Monday, October 27, 2014

Fun in Arkansas

So this week has had it's ups and downs. For starters, it is getting really hard to teach people. Laura, our investigator, won't set a baptismal date because she thinks that she doesn't have a testimony, but she believes the Book of Mormon, so it's weird. A lot of people have been saying that they'll get back to us when they have time which usually means never. Tony has been saying that, but Moe came to the Trunk n treat activity we had so I think there's hope for them. We haven't had any new investigators but yesterday we met a guy tracting who said he had a friend who was LDS and he accepted a Book of Mormon and he said he might read it. He's about the only potential we've met tracting because Kyle is never home when we set up appointments so we stopped trying with him. 

Every Tuesday we go to the thrift store that I think is Catholic run and we serve because it is non-profit. There we met a man named Richard Long. He is african-american and Elder Cluff and I don't think he's quite all there. He asked us to come by on Wednesday so we did. We got to his apartment and he let us in. He then turned on a CD playing some weird, Christian music and then he got on his little electric piano and started playing it. Actually it sounded like he was just banging on the keys because  it didn't go along with the song at all and it sounded like Jacob was playing the piano. I had to try really hard to not just burst out laughing. He did ask us about the book we had and so we gave him a Book of Mormon and set up another appointment so we'll see where that goes. 

Venice is the best though. She not only gave her mother-in-law a Book of Mormon, but she got her mother-in-law and her daughter to come to the Trunk n Treat. She is just the best. Hopefully through her example and happiness they will come to a lesson with her soon. There's also this guy named Donald Betts who we taught on Tuesday. I think I went over this last week but we set up an appointment with him on Tuesday and it was interesting. While we were preparing a lesson for him, we saw how often he had been taught in the past, which is a lot. He might be an eternigator (somebody who investigates for eternity). He had his wife and 3 of his kids murdered like a year ago so that was.... something different I guess. We talked to him and he said he wanted to get baptized but he wanted to quit smoking first and he wanted to get over the murders previously mentioned. So we invited him to pray about a date to set for baptism and set up another appointment so we'll see how that goes. He likes to talk a lot so it's going to be hard to teach him because Elder Cluff doesn't talk a lot and I only talk a lot when it's not to a stranger or it's about Star Wars. 

So on Thursday we went to Rogers, Arkansas for a meeting for brand new missionaries. There was one in Tulsa which is a little bit closer but we arranged for a ride from a member in the Neosho branch with the Neosho missionaries. So we drove to Neosho and then a member drove us to Rogers Arkansas. We had an incredible meeting with President Shumway. The guy is incredible. Something that I didn't know is that he has turned the Tulsa Oklahoma mission into one of the most successful missions in the world. We also have one of the biggest missions in the world missionary wise. There are about 260 missionaries in the mission (there was only like 120 when he started). He was telling us about the last mission survey that all the missions have to take and how our numbers and percentages were through the roof. I seriously wouldn't be surprised to see him as an apostle one day, it's gonna happen. The lesson was two hours long but it was too short. I loved every minute of it and learned a ton. Hopefully I can train one day before President Shumway goes home so that I can go to that meeting again, which isn't likely because he goes home in July of next year. 

So on Sunday, we had to go to Rogers Arkansas again. We had to get up at 4:45 so we could drive down to the Russ's (who are in our branch but live like 45 minutes away) and then the Russ's drove us to Rogers. The Joplin, Missouri stake was getting split and they were making a Monet, Missouri stake. The Rogers Arkansas stake was also getting split and they were making a Bentonville Arkansas stake. So the church rented out a convention center and Elder Bednar presided. It was sooo good. Elder Bednar is such an incredible speaker and the talk he gave was just fantastic. So I was really glad that they didn't broadcast it because I was really happy that I could go to that.

So this Wednesday we get to go to, you guessed it Rogers Arkansas! Whoo-hoo. We are having a zone conference where Elder Packer of the 70 (he just spoke in conference I think) is going to be there. We are going into it fasting so it should be a super good experience. They are also going to break the fast there and there will be food but it's at 9 so we're going to have to get up early again, sigh.

Hopefully we will get more investigators soon because it really stinks not having any appointments and having to think of stuff to do like tracting, I am not fond of tracting.
Keep me in your prayers and I love you all!
Elder Naegle

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 2 in the OTM

Well I forgot to mention that I have been sick since I got here in the OTM. Tuesday and Wednesday were really bad. I was hacking and coughing, headaches, my whole body felt bruised, no appetite, no energy and I was just miserable. I guess it's not a good sign that when you are teaching about the postmortal world and the thought comes to your mind: "Huh that sounds really nice right now, hopefully I won't wake up tomorrow" It wasn't as bad as it sounds I promise but it was kinda like that. Tuesday after eating at a member's house, we sat down and went through a branch member list and talked about people in the branch. I fell asleep and Elder Cluff did all the talking. Wednesday was really bad. This was the high point of my sickness and I was hating life. We went to district meeting in Pittsburg and there I asked for a priesthood blessing. I felt a little better after that. Then we did exchanges so I went with Elder Day and a senior couple to Fort Scott where I stayed for the rest of the day. I even felt good enough and hungry enough that we stopped and ate some lunch. Fort Scott is a biking area so I got to ride a bike. Contrary to popular belief backpacks apparently are allowed because every missionary I have seen has one and riding bikes is pretty annoying with a side bag. We went and visited an old lady and read her a Mormon version of Green eggs and Ham. It was funny. We did some tracting. Then we went to serve at a Methodist charity dinner at the local Methodist church. We washed cafeteria lunch trays. Elder Day told me that the Methodists there love the missionaries and help them out all the time by giving them referrals. Apparently they give the missionaries more referrals than their branch members do. The minister even came up to us and asked Elder Day if they were still teaching someone he had apparently referred to them. Funny stuff. Thursday we just taught a bunch of people. I get the feeling like they are just curious about what we have to say and they don't actually realize how the gospel can help them. Today though all the OTM missionaries got an email asking all missionaries to study with the question: how can I get the people I teach and baptize to be deeply converted so that they don't fall away. Then it gave us some scriptures to read, so God works in mysterious ways because I have been thinking the same thing recently. Friday we taught Venice who is the golden recent convert who was baptized right before I got here. I is always awesome teaching her because she loves the gospel so much. Friday we were actually fed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had breakfast at the branch mission leader's house and had a meeting with him. We had lunch at a member's house and gave them some BOM chapters to read. Then we had dinner at a member's house who live all the way out in Oswego which is like a 25 minute drive from where we live. Saturday we didn't have any appointments and our dinner cancelled,which bummed me out because it was Tony and Moe and I really want to see Tony baptized because he is such an awesome guy and it will help Moe out so much, so we said a prayer asking for guidance and I got the idea to look in the area book so we did. We found a bunch of investigators and less actives who we could go visit, so we hopped on our bikes and went to go visit with them. We set up an appointment with an investigator who I guess the previous missionaries just forgot about because Elder Cluff didn't even know him and we set an appointment with a less active. So it was a really good day especially because we were able to talk to everybody who we knocked on their door and were able to invite most of them to the upcoming branch trunk-or-treat so hopefully they all come. Actually there was this one dude who was taking a nap and we talked to his wife but it was a really great day. We had I think 2 less actives at church and 1 investigator, so that was really good. I made French toast on Sunday morning and it was really good. Then church was really good, we talked about the postmortal world again... But it was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Last week I bought a bunch of lettuce thinking that I could easily eat salad everyday. Well I forgot salad dressing so today I got salad dressing and opened up my salad and it was bad. The exp. date was like 4 days ago so sadly I threw it away without eating any of it. :( Well I'm still sick but it's mostly just coughing, a lot of coughing. Elder Cluff is real sick too, so last week was rough, with a lot of coughing involved. I'm starting to enjoy it more and more everyday though and I'm loving the people more and more (it helps that they feed us). Please keep me in your prayers I need them. Love you all!
Elder Naegle

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 13th: Oklahoma Tulsa Mission = OTM = Only True Mission = Obesity Through Members

Well I'm finally here in the Oklahoma Tulsa mission. The flight from Denver to Tulsa was not very pleasant for a couple of reasons. One, the plane was really small and I couldn't stand up straight while walking down the aisle. Two I was sick with a cold from the MTC and when the plane started descending I got a terrible pain in my left ear because I could not equalize that ear. Then I couldn't hear anything out of it for the next hour. The flight from Salt Lake was good though. I sat next to a nonmember and we had a pleasant conversation about his job (which was a really cool job) and a lot of other things like the state of New York and snow shoeing. We started talking about the couple days he stayed in Salt Lake and how he visited temple square and he lives pretty close to Palmyra so I told him there was another temple there and so hopefully he visits it.
So the big news, I am in a small town called Parsons. It is in Kansas and other missionaries have told me that Kansas is the hardest state to get into because there's only like three areas there so there is a good chance that I could become a four state missionary. There is a lot of smoking, churches, people living on welfare, veterans and rain here. There is not a lot of teeth, Mormons, manicured lawns and clean houses here. Ever since we got to Parsons it has been raining like nonstop. Saturday and Sunday it didn't rain but as we were driving to Parsons it started raining and then it didn't stop until sometime Friday. Then Today it has been raining nonstop so far. The work here is hard because everybody is super religious. A fairly common thing for people to tell us is that they attend another church and that they're already saved. Disclaimer: They are not already saved. This place is pretty run down. I feel like every house we go inside smells like old people and is extremely dirty. Mom, our house is not even close to as dirty as some of these houses are. Being here has actually made me really grateful for how blessed I was back in Utah with a big house, a neighborhood where people actually took care of their lawns and houses, Mormons, Mormon churches, temples (there are three temples right outside our mission: Kansas city, St. Louis and Oklahoma City) and people with teeth.
My companion is Elder Cluff. He has been out for 14 months so he's pretty experienced. He is probably the best trainer because he is so obedient and so that will get me obedient and that is good because obedience brings blessings and here in the OTM we believe in being "fanatically obedient" mission president's own words. He is super smart (34 ACT 4.0) he went to college for high school and he hasn't even gone to college yet. He from Queen Creek Arizona. The only downside to our companionship is that we are both pretty quiet guys so there are a lot of awkward silences and neither of us can make decisions, but it will all work out.
The branch we are serving in is great. They feed us almost every night. We live in a little apartment that is right across the street from our branch building so that's the closest I've ever lived to a meetinghouse. We are working with a couple people right now. Some I haven't even met yet. One of them is Tony. Tony is curious about the gospel. He is engaged to a member who's name is Moe, yes Moe is a girl, and Moe is a less active who has a really weird testimony. We taught Tony at Moe's house and ate deer chili with peanut butter bread and had brownies and ice cream. We then tried to teach the restoration and it was going really well at first but then Moe came. Since she was forced into the LDS church by her parents she left it when she had the chance. Then she came to this area and said she went to the Pittsburg ward (it's in Kansas not Pennsylvania) and she felt it felt like home. So she goes to church every once in a while. She likes to talk so she would go on and on about how true the church is and then she would go on about how it's perfectly ok to not join and that it's Tony's choice and how she still believes you're saved as long as you believe in the Bible. And since Elder Cluff and I are terrible at talking/interrupting, most of the time we were learning about Moe's personal beliefs. She likes tattoos and plans on getting more (a lot more) and she drinks coffee so we'll work on her. Tony though is so perfect. He has a testimony of prayer and that God loves him. He has had prayers answered before so we hope that will help him get an answer about the Book of Mormon. The only problem is that he is afraid of getting made fun of because he had a friend when he was little who was Mormon who got made fun of so hopefully that fear doesn't keep the spirit from testifying to him. If he converted he would be a strong member. There's this old guy named Tom who just likes to talk to us. The only time we visited him we really didn't have a lesson just a study kind of thing. There's Ken who is also an old guy who has been baptized into the church but doesn't come every Sunday and although he has a really strong testimony of repentance he doesn't have a testimony of anything else. There's Venice who is a recent convert who is one of those golden converts who you find tracting and a month later they're baptized. She was baptized before I got here but we taught her once and she is really nice and has a strong testimony. There's this guy Kyle who Elder Cluff and his former companion met earlier this week tracting who we set up an appointment with so pray that works out. There's this guy named Charles. He only wants to meet with his pastor there. The previous missionaries met with him once and then the other day Elder Cluff and I met with him. All they want to do is Bible bash and Charles did it more than the pastor did which was weird. The spirit wasn't there the whole time and with mine and Cluff's quiet nature we never really were bold with our testimonies and we didn't even say a prayer. Hopefully we don't visit with them again because I don't think he is going to go anywhere. And there are a lot of other strange members who we visit with because we have to fill up time.
Well it's really hard being a missionary. None of it is physical, it's all mental and emotional.  My faith is never shaken don't worry it's just hard, especially with these bible folk.  I just have to learn the ropes and get happy through helping people. Love you all, please keep me and Tony in your prayers!
Sincerely Elder Naegle

October 7th: MTC 2

This last week has gone by so fast! All the Elders and Sisters at the MTC told us that after the first Sunday your time at the MTC flies and it sure has. I have had so many amazing experiences this past week and I am extremely grateful. My testimony has grown so much over the past couple of days. I have learned so much doctrine and knowledge concerning the gospel and it blows my mind just knowing how much I still have to learn. My district and zone were all so amazing and it was sad having to say goodbye to them, they left at 3 this morning, but I know they will do great on their missions because they are all fantastic people especially because we are always matching with ties and outfits. We gave so many priesthood blessings yesterday before they all left and we'll give the rest tonight but now my tally of blessings without my dad's help is up to 2.  General conference was superb as always, and even though I have pretty much forgotten everything that was said, I still have the good feeling in my heart. My companion, Elder Thompson, was in the choir for priesthood session but you probably never say him because we only saw him 3 times. He was in the very front on the very left. He is a funny guy. He has a girlfriend back in Colorado but he has already had three girls from back home confess there love for him. So Elder Ham came up the nickname Two-Timin-Thomas-Thompson. We also call him Triple-Threat-Thompson (it was my idea). He falls asleep in class and conference just as often, maybe even more than, me. He also found a survey thingy that our teachers fill out and he read the stuff about us and it said that we are good missionaries but we fall asleep a lot and early on we didn't work together well and one even said that they were going to try to get me more involved.... Well towards the end of our time here at the MTC we did start working together really well, in fact we were probably the best in the class and I personally think that I got more involved and I still fall asleep a lot... So everyone here at the MTC when they give you advice they tell you to not drink the orange juice because it gives you the runs. So, Elder Ham and I decided that we were all going to drink the orange juice because we can't just come to the MTC and not drink the fabled orange juice. So yesterday we drank the orange juice and right before class Elder Ham comes up to me and tells me "The myth is true!" and then later that night while we were pretending to teach people on airplanes Elder Thompson gets up suddenly, whispers to Elder Ham: "That orange juice is crazy!" On Saturday night all the Elders in my room pushed all the bunk beds together and mad a fort. Kinda... Really it was just three bunk beds pushed together with a sheet hanging over the side that was not pushed against the wall. Don't worry it was not against the rules. And Elder Shaum came across the scripture 3 Nephi 22:2 which talks about tents so take that as you will.

It's been crazy teaching all the "investigators" here. Really it's just our teachers pretending to be somebody else and then TRCs we get to teach someone who isn't LDS or they're a recent convert. Elder Thompson and I were teaching a russian lady who was like 26 I think and she was a foreign exchanges student and actually she went to Bingham so that was cool. Right now she is a student at BYU because she has a lot of friends there. I think she might actually be a member. Our first lesson with her I feel like we just confused her a ton because all Elder Thompson wants to do is pretty much bear his testimony and all I want to do is teach the lesson. So I taught a little bit of the lesson and then Elder Thompson just started talking and talking and talking about the same thing pretty  much and then I feel like she (her name is Kya) was just super confused and I didn't feel the spirit so I didn't say anything the whole rest of the time. It sucked. But the next lesson went so much better! We taught the lesson like a boss and traded off perfectly with each other. I read her Alma 7:11 and she asked me where it was and wrote it down on her phone or looked it up or something. So we know it struck her. We closed it off really well and it was just awesome. Then our third lesson was a skype lesson and Kya didn't show so that's cool I guess. Our teacher investigator was progressing well but then we ran out of lessons. So all in all Elder Thompson and I learned a lot and we learned that there is still some stuff we need to practice like actually getting our investigators to commit to things instead of just saying "hey read this" So basically we are going to be awesome missionaries.

I leave tomorrow morning at 2:30! Our flight is at 5:55 and we fly to Denver and then on to Tulsa! I can't wait. Even though the weather there is like in the 80s and we are going to have to wear our full suits because it is not summer. And our mission president wants us to have the Book of Mormon read by December! I'm on 1 Nephi chapter 3 so yeah... We got $98 on our ecclesiastical cards and now we all feel super rich even though that money is probably going to go to something like toilet paper. 

Basically the coolest parts of the week were when we sang Joseph Smith's first prayer and then went on a "nature" walk around the MTC parking lot and then we all sat down and I read Joseph Smith history and then prayed about it. Ten minutes later I was about to start studying and I opened my scriptures randomly and the scripture I opened to was Jacob 7:13-14 which basically says you know that God exists and stuff (Jacob talking to Nehor I think) and it was really cool because I had always heard about people randomly opening there scriptures and getting an answer and now I have too! Then the other cool part was yesterday when we were learning to teach by the spirit and then we practiced with people trying to commit them to baptism and I was trying to commit sister Burt to baptism and I talked to her and read some scriptures and then when she finally said "yeah I guess I'll get baptized" I just had a wave of relief and joy and everybody thought I was going crazy because I was super smiley and out of it for the next 5 minutes. So now I can't wait for the real thing! Basically the lesson here is that if you pay your tithing you will be blessed.

Love you all,
Elder Naegle

September 30th: The MTC

I don't know if you got my letter or not but my pday is Tuesday. The MTC is great. I love it here. There is a lot of class time that we have to go to and it kinda sucks because we have no down time to do all the things that they tell us to do on our own. Every night we get done at about 9:30 and then we have to socialize and go to the vending machine. Then brush our teeth and get ready for bed and write in our journals and by the time we've done all that the literal voice of Satan comes on the speakers at 10:15 and tells us it's quiet time. The branch presidency made me district leader so basically all I do is get the mail and call on people to say the prayer. My companion is Elder Thompson he is Mexican from Arizona, Colorado and South Jordan. He is exactly a foot shorter than me and he is in the priesthood session choir so it's really a headache for me having to drop him off and pick him up because I have to get Elder Azbill and Elder Ham, the two other Elders in my dorm and my district, to go get him. and it gets really annoying when trying to figure out us going to the temple today while he went to choir practice so that was really stressful. In the end we just switched our laundry time with our temple time so Elder Thompson won't have any clean clothes next week... Oh well. The food here sucks. The gym here sucks. Elder Thompson and I are the only two people who fall asleep all the time in class and what not. I am doing better though and yesterday I didn't fall asleep at all! The trick is drinking lots of water and eating lots of icebreakers and standing up in the middle of class to the bewilderment of the district. I really like my two main teachers, they're great. I gotta go now.
Love you,
Elder Naegle

Wednesday, October 8, 2014