Monday, October 16, 2017

“I’ll be good; it’s Sunday tomorrow”

It snowed this week!  I say that not out of excitement, but out of devastation.  Thanks goodness it didn't stick.  It has around some parts of town, but not too much; it's coming though.  The temperature right now is 30 degrees, which is nothing compared to what I know is coming.  This week went by fast, but at the same time, I can hardly remember the beginning of it.  Here are the highlights:

Exchanges with the STLs:  So there is a trio of STLs down in Anchorage who all came up to Fairbanks to go on exchanges with all of the sisters up here.  We picked them up at the airport and ended up giving them the keys to one of the trucks we had been using to get our car fixed for them to go get lunch while we did our emails at the Church.  We, of course, played volleyball with the zone and played scum the card game and even spoons.  Later for FHE we played basketball.  Woot, woot.

Tuesday:  All day Tuesday we had Sister Cox with us.  We had district meeting and elder Paulson asked me to train, but when he found out the Oceanview sisters were coming, he asked Sister Oliver to train instead.  Heck ya!  I kinda liked having an exchange with a trio where Sister Richards and I can stay together.  We had a lot of fun with Sister Cox and talking about all sorts of things while in the car traveling from house to house finding less actives.  We worked on our talent for the zone conference talent show for Sister Cos when we retired to our house and she loved it.  We perform that for the Zone next Monday so our P-day will be Tuesday, not Monday next week.  We met with a less active named Spencer for the first time that day and we scheduled to meet with him for Friday.  We invited Kaiana and Rachel to our lesson and afterwards him and Kaiana talked for a good 45 minutes after we left.  They are already good friends.  We are doing really great work with less actives up here and bringing them back to church.

Nanana Service:  So a continuation of the service we are doing in Nenana.  We went to help out at the Senior Center with a luncheon and we talked to quite a few people.  Old people love to talk.  We had Merry with us which was good because once she says "Verhagen", they instantly know who she is.  We then helped Amie unpack when she came home from a month-long trip to Utah to visit her family.  We saw this book written by this lady who talks about "Dressing Your Truth" and we gabbed with them about it for a while and even when we went to Nenana on Sunday for church.  It's a lot of fun and something I want to look into more when I get home.  We then helped out at the library shelving books and then helping to set up for a kids craft day that happens every month.  The big project we did was later to help clean out a multi-purpose room.  I cleaned the sink with this poly-zag stuff.  It worked miracles, but I had to hold my breath while using it because it was that toxic.  We didn't finish shampooing the carpet but, man, shampooing the carpet takes a long time.  No wonder people usually hire other people to come and do that for them.  On our way home we saw the amazing Aurora Borealis, which was like rainbow across the sky, and then it turned into a huge clump that was dancing around - so pretty!!!

Second Exchanges:  We needed to do exchanges with the sisters and it needed to be this week even though we just had Oceanview up here.  I stayed in the area with another sister while Sister Richards went to their area.  I was losing my energy to keep the conversation going because it kept dying.  I then didn't talk much.  Our day turned into an all finding day which those days can be hard and long anyway.  It made me really appreciate Sister Richards when we were back together.

Nikki:  After church in Nenana we drove back to have a lesson with Tim which we could only stay for a half hour because we had dinner with Rachel at 7pm.  Her roommate Nikki joined us again and we decided to talk about the Book of Mormon using the pictures at the beginning.  At the end Rachel invited her, if she wanted, to read the Book of Mormon, and she accepted a copy and said she wanted to read it!

It is so good to be able to share the gospel with people who don't know it.  It is like a light bulb experience with them.  With less actives it is rekindling the light already in them that just needs more fuel and fanning.  Either way we are doing missionary work and both are rewarding.  The title of this post was a quote from a lady we tracted into.  It just make me think that we are not Sunday Mormons.  We don't just live our standards when we go to church, but our religion is a lifestyle we live everyday.  That is what Christ taught.

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden


Monday, October 9, 2017

Wikipedia is to knowledge as the internet is to religion.

