Friday, July 31, 2015

Satan Doesn't Even Have Sinuses


We went to Legacy on Monday (the assisted living home) and we finally shared a lesson with the people we have been talking to over the last few weeks. We ended up sharing the Word of Wisdom by chance (we were offered a beer by an old man). It is so great. Old people really want to share the gospel too. So the members that were there started helping and we heard them still talking about the gospel ten minutes later when we walked back by. It is so cute and inspiring. Really, they aren't too old to make life changes! Here are a few good quotes from the evening:

"There's too many womens around ya, Ed. Better be careful."-worker

"Nuns were the world's worst. They should all go to hell."-Ed

"I've had experience with the nuns too....Wacko!"-Ed...ten minutes later. Still on Nuns.

We had a lesson with Bambi this week that was so powerful. Her daughter-in-law couldn't get her printer to work to print off family names to take to the temple. She tried three different printers in some other homes and they never worked. During this process she called Bambi to ask if she wanted to come do baptisms with her for her first time and Bambi said she would love to. Immediately after she agreed the printer worked and she was able to print them off after over an hour of trying. We were all a little teary-eyed as Bambi told us that because of that she got to do the work for her mom in the temple that day and she thinks the printers didn't work because her mom wanted her to do the work and not her daughter-in-law to do it. She then went on to tell us that she finally found a job after months of looking and it is respectable and administrative--exactly what she was looking for. She accepted a calling as the assistant secretary in the Primary as well. She is an exceptional woman. I love her so much.

We showed up to teach the girl we are helping prepare for a mission and she had Sonic drinks waiting for 9 am. I'm telling you, Mesa has its perks!

I remember being kind of mean and judgmental in high school toward the missionaries for being naive. I felt like they lingered too long on people that seemed hopeless and that they were wasting time with people who would never commit. I get it now though. I realized that I've done that my whole mission and in large part it is because you're truly blessed to love people the way the Savior does. He never turns his back on any of us, so why would we turn our backs on people that are progressing, even if it is ever so slightly? I repented for my thoughts and can empathize with them now for just hoping if they persist long enough people will feel the Spirit and change their lives.

I had the word key written down and I have no clue why. So something must have happened with a key this week that I don't remember.

So I've kind of had this fake sinus infection for two weeks. I haven't paid much attention to it because I know it's mainly just my allergies. The longer I'm in AZ the worse my allergies get. But last week I had a fever one day and I keep having head aches and it's annoying. I'm still not really letting it slow us down at all; I just want your sympathy, parents. I talked to the mission nurse (mainly to appease Sister Childs) and she confirmed that I'm already taking everything I need to take and there isn't much I can do unless it gets to the point that it's bad enough that I think a prescription will help (it isn't that bad yet). So just pray that my sinuses stop being the worst in America. I actually woke up the other day and was annoyed about it and was like, "why do I have the sinuses of Satan?" Then I realized Satan doesn't even have sinuses because he doesn't have a body and then I realized I'm still better than he is; even with the nasal cavities of a two year old.

We are borrowing a guitar from a member and using it all the time in teaching appointments to bring the spirit. We can sing a few hymns (and a little Cold Play and T-Swift---okay, tangent, my heart is softening to her and I don't understand it. I heard one of her new songs at crossfit the other day and I actually really liked it. I'm working on swallowing my pride and possibly embracing her. I did the same with Miley Cyrus before my mission so I guess it can work.). We have one recent convert with a nonmember wife that we have been working with that was really softened by our musical production the other night. She's always been kind, but she hugs us now and came to church on Sunday. USING YOUR TALENTS LEADS TO MIRACLES. Who knew?

