Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spiritual Vegetables: 2/24/2014

There's lots of things that I could write about from this week. I could write about how we celebrated Sister Wood's birthday, how we helped at Ryder's Birthday, and how we celebrated the day after. I could write about how we got Jennifer to come to game night. I could write about how Sister Wood has been sick with the flu and I miraculously didn't catch it. I could write about how we watch every church DVD known to man while she was sick. I could write about how I used the recorder my mom sent me to document a full day. I could write about how we now have a recording of us knocking on a wrong door for dinner. I could write about our awesome lesson with Julie Taylor. I could write about a lot of things. However, I want to write about a problem we face a lot.

To preface this, you need to know a story from my childhood: My parent's rule is if you said you didn't like something, you ate it at every meal until you sincerely said you liked it with a smile on your face. We quickly learned you either keep your mouth shut and eat it or just say you like it. However, there was one thing Katie and I couldn't hold in. Our hatred for cucumbers. Just writing that, I actually gagged a little. we complained once. The next night we complained again. We ate cucumbers at every meal for about a month. Maybe I am exaggerating, but in kid days it felt like years. Then we started to learn. I would say with a grossed out face "yeah mom, I really love cucumbers" and she would say "you aren't saying it with a smile on your face and you aren't being sincere". The next night I said it with a smile, but it wasn't sincere. It was the greatest acting experience of my life when I mustered all the strength I had to say sincerely with a smile on my face that I loved cucumbers . I'm sure my mom and dad knew I still disliked them, but they didn't force me to eat anymore cucumbers.

Even though this little experience usually worked for us to be okay with all foods. Even though I originally just disliked eating cucumbers, to this day I gag when I even think about eating cucumbers and it even turned into not being able to eat pickles. 

In ward council we discussed a lady that we are working with who grew up in the church but has since fallen away and the only way I could think of to explain her experience was, "I think her parents forced her to eat eat her vegetables without ever really explaining what they do for her and it's left a bitter taste in her mouth. But now that she has a kid, she wants him to have the same nourishment she did but she doesn't want to give him the same experience she had."

Luckily everyone there knew exactly what I was talking about. There are so many spiritual and temporal benefits from religion and church. However, we work with so many, so so many people whose parents shoved religion down their throat while not explaining the benefits and usually not providing the best examples of eating vegetables themselves. They would get slapped if they didn't say their prayers. They would get yelled at and spanked for resisting going to church. And it left them with a bitter taste in their mouth, similar to my dislike of cucumbers. But they see the benefit looking back and a lot of them want it for their kids. 

Although I still think that forcing us to eat cucumbers was a form of child torture, I am so incredibly grateful that my parents taught me the importance of eating my vegetables. I am so glad that my mom always said "Testimony first, and then the little things will fall into place and be easy". That instead of inflicting the rules of religion, my mom and dad taught the importance of religion and trusted me to make the right decisions. 

I'm grateful for the knowledge I have of Christ and his mission on earth. I'm grateful for the faith I have in him and his ability to strengthen me. I'm grateful for his authority to act in his name that has been re-established on this earth and the blessings that come with it. 

Because this is a problem we face so frequently, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on it. Now for some fun things. My dad asked that I put a picture in every email.

This is us at our hotel room (the blue siding) and it's great because it really shows just how close the brothels are and if you look closely, before the brothels you can see the train tracks.

The this is in Metropolis. We were early for dinner because the lady that calls us her gypsies wasn't home. There's actually a funny story there but I'm running out of time. So we decided to use our time to drive the Metropolis stretch. When we got to the end, the sun was setting and we had time so we took pictures (the funniest being when sister wood says "let's do something cool and I just sit in the road and instead of cool it was just incredibly awkward). I just can't get over the simple beauty of Nevada. I remember driving through and thinking it was ugly before. But the miles and miles of flat land with the crisp mountains that look like they are photo shopped in. I can't get over it. Anyway. So I found this gnarly bush/tree and thought it was awesome so I got a picture with it.

Hope you all had a great week! Love you!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Both Spiritual and Weird: 2/17/14

It has been such a good week! Our biggest problem in Wells right now is that there is too much to do! That is the best problem I could think of. Wells has NEVER had this many investigators or less actives coming back. A lady who was visiting and gave me a referral said, "For the past 100 years there has been a curse on this land and you two have broke it."
Nothing moves fast in Wells, but there are a lot of people moving slowly.
This week has by far been the funniest. By Wednesday we've had enough mission stories to last us a lifetime. I'll try to keep it to the highlights:

-We trudged through mud to get a ladies house that we had an appointment with. She was tired so we rescheduled. Then we walked back through the mud swamp and her muddy dogs wouldn't stop jumping on us. We keep pointing and saying down, but they did NOT listen. Eventually we gave up and decided to just take pictures. hahaha

then I went to put my bag in the back seat after opening up the front. I turn my back for two seconds and I hear "noooo!" i turn around and THE DOG WAS IN THE CAR!!! putting his muddy prints all over. Sister Wood yells at it "get out you stupid dog!" and it gets scared and PEES ON MY SEAT!!!!

I've been riding around on a towel. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a horrible situation. This is our life in wells. Always.

This picture doesn't even do it justice....

- Later that night we had dinner with Lynda Hansen. She made us CHINESE NEW YEAR!!!! We decided instead of the Year of the Horse, it was now the year of the Walrus. and we took picture when Sister Hansen wasn't looking!

-We went to a catholic funeral. Situational irony.     Actually, it was good we were there. Jennifer was sitting alone and we were able to help comfort her. The catholic Priest thanked us for being there to support jennifer and we thanked him for the service. 

-One of the ladies there at the luncheon invited us to come discuss religion. We asked her what her religion was and she goes, "Oh, I'm a wicken."    Me and sister wood just look at each other and luckily keep our composure. But once we left and got in the car, we laughed. "OUR NEW INVESTIGATOR IS A WICKEN!!!!!!!!" 

-We have the Sister Training leaders come down and do splits. They declared Wells the most interesting exchanges!

-TWICE on valentine's day we get these vague, scary texts asking us to COME NOW! and we were like AHHHH! We get there "what's wrong! what's up!" and then they are like "HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!" One time it was the uhligs and we took valentine's day picture with our friend Dusty. She made us pose like this.

-We got our transfer calls. The zone leaders make a big deal about it and ask us to get out pen and paper. In shock because we were sure they would keep us at least one more transfer. Sister wood.... you have been asked to serve in the wells ward! We all laugh and roll our eyes. We start to say goodbye. Then "wait no, sister golding..." My heart is in my throat. I was on the verge of tears. "yes" "you have been asked to serve...... (deep breath) in the wells area." They are the worst.

In other news. This has been our best week yet!

we have 3 new investigators from this week alone! There have been so many wonderful moments with people we have been working with for a while as well as new people we met. The Lord is truly preparing people for us to meet and help. After going on exchanges (where Sister Wood and I were split up with different Sisters) it just became more and more obvious that Sister Wood and I have specifically been sent here for a reason and we are able to get in and touch the hearts of those we teach in a way that other missionaries can't. It's been fun to see. 

A Week of Miracles: 2/10/14

So before I start and get all serious. Here are the results from the poll.
Spaying 53.8% knew what it was
Heffer 76.9% knew what this was.

I feel less completely worthless! Yeah It's removing the ovaries of baby female cows. We did not do that service project....

Okay, I've been SOOOOO good at keeping in my rude comments in. SO GOOD! but I slipped this week.

Luckily it was a part member/ less active family who thought it was funny. We visited the Hunt family but the mom (whose not a member) was sick. While we left we were saying that we would love to help her. and I started to say "you know if you need us to make you soup or run to the store to get you toilet paper or something. We will be there" and the 6 year old son (who loves me, but he's a handful) starts jumping and yelling as we walk away "oooh ooh! I need toilet paper! I need toilet paper!!!!!" and just turn to him and say "oh yeah? Is that because your full of crap?" Sybil just dies laughing and I'm like "oh.. I mean. I'm a missionary!"

Other funny moments/quotes:

"Don't eat healthy, it makes your pee smell funny"

There is a referral we've been trying to set up a second appointment with and we see him carrying in his groceries and he has a gimp foot so..
Sister wood: can we help you carry in you groceries?
Paul: You know you ladies are really nice and all, but I'm just not a church-y guy. I'm sorry.
sister wood: Well, we know you have a hurt foot. We could still help you carry in your groceries
Paul: That's beside the point.               (haahhaha. What?)
Sister Wood: um... ok bye!

We knocked over a vase of fake flowers in our sketchy hotel and this white powder stuff falls out and spills all over Sister Wood shoe. We talked to our ward mission leader about how we are 80% sure it's someones drug stash and he says "Just snort it and see what happens!"

The strangest request: "do you mind talking to me while I'm pooping? I'm a chatty pooper."

Now for Miracles:

To start off. Last week the ward and stake fasted for rain and for moisture. Be careful what you fast for. that stuff works. It has not stopped raining or snowing for days!