Fun week.  Quite a bit has happened, but only have time to share the highlights.  They say it is going to snow this week. :/  Not looking forward to that.

P-Day:  We finally played chair soccer with our zone.  Well it turned out to be just our district this week as the North Pole District decided to go hiking for P-Day.  We also did Carmel Apples for the holiday and for FHE, we made sugar cookies and decorated them for Halloween.  In the picture, I decorated the cookie with red food dye and had a little bit too much fun.


















MLC:  So we flew down to Anchorage this week for our missionary leadership council meeting.  We stayed with the Oceanview sisters with the Colony sisters coming again as well.  All the same sisters, plus Sister Burdick.  We were tired in the morning, but made it through all of MLC.  We had training's and talked about mission stuff, but had a fun activity.  We played keep-the-balloon-up and played it with different rules.  We eventually divided into two teams and had to toss it over President Toone's head.  One elder couldn't do it to save his life and our team won with flying colors.  We of course applied this to missionary work and had a discussion come from that.  When we fly back, Sister Richards and I had dinner and just talked about our futures when we go home.  Makes it kinda stressful to think about, so I usually try not to.

Car Probs:  We finally winterized our car.  No sooner time than before it snows.  Our car needed a block heater so we took it to the dealer and had them put one in while we took a spare truck around to work.  We took Rachel to our lesson with Mack and this friend of his came over and started telling us things he was very passionate about and cussing here and there.  The funny part about it was Mack was cringing every time he cussed.  So funny.  The next day we had an appointment to get our tires studded. They put winter tires on for us a week or so ago but we realized there were no studs in the tires so we had to go back. Everything is ready to go, through, for the winter.

Try the tracted:  We tracked into this guy named Sam a few weeks ago and every time we tried to go and share a message with him, he was always about to leave the apartment.  This time we got him home and he wasn't planning on going anywhere. We visited with him and he shared with us that he wants to consider himself agnostic but is atheist.  Having that religious background, we made sure we explained everything about the Restoration as simply as we could and asked him questions to make sure he was understanding.  The lesson was going so well and he completely was understanding of it all, but then when we asked him to read the Book of Mormon to see if what we are teaching him is true and he said no and wanted to do his own research.  It was like a knife puncturing my heart.  It is sad that we can present the gospel to people, but people can use their agency not to accept it.  We did tell him the websites he should go to learn more.  Just like any English research paper, you don't get your information from Wikipedia.  The same is with the truth of a religion - you have to go to the right sources.  We told him about lds.org and mormon.org.  Any other other site is most likely going to be anti material and not a valid source of information.  Hopefully we can visit with him in a couple of weeks to see what his thoughts are then.

DJ:  We received a text from DJ on Sunday saying that he has gone through some hard times in his life recently and that he wanted to drop the lessons with us but now feels like he needs them more than ever.  We visited with him right after that at the library and he just laid it out to us what has been going on and his feelings about things.  It is hard to tell people that Jesus Christ and His gospel can help us in our lives.  It is one thing to say and testify of it and another to show them.  It takes effort on people's part to receive Christ's help.  He is always reaching out to us, but it is through our actions that distance ourselves from Him.  Repentance is turning us away from our old life and towards the life Christ wants for us and to see us truly happy.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, October 2, 2017

We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet

I fear this might be the last week of Fall.  There's a lot of rumors of snow coming soon. Here are some of the highlights:

P-day fun:  There's a member in our Branch who likes to play the card game Magic so we played with him.  This is my first time ever playing, so it was a bit hard for me to catch on.  I realized that it has it's own language or lingo.  With the game you really need to know the language to play well, but the great thing about the gospel is that i can be taught for even a child to understand.  Mosiah 2:40, "O, all ye old men, and also ye young men, and you little children who can understand my words, for I have spoken plainly unto you that ye might understand ... " and 2 Nephi 31:3, "For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth The Lord God work among the children of men.  For The Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for He speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding."  We are taught line upon line, precept upon precept for us to understand the mysteries of God.  Later for FHE we played charades and then went to the stake center to play basketball with some members with the branch.
Lessons with Less-Actives:  We had a lesson set up with Walter and he wanted to meet at the Steese chapel.  We asked the ZL's for the key, and when we got to the chapel we realized it was the wrong key.  We just waited for him to show up and have him follow us to the stake center.  Fairbanks is small enough for us to travel to all the chapels fairly quickly.  He said he wants his life to be back to how it was when he was investigating the church.  That would mean for him to put Christ first in his life over his worldly tasks.  He said he is willing to do whatever it takes.  We had another lesson with McKinley, but he said he wants to be called Mack.  Him and all the boys and my companion were talking about video games prior to the lesson.  I didn't have much to contribute to the conversation.  We saw Cory this week.  He has been reading the BOM!  We met Alex who has been a convert for only a couple of years.  The member present we brought was Laura who is new to the branch and she, herself, is a convert for a little over two years as well.  We are doing fairly well with working with less-actives in our branch.
Service in Nenana:  We are going to Nenana every Wednesday that we can and are trying our best to help serve the people in the area.  We helped out at the Library, weed the Garden in front of the church before winter comes, and then helped out with this service project with some nonmembers cleaning their trash from their house construction.  There was a lot of us helping which made a huge impact to the pile. They were very gracious for all the help.  The members wanted the missionaries there to help and have presence with these people.
General Conference:  Conference was amazing.  The talks were a lot about the natural disasters going on and how we can help by mainly helping with our families and our communities.  After the Saturday session, a member took all the missionaries out to lunch at Denny's!  That was a lot of money.  This same member took us to dinner the other day and paid for us to get winter boots.  We told him we were good, but he insisted.  On Sunday, in between sessions, we had pancakes that the branch made. Chocolate chips and bacon in the pancakes!  Heaven!!

Conference was really good and I'm glad we get to watch it twice a year.  President Monson is really sick, so he's watching it from his home, but it is so cool that we know that we have a Prophet who is leading this Church under the direction of Jesus Christ through revelation.  Apostle Robert D. Hales passed away during the conference which is sad, but we know he's in a better place right now sent back to Heavenly Father.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden

We ARE doing The Lord's work

The weather is starting to get to us.  It isn't, by any means, cold as Fairbanks can get (average is 40 below), but it is definitely chilly.  The dark is upon us as the sun goes down sooner and sooner.  Fall was gorgeous, but all it is is a sign that winter is coming. In a way it is like the Second Coming of Christ.  We, right now, are in the "Fall" stage; having a lot of signs (like the changing colors of the leaves) to show that Jesus Christ is about to return, i.e., "wars and rumors of wars", natural disasters, people will find bad things good and good things bad, a marvelous work and a wonder, etc.  Winter is coming ... are we prepared?
Apples to Apples:  I grew up playing this game and I never win at it.  I'm usually always in the boat that I draw the best card for the green card after I already placed a card down, or I am always a close second who never gets picked.  We played it for our FHE activity and I surprisingly won!  With some of them I really was just playing my "discard" card to get rid of it from my hand and it won.  I was excited but it was just a lot of fun to have so many of us sitting around this round table playing apples to apples in a YSA branch activity.

Tuesday:  This day started off pretty rough.  The North Pole sisters had to spend the night before because their CO detector was going off and the firefighters said they wouldn't be able to fix the problem that night.  It was cool to have them spend the night but we ended up going to bed a little later than we planned, which made the morning difficult.  Neither of us were in the best mood and when we sat down to plan out our day we had nothing planned except one lesson in the evening that we weren't too sure if it would pan out.  We put in some stuff to do, but scheduled in four hours of tracting split up into two hour segments. Tracting is not the most effective way of finding people to teach, but when we have nothing else to do it bides our time and exercises our faith to find.  We figures that the YSA (Young Single Adults) would most likely be living in apartments near the University so we started there.  The first complex we went to had a lot of opposition.  Not exactly like a "fourth-floor-last door" situation, but close enough was a lady who answered the door and allowed us to share a message with her.  After talking to her she shared this story of an elder 16 years ago who passed by her on the street, paused, and then turned around and handed her a pass along card say, "I am supposed to give you this card".  16 years later and she still has the Christ pass along card on her fridge.  Awesome story; she was excited for us to give her a Book of Mormon and another pass along card.  The sad part about it is that she is out of our stewardship.  As YSA missionaries, we teach only the members who will attend our ward/branch which will be people 18-30 living in the Fairbanks Stake boundaries.  Afterwards we tried more apartments and found YSA-aged guys all in a row.  #miracle.  Later that day we met up with Aisha.  I had taught Aisha (pronounced Asia) in Palmer while I was being trained and just recently found her up here in Fairbanks working at Taco Bell.  We had her records moved to us and we made her a new investigator!  Then the crazy lesson happened.  We had dinner with Laura and asked her to come to our lesson with Sergei afterwards.  We were talking with him and getting to know him better when it came down to talk about the gospel.  We planned on going over the Restoration, but didn't get passed the first principle because he shared with us that he doesn't believe in God.  Mind you this is a less-active member, so at one point he must have believed.  We asked him questions about how he came to this conclusion and he shared with us his hard life growing up.  The lesson was solely guided by the Spirit because even minutes after leaving I couldn't remember certain questions I had asked him that helped propel the conversation to address his concern.  With a bold invitation we committed him to pray to God to receive an answer about what we were teaching him was true.  A day that seemed would dredge on turned out to be a very productive, miracle-filled day!
Nenana:  We went to Nenana this week which we plan on going to once a week.  They, Brother Verhagen and his daughter Merry, took us around to visit with a lot of people who have some sort of leadership in the community to elicit service opportunities. Our branch mission leader is a strong advocate of the Ammon theory.  He said tracting does not work in their won and that they have brought a lot of people to the gospel through service.  The only thing is that all the people they convert have to move because of the lack of jobs there.  This is a very small town; and I mean small.  If you are driving to Anchorage you'll miss it if you blink.  We have a service project we are helping out this Wednesday there and they are super excited that we are coming to help and meet the lady they are helping.  Also, they said a new member moved in with a non-member husband who said would like to help with the service so we can meet him too.
Dance:  So we texted DJ on when we can meet up with him this week and he invited us to come to a dance he'll be at.  On our missions we can't really dance especially ballroom dancing because we aren't allowed to hold hands with members of the opposite gender.  We came to just support him and to talk with him a bit about meeting up to have a lesson.  He comes up to Sister Richards and asks her to dance ... Awkward.  We had to tell him our rules and it was just awkward.  We did talk to him for a bit and he said he would come to church if he had a ride.  We squared everything away for him to have a ride and he came to church!
Rabbits:  Oh the crazy things we do at Dawson's place.  Last time we were over there for dinner, he and some other YSA members were blowing stuff up for us and melting metal.  This time after dinner we watched them "dispatch" (their words) rabbits.  I held a baby bunny while Dawson hit the rabbits over the head with a 15-pound steel rod.  Then we watched them prepare it by taking off the hide just as I learned in Soldotna.  Sister Richards really wanted to see how it was done because some day she wants to own her own homestead and live off the animals she raises.  She still needs to taste rabbit to see if she likes it but as of right now she is sold.

Lessons Outside:  We set up a lesson with Craig to meet at the library because we couldn't find anyone to come with us.  He said it was a nice day outside and that we should jut go out to a picnic bench for the lesson.  While he was sharing some of the experiences he had on his mission a drunk, native guy came up to our table.  He originally asked us for money or food which we had neither on us.  He then began to harass us by saying some inappropriate things so we asked him to leave.  It took him a while, but he eventually started to leave cussing at us as we walked away.  Craig saw him pull a knife out and was very concerned about a drunk guy carrying a knife around the park.  We waited for him to be far enough away from our car to pull out and leave to head to see the Women's Conference broadcast.  General Conference is this Saturday and Sunday.  Again, this happens twice a year where the prophet and the apostles speak to us as a whole broadcast from Salt Lake City.  If you would like to watch it, it will be on BYU TV or on LDS.org.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden                

