Well, this has been an interesting few days! Did a bunch of packing (didn't realize it would take so long to pack after having been there for 7 1/2 months, but it sure did!) and said my final goodbye's to the wonderful people in Valley City! On the flip side, I got to say hello for the first time to a whole bunch of new, wonderful people!
My new address is 306 E. 4th st. Apt. 1, Gordon, Nebraska 69343. In this area, we are driving a Jeep (Exciting, right Sydnie?) since the roads aren't exactly.... You know... Taken care of... and we won't be riding our bikes very much (which I think is funny since I spent so much time fixing mine with Bro. Adams before I left....) We will continue to wear slacks (from what I know), I'm not expecting to learn a new language, but I will if I need to, and we spend everyand and every other weekend in Pineridge which is just over the border into South Dakota, and every and , and than the other weekends in Gordon, Nebraska. So, I am currently living in 2 places and get to live out of my suitcase! Woohoo! This area is largely less-active work, so a lot of the work we do is finding and re-activating those who don't come to church. There is a lot of alcohol abuse here, too, which isn't exactly conducive to feeling the Spirit, nor to wanting to change to experience real, lasting joy and peace. We cover 2 branches, one in Gordon, which has about 20 people come regularly, and one on the Rez that has even less attend. The Rez branch is going to close soon since there aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders to keep it running, but hopefully it will re-open in the near future. The weekends that we are on the Rez, we attend that branch, and the weekends in Gordon, we attend there. My new companion is Elder Wilde, from a small town in southern Idaho, he goes home in 6 weeks, and he is awesome! We hit it off pretty darn good! He knows the area really well and the people seem to like him. Similar to Valley City, we do our shopping when we go to District meeting, which is in Chadron, which has a Wal-mart, but we do have a Dollar General here in Gordon. My apartment is nice (although the bathroom was a mess and probably hadn't been cleaned in a few months, but don't worry, I cleaned it up good!) and is pretty roomy compared to VC's apartment! And yes, we do still have a cell phone haha!
So far, I haven't been to the Rez, but we will be therefor the rest of the week. One of the "perks" of being on the rez is that there are no addresses. We have a GPS that we put people in as favorites so that we can find them again. The people here are super nice. There have been a lot of past missionaries who have knocked on doors, and the people just invited them in for dinner, so that's gonna be fun! I do have to say, I love the names here. There are a lot of names that have "Hawk" in it around here too. It's really cool!!
When trying some potential investigators, we knocked on one door, heard dogs barking behind the door (which is a common occurrence in this mission.... Most people have dogs here) and this guy started yelling at the dogs, came to the door, burst out to keep the dogs in, than glared at us, than asked "what do you guys want?" My companion introduced himself, shook his hand, than I did the same. When I shook his hand, he gripped real tight, so in defense, I gripped back so that my hand didn't get crushed. He than proceeded to try to twist my arm, first in handshake position, than switched to arm wrestle position. When he didn't win, he called me a few choice words, than said "You should just go home and pop that big ole zit on your nose. What do you guys want?" so we told him we didn't want anything, but we were here to see if we could offer him any service. "You have any money?" "No, but we would love to help you any way we can." He grunted and said a few more choice words that I will not repeat, than said "do you know what I am? I am a Hell's Angel. Do you know what that is? I'm a biker! I've been a Hell's Angel for 60 years, and don't let my age fool you! I could still take you boys out in a second!" And he proceeded to tell us his life story and his adventures as a Hell's Angel, which is a biker group known for their criminal conduct, and somewhere during the long speech, he asked if we knew how much pressure it took to spin someones head around. Of course, we had no idea, he told us, and then demonstrated on my face (don't worry, I'm still facing the right way.). He leaned in close, put his hand on my chin, than started to reach behind my head, than made as if he were going to do it, which he didn't, and continued with his rant. Oddly enough, I wasn't worried about him hurting me one bit. Funny how being called by a Prophet of God and being set apart and blessed by someone holding the Authority to act in His name can give you such confidence, even when someone grabs your face. Needless to say, we aren't going back to that guys house.
It's amazing, being in a small Branch of the Church. For many reasons, actually. Specifically, it's amazing to see the dedication that is found in these people. They have to drive for miles, sometimes hours, to attend church, and they do it not because it pays, because in a worldly sense it doesn't, but because they know it is true. Nothing else compares to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing else bears fruit even remotely similar. The Savior taught "By their fruits shall ye know them", and the fruits are innumerable and very noticeable. No other organization, be it religious or non-religious, inspires adults starting at age 18 to give up their time, money, all the comforts of home, their friends and family, their dog, and their education knowing that they will have hundreds of doors slammed in their faces, thousands of despising looks, and many people who should be their friends being the most rude to them. No other organization could do that, because this one is inspired of God, and no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. Satan has tried for 200 years to prevent this work from continuing, and yet it roles on, as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. We are now the 4th largest Christian church in the U.S. and it is the only Church not on the decline, but on a very fast incline. If this wasn't the work of God, it would have been ended long ago with the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph. If he was the fraud that many say he was, than he couldn't have inspired thousands in the way he did while he was alive, and the way he continues to inspire them today. His whole life was dedicated to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the truth. I know it not because I have studied, although I have, but because I have prayed to know it is true. This is His work, not ours, not Joseph Smiths, but His. The Holy Father of us all, who loves us more than is humanly comprehensible.
Those are my thoughts for the week.
Well, that's my fun story for the week! Nothing else has really happened, just getting used to the new area. Next week I'll be fresh of the rez, so hopefully I have some more fun stories!
Love you all!
Elder Carter V