Monday, October 27, 2014

Back to the Drawing Board

October 27, 2014

Good morning everyone!

Another great week has passed in North Carolina. Every week here presents its own challenges and difficulties, but I always come out having learned something new! Whether that be emotionally, physically, or spiritually, the experiences I have here present great opportunities for growth.

So about that subject up there ^. The reason I say "back to the drawing board" is because that's where we've come to. Over a series of events, most of our teaching pool has been depleted and we have a lot of doors to knock!

So here's a few things that happened.....

O and P, the people we thought were GOLDEN attended their own church last Sunday and...they apparently loved it. They hadn't been in years so returning rekindled the excitement that they used to have for their church. So O gave us a call (while I was napping during lunch. Yes, we're allowed to nap. In this mission we get an hour break for meals so I wasn't being disobedient I promise! If you don't agree with that, I encourage you to read Mosiah 4:27 :)) and she said that she appreciates all that we taught her but she'd like to stay with her church. We then visited P the next day and he said the same thing. He knows the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, but he won't take any action. We plan to visit them again when O is there to see if we can save their souls :)

A and M had an interesting experience as well. They gave us a call and told us that they had read some stuff that they were just weirded out by (such as becoming a God, temple ordinances, etc) and that they had a lot of questions for us. So we met with them and they're convinced by all this anti Mormon stuff they're reading that Mormonism is a Satanic cult and that we are a lost people. He said he wants proof that the church is true and that Joseph Smith was actually a prophet. We explained to him the need for faith and asking God if these things are true, but he doesn't like that answer. So we plan to see them one more time and be a LITTLE more bold and see if they take some action in reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. So I'll keep y'all posted on them.

All of the other investigators and potential investigators are either uncontactable or just flat out don't show any interest. And that leads us into this week. We have lots of plans to go out and knock doors(because knocking doors works in Clinton) this week and hopefully we have a lot of success with that. During accounting with our District Leader last night he was like "Your teaching pool went from 17 last week to 5 this week. What happened Elders?" Haha kind of sad but that's just how the cookie crumbles sometimes en la obra misional.

Oh, here's a story for ya. We talked to Moses on Tuesday! Moses! In the flesh! Hahaha it was this black guy from Panama who spoke Spanish who believes in reincarnation. He said that in his last life he was a fish in the Amazon River. I asked him how he knew and he said that God showed him. And then he said "Like I also know I was Moses." So that was pretty crazy. Haha maybe I'll say a prayer tonight to find out who I used to be. I'm hoping I was Nephi!

So that was some of my week for ya. Something I've seen out here is that every day is super hard in its own way, but every night I get ready for bed and I'm able to look back on the fruits of the day and kind of just smile. It's something that's hard to explain unless you've experienced it for yourself, but it is true.

Love y'all,

-Elder Landon Carroll

Monday, October 20, 2014

Changes On the Way

October 20, 2014

Que tal!

Wow I really can't believe it's already been a week. Time really does fly on the mission. I was just thinking the other day that I started college over a year ago...what. I guess those are just symptoms of someone who's trying their best to serve the Lord.

As far as the mission goes, I'm loving it. I'm kind of a non conformist in most things, but I've found recently that just embracing the mission (culture, life, etc) is the best thing to do and the best way to have fun. Something that I learned this week was that there are disappointments all over the place! But it's when we focus on the things that really matter, the constants in our lives, that we're able to look past the negative and find joy.

With that, this week was pretty great. On Tuesday, we had another lesson with O and P and....K. This one went pretty well. We ended up teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them and they ate it up! P was asleep when we got there, but woke up 30 minutes later with a "when did y'all get here?" Haha. Anyways, K was less aggressive this time, so we were able to help him understand some things. He's trying to find out right now if the Book of Mormon is true (which it is) so we'll see how that goes tomorrow. I'm hoping he's able to gain that testimony because he would be a very strong member. O should be coming to church this next Sunday for the first time, so that should be great. Hopefully she keeps the "amens" to a minimum haha.

Small miracle that really touched me. We went to an apartment complex to go contact some people and knock a few doors. We knocked on a door and a black man opened up. His name is D. He said he's not very religious but "she loves to talk religion." So he let us enter. We turned the corner and walked in the living room. A lady was sitting there on a bed watching TV. It looked like she had been bed ridden for a long time. Just to give you an image, she was probably about 400 pounds. It was apparent at that point that she was having a hard time and had had a hard life. So we introduced ourselves and then got to know each other a little bit. She said that she had faith in Christ, but had a lingering question for us. She said, "In the Bible it says God never gives us more than we can take. How is it that He knows how much we can take? How can He really understand?" So I whipped out the Book of Mormon and turned to Alma 7:11-12. I'll quote it for you:
" 11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."

She then started to tear up and said that that's exactly what she needed to hear that day. She said that she used to have missionaries come over a lot, but she doesn't feel ready or worthy to have us come yet.  We left her the Book of Mormon and left the apartment feeling humbled and uplifted. That really touched me. It's amazing the small miracles that we witness as missionaries. Whether it's following the Spirit to find someone, seeing someone understand the Restoration, or just making people's day, it all builds my testimony in one way or another.

So the rest of the week wasn't too eventful. We weren't able to get anyone to church this week, but we are working hard and seeing the fruits of our labors. We don't have any scheduled baptisms, but be on the lookout :) We'll have some soon.

Hope you all have a wonderful week.

-Elder Landon Carroll

P.S. My companion, Elder Ostergar, has to go home for some time to have a knee surgery done. So we'll miss him for sure. My other companion, Elder Salvatierra, is very very sick right now with a stomach virus. Please pray that he gets well and that it doesn't spread to me!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great week, but awwwww mannnnn

October 13, 2014

Good morning all!

It's a great Monday isn't it?

It was another eventful week here in Clinton. We had a lot of successes this week, and I'm definitely seeing growth in myself.

So on Monday night we had a dinner and "bible" study with a couple members. The dinner was yummy! Sister Tyndall made homemade biscuits and some yummy beef/cheese/sausage dip! So good. Then we ended up studying Preach My Gospel because it was only members there. We're gonna try to invite nonmembers this week so that next Monday is productive with that.

On Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting to learn and account as a zone. Kind of like zone conference, but no President or assistants. I learned a lot about....missionary work haha. I did learn, but I can't think of what what was talked about at the moment. After that, Elder Wilkinson (one of the zone leaders) came to our area to help Elder Ostergar and I out. Elder Salvatierra went to their area with Elder Dewey. Oh and I forgot to tell y'all, Elder Dewey is my zone leader. He actually stayed at our apartment a couple weeks ago and I traded ties with him! He heads home next week actually, so we'll be getting a new zone leader I think. So anyways, we had a great lesson with O and P...and K. We walked into their trailer and K was there sitting on the couch next to O. Turns out he was O's brother and came to learn. So we started the lesson out and K just starts blazing! He just screamed southern baptist with the way he handled himself. He was drilling us with questions and concerns and we didn't even get to teach to the needs to O and P. So eventually he calmed down because he realized that we (like good little missionaries) didn't want to bash. So we started to teach him the Restoration. We taught all of the points and throughout the whole thing he kept asking us where the Book of Mormon came from. Finally we got to that point and were able to answer that question. So in the end, he was quiet and I think he felt the Spirit. He agreed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I was really proud of myself after that lesson. We managed to keep the Spirit in there, regardless of his attitude toward it all .So he'll be there tomorrow so hopefully he feels good about the Book of Mormon.

On Wednesday we went to the Temple! This time was especially spiritual for me. I definitely caught some things that I didn't notice before. One thing that was emphasized to me was (not to reveal anything) that Christ truly did and does the will of the Father. There was nothing done in the Plan of Salvation without instruction given to Jesus Christ from Heavenly Father to prepare something. I just thought that was interesting. I also felt very peaceful in the Celestial room this time. I was just sitting in there and I felt nothing but peace. No worries, no grief, no anxiety. Just pure peace. And that's just a piece of what is to come in the eternities. After the temple we ate lunch and then later ate dinner with Rudy and Yamara. They're the people that tagged me in a picture on Facebook(but I wasn't there). We had some carne asada and it was super good!

Thursday nothing special happened.

Friday we got two new investigators and we were convinced they were golden! We had a good starting lesson, and they agreed to come to church. Their names are L and T. We were looking forward to seeing them!

On Sunday, all three of us Elders were assigned to speak on testimonies and how to get one. We spoke really well and definitely feel like we helped the members grow a lot. But L and T left during the rest hymn. I thought that was strange. They called us later that day and L left a message that said "Hi this is L. I'd like to cancel my appointment that I have with you guys at 4:30. I appreciate y'all inviting me out to come check out your church and see how your establishment works. I am interested no further." That really broke my heart. The truth was right there in front of them and they wouldn't accept it! They probably thought we worshiped Joseph Smith or something because of the talks we gave. Something I've learned from this is to respect people's agency. It's a real bummer, but that's how to we know who is elect and who's not.

The good news is that I'm feeling good about the area and myself as a missionary. The work is great and I can already say that I've changed a lot just from being out here and serving the Lord.

Love you all,

-Elder Landon Carroll

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Zone Conference and General Conference

October 6, 2014

Muy buenos dias!

It was another great week here in Clinton, NC. I thought I would never be able to replace Pinehurst, but this place is definitely living up to standards. I love how much work we do and how the branch is so dependent on the missionaries here. This puts a lot of pressure on us that we're willing and ready to take care of the needs of the members here.

The first thing to write about is Zone Conference on Wednesday. We had the opportunity to head up to Fayetteville to the Scotty Hill building to meet with President and Sister Bernhisel, the assistants, and the rest of the zone to receive instruction to better ourselves and our areas. It was really uplifting and I learned a lot about the importance of teaching to the needs of investigators. That's something we as a companionship have been working on and we've definitely seen the effects of it. As we really listen to the investigators and the Spirit, we're able to deliver our message much more effectively, to the point that it changes lives. I've really grown as a teacher here in Clinton just from having more experience and learning from Elder Salvatierra. He's a really good teacher, and it's helped me a lot listening to him. The other highlight of the meeting was....wait for it.....we got to watch MEET THE MORMONS early. President Bernhisel got a copy and it was fantastic. Family, the candy bomber guy is one of the the six people the film follows. His story is great! The others were great too, and I know y'all will enjoy it in theaters. After Zone Conference, I went up to Dunn to go on exchanges with Elder Mora, the district leader. We had some fun times and I was able to help him out in his area WHILE learning of course. Then we switched back the next day and continued on.

Just some information on some of our investigators. O and P are an old black couple(actually bro and sis) who live together. P is 70% blind and does not let people in the house. Interestingly enough, he told us that when we knocked on his door he could feel that we were good and he let us in. That was almost four weeks ago. They're both progressing amazingly because they're humble and ready. O is already in 2nd Nephi in the Book Of Mormon and he says "I don't understand how anyone can't believe that this is the word of God. All you got to do is read it and the truth speaks for itself." She's awesome. She then looked at me as I was teaching the Plan of Salvation and said "You have been through a change. Something in your past has made you a joyful person." I told her that it was because I was serving the Lord and she let out an "AMEN!" " Haha. So then we asked her about everything we were teaching and she said "I know it's all true because the Holy Spirit speaks to me every time you teach me." Golden I tell you! Then she said that she had been praying to find a church that would give her the knowledge she was looking for and then we showed up on her doorstep three days later. Miracle. She was especially excited when we told her about Spirit Prison and that everyone will have an opportunity to hear the Gospel and be baptized. She does this funny thing when she gets excited: "Ay ay ay ay ay ay! Lord have mercy!" She's the best. We have not committed them to a baptismal date yet, but they will be baptized in time. We invited them to pray about baptism and we'll follow up with that tomorrow when we see them next.

We're also teaching M and A. They're both in their early twenties. and they're looking for ways to be successful in life. They're very hard to teach because all they want is money....that kind of success. But they're hilarious and they actually have their own YouTube channel. I'll get the info for that next time so you can watch they're stuff. But they're not progressing very well due to lack of understanding, but we'll get there. I have faith.

So those are just a few investigators. There are many more, but those are just some of my favorite.

The next highlight of the week was General Conference. This conference was excellent. It's clear that we need to:
1. Gain our own testimonies at an early age
2. Listen to the prophets.
3. Fast
4. Understand the importance of the Sacrament.
5. Understand how to receive personal revelation
6. Literally prepare to meet God.
7. Don't get caught up in worldly distractions that limit progress

With that, I especially enjoyed Elder Nelson's talk (I took a little pride in telling my companions that he operated on my great-grandpa.). It's extremely important that we not only sustain the prophet, but follow Him. God tells us what we need to do through His prophet and we need to follow his counsel. I also loved Elder Oaks' talk. He always has an emphasis on "the world may change but God never changes." This is so true. There's so much in the world that just DOESN'T MATTER. We need to focus on what's important if we truly want to be happy, otherwise we'll just end up thirsting forever. We need to focus on the things that help us progress in this life. Is that not the purpose of life anyway? To progress?

So I hope that y'all enjoyed conference as much as I did. I'm really enjoying my mission so far. It's brought me a lot of growth and allowed me to see my potential. Thanks for all the prayers!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Landon Carroll

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Birthday and Popped Bicycle Tires

September 29, 2014

Good morning everyone!

First of all I would like to say that I had a WONDERFUL birthday. Even though I wasn't at home to celebrate with my family, I definitely felt the love of them. My mom sent me the best package ever, I ate some authentic tacos, and went to a Quinceñera! What could be better than that? Haha. 

Also, the work is amazing here. We have so many investigators it's super hard to keep up with them, but I'm sure that's a problem most missionaries wouldn't mind having. We taught a lot of great lessons, and I really saw the importance of teaching to needs this week. The people in Clinton are great, and they, like us, all have different issues/problems that they're going through. As my relationship with Christ has grown since I've been out here, I am now really able to testify of the healing and enabling powers of Christ's Atonement.               Every problem that any of us have can be directly overcome through the Atonement. It was in that dark hour of Christ's mortal life that He suffered every single thing that we can ever go through. I often think of that when I'm feeling down. The fact that Christ suffered everything I'm experiencing means that He's walking right beside me and knows how to help me.

Some funny things that happened this week. Haha get ready for this. On Tuesday, my rear tire popped, so we had to patch it at the apartment. On Thursday, Elder Salvatierra's rear tire popped as well, so we locked it to a sign and walked the 3 miles home. In fact, the bike is still sitting there haha. On my birthday, we rode like 8 miles to the Quinceñera and both of Elder Ostergar's tires popped, so we called the branch president and he took us home. So after Elder Salvatierra's bike flatted, we borrowed one of the sister's bikes, and now Elder Ostergar is using one too. But.....last night one of the sister's front tires popped on a nail! So that's a total of FIVE flat tires this week. We think it's a curse and that it won't cease until all the bike tires are popped. So we are on a journey today to buy new inner tubes. Oh the life of a missionary. 

As far as training goes, it's really fun. It's interesting working in a trio, but it's also really fun because we all like each other. The only hard part is making sure we all get our say in during lessons. But we actually do it really well.

We partied super hard at the Quinceñera on Saturday! Nah just kidding. We just ate some Hispanic food and then headed out. So worth the long bike ride! We sat with Freddy, our investigator, and he was super excited we came. I'll send some pictures of the event.

Well that's all the REALLY interesting things this week. It's not like Pinehurst where I can just write about every single thing we do because we are so busy. It's good to be busy though. It keeps us sane and happy.

I love you all and hope everything is well at home. You are all in my prayers. The work is amazing here and I'm really starting to find myself as an individual and as a missionary. Thanks for all the birthday wishes as well.

-Elder Landon Carroll
A view from Landon's new area, Clinton

Landon always sends pictures of cool cars and trucks
Landon has always called our Morkie dog "a buddy".  He sent this picture and said it was "a buddy".  
Landon's Mama (that's southern for Grandma) sent him one of her homemade cakes.  It got there all in one piece!