Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Gandalf Principle

What a week it was, ladies and gentlemen!  Prayers are definitely answered and miracles have not ceased!   Let me give you a little background on what this area has been like for the past couple months:

This area used to have sister missionaries in it and they struggled really badly to find and teach people.  They had a car for the area we covered and really weren't able to get a lot of things going.  Well, our mission president is crazy and decided to move the sisters out and move Elder Brown and I in.  Well, that made the ward angry cause they liked the sisters a lot.  Our president also decided that what they covered in a car would now be covered on bikes by elders.  The terrain stunk, the wind never stopped, and it's blazing hot here in the desert.  So pretty much everything was stacked against us.

But then Elder Brown and I thought, "Wait a minute, here we are in an area just full of housing tracts that have never seen missionaries out and about before.  Every missionary before us was in a car.  So we're going to be a new thing to these people.  Why don't we just get to know everyone around here and become the local celebrities?"

Thus was born the "Gandalf Principle."

We figured that we must become like Gandalf.  No matter where Gandalf goes in Middle Earth everyone knows Gandalf and Gandalf knows everyone.  How hard could it be to do that within seven square miles?  So we set out meeting and talking with as many people as we could.  Anyone who gave us their name, spoke English, and didn't threaten to kill us went on our potential investigators list.  We have literally fifty non-members written on a whiteboard, eight of whom are sincerely interested, many more who are open, and a lot more after that who don't want anything to do with the Gospel, but are more than willing to give us water and shoot the breeze.  So now we're getting to know everyone and everyone knows us.  The local schoolkids all say hi to us and ask us questions, which is weird for the high desert.  People actually know us by name, not just as the Mormons!

And guess what?  It's totally working!
Because we haven't been focused on just getting investigators, but rather building friendships and relationships with our investigators, we've actually gotten more investigators!  Paradox!

The first investigator family we got this week is Julie's family.  She's the mother of five children and is married.  The family just moved to the neighborhood and we met her while we biked past her porch.  She has LDS friends and has been looking for a church for her kids to be baptized into.  We taught her about the Restoration and she took really well to it!  She loves the Book of Mormon and it excited to read it!  Booyah!
The next investigator was a young man named Nick.  We first met his father who wasn't interested, but he was cool so we wrote his name down and planned to visit him another day to get some water and get to know him better.  We went back on Saturday and his dad wasn't there but his dad's friend Tommy was.  Nick was in the garage but Tommy came out and chatted with us for twenty minutes and was totally interested!  He doesn't live in our area but the missionaries where he lives should be teaching him now.  Anyhow, Nick comes out at the end of the conversation and we ask him if he'd like to learn more.  He says sure, we go back Monday, teach him the Restoration in his lawn, and he LOVED it!  He said we "opened a new page" for him.  He agreed to be baptized on October 19th!  He thanked god in his prayer for sending "these two amazing people" to him.  Unfortunately, he's YSA age so we had to pass him off to the YSA elders, but they'll do a great job with him!

Then we found the mother of ANOTHER family named Lesley.  She was taking a walk and we were biking super fast but we slammed on our brakes to talk to her.  We started to introduce ourselves but she cut us off saying she knew who we were and that her aunt was LDS.  She asked why we never came to her neighborhood to teach and we were like, "Well, we can come to your neighborhood if you'd like us to.  We can even come teach just you!"  She jumped at that opportunity and when we went by Tuesday evening we found her anxiously looking out her window to make sure we were coming!  We taught her about the Book of Mormon and she said she's been looking for a church for a long time with good family values.  She seems super solid!
So miracles are still happening, folks.  Along with finding all these people, the ward has really warmed up to us.  We had several members tell us out of the blue this Sunday that they hope we don't get transferred, which is weird because transfers aren't for another month, haha.

We went to the temple today which was great!  Always nice to spend some peaceful moments in the house of the Lord.

We're teaching Priest's quorum this Sunday.  I always love doing that.  We're also doing a mission prep/mission game mutual with them soon.  We also took out some of the young men who are preparing to serve missions to do some missionary work with us.  It was awesome!

Thanks for all the prayers and fasts!  You guys are great!
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Aqua duct kids!

Another week in the blossoming metropolis of Hesperia, CA.  We continue to boldly forge through this mysterious country known as the "High Desert."  In very few missions do you have to deal with culture shock when you get transferred from one area to another, but the Rancho Cucamonga mission is just special like that.  It's always a big transition when you move from the valley to the desert or vice versa, but it's almost always a good transition.

This week our stake had its Pioneer Day activity.  I'm proud to say that I bested many in various feats of strength, most of which required lots of pulling or tugging things.  Too bad the pioneers didn't have Magic, that probably would've kept them more entertained.  I also got the chance to shake a little plastic container of cream into butter, but then at the last minute when I was about to open it and enjoy the hard earned fruits of my labor I accidentally let it slip and it got everywhere.  That was a sad point of my mission.

Tender mercy of the Lord: One of my good missionary friends who I spent three transfers with in Chino, Sister Toolan, was transferred out of Chino two transfers before I was.  She's here in Hesperia and though we're not in the same zone we DO share the same church building, so Elder Brown and I get to see her and her companion (who's also pretty legit) fairly often.  I've included pictures of the three of us.  By the way, in that picture of us and Sister Toolan she looks super awkward and it totally looks like we're super lame and creepy elders that forced a girl to take a picture with us.  But I want ALL OF YOU to know that Sister Toolan LITERALLY threatened to kill us if we left the Pioneer Day activity without a picture.  So it was totally her idea.

Speaking of Elder Brown, he's dang good at taking pictures of me.  I've included a picture that he took of me riding my bike along the road.  He took that picture WHILE HE WAS RIDING HIS BIKE AS WELL.  That's crazy!  We've been compiling an "action shot" series of me while on my mission and it's turning out fairly well.

While wandering through the desert we found a pile of trash and I used some of it to turn me into a modern day stripling warrior.  Pictures are included for your enjoyment.  Also, by that pile of trash there's never ANYONE, especially cars.  Yet while I donned my armor THREE different cars passed by.  That was pretty embarrassing.

The California aqueduct runs smack through the middle of our area.  So anytime we want to cross our area we have to bike through the undeveloped desert, find a gap in the barbwire fence, throw our bikes and ourselves under it, find a bridge that crosses the aqueduct, lower our bikes into the four foot pits that guard the bridges, lift them out again to cross the bridge, and then repeat the whole process except in reverse when we get to the other side.  It's quite an adventure.  But as we were crossing the aqueduct we actually ran into a group of kids sidling along the side of the bridge, which is weird because you NEVER see anyone by the aqueduct.  I made a joke to them that when they fell in I wanted pictures and they stopped us and asked us what religion we are.  We told them that we were Mormons and they said they wanted to ask us some questions.  So we hopped off the aqueduct and were able to teach them about the Restoration which was super good.  They all took copies of the Book of Mormon but most of them were just visiting from out of town so we won't be the ones teaching them.  It was super cool!

Fun fact: I am scheduled to fly home exactly one year from today.  Get ready, everyone.  The time is not far from my triumphant return.

For all you future missionaries out there: Want to be a good missionary?  Be a good home teacher/visiting teacher.  Home teaching is just missionary work to members and missionary work is just home teaching to non-members.  Also learn how to make LOTS of small talk.  I find testifying of the Gospel to be easy, it's the small talk on the streets that's harder.

Have a great week!

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

PS--From Carter's Mom:  Carter just heard this week that his visa should be arriving in the next 6 weeks!  He is VERY excited!