revelations

What does the last week in a mission look like? A lot like the other weeks in a mission. We worked, we prayed, we laughed a lot and cried a little or whatever.On Tuesday we had my last zone training. I instructed, but the night before our zone leaders told us that this instruction would be a representation of everything I had learned on my mission. I was all nervous and felt a lot of pressure but it was ok. At the end our zone leaders, who know very well how emotional I get, asked me and the other departing missionary in the zone to bear our testimony, promising frozen yogurt to the person who cried the least. Surprising to literally everyone, I held it together whereas Elder Anderson got all choked up. I don’t know if the zone leaders will really get me frozen yogurt.

Midweek we had a wonderful visitor from the Charles Town ward, someone Sister Feinga and I used to serve with. She brought us to this wonderful Southern restaurant. They gave me pulled pork AND ribs on the same platter. My mission has given me a real Southern angle. Sister Feinga is new to American culture so I’ve been teaching her about what the South is. We also got a few cupcakes.
Thursday one of the sisters we have stewardship over in the field had a birthday so we had her over for lunch. It was so fun. We cooked for her and had a floor picnic because we only have two chairs. We put a candle in some banana bread we had around. I love working with other sisters. They are so sweet and sincere and easy to love.
That evening we were walking around our neighborhood when a police officer pulled over next to us. He said, “Are you two the ones we got called about?” Every once in a while someone gets really steamed that we come by and call the police so I said maybe… he said, “We got a description of two extremely intoxicated white females walking around” Obviously only one of us is white and neither of us were extremely intoxicated. I was like, “Oh no, we are super sober right now actually!” and he drove away. Afterwards we walked by a house with a young man sitting outside. We contacted him and he invited us on to the porch. There were a couple of young ruffians sitting around, they offered us a beer and then our friend said, “Wait. Don’t start. I gotta get everyone else.” He ran inside, said, “Hey we’re having church!!!” and brought out a whole crew of other people and they all sat around kind of giggling. Finally CJ, the drunkest and highest one of them all, came out. He was so shocked and confused. “Is this **** real?!” he asked. I told him, “Oh, this is as real as it gets.” He was pretty sure we were having an intervention. At the end we invited them to pray. CJ did the dap??? is that what it’s called??? and said, “Dear God, I’m thankful for marijuana.” I didn’t really know what to say. His friends were like, “You need help, bro! You need Jesus more than the rest of us!” I think we all need Jesus. A lot.
Saturday was awesome because we had a stake Relief Society activity. Keep in mind, our stake includes my very first area, so I got to see all my cute little buddies from years hence, including one of my very first converts!! Oh I loved it. We ate bread sticks. We learned about creating a heavenly home, of course. And I got so many back-cracking hugs from the sisters of Zion. I also got lots of back-cracking hugs on Sunday because our good bishop announced me and Elder Anderson’s departure. The sisters are so sweet. I taught gospel principles and we had a full house, and in the afternoon they gave me the cutest gifts– a book of poetry written by the sister in question, a hand-made quilt square with a bee on it, a lavalava from a Hawaiian sister. I love these ladies. I can’t keep writing or I’ll cry.
Finally, a chapter in which I can relate to Paul. I remember reading this before my mission and thinking it was true, but now it feels even truer. Acts 20:17-24: “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.” and then verses 37-38 describes what Wednesday will be like, “And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.”
See you on the dock. And if I had to give you any advice, it would be this: go serve a mission.
Eternal hugs and eternal handshakes,
Sister Asplund
PS: We’re watching the RM right now. You can tell we’re all kind of starved for entertainment because everyone is actually laughing at all the jokes.
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blessings

