Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Week of Conversion

July 21, 2014

Greetings to all!

My name is Elder Carroll, and I'm serving a mission in the best mission in the world, the NCRM (North Carolina Raleigh Mission). I absolutely love it here, and this week I took a turn into a greater conversion and a greater love for missionary work. Sometimes you have those experiences that just allow you to glimpse into Eternity-just enough to give you the hope of a lifetime.

So this week we were able to do some quality work with people. On Monday, we played Frisbee golf with Cullie Bayless, who's 18 and getting ready to put in his mission papers. It was super fun, a lot better than that PS3 move game. I got some pictures so I'll send em!

On Tuesday we went and helped Tony again with his mess of a property and I just gotta's lookin a lot better! It's amazing what four missionaries can do in a matter of hours! I got pics of that as well. It was a lot of work and we had to wear masks just to be sure that we weren't breathing in insulation particles and stuff. We're good, don't worry! After that, we went down next to the old trailer and attempted to make some contacts. We didn't have much success, but we did have a nice conversation with a black preacher who was trying to sell us a piano. We're just walking around and he's like "wanna buy this piano? 300 bucks and I'll let you take it with you right now." I guess he wasn't thinking cause how the donkeys are we supposed to transport a piano back to our apartment without a car? Jeez man. So later that night we went and helped Brother Swope move some giant logs next to his house. He lives on the lake that we've fished on a couple times. So as we were moving these logs it started raining and we got absolutely filthy. I mean just filthy. I just wanted to go roll around in some mud or something! So brother Swope let us shower in his house and then he took us to Golden Corral. They may not have the best food, but the variety is incomparable. I had a bunch of stuff that filled me up pretty fast, and then we headed out to go with Brother George and teach a lesson to Oscar and another guy named Adrian. Oscar speaks English, but Adrian doesn't so we taught in Spanish. We taught them the Restoration and it all was apparently new information to Oscar, even though we had already taught him the Restoration. I guess he didn't understand the first time. Might have been the English that got him or something. We'll be sure to start teaching more for understanding from now on. Brother George speaks Italian, so he understood everything we taught. And then he said the closing prayer in Italian! Spanish and Italian are very similar, but Spanish is better. It's just a little more masculine sounding. So that was Tuesday.

Wednesday we had our weekly district meeting and then we went on blitzes with the zone leaders! Blitzes are when the zone leaders come and you split up into two companionship to try and do as much work as possible in one day. It kind of lets you be in two places at once. So Elder Lowham went with Elder Moses and I went with Elder Holt down to Hoffman. Elder Lowham has refused to go to Hoffman for months now because according to him it's dangerous, but I wanted to go down there. So Elder Holt and I embarked and what do ya know, the whole place is Hispanic! Every single trailer, minus like 4, was Hispanic! So Elder Holt and I knocked every single door on one street and were able to meet some great potentials and teach a couple lessons. I learned a lot from Elder Holt and his contacting strategies, but the thing that I was most amazed by was my ability to speak Spanish. I've never spoken so well in my life! I understood every single little thing that people were telling me and my communication skills were better than they've ever been. I told Elder Holt that my Spanish was on fire and he told me that it's because you need it right now. Elder Lowham usually does most of the talking during contacts, but this time it was just me because Elder Holt doesn't speak Spanish. I can definitely say that I've witnessed the Gift of Tongues. After contacting the trailer park, Elder Holt and I went and helped a lady on the side of the rode who ran out of gas. She told us that we were an answer to prayer. So we drove a couple of miles, bought her a can of gas, and then referred her to the missionaries where she lives. Hopefully they teach her and she accepts the Gospel. You could tell she really needed it. So then we went and grabbed some Chick Fil A and headed to the church to help with a youth activity. Then afterward we played some basketball. We're allowed to play because it's such a good way to find people. Almost everyone we talk to is interested in playing basketball. So that was fun, but my shot was atrocious. Oh well, I guess the day was too good so there wasn't enough room for anything else haha.

Thursday we did some weekly planning and Elder Lowham was sick so we stayed in a little bit. Nothing to report.

