Monday, April 5, 2010

Low single...

We received a great email from Alex last week. He talked about all of the things that he and his companion had been doing and told us about many of the people that they have been teaching. Alex also discovered one of the talents that is given to many missionaries. That is the talent of being able to respond to assignments in a moment's notice and having to be prepared to teach and speak on any gospel subject.

Alex was asked to speak in church last week and had emailed us previously looking for some good personal experiences that he could use on the topic of faith. After thinking about it for a while, Alex settled on a wrestling story (like you wouldn't expect that) from his final home dual as a senior on the varsity wrestling team. If you were at the church meeting where Alex spoke, you already know how Alex weaved this story into the rest of his talk. For the rest of us who weren't there, I will try to recount what happened that night during his final wrestling dual and how Alex likely related this story to faith.

Alex has a cousin named Matt (actually Matt is Alex's Mom's cousin, but that is beside the point ;-) who had been helping Alex with some of his wrestling technique throughout Alex's senior year. Before this final home dual, Alex and Matt had been working on a takedown move called a "low single". Basically this move is where one wrestler pushes off from the other and then quickly moves back in on his opponent to tie up the leg below the knee. From that point the wrestler can easily takedown his opponent by throwing him off balance.

With the entire gym dark except for a single light shining directly down onto the wrestling mat, it is very difficult to see anything outside of the wrestling ring itself.  Throughout the match, Alex's wrestling coach had been yelling out instructions from the side of the mat. But up to this point Alex had not heard any of what his coach had been saying nor could he see the coach or any of the people in the bleachers. Then at the beginning of the third period after the crowd noise had died down, Matt, who was sitting in the bleachers, yelled out loud and clear, "I WANT TO SEE A LOW SINGLE". Alex looked up at the bleachers from where he heard the voice and with an acknowledging expression on his face, he proceeded to take down his opponent several times with a low single.

Alex told us in his email that he had likened this story to faith. He and Matt had been working on this move for several weeks but Alex never had enough faith or confidence in his abilities to actually use it. Then during this final match, Alex's coach from the side of the mat, was yelling out different instructions. But there was too much crowd noise and commotion for Alex to hear and understand the instructions. Then when the noise finally died down so that Alex could actually stop and listen, he heard the instructions loud and clear from the person that had been teaching him the move. At that point Alex put aside his doubts in his abilities and put his faith in what he had been taught.

Since we were obviously not at the church meeting where Alex recited this story, I'm guessing that when he used this story in his talk, he said that it was like listening to the still small voice. Once all of the outside noise and commotion dies down and we are able to actually listen, we hear the voice loud and clear.  Listening to this voice can give is the confidence and faith to follow the instructions that are being told to us.

For all of you who were in the meeting that day when Alex spoke about faith and for those just reading this blog entry, here is the actual event that goes with the story. The following is a video clip of the actual event taking place during the final home wrestling dual. Up to this point Alex was winning the match but had struggled on a few of his other takedown moves. His coach had been yelling out instructions from the edge of the mat during the entire match. The clip picks up at the beginning of the third period. Pay special attention to Alex's facial expression after his cousin yells "Low Single".  Who would have known that the experiences of this night would be part of Alex's preparation for a mission.


So that was just the beginning of Alex and his companion's Sunday as missionaries.  Oh, before I move on to tell you about the rest of his day, there was one other funny part to this story.  As you probably already know, the mid-western states are notorious for tornados.  So one of the things that I guess the people are used to who live in these states, are tornado warning drills.  For whatever reason there was going to be a tornado drill sometime towards the end of Sacrament meeting.  While Alex was standing at the pulpit giving his talk, he knew that at some point the warning bells would ring and that he would have to wrap up very quickly.  Sure enough towards the end of his talk the warning bells rang right in the middle of talking about the stripling warriors.  At that point somebody kicked Alex in the knee from behind, Alex abruptly ended his talk and the congregation got a good laugh out of the whole thing.  Like I mentioned earlier, missionaries have to be prepared for anything.  Who would have thought that a tornado warning drill would have been included in that list.

In addition to speaking in Sacrament meeting, Alex and his companion were also assigned to teach a lesson to the young men in another Ward.  At the same time that they were supposed to also be attending PEC meeting in their home ward.  They managed to find splits so that they could actually be in two places at once and were able to take care of their responsibilities.  Then on top of all of that, they were asked to teach sharing time in primary for both the junior and senior primary kids.  When they were orignally asked to teach the primary kids, they were simply told to teach about prophets and missions and that was about all the details that they were given.  So being good missionaries who are always prepared, they just winged it. ;-)  But when it was all said and done, everything worked out well.  In Alex's words:
"The junior primary was a little rough because they didn’t really participate, but the senior primary was a blast! They asked us questions about what we do as missionaries, and we had everyone laughing! The teachers had more fun than the kids did I think ha ha."
Then right after their church meetings ended, they had other teaching appointments to attend to that day.  All in all, a very busy day for a couple of missionaries.  I am sure that by the end of the day, they were both very tired but also very satisfied with all that they had accomplished.

General Conference weekend was this last week with many good talks given by the General Authorities of the Church as well as the Prophet and Apostles.  Alex told us in his latest email that conference weekend is like the super bowl for missionaries.  They don't have to plan anything for the whole weekend and they get to watch conference and eat food at the institute building.  Alex was very impressed by many of the talks that were given during the various conference sessions.  He told us that the message that most impressed him throughout the conference was making the family stronger. 

As usual Alex told us about several of the people that they are teaching and how well things are going.  I won't share those stories here but in almost every email he talks about how great these people are and how much he looks forward to teaching them more about the gospel. 

One last funny story for this week.  For whatever reason, Alex asked us to contact his doctor who gave him his physical exam before Alex left on his mission.  What he wanted to know was his exact height before he left because he now swears that he is taller because his weight has gone up even though he is still in the same shape as always.  Alex also mentioned that there were a couple of pictures of him and his companion that were posted on a web blog called .  It is a blog that is maintained by one of their Ward members who apparently really likes to bake.  Anyway, the pictures on the web site show Alex and his companion with several pieces of very yummy looking cheesecake in front of them (Cheesecake tasting competition).  I sent Alex back a response that maybe we should ask the doctor what his width was before his mission rather than his height. If he keeps eating deserts like that, his weight gain could be easily explained. ;-)  Alex likes to do a lot of baking himself.  But the difference is that Alex's recipes usually come from the back of a brownie mix box. 

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