Wednesday, January 13, 2016

January 11, 2016 The story of the creation and the White Buffalo Calf Woman

To answer a few questions, we are not freezing actually!  The weather was predicted to be -20, but they were dead wrong!  Barely even passed 0 this week.  And today it is a balmy 27!  I forgot how good that feels when you haven't felt weather that warm in a while.  Tender mercies indeed!  Our car hasn't had any issues yet, so we're hoping it stays that way.

Everyone in the Zone thinks I'm getting transferred.  I kid you not.  EVERYONE!  They have all decided I'm going to leave and be a Zone Leader else where, and I told them "Don't you dare be prophesying, or I will have some harsh words with you!  I don't want to leave!"  But, alas, it's not up to us.  I love it here, but I'm sure I will love it where ever I go, as long as I am doing what I am supposed to. 

On Wednesday I get to go on exchanges with Elder Prescott!  We stayed up way late just talking about the good ole days in Pine Ridge!  I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.  We also got to go see D again!  If you can't remember, D is the guy that we would go see and he was very drunk every time.  He would cry and tell us that all it took was one man to ruin his life and now he drinks all the time all because of that one man.  It has been almost a month since I have seen him, and when we came to the door he grabbed my hand and pulled me into a hug and told me it was great to see me again.  He then told me "Welcome to D's!", and then the real adventure started!  We were in his kitchen and you could hear some music just around the corner, and all of a sudden the music gets super loud.  D shakes his head, goes around the corner and shouts "Hey turn that down!  I'm trying to talk in here!  It's the police!"  The music got quiet really fast.  D comes back around the corner with a very serious look, but once he was out of their sight, he starts giggling quietly.  Another few minutes and the music was back up to it's loudest once again.  He tried to get them to be quiet, but they didn't listen, so we went to another room and started talking with him.  We had a great lesson with him!

The next morning, we went to see him again, and for the first time since I have been here, I saw D sober.  He was hung over pretty bad, but he was sober!!!!!!!!!!  I was amazed!  I've never seen someone want to change so bad in their life and not be able to because they can't get away from the temptation.  It's Hyrum (once again, not the brother of Joseph) Smiths crab theory in action!  If you put crabs in a bucket, one will start crawling up the side, making slow but sure progress out.  Once it gets closer to the top, another one will reach up, grab it, and pull it back in.  Humans are so like crabs.  Once one of us decides to do something great, someone always has to say "What?  You think you can do that?  Nah, just stay down here with us."  Moral of the story?  Don't put each other down.  Do all that you can to boost each other up.  We are in a race, but the race isn't against each other, it's against the devil, so lets help each other make it to the finish line.

On Tuesday we were invited over to dinner with Sis. Anderson and she was having some of her friends over as well.  We got their and they are talking about the Native culture and traditions and history, etc.  Their names are B and T.  B is the grandson of a Medicine man, so he is well versed in pretty much all aspects of the culture.  One thing we learned is that they believe very strongly in having proper authority.  That authority can only be given by someone who already holds that authority, so if you needed authority to conduct a wake (basically a funeral) you would have to go to the man that normally would do that and he has to give you permission to do it.  We also learned that Natives were once a matriarchal society before the white man came and enforced the patriarchal order on them.  After dinner, they continued to tell us the history of the Native Americans, mostly from Christopher Columbus and after.  But, as he talked, he told us a Sioux story about the White Buffalo Calf Woman which I will try my best to relay, but it is probably very broken due to having once again only heard it once. There were 2 young men traveling in the wilderness when one of them spotted a beautiful white woman wearing white animal hides standing on a hill. One of the young men began to lust after her, and his friend tried to keep him from going to the woman. His friend did not listen, despite the pleas that this woman was a very sacred person. As the young man approached her and tried to touch her, a cloud came down and covered him and the woman. When the cloud lifted there was only a pile of bones. The woman then turned to the other young man and told him telepathically "Go tell your people that I will be coming soon." So the young man returned to his people and told them that this woman would soon come. A few days later, she appeared, and began to teach the people. She taught them how to live, how to create things and how they should treat one another. She also taught them about prayer, giving them a pipe that they smoke as they pray to take their prayers to the Great Spirit, the One with Many Names, the Great Grandfather. She stayed and taught them for a very long time, but the time came that she needed to leave. She said goodbye, and as she was leaving, she turned into a white buffalo calf, and ran off. That is why Indians use Pipes when they pray, and that is also why White buffalo are so sacred to them.  

After B told us the story, he compared it to Jesus, and said that some think that it was Jesus that came, and the stories are very similar.  Then he went right on talking and telling us more about the history of his people.  Near the end, we needed to leave since we were already super late to our next appointment, but before we left, he turns to us and says "Let me tell you one more story and then I want to ask you a question.  We teach that first the world was created by the Great Spirit.  There is a cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota (And I forgot what it's called) that the rest of creation came out of.  First came the buffalo.  Then the eagle.  Then all the other animals came out of this cave, and last was the man.  All lived in harmony with each other.  When man needed food, he would ask the buffalo, and the buffalo would sacrifice himself for the man to live.  That is how they all worked.  Neither was greater than the other, but all were equals, and they worked together."  He then turned to us and said "what is the difference between this creation story and the creation story found in Genesis?  It's the same order, the same things happen, yet our traditions are called "Myths", and yours are called "religion".  What is the difference?"  I smiled at him, then responded "Nothing.  The only difference is the way the story is told and the wording used."  The man nodded, then asked "then why are our traditions called myths?  Why aren't yours myths?  Because a Myth is simply a story that can't be proved.  So why is our belief a myth and yours not?"  "Honestly?  Ours is a Myth.  We can't prove it any more than you can.  We have evidences that help us to know that what we believe is true, but you can't prove something that is faith based.  That is the whole purpose of having faith."  That man nodded and seemed very pleased with the response.  After a little bit, I felt like I should ask him something.  "I want to learn more!  My problem is, I have to wait a year before I can take collage courses or read books about that subject.  Can we get together another time and share our 'Myths' with each other?  Just have a conversation where we can share our beliefs and why we believe what we believe?"  Gratefully they agreed!  I am so pumped for tomorrow, because that's when we get to meet with them again!  I absolutely love learning about the Native Americans!  They really are a blessed people.  

