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.
After our failure to hike, Sister Pratt and I wandered around downtown Harper’s Ferry and into a fair trade emporium run by a very peaceful lady. She saw our name tags and said, “Oh, I know some of your coworkers!” and we introduced ourselves and she said, “Well my name is Sarah… I mean Sister Ellis!” I don’t know, it was cute. It’s fun to try to bridge the gap between all the mystery and jargon of the world of Mormon missionaries and other people, especially hippies. On that note, we have been referred to several times this week as “the church ladies,” which I love for some reason. In olden times they called our kind “lady missionaries” which I kind of love but would probably kind of hate in modern times.
This week we also had a southern feast at the house of a ward member who goes by “Mama Tyrell” (who is basically a (self-identified) redneck version of Bammy, can you imagine how amazing???) She made us fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, chicken gravy. She kept apologizing for not making biscuts and worried that we would not have enough food. For dessert we made a cake called “Bonnie Butter Cake” which she made from a recipe she hadn’t visited since her teenage years and which was on a tattered page torn from a cookbook. Very romantic. Sister Pratt was frosting the cake and Mama Tyrell kept encouraging to “give it more sex appeal!” I need to procure that recipe for myself. The specific adaptation was “Pineapple Cream Cake” and I want to tweak it to have more acidic/pineappley goodness. She insisted that we take the whole cake with us so we spent the rest of the day delivering sexy slices to anyone who would take them. I ate the remainder for breakfast the next morning which was a wonderful mistake.
This week my assignment as a baby missionary was to start taking the lead in inviting people to be baptized, which was TERRIFYING but very rewarding. We are teaching a girl who just turned 8 and whose mom is sort of coming back into the church, so she will technically be a convert. Hers will be the first baptism of my mission. She’s so excited to be baptized and her mom is really happy about coming back to church. I love teaching them. We do family home evening with them and our li’l investigator gets to direct us in a skit of the portion of the Book of Mormon we’ve invited them to read that week. She loves being the boss, obviously.
Speaking of the Book of Mormon! I am having a great time reading it. I started right when I got to the MTC and have been reading a little every day. Reading it has become such a relaxing, nice part of my day and it’s just been so fun somehow. Anyway, I am going to try to finish it before my trainer goes home in June and I would challenge you all to read along with me. I am in 2 Nephi 15 so you can skip 1 Nephi or try to catch up. Read with me! It will be fun!
OK I love each of you. I got several letters that had been forwarded to the mission office on Friday, so it was basically like an extra birthday. I am blessed to be friends with some amazing letter writers, so congratulations! I wish I could introduce y’all to the cool people I’ve been teaching and getting to know and take you on drives around the rolling hills of West Virginia at sunset or through historic downtown Charles Town and feed you all fried chicken and bonnie butter cake. I would love to keep hearing from y’all, my address remains 14 Deerbrook Drive, Charles Town WV 25414. I would especially love to hear some testimonies, conversion stories, and all about what you believe in because that is scripture! And I love to share with my pals who I teach!
Sister “Like that tree company, Asplundh?”