Elder Boss and Sister Sherlock

October 26

I don’t even know where to begin, my dear siblen. I’ll start with the most exciting thing this week, which was interviews!! Our sweet and loveable mission president/dad has a li’l sitdown with us missionaries on the regular and it’s always a great experience. I was bursting with questions and he gave some great answers. As we sat down, he said (and please imagine a very distinguished lawyer who carries about him an air of quiet dignity for full effect), “Well Sister Asplund, it seems like you’re really tearing it up in Cumberland.” I have seen from the two exemplary mission presidents I’ve worked with that being able to give ample praise and adequate correction are two very important mission president skills, and I enjoyed the way President Christiansen has developed some of the missionary vernacular in his praise. We love him.

In baby animal news, there are two cats who have become dear friends, named Boss and Sherlock. These cats have fallen in love (if you are going to tell me that cats can’t fall in romantic love, I don’t want to hear it) and they have kittens together who are almost grown up. These two cats live in a neighborhood we frequent, and they have come to be very familiar with us. Whenever we come around, they run toward us and follow us around. It makes me feel important and very good about myself. If you are going to tell me that they probably follow everyone around, I also don’t want to hear it. I have this dream of writing a children’s book about Elder Boss and Sister Sherlock going on a senior mission together :’)

This week we saw some pretty fun miracles. Miracles are a part of life for missionaries. One thing I have learned from my mission is that in order to be sensitive and obedient to the spirit, you have to be somewhat impulsive. Ironically, planning ahead to allow some spontaneity is a great missionary skill. For example: This week, Sister Madsen and I were going to visit a family in the ward. As we were walking into their house, I noticed a man in the corner of his yard blowing leaves with his back toward him. Normally I might not go out of my way to interrupt a busy person and talk to them but the spirit prompted me gently to talk to this fellow. I “timed my run”, in other words I walked kind of slowly so that I could make eye contact with this guy instead of being weird and sticking my face in his face. As soon as he saw us, he looked way more excited than most strangers do when we meet them. We started to introduce ourselves and he said, “I know who you are. My wife is a member of the church. We were married in a Mormon chapel and the church has been so good to us. I am so fond of the missionaries that have come to visit us. We just moved here from California, and we’ve lost touch with the church in the past few years but my wife really wants to get going back!” I thought maybe I was dreaming but no, this is what he really said. Keep in mind, although he had moved in downstairs from a family we visit often, this family just moved to a new house and this was our last time visiting them in their old house, in other words this was our last shot!

The miracle kept rolling yesterday when we hit that awkward 8pm with no set appointments moment that comes to every missionary once in a while. We were in one part of our area and I felt prompted to visit this family we had miraculously met the other day, although they are in a very different part of our area. We have to be pretty careful with the limited number of miles we’re given to drive every month but we have been pretty frugal and therefore we had miles to spare on a big journey. This family was not home, and I wondered why the spirit had sent me all the way out to this little town. While we were there, we halfheartedly decided to visit some investigators whom we had lost contact with and struggled to get in with even after knocking and texting diligently for some time. We went by and they were home! We were able to come visit and the mom in the family asked us, “When can you come back?” and we set up an appointment for today. The spirit has a kind of funny, indirect way of working. They were just getting home when we arrived, so we would not have been able to get in with them had the spirit not sent us to first knock on the door of another family.

In the humorous mishaps department, our phone stopped working this week. We can no longer write or receive text messages. I never knew before my mission how vital this tool was because we are truly held back by our inability to text. We’re getting a new phone, but for now we can only operate our current phone by barking at the voice command in an undignified manner.

Finally, this morning I was thinking a lot about confidence and humility. It seems that these are attributes that are very difficult to balance: humility and insecurity have a blurry line between them as do confidence and pride. But I realized that the key to developing humility and confidence as complimentary attributes rather than as opposing attributes is having a strong faith that God is in our corner. When we know that we have God on our side, we feel a confidence that is not rooted in our own abilities and we know where our power comes from. The relationship we have with ourselves is a tricky one, but it is made simple when God plays a leading role.

I hope to hear from you, my dear friends, very soon. Please write me at 923 National Highway, LaVale, MD 21502.

Hugs and handshakes,

Sister Ample

called to serve

October 19

Well, it happened. The worst thing I’ve done on my whole mission. My greatest fear. I played volleyball. It had been eight years since the last time I played volleyball and I hope it will be at least eight years until my next encounter. To give a little background, additional missionary news, we had exchanges this week!!!!!!! Exchanges are kind of a special missionary training slumber party. I had a companion once who found them kind of intimidating so we decided to call them “switcheroos” instead.

