June 23, 2017
Dear loved ones:
Summer feels like it has most definitely arrived, but our friends here tell us it will still get a lot warmer and much more humid. This is a good thing. It allows us the option to swim through the air without changing into swim attire. It’s also comforting to know that our chances of frostbite are minimal.
|Some cultural instruction in the mission home. Our vacuum cleaners are "sweepers" here. "Been a minute" is a long time. "Please?" means please repeat yourself.|
It’s time for a bit more Cincinnati culture. Specifically, panhandlers. We have two, in particular, that are really hard workers. For bums. They appear to be brothers. They hold up signs saying they are homeless, but when we saw one of them leave what looked to be an apartment complex and dash back to his post, their homeless act became less convincing. Donning rain gear also makes them look less homeless, but they are really picking up their act in others way. Most people pretty much drive past them, but one day last week one alleged brother suddenly developed cerebral palsy. Or a stroke. His elbow and wrist abruptly became rigidly flexed against his chest, and his foot on that side turned inward—thus necessitating him to limp when he ran, err…shuffled…, to car windows to pick up his cash. Shuffled quite quickly, actually. The promise of money was really therapeutic for his gait. The first time I saw him after his “stroke” there were five other cars at the stoplight, and they all (yes, all!) handed over cash. I’m hardhearted and unfeeling, so I didn’t. At least that time. But don’t worry too much about my soul—I gave him money before his stroke. I, at least, was planning ahead. So there.
I wouldn’t want you all to think that panhandlers all present a moral dilemma. Some of them are hilarious. One evening when we had just arrived at the church with our elders, a rather large African-American
bum gentleman drove his luxurious but older model SUV up to us and said
he needed a job. I am not currently
hiring, but fortunately for him he had an interview the next day. I was happy to hear that. I guess.
He needed some nicer clothes. I
initially thought he must have meant nicer than the slacks and dress shirt that
he was wearing, but he said he needed to purchase a pair of Dickies pants for
$19.99. (I later checked, and the price
at least was accurate. Amazing.) Maybe the Dickies would look nicer? Not? He
had been “driving all over town all day long trying to raise money.” I have to admit that I figured the chances
were at least 110% that I was being played, but I admired his gall so much that
I handed over $20. And laughed to
myself, because driving that car all over Cincinnati would burn WAY more gas
than $20 would buy.
But wait! It gets better! Next, he said that he needed another $3 for gas to get home. This was so outrageously cheeky, that I handed it over also. I almost suggested that he have a stroke and stand by exit 3, but remembered that spot was already taken so instead I gave him a pass-along card and asked him to come to church the next day. He assured me that he, “Certainly would.” He was obviously not a YSA, so we told him to come to the 11 a.m. meeting. We don’t know if he came. We didn’t hold our breath.
Next, I feel compelled to say that there are some activities that we don’t do on missions that I really miss. One is hunting. I understand there are many quality hunting locales, particularly in Kentucky, but I’m not sure I can pass the licensing exam. I’ll include a portion of the exam so you can all experience my consternation. This first question on the exam concerns proper Kentucky hunting language. I invite all of you to decode this exchange between two duck hunters.
|"em are ducks; em are not; Oh es ay are; Oh, em are ducks"|
The sisters had a great baptism on Saturday, June 17. He is a young man named Dylan Beyer. The girl standing next to him in the photo below is named Haley Hand. She was dating him and introduced him to the church and the missionaries. She told him that she didn’t want him to do it for her, but he assured her that it was for him. He has attended Institute several times, and is a most kind and gentle soul. Haley leaves on a mission next week to Salt Lake City East Spanish speaking. Saying that we’ll miss Haley is an understatement. She’s introduced two people that we know of to the church that have been baptized just since we arrived here. She is amazing.
|Dylan Beyer with Haley Hand and her little brother on the right|
|Our Institute class bidding Haley goodbye|
Earlier that day Sonja took me to a rather famous butcher shop named Bridgetown Meats, and as promised it was a blast. It was absolutely swarmed with customers, all of whom could easily work as salespeople. They extolled the virtues of the various offerings. I wanted to purchase them all, but I ended up choosing some of their gourmet burgers. We had them for Father’s Day dinner and they were amazingly delectable. We got to have Carter, Whitney, and Noah visit us that day on their way back to Chicago from Charleston, SC. They also gave the burgers two enthusiastic thumbs up. It was tons of fun.
|We chose the Bearcat. Delicious.|
On Father’s Day we kicked off a branch push to read The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ in 90 days. We celebrated by having Sam’s Club make three sheet cakes decorated with blue frosting and yellow lettering. Of course we served the cake a la mode. We are not barbarians.
|All of us missionaries with Daniel Rellaford on the bottom right--our most excellent branch mission leader|
|A panorama shot of the linger longer festivities|
When we got home, Taylor & Katie's Father's Day card had arrived. They had a sheet of questions that each of their kids filled out about me. Anna said I'm 60 years old, spend my time helping people on my mission, am really good at being funny, and always Grandpa always says "That he loves us." Grandpa loves her because "I'm his grandkid.” Max said I'm 56 (really close!), I'm good at being a doctor, I always say "I love you," and when grandpa was little he used to "help his Mom." Max loves his Grandpa because "He always knows what to do." Charlie’s said I spend most of my time thinking, I'm really good at math, I always “chuckle,” and when grandpa was little he used to "build his testimony." Charlie loves his Grandpa because "he loves everyone." Georgia says I'm about 43, spend most of my day teaching people about Jesus, am really good at babysitting, always say funny things and nice things, used to "play" when I was little, and Grandpa loves her because "I'm Geo-ie." I even got a handwritten letter from Simon. It was very sweet.
We had another great Institute class in which Sonja taught powerfully about a recurrent and pervasive principle taught in The Book of Mormon: deliverance. I, for one, have noticed that 1 Nephi 1:20 teaches that one theme of the book is that “…the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen…” However, neither of us had consciously realized that the ending of the verse states, “…because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (emphasis added)
It has been a wonderful week as we have taken some time to consider some of the stories that demonstrate the Lord’s power of deliverance, including Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem before its destruction, Nephi from Laban and his brothers, and Helaman’s stripling warriors.
It is interesting to contrast the deliverance of King Limhi and his people with the people of Alma near the Waters of Mormon. King Limhi and his people suffered many things while in bondage from the Nephites, but when Ammon arrived they were soon delivered by getting the Lamanites snockered and sneaking out the back door. It appears that it was quite rapid.
In Mosiah 24 we learn that despite the fact that Alma and his people were peaceful, righteous, and had already been baptized, their deliverance was not immediate. It began first with being comforted in rather than from their afflictions by the Lord as a reward for “the covenant which ye have made unto me.” The Lord eased their burdens, that “…even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage…” Next the Lord tells us why: “and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.” (emphasis added)
We remain madly in love with each other and always feel blessed to be here on the Lord’s errand. We pray daily for inspiration for us to do better, and for protection and guidance for those that we love. The gospel is true, the Lord answers prayers, and miracles are around us all. It is a humbling experience to offer prayers only of gratitude. We are blessed beyond expression and above what we even begin to recognize.
Lots and lots of love,
Your Ohio Missionaries--Elder Kent and Sister Sonja Davis
|Feeding our YSA missionaries, and sadly bidding Elder Swainston (left) goodbye because he's being transferred|
|Renisha showing off her new scriptures and her matching dress--always a fashion plate|