Monday, July 29, 2013

Some Good Things, Not the Greatest

Thank you for all the letters. It really means a lot to me to hear how everyone is doing and what's going on back home.  

This week hasn't been the greatest. We've just really been struggling for some reason. We've been working hard, but not seeing a lot of success. Since we're low on miles and it's the end of the month we've been doing a lot of walking. My body isn't used to it, some days this week I've felt like an old woman. The biggest thing we've been struggling with is talking with everyone we see. I'm fine with knocking on someone's door, but I'm still not very good at just walking up to anyone we pass on the street. We've really been slacking in that area, and we've both repented and are going to be doing better at that this week. 

We also had a very frustrating experience on Saturday. We had an appointment to go back up to Eutawville to teach the referral we contacted last week. We called her in the morning to confirm that we could still come over, and she was fine with that. Then we found out that the member who was going to give us a ride couldn't make it. So we ran over to the church, where there was a pioneer day activity going on, to see if anyone could give us a ride. No one there was available. We called a bunch of other people, and finally the Relief Society president said she could take us out there. We drove out there, and no one answered the door, and she wasn't answering her phone. It was really frustrating, especially since we'd put in so much effort to get out there and we'd had to take the Relief Society president with us. One good thing did come out of it though- she invited us over for dinner. We had biscuits and gravy and fresh watermelon. It was so good. We've been getting a lot of farm produce from members lately. And one member raises chickens, so we have about 2 dozen fresh eggs in our fridge. I've been making omelets for breakfast, they're really good. 

We did get one really good referral from a member this week. A recent convert asked us to go see her friend. She's an older lady and she's going through a really rough patch with some of her kids. But we had a very nice visit with her and she invited us back anytime. Before we left she said "I feel like we've been friends for a long time," which made me feel really good. So some good things have happened this week. 

I love you and I miss you. Thanks for being so supportive of me. I'm trying my best. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Six Whole Weeks!

July 22, 2013

I can't believe it's already the end of my first transfer, and that I've been here in Moncks Corner for six weeks. Time has flown by, but it's amazing to look back and see how much has happened. The most amazing thing is to see the relationships that I've developed with people so quickly. I love the people here, especially the members. They're pretty awesome.

We've had a very good week, although there have definitely been highs and lows. Just about every day this week someone that we had planned to visit hasn't been available, so our plans have had to completely change, but somehow we always have ended up exactly where we needed to be. There have just been so many good moments this week where we've run into someone or gone to visit someone that needed us right then. For example, we went to visit a less active member, Sister Dehey, one night. Sister Winsor had written down a scripture that she wanted to share with her, but she wrote it down wrong and couldn't remember what it was. So she just pulled out her Book of Mormon, flipped to a random page, put her finger on a verse and read it. It was a verse in 3 Nephi, about the Nephites going to war, and when she first read it I thought "What can she do with that? How could that possibly apply to Sister Dehey?" But Sister Winsor talked a little bit about what the verse said, and then Sister Dehey said that she had really needed to hear that, and that it really applied to something she was dealing with at the moment. It was pretty cool.

We were also able to get out to Eutawville this Saturday. It's about a 45 minute drive from where we live and since we're pretty limited on miles we can't get out there unless a member takes us, and luckily someone was willing to. We had a referal from that we needed to contact. Going all the way out there made me realize how huge our area is. I've probably only been to about 35% of our area, it's so big. Eutawville is an interesting place. It kind of reminded me of a country version of the Bronx, if that makes sense. It's kind of run down and we were basically the only white people there. Luckily we were able to catch the referral at home, another huge miracle, and she was interested in hearing more so we're going back next week. Sister Morris, the member we went with, took us to get ice cream afterward. There's a really good ice cream place, called The Twirl. Sister Morris says next week after the appointment we're getting hamburgers there. I'm looking forward to it.

It has been so rainy here. Wednesday night we had a particularly bad storm just as we were heading home for dinner. It was raining so hard it was like we were driving underwater. We could not see at all. I was so glad Sister Winsor was driving. I think driving in a rain storm like that is way worse than driving in a blizzard. We had stopped at a fast food place, Zaxbys, and were going to go home and eat, but when we were almost to our apartment, there was a big tree lying across the road and on the power lines. So we went to the church instead. The church parking lot was basically a lake. But luckily it cleared up about an hour later.

It's great to hear that Spencer's team did so well at state. I'm sad I missed it. And I'm glad that y'all (yes I say that now, I can't help it, it just happens) had a good time at Draper Days. I love all of you.