Sister Childs is exactly the kind of companion I needed for my last transfer. She doesn't shy away from the fact that I'm going home and she finds the most constructive ways for me to talk about it. We were setting goals and she was like, "What do you need to work on for the real world? That should be your goal." It's true. I don't need to focus a ton of my energy on street contacting, etc. at this point. I can still improve in those areas, but I can work on skills that will benefit me as a missionary and not as a missionary too. So all transfer long she has made me tell her I love her because I really struggle with that. I was telling her that I need to get over my fear of emotions before I have kids so that my children aren't afraid to talk about their feelings like I am. So she makes me tell her I love her and now she's added in the stipulation that I have to tell her why I love her every day. It was so uncomfortable at first, but after a few weeks I am getting much better at it and it isn't as weird any more for me to talk about these things. It still isn't instinctual, but I don't feel as stupid or vulnerable when I do it anymore. As missionaries we do a lot of role playing and practice teaching. I've kind of fallen out of the habit the last few months. I did it a lot when I was training Sister Dawson and even more when I was with Sister Rasheed, but when I started having older companions in the mission it kind of fizzled. Well, Sister Childs and I have never practiced teaching once (with the exception of district meetings and zone training meetings). Out of the blue she said, "Sister. We need to do a role play. We're going to role play you sharing your feelings with a boy. Right now." I was like, "Where in the world did this come from?!?" She responded with, "You've only ever shared your feelings with a boy in writing. You need to get better at doing it in person. We're practicing. Go. I'll be a boy." And we did it. She is so insightful and real. She isn't like, "Don't think about home." She's like, "Think about home constructively. I'm going to help you. You already probably won't be awkward when you get home---well you won't be any more awkward than you were before your mission--but let's make sure you're not awkward when you get home." It's good for me. Except I realized today when we were shopping that I'm not sure I'm quite ready for pants. I think I'm going to wear dresses for a bit longer after I get home. It's weird that that is what will be awkward for me. I'm not worried about music--I love when we hear apostate music at restaurants and the mall and such. But I genuinely feel under dressed when I'm in pants. We went to the mall and I bought three dresses and a swimming suit. No pants. The dresses are all cute though and I'm excited to wear them (none of them are long enough for the I guess I am slightly scandalous).

Diva is doing great. She had her baptismal interview on Saturday and then we took her to a service so she could get ideas for hers. She loves us so much. She drew us the cutest drawings at the pioneer day activity on Friday. Her mom told me that she has been talking a lot lately about me leaving in a few weeks and how sad she is. So I told her that I'm moving back and it made her day. I'm so excited for her baptism this Saturday! Her family talked to the bishop on Sunday too about preparing for the temple. They're going to go through as soon as they can and I can't wait to go with them.

We got to attend a sealing at the Gilbert Temple on Friday and it was beautiful. I forgot how exquisite that temple is. Oh my, it was so beautiful. I sat in the wedding party waiting room off of the sealing room and just marveled at the beauty and the peaceful feelings and thoughts I was having. 

President Jenkins sent the following to us in his email today as an indicator of our excellence:

"As you know, there are 21 missions in the North America Southwest Area. I receive some comparative monthly statistics for numbers of convert baptisms, converts advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood, converts endowed, and prospective elders advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood. As 'full-purpose' missionaries, you have a tremendous influence as you work with leaders and members in these statistical categories. You are to be complimented on your successful efforts and the results we are observing. 

For example, in the month of June 2015, the AMM was #2 in the number of convert baptisms. 25 more converts were advanced to the Melchizedek Priesthood and 31 more converts were endowed in June 2015 than in June 2014. In both of those categories, we were the #1 mission in the Area----we had the highest increase of all 21 missions!! These are indicators that we are doing so much better in our retention efforts. We are getting people the necessary 'endure-to-the-end' ordinances along the path of membership---especially temple ordinances." 

Pretty great, eh!


Sister Poppe

New Shark Earrings! It's the little things.

Throwback picture I just got from Swaggy B. This is Sister Smith 
and I with our shovels heading to service. We stopped by to pick up 
shovels from a member and were given salsa and Naked as well. 
This is what missionary work in Mesa looks like.

The founder of Gold Canyon Candle Company lives in our roommates' area. 
They invited us to help them with some service for her charity foundation. 
There was going to be a benefit so we helped stuff gift bags and such. 
I got to put together the last of the silent auction baskets and 
I was quite proud of my achievement!

I can be artistic when I want to be. 
This is KJ and JJ riding a shark.
 I want to get it on a t-shirt.

We all four helped at the Vista Peaks ward Pioneer Day party and 
picked up Coldstone with a gift card a member gave 
me a few months back on our way home.

One of Diva's pieces of art work she gave me.

We had a lesson with Diva at the Visitors' Center 
and the sky was beautiful.

We got to leave the mission boundaries to go to the sealing in Gilbert.
 I'm telling you, Gilbert is fancy. I just felt less humble driving over 
there. It was nice to see how the other half lives. Not that I'm even in 
the ghetto here in East Mesa. But somehow it is still more magical 
over there. Probably because they have grass. Anyway, we took a 
selfie to commemorate crossing the 60.

These are all the sisters who taught the woman being sealed 
and their companions in front of the Gilbert Temple.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Let's Talk About Tortillas for a Minute


We had a long week. Not in a bad way, just in a, we did a lot of a variety of things kind of way.

We're still working closely with a few less active individuals in the Fairway Groves Ward. One is progressing more than the other inwardly.  You can tell he is going through the pains of repentance and that it is having a positive impact on his life. He thoroughly enjoys our Book of Mormon reading we do once a week and is making progress for the first time in years. The others we are working with aren't as committed. They're still learning and feeling the Spirit though, so we'll work with them.

Sister Childs has celiac disease. Did I mention that? So she can't have any gluten at all. She can't even have cross contamination. So she didn't have gluten in food, but she had something that must have touched it and got pretty sick, so we spent a few evenings inside last week. We talked about America and politics for 3 hours one night and it was wonderful. I forgot how much I knew about America and how much I enjoy discussing history and things. It was fun because she enjoyed it and kept asking me questions that I actually knew the answers to.  I'm glad those thousands of dollars I spent on college actually gave me knowledge.

We are meeting weekly now with a girl that put in her mission papers in the Vista Peaks Ward. Her family is the same family that took us to DQ a few weeks ago for FHE. They've quickly become some of my favorite people. We're helping her understand the Book of Mormon so she feels more prepared when she leaves. She reminds me of me. I knew a lot about the stories in the Book of Mormon before I left, but I didn't know any references. She's been a part of baptizing two of her friends and is super down to Earth. She'll be a great missionary even if she struggles with the scriptures a bit.

We had two exchanges this week. The first was in my area with Sister Duran. The second was in another area with Sister Casey. She was in my district when I was the sistrict leader. It was such a wonderful experience being on exchanges with her. She and her companion struggled quite a bit so I felt like I was just always solving their problems when I was over them. So I didn't have as much time to help them develop teaching skills or anything because I was always putting out fires. I always regretted that we didn't have a better exchange when I was her leader. Even though I'm not her leader anymore (Sister Childs is) it was so nice to have a great exchange with her and to help her with some things anyway. I helped her organize her notes in an apartment complex and then we went to knock on a bunch of doors. We ended up meeting a lady on the sidewalk and she invited them back (so that was one new investigator) and then we talked to a man on a balcony for 45 minutes from the ground. We were pretty sore after that, but we have such a good feeling about him. I just feel like something good will come of that and he will desire to learn more.  When we were done Sister Casey thanked me for a great day and for helping her, and I told her that I felt redeemed from our exchange almost 6 months ago. She said that that exchange wasn't bad at all. I mean it wasn't, but I knew it could have been better. We also helped shovel gravel for a few hours that day so I was so sore on Sunday.  They do something cool in that ward with a less active woman and her nonmember husband. He is in his 50's and was diagnosed with dementia.  He is so young and it has hit him hard. The sisters had the idea a few months ago to start playing basketball with him because he loved it before his health went downhill. In the months they've been playing his memory has really improved and his speech and motor skills have too. They're meeting with new doctors now to have his diagnosis changed because his improvement is unheard of so they think that he was misdiagnosed and that he is actually just having short seizures or something. It is so amazing! He gets confused really easily and is hilarious! He hugged me (which is abnormal) and said, "You're a nice lady. Good shot. You're beautiful. Nice lady. Beautiful." It was a sweet experience.

We're not meeting with the Bohemian anymore. She just isn't getting her life together and the bishop said that he is done supporting her and her interest magically dropped off at that point. It's sad. She is still our friend though and actually genuinely thanked us for helping her develop a relationship with Christ. At least we know that we helped her spiritually even if she was kind of just going through the motions for support.

I had my last zone conference of my mission on Friday. It was odd. It wasn't real to me that I am going home until Friday. I had to bear my testimony like all departing missionaries do at zone conference and it just all kind of hit me. We focused a lot on the basics of the Book of Mormon and returning to them in our work. It was a good meeting. A lot of the principles were things that I can use in my post mission life.  Our 10% lesson was on marriage which was weird. Mainly because it felt so real to me because I go home so soon and that is my next goal in life. Other missionaries were like whatever I go home in 8 months. But I was like, man! I need to take notes on this business! This is more pertinent than how to introduce the Book of Mormon in a street contact at this point in my life. Then I had my My Plan interview with President Jenkins after zone conference and it went really well. He said that my plan was very typical of me; meticulous, well thought out and perfect. He said my plans even have plans. To be honest I thought I did it too quickly and with not enough detail, but I guess of the ones he's received it is the most well thought out. He said that he was going through it with his red pen and he just kept writing, "Good! Great! Wonderful goal!" He didn't have much counsel for me other than to follow what I had written and to go home and marry a man who is worthy of me.  He doesn't expect that I will settle, but he just wanted to remind me that I am worthy of every quality I expect in a husband and that I shouldn't look for someone who doesn't have everything I want because my desires aren't outlandish and my desires reflect the person I am.  He thanked me for my friendship and said he valued the relationship we have developed. He is excited to keep in contact with me and watch me progress through life. I love that I have a relationship with him. I'm sad that every missionary doesn't. He thanked me for my hard work and said he knows I'll work hard the last three weeks. I'm excited for my exit interview with him in a few weeks. He gives us a blessing there and I am so excited for that!

We met a prophetess and a man who sees angels last night during our street contacting in the apartment complex we live in. So yeah. That's a thing. We're going back to see Angel Man this week.

So let's talk about tortillas for a minute. Tortillas. More specifically, raw tortillas. WHY HAS NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT THESE UNTIL MY MISSION.  I literally have been eating 5-10 quesadillas a week for the past three months because I learned about how delicious raw tortillas are. They're so much more delicious than already cooked ones. Sister Brinkerhoff and I buy them and shredded cheese and then we just share with each other and take turns buying the stuff. You want to talk about the law of consecration? That's the law of consecration right there.

Sister Brinkerhoff has moved a lot in her life. She said she's never really had a friend longer than a year and a half so her mission has been great because she's made real friends and not kind of friends.  She's so hilarious! It makes me so sad she hasn't had real friends until her mission. I'm glad we're real friends and that I've been roommates with her for so long. She is already panicking that the transfer is half over. She's excited that I'm moving back to Arizona after my mission. Which brings me to my next point; I'M OFFICIALLY MOVING BACK TO MESA A FEW WEEKS AFTER I GET HOME. I know that you already know this mom and dad, but for the rest of you that read this, that is my announcement.

Sister Childs and I just decided to adopt Sister Smith and my relationship name. So I'm now a part of Choppe instead of Soppe. Our companionship motto is also can't stop; won't stop a la Miley Cyrus. I was kind of worried that I had become an old washed up missionary that didn't have anything worth sharing anymore because I'm old now. Last night out of nowhere Sister Childs thanked me for teaching her so much this transfer already. She was a lot like me; she was trained and then spent the next many months of her mission with less diligent companions she had to help or in leadership positions. She said this is the first time since she has been trained that she isn't the one in charge and it has helped her learn so much. She just emulated her trainer and didn't do anything different because she didn't really have companions with skills she wanted to emulate. I was honored that she has liked so much of what I do. I was also relieved that I am not as bad at missionary work as I sometimes think I am. It's been a lot of fun working with her and getting to know her better. We have a good time and laugh a lot. President Jenkins told me on Friday that she is really enjoying our companionship.

Wow. Only a few more of these obnoxiously long emails to go.


Sister Poppe

We had our 11 year olds meet and they were instant BFF's. 
 Sister Duran was on exchanges with me that day as well. 
This was after the lesson we taught them on tithing and 
fast offerings with M&M's.

The parents just put the Book of Mormon there so they didn't 
have to carry it and he cozied up with it. So cute. 
Even the children know it is true.

Sister Childs has been introduced to the joys of caffeine.

Mustache hair! My hair is so short I can't even make a mustache
                          anymore without using my hand to hold it in place.

 We had lunch with the Frost family from my first area today. 
Nug Nug is still my bestie. Love that girl.

The Frost girls with Dawson and I. I told Sister Dawson 
we were meeting there for lunch if she wanted to come. 
It was so nice to be back in that neighborhood. 
                                          I miss that area so much still.