Sunday, July 23, 2017

Week 59: In which I ponder the end of Camelot, we meet cool new people, and I am grateful for fruit.

George I, Fransisco II, Ofelia III

Written 10 July 2016

Hellooooo, everyone! Welcome to the 58th installment of... Elder Adams' weekly emails! I'm pretty sure that number is somewhere in the right ballpark. Those of you who like mindless accounting, feel free to tell me if I'm wrong. (note from Editor Dad: Not bad, it's only 1 week off.)  Elder West and I are still livin' it up here in The Dalles, OR! I'm not sure how much longer this can last, though. It's kind of like Camelot. Great things have to end so other great things can start. If I do end up leaving, I will be a very sad missionary indeed. I'll be excited for the future, but we all sometimes mourn for the good that is left behind.

This last week was a good week. We found 3 amazing new people: George, Fransisco, and Ofelia! That's to explain the title. George is great. His mom's name is Yanet, and she's been going through a hard time. When we found Yanet, she was crying while sitting outside. As we talked, she told us that she had been studying with "los Testigos" (Testigos de Jehova, Witnesses, Jehovah's Witnesses, or "J-Dubs" for short). She had had some family troubles recently, and was really touched by the little we shared about the Plan of Salvation. She took a  copy of the Book of Mormon, and said she would read it.

We then went by a little later, and a young man opened the door. His name was George. When we asked about Yanet, he told us that she (his mom) had been unable to sleep for 5 days, and so his dad had just barely taken her to the hospital before we showed up. We shared about how the Gospel, which is restored, blesses families, and gave him his own Book of Mormon. He was really attentive, and even though he was shy and didn't want to, said an amazing prayer at the end!

Later, out of the blue, we decided to randomly call some people who had studied with missionaries in the past, but got too busy. Their names are Ofelia and Juan Carlos. When we called, Ofelia answered the phone! She was super excited that we had contacted her, but was very sad to tell us she had moved. Darn! Well, when we asked her where, she told us she had moved all the way to... Goldendale. Pshht. That's a non-issue if ever I saw one. Anyway, we set up an appointment tomorrow, and we're going to Goldendale! Separately, the sisters up in Goldendale got a message from one of our members, telling them about a good friend who had moved to Goldendale, but had just excitedly told the member that somebody from the church contacted her. The member, Sister Mullins, was really excited! She told the sisters that her friend didn't speak the best English, but that she had to be contacted by missionaries as soon as possible. The sister missionaries then excitedly called us, letting us know that an amazing Spanish speaker had been found in Goldendale! We started getting amazed that so many Spanish-speaking people in Goldendale were suddenly asking for missionaries, and with a little further probing, we discovered that it was... yep, you guessed it: Ofelia. So she's really excited!

Finally, there's Fransisco. He's nice. A member from our ward asked us to talk to him, because they've worked together for years. We taught him and now he's investigating the Gospel.

That's pretty much it. Not too much else is going on. Noe and Maria are still busy, and so is Rosalva. Actually, funny thing: Even though we were teaching them completely separately, Rosalva and Maria are best friends. They carpool together to work, and Maria invites Rosalva to read the Book of Mormon and come to church all the time. It's a pretty amazing thing! If only the cherry harvest didn't suck, vampirically, the life out of people. Ah, well. At least it doesn't last all year.

That's all for now! Love you! Bye!

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom:

Wie gehts?Fantastisch, danke!  (This is German: "How are you?"  "Fantastic, thanks!")

Anything fun planned for today?Not really, no. I honestly have no idea what the plans are today. We were going to learn how to whittle cool things, but that got postponed. I guess we'll find out!

Did you know there is a Stonehenge Memorial in Goldendale that might be interesting to visit?Yes, I actually do know about that! It's not actually in Goldendale, but about halfway between Goldendale and The Dalles. Perhaps we'll go, if we can find the time.

Any news on Jamie or your other investigators?Well, not really. There's not any news on the people you know about. We've got some cool new potentials and investigators, though! I'll update you in my main letter.

What do you do to lift yourself up when you feel sad or disappointed?If I ever catch myself thinking something negative, I have a rule that I have to actually say something positive, preferably about that thing.

How long does Elder Wood have left in his mission?Elder West has about 5 months left.

