Saturday, June 17, 2017

Week 54: In which I stay in The Dalles, Maria questions her tears, and I color my scriptures

Weekly letter 3.14159
Written 5 Jun 2017

First of all, no. I did not eat pie today. It's not that kind of day. Today was a hummus and arugula day. Hummus and arugula on a sourdough, coupled with a root beer float. Yee-haw.

I AM STAYING!! HAHAHAHAHA!!! I'm suuuuper happy about that! I get to stay with Elder West, who is the absolute coolest missionary ever! He once described me as effervescent, but then changed his mind because that reminded him of a bubbly drink. Yeah, that's right. I'm a soda.

The Dalles is also picking up speed like a runaway mail truck careening down the side of Mount Everest, chased by flesh-eating beetles. Wow. That was a really... interesting... picture. I hope it brought you joy, because I'm SUPER EXCITED about the work here in The Dalles! I'm so excited I've started using weird imagery and capital letters!

We've got several investigators, but only 2 of them keep return appointments we set. They are, of course, Noe and Maria, who are the coolest Spanish-speaking people this side of the Columbia River, excluding Elder West and Brother Corey, of course. They are super awesome. Maria actually asked us in our last lesson: "Porque quiero llorar cuando leo la Biblia el Libro de Mormon, y los folletos?" (Why do I want to cry when I read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the pamphlets? Brother Corey was with us, and was blown away. He later said, "it's not every day an investigator asks you [that]."

Anyway, We're really excited about everything here. It's a good day, and has been a good week. I'm not sure what else to write about, honestly. A lady gave us free fresh snap peas from her bush, I guess! That's cool. Also family history, but you got that from my letter to President Lewis. I don't know.

I guess, I love you!

Elder Adams

Ben's weekly letter to the mission president.

I figured you would appreciate this. I normally try not to forward the entire letter. I have removed some last names, just as part of post-editing. Nothing really important has been lost.

Dear President Lewis,

Words cannot fully express the great excitement Elder West and I feel. Truly, the Lord has poured out miracles on The Dalles. The ward is still reeling from Taylor's sudden appearance, as are we. As missionaries, we're trying to spread her story like wildfire so that it catches in the hearts of the members here. If we do our part and work hard to spread the flames of missionary work, Taylor's conversion might just be the impetus for a great swelling in productivity here. Our companionship, for one, has begun noticing more of the miracles being worked in this part of the Lord's vineyard.

Noe and Maria are honestly amazing. They came to church this last Sunday, and loved it! Maria said afterwards that she wants to come back, because there is a "great peace" there. Our main concern is the looming cherry picking season, and how that will affect their family. They both have full-time year-round jobs at a cherry orchard, and 'tis the season for mindbogglingly long hours. Our hope and prayer is that they will continue growing fast enough to counteract the worldly influence of a job that steals so much time in pursuit of money. However, we have a lot of hope that they'll make it as they continue progressing at the rate they are. The only reason they don't have a baptismal date yet is because Maria wants to read the Book of Mormon first; that is a common and somewhat hard to resolve concern, but yet one that will dissipate so easily when constant study, prayer, and church attendance is kept, literally, religiously.

Also, a miracle happened! When Noe and Maria came to church, a less-active native Spanish-speaking member randomly showed up to sacrament meeting: Gloria! Brother Corey had been praying that we have a native speaker come to help with fellowshipping Noe and Maria, and it happened. What's more, Maria and Gloria already knew each other! Seriously, miracles are happening left and right here.

We've also been focusing a lot more with the members here on helping them do more qualitative Family History work. A lot of the local members have their family trees filled out nearly to the 1400s, and don't know how they can do more Family History work once all those names are already found. Well, we've been focusing on getting people to fill out the "memories" tab on This was inspired by a comment by Sister Lewis implying that the more we know about our ancestors, the more they can be involved in our lives. We feel those added reinforcements have been what is fueling and what will continue to fuel the Earthly missionary effort in this ward.

It's an exciting time to be a missionary in The Dalles 2nd Ward. Elder West and I are very glad we get to stick around.

With much love,

Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom:

Hi Elder Adams! - Hi non-Elder Adamses!

Another week has come and gone--seems to be a common theme here. Thank you for sharing the audio files. It is fun to hear your voice. - I'm glad you enjoy those!

