Monday, February 29, 2016

WWJD - Who Would Jesus Dunk?

Hola y'all!

This week has been the hardest, least productive week of my mission so far! 😬

First: something about the new investigator I mentioned in my last email, John. We texted him a reminder about our next visit and to read the Book of Mormon a few days ago. He replied and said "I'm reading the Book of Mormon and I will keep reading it. But I do not think another visit is necessary". We replied saying something about our purpose as missionaries and why we thought he would benefit from a second visit so we could discuss the Book of Mormon with him. He hasn't replied 😒

He was our only investigator, so we're basically back where we started a month ago. At least we have the members we're working with! We're working with a couple less active families who are working towards the temple, which is awesome. With one of the families we're holding FHE with them and teaching different things. With the other family, we're teaching the missionary lessons to them as their 7 year-old daughter prepares to be baptized by her big brother. We're texting daily scriptures to the parents of both families too. There's tons of other cool members and families in the ward. The Hopes family is great and they feed us when we're down in Laurens and Clinton (our actual area), but we only make it down there once a week. I wish all the members in our ward weren't members so I could baptize them but whatever.  So what do we do when we can only work in our assigned area once a week?

No seriously, what are we supposed to do when we can only work in our assigned area once a week? We haven't figured it out yet. I feel terrible because this week had so little actual missionary work accomplished. One day we gave a ride to the bike elders so that one of them could meet with the mission therapist in Greenville. By the time we got up there, waited for the appointment to finish, and drove back it was dinner time. We went to the Relief Society president's house for dinner, and she talked our ear off for two hours (still love her though!). So that day was pretty unproductive.

We had interviews with President on Friday, and that took like 2 and a half hours because he wanted to meet with the other elders individually because of whatever reason. Our interview was only 15 minutes, then the sisters went, and then the other elders went. First together, then one went, then the other. After that we were supposed to do service for some members but they canceled and we didn't  have enough time to schedule service with someone else. That day was pretty unproductive.

There was a day where we biked 10 hilly miles to a less active's house in Gray Court, met with her for a while, mostly about how she believes many members in the church practice polygamy in secret, and then biked 10 hilly miles back because we didn't have enough time to do anything else in the area. We had another service opportunity, so as we were driving there they also texted us and  canceled. So we called members for an hour offering service before we found someone. We got about an hour in of service before we told them we had to go to our one appointment that hadn't canceled. That day was slightly productive.

We've been scheduling finding activities every single day this last week and something has come between us every time. We always hear that the Lord puts people ready to hear the gospel in our path. But those opportunities keep getting taken away from us. HOW CAN WE BRING THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL INTO PEOPLE'S LIVES IF WE CAN'T FIND THE TIME OR PEOPLE WILLING TO LISTEN. Sorry this email is so complainy, I guess the devil is just trying to stop me from being a proper tool in the hands of the lord. That's actually great because if all this stuff is trying to stop the work from progressing, that means that there ARE people out there in need of the gospel!

So the goal next week is going to be HARDCORE FINDING. The subject of this email is Who Would Jesus Dunk because I need to figure out who is ready to take a dive in las aguas de baptismo.

Here's a fun story since the rest of this email sucked: we went to Goodwill today and I bought some ties and they were 50 cents a piece! Elder Robison called them "ugly" which is fine because I don't want him lusting over my ties anyway. A lot of his ties are uglier than mine so I'm just counting the days until he goes home. Elder Creamer informed us that he knows how to make ties so we started browsing all the clothes for materials. HAHA ELDER ROBISON AND ELDER CREAMER WERE
THEY WERE DOING HAHAHAHA. NOW THAT LADY THINKS THAT MORMON MISSIONARIES ARE PERVS HAHA oh my gosh that's terrible actually. That's not a funny story anymore never mind. As always please tell me anyone who I'm not sending this to that I should or forward it to them. I think there should be some pictures attached. One of me riding a bike for the first time and a picture of an adorable rabbit. The gospel is truuuue




Save your fork, we're having dessert (LAST WEEK'S EMAIL I FORGOT TO SEND)

Hola y'all!

I say hola because I have been brushing up on my espanol with Duolingo these past couple weeks, and I reached a milestone: I'm officially 4% fluent in spanish! By the next time we tract in a Spanish-Speaking trailer park, I'll be able to convert people on the spot.

This week has been great! We did service on Brother Cook's rabbit farm again, with the bike elders this time. At the end Bro Cook gave them a frozen rabbit just like the one he gave us, so now it has a friend! Elder Creamer just so happens to have spent a month at a cooking school, so a few days ago he legit prepared this rabbit so we could have it for lunch. He emptied the rabbit of its organs, then stuffed it, and prepared rice to go with it. I think there's a picture somewhere but I don't know if I have it. The rabbit looked really good and I was actually going to eat some, but it turned out to be a little undercooked so it got put back in the oven for a while. HAHAHAHA WHEN ELDER CREAMER BROUGHT IT OUT OF THE OVEN HE FOUND A KNIFE HE LEFT IN THE RABBIT WHEN HE PUT IT BACK IN AND THE PLASTIC HANDLE LIKE MELTED OVER PART OF IT HAHA. So part of the rabbit was good, and part of it tasted like cancer. I only had a little, but I had some from the melted plastic/cancer hotspot. I had a headache for a little while but I think I'm good now. It's good to have a pro chef living just a few doors down.

I rode my bike for the first time this week. Since we're running low on miles, we parked on the side of this road where the pavement ended and a dirt road began. This road isn't like flat like most roads on most parts of the planet. This road is loaded with steep hills! What a great way to get back into biking after not doing it for 8 years, right? Apparently since I last rode a bicycle they added these things called gears and I guess you have to change them as you're riding the bike. Basically what I learned is the numbers mean nothing and you just have to press randomly on the switches and hope your chain doesn't fall off (which happened twice). We finally got to the referral's house and there was a guy named Philip there. That was great because the referral's name was Philip. But I guess it was a different Philip and the referral Philip was his son. He said we could come back on Sunday. We did (we biked again πŸ˜ž) and no one was home. Thanks for the trials, HF!

We got a new investigator this week though and it's an awesome story! We went tracting in this trailer park that I hate because everyone there is baptist and they are so mean. Not really mean but like why won't they just get baptized in our church instead. So we go to this area again and LITERALLY THE FIRST DOOR WE KNOCKED ON LET US IN. People don't usually open their doors, but this guy let us in his actual house! His name is John and we taught him the first lesson. His girlfriend and 3 kids came home in the middle and we asked them to join us and they said no and it was super awkward. We gave John a Book of Mormon and asked him to read it and pray about it. He said he would so that was cool. It just goes to show we get rewarded for doing things we should do but don't necessarily like! We scheduled a return appointment for next Saturday!

We had dinner with the bishop's family on saturday and I guess they were low on silverware so they asked us to save our forks because we were having dessert. I laughed because I remembered that story in the Ensign or something where the exact same thing happened. But it was funny because it happened for real and it happened to me so that was awesome.

I was going to send pictures this week but I forgot my camera again but I think Elder Robison will give me some pictures to send in next week's email so don't worry also please tell me who to send this email to or forward it because I'm pretty sure I know more than 15 people


Monday, February 15, 2016

I grew up on the screet

Hola y'all!

I say hola because we just got back from eating lunch at a little tienda by our apartment. One of the bike elders was ET'd to Greenville because of companionship issues or something. So the elder who switched with him actually speaks Spanish. His name is Elder Creamer. So it's Elder Browne and now Elder Creamer and then me and Elder Robison in our district, plus the 3 sisters. Elder Creamer can speak Spanish because his mom is from Spain, although he's from Arizona. He's a blessing, because all the Spanish speakers in our ward have a missionary to talk to again. They freaked out when they first heard this white kid from Arizona speaking fluent espaΓ±ol. So we put him right to work and had him help us order at this tienda that has a little restaurant inside. It was delicious. Real authentic Mexican food from South Carolina, just like you always h ar about!

But it's not all gooses and gravy (that's an actual saying I made up right here in SC). Missionary life takes a while to get used to. I'm still not used to being called Elder. "Nice to meet you, Elder Berry", "I like your tie today, Elder Berry", "I don't think that's how you cut a pineapple, Elder Berry". It can be very confusing. South Carolina is awesome, sometimes I forget I'm in another state, we have a Taco Bell here and everything. Although South Carolina is pretty different from Utah in some ways. The only mountain you're going to find here is Mountain Dew. Slang in SC involves replacing the t in 'tr' sounds with a c so it sounds like 'cr'. Scrength instead of strength. Scrawberry instead of  strawberry. People know when they're doing it, but they don't know how to stop. The scruggle is real.

It's really cold here in Simpsonville. Today we have a high of like 29 degrees I think and it's been raining off and on all day. People told me SC was going to be hot and humid all the time but the humidity is like really low so people legit lied to me.  Here's some things that happened this week: me and Elder Robison did some service for a guy named Brother Cook who has a rabbit farm. He has hundreds of rabbits and we had to clean up their piles of rabbit manure and roll it down this hill. It took like 4 hours because everybody poops and there are like 100 cages. At the end of the day
Brother Cook rewarded us by giving us a rabbit! Vacuum sealed in plastic. With its fur removed and its feet and head cut off. It turns out that Brother Cooks rabbit farm doesn't raise rabbits for pets or for rabbit shows, he raises them for meat! He has his own processing area and everything, he showed us the drain he uses for the blood, how fun! Fun fact: there used to be a law that you had to leave the feet on rabbit meat because without them, it's impossible to tell the difference between cat meat and rabbit meat. Our little guy is chilling in our freezer between the key lime pie and the frozen pizzas, and he's probably never coming out.

We spent a lot of our week meeting with less actives and members. We met a woman who hasn't been to church in about 8 months because she got a chemical burn on her head that made all her hair fall out πŸ˜•πŸ™☹️ She's been wearing a hood every day for months and doesn't leave the house. It's growing back though! πŸ˜€πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜¬  The lesson I learned this week is just because someone's less active doesn't mean they don't have a testimony or don't want to come to church. Every single person has a different reason for why they aren't fully active. Some people straight up (scraight up) can't afford to pay for the gas to drive the 60 miles round trip to church every Sunday. Other people haven't been back in 50 years and use the argument "the Book of Mormon has been edited 3 times" for why the bible is the only true book of scripture (how many times has the bible been edited since Jesus died?) Also supposedly according to that guy Joseph Smith told an Indian that reading the Book of Mormon would turn him white. I kind of hope that's true.

We met with this guy in our ward who is apparently like a really famous painter. His name is Michael del Priore and he's legit, you can look him up! He's painted portraits for people in congress and the White House and stuff. His house is awesome, it's like 100% antiques. Not like grody antiques but like nice stuff from all around the world. He's cool.

I can't remember what else happened this week so it must not have been that memorable. Sorry for the long email and sorry for not having any pictures, the only pictures on my camera are like 3 pictures from the MTC. I haven't had time or opportunity to take any pictures, I don't
even know what I would take pictures of. Feel free to forward this
email to anyone you want.

Love Elder Berry

You're not in Provo anymore

Hola y'all!
(that means hello you all)

I say hola because the Elders I replaced were spanish speaking and me and my companion are not! So not only are we white washing an area, but we had to drop ALL of their investigators because we couldn't message them or anything. Starting from scratch. Our area is Simpsonville, which is just outside of Greenville. We're in Simpsonville 2nd ward, and it's awesome. My companion's name is Elder Robison and he's my trainer and District Leader. He's been out 16 months and he's a big Star Wars fan so HA HA I saw the new movie and he didn't. Yeah it sucks but that's the price you a pay as a missionary.

My first week or so has been awesome! There's another set of Elders in our ward, they're on bikes and their area is all around the church building, that's where most of the active members are. We have a car, which is cool but it's not enough. Our ward boundary is 40-50 miles from end to end, and the church building is at the top, so we don't even live in our area. Since we live in Simpsonville, we have to drive 5 miles just to enter our area. A lot of work is going to be focused on less actives across the boundary. They live in Fountain Inn, Laurens, all the way down to Joanna, which is 10 miles, 20 miles, and 35+ miles one way to each of those areas. We don't have enough miles (only 1200 a month) to justify going down there more than once a week. So we don't really know what to do. There's obviously a reason our mission president felt impressed to move the Spanish elders out and move more English elders in, but we haven't really found it yet. We spent a lot of our first week going to members and inactive members in the Simpsonville area just to introduce ourselves. Most of them didn't answer. 

But we got to meet a lot of them at church! There's a couple active families in each of the far away towns aka our area so we will be needing their help a lot. Like they have no idea. They're probably going to be giving us rides and feeding us all the time if they want any missionary work done. A couple days ago we went down to Gray Court which is about 15 minutes from our apartment. Not too far, we decided to meet as many less active as we could. But South Carolina does not like the grid system, and roads go wherever they want. And we don't have a GPS so we have to look up the maps at the church building before heading out and guessing a lot. We got lost and had to turn around probably once per house. We met with probably 3 people over the course of 6 hours, but it was fun! A lot of these less actives haven't been to church in 40+ years, at least in Gray Court. I don't know how their records stay up to date. I love Gray Court because it's about as back woods as it gets. Seriously, look up Barnyard Road on google maps, and send me a dollar for every confederate flag or Beware Dog sign you see. I want to eat at Bojangles every day this week. 

Gray Court is the kind of place where "I went to school with a lot of blacks when I was younger" is a reason people will give for why they went to jail last week. Oh yeah, a guy actually said that to me. I just nodded, and asked him if he had heard of Joseph Smith a second time. So basically we haven't had a lot of success this last week, but we laid a lot of ground work. Yesterday was wonderful because we were tracting on Super Bowl Sunday, because we literally don't know what to do with our time. We were talking about how the Lord blesses us for doing our best, not for converting as many people as possible. Which is good because most poeple won't open their door if they see our name tags. We were feeling like failures anyway, because everyone we talked to had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and were "okay with where I am in my life right now". Which is fine. So when we finished we stopped by the Smiths, an active couple who we didn't see at church. They live in this awesome house. Brother Smith goes by Joseph by the way, so we get to have a real life Joseph Smith in our ward. We were just planning on stopping by and sharing a quick message. But we ended up staying there a couple hours because we told them our dinner was probably going to be like apples and peanut butter or something. They weren't having it. So they whipped up this meal just for us and we ended up being there for like 2 or 3 hours! They're awesome, she's been a member all her life, and he went to church every week since they got married (so 1961). But he didn't get baptized until like 4 years ago. He was very active, but he wasn't a member. That was a kind of funny story.

Sorry about the long email, but basically we were shown how we can be blessed by doing something we don't necessarily like. IF YOU SHOW THE LORD YOU'RE TRYING, THAT'S ALL HE CARES ABOUT. I'm looking forward to next week, and sorry I don't have any pictures, I left my camera at the apartment and we're at the library.

Love Elder Berry

Also if someone wants this email or I forgot to send it to them, please forward it to them. I tried to send it to everyone who's emailed me recently.

(also so sad that Carolina lost the Super Bowl. they were so close 😞)

MTC already over.....On to South Carolina

Hi mommy it is my P day and I'm doing laundry. I took some pictures but my I forgot my camera so I'll send them later. I feel like I've been here for weeks, if not months. spiritually I have been broken down a lot in a good way. I have the greatest teachers in the world, and I have become much more converted unto Christ and I can't wait to bring it to other people. Me and my companion get along usually. He's from Mesa Arizona and graduated from Mountain View! There's like 400 new missionaries every wednesday. I just got the dounts, they actually came yesterday but I didn't get a notice until the package office was closed. Love you mom
Love Elder Berry

Hey dad I don't have my itinerary on me but we are going to be at the airport at 3:30 am and I think we're switching flights in georgia. so if you want I can try and call at around 3:30 next wednesday morning. Sorry I'm writing short emails but I'm having a hard time focusing because I've only eaten sugar today. I don't usually do that.  Love you

Only 24 hours......Seems like a month

P-day is apparently Thursday, but they didn't get the word in time.  His first Preparation Day was cut short.  He only had a couple of lines to send us:
 'The MTC is fun, but the days are so long here. it's only been like 24 hours but it feels like a month. My companion's name is Elder Funk and he's ok. I don't know what else to tell you. ok bye'
I certainly hope he learns how to share a little more detail.

Elder Berry embarks on a journey

Elder Noah Berry was called to serve as a missionary in the South Carolina, Columbia Mission.  He reported to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on January 20, 2016.  We will post as much of his adventure here as we can.