Monday, April 28, 2014

DIsappointments, and an African "Hello!"

Elder Pack, Ghana Accra Mission, sends his regards to Elder McMurray, Nebraska Omaha Mission

As does Sister Pack...

 Dear Dad:

Wonderful to hear your account of the news from back home.  Tell Elder Lynn Pack that I say hello in return.

This past week was a struggle....our potentials are dodgy, the investigators that were set for a baptismal date (found in part because of their awesome relationship with Elder Scott when he served here) are dodgy, some of our less actives are flaky and uncommitted, but we've had some good experiences.  One of our recent converts had a pretty bad week and we reminded him of his commitments to the Gospel and gave him a blessing of comfort and counsel.  His countenance changed and we saw him at Church yesterday.  The gentleman that we dropped due to his argumentative nature called us up this past week expressing a desire to come to Church.  We told him that we'd love to see him there and he ended up staying for the first two blocks.  He was quiet, but seemed receptive.  He also gave us copies of the book, "Heaven is For Real", which I'm 99 percent sure we're not allowed to read unless it had the Church's official seal of approval on it.  I'll be sending it home soon.

I'm so sorry, but no pics this week; I will definitely have some next week.  

I love you all, I appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers, I send mine in return, and I'm getting those thank-you notes sent.

Elder McMurray

Hey, Mom.

It sounds like everything's going pretty good at home.  Honestly, I don't think that I'm as tender-hearted as everyone thinks; I feel like I'm more closed off and aloof that people give me credit for, but I'm trying.  One of the missionaries here is feeling homesick -- I offered to give him a blessing, and promised him that I'd be here to help him.

I'm getting that tax refund check cashed today and as far as the glasses are concerned, I think that I'm good for now. 

Love and love,
Elder McMurray

Monday, April 21, 2014

Springtime in Corn Country

(Computer problems prevented me from making a post last week.  This entry covers Elder McMurray's correspondence for the weeks of 14 April and 21 April.)

14 April 2014

Hello, "Daf!" (yeah, iPhone typing is a pain) (I'd signed my letter "Love, Daf" -- I don't do well with the iPhone keypad.)

Sorry about your computer; hopefully, it gets fixed quickly.  We appreciate your thoughts and prayers; we had a hectic but productive week.  We combed through the less active list for the area, which is geographically enormous.  We combed through Glenwood, Pacific Junction, Henderson, and Malvern this week; we have yet to comb through Thurman, Tabor, and Randolph (Mineola, Burkett, Silver City, and the most western block of Hastings are in our area, but have no known less actives); see Google Maps for an idea of how huge this area is. (I saw Google Maps.  It is a huge area.)   

Thankfully, we're still under our mileage limit, but we've really gotta conserve them at least until the end of next week when they get updated again.  We tracted like mad throughout Glenwood and we have a couple of potential investigators.  The meal calendar went from being scant to filled for every day of this week except for Thursday, and most of the remaining days of this month are filled.  Oh, keep this on the DL, but Bishop Jacob's uncle is D. Todd Christofferson (the Apostle? The very same.)  

We had a pretty contentious run-in with an anti-Mormon; we went to an address for a former investigator couple, found a man working the yard of the house, asked if the former investigators lived there, he replied that they owned the property, and we decided to go for the next window of opportunity: talking to HIM about the Church.  

Looking back at it, it started off shaky and I could feel at least some contention without even saying anything.  It was like our old investigator on steroids; it was the same old junk, that we're a Satanic cult, we didn't really know the scriptures, we need to remember the creeds, and so forth.  All we could do was bear testimony that we know that what we're doing is right and true.  He encouraged us to restudy Paul's epistles, was just condescending and a jerk, and told us to stop what we were doing and then maybe he'd see us in heaven.  Elder LeFevre responded that there was no way he'd stop being a missionary and I replied in return, "No can do."  I almost said, "No can do, slick," but maybe that wouldn't have been a good idea...

It's been an adventure and I know that there will be a whole lot more, but we're striving.  We appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers and I extend mine to you in return.


Elder McMurray

Iowa Daffodils

21 April

Hey, Dad:

No worries about the short email; you sounded like you had a good Easter.  Thank you so much for the gift basket, it's awesome.  We had a pretty good Easter; our Bishop gave another excellent talk; it was about the importance of partaking of the Sacrament worthily and centering our minds on the Atonement of Christ.  We had dinner at our ward mission leader and his family's home (burgers, potatoes, JELL-O, and salad) and a family called the Fitzpatricks.  Brother Fitzpatrick cracks me up; he's a Kansas farm boy and Iraq War veteran (never saw combat though, but he was there) and he's very deadpan.  The way he says, "Seriously?" cracks me up.  The area actually doesn't go quite to Missouri if you're looking on Google Maps, the northern boundary is from the Missouri River on the border of Bellevue, Nebraska to a little west of Highway 59.  The eastern boundary is from that point down to the town of Randolph, Iowa.  The southern boundary is from Randolph, Iowa to the Missouri River, and the western boundary is the Missouri River up to the border with Bellevue.  The Shenandoah area actually borders the state of Missouri.  So the towns that are in our area include:

Glenwood, IA

Pacific Junction, IA

Mineola, IA

Silver City, IA

Henderson, IA

the westernmost block of Hastings, IA

Randolph, IA

Malvern, IA

Tabor, IA

Thurman, IA

Bartlett, IA

Still, it's pretty geographically big.  That's great that the song turned out good and that camping was tolerable. (We went camping this weekend.  It was good.  Our Priesthood quorums sang a special musical number on Sunday.  It was tolerable.)  How are the dogs and cat(s) doing?  A member in the ward has what I think is a Labradoodle and I think that she and Auggie would either get along or hate each other. 

It's great that spring is finally there; we're seeing it too.  The weather has warmed up, the grass is greener, we've gotten some good downpours recently.  We're in a drought, so we've been praying for rain.  And we have two baptisms set and a handful of new investigators.  We had a wonderful exchange with the Assistants to the Mission President: Elders Layton and Scott.  Elder Scott went with Elder LeFevre (who's my companion) and I went with Elder Layton.  They're both good guys; Elder Scott is very enthusiastic and LOVES Glenwood (it was his first area and a lot of people here love him too) and Elder Layton is extremely spiritual, approachable, amiable and a great missionary.  He and I hit it right off; we talked the Gospel, missionary life, music, it was terrific.  He and I also had a great experience giving a less active a blessing and the Spirit was so powerful.  So we're in good spirits and we've gotten to be more discerning of the needs of the people according to the promptings of the Spirit.  Elder LeFevre and I had a great night just talking and planning yesterday and we're having a pretty good P-day.  He's got a lot of potential.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers and I hope that you can feel mine and ours in return.  I love you, Dad, and I send my love to all in the family and the Church down there.


Elder McMurray

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conference Weekend and New Companion

Thanks, Dad.  Yeah, Bishop Jacob (the Glenwood Ward bishop) is a great guy and the active members of the ward are pretty solid.  You should consider going fishing at least once.  It's actually pretty fun; I've only caught one, but that's not the point! 

Wow, it's great to hear all of the news; I'm glad that Grandma C. is doing much better and that you used your "Northeastern charm" to diffuse a contentious situation. (It's a long story.)  Go Manchester, go Manchester City, God Bless America this weekend and for all games in which they play!  Yeah, I saw the bluebonnet pictures a couple of P-days ago, they're great.  It looks like y'all are doing well, I'm glad.

This past week was something else: Elder Quayle got transferred to Gretna, Nebraska, a bedroom community of Omaha just southwest of the city.  It's the home area of the Papillion Zone Leaders, so Elder Quayle has gone from a District Leader/Trainer/Greenie Buster in Glenwood to a Papillion Zone Leader, so good on him.  His Zone Leader companion is Elder Snell from Rexburg, Idaho.  Elder Quayle was excited to be paired with a fellow Idaho boy and from what I understand, Elder Snell is a little bit of a cowboy, so Elder Quayle is excited.  I'm training a missionary named Elder LeFevre (pronounced Le-Fever) from Bountiful, Utah.  He's a nice guy and his two older brothers served missions in Europe; I told him that he looks kind of like Seth MacFarlane...

Yeah, General Conference was terrific as usual; Jeffrey R. Holland (who is very popular among many missionaries out here) was good and passionate as always, I really liked Linda S. Reeves' talk in the Saturday AM session, Dallin H. Oaks' talk in the Priesthood session was fantastic, and I've felt a shift in tone as of late with President Monson's talks.  Maybe it's just me, but they seem more urgent, less folksy and whimsical, yet he still quotes the poets and the family of Jabari Parker from time to time (#quoteclosequote).

The bluebonnets iz indeed glorious and that's good that Mom and Na are having a good time. (Mom went to Provo, to spend Conference Weekend with Naomi.)  "I think she's convinced I have brain damage" made me laugh.  Grandma C. sounds like she's keeping an eye on things. (Grandma C, ever vigilant, expressed concern that I was being left in charge at home for the weekend. Given my track record for accidentally setting fire to kitchens, it was a fair concern.)  That's horrible about Grandma M. though, I hope that she's okay.  (She totaled her car in an accident.  Yes, she's OK.)

I'm sending some pictures your way so be prepared; the weather is warmer and the grass is starting to green.

And here are the promised photos:
The roast Elder Quayle and I (mostly Elder Quayle) made

Our District Elders, flanked by our Zone Leaders. Elder Chappell is on the far left and Elder Van Wagoner is on the far right.

Elder Van Wagoner, one of our Zone Leaders

My 3rd district (I'll try to get a photo of my 2nd district later). From left to right: Sister Huss ; Sister Harris; Sister Stutler; Sister Schrader; Elder Salazar; Elder Quayle; Elder Elison (kneeling); Elder McMurray.  Elder Elison is our new District Leader.

Elder Van Wagoner, again.