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, 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