MIRACLES! It's truly a miracle! This week has been a week of absolute miracles, I say! It's true!
Miracle #1- Trader Joe's
I'm putting this one first, because it's not as important as my other miracles, but it was just a tender mercy. Today is P-day, and up until this point I've been trying to figure out how to get more vegetables in my diet so that I don't feel like garbage all week, and lo and behold, A MIRACLE! We decided to try Trader Joe's for kicks and giggles. Mind blown. Can anybody say avocado for 99 cents? And apples for 39 cents each? It sounds super dumb, but I was freaking out, I bought so many vegetables, it was fantastic. I was raving about it to every employee that I saw, and considered going into the grocery store across the street to tell everyone that they were being ravenously cheated. If there's a Trader Joe's in Utah, try it. Maybe there won't be the same discrepancy in prices as there was here, but my mind was blown.
I got my visa! My travel plans are right here next to me. I leave here on December 2 at 5:12 pm and then arrive in Riberao Preto the following day at. Full 24 hours of jamming in as much Portuguese Book of Mormon reading as I can, only shortly interrupted by two layovers, a dinner, a snack, and a few bathroom breaks. It's going to be legit. It will be sad to leave Florida, but the time is now. A miracle!
We set a baptismal date with Drake Anderson, aka, Chief Osceola. He promised us that he would read and pray to find out for himself by November 30 if the Book of Mormon was really true and if it was then he would be baptized! That would be right before I left, so it would be perfect. He seems pretty sincere, even though there is some pretty serious flirt-to-convert going on with his girlfriend, but we'll see what happens. He is a really good guy and very genuine and one of his greatest goals in life is to have a good family well-founded in the teachings of the gospel. He's totally going to get there.
Alright, to preface miracles #4-5, I need to give a quick introduction. Our district leader and one of my favorite missionaries of all time, Elder Musgrave, gave us a challenge in our last district meeting to find a unique way of contacting people and inviting them to come unto Christ and feel a bit closer to him. I chose to invite people to come participate in our church choir, and Elder Burnett studied up on the stripling warriors as a way of talking about how the gospel blesses families. We put these together on Sunday in preparation for that evening when we were to go out. And then we ventured forth.
I wish that I had a picture to send you of this miracle, but I don't, so I'll try to paint the image in your mind with my words. So we went to visit Darrel Alfred, a young man who we had only spoken to briefly once before and then had never been able to contact again. We finally caught him. He lives with his mom in the Tallahassee Housing Authority, which is one of the nicer groupings of projects in Tallahassee. When we knocked he opened his door to give me a swift reminder of what he looked like: ridiculously huge fro and a nice little mustache that was thin and crisp just like his bodily frame. He was wearing this multi-colored shirt with a picture of King Tut's sarcophagus on it. He couldn't have looked like more of a hippy if he were wearing a tie-dye shirt. I felt like I was about to evangelize to Jimmy Hendrix.
He told us that he was tied and about to lie down because he had just gotten back from working at Whole Foods, an organic foods place just down the road that he bikes to. But, a miracle happened. When we were talking with him, it came to my mind to invite him to come participate in our church Christmas choir. Even though his response seemed a bit apprehensive at first, we could tell that he was actually considering it. He had been taught choir in school by a member of our ward, and we told him that that same member would be participating. We started talking about music, found out he could play guitar, and me, having no reservations about that kind of stuff, I struck like a viper and asked "Wanna play some music for us?"
Again, he hesitated, but after a second agreed and brought us into his house. We sat down and he played us a couple songs by The Decemberists which were super cool, he was actually pretty good. You'd think him being a hippy and all he would say things like chill or cool or whatever hippies say, but his saying was "true". He said it to everything, and it was way awesome.
After the music, we started talking about Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the Killers and how he is a Mormon. And by some crazy link between that and the Restoration of the gospel, we started teaching him from the Book of Mormon. Miraculous! His beliefs were somewhat out there, but we're going to be going back on Wednesday to visit with him and do some gardening. Stoked.
After that, we started making out way to the Valentines, a member family that we had planned on seeing that night for no particular reason. On our way over there, we started coming close to the house of an inactive member who we had tried a few times but to no avail, he was never there. When we were almost to his house, we decided that we would try him again to see if anything might come of it. We pulled into the Rolling Hills apartments on John Knox Road and went up to number 131 to see if we could finally contact Dwight Webbe. We gave it a knock and within ten seconds an elderly African-American gentleman answered the door. He wasn't Dwight Webb, his name was Johnny Threatts. Apparently Dwight had moved. We had a pretty ordinary doorstep conversation, asked him about what he did for a living and if he had a family and all that jazz. We found out that he had been in the military for a long time and had also contracted out to train different military and police forces around the world. It was interesting, but we kind of reached an apogee in the conversation. There was that few seconds of silence that usually ends with us being left on the outside of a closed door. But all of a sudden he spoke up and said, "Y'all want to come in?"
Yes. Yes I do.
We came in and started talking with him, and Elder Burnett whipped out the stripling warriors bit. And it worked PERFECTLY. We found out that Brother Threatts had retired from his most recent contract in Afghanistan after nearly having been killed by a suicide bomber. He attributed everything, his life and family, to God and the great blessings from that. He was one of the most humble men that I have ever met. Elder Burnett testified like nobody's business and seemed to say exactly what Brother Threatts was feeling. When things started winding down, we invited him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. With eagerness, he avidly said that he would. He said that we could come back anytime and that he would love to hear more. We are going back Friday. Miracles! God is on our side!
We finally made it to the Valentines' home, and they just happened to have made a huge turkey and twice as much food as they actually needed. Miracles are real. That was some of the best tasting turkey that I have ever had.
That's my splurge for the week. Thank you all for your fantastic birthday wishes and gifts. I got my birthday gift, which was delicious, my Christmas gift, which I have not opened, and my hard drive, which I keep protected in a sock. Being a missionary is great, and I have a ton to learn, especially about my relationship with Jesus Christ. But those things that I do understand, I am so grateful for. My testimony of the Atonement is really growing, even when I try to resist it because of pigheadedness. I love my mission.