Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 21 In the Field

Hey everyone it's Monday again!

Let me give ya"ll an update on what we did this week. Finding. That's what we did. Finding. We really needed more people to teach and this week we found some solid new investigators. We are currently in Farragut getting out car fixed... so we are playing basketball, eating buffalo wild wings and having a good time in civilization. 
On Tuesday we met with one of our investigators, Scott. (he's pretty cool for obvious reasons.) Afterward, I tricked him into going and tracting his apartment complex. At first, he was pretty scared, and  it took a couple doors for him to feel comfortable coming with us up to the actual door. We found 2 new investigators with him. One of them, Richard, is a disabled man who lives by himself. At first Richard rejected us, but I asked Scott how his experience meeting with us has been for him, and after Scott's five star review, Richard agreed to hear the Restoration. He loved it. He loved it so much, that when we went back to teach him again, he was upset because he didn't have a Book of Mormon to answer the questions on the pamphlet we gave him. Elder Furrows and I are going back this Sunday, so hopefully Richard continues to want to learn more. 
On Wednesday, we had the chance to attend a Pentecostal church...which was freaking cool. If you don't know what a Pentecostal church is, well go find one and check it out. They are know as "Holy Rollers" because they get rowdy in church. The singing was incredible, now by no means was it reverent...they had drums, guitars, electric keyboards, etc. But the spirit was still felt there, in a different way. People in this church feel like the Spirit "touches" them, and when they feel like they've been "touched, oh boy, TAKE COVER! Shoes are flyin, people are hoping up and down, speaking gibberish tongues, and all manner of entertaining gestures. The pastor looked like Jay Leno and was hilarious. I think he preached more comedy than gospel. The best part about that evening was that we had two members of their congregation invite us over to share our beliefs with him. Im exited to see them in a couple days. 
On Friday and Saturday we helped a dude out by sorting a small warehouse full of household junk. Well, in the process, I acquired an electric acoustic guitar free of charge. I took a guitar class at Menlo-Atherton, and its been fun messing around with it. We also went and talked to people at a giant indoor Flea Market. We found lots of people  who were interested in seeing us again. At first I was confused as to why everyone in Flea World looked at me like they had seen me before. Well finally someone asks me if I'm the mormon missionary that made it in the Roane County newspaper that day. I wasn't exactly sure what people were talking about, but finally someone showed me a picture of me cooking Poke Sallet at the Poke Sallet Festival last weekend. Well, tracting that weekend was also pretty weird too. We knocked on several doors that let us in, but instead of wanting to hear about our church, they wanted to know how to cook Poke Sallet. Real quick: Poke Sallet is a green plant that grows wildly down in the South. Pretty much take California weed and take out the cannabinoid and you got poke sallet. So for the time being, we are holding off tracting for today and tomorrow
Sunday was a really, really hard day for us, but we had the most incredible spiritual experience. We had a good church service, and a couple visits afterwards, but then the day got ruined. Now let me tell you all something..all churches have truth. I don't care what you think you know about some-other church, they all have some truth. Also God has commanded us to love thy enemies as well as not bring down others. I hope nobody that reads this will ever speak out against another church by name in church or not. It's wrong, and that's exactly what we listened to on Sunday night at a local baptist church. We were invited by some very good friends of ours, who wanted to show us their church, but the pastor wasn't a big fan of it. The sermon was supposed to be on Joshua 20, but ended up being a anti-Mormon lecture. Throughout the sermon, he made comments and statements about our church that were not true. He tried to quote scriptures that would disprove the Book of Mormon as being inspired scripture. If it wasn't for the fact that the church was 20 miles away from home, and we were picked up, we would have got up and left. At the end, we were invited to bear our testimonies, and so we got up and did just that. If you want to get a loud pastor, and a congregation of 20 to shut-up real quick, just bear your testimony. You can't argue with a testimony that has conviction from the spirit. As we awkwardly walked down from the podium to the back of the church to leave, I could see the faces of the people and I made eye contact with every single one. They all had been touched by the spirit. None of them could say anything to us. The pastor went back to the microphone, and he had been momentarily struck dumb. He was moving his lips, but words did not come out until the second we were outside the doors of the chapel. It was amazing...was hard to believe at first that God would do something like that for US. All throughout the meeting, I was praying and asking God if I could dust off my feet in that church(Matthew 10:14) , but God sent me the answer that it would be all good.

God can help us. He will always be there for us when we need Him. He won't send the Warriors a championship if we pray for it (unfortunately) but He will bless us in our own personal times of need. Miracles and blessings also come more abundantly when we are striving and actively choosing the right. 

Well, I hope y'all have a good week. Stay tuned for next Monday when we find out what the cure for humidity is! (Hopefully) 

Take care everyone!

Scott Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission

Check out what my my friend serving in Tokyo, Mika, is up to!

Week 20 In the Field

Hey everybody it's the Sabbath hangover: Monday! Boy do I have some stuff to tell ya'll this week! 

First off we just had transfers on Wednesday and Elder Patterson is out, Elder Furrows is in. This dude is pretty cool. He's from Idaho Falls and loves the gospel...and driving the speed limit. We have been getting along great so far and I say this only because he is 8 years older than me. It's a little weird to be living with a guy that is 26, I mean there are guys that are 26 and have 2 or 3 kids. A father, he will one day be (yoda voice that). Nevertheless, he is a awesome missionary we were in the MTC together, and so we are both about to hit out 5 month mark...TODAY!!!!!!! Man, I feel like all those 39 year-olds that (on their 40th birthday) have this sudden realization that they are no longer a relatively *youthful age*. Their are more than enough missionaries ahead of me to make me feel like I'm pretty fresh out of boot camp, but then now I see this ever increasing group new kids off the plane that look at me like I came straight outta Vietnam. That's tracting for you. 
We formed a Country Band: The Harvest. Debut album coming soon!

So we had some fun and spiritual experiences this week. On Wednesday, after I grabbed Furrows from Knoxville, I took him down to Spring City to go do some work. Last week, I set some return appointments with 3 people who lived in a trailer park outside the town. Furrows and I drove down their to go visit them, and just our luck...they all weren't home. So we decided to go drive around the corner to a less active's home and knock the doors on her street. For the last month I have felt like the area needed to be milked, so we strapped up and did just that. Nobody answered the first 2 doors we touched, but on the third door...woah. This guy opens the door, and as I start to make noise out of my mouth, he's just all like "Cmon' in boys". This guy, Larry..hands down one of the coolest dudes I've met. For one, that was the first time I've been let in without even having to do anything other than knock; and two, Larry was prepared to hear the gospel. He had read the Book of Mormon before about 20 years ago, but had decided that their was no way that Joseph Smith could have found the gold plates. We asked him if he had prayed about it, and he said no. I was thinking to myself, "Well thats your problem gotta pray about it". Worst part was, that he wouldn't take a copy of the book to try it out. But as we continued to talk to him, the spirit softened his heart, and at the end of our 1 hour visit, he accepted a copy, committed to read and PRAY about it, and let us come back! Not only did this experience strengthen my testimony of tracting, but also my testimony of obedience. With Elder Furrows, we have decided as a companionship to strive for exact obedience, even if the mission president doesn't enforce certain rules in the White Bible. 

