Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 20, 2012 letter

Oh deer,

"Where am I?" You see, that's an interesting question. The name of the city that I am CLOSEST to is called Idabel. I know longer live in Texas. I am in OKLAHOMA! Ha ha ha. Part of my area goes into Arkansas! Ha ha ha I love it! We live with a member about 5 miles outside of town. I tell you what folks, if this ain't the boondocks then I don't know what is. Remember how I thought that I was in the middle of nowhere when I was in Longview? Doesn't even compare. My first few days here were my first sign that I was no longer in "the city", but after Sunday I now KNOW that I am in the sticks.
Monday was a bunch of packing and saying goodbye to people and what not. Tuesday morning was transfers. That was a lot of fun (as you probably saw). The mission recently ordered trucks for some of the missionaries to drive and guess who got to drive it out to them!?! Yours truly! They are pretty sweet trucks. Chevy Colorado's with a 3" lift and after market rims and tires. Elder Morris and I drove the truck out to Lindale, TX where I met my new companion Elder Whicker. Elder Whicker served in The Colony and Little Elm when I was serving in Frisco so I already knew him pretty well. After the hour and a half drive to Lindale we drove with a member another hour to a place called Mt. Pleasant (smell of the town= not so pleasant). That's where my companion had parked our car to save miles. From Mt. Pleasant we drove another hour and a half out to the wonderful city of Idabel, Oklahoma. Ooo boy! We got home, unpacked what I needed for the day, and headed off to dinner. Dinner was awesome. Oh my goodness. We ate dinner with a man named Buddy. You know how sometimes we would watch Blue Collar TV? Well, let's put it this way. Buddy doesn't have to watch it. He lives it! It is so great! His son (28) was poking fun at him for being "old" and Buddy was jeering back at him with some of the funniest sayings that I have ever heard. I was in tears all night from laughing. Everything in Buddy's home is a nice John Deere yellow or green. Yes, even down to the toliet. I LOVE these people here! Buddy is a convert to the church. The two missionaries that taught him are some of the greatest ones that I know. Elder Ryan Hurd being one of them (he was the missionary that I met in the temple before our mission). Buddy has one of the strongest testimonies that I have ever heard. Hearing him bear his testimony after dinner was one of the greatest moments of my mission. Let me tell you, I cannot wait until fast Sunday. Ha ha ha.

I cannot tell you how many new phrases I am learning out here. Favorite one of the week is, "You bet'r git on dat lika duck ona Joonbug!" Ha ha ha. I almost peed my pants when I heard someone say it. The funny thing was that they weren't kidding. They meant it. It was in a normal, casual conversation. Something else that I am finding interesting here is that it's very culturally diverse. I mean apart from the 80% who are backwoods, you have a lot of people from the Marshall and Gilbert Islands and different Indian tribes. It's pretty awesome. In fact, most of our investigators right now are from the Marshall Islands. Sometimes we need to have one of them translate the lesson for us. It is so awesome.
Within the first three weeks of being here we will have 4 baptisms. We already have set 2 new baptismal dates with 7 more to be set this week. All with new investigators from this week. I will have to give you details on all of them in the coming weeks.

I had the opportunity to see someone healed this week. Her name is Carol. She has been ill for quite sometime. She suffers from some type of cancer and usually cannot have any visitors because of her weakened immune system. Her grandson, Austin, is 11 years old and wants to be baptized. So we went over to visit and see what we could do to help her, as well to talk to Austin about being baptized. Grandma let us right in and talked with us for a little while. She is currently on a breathing machine so she usually doesn't talk very much, but we had the chance to talk to her about what we could do to help her and her family. She expressed that she wanted her grandson to be baptized and someday go on a mission. She said, "If y'all could do that for me, everything else will be a piece of cake." I said, "No problem, I love cake." We set a baptismal date for Austin to work toward and left with a prayer. The next day we felt like we needed to call Carol to talk to her more about the baptism and what not. She could barely talk on the phone. I asked her if she needed a blessing, and she said that that would be wonderful. We went over as soon as we could. We got there to find out that Carol had developed pneumonia over the past few days. She said that she was in terrible pain. We gave her a blessing, promising her that if she would have faith enough, she would be healed and that the pneumonia would not overtake her. We left her with a word of prayer and a couple of extra blankets, telling her that we would be back in the morning to see how she was doing. The next morning we arrived at her home to find that SHE answered the door. Carol was walking around and talking like there was no tomorrow; breathing tubes still stuck up her nose. It was amazing.

So, now to Sunday. The day that I knew I was in the boonies. We had a meeting with the Branch Mission Leader at 8 and then we went to go wake up all of our investigators for church. As we were leaving the church parking lot we had to stop. Boonie clue number 1- A pack of deer came running out across the church lawn and darted into the woods on the other side of the building. I just kind of sat there and said to myself, "That just happened..." After the deer and trying to wake up our investigators, church was almost ready to begin. We were in printing programs when the Relief Society President came in saying, "Elders! Come quick! I need to borrow you. I have baptisms for you!" Say what? We go into the hallway to meet a family who just drove 68 MILES to get to church! 68 MILES! That is a long drive to church. They haven't been to church in about 15 years and all of their kids want to be baptized. Ha ha ha. Miracles much? But really what killed me was that they had to drive 68 miles to the NEAREST building. Boonie clue number 2. Then Sacrament service started and I starting to read some scriptures as I normally do. I couldn't help but look at all of the deacons as they stood up to pass the sacrament. They all had a common theme to their attire, and that was boonie clue number 3. They all had huge buck knives on their belts with abnormally large buckles. Awesome.
Needless to say, I LOVE my new area. Good luck getting mail here. My new address is "Rural Route 2 Box 602, Idabel, Oklahoma, 74745" No joke on the "Rural Route" part. That's really what it's called. I didn't even know that those kinds of addresses existed. We live with members and they are great. Their names are the McDonald's. Yes, ee ei ee ei oh, I live on the McDonald's farm in Oklahoma. Yes mom, you can look at all the picture cd's. The rest of the stuff is all books and talks and stuff that I want after the mission. Yes I got to see April Feliciano get baptized by her boyfriend Christoph McLaughlin. It was an amazing experience. Glad to know that we are not going to move before I get home. That is nice. School? Ummm...yeah...need to pray about that one.


Elder Michael McNinch

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