(Adam went bowling this morning, so that cut his writing time down a lot. However, here is a response that he managed to fit in, to an email full of questions Joël posed to him in her weekly email to him.)
Week 3 — Longview, WA.
My companion’s name is Joshua Thomas Carpenter, or Elder Carpenter. He is 21 years old and he is from Myrtle Point, Oregon. He is intelligent, very logical, and a long distance runner. He has been serving for 20 months and will be going home in May. He is also the first person I have ever met that shares so many similarities in mental conduct to me. The only major difference between the 2 of us is how he is a social version of our personality, and I am a gamer version of our personality. After the first couple days together, we picked up on most things that we both do which allows us to not really ever have to verbally communicate what we are doing and or why. Usually the first 2 1/2 hours of every morning is almost completely silent with maybe 1 or 2 things being said between us. We don’t actually start talking until the beginning of companion study at 9:00 am. So my companionship is great.
We were finally able to have a second appointment. Only 1 though. But with each passing week we are teaching more and more. We had 10 lessons the first week, 12 the second, and 13 for this past week. We are increasing with each week which is heavily keeping us motivated. I am actually really concerned with who we teach and how many times we teach. I’m primarily focused on just teaching as much as we can so that I can get more practice with the language. I have the first vision memorized in Spanish as well now which is just another thing added onto what I can do during Spanish lessons.
I don’t know what to do about the suit. I haven’t seen a Men’s Wearhouse out here nor any suit store I am familiar with. Also, I have been told by a Lot of missionaries that it is likely that I will gain weight and need larger sizes of all of my clothes at some point. One of the missionaries in my District, Elder Tikoenaivalu a Fijian, told me that he has gained a little over 100 pounds and has gone through 7 different suit sizes since he came out here. He had picture proof to show me. He is also 20 months into the mission like my companion. So I am unsure what to do about another suit right now. It may be a good idea to hold off on having another suit made for about 2-4 more weeks just for me to see how and if my weight will change. Although I also need to find a way to weigh myself as well.
No I cannot watch Ted Talks. If I could, I would. But I can read the things that you send me.
Elder Adam. R. F. Scoville
(Just got this, but alas, no pictures yet.)
Monday, January 26, 2014 10:29 PM
As of now, things have become pretty casual. There isn’t any definable pattern to the events that occur each week, but they are often always the same. My companion and I teach lessons, we knock a lot of doors, we visit less actives, have dinner with members every night except Monday’s, make plans that don’t often follow through, attend church, etc. But there is 1 positive thing that I’ve noticed with each passing week. The number of lessons my companion and I have been able to teach has increased every time, which really keeps us motivated. We are slowly but surely working our way up to a set goal which is 20 lessons per week. This past week we had 13. Now although I am referring to these lesson as numbers, I know that it is important for myself and all other missionaries to not worry so heavily about just the “numbers,” but to always remember that each individual 1 in a number has a person or family attached to it. In the mission, people are Not numbers, but numbers Are people. That was something I was taught at my first Zone Conference last week.
Now I usually share 2 stories of spiritual weight, but this week I have 2 slightly different kinds of stories to share. One of them is in regards to us as missionaries and our church as a whole interacting with people of other religious sects, and the other is about God having a sense of humor.
On Saturday of last week, my companion and I were invited into an old mans home for some Bible study. He had been out on his front lawn just having a smoke when he said good day to us, and as we responded to him with a simple hello along with the question of “Have you ever talked to missionaries before?” he quickly invite us into his home to study the bible with us. That is literally what happened. “Hi, have you ever talked to missionaries before? Yes I have, would you like to have a Bible study with me? Come on in.” So we went in. That man was nice and very pleasant. We asked him about his religious back ground which lead to him telling us his life story about religion and how he used to be a Jew, then met the women he married who converted him to the 7th Day Adventist Church. The story wasn’t long, it was just really slow coming from him. He then proceeded to read a scripture in his huge yet simplified version of the Bible. This scripture was the one that made him realize that he should convert to that Church. Now when he had eventually finished speaking, he asked my companion what he thought about the scripture. As my companion began to answer, the man cut him off and went on to generally repeat the same thing he had already said, but this time in a different way. . . As the conversation continued, he eventually asked us about what the Mormon Church is really about and that he had never really looked to deeply into it because of how Mormons celebrate Church on Sunday and not the Sabbath, being Saturday for him, and this fact kind of offended him and caused him to assume that there is just no way our Church could be true because of that one detail, also being one of the only details he knows. I assume that one of the reasons he was willing to listen to my companion at some points was because my companion and I had listened to every single thing he had told us already. But when my companion did talk about what we believe in, the old man would often cut him off because something he said would seem a little too far fetched. Especially anything concerning the Book Of Mormon and how it contains the teachings and dealings of Christ and God in the Americas. When my companion tried to explain what the Book Of Mormon was and where it came from and why it was, the man cut off my companion and explained how logically, and scientifically, there is just “No Way” that it could be real. How there could have been no people living in the Americas aside from possibly some Scottish sailors that had nothing to do with the Bible(?)(?)(?). First off when he had explained his Faith to us, he had used miracles, the feeling of the spirit in his heart, and the miracles performed in the Old Testament, etc. a bunch of things that science can’t exactly explain. Yet when we tried to explain our faith which is similar to his, but with more information, being the additional Testament of Christ, The Book Of Mormon, he disagreed because it just seems to so scientifically impossible. . . .
