North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are your brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. -Alma 31:35

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"I do believe in spooks!" 10/29/12

Well, it's incredible. Halloween is here already. Last week I realized that I've been out for three months, which means I'm 1/8 of my way through my mission already. Crazy, huh? 

One nice thing about Halloween on a mission is that we don't have to worry about getting dressed up or anything. Missionaries are already the scariest costumes out there. People will open their doors to demons and goblins and witches, but the sight of a pair of elders will cause them to turn off the lights and hide under the couch. Jack-O-Lanterns have been field-tested against all sorts of beings, and while they may drive away evil spirits, Baptists have learned through experience that they are not effective against Mormons.

Needless to say, Halloween night is going to be a lot of fun.

Now, for the mission itself:

We went to go teach Lina, our baptismal date, and found out that she has flown the coop. She's moved to another area in our zone, so we sent her information to the sister missionaries in that area and they will get to teach her. We still got to teach a lesson to her granddaughter Rashika, though. (Isn't that an awesome name?) 

The other day, we were going to an appointment with a potential investigator, and we saw this note taped onto his door:

"Mormon guys/Jehovah's Witnesses/Crazy Religious:
I am in the shower. If you knock hard enough, I will come to the door. Naked.
You have been warned."

So, I rang the doorbell.
He came out clothed.

One thing I wanted to talk about in this email was something called a "Cornelius Experience." In Acts, Chapter 10, a Gentile named Cornelius gets a prompting to send men to the Apostle Peter. At the same time, Peter received a revelation that the Gospel was to go to the Gentiles. Immediately afterward, he bumped into Cornelius' servants, and he ended up baptizing the whole groupy. Neither Peter or Cornelius was aware of what was going to turn out, but they were prepared by the Lord and led by the Spirit to be in the right place in the right time so that they would meet.

Some of you may remember that in General Conference President Monson told us about how he had kept a journal of every time he had been an answer to somebody else's prayer. In other words, he's recorded all of his Cornelius Experiences so that he hasn't forgotten them. I think this is great counsel, because it's only by looking back at those experiences that we recognize Heavenly Father's hand in our lives. And, most importantly, how we have been His hands in the lives of others. 

Here's two of mine from this last week:
1. I was on exchanges with Elder Collins, one of my Zone Leaders. We went finding in Surry Community College, and we bumped into a young man named Daniel. It turns out that A) Daniel worked with a member that Elder Collins knew, B) He had seen a Book of Mormon on this member's desk and started reading it, and C) He happened to have finished his classes for the day. It just so happens that this was the first time we'd gone finding at the College in over a month, and we happened to show up at the exact time, on the exact day, that Daniel would be there, with an Elder who knew the same person he did.
Is that awesome or what? Too bad he doesn't live in our area...

2. We had an appointment with a lady at 7:00 one night, but we didn't have a ride. After calling members for hours to get a ride there, with no success, I felt prompted to call one of our less active members, Brother Cheney. He was able to take us to the appointment...but the lady wasn't there. I felt prompted to go visit another investigator, Greg, who lives near Brother Cheney's. We did so. Greg was home, he was excited to see us, and we had an incredible lesson with him. Brother Cheney bore remarkable testimony, and what he said was exactly what Greg needed to hear; why the Church was necessary, how to get answers to prayers, everything. Without any sort of practice or preparation, his testimony blended perfectly with Elder Molina and I's teaching. Brother Cheney was also able to take Greg to church this Sunday.
It makes me wonder if Heavenly Father wanted me to ask Brother Cheney all along and was getting an angel to sabotage the members' reception or something so that I would have to call him.

I would encourage all of you to think back at recall those times where you were led to do something that ended up helping someone. Most of the time we had no idea we were even being prompted. To paraphrase Elder Bednar, we were just being good people.

That is why it is so important for us to be diligent, and to not get discouraged if we don't get success off the bat. We do not know what Heavenly Father is planning. If I hear somebody say, "I don't have time today," what it really means is "Hey buddy, get moving! The Lord has somebody else He wants you to see today!" 

