Monday, September 26, 2016

- Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

Do you know what these pictures are? They are the photos we take at the end of each transfer with our district. Yes once again six weeks have come and gone bringing us to the suspenseful moment of finding out where we will all be going. This is especially stressful as a zone leader because everyone starts calling and texting you all week trying to find out early. The truth is, we don't find out any earlier than everyone else; so our phone is blowing up for no reason. However, I have no need to worry about that any longer, for as of tomorrow I will no longer be a zone leader. Instead I will be going back to being a district leader - once again with three pairs of sisters and no other Elders in the district. I really wonder what God's plan for me is; at least it is consistent though.
I will be going to Lewisburg which is a tiny town on the other side of Nashville near the Appalachian foothills. I am pretty excited to go. After all the fun I have had in the small towns, it will be awesome to actually stay in one. My companion will be Elder Thompson. He has been out for six weeks so he is still in training. I get to pick up right where I left off training Elder Carlson. He sent me a selfie today and I can already tell I am really going to love him.

Elder Thompson in Lewisburg

Side note: the answer to last week's bonus question is Ether 6:11 "And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water." Last week, I had been out 344 days. Nick was the closest to finding the answer, although he was the only one who guessed. You all need to step up the game on the bonus questions. Nobody even answered the one about "under the name of sanders." The answer to that one was an allusion to Winnie the Pooh who has a sign reading "sanders" above his front door. Maybe I will have to make some really big prize for getting the right answer next time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Achievement Unlocked: Tight like unto a dish - Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello everyone! 

I would like to start by saying that Kentucky is definitely as awesome as I thought it would be. To start out, we had dinner at a little local drive in -- the kind that only has two people working and only accepts cash. They made what I will call the best milkshake I have ever eaten in my entire life. I can seriously never go to Sonic again for it simply cannot be as good. Then we went to go visit a family in their trailer. We read the Book of Mormon with them and as we read the testimonies of the savior healing the multitude, the spirit filled the crowded little room. A change came over the family and the frivolous arguments of siblings ceased for that time. The next day, we had the privilege of serving them by helping build a deck so they could use their back door. I loved getting to work with them and learn more about them and the things they enjoy in life. Often we can become so preoccupied with our own busy lives, opinions, and lifestyles that we forget to see the beauty in others around us. We forget that all of us are children of God and each individual's life and desires are important to Him. I love the advice from Elder Patrick Kearon: "Meeting ... families and hearing their stories with your own ears, and not from a screen or newspaper, will change you. Real friendships will develop and will foster compassion and successful integration." I am grateful for the opportunity we had to work with this family and grow a real friendship with them. Here is a picture of John and our handiwork; his more (mother?) took the picture for us. 

The rest of the day in Morgantown was awesome. We got to walk the whole way around town and talk to people as we went. I love that everyone was so approachable and willing to talk with anyone. It also amused me that directions around town included, "right next to where John lives," or, "across the street from the Jordan's house." The Mayor's actually name is Billy Bob. It was a great experience for me all around and I enjoyed speaking with the people. 

We had a few miracles as we worked. After knocking on someone's door, I felt prompted to ask, "what is the purpose of life?" The woman who answered replied that she did not know and had been reading and searching for the answer for quite some time. I opened the Book of Mormon and read to her Alma 34:32 which reads, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God." She liked that and accepted a Book of Mormon as we promised her that it would help answer her question and bring direction to her life by helping her prepare to meet God. Afterwards we taught a lesson in a family's home. They had their friend over who has been coming to church and reading the Book of Mormon with them. Their testimonies of the savior and His gift of repentance led to a desire within this man's heart and he is now preparing for baptism in October. After all our planned activities were done, at 8:50pm, we decided to go out walking even though we had but ten minutes left. In this short time, we had opportunity to bear our testimonies to one more person and receive a wonderful referral. My testimony of missionary work was definitely increased that day and I am so grateful to be serving the people here. 

We had a lot of cool opportunities to do service this week including cleaning out gutters and giving priesthood blessings. I think my favorite though has to be this right here:

"[A]nd lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." I am actually very grateful that I was taught how to use a large variety of farm tools by my stepfather so many years ago. As hard as it was at the time, I am grateful for how it has helped me to serve others. Whenever someone asks if we know how to uproot a tree, dig a trench, or even use a sickle, I am happy to surprise them by saying yes. This was a fun job though definitely a work out; the weeds were taller than my head when I started. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and I am so happy to hear from you guys and write each Monday. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Elder Basham

PS. Ten awesome points to anyone who can tell me why I came up with the subject/title for this week's email 

PPS. Here is a picture of the Morgantown district

Morgantown District

Monday, September 12, 2016

America! - Clarksville, Tennessee

Today a couple of cool things happened. One, I cut my own hair for the second time. I am getting a little better I think...

New Self-done Haircut

Second, Elder Weight took us to a western store to look at boots. I was confused about this since we actually live in the west where people really have cattle ranches and wear boots. I couldn't see why you would travel all the way to the east side of the country to the land of overalls and straw hats to buy boots and a Stinson. Anyway, I found a hat in the store that I liked as well. Decided not to buy it though.

Third, we are going to Kentucky again. This time I am not just visiting. I get to spend a few days here and actually do some missionary work in a tiny farming town called Morgantown. It isn't quite as small as Russleville, but it is not even half the size of Clarksville. It was a really cool car trip.

I hope you all have a great week! I love you guys :)
Elder Basham

Monday, September 5, 2016

Family History - Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello Everyone! 

So this week in our training of Elder Carlson, we studied a lot about family history work. It was really cool to hear all sorts of great stories of how family history work brought families closer together and brought them great happiness. We read the testimonies of many individuals who were brought to our savior and His church through the spirit of Elijah. It was so cool seeing how the work of salvation is for everyone an the reality of this quote in Preach my Gospel:
“I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!” –President Spencer W. Kimball. 

Through this we have had many cool opportunities to share family history with many people around us - both members and investigators. It is really special how much it brings the spirit and softens hearts. My favorite was a recent convert family we visited yesterday. They have had the opportunity to take hundreds of names to the temple and now they are preparing to go for their own sealing. I loved hearing their testimony of how their family will be together forever and I thought of how it will open the door for them to perform those additional ordinances for all of their ancestors. A welding link is being formed throughout all the generations which will last for eternity. 

Sparked by this great spirit, I have finally gone and done what I have wanted to do for a long time. Today I was able to visit the graves of my great great grandmother and grandfather. It is really cool that to think of all the places in the whole world I could have been sent to in over 400 missions, they sent me to Tennessee. The apostle who issued that call did not know my family history, but the Lord does. Of all the wards in this great mission, president Andersen was inspired to send me to Clarksville. How cool is that! It was cool getting to be there and think about the lives they lived - growing up in the South during Reconstruction. I wonder what they did for work, what their school was like, and how they raised their children. What great lessons did they learn that they would want us to know. Am I honoring their name by the way I live?

Elder Basham with the headstones of George and May Basham

As cool as all of that is, I love more to think about our great heavenly family. When we are sealed, it is not merely to one other person, but we are linked in with the whole family of God the Eternal Father. It is a great covenant we take upon ourselves and it builds off the one we make at baptism and renew each Sunday. As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have covenanted to take His name upon us. Do we honor that great name by the way we live and love each day? Do we live true to the great family we are a part of?

I love you all and hope you can say with conviction, "yes!" I testify that the Savior loves each one of us and His atoning sacrifice makes it possible for all of us to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our family again. I am grateful for this knowledge He has given me and I love Him. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.