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

Monday, October 14, 2013

10/14/13 "Led by the Spirit"

"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."
-- 1 Nephi 4:6

Elder Richardson was talking to a nonmember man once, and the man got on a tangent that went something like this:

"Y'know Samson, in the Bible, it says that he killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, right? Well, I figure, how'd that work out? 'Cuz you'd think that once he'd gotten around three or four hundred of 'em they must've realized that they just weren't gonna kill this guy and so they would've started runnin'. So how was he able to get all one thousand? Well, I figure...Samson musta had soupah speed!"

Well, who knows. God uses many methods to get things done. Back in Old Testament times the power of God manifested itself by oceans parting or she-bears tearing people apart. Now it works in more G-rated ways.*

*This brings up the fascinating "Declining Scale of Miracle Impressiveness," a concept that takes note of the fact that miracles get less and less spectacular the closer you get to the present day. The Apostle Peter getting a lame man to walk is impressive, but nowhere near as showy as Elijah calling down fire from heaven, and that, in turn, is nowhere near as monumental as the plagues and miracles Moses wrought which affected large regions. And even then, those are nothing compared to the global flood during Noah's lifetime. There's probably some sort of eternal principle behind all this.

In missionary work, I've come to see how God doesn't need to bully the laws of nature to get something to be a miracle. In so many ways, considering how many variables had to come into play over such a long time to cause us to meet someone is far more impressive of a miracle. When the odds of a choice encounter are astronomical, but it still plays out.

Consider, for instance, this past week when I was on exchange with my saintly District Leader, Elder Haskell. It was 8:30and we didn't particularly want to go finding, so we decided to go try an investigator, Michael. We knocked on his door, and he was not home. Since it was not yet 9:00 we didn't want to go in, so we resigned ourselves to going one street over and try to find someone at home who we could teach.

As we go to leave, however, I see that my back tire has come off the bicycle. I stopped for about thirty seconds to put it back on. In those thirty seconds, a car drove up and Michael was dropped off by a friend, and we were able to talk to him and have a very spiritual conversation -- one of the best I've ever had.

Now, my back tire has a history of giving me problems, so I checked it before leaving the apartment. I checked it before heading to our last appointment. I checked it after leaving that appointment. It was perfectly fine when I rested my bike against a tree for the thirty seconds or so it took us to walk up to Michael's door, knock on it, discover he wasn't home, and walk back.

Yet somehow, during that thirty seconds, my back tire had managed to come off for no apparent reason. Had it not done so, we would've gone one street down and missed Michael by a few seconds. Instead, we were kept in that spot for the few moments that would allow us to catch him and talk to him.

This experience was very encouraging, but it also brought up a slightly worrying observation along with it. With many missionaries, miracles like this generally happen because they receive a prompting and follow it. Whereas on my mission, it's always seemed that I get confused or have some sort of mechanical malfunction which ends up causing a miracle to occur.

So, in other words, other missionaries get prompted by the Spirit. I get confused by the Spirit.

I find it worrisome that the only way Heavenly Father can get me in the right place at the right time is by having the Holy Ghost clonk me alongside the head. Or mess with my stuff.

Well, whatever. I'll take it. I'm always grateful for miracles, however they come.

All this is just a refreshing reminder that Heavenly Father really is in control of all of this. He doesn't have to bend or break the rules to get things done -- he just knows how to work the system. He can line up all the million-to-one chances so that things slide into place and bam, a miracle occurs. Much of the time a missionary, or a member, is just one of those little tumblers that click into place and make things happen. 

I have come to realize then, like Ammon did, that if anything good happens in missionary work it probably wasn't due to anything I did. And I certainly didn't plan for it to happen. It was all the Lord's doing, and we just get to be His instruments.

I know that this work is true. It has also come to mean quite powerfully this week that Jesus is truly the Savior. His love is something I struggle to comprehend, but, as small and contemptible as we may be, He still loves us. I know this to be true.

I love you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

10/7/13 "I invite you to consider your situation and repent"

"For those of you who are not paying your tithing...I invite you to consider your situation and repent."
-- Elder David "the Boss" Bednar

We met a man named Jeff sitting on his porch last Thursday and sat down to talk with him. A few minutes into the conversation, I felt prompted to say the following:

"Jeff, let's say that you walk into a room. You close the door, and turn around, and there is the Savior, sitting there. He says to you, 'You have five minutes.' What do you talk about?"

It was an unusual question, one that I'd come up with myself and had only used once before in my entire mission. I'd invite you to take a moment and ponder about it yourself. I'll get to my own thoughts later on in this email.

Jeff paused for a long moment, and then responded, "I'd talk to Him about all the bad choices I'd made in my life."
I nodded at that, and then asked, "And what do you think He would tell you?"
Again, Jeff stopped for a good while. Finally, his voice soft, he replied, "That it's never too late to change."

For a brief moment I got to see inside this man's heart. It was a sacred experience I will not forget.


My new companion is Elder Herr from Tuscon, Arizona. I am already in the process of making a massive pun skit using his name. The scene would easily work, since we also got a new sister missionary in our ward at the same time.

Elder: "We have a new missionary in the ward. Would you like to meet Herr?"
Member: "Sure!"
E: "Okay. *searches* Where is Herr?" 
M: "Where is she, you mean? She's right there." 
E: "No, where is Herr. Herr is my companion."
M: "It's said 'she is my companion,' Elder. And since when were sisters companions with elders?"
E: "They're not. Oh, golly, don't tell me I lost Herr."
M: "She's not lost, she's right there. Where's the other missionary?"
E: "I don't know."
M:  "We'll need to find him, then."
E: "Herr. We need to find Herr."
M: "We don't need to find the sister! We're looking for the other one. What's his name?"
E: "Herr."
M: "I don't need to know the sister's name. What's the elder's name?"
E: "Herr!"

And so on, and so forth.


Andy, the young son of an investigator we've been teaching, got bitten by a Brown Recluse on the tummy not long ago and had to be taken to the emergency room for surgery when the bite got infected. We had given him a blessing and were quite relieved when he was back on his feet and smiling again.
"Wanna see the bite?" he asked us eagerly. He lifted up his shirt, displaying the gruesome hole in his stomach.
I regarded it. 
" 'Looks like ol'' Shelob's been havin' a bit of fun,' " my brain said.
"It looks great," I replied.


I had a lot of insights at Conference, but for the sake of time I'll just share some select highlights:
1) A common theme this conference appeared to be compassion. Ponder this.
2) Christofferson's talk about women was amazing.
3) I had prayed for weeks that the Choir would sing "O Divine Redeemer" at conference, and they did. I was very thankful to Heavenly Father. They also sang "When He Comes Again," much to my delight. The only one that was missing was "This is the Christ," my favorite song of all time.
4) Elder Nielsen, who gave the "Exclamation Point!" talk, came to our mission last June.
5) When Elder Nelson began his talk by saying "I recently heard a chorus of children sing 'I Am a Child of God,' " he was probably referring to how he made the children stand up and sing for him at the Stake Conference at Pineville in February, which I was present for.
6) Terence Vinson's talk really stood out to me: God's work and His Glory is that something as imperfect and flawed as a human being can become like Him. He glories in the fact that He can take a being so frail and weak and make it godly.


Were I to walk in a room and the Savior be there and I had five minutes with Him, what would I do? I've had a lot of time to think about this. 

My first response would probably be to fall at His feet. But, assuming that I couldn't do that, I'd probably just listen to what He had to say. If I had to find something to talk about, things get a bit more difficult. At first I thought that I would ask Him what I needed to do in my life, what I needed to know, life choices I've made, who I should help, what I should say to them, that I love Him, etc. etc. Or possibly doctrinal questions, like where we go after we die and what it's like there.