Monday, September 18, 2017

AAM in Online

We received transfer calls on Friday this past week and the crazy thing is that I kept forgetting they were happening at all.  This transfer has just gone by so quickly.  Sister Richards and I will be staying together for another transfer.  A lot happened this week, but here are just some of the more prominent things:

LDSSA:  UAF has this new program called LDSSA which I believe is Latter-Day Saints Student Association.  It's a group that helps with the school that gets our name out there.  So they asked last Sunday for volunteers to help with a tailgate party for the UAF/UAA Girls Volleyball match.  We handed out free t-shirts and other school brand things like lanyards to people who came up to the booth as well as free pizza. It was all first-come-first-served and people will come for food.  We told people about the game to have them come support the girls volleyball team at UAF.  One of the members of the Branch is on the team.  It was a lot of fun and we were able to talk about the church to those who asked.
General Authority:  We had Elder Foster from the Seventy and his wife come visit our mission.  They shared with us insights about working more with members to propel missionary work.  Also he said we are going to start online proselyting so that means our mission is getting Facebook.  I haven't wanted to have Facebook in our mission just because I feel like I would go back into bad habits with Facebook and it is just something else to add on top of all the things we have to do already.  But the more I think about it the better I feel it will propel the work faster.  Some will fault our mission because we have cars and have IPads, which definitely seem like a luxury for some other missions, but it is a blessing to have to reach more people in a quicker manner.  We are on The Lord's errand, and we don't have too much time to do it. Facebook can be a great tool if used properly, so we'll see how that goes once we are trained with it for the use with our mission.  We had a Double MCL this month because of Elder Foster's visit.  We did a sort of Skype call for those in remote locations away from Anchorage to have a discussion with all the Zone Leaders, STLs and the District Leaders.  The meeting didn't last as long as they said it would have, so we went out to lunch at Denny's.  The Denny's up here says on their sign, "The Northern Most Denny's in the World".  That is something definitely to photograph.  Sister Richards loves bacon; so all she ordered was bacon!



Food bank:  Thursday we show up and they said there were not too many orders for us to help with, but that they had another job for us to do.  We were to sort through the break and throw out any moldy bread.  At first it was one here and there, but then it got to the point where a whole box was full of moldy bread.  I smelled awful and it was making me cough so I worked with a mask, but then they just asked us to throw it away still in its wrapper.  There were a lot of garbage bags filled with bad bread.  At least they don't give out bad bread to the people.  We went back to help with the orders before we were finished.
Cory:  So we were trying people on Saturday and had the thought to go and visit Cory at work.  He works at this Dice Pawn Shop from Tuesday through Saturday.  He was there and very welcoming to us coming to visit him.  He is just very open about his past and has a desire to build his relationship with God again after his mother's passing.  We met his father who, same thing, just told us his life story basically of how he is at a point where he is not ready to come back to the church yet because of some issues and also with his wife passing.  We talked to Cory a bit more and asked if we could visit him the following day.  We brought a couple of guys from the branch to come visit him with us and that went okay.  Hopefully we helped him a little bit with his relationship with God and gave him some commitments to do.  When we asked if we could visit with him again next Sunday, he said, "how about I just come to church?" Awesome !!!
Out with the Missionaries:  Rachel, one of our branch missionaries, was off work on Friday and Saturday, so she took some time on Saturday to come out with us.  We wanted to have lessons with single males so that we could best use our time with her. We had a lesson with Craig which went really well.  He has a desire to come back to Church, which is awesome.  Our next lesson though ... we met at the stake center and he had opened up about his concerns and said he was just happy right now with the way he is living.  We shared with him how the BOM and having good friends who influence him for good can be a benefit, but I think it was too much for him, so he said he wanted to leave.  He and his nonmember girlfriend left.  I said a prayer of comfort to help ease my sad feelings.  We tried by some other less actives in the spare time and got in with a member we have been trying to get a hold of.  He said he could come to the activity tonight, but ended up canceling again.  The Activity was a success though.  A lot of people came and Neva came with Sister Wright.  Hopefully we can talk with her more about religion.

Michelle:  We had the thought to call this girl named Michelle that we had called before, but she forgot and made plans.  We called her while we were calling a lot of former investigators and she was crying.  Her neighbor died in her arms and now she has his cat.  She was very traumatized by what happened just earlier that day so we were trying to help her through the phone.  The scripture we read to her Alma 7:11-12: "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities."  We aren't counselors, but what we do know is that the gospel can help people.  The Savior can help people.  We, most likely, won't know what people are going through, but Jesus Christ does.  Let go and Let God.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Monday, September 11, 2017

"I don't know any nuns"

Fall is here.  The leaves have changed so quickly in just one week.  It is pretty, though I wish the trees would have some red because it is all orange and yellow.  I feel like I can't enjoy it because I know Winter is just around the corner, which is accompanied by the darkness.  It is already starting to get dark now at night.  Again, that is normal back home, but I know it is only getting darker day by day.  Here are the highlights for this week:


P-day:  We did some Labor Day shopping at sears and value village.  I got a cute dress for only $3.  We went to the church and played a little bit of a nerf-gun war.  Pretty fun.  We played volleyball after that and I just love volleyball.  We had roasted weenies and s'mores at the Maynes' house.  We played a little bit of spike ball, which I need way more practice with; it is harder than it looks.


MLC:  We had our Missionary Leadership Council this week.  The Zone Leaders and STLs from all the zones come down to Anchorage for an all day training and counseling about mission matters.  They needed someone to drive down a car from Fairbanks, so we volunteered.  It was a pretty drive; it rained the latter half.  I now want to go visit Denali.  Driving through there was legit.  We stopped by the Hensons and Bobby D in Wasilla as we drove through.  Also got fireweed milkshakes!!!  Oh how I missed those so much!  That night we spent the night at the Oceanview sisters apartment with the Colony sisters coming down a day early as well.  It was a party, but my companion and I still went to bed on time.  Sister Jewel and I did these facial masks that were exfoliating or detoxing.  So fun.
At MLC we had spiritual discussions about certain topics like faith and companion exchanges.  We played this game that we play a lot at EFY which is clumping together and grabbing each others' hands to then untangle everyone.  They had the elders do it all together and the 6 sisters do it.  We were done in less than a minute.  They took over 20 and still didn't accomplish the task. One of the APs (Assistant to the President) ended up splitting his pants.  Great day. We flew back around 6pm after the meeting.
Cult:  We were texting people we knew in the Branch about the activity happening on Saturday.  One of the phone numbers we had was not a correct number.  The person texted us back asking who we were.  We told him we are the sister missionaries  He replied saying, "I don't know any nuns", and looked up our church online. Automatically he said we sound like a cult.  Just like you wouldn't look for information on Wiki for an English research paper, you shouldn't look to anti-Mormon material to learn about our church.  That, of course, is skewed and not a good representation of our Church and our beliefs.  The best way to learn about our church is by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.  As cliche' as that sounds, it's true.  We don't call it the keystone of our religion for no reason.
Tracting Miracles:  Who says tracting doesn't work?  Yes, it is not the primary focus of a mission, but we can't teach people if we don't find people to teach.  This week we were gone for basically two days straight in Anchorage, so this just makes it even more sweet that these things happened in a shorter time frame.  We tracked Thursday and with one person they said we could come back and another we gave a copy of the BOM to him.  A couple of days later we were actually trying to find a former investigator, but didn't have her apartment number.  We decided to just tract the apartments there and hopefully, if she was prepared at this time, would greet us and say that she has met with missionaries in the past. Well on the very last door (not necessarily "4th floor, last door"), was a lady named Ellen who invited us in to talk about religion.  She said she hopes to find a church she believes has the correct teachings.  After a little while she said she is thinking about being a follower of our church.  She already had a copy of the BOM.  The only sad thing about this is that we are YSA, so we teach people between the ages of 18-30 as our branch is consistent of those people.  All other wards are family wards so it doesn't matter the age.  We had to refer her to the 5th sisters to begin teaching.  She is very promising though!
Activity:  We had an activity at the Wright's house this weekend making nachos and then spray paining canvases with leaves.  Dr. Wright invited his Medical Assistant from work to the Activity and she came!  We got to meet her and she is pretty cool.  Had a fun night!  Had to give a talk the next day at church, which went well.  I spoke about how the BOM has increased my testimony of Jesus Christ.  We even watched a devotional broadcast by Elder Bednar about linking our families and keeping our future generations in the Church.  Pretty good!

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden       

Monday, September 4, 2017

Exchange Miracles

I wish I could remember what happens all in a week.  Thank goodness for our area book to tell me what actually occurred.  Here are some highlights:

Institute:  I love institute.  We have two in a week.  The first is for the Old Testament. The lady who is teaching is very knowledgeable and has a very organized structure with the class.  I'm excited to learn more about it since I have never read it cover to cover.  The other class is on the Book of Mormon.  After the first class I realized that our mission has basically been a BOM institute class.  All of the material that we covered we learn over and over in our district and zone meetings.  There were only two YSA members who attended the Old Testament class and also attended the BOM one.  One is Caitlin, who is the Relief Society President and the other is Kaiana, who is up here for the Air Force.  I was impressed that this guy, who works on the AFB, and is a student at UAF, would come to both institute classes and participate.  He just got called to be our new Branch Mission Leader.  So excited to work with him.  According to President Wright, he seems so enthusiastic about missionary work.   He served his mission in South Korea and loved it.

Service:  I love that we get unplanned service opportunities that arise throughout the week.  We have glam nails on Tuesday (which I realized I am not good at painting people's nails and should just stick to removing their nail polish), and Food Bank on Thursday's.  This week we received a text from a girl in the YSA Branch needing help moving her stuff into storage for the winter as she moves back down south till next Summer.  We got some of the elders to come help and we loaded our cars with furniture and boxes and got done pretty fast.

Lessons:  We had another lesson with Tucker for his new member lessons.  We had the lesson after dinner at Rachel's house.   Her roommate Danny came to dinner and she even participated in the lesson.  Hopefully we can work with her soon.  We had lessons planned for DJ and Terry, but both got cancelled this week.  Hopefully we can meet with them again soon.  Terry will be gone until mid September for work though. We drove to Nenana for a lesson with this lady Robin.  She had us go on a little goose chase to meet with her.  We brought a member from the Branch who met with us while at this restaurant.  We started sharing what the BOM was to her using the pictures in the front and she cut us off to do this later.  Though she said she is interested.  She flaked on coming to church, but hopefully we can continue to meet with her and help her anyway we can.  We also had Church in Nenana.  It was interesting.  The Branch is mainly made up of one big family:  the Verhagens.  The "parents" have 9 children who still live in Nenana.  They were very emotional on Sunday.

Exchanges:  Exchange miracles never fail.  I went on exchanges with Sister Burdick who came out on her mission the same time I did.  We stuck around the North Pole area because it is helping their area and our area since our area is everywhere.  We tried by some people and got in touch with a less active who had more information about a recent-convert-less-active member whom we just found out about earlier that same day. Amazing.  We went tracting later and found some YSA-age people and a potential investigator for them.  Two birds, one stone.  It was really fund to visit and catch up with her about our mission lives.

We did visit someone who had opinions about our "Mormon culture". This Church is a hospital for the sick, not a palace for the perfect.  I know people have been offended by Mormons before and I apologize if anyone has.  We try to live what we preach for this is not just a Sunday religion, but a way of life; and we are not perfect people.  No one is except Christ.

Sent from ALASKA!
Sister Shelley Willden