Tuesday this week was my six month "birthday" in the mission field. That seems really odd to me. It doesn't really feel like I've been out here any longer than it did when I was only at 3 months. Time almost seems to flow differently out here in the mission field. I know that the end of my mission is going to sneak up on me before I know it. It's still a long ways off, and I take comfort in that. Still, I'm not going to waste any of the time that I have out here.
This week was another seemingly typical week of a mixture of thunderstorms (I love watching the lightning at night) and hot, humid days. I'm getting a lot more used to it, however. And I've found that the more I forget myself in this work and dedicate myself to it, the less and less I care about whatever the weather might be that day. I have seen many blessings personally as I have worked to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and I know that doing so also enables me to be a better tool in the Lord's hands that he can use to bless the people here and help them to come to a knowledge of the fullness of the gospel.
This week has been a more difficult week for missionary work. For one reason or another, many of our investigators have been difficult to meet with this week. Still, we've been trying to work hard, especially since this is Elder Ralphs' last week and he is on his way back to Spanish Fork, Utah next Wednesday. However, though we go through more difficult weeks at times, there is always something that we can learn from our experiences. Throughout the week I've seen different things that I do that I can improve on and do better with, and I'm going to work on those so that I can be a better missionary in the future. One thing that I've committed to do is to write in a journal, having at least a short entry for each day.
Wednesday the Subacz family had us over for dinner again for Elder Ralphs before he goes home. Elder Ralphs actually served in Allegan last spring, near the beginning of his mission. During his three months in Allegan then and the three additional months he's served here with me a year later, he's gotten pretty close to that family. I love them as well, and we both always enjoy going over to their house for meals or to help them with things. Wednesday we helped him with some work he's been needing to do, and then we had a really nice dinner with them by a campfire in their backyard. Later on I burned a tie over the campfire because it is somewhat of a tradition among missionaries apparently to burn something every six months. I probably wouldn't have burned anything, but Christina sent me a pretty ugly tie for burning that she had left over from the tie skirt that she was working on. Thanks Christina! It was a great night though.
Something else that was fun that we did just yesterday was go out and pick blueberries. Brother Fry took Elder Ralphs and me out at 8:00 in the morning to a blueberry farm owned by the Heintzmans (Sister Heintzman is a member of the branch). They're open this time of year for anyone to come in and pick their own blueberries, and then pay a $1.25 per pound of whatever they pick, which is pretty cheap. For the next three hours the three of us picked as many blueberries as we could. Apparently there are three types of blueberries that they grow there- Nelson, Jersey, and Bluecrop. The Nelsons are supposed to be the sweetest, but they tasted a little bland to me personally. Bluecrop are supposed to be the tartest, and Jersey are supposed to be somewhere in the middle. I got about an even number of each. We each ended up with about two buckets (Not including the ones we ate out in the field. Don't worry, they said it was ok!). When we weighed it all in, we found that we had picked 35 pounds between the three of us! Brother Fry generously paid for them all and then took his third, leaving us with 25 lbs. of blueberries to take home! We bagged them all and now have most of them sitting in our freezer. This next transfer we'll probably give a few pounds to each of the three other areas in our district. But we'll be eating blueberries for the next little while! I'm ok with that though, I love blueberries.
Transfer calls came Friday morning while we were out picking blueberries. It turns out that I'm staying here, which I was hoping for and I'm happy about. My new companion will be Elder Griffiths. I don't know much about him, so I'll just have to see him at transfers. I know things will work out though, and I'm really excited for this area and all the people here next transfer. There are going to be miracles here and great things happening.
Another investigator that we're teaching that is getting somewhat close to baptism. Her name is Margie. She is a close friend of a somewhat less-active member, Sister Wright. We've been meeting with them for a while, and they've been at church the last few weeks. Margie knows a little about the church, and really enjoys coming. She feels very welcome there. She also really enjoys reading the Book of Mormon and all the scriptures and pamphlets, and feels good as she reads them. She seems to have a little trouble retaining or understanding everything that she reads, however, so we're going to have to teach her the lessons carefully to make sure that she understands them. She has a testimony of the church, and of Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon, so we talked to her last time we saw her about setting a baptismal date with her several weeks away that she can work towards. She didn't feel quite ready just yet, she seems to be concerned a little about what other people will think about that. We're going to continue working with her and teaching her though, and helping her to better understand what baptism is and why it is so important. We're excited for her and confident that she'll want to be baptized sometime in the near future. Sister Wright is encouraging her and supporting her all the way, and we know that's helping Margie a lot.
I've found so much meaning as I've read from the Book of Mormon over the last six months. I have found so much guidance and so many answers to prayers in that book. I know that it is true, and it is an incredible blessing to be able to know that, and to be able to study from the Book of Mormon each day. I know that this is the Lord's work and his hand is in it, and I am greatly blessed and privileged to be able to be a part of it. I know that the Lord loves me and is helping me to grow spiritually and gain experience that I can use in this work and throughout my life. I love everyone back at home, and I know that the Lord is watching over you and blessing you too as I'm out here doing all that I can. I hope that you all have a great week this next week, and enjoy a little bit more of the summer!
Elder Trevor Casper