That has been my week!  I loved it, and I'm looking forward to another great one this week.  Love you all muchly!

Elder Carter

January 4, 2016!! A Brand New Year spent without my comp

Hello all!

This has been a crazy week!  I'll try to sum it all up.

First off, I haven't hardly been with my companion this week.  Tuesday-Wednesday we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  Thursday-Friday we had exchanges with the Wolf Point Elders, and Friday-Saturday we had exchanges with the Glasgow Elders.  Not a whole lot of time with Elder Payne, but that's okay.  Stuff like that happens.

The first exciting thing that happened!  While I was with Elder Byron (missionary in Glendive), we accidentally met a less-active member of the church.  He let us in and we talked for a while, then he told us he knows he needs to come to church, but he's just been too lazy to get there.  Guess what?!  He came yesterday!  It was so exciting!  It was great to see him and his wife there.  Soon after that we went to visit A, but when we knocked on the door we had a pleasant surprise!  His sister, S, who is a member of the church that we thought had moved to Glendive, answered the door!  She let us right in and we talked with her and shared a spiritual message with her.  She was doing so much better this time than she was last time!  And then, soon after that, we went to see Sister Anderson, the lady we helped dispose of her tea and coffee!  Her sister was visiting her from Kentucky.  Her sister is a Temple worker there, and we had a great time talking with each other.  It was great to be around them and see the light that was around Sister Anderson as she was with her sister.  There was a deep love between the 2 and that was nice to see.

I have officially become the Family History guru here in town.  I've been helping the Elders learn how to work with the website and shown them a couple tricks as well as running the Family History Center Wednesday nights.  I really love doing it honestly.  I would encourage you all to do you Family History work!  It's a very exciting thing to have the Spirit of Elijah influence you as you work to find your ancestors.

Thursday was fun spending the day with Elder Smith!  We visited some cute old ladies and got to hear their life stories.  It was enjoyable.  But the best part of all was the witness I gained of the truth of the Book of Mormon!  Again!  As a quick side note, I think it is so funny that God confirms the truth of something to us and we react with "Now I know it is true!"  Then something else happens and we say "Okay, NOW I know it is true!"  Then, He sends another witness to us, and we say "Holy cow, now I really, truly know it is true!  It can't possibly not be true!"  And that happens all throughout our lives.  Now!  The thing that strengthened my testimony was an Assinaboine story told to us by Sister Runs Through.  The Assinaboine story begins (in my limited knowledge of only having heard it once.) that they once lived across the great waters.  One day one of the chiefs were told by the Great Spirit to travel across the great waters.  This Chief asked how they could get across.  He was answered that there were great shells that they would ride in.  This chief told the Great Spirit that they would not be able to breath in the shells, for they were too tight.  He was told to carve a hole in the top and a hole in the bottom of the shell then put a stopper in it.  When they needed air, they would be brought to the surface and could unstop the holes for air.  The chief then said they would have no light in the shells.  He was told that the Great Spirit would provide some stones that would glow in the darkness and give them light on their journey.  They traveled for a very long time before they arrived in the Americas.  

Sound familiar?  Elder Smith and I about leaped out of our seats when she told the story!!  We had a spaz attack, cause it was just so close to the account of the Jaredites!  And this is only one of many Native American stories that coincide with the stories in the Book of Mormon.  I love it so much!  I can't express how blessed I am to be living among the descendants of Lehi, and seeing the promises fulfilled.  I keep having those "Oh yeah.  The Book of Mormon really is true." moments.  Now that I have lived among the people in this book, it has taken on a new meaning to me.  It was not written for me, although I get the tremendous blessing of learning from it and reading it.  It was written for the descendants of Lehi.  As I read, I am seeing the fulfillment of these prophecies, and looking forward to the day that many more are fulfilled!

Alright!  On to the next point.  This New Years we did not party till late.  In fact, I wasn't even in my area.  I was still on exchanges with Elder Smith in Wolf Point, but we didn't have any invites and we didn't think it wise to be out and about New Years Eve with all the drunk people roaming around.  It was definitely an interesting day for teaching people!  

Friday we had District Meeting... Our first District meeting with only Elders.  The Sisters have officially been removed from our District.  It was a very sad day for us when it happened.  Women just have so much more.... Spirituality than men do!  They see the big picture, while we are too busy looking at what is right in front of us.  But, we'll make it through haha!  The President knows what he is doing, and sometimes that requires some sorrow... Alright, I'm over it now.  

After District meeting we had a little District New Years Party with our sparkling cider and a meal that was mostly prepared by Elder Payne (what a guy!).  Then, I went on an exchange with Elder Autrey from Glasgow.  It was weird being with someone from the South again.  It feels like forever since I've been around a Southerner, and it was nice!  He is from Texas, and has flaming red hair (see picture below)!  I don't think I have seen hair so red in my life.  It could be that it is super short too.  

Well, that is about all for the week!  I loved it and I hope you all loved your week as much as I did!  thank you all for the love and support!

Elder Carter V

December 28, 2015

Yay Christmas!  I had a blast talking to the family! 

Honestly, not a whole lot happened this week.  We were invited over to the Pipes house for dinner (a family from Idaho that comes and stays here periodically.  They are super nice!) on Monday, and to their Christmas party on Wednesday.  We had a good time with them! 