Long Story short (just kidding, this story isn’t short and I told it this way to make myself appear a little judgmental) this nice old man, and I do mean that, he really was nice, would just not listen to the full explanation behind everything that my companion would try and share with him. Towards the middle of the conversation I had decided to not even bother trying to talk since my companion was already having a hard enough time. I also decided not to try talking because if I had, I would have also, like my companion began losing all sense of patience. He was cut off so many times that I wasn’t even chuckling to myself anymore at how many times this old man had cut him off of the space of about 45 minutes. When we were finally done talking to this man, he told us that he felt he had a better understanding of Mormons, but that he had also gained a little respect for them based on what my companion had been able to share with him. He said that he respects us a little more, but just not what we believe in. And as he walked us to the door, it was obvious that, although we had not necessarily convinced him of anything, we had left a good impression of the members of the LDS Church. My point in sharing this story is about how this was obviously a frustrating experience for my companion and I. But thankfully we were able to leave this man’s home having left a good impression, somehow with all of the masked frustration in our faces. It confuses me so much on how so many people or other faiths and or religions will support their faith the same way that we do. Being through the Spirit, or experiences that they’ve had. etc. Yet when we try and explain our Church usually in almost the same way, with the Spirit, experiences we’ve had, the Book Of Mormon, etc. they start using science to disprove what we try and share with them. I do not understand why even after we have shown kindness or interest towards their religion or faith, they cannot show the same respect for our’s. Now, I know that not everyone is like this, on either ends of the spectrum, being LDS (Mormon) and non-LDS (non-Mormon), but this is not the only person I have met out here that was like this. There are a lot and it is extremely confusing to me, but I am sure I will come to a better understanding at some point. Patience is a Virtue. Regardless of how long it takes to acquire that patience. . . I apologize if the way I told this story was offensive to anyone in any way. Sorry.
The other, much more humorous story was about bowling. So my District went bowling today, and one of the members in my District is Fijian. He is also pretty funny. But he had never bowled before in his life so this was going to be his first time ever bowling. When we started the first game, and his turn finally came along, he missed the pins entirely on the first throw and only hit one on the second throw. We all laughed of course and so did he, but I thought to myself, that it would be hilarious if I was some how able to tie my score with his as we played the game. So from the beginning to the end of the match, almost every time my turn would come, I would “happen” to get the same score as him. Towards the end of the game it just became more and more hilarious to everyone as our scores kept staying even with each other, and I was beginning to wander how the heck it was happening, let alone continuing to happen. Everyone in my District started thinking that I was just secretly really good and knew how to bowl well enough to pull this off, even though I was laughing as hard as they were, with surprise. When my last turn came along, I kid you all not, I thought to myself, “it would be so awesome if Heavenly Father just tampered with this game to somehow make both of our final scores the same.” Hahaha, and right after I threw the ball and knocked over the pins, the score board kind of went haywire and caused both of mine and his scores to match at 93 points. The reason this was crazy, or just Heavenly Father having a sense of humor, is because logically, with the number of pins that I had knocked down, my score should have gone above his by 7, yet didn’t. I just thought it was funny, and so did everyone else in my new District. As a disclaimer, I am terrible at bowling, so that is one of the reason that I think this was Heavenly Father just having a slight sense of humor. There is no way I could have pulled this off with my own bowling abilities, since they suck.
I unfortunately don’t have much more to write for this week, mainly since I waited until the last minute to finish this email (my parents might add when they received this email) but I have heard that some people want more pictures, so I will try and actually take more. And more with myself in them.
Until next week.
Elder Adam. R. F. Scoville