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Monday, June 22, 2009

Bears in the Backyard

Hey family! I've been out for over a month now! It has been great, and Alaska is amazing. I have had a really awesome week! Tuesday Elder Norton and I had an appointment with a 15 year old girl named Melissa, who we tracted into. We taught her the first half of the first discussion because she said that she had carbon monoxide poisoning a little while ago, which was basically a death sentence, but she survived, and said she knew it was because God loved her. That is the first principle we teach so it was perfect! We only taght her the first half because she said the experience made her memory not too good. We also met with her on Friday to teach the rest of the lesson, and she came to church on Sunday! She lives in the South Central trailer park, which Elder Norton and I finished tracting yesterday. Her brother is living with some members, and he is asking us to give him the lessons too. We didn't know they were brother and sister when we tracted into her. On Friday we had Zone conference, but it's a 5 hour drive to Wasilla where they had it, and we had a baptism that night for Tim Johnson, so we had to do zone conference over the phone. It went from about 8:30 AM til about 4 PM over the phone, and we couldn't hear too well at times, but it was the best we could do. Tim's baptism was at 7 PM that night, and it was really cool. The Bradshaw family fellowshipped him so Brother Bradshaw did the baptizing, and Elder Norton and I were witnesses. We ate at an Asian restaurant called Mai Thai after, and it was alright.

Saturday we did some service for members, because there isn't much else to do during the day. People have crazy work schedules here, and most people aren't home til 6. In the evening we had freshly caught halibut with a member family, but they put so much salt and mayo on it I couldn't even taste the fish. We went to our ward mission leader's house (Bro. Christensen) after for shrimp he caught himself. How he cooks them is amazing. He marinades them, and then grills them with the shells and legs on, and then when you eat them, you peel some of the shell and the legs off, and then pull out the meat. We went there because he had invited a family over for the discussions! He fixed this guy's boat, and when he asked how he could pay him back, Bro. Christensen said he could by coming over for shrimp and a lesson with the missionaries and they agreed. The non-member husband is from South America, and the wife is a doctor at the small hospital here. It went well, and hopefully we can teach them again. Also on Saturday we moved firewood for the assistant ward mission leader. It was a good workout. They were big heavy logs, and it took 2 loads in an overloaded F350 to get it all done.

Yesterday, Sunday, was definitely the most eventful day. After church, Elder Norton and I went back to the apartment for lunch and to rest for a little bit, and then tried to visit with less-actives. When that didn't work, we went over to the assistant ward mission leader's house for dinner. So it's not eventful yet but just wait. After dinner, Elder Norton and I drove to the South Central trailer park to finish tracting it. We had the usual--doors closed in our face and people mad at us for interrupting dinner and whatever they were doing. We got to about the last trailer home, and a kid answered the door, so we asked him if we could tak to his parents. His dad came out, and said that he wasn't interested because he was a Wicken. As he closed the door Elder Norton asked what they believe in, and he told us it is witchcraft. He said they believe in nature, and they have 255 gods. He really wanted to argue with us, and tell how much we were wrong in our beliefs. He said he had read the Bible 7 times, and had been a youth pastor. He was definitely one of the most, if not the most evil man I have ever come in contact with. We talked with him for about 20 minutes, and he told us that he was more loving than God because he doesn't put his children through trials, and tried to convince us that God is just as sadistic as Satan because he wants everyone to worship him. Long story short, we talked to him, and I think stumped him a couple times. He reads a book called the Q, which is supposedly older than the Bible, and where much of the Bible was taken from. He said he does not believe in God, Jesus Christ , or the Holy Ghost, but he also told us that the entire book of James was taken from the Q. So I asked him how he could deny the reality of Jesus Christ if he believes the book of Q and it has an entire book about Jesus Christ. He stumbled over his answer, and I felt good. It was crazy. After the witch guy, I felt somewhat discouraged, and we left the trailer park and started driving back into town. It was raining hard the whole time. We stopped on the side of the road to decide what to do, and I offered a prayer. I got the feeling that we should keep tracting even though we were going to go back into town, and even though it was raining hard, so we parked the car at a member's house, and started tracting houses that were pretty far apart. No one was interested, and as we walked up to one house, a big dog started barking and running at us, we just turned around and slowly walked away hoping that it wouldn't attack us. I was afraid of it, and my companion has been bitten so he was afraid too. It got close to us but stopped and we walked away. We kept walking down the road stopping by some streams that led into the ocean, and then on to another house. We went to the front door in the back of the house and knocked, and a really nice lady came out and asked us if we knew that there were bears behind her house! She showed us where, and sure enough, there was a huge male grizzly bear about 100 yards away. She brought out her binoculars to get a better look, and it was amazing! The bear looked right at me and stared for a minute and then kept grazing. She said she wasn't interested in our message, but offered to give us a ride to our car so we wouldn't get attacked. She drove us out to a spot to see the bear up close, but we couldn't see it. She said there were two. I had wanted to see a bear really badly, and we needed something to cheer us up, and that was awesome. I know that we were guided by the Spirit because if she would have just said she wasn't interested, we would have kept walking down the road and could have run into a huge grizzly bear. The Spirit kept us safe that entire evening, and I was so happy I saw a bear finally, and that it was a big male grizzly. The silver salmon will be in soon, so the bears are definitely going to start coming out. It's awesome! I love you guys! Love, Mat