I have so much to say, mostly I will attach a bunch of pictures because they are worth a thousand words.
Elder Murdock is awesome. We get along so well and work great together. He is a great missionary and is teaching me a lot! The kids we were preparing for baptism last weekend weren't quite ready, but we hope they will be ready this weekend! And their dad will most likely be the one bapising them :) The parents have been less active for years, but we finally got ahold of his records and found out that he is an elder, so he can definitely baptise them! They seem grateful that they have started to become active in the gospel again! We are working with our wonderful recent converts the Kress's, Marla Atkison, and Dixie Acord. They're all doing so well and progessing quickly in the gospel. The Kress's will be going to the temple to do baptisms ! We we get to go with them, we can't wait. They also received their patriarchal blessings this week and were sooo happy. I have such a testimony of the healing power of the atonement and the growth and structure of living by gospel principles. It is so real. God knows what he's talking about, believe it or not. Other than that we have been teaching some great active member lessons and trying to get the members involved, and spending time trying to contact less actives and unknown names on the ward roster. We had a funny experience trying to contact a referral we were given the other day. We saw him outside washing his car with his kid and so we drove down the street and parked where they couldn't see us and got out and started walking toward the house. Right as we approached him, his neighbor across the street called out and started talking to him. Not wanting to make it seem like we were hunting him down specifically, we couldn't really interrupt his conversation or stand there and wait for him to be done, so we smiled and just kept on walking hahaha. We knocked a couple of doors next to him and started working our way back down to his house, but ended up meeting a really nice baptist couple in the their garage and talking with them for a good chunk of time until we had to leave for dinner. We never got to see the guy we were there for, but maybe we were supposed to talk to his neighbor all along!
we went to First Christian Church with Michael Hallock whom we've been teaching. He wanted us to come check it out, his parents won't really let him come to our church on Sundays. What an experience. It blew my mind. I could not believe what I was seeing! It was my first time ever going to another church service. If you can even call it that! The building was huuuge and brand new and really nice. We sat in an auditorium with comfy pews and listened to a jamming rock band for the first 30 minutes of the service. They just sang about Jesus and grace and the atonement. The music was actually really good haha! But you know there's a problem if you feel like you can't even keep the Sabbath day holy at this "church". After the band jammed on and people sang along and raised their hands and praised God and whatnot, there was a baptism of a young girl in the font on the side of the stage. It was kind of weird, everyone was wearing just your everday clothes, and even the guy baptising her was just in jeans and a shirt. It looked way out of place in a font. He had her repeat some stuff, then put his hand on her face and dunked her backwards, but she honestly only went in about halfway and her arms were sticking out of the water. While everyone clapped and cheered, Elder Murdock leaned over and said, "if I was witnessing that baptism, they'd be doing it agian." Haha it was all just so different. And REALLY irreverent. I felt like Alma witnessing the Zoramites worship in chapter 31:19 "Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure." The pastor/preacher guy then talked about some bible stories about Christ. Their bible is some "new international version" which has been "translated" by a bunch of scholars in to modern language. It takes essentially all of the meaning out of it. The preface to the book basically said, "this book was written by men". It's unreal! It made me really sad. I felt an overwhelming compassion for all of those people. I wanted them to know the gospel so badly. They come and they rock out and they sing, but they don't really believe in anything. I wish they could truly know of Christ. I was tempted to get up on stage with the pastor and just tell them all that Jesus Christ has visited earth again, alongside God the Father, to establish His church, His way. And His way is Joy. I've never felt so blessed having been born into this church, and simply knowing the things that I know. I've never had to wonder in my life about all of the things that people question every day! The Church of Jesus Christ if Latter Day Saints is not showy. It's not loud, it's not big, and it's not expensive. It is a humble building, filled with honest people, filled with the priesthood of God, and His Holy Spirit. Within our walls is truly a Pearl of Great Price, and the truths of eternity are taught by simple children, and loving families. Oh how great our blessings as Saints of Christ! Oh how great our calling among our brethren who know not the truth!
I'm grateful to be called of God to bring this truth to those who will hear it. This week the mission is changing over, and President Shumway will be going home to be replaced by President Loveland. I can't wait to meet him and welcome him to the ABM! We have a zone conference with him . Until next week :) I love ya.
Elder HakesThe Last Week of the Oklahoma Tulsa MissionThe First Week of the Arkansas Bentonville Mission