I spent the beginning of this week frantically packing my two suitcases worth of possessions and saying goodbye to everyone. There is never enough time to say goodbye so you only get to see about half the people you need to say goodbye to. I think it’s a condition of the mission. We then traveled to transfer meeting, to enjoy the chaos of having the whole mission gather in one place for those coming in and those going out. Three people who I entered the mission with have trainees, which is scary because I’m pretty sure we’re still in training ourselves. I’m really proud of them though. They’ll all make great trainers. My own trainer is also going home, which is sad for me but the Lord’s course is one eternal round and I have to accept it. Everyone cried a little/a lot extra because our mission president and his wife are going home. They were very much beloved by the mission and they are going on to great things, I’m sure. There was a little receiving line at the end when we gave Sister Richards a hug AND President Richards, which was a surprise because we usually got a firm yet tender handshake from him. The other sisters and I were all blinking in surprise a little after that one, and also because everyone was kind of emotional at that point.
After that I loaded into the car with Sister Nish, previously a stranger and now a full-time BFF. She is a great missionary who is easy to love. She has a tradition called “Preparation Day Eve” where we eat popcorn and watch a church movie on Sunday night. That’s the kind of companion she is. Full of cute and festive ideas. Poor Sister Nish was sick all week and I had one of those long-term headaches, so we were kind of a sorry bunch and took a little extra time to rest, as per the recommendation of Sister Richards.
Cumberland is a very unusual area, mostly because of its size. There are 900 people on the ward list and three states within the area (Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia). We also live in somebody’s house that they are renting out to us. I think it’s kind of fun because there are lots of interesting things to look at in this house and because it feels a little more homey and a little less sterile than my last apartment, which was a brand new townhouse with no furniture and nothing on the walls. I’m grateful for both of these living spaces, of course, especially thinking of previous missionaries who probably had to sleep in a barn or perhaps on a swirly carpet in the “teen zone” of the local library.
Another unique thing about this area is that there are a lot of elderly people out here. More than you would believe. It’s wonderful. They’re the best, honestly. A lot of new logistical challenges with everyone and their health problems, but that also brings in so many opportunities for us to be good missionaries. One example in particular comes to mind, and I like it especially because it illustrates how great and how special Sister Nish is. We were visiting a sister who lives in a nursing home, and we just chatted a little and said a little prayer. This is a side note, but a nurse walked in with a tiny puppy!!!! They like to bring animals around because they really brighten everyone’s day. It definitely brightened my day. Anyway, after we left this sister’s room, we were walking by someone who was coming in on her walker. She was wearing a pretty pink blouse and I said to her, “You look beautiful today!” She looked at me in kind of a puzzled way and said, “Why?” I elaborated on her pretty pink blouse and she told us that she was coming back from visiting her daughter in the hospital, who is 72 and who just had a bad stroke. She’s not expected to live much longer. Sister Nish said, “What is your daughter’s name? Would you like us to say a prayer for her?” and right there in the foyer of this nursing home Sister Nish and I bowed our heads and said a little prayer for this woman and her daughter before we parted ways. What an awesome servant of the Lord. She gets it.
I miss you all even though I have the best job in the world. I would love to hear from you, especially because my new mailbox needs to be christened! You can write to me at 923 National Hwy. LaVale, MD 21502.