- Monday - The first P day, went fishing (are going again today) I took pictures haha [surprise, surprise - Adam taking pictures? - But we haven't got these ones yet!]
- Tuesday - My first district meeting, and my first exchange where I spent 24 hrs with Elder Gomes and Elder Anderson (an elder from my MTC district). And I got to teach someone for the very first time :D
- Wednesday - Lots of tracting and continued doing faith walks, and returned to my Daddy (elder Hoyt). Went to an AME Christian Church for a Bible Study and while exiting to go try to teach someone, they stopped us and wanted us to introduce ourselves. The pastor said to us that he would love to help us and even join us as we go out and do the Lord's work! LIKE OMGOODNESS!! A whole congregation then prayed for us that we would have success in our work and it was like we were famous. Now everyone in the town knows or recognizes us.
- Thursday - Elder Hoyt contacted a girl named Kim on Tuesday during the exchange and we taught her the first lesson. It went really well and we have a date for her to be baptized on the 17th (or whatever date that Saturday is) and she accepted :)
- Friday - Visited the Social Circle Fair like Tvlille Dayzz, it was cold but we met the Mayor's wife and they offered to give us anything and help us with anything while we were there in town - uhhh, like what on earth!!
- Saturday - Went to see the special event---- ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS ---- an apostle of these Latter Days spoke to us as missionaries and his talk was great! (it was prepared and given on the spot he said). We got to take a group pic, the GANM and the GAM. and then we all got to shake his hand. Awesome experience and awesome talk. Strengthened me a lot.
- Sunday - first ward meeting went really nice. The Monroe Ward has like 7 missionaries in all different places in the world, and yesterday we saw another farewell for a sister headed to Washington. The work is not finished and we are all now soldiers fighting for truth and right!
Dad, I love your stories of your mission, you know it's funny that you really start telling them to me now! And I know that I should have been more engaged in the history of my own parentals. But really while reading this, I can relate to everything so well with the things going on in my life right now, almost like it is scripture. Thank you!
I went on my first exchange last week and it was very eye opening and helpful when getting to teach with different people (and actually teach). We are in the country-ghetto and since we are white washing an area, everything is really new and really a challenge for both Elder Hoyt and myself. And just like you, the ward members and even the contacts we come in touch with all seem to say "you are where?!" So far no riots have broken out, at least from what I have heard anyway [Henry was in London at the time of Brixton riots that made world news in 1981 and had just been transferred out of that area a few weeks earlier - Father-Son missionary bonding stories]. Maybe soon hopefully though, I'm up for some drama jkjk. We have met so many different people, and I will not boast of myself but while working with my companion right now I see us as Fire and Water, he the fire who is bold, doctrinal, and powerful in his talking and teaching, and me the water, who is calm, steady, flowing and in a way understanding. We both realized or came to see that we are very different and that if there was a missionary who was between both of us he would be Perfect. My goal is to become Ice though. To be solid yet still cooling in effect.
I haven't yet used my bike, and that is good and bad seeing that I haven't really used a bike since getting the bike merit badge some odd number of years ago. Elder Hoyt got his bike at Elder Oaks talk on Saturday so hopefully we will be starting to bike soon (but the car is nice cause it is getting much colder).
Teriyaki and Panda express sound DELICIOUS. But the meals that the members feed us here are for the most part here really good, and one night I got a slice (1) of Papa John's Pizza. A taste of the fruit from the tree of- I'll stop there. ha! I reflect many times to when Elder Lago spoke at his farewell about his sister, Sister Lago having to endure eating that weird fish. There hasn't been anything too weird for me to eat, which I am surprised at cause this is the south, but I know that I'm turning to God constantly. And I am so thankful that I am able to do that for the Holy Spirit is always by our side. I'm exercising, it's not what it was at the gym but I'm working at it. We don't have much food and it is so freakin' expensive to buy stuff at the only grocery store in town, but I've had splendid bowls of Cereal and am thankful for what I do have. And again these members stuff us.
I think that being raised in the gospel my whole life I'm finally understanding the true significance and meaning of the atonement. And it is the most beautiful thing I've ever witnessed. I get music a lot, and play piano when we are at a church which is fun and relaxing. Mom, the story of how your ancestor heard John Taylor's voice singing, i think of often when we go on walks at night and just sing hymns as we go. Elder Hoyt sings really good and he has never had lessons or was in choir so it s always fun.
One last thing, is that YES! There is a huge gold mine of people who know the gospel but have turned away. Do not stop digging for this mine though. It is really hard for us to talk to part members and less actives cause there really aren't any in our area. So I ask that you at home do your best to help others, share your testimony wherever you go and it will leave an imprint on people. I'm constantly thinking, especially when we do role plays of the many different friends who either do not believe in our gospel or who are less active. I pray for them, and I pray for you again.
The weather is kinda weird right now; one day it was 85 degrees the next morning it was 38... But autumn is awesome down here. And I love the fog that comes sometimes in the morning. It's haunting. Hope you all have a fantastic Halloween! We unfortunately have to be indoors at 6, which sucks cause I had the best missionary costume picked out ;-)
Love, Elder Black
Earlier in the day in our District Meeting, we discussed some ways to find/teach investigators. In Alma 32, Alma is preaching and he teaches the poor and they are the ones who truly listen to his words, In fact these people in poverty were kicked out of the synagogues because of their apparel, and poverty. Anyway, Alma rejoices over this because he knows that the poor are humbled because of their many trials and afflictions and are ready to hearken unto his message.
Well, after the District meeting later that day we were tracting in a trailer park. People may call Taylorsville "Trailers-ville", but they don't know trailer park until they've seen Monroe, GA. While walking through here we ran into some guy working on a 1971 Mustang who seemed somewhat interested in our message and said we could come back. The same happened with a Catholic woman who at the time was leaving her home to go pick up her kids. We continued walking and came upon a bunch of kids just hanging out.
There were about 7 or 8 of them, and when we approached them all eyes were on us. These kids were a cute bunch, all in elementary from grades 2-4, and all of some Christian denomination. All of them were covered head to toe in dirt, and many had holes in their clothes, and were barefoot. Sad! But all of them were really smart for their age and one girl was already a master of the scriptures as she quoted John 3:16.
Well, after getting to know them all a little bit, Elder Gomes shared our message and it's significance. And as he talked about Joseph Smith, I saw all of these children's eyes light up. It was beautiful. And I started to cry cause I knew and could see that they knew.
After we asked if they wanted a Book of Mormon, all said, "yes!" I was stunned and surprised at all of this, for my mind traveled back to the story when our Savior was asked, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And, Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted and become as a little child, ye shall in nowise enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."
How much more humble can you be? These children of God were living in poverty and were only kids. They were able to understand our message and they listened.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
I know without a doubt why I'm truly, truly out here. I could literally be nowhere else right now, and I'm the happiest I could be. We all struggle, we all have trials, but I know through my Savior and Redeemer the world will be saved.
This is Elder Blacks first “real” letter from the mission field after being there nearly a week. We are trying not to simply repost every word from every letter, but rather report the highlights and lowlights. On his first P-Day in Georgia he reports:
It's been almost a week in the south and things are going really swell. I do get nervous talking to people, I didn't think I would be, but I guess when it's about one’s salvation it can be a bit rickety. But I'm learning.
I'm learning a lot actually, and I've been paired with a new companion; he's been serving now for 20 months and is a great guy! He has one of the strongest testimonies I've ever seen and it's funny how a mission does that to people; I hope and expect that it will happen to me. His name is Elder Shane Hoyt. He's Canadian! He doesn't say "eh" (anymore anyway), but he sure does know his scripture mastery.
Our first area is Social Circle, with a pop of I wanna say maybe 6,000. It's very small, but the people down here for the most part are very very friendly and are willing to hear what we have to say. That itself was a little unexpected, I assumed the first day to be only door slams in the face, but everyone was kind enough to hear our message. We actually started tracting in the more impoverished area (and really our whole area is poor), but we came up to a group of black people just sittin’ out on their front lawn with massive piles of beer cans everywhere, and again we are in the what we now know to be the bad side of town, but they willingly listened to what we had to say and even took a card.
It's funny, after I introduce myself as Elder Black, most of the people down here either say "are you black?" "you don't look black" or "you look more brown". I love the people down here. I love some of the accents, some I can barely understand. But the people all seem to have a faith in Christ, and are very nice.
Tonight we should hopefully be teaching a girl by the name of Lori, she doesn't live too far from us thankfully and we actually met her on the street. When we met her she was with other black friends or family, and though the others showed no interest in our message I could see in her eyes that she was curious. And that's something that is really amazing to see, when you tell someone the truth and you can see that they just know. It's really cool, and I hope that as I teach my first lesson I can teach with the spirit and with power.
Adam continues by reminding that we are all missionaries. The church is constantly calling us to be rescuers. More and more throughout the world missionaries are discontinuing the traditional door-to-door tracting and relying instead on the local members to provide them with people to teach. He concludes his letter by stating:
If there is one thing I want you to know is that you need to serve the missionaries! Help them and tell them anyone you know in work, school, or family who is struggling and who could use some help. The members down here are very nice as well, and I loved our sacrament yesterday. We've only got 5 members who are in our area, and traveling is very difficult because of the limited miles we can drive monthly. I have a bike, only one tire is flat, and my comp left his in his old area which is miles away. So we walk on foot or drive, and it is nice. One thing I love about Elder Hoyt is that we jam out to hymns and listen to the Michael Bublé Christmas Album. It's a great time :)
Thanks for your prayers, and thank you for all that you do! Thank you to the ward and those who supported me ‘cause I now have a bike. Continue to take the time for daily study of the scriptures, I've found out so much more. Even if you do it for 10 min it will bless your lives. Take care now y’all this lovely week.
Peace and blessings.
Love, Elder Black
After an early morning phone call from the airport on a borrowed cell phone, we received this letter a few days later. The kind woman that loaned him her phone later texted back from my thank you "he looked so sad when he saw the line at the pay phone."
Hola! I’m currently in the mission home eating dinner. This home is stunning, better than the ones in Draper. And the spirit is so definite here. It doesn't feel like I’m in Georgia, BUT I AM! President Wolfert and his wife are so kind and Christlike, and it makes me kinda wanna be a mission president in later years – much later years. I’m doin’ fine, and I hope you are too. I’m a little nervous to go out and teach, but into the fire and trust in His fire and I should be OK.
Love you tons, take care.
The pretty chill and legit parentals of Elder Black, Tiffany and Henry Black.