Anyway, I had a great switcheroo for the most part. I went to Hagerstown with a wonderful missionary who I went on an exchange with six months ago. It was cool to see my progress since then and Sister Sirrine was so sweet about pointing out all the progress I’ve been able to see in my mission. She is a missionary who has coached and mentored me a lot in my mission and she’s going home pretty soon so it was great to have this time with her.

In Hagerstown they have this terrible tradition of playing volleyball every morning with all the other local missionaries during workout time (we can’t do that kind of thing in the land of cucumber because we are so remote. Thank heaven for distance.). Normally when people want to play sports I just sit and read but we are required to work out during workout time so this case was a little different. As soon as I found out about the dreaded day of volleyball I started sweating and praying (every missionary’s favorite combination) immediately. To my credit I did not pray to get out of volleyball but to get through it, but the Lord is merciful and we were asked to teach seminary for a teacher who was out of town the first morning in Hagerstown. Thanks, God! Nice work! Teaching seminary was a little rough in many ways because seminary is inherently rough, being that it starts at6 a.m. and features a number of sleeping teenagers who you are trying to excite about the Old Testament. I think they all felt the spirit at least once, so I feel okay about that experience. And I got to read a few of the chapters about Joseph’s reunion with his brothers (Genesis 33 and 34, I think) which are quite lovely and moving. The second morning, I found myself being dragged into the cultural hall and trying/failing to be an active participant. I sincerely intended to hit the ball with my poor body parts but every time I saw the ball coming toward me my survival instinct would take over and I would just kind of step away. It was fine, though. The elders on my team just kind of took over while I slowly moved further and further against the wall. I did successfully serve, though! I liked that better because the ball was not moving.

The exchange provided many other wonderful adventures including:

– knocking on a door and awkwardly talking to the lady of the house while the man of the house walked by with a giant gun, cackling.

– knocking on a different door with two giant, angry-sounding dogs who jumped against the door until it OPENED SLIGHTLY. I was ready to back away but my courageous and diligent companion just held the door closed with her foot until the man of the house came and was not interested

– visiting a sister who had two cats. One cat was normal and the other cat really took a shine to me. This cat climbed onto my lap without asking for permission and started rubbing its face on my face for a long time while the owner told us that he has fleas. I was just kind of sitting trying to still be polite. I don’t think I have fleas but being that I am allergic to cats I came away with a beard of hives. Thanks cat. Happy baby animal day, everyone.

– going on splits, which means that a sister in our ward is our temporary companion for a few hours so we can do even more missionary work!!! This was kind of an extra adventure because I know nobody and nothing about the ward I was serving in and my normal companion/guide was on a different team. I showed up at the home of a family I didn’t know and made the kids pick ponderizing scriptures and write them really nice with crayons to put on the fridge. fun tho!

Getting back to Cumberlie was great, exchanges always remind you to miss your regular routine just a little. As my companion and I were strolling around town, we heard a voice from faraway shout “ARE YOU MORMONS?!” Which usually ends up either being wonderful or terrible. This time, it was wonderful. We turned around and said, “YES W E ARE!” and he said, “RIGHT ON!” and then told us about how much he loved Mormons and we made an appointment for him and the elders! We saw another great miracle when we were going to visit some members who are in the process of moving out. There was a fellow I had never seen before blowing leafs in the yard. He was kind of turned around and looking elsewhere so normally I might have left him to his noisy business but the Holy Ghost told me absolutely not to so I walked really slowly until he turned around. When we got talking to us he said that his wife is a member of the church but they had lost touch with the church in the past few years. He spoke so highly of his Mormon friends. The spirit is real!!

Love you all!!

Your Sister In Zion

bowling for fruit

October 12

Last preparation day we discovered one of the most amazing local wonders in town called the Fruit Bowl. I had seen this little market (which, sidenote, is what everyone calls grocery stores out here) many times in passing and didn’t think anything of it until somebody said they have the best candy selection anywhere. My beloved siblen, this promise was absolutely true! I have rarely seen so much candy! I was in heaven! They carry anachronistic and obscure candies in bulk and a lot of locally produced items. Because the candy is sold in bulk, I got one of everything that caught my eye. I have promised myself that I will only eat one piece per week. It’s like early “trickle treatin'” (another feature of the delightful regional dialect) I’m sure you will all find yourselves in Cumberland one day and you absolutely must visit the Fruit Bowl. One of our favorite members, who is a former Mennonite (before he became a Mormon) and a former truck driver (before one of his eyes got injured) used to “drive truck” for them.

In baby animal news, this week I had a wonderful visit with a less-active member of the ward who had invited us over. She has one giant puppy and one tiny puppy. I like small animals so I patted my lap and called for the little one, but instead the giant puppy jumped his front legs onto my lap, clearly thinking of himself as the same size as his brother. I petted him instead but the tiny puppy came to sit next to me on the couch. These brothers just wanted to chew on each others’ ears so badly (is that a thing that puppies do all the time?! I’m not well versed in the world of puppies yet) and they were “rastlin'” away on my lap. Slowly the giant puppy got his left hind leg and then his right hind leg on my lap too. There was probably and equal amount of human and puppy on that couch and I was on the bottom. The other delightful feature of this visit was when our hostess said, “This old world’s gettin’ to be a mahghty crule place anymore” and for a small moment the spirit of Dolly Parton was present in the room. This was all supplemented by the craterlike coal mining site visible through the window. Mahghty crule indeed.

Our other very exciting less-active member/baby animal event was when we FINALLY got in with a sister who has been wanting to come back to church for some time (according to our records) and who lives just about a mile away from us. We’d been trying and trying by and finally she opened the door and welcomed us in warmly. Best of all, she had five kittens in a playpen who were VERY frisky and playful. and had kind of sharp claws. This area is overrun with feral cats, and she explained that she semi-adopts all the local feral cats, gets them fixed and vaccinated, and feeds them as they live in her back yard. She’s the third member of our ward I’ve met who does this, except that the other people keep the cats inside. I like her system because it’s less sneezy. As we were leaving the appointment, I said, “Sister Madsen, she has the trifecta: location, desire, and kittens.”

In one of our many miracles that we see every week, a highlight happened on Wednesday. We had been advised to seek more referrals from our investigators and as Sister Madsen and I were about to leave our apartment for a lesson with one of our investigators, the thought came in to my mind (spoiler: inspired by the Holy Ghost) that this investigator knew someone whom we should teach. I said to Sister Madsen, “We need to remember to ask for a referral today.” Toward the end of our lesson, I remembered that I had intended to ask this investigator for ideas of friends of hers we should teach, but before I could say it she said, “You know, the other day my neighbor asked me if I went to church and I told him that I do. He said that he is looking for a church and asked if my church was good. I told him it is very good and that he should come to church with me.” Sister Madsen and I made very unsubtle eye contact trying to communicate telepathically (as every missionary tries to do with their companion) and we left with a really solid referral. There is nobody you should obey more strictly than the Holy Ghost.

I have decided to start ponderizing scriptures that would be relevant in teaching situations because I’m trying to be better at using the scriptures when I teach. The very first principle that we teach is that God is our loving Heavenly Father and to that end, I discovered Malachi 2:10 “Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” I like the one because it has such wonderful words as “treacherously” and “profaning” and also because it is a great reminder that when we understand the divine heritage that we share with every other person we should have no reason to treat each other badly. Or rather, we should have a reason to treat each other well that would override any desire we might have to “deal treacherously” with our siblen.

Another scripture that has stood out to me this week is 2 Nephi 2:2. 2 Nephi is kind of a hidden gem. 1 Nephi mostly consists of a very compelling narrative and 2 Nephi is kind of the ~moral of the story~ if you will. For a little background, after trekking through the wilderness for a long time in search of the promised land, Lehi (the patriarch/prophet) is talking to a son of his who was born as they were traveling and after reviewing all the struggles they have had as a family says, “Thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” I LOVE this one and relate to it a lot. During my mission sabbatical when I was hoping to go on a mission but was not sure if my mental health would allow it and was just waiting and unsure and everything was confusing and hard, many people would tell me one of two things: a. that my “wilderness” if you will was a blessing in disguise from God who had important lessons/work for me previous to my mission, and b. that the delay in my missionary service represented an attack from Satan who wanted to prevent me from doing God’s work. These are both valid theories and they are also complete opposites. I didn’t and I don’t know who or what was behind the time that delayed and interrupted my mission but I do know that as I turned to God, he was able to consecrate my afflictions and this time of affliction has definitely been for my gain, and more importantly for the gain of those loved ones who I was around then and am around now. Looking forward with faith was key to letting God consecrate my afflictions.