Thursday was a challenging and very rough day. Our faith was tested big time. We decided to go work Oakdale, a small redneck town that their is no stuff that is comfortable to work. Missionaries tend to tract apartment complexes, houses that are close together, trailer parks, downtowns. Not backwood cabins, and people that don't want to be found. Well, we decided to go visit these people. We began the day by parking off the side of a windy road and walking to the first drive. As we began walking down the long driveway, 2 dogs came running at us...and we turned around and booked it back to the main road. The dogs stopped and we walked over to the next driveway. Well about 30 feet down the road, we got 4 pitbulls chasing us, but this time they didn't stop at the end of the property, they kept coming. Luckily for me, they all went after Elder Furrows, so I wasn't too worried about getting hurt. Elder Furrows swung his bag around and popped one in the face, and then they stopped...but it was still pretty scary. As we drove off and found a place to pull over and cool off, (at this point my heart was                                                                                                                                                                                                beating faster than it does during an aerobic workout)..Elder Furrows reminded me that the Lord had protected us, and that never during those 10-15 minutes of terror had he felt scared. He reminded me that before we began, we prayed that the Lord had protected us. As I reflected on that experience, to see the Lord's protecting hand in my life was a testimony builder that He does answer our prayers. When we choose to acknowledge Him, and put Him first everyday, he'll bless us tremendously. After those doors, we decided to keep going, and we were able to find a couple people who want us to come back and teach them. It was a blessing to have success that day. I know the Lord had tested my faith, and because we were dedicated to thrust our sickle with all our might, He allowed us to find 2 people who He had prepared. 

On Friday we had district meeting which was pretty boring. I'm not trying to be a Debbie downer....but I'd rather read my scriptures than listen to people talk about how their week was. I'll do that when I retire so I can fish every week, and give travel logs during testimony meeting. But after district meeting, we went over to a non-profit organization that runs a horse ranch for people with disabilities. We got to chuck 761 bails of hay into a barn. It was pretty cool, but I think I'll pass on any agriculture career. 

Saturday we got to work at the Polk Sallet festival. What I can't get over about the South is all these small festivals popping up everywhere! This was the first one we've attended, and it was so much fun! We got to help our the American Legion cook food, and talk to hundreds of people. I got to fry tomatoes, okra, and cook up batches of polk sallet. It didn't taste very good...but I love okra, so it was all good. We got to hand out lots of pass-along cards, and pamphlets. We made a corn-hole tournament, and challenged people to play us, if they lost (which all but one team did), they had to take a Book of Mormon. It was a great day to change up the method of missionary work, and have a ton of fun doing it. 

Well that's all for this week. Stay tuned for the next week when we baptize Megan Fox. :) (She's from Rockwood)

Scott Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission

"We ran over a snake. What kind of snake? A dead one."

Week 19 In The Field

Hey everyone, it's Monday again...P-Day!

This week has been amazing. Seriously, I had my best day on the mission so far this past Wednesday. But I'll get to that in a bit. We have some big news coming out from the Tennessee Knoxville Mission: we are expanding the boundries. Recently, the Mcminnville Stake (part of the Nashville Mission) split into 2 stakes. We have absorbed the brand new Cookville Stake and it will now be the Cookville Zone. So we now have Ashville, Cumberland, Kingsport, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Cookville zones/stakes as our mission. It's one of the largest missions in the region...we are in both the Eastern Time Zone and Central Time Zone. 

For P-Day today, we taught an early morning lesson to a guy who works at the local scout camp and has to work all week. It wasn't the best lesson, but luckily the guy is super good at understanding and is very interested in the gospel. Then we went to Ozone Falls, a giant waterfall not too far outside our area. With the absorption of Crossville into our mission, we were able to go. It was a blast! We hiked about a half mile to the top and then a few miles down to the base. 

This morning we had the transfer call. I will be staying in Rockwood, but Elder Patterson will be leaving and headed to Cleavland, TN (down by Chattanooga). Replacing him will be Elder Furrows from Rexburg, Idaho. He's a pretty cool guy who was in the MTC with me.  It'll be a little weird because he's 26 years old and I'm 18. Think we will have a good time though and there is a TON of work that needs to be done out here!

Recently, our mission president instituted a new rule of 14 hours minimum for finding. Finding is going out and trying to find people to teach so stuff like: tracting, walking the downtown area, talking to peeps, booths, and basketball. (we play at the courts and talk to the kids our works). Elder Patterson and I have avoided knocking doors as much as possible because we both don't really care too much for it. But this week I gave gained a personal testimony of tracting. I realized that our teaching pool was pretty small and we needed to grow it, but Elder Patterson and I just couldn't agree on anything for finding. He wanted to go try and visit people on the "not interested" list, and I wanted to go knock doors. Well, what ended up happening was that we did both.  First we contacted Elder Patterson's "not interested" names on Tuesday and we had zero success. Watching paint dry would have been a better use of time and miles.

