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 age...it 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. , 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 . 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!
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission