Hello family! Thank you again for all your emails! Sound's like everythings going good back home. Something I was thinking about this week, I only have one pair of contacts left, so I'll need some more by the end of the month, if you can do that. If not I can just wear my glasses, but if you get the time just send those down here to Tennessee.
So much happened this week. I'll start with last Monday. After P-Day ended, which is at 6 p.m. Monday nights, we went out to see people on our home teaching list, it's more like a list of 35 inactives, but we call it home teaching. So we stopped by this mans house, his name is Brother Humphry. We introduce ourselves and what we're about, and he stops us in mid sentence and say " You Elder people always come around here, and I keep tellin' ya, I'm not a member of your church, and I never was." So we were obviously suprised, since he's on the ward list. sooo... what you're telling me is you're not a member? you've never been baptized? are you sure? But it turns out he really wasn't a member, and we were just talking for a while on his porch, and then he tells us " You guys can stick around and talk to me if you want, but lets go talk in my shed and get out of the cold", After he said that I was a little worried, thinking about why this guy wants to take us into his shed instead of just going into his house, but when we got to shed, before he opened the door he said "Alright boys, welcome to my man cave". haha, what a cool guy huh, so we went into his man cave and chatted it up for a little bit. Of course we were planning on teaching him the first lesson, but we come to find out he's been taught by the missionaries for years (makes sense considering he's on the ward roster) and he just refuses to accept organized religion. So we talked to him for a bit. He was a way cool guy, oh, and he was white, which was interesting, and old white guy in the middle of the ghetto of Tennessee, and he was really rascist, which makes sense, most older white people around here are, that's just how it is, and he said the N word a lot, I would see Elder Badger smirk every time he did, haha. He was very kind to us though, when we left he gave us 20 dollars and told us to go get some dinner, we tried to give it back but in the end we took it. What I learned that night was this - I really want a man cave.
Tuesday was a great day, it was nice and sunny, and we tracted pretty much until our feet wanted to fall off. Those day's are always good. A lot of yelling through screen doors. "WHO ARE YOU?", "We're missionaries", "WHO?", "CHURCH PEOPLE", "oh...WHAT DO YOU WANT?" "We share a unique message about Jesus Chri..." "WHAT??", "WE WANNA TALK ABOUT JESUS!"... Alot of that going on, haha.
Wednesday was the actual day that transfers happened, so that was exciting. My trainer was officially made Zone Leader and Elder Peay got his new greeny. His name is Elder Fry. I really like him, haha. So he's the new kid in the house, he's really cool. Right after Transfer Meeting we took Elder Fry out to eat at this all you can eat chinese place (we go out to eat on special occasions, like transfer meetings and district meetings, and zone meeting, pretty much any meeting) We used the 20 dollars Brother Humphry gave us, greenies don't get a lot of money because they come in during the middle of the month, Elder Fry came at the very end, so he probably had like 25 dollars, so we payed for him. Then we got to work.
I think Wednesday was the day we ran into Thomas. We were walking through Beacon Apartments going to see a potential investigator and just so happens that we run into Thomas and Brother and Sister Bauer, and guess what, Thomas is smoking, with Brother Bauer... ugghh. So Thomas didn't get baptized on Saturday. We found out Brother Bauer gave him the cigarette, Brother Bauer is a bad example for Thomas... and I love the guy, I really do, but I was pretty frustrated.
The rest of the week kinda blended together. On Friday though, Elder Badger and I had like 40 minutes to spare, so I was like, well lets go tracting, and Elder Badger said he felt like we should go see this kid we contacting the other day on the street. So we pull up to his house, and this huge neighborhood bball game is goin down. We walk up and start talking to all these kids, and they start smack talking us and want us to play some ball, so we take off the ties, pick teams, and ball it up. Elder Badgers a baller, he drains everything, and I'm just really tall, so we end up killing them... twice, it was a lot of fun haha. After we beat them we asked if they could all sit down for a second so we could share a message with them. We shared a spiritual thought, and some of the parents around the area came out and wanted our information, and we made a couple appointments. So that was awesome. There are so many good kids around this area, they just have so many bad influences, so the parents really like it when we stop and play ball or just invite their kids to church and stuff, and I can see that it really does make a big difference.