The Lord is keeping us busy these days. I love it. Sometimes busy in the sense of swimming through the humid air but also in the sense of everything else you could think of. For example:
On Tuesday we had exchanges with the Woodstock sisters. It was a great experience. Sister Collins and I got along famously, we were just like old friends. I got to witness the power of spiritual goal-setting during this exchange. Sometimes it will just be hard to find new investigators for a little while and the poor sisters had been experiencing such a trial. We always make goals preparatory to our exchanges and Sister Collins made the goal that she wanted to find a new investigator. Because we had that goal in mind and had made a commitment to it, we were both able to receive divine help and grace and also we changed our behavior based on our faith. When we make a good goal that we are really committed to, it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy. I suppose I’ve seen this principle work in reverse on my mission as well. When I have really low expectations I usually am not likely to do much about them. Anyway, you’re probably wondering if we found the new investigator. Of course we did! She is awesome! Sister Collins gave her a great review of the Book of Mormon. It’s amazing how working and pushing a little extra can lift a discouraged missionary’s spirits.
We always learn so much about exchanges so we were able to carry that principle back to our area. The day after exchanges we both felt prompted that there were two people out there for us to begin teaching. We were going hard all day but to little avail. In the evening we had a lesson we were so excited about but instead the family we were visiting dropped us. It was so sad. It was around 8:30 and we still hadn’t found the two new investigators we promised we would find. We drove past the house of someone we had been trying to visit for a long time and I saw a light on upstairs so we screeched to a stop, turned around, and knocked on their door. Two young ladies opened, let us right in, and we taught them! It was awesome.
We also had Mission Leadership Council, oh it was so good. I can tell that I have grown so much in my ability to work well with other people on my mission. Especially elders. I used to dread being around them but not I always feel unified around other missionaries. They’re my buddies! Being able to get along with a diverse range of people, I think, is mostly a matter of humility. I have a long, long way to go in that aspect but missions are always humbling. Anyway I have a lot of respect for all the other missionaries, we have a great bunch. We divided up into zones (we have stewardship over two zones so our three companionships got together) and talked a lot about how to bring further progress to our areas. When I got to our zone the work was pretty slow but if my early weeks there I noticed a lot of people feeling like something great was about to happen. Well, something great is happening. It’s amazing here. On the way home I started to get really sad because it was my last MLC… so I cried. In front of the zone leaders. Poor guys. I was just sitting their crying and they were trying to be helpful without being inappropriate so they just played sympathetic-sounding music. It was good, they were doing their best. Then we talked about missionary work, that actually did help a lot.

We also got such a nice blast from the past. Cissy, our best friend from Cumberland, was in town getting surgery on her back. We stopped by the hospital to visit, it was so nice. She was a little groggy but she is wonderful. It is so sweet to see people who you developed love for by serving together.
As we were walking away from an appointment this week, we ran into someone we had taught briefly, then passed off to the elders. They taught him once but he didn’t really hold interest. When we walked by, he called to us and invited us onto his porch. He said, “I just need some help. Come talk to me.” We shared a little from the Book of Mormon and invited him to church. He got so excited. We texted the elders and told them to go by the next day and they did. They were like, “What did you do with Michael?! He was so excited. We’ve never seen him like that.” Obviously we didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, he was the one who changed though the spiritual gravity that Christ’s Atonement has, drawing us all near to Him. There were three of us visiting Michael, me (24), Sister Feinga (20), and Melissa (16). Michael apparently said something about “the young one” and something said teenager did… and we figured out that he was definitely talking about me. Come on.
Some blessings I was able to witness: on Sunday morning, there I was sitting on the back pew, when in walked our investigator with her entire family. She even talked her husband into coming. Honestly, when an investigator walks into sacrament meeting they just look like an angel. There is no sweeter sight. They all stayed all three hours and they loved it. Okay, there is one sight sweeter: someone dressed in white preparing to make promises with God that will change their eternal destiny. A few months back we met a fellow named Tony on the street. He was a warm, jolly guy and we sent his information to some nearby sisters and quickly forgot about it… until we found out that he had scheduled his baptism. We saw him walk out of his baptismal interview all happy and glowing last week and then on Thursday we got to peek in on his baptismal service. How wonderful. I remember almost walking by him because he looked busy working on his car. Little did I know that he was ready to change his life.
I love the work. I love the Lord. I love you.
Hugs and handshakes,
Chastity (some fellow honestly thought that was my name this week… serves me right for dressing like a nun)
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PS: me and the Feing are matching aw

smoky mountain of the lord

I’ll start out with the highlight of my week! On Friday We had a temple trip for the departing-ish missionaries. Don’t worry, I still have a few weeks 🙂 We started out going to Mission BBQ, which of course is an important place for every missionary due to its name and due to their selection of geographically-themed barbecue sauces. My favorite are the “Memphis Belle” and the “Smoky Mountain” (which is the West Viriginia-themed one). We had a wonderful session together and afterward we got to sit with President and gather together and ask him all the questions we have about life and the gospel. I thought my brain was going to explode. I also may have cried like a baby in the Celestial Room and then all the other sisters started crying. Oops. On the way home we pulled the giant 12 seat van over and President ran into Trader Joe’s and bought us all weird vegetable juice and kombucha. I made him get regular lemonade juice boxes too. We ended the night with pizza. The temple trip counted as our exchange with Front Royal. Me and my bud Sister Walker enjoyed a reunion for that time. It was wonderful.
On Tuesday we had our other exchange. We also had an awesome district meeting. We practice teaching a lot but it’s funny, even when we’re fake teaching I feel the real spirit. It was pretty magical. We have this awesome new sister who is just such a natural at missionary work. She was teaching and afterward our zone leader was like, “Man, she made me feel like a DEACON. I feel like I don’t know ANYTHING.” Good. Anyway we had such a nice time with our sisters in Shenandoah Valley. I was with Sister Allen, who was our companion for a week that one time. It was so nice! Oh she’s great. I look up to her so much.
Sister Feinga gave such a great talk on Sunday on the Atonement. It was a really cool Sunday. We have this awesome investigator who came to church. She brought one daughter who is about ten but her other daughter was 13 and she just felt self-conscious and nervous about coming in. We went out before the meeting to invite her in but she didn’t want to come. During the sacrament, the spirit told me that if I went out to the parking lot and invited her to come sit in the foyer, that she would agree. Especially because it was 1,000 degrees outside and church was nice and cool. She came in and seemed to really enjoy it and toward the end of the service she looked up at the painting of the first vision and started asking me about it. It was so sweet.
On Thursday we had a great day! We got lots of fresh produce from the gardens of our neighbors and we went to an awesome meeting with our stake leaders. It was so cool. We have an amazing stake leadership here. Our RS president was there too and she gave such a sweet testimony about missionary work. She was like, “We love our girls” :> Oh… and Thursday was my 18 month mark. What???
I’ve been thinking a lot about faith this week. Faith moves us to act. When we believe that something is really possible, we do things differently. I don’t know why this took my so long to realize. We often speak of how faith can impact missionary work for the better. It’s because it changes our behavior! That’s really basic but I just never figured it out until just now.
I love you my beans! Write me at 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA  22601.
Hugs and handshakes,
Mister Applesauce (as a little kid called me)

i love to see the temple

This week we had an adorable third companion who was our mini missionary! Little Melissa. She loved it. We had such a nice time cruising around accomplishing the work of salvation. We put her on an air mattress and she said things like “Y’all pray too much” but she got to liking it in the end. She came to join us on Sunday and we parted ways on Friday. It was honestly sooo nice to have an extra buddy there. Most of the week was me clowning around trying to entertain her and Sister Feinga and them just laughing at/with me. It was a good time.
On Tuesday we went to district meeting in Charles Town for exchanges. It was the best. I took Sister Botchway back to Winchester and we had kind of an emotional rollercoaster of a day. We went to out absolute most solid investigator and she dropped us kind of brutally while she was cleaning cat vomit off of the sofa. We left and poor Sister Botchway was so kind and cried with me so I wouldn’t have to cry alone. This is exactly what friends are for. After we pulled ourselves together we went to our next lesson with an awesome couple who is friends with the family we are teaching. When we got to their house, the sister we wanted to teach wasn’t home, as her two young adult-aged sons told us. I said, “Well… we’re here and you’re here… can we share a message with you?” and we did! It was pretty amazing. They were feeling it. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
This week we had the great blessing of going to the temple twice! The first day it was our semi-annual mission temple trip. It was amazing. I needed it so much. We drove down with a wonderful and good sister and our trip happened to fall on the day of the sealing of a young couple in our ward. We saw them greet each other in the hallway and step on to the elevator together to travel up to be sealed in marriage. I watched the doors close on her happy, glowing face. So fun. I’m such a sucker for weddings. We also visited their reception. Pink, red, and gold. Lots of burlap 🙂
On Friday we took our brand new convert to do baptisms for the dead at the temple! It was amazing. Recently our mission boundaries got realigned and the temple is in the DC North Mission, which received some of our missionaries. I walked into the visitor’s center at the temple and was tackled by a sister I went to the MTC with and whom I have been close with our whole missions. It was so sweet. The temple always ends up being a place of reunion and I believe it always will be. This event was so cool. There were some seminars for all the youth in the stake about doing missionary work using technology and then we all did baptisms for the dead! Oh, it was wonderful to be within the temple. There is such a peace there. As we were leaving, our convert was like, “It looks just like a castle here. I’m going to call it the castle. I’m going to miss this castle.” It’s the palace of the King of Kings, of course!
On Sunday we were walking around in the incredible heat feeling so extra dehydrated when we stopped by a sister in the ward. She was sitting by her pool where lots of her posterity was frolicking. She hasn’t been to church in a long while so she isn’t 100% familiar with our quirky little missionary rules but she was like, “Oh, I have extra swimsuits, would you like to borrow one and jump in the pool. That’s exactly what we wanted. But there was something we wanted even more, which was to obey. There will be time enough to jump in a pool later. It really was tempting though, the cool water splashing invitingly. We had to get us hence pretty quickly.
Also… a Sister Feinga fact: she and her little sister have the same first name?!?!?!?!!!! Sister Feinga goes by her middle name so her mom wanted one of the kids to actually go by her mom’s name so she had to recycle. My mind is honestly still blown.
Finally on Sunday! Our fresh new convert Traci was confirmed. She’s amazing. I love her so much and I was filled with an unspeakable joy to see her receive the greatest gift of all. Sometimes a missionary faces rejection and temptation in a week but it’s all worth it, always. The brother confirming her said that there were many on the other side of the veil who were cheering that day because of what she was going to do for them. So cool. Family history is so cool. Being able to have a relationship with those who have passed on is so cool. I love the gospel.
Write me ~~~ 841 Thomas Ct. #57, Winchester VA 22601
Love,
Sister Super Star
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“your hair looks like a coconut tree”

