Monday, June 25, 2012
Dear Freddy Mercury,
I love to ride my bicycle. Recently the mission got rearranged and we now belong to the Longview zone. The zone now spans across more than a third of the entire mission. It is over 300 miles from north to south. Our exchanges monthly are now in Longview, so halfway mark is Omaha, Texas which is about 60 miles away. That means a 120 mile round trip on top of the normal amount of miles that we would use in a day. Then the best part is doing it again the next day to exchange back. I have said all of this to let you know that I and my trusty companion have been riding our bikes for the past 5 days in preparation for the miles that we will be using this Friday and Saturday. I have had two flat tires in the past 24 hours and I have sweat more than I ever have in my entire life. I almost want to line the inside of my shirts with sponges so at the end of the day I can wring them out into a bucket and measure how much I have perspired. Pretty sure that it would be in the gallons.
Other than riding our bikes, nothing too exciting has happened. We have met a lot of interesting people as we have been riding. One lady just yesterday stopped me and asked, "HEEEEEYYYY!!! Are you a preacher?!" Response: "Well, no, I am a representative of Jesus Christ. I teach people what He taught and invite them to do the things that He asks us to do." " Oh well, I'm a preacher!" Response: "Oh that's wonderful, which church to you preach at?" "Umm, well, I just preach to anyone who wants to talk about Jesus." Response: " Well that's good. As representatives of Jesus Christ we try our best to invite people to come closer to him. Would there be a time that my friend and I would be able to sit down with you and your family and discuss ways that we can draw nearer to the Savior?" " HEEEEYYYY!!! GUESS WHAT?!...I'm a cop too! Did you know that?! Did you know?!" At this point in the conversation I felt pretty good assuming that this lady was either heavily intoxicated or was mentally unstable. Well, I guess either way she was mentally unstable. Regardles, we gave her a card with our number on it and invited her to check out Mormon.org. One of the many perks of riding a bicycle.
I did give a talk in sacrament meeting. That was interesting. I was asked to give one last week, but the Branch President had made a mistake and wanted me to give one this past Sunday instead. Well, to be frank, I forgot. So...I gave the same talk that I had prepared the week before. People seemed to like it, and it went well with what the speaker from the High Council said, so I guess it was alright. Glad to report that I only broke down in tears once.
This week is going to be really stressful. I can just feel it. "Don't you think I feel it?!?" We have to temporarily move in with our Branch President for two weeks because the members that we live with have family coming to stay for a family reunion. One of the families has a 13 year old girl= no bueno for los missioneros. So that will be a fun experience. It pretty much means that I will be packing to come home this weekend so that I don't have to pack my life up twice in 3 weeks. It wouldn't really make sense to pack, unpack, and then repack everything 2 weeks later. Anyways...don't worry, not trunky. Just hate packing. Sorry that this is a boring letter. I think that the sun has fried my brain; and well, would you look at that, time to go back out and ride in it some more.
Love y'all like a sunburn, it's on fire.
PS- I have found that the most awkward tan line as a missionary is not the one that comes from wearing collared shirts. It is in fact the tan line on your face that comes from the straps of your helmet.
Monday, June 18, 2012
HAPPY LATE FATHER'S DAY DAD! Sorry...I had no stamps...your card is in the mail. So to answer a few of your questions first off... Lisa Lajwi, who was going to translate our sacrament meetings for us, actually moved to Arkansas for a while. We are trying to get missionaries over there to teach her but she doesn't have a phone number that we can reach her at and no one has a current address. I'll keep you posted on everything though. She is an amazing lady and is just going through a really rough time. She'll be back soon I hope. The move wasn't permanent. The other hospital lady is amazing. We will be seeing her as soon as her shift changes. They are hiring another Head of Surgery so that she won't have to be there all hours of the day. We'll see what happens though. Hopefully something will come of it soon. She is a super nice lady.
So...y'all are looking for a house huh? Checking any houses in Idabel or Broken Bow, Oklahoma by chance? They got really good deals on trailors here! Like 400 a month, rent to own, for a double wide. Pretty sweet stuff. Anywho...so...the Wonderli's huh? That is a really large home. I don't know that I would even feel comfortable living in a home that large. Do I even have a room right now? I asked Kaitie if I had one and she said, "kinda?" What the heck does that mean? I really don't care if I have a room or not...just don't know how it could be in between a room and no room, ya know?
107!!! Holy Bible! that's crazy. At least it's not humid though. Just the other day we were at 95 with 80% humidity. That's not funny. Speaking of hot and humid, Florida. Glad to hear that Grandma and Grandpa are going to be able to fly out in August. Does that mean that we are going to forgo the whole trip to Florida? Because frankly...I really don't care if we go or not. I would love to see Mom's whole side of the family, but if we don't have the money, then we don't have the money. If we do go I'll just be contacting everyone at the beach, steering clear of all of the less than clothed beautiful daughters of our Heavenly Father, and making y'all feel awkward anyway. Just let me know what you want to do.
This week was kind of crazy. There was a chance that I or Elder Sproul would get moved, but thankfully we didn't. We will both be staying in Idabel...at least for the next 6 weeks. I had to say goodbye to a lot of Elders this transfer. It is really sad to see all of them go. I can remember the first time that I met each one of them. Crazy crazy stuff. I don't like it.
I would have to say that the best part of the week this week were the baptisms of Kaios and Lina Kaios. Saturday June 16, 2012 they were both baptized. Kaios had me baptize him and Lina had the Branch President to baptize her. They are some of the greatest people that I have ever met. The Spirit was very strong during the preceeding talk and the ordinances themselves, but the sweetest Spririt came after that. Kaios asked if he could say a few words. One of his good friends went to the front with him to translate for him. He proceeding to bear his testimony. He testified that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he was now a member of His church, and that he had been blessed more than he deserved. He told his story of his coming to the United States from the Marshall Islands. Talked about the struggle he has had as his family has apart for a few years. Expressed how truly grateful he was to have even some of his family here with him. He finished by thanking our Heavenly Father for the blessing of being baptized, and for the peace that he felt. It was a really moving testimony. One of the greatest I have ever heard. On top of that wonderful Saturday afternoon came Sunday morning when Kaios and Lina were confirmed as the newest members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The whole branch, one by one, came and congradulated them after the meeting. It was beautiful. I couldn't ask for a better outcome. Couldn't picture anything better. Well, maybe it will be better when I see the Kaios' two daughters baptized by their father when he receives the priesthood.
The Kaios family has also invited me to go with them to the Marshall Islands in January or February. I think that I might have to take them up on that. If I could make a suggestion...I vote that we go there on a family trip. Let me know what you think.
Miss y'all a ton, love y'all even more.
- Elder McNinch
Monday, June 11, 2012
This week was full of travel. We had Stake Conference in Gilmer, TX. Never have I ever lived in a place where my assigned stake meeting was in a different state. We drove about 200 miles round trip. Awesome. The meeting was very spiritual. We had Elders Todd Hansen and Lynn G. Robbins of the seventy speak to us. I would share all of my notes...but alas...my email would be ginormous. Stake conference was not the only trip that we made to Gilmer this week. We were also there for an exchange with the zone leaders earlier in the week. All in all it was kind of hectic, but we made it work.
Early in the week we had a great lesson with one of the families that we are teaching. We invited another family in the branch to invite them over for a dinner/get together. It was really fun. We had a barbecue and tried to play some volleyball. I say tried because the net broke and well, volleyball just isn't the same without a net. So we abandoned the idea of volleyball and instead played missionary tag. Thank you EFY for teaching me random games to get kids attention! So we explained all of the rules, played for about thrity minutes, and then spoke to everyone about the purpose of missionaries. Why we are sent out two by two and why missionary work is so important. The kids really liked it.
Wednesday we had a specialized training in Gilmer. It was an amazing training. I got to see all of the Spanish elders that I came out with bear their testimonies, since it was the last big meeting before they go home. I also got to see the Elder that took me out my first night in the mission give his last testimony. I will never forget these missionaries. They have added so much to my testimony. After this wonderful event, crying and taking pictures, we went on exchange. I made a huge mistake! I had the keys with me. We had left the car at the Elders' apartment in Mt. Pleasant to save some miles. So when we went on exchange, I stayed in Gilmer; which is about 30 minutes south of Mt. Pleasant. Well, of course we didn't realize that I had the keys until the Elders got there and tried to open the car with no keys. Great. So I and the zone leader had to drive to Mt. Pleasant to give the keys to my companion. Dumb do. I hate those. The exchange was great though. This was the first time that my companion has been without me in the area. It was hilarious! I think that he called about every 20 minutes to ask how to get to the next appointment. Idabel is a confusing place.
I would have to say that the best part of the week was Sunday. Along with the stake I had the opportunity of sustaining Brothers George Pate, Reilly Lakjohn, and Zeph Griffith to be ordained to the office of Elder and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. That was a really spiritual part of the meeting. I was so happy for every single one of those men. Brother Pate's children were just baptized, Brother Lakjohn was baptized just 3 months ago, and Brother Griffith's wife and son were baptized recently as well. It truly has been an amazing 4 months in Idabel. On top of the ordinations we had the Kaios' baptismal interview right after the meeting. They will be baptized on the 16th of June. Their two girls will then be baptized 3 weeks later. Idabel is amazing. I love it here. Just wish that I got to spend a little bit more time here this week instead of being in Texas. Not that I have anything against Texas..but...it's not Idabel.
Please tell the Barnhouses that I miss them SO much! I hope that they got the letters that I sent them. Please ask them if they did. The Starsky and Hutch car is in the GHETTO of Idabel. Yes, there is a ghetto side of Idabel. Yes mom, Uncle Tylow was quoting part of the movie. They have Yoga competitions? How does that work? Whoever breaks in half loses? Y'all have an iguana named Tigress? Umm...Kung-Fu Panda influence maybe? How big is this thing? Man, I really wish that I could be there for Matt's endowments. But hey...I'm on a mission. Tell him that we will go when I get back. Pick your daddy's nose sounds awesome. Totally going to make that into a missionary lesson somehow. Umm okay...so can you please explain the whole chicken dish towel lesson that the missionaries did at the house. Sounds like some weird magic trick. No you didn't tell me about Kaitie watching the house, but she did. Ha ha ha. She was like, "Guess what I am doing right now? I'm sitting on YOUR couch, in YOUR house, watching YOUR dog. Coco loves me. I have spent more time in your house than you have. Jealous?" Ha ha ha. Kaitie is awesome. Her letters are always hilarious.
Okay gotta go. Love you much.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
I was only going to have 30 minutes to email y'all today, but my companion sweet talked the lady behind the counter to give us extra time on the computers. I love my companion. Anyways...BOLIVIA!!! That's so awesome! Man he is going to eat a bunch of weird stuff! That's great. I am so excited for him. That is going to be amazing. Good thing that I will be there before he leaves. I was afraid of that.
What in the heck does a dish towel have to do with a chicken? Okay so the whole CSN thing...I really have no clue what classes I want to take right now. Really just want to get generals out of the way first...not that I even know what that means. How about this...you send me a list of classes and I will pray about it. When is the deadline?
This was a pretty good week. Some of the families that we teach have made huge strides in the last couple of days. We have set up a "marriage class" for all of the investigator couples that need to be married before they are baptized. All in all there should be about four couples there. We wanted to find a way to have these soon to be converts to have a really good relationship with the Branch President. Well, we figured the best way to do that would be to have Branch President teach them about marriage before he marries them. We also had 12 investigators come to church this week. It was great.