Jennifer Stapleton. We met her at Marge's funeral (lost and found week). She said I'm catholic but we asked for service and ended up giving her our number. Well, we got referred to her this week from Church headquarters/Referral system this week because her mom died (who we also met and have talked to around town. she was really a nice lady). The only family Jennifer had in town was her mom and she's taken it very rough. This is not the miracle. What is the miracle though is that we couldn't get a hold of her so we left a sticky note on her door to call us if she needs someone to talk to or any help and she called! She felt comfortable enough with us from the 20 minutes we talked that she felt like she could rely on us in this time of need. We are helping her with the funeral and as emotional support right now. she kept saying "I only met you once! you only met my mom once! I can't believe how much I need you and how much I feel close to you!" I don't know how the catholic church is going to feel about us being there for the service to help Jennifer, but I know she needs us right now.

-Our neighbor/potential investigator is moving to Iowa. We've been bummed. But they contacted us and really really want to have a lesson with us before they go. Since they are also our friends they invited us to their family dinner/get together. There we met the Hunts and Sybil also really wants to be there for Mary and Jacks lesson! That lesson is tonight. We are so nervous. We have one shot!

-Wednesday we tried and tried to contact people. We knocked on doors for 5 hours with no one answering until finally Amy let us in! They are another Part member family and she now LOVES us. She invited us to come to her sons birthday party next monday for cake! and we are seeing them on thursday!

-Nevada's Funeral: Indian funerals are crazy! there was 90+ people there. Funerals are not good. I don't rejoice in people dying. But we were helping with the set up and serving food and we ran into so many people that we have met and continue building relationships with the town. Gypsie lady found us and wanted to introduce us to her entire family! It wasn't good, but it was good we were there.

-Hallie: she is financially burdened and talked to us about how selling a necklace was the difference between having milk for the week or not. How their fridge currently has pickles and that's it in it. We had been praying for a way to help her. Then the funeral had tons of leftovers and we gave her a big package of food!

-Julie came to church this week! We haven't been able to get ahold of her for two weeks and have been so bummed because she seemed so interested. We knew she was busy but we figured since she hadn't replied to our 4 text messages she was done. I've been praying and praying that she would just come to church. Then five minutes late, She shows up. Waves at us and sits down. gives me a side hug! She really wants the lessons and to learn more, but hasn't found a time. We told her we can break them up into smaller lessons and she was like "OHHH! Come by Thursday then!" 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Getting Used to This: 2/3/14

OKAY! I'm doing a poll. You HAVE to reply to this email. You just have to answer in yes/no format to the question without looking it up. (
1) Do you know what Spaying is
2) Do you know what a heffer (possibly heifer)  is?

Because I didn't and they made fun of me at dinner!

Here's the letter

I think I'm finally in the swing of things. I've stopped thinking of day as hard or easy days. It's just what we do and they are just days. Well, I mean they are good days! This week has been good.
So Tuesday was our "Special mission training" and it would have been the whole mission if we went 9+hours so it was just a third of our mission. We thought it was going to be the Ipads/Iphone training. It wasn't :(

unimportant side note: I gave the AP (assistant to the president) a really hard time about pronouncing my name wrong for introducing me at the new missionary orientation the first day. It came to bite me in the butt. We were doing role plays and even though I was covering my name tag with my hair the AP remembered my name and we got called up to be the missionaries in the role play in front of a whole third of the mission! It ended really good. At the end one of the missionaries went really loudly "BAM!" and they mostly had really nice compliments. 

Throughout the training, the mission president was pulling companionship out for interviews. As the companions walk back in from their interviews many of them were in tears. So we were like shoot.... what is happening.
So we get pulled in. We were scared and...... the president loves us. Minus a few questions he just couldn't stop praising us! He told us some of the stuff that lead to the area being shut down and said "I knew I had to send in two strong sisters to reopen the area" 

In my head I was flattered but also like "um, you knew me for two minutes max before you assigned me here"

He then told us that Wells is historically the hardest area in the mission and that the mission average for lessons taught per week is 17 and we have been meeting and excelling the average!

I mean.. not to toot my own horn, but it was just really nice to hear.

Other Funny Stories:

Gypsies: We went to visit an inactive member in "Metropolis". We pull up at this ranch unsure if it's the right place as always. And three dogs come up to the door. I turn to Sister woods and say "woah there are a lot of dogs! One, two,three...." as I count more and more dogs run up to the car. Some big, some small. By the end there were 15 dogs surrounding our car and more in sight! Sister woods cracks open the door and I scream "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!" and she replies "I'm seeing if they are going to bite!" as she sticks out her arm because.. you know.. who needs and left hand anyway. Then they start licking her. they were all nice. some even jumped in the car and we had to guide them out. When all the dogs had gone to sister woods side, I got out on my side and started walking to the shed/house door. Sister wood eventually escapes the dogs and walks up with me. We knock. No one answers. 
We knew it was the first ranch on the left, but there were three houses on the ranch! So I say "let's go try another door." "But theres a fence and a river/steam in the way. How do we get there. I walk over and say "oh! look there's an opening!" sister Wood comes up to the break in the fence and says "uhmm.. I don't think we are suppose to be over here" I reply "no look! there's a bridge"
So picture this: we stole through this open field and over this rickety run down log bridge with about 12 dogs in tow.
As we walk up to the more friendly house an older Indian woman opens the door (before we get there) with the harshest confused look on her face says "who are you? what do you want!" and we just reply with big smiles "Hi! We are the new sister missionaries. We are going around meeting everyone in the ward!" she replies still a little confused "oh. I thought yall were GYPSIES! You can come in for a few minutes I guess..." So we walk in. She obviously wants us to leave a quick blurb and get out. Then Sister Wood asked if she played the grand piano that was in the front room. She harshly replies "no! do you?" Sister wood is an amazing pianist and replies "yes." Eva cuts her off and says "well. play"
Sister Wood builds talks up her abilities and then starts playing chopsticks to which me and eva stiffle our laughs but then she transitions into "white Water Chopsticks"
As the music filled the room. Evas face was full of amazement and wonder. She was filled with joy. By the end of the musical number Eva was on the phone with her son (who lived in the house we originally knocked on) "Snuffy! you have to come over. These ladies came traipsin' though the feild--I was scared because I thought they were Gypsies-- but they came in and one of them plays the pianer. You have to come over!"
Next thing we know. Her nonmember son, a less active guy we had been trying to get ahold of a few days earlier, and Eva who had turned missionaries away for years and us were talking in her house for two hours!

Paul: We get a voicemail from paul when we leave metrropolis (because we don't get cell service in metropolis) asking us to meet with him the next day. We assume it's our investigator! So we call him back all familiar like (really embarrassed looking back) and at the end of the conversation he goes "do you guys need the address?". Me and sister wood look at each other. We've been to his house before.... Sister wood replies "umm....Sure?". He gives us the address. He's a nonmember and he found our number because he heard we were in town and is trying to quit smoking to be baptized! So that happened!

I Make A Fool of Myself: So it was dinner with a Less active family. It started off bad. I went up to the son. HE LOOKED YOUNG! I SWEAR! and I knew the elementary and middle school were combined, but he was equidistant to wells and ruby valley so I asked "Do you go to the Wells elementary?"  He just looks at me with these puppy dog eyes and says "I go to the wells high school...." I felt so so so bad. Then we do have a good dinner and gospel discussion and at the end we ask for service... like always. The husband jokes with us "oh, you could come up to the ranch and help us on the 7th with spaying heffers. I rely What's that? They laugh. I go "but I'm serious!" and they explain what spaying is. I'm still confused so Sister wood just says... "i'll explain in the car." When I found out I said... "oh. I don't want to do that service" Sister Wood replies "me neither!" But if something happens in this town it gets spread around. People have been laughing about spaying heffers since Saturday night to now.

Not a Funny Story: We went to visit this lady who isn't a member and not interested but shes very lonely and calls us her only friends--she's one of our laundry mat lesson friends!-- so we love her and check up on her once a week. Yesterday Sister wood and I felt prompted to see her-which was weird because we were going to see her tomorrow. As we get pull up we see a girl enter one of the motel rooms, when we get out of the car we hear a crash and a cry "nooooo!" and a door desperately being flung open. I jump back in the car. Sister wood motions me to get out. So Jennifer comes outside (because she has a dangerous dog and she smokes) and we talk for a bit. We hear yelling down a few rooms. Jennifer blows it off as a fight with number 14 and 12. we talk for a few seconds then we hear "PLease! PLease stop!" and then we hear the girl being thrown against the wall and window and then a fist breaking the noise barrier and hitting human flesh. Jennifer goes "now that's domestic violence!" We hear more punching and throwing. I look at Jennifer and say "you need to get back inside and we need to leave and call the cops". We drive past the open door leaving. The man is standing in the door way. His eyes are black. and he starts yelling at us as we pull away. We call a cop. They went back to beating each other. Both had to be taken away in an ambulance. 

Without us being outside to overhear that.... I mean it was scary. But it is obvious that the Lord watches over his children and he put us there to call those cops and save that girl. It's made me sick to think that the only thing that was separating us from that much violence was a plexi-glass window and a motel curtain, a few feet, and an open door. I know the Lord was protecting us as well as that girl. As sister Wood said, "I've never prayed that hard for someone I didn't even know". We are both a little shaken, but we know our work is important and we are going to continue to be out in the right places at the right time.