new beginnings

This week included some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of my mission. Monday was Brother Dubyk’s funeral. It was beautiful. We sang “Come, Come Ye Saints” together and I reflected on the special peace that can only come from knowing that your conscience is clean and you’re ready to meet God. This is a greater peace than that of physical safety. It was also wonderful to see the fellowship of the Saints afterward. There was so much love in that room. The chapel was filled up with all of the overflow open. That afternoon I started to feel a little nauseated but I kept moving forward. We ate a nice big dinner and some cotton candy ice cream. After dinner we had an awesome family home evening with a member family and a wonderful, totally golden investigator we’re teaching. They got along great and the kids became best friends by the end of it. By then I was feeling pretty sick to my stomach but we had a lot going on so I prayed extra hard and we taught a great lesson with another investigator.
By the time we got home, I was not ok. Like, really not ok. We had done all our laundry and so I put my bottom sheet on my bed and made Sister Anderson make the bed over me. I was so sick! I lost everything I ate all day, cotton candy ice cream and all. In the morning poor Sister Anderson had a similar ailment. We couldn’t even go to district meeting. The elders and sisters were so kind and brought us Gatorade, saltines, and a blessing. In the middle of the day, I said, “OK Sister Anderson. We need to go to urgent care.” and we got ourselves together like a pair of zombies and lumbered to the urgent care where they prescribed us some nice medicine. Poor Sister Anderson needed to transfer the very next day and was just packing so slowly and miserably. I was kind of helping her (not really). The next day we left bright and early to Columbia, MD with all of Sister Anderson’s things. We hugged everyone, sent Sister Nish home, and picked up Sister Feinga!!!! Poor thing, we went right home and back to bed. Thursday I was all back to normal and feeling pretty good though.
Sister Feinga is pretty amazing. She’s from Tonga but it’s cool how many similarities there are between our two hometowns. Sister Feinga: “Where I’m from is about 80% Mormon” Me: “Me too!” Sister Feinga: “The missionaries would cover whole stakes instead of individual wards.” Me: “Me too!” Sister Feinga: “The thing I miss the most about home is the sound of the ocean.” Not me. She’s a hard worker and always has something nice to say. She has adjusted to the area so quickly, I keep forgetting she just got here. On Thursday we introduced her to our relief society president, who has a brand new grandson! We wanted to share a spiritual thought with them but of course the teenage boys were occupied with this new “Pokemon Go” thing idk. Anyway because there was a brand new baby I shared a spiritual thought about the baby Jesus and asked what we could learn about the gospel from a baby. The brand-new father got a little weepy talking about the unconditional love he felt for his tiny son and then a few moments later one of the teenagers walked in. I told him, “We’re talking about Baby Jesus!” and the teen, not paying attention to anyone else, said, “I hatched him!” We all just giggled for days.
On Friday we had our big leadership meeting, including district leaders. Big old crew there, maybe 70 people. Dr. Jaccard, my buddy from years hence, gave a long and amazing presentation on pedagogy. My brain was growing the whole time. The ride home from these meetings is always, always weird and interesting. We all pile into a van early in the morning, to to a long long meeting, and then pile back in and drive home. This time around the elders (two zone leaders and three district leaders) somehow got really curious about childbirth. I was fielding questions from the backseat and the front seat simultaneously such as: “How long does the baby stay plugged in?” “Is human placenta pretty similar to horse placenta?” (from our resident farm boy) “Why do they always time contractions?” “It seems like people always want warm towels, what’s up with that?” and so forth. There was a much greater curiosity than I anticipated. One of our zone leaders has this great concern that he will need to deliver a baby in a remote circumstance because someone on his favorite show had to do that (keep in mind, this is a giant scary football kind of elder who only listens to Bruce R. McConkie talks and who gets in trouble for calling people to repentance) so he had me walk him through the entire childbirthing process. He did a great listening job and was clearly concentrating very intensely. “So, how important is the uterine massage?” “So she’ll be having contractions… how will we know they’re contractions?” “How similar is catching a baby to catching a football?” “What if it’s breech?” Then, perhaps related to all the birthing talk but also maybe more related to the windy West Virginia back roads, one of the elders said, “Bro, I need you to pull over so I can throw up.” We found a parking lot next to a truck stop that included an inexplicable hole in the wall barbecue place. Instead of throwing up, this elder lay in the grass for a while and then got a pulled pork sandwich.
This week also brought our favorite holiday, Pioneer Day! We had a big old cookout. Some of our investigators came and had a great time. We sang Pioneer songs in sacrament meeting. We were joined in said meeting by our wonderful new investigator. She had such a great time and her 4-year-old felt super comfortable and loved Primary. Later, she came to our BAPTISMAL SERVICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my goodness, it was magical. First of all, one of our investigators who was being baptized was so excited that she didn’t even want to go home, so she just hung around after church and helped us set up. We took us to lunch with some of our members and then her friend in the ward came by to help as well. She got dressed in her jumpsuit way early because she just couldn’t wait and all she wanted was to watch the font fill up πŸ™‚ The service itself went beautifully. We wanted to emphasize the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, which are faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We had our first speaker talk about faith and repentance, then the young women all sang “Heavenly Father Loves Me” :’) and then our other speaker talked about baptism and confirmation, then we sang “Press Forward, Saints” as our closing hymn to emphasize enduring to the end. One of our members made probably the most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen, giant and with raspberries all over. I also made a cake (in the dark because I got started to late) which we just finished. By the time we finally locked up the church that night, I was both happier than I’d ever been and feeling like I had just run a marathon. As soon as we planned we both passed out with the lights on. I was still flossing when I fell asleep. Oh the joy.
It’s wonderful! Baptism is wonderful! Try it out or share it with a friend! Then write to me about it, 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love you beautiful beans,
Sister Asplin
PS: yes, one of our converts specifically chose the funky 70’s jumpsuit. Good choice πŸ™‚


24

This week was a beautiful cascade of miracles followed by a horrible sad phone call in which we learned that Sister Anderson is being transferred. NO!!! I love her too much. The good news is that I get to stay here, 6 months in Winchester :’) Things are really happening for us here. We’re getting Sister Feinga, she’s amazing. I know her a little bit just from around town and I’m excited for her to join our ranks.

You’re probably just dying to hear all about how a missionary’s birthday looks. Here it is:
– Preparation Day: my companion and I make pancakes for all the other missionaries in the church ~serving area~ and we had a topping potluck as well.
– opened presents for my workout
– went out for Thai food, yum
– ate at a Peruvian chicken place?? so good. our wonderful friend made us a cake out of flowers because she is a genius
– a member made us waffles, including birthday cake waffles
– Sister Anderson made me celestial pancakes in the shape of a sun. The theme of my birthday was breakfast.
This week we also had exchanges! Sister Tait came from Woodstock, VA to join me and we met the coolest new investigator. She is solid, pure gold. Oh my goodness. Teaching her is a delight because she prepares well for lessons and wants to know everything we are teaching her. I also went on an exchange in the Shenandoah Valley! Sister Allen and I were reunited after our week-long companionship.
This week we also lost a brother in the ward who is very dear to us after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was our gospel principles teacher. And he was Canadian. We all loved him a lot. The day he passed away we went by to visit their family. We shared the end of Luke 24: “He is not here, but He is risen.” Never forget the glory and the promise of the resurrection. Whatever your battle, Christ has won it. We also sang “Be Still My Soul”. The spirit was crazy in there. We were all just weeping like a group of babies. It was beautiful.
This week we were invited to the stake correlation meeting. Usually it’s priesthood holders who attend said meeting but they’re trying to include sisters in general more. Great job! It was a lot of fun and we got to hang out with about 1,000 bishops. My hand has never been more thoroughly shaken. Our mission president and his wife were there and afterward we were saying goodbye when President noticed some Swedish Fish floating around in his car. He picked them up contemplatively and handed them over and said, “Here’s your treat.” Then when we got to our car we saw that Sister Christiansen had brought us Wonder Woman pez and written us a cute note. What the heck. Where do they get off being so cute.

