Monday, December 21, 2015

My Country, 'Tis of Thee


One thing I have learned that is undeniable.... Arkansans LOVE their camo. And that is an understatement. When we were out knocking, loads of garages were open and we could see in (not creepy at all, right? #TypicalMissionary). Camo was on the couches, fridges, backpacks, walls, etc. Men are dressed in camo head to foot accessorized with a gnarly beard. I don't mean a scruffy, short beard. No. These are straight up Duck Dynasty beards... several inches long paired with long hair that is generally uncombed or pulled into a ponytail. Any combo of beer, cigarettes, and multiple dogs will always be nearby. BUT! Best of all are the toothless happy smiles that welcome us when we knock on their doors. God Bless America! I wouldn't have it any other way!

(We were twinning, so naturally 
we had to take a picture)
Sister Eckley and I were having a VERY boring week (aside from her walking into the men's bathroom at a grocery store and having a moment of insanity, a moment that lasted a while). We've been doing the same thing for the past five weeks-- trying to visit some Less Actives. We weren't seeing much fruits from our labors. We spent quite a few hours in a town with about 2000 people that is in the outskirts of our ward boundary. This place was the epitome of a typical country town here in Arkansas. Streets not painted and very narrow, unmarked streets, ditches right on either side, men on the side of the road comparing rifles and shotguns, streets named after women, warning signs of  "Beware of Verocious Dog" and out comes a little chihuahua, the smell of fire burning stoves, and trucks, trucks everywhere.

We decided to start counting numbers. On Saturday, we knocked on TWENTY doors and guess how many answered? FIVE people answered. Five. Twelve of the doors we knocked on supposedly were Less Actives, and we talked to TWO people who were actually on our list to see. Sometimes, I think they have a phone tree (especially in such a small town) where they call everyone in the neighborhood and tell 'em not to answer their doors because it's some crazy-talkin' white girls in skirts.

(The blackened yard.
#FireFightersInSkirts #NoBigDeal)
Heavenly Father decided to answer our prayers by ending our uneventful day with a pretty intense event... We were out stalking neighborhood for possible potential investigators, you know... the normal thing that missionaries do. Anyways, we were out looking for bikes, toys, and the like. As we were fixin' to return to our car and call it a day, we turned the corner and noticed flames coming out from under a tall wooden fence around someone's side/backyard. In my head, I'm kinda thinking that this can't be real and wondering what is happening. After the reality of the situation hit us, we RAN up to their door and started banging. Their garage door was open, but no one was coming out. We got out the phone and called 911 and reported a grass fire spreading rapidly at some house. And when I say rapidly, that is truly what I mean. The grass was all dried and so it used the dried grass to keep the fire ablazin'! We ran to the back of the yard to see where the fire had started from... There was a rusty old burn barrel in the middle of the yard that somehow must've yielded some flames onto the dry grass. Their entire yard was blackened.

Since we had already called the fire department, we had pondered the idea of leaving. However, that idea was pulled to a halt real quick as we realized that this had happened for a reason. We had decided to take the longer route and so by the time we got to the house, the fire was visible. If we had gone the short distance, we wouldn't have seen it. We happened to cross by its path in the nick of time! We decided to stay.

A neighbor was asking if we had called the cops yet (which we had) and then she struggled to extend her hose to get it over. Finally, our brains started thinking again and we grabbed the hose at their house, as well. Pretty soon, there were about four or five of us spraying water on this quick spreading fire (now all the way up to the house). The home owner finally appeared (once the fire was pretty much dwindled) and said, "Shoot, I only left for a minute!" And that is EXACTLY why you don't leave a blazin' burn bin unattended, buddy!

About 5min after the fire was entirely put out, the fire department decided to show up. Thanks for coming quickly, boys... We should've called Jimmy John's (commercial reference). With our job completed, we grabbed our Book of Mormons and departed on our merry way back to being door-knockin missionaries. Our clothes reeked of smoke and our shoes got stained black from the charred grass, but I'd say we were a Good Samaritan that day and had accomplished our community service for the week!

Much love,
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

PS... Side note... There will no longer be any transfer meetings. Don't ask me how that is gonna work out. Even President doesn't know. So, does that mean that transfers don't happen every 6wks? Will we stay in areas longer and not keep time by saying "I've been out _____ transfers"? No one knows. And ESPECIALLY no one knows how we're gonna get to the other side (the Memphis side) if we are transferred there and aren't meeting together to transfer over. It'll be interesting. Elder Oaks (the new Apostle over the missionary department) told President and five other Mission Presidents this in a meeting last week. They are to enforce it immediately. Other missions get one more transfer. There are gonna be a lot of changes happening. But hey, I can say that I went my whole mission attending every transfer meeting... all three of them!

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