If we are not persistent, and we give up, we will never meet those people; we will never have those experiences. Of the 140 people or so who attend my branch (my Piper Cub), I'd say about 90% of them are converts. Each one of them was in the right place in the right time. If the people in their lives had given up, or not tried, they would not be the people they are today. 

Anyway, my life is amazing. The work is great, and Elder Molina is an awesome companion. There is no doubt in my mind that this church is true. The Lord is telling us to step it up, and by golly, we can do it!

I love you all, and I love my mission!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

"Do you hear... carving?" 10/22/12

One thing I've realized on my mission is that time is relative. The speed you're moving at determines how quickly the week goes. Well, this week went by really slowly, which means that we were probably getting a lot done! We were very busy, from start to finish, and that's always a good thing.

Just so you all know, I am on my second transfer. At the start of this latest transfer we got another brand new missionary in our district, Elder Larson. As I am the best at playing piano in my district (and my zone too, come to think of it), I always play piano for district meeting.
Well, I was fooling around on the piano before the meeting, since only four missionaries had shown up at that time and there was about ten minutes before it started. All of a sudden, while I was playing some stuff I know, Elder Larson said, "Hey! I know that song! That's Dancing Mad, Third Tier, isn't it?"

I nearly fell off of the bench. Apparently someone else in the world actually knows that song.

I actually got to go on exchanges with Elder Larson this week, and we had a pretty good time. We had to do some preparations for a fireside the branch was putting on that Sunday; it was meant specifically for nonmembers, so people would be giving talks about the Church, explaining what we believe, and Elder Molina and I would teach the first lesson. Afterward, there would be a question and answer session. Anyway, we wanted to get as many people as possible to this fireside, which meant we had to make a lot of phonecalls.

Apparently Dobson is in some sort of black hole of phone reception, because we can never make or receive calls when we're in our area. I think that our phone is a bit like the Liahona and that its reception is dependant on our faith. I have noticed, for instance, that the closer we get to the Dobson Chapel, the better reception we get...
So whenever we have to do any serious phone-calling, we head over to the church and sit by the chapel. Elder Larson quite patiently waited while I made 38 phone calls for an hour and a half.

Anyway, this week has been extremely busy. On Monday we had Zone Activity, carving pumpkins and playing a form of dodgeball called Hit Elder Snodgrass. On Wednesday we had Zone Meeting, where we received a lot of training from President Craven. It's been nonstop since then. We've gotten a ton of new investigators, so we're feeling really blessed. 

One other highlight this week was that we handed out an Arabic Book of Mormon to some Muslim refugees from Sudan. We also ran into a lady who raised I got to bust out Elder Ballard's conference talk, along with Ether 2:3, to get an appointment. Score!

Most of these stories are happy thoughts.
Well, this week we had a talk with a woman who has had a very hard life. A lot of abuse, a lot of addictions, a lot of bad choices.. I'd never really met anyone before who had really hit rock bottom, and this woman had. We had a very long talk with her, trying to help her. I will not go into details, but essentially, the base of the issue was this: she did not feel that she was good enough for God to love her anymore. And we told her that this was a lie.

In the scriptures we learn that Satan has been a "liar from the very beginning." We know that before we were born, Heavenly Father had a Plan for us, that we would go to Earth, be born, get a body, and live our lives. We would have the chance to choose and make wrong choices. If we gave it our best, we would be able to return home and become like our Heavenly Father because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Satan did not like this plan. He wanted power; to force people to do want he wanted them to do. But he couldn't do that unless people let him, so he came up with a story to get us to follow him. He told us that there was no way we could possibly succeed in God's Plan. It was too hard, he said. The only way we could return to Heavenly Father's presence was if he, Lucifer, forced us to be perfect, if he did everything for us. He said, in effect, that we were not good enough.