I will close with a quotation from our fave couple in the ward. They live in a nursing home and he used to be a karate teacher so she always calls him “Sense”
“We’re always trying to be more like Jesus, aren’t we Sense?”
“Yes, dear…. see, after all these years of marriage I’ve learned that’s the secret phrase”
“You’re so cute”
We just giggled and all kind of blushed for a while.
Write me!!!!!!!! 841 Thomas Ct #841 Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Ingleberry

mr. bluejoy on my shoulder

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day. Ours was straight rain, although we did go “patriotic caroling” and sing “America the Beautiful” to some of our members, since we were told to cool it on the proselyting front for the evening. I even glimpsed a firework from our balcony after nightly planning.
Our week included a tiny transfer! Beautiful Sister Allen got her new companion. We drove out to Harpers Ferry to pick up Sister Johnston and brought her back home. It was fun/bittersweet to say goodbye to Sister Allen but she’s still close by. In fact, they’re emailing with us today in the family history library. The zone leaders nearby have a minivan rather than a traditional missionary-sized car and we thought that between Sister Allen and Sister Johnston it would probably be more prudent to take the minivan so we traded cars for the day. The zone leaders were going on exchanges with our district leader that day so his small suitcase happened to be in the back of the car. After driving a minivan through the countryside of West Virginia, we quickly unloaded the car to rush off to our next appointment, piling all of the luggage haphazardly in the sisters’ apartment. That evening, after curfew we got a call from our district leader saying, “Do you sisters know where my suitcase is?” uh oh. Long story short, the poor elders had to go pick up our district leader’s overnight bag from the sisters in the morning, but only after we gave him some ideas on how they could create a DIY toothbrush. This is why we have the atonement.
On Wednesday we had every missionary’s favorite activity, interviews with President. Basically an opportunity to feel super validated and good about yourself and learn about the deepest doctrines of the gospel. He also quoted “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” to me and then we spent a few minutes browsing IMDB together? And then he gave me art museum recommendations. It was so great. He also instructed all the missionaries there not to eat rat poison. Thanks President. We had our interview last and it kept getting pushed back and back (because he is super thorough, good job) so finally we finished and had nice long talks with him and it was getting to be curfew… but then a senior couple happened to be in the church at the same time and insisted that we all go to Sweet Frog for frozen yogurt. So we did. We stayed out after curfew to get frozen yogurt with our mission president. To make it a better missionary activity we put together a treat for our investigator and brought it to her, though.
The Lord is so kind to us and He gave me the opportunity to reunite with Sister Walker who is in Front Royal, a beautiful town in Virginia which is allegedly filled with “redneck hippies,” according to a local redneck hippie resident. Being with Sister Walker again was such a blessing, she is a shining star. We were able to set goals and make plans together for the remainder of our missionary service and reminisce lots and lots. Also, we had dinner with an amazing family who fed us fresh venison and banana pie and who have a blue jay living near their home who they have become friends with. They found this blue jay when he was a little fledgling and have been feeding and caring for him the whole time. He’s very tame and his name is Bluejoy. I love him. As we were leaving their home they called for the bird, chirping at him, and he flew right over. As his mother human held him, I held out my finger and he jumped right on! Oh it was so precious. Then he hopped onto my shoulder and started pecking at my hair, then as I looked at him and smiled and he thought that my eyes and teeth were nice and shiny, perhaps, so he tried to peck and/or kiss them. I felt like Snow White though. Sister Walker and her companion are both dedicated percussionists and as we were discussing ways to help her companion get more enthusiastic about tracting, we discovered what I will call the “hocket knock-it”, in which a companionship takes turns creating a rhythm on the door together. Pretty exciting stuff.
