Monday, August 14, 2017

The Biggest Area In The World

Wow ... so much has happened!  I hardly remember leaving Memory Lake and the flight to Fairbanks.  It has been very busy and productive.  I wish I could write about it all, but "ain't nobody got time for that", so here are the highlights:

Last P-Day In Wasilla: I got the majority of my bags packed and we played tennis at this park out in Willow with the zone.  I mostly just sat and wrote in everyone's transfer journal and had everyone sign mine.  We had to leave a bit early to go hiking with the Henson's and Bobby D.  He really wanted to go hiking with us so the Henson's drove us to Thunderbird Falls. That probably was the best hike he could ever hike because he could hear the waterfall.  Usually hiking is a scenic adventure but with the roaring of the waterfall, Bobby was able to experience a hike the best way a blind and hard-of-hearing person can.

Fly to Fairbanks:  We had changed up our logistics a bit as Sister Peterson felt that she should stay with Lazy Mountain where there are three beds and she needed to finish packing.  I had spent the night with Sister Johnson in Eagle river prior to driving to Anchorage. We showed up to the Brayton chapel and saw the 20+ new missionaries outside taking a picture with their trainers.  There are only two sisters who came out and one is named Sister Willden.  I got to talk with her and take a picture with her.  I want to find out how closely we are related.

We drove to the airport and got on our flight.  The plane was half full, so I got the whole row to myself.  Great time to nap. There are 6 sets of missionaries just in my district (the norm is 4) and 3 sets are being white washed including us.  Also majority of our zone is training new missionaries. This is going to be an interesting transfer. We probably have the biggest area in the world as a companionship; as we are YSA Sisters, we can go anywhere our skate goes. Our skate is huge as it covers Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta Junction, and all the way up to Barrow which is the highest city a person can go to in the world...It is huge !! 

Food Bank:  We have a weekly service helping out at the food bank.  This week we actually did back-to-back days.  The first day we helped to shop for orders.  I had to pretend basically that I was the mom of the family and get the amount of food I would need for a family of 2 or 4 or whatever number we were given.  It was a lot of fun. We got fed lunch afterwards, which was wonderful.  We also are allowed to take home 10lbs of produce and bread which will help me to save money on groceries.  The next day we helped a lady in the back with packaging up boxes to ship to some of the villages.  This cook machine they have puts this plastic band around the boxes to secure it shut.  It was a lot of fun and I never got tired of how much it excited me.

Other Service:  We helped out with bingo at the Pioneer Home which FBX 2nd Ward Elders showed up to as well, because it was in their area book.  Sisters used to be in second and elders used to be in the YSA, but we switched this transfer.  So the elders who are now in the 2nd ward have what the sisters used to do for service.  We decided to let them continue to help out with bingo and that we would just help out with glamour nails for the elderly ladies on Tuesdays.  The elders were cool with that. Thought I think one was okay to help out with nails :)  This week we also helped out at the fair.  Our Church had a Family History Center booth there that rotated the missionaries and some members to help run it.  We took over for the North Pole sisters.  What little training I have with, helped quite a bit.  We had people come by who were interested in genealogy and liked that we have a site that is free to use.  I talked to one lady about why we do family history in the Church and she seemed interested in the fact that we do it in an eternal perspective.  We enter this world in a family here on earth and our families can be perpetuated beyond the grave. Family History work is very important and it helps to bind families together to last after this life.  Matthew 18:18, "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:  and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  God is bound by certain laws as we are.  Our families won't be together in the after-life without being sealed together and that only happens in our temples.  Family history work helps us to find our ancestors to bind them together for eternity.

YSA Branch:  So what I thought was a YSA Ward (Young Single Adult) is a YSA Branch. All this means is that it is a really small ward.  They said the Branch's size will shrink in half by mid September when most people leave to go to school down in the lower 48.  We do a lot of activities though in a singles ward.  They have finished the summer semester of Institute last week and we don't know when the fall semester will begin, but those are Thursday nights.  We have FHE (Family Home Evening) every Monday. Normally families will just get together to have a spiritual discussion and then do a fun activity together as a way for the family members to bond.  Well, in a singles ward (branch), we don't necessarily have our families with us so the ward (branch) as a big family that comes together to do the same had we had our families here.  On Saturdays they plan extra activities for the Branch members to participate.  The best thing about it is that it is a lot easier, and less of a commitment, to bring non members to.  It's something fun we do and all friends are welcome.  When we talk to people who are between the ages of 18 to 30, we try to invite them to the activities to meet members of the church and have some fun with people who live in their same area. We have been doing a lot of less active work, trying to know who the members of the branch are, and trying to meet all of our investigators.  Most investigators we will have will be referrals which is good because they already have a friend in the church.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Free Haircut?

Last full week in the Memory Lake Ward, Wasilla Stake.  I've had so much fun in this area and will miss the members greatly.  I feel like I'm part of a big family up here, but all good things must come to an end.  You'll have to keep reading to see where I'm going :). Here are the highlights:

Hatcher Pass Summit:  Why wouldn't we go hiking? This is the 5th week in a row.  I won't get this though where I'm going next.  Need to take advantage now while I have the opportunity.  We get up to the part with four lakes and there is still snow patches on the mountain !! It's been close to 80 degrees the last couple of days and there is still snow on the mountains?!  We climbed higher to just walk the top of the bow. While up there we smelled Marijuana and sure enough there was the plant up there. Crazy.
Painting:  We had a lesson set with Sister Berdeaux but she got asked to help with a project Brother Stolberg was in charge of. We show up to the address she sent us and they were painting the house. We offered our help so we drove back to change into clothes we didn't mind getting paint on.  A family is to move into the house the next day and for some reason, the living room attached to the kitchen had two separate colors of paint on the wall.  A line separating the two was across the ceiling.  It looked terrible. We were re-painting the walls all white which made the old color look completely different than white.  They fed us pizza for lunch, which is always a blessing. 

YW Camp:  We got invited to attend a portion of the Young Women's Camp.  Their theme was "Sharing the Light" so the camp director asked us to come one night and teach about missionary work and how to share the gospel with others.  Before we did that, we got fed dinner and played Ticket-to-Ride.  They didn't have the instructions so I just taught some of the girls how to play.

Free Haircut:  So normally when you hear "free haircut" you don't walk, you run the other direction.  Well, this summer program thing led by some other church would bring in groups from other states to come and help kids at the parks in Alaska. They would feed them and do crafts with them, and this also helped out with the homeless in the area.  We would OYM at the park occasionally and made friends with the head directors.  We showed up on Thursday evening when they normally have their block party.  We completely forgot about it, but we're thrilled to remember when we pulled up.  One of the directors came up to us and offered us food which we declined as we were going to dinner right after.  He then asked if we wanted a free haircut. I had meant to get my hair cut this transfer, but we always went hiking so there was no time.  Sister Pike was sketched out by it, but I was down.  The lady swore up and down that she has a license in cutting hair; that she owns her own salon in North Carolina and has been cutting hair for 35 years.  I just needed a trim so what's the worst that could happen?  We go inside the church with her and she talks our ears off while cutting my hair.  Not too shabby.  Got a free haircut and it actually looks good. We got our calls later than night:
I am going to Fairbanks to be a STL (Sister Training Leader) with Sister Richards (who served in Memory Lake prior to me coming here), but white washing into the YSA ward!  Well, elders used to serve there, so we are actually, what we call, "pink washing". It would be "blue washing" if elders white washed into an area previously covered by sisters.  I have always wanted to serve in a YSA ward my whole mission and I am so excited. I fly up on Wednesday (Aug 9th) with my new companion.  President is doing some changes when it comes to MLC making it more like an actual counsel, which I am excited for as well.  We get to fly down for those!  He is also implementing a new concept called a "traveling assistant" with one of my zone leaders.  Basically, he will not have a full-time companion as he will travel around the mission trio-ing it with other elders helping them out and giving advice. When is is not doing that, he is in a trio with a second set of elders serving in the same ward the the APs.  Crazy, but cool. It will be interesting to see how this works out. 

Miracles Dinners:  For our dinner calendar this week, we had three open days which we were going to have to fend for ourselves, but all of those days were taken care of. The first was taken care of by a new investigator.  She has started learning about Jesus Christ and has asked her coworker who is a member in another ward questions and friend told her to meet with the missionaries.  She fed us dinner prior to our lesson. #Blessing.  The second one we had asked our go-to members if they can feed us.  The last was another blessing.  We were doing service for this non-member family to move this playground set from one house to another and they offered to feed us the next day because they were planning on a BBQ.  It turned out we didn't have dinner that night, so that was amazing. The Lord provides when we are doing His work.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wow !!  So much happens here, but it's all just little things here and there; nothing too exciting really.  I wish I had time to write about everything but I don't, so here are just a few things that happened this week.

Hike:  We hiked Gold Chord Lake up at Hatcher Pass which was gorgeous.  This, by far, was the easiest hike I've completed and we still did get a great view.  Later that evening, we had our first ward party since I've been in this ward and it was a great turnout.  It was in celebration of Pioneer Day.  The hamburgers went fast, so I ended up with a hot-dog.  We played on stilts and did an egg race with spoons.  The kids ended up throwing the eggs at each other at the end and some of the adults were playing baseball with the left over eggs as well.
Long District Meeting:  We went way over time because the Zone Leaders training took up the entire time.  They trained on goals and we all discussed the mission culture and our standards of excellence.  We all gave our two cents and it took us forever to come up with some solutions to the problem.  All that we talked about is being brought to President in a meeting call MLC which is Missionary Leadership Counsel. They will discuss new goals for the mission.  Exciting changes are hopefully going to be made.

Shopping with Bobby:  Bobby doesn't go shopping all too often, so when he goes shopping he stocks up.  All of his friends were either unavailable or off working on the slope (which is a place where a lot of people go to work up in Barrow for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off and make quite a bit of money).  He asked us if we would help him shop. The only person we could get to help drive him there and back was Brother Henson. He was coming back from visiting Anchorage and would help after that.  We were then on a time crunch to get to dinner so we had to move fast.  We had helped him write down his grocery list the day before and were then going to get everything.  It was taking a lot longer than expected, because Bobby needs to make sure he gets the right brand of things.  We had Brother Henson get the other half of the items on the grocery list and meet back up.  We were in and out and on with our lives.  Bobby said that was the fastest he has ever finished shopping.  We were only 15 minutes late to dinner because of 5pm rush hour traffic with everyone coming back from Anchorage.

Singing at Church:  One of our members wanted us to call the women in charge of the music and volunteer to sing in Sacrament meeting.  She asked us last Sunday when we could sing, and because of the possibility of me getting transferred, the only Sunday we could do it was yesterday.  We had a week to pull together a song, but we had already been practicing, "Come Thou Fount", from when we were asked to sing at a baptism that got postponed.  We practiced Saturday with one of the elders playing the piano for us and our district just staying in to listen.  Sister Pike had invited President Toone to come watch us perform Sunday while emailing him last P-day.  He emailed back saying he would try to make it.  This week we get a call from Sister Toone verifying the address of the Church and the time our ward started.  They came and so many people wanted to meet the new Mission President.  It was awesome and it felt good that they would drive up from Anchorage to hear us sing in Church.

Ammon:  So in the Book of Mormon, there is a story of a missionary who wanted to preach the gospel to people, so he decided he needed to serve the king.  The king has him and some other servants tend to his flock and have them get water at this well. Some bad guys come and scatter the flock as a fun thing they do and in the past the king kills the servants because they lose the king's flock.  Well, Ammon ends up chopping off the arms of the bad guys to protect the king's flock and is able to bring the whole flock back to the king.  We told this intro to our investigator Mary and then read the following chapter where Ammon is able to teach about God to the king. After we read the chapter she asked, "how many arms did he chop off"?  Haha!  We laughed and told her she could read the previous chapter to find out.  If that interest is what motivates her to read the Book of Mormon, then more power to her.  The Book of Mormon is filled with some crazy stories like the Bible which both testify of Jesus Christ.  2 Cor 3:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you.  In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."  From the Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 29:8, "Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?  Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another?  Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another.  And when the two nations shall fun together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also."  We need both books.  Read the Book of Mormon.  

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley     

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Busy now so we stay busy later

Wow are we staying busy.  We take advantage of it while we can before Winter comes and the work seems to slow down.  The weather has been nice again this week, which means PEOPLE! The park and Wasilla lake has been booming with people.  It is far easier to approach people out walking around than to intrude on their doorstep. People take it better.  Here are the highlights:

                The Butte:  I've now lost count of the times I've climbed this mountain.  Though compared to the majestic mountains that surround it, the Butte looks like a little hill. Though it is still a challenge for me but doable and by far the easiest hike. I'm glad that we have the opportunities to go hiking as much as we do, because the other areas in the mission won't have nearly as much; maybe only one or two. The rest of the P-day we were going to go play at the park, but ended up just chillin' at the church and talking.

President Toone:  Oh my goodness!!!  We have the best Mission President ever !!!  He has so much love for all of us and is so passionate about the gospel.  His voice gets louder and louder the more passionate he gets.  It is awesome.  We had interviews with him, which were wonderful.  He asked some questions about my family, asked for advice and then asked if I had any questions for him.  I talked with his wife previously and she said for me to talk with President Toone about teaching Seminary and Institute.  I asked him about it and he is the sweetest.  He said that at the close of my mission he would talk to me more about it and get my feelings on some things and would personally call some connections he has to get me interviews with the right people!!  Because we kept talking about this and about the teaching program in general, our interview time went way over, but it was so worth it.  He and his wife are truly amazing.  Zone Conference was a blast.  It was a bit shorter than what we normally have, but so many amazing training's were packed into this conference.
Member Referrals:  We had gone to mutual with the Young Women a couple of Wednesdays ago.  We talked to them about missionary work and sharing the gospel. They had given us a verbal list of young women in the ward who are less active and wanted to go and visit.  We finally followed through on that commitment a week later. Some weren't home, some we didn't have an address for, and one was not happy with us.  We get to one member's house and the two daughters answered the door. Normally we talk to the adults of the house, so we asked if their mom was home. They said no and then we asked abut their dad.  We were making sure we had the right house by asking them if they were so-and-so and all of a sudden their mother came around the corner asking us who we were.  When we told her we were missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, she flipped.  She told us to leave and threatened to call the cops the next time we come back.  She apparently is not a member but her husband is.  We didn't know; we were just following through on our member referrals we received from the ward.  Soon the Bishop called us saying he heard word from the Stake President about our visit and then the Relief Society President wanted to give us a list of Do Not Contact (DNC), so this doesn't happen again to us or anyone else for that matter.
Lessons with the Hensons:  We got a call from Brother Henson saying that Jamie wanted the lessons.  We had recently passed him and his sister Kemalie over to the Knik Fairview elders who actually have stewardship over them because they live in their area.  We decided to both teach them together one evening as we went and taught the Ten Commandments.  We do it with hand signs so it is easy to remember and even in order.  Jamie got really distracted the first so we only go through the first half of them.  A few days later, we went back with the elders to have another lesson teaching the latter half.  Jamie was much improved and remembered quite a bit of them.  We promised them if they were to recite them all to us at Church the following day we would give them candy.  Both came to church and now we need to buy some candy!!
Flat Tire:  After service on Friday at Hannah's, we were heading back to our apartment to change and have comp study when we get a flat tire.  Neither of us knew how to change a tire so we called the elders who weren't too far behind us leaving the service.  They came and Elder Masters put on the spare tire for us.  Though we found out later while at Alyeska Tires that he had put it on backwards.  Haha.  We called our vehicle coordinator who told us to go to Roger's Garage, but when we got there they had sent their crew home.  We then tried another place before we were able to get help at Alyeska Tires.  They said the tire was slashed and because they didn't have a matching tire and also because the car is an all-the-time 4-wheel drive, they would have to replace all four times - $$$$.  Though he did say it had to do with the road conditions and nothing that I did wrong as the driver.  That was good to hear.  We are all safe, which is the most important part and hopefully nothing like this happens again.
Peonies:  We wanted to visit one of our less actives we had not visited with in a while and we chose the perfect day to do so.  She grows her won peonies she wants to sell in the future, but is just making sure the flowers are what they are they were and were of good quality.  She had just cut a whole bunch off the plant earlier that day and wanted us to deliver them to members we felt would really appreciate them.  We chose to give a bouquet to the Ronnes, the Evans, and the Hafens.  We completely forgot it was McKinnley's birthday today, but just felt we should bring her flowers anyway. Her and her parents were so grateful to receive them.  It was super fun to just stop by bringing gifts for people.  It brightens their day, which in turn brightens ours.

Sent from Alaska!
Sister Shelley Willden     

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Embrace the Awkward, Love the Crazies"

We need more than two hours to email everything that goes on in one week.  I'm caught up on my journal so I can remember it all years from now.  Here are the highlights:

P-Day Adventures:  We plan on hiking every P-day this transfer, so we hiked a trail at Hatcher Pass.  This trail was fairly short, but it was basically a trail leading to heaven. The Bible condemns the people who tried building the Tower of Babel that would lead to heaven, so then why do we always seem to hike the mountains that just keep going up and up?  This hike was basically vertical.  I don't know how I made it up, but I did it and it always seems to take no time at all to get back down.  Thankfully I could walk the days to follow.  Afterwards we went to the church to play glow-in-the-dark capture the flag.  It was a lot of fun and we ended with a tie before we all had to go to dinner.

6 days of Summer:  This summer really has been an extended Spring but for 6 days in a row we have had sunshine and people are booming at the parks.  We have cleaned out our area book and realize we only have one truly progressing investigator, so we are doing a lot of finding.  It is a lot of fun OYMing (opening your mouth) at the Park. We meet some interesting people and only a few crazy ones.  The crazies make the best stories to write home about.  My trainer would always say, "Embrace the awkward, love the crazies." Nothing too crazy this week.  Nothing really beat a drunk native who proposes to your comp while on exchanges last week.  Haha.  We went tracting and talked to this lady named Debbie, who was interested in our message, accepted a copy of the BOM, and wants to meet with us again later this week. :)

Service as Always:  We got a call from the STLs in Anchorage telling us they ran into a lady from our ward while at the temple who needs help with her garden.  She told them they she didn't want to bother us for help, but they said for us to show up in service clothes and offer our help.  We did and even though she seemed to not want us there, by the end she seemed so grateful.  We did service for one of our potential investigators and afterward her and I talked for a long time and were able to talk more about how the gospel can help her in this difficult time she is going through.  The last service was at Hannah's.  We helped to separate the good from the bad tires and then re-stack all of the tires.  The elders were making so many jokes and playing around that it started to change Hannah's mood. :)  Service always softens people's hearts.

B-Day Dinner:  Elder Morley in our district had his birthday on Saturday.  We get a text a few days prior from the Wasilla elders asking us if we had a dinner Saturday.  We said no but asked if they had food for us ;).  They came up with the idea to celebrate Elder Morley's birthday by having a district dinner because none of us had dinner signed up.  We ate at DQ and brought gifts.  Sister Pike and I got him some beer ... root beer ;) for his 21st birthday!  The other elders all pitched in to get him some pretty sick basketball shoes.

The trials we go through are a way for us to be closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and to make us more Christ-like.  If you aren't having trials, then you are not progressing. Pray for help and God will help you.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, July 10, 2017

525,600 Minutes

I have been out on my mission for a year !!!!  This day seemed light years away, but looking back, this year has flown by and I can hardly remember what happened yesterday.  Here are the highlights:

Gotta be crazy to climb Lazy:  I don't know why I allowed people to talk me into climbing Lazy Mountain again.  I died the first time, but this time was a bit better and a very different experience. The first time it was just Sister Williams and I and two members. This time we brought the whole zone with us and a member.  Before we climbed up the switchbacks and down the basically vertical slope, but this time we did it reverse; up the vertical and down the switchbacks.  It had rained a lot on Saturday and a tad on Sunday prior to the hike that I was nervous about the excess of mud hiking this mountain.  Well we climbed it anyway and oh yes, there was mud, mud, and more mud.  Our group ended up splitting in two and I was in the second group trying to climb mud which I kept slipping. Some of the elders stayed behind to help me get up. We get to the picnic table and I am ready to throw in the towel, but continue on.  We get to a point where the first group is heading back and some go back up the rest of the mountain with us.  We took tons of pictures and had a lot of fun.  Was able to walk fully on Thursday.
4th of July:  We had district meeting that was happening during the city parade, but got invited to a ward BBQ for lunch. They roasted a pig and a guy came and played the bagpipes for us.  We are always down for free food.  That is definitely something I will miss about being a missionary.  No one is gonna want to just feed me all the time when I no longer have this badge on.  We OYMed (opened our mouths) at the park and we ran into some of our neighbors.  They invited us to play Settlers of Catan with them, so we played and we answered a lot of the questions they had about missionaries and the Church.  It was awesome.  This was probably the best holiday when it came to missionary on the mission.  For Christmas and Thanksgiving, people are usually in their homes and don't want us coming by, but when they are outside enjoying the sun it is much easier for us to approach them.

Exchanges:  So we had exchanges on Thursday which was my year mark.  One of the elders in my district entered the MTC the same time I did and so we wished each other a happy year mark.  He asked what I did to celebrate and I replied, "giving out 3 Books of Mormon."  I don't know what it is about exchanged, but something I call exchange miracles happen every time.  I exchanged with Sister Jewel who was my companion for a week in Anchorage before I was emergency transferred to Soldotna. It was so good to see her again.  We got to know each other so well in the one week we were together and it is almost like we picked up the last place we left off.  We OYMed at the park and talked to so many people and were able to share the BOM with three people.  We are going to follow up with them soon.  Some crazy things happened with drunk natives and Sister Jewel getting proposed to but it was all fun and laughs after each situation.
Extended Spring:  This weather we have had this summer is crazy.  In May we had so much sunshine, but in June we have had the most rain ever as if this Summer is just an extended Spring.  It rained ALL day Saturday which made tracting a blast.  But Sunday the sun came back out and was so warm that we did our studies outside at the park.  We pray so much for the sun to shine everyday if it be God's will.  Please pray for Alaska to have a good Summer.  After this harsh Winter we need a fantastic, sun-filled Summer.
It is hard to believe that a year has come and gone being on a mission.  I feel like the time flew, but definitely see how the year tool a long time to her here.  There is just so much stuff we do in one day that it feels like I've been out here for years.  My life back home feels like a dream, but at the same time, I feel that I will wake up one morning and this mission will be the dream.  It is hard to really put into words my feelings about it all.  I have a tad over 6 months left of my mission, which everyone says will come and go so fast that I will be worrying about my life back home sitting on a plane.  I am so grateful I had this opportunity to come here to Alaska to serve a mission.  It has been so rewarding and at the same time so difficult. High School was difficult, college was difficult, but they are all difficult in different ways.  What I have learned here on my mission I may not have learned anywhere else. These experiences, lessons, and relationships I have made will carry with me through the rest of my life and will impact my future no doubt.  Anything that will stretch you and mold you into a more Christ-like character is definitely worth it.  No one can adequately describe the difficulty of a mission, but once you have experienced it, the same attitude at the end emerges:  a stronger love for your Savior and a love for the people you serve.  They all say it is worth it even though it is hard.  No one I've met ever says they regret serving a mission, but they all say how grateful they were to serve.  I too, can say the same.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden    

Sister Missionaries are Unicorns

The title of this post comes from members visiting a ward that meets in the same church building as ours and said "unicorns" to us.  He was referring to the fact that there are a lot more elders than there are sisters.  "You always hear about sister missionaries but never see any."  This week was transfer week, so of course, it was very long.  So much just happens in one day that the days seem like weeks.  Here are some highlights of what is happening in Memory Lake:

Sister Williams' Funeral:  Sister Williams went home Thursday morning so we gave her a proper funeral on Monday.  We had some of the elders speak and I sang a rap that I changed the words to fit with Sister Williams.  It was a lot of fun and we all were laughing so much.  We will all miss Sister Williams.  We did journal signing as well before half the zone left.  We played a little B-Ball too.

Transfers:  We swapped companions at the Eagle River building and the first thing we did when we came back was help finish Bobby's lawn.  Because of lack of time, Sister Williams and I weren't able to finish mowing Bobby's front yard, which looked kinda funky.  It was mainly just the ditch that needed to be mowed. We had borrowed Brother Henson's week whacker and because Bobby ended up working on the blade of the lawn mower we used the weed whacker for as much as we could to cut the grass down.  Finally we went over it again with the lawn mower he fixed.  He never seems to stop surprising me of how much a blind person can do.

Four Lessons in a Day:  The following day we had a lot of appointments that got pushed to that day because we were going to be busy until after Wednesday because of transfers, so it was really cook that we taught four lessons in one day.  We even did service.

Service Galore:  We did our weekly service over at Hannah's and we got so much stuff done.  Hannah came out and realized nothing was really being done in between our weekly visits so she started directing us on what to do.  We did more in 2 1/2 hours that a crew she hired for 4 days to do did.  The day prior we received a call from this lady who was referred by her aunt who needed help with moving things around and cleaning.  We got everything taken care of and got the whole district involved to find out later the address is in Palmer.  Whoops.  So we had to call Colony and our district leader to figure all the logistics out.  We still ended up going but then with Colony's district.  She fed us hamburgers which was awesome and we played tag with her kids. I hope the missionaries in her area keep in contact and hopefully one day be able to teach them the gospel.

Lonnie's Baptism:  Susie, his wife, has been a recent convert for a few months now and Lonnie was a member way back in the 1970's.  The sister missionaries found them tracting and taught them the gospel.  Lonnie finally got baptized yesterday and it was wonderful.  The program was put together so fast and both Sister Pike and I gave talks at the baptism.  I love it when people get baptized and truly have a testimony of their Savior, Jesus Christ, and you can see the light in their eyes for the joy this gospel brings them.  Moments like these are why I am out here.

It is not about baptizing the nation, but it is about helping others gain a firm testimony in Jesus Christ and what that can do for them and their family.  Baptism is just the first step.  There is so much more than the gospel has to offer and bless our lives.

Sent from Alaska!
Sister Shelley Willden