Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Being prepared for the moment

It has been a few weeks since we updated you on all of the things that Alex has been doing.  In the last entry we told you that Alex now has a new companion.  The work is moving forward and Alex told us that several of the people that they have been teaching have been attending the LDS church meetings and are interested in joining the church.  Alex is really hoping and praying that they will be able to hold some baptismal services fairly soon.  These kinds of experiences really make a mission worth it.  Especially when a missionary is able to share the message of the gospel with someone else and watch that person come to know and love the message.  This is basically the type of experience that Alex has been having over the last few weeks and it has made him really feel good about all of the work.

Of course, in between all of the teaching and spiritual moments that a missionary has, there are those down times when they can just have some good old fashion fun.  Alex told us a story about a recent Branch social that they attended where he had the opportunity to play a little sand volleyball.  Little did the Branch members know, but Alex spent quite a bit of time playing volleyball with all of his high school friends before his mission.  Of course I have never actually seen Alex play volleyball so we will just have to take Alex's word for it when he says that he plays fairly well.  Well during the game, as we all know from our experiences with Ward basketball, the two sides got a little "competitive" and Alex decided that it was his turn to quite one of the more vocal members of the opposing team.  It was Alex's turn at serving the ball and he claims that he was just "wrecking the other team" on his serves.  Then with one very strong and well placed serve, apparently Alex knocked the smack talker right on his derriere.  Alex never told us what the final score was, but he did say that they all had a really good time and the volleyball game was the highlight of the social.

If you know much about the Independence Missouri area, it is rich with LDS Church history.  Since there is so much history there, many members of the Church also visit during the summer months.  This presents a bit of a unique opportunity for missionaries in this area in that some of the visitors are friends and relatives of the missionaries that are serving there.  Alex's grandparents where in the Independence area just a few weeks ago and took the opportunity to visit with the mission president for a few minutes.  Then just about a week ago, one of Alex's good wrestling buddies also passed through Independence on a family trip.  This time Alex happened to be at a zone conference near Independence and was able to find a little bit of time to see and talk to his friend.  What made it even better is that his friend recently received his mission call and this would be the last time that they would see each other for the next three years.  Alex told us just how much fun it was to be able to visit for a little while and just how much of a boost it was to his spirits.  They didn't have very much time to talk because some of the other Elders had to get back to their areas after the zone conference to be on time for some teaching appointments.  As always, when you are on a mission, the work comes first.

While Alex was at the same zone conference he also had another great experience.  Of course whenever there is a conference of any kind in the mission, the mission president is always there.  One of the things that Alex's mission president tries to do whenever he is around his missionaries, is to try to greet each one and spend a little bit of time talking with them to find out how things are going.  This conference was no different.  Alex told us that during many of their conferences they have an opportunity to watch a spiritual and motivational video about a football player who crawls a 100 yards across the field while his coach is yelling at him to do his best.  These were all the details about the video that Alex included in his letter so if you have actually seen it, you probably have a better idea of what Alex is talking about.  Anyway, this video must be very inspiring for the missionaries because Alex told us that it almost makes him cry every time he watches it.  Well, later as the mission president was making his rounds and spending a few minutes talking with each of the missionaries, Alex finally had his turn.  During their conversation, the mission president told Alex just how proud he was of all of the work that Alex had been doing.  In Alex's words,
"Then he started crying and said that I was a 100 yard missionary if he had ever seen one. It made me feel so good!"
People ask us at times how we raised such a good young man.  I tell them that Alex just came that way.  All we did was allowed him to grow in our home.

So here is a funny story that Alex told us about in his last letter.  It is all about a group of missionaries doing what they do best and that is preaching the gospel.  Alex started out the story by explaining that he and his backpack are like a woman and her purse.  His backpack goes with him everywhere.  As Alex explained it:
"I never take it off and it goes with me everywhere I go, even if its not really needed. I figure you never know when you are going to need to give out a BOM."
Apparently the other night they were staying with the Elders from Topeka in their apartment.  For whatever reason, they needed to go to Walmart at about 9 o'clock that evening.  True to form Alex grabbed his backpack and put it on as they got out of the car.  One of the other Elders started kidding around with Alex and giving him a hard time about always taking his backpack with him everywhere.  Alex, half jokingly, told the Elder that you never know when you will need to give out a Book of Mormon and he was praying that it would happen at Walmart.  They just need to show a little more faith.  The other Elder responded by telling Alex that you can't pray for something like that just out of spite.  Within ten seconds after their little test of faith, a man walked up next to them in the parking lot and started talking to the missionaries.  Alex immediately asked the man if he had ever heard of the Book of Mormon.  The man told Alex that he had.  Then Alex asked the man if he had ever seen one.  Right about that time Alex looked over at the other Elder with kind of an "I told you so" look on his face and a big grin.  The man told Alex that he had never seen a Book of Mormon so Alex pulled one out of his backpack.  Right there in the parking lot of Walmart they started introducing this man to the Book of Mormon and what it means for members of the LDS church.  Once the conversation was over, the man left and the missionaries continued on into the store.  Once inside, Alex pumped his fist in the air and they were all super excited about what just happened.  Alex mentioned that the man was from another state so they probably wouldn't have a chance to talk to him again.  But because he had his backpack with him, an opportunity to simply place a Book of Mormon and plant a seed, was not wasted.

Alex told us a little bit about what they did on the 4th of July.  He said that they had met somebody new that day who was interested in learning more about the Church so they spent part of the day teaching as well as attending their Church meetings.  Later on that night they enjoyed some BBQ with the family that they live with and watched the fireworks over Burlington.  Alex said that the fireworks in Kansas put Utah fireworks to shame.  That's not hard since Utah bans anything that shoots up over 15 feet and in Kansas just about anything goes.  He told us that they spent the rest of the evening watching all of the big fireworks and making fun of the little fountains by calling them "Utah fireworks".

The other day Alex and his companion were walking through the church building and decided to check out the condition of the baptismal font.  What they found was what you could classify as a mixed blessing.  When they opened up the door to the baptismal font, they found that all of the recent rains had caused the sewer to back up.  This left a pretty big mess that they now needed to clean up.  The reason why this was a mixed blessing is because this could have been a disaster if instead of just checking things out, they had actually had a baptismal service planned and then found this mess.  At least now it gave them some time to get everything cleaned up and ready to go for when they do have a baptism scheduled.  Alex said that he wasn't really looking forward to having to scrub the font out with bleach, but hey, missionary work is missionary work.  Sometimes it isn't pretty.

No comments:

Post a Comment