If you thought that was my only baby animal news, you are wrong! I’ve had quite a week for baby animals. On Monday we went to a place called “Puppy City” where they have designer puppies for sale for $1,00000000000000 or so each. The white handbook instructs us, “Do not keep pets of any kind.” so of course we couldn’t take any home but we COULD play with the puppies. We took our investigator and tried them all out. Photographs to follow. They were SO frisky and cute and mixes of the fluffiest kinds of dogs. There was one chocolate lab puppy which was the perfect height for the length of my skirt, all she wanted to do was pull my skirt off and eat it. I had to get a little bashful.
Final baby animal news: yesterday we were teaching a new investigator all about the gospel. She had lots of cats and a bunny (cute!) and as we were praying I felt the tiniest paw on my foot. I peeked down and saw a LITTLE kitten and prayed in my heart that it wouldn’t leave before the prayer ended so that I wouldn’t irreverently have to reach for a kitten in the middle of a prayer. The kitten stayed and then her sister wandered over. They were basically twins, tiny gray sneezes. I put them both in my lap and they wrestled a little and then fell asleep as we shared our testimonies of the atonement. Everyone was crying because of the spirit and I had two warm little balls of fur on my lap. It was bliss.
Okay wait… we do have a final piece of baby animal news. Even, a baby animal miracle. We have an investigator who has really been loving the gospel and enjoying learning more and everything but she would always say, “I just haven’t gotten my answer yet.” Finally we discovered last week that she has a specific answer she was seeking, perhaps even a sign. She had us over for dinner this week and as we were eating our foraged berry cobbler she said casually, “So I got my answer.” Sister Anderson and I were trying/failing to remain calm. In my heart I guessed that her sign would have something to do with her beloved cat. My good companion said, “Would you mind sharing how your answer came?” and she said, “My cat has had a really bad rash for a whole year. I prayed and told God that if He wanted me to get baptized, to heal my cat’s rash. This week my cat was made whole.” We were kinda dumbfounded.
To be clear, God isn’t always big on signs and our answers to prayers don’t always look exactly like we want them to, but He can heal our cats if he wants to, so to speak. Sometimes it works just right. For another example, we saw our dinner calendar going around Relief Society, so that families could sign up to have us over for dinner, because they are the best. We noticed that a sister in the middle seemed to have forgotten she was holding the meal calendar and left it on her lap. We didn’t want to be rude and ask her to continue passing it so Sister Anderson said a quick prayer and lo and behold, a moment later this good sister seemed to suddenly notice the dinner calendar on her lap and passed it along. She is a spiritually in-tune kind of person so we had no doubt that she would listen to the spirit and notice a nudge to answer someone’s prayer.
After church, the Young Women had a little Book of Mormon reading party. We brought our teenage investigator and she just had a great time. We ate those classic Mormon croissant/chicken salad/half grape sandwiches and our investigator listened to/read the Book of Mormon with great interest. She loved it! I loved it! Amazing.
Finally…. I’m turning 24 on Friday. For my birthday, I invite you all to think of someone who needs a little love or who you’ve been meaning to get in touch with and reach out to them. You will love it. They will love it. Also, if you send a missionary a birthday card that is a lot of good karma. 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester, VA 22601
Hugs and handshakes,
Sister Snow White
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the a team