I don't want you to spend a lot of time thinking about this, but just a check-up, because I will have to start helping you deal with it soon enough: Are you still inclined to go back to BU when you get home, or are you considering other options? - I still plan on returning to BU. Great music program, great singles ward, really great teachers. (I won't even mention the food options.)

Also, are you still inclined to want to live in a dorm at BU? - Hmm, I hadn't thought about that one much. I had sort of assumed so, but it was a tad cramped.

Anything in particular you wish you could talk to us about or share with us? I don't think there's anything at the moment, other than standard (or, as you would say, "mundane") things. :-D I do love you a ton, though!

Con cariño,
[With love]

Élder Adams

Pictures of messing around with a flashlight and long-exposure camera shots

Need I say more?

Other Pictures

The following are from the Mission President's visit to The Dalles on Saturday, July 8 for missionary interviews.
Elder Adams and Elder West welcomed us!
 Elder West and Elder Adams, serving in The Dalles Spanish areas
(The missionaries were apparently all asked what they loved about their assigned area.)

Elder West:  I love the free fruit (cherries and nectarines are my favorites).  I love crashing Mexican parties.  I love the general feeling of small town agricultural culture here, and the felling up north of adventure and “untamed wilds.”

Elder Adams:  I love how friendly and sincere the people here are.  I love the delicious fruit.  I love the Columbia River, giving life and beauty to this place.

 Fellow Servants.

 The following are from the Mission President's visit on Sundaty, July 9 to visit church in The Dalles.

Church meetings were great!  Afterwards these Elders were in the Family History Library (where they email on Mondays).  They were preparing reports.

 Wait one minute, Sis Lewis!

Week 58: In which we are not eaten by dogs, we eat elk liverwurst, and I play cello in the hospital.

Just Another Week...

Written 3 Jul 2017

Hey, everyone! This week has been, pretty much, just another week. We didn't have anything incredibly exciting happen (like being eaten by dogs) or anything disappointing happen either (like being eaten by dogs). Monday, we knocked a lot of doors and tried to find a less-active member of the church. We did, and set up an appointment for Friday. Tuesday, we had an amazing Zone Conference (big missionary meeting) in Yakima. We then had a lesson with a lady named Rosalva, but she wasn't there, so we knocked doors the rest of the time. Wednesday, we tried to find someone at home, they weren't there, so we knocked some doors until we decided to see if Maria (of Noe and Maria fame) was home, but she wasn't, so we knocked some more doors. In the afternoon, we tried to find a man named Fransisco who works with a member here, but neither he nor the member were reachable, so we knocked some more doors. We then had dinner, talked with a local family of members about family history, went by and tried to find a ton of people, but none of them were home, and then we went to some trailers that are super far away to have a lesson with a guy named Chet. He is cool. He grew up 7th-Day Adventist. He gave us Elk Liverwurst, and then we referred him to the English-speaking missionaries (he speaks no Spanish whatsoever). We finished up the day with our weekly correlation meeting with Brother Corey.

Thursday, I was on exchanges (where I switch places with another missionary for a day) with Elder Poloncic (pronounced pull-ON-sick), in their English area. We talked to a cool lady named Crystal who Elder West and I had actually told the English missionaries to go by her. She's really cool, Native American (from the Yakama nation), and super interested in the Book of Mormon. She wants to read it with her kids! After that, Elder Poloncic and I studied together and had lunch. We then went to the church to have a lesson with a guy named Alvin, but he never showed up, so we went to the Hospital. I played cello at the Hospital for about an hour on a cello we borrowed from a local former member of the church, Aaron. He's really cool and a great guy, and was a music major (in cello) for a time. I played on what was definitely the nicest cello I've touched/seen since starting my mission. I played the Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suite no. 1 and some hymns.

After that, we did service at the Food Bank, helping people go through. We then had dinner at 5 with the Nerdin family, followed by a lesson with a cool guy named Brandon. Elder West and I had also found him a while back and told the English missionaries to go by again, even though they already knew about him. Since then, he's been doing great! It was a really cool lesson, but went REALLY long. Oops. We finished it up by talking to a guy named "Dub" who is a Dubstep dancer. He's super ADHD. We were trying to relate what he was saying about slot cars to the gospel, and he was right with us, but then someone drove through a stop sign. That prompted him to tell us about how when he was a 17-year old volunteer firefighter, he once saw a Native American lady who was driving under the influence with the sunroof open and not using a seat belt. She flipped her car and got cut in half. He described the scene to us in all it's wonderful detail. In my head, I was just going "AAAAAAAH!" but I didn't say much. We ended up relating the gospel back to that by saying "Yeah, the world is terrible, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ helps us through that!"

Friday, I was back with Elder West. First, we tried to find Maria, but she wasn't there, so we came back and planned for the next week. After that, we knocked some doors, had dinner, and tried to find people the rest of the night. We found Jamie's dad, which was great! We had a pretty cool lesson with him, and at the end, Jamie came out! She had been sleeping, but we invited her to a tour of the church building Sunday. We then went to our lesson with the less-active member we had set up on Monday, but he wasn't there, so we knocked some doors.

Saturday, we knocked a lot of doors and tried to find people. It was actually quite eventful. We started out with helping a local member pack up her house to move. We then knocked some doors and talked to an old Mexican couple who was telling us about how they just live in a shack in their son's backyard hoping he would sometimes feed them. That was sad. Later, over the course of the day, we found Sharen, who is the younger sister of a local Spanish-speaking less-active member, and invited her to church. Spoiler: she sadly didn't make it. We also found Noe and Maria again! YAY! We had a great lesson. We also found a lady who said she needed spiritual healing and who told us her husband needed to hear about God because she had just barely found out he was cheating on her. Ouch. She told us to come back that night, but she wasn't there, so we left a Plan of Salvation pamphlet in their door, complete with a personal note saying how it blesses families, and a card that asked the question "How can I have a happy marriage?" 

We also talked to a guy named Felix on Saturday. He is married to Silvia, a less-active member. He seems to have some... mental challenges. Nothing huge, he just... sits there. Talking to him is also a bit like talking to a talking brick wall. Nothing you say gets through, and after he finishes listening (sometimes this is before you are done talking) he just says the same things over again, as if he didn't even hear. He told us he threw out the Book of Mormon we gave him because he looked in it and discovered it wasn't the Bible. Grr. We tried to explain that it's not SUPPOSED to be the Bible, but it was as if we were talking to a mailbox. It went in one ear and out the other. We also asked him "How do you know if something your preacher tells you is true?"... 3 times. His 3 answers were: 
1. "Oh, yes, I believe in God."
2. "You know, Jeremiah 33:3 is a great scripture."
3. "I know it's true because I had a vision that told me God loved me and I would be all right, then the hospital gave me a different doctor."

Seriously, the expressions of sheer confusion on our faces were priceless almost every time he opened his mouth. We finished up the evening by knocking some more doors.

Sunday, we had church. We then had a lesson with Rosalva, who is now investigating the Gospel! Jamie cancelled the church tour last minute because she had to help her mom set something up for today. Darn. After that, we tried to find people, but they weren't home, so we knocked a lot of doors. The area where we were knocking doors had a lot of old cranky people in it, but it's okay. 

That's pretty much an overview of my week! Enjoy!

Love you all,

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

Are you feeling independent these days? How does it feel to be on your own? Do you ever think about it? - Well, yes and no. We're still pretty well supervised, but by each other. I suppose that doesn't change a ton later on, though, since you're always supervised by someone. I try not to think about it too much; it makes me feel weird.

Are you doing anything special to celebrate the 4th? - Um, not really. We'll wave around those sparklers, and we're having a Zone barbecue today in Hood River, but that's about it.

Is it miserable hot, or still pleasant enough? - Well, it's getting miserable hot, but we thankfully have a car.

How is the work coming in The Dalles? Any new ideas/fun plans? - It's coming, slowly but surely. We're teaching the youth Sunday School class on how to do missionary work this coming Sunday. That should be exciting!

How did the cello service project go? Was it fun? I hope your companion was OK with it, yes? - It went great! I was on exchanges with Elder Poloncic (pronounced Pull-ON-sick) and he liked it a lot.

Weird or funny stories? - Well, we talked to a guy named Felix, who is married to a less-active member. He seems to have some... mental challenges. Nothing huge, he just... sits there. Talking to him is also a bit like talking to a talking brick wall. Nothing you say gets through, and after he finishes listening (sometimes this is before you are done talking) he just says the same things over again, as if he didn't even hear. He told us he threw out the Book of Mormon we gave him because he looked in it and discovered it wasn't the Bible. Grr. We also asked him "How do you know if something your preacher tells you is true?"... 3 times. His answers were: 
1. "Oh, yes, I believe in God."
2. "You know, Jeremiah 33:3 is a great scripture."
3. "I know it's true because I had a vision that told me God loved me and I would be all right, then the hospital gave me a different doctor."

Seriously, the expressions of sheer confusion on our faces were priceless almost every time he opened his mouth.

What inspired you this week? - I was inspired by Zone Conference, and also by Alma 7:11 "And he shall go forth, suffering pains, afflictions, and temptations of every kind, that the word might be fulfilled which saith: He will take upon Him the pains and the sicknesses of His people."

"Y Él saldrá, sufriendo dolores, aflicciónes, y tentaciónes de todas clases, y esto para que se cumpla la palabra que dice: tomará sobre sí los dolores y las enfermedades de su pueblo."

Love you to the moon and back! - I love you on a lunar orbital rendezvous expedition to collect cool rocks followed by a successful splashdown too!


Elder Adams





... And a picture posted on Facebook by Sister Lewis (the mission mom).  She said, 
Elder Adams giving service at the Mid Columbia Medical Center today. His music would calm any troubled heart.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Week 57: In which cherry season is consuming, we help in the food bank, and we fail to find a muffin in the street.

"...y viene aquel que no tiene dinero..."

written June 26, 2017

¡Hola, hermanos! ¿Que tal? Hoy quisiera hablarles de la semana que tuvimos. Era rara. Primero, hemos tratado de encontrar a Noé y María, pero la epocha de la cereza ya toma todo su tiempo. No hemos podido encontrarles en casa, o también es posible que estaban dormidos unas veces. No obstante, tuvimos muchas experiencias bien lindas, y el Élder West y yo continuamos a encontrar más adventuras cási cada día. ¡Nunca es aburrida una misión!
Hello brothers & sisters! How's it going? Today I wanted to talk to you about the week we had. It was rare. First, we tried to find Noé and Maria, but the cherry season now takes all their time. We have not been able to find them at home, or it's also possible that they were asleep sometimes. Nonetheless, we had a lot of really good experiences, and Elder West and I continued to find more adventures almost every day. A mission is never boring!

Pues, empiezo ya. ¿Piensen que debo hablar en inglés para todos que no hablen el idioma celestial? Sí, sí, yo sé. Lo haré, entonces.
Well, I'm starting now. Do you think I should speak in English for those who do not speak the celestial language? Yeah, yeah, I know. So I will do it.

Well, this has been a crazy week. We're trying to find more people to teach like crazy. The cherry picking season has completely engulfed the lives of a lot of the people we're working with, so we've gone into "finding" hyperdrive. It's going to be a crazy couple of months. This week was really... interesting. We've had a couple of really fascinating experiences and encounters. We'll see if I can remember any.

Tuesday, we helped out at the Food Bank taking people through. They were very glad to have our help, since we speak Spanish (we were the only volunteers there who did). We then spent some time trying to figure out and arrange a service project at the Hospital, but ran into way too much red tape. Grr. At least we were able to arrange so I can play cello this Thursday in the Hospital Atrium! We finally got the green light! That's going to be awesome. I'm planning on playing some Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites, and we found a Less-Active member here who is a cellist and has a much nicer cello than any I've seen in the mission so far. It's not as nice as mine, but it's not bad at all. I'll close it up with a hymn or two (or three).

Wednesday we met a cool guy named Leo. To quote a portion of my letter to President Lewis:
He was investigating before, but just got too busy. However, we shared the message of the Restoration with him and he was really touched by it. He was shocked when he found out about our current organization, and how literally everything is decided by prayer and revelation. It really sparked something in him, and he wants the rest of his family to be involved as well. His family is out of town right now, and his work is going to make him super busy, but he told us to call him back after the 4th of July to set up another appointment. He wants to take them all to church sometime after that, as well!

Thursday we helped at the Food Bank again. Friday, we planned for this upcoming week and tried to find people. Saturday, we helped some local members of the church, Brother and Sister Swales, to weed their garden and make a dent in removing a seemingly infinite number of evil little weed bulbs (they never ended and it looked like we did absolutely nothing).

Earlier this week, a guy told asked us "Are you aware you're being deceived?" and proceeded to ask us "In the name of Jesus Christ, what is your name?" When we answered him, he said "Aha! And you think you're not controlled by a devil?" We were a bit nonplussed, actually. We almost didn't know how to respond, since I'd never had that happen before. We simply invited him to pray to know if what we shared was true. He then proceeded to do so, praying not only to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, but asked that if we were wrong, that a "burden be placed upon our backs so that we might not walk." However, on the flip side, he also asked "If I am wrong, please place that burden on me." He also prayed and asked for the spirit to be with us and show us the way. His prayer was actually very, very sincere. We walked away wondering what was to come of that, if he really was sincere.

We then had a couple of amazing, super spirit-filled days when we felt especially guided. It was pretty amazing. I learned better how to follow the Spirit, and we had an amazing planning session on Friday. We also had so many interesting and weird things happen that we half expected to walk up and find a muffin in the middle of the sidewalk. We didn't, but that would certainly have blown our minds. Instead, we ran into a guy with a huge backpack who said he was doing "clandestine spiritual warfare". No idea what that meant, but it sounded like a massive conspiracy theory, mixed with a really cool spy/sci-fi movie, mixed with inter-dimensional warfare. It was... really interesting, to say the least. He looked and sounded completely sane, until you heard what it was that was actually coming out of his mouth. It was an odd experience, for sure. Oregon. He told us that he actually would really love to read the Book of Mormon, so we gave him a copy. Perhaps some good will come of it!

To explain the title of this email, Elder Niel L. Anderson, one of the 12 Apostles, invited the missionaries from our mission and the Kennewick Mission to memorize 10 scriptures from the New Testament and 10 scriptures from the Book of Mormon. Elder West chose as one of his Book of Mormon scriptures 2 Nep 9:50-51. He was reciting it out loud in Spanish, and there is a phrase that says "y venga aquel que no tiene dinero" ([come] he that hath no money), but I heard "y viene aquel que no tiene dinero" (a person with no money comes up). I then began saying "Y viene aquel que no tiene dinero: Holaaa! Hermanos! Como estan? Aqui estoy! No tengo dinero!"
(And the one who doesn't have money comes up: "Heyyy! Brothers! How are you?  Here I am! I don't have any money!")
imitating a drunk guy asking for money. It was funnier if you were there.

I know for sure the Lord's hand is heavily involved in this area at this time. It is very clear, and Elder West and I are super excited for what this next week holds!

Love you all, and hope you have a great week.

Elder Adams
Questions from Editor Mom:
How are you? - Wunderbar!

Does your blue suit still fit? - Yes, it does... what are you implying?

What are you laughing about these days? - Occasionally, scriptures such as 2 Nep 9:51 and my personal favorite, Rom 14:2-3.

Also, we laugh about the little things, like when one of us says something funny or does a funny impersonation. It's pretty much a blast.

How are Noe and Maria and your other investigators? - Well, cherry season ate their lives. We're working on finding a time they can meet with us.

What are you doing for aerobic exercise? - Occasionally, karate, interpretive dancing, and fantasy swordfighting using a broom handle. I'm trying to be creative.

What music are you listening to? - Wellington's Victory, old English renaissance music, Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony, the 1812 Overture, Mahler, and Carl Orff's "O Fortuna", to name a few. We also occasionally listen to The Piano Guys, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, EFY stuff (it's not all trash, actually), Vocal Point, Celtic Woman, and many, many more.

Do you have bikes, in addition to the car? (Could you choose to use them if you wanted to?) - No, we do not. We just have the car. There are too many walking areas that are in desperate for bikes, so we're just nowhere near a priority.

Do you have enough work to keep you happily occupied? - Well, yes. The work rarely comes to us on a golden platter; we make the work.

How's your morale holding out? - Fantastical! While there are, of course, occasional dips and rises, depending on what's going on at any given time, our morale averages pretty good. It's certainly rising (based on no external influences, interestingly). We're excited for what this next week holds.

Con cariño,

Élder Adams