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 🙏🏻
107 Community Way
Staunton, VA 24401
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