Family and Friends,
I'm going to skip the pleasantries and jump right in this week. So our investigator Hermione was in prison for a period of her life (which is where she found the gospel) and I have been wondering for weeks if she was in a prison gang. She's very straightforward and honest and I felt like we had progressed to a point that I could just ask her, so I did. Unfortunately she was never in a gang. The women all wanted her, but she didn't want to be under anyone else's authority. She thought it was hilarious though that I had been wondering for so long. She has been doing this healthy eating challenge and exercise program and is loving it. When we were talking to her about scripture study and why she isn't doing it she said that she knows the blessings that are associated with it, she's experienced them before, she is just being lazy. Later in the lesson my companion was talking about eating healthy and said, "I used to eat healthy and I should again. I know it's better for me, I just don't want to do it!" Hermione jumped on that and was like, "SEE WHY I DON'T READ MY SCRIPTURES!?!?" So we made a deal to eat healthy and drink more water every day if she would read her scriptures. We message her a passage every day to read and tell her how our health is. She sends us motivational minions and sassy comments. It's hilarious.
We had dinner with a family this week that was making a Dutch oven dessert. I was telling them about the Dutch oven I got for Christmas and they were asking me about my experience with outdoor cooking. I told them about camp and such so they called me their Dutch oven expert all night and asked for tips. They had me check the dessert throughout dinner and tell them when it was done. I think they legitimately believe I am an expert. I'm better than your average Boy Scout, but I'm not like the Paula Dean of outdoor cooking. Though now that I think of it, I think HGTV should start a program about me cooking in nature. Program title in the works.
The husband in another family we had dinner with last week kills pigeons for a living. I told him about the mistress of Satan and said if he ever wanted to serve us he could pop on over to our place and dispatch the cursed winged beast.
We've been teaching our little skateboarders and it has been fun to get to know them a little better. They're hilarious.
We had a lady who is good friends with a member of the church that we had talked to and then she cancelled our appointment with her a few weeks ago. She only would talk to us on her doorstep, but this past week we decided we should stop by and she actually let us in! She asked us quite a few questions. She said she isn't interested, but she kept asking questions. We're hoping she has a change of heart. She is neighbors with the Tony Hawk dudes and we told her that we teach them every Tuesday at 7 and she was more than welcome to sit in on some of their lessons. She seemed mildly intrigued and may come. If not at least we've done our part to introduce her to the gospel and answer her questions and quiet her concerns.
We were teaching a lady who I will call Moaning Myrtle who things didn't pan out with. Basically she loves the church but can't join right now because her dad who has Alzheimer's refuses to go to church anywhere but the Catholic Church. She takes him to church every week and doesn't want to abandon him or change his routine because that is not advised due to his condition. We have been wanting to teach her some more anyway, but she has family in town. We texted her the other day to see how she is doing and she has all of the sudden contracted lupus, gout, and has been sick! She said that when her Canadian family leaves she wants us to come back over because she needs a pick me up. Understandably. So we're hoping that we hear from her again soon.
My companion told me this week that we're in the lowest baptizing area of our mission. I asked why she had neglected to share that information with me for so long and she said she didn't want to discourage me right off the bat. Well newsflash, I was already discouraged and was blaming myself for the lack of tangible success. I guess things here are much better than they have been in the past and we're hoping that the 40 day fast in our one ward will lead to more success. On the other hand, we're professional seed planters. I'm sure Johnny Appleseed didn't see many of the trees that grew because of his pan-national orchard planting; likewise I'm beginning to believe I will never see the fruit of my efforts either. I'm starting to accept it and am trying to not base my success on the numbers, because quite frankly we don't have them.
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We had this mid first transfer training meeting this week. It was kind of a waste of time in my opinion, but it was nice to see my MTC friends. We talked about the hardships we're experiencing and our trainers were in another room telling the mission president's wife the hard things they are experiencing with us. My companion said she was already grateful that things were going well with me but she is even more grateful after hearing the things that are happening with the other new missionaries. I was grateful as well for her after hearing the frustrations the other greenies are experiencing. There will always be things about your companion that bother you, but mine seems to do a lot less annoying things than the other trainers. When I was asked what my biggest challenge was I said the lack of independence and trust involved with a mission. I constantly feel like I have to report to someone else and can't even send a text message without my companion reading it (that's a mission rule). I haven't been accountable to anyone in almost 5 years and suddenly the entire mission hierarchy wants to constantly know what I'm doing. Elder Sweeten raised his hand and agreed with my statements and said that it's also hard to constantly bite his tongue. Like me, his trainer is younger and less wise than him and we both feel like we're always trying to softly lead and not step on their toes. My mission president wasn't as apathetic as I believe he should have been. He acknowledged the difficulty we were having and the humbling it would take to get over that. He did say that our worldly experience does make us more knowledgeable in many respects, but we have to respect their mission experience and be teachable (which we both are). We were frustrated that he immediately took our comments and assumed we were being proud and unteachable; we're both learning a lot, but wish we had a longer leash (or better yet, not one at all). I feel like one of those children in an amusement park straining against my mother's grip on my pink monkey leash disguised as a backpack.
It's kind of been a week of chastisement. I feel like everything I've read in the scriptures has been a call to repentance and then my mission president told all of us to be more humble and we would have fewer problems (he did also say that we are the least whiny group he has ever had, so he must tell everyone to be humble). I also read some talks that made me feel like a horrible sinner, right down there with that pigeon. I'm going to be seeking some more uplifting study materials this week. Maybe some relief society session talks, or articles from The Friend. Our mission president did share a good scripture with us though. Jacob 4:18 is basically Jacob saying that he hopes he doesn't have over-anxiety to the point that he can't feel the Spirit. I think that's my main problem right now. I have over-anxiety about all of my flaws and insecurities and am trying to fix every abominable characteristic that I have all at once and it is blocking the Spirit out at times.
I don't know a lot of things that happened in 1994, but that is the year that this little elder who has a crush on me was born. I was running the streets of Iowa, being a pre-school ringleader and he was a fetus. I was in denial that he was making eyes at me, but out of nowhere my companion commented on how cute it is that Elder Apparently Into Older Women has a little crush on me. He needs to calm it down, it's just the light of Christ that comes with my missionary duties that is sucking him in. I'm awful at zone sports but he is always passing me the ball and stuff. Like what is this? Even undying love isn't a justification to put your chances of winning on the line! It's just kind of funny. I have never had anyone interested in me (let alone someone who is supposed to be abstaining from women) and now this pre-Backstreet Boys elder is trying to make a cougar out of me. You're going to hear me ro-oa-oa-oar? No. No roaring. Not even any meowing.
This year has been kind to me in regards to daylight savings time. I got to reap the reward of an extra hour of sleep last Fall and didn't have to jump forward this weekend when everyone else did! What a tender mercy. #seriouslysoblessed.
We had dinner at this family's house and their kids put together a dog show for us. The dogs' main talents were jumping on humans and being dragged against their will behind a leash (seriously, what is with all of the leashes this week?!?). They also had a pig in their backyard. I still don't even know what was going on.
We had stake conference this week and the stake president had the missionaries sit on the stand because he wanted to stress the work that we are here to do and give everyone a visual. Saturday evening was all about missionary work and it was great. I'm hoping it leads to more referrals because I hate the days when we have nothing and just try and find less active people to teach. They rarely want to talk to us and they get all sassy and I'm not allowed to be sassy back.
I have this dilemma. BYU trained me to never walk on grass with all of their "don't walk on me I'm trying to grow" signs. But here's the thing, if people's front lawns are just rocks and not grass are you allowed to walk on them? I don't know. I mean to me a rock is a rock, but to these people rocks are their groomed front yard.
I had a profound spiritual idea this week. What if we picked our race in the pre-mortal life but some of us didn't get our first choice? That would explain all the white boys with the droopy pants in this world and all the white ladies who say, "NO GIRL. NO YOU DIDN'T." Maybe a lot of people wanted to be black and had to settle for a white body. *Disclaimer, this is not a belief of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is #thegospelaccordingtoAmanda
We've been teaching the youth in our one ward a lot because we have no one else to teach. It is a very rewarding experience. A lot of them have strong testimonies coupled with doctrinal concerns. It has been a joy to get to know them and help them figure out who they are and what they believe.
Tender mercy! We passed Pete's Fish and Chips during today's P-day adventures! After my exclamation of excitement, my companion insisted that we eat lunch there. It was so delicious I could eat there every day.
We did some service for a family renovating their house. I felt like we were guest staring on Property Brothers. Unfortunately my screwdriver was of no value for this cleanup job.
Companionship unity. We both agree that Oreos are delicious. Though she is all about the single stuffed ones? Who is she?