I love you all. I hope to hear from you. I hope to write you really good letters. My address remains 923 National Hwy, LaVale MD 21502.

Hugs and Handshakes,

.5 of Team Madsplund

question upon question

October 6

The rule is that if you’re a missionary, you love General Conference. Well, I’m a missionary and I loved General Conference. It was exactly what I needed. I went in asking myself, “What advice does God have just for me about becoming a better missionary?” On Saturday morning, Elder Lawrence invited us to pray and ponder what we are doing that is preventing our progress. As I prayed on Saturday night, as soon as I knelt down the thought came to me: “You need to elevate your thoughts.” I was like, okay, let’s get this prayer out, and I prayed, “What is– you need to elevate your thoughts– okay, so what is keeping me– you need to elevate your thoughts!— anyway, what is keeping me from pro– YOU NEED TO ELEVATE YOUR THOUGHTS– okay, what is keeping me from progressing? Is it my thoughts?” and the Spirit was like, “Yes, that’s exactly right.” The Holy Ghost is such a good friend to me. Nothing about my missionary service would be of any use without him. He’s truly the best companion you could ask for.

I really love concrete direction, so as soon as I heard that prompting, I thought: how? How do I elevate my thoughts? It’s easy for me to understand why my thoughts would be a great place to begin progressing, but how do I do it? A few hours later Brother Durrant stepped in and answered my question. He invited us to “ponderize” (80% pondering and 20% memorizing) a scripture every week. I loved this advice not only because I love it when people make up words but also because it was exactly the concrete answer I needed. Brother Durrant promised specifically that having a designated scripture to ponder and memorize every week would help us have uplifting thoughts. This answer left me with a final question: what should I ponderize first?! My transfer theme is gratitude, so I went to “thanks” in the Topical Guide and found a really beautiful verse I have never noticed before, 2 Nephi9:52 “Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God; pray unto him continually by day, and give thanks unto his holy name by night. Let your hearts rejoice.” What are you going to ponderize this week? I want to know!

The way this direction from God unfolded was so instructive to me regarding how revelation works. I began with a question and faith that a combination of direct personal revelation through the Holy Ghost and worldwide prophetic revelation would answer this question for me. I was then given a little bit of direction as to how to refine my question in personal prayer: “What is keeping me from progressing?”. I was given an answer as well as another question: “YOU NEED TO ELEVATE YOUR THOUGHTS… but how?” and finally another answer with yet another question: Ponderize a new scripture every week, with only the question of which scripture to start with left, which was answered by my beloved Book of Mormon. This is exactly how learning “line upon line and precept upon precept” (Isaiah 28:13) works. In my experience we learn question upon question and answer upon answer. Never fear the questions you have. When we know who can deliver answers from God to us and when we have faith that they will be answered by God, our questions are the foundation of personal revelation as long as we are willing to diligently seek rather than idly speculating. Wondering and praying sometimes feel similar but their results are very different.

Sister Madsen and I had a wonderful encounter with our mission president this week. He was passing through the area on another errand and he called us to ask where a good place to eat would be. My personal favorite is right next door to where we live and it just so happens that we were at that moment parking our car at home so we could spend a few hours on foot walking to our visits and talking to people. President pulled into the parking lot of this beloved diner right as we were walking by and we got to chat for a minute. It was wonderful to talk to him because he immediately wanted to know how our investigators were doing. He offered us specific advice for those whom we are teaching and asked if he could attend the baptism we are hosting for one of our investigators at the end of the month. I could see that our area and every person in our area was important to President Christiansen even though he has six stakes worth of areas, missionaries, and investigators to worry about. Bless his heart. After we talked for a little while, one of our favorite couples in the ward walked out of the restaurant in question and approached us. We had a wonderful little conversation and I felt such love for those members and leaders who contribute to the work and who take good care of us little missionaries while we’re out here trying to fend for ourselves. We have amazing resources.

This week we also had zone training with our fellow missionaries in the stake. It was fabulous and a little bit funny, as events hosted by teenage boys are wont to be. Our mission is home to the son of Stephanie Myers who began his mission a little bashful about his heritage but has slowly started embracing it. This zone conference, we were brainstorming ideas to motivate us to reach our goals. Elder Myer said, “I’ll get everyone who meets their goals their favorite candy bar. I have money!” Bless your heart, elder. Hopefully a Reese’s cup is coming my way, paid for by the Twilight franchise. Our mission is also home to the great-grandson of Minerva Teichert. At a recent conference I walked past him. I’ve never met him before but I’m just about eye-level with most elders’ name tags and I saw the words “Elder Teichert” right there in black and white. I looked up and said, “Teichert as in Minerva Teichert?!” and he said, “Yes, she’s my great-grandmother.” I gushed, “Oh, she’s my favorite!!!” and without thinking said, “Say hi to her for me!!!” to which he replied, “I will…. after I die….” Another successful interaction with an elder.

We had the privilege of finding somebody new to work with this week! A new investigator is like fresh love except way better. You pretend that they will never disappoint you and that they will want to be baptized immediately and become your best friend and great shall be your joy with them in the kingdom. Now, this is sometimes true but of course not always, but having high expectations and faith is important to missionary work. When Sister Madsen and I were role-playing our lesson (or real-playing, as missionaries in our mission love to say) I felt prompted to ask several kind of tough questions while posing as our potential investigators. I felt kind of bad because my good companion was floundering a little and usually I don’t give people too hard a time when we practice, but I just felt compelled to be a little challenging. That evening, after we left our lesson we both marveled at how similar each of our new investigator’s questions were to the questions I asked. In case you’re wondering who’s the boss, it’s definitely not me.

In baby animal/not-so-baby animal news, we visited the home of a sister in the ward who has twelve cats. Now, I’m allergic to cats, but as a missionary your needs/comfort/preferences are not important. Also, I love cats and sometimes I want to pet them and pretend like there aren’t consequences for me down the road. Anyway, this sister had one of the hugest cats I have ever seen. I took a picture but it doesn’t do the cat’s size justice and I think your imaginations will do a better job. Imagine a giant cat. It was climbing all over me all giantly and I loved it, until went home and I had to plan through my sneezing. This was the same day we enjoyed a session of general conference with an investigator who has four cats and two dogs. Also a very sneezy experience. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a missionary vehicle without a lint roller in the glove compartment. They might even be more consistent in their presence than bike racks.

Well my siblen (that’s an extra gender neutral way of saying “brethren and sisters,” fyi) I have so much love for you. I hope you loved conference and how tenderly the apostles spoke of their departed bffs. I hope you write to me about what you’re ponderizing these days at 923 National Hwy, LaVale MD 21502.

Your sister in Zion,

Sister Aspelund (that’s a real spelling that I got this week, btw)

yes ma’am

September 28

Some really good baby animal news for yous: we were talking to strangers about whether they wanted to learn more about Jesus (they didn’t) and they said we should go stop by this neighbor who had just moved in. To our surprise, a woman opened the door who is the granddaughter of one of our members and whom we have met once or twice. She said, “Come on in!” assuming that we were just being friendly and visiting her, which we would have done anyway if we knew she lived there. Coincidence? They never are. Anyway the best part was that as we walked in, a tiny kitten bolted across the kitchen and we got to make friends with her. She doesn’t have a name yet and I believe they are accepting nominations. Apparently they found her when she was a third of the size she is now and she was found hiding under a leaf.

Another sort of unexpected miracle we saw this week happened when we were at the church puttering around. The hall phone started to ring which is always kind of a strange and surprisingly frequent occurrence. On the phone was a sister in the ward whom we had met once or twice but hadn’t visited for quite some time. It’s been many years since she’s been to church. She called and told us that she needed a visit from us, an appointment with the bishop, and a ride to church next week. We said, “Yes ma’am!” obviously. Everyone has their own winding path to God and you never know which moment on their path you’re going to intersect, but it’s always fun and magical when it’s a big moment like for this sister.

Another big moment and a very bittersweet one was the funeral of a dear sister in the ward. She was someone who we visited often and who had been a widow of 25 years. When I came into the ward she was living in a nursing home and spend most of her time in bed. Her health was very poor and she would often express that she was looking forward to the next life and to seeing her husband again. For this reason I tried to keep a happy perspective even though I am selfishly very sad that we don’t get to see her. At her funeral two of her long-time home teachers spoke. It was so touching to hear of their love for her. To me home teaching and visiting teaching are exactly why we need religion in addition to our spirituality. Hearing a fellow in our ward (who is usually a very manly football coach) tearfully express that this wonderful little old lady had changed his life was a reminder to me that the gospel is all about challenging us to get out of our comfort zones by loving people who are different from us.

Faith and belief have been a big theme for the week. The elders have been working with someone who is really starting from square one in terms of what he believes, which is a wonderful place to be and a wonderful place to begin. I’ve realized that there is a major flaw in how we are used to talking about God. The norm is to talk about “believing in God” like we would “believe in” an idea (“I don’t believe in libertarianism” or whatever). But that’s not what faith in God is like at all. God is a person, not an idea. A more accurate way for me to describe my spirituality would be to say that I know God. God is someone we can get to know, not an idea we can be persuaded is accurate or inaccurate. Anyway, if you’re wondering about God try getting to know Him rather than reasoning about the idea of a God.

We are presently working with two different young women who have pink hair. Often before my mission I wondered if my quirks would make me a different missionary than most. I’ve discovered that I mostly follow the tried and true methods but at the same time it seems like a lot of offbeat investigators come my way. With that said, I think everyone who meets with missionaries has to transcend a lot of social norms and be really open-minded. I’m just impressed with anyone who investigates because you have to be brave and cool and I just love every investigator I’ve ever worked with.

While driving around this week, we passed through a small town that advertised an upcoming “Apple Butter Festival.” I was amazed that there could be such a specific festival. I love living out in the country. If I wasn’t a missionary I would definitely spend all day at/staff the Apple Butter Festival but one of yous will just have to google it and tell me what the deal is.

Finally… this coming week is general conference woo!!!!!!!! You’ll love it! ~tune in at lds.org~ it’s kind of a big conference season for our ward right now because this week was ward conference (aka regular church taught by the stake leaders and we sang “Called to Serve” in the choir :’)) and next week is General and then two weeks later we have Stake Conference. Why do Mormons love to confer? I don’t know.

You sweet peaches, I love you so. Write me a nice letter at 923 National Highway, LaVale MD 21502.

Your Sister in Zion,

Sister Apple Butter

Team Madsplund Abides

September 21
Well, my baby animal news this week is kind of sad, which is that we were visiting some people who live way out in the middle of nowhere on a farm and they had two CUTE tiny kittens in their yard but they were barn cats so they ran away from me 😦 But on the bright side, I had a dream last night that I got a puppy and named him Butterball and then my companion said, “White Handbook, page 46. Do not keep pets of any kind.”

This week we had zone training, wherein the Cumberland missionaries have to drive many hours (I am stationed in the most remote and most isolated area in the whole mission!) and then listen to the other missionaries for many more hours. It’s actually great, contrary to how I am making it sound. Lots of inspiring instruction. Because we have the privilege of following the instruction of teenage boys, the fellows in our zone got obsessed with these novelty-size Big Gulp cups that have ties printed on them for some reason (maybe they are left over from Father’s Day) and they commanded that every missionary in the zone purchase such a cup. These things cost $10 and there’s no way they would fit in our limited luggage space but on the other hand, Sister Madsen and I are obedient missionaries so we decided that we would follow-ish the rules by purchasing small wastebaskets at the dollar store and decorating them with Sharpies. We put several straws together. Now we have handy, thrifty, and decorative wastebaskets. I have learned a lot from my time in relief society.

Transfers are this week, but not to worry: everyone in Cumberland is staying put. Team Madsplund Abides. I have a lot of vision for the area so I’m very excited for the upcoming transfer. Last night I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night and wrote down a bunch of notes/ideas that the spirit or maybe a delirious dream whispered to me about the area. I haven’t read any of them yet so maybe they all just say “fax me some halibut.” We’ll see. It’s been a while since I got more than one transfer with a companion. I have a lot more to learn from Sister Madsen and I think we share our sense of vision here.

The highlight of the week was taking a wonderful family in our ward to the visitor’s center. They were baptized in June and hadn’t been to the temple yet. The temple is so wonderful and beautiful (or beaudyful as people out here say) and I ran into several missionaries serving there who I knew in my MTC days.

I have determined that the theme for the upcoming transfer will be “gratitude.” I want to become someone with a grateful attitude toward God and everyone around me. I found a weird sticky note that I had written a note to myself on one night (are you sensing a theme yet?) that says, “gratitude is a cure-all.” I’m very much looking forward to exploring the meaning and effect of gratitude this upcoming transfer. My commitment to you, gentle reader, is to write a thank-you note this week. You’ll love to!

Hugs and Handshakes,

Sister Butterball