Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012 Letter

Disclaimer** You will need tissues for this post if you have children.**
Hello Hello,
I don't quite know how to start this letter, but here it goes...This past week has been one of the most exciting and frightening weeks of my life. We had a lessons with a lot of wonderful people. We have met with people that we haven't taught in a long time who are so excited to get back on track. We have been through the most up and downs than I ever have been before. Here's a little bit about our week:
On Tuesday we attended an all day meeting in Longview. That was really interesting because it was my last big meeting as a missionary. It really hasn't sunk in yet. It really seems like I just KNOW I'm getting transferred, but President hasn't told me where yet, ya know? Anyways, the meeting went wonderful. I got to see a lot of missionaries that I saw when they first got into the mission field. It's weird to think that they have all been out for a year now. I still feel like I have only been out for a year or so and they are just fresh off of the plane. Apparently that's not true anymore.
Wednesday morning we got to go and do some service out at Brother Thomas' ranch. Yes, this is the same ranch where I assisted in the birth of a cow. Our task that morning was to ween the calves from their mothers. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, let me tell you, it's definitely not as easy as it may sound. We started off in the pasture. Brother Thomas said that he would drive the tractor out there with some hay and the cows would follow him all the way into the corral. Sure enough those stupid cows followed him into the corral. So now it is our job to take them through all of these different gates and sort them as we go. My job was to man the gate. Great. We had three guys going around in the herd prodding the cows toward me. My job was simple. Let the big ones go by and stop the little ones. Brother Thomas gave me this piece of water line and said, "Okay, don't let any of the little calves go by you." I'm thinking...umm...so you want me to stop a cow with a hose...got it. Don't ask me why, but for some reason those cows listened to what I said when I was waving the hose around in the air. No hose in the air= no movement of cows. Hose in the air= cows run where you want them to. Okay...I got this. We had a ton of fun helping Brother Thomas. The really funny thing is that he really did need our help. We just felt like we were playing a game, sorting cows and what not, but it meant a lot to Brother Thomas. I think that the hardest thing about sorting all of those cattle, was trying not to step in the BIG piles of crap. Little ones= you can still walk. Big ones= you sink.
Friday morning we went and got two of the marriage licenses taken care of for our investigators. We got everything squared away and were so excited for their marriages on Sunday. The other couple that needs to get married, planned on getting married Tuesday the 24th, but there have been some recent changes. That leads us to Saturday.
Saturday afternoon we were informed that our investigator and his family were involved in a car accident. We were in a lesson when our Branch President called and told us the news. He said that their vehicle had rolled and they were all taken to the hospital. We rescheduled the rest of our appointments for the day and went around trying to figure out which hospital they had been taken to. We stopped by our good friend who told us that the car had rolled twice and two children were thrown from the vehicle, and one of them was their one month old baby. My heart sank. I had a million memories of these children flash through my mind. We asked where they were, and our friend did not know. We called the hospital in Idabel and found out that that is where they had been taken. They told us that only 3 members of the family were listed there. They wouldn't give us any information over the phone, so we rushed there from Broken Bow. The whole way praying that the family would be alright. The thought that two of the children were not listed with the other family members made us extremely worried. We arrived at the hospital and were taken directly to the ER by one of the sons in the family. Elder Sproul went to see the mother while I went to check on one of the children. She was laid out on the stretcher, still strapped in. I asked if she was alright and she wouldn't respond. I asked if she was scared and her eyes welled up and she nodded her head slightly. I promised her that everything was going to be okay. Deep down, wondering if that was true. She was stable, no apparent broken bones or anything, so I joined my companion across the curtain. The mother was in the same circumstance. Her vitals were okay, though she seemed to be short of breath. All she kept asking was, "Where's my baby?!" We went to check on dad. Dad explained to us what had happened. We found out that there were only two children involved in the accident. The young girl was the one whom I had just seen and the other was the one month old. The baby had been life flighted to a hospital in Louisiana. The Dad kept asking, "Is the baby okay?!" I didn't have any answers. My heart felt as though it were going to burst. I felt every pain in that man's eyes. Wondering if his child was going to be okay. His eyes filled with tears as I told him that I did not know how the baby was. He reached down into his pocket and pulled out a tiny white and blue sock. He wiped his eyes with his baby's sock and then proceeded to pray. We got news from the nurse that the little girl was going to be taken off of the stretcher and cleared for release. About at that time we were giving blessings to both the Father and Mother. Both were promised that their family would be safe and heal quickly. It was a waiting game for about three hours. In that time we found out that the Mother had a fracture in her neck and was going to be air lifted to a hospital in Tulsa for surgery. The Father was going to be released as soon as his CT scans came back clear. Meanwhile I was playing tic tac toe with the little girl. Finally the Father was cleared and we received word that the baby was in stable condition. We saw the Mother air lifted to Tulsa and the Father released to go home with his little girl. Those were miracles in and of themselves. Our day ended waiting to hear about the baby.