Friday we went and biked around Aberdeen to try and find some people, but to no avail. Then we attempted to get out to English class in Robbins, but no one would give us a ride! So we had to cancel. :( Then we went and had a dinner with the Welling family. Brother Welling's brother is living next to Emory, so he kind of knew Atlanta. Given, we don't live IN Atlanta, but the connection was nice. Then we went to visit Max and Alberto with Brother Welling. Brother Welling served his mission in Brazil, so he speaks Portuguese, but Max and Alberto speak pretty good English, so we had a nice talk with them. Max said some things that I really liked. 1. He doesn't like to drink 2. He told his boss he won't work on Sunday because he found a church that he will go to every week. How bout that? Max and Alberto are just dry right now. And I love these guys! And they just absolutely love the church!

Saturday we went and did some family history familiarization on the computers. I signed into family search and looked at the family tree thing and the family history lady here was so impressed with how well our records are kept up and how much work has been done....on both sides! Good work family! That's something I want to do when I get home is Family History. It's a great work to be a part of and there's no reason not to get involved! After that I worked with the Chandler family on my song for the fireside on Sunday. I got assigned by Elder Wolf without my consent to do a special musical number but I'm okay with it! So the Chandlers brought this awesome arrangement of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It's just fantastic. Then we went to talk to Alberto and Max again and then some other people. It was fun.

Sunday was by far the most spiritual day that I've had on my mission so far. Sacrament meeting was fantastic. The Chandlers-Madison, Josh, and Sister Chandler, performed "If You Could Hie to Kolob" with Piano, Cello, and Violin. Wow wow wow wow. What an incredible arrangement. I almost cried. Max and Alberto weren't able to come, but we went by after church to visit them. We invited them to the fireside and they ended up coming. The theme of the Fireside was "recent converts." We selected six people to give their conversion stories to the church. I really loved hearing them, and it was very uplifting. Halfway through, I sang Come Thou Fount. It went well, but the song was entirely too high for me. Oh how I wish I could be a tenor again sometimes. Afterward, we talked with Alberto and Max.. We didn't even have to show them around or anything. While everyone was eating their refreshments, they just talked to everyone. And the members talked back! The support was amazing and Alberto and Max loved everything. Consider them baptized. August will be the month of Baptisms here in Pinehurst. Max and Alberto even invited a bunch of people to have a barbecue at their house on Tuesday! What! Like I said, consider them baptized. They're already our best friends, and they have no desire to go anywhere else.

So now for the reason for this letter-what I learned. The title says it all. Conversion is not an event. I did a study this morning on true conversion. Conversion is when your will is completely aligned with God's and you have no desire to do evil. This is brought about by doing the little things and living the Doctrine of Christ. This will be something I am going to work on from now on is becoming truly converted. Sunday helped so much with my testimony. Oh the power of music. I love it. So if you're not truly converted, get there! We can work on it together! I've learned so much on my mission so far and I can't wait for the experiences that I'm going to have in the next couple years!

So that was my week. Incredible right? I love this work and I love this Gospel. Jesus Christ does live and this is His church.

Until next week.

Elder Landon Carroll

Monday, July 14, 2014

It's All Worth It

Landon said he didn't have a fishing pole so he just watched what the other Elders were doing and copied them!  What a goofball!
July 14, 2014

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope all is will wherever you may be reading this. I had another excellent week as a missionary. We were able to have a lot of success and I can tell you right now that August will be the month for baptisms in the Pinehurst ward. I'm getting excited. More on that later.

So on Tuesday we started by doing service for a man named Tony. He's the man that I contacted while helping with the U.S. Open. He has a property out in Jackson Springs that he bought for 5 thousand dollars. Let me tell you. That property may not even be worth that much. When we got there, there was garbage everywhere, everything was overgrown, and the mosquitoes were having a party. But we got started and we were actually able to do a lot. I'll send some pictures so yo can see what we worked on. Needless to say, we are going to help Tony again tomorrow and will share a lesson with him. Later that day, we went out to contact a referral, yes a referral, that we received. It was a house full of Mexicans! There were so many that we couldn't keep up with them all! So we decided to talk with one who was interested to know how we learned Spanish. His name is Oscar. He's up here for a month working construction, from Panama City, Florida. We taught him the Restoration and he just loved it. He speaks English, but we're gonna keep him because he lives in a house with a bunch of people who don't. Later that night, we went to see what the deal was with A. He didn't come to church on Sunday and we wanted to know why. Turns out he went to a Spanish Pentecostal church. He says it's really hard to go to a church where he can't understand things. The worst part about this is he doesn't even pick up the interpretation devices! So we actually ended up giving him a blessing and he said he would come to church.