Saturday was a good day, The biggest thing that happened was we taught Thomas. The smoking thing has been tough, but we know he can quit. I think I mentioned the 15 step program I found in the house, well we decided to go through that program with Thomas, and he loved it. The only problem was that there was a lot in the program he couldn't do, because he couldn't buy all the supplies he needed, like Mouthwash, Vitmain C, Fruits, Grapefruit Juice, ect... He lives with his God Father, and they really don't have much money at all. We decided we could help him out with all of that so we actually ended up buying about 50 dollars worth of groceries, so Thomas could do these 15 steps exactly as they are for a week straight. So we're both fresh out of MSF money, but I felt really good about it. When we brought him the groceries he gave us the biggest hugs ever and promised he'd quit smoking. I want to see that boy get baptized so bad... He's so ready for this step in his life, he's trying so hard to change. I love him.
Kierra and Stephanie still need to get married before baptism. We actually found out Kierra's baby daddy has been asking her to marry him! She says she just doesn't know if she's ready because she feels like 23 is too young, lol. I told her that where we're from girls get married at 19 all the time. So we're still working with them.
Oh yea, I just remembered something else. We were teaching Stephanie and her kids about baptism, and we decided to do this thing that some of you might have done, idk if it's pretty well known or not, but you teach baptism with a hard boiled egg, and a gatorade bottle, and show how you need to be baptized by water and the spirit (or fire). The gatorade bottle is the kingdom of heaven, and the egg is trying to get into the kingdom of heaven (the gatorade bottle). He can't fit through the top. So you baptize him in water and peel off his hard shell, now he's clean from sin, but he still can't fit into the kingdom of heaven. That's because only half of his baptism is complete, he still needs to be baptized by the spirit (or fire). The way you set this up is you pour rubbing alcohol in the bottom of the gatorade bottle, then you light the fumes in the bottle and put the egg over the whole it will make a vacuum, and pull the egg into the bottle, or... after baptism by water and fire, the egg can enter the kingdom of heaven. We try to do this little experiment for the 1st time with Stephanie, it can't be too hard right? well I think we put too much alcohol in the bottle, and I borrowed a lighter to light it instead of matches, and a huge flame came out and burned my hand real good. Stephanie and her kids loved it though, they thought it was the coolest thing ever that the egg went in, and they didn't notice I burned my hand. So that's good haha. I tried not to let them notice I was in pain for the rest of the lesson. My hand is fine though, it's healing up nicely.
Overall, the week was great. We're getting work done. Thomas' new baptismal date is the 12th of March, I know he'll be ready by then. We've been struggling finding new investigators, but hopefully the nice weather we'll help us find more people. I love you guys! Talk to you next P-Day.
Oh, I almost left out the best news! I hope you don't mind me mentioning this Ben, I just want my family to know. Today I got an email from Benjamin. He's working on his papers right now... because he's decided to go on a mission. What a stud right? I'm so proud of that guy. That email meant the world to me. I love you Benny.
First off, Mom! I know your birthday was this past week, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY! what are you like 25 now? I didn't get an email from you this week I hope everythings going okay. Also, Dad, did you send Stephen my email that I forwarded to you last week? I don't think all my emails go through for some reason... so it sounds like Sarah is doing awesome at everything, she won that art contest, and Stephen basically said she's a professional guitarist. I hope the jewelery thing is still going good mom, you sounded really excited about that in your last few emails, It sounds like it's the perfect hobby for you!
This week has gone by so fast, probably the fastest week on my mission thus far. I just talked to my MTC companion on the phone earlier today, it sounds like he's doing awesome, his trainer just finished his mission so Elder Emery is getting a new companion. He's in a country area in Arkansas, so he said he hasn't even seen a single black person since his mission. Haha so we're basically in opposite areas. It was really nice to talk to him though, I love that guy, I hope I get to serve with him in the future.
So today was the beginning of the new transfer. I don't think that our district is changing very much. The AP's called everyone this morning, letting them know whether they are getting transfered or not and to start packing their bags. Elder Badger and I are staying, and Elder Peay, the Zone Leader that lives in our house is staying, but Elder Lester his junior comp is leaving. So we're getting a new Elder in the house! and Elder Peay says he's training, so that means we're getting a Greeny in the house. I won't be the youngest missionary anymore. So that's cool. The actual Transfer Meetings happen on Wednesday. Elder Badger did get a phone call from President this morning, letting him know that he's not going to be District Leader anymore... because he's being made Zone Leader, so now I live with two Zone Leaders, they're both studs. I wonder who's going to be our new District Leader though.
This week just went by so fast. Thomas is our main progressing investigator right now, I love the guy, his only hold up is his smoking problem. I've given him 2 blessings now, and he still hasn't been able to go a whole day without smoking. It's rough. I've been reading through this 15 step smoking program that I found in the house, I think another missionary left it there, and it seems really solid. So in our next lesson i'm going to strive to commit him to doing these 15 steps that should help him quit.
His baptismal date is actually this Saturday, and we told him last Saturday that if he smoked again we'd have to push his date back, we need him to be clean for at least a full week first. I have faith that he can do it, we'll see him tomorrow to see if he's kept his commitments. If he has then you'll be hearing about his baptism in the next email.
I don't have a lot of time to write this week, so I'm sorry, but this email is going to be really short. It's President's Day and the library's closed, so we're emailing at the Midtown apartments, and there's a lot of other people who want to get on one of the 3 computers here, so I dont want to be on it too long.
If you ever get the time, it would actually be really nice to get my Burton backpack that I left at home, the little one I have is nice, but it would be nice to have a bigger one to use. So just send that with the next package you send out, I got my shaker cup and my hoodie and shirts and stuff so thank you so much for sending those. If you haven't thrown out my Casein Protein then you should send that out too (It was in that big white container, either in the pantry or under the sink in the bathroom on the main floor) and if you're sending that then you might as well send my Animal Pak body builder vitamins, there in my room in that yellow container. It looks like a big can. We're really trying to use that 30 minutes in the morning to get a good workout in, haha. The Frayser house really does have a nice weight set and a pull-up bar and some perfect push-ups. It's nice. But if you can't find that stuff or you've already thrown it away then no big deal.
I love you guys, I'm sorry this is short. Have a great week, you'll hear from me soon.
One more thing, go to google and type in Frayser High School and see what comes up. You can see why the law of chastity is a hard lesson to teach to the people here in Frayser.
It sounds like things are going good. I guess sarah hot glued a piece of her project to the table? That made me smile, haha. You all sound like you're doing great, I love hearing from you. Before I forget, if you would send me Elder Burtons emails, I would very much appreciate it. Dear Elders do work, I got one from David, but idk if they cost money or whatever, but I really want to read Josh's emails.
Alright, well I think I'll start by teaching you guys some Ghetto talk. They use this word a lot - Flojjin - It means lying, or tellin a story, as they would say down here. Mah you jus tellin' a sory. This word's pretty popular too - Junt - it means hott or attractive. If someone calls you a junt that's a good thing. If you're a flojjin junt then you're a good lookin storyteller, haha. alright enough of that.
This week was really good. On Tuesday I went on exchanges with West Memphis, I didn't know this before, but West Memphis is actually in Arkansas, not Tennessee. So I got to go across the Mississippi, and right when you get across the river everyone is white all the sudden, it's so wierd, I almost felt uncomfortable being around so many white people, no more ghetto thugs, it was wierd. So I was with Elder Vieter for a day, he's awesome. He has been out almost 19 months, so he's an old guy in the mish, we had some good conversations. We visited a lot of his investigators, I met some really cool people. Then this really awesome Brother in his ward, Brother White, took us out to eat at a steakhouse. It was like heaven, and I had some fried ocra, it was way good, and a massive 16 ounce Serloin, thank you Brother White. On that side of the river everyone talks about hunting and guns, and on my side of the river everyone talks about gangs, drugs, and guns. Then we went around with Bro White in his big Deisel and saw a bunch of less-actives. It was a good time.
The next morning there was a crazy snow storm and everyone in Arkansas was freaking out that we were still out and about doing the Lords work. We went back over the bridge around 1:00 in the afternoon to exchange back. The bridge was super icy. Then Elder Badger and I continued our bike week in the freezing snow. It was sooo cold. 30 degrees here feels like 0 degrees back home, I dont know why, maybe because it's more humid here, but it's just so cold, and then 62 degrees and we're practically sweating, I hear summers are rough, and that you always feel like you're swimming in sweat, so I'm excited for that.
We were suppossed to have one of our investigators get baptized this past saturday, but she missed church the past two sundays, and she hasn't been able to se us in a while, hopefully she'll be ready by the 26th. Along with 3 other dates we've set for the 26th. Kierra and Stephanie both need to marry their baby daddy's though, But Thomas is solid if we can just get him to quit smoking. I gave him a blessing yesterday to help him with that, and he's committed to stopping, so the 26th should be a good day.
Friday all 8 Memphis missionaries went out to eat with Sister Uunander. She's a really cool lady, but she's single and she's 57 years old, so she's been dating and such and she told us all these crazy horrible experiences she's had with dating at an older age. She found a few guys off of the LDS dating website or whatever, but she really did tell us some scary stories. It got quiet, and all 8 of us were just sitting there and then she says, "well I guess if you take anything from lunch today, it's that- nothings worse than old horny people". That was really funny and we all said we'd put it in our letter home, haha, so I am.
Saturday came and the other Frayser elders had a baptism at 7, and President Drewes was going to be there so we wanted to make sure we were there on time, but we got caught up at Stephanie's house and she just had a lot to say, and it was a crucial lesson, so we got out of there at almost 6:45, and we were on bike week so we're walking, and the church is about 15 min away, if you're driving there. So we start running down the street in our white shirts, I'm sure we looked like idiots, and we called the Mid Town Elders to come grab us off the street, and we got there with like 2 min to spare. Then I find out Elder Peay wants me to baptize Toni. So I got dressed in my whites (they were already at the church) and I had my first baptism... Looking back, I feel like there are two things in my life thus far that I can say that I'm really proud of myself for doing, the first one is graduating high school, because that was a struggle for me, and the second one is coming out here on my mission. That baptism was one of the best moments of my life, I felt like I finally did something good, and I knew that there was no other place I'd rather be than right here, in the ghetto with these people, where the Lord wants me. It really was an amazing experience for me.
Sunday, we had 4 investigators to church! whoo. That's a record for me and Elder Badger, and guess what? Next week is the end of my first transfer on the mission. Next Monday to be exact. I'm sure I'll still be with my trainer for at least one more transfer though, and I'm happy about that, I love this guy.
Happy Valentines Day, I love you guys. Thank you so much for the package! You're in my prayers
p.s. I sent stephen an email last week but I found out that it didn't actually send for some reason, I have no idea why. I might just send it to your address dad and have you send it to him, also, thank you for the cooking advice, I'll look into that, lol. We actually got 4 dinner appointments this week, thank the heavens, my prayers have been answered.
(Pictures are from MTC to Current, they were just sent home last week)
Justin in the MTC
(Justin's MTC Companion)
It sounds like everyone is d
oing great! Sarah, I can't believe you can play all those songs on guitar already, it sounds like you're gonna have to show me the ropes when I get back. Mom, you sound like you're doing so good, and you sound so happy! Thank you so much for sending that package already, I'll look for it on Wednesday, and I got your valentines day package a couple of days ago, that was great! it meant a lot to me. It was so nice to read all those little notes from family and friends. It's good to hear that my SD card got home safely, did you guys like the picture
s with me and the little black kids, those are the best, haha.
This week went good, there was ups and downs for sure. Elder Badger and I did a lot alot of walking and tracting this week. I think it was Wednesday that we walked alll day long, and just went from door to door for like 5 hours, and nobody wanted to listen, or wanted us to come back later, lol. It was rough, and the sun was about to go down, and we were about to head back to the car to go seem some recent converts and less actives, but we decided to knock on one more door, and this lady Gia let us in, and we taught her the first lesson, and she is just golden, she's so solid. I've come to realize in the past month that those blessings only seem to come after the trial of our faith. It's always the last coupe of doors we knock on that we find those people who are searching for answers. Gia's great, and she has 8 kids, and.... she's married! it was like a miracle, the guy wasn't her baby daddy, it was her husband. That's almost unheard of here in Frayser.
