This week wasn't too bad of a week. Unfortunately, the weather has gotten a lot colder here from last week. The first half of the week wasn't much fun at all. The weather dropped back down to the 30's and 40's and it rained and drizzled for about two days straight, which isn't much fun for missionary work. The icy wind wasn't much fun either. But since then, the weather has improved. The last two days have been much better, and today its nice enough again to go out without a coat, so I'm pretty happy about that. Hopefully it stays nice this time. I can already tell that Spring here is going to be really pretty.
This morning was a little tiring; we spent about 4 hours helping a family in the ward here move. We had a moving van, which was nice, but it was still a pretty time-consuming project, and we weren't able to stay through until the end. Because they were moving from somewhere farther out by the ward boundaries down into Holland, we had to not only load but then also drive over and unload. Luckily a decent number of ward members showed up to help too, so we didn't feel too bad about leaving. I'm a little sore from moving boxes, but I guess that's a good thing.
Which reminds me, the last two Tuesdays, we've also been doing volunteer work in the mornings from 8 to 12 for Habitat for Humanity, which is a really cool program. From what we've learned, they take either refurbish old or damaged houses or they just build a house from the ground up on an empty lot. They find a family that needs help and could benefit from the house, and then when the house is finished they sell the (pretty decent) house to the family for a severely discounted rate, and a low interest rate. Habitat has some employees, but they also rely a lot on volunteer work. In addition, they also require the family who will be living in the home to put in 250 hours of work during construction, which I think is a great idea. I think Habitat relies on donations to operate, and they also sell a lot of usable materials they'll salvage from the refurbished houses at their resale store. So the last two Tuesdays, we've been going and helping out with construction. Last week we helped lay flooring and destroy and remove and ancient brick chimney in an old house they're refurbishing. This week we were sent to help with the new house they were putting up, and we helped sheet trusses (I now know what that means) and put up siding (The main framework of the house was up and this was the next step). It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to helping again next week.
Things have been going pretty well overall this week. It's had it's ups and downs, but it's been interesting at least. We had trade-offs (or splits) this week with some other missionaries in my district, so I spend Wednesday working with Elder Jessop. He's an interesting guy. Transfers are coming up in about a week and a half too, which means that next Friday and Saturday is when Transfer Calls will be taking place. When that happens, I'll know if Elder Merrell or I will be staying or going. Elder Merrell said that his prediction is that he will get moved somewhere else and replaced by a Spanish-speaking Elder. We'll have to see what happens.
Missionary work itself is going well, although there hasn't been a lot of progress this week with our investigators. Its been difficult to meet with people; everyone seems to be sick or busy. Still, I'm very hopeful for a few people that we're teaching, and I'm looking forward to seeing most of them later this coming week. We're working pretty hard, but there is always room for improvement. The work is very rewarding though, and I've had so many spiritual experiences since I've entered the MTC. I've never felt closer to my Father in Heaven, or had a better understanding of the Gospel as a whole. More powerful though than my increased understanding of the Gospel is my increased testimony of it, especially the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know it by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Yesterday we door knocked into a man that is pretty strong in the Penacostal Church, of which there are several here in Holland. We ended up talking to him for a while, and in the end he agreed that we could come back and share a message with him next week, but he also said that he was going to invite his Pastor over too if he could come. He didn't seem to open to learning anything new, and I hope that he doesn't just want to argue about doctrine or try to "convert" us when we come next week, but we'll see what happens. I may not be a very experienced missionary, but I take comfort in knowing that if I my companion and I have the Spirit with us, we will not be confounded by false doctrine and have nothing to fear. Of course, we aren't going to contend with them or argue about doctine the whole time. That is not our purpose as missionaries, and "the spirit of contention is of the devil", as it says in 3 Nephi 11 (I think), and it drives the Spirit away. It is impossible to teach truths of the Gospel through contention and without the Spirit. So if they just want to argue, we'll probably end up just politely leaving.
Thanks for your email, its fun hearing about everything and everyone. Sorry I don't have time to reply right now. But I want to know, what's going on with Japan right now? How are Lisa's relatives? And how are Heather and Megan doing right now in general? It sounds like Stephen is pretty happy. Are you still reading from the Book of Mormon every day? I love you Mom, let me know if there is anything that I can do for you or anyone. I pray for our family every day. Have a great week!
One final thought before I go. This week members took us out to dinner at two Chinese places and I got two fortune cookies. One said something to the effect of "Now is a good time to enhance your skills and knowledge". The second said "You have an ability to sense and know higher truths". I thought both were pretty appropriate for a new missionary :)
I hope everyone has a good week and that the weather gets nicer for you guys. It's good to hear from you. Talk to you next week.
Love, Elder Trevor Casper