As is my preference, I spent a lot of this week with tiny creatures, such as a 4 lb baby (I dare you to look at a newborn sleeping peacefully and just try not to feel the spirit. Impossible.) named Ralph and the smallest dog you could imagine. This tiny chihuahua, or perhaps it was a mouse that could bark, ran up to me and started jumping on my leg and licking me. I couldn’t believe that this dog could be real because it was just too small and because it seemed to come out of nowhere with no collar and no human companion, so I had to pick it up just to see. It was definitely a real dog and a few minutes later a lady came up with a baby (about twice as big as the dog) in her arms and said, “That’s my dog! She is always getting away from me!” I thought she might like to learn more about the gospel but she mostly just wanted her mouse back.
I also have been working on my doorstep etiquette, due to some failures this week. Fortunately nobody ever answers their door but Sister Pratt has had to correct me several times this week. For example on Tuesday we visited someone who gave us each a hunk of delicious homemade bread and I was still munching on it when we got to a later doorstep to knock. I was too absorbed in my bread to remember that it is kind of a faux pas to be eating bread when you meet someone and when Sister Pratt saw me she whispered “Put the bread in your pocket now!!!” and I did. At a different doorstep I saw a tiny caterpillar crawling across the welcome mat and I bent down to try to rescue it from a future of being squished and Sister Pratt was like “You need to stand up Sister!” so I waited until they were clearly not going to answer before I put it in the bushes. The life of a greenie just consists of being corrected all the time but I have been surprisingly amenable to it. Mostly it’s all just funny.
Another trial of my mission has been learning how to wake up in the mornings. On Wednesday I woke up and realized that Sister Pratt was already in her bathroom and assumed that I must have slept through the alarm. Sleeping in is seen as kind of a major moral failure for missionaries so I jumped out of bed immediately and put on my workout clothing. I was putting on my name tag when I looked at the clock and realized that it was 11:30 pm and my companion had just woken up to use the bathroom. She just said, “Go back to bed, Sister Asplund.” which are words I’ve been dreaming of my whole mission long.
We have a really fun new investigator who is an ancient Jamaican woman who is mostly blind. She has been really getting everything we teach her, but when I invited her to be baptized she said, “You want me to be baptized into your church?!” and we said “… yes?” and she laughed out loud. She said she would pray about it, though. She came to church on Sunday with her grandson who didn’t quite get along famously with the other Primary children. His Primary teacher brought him into Sunday school to sit next to his grandmother and she took one look at him and said, “You have been bad, Sijohn. I can feel it.” Whether or not she wants to be baptized I know she wants to go to church but has been having trouble finding a kid-friendly church and a ride to said church so hopefully our congregation will satisfy her desire, especially if Sijohn gets used to using his “kind hands” which is our investigator’s adorable phrasing. She also can’t remember my name so she just calls me “Sister Apple.”
A major highlight this week was taking a recent convert to the temple to do some temple work for her ancestors. The temple is a very special place and the DC temple baptistry is especially close to my heart because I went there many times in college. Fern absolutely loved her time there. I was there just to help her out and I really treasured the long waiting periods, which I spend deep in prayer. I had some really great and really helpful conversations with God on Saturday. Praying without needing to rush off to bed or to studies or to teach a lesson or eat right after proved very fruitful. I always get a little too focused on praying to open or close some other event and forget that prayer itself can be the event. Because I was stuck there I could really get in-depth and figure out some answers. Praying is just such a wonderful, cathartic, restful experience.
We also learned how to make papusas on Saturday! I love papusas so much and it was so exciting to get to know them a little better. We were making them for a ward fundraiser for girl’s camp and scout camp, where we served dinner, had a dessert auction, and where the youth put on a play. The play was amazing as only a youth production can be, and it included singing and dancing and a backdrop made of garbage bags. I’m sure you can imagine.
I’m still in Alma in the throes of Ammon’s mission. King Lamoni just learned about the gospel and he couldn’t even believe how true it was. I love that chapter. I believe it’s Alma 18 and 19. Ammon is such a great missionary. I want to be like him when I grow up, at least as a teacher. Hopefully I won’t have to cut off any sheep thief’s arms.
I also got to Skype with the family on Sunday! I think missionaries like Mother’s Day better than most mothers. My family is just the best. Many of you get to spend a lot of time with them, and I am a little jealous. Give them hugs for me.
Despite not getting to give my own family hugs for me, I am just so happy to be on a mission. It is a space of fullness, and not just because we sometimes have two dinner appointments in a row. We talk a lot about the fullness of times, the fullness of the gospel, and finding a fullness of joy. I feel like my heart is full all the time and that my life is full of meaning and purpose. It’s a real joy. If you are thinking of going on a mission but you aren’t sure, my advice is to do it. It’s wonderful. As a missionary you have nothing else to do but visit and care for and love the people who are the most neglected and who need spiritual refreshment the most. We are always searching for people who have fallen through the cracks.
I love you all! I want to hear from you. I want to hear about what has been making you happy and also good jokes. My address remains 14 Deerbrook Drive/Charles Town, WV 25414.