the garbage flu

We had an eventful week so hold on tight. In the middle of it I got what we’ll call the “garbage flu” which was mostly a long practice in nausea endurance and reading Jesus the Christ in bed for a few days. In the middle of it we had a few lessons and dinner appointments (including one with the bishop, awkward) that I hazily remember sitting through, eyelids propped open with toothpicks. I think I bore my testimony. I mean, I hope so. Having a sick companion is the worst so poor Sister Rogers was trying to feel productive the whole time, running around tidying up and texting people for appointments and falling asleep in her quad. You know, the usual.

We also had a wonderful exchange this week with our buddies in Front Royal. I got to be temporary companions with Sister Thayne, a fellow Provo girl. We enjoyed reminiscing about our former home. She’s a great missionary and it is such a blessing to be yoked with so many different and wonderful sisters. Also, we did a “service” project wherein a member was cleaning out her makeup kit and just gave us a bunch of her old makeup because we kept her company and cheered her on. Anyway I love being a missionary.
On Wednesday we brought two of our young investigators to activity days and mutual. We split up in order to cover more ground and I sat next to the young man we were teaching as we enjoyed the evening’s Disney-themed lip sync activity. Welcome to the life of an LDS youth, I thought. I think he liked it though. They joined us at church that Sunday and I could see that the talks in Sacrament Meeting were exactly what they needed. Their parents mostly speak Spanish so the Spanish missionaries will begin teaching them this week, I’m really excited for them.
Finally….. it’s time for transfers. Sister Rogers is leaving me 😥 and trading places with a certain Sister Anderson of Hagerstown. I am excited about my new companion, she’s really wonderful. Both of the elders are leaving and we’re getting two new ones, plus we are about to get a new Ward Mission Leader. It’s going to be a little wild this transfer. I’ll be the de facto ringleader. Pray for us.
My upcoming transfer theme will be The Book of Mormon! Our mission president invited us recently to begin using the Book of Mormon more in our teaching and I want it to be a greater part of my life and of who I am. We often speak of missionary work as harvesting grain and thrusting in our sickle. The Book of Mormon is our sickle! It is the tool God has provided us in this time in human history to help people know whether or not what we’re teaching is true and it is also our own personal tool for conversion. I love the Book of Mormon. It’s like magic.
Well little beans, I will have exactly the same address!  Because I’m not getting transferred, whew. 841 Thomas Ct. #57 Winchester, VA 22601
Hugs and handshakes,
Sister Angel

return to charles town

We had a week of tender mercies, truly. I can see the Lord blessing me really abundantly these days. The transfer is winding down and the end of a transfer always manifests an abundance of miracles. For example: we found seven new investigators this week! What the heck?! It was amazing. This is after a transfer with a lot of slower weeks. That’s the cool thing about missionary work: you work and you work and you work and you think it’s going to yield nothing but then just as you’re really at the end of your rope it all comes through. I think the whole process makes your rope progressively longer, so to speak.

This week also brought a magical exchange in Charles Town, the land of my birth!!! Oh, it was magic. As I entered my first missionary apartment a year later and sat at the study desk where I built a real and lasting testimony slowly every morning, a scripture came to my mind, from Mosiah 18 (one of my favorite chapters in the whole Book of Mormon) “And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.” How beautiful is Charles Town to the eyes of her who there came to the knowledge of her Redeemer! And I got to visit some people whom I had taught while I was there, who also came to a knowledge of their Redeemer in Charles Town. We enjoyed a simultaneous conversion. For example, I got to visit my very first convert, Dariay, whose mom was a less-active member. When I was there her mom started to come back to church and Dariay took the lessons with us and was baptized. When I walked into their house I said her name and she started to walk down the stairs. When she saw me, she screamed, “APPLESAUCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and then she just kept chanting “APPLESAUCE” over and over again and running around yelling “SHE’S HERE!!!!” Oh what a joy. There is no sweeter association than the love between two people who help each other come to a knowledge of their Redeemer. In the last hour of our day, we popped by some of the members I had been really close with during my Charles Town days. It was exactly what I needed. More importantly, of course, I had an opportunity to serve the people there and to get to know Sister Sosa, a brand-new missionary who just blew my mind. She was awesome. She’s a convert of a few years and her testimony is so powerful. She’s a real natural. I want to be like her when I grow up.
On Saturday, we had our Mission Leadership Council. We had such a good time there. I love learning with my fellow missionaries. I live for meetings. Don’t ask me why. Another long meeting highlight was church on Sunday, where I acted as ward chorister and taught gospel doctrine. We taught about Jacob 5, the allegory of the olive trees. It’s a bit of an intimidating chapter but it’s all about missionary work so I got to just stand up there and cry about how the Lord is hastening His work. Yes.
You’re all precious humans, thanks for being you. Write me lots. 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Ashbend (a real pronunciation, spoken from the pulpit. wonderful.)

mushroom huntin

The great thing about being in the Wild West of the mission in the springtime is that people get to tell you all about their adventures trying to find morels in the mountains. I love it. We got to go up on the “mountain” of the area this week and it was lovely. No morels, though. We did come upon a house where the inner door was open but the storm door was closed. We decided to knock on it, only to discover that there was a giant, very excited golden retriever and a tiny black teacup poodle behind this storm door. The golden retriever jumped up on the door until it opened and he and the poodle both escaped. They were running around so excitedly so I decided to delegate the giant dog to Sister Rogers and the tiny dog to me because I am a great companion. The dog had run around the corner and I couldn’t leave my companion so I just stood at the corner calling the dog while it went to the bathroom and eventually decided to wander over to me. I grabbed the poodle and saw that Sister Rogers had gotten “Goldilocks” back into the house. She opened the door so that I could throw Curly Top in but instead Goldilocks just steamrolled the poodle running out of the house. Finally we decided to throw Curly Top in first and then Sister Rogers fake threw a stick into the house so Goldilocks would follow. We got them both in and ran away, never to return.

We also had a great experience this week thanks to Sister Rogers and her spiritual power. Right after she woke up Sister Rogers was praying, half-asleep when she had an image in her mind of a certain corner in our area and an impression that we were to be at this corner at 12:30 that day. She mentioned it to me and of course I was excited to see what would happen. Well, after district meeting we went to this corner and arrived around 12:27. We watched a woman walk out of a house across the street, smoking and talking on the phone. I wasn’t exactly sure how to approach her so I handed her a pass-along card quietly. She said, “Leslie, I’m going to have to call you back.” and hung up the phone. She told us that she was a member but hadn’t been active in a long time and that she just barely moved into the area. She also told her that she was at a real low point, and that the last time she hit rock bottom like this she had been staying at a friend’s house and the elders just happened to tract into her then. She said she knows the Lord sends His missionaries when she needs them the most, and I had to agree. We had just printed out “An High Priest of Good Things to Come” by Elder Holland (soooo good, go read it!) and gave her a copy, then we arranged for her to receive a priesthood blessing and have her records moved into the ward. It was pretty amazing. Heavenly Father never ever gives up on us.
This week, like every week, brought a lovely exchange experience. I was with Sister Tripp and she joined me in Winchester. Sister Tripp is an amazing new missionary who really turned her life around before she came on a mission. I loved hearing about her life and her story. She talked a lot about how she was learning that she could be herself and be a missionary and a faithful Latter-Day Saint at the same time. What a wonderful lesson. The Lord needs each of us and all of us.
We also have been volunteering at the Shenandoah Valley Museum in the gardens. This week we weeded for a long long time. I loved it. It’s very satisfying to be able to do physical, tangible work, and our supervisor is this amazing bearded man who lives in the Appalachian mountains with his wife and new baby. Probably one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I was talking to him about his mushroom hunting activities and he started describing the different kinds of woods with increasing animation. “Now yer just gettin me all excated about mushrooms!” he said. You just meet the best people on your mission.
Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately are the words “succor” and “pacify.” I think about childbirth and infants a lot (for example, this week I tried to get in with someone by offering my labor support services to his wife. It was semi-successful and our zone leaders approved it.) and the term “succor” always brings to my mind the nursing of a child. I don’t know if that’s actually what it means at all, it just sounds like it should, right? The scriptures are full of descriptions of the Savior being able to succor us. For example, in Alma 7:12, the prophet Alma says, “And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” I love that one! How comforting to consider that he will succor us. On the other hand, we read about the adversary and how he is prone to “pacify” us. That makes me think of a pacifier, which imitates a something that will succor, or nourish and feed, a child but which offers no real nourishment. For example, in 2 Nephi 28:21 we read a statement describing the adversary, “And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” Scary! The Savior will offer us real nourishment because he has the power to succor, while the adversary will always offer an imitation with no real power to feed us.
My friends, I hope you had a great week and will continue to have great weeks forever. Write me lots of nice letters and I will write you back. My address is 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love you!!!
Baby Bumblebee (as they call me here)
PS: We had leftover rhinestones from bedazzling our Elder friend’s crowbar so I moved on to an extra name tag that I never wear…
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the celestial language

What a great week and what a TRAYSURE to witness General Conference! It is always magical to get to spend a little time soaking in the goodness when it is usually our duty to pour it out. I love being able to teach and share what I know all the time but being taught is kind of an exciting change of pace every six months or so. I loved the whole thing. I noticed a big emphasis on temple attendance and another big emphasis on the personal relationship we have with God. I loved that. If you want/need to catch up, you can at lds.org/generalconferenceObviously the highlight of my whole life was when President Uchdorf, obviously the person I want to be when I grow up, spoke German at us. It was glorious. Everything else about it was glorious. Please write me and tell me every single thing you thought and felt about it because I love feeling so close to you, my friends!
At the advent of this week my companion and I got a head start on April Fool’s Day and borrowed the crowbar that one of the elders in our vicinity keeps around I think just to look tough. I remembered that it’s good manners that when we borrow something, we return it in as good or even better condition. In the spirit of this etiquette, we thought we could improve our friend’s crowbar by covering it in silver sparkly duct tape and then bedazzling it with pink rhinestones. We presented it to him and I have never seen someone look so angry and so happy at the same time. For probably an hour all he could say was, “You bedazzled my crowbar!” I could tell he kinda loved it because he kept bringing it around and showing other people. I mean, I don’t know anyone else in the world who has a bedazzled crowbar.
This week we also had exchanges with the sisters in Harpers Ferry. These sisters are so wonderful and Harpers Ferry is right next door to my old stomping grounds. In fact, I ran into a former ward mission leader. To understand how wonderful this guy is, you should know that he has a big mustache and his first name is Verl and he cries every time he bears his testimony with his heavy accent. He came up to me and I could tell that his instinct was to go for a hug (it was mine too!) but of course that’s a little taboo for missionaries so he gave me a warm handshake and said, “Why, I just wanna give you a big hug. How’s Sister Asplund doing?” So fun!! The other highlight of our exchange was some amazing Baby Animal News. I got to see some baby chicks and hold them and they ate out of my hand. I’ve been perfecting my baby chick chirp and it’s getting pretty good, so when I chirped at them they all got kind of quiet. So cute. This family also has a little potbelly pig named bacon. I kind of want to move in with them, to be honest.
After exchanges we had interviews with President Christiansen. It was so nice. It was kind of sad to move far away from the mission home and getting to visit again was much needed. I have developed a great love for church leadership on my mission.
A huge miracle of my life/this week came when we actually found someone to teach!!! Oh boy!!! She has been taking the lessons with the sisters in the neighboring ward for a while and is very solid and strong in her testimony. We helped her move into an apartment in our ward boundaries all weekend, which included throwing and catching a couch over a fence because the front door was too narrow for it. We watched General Conference with her and some of her member friends and she got way into conference bingo. It was adorable.
My friends and loved ones, fellow countrypeople, siblen, etc, I love you!!! Write to me! 841 Thomas Ct #57 Winchester, VA 22601
Love,
Sister Cracklin’