Here are some tidbits from Dallen, now in a town North of Knoxville called La Follette:
I am currently in La Follette, Tennessee with Elder Bacon...The weather here has been kinda crazy. Our flight to Tennessee from Atlanta almost got cancelled because of weather but we were able to fly out. The weather in Tennesee was decent the first night but the second night when we got to our area it snowed about 6 inches. It was crazy everything was shut down the next day. We didn't have a lot to do that day because we were snowed in so we scraped snow off of cars and then made a snowman. I will send a picture. So, Elder Bacon is my companion, he is a pretty cool guy I guess...Our apartment is just a normal apartment. Nothing special. Just enough to survive. Most of the people here are pretty nice. It isn't uncommon around here to talk about God and religion in just a random conversation in Walmart so that is definately a little different. I constantly smell like cigarette smoke because most of the peole we teach are smokers. Everyone smells like smoke. It will take some getting used to. also another thing I was surprised about was the amount of illiteracy here. most people we visit have a hard time reading anything let alone the scriptures and it's hard to understand something they can't read. But I guess if they try their best the spirit will make up the rest. I wish more members would feed us. Sometimes we just don't eat because we don't have time to. But if a member would feed us that could solve the problem. I'm still getting used to waking up at 6:30 everyday. I don't think I will ever get used to it. We are constantly doing stuff and I am always exhausted. But at least we have a car so we don't have to bike everywhere...There are a lot of Less-active members in our area. half of our lessons are taught to them. most of them are either struggling keeping some commandment or the other and just don't want to change so we are trying to change that. I still dont know the investigators very well even though we've met a couple times. One guy has a baptismal date and a few others are pretty close. hopefully they can see how this can change their life.
Love you, Elder Dallen Stark
This week has gone by pretty fast. At least compared to other weeks. I'm feeling more comfortable with everything even though I am still missing everything back home. I here that after your first few months everything else turns into a blur. I wonder if that is true. Elder Bacon is doing his best to help me become a missionary even though I don't think any missionary ever truly knows what they are doing until they leave. All we can do is our best...I feel like I am losing weight. we have a scale and I hover between 150 and 155. We haven't had many meal appointments though. So maybe once those start coming I will gain a little. But maybe not.
...The weather out here has been good the past few days but it is supposed to get bad again soon. We got a tornado season e-mail warning us about tornado season. I want to see a tornado really bad but not bad enough that I will be stupid about it.
Well, things are pretty good here. I still feel tired all the time and sometimes have trouble sleeping. But I am adjusting to the lifestyle the best I can. Everyone in the branch is just so nice. We go on teamups with quite a few members. The brance mission leader is President Muggridge, he used to be the Branch President. He is a really good guy and just really powerful. also he feeds us everytime we go out so that is another good thing. Our Branch President is President Trey Smith. He is as good as they come. He tells it how it is and has offended some people because of that but it is all out of love. He just wants what is best for everyone. We also go out with Brother Bob Bilyeu. He is an old man whose wife died a few years ago. When she was sick he did everything for her and loved every minute of it. He is just the best guy ever. He is crazy good at bowling, he bowls like a 270 at age 80 something and is apparently the second ranked horseshoe tosser in Tennessee. He is a fireball. Pretty much everyone in the branch is amazing.
...We're just teaching people who are willing to listen, which isn't very many. Right now we are regularly visiting two single investigators, one older couple, and one part-member couple, plus quite a few less-active members or completely inactive members trying to reactivate them. We have one baptismal date from before I got here that is scheduled on the 29th of March that we might have to push back depending on his understanding...
We have a few progressing investigators. I'll talk about one now. His name is Peter. He is Puerto Rican and just on the ball with everything. He comes to church, he reads scriptures, he even watches the mormon videos on the website. He could be baptized tomorrow. But, his wife says that she'll divorce him if he gets baptized. So we are just working with him and praying and hoping that his wife will soften her heart. Right now that is all we can do for him. God works in mysterious ways sometimes.
I've learned that perspective is one of the most important things out here. If you focus on the good it will be good, but if you focus on the bad you'll feel terrible. That is what I need to work on the most is just being positive.
From the mission home: Your Missionary has arrived safely at the Tennessee Knoxville Mission! We are so happy to have them here and you can be sure that we will do everything we can to take care of them. Thank you for sending them here, the work is hastening on…..
A few thoughts from Dallen, sent on Thursday, February 6th:
The MTC is an interesting place. It feels like the days are
forever long but the week has gone by pretty fast. It is a place that feels
like it bends space and time. The first few days were really rough. I had
trouble sleeping, I was getting overloaded with information, and the sleeping
schedule was hard to adjust to. In fact I still haven't adjusted. But as soon
as it hit Sunday everything started to get better. I was getting into the
groove of things and I was starting to sleep better. Now I feel like I know how
to do the MTC. We basically live in our classroom except when we are in the
cafeteria. we learn a lot and practice applying the stuff we learn with our
companions and with our teachers. Speaking of companions, I have two. Elder
Maynes from West Jordan and Elder Langsmith form Alabama. They are both very
smart guys and seem to know at least kinda what they are doing so they help me
out a lot. being in a trio is hard sometimes. We have to try really hard to
split speaking time and even then I often don't talk very much. But that is
just who I am. But it is also helpful to have an extra mind so we can bounce
more ideas and have more thoughts. It definitely has advantages and
disadvantages. We have two other Elders in our district. Brown from Pleasant
Grove, and Warr from Riverton. They are also just the best guys. Our district
is awesome. We all learn from each other....
...Other than all that stuff, the food here is pretty good, the
people are all nice, and I am learning a lot. Tell my younger brothers to start
getting ready early. Because even if they think they are prepared they aren't
no one is. But tell them to be as prepared as they can. It will make everything
so much easier. Have fun in London. I wish I could come. I almost forgot about
the super bowl. That's crazy. If you have any specific questions let me know. I
can't figure out how to attach photos with the stupid MTC computers so I will
send you some when I get into the field.