A lot of really great stories from this week. I could write about all of them but that would take me all day. I am hoping to some day go through and write down all of these in my journal when I have more time. For now I write as much as I can in my planners so that I can remember them. Among other things I learned how to play two songs on the ukulele, a few words in Marshallese, and how to install a screen door. Pretty useful things I would say. The shining moments of this week would be with Reilly and Angela, Jared and Amy, and John and Madonna. Reilly and Angela are Marshallese recent converts of the Branch. Reilly received the Aaronic Priesthood about 2 months ago and has been passing the sacrament ever since. He expressed to us the desire to bless the sacrament last week. We decided that we would help him prepare. Throughout this past week we have gone over three or four times to help him memorize the prayer on the bread. We recorded us saying it on his phone so that he could practice it in between visits. He steadily improved throughout the week. We told Reilly not to be discouraged if he didn't bless the sacrament that Sunday; that it might take him some time to get it down. Then Sunday came. As Reilly was sitting there waiting for sacrament meeting to start Brother Bundy asked if Reilly would help bless the sacrament. We were in the hallway and came into the chapel to find Reilly sitting at the sacrament table. We were stunned! We went up to talk to Reilly about it. He said that he was really really nervous. We told him that everything would be fine and that he would do a great job. When the time came I was even nervous. Just waiting to hear the blessing on the bread. On Sunday June 3, 2012 I was privileged to hear the most sincere sacrament prayer in my life. I sat in tears as I listened to Reilly sound out, in his humble English, each of the words in the prayer. Those words have never meant more to me than in that moment. Then the tears only increased as the sacrament portion of the meeting ended and Reilly and Angela stood to be sustained by the branch in their first calling as Branch Missionaries. It was amazing.
Jared and Amy are progressing quickly. We had scheduled an appointment with them for this past Saturday. We were on the way to their home, coming from Broken Bow, when we got a call from Sister Durrant (Mission President's wife). My companion answered the phone, "Well hello Sister Durrant, how are you?!" Then a male voice on the other end said, "Hello Elder Sproul, this is Sister Durrant's lesser half." "Oh my goodness, I'm sorry President! How are you today?!" Ha ha ha. President Durrant proceeded to ask us what there was to do in Idabel and Broken Bow. Tourist sites, recreational stuff, etc, etc. After talking for a while he asked us if he and his family could come and visit us sometime. "Sure!" we said, "When would you come up?" "Well, we were thinking Saturday." "President...do you mean today?" "Yeah! Do you have a couple minutes where we could stop and visit you? We're just coming into Idabel ourselves from Broken Bow where are you at?" Ummm...uhh....Ha ha ha. We explained that we had a dinner appointment with some investigators that we were heading to, but that he and his family would be more than welcome to introduce themselves to our investigators. They happily agreed. So my 6'7" Mission President introduced himself and his family to our 5'6" investigators. It was a great meeting. President Durrant asked Amy and Jared, "So have they invited you to be baptized?" Jared replied, "Oh yeah! They talk about it all the time!" Ha ha ha. Amy concurred, "Yes, yes they have...but we have to get married first, right?" There were a couple of funny moments like that through the introduction and then it came time for President and his family to leave. They said there goodbyes and then we proceeded to have a great lesson. That was definitely a first for me. I have never had the Mission President come with me to a lesson. On top of the great lesson that we had they fed us some AMAZING Marshallese BBQ. Woo Dang it was good!
John and Madonna are doing so well. Madonna is remembering all of the things that she was taught when she lived in the Marshall Islands. Her and her husband John have been coming to church for the past month or so. We have been treating the lessons as a refresher course for Madonna and for a start up for John becoming a member. We had invited John to be baptized when he came to know that the things we taught were true the first time that we came over. He said that he would but he did not feel ready to set a date. Ever since then we have invited him to pray about a date that he would like to be baptized. Well, he called us on Saturday telling us that he had some big news. He said that he would tell us when we came over after church for a lesson. The suspense was killing us. We got to the appointment only to wait longer. Madonna hadn't returned home yet and he wanted her to be there when he told us. Finally she comes home and we all get situated. We said, "SOOOOOO......what's the big news?!" He replied, "Oh, I was just wondering what day you all were going to baptize me." Ha ha ha. It was so great. I had the biggest smile across my face. We said, "Well John, it can be any day that you like." He thought about it for a minute or two and said, " How about the first Saturday of July?" Music to a missionary's ears. Sounds beautiful. He then went on to say that he wanted to make a bunch of refreshments for his baptism as well. Well...of course you can make refreshments! He said, "Oh good because we have some people that we want to invite." I have the feeling that this is going to be the start of it all. John and Madonna are the lead singers for the the Marshallese congregation in Broken Bow. The "people" that they want to invite to their baptism are all members of that church as well. I cannot wait for July 8. What a beautiful day it will be.
If anyone has ever wondered if miracles are real, just come and spend a day in Idabel, Oklahoma. Just getting to Idabel is a miracle itself.