The most important thing that happened this week was that Nakia received the gift of the Holy Ghost! The unspeakable gift, as we call it. It’s a wonderful, beautiful experience. I had been so stressed out all morning about many of the people we were teaching, getting to church on time, participating in our meetings, etc. But then the time came in sacrament meeting for Nakia to be called up. We walked her to the front of the chapel and shepherded her to the chair (she was nervous about walking up in front of everyone. Can’t blame her tbh) and then seated ourselves upon the front pew. Immediately I felt a complete peace and all the stress of the morning melted away. I just felt good as if I had received a priesthood blessing myself. She was blessed many times over with desire: desire to study the scriptures, desire to pray, desire to keep the commandments. It reminded me of the power that our desire has over our lives. After church we had a beautiful linger longer. We lingered longer. In addition to Nakia, another new convert was confirmed in sacrament meeting. I talked with him afterward. I noticed that he had been a lot more vocal than usual during our small Sunday school class so I asked him, “Do you feel any different?” he said, “Usually it takes me so long to get used to new people but today I was just talking!” It was kind of cool.
Sister Feinga also had a great experience this week because a sister she taught in her last area was baptized. Her companion from that area was also transferred nearby so they came to Winchester, we traded companions for the day, Sister Tillitson and I had a great time together for a few hours! In the morning Sister Feinga and I had kind of a cool experience: we were walking around because we were all out of miles when we passed by this person’s house. I was bemoaning how unproductive our lack of car for the day made us but of course the spirit proved us wrong. There were some kids sitting on the porch and we asked them if their parents were home. They were! We taught her mom about the restoration and she invited us back.
Sometimes little cute things happen. For example:
– we were walking around and found some very old people playing Pokemon Go because “they just like goin on a walk”
– we passed by a meadow full of queen anne’s lace and we just had to frolic. Pictures to follow.
– we visited a family who just had four TINY kittens get born to them and I put all of them in my lap during our lesson. They also had some older kittens. They gave all except 1 away and I put that one in my lap too and it was licking the other ones 🙂 then it became determined to sit on my shoulder and on my quad. Perfect kitten-present lesson.
We also had fun times with other missionaries this week. We had zone training and exchanges in Berryville. We also had a zone leadership council with our local zone leaders and district leaders. I said, “would it be helpful to you all if we counseled about appropriate ways for you elders to support your sister missionaries?” They all said, “YES WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE ARE DOING” which is correct. I said, “Go ahead and greet your sisters when you see them. That is all you have to do. It’s very simple. Just say hi and say their name.” One of them has a very quiet and aloof type of personality and he was worried that he would just be scarier if he said hi to everyone. I had to tell him, “Elder, you will be less intimidating if you talk to people.” Everyone snickered. I was just trying to say a true thing, not put anyone down or anything. Anyway it reminded me that sometimes discipleship is about doing things that are a little bit contrary to our nature. It’s a fun gospel paradox because as we become more like the Savior, we reach toward a more authentic version of who we are meant to be. This article kind of applies too: https://www.lds.org/new-era/2015/08/the-gospel-and-your-personality?lang=eng
As Mosiah 3 teaches us, we all have a “natural man” (our lower self, perhaps) but we also have the potential to “become a saint.” There is nothing wrong or inauthentic about growing and changing if we are becoming the person we were made to become: a saint. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
This week we also saw this principle when we invited our investigator to pray. This fellow told us that he has “probably broken every commandment.” He has a past as a sniper in the military, then he was a skinhead for a while, then he got married, then divorced and for a while he was a Wiccan high priest now he’s living with his friend and our investigator. His tattoos tell the whole story. Anyway, we invited him to pray and he was so nervous but I just felt that we should be a tiny bit persistent. Finally he agreed to. He told us it was the first time he had ever prayed out loud. He offered such a sincere and humble prayer and the spirit flooded the room and I saw the great potential he had. A former addiction recovery missionary offered a really simple comment inSunday school when he said, “It’s never too late. There is always hope.” It’s true! There is always and only ever hope in Jesus Christ.
I love you and I hope to hear from you. 841 Thomas Ct #57, Winchester VA 22601. Blessings.
Sister Applesass
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