How are you? Looking forward to hear what this transfer has in store for you. - I bet you are. I'll just get the suspense out of the way... I'm staying here with Elder West! YAAAAAYYY!!!!!
How are your investigators? - Not dead.

How's the ward? - Also not dead.

How was your interview with President Lewis? Did you learn anything or share anything interesting? - I talked with him about how to be patient with yourself when you are trying not to mess everything up and failing at it. He told me that's normal and to get over myself. Well, not in those words, because he wouldn't talk like that, but basically his meaning.

What are you doing for P-Day fun today? - We are going to be inventing a board game. Elder West reminds me a lot of Andrew Weinbrenner, actually. Not in every way, but it is pretty startling.

We initiated our new hot tub last night. Are you jealous? (Don't be--it will be here for a long time.) - I'm not jealous. That just means you don't get to share the gospel full-time. Hah! So there!

What profound insights/thoughts have you had this week? - Well, it was pretty crazy, but has to do with being representatives of Jesus Christ and what that means. I have been going through the Book of Mormon for the last  couple of weeks for part of my personal study and highlighting different specific things:

Yellow - When God the Father speaks
Red - When Jesus Christ speaks
Light Blue - When the Holy Ghost speaks/promptings
Dark Blue - When Angels speak
Orange - Direct references to Jesus Christ

I'm currently in the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi. Basically, I've been having a hard time being able to tell when it's Jesus Christ speaking or Isaiah speaking, since Isaiah speaks "for the Lord" a lot, or, in other words, messianically. I also noticed that everything Christ says, or Isaiah says for Him, directly leads to a promise. In other words, Christ makes covenants. Even the First Vision was not to tell Joseph Smith about the Apostasy, but to covenant that further light and knowledge would be revealed to Joseph at a future time. It's amazing. Elder West and I where then watching a training video where a missionary started talking to the investigator as if he were "quoting" God himself, but he wasn't quoting scripture. It was really interesting, since it was like he was putting words in God's mouth. I started wondering, "Can he really do that?" Elder West and I then had a really interesting comp study where we talked about how we can apply that here in our area to be better teachers. Basically, being ordained representatives of Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of being able to speak for Christ, and, according to the strength of our faith and as directed by the Holy Spirit, make divine promises to those we encounter. It's pretty crazy and really hard to explain, especially in such a limited medium as this.

What scriptures are you focusing on? What else are you studying? - I pretty much just covered what the core of my studies have been (highlighting, then trying to study for individual investigators). That's pretty much the crux of it.

Our investigators are great, by the way, not just alive. Same with the ward. I'll try to cover that in more detail in the main letter. (I'm trying to save more time for it.)

Love you all!

Questions from Editor Dad:

Are you studying and using the stories we wrote up for you in the "my family" booklet? - Yes, actually! I've been showing them to members here to demonstrate the MyFamily booklet, and they love it! I've read over a lot of them a couple of times, too.

Is there any other family history information we can send you? - Um, I don't know. There's more I could use, but I'm honestly not sure if it's mission-approved yet. I'll have to ask about it (I'm referring to Grandpa's cool books containing the life stories of my ancestors - I don't know if I'm allowed to have those or not, but I'll try to remember to ask.)

Me with a new tie from JC Penney, which is in liquidation right now. That's right: they're liquefying their store.

Elder West and I cutting out tiny pieces of paper and sorting them into like piles. It's a long story, but this was our P-Day last week. We're inventing a board game called "Exo-Command". 

Comments posted by the mission president's wife, from interviews on 30 May.  She asked each missionary to describe themselves & their companion.

Elder Adams:  I’m usually pretty friendly, I smile and say Hi!.  I joke a fair amount.  I usually try to reach out to people having an awkward time.  Awkward people are usually really awesome.   Elder West has really great fantastic desires.  We click with each other really easily.  We have common interests.  He’s good at focusing on what he has in common with you.  He gets excited easily.  He isn’t too serious, but he takes things seriously.  He’s smart, has good ideas, and he’s organized.

Elder West:  I like having interesting conversations with people about interesting subjects.  I like discussing things.  I’m interested in other people and like asking detailed questions about what they do.  I’m also interested in  all kinds of things like trivia.   Elder Adams is really likable in almost every aspect.  He’s interesting and has a quirky nature.  I like his attitude which is spontaneous and enthusiastic.  He’s goofy, witty and fun.  He’s like a sparkler or a firecracker.

And the photo Sis. Lewis took and sent to Tammy during interviews:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Week 53: In which missionaries are chased, we think about ancestors, and a camel visits a camel.

Spiritual Floods
(Written 29 May 2017)

Hello, there! This is Elder Adams, in The Dalles OR!

It's been the craziest week! IT'S NUTS! You have no idea how psyched out we are right now. The English Elders got chased down by a young lady named Taylor who wants to be baptized! She had prayed the night before to find the missionaries. She asked them if they could teach her the steps to be baptized. Turns out, she has a boyfriend, Daniel, and their entire group of friends has decided baptism is the next step. There are, at the very least, four of them in total. It's completely insane.

This is very, very exciting news for us and our ward. Even though it doesn't really directly affect the Spanish work very much, it is a really good indicator that we found the spiritual "plug". It's Family History. We felt last week that not doing Family History is what was holding the ward here back, and as soon as we switched our focus to that, Taylor was found.

We're super excited for what this means here. The members of the ward are getting excited, the Bishop is seeing that we're doing things, and we know how to keep going. We even have a huge new pool to tap into to find people! This is just the beginning, too. It's exactly what we've been waiting and waiting for. We have always felt that The Dalles 2nd Ward had a lot more potential than the success it was having would indicate. It was as if there was a dam holding back everything the ward was capable of supporting. We were trying to find the "plug" to unlock the spiritual flood, but couldn't find it for a very long time. Last week, we received the revelation that we needed to focus more on Family History. Now, the trickle just turned into a solid stream.

Now, we're super excited. Time to get ready to ride the flood!

Elder Adams
Addendum: Also, we're teaching Noe and Maria. They... are... awesome! Maria read the Book of Mormon all the way through when Nephi and his brothers returned from getting the brass plates, and Noe also started reading last time! They aren't married, but want to be. They're Catholic, and the Catholic church has a lot of requirements for getting married. They're thinking about being baptized, they just have to work through having their families be Catholic for generations.

Questions from Editor Mom:
Have you really been in The Dalles over 4 months!? Inconceivable. How do you feel about that? - Wait, what? Really? Huh. I had no idea I had been here so long. It's not even quite 2 transfers yet!
[Note: Ben is right; he has only been in the Dalles for 2 1/2 months.]

Since it's Memorial Day, how about if you tell us a bit about what you are grateful to your ancestors for? What do you know about them? Which ones are you most looking forward to meeting after this life? Do you ever think about how they may be sustaining you and helping you even now? - Odd you mention that, but yes. I've been thinking a lot lately about Family History. Unfortunately, I'm terrible at it myself, but it's been on my mind that I need to be better. After all, we're focusing on helping the members here do just that.

I don't remember a lot about Elias Adams, but I remember hearing a lot about how cool he was. One of my favorite stories is about John Neff, and another of my favorites is about Hannah Dustin. I also remember a little tiny bit about your Grandma who taught school and gave you watermelon in the summer. Of course, I remember Grandma Olsen in person; she will always be dear to my heart. I only wish I knew her better. I look forward to meeting all of them someday! I'm pretty sure they know who I am, at least.

Are you doing anything special today? - Not really. Elder West and I are inventing a new board game for P-Day. Sound familiar? Yeah, it reminds me of inventing a new board game with Andrew Winebrenner.

What do you most like about The Dalles? - Well, I really like Bro. Corey. He's really amazing. He definitely knows what's up, and was clearly prepared for his calling. It's also gorgeous here... literally! It's a gorge!

Please tell us about members you have most enjoyed interacting with in your time there. - Oops... already did. Bro. Corey, also Bro. Stuart. He's awesome. He knows some Mexicans. The Carters are also a really cool family; Martin, their son, is preparing to leave for a mission in Argentina (Spanish-speaking, of course) in a few months. We're so excited!

Funny stuff? Uplifting stuff? Challenges this week? - Funny? I don't know. Probably. Oh, yeah! I took a picture of Humphrey... with a camel! We went to the drive-through zoo for P-Day last week. I opened my hump-day package in the car (it had already passed). Turns out, the zoo had a ton of camels! It was fitting.

Also, a straight crazy miracle happened to our ward. It's honestly incredible. I'll have to save the details on that one, though.
[See the main letter above for this story.]


(Editor's note: Ben received a "Humphrey the Camel" Beanie Baby for his "Hump Day", i.e. the mid-point of his mission.)