Wow, what a week. We really focused on getting out and talking to people this week, as well as inviting people to baptism, and we were able to teach more people as a result. We are still just working on finding people who are ready but it's been a struggle. Maybe we are finding those who are ready but we just aren't interacting with them in the right way. Anyways, we will keep working at it, and something is bound to happen. I think in our companionship, we need to focus on not just teaching lessons powerfully, but teaching people powerfully, and that if we can master that, we will help those we teach understand how important our message is, and they will act with more real intent than they have been recently.
So a couple stories about this week:
On Tuesday we had a worldwide Missionary devotional held by the missionary counsel of the Church, and that was pretty amazing! There were lots of good trainings on fundamentals, including following the spirit, teaching people not lessons, finding, and the Doctrine of Christ. I will send some of my notes home in a separate email. It was a great meeting, now we just have to apply the things we learned!
On Thursday, we got to go with the C.'s out to dinner, go bowling with them for FHE, and then join them for family scripture study. It was lots of fun, and also a very interesting learning experience. I think Mom will especially like this story. So before bowling we were all talking about who would win, and just kinda joking around, and I mostly just joked about how awful I was (Like if I get over 70, I did halfway decent). Anyways, we got to the bowling alley, and it was full of people, so we had to head over to another Bowling Alley, which is not the normal place the C.'s play. As we started bowling, Sister C. went second and both of her balls seemed on target until the last second where they curved hard and went in the gutter. She was disappointed, but as others got up to go, a couple of them also had really bad bowls until it got to me. I'm still not sure what happened, but I got up, and hit 8 with my first roll. On the second roll, I hit the remaining 2 perfectly and got a spare. Everyone was surprised (including myself), especially because I had joked about how bad I was. Brother C. finished out with a spare of his own, and the second frame came around. As Sister C. bowled, once again the balls curved and she ended up with another 0. By this point she was kind of mad and blamed it on coming to this place instead of the normal Bowling Alley. Then came J. and Elder P., and once again they both had pretty poor roles. When it was my turn, I got up and once again got a spare, only this time I got 9 pins on the first and the last one (one of the back side ones) on the second roll. Brother C. followed up this round with a pretty bad roll, and now the negativity from everyone's first two rounds started to turn on me.
Now at this point, I had 2 options. 1) Continue to dominate the entire game, possibly achieve my own personal best score ever? Option 2 came partially through my own thoughts, and partially by the spirit. It was 2) Hold back and begin to help teach and encourage Sister C. and the others who were struggling, so as not to hurt our relationship with them, and as a result, possibly hinder or lose their salvation. I decided to choose the second one, and began to simply hold back on some rolls as well as give others tips on what I was doing to bowl so well on this lane. I had to endure probably 3 more frames of what was practically verbal abuse. (Sister C. even blamed me as the reason for the bad luck they were having, and Elder P. wasn't much help.) It worked out though, and I just responded as nice and as helpfully as I could. Sure enough, their bowls did start to improve, and by the end we were back to a much better attitude, though they still had this personal vendetta against me that included Elder P. following me and trying to block the ball or distract me on my turns. It came down to the final frame, and on Sister C.'s last bowl she managed to get a good amount of pins, with a decent overall score. Meanwhile, Elder P., Brother C., and their daughter, had all got within 10 or so points of me. As Elder P. bowled his last frame, he actually managed a spare, that along with a strike he got in the 9th frame, put him 6 points in front of me right before my final bowl. Once again, Elder P. distracted me on the first roll and I got a gutter. The second roll I tried to turn and do quickly so he wouldn't have time to follow, but Sister C. kind of yelled as I released and I only hit one pin. I ended up at the end in like 3rd or 4th place, but I was worth saving that relationship. Brother C. even stood up for me to Elder P. and Sister C. at the end too, so it all turned out ok. So yeah, it was a pretty long story, and afterwards we went and had a good lesson, but I wanted to share just because it was a pretty interesting experience that fortunately worked out well.
Other than that, we had a couple other good lessons with some friends, and we had interviews with President. On the weekend all of Carolina had a storm and all the mission cars were parked, so we walked or got rides from members everywhere. The members here are so great!! :) One day we walked close to 7 miles bundled in snow clothes and boots. Another time while out with a member, we kept on sliding around the corners and we practically couldn't see out the windshield, but we survived to missionary another day. I'll send some pictures of our snow day.
We went back with a member and talked with K. and J. We didn't get super far besides testifying of prayer and them saying that that was too "subjective." At the very end though I read them that assignment that I posted on the blog, and they were actually super interested in that and in other archaeological evidences of the Book of Mormon. So anyways, it was interesting but we probably won't go back.
So yeah, that was our week! Hope it gets better ;) The bed bugs are still all dead as far as we can tell, hooray!
Love, Elder Branch