Sunday we were informed that the baby was okay, and was going to be released today (Monday the 23rd). Wonderful news! On top of that we received a phone call from the son in the family telling us that the Mother had already been released from the hospital and was home. Miracles. I love this work. I love the Lord. I love all of you.
-Elder McNinch

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 16, 2012 Letter

Okay...well first...mom. So in the branch that I am in there is a Bundy family. No, I don't think that they are related to ted. Anyways...he grew up close to Datona. I told him that you were born in Deland and he got all excited saying that they used to do stake activities and stuff with youth from Deland...so I don't know if you knew him or not, but his name is Heath Bundy. He is the first councilor in the Branch Presidency here. His relatives that live in Florida are Tuckers, Heatons, Boyds (Mike and Matt), and Bundy's. Let me know if you know any of them and I will be sure to inform him of yet another crazy connection in my mission areas.

This week was really cool. We were trying really hard to get everything prepared for these next two weeks. We have 8 people getting ready to be baptized on the 28th of July, so there is a lot that we have to do to help them. That includes getting three couples married. Good news though...they all want to get married! Ah! I love when that happens! Good news number two, they are getting their marriage licenses on Friday and all getting married Sunday. So all this past week we have been reviewing all of the baptismal interview questions and making sure that there isn't anything that that would stand in the way of them being baptized on that day. I could go through and tell you about all the lessons that we had this week with all of those people, but that would take a really long time and they were mostly review lessons anyway. Spiritual, yes. Funny stories, maybe a few; but not as funny or spiritual as the things that I will write about now.
On Tuesday night we went on exchange with some Elders in our district. I was with Elder Latham. He is an amazing Elder. He speaks Spanish as his mission language, so when we started the exchange he said, "So is Marshallese like Spanish at all?" I just kind of laughed and said, "I don't know, let me know what you think after our first lesson." We went and taught our dear friend Walter and his wife the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After the lesson we were heading back to the truck and Elder Latham said, "Elder...that was nothing like Spanish." Ha ha ha. After that lesson we went to go teach a man named Mr. Guthrie. Mr. Guthrie is a little bit different than most folks. He has a sincere desire to learn, but his desire to learn isn't in any particular direction. We decided to start with some "middle ground" and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, something that he might recognize or agree with from the start. We decided to teach the mouse trap lesson about faith first. In the beginning we set the mouse trap and then ask, "Now, it would probably hurt a lot to get you fingers caught in this trap wouldn't it?" Then, at the end of the lesson the person is asked to test their faith by touching a set mouse trap. Well, after I asked the question in the beginning I was of course expecting the common "yes" answer that I have received by every person that I have ever taught this lesson to on my mission; But remember what I said about Mr. Guthrie. Just a little bit different. So I ask, "Now, it would probably hurt a lot to get you fingers caught in this trap wouldn't it?" Then, Mr. Guthrie says, "Ahh nahh, that wouldn't hurt a bit, watch." as he proceeded to stick his fingers in the mouse trap. The mouse trap did it's job, slammed right down on his hand, but all was well with Mr. Guthrie. So essentially our lesson was ruined and we related it to the Gospel some other way.
On Thursday we moved back in with the McDonald's. So never fear mom, I am not sleeping on an air matress anymore. We also made ready for the baptism of John Jacklick. We went to his house and walked him through the baptismal service. It was really fun. I love that family, but I will talk more about them later.
Friday we got called by one of our investigators requesting that we come over and teach a lesson because they couldn't wait for our scheduled appointment. I love those kind of calls. I don't think that that has ever happened to me before in the mission. It ended up working out perfectly because we had a less active member who just "happened" to be at their house when we showed up too. Anyways...that lesson went really well. We did find out that they are moving to Valliant, OK so that means that we will definitely be getting rides to each of our lessons with them. Before we had that miracle call lesson, we had a lesson with one of my favorite people in this area. His name is Darren. We found Darren at a McDonald's when we stopped for lunch. Well, of a truth, Darren found us. He is great man, with a deep southern accent. He was telling us a story about his father and he started his story like this, "My dad is a great man. He is a retard police officer..." I sat thinking to myself, "Did he really just call his dad a retard police officer?" It took me a while, but from the context of the conversation I figured out that he was saying "retired" not "retard", and that it was just his super thick accent that I couldn't interpret.
Saturday was amazing. We have been helping John get prepared for his baptisms for about 2 months now. Finally, on Saturday July 14, 2012 John Jacklick was baptized. The baptism went really smoothly. Talks were given, songs were sung, and then he was baptized. My companion relayed to me what happened we he and John went to change. He said that John sat on the little bench in the restroom stall, and just cried for a couple of minutes. He felt so happy to be clean. After they changed he came back into the service. John had asked earlier if he could bear his testimony at the baptism. Well, he came back and it was his time to shine. Only, our translator had left the building. He speaks good English, but is much more comfortable with a translator. While we had a member locate the translator he just stood at the front of the room silently. Then his little 2 year old boy came running up to him and latched himself to his leg, giving him an extra tight hug. He picked up his son and held him close. His eyes filled with tears as his little boy rested his head on his shoulder. In that moment it seemed as though the world stopped. No music, no talks, no kids screaming, just John and his boy. It was so awesome. Greatest moment of the week by far. John then bore his testimony about how he knew that someday he and his family would be together forever. This is the best work ever. Love you all.
Elder McNinch

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012 Letter

Hello Hello,
Glad to hear that everything is okay up in the great state of Wyoming. Stinks that y'all didn't get to have any fireworks. That's pretty lame. Hey guess what though? Now you know how I have felt for the past two years. Ha ha ha. No fireworks at all. Funny that Dad and Shawn mowed a lawn this past week, because we did too; and OH MY GOODNESS, it was crazy. I'll have to tell you about it later in this email. Other things to address: I would really love to hear the edited version of Grandpa's "heart to heart" with Shannon. I think that that would just make my day. The story of Patrick is hilarious. I love that kid. "Wild cows" ha ha ha I love it. Also I would like to let you know that I can relate with the bug bites that you have all over your legs. I have been attacked by chiggers and mosquitoes for the past month and a half. Isn't it just the best?!?! Also, I would like to know what inspires a person or group of people to name their restaurant "Tootsies".
So this past week was great. Here's the updates:
Monday, July 2nd- It was my companion's birthday!!! Yay! So what did we do? We sat in court to support one of our good friends here. We waited for over three hours only to find out that her hearing was going to be rescheduled for a later date. Awesome. I love the judicial system. It's my favorite. We were supposed to play some volleyball and have a BBQ with our investigator for my companion's birthday, but our investigator's wife ended up having a baby. So that plan didn't really work out. Funny that the baby was born on his birthday though. Our investigators asked us if we would like them to name the kid after my companion and I. Like Michael Cameron Jacklick or Cameron Michael Jacklick. Ha ha ha we didn't know what to say. We told them to name the kid whatever they wanted to because it was THEIR baby. I really didn't want to get into the business of naming kids and stuff yet. I think that that day is very very far in the future. They ended up naming the boy after the mother's father. Always a safe decision.
Tuesday July 3rd- Nothing much to report on this day. We taught a couple of lessons, everything went according to plan. We did learn a Marshallese game. It's the same as the "Down by the banks" game where you slap the hand of the person next to you, but the rhyme is definitely different. It goes something like this: Big Mac yellow big kore ba cran pa achi cola rock o la sunday ippen la bamba and then you count 1-10. I still don't really understand it, but hey...it's fun.
Wednesday July 4th- Elder Sproul decided to plan today so that we could exchange with Mt. Pleasant on Thursday to conduct a baptismal interview for them. So after planning Elder Sproul and I had a lesson with a lady named Shirley. We had planned to watch Finding Faith in Christ with her and discuss how we build faith in the Savior. The only problem was her sound wasn't working. We were really pressed for time so we couldn't stop to try and fix it, so we improvised. I knew that Elder Sproul had been in children's theater growing up and I sure know how to act like a child, so we put our acting skills to the test. We turned the subtitles on and read and acted out the entire 29 minutes of the movie. It was spectacular. After that lesson we went to eat lunch at the Branch President's home. Delicious. Couldn't have asked for a better spread of food. The rest of the day we spent teaching or proselyting. It was great. Have you ever tried to contact someone when one of those firework fountain things are screaming at you? It's really fun, you should try it.
Thursday July 5th- We did some service for some people in the area. One member, one non member. We mowed the lawn of the member and then borrowed his lawn mower to mow the lawn of the investigator. The second lawn hadn't been mowed for months. Not at fault of the investigator. Unfortunately they do not have a lawn mower. So my companion and I go at this yard with nothing but a mower and a weed eater. Good gracious. The grass, weeds, and shrubs were all taller than me. I ended up having to do a wheelie with the mower to chop all of the grass, weeds, and such in half first, only to come back over it three of four times, each time decreasing the angle of the wheelie to cut the lawn to appropriate length. It was a task. Took all 4 hours of weekly service to do it. I wish that I had took before and after shots cause it was crazy. Then after that wonderful escapade we realized that we did not put on bug spray before mowing. Worst thing ever. I have so many bug bites it's not even funny. But hey, there's good news to come out of this. Our investigator didn't get fined by the city and they now know that we love them equal to the number of bites on our legs. Hundred fold.
Friday July 6th- Took a trip to DeQueen to teach some of our investigators that have moved there. The lessons went very well and they are still excited to be baptized on the 28th. After those lesson we came back to Broken Bow and taught lessons, and contacted until the end of the night.
Saturday July 7th- We attended the marriage class taught by Branch President with our investigators. Everything is going really well with those lessons. The couples attending are scheduled to be married on the 20th and baptized on the 28th. It's really exciting stuff. After the marrriage class we went to a few lessons and tracted for a couple of hours. Our favorite part of the day was while we were out tracting. My companion and I had knocked all along one side of the street and then switched sides to go back down the other side when we heard someone call out to us. My companion heard them say, "Y'all come over here when you're done!" He then turned to me and said, "Elder! That's awesome. We're totally going over there after this door. I asked, "Elder? Are you serious?" He said, Uh, yeah, they just said to come over when we were done." I said, "Oh, I thought that they said. 'Don't come over here or I'll get my gun.' " Well...it was an interesting contact to say the least. Don't worry we're fine.
Sunday July 8th- We met with a lot of our investigators after the pot luck at church. The lessons went well for the most part. Kind of hard to teach with 5 or 6 little Marshallese kids stealing the objects for your object lesson...but it was good.
sorry...out of time.
Elder McNinch

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 2, 2012 Letter

Hello...my name is still Elder McNinch,
This week sounds like it was a lot of fun for you guys. This week was pretty good for me as well. I am happy to report that all of the biking was not in vain. We now drive one of the four trucks that are in the mission! It is a beautiful thing! Anyways, this past week was a little crazy. We had to move out of the McDonald's house temporarily because they are having that family reunion, so we are now residing at the Branch President's house. Boy oh boy do we love it there. Sister Schwerin (Branch President's wife) is probably one of the kindest ladies that you'll ever meet. She also loves to share...everything. I think that I have eaten more food in the 4 days than I did all last week. That includes all of fast Sunday as well. 
 Anyways...now on to cool things that happened this week.
We were out tracting in the boonies on Wednesday when we came to this really run down house. We saw a bunch of tv's sitting out on the front porch and thought, "Hey, our investigator's tv just broke. I wonder if this guy is going to give those tv's away." So we went up to talk to him. Oh goodness. His name was Don Sylvia. He was a hoot. Turns out that he was a tv repair man back in the day before he retired. Well, when he retired he still had a bunch of people's tv's that he was fixing in his garage. He planned to just give them back one by one after he had fixed them, receive his payment, and be that much closer to being done working. Well, none of them came back to pick up their tv's after he had fixed them. Some of them have been sitting for 10 years! He showed us all the tv's that he had in the house and it was ridiculous. Some 20 odd televisions that he had repaired and were just sitting there. We asked what he was going to do with all those tv's. He said, "All THESE tv's? THESE tv's aren't the problem. It's THOSE tv's out there that are the problem." He then took us out to two different workshops out on his property in the which were over 200 television sets each! A sea of televisions. I'll have to take pictures the next time that we go out there. It was ridiculous. To make a long story short he is going to sell our investigators a tv for really cheap. Tender mercies? I think so.
Friday I got to exchange with the zone leaders, so I was back in Longview. It was really weird to be back in an old area. All of the members that we went by to see remembered me, so that was pretty cool. I got to eat dinner at CiCi's pizza which always brings back good memories from New Mexico. Just wish that I was allowed to go in and play the arcade games like Dad and I used to play. But alas, I am a missionary and probably shouldn't play games that you have to kill everyone that pops out at you to win the game. My first thought when someone pops out at me is, "They need the gospel too, right?"
Saturday we exchanged back and that is when we got the truck. Ever since then we have been the talk of the town. We actually fit in now, it's kind of funny. People respect us a lot more just because we drive a truck. Ha ha ha. It almost makes me want to get boots just to see people's reaction. But then I think to myself, "Worth it?....NAH!" Saturday was also the day that we got to meet with Vanessa Mothersell again. She was the lady that we saw in the hair salon that said, "Are y'all Mormon missionaries? I think that y'all have a book I need." Well, she and her 3 children decided that it was time to get going with the lessons again. I couldn't have been more over-joyed. As we left the appointment the youngest of her children asked, "Umm...so when are we getting baptized?" Ha ha ha. I love being a missionary.
Sundays always seem to be the best around here. We had 15 investigators come to church. That is the most that I have ever seen in my entire mission. On top of that we had one of them go up and bear his testimony of what he had been taught. He said, "I'm a little different than most people. A bit more country than most folks. I don't understand any of them fancy scriptural words or nothing, so don't expect me to use any of those today. I might not be the smartest man in the world, but I know when something's right or true. I know that what the missionaries have taught me is true. I know that what they teach changes peoples' lives. It's changed mine forever, and I thank them for that. I love them more than they know." As I sat there just bawling away I remembered the quote by Brigham Young about "a man without eloquence." It was one of those experiences that you just can't accurately describe. At least in attempting you don't do it justice. I wish that y'all could have been there to see him.
This week is going to be even better. John Jacklick is getting baptized on Saturday and I just can't wait. I will have to tell y'all about it next week. Stay safe while you are up in Wyoming. Don't let Alisha ride the ATV. Tell Shannon that she is a poophead and I miss her. Tell all the kids that I miss them and love them.
Tell the WHOLE family that I love and miss them. Can't wait to talk to you next week, still as ELDER MCNINCH.