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