Monday, February 24, 2014

First week as a Traveling Missionary!!

Super full week, but tons of fun.

This was the first week spent driving around the mission, and it was a definite learning experience. The biggest thing I've learned thus far is that this mission has some amazing missionaries; I've been constantly impressed with the caliber of the Elders I've been spending time with. I've been learning way more from them than they are from me.
Every night during planning, I ask the missionaries what they'd like to work on, what they want help with. Every companionship has been the same: talking with people and teaching simply. To get over the fear of talking to people, I've had the missionaries contact the first three people we see, no matter how ridiculous the situation. With one companionship on bike, we saw this tattooed biker dude pulled over on the side of the road on his cell phone. We were going to pass him, but I reminded them we promised to talk to the first three regardless the situation, so we circled him on our bikes and waited until the end of his phone call. Imagine that for a was really awkward. Eventually he finished his phone call and one of the elders started to talk to him; turns out he works with a lot of Mormons, just moved into the area, and is looking for a church to attend with his wife. We rode away from the Harley-Davidson with a name, phone number, address, and a return appointment. Biking away, one of the elders said, "I would have never talked to him!". I told him, "I wouldn't have either!". Serving in this capacity has helped me to become more confident and honest with people; there's no hidden agenda, no tentative approach. I'm sharing truth with these people, truth that will change their lives, and if I tell them anything other than that truth then I'm wasting their time and mine.
I was with two other elders in a lesson with a less-active member trying to quit smoking. What we planned earlier that morning was to ask for his last pack of cigarettes at the end of the lesson, yet during the lesson I kept feeling prompted to ask for just a couple of cigarettes instead. We got to the end of the lesson and one missionary did a great job and boldly asked for the mans last pack. He denied, saying he couldn't go without them. I asked for just two of his cigarettes, a small act of faith to show the Lord he's serious, and he complied. He reached down to his last pack, opened it up...and there were just two cigarettes left. We all froze, he chuckled looking down at them, yet he took them out and handed them to me. Incredible experience. We all learned that whenever we meet with someone, we have to invite them to act. It's not enough to just share information; it's about how they use it. We have to invite - it's the only way people will change.

Amazing week, excited to have another starting tonight. Keep praying for the missionaries in your ward!

Love you so much,

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mt. Charleston Snow!!

Hey everyone -
This week was our preparation week; we got to proselyte with Elders Hunsaker and Lane as they took over our area as the new Zone Leaders. The only problem was that they're such good missionaries that getting them used to the area took about half the week, and for the last half of this week Elder Tunney and I have been doing our best not to just sit around. I guess it isn't a problem (it's actually a really good thing - I feel good about leaving this place in the hands of these guys), we've just been chomping at the bit to get started. And we get started tonight.
So, tonight I'll be with a companionship in Highland Hills stake and spend Tuesday with them; Wednesday I'll be with some elders from Tule Springs; Thursday, Elkhorn Springs; Friday, Lone Mountain; Saturday, Meadows; Sunday, we'll be back at our apartment to go to church and recuperate for a bit before we start again Monday night. I'm really excited to get started and go to work after this weird week; it's been a week in limbo. Four out of the five companionships I'll be spending time with are on bike, so I'll finally get that janky (but trusty) purple Trek the attention it deserves.

This morning we got up at 3:30am, worked out, and then headed up to Mount Charleston (in the dark) with Elders Hunsaker, Lane, Tews, George, Park, Marshall, Torgersen, and Jones. It was so much fun, but soooo cold - snow everywhere and not a soul in sight. We found some mats up there and slid down part of a ski slope and it might have been one of the scariest things I've ever done.
The rest of today will probably be spent on making sure we have everything lined up. I'm not expecting everything to go smoothly this week; there has to be some things we haven't thought of yet, or some pitfalls awaiting us on our first week. Hopefully we'll have all of the kinks worked out before the transfer ends and we can have an efficient system up and running in no time.

Next week, I'll be emailing you from Mesquite!

I love you all and pray for you daily!


We are here...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Traveling Elders!!

Sorry for not emailing earlier today; it's been an absolutely crazy Monday.

I should start with two Thursdays ago. Elder Tunney and I were transfer planning for the zone, planning out exchanges, trainings, and p-day activities, when we starting talking about what it'd be like if all we did was go on exchanges with other missionaries. As we continued to talk about it, it sounded better and better; we talked about the challenges that you'd face, the sheer logistics of the whole thing. Eventually it sounded so good we decided to call President Ahlander and set up a meeting with him. We sat down and laid out the entire idea with him the next day. Our idea was that there would be a companionship of "traveling elders" - their entire purpose would be to go on exchanges with companionships all across the mission (at President's discretion). Five days out of the week they'd go on exchanges in a different zone every day, then finish the exchange around 9:00pm, drive to the next apartment, and begin the exchange with the next companionship. Sundays would be normal proselyting days and Mondays would still be preparation day/planning day for the coming week. This isn't a new idea; in fact, Elder Holland was a traveling elder in his mission in England. The method we presented, however, would better fit a mission much more dense like ours. Through the traveling elders, President could get a better idea of what's happening around the mission and missionaries could have personal interaction with someone sincerely dedicated to help them improve. Overall, it'd be a great way to increase mission morale, obedience, and discipleship. 

To our surprise, he loved it. He said he'd think about it and get back to us. Three or four days later (last week), he brings us into his office and says he wants to try it...and he wants us to be the two traveling elders! We were taken aback, but accepted the assignment and assumed that we'd start at the beginning of the next transfer (March 10th). At the end of our meeting in his office, he turns to the transfer board (a board with all of the pictures of the missionaries in the mission) and says, "Well, we just have to make a few emergency transfers and you can start on Monday". 
We were shocked. "Monday?!"
He said he didn't want to wait - he'd double-transfer two new Zone Leaders to take our place on Monday and give us a week to help them acclimate to the ward. Then, on the 17th, we'd hit the road and start doing our back-to-back exchanges. Today at 10:00am Elder Hunsaker and Elder Lane, the new Meadows ZL's, moved in to our apartment and we moved into the AP's apartment with them. We'll only be spending Saturday night and Sunday night in the AP's apartment - otherwise, we'll be sleeping in apartments all across the mission, a different place every night (our bishop gave us a couple of sleeping bags...we're covered).

It's been crazy. The whole mission is buzzing about the mid-transfer transfer and our new assignments. I'm really excited; miracles happen on exchanges, and now my mission life is dedicated to them. My job will be to provide uplifting experiences for these missionaries and help where I can, and I hope I can do that effectively. I'm nervous as well, because no one's done this before; there's no manual, no training. We're flying by the seat of our pants. I know I'll be exhausted, but I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks. I have no idea how long I'll be a traveling elder - it could be until I go home - but I'm going to work as hard as I can. 

I'm sure I'll have more details next week. No idea how this week of floating will work out. Anyways, awesome week, I love you, and I'll talk atcha later!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Lessons learned...if you're paying attention

Hey guys!
This was an interesting week, for sure. Not too much happened in our area, but I definitely have learned a lot through several different experiences and exchanges.
One good learning experience I had was Saturday during exchanges with the assistants. I was with Elder Torgersen, a past companion, in his area. His area just so happens to be right across Jones Road from ours, so it was a familiar area and we were having a really good time. We knocked on this door and the person Torg was looking for wasn't there, and so as we were standing there a man walking on the sidewalk behind us. We could have let him go, but in my mind I was like, "Nah, Dowdle, you said you'd talk to everyone, and this guy is included, so go talk to him", so I did. He was extremely rude, haha. Chewed us out and went on his way; we laughed it off and headed back to the truck. However, before we climbed in, a woman walked out of her apartment, headed for the dumpster, and we starting talking to her. She was extremely nice, interested, and when we asked if there was anyone she knew that would want to talk to us, she answered affirmatively and that she had family living in Utah. Driving away from the complex, we came to the realization that if we hadn't stopped to talk to the crustiest dude on Lake Mead, we wouldn't have been delayed enough to talk to the incredibly nice woman. Talking to the man took faith, action, and the immediate result wasn't what I desired. What I learned this week is that God doesn't often use immediate results to reward us. Blessings come in many forms and at many different times; the only fail proof plan is to be as Christ-like and obedient as possible in an effort to further His purposes. The good things will come.
This upcoming week will be fun - we have a lot of appointments scheduled and some exciting meetings, so we're looking forward to it. Thanks for all that you do and know that I love you!