Upon further thought, I realized that none of these are good questions, because I think I already kind of know in my heart the answers to them. I know what I need to do in life. I know what things I must learn. I know what choices I've made that have been bad. I know who needs helping and what needs to be said to them. I already know all of these things because of His light that is inside me, the Light of Christ. I do not have a perfect knowledge, but the Spirit has already revealed most of the answers to me, if I stopped to review.

As for the doctrinal questions, like if there's life after death...if I had already believed by hearing them from regular people, then it wouldn't make any difference hearing them from Him. If I had not believed those truths coming from a regular person, I wouldn't believe them coming from Him.

I got a pretty good idea of things I wouldn't say. Selfish or disrespectful or trivial things, like "At what point were you suffering for me in the Garden?" or "Did you ever get sealed to someone?" Or stupid questions, like "Do you love me?" or "Can I be forgiven?" or "Will I make it?"

I guess, besides listening, the only thing I could really think of to ask is "What do I need to hear so that I may strengthen my brethren when I go back?"

As Elder Nelson taught last Sunday, all of us, someday, will have a personal interview with the Savior. On that occasion, however, some very specific things will be discussed. This hypothetical situation is not the Last Judgment; it's a preliminary, preparatory "review," you might say. A question and answer session before the qualifying exam for the Celestial Kingdom.

I hope to be ready for it. I don't think I ever will, but if I do, it will only be because He has helped me.

I love the Savior. I love my mission. I love my companion. I love all of you. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

9/30/13 "Things as they really are"

The statement above hit me quite powerfully this last week. It was followed by this insight, which popped into my mind:
1) Humility is an acceptance of truth.
2) Pride is a denial of truth.

If we are proud and look down on others, we are denying the truth that says that they have divine potential. If a man lusts after a woman in his heart, seeing her as an object, he is being proud, for he is denying the truth that she is a daughter of God. If we feel that we are worthless, or that we have sinned and cannot be forgiven, we are being proud, because we are not believing our Heavenly Father we He says that we are of infinite worth to Him.

Satan was proud. He thought that he was better than others and that, consequently, they should do what he wanted them to do. He denied the truth that Heavenly Father's plan really would work for everyone, he denied the truth about others, and he denied the truth about himself.

The Savior, on the other hand, was humble. He knew that He could do nothing of Himself. Even though He was the most talented, intelligent, and powerful individual to ever walk the earth, He was always humble. And, when He suffered in Gethsemane, He quite literally came to know the complete and entire truth about all of us.

If somebody gives us a compliment, like "You're so beautiful" or "You're such a great teacher" or "You are a fantastic cook," and we respond with something like "Oh, no, I'm not," believe it or not, that response is not necessarily a humble one. Humility is acknowledging that our talents come from God and are meant to be used for the good of others.


That was my line of thinking this week.

On Saturday we met a man named James working out in his yard and offered to help, despite being in our proselyting clothes. He accepted and let us do some small chore. We had a nice conversation with him for a few minutes and then had to take off to an appointment.

On Sunday, right before church, we get a call from James, asking for directions to our church building. We eagerly told him how to get there and then went inside the chapel as the meeting had started. At the time of the sacrament hymn, they closed the doors, and no sign of James. We sat there nervously.

There is a sister in our ward who had been having an extremely tough Sunday morning. Otherwise obedient children had decided that morning to scream and put up a fuss and take off their church clothes and jump back in bed earlier. Her husband, having a calling, had to take off early and she, presumably alone, had to get the kids to church. She arrived too late to be inside for the sacrament and was sitting in the foyer, tired and at her wits' end.

All of a sudden she saw a rather confused looking man walking down the hallway. "Where is everybody?" he asked. This sister quickly realized that he was not a member and was able to explain to him the sacrament while they waited for the doors to open. 

This man was James, who had walked into the building with no one in sight and not a sound to be heard. Unaccustomed as he was to our strange LDS church layouts, he couldn't find a chapel, and determined to walk a lap around the church and leave if he didn't see anyone. Right as he came to the end of his lap, he bumped into this one exhausted mother who was having a rough day.

I call this experience a miracle. It is amazing how Heavenly Father answers multiple prayers and helps multiple people using such simple and wonderful means. He really does remember all of His children:
1) He answered our prayer, which was that James would come to church and have a good experience there;
2) He helped this poor sister's, since she was able to have a powerful spiritual moment when she was desperately tired and discouraged. This sister later went and bore her testimony during the meeting, sharing her experience with the whole ward.
3) He helped James, who was able to start off his experience with the Church by having a very choice encounter with a member

To top it all off, James was hit by an avalanche of member fellowship shortly after the meeting. When Elder Richardson and I got home I had him kneel down on the carpet with me and say a prayer of thanks for it all.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us. It is incredible to see, looking back, that Elder Richardson and I's decision to go finding on one particular street ended up helping a mother in need. We enjoyed the miracle, and James did, too, but in the end it was probably the mother that needed it the most. How could we have known?

I could go on and tell a ton more stories about this last week, but this email has gotten rather long and the time is wearing on. I'll just say that good things are happening here in Lakefield and I'm excited to be here for another transfer.

I love being a missionary. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

9/23/13 "And the Lord said: Go to work."

"And the Lord said: Go to work."
--Ether 2:16

Here in North Carolina the weather has turned to autumn. I first felt this last Saturday when I stepped out to go run and could feel Fall in the air. The temperature is still lovely and the trees have not changed color, but I can feel it, just the same. We've had a couple of gray days this last week, where the sky was literally gray the whole day and we could not see the sun. Quite interesting.

It was on one such gray day that we went to go out and find people to teach -- "find people to teach" being a purpose-driven way of saying "knock doors." I refuse to use the word "tract." Anyhoo, after a little while of fruitless searching, we went to return to our bikes in preparation of making the 5-mile journey home. Upon reaching the bikes, however, a cursory examination of my back tire revealed it to be dead. It had given up the ghost sometime during our finding.

So we called up a member for a ride and went to go sit on a nearby park bench to wait, taking pictures of ourselves to pass the time as slowly the sky darkened. As evening fell, a group of kids came to the park to throw a football around. In the dim light, I could make out the figure of a small boy in a wheelchair sitting at the edge of the road, watching them. After a few minutes I got up and walked over to the small, frail boy in his wheelchair and asked his name and how old he was (six) and spoke with him for a moment, and I said to him: "I want you to know that you can do anything you put your mind to."

And then the member came and took us away. But I will remember that little exchange I had with the boy. I felt terribly sorry for him, sitting there on the sidelines watching the other kids play.

But it's true, isn't it? We really can do anything we put our mind to. Like overcome a physical handicap. Or becoming like God. The wonderful promise we have been given is that because of the Savior, weak legs will walk someday and sinful souls will become saintly.

This last Saturday, September 21st, was the 190th anniversary of Moroni's visit to Joseph Smith. Take a moment and ponder on that.

I recently read the last real talk Gordon B. Hinckley's ever gave in General Conference, "The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain." One of the many great and profound things the President spoke about in there was the Book of Mormon and how critics have tried to attack it for years or disprove it. Theories have been spawned, conspiracies have been drawn up, conjectures have been made, but in the end, the one with the angel still remains by far the most believable.

People try to wave away the Book of Mormon, but it doesn't work. Something like that can't just be passed off as unimportant. It is something that demands attention. 

It has stood out to me that it is so crucial to be open to accepting additional revelation. The people I meet who say that they don't possibly need to learn or pray about additional truth from God are making the same mistake as the Pharisees who sent the Son of God to die on the cross for blasphemy.

I could go on quite the warpath about that, but I won't. I simply repeat: it is so important to be willing to test things for truth. All things. When something comes up, you can either say: "There's no possible way that can be true, so there's no need to pray about it," which is an extremely prideful response. Or, there is the Master's invitations to "Ask, and ye shall receive," "come and see," "by their fruits ye shall know them." If we refuse to at least try, we will not find.

It has been my blessing and privilege here in Lakefield to see the results of when people are willing to ask. We had a family of six come to church this last Sunday for the second time, all because they have actually been open to praying about what we've taught them.

The Gospel is so wonderful. Probably because it's true! I love being a missionary and I love my mission. I thank the Lord that I get to be here at this time. Hurrah for Israel!

Love you,

Elder Fisher

9/9/13 Fishers of Men

"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
And they straightway left their nets, and followed him."

On Friday I went on exchange with the Zone Leaders, which included my good MTC buddy Elder Poulson. That evening we chose a park to go and find people to teach, eventually coming to meet a man named Eddie who was fishing in the nearby lake there. As the Zone Leaders talked to him, I turned to speak to his companion Harry, and we got a nice conversation going when all of a sudden Eddie says, "I got something!"

As Eddie begins to eagerly reel in the line, we turn and look and there, like something out of a horror movie, we see a trail of bubbles moving towards our location on the shoreline, and a black mass just underneath the surface of the water. Emerging out from underneath a clump of slimy lake weeds, stirring the water around it like an deranged egg-beater, gripping the hooked worm in its terrible jaws, its black body dripping water like Godzilla freshly rising from the sea and advancing towards Tokyo, is a snapping turtle!

Eddie quickly pulled it onto the shore. "We've got to get the hook out!" he said, as apparently he couldn't replace the hook. He flipped it onto its back and then proceeded to perform oral surgery on the snapping turtle using a pair of sticks, with myself serving as assistant terrapin-orthodontist by placing my foot on the creature's tummy and pinning it to the ground. It hissed and snapped and -- believe it or not -- jumped a few times but eventually we got the hook out and Eddie pushed it into the water using his fishing pole, where it quickly submerged and disappeared from view.

I managed to get this entire episode on camera, having handed mine to Elder Stone right as things started happening. I will send it to the family shortly...

Believe it or not, this was not the only weird encounter we had with animals this week. In a lesson with another investigator, I was sitting down on the couch and her cat decided to sit next to me. A minute or so later the lady's chihuahua walks into the room and stands there, doing that little full-body shiver that is the natural state of every chihuahua. All of a sudden the cat leaps from the couch, landing on the chihuahua's back and biting it in the spine, knocking it over entirely. The cat proceeded to maul the chihuahua and then chased it about the house when its prey managed to momentarily escape. 

At the end of the lesson, when the dog dared to re-enter the room, the cat pounced on it again, but this time, the chihuahua attempted to lift its rear-leg in a crude but feeble form of self-defense. The cat was too quick for it, however, swiftly grabbing the leg with both paws, biting it, and slamming the chihuahua to the ground. Elder Richardson and I were dying of laughter the whole time. Considering how badly I despise chihuahuas, it was quite satisfying to see one get utterly owned by a cat.

Another first for this week was that this was the first time I've ever heard the infamous "Unknown Tongue." We were teaching a young man named Eric in his garage, and when he went to say the closing prayer, he finished off with a stream of nonsense sounds before saying "Amen." It was very interesting. 

We have been blessed this week with a lot of people to teach and a lot of good experiences. We had a solid first lesson with a man named Gar'day (pronounced "Gar-D-A") from Liberia, who had come to the United States years ago in order to escape the ravages of their civil wars. We were simply asking him about his background when all of a sudden he just starting saying, "I've just been wondering a lot about what my purpose is here on earth. Why am I even here? I know God put me here for a reason, butwhat? I ask my pastor and he can't tell me."

Oh ho ho, have we got an answer there for you, buddy.

Gar'day told us that the only response he got from his pastor as to what our purpose was here on earth was that we are here to "glorify God." I am grateful that we, as members of the Church, have had it revealed to us that our Father's work and His glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. Heavenly Father wants us to become like Him! Our purpose here is to learn Godhood. It's a scary prospect but one that is entirely possible due to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I sure love being a missionary. Do you understand just how awesome it is to be able to tell people about this stuff all day, every day? Words cannot describe it.

I love the Lord, I love my companion, I love my area, and I love my mission. The things we have been taught about the Plan of Salvation are true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

9/3/13 "I have learned for myself..."

"Joseph, what's the matter?"
"Never mind, all is well -- I am well enough off...I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true."
-- Joseph Smith's first words after an encounter with the God of all creation

This last week has been incredible. We had interviews with President on Wednesday, and I just want to say that I know that my Mission President is called of God. He is, without a doubt, one of the best men I know, and it was extremely refreshing for me to get to talk to him one-on-one. 

This particular interview was an interesting occasion for me, since I have passed my year-mark now. I still remember the very first time I sat in an interview with him, a nervous missionary on my very first day in the field. I have changed so much since then. Him, not so much, except his hair has a lot more gray in it now.

Elder Richardson and I worked very very hard this week. It felt wonderful. I am very glad that he's so willing to work, and I am also glad that he's so big and tough, since I don't have to worry about getting mugged with him around.

The story of this last week has been us going out and talking to people all day long, every day. That's been the routine thus far: we go out and talk to as many people as we can while the sun shines. In the evenings, we generally go to bed once the spiders start coming out. Oh heavens, the spiders.

We were out finding people to teach one afternoon and a dog rushed across its lawn to attack me. I backhanded it in the face with the Word of God. I know that's not how we've been trained to use the Book of Mormon, but it was certainly effective.

The apartment here in Lakefield has a small whiteboard that is small enough to fit inside a backpack. It has come in handy while teaching. I illustrated 1 Nephi 13 for a person we were teaching, and the other day drew out Jacob 5 when a recent convert asked us to explain it to her. (That was an interesting lesson!)

On Friday the Spanish elders ran into a recent convert family from Pohnpei, who had moved from Brigham City a few months ago and was supposedly looking for the Church here. We got to go and teach them a few times and got them to Church. Saturday evening we watched The Restoration with them and their accumulated friends and neighbors, a total audience of 18 people. True to Murphy's Law, there was a disturbance during the First Vision scene -- something always happens when it gets to the First Vision -- but thankfully it wasn't too distracting.

As I've been on my mission, The Restoration has come to mean a lot more to me. I know that it's just a movie, and that the real First Vision must have been unimaginably more beautiful than how it's portrayed in that film, but that scene still brings tears to my eyes. Simply because it stands for something so wonderful.

There was a time earlier in my mission when I was bearing my testimony of the Restoration to a person. This person interrupted me, dismissing my testimony by saying that "well, the devil is able to appear as an angel of light."

Well, if something like the First Vision -- which stirs something inside my soul every time I hear, watch, recite, or think about it -- comes from the devil, then we are all hosed, since that means Satan can mimic the Holy Ghost to the point that we can't even tell the difference. If the First Vision is a fraud and the feelings it brings to us are false, then there is no hope for us ever getting back to Heavenly Father, since Satan's counterfeits are far too convincing if that's the case.

Thankfully, though, the First Vision is true. Nothing like that could possibly be a lie and still have that kind of spiritual power.

Elder Richardson and I have been discussing Joseph Smith. In a way, people who believe Joseph was a liar have a much higher opinion of him than we do as members of the Church. Nonbelievers see Joseph as a genius with nerves of steel, able to pump out close to 1000 pages of scripture and put up with constant persecution for 24 years. Whereas we, as members of the Church, don't attach any sort of extraordinary intelligence to him and believe he probably endured all that persecution because he was far too scared of what would happen to him if he dared to go back on his testimony.

I think the Prophet put it best: "I had seen a vision. I knew it, and I knew God knew it, and I could not deny it."

I testify that the First Vision is true. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, and love us. We are a part of the Savior's church in the Latter-Days, led by a living prophet. The Book of Mormon is true. I love my companion, I love my area, and I love my mission. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

8/26/13 "Bring yo kids, bring yo wife"

"Wellst, obviously we have some...elders, here in Lakefield Park. They're knocking on yo front doors, they're preaching yo people up, tryin' to save 'em so y'all need to bring yo kids, bring yo wife and bring yo husband 'cuz they baptizin' evrybody out here."

paula's note:  that was Elder Fisher's Antoine Dobson imitation  :-)

I have been transferred to the Lakefield area in the High Point Stake. My new companion is Elder Richardson, who's just come out of training. He's basically Gary Bertier from Remember the Titans. He has a great desire to work, so we've been working very hard the last week, and it feels awesome.

Lakefield is a suburb of Greensboro, which is the second largest city in North Carolina. It is also the most hood area I've yet been in. We walked out of an appointment Thursday night into a crime scene with a bunch of police officers, cop cars and craziness. We politely asked the nearest officer if we could get in our car and leave and, once he said yes, booked the heck out of there.

Another fun thing about Lakefield is that there are hordes of jaywalkers here. We average about 1.6 a minute while we're in the car.

We share the Lakefield Ward with a set of sister missionaries, which is generally nice. However, these two facts exist: where there are a set of elders and a set of sisters in a ward, the members will always love the sisters more regardless of what theelders do. It is an eternal principle.

I honestly love it here, though. Elder Richardson and I went running one morning, and I realized just how beautiful North Carolina mornings are. This is one of many things I will miss about North Carolina when I finally return home.

As I was sitting in the rather crowded public library a few days ago, this thought process ran through my head:
1) The Second Coming will be ushered in when the Gospel is spread over all the earth.
2) Missionaries spread the Gospel.
3) Missionaries now use Facebook to spread the Gospel.
4) Therefore, Facebook ushers in the Second Coming.

Facebook has come in handy. You can communicate with people you couldn't contact otherwise. This last Sunday we managed to scramble together a ride and get an investigator family to church in time for the sacrament. It was all a bit of a hassle since the dad had to take his 14-month old daughter around from class to class, which made her understandably unhappy, but eventually we figured out a way to keep her occupied so that the dad could actually listen to the lessons.

I was just extremely happy that we got somebody to Church. This is the first time I've gotten a real investigator to sacrament meeting since May.


In John, chapter 6, we read that when Jesus fed the five thousand, the multitudes saw this miracle as definite evidence that Jesus was the promised Messiah that they had been awaiting for centuries, and they tried to make Him their King by force. Their desire to do this did not come from faith on Jesus or belief in His teachings, but from their popular conception of what the Messiah was supposed to do. Over the years the Jews had misunderstood the prophets, and now the people's expectations had become corrupted so that they saw the Messiah as one who would give them physical nourishment and deliver them from bondage, just as Moses had.

In response to the crowd's demands for more miracles as proof that He was the Messiah, the Savior told them some of the greatest truths about Himself and what He had been sent to do. He had not come to set up a kingdom on the earth; He had come to provide spiritual nourishment and spiritual freedom in a spiritual kingdom. Those who had followed Him in hope of receiving material wealth or glory were to be disappointed, since that was not His mission.

At this sermon there was a parting of ways between those who held to the popular expectations of the Christ and those who truly believed on Him. The public, in general, turned against the Savior; never again would crowds follow Him in such huge numbers; never again would they try to make Him king. The opposition would only increase from then on, until the day the angry mobs would take His life. At this sermon, many of the Savior's disciples left Him, never to return.

Watching all this, the Savior turned to His Apostles and asked the forlorn question, "Will ye also go away?"

And then Peter responded, "Lord, to whom would we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." Then he continued, "And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

I find this story important, since it shows us two different tests of faith.

All of us, at some point in our life, will come to a time where our personal wants split away from the truth we spiritually need. We will stand at a crossroads between what we know to be true and what we think we want, and we will have to choose which path to follow. The Jews chose to walk a different path than the Savior, while the Apostles stayed. So, too, all of us will have to come to terms with the fact that the Savior's path is not the road to fame, power, and wealth.

The second lesson I find here is seen in Peter's exchange with the Savior: "Lord, to whom shall we go?"

The time will come in the life of every believer that they will pause and wonder if what they believe is true. It is inevitable that this will happen. When all is said and done, is the Gospel really true?

It is at this moment of doubt that the question arises in our minds: Well, if it is not true, where else can we possibly go? Where can we turn for peace, if not to the Savior?

And then there comes the realization that there is no other way. There is no other path that can give us the safety and the answers that we're looking for. And then we remember the joy and the peace we felt when we first heard the words of Christ and believed on them. That memory alone reminds us that Jesus truly is the Son of God and that His words are true and that families really can be together forever. 

This faith is able to carry us forward, even though our knowledge might not be perfect at this moment. We will get the rest of the answers, in time. It was only after Peter proclaimed his faith in the Savior that he got to see Him transfigured on the mountain, or resurrected on the shores of Galilee.

It has been firmly implanted in my mind during my mission that if the Gospel is not true, then nothing is. This work has to be of God. There is no other way, if not the Restored Gospel. I know that Jesus is the Savior, and I know that Joseph Smith was called to be His prophet. I know that we have prophets today and that the Book of Mormon is true. I know all of these things for myself, without having to rely on someone else's testimony.

I love my mission, I love my companion, and I love my area. I love you all, as well. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

8/19/13 "Certainty of death"

"Certainty of death...small chance of success... ...what are we waiting for?"

NOTE: This email contains many of my random thoughts over the last week. Some are not so serious, others are, and I had a lot more that I decided not to put in for the sake of your attention span. Still, I hope you'll bear with me as I unload the rest -- considering, of course, that you actually read the entirety of my fatty emails...

Well, it happened again.

We got a call from President Craven this last Saturday, telling me that he had talked with the stake president and the bishop, and, after those two conversations, the decision had been made that the Monroe elders were going to be pulled out this transfer and be replaced with sister missionaries. This is the fourth time in my mission that this has happened to me: first Dobson, then Pineville, then Huntersville, now Monroe. Or, to put it another way, 4 out of the 5 areas where I have served, I have been in the last elder companionship in that area before it was given to the sisters.

This really was a good time for sister missionaries to come into the area, since the lease on our apartment expired and our Ward Mission Leader had found us a new one in the nearby town of Indian Trail, which is much higher class and has not seen missionaries for years. The sisters will be able to move into a new apartment in a area that is probably a lot safer for them than the sometimes sketchy Monroe. I know they will have lots of success here, and that makes me feel happy. I feel bad in that, despite Elder Schauerhamer and I's best efforts this entire transfer, we never got even a single investigator, so the sisters will be coming in with no one to teach and will have to start from scratch.

Regardless, I am being transferred from Monroe. Where to, I do not know.

This development with transfers has only been one of the many interesting events which have occurred this last week, not the least of which being Elder Schauerhamer having to make an emergency trip up to Charlotte for a doctor's appointment this morning, which is why this email got off so late. It's been an interesting transfer, all things considered. I have learned a lot and grown a lot more. 


A) Those of you who look on my Facebook page will note I liked all the Brethren. It's interesting to see how many likes each of them got. The current leaders are:
1) President Monson: over 100,000
2) President Uchtdorf: over 60,000
3) President Eyring: over 40,000
4) Elder Holland: around 36,000
5) Elder Bednar: around 32,000
All the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve are under 30,000. I think Elder Hales has the fewest, poor guy. 

B) One of the CDs my trainer Elder Molina liked to listen to was called "The Work," about missionaries. One of the songs on there was actually called "Work," a real gung-ho song about...working. One of the lines in this song mentions "rockin' on, knockin' on a billion doors."

I got a little clicker thingy in February to keep track of the number of houses I've visited blind on my mission. It occurred to me, after I passed the 1,000 mark, that if I knocked a thousand doors a thousand more times, I would only be a thousandth of my way to that billion-door mark. Crazy.

C) When I made my page, I looked at the profiles on the side of the page and, lo and behold, there was my cousin-in-law (?) April McMurray. That was a real day-brightener!

D) I returned back to Pineville on exchange with the Zone Leaders this last week. That was definitely a lot of fun for me. The apartment's a mess now that I've left it, though.

More serious...

Perhaps it was the fact that we haven't had anyone to teach the last six weeks, but I have been thinking a lot about how to really measure success on a mission. How to really be a good missionary, when you get right down to it. Anyway, I think I found an answer when I read an email from Aaron Machen, an El Paso friend currently serving his mission in Mexico, and he repeated the same conclusion I came to:

We are good missionaries if we forget ourselves.

-- Forgetting yourself is only using 10 minutes of your lunch hour so you can go out and work longer.
-- Forgetting yourself is working right until 9:00 PM even when you run out of stuff to do at 8:25.
-- Forgetting yourself is wearing missionary clothes even when you don't necessarily have to.
-- Forgetting yourself is not owning a large stuffed Spiderman ball or a Marvel notebook or a Lord of the Rings calendar or other childish things, even though those aren't specifically mentioned in the Missionary Handbook.
-- Forgetting yourself is listening to spiritual music all the time, even though none of your missionary leaders would have a problem with hearing something a bit heavier.
-- Forgetting yourself is talking about the Gospel when it's just you and your companion and you have nothing to prove by doing so.
-- Forgetting yourself is working out of a desire to serve the Lord -- not to get numbers.

It occurred to me that all the missionaries I admire most did all of these things above. Therefore, I have tried to do those things. Still, despite all this, there is so much more work to be done on forgetting myself and becoming like Christ. 

For example, I never knew what sort of person I really was at heart until the time Elder Schauerhamer asked me if I could please sleep without my fan from now on, since it was keeping him awake at night. At that moment I learned very quickly who the realElder Fisher was.

It's ironic: when we were born into this world, we forgot who we were before: the Person of Christ who knew exactly what was right and wrong. The whole point of this earth life is that we will forget our natural selves -- who we are familiar with -- and remember the Person of Christ that is deep inside all of us. The Atonement is the power that allows this process to happen.

There is so much more I want to say, and I have no more time to write. I guess I'll have to write more next week in my new area, with my new companion. I love you all, and I love my mission. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

8/12/13 "Use your charm!"

"Use your charm!"
"Charm...charm..." (*trips lady*)

(I laugh because Elder Schauerhamer would probably do something similar if he was put in the same situation.)

This last Friday a special training meeting was called, where we received instruction on how to use an exciting and mysterious new missionary tool known as "Facebook." We missionaries are to use Facebook each day to keep in contact with members, investigators, less-actives, and recent converts, set up appointments, teach lessons, share spiritual thoughts, and all that goodness. The next day Elder Schauerhamer and I embarked to the local public library to start the process of editing our Facebook accounts, which included:

A) eliminating embarrassing pictures. (Oh, the embarassing pictures.)
B) hiding pre-mission friends and family from our newsfeed
C) hiding pre-mission posts

Essentially, hiding or deleting anything that you would not want a complete stranger to see, especially since you want them to recognize you as a representative of Jesus Christ and our Facebook pages must reflect that. 

I must say, my missionary self was mortified at a lot of the things my pre-missionary self did. Truth be told, I still feel like I'm being disobedient every time I get on Facebook -- that strange moment when obedience (not using Facebook) becomes disobedience and disobedience (using Facebook) becomes obedience. I guess that will pass, in time.

I find this situation ironic in several ways. My last post on Facebook before my mission was: "This is Elder Fisher, signing off. See you in two years, everybody."

And, well, actually, it turns out that I'll see you all in just one year after all, since the Church changed the policy. 

We are allotted an hour of time to use Facebook throughout the day. This is also ironic, since it means that I will be using Facebook more during my mission that I did before my mission. Who knew.

At this moment in time, the Facebook thing is so new that they haven't really ironed out the rules on usage. The general guideline is: "Do not let Facebook distract you from your work." I interpret this to mean that we shouldn't be able to see what our family and friends back home are doing.

The Facebook thing is nice, since it allows all of you who are interested to hop on every once and a while and see what I'm up to, but I must request that, if you live outside of North Carolina, you please refrain from messaging me or posting things on my wall in order to help me stayed focused on my work.

Other than Facebook, not much has happened this week. Elder Schauerhamer and I got blasted by rain earlier this week, though, which has led me to label North Carolina as "The Land of the Surprise 10-Minute Thunderstorm."

Additionally, a rather long and convoluted conversation between Elder Schauerhamer and myself this week eventually led me to discover, quite by accident, that he honestly couldn't tell me a single thing about who George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Hitler were. No, really; he wasn't joking or playing stupid; he had slept through History class during his high school years and literally didn't know. History lessons every night after planning have since commenced, and Elder Schauerhamer is now able to intelligently tell me that Abraham Lincoln was not actually president during World War I, which occurred in the 1600s shortly after the Thirteen Colonies were formed. Thank goodness.

Well, I'm caught in that dilemma of really wanting to share a particular spiritual thought, but not really having the time to do it justice. I guess I will just have to put it off yet another week.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here in Monroe and my companionship with Elder Schauerhamer. We love each other and are learning a lot. We will see if we are still companions for the next transfer this upcoming Saturday. I love my mission and I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

7/29/13 "The same thing we do every night"

"What're we doin' tonight, Brain?"
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky: TRY TO CONVERT THE WORLD!!!"

The above exchange is essentially the conversation Elder Schauerhamer and I have had every day of this week. At the moment we don't have any investigators to teach, which means we must go and find them, which means that we have to knock doors much of the time.

As we were going about one day, Elder Schauerhamer all of a sudden stopped on a doorstep and said, with the tone of someone who's just had an enormous epiphany: "You know, Elder, door contacting is a lot like street contacting. Except there's a door in the way. And the people own the street."

And I turned and looked at him, and he turned and looked at me, and we both looked at each other for a moment, and then we kept walking.

A few other events of interest which occurred this week:

1) I had my first beer can thrown at me -- a man in a car tossed it at me as we were biking home one evening. It passed safely in front of my face by about five inches. I was so ecstatic that it finally happened

2) After we had finished our weekly Book of Mormon class, which we hold at the Church on Wednesdays for any investigators who will come, one of the members who had attended asked me to play "something cool" on the piano for her, since apparently she had heard that I could play. I mentally reviewed the songs I can play on the piano. I eventually decided upon "Saturday's Warrior" after a long and hard struggle choosing that song over "Orc Theme 1 from Warcraft 2." (As you might guess by its title, I favor that second piece for its spiritual and reverent nature.)

I played and sang Saturday's Warrior for Sister Johnson and the other members present. Well, apparently Sister Johnson recorded the whole performance on her phone and promptly posted it on Facebook without telling me, where a lot of other ward members have since watched it. At first I was mortified that someone would post a video of me, a missionary, playing something, but I am resigned to the fact now. And, I guess, if any of you wanted to look up her Facebook page you could probably find the video on there, if you really want to see it. I hope it hasn't hit YouTube.    (Paula's note - I've been trying to find this . . . but do you know how many Johnsons are on Facebook - even in Monroe, NC?)

3) We were teaching a lesson after dinner with the Cranes, a member family with 7 young children. We were talking about the importance of opposition, how we need to have bad to help us appreciate the good, so we talked about how Heavenly Father and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are all the good things. At this point, Brother Crane says to one of his younger sons, "So if Heavenly Father is the good, who's the opposition?"

And his 7-year old son immediately responds: "Lakeview Baptist!"


Well, I'd had this long spiritual thought planned out to share, but it doesn't feel the right time to do so. I'll save it for later.

I instead want to take a moment and mention my dear friend Elder Stephen Ward. I do not have much time to write out all a want to say about him, but I do want to shout out about his great character. While I dodged beer cans this week, he was surviving the terrible train crash in Spain. (Really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?) I am so glad that he was protected and in good condition. He is a person of incredible faith and testimony, and he will work wonders on his mission. I admire him and am so glad that I know him. Everyone, please keep him in your prayers.

I am so grateful to be here on my mission. I love my companion, and I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Monday, July 22, 2013

7/22/13 "Hidy ho neighbor!"

This last week we got to use a car, so we continued to play a spirited game of Catch the Less Active at Home. Unfortunately for us, it appears that the ward roster had not been updated in a VERY long time, so the majority of people we were looking for had moved several years before. As we were trying one particular house, a man was in his back yard, so I said hello to him and he came to talk to us. I could only see the top half of his face, though, when he spoke, which immediately put me in mind of Wilson from Home Improvement, so I said "Hidy ho, neighbor!" and the man laughed. Elder Schauerhamer didn't get it.

We are currently in a time of transition in Monroe. The area we live in has kind of been worked to death the last few years, so we are scheduled to move into a new apartment a few miles away, where there are more members nearby and different people to talk to. Until that happens, though, we have to find new ways to be effective in the small radius of our area that can be reached on bike.

The largest event of note this week was Zone Conference last Friday. The main topics of discussion were:
1) How to give a talk
2) How to run a sacrament meeting
3) More changes that are happening in missionary work
And, of course, the obligatory training on how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively, how to ask people inspired questions, etc.

I thought possibly the most important training was how to give a good talk, since you'd be remarkably surprised how many people don't know how to do it. Most of the suggestions President and Sister Craven gave us I knew already, since I have been born of goodly parents (thanks Mom!) Just simple things, really, like how to stand when at the podium, not saying "I've been asked to speak about" or making fun of the bishop, not saying "um," not infringing on the presiding authority's time, etc.

Coincidentally, one of our speakers in sacrament meeting this last Sunday did all the things they told us NOT to do in Zone Conference.

To start off her presentation, Sister Craven quoted a few lines of Old English poetry and asked us if any of us knew where it was from. I said it was from The Canterbury Tales, and Sister Craven told me that I was only the second person in the whole mission to know that. Go me! (For your information, the other elder was ElderWhitaker, the actor for young Joseph Smith in Prophet of the Restoration.)

There are a lot of changes occurring in missionary work. The main item of business in Zone Conference was the change in missionary dress code. For example, we know can wear khaki pants, instead of just black or grey, and we can wear lighter colored suits. Additionally, we aren't supposed to wear backpacks anymore, and are instead supposed to use satchels. (i.e. MAN-PURSES.) Apparently the backpack thing was a subject of much fervent discussion among the Quorum of the Twelve, which I find amazing -- of all the things they have to do, they still find it important to be unified on things seemingly as simple as a backpack.

So, the last year has seen some massive changes in missionary work:
1) The age-change
2) Change in dress code
3) Opening up the churches for guided tours during the day (still to be phased in)
4) Use of Facebook to keep in contact with people (still to be phased in)
5) iPads for missionaries. This one I find particularly incredible, since even if it's just one per companionship that's still 35,000 iPads. (That's a lot of money.) The iPads will have your area book, scriptures, videos, planner, everything. And it's set up in such a way that people in authority can look at your iPad and see what your plans are for the day. Our mission starts getting iPads in August.

All of this just blows me away. It's clear to me that my second year of missionary work is going to be very different from my first. 

It's at times like this that I start waxing dramatic...'s like I'm one of the last of a vanishing breed of missionaries, the old backpack-wearing generation of 19-year olds that went about all day, every day, knocking on doors and carrying scriptures and writing stuff in a little paper planner. In a while we will be replaced by a horde of 18 year-olds who wear satchels, use Facebook and wield iPads. The world has gone and changed on me, and someday the concept of a missionary will be very much different that what it was a few years ago.

Well, at least I arrive home at the same time the first wave of 19-year old sisters finish their missions.

Ultimately, all these changes came from the Top. Not just the prophet and Quorum of the Twelve, but from the Lord. I guess that it's time for things to change. AsElder Perry said in the broadcast a month ago, the world is a very different place than it was 80 years ago. People are busier, less trusting, less religious, less hospitable, and it's not as effective anymore to go shouting repentance from door to door. The next generation of missionaries must be younger, smarter, more obedient and stronger in testimony than any before to be able to change the world. The Lord is coming, and He's speeding up His work, and I guess this is one way that's going to happen.

I am so glad to be a missionary, especially at this special time of history. I am so grateful for Elder Schauerhamer, too. I have met few missionaries who are as obedient, diligent, humble, and patient as he is. He is quite possibly the most humble person I have encountered in the field. I am very happy to be his companion.

Final thought...
This simple conclusion came to me last week:
1) Humility is the prerequisite to all repentance.
2) Pride is the prerequisite to all sin.
This thought is not complicated, but it blew my mind. I'll let you chew on that for a while.

I love my companion, I love Monroe, and I love my mission! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

715/13 "The path that rocks"

"Don't listen to that guy. He's trying to lead you down the path of righteousness. I'm going to lead you down the path that rocks!"

Alright! I have been transferred to the Monroe Ward, in the Charlotte South Stake. I am paired up with Elder Schauerhamer, who has been out for 19 months. We live right across the street from the church and we share the ward, but not our apartment, with the local Spanish missionaries, Elder Ovalle and Elder Oviatt (who came out with me.)  Neither of us know the area, so we have a bit of work ahead of us.

Monroe is a lot like Shelby, except that there are a lot of Hispanics here, hence the presence of Spanish missionaries.

It is a good ward, though, and I am glad to be here. It's ironic that I got paired up with Elder Schauerhamer, because, believe it or not, I mentioned him in my second email in the field (entitled "They WANT you to eat the rolls," for those of you with a good memory). Almost a year later, I am companions with him. Crazy, huh? I now can relate to John Bytheway. ("What kind of name is 'Bytheway?' " "You're one to talk, Mr. Bathroom Tool!")

It was very interesting for me -- immediately after we were assigned as companions at transfer meeting and sat down together, I had this wonderful feeling of rightness from the Spirit, and that's never happened before. I wonder why Heavenly Father found that necessary to do this time around.

Anyway, we've been getting along well together. Elder Schauerhamer is a very humble, down-to-earth missionary with a good heart. He has a great desire to be exactly obedient and work hard -- two VERY good qualities to have as a missionary. He always has this cheerful smile on his face and is unfazed by rain or bad weather.

On Sunday a member invited us over for dinner. They were giving us barbecued chicken legs. As a joke, the husband referred to them as frog legs, and apparentlyElder Schauerhamer believed him. For the rest of the meal we played along, getting him to believe that they really were frog legs that we were eating. I'm pretty certain he still honestly thinks he had frog legs for dinner.

This whole week has been a big game of Find the Less-Active at Home, except this time around, we are on bikes. We met with a particular recently activated sister on Saturday. She's getting her patriarchal blessing on Wednesday, and she was a bit nervous about it because of several events in her past. What a great blessing it was for me to be able to share my testimony on that one! I was particularly hesistant to get my own patriarchal blessing myself. I kept thinking to myself, "What if there's something important in my life that he doesn't mention? Or what if he says something that I know is way out there?" And I fretted and fretted and stalled. When I finally got my blessing, though, I knew it was true, every word of it, and that it had to come from Heavenly Father. So many parts of that blessing have come true in beautiful and unexpected ways.

I actually shared my blessing with this sister, which is highly unusual but I felt okay with doing it.

I testify that Patriarchal Blessings are true inspiration from our Heavenly Father, and I would encourage each of you to read yours and study it this week. They truly are wonderful.

Well, due to a variety of factors I am sadly out of time, but I will have more to report next week. I love you all and I'm glad to be here. The Church is true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

7/8/13 "It was twelve years old"

"Of course, there was the time he sold Ogram a horse, saying that it was six years old, when it was really twelve. But now, it's all over, and everything is normal again.

" was twelve years old."
"It was six!"

Well, it turns out that I am leaving Shelby and getting transferred, while ElderCollinwood is staying and finishing out his mission here. I'm pretty glad that he got to stay, because it's no fun to be sent to a new area when you've only got six weeks left. I'm very glad that I got to be his companion, though, before I got transferred out. I've learned a lot from him and have had a lot of good experiences in Shelby, and I am looking forward to seeing where the Lord sends me next.

A Few Items of Interest:

1) The last three months or so the birds have been going INSANE here in North Carolina. There are birds fighting each other in the sky all over the place. Usually it's little small birds chasing bigger birds, like hawks or crows, but I've seen all shapes and sizes duking it out over the last few weeks, and, though I hate to say it, these battles are quite entertaining to watch. I am really curious to know what on earth's going on.

2) I received a letter this Friday from the Stevens family, the couple in Huntersville that Elder Fulton and I had found and been teaching before we had been transferred out. I had written them a letter a few weeks before and they responded back, telling me that they were set to be baptized. (The letter also included a picture drawn by their little girl Taylor.) At Zone Meeting the Huntersville sisters confirmed the story, and, if all went as planned, they got baptized July 6th and confirmed on Sunday. Yet another group of wonderful people who I got to help into the Church!

They told me that Elder Fulton and I were their favorite elders. Granted, we were their ONLY elders, but still. :)

3) This Friday we had an appointment to go teach Charles, a less-active we've been working with. He works at some podunk auto shop with two coworkers, Scott and Elvis. We taught all three the Plan of Salvation once, and it was a particularly interesting lesson since Scott is Jewish. Elvis also has an eye-patch, which led me and Elder Collinwood to dub him Elvis the One-Eyed Pirate.

Well, apparently on Friday Scott and Elvis got into an "altercation," and when Charles tried to break it up, Scott pulled a knife on him. Charles grabbed a shovel and used it to fend off Scott until a police officer arrived. The officer was a woman, and she went to break up the fight, first arresting Scott and then going for Elvis the One-Eyed Pirate, telling him to get down on the ground. When Elvis resisted arrest, the lady officer threw him through the glass window of the shop. OWNED.

As a result of this, Scott and Elvis have been erased off our list of Potential Investigators. 

4) My first week here, as we went forth Less-Active Hunting, we bumped into Arthur, a retired Navy SEAL and Vietnam veteran and one of the toughest guys that I've ever met. Though he is 70-something and has a Lorenzo Snow beard, I have no doubt that he could miserably destroy me in three seconds if he wanted to. He was very friendly to us and open to having us come back, but we never really managed to get ahold of him for the four or five weeks afterward and we could tell that there wasn't a whole lot of push from him to meet again.

This last week, however, things changed in his life. Arthur's daughter Patty, 8 1/2 months pregnant with twins, was left by her boyfriend, who also stole all of her money when he left. In one day Patty was left in a pretty nasty hole. As a former SEAL, Arthur's first response was to hunt down the boyfriend and kill him -- which would have been a very bad thing -- but he did not. Since he is going through financial struggles himself, he felt completely powerless to help his daughter. In desperation, he pulled his car over to the side of the road, got out, and said a prayer, asking the Lord for help.

As he opened his eyes, he saw an eagle flying through the air above him. Twenty minutes later, he got a call from us, the missionaries, asking if we could stop by and see him.

Miracle? Oh yes.

Arthur came to church on Sunday for the first time in forever, along with his daughter and her family. We assisted the bishopric in giving both of them blessings, Patty that she would be able to give birth without any problems, and Arthur that he would not have the desire to find the boyfriend and pulverize him. It was a very spiritual occasion, and Arthur even bore his testimony in Sacrament Meeting. A wonderful man who would make a good Santa for ward parties.

5) As I was sitting in Zone Meeting on Friday, all of a sudden it came to me tha tElder Collinwood was an answer to a prayer I had said about two months ago. I had completely forgotten about that prayer, so realizing that the Lord had fulfilled it through Elder Collinwood was a bit of a mind-shock to me. I've loved being his companion and I'm so grateful for him, and I hope he will have a happy last transfer before he heads home to Seattle.

All of this has just gone to strengthen my faith that the Lord really does answer our prayers. I know that no request is too small for Him.

I really do love you all. I am excited to see where the Lord sends me next! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

7/1/13 "That still only counts as one!"

I had an extremely special treat this week. Douglas Green, the guy I taught for forever in Pineville, was driving through Shelby this week and came and visited me. It was an incredibly wonderful experience to be able to see him again after so many months. I felt kind of similar to Alma when he bumps into the Sons of Mosiah after all those years and sees that they're still solid in the faith. He's grown so much in his testimony. We had a great conversation where he related to me all the events leading up to his baptism. The whole time I had this massive outpouring of love for the guy; he has so much faith. At literally any point in the teaching process he could have shut the door, but he didn't.

Doug told me that for his post-confirmation sacrament talk, he related to the audience that "it took five sets of missionaries, a mission president and his wife, and countless loving members, all using gentle persuasion and sometimes outright assaults, to get me in the font."

Nevertheless, that still only counts as one.


In other news...

One of the baptismal requirements listed in Doctrine and Covenants 20 is that a person must have a "broken heart." Apparently Logan, the younger kid we've been teaching, took that a bit too literally, since he apparently has some heart problems that need to be taken care of. Instead of his heart beating "Thump-thump, thump-thump" like it's supposed to, it beats "Jing-gle-bells, jing-gle-bells."

This last Sunday I was invited to play the intermediate hymn for sacrament meeting. I was very honored to do so, but unfortunately the hymn was "True to the Faith," which is one of the more...exciting, hymns to play. I did pretty well up until the point that I forgot that there were four verses instead of just three. Oops.

We also taught Sharing Time in Primary, which is by far one of the funnest things I've done on my mission. The topic was the sacrament, and as part of the lesson we were going to do a game where we asked the children questions about the sacrament. Elder Collinwood and I had to come up with questions ourselves, though.
My idea: "Extend logically the possibilities of Judas Iscariot partaking of the sacrament according to the differing accounts of the Last Supper recorded in the Four Gospels, and the possible effects this might have had on his salvation."
Elder Collinwood's idea: "What day of the week do we take the sacrament?"
We generally went with a lot of Elder Collinwood's ideas.

Another fun feature of this past week was that we were inundated (ooh! good word!) with lightning storms. The most impressive one was on Monday evening, where there were about two lightning flashes a second for forty-five straight minutes. The storyteller inside of me imagined two super-powered people fighting each other in the sky, and each flash of lightning was when they exchanged blows. Life is just so much more fun with imagination.

We visited a ton of people in the hospital this week -- mainly investigators and less-actives. Many blessings were given. Mostly, we just listened to people. I am very glad that I am healthy, and that I can bike 28 miles in a summer day without getting tired. I'm also very grateful that I can give blessings.

The last notable event of this week occurred on Saturday. To save miles on our car, we hopped on our bikes and travelled to a nearby appointment, which, sadly, blew us off. On the way home Elder Collinwood's tire went flat, so we had to walk about an hour or so back.

On the way, however, I saw a Little Caesar's sign-waver. Having been a Little Caesar's sign-waver myself, I now subconsciously judge any sign-waver I see. ("You're lame," I'll think, or "You're good," and such, when I see them.)  Well, this guy was good. Super good. He really knew what he was doing. So, I asked Elder Collinwood if we could go over and talk to him, and he agreed.

Well, it turned out that his name was Paul. He told us that he was an Apostle, and was the pastor of his own church. He had "God" on his arm, too. He asked us to tell him about Jesus, and then immediately after went on this huge speech about God and life and such. I couldn't stop grinning. "The people that drive by," said he, "they are my church. The people who honk as they drive by, they are on the front row. The people who wave, they are in the middle. The people who just drive by, they are on the back row."

What is it with being a sign-waver for Little Caesar's and teaching people about Jesus?

Transfer calls are this Saturday. We'll find out if I'm staying in Shelby or not. Any mail sent by Thursday should show up before transfers, regardless of if I'm staying or if I'm going, but after that it's a bit iffy. I'll know by Monday what the plan is.

I love you all. I sure love being a missionary. This work is true, I know it. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Monday, July 1, 2013

6/24/13 "I do love knitting patterns"

Wasn't that missionary broadcast the bomb? For those of you who missed out, Elders Holland, Perry, Nelson, and Packer spoke, and President Monson concluded. It was all about missionary work, particularly member missionary work, and they showed a lot of videos to help demonstrate things.

The gist of it was this:
1) We live in a new world where door-to-door missionary work is no longer very effective. Thus, missionary work must change. As part of this, there will be time given to missionaries in the morning to use the Internet for missionary work -- like using Facebook to keep in touch with investigators.
2) Missionaries will be given iPads to help them in their work. (My mission, the Charlotte North Carolina Mission, has been selected as one of the first missions to phase these in!)
3) The meetinghouses will be opened at certain hours during the day, allowing for guided tours should people want them.
4) Members must work harder at being missionaries.

I could write more, but for time purposes I'll leave you to look it up. My mission knew all of this ever since our Mission Tour with Elder Evans, but it turns out that Elder Perry was the Secret Keeper for the whole Church, so we couldn't say anything until he announced it at the conference.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I think yet of all these changes. For better or for worse, they're happening, and they'll probably be more effective. The sad fact is, if missionaries were left to themselves they would knock every single door in the world and get absolutely nothing done, so I really like this increased push for member work. I guess I'm just afraid of missionaries getting lazy.

Not very much exciting happened this week, besides us doing a ton of service.

Oh, yes. And while I was on exchanges this week with Elder Neiner in my district, we were assisting one family with their yardwork. Their elderly nonmember neighbor came over to help them. She ended up getting attacked by a dog while we were there. She had some pretty disgusting bites on her, but I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say that she was run off to the emergency room, but is okay now.

The ironic thing is, Elder Neiner completely panicked when he heard the lady scream. Apparently when he had been set apart, the stake president had said in the prayer that he'd get bitten by a dog at some point during his mission, so when he saw the lady and the dog, he thought, "Oh crud. This is it!" Thankfully, the prophecy did not come true. Yet.

I ended up getting between the lady and the dog and driving it away from her. The weird thing was, the dog is actually very nice and gentle with everyone else...

Well, I'm a bit short on time at the moment, so I guess I'll just cut it short there. I am very happy to be here in Shelby with Elder Collinwood. I love it here, and I love my mission. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

6/17/13 "NOW will you give me some fightin' room?"

 Another fun week full of fun events! Here's some of them:

1. As we were driving along this week, we saw some rednecks attempt to jump their truck with their riding lawnmower. When we drove back the opposite way about fifteen minutes later they were still going at it.

2. Two Tuesdays ago, on the day we biked 28 miles, we were biking past a house when suddenly the bulldog tied up in front of it broke its chain and chased after Elder Collinwood on the bike. IT WAS SO FUNNY. I just about died watching Elder Collinwood desperately try to outrun the insane dog right on his heels. Eventually he escaped it, so then it turned around and came after me. I calmly got off my bike, put it between me and the dog, and rebuked the beast so that it retreated away. Stupid thing.

3. One fun thing about Shelby at this time of year: FIREFLIES! They come out in hordes at night, and it is so much fun for me to watch them. Other than one night our family spent in Nauvoo in 2005, I have never seen fireflies before, and I love it. Those things are so cool.

4. This week I found out that our church has a cat. There's this ownerless cat that's about 16 years old which just lives around the parking lot, and it's done that for as long as anyone can remember. It's very tame and very friendly.

5. We've continued working on the shed for one of our members. We spent a few hours getting up all four walls and such. Next phase is the roof. It's been good experience for me.

6. Elder Collinwood and I looked at the GPS and discovered that there are over 50 churches within a 2-mile radius of the center of Shelby. How about that?

7. On Tuesday we went to go help a particular less active clean out their home. This person's house is completely filled with boxes and plastic bags and mounds of stuff. From wall to wall, floor to ceiling, save for a 18-inch pathway that starts at the front door and winds its way around mountains of junk through the house to the bed. I'm talking mountains of junk here. Mountains. Think of the goblin lady in Labyrinth with all the garbage on her back. It was literally that bad.

We devoted about two hours or so to "sorting" out their stuff, which mostly involved throwing away the stuff they wanted to keep but was actually garbage. Such as macaroni boxes they'd had since the 90's. There were literally macaroni boxes in there that were older than I've been alive. We took out a sizeable amount of stuff out to the dumpster during that time without even making a dent on the amount still left to do. Nevertheless, we will persevere and continue cleaning in the future, since the family had told us that they wanted help.

8. We had just finished teaching a pleasant lesson to Logan, our baptismal date, and were walking out to the car when we noticed something wrong. It had been a little windy that day -- in fact, there were sirens going off announcing a tornado watch -- and apparently the wind had knocked off a tree branch that fell and completely busted our back windshield. It was entirely gone - not a piece of it was intact. We called up the sweet senior missionary in charge of mission vehicles and asked him what to do.
Elder Cornelius said, "Well, you have a couple of storm cells headed your way, so here's what you do: go down to Lowes, get yourself some plastic, duct tape it to the back of the windshield, and find some cover."
Oh, okay.
So we did. Thankfully the storm missed us entirely, so there wasn't even any rain.
I thought the whole situation was hilarious, Elder Collinwood found it stressful. I thought the odds of a tree branch breaking the back windshield were so remote that there was nothing we could have done to prevent it. If that was the case, we might as well laugh about it.

9. One last thing. We had dinner with a member family on Thursday. The wife told us that the other day she had stepped out of her house in the morning. Due to some trick of the light, the whole sky seemed incredibly bright, far more than anything she had ever seen to the point that it was blinding.
Her heart skipped a beat and she thought, "Oh dear. This is it."
For a moment, she thought it was the Second Coming.
She thought to herself: "Garments? Check. Faithful to husband? Check. Attending church, reading my scriptures..."
Eventually, the lighting changed and she realized it wasn't actually the end, but it was a powerful experience for her.

Just take a minute and think about what you would have done if you had thought the Second Coming had arrived. What would your response be? In some ways I really wish that this experience had happened to me, just so I would know how I would have reacted. Would I be terrified? Overjoyed? Apprehensive?

Think about it for a minute.

I was pondering over this story for the rest of the night.  I remembered a scripture, the words of a great prophet who was talking about when the Lord would come. Said Alma, "Now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice." (Alma 13:25)

I would to God that the Second Coming happen in my day -- I want to see the Savior so badly. Yet let Him come back at all, and I will rejoice.

I wish to conclude by sharing a song that came to my mind, one of my favorite Primary songs, When He Comes Again. I'll share the final verse with you, since this brought me close to tears that particular evening:

I wonder when He comes again
Will I be ready there
To look upon His loving face
And join with Him in prayer?
Each day I'll try to do His will
And let my light so shine
That others seeing me may seek
For greater light divine.
So when that blessed day is here,
He'll love me and He'll say,
"You've served me well, my little child;
Come into My arms to stay."

May the same be said to all of us, someday. I know the Church is true. I love my mission, I love my companion, and I love my area. I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher