One of the people we are teaching here is a Jamaican Canadian lady. Her accent is a lot of fun. For example, if she were to say the phrase "Beer can" it would sound like "Bacon."
It is always amazing how we find investigators. One of the people we got to church this Sunday was a man we met at Walmart on a Friday night because E. Dedrick had to go get a replacement tire tube for his bike. It is so easy to start conversations as a missionary.
This last Saturday we took a moment to get off our bikes out of the rain and actually met with our good friend the Baptist pastor, who spoke to us two Sundays ago after we witnessed the car accident. He let us into his office -- the first time I've been in another faith's church my whole mission -- and we sat down and talked for a good while. He is pretty young for a pastor, only 30, and was very polite. Despite our best efforts the subject inevitably turned to the subject of how we are saved, with the pastor being of the "Confess with thy mouth" school of thought, but thankfully he was quite cordial so the Spirit stayed in the room. When we finally departed, it was on good and friendly terms.
He mentioned to us afterward that he'd never met Mormon elders who were so knowledgeable. He was also impressed with my ability to write upside-down on my whiteboard. People always mention how I can write upside-down.
Later that day we got a text from him saying that E. Dedrick had forgotten his gloves. "Do you want me to save them or eBay them?" the pastor asked us.
My brilliant idea was that we should text back, "You cannot save those gloves. They can only be saved if they confess Christ." Sadly, E. Dedrick vetoed this.
A few other things about North Carolina. The Newton-Conover area is apparently religious enough that kids get school out here for Good Friday. I don't recall that ever happening for me in Washington, Texas, or even Utah.
Most people here have a Bible, even if they don't ever read it. One nice touch about these Bibles is that the words of Christ are in red ink. That way, if you are reading the New Testament you can easily tell what is being said by Jesus and what is not. I actually like this a lot, and I wish that we could do something similar with our own LDS scriptures. I would love to see it in the Book of Mormon in particular.
I was asked to be one of the speakers on Easter Sunday, me and one of the stake high counselors. Immediately after my talk I went and sang in the choir. Next Sunday I'm scheduled to sing "This is the Christ" because the choir director volunteered me for it. And I enjoy all of it.
While preparing for the talk was quite a fun experience, the real spiritual climax of the week came on Thursday. I realized that, if Easter is the anniversary of the Resurrection, then Thursday night would be the anniversary of the Garden of Gethsemane. On Thursday night, after I had said my prayer, I turned out the lights and lay in bed and, in honor of the Savior, listened to the song "Not My Will" in the LDS musical "The Garden" by Michael McLean. As far as I know, this song is the only musical attempt to depict what happened in Gethsemane on that night, and it is amazing. The Savior's sacrifice felt so much more real and powerful to me knowing that it was the anniversary of that great event.
Easter is a grand time of year. A few weeks beforehand all the Christian churches start putting purple cloths around the central cross of three in front of their church. As for my Easter thoughts, I don't have the time and you don't have the patience for me to express all that I want to say. The love involved behind Easter is unfathomable, both on the Savior's part and on our Heavenly Father's part.
I will just point out how agonizing it must have been for Him, our Father, to have to watch it all. There was no ram in the thicket for His Son, no last second rescues. He had to watch it play out to the very end. How grateful I am that He was willing to put us, His not-so-obedient children, above that of His Well-Beloved.
I will close with the words of the Primary song, On a Golden Springtime. Like so many other things on my mission, this has taken on a whole new meaning to me since I have come on a mission. I would encourage you to look it up if you can and listen to the whole song if possible -- it all makes me get choked up now. But I will just share the second verse, and my testimony of it:
On a golden springtime, Jesus Christ awoke,
And left the tomb where He had lain; the bands of death He broke.
Awake, awake, o sleeping world!
Look upward to the light!
For now all men may live again,
Look upward to the light!
The Savior did live again. I know this with all my heart.
I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!