I'm not going to lie, when I first got here in Malone, I had just higher than a tinse of culture shock. It was an adjustment.. but now, this is THE PLACE. The main source of entertainment here is bingo and rubber duck derbies. We do a lot of service with the community as well. The people here know the missionaries well, even though they don't believe in our religion, but do thank us for our kindness. We spend a couple hours a week here at soup kitchens, food pantries, and helping old people play HOY (whatever that is) at the local hospital. It's a different experience than the skyscrapers and city lights, but I love it! This week I swerved around two amish families in carriages along the highway. Don't worry father, I didn't forget to say, "oh gosh" seconds before swerving. I was kept safe because of that. Yes, President Wirthlin made me a designated driver. I never would have thought I would be trusted to drive one of the Lord's vehicles on my mission. Sadly it's not a black 1990 Nissan Maxima with really squeaky windshield wipers.
The last elder here prepared me for a whole lotta work here, that I've just been lucky enough to continue doing.. There is some really good work going on here. Tons of families! Elder Hawkes and I were just shy of reaching President Wirthlin's standards of excellence. We were very busy, which was wonderful!
We met with a Less Active girl who Elder Sam Bybee (Salem, OR) baptized, and met with here whole family. We read about Abinadi from the Book of Mormon stories book she is reading. Her mother and father were pretty in tune and enjoyed the message contained therein. The father, Joe, attends his uncle's church but asked if we could work out with him in the mornings. We accepted and we get to plant a gospel seed in his heart in doing so. He asks good questions and is a very nice christian man who is buff. He's going to make a man out of me, and in return the young hawk and I will exchange with something that will change his life! It's been really fun working out like a champ.
Jim Stone is probably the most humble and willing to learn investigators I've taught. He understands why we make covenants and why they are important to be worthy of. He is counting down the days until his baptism, and won't let Satan stop him from getting there. A little temptation has crept in with some of his past transgressions, so we are meeting with him every day now!
We picked up a few investigators this week as well! One of them was found in the ideal way, at a dinner appointment. His name is Dan Foster. His religious background is Hindu. (I believe) He believes everything we teach him except for resurrection. He is devoted to believing in reincarnation. We are just waiting for the holy ghost to touch his heart and change his mind through our short lessons with him. He is keeping all of his commitments and agreed to be baptized if he can still believe in reincarnation, so that's a good start.
The last thing I wanted to tell you about is that there are A TON of people here in Malone who love the missionaries and spoil us to death, but aren't willing to accept our teaching visits. It's weird, but cool. Right now I am at the home of a guy named Dave Nichols, who is mission famous. He owns a guitar shop that is pretty famous. He makes guitars for some of the biggest rockstars and celebrities. He is really wealthy so he buys us whatever we want and mails things for us for free. He loves missionaries because of their dedication for what they do. He has tons of respect for missionaries. He's extremely funny, he thinks that everyone in the world should be LDS so that it can be held together and not turn to garbage, but he is set on being a Mason. He and President Wirthlin are good friends. There are other non-members just like him who want to take us out to eat and buy us things. It's like I'm a missionary in Utah.
I'm so grateful to be a member of this church and this country! I know that the Restoration of Christ's church was needed in a place with so much religious freedom. Our forefathers have done so much for us so our lives can be so much easier. Be part of the restoration and build the kingdom! "Be an active member in your community"-Billy from Adventure Time
Elder Kunzler SR!
The gravesite of Joseph Smith's grandfather. Read the quote on the bottom!