Monday, February 27, 2017

Week 8 They have dust storms here!!!

I hope everybody had a fantastic week. I know I did.

Last week’s P-Day was pretty great!  It was fun to go bowling and make wooden pens - which I hope made it home okay. When I mailed it home, I didn't have bubble wrap so I packed it plastic shopping bags. Anyways, after we did all of that, we drove home and did personal study and since we didn't have a meal, we ate at home and then went to bed.

The DDD making wooden pens on P-day!

My second attempt. The first pen made of honey mesquite broke!

The masterpeice: made from China Berry Mahogany

Tuesday was a good day, but a busy one at that. We worked at the food bank from 9:00 until noon, handing out food items and filling carts. This is always a humbling experience. I try to make it as fun as possible to put a smile on people's faces, but it's hard seeing people struggle to provide for their families. After the food bank we hustled across the street to our apartment, changed and ate lunch. After lunch, we visited H____ and C____ to read the Book of Mormon with them. They didn't come to church this week but hopefully they will this next week. H____ went off on a story telling binge. We got there at 1:00 and left at 4:00. He tells good stories, but holy cow. Anyways you’ve gotta love H____ and C_____ they are so kind. After that we went to see another investigator but he wasn't home, so we at dinner and then went to Bro. H____’s house. He is our ward mission leader. He says we are like his sons, and love him to bits.
After this, we went home and meet the Zone Leaders who slept over in order to go on splits with us.

Wednesday was good.  Once we were ready for the day and completed our personal study, we drove to Duncan, AZ for our District Meeting. District Meeting was good, we talked about none other than the wonderful Book of Mormon and practiced on how to teach better.  I learn a lot from role playing. After District Meeting we went to Hilda’s Market and Restaurant and ate $1 tacos. I ate eight of them – whoops, lol. They are soooo good. After lunch we did exchanges and some family history. We then drove back to Lordsburg and visited with B____. I shared what would help with his problems he was facing and we extended an invitation to have him reread the Book of Mormon - with humility in mind. If you search and read the Book of Mormon with a question in mind, I guarantee you will find an answer to your questions.  After that, we visited T____ F_____ and read with him.  Our dinner appointment had sick kids, so they dropped dinner off at our apartment.  I think I have eaten more spaghetti and lasagna in the last two months than I have in my entire life before my mission - seriously. After dinner Elder Degrange, Elder Day, and I went with Bro. H_____ to see Hermana C_____. He didn't tell us until we got to the door that she only speaks Spanish. I was ecstatic! Bro. H_____ speaks fluent Spanish and I spoke quite a bit, but was rusty. Elder Degrange doesn’t speak Spanish at all, so I translated for him.
It was a sweet experience. Next time, I am assigned to pray in Spanish so that shall be quite interesting. It was so fun. After that we drove to Duncan, AZ and picked up the other Zone Leader and drove back to Lordsburg and went to bed.

Thursday was a long day.  We woke up and got ready super-fast and then drove 40 miles to Bro M____'s ranch to help with service. We helped mix and pour concrete around big truck tires to make a watering trough for their cattle. That was fun but a lot of work. We worked from 7:30 to 3:00. During that time, I guess the windy season decided to begin. It was blowing a constant 30 MPH with gusts up to 60 MPH and caused five traffic accidents. One accident not wind related, but shut down I-10 for 5 hours between Lordsburg and Deming, NM. I-10 connects Florida to California and has a ton of semi-truck traffic.  So needless to say, when a car full of illegals chased by border patrol flips and three are ejected from the car and die – I-10 gets shut down for 5 hours. A second accident was a 7 car pile with 3 more fatalities, which closed a different segment of I-10 down for 3 hours.

The beginning of the water trough

Somehere in the middle of the water trough...LOL

The FINISHED water trough...whew!

I also saw my first couple dust storms, which were pretty cool, I must say.

Small dust storm in the distance

We had dinner at the ____’s. We ate pizza and talked about trucks for a while. It was fun. After that we went home and did studies and went to bed.

Friday was an interesting day.   First, we helped pack Bro G____’s stuff so he was ready to move on Saturday morning. After that we decided to do our weekly planning while we were driving to the M____’s for dinner. Man, do I love the M___s! They love having us and they feed us well. For Valentine's Day they gave us 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies as a surprise. They are amazing people.  Afterwards, we visited with the W_____s and he shared more stories and made me laugh so hard. Bro. W______ is hilarious. After that, we went to bed.  If you can't tell I love saying “go to bed” because after a long day it's much needed.  However, I do find myself sneaking in a nap whenever I can. As a missionary, you find that if you eat lunch super-fast you can take about a 30 minutes nap which helps you get through your day.

Saturday, we were supposed to go cut wood in the Whitetail Valley with some investigators but he got called into work so we finished helping Bro. G_____ move.

Funny story: The movers show up with the moving truck today and we were ready to load and be done in an hour or so.  There was plenty of room for everything in the truck, but the movers insist on making the whole thing a puzzle and did all of the moving themselves.  The movers yelled at us for not helping.  The Bishop said, “Well they’re obviously not in the Elders Quorum.”  They were non-members lol.  It took them five hours to do what we could have done in less than three.

‘Small World’ story: When I was in someone’s house I saw people were talking on the news and in the background was the Dudley tower in downtown Wausau.  It was pretty neat seeing home so far away from home lol.

After moving, we drove to Rodeo and visited with our investigator of 40 years. Sis B_______. She is a tough cookie to teach, that's for sure. Sadly, she is stuck in her ways, but she is having us over for dinner sometime next week.  After that lesson, we had dinner with the K_____s. It was good. They tell great stories - and I heard from a little birdie that BYU knocked off Gonzaga!!!!!

Sunday was a great day.  We went to church in Lordsburg and hustled out to go to church in Animas, so I got 4 hours of church! One of the High Councilmen was talking about Nintendo Game Boys and Sony Play Stations and he accidentally ran them together and said Playboy's.  That got everybody laughing in sacrament meeting, it was pretty funny, if you ask me. After that we had dinner at the K___’s and F____’s. We ended up talking and then they said we had to stay and play Farkle so we did and enjoyed it.  Now we are driving to Duncan, AZ to stay the night because we are going to the Gila Valley to play P-Day sports and shop at Walmart for food, a watch, and cheap sunglasses.

I love you guys soooooooooooo much. I miss you, but I love what I’m doing. I love you guys to Wisconsin and back.

P.S . The more I type these emails the more and more I want a blue tooth key board, lol Oh, I need more T-shirts for P-Day and service. 

Elder Dickinson

Beautiful dust storm at dusk
 Good Night from New Mexico!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Week 7: I Might Have Tetnus?!

Well, hello there.  I hope you had a wonderful week, because I had a pretty decent week myself.

Last week, on P-Day Monday our P-Day was awesome. I got to drive in the snow on our way to Silver City, NM.  When I left Wisconsin, I thought I wouldn't see snow for 2 years. We played our weekly basketball and that was fun.

Good thing a Wisconsin boy was driving!
Silver city is pretty cool, I don't know why, maybe it’s just because there is a Walmart there, lol.  After basketball, we went to the institute building at Western New Mexico University where we played ping-pong and pool. It was a blast!  After that, we drove home to Lordsburg and ate at Denny’s with the other elders, then went our different ways and we then went to bed.

Tuesday was meh – well it was OK, I guess. We had made 3 appointments, but were only able to meet with two of them.  One of our appointments was busy during the time we were to meet, but that's okay. We stopped and talked with B____.    After that, we met with Bro. F_____.  He is a less active member who we meet with weekly and it went well.  He is a good guy with good intentions. After our visit with him we ate dinner and then drove to Clifton to play basketball the night before our district meeting. We play with nonmembers and 1 investigator. This week it was the missionaries vs. everyone else, lol.  There was one guy who was really good.  I guarded him and shut him down then I rained threes all game. We railed them.

On Wednesday, we had district meeting, it was an amazing spiritual experience - as it always is. We then went to the mine overlook and had an amazing time. It's the second largest copper mine in the world. You can see it and if you want to look it up look up Morenci, AZ.  The town is completely owned by the mining company. After that we drove home and ate dinner at Kranberrry’s, one of the two restaurants in Lordsburg. Then we drove to Safford, AZ, an hour and a half in direction we had just came from.  That was another long drive. We got to Safford at 9 o'clock and went to bed. We went to Safford because we had to meet other missionaries to leave for Tucson at 7 am.

Copper Mine in Morenci, AZ
Thursday, we met up with two other sets of missionaries and drove to Tucson for the trainer/trainee meeting. That was another good spiritual experience and after the meeting everyone went out for In-and-Out Burger. We then drove another 2 and a half hours home, which made for a long day of being in the car. We drove to Animas and ate dinner at the W___s.  We found out I am actually related to her and several people down here. We used Relative Finder to figure that out. After a good dinner of hamburgers we stayed in Animas for the night.

Friday was full of service, after completing our morning schedule we went to Sis. F_____’s house and helped her clean up her yard. She had just bought this house and the two previous owners were hoarders and had a bunch of junk laying around the yard. So, her father dug an 8 foot deep hole with his tractor and we collected junk all day and burned it in that massive hole. While we were working, I got hung upon some wire that cut my stomach pretty good. 

Service Work Battle wound! Mom, no worries.
I will watch for an infection. :)

All-in-all it was a fun time. For lunch, she made us eggplant parmigiana. At first, I was scared to try it, but it was amazing! And to my surprise, with the right dressing salad is quite yummy. Remember when I wouldn't let anything green pass my lips? Yeah, I ate asparagus last night too and kind of enjoyed it. Any ways, after service we went to dinner and then did our weekly planning.

The remains of our hard work

Tons of friendly little critters out here :O 

Saturday was also filled with service. If you can't tell I love doing service, lol. We helped out Bro. P_____ again, his house is making progress - but it's a slow process. Building an adobe has defiantly made me question being a construction management major when I go to BYU-Idaho, that's for sure. Honestly, I don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but construction management is still at the top of my list. Our bishop in Animas, the one I live with when we are in Animas, has his own really successful construction company. So, I'll have to ask him a bunch of questions.  Anyway, we worked almost all day until it started to rain.  So, we went to dinner soaking wet and ate meat loaf. Best darn meatloaf I've ever eaten, to be honest. We spent the night talking about racecars and dream cars. 

Sunday, I gave my first talk as a missionary!  It was on how we are all missionaries and how the key traits of being a missionary are having faith in Jesus Christ, building your own testimony, obedience, charity and love.  I had scriptures to tie everything together and it lasted about 17 minutes.  It was the best talk I have ever given, too bad there were only 15 people there to hear it, but Elder Degrange and I rocked that sacrament meeting. Everyone in the Rodeo Branch congratulated us, it was amazing!

I love this sign! It is so true...Animas, NM

Today, we have lots of stuff planned.  We took a long, brutal hike this morning, but it was fun.  Later, we are going bowling, then after that we are driving to Ducan AZ to a member’s house in to make some cool wooden pens.

That was my week - I hope yours was as good! 

Love you all,

Elder Dickinson 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week 6: No more candy! :D

Wow these weeks actually go by pretty fast, well for me anyways. We had a pretty full week and next week will be the same.

It rained here for the first time in forever, and now it's cold and windy - super windy!  Yesterday (Sunday) the wind was blowing upwards of 50 MPH.  When it rains here, boy does it rain. Not only does it rain, it floods like crazy. All of this rain is better than getting a foot of snow, that's for sure. I’m not going to be missing Wisconsin’s snow anytime soon, lol.

Sunday's Rainstorm

After I got done emailing on Monday we had an hour and a half trip home to Lordsburg.  Then we did our personal study and went to bed.

Tuesday was a pretty regular day.  We woke up and did our morning schedule stuff, like shower, eat, personal study, and companion study. After that we picked up my package from the post office.  I can't wait to put that flash drive to work, not to mention the boots. I love the treats you guys put in my packages, but I got some news to break to you - with all due respect, you guys are going to make me fat - but that’s okay, I love you anyway, lol.

After that we had our biweekly visit with H____ and C_____.  She is a less active member and he is a non-member.  She likes reading the book of Mormon with us, so we stop by and read a chapter with them, then H______ shares his hilarious stories with us. I always love meeting with them. After that visit we tried stopping by some other people, but nobody would answer their door.  From there, we helped Sis J_____ load up a treadmill she's taking to Phoenix. Since we didn't have a dinner appointment she gave us money and told us to go to Denny’s. After a decent meal at Denny’s we went and spent time at our ward mission leader’s house. He's an amazing guy that just loves everybody. He is super charitable and I love him to death. His son is less active, so we go over and fellowship him. He is a pretty cool kid and on one of our P-Days we are going to go hiking with him.  I can't wait for that.

Denny's x 2 LOL!
Wednesday, we went to the food bank to help put together boxes of food for people throughout southwest New Mexico. Going into it, we thought we would only work for 3 hours, because that's what we had scheduled.  But we worked for 6 hours and put together 500 boxes and still were not finished. They really appreciated our volunteering, so they took us to lunch. Yay, Denny’s two days in a row, lol.  After we finished at the food bank, we went and helped the Lordsburg youth (3 kids, lol) finish cleaning the ward Pavilion.  After that, had pancakes with the youth for dinner - it was all amazing.  Even though we had an appointment which fell through, it was a busy day of service - but "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

NM Food Bank with Elder Degrange

Thursday was a long day. First, we headed to Safford, AZ for our zone conference. Sadly, I didn't see anyone from my MTC district, but it was still a good experience. We talked about how the Atonement is the root of the gospel and how you can tie any principal of the gospel back to the Atonement. We also learned how to better teach the Word of Wisdom. After meetings and homemade chicken alfredo, we split into two districts, one was all New Mexico missionaries and the other was the Gila Valley Missionaries. We looked at data points like the number of baptisms and reactivation vs. population density and the number of missionaries. Our zone was the most successful in the mission. We had a goal of 8 baptisms and 16 reactivations and we achieved 3 baptisms and 19 reactivations. That's good for our zone covering so much land with very few people and missionaries.  Our zone had 3 out of the mission’s 33 baptisms for the month. This month's goals are 5 baptisms and 16 reactivations – and we already have 4 baptisms in February and will have our fifth on Saturday.  Not to mention my companion and I might have our family of 5 ready for baptism soon J J J I can't wait to see what will happen.

Friday, we had dinner with the Frailey’s and the R_____s. Bishop Frailey taught a good lesson to the R______s on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday was a good day as well.  We we drove to Rodeo from Animas and had dinner at a member’s cafĂ©.  The food is super good there. We then drove to Portal AZ (Look it up!). It's probably one of the most beautiful areas in our district. It's a small town full of scientists sitting in a canyon and it's so green there.  It’s the only green I've seen in AZ or NM so far.

A famous sign in Portal, AZ

We went to go do service for Sis. B_______, but here is the catch - she's not actually a member - but she hasn't missed church on Sunday for 40 years. She lives like a member, talks and acts like a member but won't be baptized because she's not quite sure about Joseph Smith.  Missionaries have been talking to her for 35 years now. Crazy, huh?  We arrived at 1:30 expecting to do about a half hour of service.  We ended up talking about basically everything for like 2 hours. Then she gave us some cookies and then we finally said we were there to do service and she was soooooooooooo happy.  We cut some mesquite for her. That stuff is literally evil!  It's worse than the thorn apple in Wisconsin.  After that, we cut up and ate a watermelon while we talked some more. I was sweating so bad because she keeps her house a constant 85 degrees.  So, our half hour visit took 4 hours, but she was lonely, so we just enjoyed the little break.

Cutting mesquite in the heat!
Sunday, church is always awesome and next week we get to speak and I haven't even started my talk yet.  Oh well, plenty of time to do that.  We had plans to meet with an investigator, but she was sick. We were about to start our 100 mile trip to Hachita, NM, but that family was sick or busy.  We rescheduled with them on Wednesday. That is the family of 5 that is super interested in the church, so I can't wait to see what happens there.

Today, for P-Day we are driving to Silver City for the day and going shopping at Walmart then hang with 4 other elders.  You know you are living the missionary life when you get excited to go to Walmart. After that, a member is taking 10 of us out for lunch somewhere, so that's exciting too.

Elder Degrange and I actually made a pledge to start eating healthier and running in the mornings. So, we can get in shape for the hunnies back home, lol. But in all reality, I just want to make sure my jeans don’t get to get to tight, hahaha.  So, when sending packages – no more candy, please. Send beef jerry and healthy stuff like dried fruit and things like that, lol.

I found out we get to go to the Tucson AZ Temple open house, but attending the dedication is still up in the air…

I hope you guys had an amazing week as well.  Love you guys! 

Love Elder Dickinson 

New Mexican Scenery

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 5: I Turned 1 on the 4th!

This week has been amazing. We saw less-active members that have been away from the church for more than 20 years come back to church this week. It is truly an amazing feeling.

I am in deep sorrow to learn of the passing of my life-long friend this last week. I cried like a baby when I never thought I would. He will be greatly missed!  The morning I received the news of his death, during my morning studies. I felt prompted to read in Helaman instead of where I had been reading in 2Nephi. I read Helaman 5:47:

47. Peace, peace be unto you, because of faith in my beloved, who was the foundation of the world.

With faith in Jesus Christ - not only our sins, but our pains can be wiped away.  This scripture and my faith in Heavenly Father and His plan for us instilled comfort unto my soul. We may not always agree with what happens, but if we have faith that He has a plan for us, we can experience comfort instead of sorrow and pain. Now, my friend Will is free of pain and is in a better place. I am still sad but no longer upset that he is no longer with us.

On to better and brighter things. It is defiantly starting to warm up here and I love, love, love it!  Between doing service and spreading the love and joy that the gospel brings to us, we had a full week.

I spent Monday and Tuesday on exchanges in Clifton, AZ (about 65 miles from Lordsburg), the location of the world's 2nd largest copper mine. All we did was service. We had dinner with one of the members in Clifton who told us she had been adopted and he birth family actually lives in Wausau, WI. Small world eh?

On Wednesday, we had a very productive district meeting in Duncan, AZ.  My district only has 6 elders. We are called the DDD; the Dirty Duncan District. Dirty, because we do a lot of service and because we are just awesome like that.  Also, this used to be the area where they banished missionaries too because it is…challenging.  But, now it's awesome. Lol!   When we were in Duncan went out to eat at Wanda’s Cafe. She has good chicken nuggets, lol. The member who had fed us Sunday was there in Duncan, an hour away from her home. She paid for all six of our meals. I wasn't joking when I said everyone here is so nice. They really are! J

Anyways, Thursday and Friday were really productive as well. Everybody who would not normally have let us in did. So, in two days we taught 4 discussions. 

There is one investigator who we have been trying to meet with for a while, but she is always busy. We were knocking on her door right as she pulled in her driveway. She let us in and we were going to teach about the restoration, then invite her to be baptized, but she got sidetracked. She was talking about how Lordsburg is cursed. How there was a priest who took some kids swimming at Red Rock and they found the priest face down in the water dead. Now, for the last 17 straight years every priest that has lived here for a year or more has died. One in particular died in a fiery car accident on their way to Silver City. Which is actually true but then she started talking about how her old house was haunted.  That’s just a little bit of local color, but that's what people that live in Lordsburg think of their town.

Friday, we got side tracked and instead of doing our weekly planning we painted - for a long time. It was fun and also a good experience. It was just all around fun.

Saturday was rough.  We went back to the P_______s and started to make adobe to build their house with. I have six blisters now.  After doing service, we had dinner with the K______s, who are super nice people who were begging for the missionaries to come over for dinner, but since our dinner and lunch schedules are so full, we can only go once a month. For dinner on Saturday a member who had served her mission in Okinawa Japan made us curry. Good right?  It was amazing!  She then told us the meat she used in the curry was goat. To be honest, it was better than beef - no lie. 

My companion making adobe for an adobe house

Sunday was great. We woke up in the Man Cave in Rodeo (see pictures).  The Man Cave has lots of deer mounts, antlers and reloading equipment everywhere. Reloading equipment.  It was just awesomeness everywhere, lol. After waking up, I discovered I had lost my CTR ring somewhere when we were changing clothes after doing service on Saturday. We had stopped to change on Stateline Road, in the middle of nowhere. I literally changed while standing half in Arizona and half in New Mexico, lol.  Anyways, so we went back there in the morning to look for my ring and found it! Like a needle in a hay stack. Faith and prayer helps in anything.

The "Rodeo Man Cave"
Yup, we sleep in here!

We then went to church in Rodeo.  Just for a comparison the entire Rodeo branch is the size of our Elders Quorum on a regular Sunday in Wausau. We have to talk on the 19th about missionary work…any ideas?  When I’m asked to introduce myself-introduction at church, this is what I say:

“Hello, I'm Elder Dickinson. I'm from Wausau Wisconsin. I like the outdoors, hunting, fishing and ice fishing.”  That’s when they all look at me funny because they don't fish – period.  There’s no water here, lol. I then say, “I'm excited to be here and I love the heat.”  It's simple, but then I use my charming smile, so it all works - hehe.   Everybody loves my accent. Before I say I’m from Wisconsin, they all ask if I’m from Canada. They love the accent and I don't know why.

We had a good 3 hours of meetings in Rodeo, then drove to Animas for the last hour of meetings there.  Mainly, we went to see if any of our less-active members showed up.  Sadly, no one did, but that just means we have some more work to do. After that we drove to Lordsburg and broke our fast - with none other than the glorious Spam and eggs.

In Lordsburg, our apartment is small, compared to everyone else's houses, but it's a humbling experience to be living in the ‘lack of luxury.’  Other than being small It's not bad. It is an amazing area I wish I could serve out here the whole time but I know it won't happen. I love how vast it is here. It takes an hour to get anywhere and the extra time really lets you ponder what has happened and gives you time to prepare for what's next…

As I'm writing this we are now headed to Safford AZ (about 75 miles from Lordsburg).  We were invited by ‘Grandma,’ a member Elder Degrange knew in the Safford ward. She invited us over for the super bowl, so I'm pumped, lol.  I wish it was the Packers, but oh well.

And now that we are in Safford we have P-Day sports again, yay!

Here is a random fact.  It's not unusual for dogs and cats just to be wandering around, everywhere.  Oh, and it is not uncommon for cows to just to be walking around, where ever. It's honestly just a big zoo, lol.

Week 74 & 75: Cambio Grande (Big Changes)

‘Big Changes’ pretty much sums up the last 2 weeks – which I haven’t emailed.   The biggest change, sadly, was transferred back to Tucson....