Monday, July 31, 2017

Kan de jianwoma?

Well first things first, transfer calls came and I am leaving
Staunton. I'm pretty sad but I know that God has plans for me in my
new area. Staunton was honestly the best and has been my favorite area
by far. The members here are amazing, the scenery is beautiful, and
it's at least 6 degrees cooler than most of Virginia.

Yesterday we had a potluck after church, that was pretty great. The
whole kitchen was full of crockpots during church #classic. Thankfully
Dawn was able to come and she stayed for all of church and the
potluck. Elder Davis and I were sitting with some members and I saw
Dawn across the room by herself at a table. I was really concerned
that no one was fellowshipping her so I closed my eyes and said a
quick prayer that someone would sit by her. As soon as I opened my
eyes I saw the Elders Quorum President and his family sit down next to
her and start a conversation. It was a cool testimony builder that God
really does answer prayers. Later that afternoon we went over to her
house and told her that her records didn't exist and that she would
need to be baptized again. She was surprised but gladly accepted a
baptismal date for the 19th of August!! I'll be gone obviously but I
should be able to come back and attend the service.

We visited Cehyla that night as well and she is now finished the Book
of Mormon!! I'm so glad that she was able to finish it while I was
still here, it has been such a special experience to see her read it
all the way through. It was a sad goodbye when I told her I was
leaving but I assured her I'd find her on Facebook when I got home.

Saturday was definitely one of the funnest days of my mission. Y'all
probably don't remember but Elder Davis found this guy named John the
second or third day of the transfer. I've talked about another John
previously but this one is different. So we found John but then lost
contact with him. Last Wednesday however we were able to get in touch
and drive out to his place to help him clean out his shed. We talked
about some gospel things and it was a good opportunity to get to know
him. Then this Saturday he called us up and asked if we could come
back out and help him with some stuff. We got there at noon and
started by getting a bunch of old torn up furniture and tossing it the
back of his truck. Then the three of us (John, me, Elder Davis) headed
to the landfill. It was about a 20 minute drive and he told us his
whole life story. I won't get into details because it's complicated
and some of it was pretty nuts but if anyone needs the gospel it's
John. He wants to change his life so bad, he's done some crazy bad
stuff but all he wants now is a family and a good life. We had a good
conversation on the way back from the landfill about the healing power
of the Atonement and how Jesus Christ can change our very natures.
Once we got back to his place we were able to help him take out the
engine of his Subaru Outback so he can put a new one in, that's where
it got fun. We didn't leave his house until 6:45 and in that time we
got covered in grease. I was on a creeper under the car taking out
bolts, on top of the engine winching it up, and just having the time
of my life. I'm definitely becoming a mechanic when I get home. About
halfway through the day we took a break and had some hot dogs with
him, his son, and his fiancΓ©. We shared the restoration with them and
answered some of their questions about coffee and plural marriage.
They were supposed to come to church yesterday but they must have
slept in, so that was a bummer. Anyways, after we finished eating we
got back to work on the car. We had some problems getting the torque
converter off (I have no idea what that is but that's what John called
it) but after watching some Arabic dude on YouTube we figured it out.
We are going to come over today probably to finish getting the old
engine out and put the new one in, I'm pretty pumped.  I took a couple
time lapses and my iPad stitched them together and added music so I'll
include that.

That's about it for this week though, I'm excited to see what my new
area will be like. I'll let y'all know where I'm at next week.
Hopefully this next year goes as well as the first one has!! Love you
guys!!!

Elder Critchfield πŸ™πŸ»
?????????
Apt. ???
???????, VA ?????

Pics
1. Brother Girolmo the ward mission leader
2. The Sanders family
3. The Chandler boys take this picture with every missionary that leaves
4. The Chandler family (minus their son who left a few weeks ago for
his mission)
5. Working on the Subaru








Monday, July 24, 2017

"I presuppose..."

At church yesterday a girl in her early 20's that I'd never seen
before came up to Elder Davis and I after sacrament meeting and asked
us for a blessing. Turns out she's from Maryland and is down here for
a Shakespeare camp at Blackfriars Playhouse which is a really nice
Shakespeare  theatre in downtown Staunton. She didn't really give us
any details about what she was struggling with but we told her we
would be happy to give her a blessing. I was able to give her the
blessing and as we were finding an empty room to do it in I was a
little worried about what I was going to say, I mean she didn't really
give me much to work with. Usually when I give someone a blessing I
feel like I'm fishing for words and don't know quite what to say. This
time however I knew exactly what to say and how to say it, it was so
cool. She was in tears by the end of the blessing and the whole room
was filled with the spirit. She had to leave after that but asked us
for 3 copies of the Book of Mormon just in case anyone was curious at
the camp.

That night we went and saw Cehyla and she had finished Ether!! We were
able to read the first 7 chapters of Moroni with her and talk about
them so she should be finished by next week. I know I say this every
time I talk about her but it has been such a cool experience to watch
someone read through the whole Book of Mormon and see how it changes
them. On our way out we said hi to this guy that was definitely
wearing eye shadow, he called out to us a few seconds after we passed
him and said "Tell Joseph Smith I said hi!" We laughed and then he
added "that's right, I know who you are", it was pretty funny.

Then on Saturday we were street contacting downtown when we walked
past this guy sitting on some steps. The best way I can describe him
is a black Albert Einstein with a grey Afro. We offered him a card and
all he said in reply was "let me ask you a question, what does it mean
in the Bible when it says 'in the beginning was the word, and the word
was with god, and the word was god'?" We thought about it for a moment
and gave him our best answer, he agreed with us and then starting
asking more questions. It was at least a 20 minute conversation that
quickly turned into him telling us we were wrong about the Book of
Mormon. He kept saying things like "I presuppose the Bible is the word
of God, therefore the Book of Mormon is false" or "I presuppose that
God would not give more scripture" and all this other stuff. Near the
end of our conversation he got really serious. He stood up and got
really close to us, like nose to nose, and told us that we better be
very confident of our beliefs because if we're wrong, we're going to
hell. Then he smiled, shook our hands, told us he'd pray we found the
truth, and went on his merry way. People like that used to make me so
mad but now I just laugh and keep trying to find the people who are
ready to listen to us.

Alright now an update on Dawn, we are 88.7% sure that she is in fact
NOT a member. So hopefully she will be baptized in the coming weeks.
She came to church again yesterday but was only able to stay for the
first hour since she was tired from working all night. She also came
to the ward party Saturday night which was so fun. There was plenty of
food and a ton of games. I got my butt kicked in ping pong by the
Young Men's President and Elder Davis is the new stick pull champion
of the Staunton ward (I'll include the video). We also played
kickball, and let me just say that if anyone thinks ward basketball
gets heated, you should see kickball with the Staunton ward.

We also helped Brother Johnson, a member in the ward, start building
his chicken coop, that was fun. That's the nice thing about Staunton,
everyone has a ton of land and they can build whatever they want on
it. We also helped him build part of his patio, there's gonna be some
bench swings with a big fire pit in the middle. He said he'd invite us
over for s'mores once it was finished so hopefully I'm still around
when the time comes.

On Wednesday we went to the old branch building that's in Staunton for
district meeting since we had gotten the keys the day before. When we
got there though we realized that the Bishop had given us the wrong
key, so we had to sit there for 20 minutes until the 1st counselor
came to unlock it for us.

That's about it for this week folks. Transfer calls are this Saturday
so if you're going to send me something after this Wednesday I'd hold
off until I know if I get to stay here in Staunton. I love serving the
people here in Virginia and I meet someone each day that makes the
whole experience worth it. Love y'all!!


Elder Critchfield πŸ™πŸ»
107 Community Way
Apt. 522
Staunton, VA 24401

Pics
1. Sick hammock on a members deck
2. Waiting for the branch building to be unlocked
3. The YW had Utah cookies since one of them is leaving for BYU
4. Stick pull champ

5. Cow Whisperer








Monday, July 17, 2017

Downtown

We've been doing a lot of street contacting downtown, and every time we go there I get the song "downtown" by Macklemore stuck in my head, it's rough. Contacting downtown is actually way fun though, we get to talk to a lot more people than we would tracting, plus you can look into stores as you walk and pretend like you have the money to buy all the cool stuff you see! One of the problems we have though is that as soon as we cross to one side of the street, everyone on that side runs to the other side, it's almost as if they're avoiding us for some reason....weird. 

On Tuesday the Zone Leaders came to our area for exchanges so I took Elder Mitton downtown. As we were walking around to my imaginary tune of "Downtown", we weren't having any luck. It was 10 or 11 in the morning so there weren't too many people out. At first I thought that we should just leave and go somewhere else but I decided to stick it out and keep going. I've been trying to increase my faith and really believe that there are people prepared for us to talk to every day. We took a left then a right, then another right, then a left, just trying to follow the spirit and find people. Eventually we ended up on West Beverly Street, which is the Main Street in Staunton. As we looked up the street we saw this lady walking towards us looking right at us. This doesn't sound significant but NOBODY makes eye contact with you, I'm serious. So right off the bat I knew she wanted to talk to us. We said hi to her and she started choking up a little bit. She explained that she had seen us walking around downtown a few days ago and wanted to talk to us but didn't get the chance, she told us that we were like angels and she was so happy to see us. Turns out her son left the MTC a few weeks ago to serve in the Paris, France mission. It's a really long story but she's not a member and she told her son she would reach out to us if she saw us. We took a selfie so she could send it to her son and then she gave us $20 dollars. She owns a jewelry store on West Beverly so we have stopped by a few more times and talked with her since meeting her on the street. Her name is Katie and she's way nice, she's a little hesitant to let us come teach her but I know she'll come around.

With the $20 we went and got Jimmy Johns (obviously) for us and the other two elders. As the lady at the counter handed us our bag full of sandwiches she smiled and told us she threw in something extra for us. Turns out it was two free cookies!! So that was pretty much the best morning of my whole mission, a crazy awesome miracle and free Jimmy Johns. 

So last week I talked about this lady we found that we thought was a member but we weren't sure. Well her name is Dawn, we still aren't sure if she's an actual member since we contacted two bishops in the area where she used to live and neither of them have her records, but she came to church yesterday!! She worked all night on Saturday and then came straight to church, she's a trooper. We still have daily contact with her wether it's through meeting in person or talking on the phone. 

Oh also, yesterday we pulled up to church to see a huge bus with high school age kids pouring out of it. There was at least 60 of them, they filled up a ton of rows. We were super confused but as we started talking to them they told us they were on a church history tour. They were pretty much all from Utah and a lot of them came up and talked to us. It was cool to be able to see people from Utah and talk to them, it made Elder Davis and I kind of homesick though. 

A week or so ago Elder Davis went to this going away party thing for one of the youth in the ward who's going off to college. We figured we'd just go for food since we didn't have a dinner and see if we could talk to some non-members. The party was at the members house and they have a huge backyard, so there was a bunch of tables, food, some cornhole, and a volleyball net. Elder Davis and I ended up playing 2v2 volleyball against two of the young men in the ward. We justified it by saying we were building member relationships but we have since repented. That being said we smoked them the first game and barely lost the second one. The problem was we were in our proselytizing clothes and I ripped my pants making a sick play. They were crappy pants I got from another missionary though so no worries. Okay this story has a point I promise, SO the two young men challenged us to a volleyball tournament today, thankfully we can wear actual sport clothes since it's P-Day

Ceyhla is still doing great, she's in Ether right now so she should finish the Book of Mormon by the end of this month! It's been an amazing opportunity for me to see how much she's grown in the past 3 months, it just strengthens my testimony of the Book of Mormon that much more. 

One thing I've been thinking a lot about this week is the scripture in Matthew 7:7-9 

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

A member talked about this scripture once with me and one of the senior missionaries in the office talked about it as well. Sometimes I feel like I pray for something and I get a stone, and it can be really frustrating sometimes. I have nothing against rocks, don't get me wrong, but when I ask for bread I want bread! Recently I'd been feeling like I've been getting a lot of stones and it's been dragging me down. The thing that has been pointed out to me though and that's becoming more and more apparent is that Heavenly Father will ALWAYS give us bread, we just don't always recognize it. With that in mind I've been trying extra hard to recognize my circumstances and trials for what they are, bread. It may be multi-grain or gluten free sometimes but it's always going to be bread, Heavenly Father will never give us anything that isn't going to benefit us in the end. This has helped me a lot as things happen at home and in the mission field. Instead of looking at a situation and saying "okay this is obviously a stone" I now look at it and say "okay what kind of bread is this" or "what am I supposed to learn". Because if we go through our lives constantly mistaking bread for stones, we'll never learn anything, and pretty soon we'll find ourselves believing that God doesn't care about us, or that he doesn't hear our prayers, when in reality he's been giving us bread this whole time. 

With that in mind I'd invite all of you to "find the bread". Look at a situation that at first glance looks like a giant boulder that's holding you down, and find a way to see it as bread. I know that as we do this our trials will become easier and we will be able to more fully trust in God and his perfect plan for us. 

This is probably my longest email so far so here's the TLDR: Staunton is great, I had a cool miracle downtown, I ripped my pants playing volleyball, Heavenly Father always gives us bread.  

Love you guys!!

Elder Critchfield πŸ™πŸ»
107 Community Way
Apt. 522
Staunton, VA 24401

Pics
1. We got bored during dinner so we pulled out the keyboard and this happened 
2. I took this video forever ago and Elder Davis did a remake recently