Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rising to the challenge

Well, in my last entry I told you that Alex got transfered yet again.  He is now in Lawrence Kansas and loving it.  I also told you that this was a double transfer, both Alex and his companion were transfered into Lawrence at the same time.  One of things that Alex has mentioned in his most recent letters is that for whatever reason, Lawrence seems to be one of the tougher places to be for missionary work.  When Alex and his companion got there, they literally had to start from ground zero.  They had nobody to teach and no current referrals.  But that's OK, it just means that they have more opportunities coming, to meet and teach new people.  In fact that is exactly what they have been doing.  After spending time shoveling snow, knocking on doors and talking with the members of their Ward, they have found some new people to teach and as Alex told us, things are looking better than ever in Lawrence Kansas.

So Alex told us a story about his first Sunday in the new Ward that I am sure all of you returned missionaries can relate to.  Being new missionaries in the Ward, apparently both Alex and his companion were asked to speak in Sacrament meeting.  Of course they accepted and prepared for their talks.  But when it came time to actually speak in the meeting, apparently the person who spoke right before Alex's companion, had pretty well covered the topic.  So right then and there on the stand, Alex's companion pulled a new talk together and spent his time talking to the congregation about the 8th article of faith.
"We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God."
Of course that is one of the shorter articles of faith but it carries a lot of powerful meaning.  According to Alex, his companion did a "way good" job.  "I was way impressed; he just whipped it out of his back pocket.".  Alex went on to talk about proclaiming the gospel.  Given that Alex is a full time missionary, you would probably expect a missionary to touch on this subject.  Alex said that it all went really well.  Besides talking about how important it is to proclaim the gospel and help in doing missionary work, he also told the members of the Ward just how excited he was to be there in Lawrence and how he was looking forward to working with them.  He said that after Sacrament meeting was over, several of the members of the Ward told Alex and his companion just how much they enjoyed their talks and even shared with them a few referrals of people who they thought would be interested is listening to what the missionaries have to say.  Does that sound like a typical missionary experience to you?  It does to me and one that happens time and time again all throughout the world.  Also keep in mind that Alex has only been on his mission for about four months and his companion has only been out for just a few short months longer than Alex.  You know that the Lord is looking over these missionaries and allowing them to do things that they themselves may have thought were too hard to do just a few months ago.  They both have many more of these types of experiences ahead.

At the end of one of Alex's letters he told us another story about one of their P-day antics.  So on their P-day a week or so ago, several of the missionaries decided to go to a local restaurant that serves up some screaming hot Buffalo Wings.  When they got there, they decided to take on the "Blazin Challenge".  For Alex, this isn't the first time that he decided to take on a new challenge, not even with Buffalo Wings.  According to what Alex told us, the challenge was to eat twelve of the restaurants hottest wings in under six minutes.  Like I said, this wasn't Alex's first venture into spicy food.  Before he left on his mission, we used to have contests on how many hot chili peppers we could put into a bowl of top ramen and still make it through the whole bowl.  It got really exciting when we switched to habanero peppers a few times.  Anyway, they met the challenge, conquered it and won their free t-shirts.  Alex got the fastest time out of all of the missionaries and got his picture taken to be put up on the wall.  Of course Alex made sure that he was holding his Book of Mormon when they took the picture.  Forevermore immortalized as the fastest missionary Buffalo Wing eater.  Almost as good as his state wrestling champion title. ;-)

Alex told us this week that they have some really awesome families in their Ward, but they did have one slight problem at church last week.  You have probably heard about all of the snow storms that have been hitting the mid-west and east coast lately.  Well, I guess one of these storms must have hit last week which caused church to be canceled.  The only problem was, nobody told the missionaries.  There they both were sitting on the front row in the chapel five minutes before the meetings were suppose to start and not another soul in the building.  Oh well, sounds like they were blessed with a great opportunity to sit and ponder the gospel in the quite solitude of the chapel.  I think that many of us would love to spend a quite moment like that in the chapel especially after one of those noisy weeks with all of the restless kids and crying babies.

Remember back in some of the earlier blog entries when Alex first arrived in his mission, he was assigned to Wamego Kansas and spent six weeks there teaching a lot of people and also working with the wrestling team at the local high school.  Well it has been almost two months since Alex was in Wamego but he still gets news from the members of the branch there about what has been going on.  One of the most exciting things that Alex reported to us in his last letter, was from Wamego.  It looks like one of the wrestlers that Alex worked with and is also a member of the LDS church, will be competing this week for a state wrestling title.  From what Alex has told us, this wrestler has been doing really well during the season, is currently ranked third in the state and has only lost one match all season.  Alex is really excited for this kid because Alex knows exactly what it is like to win a title like that.  Alex also wrote a letter to one of his former team mates who is still wrestling for the local high school here and also recently won a state title.  One of the things that Alex told him was that a sport like wrestling really teaches a kid how to work hard and that wrestlers make some of the best missionaries.  To all of you who have wrestled and served a mission, you know what Alex is talking about.  To all of you who are wrestlers and thinking about a mission, apply everything that you have learned in wrestling to a new challenge as a missionary.

One last thing, you might also remember that during Christmas just before Alex left Wamego, Alex, his companion and several other young men from the ward (including the afore mentioned wrestler), sang some Christmas songs at the branch Christmas party.  Well apparently the word never made it from Wamego to Lawrence about just how well the missionaries sing, because they have been asked to sing again in a few weeks at a Ward fireside.  We'll have to see how well it goes this time around.  I'm sure they will do great. 

I just have to share one last quote from Alex's last letter:
"Lawrence is a blast! This is definitely the most fun I have had on my mission! My companion is awesome, the work is moving forward (slowly but surely), and Lawrence is a way fun place to be!"

It doesn't get better than that.

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