Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016 -- A Week of Unexpected Events

As I look back on the week I can hardly remember what I was doing at the beginning of the week.  I think that's a good thing... Anyway Elder Sonny Smith had a really cool experience this week.

One day, after we had finished online time, I had the idea to go the this small clothing store called The Merry Go Round to volunteer for service. We went in and started talking to the owners. Their names are Merry and Keith. At first we talked about random stuff like NBA teams and other things like that but then the conversation turned to religion. We all started talking about our love for Jesus Christ and then, in the middle of the conversation, Elder Smith shared a story called Pushups for Donuts. They loved the story so much that we gave them the copy. After about an hour of talking about Jesus Christ and what we do as missionaries, they invited us to come over to their house some time to have dinner with them and talk more about religion. I am looking forward to meeting with them. As we were leaving, I was talking to Keith.  He is a doctor, by the way, and he said, "I know that we were meant to meet today. I really needed it." It just so happened that this was the first time in months that Keith and Merry were able to come work in the store due to health problems that Merry has been having. We said a prayer with them and went on our way.  I know that meeting them was not a coincidence. The Lord sends his missionaries to help his children in need and I am grateful to have this opportunity to be on the Lord's errand full time.

On Sunday morning Elder Sonny Smith and I got a call from President Rogers. He informed us that an Emergency Transfer was going to take place. Elder Sonny Smith was going to a new area and Elder Tyler Smith was going to be coming to Oneida with me. Elder Tyler Smith has been going through a bit of a rough time and so hopefully this will bring a good change for him.
After we got off the phone, Elder Smith and I were shocked. We went to church where he said his goodbyes to members in the Oneida branch and then we went to say goodbye to some more people. After that, we went and he packed. We drove and met the other set of elders halfway and exchanged Elder Smith for Elder Smith. Yes they do have the same last name. No they are not related and yes this does mean that we don't have to make new pass along cards. It was weird to say goodbye to Elder S. Smith. It feels like he just got here. These past five weeks have flown by but the good times we had will always be remembered. 
I can't wait to get to work with Elder Tyler Smith. I have gotten to know him pretty well on exchanges and other things. I love the kid and we get along super well. He's been out for three months and is from Idaho. He loves potatoes and is proud of it! We started off this companionship right with a game of PIG this morning for our workout. I can't wait to see what new adventures lay in store.
Till next week, the sky is blue the church is true and life is good.
Elder Carlile

April 18, 2016 -- Spring Cleaning Is A Great Time For Service

The past week it has been warming up in Oneida. It has been getting to the 60's and 70's so more people have been out to talk to and everyone is more friendly. Elder Smith and I have been looking for new ways to find people so we were brainstorming ideas one day and we came up with this one. We decided we would go service tracting. This is where we go knocking on people's doors and offered to rake their lawns. The people seem very surprised when we tell them that we will do this for free. It really opens up the hearts of people and provides a great opportunity to strike up some good conversations.

Elder Smith and I had the opportunity to speak in church this week. He gave a wonderful talk on the history of the Bible and I was asked to speak on self improvement. I was surprised that Brother Neshimoto asked me to speak as I was getting out of his car coming back from Utica on Monday. It was a little short notice but I was glad to accept. We were coming back from playing basketball with a bunch of other missionaries by the way, so that was fun.

I'm looking forward to the pinewood derby this week. The pinewood derby here is as competitive as church ball in Utah. A member in our branch is building Elder Smith and me a car to race so that should be exciting.

The sky is blue, the church is true and life is good

Elder Carlile

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 10, 2016 -- Just Another Week in Oneida

This past week has been pretty normal for a missionary.  By normal I mean it had the good, the bad, and the ugly; but looking back on it I can definitely see the Lord's hand.

Elder Smith and I have been spending some more time finding this past week. On Friday night, we had two appointments fall through but that was alright because our backup plans never fail us!!  It was 8:10 at night and we were sitting in our car preparing to go tract, so we said a prayer asking the Lord where he would have us go so we could find one of his children who was ready to hear the true message. After the prayer, we started driving not knowing where we should go.  We then felt like we should stop in this one neighborhood.  So we got out and started tracting. The people at the first two doors were not interested, but the person at the third door invited us in to have a drink of water. We gladly accepted. We started talking about religion and Jesus Christ. The guy's name is Kevin and he is non-denominational Christian. The conversation continued to roll and he eventually said that he liked talking to us because we had good hearts. We continued talking about the stories of Jesus Christ in the Bible. My favorite thing he said was "don't try to convert me, I only do what God tells me to do"..... I'll take my chances with that. We left him with a Book of Mormon and are going to meet up with him tonight so hopefully that goes well.

The branch is doing well. We may be small in number but we are mighty in spirit. We have not been able to meet the past two weeks because of General Conference and Stake Conference.  I can't wait to meet back up with them this Sunday.  The First Councilor just asked me to speak this Sunday after we got done playing some basketball in Utica. That means Elder Smith and I will both be speaking this week.

Until next week, the sky is blue, the church is true, and life is good.

Elder Carlile

P.S. The picture is from a couple of weeks ago before the snow hit.


April 4, 2016 -- Spring Has Brought Me Such a Nice -- Oh Wait!

This whole week Elder Smith and I have been anticipating General Conference. To start it off right, we got up and made a huge breakfast. All day Friday I was saying "and in the mornin I'm makin waffles."  We had waffles, eggs, and a pork red pepper onion potato mix. Let's just say we had leftovers.
It randomly dropped 40 degrees and snowed Saturday morning, but that didn't dim Elder Smith's and my conference spirit!  We did a competition to see who could stick their legs out in the snow the longest.... Fortunately I won but we both had to run to the bathroom so we could run our feet under warm water (see picture).

General Conference was amazing. I was grateful that our prophet's stamina allowed him to share a short but powerful message about striving to be worthy for the Priesthood in all places. Some of the impressions I got from the whole thing are that the promise that the Lord will put the words in our mind in the very hour that we will need them come when we are bearing are testimonies. This was a great reminder to me that I needed to bear my testimony not only when I am teaching people but when I am tracting and street contacting. 

After conference ended on Sunday, Elder Smith and I went out to street contact people. There weren't very many people out because it was cold but we ran into this one man named Buddy... Don't worry I was thinking about the movie Elf too. Anyway I shared a brief summary of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and then testified of it. To my surprise he wanted to learn more about our message so Elder Smith and I got his contact info and set up a time to meet with him.

I know that the Lord speaks directly to us through his servants.  In fact, the Lord is always trying to speak to us. If we will look for his hand in our lives, then we will see that he never truly leaves us alone. He will answer our questions, give us strength to endure, and most importantly, bring an overwhelming scene of peace in our lives.

Until next week
Elder Carlile