And that was Satan's first lie. His only lie, if you really think about it. Heavenly Father made us, and He knew exactly what we were capable of. He knew that we could make it. A third of God's children were afraid about having to choose for themselves, and so they decided to believe Satan's lies and follow Him. They did not think they were good enough to make it.

Some of you may remember my missionary scripture, Alma 31:35: "Behold, oh Lord, their souls are precious...therefore, give us power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee."

I know that every soul is precious. That's what I told this poor woman. That is why I am here on a mission. I know that we are all good enough, and that we all can return home to live with our Heavenly Father. That's why the Atonement was made to cover everyone. God did not calculate casualties, he knew everyone could make it. Satan says we aren't good enough; Heavenly Father says we are. Through our thoughts and actions, we show who we believe more.

We all can change. We all can become perfect. We are all worth the effort Jesus Christ gave. It's going to take work to change, but it can be done. We are the precious children of God, and, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, what does a God beget? Other gods.

The Church is true. 'Nuff said.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


It's been another fun week in the mission field! A few quick highlights, as usual:
1) Walking into a member's house and having their 23-month old daughter exclaim, "Elder Fisher!" Thatdefinitely brightened up my day.
2) One of the members, Brother Sutton, asked us what we were in the mood for in regards to dinner. I told him Swedish pancakes, so he said he'd give it a try. Man, eating those things felt like a sin. One thing about Brother Sutton: his cooking is unmatched. 
3) We were driving home one night, and our GPS, Isabel, led us off the pavement onto a dirt road, and then off the dirt road onto grass, and then into a dead end on said grass. In other words, she lived up to her namesake. As we navigated our way back to civilization, another car came down the dirt road and stopped beside us to ask what we were doing. Apparently this little track is so isolated that if these people ever see a car they don't know, they go and find out what's going on.

Now as for the week itself:

I got to go on exchanges this week with Elder Stringham, an elder who's in Mount Airy, the town north of us. The two of us went biking around town, which was loads of fun. Some people may beat Elder Fisher going up hills, but nobody beats Elder Fisher going downhill. He is the King of downhill biking. That's one nice thing about being a stout person: once you get up the first hill, inertia takes care of 70% of all the rest of them.

It's fun to go finding with Elder Stringham. He's Canadian, so when people bring up Mitt Romney (which has started to get a bit annoying) he can just say, "Sir, I'm Canadian, so I could care less. I'm here forJesus Christ."

Which is, quite frankly, awesome. Maybe I should start telling people "Sir, I was born in Germany. I'm here for Jesus Christ." Technically true...

Anyway, Elder Stringham felt prompted to stop at certain places while we were finding, but after about four hours, we hadn't had any success. He felt a bit worried about whether or not he'd been following the Spirit or not, but I assured him that Heavenly Father knew what He was doing. Sure enough, about half an hour later we bumped into a man named Esther right before he left to go get dinner. Esther is a single father of two sons, who lost his wife a year ago. We got to teach all three of them the Plan of Salvation.

This all goes to show, yet again, that Heavenly Father is completely aware of everyone. He loves all of His children equally, and He knows which ones are prepared. If you get a prompting, follow it. That's essentially what President Monson's Sunday Afternoon talk was about. We don't know why the Lord wanted us to stop somewhere, but it's important we do. Maybe it's because we'll knock on someone's door. Maybe it's because we'll meet someone on the way there, or on the way back. Maybe it's because the Lord wants us to wait so that they can come to us. You never know. It's kind of fun, in a way; trying to guess what Heavenly Father is planning.

Anyway, later Elder Stringham and I got to teach the Relief Society how to make profiles. It was worth doing, if just for the bread. They had some light snacks beforehand, and man, they had thebest bread I've ever had. The best. Elder Stringham was laughing at how much of that stuff I gobbled up. I had to explain to him what a Chubby Wumpkins is.

Another highlight of the exchange was watching Elder Stringham go down the stairs of his apartment in a cardboard box. I managed to get this on camera, forever preserving it for posterity.

