“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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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 🙂 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 🙂


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 🙂
Love,
Sister Triple-A

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