This week went really well. We were on team ups with 2 more sets of Elders. Elder Ika and Catron and Elder Magelson and Merrell. They were good team ups. We got a lot of things done and had some good experiences. It's amazing what you can learn from other missionaries in just one day with them. We have some great Elders in our District. They are all great teachers and always are working except for one companionship, but I talked to them last night. So, hopefully they will pick it up this week. Elder Searle said when he was in Riverton on team ups they stopped to use the bathroom at the other elder's place in the afternoon and they hadn't even left the apartment yet. They ended the week with only 8 lessons, and last week it was 9. I challenged them to stay out all day and promised them if they did they would end the next week with 20+ lessons. So, hopefully they kick it into gear. It's the last week of the transfer, and I've found a lot of Elders like to slack on the last week of the transfer. I hope it motivates them.
So, we find out transfers on Friday. I don't know what will happen. I am such a worry wart when transfers come around. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, "The worst part about being a missionary is being transferred." You get to know all these names and faces and really get things rolling then you get transferred and get to try it all over again. I always get a confirmation soon after I arrive in an area that that's where I need to be so that helps a lot. I have been in Lander for 6 months at the end of this week. 6 months in Helena and 4 1/2 Months in Hardin. You do the math. Time is flying by. I got an e-mail from Preston today. He only has 7 months left. He will get home pretty much a month before I do.
I got a wicked sweet farmer's tan this week. On Saturday Elder Searle and I mowed a lawn for a member on the res. Boy was it BIG and TALL!!!! We got out there at 10 AM and we finished and got home at 4PM. I had a pretty sweet line on my neck and arms. Then today we went with the Patriarch, Brother Kitchen to some of the pioneer sites that I will talk about more, but I got an even cooler line this time. I'll send pics. I probably look like you guys after sand hallow.
Alright now about the pioneer sites. I told you all a couple e-mails ago about Rock Creek Hallow. Well Brother Kitchen was a member of the Stake Presidency during the Second Rescue where they found names of those who had died to do their temple work. So, a few weeks ago we set it up for him to take us out and tell us stories of the pioneers and stories from the second rescue as well. Well today was the day. We left Lander at 7AM and went first to Sixth Crossing. There was a Senior Missionary there named Elder Webster. He talked to us for a little bit and showed us around the visitor’s center, or whatever you want to call it. He told us a story that I have heard many times since I came to Lander about a Pioneer named Bodil Mortenson. Her family didn't have a lot of money to go to the Salt Lake valley so they were sending their children one by one. Her sister had gone the year before. Bodil was assigned to be with a family to cross the plains, and to take care of a five year old, I don't remember his name. Bodil was only 9. This company left as many of you know, late in the season. When they got to this point in their journey they were hit by a blizzard and walked 15 miles and it took 27 hours. She got the young boy to the camp safely and was completely exhausted. She tried to sit down with the boy, but was asked to find something to burn. She walked around and gathered sage brush then when she came back to camp she leaned up against the wheel of a hand cart and froze. They found her the following morning.
He then told us a story about a boy named James Kirkwood who was only 11. His mother was pulling one of his brother's in the hand cart because he was crippled. And James' little brother was walking bare foot as many children were. So when His brother couldn't walk anymore James carried him on his back or in his arms 15 miles and 27 hours. Occasionally trying to get him to walk, but he just couldn't do it so James carried him the entire way to Rock Creek. When he got there he let his Brother down by the fire where his family was. They had a fire going already because James and his little brother had fallen so far behind. After James put his brother down he laid near the fire and died from exhaustion. How incredible. 11 year old boy gave his life for his little brother. Who did survive because of what James did for him. Bodil and James are both buried in the same grave with 11 other people to pass before the rescue parties arrived.
After Elder Webster told us these stories he showed us a video of Bodil Mortensen that was made recently. It was so powerful. It didn't take long for me to start crying. The spirit filled the room we were in. After the video Elder Webster came and talked to us about it and also was moved upon by the spirit to tell us a few things. He told us that the Lord wants us to know that our efforts are acceptable. That even if we don't have a baptism for months on end that he is pleased and also wanted us to know that we were ordained to come to the Lander Valley and to experience the things we have. We were all very humbled by what was said. There wasn't a dry face in the room. 5 Elders and a Patriarch. :) It was incredible. I'm really glad I was able to see and hear the things we were able to today. I haven't even been able to explain a fraction of what I felt today, but I want you all to know that it was one of the most spiritual days of my entire life. We only walked about 6 miles of the trail today and I have a deep reverence for those who made the trek west in such conditions. I'm convinced God knew I wouldn't have lasted back then so he let me come to earth when Cars were already here.
The Gospel is true you know. I know it is. No doubt in my small jumbled brain. I'm grateful for those sacrifices those pioneers made so I could have what I have today and enjoy the blessings of the gospel that come from God. Dang I'm a lucky Dog. I got to teach Sunday school yesterday on The Post Mortal Spirit World. It went really well. I really liked being able to teach in that setting. It's always neat to feel the spirit teach through you. He sure helps me a lot. If I could have I would have given him a high five after Sunday school yesterday.
I hope you all are well. This time next week I could be in a new area. I guess we will see. Sorry I didn't write more about the work.
Love, Elder Austin
Current Area: Lander, Wyoming
Current Companion: Elder Searle