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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

6/3/13 "It's a universal greeting!"

"I'll give them the Universal Greeting. Bah-weep-grana-weep-ninny-bong!"
"It's a universal greeting!"
Last week I was in a bit of rush due to a variety of factors. Elder Fulton had been asked several months ago to find a new apartment for the missionaries to stay in, mainly because the Huntersville missionaries were not living in the Huntersville area. The move was scheduled to take place after transfers, which was okay since we were assuming that Huntersville would be remaining an Elder area. However, with the sisters coming in, the cleaning had to take place on an earlier day, so Elder Fulton and I, assisted by our magnificent District Leader Elder Parker and his companion Elder Wilkinson, desperately cleaned and packed for Monday and Tuesday. Also adding to the confusion was the fact that President decided Preparation Day should be Tuesday, not Monday as usual. So it was all a bit hectic.

Huntersville was a very nice area. In one of our last member-home dinners there, I played O Divine Redeemer on the piano while Elder Fulton and Sister McDonald, the mom of the home, sang. It was a wonderful experience.

Now a little bit more about the current situation:

I am with Elder Collinwood, who is two transfers away from going home (so, about 22 months out). He's been a senior companion ever since he finished training, and he is a very seasoned missionary. I'll probably be his last companion. He's been having a lot of success in the Shelby area. He's a great teacher, gets along great with the members, has a good knowledge of the scriptures, and knows how to work smart. I am going to learn a lot from him.

As for Shelby itself, it is a small town about forty minutes west of Charlotte, near the border with South Carolina. We have a ward here that probably should be a branch, meeting in a cute little Stage 2 church building. The bishop is great, and the Stake President lives in our ward. The Shelby area is full car, which is a very different experience than what I am used to. For your information, Shelby is not in the Ashville Zone, so I will be staying in the North Carolina Charlotte mission for the remainder of my time.

Shelby reminds me a lot of my first area, Dobson, since both are fairly small country towns. A major difference is that Dobson was a lot of farmers, so while the people in Dobson and Shelby have around the same economic level, the people in Dobson had a lot more dignity about them. As in, both sets of people were rednecks, the sort of people who'll sit shirtless on the front porch of their podunk house while they smoke cigarettes, but the Dobson people seemed to have this inbred sense of pride to them while the Shelby people do not. Deep down, the Dobson people say inside of them, "Y'know, I might be sitting here on mah front porch half nekkid with mah tuhbakka, but my mamaw darn well raised me good," while a Shelby person would say, "Hey, any of y'all got a light?"

I've noticed a lot of billboards here in Shelby. The majority of them advertise three general things:
1. Bridal stores.
2. Divorce lawyers.
3. Diamond pawns.

Another fun thing about Shelby is that there are a ton of churches here. I thought there were a lot in Dobson, but oh boy, there are more here. I've noted Baptists, First Baptists, Second Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Missionary Baptists, and Temple Baptists, and I've also seen Methodists, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and many other kinds of churches. Some of them have their own sorts of special names, usually sounding something along the lines of Memorial Grace Journey United Love Church of God, and I've willing to bet my nametag that nobody could tell you how they came up with that name.

In other words, to quote little orphan Annie: "I think I'm gonna like it here."

The Shelby area has been very successful the last few months. Elder Collinwood does a lot of work with part-member families and less actives, which is probably why he's been doing so well. The last few days have been a game of Catch the Less-Active at Home. It's pretty fun, except when the less-active cheats.

For example, on Sunday we went to go visit a certain James B_______. We arrived at the address to find a small, disheveled home, with all the windows and doors open and junk spilling out of it. The interior looks like something out of a crime scene show and there is a vapid odor about the place. It looks like not a soul has lived here for years.

We call out hesitantly: "James B______?"

Not a sound is heard.

In my mind's eye, I could just imagine a scene at the beginning of a horror movie when two young missionaries get eaten by the evil monster in the abandoned house, the scene just before the opening credits begin.

So, Elder Collinwood and I took a smart step across the street to the well-kept house and lawn on the other side and politely knocked on the door. After a brief conversation with the kind older lady who lived there, we asked where James B________ was.

She gave us a curious look and replied, "Honey, James B________ is dead."

Afterward we marked his address on the Garmin with a skull and crossbones and moved on. We'll let Alma and Amulek play Catch the Less-Active at Home with James.

The last major highlight of this week was a Mission Tour where Elders Evans and Nielsen of the Seventy came and spoke to our mission. One of the major things they told us was that knocking on doors is one of the most ineffective ways of doing missionary work, and that we need to stop doing it. I kind of felt like an idiot since that's basically all I've been doing since the beginning of my mission. I guess that's why the Lord has paired me up with Elder Collinwood.

Finally, my new address in Shelby is this:
1635 South Dekalb Street #1014
Shelby, NC 28152

Sorry for the big read, I guess that it kind of averages out if you combine it with last week's. Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

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