This Oprah Day brought lots of adventures and opportunities for personal growth. One such adventure was the new trainer/trainee meeting on Wednesday, aka MTC reunion time. All of the other greenies (aka new missionaries) and their companions gathered together with the mission president and his wife for some learning. It was so magical to see my pals from the MTC and I kind of had to cry forever because they grow up so fast! I grow up so fast! Where does the time go! Aside from watching some very sobering driving safety videos, we also did some role-playing. FYI, missionaries role-play constantly. We never stop. I don’t even remember who I really am because I have adopted so many personae for the purposes of role-playing. Also, we’re supposed to call it “real-playing” so that we will remember to make it real. Classic mission terminology. We were doing a ~real-play~ where Sister Pratt and I were being taught and another companionship was teaching, and our mission president was going around and observing our activity. I was embodying one of our investigators, who is a cat lady and a self-described “red hot Pentecostal” who calls us “Missionettes” and heats her house with a wood-burning stove. I was doing my best to be really real in my real-playing and maybe hamming it up a little bit/a lot bit. I watched our mission president trying not to laugh as he was observing but he super failed and started laughing so hard he had to leave. When the activity was done, he said, “Sister Asplund deserves an Oscar!” and that was probably the proudest moment of my mission so far.
Something strange about my experience here is that nobody can ever pronounce my name. I’m pretty sure it’s not hard, but everyone struggles. I’ve never experienced this before. It must be some feature of the region by which my name doesn’t look phonetic? Or maybe seeing the name tag makes people overthink it. I don’t know. I just tell people to call me Sister Applesauce if they forget.
I had a very eventful Sunday, specifically because we took a trip to the temple to watch Meet the Mormons! It was so much fun and being at the DC temple made me feel like I was a Bryn Mawr student all over again. I loved it. We brought our li’l investigator and her mom, neither of whom had been to the temple before, and they both had a great time. I saw a missionary who I knew in the MTC and there were crocuses AND daffodils! Spring really is happening at last down here. We drove down with Mama Tyrell, who packed us sandwiches and her son and another family all in one minivan, and then there were three other minivans full of people. It was wild. My companion and I were in heaven just sitting in the car for an hour and resting our brains. Missionary work is super fulfilling socially on good days, and pretty draining on hard days. The parts of me that are more introverted are stretching a little because we talk and talk and listen and listen all day long, and because Sister Pratt are in sight and sound of each other at all times. Fortunately when you’re with someone that much you learn how to feel alone together, and we definitely have car rides sometimes where we just relish the quiet.
After I finished my weekly email party last week, Sister Pratt and I joined some elders in an attempt to hike a li’l nugget of the Appalachian Trail called Maryland Heights, which overlooks the convergence of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. It was a beautiful day and I got to wear my leopard printed sweatpants and bejeweled sunglasses so I was happy. However, when we got to the trailhead, we were super not allowed to hike because of some downed power lines. The elders decided to try to find a shortcut and we decided that this was a terrible idea, so we parted ways. As my companion and I were walking back to our car, we passed a group of dubious ruffians and we made our missionary faces (aka smiling as if you’re old friends with everyone you meet) and one of them said directly into my mouth as he passed me, with his lungful of cigarette smoke, “Heyyyyyyy giiiiirrrrllllll.” I was tasting cigarettes all day and I still kind of regret that I was too disgusted to try to nourish him with the good word of God.
I feel that this week can best be summed up through a few small scenes from missionary life:
I made it! I’m doing it! I’m a missionary! I rang a doorbell! The most important update is that I am doing really well and having a good time and doing good work. I’ll try to get into more detail chronologically.