Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14, 2016

So much happened this past couple of weeks and it feels like time just keeps moving faster and time to type gets shorter, I will do my best to sum up a few of the highlights of the weeks.

Exchange with Cave Spring Elders/Elder MacDonald's Surgery - An elder in our district Elder MacDonald had been suffering from some headaches and major dizziness for a week or so after some usual remedies didn't work he was recommended to go see a doctor, who after learning his heart rate was dangerously low, he was shortly admitted to Lewis Gale Hospital. The gave us a call shortly after and we met them at the hospital. As this all unfolded it was concluded that Elder MacDonald needed a pacemaker...All went well and after 3 days He was able to return to missionary service and did not have to go home:)
As I watched all this unfold I was amazed at how many people involved were touched in little ways. One of the largest was the opportunity to Elder Wilkinson to feel the fulfillment of supporting his friend Elder MacDonald through a good part of the ordeal. Having served with Elder Wilkinson he thrives when someone needs him. Being mindful to the purpose of exchanges and suiting the needs of the critical situation. Elder Numbers (Elder MacDonald's companion) and I arranged a few times when we would switch and Elder Numbers would come with me to attend zone meeting, eat, and work in our area, while Elder Wilkinson would be with Elder MacDonald. Granted, there were a couple times we had to. Overall the few micro-exchanges over the couple days were actually beneficial to each of us, Elder Numbers and Elder I thoroughly trust and love, talked and discussed a few things we each want to do better with and what we have both accomplished and want to have happen for us in the remainder of our mission as well as were able to teach together. Elder MacDonald was thoroughly attended to and comforted through the whole ordeal and Elder Wilkinson was about the happiest I have seen him this transfer, and he took plenty of opportunities to share his testimony, teach and reach out in love and leave an enormous wave of courtesy and gratitude to the staff...I could only stand back and smile as I watched him thrive.

Other encounters I was amazed by was how many people took an interest in this healthy 19 year old man who had anomaly-like critically low heart rate, once as Elder numbers and I were walking through the ER a crowd of the staff stopped us to ask us how Elder Macdonald was doing having since been admitted to the hospital, one member of the crowd turned out to be a less-active member of the Vinton Ward, who was also related to Cave spring's landlord. Elder Numbers had made custom missionary shirt and tie origami thank you notes for the staff.

Another was a nurse by the name of W. who has two member friends who work at the hospital. (I sent you a photo of her and Elder MacDonald) She was very kind. She came in around dinner time and after checking in said "It has been an absolute pleasure to serve you all"...she came back in a short while later and said
 "I wanted you all to know I really meant what I said when I said 'it is a pleasure to serve you' because you all are so kind to would be amazed at how people treat us sometimes...but you all (missionaries) astonish us with your kindness"
...She then proceeded to ask us a few more questions and we invited her to learn about what has taught us to be the way we are.

One more memorable moment was Elder Numbers and I walking back into the Hospital and having someone calling out over the crowd of people in the lobby, "hey look it's the missionaries, are you here to see my mom?"...after picking her out of the crowd we said "no, but we certainly can"
There were many other moments, it all felt very surreal, I could just see and feel the rainstorm of ripple was overall a few days that I think Each of us elders will remember the rest of our lives, we certainly felt the brotherhood of being elders here together.
​Elder MacDonald back on his feet a few days later, ready to head up to our final district meeting of the transfer at Bishop Creamer's home.

I will also mention and again there is so much more I wish I could share, but there is never enough time.

Upon request to have one more district meeting before the end of the transfer, I pondered on the idea of how to create a memorable and effective district meeting, building upon ideas taken from other missionaries. I arranged with our bishop, who owns a breathtaking piece of property right off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Bent mountain. From his porch you can see to North Carolina, 60 miles away (as seen in the photograph above).

I asked each member of the district to come prepared with their favorite question of the soul or personal question they have had answered from the Book of Mormon. Upon arriving at our Bishop's home we held the meeting on their beautiful screened porch in the quiet peace of the mountain enjoying the wonderful warm perfect weather and clear day. Beginning we took a short hike around the property stopping to have each area give a short teaching portion on the great apostasy and establishing the "black velvet" mentioned in Preach My Gospel "As a diamond displayed on black velvet appears more brilliant, so the restoration stands in striking contrast to the dark background of the great apostasy"
I invited the missionaries to take a photo in one place with all the bare trees on the landscape and to take another photo at the end of the next transfer in the same place when all the leaves are back.

Upon returning to the house we had a powerful testimony meeting almost about the Book of Mormon and the questions of the soul and at the end I set aside some time for the missionaries to personally find some space in the peace and quiet of the mountainside (respective to sight and sound of the their companion) and to pray, reflect and ponder (This was by far the best part)...I hope to repeat this meeting as my last district meeting of my mission with a few tweaks having learned from this first not only let the missionaries observe the growth in the landscape over the next transfer but also their personal growth and progress over the next transfer and I hope for a stunning positive contrast in not only the landscape but also the members of the district and hopefully hear from their experiences.

It went very well, the hope was to create a memorable, purposeful and impact-full district meeting, with the opportunity for the spirit to intercede and work with each missionary personally.

In doing something like this district meeting, the parade, the chocolate festival etc and others throughout my mission, with any idea I always have in the back of my mind...oh I hope this works as I hope/intend it to...gratefully they have and even gone beyond my expectations.

Here are a few photos from Elder Wilkinson's last few days in Roanoke
1 - Walking down main st in Salem at sunset
2 - One last dinner at the H.'s, waiting on the porch...Elders together.
3 - star gazing away from city lights at the Haynes
4 - D. showing us some of her collections

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