That's right, last Tuesday marked 6 months for me as a servant and representative of Jesus Christ and His church. And to celebrate, I followed the missionary tradition and burned a tie. Of course I chose a green one (to symbolize burning off my greenie-ness, lol) (and don't worry, I got the tie from a thrift store for $1). It sure was fun to celebrate with Elder Ahumada, and it was great to reflect on the past 6 months and see where I've come from and where I am now. There's so much to say about how I've changed and what things I've learned, but overall, I must say, I am quite well-pleased with the who I am and who I am becoming : ) I do have to admit, though, it's super weird to think that I've already been out for 6 months...that's a whole 1/4 of my mission!!! AHHH!!! TIME REALLY DOES FLY!!!
Well, anyways, at the beginning of last week, we got a call from the ZL's in Exeter stating that President Wilkey felt like Elder Ahumada and I should go on exchanges with other Spanish-speaking Elders this week (which usually doesn't happen only because the main Spanish-speaking Elders are in Lawrence and Methuen and they are not part of our district). So I was blessed with a full 2 days with Elder Harward! It was so awesome because we were already familiar with each other from my few days spent with him in Lawrence, and this time we got to work together here in my and Elder Ahumada's area.
At first it was really tough because Elder Ahumada and I have been working super well together lately, things were really going forward in our area, and we had some great success Tuesday. So Tuesday night we begrudgingly said goodbye and exchange companions. I didn't realize until the next day, and again during the day after, how much of a blessing it was to get work with Elder Harward for a few days. Elder Harward has already been out for a full two years, and has extended his mission for another 30 days because he felt that it was something he needed to do.
When Elder Harward and I made our daily plans, we made sure that we had backup plans as well, but even when the first plans and backup plans failed, we still kept working to find people by either searching for less-actives in the area, stopping by old potentials, or just talking to EVERYONE we saw. I watched very closely at everything Elder Harward did so that I could learn from his example and better my own missionary efforts. I observed how quick he was to speak to people, with confidence and boldness, and he never just gave them a soft invite to learn or a question meant for a yes/no answer. He was always able to teach people simply as he talked to them, and he was able to apply the message to their lives and get them to really think about it before they could say "no", or the famous New England line, "I'm all set."
He was so bold, too; he never argued with people, but instead he testified to them, and then invited them to learn more (at one point he even invited a man to repent and come back to Christ, haha, it was awesome!). I noticed that the things he said, the way he said them, and the way he presented himself, made him be someone that people actually wanted to talk to.
So I learned a lot from Elder Harward this last week, and as I reflect on the example he set for me in just the 2 short days I had with him, I try to pick out the things I can do to improve my missionary efforts. Since Elder Ahumada and I have been reunited, there have already been several instances where we have been talking to people, and as soon as they start to argue with us, I simply testify of the things that I KNOW to be true, and leave them with an invite to regain their faith in Christ. I've finally realized that we aren't out here trying to convince people of the truth, but we are searching for those who are seeking the truth; so why waste the Lord's time with people who don't want to hear His message? I've also tried my best to not let a moment go to waste; at any time that an appointment fails, or we find we have nothing to do, I am quick to find the next possible solution by stopping by other investigators, less-actives, potentials, or just knocking the door next to the house where our appointment is/was.
I've grown a lot from Elder Harward's example, I've learned so much this past week, and I've seen the success that has come from it. In fact, we got 2 new investigators just a few days ago. Oh, and one has been wanting a Book of Mormon for the past 25 years!!! what an incredible miracle is was that the Lord directed us to where we could find them.
|Dusty: blue dots are potentials, red dots are less actives.|
Dad: dinner appointments or investigators??
Also, from the early birthday present Mom and Dad sent me last week - Garmin GPS - we've been able to be way more organized, save a lot of miles, and always have something to do. For instance, we plugged in the names of most of our investigators, less-actives, potentials, referrals, etc., and in this last week we have already been able to contact 3 less active families and invite them back to church. We also were able to have enough miles to spend all of Saturday, after a ward party in Essex, out in Glocester and Rockport area driving to all the less-actives on the GPS that probably haven't been visited for a LONG time (due to missionaries' mileage limit).
Well, things are really looking up for us out here in Georgetown, and I'm continually learning and growing every day. One investigator we work with won't be getting baptized on Aug. 6th as planned, so as of now we have no baptismal dates, but we're doing all that we can to keep the work progressing forward and to help people come closer to Christ - our Savior and Redeemer.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. Times get tough, but it's great to know that I've always got a team of friends and family praying for me.
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr