Thursday, September 24, 2015

Week 61- I'm Staying in Greenville

September 21, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Things are rolling here in Greenville. Everything is going well! I said goodbye to my old companion Elder Berry and I got a new companion named Elder Dickerson. He was previously a zone leader in Wilson, North Carolina.  We were companions for two days back in May when we had a Leadership Conference where we learned a new teaching method. While we were companions while we tried out the new teaching method out in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Elder Dickerson has been out for more than 21 months so I may end up being his last companion. I am still holding true to not having a companion that is younger than me as Elder Dickerson is older than me, too.  Even the two new Elders that I trained in the past were older than me. 

Two new English-speaking sisters were assigned to our ward so we gave them all of our English investigators and now we are teaching only in Spanish. 

A lot of our scheduled lessons with investigators fell through this past week so we tracted quite a bit this past week. We've trying to find more Spanish speaking people to teach since we gave all of our English speaking investigators to the new sisters in our ward.  We did, however, decide to keep teaching Larry ourselves.  He has a baptismal date set for October 17th.  He is still trying to stop smoking and he has to come to church for the next two weeks in order to make his date. He got a job in Raleigh so he is only home on Saturday and Sunday. He has been sick the past few weeks so he hasn’t been able to come to church. 

We had a conference this Saturday with the Kinston Stake President, President Baker, and all of the Bishops and ward mission leaders in the stake. We talked about how we can incorporate missionary work into the ward council and how to get more member referrals. It’s actually really sad because I have only received two member referrals during my entire mission! The most solid investigators that we teach come from member referrals. Twenty-five percent of member referrals get baptized! Only one in seventy investigators that missionaries find end up getting baptized.

Tomorrow we have a Zone Conference where three Zones are getting together with President and Sister Baker. President Baker assigned me and Elder Dickerson to conduct the 70 person meeting. I have to conduct the second half of the meeting. I was nervous about my assignment, but then I found out that President Baker had assigned the other two sets of Zone leaders and the sister training leaders to give 20-minute trainings during the conference. I will take conducting the meeting any day over having to give a 20-minute training in front of everyone. 

I know that this is the true church. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real that we can apply it in our lives every day. I know that making covenants with our Heavenly Father gives us the power to overcome Satan and anything in our life that we are struggling with. I know God loves us and he wants us to come back to live with him again.

Hope everyone has a great week!!!

Love, Elder Cannon

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A New Companion

September 14, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Transfer calls came in and I'm staying here in Greenville. My companion Elder Berry is getting transferred to my old area in Newport News.  My new companion is going to be Elder Dickerson.  

We had exchanges with some elders in Kinston on Wednesday and Thursday. Apparently Kinston is in the top 15 most dangerous cities in the U.S. In East Kinston people die violent deaths every day. Kinston is a scary looking place it is really ghetto. 

Many of the people that we teach have not been educated, as they should. Sometimes it can be really hard to teach them since their level of learning and understanding is low. We taught a married couple a few days ago about the Book of Mormon, and they didn't really understand much of the details. This has taught me that it is the spirit that is the teacher and not us. 

We did a walk and talk at the Collard festival down in a small town called Ayden on Saturday. Elder Berry and I ended up talking to a lot of people there.

We had a pretty funny experience at the mall in Greenville the other day. We were talking to people and passing out cards, when a guy yelled at us and said, “You know what y’all are talking about is heresy right? Joseph Smith and all that is heresy.”  Elder Berry responded and asked if he had prayed about Joseph Smith.  The man responded that he had. So, apparently he was lacking real intent when he asked God or he didn’t ask at all and just told us that he did.

When we went over to one of our investigator's apartments we found that he was drunk.  He told us that we should stop all our preaching and just chill.  Then, he offered us to sit down and take a beer.  We left and we dropped him from our teaching schedule.

We are still working with Larry but it has been difficult to visit him. He recently got a job in Raleigh so he's gone for the entire week and then returns to his home for Saturday and Sunday. We had a really good lesson with him Saturday night and we reset him with a baptismal date for the 17th of October! 

I hope that everyone has a great week.

Elder Cannon

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 7, 2015- Mission Leadership Conference

September 7, 2015

Hi Family and Friends!!!

This past week was a pretty interesting week!

On Tuesday, we had a bunch of leadership meetings over the phone.  Afterwards, we deep cleaned our apartment and completed our normal studies.  By the time we left our apartment around 4:30 p.m. to drive to Portsmouth, Virginia, we hadn't done any missionary work, which really stunk. When we arrived at the Assistant to the President's apartments in Portsmouth, Virginia it was 8:30 p.m. Since it is a long four-hour drive to Virginia, we had to leave the night before so that we could be ready for the conference the next morning.  There were eleven Elders that stayed overnight in the AP’s apartment on Tuesday night. The apartment is actually pretty big, since four elders live there normally. We each slept on our own air mattresses on the floor, so it was pretty crowded.  We attended the Mission Leadership Conference the next morning.  It was a really good meeting. I enjoyed being there with the entire mission leadership and President Baker. I just learn so much from President Baker whenever I'm around him. The meeting lasted from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. When the meeting was done, we drove right back to North Carolina.  Along the way, we stopped at a city called Bethel to do some missionary work. We ended up teaching a Restoration lesson to a woman who is a Jehovah’s Witness. 

On Thursday, we went on exchanges with our assistant ward mission leader.  He told us that both of the missionary sisters in our ward have been transferred out of the ward.  That was news for Elder Berry and me since we had not been notified of the change before it happened.  This means that Elder Berry and I will be doing English and Spanish work in our ward boundaries until sometime next week when we have transfers so we are going to be really busy teaching lessons. 

We held a Zone meeting on Friday, and it went really well. It was a lot easier leading a Zone meeting after having attended the Mission Leadership Conference and after listening to President Baker explain what we would be doing.  The first time I had to lead a conference, I had no prior training, so I basically had to wing it. 

On Friday, we were trying to contact an investigator.  When we got out of the car, there a drunken man standing in his doorway.  He said, “Hey, Mormon missionaries! We walked over to him and he told us that he was an Elder too, and then he started crying. He said that he really wanted us to come in and he said he'd turn off his loud music. My companion tried to convince Carl to pour his beer into the sink, but he wouldn't do it. In between his crying fits he told us that he was a member from another city in North Carolina.  We gave him the address to the ward building so that he could attend, but I doubt he will remember talking to us. As we were giving him the address, his roommate came in. Carl's roommate, Steven, was pretty rude to us. All of a sudden, Carl started talking about Joseph Smith and the gold plates.  This perked Steven's interest and he started asking us questions.  After we answered some of his questions, he asked if he could have a Book of Mormon.  We ended up teaching a lesson to him about the Book of Mormon. Although Carl was totally out of it, he seemed to break out of it every so often to be able to say something that actually helped as we taught the lesson. At the end of the lesson, Steven invited us to come to his work anytime to come visit him.  As we left, Steven was sitting on his porch and he was reading the Book of Mormon. It was really cool to see Steven’s attitude change as we were teaching him.

We've been continuing to teach Larry.  He is trying to stop smoking. It was too bad that he wasn't able to come to church on Sunday because he had a really bad migraine.

I want everyone to know that I know this church is true and I know that we have a living prophet today. And even though a mission can be hard sometimes, I am so grateful for the chance to be a missionary.  I am loving it out here in North Carolina!

I hope that everyone has a great week!

Elder Cannon

    There are quite a few tobacco plantations here in North Carolina.  Here I am standing next to a tobacco field while holding a Word of Wisdom lesson pamphlet.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

August 24- Exchanges and August 31- Ward Pig Pickin'

August 24, 2015

Dear Family and friends

Another month has gone by! I just hit 13 months yesterday. Time is just flying by! 

For P-day last week, all six elders in Greenville went to the batting cages at ECU. They had a machine that was throwing an 88 mph fastball. I was able to hit it every so often but I had to time it right and begin to swing before the ball came out, so it beats me how the pros can think about whether they want to hit it and swing in time. 
We had posole for dinner, the first Hispanic dish that I have had the chance to eat since I have been here in Greenville. I was so happy because I love posole, and it was so, so good!!

Our investigator Larry has read all of 1st Nephi in a couple days even though he has had a really bad migraine. The spirit has been really strong in our lessons. What has been really cool is there is a less active member that lives in the same complex that Larry knows.  Larry has invited her to join in on our lessons and she did. Hopefully being there in the lessons for Larry will activate her. 

We are teaching Arnulfo who thinks God has chosen him and as "proof" of his calling he has all these dreams from God. Just about everything we talk about reminds him of a dream that he recently had and then he spends ten minutes telling us about his dream. On Friday we talked about the Plan of Salvation and how we needed to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost when and he told us that he had already received the Holy Ghost and then he proceeded to relate one of his dreams to us.  He said that was walking down a path and he heard this horse walking behind him.  He looked around and saw a white horse. He said that the white horse was named Paloma, which he said was supposed to represent the Holy Ghost. I've met a lot of Hispanics who have had religiously themed dreams. I'm not sure why is so big in the Hispanic culture to have dreams, but I guess that is how it is. Well, at least he is reading the Book of Mormon.

We had exchanges with the Assistants to President on Friday. They drove down from Virginia.  Elder Ferguson was assigned to work with Elder Berry and me. His companion, Elder Terril was assigned to work with the Zone Leaders in Wilson, North Carolina. Elder Ferguson doesn't know any Spanish, so during our lessons he sat between us and Elder Berry and I would trade off translating for him while the other talked. He said that was the first time that he had Spanish elders translate for him; normally he just doesn't know what is going on. He was pretty happy that we would do that for him, so that was pretty cool.  I guess we are just used to translating because we do it every Sunday for the Spanish-speaking members in the ward.

We gave the sister missionaries in our ward nearly everyone we found last week to teach since most of the people we found/taught are English speaking. 

Sunday we got to go in for sharing time during Primary to talk with the kids in Junior and Senior Primary about how they can be missionaries. It was really fun because it brought back a lot of memories of being in Primary when I was younger.

That evening, we had a special conference for the entire stake of Kinston. We had to drive about 50 miles south to New Bern, North Carolina. The topic of the special conference was about how to respect motherhood and womanhood. I would just like to say how much I appreciate my mom and how much I love her. She has always been there to watch out for me and help me with anything that I needed. I hope you realize mom how important you are to me. I love you mom!

We had a few funny experiences this week.  We were walking outside talking with people at the mall and there was this big built worker sitting down on some steps and so we went over to talk with him. He stood up and walked right up to my companion’s face, looked down at his nametag and said, "Are you a Mormon, Berry?" My companion said yes, and then he walked up right to my face, looked at my name tag and asked me the same thing, "Are you a Mormon, Cannon?" I said yes. Elder Berry and I didn't flinch at all.  I thought he was going to yell at us but then he was said, “Oh that's cool.” Then, he started talking about how his brother in law's family was Mormon.  It goes to show you that can't ever judge people by the first impression.

We went into the ghetto to find an old investigator.  We saw an African American outside the investigator’s home. We walked over and talked to him and he said we could teach him. We pulled a restoration pamphlet with a picture of Jesus on it and asked him who he saw on the front cover.  He paused for a second and said, "What I see is an interpretation, of a certain group of people, who think they know what Jesus Christ looks like." He was offended that the picture portrayed Jesus Christ as a white man. He commented on how if the picture had been a picture of a African American Jesus, his children would be able to have more confidence in themselves because they would be looking up to a man of their own race. We had to end the lesson early because he wouldn't listen to us after that.

I know this church is true, and I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and for what he did for all of us. I'm also very grateful that my family will be together forever!!

Hope everyone has a great week

Elder Cannon

August 31, 2015

Hola everyone!
I hope everything is going well there. It’s going great here in North Carolina!

On Monday we had another lesson with Ernestina, Coral and Alex where we taught them about the Book of Mormon. Ernestina is the grandma, Coral is the mom and Alex is the son. They are our most progressing Spanish investigators right now.

On Tuesday we had a first lesson with Ana, who is from Mexico, her sister and their friend Ulysses. It was strange because Ana spoke a weird dialect.  Basically she doesn't speak English or Spanish so I don't know how she survives here in the United States. Her sister just translated for her during the lesson.   I have met many people that speak other dialects.  All of them are from Guatemala and they speak a dialect called Q'eachi'.  This was the first time that I've met someone from Mexico that speaks a dialect instead of Spanish.

On Friday, went on exchanges with Elder Pugsley, one of our district leaders and his companions. I went down to his area. I'll admit I was a little nervous since this was the first time where I was the leader in the exchange. Normally, the district leaders get to go on exchanges with the elder companionships in their area, but since the area I was a district leader in had only sister missionaries, I didn't get a chance to do it. But luckily, Elder Pugsley and I know each other already so things went well.

We taught Arnulfo again.  We talked about baptism and confirmation, and read Acts 8 with him, which talks about the correct way to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority from God.  He basically told us that he understood the scripture but since he felt that God called him in his dream- that didn't apply to him. Elder Berry visited him again with another missionary while I was in Elder Pugsley's area and Arnulfo continued to insist that the rules didn’t apply to him so we decided to stop teaching him.

We had a Ward North Carolina BBQ Saturday night.  The food was super good! We had a pig pickin' where they cooked the entire pig on the grill and then you "pick" off what you want to eat. It’s interesting because the way they BBQ here is vinegar based, so the meat was coated with apple cider vinegar instead of the normal tomato based sauce, but it was actually really delicious. It was very exciting because our investigator named Larry came to the BBQ.  He got the chance to meet ward members, and then he came to church on Sunday and he loved it!

We taught the word of wisdom lesson to Larry during the week.  We thought it might be a problem since he is addicted to smoking, but he told us, “Yeah I need to stop.”  He committed to live the word of wisdom! 

While we were tracting earlier this week, a Hispanic lady answered the door and she was a Jehovah’s Witness. We asked her if we could share a message and she said, “Yes, but let me grab my Bible so that I can share something too.” Elder Berry and I were thinking that she was planning to bash with us. Her husband joined us, but in the end we actually were able to teach the entire Restoration lesson to them!

I'm going to be driving to Virginia tomorrow night because I have an all day meeting on Wednesday with President Baker and all the zone leaders.

Elder Cannon

                                                  War BBQ- North Carolina Pig Pickin'