us on a team up to visit them and made the executive decision that he was not ready for baptsim. Rats. 

The Good: That same Wednesday night team-up with President Griffen did not just bring bad news, it brought some good. Dominique is really close to being able to be baptized. She has a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everyone who has been working with her has faith that she will be baptized in 2 weeks. The mission president wants to get involved with my companion and I when we go and visit with them from now on. He personally wants to help. This is crazy because he's always so busy. I’m looking forward to working with the president more.

On Saturday we ran into a crazy lady who would not shut up about how missionaries are horrible people because we did not give her cash to help feed the homeless. We told her we could have chipped in, but we didn't have cash and Tennessee doesn't know about Square or other mobile card readers yet. About 10 minutes into our "conversation", this guy named Ned biked up and interrupted her and pretty much said some things that got her moving along. We began talking to him; he immediately asked us if we would visit him. It turned out that he had been investigating the church, but a satanic women led his heart away from being baptized. He has since been divorced and is trying to find direction in life. He says he always sees us around, and he knows its not by coincidence. He told us that he knew God wanted him to talk to us, because if he did not, it would just be a matter of time before we found him! He also is pretty sure he wants to get baptized. He came to church today, bore his testimony during sacrament meeting, and then stayed for all 3 hours. "Open and shut case Johnson!" as Dave Chappell would say. If there was ever a guy ready to join the church it would be Ned. We have an appointment with him on Tuesday, and I'm confident we will extend him the formal invitation to be baptized. The only problem is he loves coffee, it blew his mind that we don't drink it or tea. 

Another cool thing that happened this week was that we got fed. We eat good down here in the South. We had dinner taken care of every night; on Monday, we ate baked chicken. On Tuesday, we ate pork chops. Wednesday, we ate chicken nachos. Thursday we had beef stew. Friday was when the locals began turning it up a notch with the calorie intake. On Friday, we had a team up with a guy named Pete who immigrated to the US from Thailand. After contacting less active members, he took us to a Japanese all-you-can-eat buffet. Oh man, I had 4 plates of beef sashimi, rice, some kind of chicken, tofu, edamami, cream puffs etc. Then after we were done eating, Pete made us go to the sushi bar and we had to order a minimum of 4 rolls each. So in total, we had 6 plates each, totaling 24 full-sized dinner plates on our table when we hobbled out of the buffet. It hurt to walk, but it was so worth it.
Angel, you would have been proud.  But that wasn't the end of the caloric carnage for the day. Later that night, we had an appointment with Cason, a member, who always takes us out to eat. He was going to take us to get pizza, so I thought I could slip by with just eating a piece and keeping it light. Yeah, so much for that.  He called an audible and took us to Shoneys...an all-you-can-eat buffet. It was bad, I was not hungry at all, but I mean he paid for us to get in, and I didn't want to be rude, so I ate 3 plates of hush puppies and mashed potatoes. I couldn't fall asleep that night. I haven't been in so much physical pain since I did the 1 pound Fuddruckers burger with Isi Sema back in the day. 

So Friday was rough, and then Saturday came...and as soon as we got up, we were under siege by food again. Literally the only time we get a break from the continuous onslaught of food is at night. A member of the ward works at Waffle House, which is a block away from our house, called us and told us to get to waffle house immediately. It was funny because he sounds like Arnold Swartsenegger when he does his "Get to za Chappa!" line. So we booked it and he made us each a waffle, 3 eggs, bacon, and a full plate of hash browns with gravy on top. We walked our bikes home because we have to go up this giant hill and there was no way we were biking after that meal. 

Now for the crazy part. I ATE HOMEMADE FRIED CHICKEN!!!!!!!! So we had an appointment at 5pm with our investigator, Joe Davis. Joe is an ex southern Baptist minister. He has been taking the lessons and has progressed. He loves having us over to talk about the church. So we went over with a prepared lesson about the priesthood. When he let us into his house, he had a full fancy meal all prepared. Cantaloupe for the appetizer (yes, Mom I ate it, it's pretty good stuff), broccoli, rice and of course, homemade fried chicken. I have never ate a better piece of chicken before in my life, and probably won't find anything better!  We spent so much time raving to Joe about his food, we only were able to share a little spiritual thought. We're going to have to save the lesson for next time. We then had a dinner appointment an hour later, and a member took us to a pizza place and my comp and I split a 9" pizza. Let's just say we were well prepared for fast Sunday. 
Elder Kuhnen and Elder Beard out to dinner with a family. 

Fast Sunday was crazy. My companion loves to bear his testimony, while I like to take the approach of waiting for those long awkward periods when nobody goes up. Well those don't exist here. People fight to give their testimony and we had just about the whole ward get up. People also don't get up and give travel logs, they actually talk about Jesus and what they believe. We have this one elderly guy who goes by "Big Will", he stood up and simply said. almost yelling," I love church, and I love Jesus! AMEN!" 

Something we've talked a lot about with investigators this week is Faith and Prayer. Many people claim to have faith but do not exercise it. For most of our investigators, smoking is a huge problem and most of them want to quit. We ask them all if they believe that Jesus Christ can help them overcome their addictions, they all say yes. But when we lay out our 15 step plan to quit smoking, which includes crushing your cigarettes right then and there, a lot of them fail.

In one instance, a women said she guessed she didn't have any faith after all. We shared Phillipians 4:13,  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." The women prayed about this scripture, and as soon as she said "Amen", she crushed the cigarettes without hesitating.

I have a testimony that Jesus Christ can strengthen us to do all things. We're not always going to know where God is taking us, but if we pray for guidance, the next step will be illuminated. 

I hope everyone has a good week this week! 

Elder Kuhnen



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