P.S. This is my favorite church sign I saw this week- "Sin burn is prevented by Son screen."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Confidence Booster

July 15, 2013

It's been a long week. I can barely remember what happened last Monday. It feels like forever ago. I went on my first exchange on Tuesday with the sister training leaders for our zone, Sister Bean and Sister Prior. Sister Winsor went down to Goose Creek with Sister Prior and Sister Bean came up to Moncks Corner with me. I was really nervous about it. I didn't feel ready to have Sister Winsor leave me. I still don't feel like I know the area very well, or the people. Sister Winsor knows everyone pretty well, since she's been here almost four months, but I feel like I barely know anyone. But since I was the one who knew the area, I was going to have to be the person who decided what we did and who we met with on the exchange. It ended up going really well. Sister Bean is great, we got along really well. And I really surprised myself by how well I was able to talk to people. We taught a few older kids in the ward who were recently baptized last month, and it actually went really well and I did most of the talking. And with other leads and less actives that we visited I was able to do most of the talking as well. I was surprized. The exchange was definitely a good thing. It was a huge confidence booster for me, because it helped me understand that I can take the lead and talk to people and decide where we should go. It gave me that push that I'd been needing to really get that, because I'd tried to get more involved before, but every time I'd get stuck, I'd just let Sister Winsor save me. But then I couldn't lean on her, so I had to figure it out. So it was good. I learned a lot and also had a lot of fun with Sister Bean.

We also had zone conference this Friday. They combined both the Charleston zones, so there were about 40 missionaries there. It was a really inspirational meeting and Sister Winsor and I got lots of ideas about how to be more effective that we're trying to figure out how to use. I was also part of a couple musical numbers, which was fun. And President Holm rode a unicycle at one point. It was a fun day.

We had dinner with a member almost every day this past week, so I feel like I've eaten a lot of food lately. The ward loves to feed us. Now we're just trying to get them to love giving us referrals as much as they love giving us food. Members here are willing to come with us to teaching appointments, but since we have so few of those what we really need is referrals. Sister Winsor and I have a plan that we've started to work on and we're going to start working with a couple families this week. We'll see how it goes, it's probably going to take awhile before anything starts to happen, but we can be persistent.

It's been raining so much down here. Even though we didn't get a hurricane like they were predicting for awhile, we still got a ton of rain. People are saying it's the wettest summer they can remember. I'm happy about all the rain, it makes it cooler.

I hope you're all doing well. Thanks for all the letters, they really mean a lot to me. I love hearing about what's happening at home. I love you all. I'm really happy to be out here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fourth of July

It's been a very busy week out here. This Wednesday [July 3, 2013] was Sisters Conference, which was up in Irmo, which is about two hours away. It's an all day meeting where we get training specifically for sisters. It was a really wonderful meeting, I loved it. All the sisters from my mission were there. It was so good to see the sisters that were in my district in the MTC, I've missed them. They're all doing well and loving their areas.

Thursday, the 4th of July, was really fun as well. We had our Zone Training Meeting, ZTM, so I got to meet all the missionaries in my zone for the first time. We had a good time together, and people gave some very good trainings which were really helpful for Sister Winsor and me. Since it was the 4th of July, President Holm asked us to be back at our apartments by six. It was strange to be home so early. Sister Winsor and I didn't really know what to do with ourselves. South Carolina has no restrictions on fireworks, so it sounded like a war zone outside.

We also had a very interesting experience Saturday night [July 6]. We were visiting a part-member family, an older couple, she's a member and he's not. One of their neighbors showed up at their door with a rat that they had found, one of their other neighbors had moved a few months ago and left all his animals behind, and somehow this rat had survived. The Stanleys took the rat, gave her a bath, found her a cage and some food and in fifteen minutes the rat was clean, had food and a nice new home. It was really cool to watch. Sister Winsor named the rat Beatrice.

We found some very promising investigators this week. We knocked on a door, the 13 year old son let us in because he thought we were girl scouts selling cookies. His mom was on the phone, so we talked with him for awhile. He told us his uncle was dying, and literally had hours to live so his mom was on the phone setting up funeral arrangements. Eventually she got off the phone and we were able to teach them the first lesson. It went so well, and she was so excited to read the Book of Mormon and she promised us that she'd be at church with her son on Sunday. Sadly, they didn't show up on Sunday, which was so disappointing. We went by to see them after church and caught her and her husband just as they were about to leave to go be with their family, since the uncle had died. She didn't tell us why she wasn't at church, and she didn't seem as interested in talking to us as she had before, but she agreed to let us come by next week, after the funeral. Hopefully, she's still willing to listen and interested in what we share. So, Sunday was not the best day.