This week has been really something, primarily because our companionship was a little different than usual. A sister in a neighboring unit was having some medical problems and needed to go home to recover, and so her companion joined with us and we combined forces. It was so fun because our additional companion just added to the party but it was also crazy because we had stewardship over two areas at the same time. We were bouncing back and forth and doing lots of splits PLUS we had two exchanges last week so I had a total of four different companions throughout the week. This week Sister Allen is getting a permanent companion, though. I feel like I learned a lot about motherhood, probably. I don’t really know why but it seems like it.

The three of us went to a doctor’s appointment for one of us and we introduced ourselves to the NP: “Sister Asplund, Sister Anderson, Sister Allen.” She said, “Oh, I didn’t think you looked like sisters but now I see the resemblance in your smiles” and we had to explain that we were not biological sisters but rather Sisters in Christ (cue my new fave Gladys Knight song). It was kind of beautiful though because the joy of the gospel, manifest in our smiles, is the resemblance that we have to one another as sisters in Christ despite our many differences (for example, Sister Allen is six feet tall! Seriously!). When I’m with lots of missionaries I do see a resemblance in the brightness of their smiles. Happy are we!
On our way out of the doctor’s office the three of us walked onto an elevator with two ladies who appeared to be Amish or perhaps Mennonite, with their beautifully made dresses and their hair covered. We chatted politely and as the five of us stepped off the elevator I could see many people on the crowded floor stifling giggles. I felt like I was in a joke. Also felt like I was in a joke when we had to stop the car this morning and wait for a chicken to finish crossing the road.
On Tuesday we had zone training. We got to instruct four times. Well, once for the whole group and then three of the same instructions in a row for smaller breakout groups. We talked about Ammon and being area-changers. During the instruction I quoted our wise mission president and of course I wanted to do him justice using his own voice so I did my best President Christiansen impersonation. Afterward our extra-stern zone leader got up and took out his white handbook and said, “One clarification, page 90 of the white handbook states that we are not to do sarcastic impersonations of our mission president…” just to be clear, the white handbook says no such thing. I just heard that zone leader’s companion on the phone with President saying, “Hey have you heard Sister Asplund’s impression of you?” He has.
After zone training I got to return to my beloved Charles Town with exchanges with the other Sister Anderson! Oh my, we had so much fun. They are amazing sisters. As we were walking, the spirit told me that one of my favorite families would have a referral for us. I was suspicious of this prompting because I was worried that I just wanted to go see them, but I obeyed anyway. As we were talking, I asked how their missionary efforts are going and the mom in the family said, “Actually, my friend’s daughter just told my friend that she wants to join the Mormon church one day!” and of course we sent the missionaries right over.
The next day we went on exchanges with the sisters in the Berryville ward. Sister Wingo is a brand new missionary but she is one of those pre-trained sisters. She’s so good. We had a great time. In the morning we went for a walk in an “enchanted forest” near their home, we visited a jolly fellow with a big white beard who showed us a scrapbook full of pictures of him in his Santa suit posing with little kids at the mall. We also went to talk to a fellow and he said, “As soon as I saw you I knew you were good church girls. Wait, no, I mean good church women.” Thanks buddy. That’s correct.
On Friday we had dinner with our Bishop and his wife and one of our investigators. It was Canada Day and they are both Canadian. I was in heaven. They had Canadian flag napkins, coasters that said, “eh!” on them, and for dessert Bishop cut out red Jell-O maple leaves to top slices of white cake dolloped with vanilla pudding. It was perfect.
Saturday brought Erica’s baptism! I forgot to get pictures but it was wonderful. She is in the Charles Town ward and I taught her a few times on exchanges. We brought our investigator who is about Erica’s age and she just loved it. It was a sweet experience. This girl’s family all got baptized a few weeks ago and she needed a little more time so her dad, a brand-new priesthood holder, got to baptize his daughter. It was also such a blessing to be able to see all my old friends from Charles Town congregated together. I got hugged so much. I felt like a freshly squeezed orange, in a really good way of course.
Usually President Christiansen writes us general conference-length emails about gospel topics every Monday. They’re great. Last week we had none, here’s what he said about it via text: “Dear Fellow Servants, Some of you have noticed that there is no email in your inbox today from me. This has met with varying degrees of jubilation and even some relief. However, please do not be too hasty in your celebration. The email was written and sent yesterday (or should I say very early this morning. It took me a considerable amount of time I might add) and the illustrious electronic fairies that decide whether to cause trouble in the Ethernet have put a bug in IMOS-I don’t know what that stands for, it’s what mission presidents have to use to send an email. Anyway, the email may be lost, for that matter every mission president that sent an email yesterday would be experiencing this same misfortune. At least that’s what I was told. It’s just possible that my email is being reviewed by a censorship committee somewhere to determine whether the doctrine is correct. I’m crossing my fingers that they find it. I’ll let you know if it ever surfaces. My wife says she hopes it does. She said it was the best one yet. Not sure about that, but if it’s lost nobody would know the difference and she makes me feel great at the same time. It makes one wonder if the lost 116 pages were really that good? Who knows the Lord may have thought, ‘I’ve really got to find a way to get rid of this part without making Lehi feel bad? I don’t know- just saying. Well, have a great preparation day and just know I was thinking about you very early this morning when I completed and sent the ‘lost Weekly Letter from President Christiansen’. Love you, President”
That was a text message!! What the heck?
Finally, here’s a sentiment the Spirit gave me during the sacrament yesterday: “Bread to make me whole and water to make me clean.”
I love you siblen! 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601! Write me πŸ™‚
Love,
Sister Triple-A