On Thursday we went Christmas Caroling at the jail!  That was great!  We put together a quartet with the 4 of us here in Poplar, and it turned out really good honestly!  We sang for them and they loved it.  We got to talk with them for a while afterwards and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had.  They are just great people that have made some bad choices.  Funny how similar we all are! 

On Christmas, we didn't have any appointments, so we started walking around stopping in on some people to share the Christmas Spirit.  While walking around we got a call from Kyleen and Sis. Russel asking us to come over for dinner, so we literally speed walked across town to their house and had a great time!  They fed us roast beef, stuffing, rice, gravy and all the fixings that go with it!  Then they gave us each a can of body spray (we think they are hinting at something, but we're not sure what...).  I absolutely love these 2!  They are just sweet as can be.  Afterwards they asked if they could have a picture with us just in case we don't get a chance to later. 

Honestly? Other than seeing my family on the computer, nothing happened.  Lot's of walking, lots of trying people, lots of people asleep and not wanting us over.  But we had a great week anyways!

Love you all dearly!  Hope you had a wonderful Christmas! 

Elder Carter

December 21, 2015 "If ye love me, [do my dishes.]"

Thank you so much for the package!  And the shirt stays are working wonders.  I feel like a new man!  Although, I don't know who sent them to me, but if that's the idea, then I guess that's okay haha!  Love you all tons and thank you for the support!

I was asked this last week "Is there a preconceived idea about the Mormons there?"  The answer is yes, but not the usual one.  To be honest, if I wasn't a missionary, I would probably be persecuted for being white.  I still get a tiny bit because I, as a "Washichu" can't understand where they are coming from and what they have been through.  But other than that, they love the missionaries and treat us great!  Everyone in town has either met the missionaries or have family who has, so they all have been around them at least a little bit.  They respect us quite a bit, but a lot of them don't want to talk with us because they know that what we have to say will require them to make changes that are very difficult, and they don't think they actually can overcome those issues.  

And there are more than just 2 washichu.  I was as I mentioned last week, but I'm sure there is one somewhere around here!  I'll just have to find them haha!  All kidding aside, there are a few around, but not a whole lot.  At all.

This week has been great as well!  It's also been crazy, but great.  We saw M every day this week.  He's soaking the Gospel in like crazy!  Everything we taught him he just loved and thought it made so much sense.  We also did his dishes for him, but there is a story behind that.  So, we went over, and there are usual a bunch of kids running around, one of which had a crazy bad tooth ache.  He was moaning on the couch, and then the medicine arrived for him, so he put it on the tooth.  Right after he did so, the boy got up to go to the bathroom, but didn't quite make it.  He puked, trying to make it to the garbage can, but the can was already overflowing, so he just gave up and puked right next to it.  Once he finished, he went to the bathroom.  M came back in and we asked him "What can we do to help you out?"  He told us he was fine, then continued to rush around the house.  When he came back in, we asked again, same answer, then again later, he said "dang, you guys really do want to help don't you?  I know what you can do.  Could you do the dishes?"  We laughed but said sure!  Now, the picture below missed half of the dishes.  There are 2 sinks full of super dirty dishes, and a whole other pile going to the wall on his left.  It took us a good 45 minutes to wash them!  But, we taught him the whole Plan of Salvation while we did it and he loved it.  What an experience!

We got to see the Mission President and his wife on Tuesday!  That was a blast!  I love those 2 so much.  They're just amazing.

We also saw A and J, and they are doing great too.  Still going strong and searching for truth, which is great.  It was pretty much the exact same thing as last time, just the Restoration rather than the Plan of Salvation.

Honestly, that's about all that happened this week.  So, I want to share a quote from Hyrum Smith (not the brother of Joseph).  He said "If your self worth is dependent on anything other than your relationship with Christ, you are in big trouble."  Maybe there is someone you know that needs this.  Maybe you need this.  I firmly believe that the biggest problem in today's world is no one has any decent amount of Self Worth, so they seek for ways to fake it. If we all had self worth that was only dependent of our relationship with Christ and our Heavenly Father, we would have most of our problems today dramatically lessened.  If we all knew that we are the Children of God, we wouldn't be doing all the horrible things we are, because we would understand what it means to be His child.  That means He loves us, that He wants the best for us.  It means that we are all brothers and sisters and we wouldn't want to hurt one another the way we so often do.  We would do all that we can to help others and bless their lives.  So spread the news this Christmas season!  Help others realize that they are loved by 2 perfect beings.  That one loved us enough to suffer unimaginable pain so that we don't have to, and the other loved us enough to send Him to do so, to watch His beloved Son suffer and die for us.  What greater news is there?  I don't know of any.  What a great time to be alive!  To live in the time that the Gospel has been Restored!  To live in a time that we can be blessed by the Priesthood, that our families can be sealed for eternity, and that we can know exactly what we need to know in order to return to our Heavenly Fathers presence.  

I love you all dearly, and I pray that all is well back home.

Elder Carter V

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December 14, 2015 My testimony of this Gospel and the Love of God.

Alright, I'm going to try to cram everything in here this week, but no promises!  There were too many great things this week!

First, transfers.  We had a slight change.  There will no longer be a trio in the West side of town, just a normal companionship.  The new missionaries are Elder Prescott (who served in Pine Ridge about 4 1/2 months before me!  We talk about it all the time.) and Elder Mafi (brand new missionary.)  They are both Hawaiian (Elder Prescott is a big guy too), and Elder Mafi is part Tongan.  It is far too much fun out here, but it's the good kind of fun that gets the work done in a fun and great way.  Loving it like crazy out here!  I'm pretty sure I am now 1 of 2 white people (or "Washichu" in Lakota) in town.  I'm out numbered.  It's probably better that way haha!

We moved apartments since we lived in the house which is big enough for 3, and the apartment isn't big enough for that, but it turned out we didn't need to.  But, that's okay, we work on the East side of town and the apartment is closer to the East side than the house was.  Works out great!

This week, I am going to be bearing a long, drawn out testimony of the love that God has for all of His children, and that He truly does know best.  If He has somewhere He wants you to be, He'll get you there.  That is what happened this week for us on a daily basis.

This week wasn't super productive to begin with.  We all had to pack which took forever (for Elder Larsen and I.  Elder Payne threw everything into his bags super quick since he hasn't collected a bunch of stuff from the mission yet haha) and all of our appointments fell through.  Literally.  But, when they did, something better would always happen.  When an appointment on Wednesday fell through, we went to the school to talk to a guy there, and as we were walking up to it we saw a less active member that we haven't seen in forever.  As we talked to him, we found out that he had been kicked out of his home and is living with friends here and there as he looks for a job to support himself.  We were able to say a prayer with him and tell him we were here for him if he needed anything, then he left and we kept going to the school.  Right when we finished, the wind picked up.  Like, tornado status.  It was completely unexpected.  When we were almost to the school we passed a couple of kids, and one of them, about 8 years old, was hysterical.  He was terrified by the storm.  We walked him over to the school, tried to get in but it was locked and there was no one to let us in, so we sat and talked with him as we waited for a member to get there to pick him up and take him home.  As we talked with him, he slowly stopped crying and actually started feeling better.  After about 15 minutes, he was fine, and said he would just walk home.  So, we called the member and let her know. 

Wednesday night I got to help Sis. Anderson prepare names to take to the temple once she gets her recommend!  She is so excited to go again.  It has been a very long time since she has gone and she has never done her own family names.  Then, we dropped E. Larsen off, and went back home.  It was rather quiet without a 3rd person.  

Thursday we taught J again!  We had a super solid lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Before we got started, he told his friend to come over and sit in on it, and his friend didn't want too and looked super uncomfortable about the whole situation.  As we talked with J, his friend eventually got up and came over.  He sat down and listened and asked us "Hey, when are you going to see J next?  I want to be there for it."  We were pumped!  We set a time to go see them the day after.  Sadly, they didn't keep their appointment.  But, that's just how Jerome roles.  He's funny and super forgetful.  That night we met the new Elders in town and showed them to their apartment.

Friday we introduced the new Elders to a few people and walked them around town to show them the sights.  Later in the day, Elder Payne and I ran out of dish soap, so we ran to the local grocery store to get some.  There is a cashier lady there that always talks to us and is super kind to us.  After we checked out, she kind of rebuked us, in a sense.  "You know, the guys before you two asked me if they could show me the light, but they never came.  Why not?"  She seemed pretty miffed!  We told her we had no idea.  "When would you like us to come over?"  "Tomorrow is my day off."  So, we set up a time to meet her and were super excited.  Funny, how the Lord works (even if it is through running out of dish soap halfway through the week!)  

Alright!  On to the best part of the week, starting with Saturday.  We went to the house of the grocery store lady, and got to know her and her husband rather well!  Then, we looked at our watches and realized we were already late for our next appointment, so we left the Restoration pamphlet with them and told them we were going to talk about that next time.  We set up an appointment for Sunday, then left.  Our next appointment bailed, so we decided to call a less active lady we haven't seen in forever.  A man answered the phone, so we asked for S.  He said that this isn't her phone anymore, then asked "Who is this?"  "It's the missionaries."  "Oh!  Well, I love reading the Book of Mormon.  Alma is my favorite book in the whole thing."  We sat there for a bit cause we didn't know what to say.  "Well, could we come over some time and talk with you about it?"  "Ummm.....  Are you busy now?"  "Nope!"  "Okay.  Come now."  We were over there so fast!  We knocked on the door, and S answered!  She invited us in, then A (the guy on the phone) invited us back outside to talk since the kids were loud. He is S's brother, and had investigated the church years ago, but he didn't want to give up alcohol.  He liked it too much, so he wasn't baptized.  We only talked for a little bit since he was drunk at the time and didn't want to talk for very long, so once he was finished with us, we went inside and talked with Stephanie.  We talked with her and asked her why she doesn't come to church.  She said it was because she lost track of the days and never remembered it was Sunday till church was already over, then asked us to call her Saturday night to remind her, then asked us to do it this week too.  We both thought for a second then told her it was Saturday.  She went blank faced for a second, then burst into laughter.  The poor lady!  She told us the reason she loses track of the days is because she hardly ever leaves the house.  The reason, is she struggles with addictions, and she doesn't want to succumb to those addictions anymore, so she doesn't expose herself to it.  

After we left, we called Sister Anderson (the lady we do Family History with who wants to go to the Temple) and set up a time to come over.  When we got there, she started talking to us about all the great things that have happened to her that day.  Then she got in to the fact that she wants to go to the temple, but the thing keeper her from going is the Word of Wisdom.  She hasn't smoked in over 2 months, but she drinks Coffee and tea.  We asked her what she thought her next step would be in stopping drinking those.  She told us to let them run out and never buy them again.  Then, I asked her "What if we helped you run out?  Right now?  We could help you throw it all away."  She got all excited about that, then she goes into the kitchen and hands us a garbage bag.  I opened it, and she started throwing away her boxes of tea, her coffee grinds, and her coffee machine, then we left with them and threw them in the dumpster.  That was quite the experience for us!  We also saw K again, and her boyfriend wanted a prayer cause he got pretty bad strep throat.  We then offered him a blessing, which made K get all excited about, so we explained what that was to him.  He said he would like one for sure.  E. Payne anointed, and I got to act as voice.  It was a wonderful experience for me.  I didn't have a single thought, and I can't even remember what I said, but it was a very special experience.  After I closed, we sat down and just talked with them, then shared Jeremiah 29:11-14.  It seemed to hit a tender spot, and I'm hoping we get to see what happens this next time we see them!

On to the Sabbath!!  Good ole Sunday!  We had a great time at church and a great turn out!  Elder Prescott bore powerful testimony of the blessings that have been promised to the Lamanites today, and the Spirit was so strong.  I wish I was a Lamanite sometimes...  but no.  I'm not cool enough (haha).  After church, we got home, stuffed some toast in our mouths, and drove to A and J's house.  We were both scared and excited, not knowing how this lesson would go.  We said a quick prayer in the car that we would be receptive to the promptings of the Spirit, and boy, was that prayer answered.  We got in, talked for a bit, said a prayer, then started to learn more about their background.  A was born and raised Catholic, but she doesn't agree with what they teach. J was born and raised Jehovah's Witness, but he doesn't have a single nice thing to say about them.  They both know there is a god, although it is a very abstract being.  As they talked with us, A told us about her daughter, who had fallen in the river a few years back, and how that totally turned her world upside down.  She asked us "If God is so loving, as you claim, why did he let that happen?  Why does He make this world such a bad place?"  J, to our surprise answered it.  "If you look at nature, you see how it testifies of a creator.  It teaches us so much about how God works.  There are opposites to everything.  If you didn't know dark, you could never understand light.  If you didn't know pain, you could never know health.  If you didn't know sorrow, you would never truly enjoy happiness."  We were blown off our seats by that!  She looked at us, and we looked at her and said "A, he is spot on."  We then proceeded to tell them about the Pre-Mortal life.  It seemed to kind of make sense, then they asked "well, if we were with God before, why should we come down here?  Why descend to this level of pain, when we were already happy with Him?"  We answered "God wanted us to be happy, as happy as He is.  But He knew something we didn't.  He had something we didn't.  A body.  We had to experience that opposition that John talked about, to be truly happy as God is.  That is why we are here.?"  And the lesson just kept going like that.  We would teach a point, they would ask a question, and we would chuckle and say "that is literally the next thing we were going to talk about."  The whole time.  Without fail.  Question after question that was being answered right after.  At one point, A said "I just need to shut up!  If I just listened, you would answer my question anyways!"  So, as we taught, we introduced the Book of Mormon.  They both looked scheptical, then we told them it is not another translation of the Bible.  It is a separate text entirely.  Then, we read in Alma 7, and they just looked amazed.  "Why isn't this in the Bible?  It should be in there!  It just makes too much sense to not be in there."  

And now, I am running out of time fast!  Long story short, the whole lesson went like that.  For 2 hours.  The Spirit was so strong, and when Elder Payne and I left, we didn't know what just happened.  So, we went to our next appointment.  Which, guess what?  THEY BAILED!  I felt prompted to go to the church for some reason.  Then, when we got there, E. Payne says "Lets go see Redwillow."  (Oh, by the way.  We were supposed to see Redwillow during that extra hour we spent at Anita and Johns.  It's an important side note.).  So, we did.  A man answered the door, told us she wasn't there, so we introduced ourselves.  "We're the missionaries."  "What do missionaries do?"  "Well, we talk about Jesus Christ."  "Then come on in and teach me something."  So we did.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  The Lord knows best, and He will provide a way for you to be where He needs you.  After a year of being a missionary, I finally feel like I had a day that I did EXACTLY what the Lord needed me to do.  The whole day.  There is no better feeling in the world.  For sake of time, I will just say this.  He was prepared by the Lord to receive this message.  Just like John and Anita, He was prepared.  Elder Payne and I never said a word of our own.  We only spoke as the mouth piece of the Lord.  M (that's his name) soaked it all in exactly like J and A.  The only difference was that we taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of The Plan of Salvation.  

My friends and family.  My Brothers and sisters.  I love this time I have to be a servant of the Lord.  There is no greater work than to be declaring the everlasting Gospel to all that I meet.  Period.  It's hard, but it is great.  I love you all so very much.  I wish the best for you all!!

Elder Carter V

1) Goodbye to E. Larsen

2) The new Poplar crew!  (I'm surrounded by dark people.... What a treat!)

December 7, 2015 1 comp down, 1 to go!

Well!  This is my grown up Christmas list.  First, I want lots and lots of prayers for the people in Poplar suffering from addictions that have cost them homes, families, friends, etc.  They need it.  Second, I would love a copy of the "Life of Jesus Christ" DVD's.  Their the videos.  Third, I would like a talk by John Bytheway called "Jesus Knows I'm a Christian" or any of his other ones that look good (except for "Righteous Warriors") and any Curtis Jacobs talks you feel like getting me (except for "How to be Chaste While Being Chased."  I already have that one haha). These guys are dang good, but I know they are expensive, so don't feel obligated.  I'm very happy just getting a letter or card or candy or something.  I'm pretty easily pleased, as you all may know haha.  Last, but not least, if you know what "shirt stays" are, I would love a pair.  Elder Payne has some and they are the coolest thing since extendable back scratchers.  They are suspenders, but they attach to your socks and the tails of your shirt.  Keeps you socks up and your shirt tucked in!  You can find them at a military store I think?  The ones with the clamps are the best.  The ones with the rubber slips are a pain...  But again, if I don't get them, I won't cry... For too long.
On to transfers!  Elder Larsen just couldn't take it anymore!  He needed to get out of this trio!  (Just kidding, he's gonna miss it like crazy, and he knows it!).  Elder Payne and I will be staying, Elder Larsen will be going to Valley City (when I heard that I screamed!  I've been telling him all kinds of fun stories from that place!) and we will be getting another trio coming in to cover the other half of Poplar, so there will be 5 missionaries in Poplar.  Crazy!
This week we stopped in at V's house, but someone saw us coming, rushed inside, then a second later someone came to a window while we were coming in the driveway and told us they weren't interrested and to go away.  Maybe we'll see her again somewhere else.  We did see K.  She is in a rough spot.  That's about all I can say.  We showed her the video "A Hope of God's Light" (best Mormon Message ever!  So good!  if you haven't seen it, do it!) and it seemed to strike a chord with her.  We don't really know what we can do for her except be there for her as she goes through her trials.  Didn't get to see J this week or the Crawfords and we have been in Plentywood since Friday so we didn't get a chance to go to the Jail again.
So, D is not a member but she wants to be baptized, and I didn't get to see her this week but Elder Payne did while we were on Splits with Bro. Shanks.  It sounded like a quick just check up on her and leave a spiritual thought than they had to leave.
Nothing makes your week go better than watching the Christmas devotional and seeing your beautiful mother singing her heart out!  Loved it!
Honestly, that is about all that's happened.  We had ZTM on Friday which was a blast!  Nothing really got done in Plentywood due to Stake Conference, which we watched all 3 sessions over the internet, so yeah.  We spent a lot of time inside.  A lot of time.
Love you all dearly, hope all is well, and hope you all have a Merry Christmas season in remembrance of the first gift of Christmas. 
Elder Carter V
1-2)  Me walking to Canada!  I'm done with the U.S.!!  Just kidding, I love the U.S.  But seriously.  That is Canada right over my shoulder.

November 30, 2015 Sunday in a jail, and an unnexpected Thanksgiving. Inbox x

Holly smokes this week was amazing.  I will try to cram as much in here as I can, so bear with me!

First, to answer your questions.  My Thanksgiving was great!  We were a little sad cause no one signed up to feed us, but while we were walking around visiting we passed the house of someone that we have been trying to meet since we got here, and they ran to the door, opened it and yelled across the street to us "Elders, have you eaten yet?  Come in and eat!  We've got plenty!"  We decided that it was not requisite that we go hungry, so we graciously accepted.  We were able to get to know them and watch part of "Meet the Mormons", but then we ran out of time, so we asked if we could share a quick Thanksgiving message.  We rounded everyone up, then gave a quick thought.  Then, when we finished, they thanked us, then the grandmother said "Elders, I want you to stay just a little longer.  Today is a very special day.  It is almost my sons birthday, and in the Dakota way, we give our sons a new name."  So, in short, she walks out of the room and comes back with a bag that a a war bonnet (classic Native feathery hat thingy) and an animal skin drum.  She sat him down and put the bonnet on his head, then gave him his new name.  It was such a precious moment, and we were so blessed to be there for it!

Alright!  Next question.  We do not have a Walmart.  The closest Walmart is in Williston, ND and Miles City, MT.  We just have to be very thrifty with our money, because Albertsons and ShopKo on the reservation are super expensive.

On to the week!  Not a whole lot happened on the first half of the week, except that we taught a guy named J.  He has met missionaries in the past but they didn't teach him a whole lot.  So, we started from the beginning.  He soaked it all in.  He loved the idea of modern prophets and of Priesthood Authority.  The next time we saw him we taught him the Plan of Salvation, which he soaked in even more.  When we told him his spirit existed before this life, at first he was hesitant, than we went on and explained that we were taught in God's presence what His plan for us was, and it all started making sense to him.  We would discuss one point, than he would ask a question, than we would tell him "That is a great question, and it just so happens that that is the next thing we wanted to talk about."  By the end of the lesson that had almost become a joke because we said that after almost every question he had!  We had a good laugh about it.  

On Friday we had a District Thanksgiving Dinner!  I would like to give a shout out to Sister Miles and Sister Greene who are serving in Sidney, MT.  They pretty much cooked everything.  When I called them and asked what they wanted to cook, they listed almost everything you have at Thanksgiving.  And man, was it good or what!  We had a good time bonding as a district and eating some darn good food!  Than I drove to Glasgow on exchanges with Elder Autrey (who is from Texas).

Saturday we did some service, than our companions rode the train into town to end the exchange and Elder Payne and I rode back.  I'm starting to really enjoy this whole train thing.  It's pretty fun.  

Now, on to the best day of the week!  Sunday was awesome.  After church was out, we went to an appointment, but he bailed on us, but we talked to someone just outside his house who invited us over!  Man, I love the reservation.  Everyone here is so good to us poor awkward white kids.  I love it.  We got back home and made some plans for the rest of the day and got to work!  We stopped in on a member who we haven't seen in a while, and found out she was in jail, so we visited someone else to invite her to the Addiction Recover Program.  We knocked on the door and this super tall guy (probably 6' 8") comes out and is totally drunk, and tells us we interrupted him at an "awkward time".  He then told us he was summoning "the Demons Alive", so we asked if K was there, he said she wasn't, so we left.  Right when I started the car, she came around the corner and we talked for a bit and we're going to go see her on Wednesday.  

After that we decided to go visit D in the jail, which we have never actually been to.  We pull in, push the intercom button, tell the guy we are the LDS missionaries, he lets us in, then someone comes and gets us, asks no questions, and walks us through a hallway into a big circular room.  We get in there, and there are 5 guys sitting there looking at us.  So, we introduce ourselves.  We thought we were in a waiting room of some sort, than one of the guys makes a comment that they had just finished church with a minister from another church.  All 3 of us look at each other, look at the inmates, than say "wait.  Are you expecting a sermon?"  They all looked around, than said yeah.  So, we had a grand old time teaching the Restoration in a jail.  They seemed to enjoy it, but I think Elder Payne enjoyed it more!  It seemed to make sense to them and that was good.  so, after about 45 minutes, we closed with a prayer, and they all left.  Than, they came over the intercom and said "are you guys ready to go?"  We said "Well, we actually were here to visit a specific inmate."  The lady seemed a bit surprised but we told her the name and found out that she wasn't in there.  So, we left.  That's when we went to see C, who is the one that invited us in for Thanksgiving.

While we were talking with him, we asked him if he would like to come out on Splits with us some time. He didn't look too thrilled, and said he wouldn't mind doing it, but "I have a son who didn't get to serve a mission. He had his papers in but they wouldn't let him serve till he lost some weight. He wasn't able to lose weight, so if you guys want to take him out with you, that would be much better." We wrote that down, expecting to give him a call throughout the week to have him come out with us. About 20 minutes later, H, his son, came in, said hi, and sat down. We were just about to leave for an appointment with our investigator, then I had a thought practically scream at me. "Hey H, would you like to come out teaching with us tonight?" He looked stunned, than looks at his dad, who shrugs, than said "Sure, I can do that." So, he hopped in the car with us and we went to our appointment. It fell through. So, we tried a few people, none of which worked out, than we tried one more person, a woman named D. When we pulled up, someone was just leaving her house, and we talked to them as they left, then D invited us in. We shared the "He is the Gift" video since she doesn't have internet and we had a DVD with it burned on it and invited her to watch the new one when she goes to the library. She got pretty excited about it, than told us that she had been having a pretty bad night, and if we hadn't shown up when we did, she probably would have gone out drinking. But, after we shared our message, she said she felt so much better. She just felt happy. We were blessed to be able to have our plans fall through, only to find that God had something way better in store for us. Because we asked Haylin to come with us, we surpassed our goals for the week for the first time my entire mission!!!
Well, that about concludes this weeks excitement.  I love you all dearly, miss you tons, but not enough to be home sick.  I'm loving it up here.  If you are worried about my well being, don't be.  I am in the Lords hands doing His great work.  He is watching over me.
Elder Carter V

1)Thanksgiving indeed.  We split our last hot pocket 3 ways.  And we're High Priesting it in our sports coats that arent approved outside of the apartment.  Oh, and those centerpieces?  Yeah, we made those at enrichment night!  Mine is the big one.

2)  This is my wonderful district!  Love these kids!  Sorry it's weird looking.

November 23, 2015 A trip to Plentywood, home of the iron water.

This week was pretty darn awesome!
First off, we decided to go out to an outlying town called Fort Kipp.  It's tiny.  We took the bus early Wednesday morning, which meant that we were going to be there till 1 when the bus came back.  when we stepped out of the apartment to start walking to the bus stop, we all immediately regretted choosing Wednesday to go to Ft. Kipp.  The whole way out there you could feel the bus swaying in the wind.  The walls of the bus were pulsing!!  It was crazy!  So, we get off the bus and watch it leave, than decide to go visit some people.   While walking, we practicaly leaned at a 70 degree angle.  I'm not joking.  I almost got blown over multiple times.  Elder Payne was just laughing as he watched me stumble through the streets trying to keep my feet underneath myself!  It was absolutely crazy!  So, we tried some people with little success, tried finding other people with even less success, than decided to just start knocking doors.  On our 3rd door, a guy answered, and looked a little uncomfortable with 3 guys dressed up in poofy jackets and scarves blowing in the wind trying to talk to him but their words are getting blown all the way to Canada.  So, after trying to introduce ourselves, we asked if we could step in.  He jumped and said "Of course!  Sorry, I should have done that earlier!"  So, we came in and talked with him for a bit. He is very curious about what the heck we were doing out on a windy day like that (as were we haha!).  We were able to sit down and give him a quick introduction to the message of the Restoration, gave him a Book of Mormon, and we're gonna see him again on Wednesday!  He was super nice and we are pumped to go and get to know him more.
Now, to make that trip that much better!  First off, we were all thinking, for the hours we just kinda walked around trying to figure out what to do, why the heck are we here?  We felt like our time was being wasted out here, till we met James.  That was a moment to celebrate.  But, I have a firm testimony that God loves me, so he decided to prove to me that we were exactly where He wanted us to be.  As we huddled behind a big box that was the only wind break waiting for the bus (which was now 30 minutes late) a car pulls up and a woman yells out the window to us.  We walk over and she asked us "are you guys okay?"  "Yeah, we're just waiting for the bus."  She laughed and said they are always late.  "Where are you headed?"  "Poplar."  "Hop in, I'm headed that way too!"  We all look at each other, cause we aren't supposed to be in a car without a 3rd male there.  And then, it hit us.  We did have a 3rd male!  Perks of being in a trio!  "Sure!!  Thank you so much!"  Her name was Vonya.  She is probably in her late 20's. She told us she is a Non-Denominational Christian, and she pretty much bore testimony for the next 45 minutes of how much she loved her Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but not the way that most of us might think.  She didn't do it by stating "I love God and Jesus".  She did it by being herself, and showing us that she truly was a disciple of Jesus Christ, trying to be like Him in all that she did.  We talked that whole trip, than when she dropped us off at the Post Office, we asked if we could say a prayer before we go.  Of course, who is going to say no to that!  We asked her who she would like to say it.  She looked at the 3 of us and then asked me to.  When I finished, I looked up and saw that she was crying.  And not just the single tear, but it was practically rivers.  It was all I could do to not do the same!  She had such faith and love for her Savior and it just radiated!  It reminded me of the time that the Jerusalem Visitor center was built, and they told the Church that there could be no proselyting there, and the comment one of the men there made fits her to the T.  To paraphrase "Okay, they can't talk about it, but what can we do about the light in their eyes?"  She had that light in her eyes.  It was so great to meet her, and I hope and pray we meet again!
So, this weekend we went up to Plentywood and spent 2 nights in the Elders old apartment up there (Plentywood was covered by missionaries till this last transfer when they closed the area down and we inherited it.  Yay!) The water here is very irony, and it looks like someone was murdered here due to all the rust.  When we take showers it smells like rotten eggs!  Woopie!  Saturday night we were able to try one of the potential investigators and it was one of the best lessons I have had my whole mission. His name is S. He is on a search for truth and as we taught he was just soaking it all in!  He was Southern Baptist as a boy, but now, he sure ain't in the South no more!  When we taught him about the first vision and told him what Joseph was told, we asked him what he thought about that, he said "well, I think that if I heard someone making that claim I would be asking him tons of questions, like what they looked like." Than we asked what he thought of what Josephs answer was he said "well, it seems to me like They told him that all these churches were close but no cigar, so chill out till I give you more instructions." We laughed so hard! He was totally prepared for us to come see him!  He is who Alma 13:24 was talking about!  He was super excited about the Book of Mormon, and when Elder Payne extended a baptismal invitation, he looks at the three of us and says "Of course I would! Why wouldn't I? If God is gonna tell me to do something, I better do it, right?" All in all, it was a good night.
On a less spiritual note, I finally know what weed smells like.  We knocked on someones door, and he opens it, than shuts it just far enough for us to his head and says "Oh, hey guys, what's up?"  We asked if his wife was around and he looks back and says "uh, she's sleepin".  Than we heard "No I'm not quit lying to the Elders!  You let them in now, you hear?!"  He started to open it, than closes it to a sliver again and says "Well, we're busy doing something."  "No we're not!  You get them in here now!"  So, he lets us in, apologized for smoking, then we talked for a while.  So, once we set up a return appointment, we leave, and immediately I get a headache.  Elder Larsen says "Elders, they were totally smoking weed.  And not just a little.  We better go home, cause we all smell like weed now."  Man, my head was throbbing the rest of the night.  But, not I know what it smells like so I can avoid it next time!
Well!  What a week!  Super good and exciting and I am stoked for this next week.  Love you all dearly, hope all is well, and I can't wait to hear from you!
Elder Carter V

November 16, 2015 My year mark, my soap box, and my train ride.

I would like to say a few words concerning the new policy the Church has put out.  First, I want to remind everyone that there is no change made in the Church of Jesus Christ without going to the man whose church this is.  Jesus Christ.  Always remember that.  These are my thoughts concerning the change. Baptism is not a small thing.  In order for someone to be baptized as a member of the Church and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, they make big promises.  

First, they promise that they will take the name of Christ upon them, which means they will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places.  That in and of itself if huge, because we all fall short in this life.  Christ didn't, but we must try our very best to be like Him.  

Second, we promise that we will always remember him.  To remember what He did for us.  If we could even comprehend the smallest, most minuscule, microscopic morsel of the pain he experienced, we would probably go insane.  He experienced so much that it caused "God, the greatest of all, to bleed from every pore".  We can't even begin to comprehend what it must feel like to feel every stubbed toe and every paper cut, all the way to every man, woman, or child that has and ever will live on this earth that was brutally miss treated, tortured, and killed.  He felt every broken heart, every disappointment, every sorrow, every fever and sickness, everything.  And all this that "He might succor His people according to their infirmities."  He chose to do this, He wasn't forced or manipulated.  He chose.  Because He loves each and every single person from beginning of time to the end of time.  If He would do that for all, why would He say "Ope!  Sorry, the missionaries knocked on your door and you slammed it, so you are damned to everlasting torment.  See ya!"  He wouldn't.  Just because someone doesn't have a full understanding now, doesn't mean that they won't get the chance in the future.  I'll come back to that in a sec.  

Third, we promise to keep the commandments, including the Ten commandments, all the way to keeping our bodies clean and pure as Temples of the Holy Spirit which is in us.

Now, establishing the promises we make, how would it be (and this does happen) if a missionary came to someone, taught them the Gospel, knew they couldn't keep the promises made at baptism, and baptized them anyways?  These people, these children of God, would have literally been signed up for failure.  That is why we have the baptismal interview questions.  They are not to weed out the sinners.  They are to keep them safe.  We are all sinners.  I don't care if you lied yesterday, or if you killed someone.  No unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.  Period.  Lying makes you unclean.  Killing makes you unclean.  What's the difference?  Nothing, because Jesus Christ took that upon Himself.  Elder Oaks taught "The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but his suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  It's purpose is change."  So, what is the difference between a murderer and liar?  The murder has the guilt of taking a life.  It is a grievous sin, because it cannot be undone.  A lie can be corrected.  A life cannot be returned.  It takes time to fully repent of a serious sin like murder.  Why?  Because it is serious.  But remember what Elder Oaks said.  A repenting murders repentance process (the literal meaning of "repent" in Hebrew is change) is going to take longer than a liars repentance process.  Why?  Because they need to change, and it will be harder to change for a repenting murderer than a liar.  Jesus Christ made it possible for us to change.  Without him, we couldn't change because we wouldn't have the enabling power of His Amazing Grace.

As members of the church, too often we get caught up in "if you had the chance to be baptized by proper authority here, than you missed you chance."  Is that how God works?  Nope.  Judgement is not up to us.  We cannot know everything, but we can still try.  This change in the handbook was not to condemn or to push out, but to protect.  They will always be welcome and loved by the true followers of Christ.  Those who die before they have the opportunity to be baptized and participate in the other saving ordinances will get the chance in the next life.  This is a way to protect those who don't fully understand why they are doing what they are doing.  Always remember that God is just.  If He wasn't, we could not have faith in Him.  He loves all of us and wants every single one of us to return to Him again but He will not force that on us because that would not make us truly happy.  He gave us the gift of agency before we came to this life, and He will not take that away.  That is Satan's plan.  God's plan is for our exaltation.  God loves you, and He loves everyone else here, no matter who they are or what they do.  I cannot say this enough because it is so important to remember always.  He doesn't care who you have been or who you are now, just who you choose to become.  The Gospel, or "good news"  is just that.  We can be changed and perfected.  We can become great.  And we will become great as we love one another and serve out fellow men in all that we do.  

Well, I am now out of time.  All I've got to report is I rode the train for the first time in my life!!

Love you all!!

Elder CarterV