Kierra and Chasity are doing well, and they're progressing. We've taught them everything required for baptism, and they have their own testimonies, you can tell when you talk to them. Chasity is nervous about baptism and feels like it's a big step so we've been working with her and trying to commit her to a date, she was planning on the 12th, but she missed church and we have to push it back to the 26th. Kierra wants to get baptized as soon as she can, but she's living with her baby daddy. We talked to her about it, and the church offers marriage counseling, and I guess that lowers the cost of getting married, so kierra and her baby daddy are going to take that and then get married, and she said she should be good for the 26th, and she wants to be baptized then.
Then our other date, Stephanie. She's awesome. The last lesson we had with her we
taught her lesson 3, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, so Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. She was way into it. Here in Frayser nobody is used to this cold weather we've been having so they all blast their heat when it gets cold, and it was literally like a sauna in stephanie's house when we were teaching her this, and half way through the lesson she said, " I don't know what it is but when you guys teach me it's like it gives me chills, but they're good chills, and I dont understand because it's warm in here", ahhh, It's moments like that when me and Elder Badger just look at each other and smile, and then we talk to them about what they're feeling, and that it's the Holy Ghost testifying to them, but that was such a great lesson, I love Stephanie, she's great. She's commited to being baptized on the 26th.
We had a lot of dates drop this past week, and a lot of people that told us not to come back, and that's always rough, but that's why we keep finding everyday. We need to make sure we always have a teaching pool, so that when we do get some baptisms or people do drop, then we still have progressing investigators. The mission has a commitment we strive for called 4-4-2-2-1. 4- new investigators every week, 4- member present lessons every week, 2 -progressing investigators a week, 2-baptismal dates a week = 1 baptism a month. We strive for that and set all of our goals off of 4-4-2-2-1, the hardest thing is to get 4 member present lessons a week. It's a killer. But this woman in our ward, Kiesha, she's awesome, she got baptized about 2 years ago and she has the strongest testimony, she talks way ghetto lol, but she's great, she said she'll come with us anytime to teach. She's so cool. So she came with us this past week to teach Kierra and it went better than ever. I can see why getting 4 member presents weekly would result in at least 1 baptism a month. We try to get some of the young men to go teach with us, there are about 4. None of them want to come except Blue and Darion, Blue's only 13 so I don't think we're technically supposed to take him, but Darion is a stud, he's Blue's older brother, we're gonna try to take him to a lesson sometime this week.
I've come to realize that I miss dad's cooking more and more everyday, I miss yours too mom (and sis Boyds too I guess) but we all know that dad makes some dang good food, I took it for granted man, now I'm eating mac and cheese and ramen allll the time, before the mish I thought I'd be okay with eating ramen everyday, but now I know I was an idiot, lol. I tried the cream of mushroom soup in the mac and cheese deal, that was alright, and then the chilli in the mac and cheese, but I think the thing is that i'm just sick of noodles. I need to branch out and try something without noodles, next time I go shopping i'm gonna be brave and buy something that I might possibly screw up in the cooking process, something that doesn't have noodles. You all probably think this is silly, but cooking is like a foreign language to me, all I can do is boil noodles. I started making some omlets in the morning, those are good, but we have been getting fed less and less lately, haha. but I'm determined to learn how to make real food. I wish Josh Burton was my companion, he's like a wizard in the kitchen.
Besides the fact that I'm not eating too great and that it's snowing outside and our bike week starts tommorow, everything is pretty good. The end of my first transfer is in two weeks, then some Elders will come in that will be greener than me, that's gonna be crazy. A kid stole our phone last week while we were playing basketball with the youth, so that was a bummer, know we have this old school brick phone, and now we're going to lock all our stuff up in the kitchen.
I can't think of anything else at the moment, I love you guys! thanks so much for the letters. You'll hear from me next Monday.