area changers

This week represented a continuation of our wonderful two exchange per week schedule. It’s rigorous but it means lots of fun friendship/sisterhood times which is pretty great, plus seeing new sights/fun new adventures/ etc etc. We began our week driving down to Harpers Ferry early in the am with the zone leaders in their zone leader minivan, who were 80% asleep and listening to a Bruce R. McConkie talk or whatever (can somebody tell me what it is with elders and Bruce R. McConkie? I mean, he’s great, but wow). We joined their district meeting and then sent Sister Anderson back to Winchester. Oh it was so fun in Harpers Ferry! The twinkling fireflies dancing around West Virginia! And that’s so close by my old stomping grounds, I got to see some old buddies from the beginning days. I also got to be companions with Sister Whipple, a wise and wonderful woman.
When we returned we had a meeting with the zone leaders and the district leaders just doing some leadership training. Sister Anderson and I walked into the room and all the elders (about five of them and then us) were just going bananas. There was something wrong and they did not want to tell us. Finally after much  cajoling they told us that our mission boundaries are being reorganized. The Annapolis stake is going to be part of the DC North mission and we are receiving two stakes from Pennsylvania, the Chambersburg and Lancaster stakes. This will be a big change. Missions carry a strong sense of cultural identity, kind of like maybe a school would, so we have a lot of missionaries who will be feeling displaced and needing to get to know a new culture. Also the missionaries coming into our mission will need to relinquish their iPads when they enter our analog mission. Sorry guys. I’m really excited though because I have seen what a great experience it can be for people to grow and stretch in their own sense of identity by bringing new people into their peer group. I think that’s a very powerful skill and in a way that’s a big part of missionary work. When we find new people who have a desire to come into the church, there’s definitely culture shock there. Some people may have to give things up that they are used to doing or having. It’s part of our baptismal covenant to welcome people with open arms because our ideal is to be united as a human family under one big tent. The Lord definitely beckons us to grow in His infinite wisdom.
After everyone settled down we proceeded to give some training. Sister Anderson and I talked about being “area changers,” using the example of Ammon, because we know this zone has enormous potential. It’s already a great zone and people love serving around here, but we have all been feeling inspired to take it to the next level. Not just our specific area or zone or even mission but on the whole it is my belief that the Lord is increasing the pace at which He accomplishes His work and we need to keep up! Oh it is exciting. ~fostering change~ has always been an appealing concept for me.
We also saw some great miracles with regards to the people we’re teaching this week. For example:
on Tuesday we were visiting a neighborhood where one of our investigators lives. The sister we were visiting told us she would love for us to invite this investigator over to join our visit but we hadn’t heard back from our investigator and we remembered her telling us that she would be pretty busy that day, but of course we wanted to see her. As we were driving past the community garden Sister Anderson yelled, “There she is!!!!!!!!!!” and we pulled over and invited her to come along with us. It was great! Sometimes teaching is stressful, kind of akin to public speaking in a stage fright kind of sense. In the middle of the lesson I was having some butterflies in my stomach and I prayed that I would feel better. When I did I realized that I was holding on to these unpleasant feelings and that this was really the barrier to receiving divine help. I had to #letgoandletgod, if you will.
– after a lesson with a new family we’re teaching, their daughter (in her young teens) told us, “I want to be a Norman.” We were like, wait what?? and then I said, “Ohhh you want to become a Mormon?” and she said, “Yeah. How do I do that? Do I have to get baptized?” and we explained to her, yes, baptism and confirmation are the ordinances by which we gain membership in the church. She also told us that she has been watching the Restoration film over and over again 🙂
Our final exchange was with the Shenandoah Valley sisters. These are some amazing, sweet, strong missionaries and I love them a lot. My companion for the day comes from a family that hasn’t always been active participants in the gospel but over the years they have grown a lot together. Now this sister has been serving valiantly, her brother is on a mission too, and on Saturday their step-dad was baptized. She got to Skype in and everything. So wonderful.
Finally, a little anecdote: Sister Anderson and I were driving out of our spot at a gas station. A lady was walking toward the car and I was looking the other way for cars coming to my left. This pedestrian and I got pretty close to nudging each other and my companion, being a great co-driver, yelled at me, “SISTER ANDERSON!!!! WATCH OUT!!!” Yes, she called me by her own name. That is the degree to which she is losing herself in the work. Great job, Sister Anderson. Also, I had a dream this week that I organized a baptismal service and our investigator hired a team of hip-hop dancers to perform. Anyway.
Also this week I was reading and discussing about
Well my friends, loved ones, associates, siblen. Please keep being amazing. And write to me. 841 Thomas Ct #57 Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Akon

