Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012 Letter

All y'all,
This has definitely been most interesting week. Started off on Monday with the loss of an investigator. Oh dear goodness. We were at a member's house for dinner and teaching a lesson to their non-member friend that lives with them. Good gracious. I don't really know all that was said (real hard to interpret what 3 people are yelling at each other about when they have no teeth) all I heard was something about "If there was a fire in there was a fire in the house". These precious souls got in an argument on whether or not it was okay to break a window if there was a fire blocking the doors. The owner of the home said that the guest (non-member) was not allowed to break any of the windows in the home because the insurance said that they would not pay for the damage to the window (yes, I am fully aware that that makes no sense whatsoever). The guest in the home FREAKED out and started ranting and raveing that she was not about to live in a house where she couldn't break a window to save her life in a fire. She said, "I may burn in hell, but I am sure not gonna burn up in this house!" Elder Whicker and I were trying our hardest not to laugh our guts out. Their argument was completely pointless. the guest proceeded to pack her things and throw them towards the front door. She had one of her other friends come and pick her up right then and there. In short, we lost an investigator to an imaginary fire drill. Probably one of the most ridiculous arguments that I have ever witnessed.
Tuesday was crazy. It was raining like NONE OTHER! All day! The dirt road, which is the only way to or from our house, was completely flooded. I don't even know that Noah could have gotten across that thing. So we were stuck inside until five o'clock when the great lakes that had formed outside our house had finally drained. We then went to a few appointments before having to leave to drive to Mt. Pleasant, Texas for another sleep over. We had a specialized training on Wednesday in Longview again so we had to drive half way and stay the night. We stayed with Elder Drake and Elder Moody, two awesome Elders. Elder Moody is one of the spanish missionaries that I came out with. (I think that I told you that in my last letter...not sure though)
So Wednesday we spent all day in Longview. Literally...ALL DAY! We left Mt. Pleasant at 8 got to Gilmer at 9. Left Gilmer and got to Longview by 9:30,and then stayed there until 6:30. We didn't get home that night until about 10 pm. Not cool.
Thursday we spent doing service that we had promised some members. This is where the real fun began. We went to Sister Hills (way out in the boondocks) to rake some leaves. Everything would have been fine and dandy had she not had a mammoth for a dog. The thing was HUGE! Great Dane/ Lab mix. The dumb dog was fetching LOGS! I would toss a LOG like 10 or 12 feet and the dog would actually bring it back to me! Pretty sweet, but the dang thing wouldn't leave us alone. So that took longer than we expected. Then we rushed over to our Branch Mission Leader's house to help him out. He is a chicken farmer for Tyson. He works so hard! He had promised us that he would come out teaching with us but was afraid that he was not going to get all the work that he needed done. So we decided to help. Oh boy were we in for a treat. He has 6 chicken houses on his property. Each house holds approximately 23,000 chickens. Our job was simple. Go through each of the chicken houses and pick up all the dead ones. No gloves, no nose plugs, just your bare hands and the sweet smell of sweaty chicken. To put it very plainly, I never want to be a chicken farmer...ever. Kind of funny actually. The branch mission leader knows Matt and Penny and Aunt Mimi and Uncle Lee. They used to live in Richfield. Small mormon world. Their names are Jedd and Lavonna Rasmusson.
Friday was just kind of a blur, don't really remember what happened. I know that we had a marriage class with one of our Marshallese couples that we are teaching. If that wasn't the trunkiest lesson that I have ever been apart I don't know what is. All about marriage and family and kids and home and AHHH!
Saturday was awesome. We had a lesson with Vanessa and her three kids. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ through different Bible and Book of Mormon stories. We invited the whole family to be baptized and they accepted! They have a baptismal date for the 22nd of April. We are so excited! That means that by the end of April the branch will have had 22 baptisms for the year thus far! So awesome.
Sunday was great. 14 investigators at church! Sorry gotta go!
Elder McNinch

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19, 2012 Letter

Hello Family,
Congrats PAT! Way to go kid! Can't believe I missed it. It's alright though. You'll just have to hit some more when I get back. Now all you got to do is make a deal with Dad so you can get a new xbox. Ha ha ha. Dang Ryan! Sounds like you got roped into be one of Mrs. D's slaves this year. Hope that you're alright after that long day's work. That's kind of what missionary work is like. Except you where a shirt and tie all day and the people that you talk to don't want what you're trying to give them. Ha ha ha. Just kidding.
So this week has been pretty awesome. We helped ordain Reilly Lakjohn (recent convert) and Brother Pate to the Aaronic Priesthood, we set 6 baptismal dates, and a marriage date yesterday. Four of the dates are with the Pate children. They will be baptized by their father on April 8th. The other two dates are with a couple that is from the Marshall Islands. They are also our marriage date. We got all of the civil marriage stuff figured out today and we hope to have them married and baptized by the 8th as well. Oh, and we had 14 of our investigators at church yesterday and had the Branch President call us with a referral for a lady who had a date in Beumont, Texas (also for the 8th of April) that has just recently moved here. If we get to meet with Vanessa this week and set her and her family's dates that would be 11 baptisms just in the month of April. I cannot really explain or express the joy that I feel. We also helped a part member family move. The husband and two kids are not members. They are hilarious. Brother Thomas (the man who's cow I helped birth) gave us the invite to come and help. Glad that he did because it definitely softened some hearts. The husband is now willing to have us come over and teach. This was also the second time in my mission that we used a horse trailer to move someone. Who needs Uhaul anyway?
Needless to say missionary work is going very well here. We are not only having a lot of sucess in baptisms but in retention. Idabel, Oklahoma is the promised land. to funny stories of the week. We recently went on exchange with the Zone Leaders again. I got to be with yours and my favorite Elder Clint Johnson. The same Elder that was in my MTC group. We had a great exchange together. We tracted a really ghetto apartment complex, had a baptismal interview, and let a bird in the house. So let's go over all of that shall we? The ghetto apartment complex was great. We were looking for a woman who was/is a member of the church that the church cannot currently locate. This sister's name was Sister Trampp. Yes, that is her name. Don't worry mom, this is official church business. We didn't ever find Sister Trampp, but we did find a little girl who had hopes that she would one day be espoused to Elder Johnson. I believe her exact words were "Wow! He's so hott!" The baptismal interview went great. It was for a boy named Bodee. He is the son of one of our recent converts. We were so glad that he passed his interview. During his lessons when we'd ask him what Jesus Christ did for us he'd always say, "Didn't he come down from heaven and kill the devil?" Bodee. Not quite. So hopefully that is all dispelled now.
Alright so now the bird story. Elder Johnson is a big advocate of camping apparently. The McDonald's (members we live with) have a deck on the south side of the house. It has been a custom for missionaries to sleep outside on the deck to look at the stars at night as they go to sleep. Guess it reminds all those good ol' Utah boys of back home. Well...stars don't really matter much to me. Didn't really see a whole lot of those living under the bright lights of Las Vegas. But, I agreed to sleep outside on the deck for Elder Johnson's sake. We picked up some mesquito repelent (for my sake) and headed home. We got ready for bed, packed our stuff, and went down the hall to the guest bedroom which leads to the deck. I bathed myself in repelent before I headed out the door to the deck. As I was opening the door I made the comment to Elder Johnson that if anything big bit me or attacked me while I was out there it was his fault. Just then, this winged thing decided to fly right at my face. It bounced off the top of my head and started flying around the room. At first I thought that it was a bat and that both Elder Johnson and I were about to die. Turns out that it was just a little bird. Well, this little bird ended up being a huge problem. As the bird is flying around the room he is pooping on everything in sight. All over the bed and the freshly washed linen, the floor, the sewing machine, etc. So now what do we do? We can't open the door for very long because then all of the bugs will come in, but we gotta get this dumb bird out of there. We come up with the brilliant plan to scare it towards the door and hang up a sheet across the room so it has no other way to fly out. Well, turns out that the bird was smarter than us and flew over the sheet. So we tried to get the bird near the door and turn off the lights so that the bird would just naturally go where there was more light. After about five minutes of watching this stupid bird sit in the moonlight we decided to scare him out the door. Of course the dumb thing didn't go out the door, but instead flew into the large mirror on the wall. Alright, so we figured that the bird needed a little bit more light outiside to be even remotely interested in flying back out the door. I went and got a flashlight and positioned myself outside the door with the light shinning down from the top of the doorway. Elder Johnson shut off the lights again and the bird flew right to the edge of the doorstep. I'm thinking "Sweet! Now all Elder Johnson has to do is scare him out the door." Elder Johnson whispers, "Hey Elder McNinch, can I use your pillow?" I say yes. Thinking "okay, Elder Johnson is going to toss the pillow at the bird and scare him out the door." Next thing I knew, there was a bird coming at me at about 30 miles per hour. It hit me in the chest, flopped on the deck for awhile, then sat up on its feet twitching its neck to one side. I thought for sure that Elder Johnson had killed that stupid bird. "Elder Johnson! I told you to scare it! Not bat it out the door!" "I'm sorry Elder, but that was the only guaranteed way he was getting out of here." Turns out that the bird was just fine. We finally got the bird out of the house and all of his poop cleaned up. However, by the time we got out to sleep on the deck, clouds had moved in covering Elder Johnson's precious stars. Moral of the story is: Never shoot for the stars because life will give you the bird.
Hope that y'all have a wonderful week. I miss and love you very much.
-Elder Michael McNinch

