Happy Juneteenth! Lots of stuff happened this week, so I this week's email will be long. Long story short, life is good. Evelyn's baptism is being pushed back to the 30th atso that the Gilman Family can be in attendance. I'm SUPER excited and happy that she is finally getting baptized. Everything is going great for her. Exchanges were great.
Now, read below if you'd like the short story long.
While I was on exchanges with Elder Bird this weekend, we had a pretty interesting experience regarding Juneteenth. This past week I've been trying something new. In an attempt to contact an enormous amount of people, I've been on bikes in our area almost every day. It's SO much fun. I love biking, it is definitely the best way to be a missionary. While biking down in the streets, we noticed some ladies setting up for something at Martin Luther King Jr Park. We asked what was going on that day, and they told us that there was going to be a Juneteenth festival in the afternoon. I was really excited for multiple reasons. I think the history of Juneteenth is pretty interesting, and on top of that it was going to be such a different way to contact an enormous amount of people. After lunch, we biked to the park and saw an older gentleman walking with crutches. We immediately locked our bikes up and ran to go help him. He told us that we should just call him Rev because he was a reverend for a long time. As we supported him and walked him over to a table, so many people came up to us very confused and asked Rev if he was okay. He was so kind, and told each of them, "Oh yes, I'm fine. These two nice young gentlemen are just helping me to a table." His reaction to our presence made me even more excited for what was to happen as we talked to people at the park.
Unfortunately, everyone else did not have the same reaction to us as Rev. I went up to a man wearing a hat that said "STOP HATE" and his opening line to me was, "I HATE WHITE PEOPLE." I learned a lot about first impressions from him. He told me that his name was James, and expressed to me a plethora of feelings against white people. I talked with him for a while and told him I'd be his friend, and he didn't like that too much. I just listened and nodded for a while as he ranted, and then at the end told him that I cared about him. His attitude changed. It didn't change much, but it did change a little. He said, "....I can't be mad about that."
Everybody else wasn't as abrasive, but they were very confused about us being there. Kind of ironic. They spent a lot of time talking about unity in the community, and it felt very segregated. We tried talking to more people, but nobody really gave us much attention. I decided that in order to try and soften the people's hearts, we'd focus just a little on the kids. A group of children were playing soccer, so we went and helped them set up some tables for goals and coached them a little. They LOVED us being there. It was nice to feel wanted. After a little bit of that, we decided our efforts were better spent elsewhere. We were talking about if anything we did at that festival even made an impact, and on our way back to our bikes the oldest woman there called us over to her. She had oxygen tubes and gray hair and looked us in the eyes and said, "Thank you. Thank you for watching over the children. You two are great young men." We may have not found any new investigators at that festival, but at least we changed one person's perspective of the Church.
Also while riding bikes on exchanges with Elder Kiser, we knocked into this lady named Mildred Shoemaker. She was very old and had a hard time getting around. We talked with her and explained who we are and what we do, and she said that she wasn't very interested but did want to know if we knew anyone who would mow her lawn for cheap. We told her we'd do it for free. She didn't believe us and kept chuckling to herself. Why would two twenty-one year olds want to mow some old lady's lawn in shirts and ties for free? She couldn't even fathom it. We told her we'd return in the afternoon and if the lawn wasn't taken care of, we'd do it. We returned later and to no surprise, the lawn remained untamed. We knocked on the door and asked where we could find the mower. She was hesitant at first, but eventually opened up and told us it was in the backyard. We brought it out front and began to mow. Just as I was about to finish the lawn, this couple came up to us and introduced themselves. The man said his name was Jeremy and that he was raised in the church, but never baptized. He and his girlfriend were looking to change their lives, and when they saw us mowing an older woman's lawn they took it as a sign. We got their phone number and set up an appointment for the following week. It's always fun and exciting to see how Heavenly Father will bless us for our efforts and service.
Laurette is doing great. We've had three lessons with her on family history, and she's just soaking it all up. She's beginning to make great friendships in the ward with the members we bring. We're planning on bringing Carolyn with us to our next lesson, hopefully they kick it off. It'll be interesting to see how Laurette progresses. She just said her first prayer with us today at the end of the lesson. She also made a comment to us on our way out that she thinks her husband (who recently passed away) brought us to her door so that we could show her "some fun new thing to do". Family Search should really use that in their marketing. FAMILY SEARCH: Some fun new thing to do.
I love summer. I think it's my new favorite season. At least up here in Washington, summer in Texas is can be very humid and hot.
Con Mucho Amor,