This week we taught Sister Harris, which was the lady who lost her 7-year old daughter 30 years ago and got comforted by the missionaries. We finally got her to understand why the Book of Mormon was important, and she asked us to sign her copy. We'll see how her reading goes. We also visited Lina, our baptismal date. Surgeries and operations are really slowing her down, but maybe that's the Lord's way of telling us that we still need to teach her some things. Lina's a pretty incredible woman, though.

And finally, my thought on the Sword of Laban:

 I've often wondered why Moroni included the Sword of Laban with the Gold Plates. I can understand the Liahona and the Urim and Thummim, but I never really understood why he'd put the sword in there too, besides it being really cool to do so. After all, if you think about it, Laban was a wicked man. How did his sword get to be so important?

And then it hit me. Why was Laban's sword important in the first place? Nephi slew Laban with it. And why did he do so? Because he realized just how important the Brass Plates were. His descendantsneeded those plates; without them, they would have dwindled and perished in unbelief. Those plates were needed for his people's benefit, and the Sword was used to get them.

Now think to Moroni. He carried the Gold Plates for twenty years, guarding them with his life. Think about it for a moment. I'd guess that the one thing that kept him sane for those twenty years, on the hard days where it was painfully obvious to him that he was alone and hunted, was the knowledge that those plates would endure and one day come forth. His dispensation failed, but he knew that someday in the future a Dispensation would come which would never fail, that would stick it through to the day the Savior returned.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but the Book of Mormon is the best way to counter the Apostasy. Heavenly Father knew the Bible would get messed up, so he planned for another witness to come forth. Moroni carried those plates alone so that we could get them. It was probably hard for him to bury them up into the earth, after carrying them for so long; that was all he had. But he completed his task, and buried the Sword with them. And why did he bury it? He included the Sword of Laban with because it was used to protect the truth.

Well, I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Moroni got to see his precious charge get translated by another man, a fellow servant of the Lord, who saw the same Christ, face to face, just like he did. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and did translate those plates, that he did see God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, and I know President Monson is the prophet today. This is the last dispensation, of the fulness of times, that will never fail.

The church is true. It's that simple.

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"You're sitting in a chair... IN THE SKY." 10/8/12

"You're sitting in a chair...IN THE SKY."  
(Sorry, I couldn't resist. Elder Uchtdorf's Priesthood session talk made me think about it.)
(here danny is referring to a quote from "everything's amazing and nobody's happy" by comedian Louis CK. If you haven't seen it, i highly recommend it (4 minutes) . paula)

Well, I've got Conference stuff, Mission stuff, and a spiritual thought this time around, with nice little section headings to help you if you're short on time.

Well, to start off:

18-year old Elders and 19-year old Sisters!? 

Elder Molina and I were so excited, you cannot even imagine. It's going to be so cool having all of these voice-cracking young Elders coming and teaching in our mission. This definitely was an inspired decision by the prophet. (And, hey, I guess it means that Steve can go on his mission at the same time as Tyler and Austin now.)

Is it just me, or was this conference particularly amazing? I don't think there was a single uninteresting talk. Maybe it was because I am a missionary now, or because I was taking better notes, or because Elder Scott was in the Sunday Afternoon session. Regardless, both talks of the First Presidency Members, both of the women speakers, Christofferson's, Bednar's, Holland's...all were amazing.

I would definitely say that the main message of this conference was becoming. Becoming the sort of person who loves God. We're supposed to help others change and become like this, either as missionaries, as ward members, or as parents (there was a ton about parenting this time.) Spencer W. Kimball raised the bar in the church from knowing to doing, and now we must advance to becoming.
I guess the chorus of "I Am a Child of God" needs to get changed again, to "Teach me all that I must be."

To accomplish this goal of becoming, I sat down Saturday afternoon and wrote down a list of resolutions so that I actually will learn and apply stuff I've heard from the prophets. I've even given these resolutions to Elder Molina so he can keep me accountable. I would encourage all of you to do something similar. I'm also going to take both President Monson and President Eyring's advice and keep a "small plates" where I can see how the Lord has answered my prayers throughout the years.

I definitely thought the music this conference was really great. Particularly the arrangement of "Love One Another" in the Priesthood session. It was good to see Boyd in the Mormon Tabernacle choir, especially now that I'm on my mission - makes me think how much it must mean to Zach, huh? 
I'm pretty sure that I saw Alex Boye, Ron Paul, Steven Martin, and Conan O'Brien in the Tab Choir this time around, too. Didn't know that the last three were converts, though there have been rumors about Steve Martin before :)


I got to go on two exchanges this week. The first was on Tuesday, with another elder in my district named Elder Snodgrass. He looks like the name sounds. We had a lot of fun. This Thursday Elder Molina had to go to a Leadership Training Meeting, so I went to Winston-Salem, the city south of Dobson, and went on exchanges with Elder Gomm.
The observant reader will remember that Elder Gomm was in my MTC district, so essentially it was the two of us, both trainees, that got to go to work together. That's not very common, just so you know. It was great; we learned a lot, and talked to a lot of people. Elder Gomm told me a story about how one of the members in his area was supposed to give an investigator a ride to church, but the member locked the car keys inside of his house. At the urging of his wife, he broke the door down, got the keys, and gave the investigator a ride to church. Is that guy a stud or what?

Another good story from this last week. We had an appointment with a lady named Michelle, but she called us up to say she couldn't make it. So we decided that we would go and see Lina, our baptismal date. We show up at the house and Lina's not home, but her daughter Lou was. We asked her if we could talk to her, and she did.
Man, I have never seen anyone on my mission who was so desperate for the truth as she was. She was really confused about life and what she was supposed to do, and she just drank up our message. Thankfully we were able to teach very clearly, and she understood what we were saying. When we talked about baptism, she asked us, "Is it possible for someone to be baptized twice?" and when we invited her to be baptized, she said, "Could you baptize my 9-year old son, too?"
We asked her to say the prayer, and wow. Just wow. Moroni says to pray with real intent. Well, Lou had it. I've never seen anything to match it before. She was in silent tears for a whole minute before she could get out the question, "Is this true? I need to know if it is." The Spirit was incredible. I truly feel that she is prepared; she took her Book of Mormon to work with her. We're going to go back and visit them tomorrow, so hopefully it goes well! It would be great to have three generations of the same family get baptized in November.

Well, I had wanted to talk about the Sword of Laban this time around, but I don't know if I'll get to it. Maybe next week.
Here down in the South we bump into a lot of opinions on how we get saved. Some people say you're saved by faith, and not works; that all you need to do is say "Save me Jesus!" and you're good. Some people say that your works will save you.
It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said on the matter: (and I paraphrase:) "People say that God is looking for faith or looking for works. I think that what God is really ultimately looking for is not faith or works, but a certain kind of person."

And, during Elder Holland's talk, it hit me what that kind of person is: someone who loves Him.
That's why He made us. That's why we're here, and how we get back, and why He gives us commandments. After all, our love is the only thing that's really ours to give. We're here on Earth to see if we'll love Him more than everything else. We are to become the kind of person who does. It's a long process, but it can be done, and the only way it can start is if people learn the truth.
That is why it is our responsibility to share that love and that truth, wherever we are; me in the mission field and you at home.

I know that this is God's work, and that President Monson is the prophet in our day. I love you all, and I hope Becky enjoyed her birthday card. :)
Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"My daddy taught me good!" Oct.1, 20012

In which is written much information about Dobson, and the area roundabouts, and the proceedings of Elder Fisher and his companion, Elder Molina; their adventures, misadventures, random insights, and so forth. 

By the way, for those of you who were confused by the title of my last email, "BoM" is an acronym for "Book of Mormon." Just so you know.

And AAH! David and Amy are parents! I am so happy for them. Welcome to the world, Madelyn Moriah Fisher! Meet you in two years!

For thee short on tyme
A couple of fun stories about this last week. Wednesday Elder Molina and I were going to do some finding on bikes. We stopped at a less active's house, which was on a slope, and then our plan was to go finding in a place called Turkeyford. When we started out, my bike was in high gear and Elder Molina's bike was in low gear, so he got a pretty good lead on me up the slope before I could get into low gear. Anyway, at the top of the slope was a fork in the road, and chose the right.
Long story short, Wednesday was the first time I lost my companion. After I took the turn and went down the enormously large hill, I realized that Elder Molina was not in front of me. So I turned around, went back up said enormously large hill, and for the next hour, tried to find him. (I would have you know that I waited at the apartment for a good long while.) Thankfully, due to prayer and some caring members, we got reunited back together. Elder Molina had been mortified; I thought the whole situation was hilarious.

The second story was on Friday night when we were eating dinner. It was a small, local place, and I saw a pamphlet on the counter that said "God's Simple Plan of Salvation." I opened it up and gave it a look. It looked like someone had just discovered what the Caps Lock key did. Reminded me a bit of General BUFORD, actually. (here danny is referring the the movie "Gettysburg."   if you have seen it, you will remember that general buford speaks by putting a strong emphasis on random words . . . especially the phrase "HIGH GROUND!"). So, after I finished eating, I went up and shooked the hand of the lady at the cashier to thank her for the delicious meal while, with my other hand, I swapped out their Plan of Salvation pamphlet with one of our own. Elder Molina was actually very impressed with how smooth it was.

Some background info on Dobson. 
If you were to come to Dobson and drive around, you would notice that almost every single house or trailer has a rock in front of it. All of these rocks look exactly the same: grey, obviously fake, about three feet high and three feet wide. I've seen hundreds of them by now, and they're always in the exact same place; about ten yards out at a 45 degree angle from the front of the house. It's like everyone is part of some sort of Druid cult, or is saving up to make their own Stonehenge or something. I puzzled and puzzled for days trying to figure out what on earth was up with all these fake rocks. The first reader to figure it out gets a prize.

Elder Molina and I have a GPS which we have named Isabel, because she leads us astray. Here in Dobson, a GPS gives you directions based on how many Baptist churches you have to pass to get to your destination. If, for example, you want to get to East Bend, you take the first right after Baptist Church #6. If you want extremely specific directions, you go by the color of riding lawnmower on each house.

Another thing about Dobson is that EVERYONE has dogs here. Heavenly Father really has spoiled me. He sent me to a green, rainy place, with a nice apartment, with a companion from Los Cruces, in an area with good food, in a place that has plumbing and where I don't have to eat bugs, and there are dogs everywhere. How spoiled am I? But anyway, everyone has dogs here. If the person lives in a house, it's a big dog. If they live in a trailer, it's a little dog. 75% of the dogs have some strange habit, like walking around on their tummy, or moving by jumping sideways. I love it. (Elder Molina encountered one just the other day that liked sticking its head between people's legs. That was fun to watch.)

Right across the street from our apartment is a young German Shepherd, which has apparently learned that whenever it hears our garage door open, it means that I'm coming out to help back Elder Molina out of the driveway. So it has learned that garage door opening = friend coming out to play. It's really cute. I have my own little Pavlovian experiment going on.

Here in Dobson, I've encountered at least five different Bible translations, dozens of different churches, and 1,348.3 interpretations of scripture. It's funny how people can be living right in the middle of the Apostasy and have no idea that it ever happened. The harder they try to prove that it never happened, the more I come to realize that it did. That's why I am so glad for the Book of Mormon. It's weird that people don't know about it here; it'd mean so much to them if they had it. Having the Bible without the Book of Mormon is like eating a hotdog without the bun.

Dah, I've gone and run out of time again. Curses!

Next week: The Sword of Laban: Explained! You Don't Want to Miss This One!

I know the Book of Mormon is true. That book definitely came from God, and it was meant for our day. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet, and I am really excited to hear from our modern-day prophets next weekend.

Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher