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, March 20, 2014

3/17/14 "All things to remembrance"

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." - John 14:26

E. Mickelson got a call this Saturday from the Assistants, who told him that I was going to get transferred and that he was going to be staying in Summit to train a new missionary. So I will be getting companion #16 in area #9 on Tuesday. President might pull another fast one and throw me companion #17 while he's at it, though.

The title of this email is E. Mickelson's favorite scripture. He got in a car wreck in high school and actually died, but was brought back shortly after. He still cannot remember anything that had happened up to 6 months before the accident. Before the crash, he had a very promising sports career ahead of him but his injuries took all of that away, and in the weeks after he had problems with his short-term memory. So, with college sports no longer an option, he decided instead to study the scriptures and prepare for a mission. While reading in the New Testament, he came across John 14:26. The Savior's promise that the Holy Ghost would bring all things to his remembrance was of great comfort to him. It has definitely helped him on his mission so far.

The main story of this week happened on exchange with E. Kemp. We were happily driving to our next appointment when all of a sudden a Storm of Terror came out of nowhere and blasted the whole earth with rain. Rarely ever have I seen enough rain to justify the expression "rain curtain," but this was one such time. The rain made a solid grey wall all around us in the car.

E. Kemp and I were marveling at this when lo! there was a terrifying green flash to the right, filling up the entire right side of our vision for a split second and then disappearing. Elder Fisher pulled the car into a nearby apartment complex and we waited out the storm. Afterward we drove past the spot with the flash to see what we could see. We didn't see any devastation but we did notice a very powerful burnt smell. At the time I had thought it was a lightning bolt but in hindsight I realize that there wasn't a thunderclap, so it was probably a transformer exploding.

The day after, back with E. Mickelson, we were out working and we saw that the storm had knocked over a lot of trees. A photo of one such tree is below.

Shortly after I took the picture, as we were walking back to our bikes, I saw a man waiting for the bus, so I started talking to him. It was a cold day that day and I noticed that he had his hands in his coat pockets, so I asked if he had any gloves. He said no, so I gave him mine. We talked to him a bit more and got his information and then his bus showed up.

Well, there's not much more to say. My time in Summit was very short, but while I was here I helped get Summit III the first investigator at sacrament meeting that it's ever had: Tilak, a man from Nepal who we got to come to Stake Conference. There was a special broadcast with Elder L. Tom Perry that I could spend a lot of time talking about but I don't have the time.

I am LOVING the work and excited to report next Monday on who I'm with and where I'm at. The Church is true. Love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

3/3/14 3/10/14 "Go and Do"

Elder Fisher #82, 3/3/14:
"And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?" - Ether 2:23; reference to a story I don't have time to tell here, and also...

Elder Fisher #83, 3/10/14:
"I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded." - 1 Nephi 3:7

Plot twist number three...

I did not get a chance to send off my email last Monday due to the busyness of being with the Assistants. Much much much has changed since that Monday.

Just in my first week with the assistants, we had a meeting for new trainees and their companions on Tuesday, then back-to-back exchanges on Thursday and Friday, then a mission leadership conference with President Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy on Saturday, then a mission home fireside on Sunday. There is never a time when the Assistants are not moving around and teaching. They rarely have time to do regular morning studies, often have to wake up early and get home late, and never get to really stop and eat. I have an advantage over them seeing as they are both extremely thin and I have natural energy reserves (a.k.a. I am fat). 

The second week just had more craziness. There were many notable stories that happened but there's only one in particular that I will share...

I was with Elder Frost on exchange with zone leader Elder Arnold. We had gone and worked in the heart of Charlotte, among the skyscrapers, and were driving to our next appointment when we got a call from the Pineville sisters. Elder Arnold answered and put it on speaker.

"Hello, is Elder Fisher there?" they asked.
Elder Arnold said, "Yes."
"This Saturday we are having the baptismal service of a lady named Rosita Quitugua and she said that she wanted you, Elder Fisher, to baptize her. Would you be able to do that?"
My jaw dropped. Elder Frost and Elder Arnold turned around in their seats to look at me.
"...YES," I said.

I didn't even know what to say. Little Rosita from Saipan, the lady I taught way back in November of 2012, was finally getting baptized and she wanted me to do it! 

I thought about it again and again throughout the day and the time flew by until finally we stopped by the mission office. There were a few missionaries there who needed to stay the night at the Assistant's apartment, and President was interviewing one of them. While he did so I spoke to Elder Arnold and Elder Frost about all the zones I've served in.

I pointed at the map. "The mission has seven zones and I've served in five of them: Winston-Salem, Charlotte South, Gastonia, High Point, and now, with the Assistants, Charlotte Central. I haven't served in the Greensboro or Hickory stakes yet, but hey, I've still got three transfers left. There's still time."

A moment later Elder Frost and Elder Arnold were called into President's office, and after a minute or so I was called in to join them.

President sat me down and explained that, due to a variety of circumstances, Elder Mickelson in the Summit ward of Greensboro needed a companion. He looked me in the eye and asked, "Will you be his companion in Summit?"

In the half second that followed, the following thoughts were going through my brain: Greensboro is over two hours away from Charlotte. There's no way that I would be able to come down for Rosita's baptism. I haven't baptized anybody my entire mission, and one just fell into my lap five hours ago and now I'm going to have to miss it. What about Rosita's baptism?

Those were my thoughts in that half second. But what I immediately said, though, was, "Yes, I will. Of course!" I was almost laughing as I said it, because only a few minutes before I'd talked about how I still had time to possibly serve in the two stakes I'd missed so far.

President said, "That's good. The Pineville sisters called me earlier today to ask if you could baptize their investigator Rosita this Saturday. We'll have you drive up to Greensboro after the service."

I felt a wave of relief sweep over me at those words. I could still make it.


Looking back on this experience, I found it important that my immediate response to President's question was not the self-centered "But what about Rosita's baptism?" but "Yes." I did not know that President would schedule things around me but I said "Yes" anyway, despite what I might have missed out on by accepting the calling. Either way I would have agreed and gone to Greensboro, but I think it important that my first response was an unconditional "Yes."


So now I am in the Summit ward of Greensboro, companions to Elder Mickelson, an elder waiting for his visa before he goes to Brazil. He is my 15th companion in my 8th area, and the fifth companion I have had this transfer. Wow! (I've attended four different wards in four different areas the last four Sundays.) Elder Mickelson is from Yakima, Washington State, and a pretty fantastic individual. I will enjoy my time with him, however long it is. 

And, before I end, this:

Rosita Quitugua at her baptism on 3/8/14, 16 months to the day from when I first met and taught her on 11/8/12. After waiting almost 20 months to experience it, I cannot express the joy I felt standing in the water at that service. It is a feeling I will never forget.

The Gospel is true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

2/24/14 "Angels round about"

"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." - D&C 84:88

Well. Plot twist number two...

This Thursday was interviews with President Craven. I was the very last person in line to be interviewed, going in after Elders Kendall and Eggett at around 6 PM. I have to admire my mission president's ability to sit in a small room and talk to people for eight straight hours, but he says that he enjoys it...

A portion of the interview went something along these lines:

Me: "President, I would like you to know that I am extremely excited for this transfer. Elder Eggett is a brand new missionary, so that gives me a lot of incentive to be extra obedient and diligent because I need to be a good example. I also know Elder Kendall from back at home, and that also gives me a reason to work hard because I don't want to disappoint him and also because I'm probably going to be seeing him after my mission. He's also willing to run with me in the morning! So all of this makes me really excited. I know that this transfer was inspired of the Lord and that we're all going to really take off in the next few weeks."

President: "...Yes. About that..."