Wednesday we went and contacted some formers out in Aberdeen with a little success. We did, however, contact a former and he said he's interested and that we could come back. Then we knocked on a door and some lady came to the door and was like "I don't want any arguments so ya'll can leave." Then we just offered service and she was like "No I'm fine. Let me tell you what I believe. Christ was born, Christ died for our sins and then rose on the third day." And I was like well that's exactly what we believe and then she just kind of closed the door on us. Oh well haha. Some people just fear the truth I guess. Then our English class cancelled at the church so we just talked to members until eight, then we played basketball. Let me tell you how fun it is playing with a bunch of old guys. Very.
Thursday was Zone Conference down in Fayetteville. I thought it was fantastic. Something that stood out to me is that we need to make sure to help our investigators want to be baptized for themselves, rather than us just trying to convince them. Then I learned some good scriptures to help with that. So hopefully I can apply it well in the future.

Friday we did weekly planning and then headed up to Robbins for English class. And guess what.....not a single person came. So we waited a little longer and then just sulked for a second. I wasn't really surprised. We'll get the word out a little better. It was funny. We were in the English classroom and some girl came in and the first thing she said to me was "How old are you?" So I told her I was 19. Then she pulled out her ID and handed it to me. She was like "I'm not a minor I promise." So then we explained a little bit about what we do as missionaries and then she started talking about how she saw a documentary about NORMANS on TV about how we enslave children and have multiple wives. So we quickly defused that. And then she proceeded to hit on me. Whaaaaaaaaaaat? She was like "Well maybe when you get done with your mission we can date or something. I mean I'm 28 and your 19 but maybe it would work. And all this was in missionary character. So awkward. So I gave her a card and we walked out. I don't really know. Just awkward haha. And funny of course. I live for that.

Saturday we went and had a lesson with a man named Raul and his wife. So we talked about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and his wife just wasn't having it. She didn't want to listen. So we poured our hearts out in testimony and nothing. We left with the Spirit but she didn't get anything out of it. Raul might have been touched, but not here. That's missionary work for ya. You do as much as you can and people still have agency. I hate agency sometimes. It just gets in the way. But hey, that's how we learn and we have to respect everyone's agency. I'm not really disappointed. I did my part and it's in the Lord's hands now.
So Sunday we were expecting a bunch of people at church, but once again, people had their agency. Antonio didn't show for some reason. Neither did Oscar. But we did have Max there! He wore a suit this time so that's good. Alberto, his brother, couldn't come because he was sick. Max said he loved it and we plan to teach them on Saturday.

So overall it was a good week. Good stuff. We did a lot of work and it payed off. Even though some people didn't come to church or accept like we had imagined, I'm grateful for every experience that I have on my mission. I do love the mission. I love the successes, the failures, the bad times, and the good. It's all worth it. It's the Lord's work. It's the most important work going on in the world and I'm a part of it.

I love you all. Thanks for the prayers and emails.

Con Mucho Amor,

Elder Landon Carroll

These are more pictures that Landon sent of the US Open that he helped with:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fixin' to Pick Up the Work

July 7, 2014

Que pasa amigos?

Pues this week was fun and interesting. The work is slow right now, but this week was evidence that it's fixin to pick up.

Monday we just cleaned and finished up with the trailer. We're done with that abomination! If you look at the pics, you can see that it doesn't scream "missionary" but rather "apostasy." Just glad to be out and moving on. It's nice being in a new place. Kind of refreshing for the work. Now we're able to work a different part of the area.

We had some miracles this week that I want to share. So there's a Hawaiian Ice place that recently appeared near where we live. We went and got some cause it was like 95 and we were on bikes. So we stopped in and ended up talking to a man named Ming. He's Samoan. He told us an incredible story about how he has a rare bone condition and that he had surgery, so basically from the chest up is completely metal. He has like 40 screws, and 7 fusions in his neck. Crazy right? Well we ended up inviting him to church and everything and he said he would come. He said he wasn't satisfied with his church. Well the next day Elder Murphy and I went on exchanges and went by to see him. We just kind of checked in and talked a little and then left. Here's where the miracle comes in. We were eating at the ward 4th of July breakfast and President Chandler, the stake president came up to us to talk about....Ming! President Chandler is an Anesthesiologist and met him at a pain clinic on the 3rd. He says he actually did his Anesthetic four years ago during his major surgery. Then while at the pain clinic, he had the impression that he needed to share the gospel with him. So finally Ming was like "we need to meet up some time and talk about my condition." President Chandler said "well I'll either be here or at my church so you can find me." Ming asked what church and President Chandler told him. Ming said "That's the church I'm going to on Sunday! Two nice young men invited me to come!" So he came to church and says he cried three times during testimony meeting and he's not even a cryer! President Chandler says he wants him baptized by August, so we'll get on with that! Although he speaks English, we'll still take some part in his conversion. I'm excited to see him as a member!

So in the Spanish department of things, most of our appointments cancelled this week so we weren't able to do much. It's hard to schedule appointments with Hispanics because they NEVER KNOW THEIR SCHEDULE. It's frustrating, but we deal with it. So Max and Alberto, the brothers I told you about last week came to church! They said they've gotten turned away from other churches because people don't welcome them, so we made sure that didn't happen! The great thing about it is that the Pinehurst ward is fantastic and we didn't have to do much introducing. That's how it should be! If you see a new person at church, make them feel welcome! It's what Christ would do! So Max and Alberto absolutely loved church. They said they're coming back every single week. Score! We just need to teach them now. Shouldn't be a problem. They're good guys and they actually have schedules.

So this week I noticed a big improvement in Spanish. It's amazing what happens when you just open your mouth. I spoke a lot more fluently this week. What I do know in Spanish comes out really well. Understanding, especially on the phone, is the hardest part for me. Understanding people on the phone is so hard for me. But I'm working on it! It takes practice!

We were also able to go up to Robbins to place a few more fliers and make the final preparations for the English class. It starts this Friday so pray that people come! I'm excited and hopefully we can get some members up there to help us out.

Well I am running out of time so I have to close, but this week I really took a turn in my feelings about my mission. I just love it now and I've kind of got that "I want to do this for the rest of my life" attitude. It's just so rewarding. You could have the hardest day with 105 degree heat and 5 cancellations, but you have even ONE lesson and it's all worth it. This is a joyous work and it brings me a lot of joy.

Hope everyone has a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

Stepping Up Our Game

June 30, 2014

Good morning everyone,

Hope everyone is having a good day. I certainly am. Every day is good day in the mission field as long as you make it that way.

So this week we were able to accomplish a lot. We're almost done moving. We've done all the deep cleaning in the trailer. Now all we need to do is get a few more things out and hand over the keys...after the inspection of course. I just want to be done with it haha. The place gives me anxiety. The new apartment is soooooooo much better. It's clean, spacious, spiritually inviting, and our new neighbor is awesome. His name is Tim and he's a retired G.I. He's really friendly and always offers us beer just to be funny. We gave him some cookies(not my idea but I guess it works) so now we're friends. Hopefully we have an influence on him. He likes what we do. He always tells us "beware of morons. They're everywhere" hahaha.

So Monday we had dinner with the M's. They're always fun. They're kind of struggling right now so we're doing our best to spiritually revive them. We also went fishing. I'll send some pictures. We saw a lot of bass but nothing was biting.

Tuesday we did some biking around Southern Pines which is right around where we live now. We didn't find much success, but we were able to meet with a less active woman and the little Mexican that lives with her. His name is R and he's crazy. He just doesn't get life. All he wants to do is drugs, snowboard, and some other things. He started to ask us questions so we answered some of them. So we offered to come back another day and just have a question session. So we went back on Friday and he just plagued us with questions. He asked us a bunch of junk and the Spirit didn't want to be there. He then went on about how we were missing out on life because we don't drink or do other stuff. He then offered to take us fishing, but told us that he would ruin us. So needless to say, we're not gonna do that haha. We told him to read the Book of Mormon and left. Weird lesson.

Wednesday we had district conference. Something my district leader came up with. The Zone Leaders were there so he wrote on the board "FIRST ANNUAL DISTRICT CONFERENCE." It was super funny haha. Elder Lowham and I got to teach about leaving our commitments with a purpose so that went well. We then went biking and tracting and didn't accomplish anything. Sometimes that happens. Actually, most of the time that happens. The hardest part of missionary work so far for me has been finding people to teach. Especially cause we're in Pinehurst which is just a retirement gold community full of white people. But we do find our Hispanics.

Thursday we did some weekly planning. Nothing to report there. Then we spent two hours or so cleaning the trailer. Getting there. We then went to dinner with the Bickford family at Brixx. It's a pizza place kind of like Mellow Mushroom but a little fancier. Brother Gross owns the restaurant so he pays for us to go a lot. He's the Ward Mission Leader so we go sometimes after coordination meeting each week.

Friday we went up to Robbins with Brother Scribner to post some flyers

and turn in some paperwork to the library. The librarian was happy to see us and she said we don't even need the paperwork! Then we checked out the classroom. It's perfect! There's a big white board and plenty of chairs. We then went and placed some flyers in the windows of Mexican tiendas. Everyone says that a lot of people will come. That's what we're hoping for!

Saturday all we did was move people. We went and helped a family in the ward move for a few minutes, but literally half the ward was there so we left. We then got to help move a non member family. The Clewis family. They're all chiropractors. It was us four Elders, a priest, and then like 5 other men. It took 6 hours. Something I learned is that McDonald's is just terribly unhealthy. The lady we were helping bought us each two quarter pounders and I knew I wasn't gonna be able to do it. But I did! And I regretted it....I felt like I had just eaten 1200 calories. Oh wait, that's because I did. Those things are ridiculous! Nutrition facts: 520 calories, 420mg of sodium, 19g of fat, and 30g of protein. I definitely don't believe the protein part. That just doesn't seem realistic for McDonald's. But enough of the McDonald's. We helped these people move a few miles away and it was a lot of work. The heat just kills. It makes you feel like you haven't slept in days. Later that night we ate dinner with the Barbours. They're my favorite! Just little old southern folks who love to cook southern food. We had two roasts. A rump and a round. They were both delicious. There was a man at dinner named Bashir. He's friends with the Barbours and he's from Afghanistan. He does confidential stuff with the government and speaks five languages. He's Muslim so it was interesting to hear his views during the lesson.

Sunday I gave a talk! I spoke about building your faith and then showing it. I feel like I did okay. Not my best talk haha. But everyone told me afterward that I have great speaking voice and that I should think about going into announcing or something. We'll see haha. If you want a copy of the talk just ask me. I'll send it to you. Later we had another lesson with A. We addressed a lot of concerns of his about baptism and the Plan of Salvation. and other things. He just wants to make sure that he's made everything right with God before he gets baptized. I can work with that! So then we went and ate dinner with the W's. They have a massive house,ten kids who are all home schooled, and an old dog that looks like the black one from Harry Potter 3.  We taught our lesson and then Brother W wanted a blessing. So we gave him and his wife one, as well as Brother N who was with us. He's their home teacher. It was interesting. Later that night, I had the impression that we should go to Pinebluff. So we went there and visited Willy Barry, the lady whose house we pressure washed. She was happy to see us. She's going in for surgery today for Carpal tunnel. I'll definitely need that when I'm older. Then we went and knocked an apartment that we've been trying to contact for months. They answered! I told them that we're missionaries and they let us right in. They're names are Alberto and Max and they're both from Vera Cruz like every other Mexican in Pinehurst. We presented the Book of Mormon and they were so excited to read it! Max just kept looking at it and saying "this book is amazing." Then he told us that he wouldn't have much time to read, but would read an hour each night. An hour? That's fantastic! They told us the last church they went to was not very welcoming. They said no one said hi but that everyone just stared at them. So I told them that that would not happen at our church and invited them to come next Sunday. They're excited to come! So we're gonna show up before church at their house next Sunday and help them get to the church. I'm so glad we found them!

So that was the week. All is well in Pinehurst. We just need to step up our game a little bit so we can baptize!

Have a good week.

-Elder Landon Carroll