Monday, November 5, 2012

First e-mail from Oklahoma, actually Missouri!


I finally made it!! We left the MTC at 3 am on Wednesday morning. I'm sorry our phone call was short and probably not as in depth as you all would have liked. But I realized that sooo much has happened and it’s hard to get it all out in a short amount of time. Also as I talked to you, I started getting kinda sad because I miss you all. But it's ok!! I miss you but remember "missionaries are people who leave their families for a little while, so that other people can be with their families for eternity". 

So I sent you a letter on Thursday but I'm not sure if you've gotten it yet. You might get it today. My companion’s name is Elder A! He's a really nice guy. He is from Montana. In about 3 days he will hit the one year mark. He comes from a HUGE family. He has a background in the FLDS church (fundamentalists). Don't worry, you will hear about them in a second. He is a convert to the church when he was about 16. 

I was called to the xxxx, Missouri area. Look it up. You won't find it. The population of this town is 1,819. And I kid you not probably half of the people here are cousins. There is this place called "xxxxxx". It is an FLDS community, where everyone knows everyone and everyone is family. Including my companion. He has cousins, aunts, and uncles that live on "xxxxxx". It's literally a ranch in the middle of the woods, with dirt roads that wind endlessly through miles and miles of a thick forested area. My apartment is a trailer home on the property of a member in the ward. Literally a trailer home. They are doing construction on the bridge you take to get to the house, so we take these dirt and gravel back roads that take us on a 20 minute journey through the wilderness to get home. It's awesome. 

The family who lives in the house next door to us and owns the trailer we live in, is the P….family. They are really really really awesome. They are so cool. 

We teach fundamentalist families all the time. Many of which are related to my companion. And this is what I have realized:

They do not teach you this stuff in the MTC. There's no section on how to teach someone who already believes everything you believe, has a stronger testimony of more principles and doctrine, has more knowledge on the subject, and lives Plural Marriage. 

I'm having a hard time teaching right now because of this: When we go to teach a fundamentalist, their knowledge already surpasses mine. I don't have any doctrine or principles that they don't know or have a testimony of. The thing is, the Spirit testifies of the truth. And the FLDS church is 95% true! So I'm not really getting the experience of going in to a lesson with a person who doesn't know the restoration or plan of salvation. So I’m not really getting better at teaching those lessons. When we visit a fundamentalist it's usually a discussion or question and answer session on things that I am just not well versed in. So I find myself thinking of more questions about what is being discussed, than helpful insights or points to make myself. I feel rather ineffective in those situations. But I will NOT let it get me down. I know that if I can get good at this, I will be SO prepared for the rest of my mission. I'm looking at this trial, as a blessing. So, Dad, if you have any advice on this matter, it would be MUCH appreciated. 

My first night here, we went to teach the A…family (my companions cousins) and we taught them the doctrine of Christ form 2 Nephi 31-33. We ate dinner with them as well. Deer meatloaf that one of the cousins hunted and killed with A BOW AND ARROW. HOW COOL IS THAT! First day of my mission and I had freshly killed venison meatloaf. Awesome. So awesome. 

Ok so a couple days later we were knocking on the doors of some potential investigators and former investigators and we knocked on the door of D S. He is this little old fisherman, who has this super high voice. He's one of the nicest people I've ever met. We talked with D on his doorstep for a few minutes and then he invited us in and we taught him the restoration!!! It was SO COOL!! My first time actually teaching a REAL person in their home. Ah it was so sweet. We left him with a Book of Mormon and invited him to read it. I was so nervous at fist to start talking, but it's so true, if you are obedient, have faith and have treasured up the words of life in your mind continually, all you have to do is open your mouth. It was a really awesome experience. We visited him the next day and answered some questions he had about the introduction to the BofM. We have an appointment with him tomorrow! I'm so excited!

My most recent favorite scripture is Alma 57: 19-21 
I will stand firm and undaunted and I will obey with exactness, because my mom taught me that way. Brother S a member of the branch presidency in the MTC always said, "your mothers didn't raise you to be average missionaries. They are back home telling people about Elder Sherwood, the exceptional missionary".

I promise, I'm doing all I can to be an exceptional missionary. Because that's how you raised me. Thank you :)

I know that it might sound like my concerns and struggles are getting me down, and they kind of are. But regardless, I am absolutely LOVING this. I love being a servant of the Lord. I love teaching. I love having a very specific purpose, and I am very happy :) 

here is some of my favorite scriptures from recently: 
2 Nephi 31: 20
Luke 9: 62
Alma 55: 6
Alma 56: 44-45
Isaiah 52: 1-7
John 15
Helaman 3: 26-30

I have finally finished ALMA and I am in chapter 6 of Helaman. The homestretch!! I'm going to try to finish the whole Book Of Mormon by the next time I email you. Pray for my success please :) I would also ask you to please pray for D S, We are going to invite him to be baptized in our next lesson. I can't wait! 

Well that’s pretty much everything. I love you All SO MUCH!! 

Elder Sherwood

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