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

March 5, 2012 Letter

Wow, so this week was kinda crazy! But hey, what do you expect? I live in the middle of nowhere! Ha ha ha. I am really loving it here. I think that the people here are absolutely hilarious. So let's go through the week shall we?
Monday- We had a family drop because the dad went psycho on the mom for letting us come and teach her without him there. We felt so terrible when we came back by for the return appointment! She was at the door and she was whispering, "I'm sorry I can't let you in! My husband is here and he doesn't want anything to do with religion!" I actually felt pretty scared at that point. Really I just felt bad for the family. It was a family of 5 and all but the dad had an interest in the gospel. Other than that we had a pretty good day. We shot rocks at bottles with a wrist rocket and took care of our shopping and laundry.
Tuesday- This was my first district meeting as a district leader...well besides the MTC. We talked about how the first two principles of the gospel are found in every chapter of every book in the missionary library. It is just my companion and I and one other companionship. 2 companionships in the whole district. We're kind of like the exiled ones because we live so far out in the sticks. We're too far to meet with any of the other companionships for district meeting. Ha ha ha. Tuesday was a great day for finding. We found 8 new investigators in an hour of tracting. I love it here! We also met with the Griffith family this night. The wife was just recently baptized (first week I was here). Now we are teaching her son who is 11. Crazy kid. Off the walls ALL the time. I love that family though. We always go and play a game with them and then relate it to the gospel.
Wednesday wasn't anything special. Thought that it was funny that our dinner appointment for the evening was the cub scout Blue and Gold banquet. Ha ha ha. I could not remember the cub scout oath to save my life. Something about following Akeala? I thought that we were supposed to follow Christ?
Thursday- We set up for Austin Haney's baptism. We made the program, called all of the people participating, and planned out the rest of the week. This night we ate with the Wright family. Easily one of my favorite families in the Branch. Sister Wright would NOT let me wash or pick up any dishes. I don't understand what it is but for some reason people don't like it when you pick up your own plate after dinner at THEIR home. I don't know. I'm trying to have good manners mom.
Friday- Ate sooooo much food! Brother Melton BBQ'd for us. Good gracious. Gained about 10 pounds in one sitting...then I got up, got some more, and sat down again.
Saturday- We had the baptism of Austin Haney. It was wonderful. He was so excited. Pretty sure that he forgot extra underwear and a towel. Felt bad for the kid. Reminded me of the first time that I went to go and do baptisms for the dead. Totally forgot to change my underwear. Anyways...Austin's grandmother is Sister Gamble, the one that we gave a blessing to just the other week. She was able to attend the baptism of her grandson and I don't believe that there was anything that could have made her more happy.
Sunday- ONE OF THE BEST DAYS OF MY MISSION! So it started out with Austin Haney's confirmation. Went smooth as smooth could be. After that we had 4 of our recent converts (between last week and the week before) stand to be sustained by the Branch as the newest members. That was an amazing feeling. Then as we looked around at the congregation we realized that we had 10 of our investigators at church! They were all sitting with members of the branch just smiling away. 
Think this is good so far?! JUST WAIT! 
After church we rode out with Brother Thomas to his ranch in the BOONDOCKS! Like we drove for an HOUR to get there. They not only were our dinner appointment for the evening but they had invited the Pate family over. The Pate children are all investigators of ours. So we had an awesome dinner and then tried to teach about baptism. Well the kids were half way asleep because it was fast Sunday and we had just consumed an enormous meal, and the parents didn't seem to be paying much attention either. Well, the discussion kind of faded into another topic by some of the other adults at the table (aka- lost control of the lesson) and it was time for the Pates to head home. After the Pates left we started to pack up our stuff for Brother Thomas to take us home when all of the sudden here comes Sister Thomas on a four wheeler. She says, "Kelly! One of the cows is having a difficult birth, I think we need to help her." Brother Thomas turns to us and says, "I'm sorry Elders, do you have many appointments this evening? I might lose a cow if I don't help." We called and rescheduled the appointment while Brother Thomas and his son saddled up the horses to go rope the cow. They got her into the corral and roped her down and started to work. The cow kept standing up and falling over, standing up and falling over. Brother Thomas yells to his 10 year old grandson, "Go get the calf-puller" I was thinking, "They make those?" The kid came back with this crazy looking contraption, meanwhile Brother Thomas is arm deep (no gloves) in this cow' He takes the chain on the end of this "calf-puller", wraps it around the front hooves of the calf, and starts to crank on the other end of the contraption to pull the calf out. Well, that was supposed to work, but the dumb cow kept standing up and falling over and kicking. Brother Thomas yells to me, "Elder! I need your help!" I'm looking around to see which one of his grandkids is named "Elder" He said, "I need you to pull on the hefer's tail, so you can push her over!" WHAAAT?!? So I run over my suit...and grab this nasty, bloody, slime coated cow tail and start yanking on it as hard as I can. The cow tries to counter act the pull, gets off balance, and then I pushed that cow as hard as I could! Down goes the cow. As soon as it hit the ground Brother Thomas cranked the rest of that calf out like none other. I helped deliver a cow. Not something that I ever thought that I would do on my mission but I did. Now the blessing of this "ox in the myr" story is not bloody hands or dirty shoes, it's when we were driving home. We got a call from Brother Pate who asked, "So who do I talk to to get my family baptized?" The biggest smile creeped across I and my companion's faces. This is the Lord's work.
Sorry I'm out of time. Love y'all!
-Elder McNinch