Today's been very fun though [July 8]. Sister Winsor and I went to the Salvation Army and did some shopping. I got a hoodie, a shirt and two skirts all for $9. It was a lot of fun. We enjoyed ourselves. Unfortunately, my camera's stopped working and I'm not really sure what to do about that. [This is why we don't have photos from South Carolina.] 

This week's been the first time that I've really felt homesick at all. The 4th of July was a little sad, just because I knew what you all would be doing, but apparently you didn't end up doing much of the traditional stuff so that makes me feel a little better.  

We're working hard out here and doing our best, and I know that it's going to pay off soon. We just have to find the people that are ready to accept the gospel now. I love you all, and I hope you're doing well.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

District Meeting

I gave my first training in our district meeting this past Tuesday [June 25]. It was on the importance of extending and keeping commitments. It went really well and I was only a little nervous. Our district has four companionships- the elders who serve in Moncks Corner, elders who serve in Georgetown, a senior couple serving in Georgetown and Sister Winsor and I. 

After the district meeting, the senior couple took us out to lunch. We ended up going to a Chinese buffet that was really good. I ate way too much food. It was an interesting restaurant. They had all the usual Chinese foods, but then they also had macaroni and cheese and fried okra. So it was a  southern Chinese buffet. We had a lot of fun together. 

It's beginning to get very hot here. It really wouldn't be that bad if it wasn't for the humidity. It's just so muggy outside. It doesn't take long before you get really sweaty.That just makes us want to work even harder to get appointments, so we can get out of the heat. 

Since it's the beginning of the month, we had to set a goal for how many people we're going to baptize by the end of the month. Sister Winsor and I both felt that we should set a goal of 2, even though we're not currently teaching anyone. I think we're both a little curious about how we're going to meet that goal, but we have faith that we can as long and we try our hardest, and talk to everyone we meet. We're not going to let anyone get past us without letting them know who we are, why we're here and what we can do for them. We've got a lot of work to do. 

I've already been out a month. In some ways it feels like the time has flown by. In other ways, I can't even remember what it was like to go to bed at 11 pm, or sit down for two whole hours and watch a movie. It's been a great month. And I'm looking forward to the next one. I love you all and I miss you all. 

Moncks Corner II, Great and Challenging

It's been a great week here in Moncks Corner [June 23-July 1, 2013], although it's definitely been challenging in a lot of ways. 

We spent most of this week out in different areas tracting. We normally drive out to an area, then walk as much as we can to conserve our car miles. So I've done a lot of walking this week. I'm starting to get a watch tan line, as well as an interesting tan line on my feet from my shoes. I think I'm about as tan as I've every been in my life, which isn't really saying much. I've been good about putting on sunscreen though, so I haven't been sunburned at all. And Sister Winsor is good about reminding me to drink lots of water, which is very important. 

We met a few people this week who've seemed interested in hearing more from us, but we haven't been able to get a hold of any of them yet. And I'm pretty sure that the one investigator we taught a lesson to last week avoided us when we went back to talk to her, which was disappointing. I'm learning a lot about how to be optimistic and hopeful from all this though.

I also experienced my first real rain storm on Thursday. We were up tracting in Pinopolis when it rained. The way that it rains in South Carolina is very sudden. It will start to sprinkle and then you have about thirty seconds before it's raining hard. And it absolutely poured on Thursday. Even though we had umbrellas, everything from the top of my skirt down was soaked in a few minutes. It was great though. I loved it. We also had a very cute beagle dog follow us around for about two hours that day. She just wouldn't leave us alone, even when it started raining. It rained hard for about two hours, so we were really wet by the time we got home. But it was fun.

Sunday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week. It's so nice to be able to sit in church and be around people that have the same beliefs as you. I really like church now. And this past Sunday was great because several less active members showed up to church, including some that we'd stopped and visited earlier in the week, which was so exciting for me. Now we just have to keep them coming. 

Sunday was also great because we got to have dinner with the bishop and his family, which was very fun, and we also got to watch the fireside on missionary work. I loved that fireside. It was so good. And what they said about members being involved in missionary work is so true and so important. It's something that Sister Winsor and I will be working on in the near future, because I think that will really make the difference with the progress of our work out here, or anywhere.

I was reminded of a quote that Grandma Terry has hanging on her wall-
Most putts don't drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey- delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.
I made a missionary version, and I think it pretty much sums up what I've learned this week-
Most doors don't open. Most people say no. Most investigators decide not to change. Most successful companionships require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most days are more often dull than otherwise. A mission is like an old-time rail journey- delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.