“we gave a guy a book of mormon but we were afraid he was going to eat it”

Hands down, the highlight of our week was sisters specialized training. This training consisted of:
– a light breakfast of breakfast burritos and yogurt and fruits
– a get-to-know game Sister Anderson and I invented called “Speed Companionships” where the sisters all had to speed date each other with missionary-themed questions of our invention
– a reading/talk by our resident angel/mission president’s wife
– a fashion show based on the dress code. It was actually a pretty positive/non-shamey method, I was pretty impressed. Beforehand the senior sister who was organizing the fashion show invited me to be an example of “what not to wear” in terms of distracting hair and makeup. I enjoyed that assignment, perhaps a little too much.
– a little clothing exchange. Here’s a secret about missions: at least 50% of your clothes will come from other sisters because we get so tired of wearing the same modest skirts every week and rotate them around. So don’t pack a lot, you will hardly wear anything you brought with you anyway
– a talk given by the therapist who works with our missionaries about “Caring For Your Companion.” We watched a YouTube video by Brene Brown about empathy. I felt like I was part of the internet world again :’)
–  an address by our mission president. In the middle of said address several different senior missionaries approached him and quietly showed him their phone. We all started getting kind of nervous and after the closing prayer he got up and announced, “There has been an extreme tornado warning, let’s all proceed to the safety of the cultural hall until further notice.”
–  cold milk and warm cookies in the cultural hall, plus a print of a piece Brian Kershisnik drew for our mission president’s family which they replicated and framed and gave to everyone as a gift. How do they know exactly what I want?
Finally, the torrential rains slowed and everyone kind of slowly started leaving. Our mission president had disappeared and was in counsel with somebody but all the missionaries seemed to know it was time to go. We arrived at our dinner appointment two hours late but they obligingly reheated our lasagna.
The next day we had another very very long and exciting meeting with the thousands of other zone leaders and sister training leaders. They fed us Cafe Rio. How do they know? During our lunch break I noticed one of the zone leaders standing (seemingly alone) in the darkened and empty Primary room, silhouetted mysteriously against a window . I poked my head in to figure out what was going on and found that one of the APs was napping behind the piano and this elder was there supporting him. Sometimes you get tired. On the drive home our zone leader made us listen to a rap he recorded. I think he has potential.
We are off! To visit the pedestrian mall, a picturesque little area full of quaint boutiques and whatnot and home of the Snow White Diner, where a tiny tiny hamburger can be purchased for $1.75. Cute!
On Sunday we had a wonderful Father’s Day service. One of our members talked about how a father is often responsible for his children’s “inner voice” and that the way kids talk to themselves is an echo of how their father spoke to them. I’m grateful to have a father who always spoke encouraging and supportive words to me, and I’m grateful to have a Heavenly Father who whispers eternal and powerful love through the spirit. I’m also grateful to have a mission president who, in a dream, gave me a pink name tag and said, “You’ve earned this.”
Love y’all! Write me! 841 Thomas Ct. #57 Winchester, VA 22601
lots of love,
Sister Appleseed
photo: what people don’t know about missionaries sometimes

i love the leafs!

Siblen, sometimes it’s good to try new things. For example: we were at a dinner appointment with a family with such a cute little girl. She was sitting next to me and she was like, “Mooooooom, I don’t waaaaaaaaant any salaaaaaaaaad!!!!!!!!!” and I was like, “You should try some leaves! They’re really good!” Because a good trick is to tell kids that salad is leaves and broccoli is trees to make it all more exotic. I started talking to her mom and looked away and a minute later I looked back and she had eaten all of her salad. She said, “Moooom, can I have more leafs???? I wuv the weafs!!!!!!!!!”
At a different dinner with a different adorable little girl, she got so excited because I was wearing a pink dress. She kept telling me she liked my dress and asked if I could sit by her. I felt pretty good about myself even though I knew it was just my pink dress. She wasn’t really eating her dinner and my maternal instinct just took over my body and I started feeding her without thinking about it…. until her parents looked at me kind of funny. They liked it though. Afterward, while we were sharing a message, she snuggled right up to me and said, “Guess what Sister Applesauce? I love you.” So cute.
Finally… we taught someone this week who was holding her pet hermit crab the whole time we were teaching her. I think the hermit crab felt the spirit.
This week we also went to a beach?? And taught a lesson on a picnic table on a beach at a lake. There was something slightly cruel about it, that water tempting us and everyone frolicking. And it was about 90 degrees. Anyway sometimes you teach lessons in unexpected places and get sand in your proselyting shoes. We also showed up at Relay for Life yesterday, which was kind of beautiful and cryish and they let us hand out roses… with pictures of Jesus ;).
Yesterday we had ward conference which was all about the Sabbath Day. It was good stuff. Our stake presidency is all brand new and they are so great. They came to ward council and asked me to lead the music during the third hour. I was mingling with everyone because the #1 rule of missionary work is that you have to greet every single ward member every Sunday. As I was in the middle of a member traffic jam I heard our stake president say over the microphone, “If Sister Asplund could come to the stand please? Sister Asplund?” More importantly, though, it was a time to be fed and edified spiritually! The Sabbath day is a great gift that the Lord has given us and there’s something kind of fun and radical about it. Getting a reminder that there’s something and someone who is more important than our professional pursuits is really refreshing.
OK my dear friends, please write to me and make my week! I love you I love you. 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Apple Juice 

groovy

Okay first things first… transfers. So on Sunday night we were leaving a dinner out in the wilderness when the spirit told us to stop by the home of an investigator who had been out of town for a month. We weren’t sure if she was back yet but the spirit said to, you know? Anyway so as we pulled up we saw her unlocking her door. She said, “I literally just got back from driving in. And I was scared to go into my house alone. I’m so glad you’re here.” Then we started chatting and suddenly our district leader called us. Scary!! He said, “Sisters, Sister Anderson is leaving. Sorry. Bye.” and then hung up. She’s only been here for one transfer so we were freaking out a little bit. Or a lot. We both almost started crying in front of our investigator… until our district leader called us again. He said, “I’m so sorry sisters, I’ve made a huge mistake. You’re both staying. Sorry. Bye.” Whew. So we’re both staying! I’m so happy Sister Anderson isn’t leaving us. Also this amazing investigator asked if she could come out teaching with us. Yes.
This week we were a little extra tired because several nights in a row I was teaching dream-people about the Book of Mormon in my sleep. Sister Anderson told me that my sleep-talking awoke her and she tried to support my testimony but she was too asleep. On Friday, even though we were so tired, we passed by a beautiful meadow a just had to pull over for a frolic. It was good. I don’t think I got any ticks.
Midweek we enjoyed our zone training experience and my companion and I gave an instruction. Afterward we went on a beautiful exchange to Charles Town! My very home! It was such a beautiful experience. I got to see so many of the people and places who I came to love with the love of the Lord at the advent of my missionary service. We also had dinner with a family who was baptized recently. It was amazing to hear them talk about the peace the gospel has brought into their lives despite all the challenges they face. The best! There’s just something about Charles Town, it’s kind of a golden area. Finally, we saw the season’s first fireflies!!!! We were talking to a lady at her door and suddenly I saw a firefly and got so excited about it. My companion got excited and said, “I wish I could catch it!” and then I caught it for her… while we were still trying to talk to this lady at her door. She loved it though. I’m always praying for opportunities to serve my companion so it was an answer to prayers.
On Saturday we went to the baptism of a young eight-year-old in the ward with our investigator. It was so sweet. His big brother, maybe twelve or so, gave a talk about his own baptism and in the middle of it, as he was describing the joy he felt when he was being baptized, he got all choked up. So cute. His other big brother baptized him. And we had CTR-shaped gummies to remind us to choose the right. Our investigator loved it. She’s really on fire. She came to choir yesterday and she fasted with us that she would receive an answer as to whether she should be baptized. She sends us the cutest texts about the animals she sees near her home in the woods and inviting us to attend community activities with her so we can share the word of God with everyone there. She’s already an awesome missionary.
Finally, a ward council quote: “Our youth don’t know what to bring in their Trek buckets.” “So they need a bucket list?” We also were walking around and we passed by two people drinking on their porch. We started talking to them and they invited us up. The wife in the couple said, “I only invited you up here because you were dressed really groovy.” Then they introduced us to their new baby chicks and gave us a LOT of marriage advice. Whew.
Ok my friends, time to write me a letter! Can’t wait to hear from you! 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Esmerelda
(the drunk porch lady called me that… thanks ma’am)
Inline image 1