Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Mother's Day phone call

It was a big we last week with all of our Mother's Day celebrations.  Actually one of the most exciting parts of Mother's Day was the fact that Alex had the opportunity to call home.  He called us right after we got home from church and we were able to spend some time talking with him on the phone.  To make sure that everybody could hear and had the opportunity to talk, we set up the speaker phone in the middle of the kitchen table.  Then we all sat around the table and enjoyed our time as a complete family with one of our family members participating over the phone. 

Alex told us all about his new assignment in Burlington Kansas.  I think we mentioned last time that Burlington is a rather small town in the middle of Kansas.  Alex told us that the whole town is about twelve blocks long by about twelve blocks wide.  He said that the streets in Burlington are empty most of the time since there isn't a whole lot of traffic in a town of about 2,400 people.  In fact most of the time they can just walk down the middle of the street and not even worry about being hit by a car or anything else.  This is a real change from being in Lawrence where there is always a lot more going on all of the time.

Remember that slick 1980's vintage bike that Alex is so proud of?  Well he told us that his bike isn't in such good shape anymore.  Apparently he and some of the other missionaries were having a little too much fun riding their bikes in unusual ways (if you catch my drift).  Alex must have landed his bike in a funny way which caused the shifter cable to break.  Now a bike which used to have ten speeds, only has one.  I'm not sure which gear his bike is stuck in, but Alex told us that it is good enough to ride around on since there are no hills in Burlington.  Speaking of "no hills", Alex also told us that they can ride out to the edge of town, stand in the middle of the street and see one long straight road that only seems to end when it hits the horizon.  That's how flat it is.  So given that kind of terrain, there really isn't any need for more than one gear on his bike. 

Getting back to the Mother's day phone call, hearing Alex's voice on the phone was almost like the good old days sitting around the dining room table and talking.  In fact while he was still on the phone telling all about life as a missionary, I was able to fix Mother's Day dinner, have the kids set the table and call everybody to dinner, including Alex (well, virtually anyway).  Once we all finally sat down at the table to eat and with the speaker phone still in the middle of the table, I called on Alex to give us a blessing on the food.  At that point we all folded our arms, bowed our heads and let Alex bless our Mother's Day dinner all the way from Burlington Kansas.  He gave a wonderful prayer over the phone but unfortunately he couldn't actually eat the food that he just blessed.  But then that might have been to his advantage since it is his mother who is the cook in the family but she had the day off due to it being Mother's Day.  Well, not too much longer after that, our phone call came to an end, we all said goodbye and look forward to hearing his voice again at Christmas. 

The next day was Alex's P-Day which if you aren't familiar with the way a missionary's schedule works, it is basically the one day during the week that they have to write letters, take care of things like laundry, shopping and other errands and also get in a little basketball or other activities.  Being P-day, Alex sent us his usual family letter but obviously since we had already talked with him on the phone the day before, his letter was kind of short.  He told us a little more about the people that they are teaching in Burlington and how they have spent much of their time visiting members of the church who are less active at the moment.  Since there haven't been any missionaries in the Burlington for quite a while, they are having to do a lot of tracting and figuring out other ways to meet people who might be interested in listening to the message that a couple of LDS missionaries have to offer.  From what Alex told us, it sounds like they have been fairly successful in the short time that they have been there.  But then there is only so much tracting that you can do in a small town before you run out of doors to knock.  So being a little more creative like they did in Wamego and Lawrence with raking leaves and shoveling snow, might be the way they need to go.

This week Alex sent us another letter telling us all about the great week that he and his companion have had.  I mentioned that they have only been in Burlington for a few weeks and they have already found several different people who are interested in listening to these Elders.  Alex sounded really excited in his letter due to many of the experiences that they had during the past week.  He described some of these experiences this way:
"But things are going really great out here! We had a killer week this last week! ... [The] weird part about being on a mission, you see a lot of stuff that you never saw back home. Like real world stuff, not just dumb high school drama like getting dumped by your girlfriend ;) lol. But yeah its weird trying to help people through all of these serious crisis’s and trials in their life when you have never experienced anything close to it. It’s a good thing Christ knows all about it, because I sure don’t."
That is the kind of experience that shows you that a mission for a young man is just as much about learning as it is about teaching others the gospel.  It also teaches these young men that life is very different for a lot of people.  Not everybody grows up in a nice house with a good family and great friends.  Count your many blessings.

Alex told us that they discovered a new way to make tracting a little more successful.  Go tracting in the rain.  He said that the other day it was raining fairly hard but they decided that they would go out knocking on doors anyway.  As it turned out, many of the people that they met must have felt sorry for these poor soaked missionaries and let them in to dry off a little.  Tracting in the rain turned out to work so well, that they completely filled up their teaching appointment book.  On top of all of that, a member of the church in the area also invited the missionaries over to teach one of their neighbors.  So needless to say, these two missionaries are very excited about the work in Burlington.  Hopefully things will continue to go well for them and they will be able to help the church grow in this little town.

One interesting story that Alex included in his last letter.  From what Alex has told us before about Burlington, it is a town with a very diverse population due to the nuclear power plant nearby.  There are many very nice houses in town and then there are some not so nice trailer parks.  So the other night Alex and his companion decided to check out some of the trailers in town.  They walked up to one trailer that Alex described as being very sketchy looking.  He said that in addition to just the trailer structure, whoever lived there had also done a little remodeling work using plywood and parts of other trailers.  They decided to knock on the door to see if they could talk to whoever lived there.  Alex said that a man with long hair answered the door and as these missionaries introduced themselves and started talking, this man told them that he believed that God is a woman.  His reason for believing that God is a woman is because only a woman could try us in this way.  Well, they got a good laugh out of that and everybody left smiling.  I guess that just goes to show you that everybody has their own way of thinking and their own beliefs. 

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