On Wednesday I took Elder Parker (serving in the other companionship in the ward) to Spring City with me. He gave a fantastic talk on gaining a witness and testimony in different ways. (He even quoted a talk by Russell Hancock...who is in the stake presidency in Menlo Park....I'm still not sure how this mission has the talk). Sister Warren, who makes us call her "Mom",  asked Parker to come give the talk to her non-member husband Phil, who missed church. We began the day with service at the local food pantry. Its always fun to go do service, and be able to switch up the morning routine a bit. One of the older volunteers I really like, lost his Mother the day before and the Volunteers were raising money so they could buy a plaque for the funeral. I had $20 in my wallet and was going to buy me some groceries, but instead, donated it. You guys should realize that these people in Rockwood don't have any money.  It's a very economically depressed area. Elder Parker, after hearing the story, also gave $20...and between us two, we completed the funds required to buy the plaque. It felt very good to be able to help out in some small way. The guy collecting the donations was worried he wouldn't get enough money, and was very thankful when we showed up that day to help. The Lord blessed us though; he didn't let us go hungry...the food pantry gave us enough food that'll last us about 2 weeks. Service leads to blessings. 

Later that day we visited with Sarah, a new investigator who found the missionaries booth at a festival in Knoxville. She's been pretty interested and she took us out to lunch after our appointment. We taught her the restoration but focused on the Great Apostasy and who Joseph Smith was. She accepted a Book of Mormon and committed to read it! 

Now this is where the testimony of tracting begins. We had some time before our next appointment and I had been feeling promptings to go find in Sarah's neighborhood. We also had a referral from a member in that area so we just couldn't put off tracting it out anymore. In 1 hour, we found 3 new investigators...We found Josh and Jaine, who told us they could use a message about Jesus in their home and lives; and Richard, who was curious about the Book of Mormon. The best part was that we didn't have any rejection - we were a solid 2 for 2! 100% success, can I get a "Amen"? (That's what you hear 50% of the time from a Baptist preacher). The Lord blesses those who are willing to do the work.  D&C 4:4 says, " For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;". That's something that in this upcoming transfer, I'm going to focus on....thrusting my sickle as deep as possible. Find as many people as the Lord has prepared to hear the gospel. 

On Sunday, we attended Mt. Teman Baptist Church. We have friends that attend there, and the sermon was on why Baptists are in danger. The pastor was calling his own people out for not going door to door, visiting and bringing people back to church. Afterward, I thanked him for his message and told him that it's hard to go proselyte in any religion, but that it was a great thing he recognizes change is needed. Instead of agreeing, he just said," Yeah, you cults are doing a better job than Gods' people!" That took me back, and offended me deeply, and the bash began. To make a long story short, Revelation 22 was used on me, I used Deuteronomy 4:2 to refute that. Then I attacked him with Ezekiel 37, and went in for the killing blow with John 10:16. The pastor, who was probably in his 50's, had nothing left. He stormed out of his own chapel. Now I didn't intend to bible bash in a baptist church, but if the pastor (of all people) wants a fight, they'll get it from me. Our friends who go there, actually heard us arguing, and listened. After we went outside, they asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon and wanted to read it. I guess I should mention, that I kept my cool but when I say I argued, I didn't raise my voice or anything...I just simply gave him scriptures down his throat. Later that evening we got a call from our friends asking us if we could come by and teach them about our church. That's my first investigator by way of bible bash. It was a pretty cool story to tell the other Elders, but I hope it never happens again. 

Well that's all for this week. Stay tuned to hear about how Hillary Clinton is praised in Rockwood! 

Until then,

Scott Kuhnen

The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission