Monday, November 28, 2011

Lawrence, MA. A City of Miracles.

So this last week we went from a teaching pool of 1 investigator, to a total of 9!  Ya, that's right, welcome to Lawrence.  It's been so amazing to get to start teaching some people, and to start teaching in Spanish - which is so much harder after barely using it for the last 7 months.  So each of our investigators has been found in different ways, and I want to tell you about a few of them.

Domincan Thanksgiving 2011
 We met with a recent convert a week ago who said would try to help us find people to teach.  Then a few days ago she called to set a time to teach her mother-in-law (in Spanish).  After we met and taught her, we were walking towards a potential investigator and we noticed an older woman with a few bags of groceries.  It was very cold and she had been walking for a while, and we just so happened to notice her right as she put her bags down to rest for a minute.  We then offered our help, she gladly accepted, and we carried her groceries back home.  When we arrived, we met her husband and son, and ended up teaching them all about forever families using The Family: A Proclamation To The World. The next day we went to a dinner appointment with the other Lawrence missionaries to the house of two investigators they have been teaching for a while (a mom and daughter with her family) (we helped them move into their new home last week).  While they taught the women, we kept the children busy with a few games and then a lesson about how to pray.  Then, on Saturday, we wanted to contact a few of the referrals that a member family had given us (we had gone to their house - 100% Spanish -  a few days before and after explaining our desire to start teaching people, they came up with six names for us!), so we called and they said to come on over at 2:00 and they wanted to help us.  So we went over expecting to get a ride with them to a friend's house, but to our surprise, they brought over their daughter, her boyfriend, and their children, and we had a great lesson all about the blessings that come from being a member of this church, and how they can come to know that it's true.  Then later that night we stopped by the house of one of the other Lawrence missionaries' investigators and ended up teaching a couple who live in the same apartment. 

Elder Blad, My New Companion
So things are really starting to pick up here.  It's tough because we have to walk everywhere (bikes keep breaking and/or getting stolen), and being a District Leader/Trainer is super stressful and time consuming, but it's all wonderful.  I'm working hard, and just trying to keep up with everything, and I'm happy.  I've been studying charity a lot lately because I spoke about it for my last week in Georgetown, and I was asked to speak about it this last Sunday (in Spanish), but then the schedule got changed at the last minute and I'm on the back burner for anytime the bishopric needs a talk on the fly.  But anyways, I'm glad I've been studying charity, because at any time that I start thinking that it's a bummer that I have no time to myself anymore, or that I spend too much time worrying about my new missionary companion or the others in my district instead of my own concerns, I am quickly able to remember Christ and his ultimate example of charity. 

I understand a bit more about the Atonement now, and how He didn't do it at all for himself, but that it was done for you, me, and everyone.  Not once did He allow himself to become too concerned with his own thoughts and feelings as to become selfish or put his needs before others.  His perfect heart full of charity was such that his only concerns were about others - not Himself.  And most of all Christ completed the Atonement - never did He give up - and this is what I am most grateful for during this Thanksgiving season.

From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

iBienvenidos a Lawrence, Massachusetts!

That's right!  I'm officially in Lawrence - the most heavily populated Hispanic area in the mission!  I am the new District Leader for the Methuen District (which covers Methuen, Derry, and Lawrence  - 9 missionaries total).  I also have a new companion - Elder Blad, from Logan, Utah.  There already is another set of missionaries - a trio - here in Lawrence, but they were told to take all the investigators from Lawrence and continue with them, and leave Elder Blad and me to start off fresh and find a new teaching pool - so here we go again, "shotgunning" an area; although this time, I'm the trainer :)
Elder Dusty helping a local weed the
 garden, New England-style.  This must
be why, in Joseph Smith's day, this was
known as the "burned-over" district!
Well, shotgunning and training is A LOT of work - plus it's all Spanish...and both of us are gringos....oh ya, and to to top if off - district leader responsibilities take a lot of time.  BUT, I love it.  I really do.  I'm not complaining one bit, I just love it!  I don't know if I've been this busy before in my whole mission, and just as Dad taught me, "a busy man is a happy man", I find so much happiness in this huge load of work that keeps me super focused.  Plus it's pretty fun living in an apartment with 4 other missionaries, haha.  We have a lot of good times, while still being obedient.
So we tried something new this week to find new investigators.  We went over to a park in North Lawrence, picked out a spot, and drew out the Plan of Salvation with chalk.  It was awesome!  We basically just worked on it untill people came walking by, then we would stop and talk to them about it and try to teach and talk to them as much as we could.  The Spanish was a little tough of a barrier, but we did our best.  Overall, we got 1 new investigator, a bunch of potentials and contacts, and we had fun!
We're also focusing our efforts right now (as instructed in recent Zone Conferences) on teaching Less-Actives and Recent Converts, and then seeking to earn referrals from them - thereby getting solid investigators. 
Being a Trainer again is great - I really get to use all that I learned from training Elder Busby and strive to be a better trainer this time.  And I'm really enjoying being a District Leader, because even though it takes a lot of time, it's worth every minute to get to talk to all the missionaries in the District and seek out ways to help them in their work and their own lives.  I am so blessed to have the opportunity of more responsibility and a new way to serve more.  I'm just loving this work so much, and the continuing to see miracles everyday.  I'm excited to tell you more next time about how we get a teaching pool!
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Address!

Dustin is being transferred this week to Lawrence, MA, a few miles west of Georgetown. 
He will serve as District Leader and Trainer, in somewhat of a "shotgun" assignment although there are other missionaries in the city. 

His new address is:

Elder Dustin Carr
35 Howard Street
Lawrence, MA 01841

More news to come later in the week, he says, via snail mail.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Happens When Investigators Don't Come To Church...

Well, I'll get to that in a minute, but first I want to tell you about how awesome this last week has been.  Last Sunday I was supposed to give a talk after Matt Wood's farewell talk, but Bishop spoke for a bit and then Matt took 40 minutes, so I got postponed to next week.  No problem though, Bishop's and Matt's words were so inspired and well delivered as they were mouthpieces for the Spirit - I wish you all could have been there - and I'll still get to speak this next Sunday (which could be my last in G-town because transfers are next week- but let's not talk about that).  
Oh, and for anyone else who is wondering, the Nor'easter wasn't that bad for us in G-town.  Other areas more west of us got smashed hard :/  but we were ok.  Only a few inches of snow, not too many trees in the roads, and we only lost power for a few hours.  Yes, the Lord really does protect His missionaries :)
So Sister Wilkey has a nephew who has a wife and 2 kids and they just moved to Gloucester a month ago.  Why am I telling you this?  Because Gloucester is in our area!!!  Btw, Sister Wilkey is the only one from her family who is a member of the church, and she and President Wilkey have been praying for the last 37 years for an opportunity to arise where her family could have the seed of the restored gospel planted.  So last week, we got to meet them, and they are just the sweetest family -- not really interested in the message we have, but still very friendly towards us.  This is a big deal even to be able to associate with them, and to make a little more of a perspective for you, President and Sister Wilkey talked serveral times about it at Zone Conference this last week, and asked the mission to keep us and her family in their prayers -- faithfully hoping that her families' hearts will be softened and that Elder Busby and I will soon be able to teach them.  So if you all could keep that in your prayers it would be greatly appreciated.
Speaking of Zone Conference!  It was such a great one where we spent most of the day centered on Christ and the Book of Mormon -- two of my most favorite subjects ever!  It really built my faith and my testimony and I really learned a lot of new ways to teach people and to go about this work.  Oh, and afterwards we got to have a real Maine Lobsta dinner with some of Matt Wood's extended family!  It was such a fun day!
Well anyways, wanna know what happens when investigators don't come to church?......
All progress ceases.  This is the problem we are currently dealing with.  Because the conversion process has 3 parts (intellectual, social, and spiritual), and church provides the environment for all three of those parts, so church attendance becomes one of the most vital choices an investigator can make.  Maybe we haven't taught this principle clearly enough;  maybe we haven't stressed its importance; but our problem is that we aren't even given the opportunity to do so.  Even amidst all our efforts to contact and teach our investigators, we are having a very difficult time setting appointments with them and having them keep their appointments.  If we don't get the opportunity to teach people of the blessings in store for them, and if they choose not to follow the path to receive those blessings, then all those which God has promised them will be withheld until they change.  Oh, if only heavenly brothers and sisters could see how much we think about and pray for them, how much time and effort we put into planning for them, or how much stress we go through for the eternal welfare of their souls, then maybe they would choose differently next time.  But it is not God's way for them to be compelled, but rather for them to exercise agency and choose freely.
These are the things that I have been feeling and learning recently, and so amidst this difficulty I recommit myself daily to the charge in D&C 4.  I will continue to thrust in my sickle with all my might; I will fill myself with faith, hope, charity, and love - with an eye single to the glory of God; for this is what makes a Missionary, and this is what I strive to live up to every day.
From New England with love,
Elder Dustin Carr

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cali Boy Meets New England Snow Storm

Dusty managed to send off a short snail mail Monday that arrived today, but chances are he's been doing more shoveling and limb removing more than letter writing. Thousands in that area are still without power today after last Saturday's freak snow dump.  Kinda puts a chill on internet access, I bet.

This is a photo he sent last week.  Nubble Lighthouse, ME (Maine, that is), near the York River.  No doubt this lighthouse blends in with its white surroundings now, and Elder Carr is wearing a lot more than rolled up shirt sleeves.