He then told me that an important part of E. Eggett's trial mission is seeing if he can do all the regular missionary things. With only two companions it would be easy for him to sit back and let us do all the work. President told me that, although he had hoped that I would get to see my current investigators get baptized, because E. Eggett had to have only one companion and since he knew Elder Kendall best, he was going to transfer me to Charlotte to be with the Assistants that very weekend. I would stay with them until the end of the transfer, at which time I suppose I would get assigned to a new area.

He asked me if I was okay with that, and I said of course.

While I was making lunch on Saturday morning I got another call from President.
President: "Elder, how long would it take you to pack your things?"
Me: "What? Two hours, I guess."
President: "Could you do it in one? The Assistants will be arriving at your apartment at that time."
Me: "Yes, President. I'll do my best."

I was just barely finishing putting the last few things into the final suitcase when the Assistants arrived. We threw my stuff into their truck and took off for Charlotte.

The current Assistants are Elder Steed, who came out on the plane with me, and Elder Frost, who is one transfer older than we are. Both are absolutely incredible, of course. They work in the UNCC campus and are assigned to the YSA ward there. I have spent many hours with them in meetings and doing paperwork in addition to regular missionary activities.

It's all been rather sudden for me. The changes still haven't really hit me yet. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to anybody in Lakefield other than giving the ward mission leader a quick call telling him that I was getting transferred, which surprised him greatly.

Interestingly enough, I have been out 14 transfers and I am now up to 14 companions in my seventh area. That's one per transfer! And I'll be getting comp #15 and area #8 in a few weeks, too.

My thoughts go out to Elder Kendall, who now has to face the task of taking over a new area with only two weeks of experience and also with a brand-new missionary as his companion. He is very capable and competent and I know that if anyone can pull it off, he can.

This whole experience has strengthened my testimony that the Lord really is directing the work. He is always in control.

I don't have the time to say anything else at this moment. Hopefully next week I'll be able to write out a bit more. Love you all! Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

2/17/14 "Of you it is required"

"I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." - D&C 64:10

The last week we had a rather large snowstorm by North Carolina standards. Everything shut down for two days. For the periods of time it wasn't actively snowing we were out shoveling walkways and pushing people's cars. Still, we were forced to spend much time in the church attempting to talk to investigators over Facebook.

While out offering to help people I saw an older lady shoveling snow in her driveway. I heroically rushed to her aid and with great dignity slipped on the snow and fell right on my tush.

When I had brushed myself off and walked up to this same lady and politely asked her if I could shovel her snow, she ran away from me, brandished a stick at me and told me to go away. Grouch!


As I sat in the church during those snowy days, I had a lot of time to think. I was thinking about sin. Sin, as we know, is when someone has a knowledge of what is right but nevertheless willfully and selfishly puts his or her wants above God's. Each day every person on earth commit numerous sins. But -- the question came to me -- just HOW many?

So I put a little scenario together, just for fun. All of these were done with numbers I made up because I didn't have access to any statistics as a missionary snowed-in inside a church.

There are 24 hours in a day. We are ideally asleep for 8 of those, so we generally don't commit sin during that time. To keep the numbers easy we will assume that each day we commit 10 sins, so a little less than 1 sin/hr. That is an extremely generous estimate.

Multiple this across a year: 10 x 365 = 3,650 sins a year.
I will arbitrarily assume that the average human lifespan is about 70 years. 3,650 x 70 = 255,500 sins per lifetime.
There are an estimated 7 billion people on this earth. I will arbitrarily assume that three times that, 20 billion, have walked this earth since the beginning.
255,500 x 20 billion = 5,110,000,000,000,000. A little over 5 quadrillion sins.

To give you an idea of how big of a number 5 quadrillion is: 5 quadrillion millimeters, a unit of measurement so small that it's hard to make with your thumb and index finger, is a distance that would take four and a half hours to travel while moving at the speed of light.

That's 5 quadrillion offenses against God. Each one was when somebody decided to ignore their Father in Heaven. 5 quadrillion. How many times are YOU willing to forgive someone?

One of my favorite Primary songs goes:

"Father said He needed someone who had enough love
To give his life so that we could return home above..."

The Plan simply could not work without someone with the sort of love that still forgives after so much rejection. Even a mother's love is not that strong. Any normal being would have given up on us in hatred and disgust long before they had reached the thousands.

"...There was another who sought for the honor divine;
Jesus said, "Father, send Me, and the glory be Thine."

The Savior had that kind of love. Though He was wronged an incomprehensible amount of times, it is this same Savior who said, "For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent."

Do we begin to understand a bit better, now, the Savior's love for us? That love, which makes Him so freely forgive, is charity, the most powerful force in this universe. It is infinite. It does not fail. Even 5 quadrillion is nothing compared to infinity.

It is this same Being who tells us, "As I have loved you, love one another." And, also, "Of you, it is required to forgive all men." He will lend His love to us upon our request if we feel we are struggling to love our neighbor. He will give it freely, but only if we ask for it.

What started out as a fun little experiment became a profound spiritual experience for me. I love being a missionary and I am grateful for the ability the Lord has given me to love the people I come in contact with. I treasure the time I have to serve Him. This Church is true, and I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

2/10/14 "Beware of Dogs"

"Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of concision." - Philippians 3:2, proof that missionary work is still the same 2,000 years later

It has been a week of flashbacks and surprises...

For two semesters in high school, I went to released-time seminary with a kid named Kason, who was one year below me. In Pineville last February, Elder Shumway and I walked into a member home for a meal with the Zone Leaders and, lo and behold, there was Kason sitting there with them. I stopped in mid-step, completely surprised. My first response was to say "What are you doing here?" but I settled instead for "Hey?"

It turned out that Kason was waiting for his visa to go to Brazil. I remember mentioning in my email that week how incredible it was that out of 400 missions in the world and 100 companionships in my mission, he had gotten assigned to the pair that lived in the same apartment as I did. That's 40,000 to 1 odds.

Well, Kason got sent to Brazil and got sick and got sent home and then got sent back here to North Carolina permanently.

The Saturday before transfers President had told E. Mejia that I would be getting "a senior missionary at the very end of his mission." So imagine my shock when, at transfers, President assigned me to be with Elder Kason Kendall and a brand new missionary, Elder Eggett. That was definitely not expected.

Right after he announced the companionship, President Craven told the audience that "neither of them had any idea that this was going to happen," referring to E. Kendall and I getting a trainee. So along with getting my 11th companion at transfers, I got companion #12, too!

So we went home and I slept on the floor until we got ahold of a third bed and I gave up my desk so that they could use it. The three of us have been doing just fine. Elder Egget is serving a 12-week trial mission, so at the end of that time he will either be honorably released or will be assigned to go serve somewhere for the full two years.


There was another pleasant surprise at transfers. The Pineville sister missionaries found me and told me that they were working in an apartment complex a few months ago when all of a sudden a little woman came running after them, shouting to get their attention. It was Rosita, the lady from Saipan who I taught wayyy back in November 2012. She had been praying yet again for God to send angels her way and again missionaries came into her path. She's been coming to church every week for the last two months. That totally made my day!


Another fact about Greensboro: Sauron lives here. I kid you not. At night you can see his dark tower of Barad-Dur rising high above the other buildings in Greensboro, with the entire city resting under the awful gaze of the great glowing Eye at the top. One does not simply walk there, however, because it is out of our area. Barely. Photos will be forthcoming...


The three of us went to go contact a less-active member on Saturday. When we pulled up at the house, we saw a pit bull on a chain sitting on the porch, guarding the front door. The second it saw us it jumped up and starting barking. My companions heroically took cover in the car. I spoke to the raging mad dog as it barked at me, drool and spittle falling from its frothing mouth. Eventually I got it to stop barking and sit down, and I sidled past it to knock on the door and, when no one answered, sidled past it again to leave. 


In stake conference last November President Craven told the members a bit about his role. He said that he holds the keys for themissionaries, not for missionary work. The bishops of a ward hold the keys for the missionary work in their ward.

I see this to mean that, as missionaries, we do what our mission president tells us. And our mission president has told us to do what the bishop tells us. So we do what the bishop wants, but only because President tells us to. Which means that at any moment...

(Elders sitting in ward council meeting)
*Phone rings*
Elder: "Hello, this is the missionaries."
President: "Execute Order 66."
Elder, brightly: "Alrighty, President!"

These are the sort of random things that come into my brain these days...

This past week has been one of fun and fulfillment. I love being a missionary. Sad to think that I'm running out of time, but I'm glad to be here while it lasts. The Church is true. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher 

2/3/14 "Driven Snow"

"And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree...and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow."

This past week we got hit by a snowstorm, the same snowstorm that shut down Atlanta, just not as bad. Working and biking in the snow was a great experience for me, and I was actually glad for the snow since it warmed things up.

After nightly planning the Spaniards and ourselves had decided to have some fun.

Others: "Do you want to build a snowman?"
Brain: "We haven't even seen that movie yet."
Others: "..."

So instead I wrote in the snow an enormous "MORMONS ROCK" in the church parking lot, then we threw some snowballs at each other, slid down the hill a few times and went home.


I am staying in Lakefield for yet another transfer and Elder Mejia is getting sent to Charlotte to be a Spanish missionary again. I'll miss him. He was a great companion and we got along well.

There were times with Elder Mejia when we'd be teaching an investigator family with members helping us and I would realize that, of the 10+ people in the room, I was the only white guy. A very unusual feeling to have...


I share the Lakefield ward with a companionship of sisters. There is thus competition over getting member help for appointments, getting member meals, and all that stuff. In the ongoing war to win member trust sister missionaries hold a natural advantage, so I try very hard to gain some brownie points whenever I can. One thing I've done throughout my mission is write thank-you notes and hide them in clever places so that the members will find them soon after we've left their house. I have yet to see if this strategy has paid off.


As snow was falling around us on Tuesday we stopped by to visit a part-member family, a couple that is in their later 60's. As we were preparing to leave Elder Mejia was talking to the member husband and I went to go say goodbye to the nonmember wife Teri, who had not joined us for the lesson.

As I walked towards the back room I saw her on the phone so I turned and went back to talk to the husband. In the background we could hear Teri saying "Thank you, Jesus" every few seconds. As we talked, the "Thank you Jesus"s got louder and more frequent, until finally we heard a shouted "Hallelujah, Lord!" from the other room. It made me wonder if she'd just won a million dollars or something.

Then Teri came into the room, sobbing and hysterical. I had never seen a woman her age be hysterical before. 

As her husband took the phone and started talking, I learned that Teri, who had already lost two of her sisters in the last eight months, had just been told that a third sister had been admitted to the hospital in critical condition. With the thought of losing yet another sibling, Teri was crying and afraid.

Her husband was on the phone and oblivious to what was going on. So I sat Teri on the couch and sat down next to her and patted her back and gave her a hug and told her that it was all going to be alright and soothed her as best I could. 

After her husband got off the phone I gave Teri a blessing. Among some of things I felt prompted to say were that Heavenly Father wanted her to know that He was proud of the choices she had made in her life and that she would be reassured that, because the Savior lives, families are eternal. Afterwards I gave her a side hug and she put her head on my shoulder and just cried and cried for a long time. We probably looked really funny, a small little old lady crying on the shoulder of a young man a great deal larger than her.

This taught me a whole lot about compassion. At that moment I wanted very badly for her to know that she was loved and that it would be alright. Hugs to females are technically against the rules for elders but I felt the situation justified it.

Checking back on this family on Saturday, the husband told me that two days later Teri's sister had been released from the hospital and said something along the lines of "she must have heard your prayer for Teri."

I am grateful for the gift of compassion. Compassion is one of those things that makes us human and sets us apart from animals. It's a part of the divine nature that is in each of us. 

I love you all. I know this work is true and I'm excited to see who companion #11 is. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher