This week definitely had its highs and lows. Last Monday, we ended up without p-day plans, wandering around. Elder O'Rullian ended up feeling really sick and then really depressed all day long. It was pretty rough.
Tuesday, we visited Brother Lothyan and had a great time reading through Alma 5 with him. He opened up about his addiction struggles quite a bit and testified of the power of the Church's addiction recovery program. He hasn't ever been to church while I've been here, but he always lets us in and always loves hearing our messages. Well, we offered to knock on his door Sunday morning just like we do with the Copenhavers and he said sure! Unfortunately, he ended up with bad back pain yesterday and couldn't make it. Oddly enough though, Sister Lothyan was at church! I hardly ever see her when we visit their home, let alone at church. So that was a pleasant surprise!
District meeting was pretty good this week. I taught about how to improve contacts with people and how to turn those contacts into new investigators both naturally and powerfully. Since then, our district has really picked up on contacting and finding new investigators.
On Wednesday evening, Adam (Priest's quorum 1st counselor) joined us for an appointment with Austin, a kid that Elder O'Rullian found on exchanges. That fell through, so Adam went home to do homework and we went to visit Laura Savage (mentioned a few weeks ago in my email) and her boyfriend Anthony, who is not a member. They let us in right away and we talked a lot about their lives right now, Laura's conversion story, and even a quick lesson on the Restoration. Laura kept talking about how she wants to bring religion back into her family life because she knows it will do them good. They attend a non-denominational church bi-weekly, but she likes how much our church is focused on families. Anyway, they invited us back for dinner this week on Wednesday, so sweet!
Thursday was my favorite day of this week, as it was a legit day. In the morning, we conducted a mini-exchange with Thomas Lake (where we switch companions and both sets of missionaries work in the same area for a few hours -- what the zone leaders did with us on the morning of Halloween). Elder Payne and I spent the morning tracting, contacting potentials, and we even found them a new investigator! I tell you, it's so much easier to have fun working when you're with someone who wants to work. Elder Payne then asked for a blessing since he has had a hard time with his companion and has had some rough experiences while tracting recently. He wanted it to be unbeknownst to the other missionaries, so on the way back to the apartment, we found the nearest member's home we could perform the blessing in: the Robinsons! That was good for Brother Robinson to witness.
After the exchange, we had a lesson with Gilda on the Ten Commandments, which went alright. After that, we went and visited Sister Kovar, who's not active. Neither is her husband, who is a convert. She wants to come, but her oldest child is autistic and the others are young, so it would just be too much to handle alone. But she doesn't want to pressure her husband either. Unfortunately, he has issues with Joseph Smith or church members or something, and is alledgedly "pretty closed off right now." So we offered them service to hopefully soften his heart; we raked a ton of leaves for them on Saturday. Oh, the Fall (The season, that is...not that of Adam and Eve. I'm such a missionary.)!
For our final event of Thursday evening, we went with Brother Paskett to visit Brother and Sister Taylor, longtime active members. Brother Taylor is the victim of some unknown brain-deteriorating disorder and has recently taken a severe downturn. He played halfback for four years at BYU, started and successfully operated two orthodontia offices and has five children and now twenty grandchildren. About five years ago, he lost the ability to type and within the last week, he's been moved to a hospital bed and can hardly move. Elder O'Rullian played the piano upstairs and I contemplated life, the resurrection, and the glorious gospel. Downstairs, Brother Paskett and his son-in-law helped Sister Taylor tend to her husband. Eventually we were invited down. We shared an inspirational message from the Book of Mormon that I just flipped open to: Mosiah 24:11-16. As we left, I couldn't help but notice one item in the room that stood out: a flag hanging high above Brother Taylor's head that read, "Don't give up the ship."
Friday was pretty good too. The Copenhavers weren't home for out appointment with them, so we visited the Smiths. When we arrived, Sister Smith informed us that Brother Smith was upstairs fixing a toilet that had overflowed. She said we could go up and offer help. Axel accompanied us. We came to the master bedroom and found Brother Smith working behind a closed door in the toilet section of the bathroom. Since Brother Smith hadn't heard us come up, I encouraged Axel to "go ask your dad if he needs help." He obeyed. "Dad! Do you need help?" came the lound, innocent inquisition. The response came as a strained groan: "No, Axel, I don't need any help!" Whoops. We showed ourselves out of the bathroom and down the stairs as quickly and quietly as we could. Well, we're the missionaries, always here to help!
Saturday consisted of lots of service, including the Kovar's leaves. Then we had dinner with the Strouds, a part-member family. Brother Stroud, who is not a member, asked us to talk about Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve for our post-dinner message. So we had an awesome discussion/Q&A about that. And you know what? When you really break it down, it all just makes so much sense. I love the Plan of Salvation! After dinner, we had a few more lessons with the Copenhavers and then with Tia and Tiffany about obedience and the commandments. Tia wanted to know if she could be baptized with her favorite pet bunny. After all, it's white! We lovingly explained that the baptismal ordinance is intended to be as pure as possible, as well as focus on her commitment to follow Christ.
Sunday was awesome. We had five investigators at church! That included the Christies, the Copenhavers and Jeff, with whom we did not have a lesson this week. Then we spent a lot of our afternoon at a new ward mission leader training with Brother Noll and planning out Tia's baptismal program. In the evening, we visited Justin and had another good talk with him. I think he's making a lot of progress under the radar. We'll crack him open soon enough. :p
So, the worst part of my week is this: Giovanni has been semi-missing for the past week. The last we heard from him was on Monday afternoon and his mom has only seen him once or twice very late at night. We're all very worried about him. She said that he gets this way when he's depressed and it usually lasts until he ends up in jail again. It's very uncharacteristic of the Giovanni I know. He's such a happy guy and has been extremely stalwart in the gospel since I met him. He wasn't at church yesterday. I don't know a whole lot, but I think he might be manic-depressive. We've been praying for him a lot as he is basically our best friend. Please keep him in y'all's prayers too.
I just received word that Brother Taylor passed away this morning.
Thanks for the update on the family! It sounds like everyone is doing wonderful! I'm so proud of Margo! She's doing way better than I ever did. What a hero[ine]. Seth sent me an email personally, which (sorry) was probably the highlight of my emailing experience this morning. I will respond to that in just a moment.
I love y'all!
Attached are pictures of me with the Smiths and of the Snohomish valley and some mountains. I don't have the names down just yet.