Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New experiences everyday

Christopher's first few weeks in the Rochester, New York mission have been full of new experiences.  One of the common experiences has been knocking on doors.  Since there hasn't been missionaries in the Batavia area for a while, Christopher and his companion have had to build up a new teaching pool.  Of course this is where Christopher really shines.  All of his experience as a salesman in various parts of the country is now coming together to help out in his missionary work.  Over the past several weeks, Christopher and his companion have been able to set teaching appointments with over 30 people.  Christopher told us that tracting has been one of the most effective ways of meeting people.  He said that in about an hour and a half of tracting one Saturday morning, he and his companion were able to set up seven new teaching appointments.  Of course not all of their appointments have followed through which can make missionary work a little frustrating at times. 

Christopher has told us about some of the new people that they are currently teaching.  He told us a funny story about a little girl who is not a member of the Church and likes to watch TV.  In the New York area, the Church has been showing some short TV commercials that simply show various people from around the country.  As part of the commercial, these people will say something like,  "I'm Chris, I'm a Father, I'm a husband, I'm a former NFL player and I'm a Mormon".  Well apparently this little girl had seen several of these commercials on TV and one day announced to her Grandmother,  "I'm [__] and I'm a Mormon!".  I guess that can tell you a lot about the influence of a TV commercial as well as the interest that something like this might spark in a person.  Anyway, they all got a good laugh out of it and thought that it was a pretty cute story.

One experience that missionaries seem to have quite often is the opportunity to speak in church.  Christopher just recently enjoyed this experience as well not long ago.  He told us that a few weeks ago he was asked to speak in church on faith and hope.  Things have been so busy for Christopher and his companion, that Christopher didn't have a lot of time to prepare.  But if you know Christopher, that doesn't seem to stop him from getting up and doing his best anyway.  He told us that when it was his turn to speak, he got up and spoke for about twenty minutes.  Everything went very well and he felt good about his first talk as a missionary.  He also told us a little bit about the branch in Batavia.  Being a small branch, there are only about thirty people who attend church each week.  This is also a new experience for Christopher.  He is used to Utah Wards where there are usually at least a couple hundred people in the congregation.  I'm sure that in a small branch like Batavia, Christopher will probably have quite a few more opportunities to speak in church.

About a week or so ago, Christopher told us about another very exciting and unique experience that he and his companion had.  This time they were at a mission conference at the Palmyra Stake center.  There were several general authorities visiting the mission at this time including Elder Richard G Scott, Jay E Jensen and David Cook of the seventy.  During the meeting Elder Scott invited a missionary companionship to come forward to do some teaching role playing.  Christopher and his companion couldn't let this kind of an opportunity go by, so they both immediately volunteered.  Once they were up in front of everybody, they were asked to teach the first lesson as if they were at a regular teaching appointment.  As Christopher described it:
"So.... we taught the first lesson in front of 2 mission presidents(the Utica, NY mission pres was there too) 4 stake presidents, the Palmyra temple president, a member of the 70, member of the presidency of the 70, and an Apostle and 120 missionaries!!!! Very intense! We did really well though. The best part was that afterwards Elder Scott,Jensen, and everyone else all critiqued us on our teaching! It was pretty fun and definitely a once in a lifetime experience!"
All in all Christopher seems to be getting into the swing of missionary work.  He is a little upset about BYU basketball though.  Out of all of the years of being a big BYU basketball fan, the year he decides to go on a mission is the year that BYU is expected to perform their best in the NCAA tournament.  As Christopher put it, "Ohhh the sacrifices of a mission!!  ha ha"