I know there are important things from back home that I'm supposed to comment on, but I'll keep that until the end. Anyway, this week was the first week in Cave Spring that felt pretty successful. It was great!
It started out with a little P-day sacrifice last week of going to see some potential investigators at 10 in he morning. Well, it turned out great! There names are Grace and Kelson. They are from Malawi. They are Seventh Day Adventists, but they are very open to learning more about the restored gospel. The lesson went great, and by the end Grace said that she is going to carry the Book of Mormon around with her everywhere and read it and pray to know whether or not it is true. They are very nice people and we will meet with them again this week to talk to them more about the Book of Mormon.
Monday night was crazy. There are some members of the Church in the area who have put together an activity for older couples in the Church and the community that happens once a month. They call it "Empty Nesters". At Empty Nesters, there is a spiritual thought, potluck, and then some Bluegrass. They also always invite the missionaries. It was a lot of fun and allowed for a good opportunity for us to get to know some of the people in the community and ward better. One of the men from the community was from NH and was in the first graduating class from Oyster River! It was awesome. The Bluegrass was the greatest part. They had booklets of lyrics so that everyone could sing along to the folk and gospel songs. I can't tell you how much fun it was! I really want to learn how to play the mandolin, banjo, automatic harp, fiddle, and upright bass just so that one day all of my kids can sit around and jam out to some homegrown bluegrass! And of course, bluegrass reminds me of when I was in 2nd grade and was so proud of myself for knowing what bluegrass was because we read about it in class. Bluegrass really is fun if you're singing or playing along!
Anyway, The next big thing to happen during the week was Thursday. Oh, Thursday. I am working on patience if that is anyway to help you understand what Thursday was like. It started out as any ordinary day. We had personal study. Then we got to companion study. Elder Grajeda started by telling us what he learned during his personal study. Then he made a comment of how he had come to some doctrinal conclusion that clearly was not true. Elder Russo and I both recognized this. We didn't intend to tell him how he was wrong, we were just trying to guide his thinking so that he could understand the doctrine a little bit better. Well, that started a discussion that soon become heated, unintelligent, repetitive, useless, and frustrating. It went on for an hour and a half. At the end, Elder Grajeda and I were mos annoyed with each other. It was especially annoying because we had used up a good amount of our weekly planning time (that happens every Thursday and takes a few hours of siting to complete). Well, then Elder Grajeda told me that he was just pushing the argument forward to "test" me to see if I could explain myself. That got me riled up and I used words and a tone that were not becoming of a missionary. Anyway, there was no way that we could continue after that. I had to go away for a little bit so that could calm down and reestablish myself. I realized that much of what had gone wrong was my fault. Well, we went back to planning and things worked out well. After only a little bit, we were laughing again, the Spirit had returned and we could continue. After a little while, I had to call the areas in my district to find out how all of them were doing and how the missionary work is progressing. That took a couple hours. Then I called the zone leaders to report. They started asking me how everything was going. I told them about all of the areas, and then they asked me more specific questions about each area that I did not know the answers to. After asking several of these questions, they suggested that I call all of the areas again so hat I knew more about how they were doing. Oh boy, I was not thrilled to hear that. I could feel the anxiety building up inside of me. I felt like an idiot. Why was I such a bad missionary that I couldn't keep an even temper with my companions and then not fulfill my calling effectively. Well, I realized that I was getting anxious and explained the situation to hem. They were very kind to me, but I felt bad that they had to deal with a district leader who couldn't keep his own. I said a prayer and the peace of the Spirit returned. It was a hard beginning to a day, but I managed to get through. Satan was trying to tempt me to get frustrated with myself and with others. He was he one really trying to deceive and annoy me. Most of all, it was tempting just to think, "I don't even care, I'll be in Brazil soon." No good. I am so grateful for the Spirit who reminds us of our earthly duties and our heavenly potential.
Friday was an awesome day! Here are the highlights. We had district meeting in which we talked about the importance of the First Vision in inviting the spirit into a lesson so that people may be converted. Then we had a potluck. It was awesome! The Spirit was so strong! We also ran across a 13-ish-year-old boy/kid/man/person that we gave a Book of Mormon to a couple weeks ago. We haven't been able to see him since. His name is Michael. We asked him if he has been able to read any of it. He's read 130 pages!!! That is simply amazing. He said that he likes it so far and doesn't have any questions. He said that we can come over soon and teach his whole family. We are so excited!!! We went to visit another investigator who wasn't home. When we were walking up to his apartment, we had seen a couple Chinese people talking on their porch in the neighboring apartment. After knocking on our investigator's door, I felt prompted to knock on the Chinese neighbors' door. We knocked and an older Chinese couple came to the door. They spoke no English but invited us in with hand motions. They indicated for us o sit and talk off our jackets. We had no idea what was about o happen until they went into the other room and got their 20-something-year-old daughter. Her name is Jenny (no originally). She can speak English. She and her family are only in the states for 7 months as she does research at a local hospital. She is from mainland China and is not familiar with religion, but is very curious. We had the opportunity o teach her about the Book of Mormon, and she is very interested in reading it. She has a limited understanding of the Bible and Christ. We explained who the Spirit is, and she said that she felt the Spirit confirming what we were teaching her. It was so cool! We are going to return with a brother in the ward who speaks Chinese from when he served in Taiwan (Steve Arner if Scott Eliason happens to know him). Friday night we got to play volleyball with the youth. It was meant to be a missionary tool, and luckily one of them invited their friends! It was a great experience. Please invite your friends to activities! Missionary work starts with friendship, loving relationships that grow into sharing opportunities.
Sunday was wonderful. It was Easter. How great! I got the package, and it made me so happy! I discovered outside of our apartment on Sunday. Apparently our landlord thought that she would play "Easter Bunny" and hold our packages for us until it was actually Easter. I didn't mind except for the fact that some animal found my package in the middle of the night and nibbled into one of my cookies. Not cool Ricky Raccoon! That's fine; I still have plenty other cookies to enjoy. We went to church for sacrament and then left to go to our investigator's Lutheran service that he invited us to. It was a contemporary service and was really funny because the opening hymn was "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" with a great rock beat. Not my personal favorite. I prefer the organ. He then invited us over to his family's house for Easter lunch. It was so good! We ate like kings. The only problem is that we had a dinner appointment with a member of the ward 20 minutes later. We had to eat like kings then, too. Well, we were stuffed. So much so that Elder Russo and I thew up a little bit. I didn't taste as good on the way up. Oh well, we calmed our troubled stomachs with some peeps. :D
Whelp, I always thought that Will would make it to menace of society status, but I guess that's not going to happen. Atualmente, estou muito animado! I can't say much about how the family dynamic is changing, since it is likely to make me very emotional. I am happy for Will and Stephenie to be married in August in the Logan temple. I am sad that I won't be there. I am sad that I will never meet Ms. Frye, but I look forward to meeting Mrs. Ayer. (Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy, Mrs. Darcy ;D) I'm a little anxious knowing that everything from childhood won't be the same, but at least there'll still be "the kids". I know that we are eternal beings, so endings are harsh and unfamiliar. I know that we are eternal beings, so we also naturally seek after that which is eternally significant. I love you all, especially you, Stephenie. And especially Mom, heaven only knows what this is doing to her poor nerves. :D I love you all so much. Can I say that times infinity? You are all the greatest. I am glad that we can be eternal family because of the triumph Christ had over the grave and hell. We can live in an eternity of progression and love because we can rise again sinless. Always remember that. Voces estao meus pessoas preferidas!
Com muito amor, Elder Parker Ayer
P.S. There are Eliasons in my ward. They are descendants of Anders Eliason, the brother of Erik Eliason who came over Sweden. Sweeede! :D