Monday, September 26, 2016

We did service at the same lady's house we did before when some of the missionaries were on the roof.  This time we had to tear the porch down to the last nail.  It took only three hours to demolish it. Crazy things were happening.  Elder Brown was tearing down the roof while being on the roof; Elder Janes stepped on a nail that pierced his skin (he is alright though); I broke a pitch axe while using it; and some of the Elders created a non fire to burn all the rotted pieces of wood.  It turned out to be a really fun service opportunity.

We taught some of our progressing investigators who are constantly reading the Book of Mormon recently and they told us that they are going to move down to Washington.  It is sad that they are moving but we continue to teach them until they move.  Their daughter wants to be baptized before they move but we think it would be wiser to have them baptized in their new ward in Washington so they have a better chance to stay active by being fellow-shipped down there.  Everyone always refer to the mainland as the Lower 48 or even the States so I have caught myself even saying it.
We had Women's Conference Saturday which was awesome.  Our newest convert came and loved it.  She loves watching Conference so much that she even is watching past conference talks.  President Uchtdorf's talk was my favorite. He made me think about faith in a new way.

We have what is called "termination dust" on Lazy Mountain, so that means snow should be here in 3 weeks if it sticks.

I love this gospel so much and love my Savior for the wonderful Atonement he did for me.  All this is possible because God and Christ love us so much.

Many Thanks!!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, September 19, 2016

Normally on Monday's we do something fun either with our whole zone, just our district, or sometimes just between us four girls in our zone.  Well Sister Nield had some of her medical things come up last Monday, so we ended up spending our P-Day at the hospital.  She is fine as every time we go to the doctor they say that the results of her many tests are normal.  We are planning for P-Day today to play games at a member's home with the Colony Sisters.  It'll be so much fun.  This week we had many service hours incorporated into our schedules.  The service that took place Tuesday was at a less-active member's home trying to fix up the house and the surrounding area.  She needed some of us to get on the roof to tie down a tarp because she has been having some leaks from the constant rain. 

I was in no way going to get up on her roof so me and a couple of the Elders helped clear out a fence from what looks to have a place for a garden.  The fence was nearly bolted down from the roots of the weeds growing there.  We had to dig them up and pull the fence a little at a time and finally, after what seemed to be hours, pulled out the fence.  Carrying it over to the designated spot I was almost toppled by it but was able to manage to not let it fall completely on top of me.  The next day we had no set lesson plans with anyone so we did a lot of finding people and no one seemed to be home.  Sister Nield had a thought to visit a lady who was a prior investigator that they had to drop before I arrived in Alaska.  We did teach her and she is such a sweet lady.  I don't know if we'll end up teaching her again but all we can do is try.  We wanted to visit with her and her caregiver again Friday, but they said they were going to Pyrah's You Pick Farm and we told them we'd be there doing service for the Fall Festival.

The main Fall Festival was on Saturday, but the day before they have for the Special Needs children so we were helping with that.  The lady came and wanted us to help her pick carrots so we did and it was so fun.  They had these little pitch forks to loosen up the dirt to better pull out the carrots and not just tear off the great tops.  I had never pulled my own vegetables before so that was a neat experience.  
The day before the festival we had zone conference.  This is basically a whole day of meetings.  Because of the location of everyone, we had three zones meeting all at once which was great.  Some of the trainings included dressing up a missionary in trash bags and newspaper to the missionary dress standards and playing limbo to discuss about raising the bar.  I got a lot out of it and it was fun to see all the people we knew.

Mary and Lizzy got confirmed yesterday at church which was a great experience.  They looked so happy and I could tell that they were already filled with the Spirit.  The Ward has done a great job at fellowshipping them and really making them feel a part of the Ward family.  They are truly one of a kind converts.  I love them so much.  The work is progressing so much here in just our Ward; more so than we can handle.  There is quite a bit of reactivation work we need to do, as well as, all the investigators we have.  The Lord really does prepare the hearts of His children to accept the gospel.  The crazy thing is that you don't necessarily see it with some people.  It is bizarre how people we wouldn't expect to listen to us and let us begin teaching then actually are very prepared by The Lord.  Don't be afraid to share the gospel with people.

Many Thanks!!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, September 12, 2016

So at one point we had nine progressing investigators, according to our area book!  We are insanely busy.  Glen, who showed up to church last week out of the blue, is apparently not in our area, so we had to refer him to the Palmer Elders.  We are going to do a pass-off lesson with them so that Glen can become familiar with the Elders.  It's crazy how he already attached himself to the members in our ward; it will be hard to tell him that he belongs to another ward.  There are so many members in Alaska - it's almost like Utah in our area.  I just wish we could have everyone in the same ward, but that would be chaos.  I love the Miner family.  They are the best Ward mission leaders ever.  Sister Miner came to a lesson with one of our investigators and it went really well.  She knows she needs to be baptized and just needs to overcome some fears she has.

Funny story:   So for P-Day Monday, we went to this gaming place which you can play board games or cards games or whatever.  The owner is a member and has this adorable puppy named Frankie; the most precious thing ever.  I basically held her the entire time we were there and she slept on my shoulder.  We went to a member's home for dinner and she babysits a lot of children.  After picking her up and holding the dog for all that time, I walked over to one of the babies wanting to pick her up and hold her.  Half way through this process I realized that we, as missionaries, aren't allowed to hold children (for liability reasons), so I ended up just turning her over onto her back.  That was a close one.  Hopefully I'll get into the habit more with these certain rules.  It is very hard because I love babies and children.

Another funny story:  We were over at Brother Mattingley's house and he is the member who gives us duck eggs all the time.  We told him that we hard boil them to eat every morning and he said, "you can't hard boil duck eggs."  I thought he was meaning that you shouldn't boil them because maybe they are better scrambled or something.  No, he was meaning that it is impossible to boil them and peel off the shell keeping them intact.  I have noticed that sometimes when I'm shelling them, that part of the egg whites comes off with the shell.  He told us that he has googled how to do it and tried everything and can't get anything to work.  All the recipes say something to the fact that duck eggs are hard to boil and come out clean.  Well challenge accepted!  We boiled the eggs again and they came out clean.  The trick is to be patient.  Taking it off a little at a time is the key.

We visit quite a few less-actives in the Ward.  Some people we run into are less-active but their records aren't in the ward.  Sister Nield says that people come to Alaska to hide.  I am beginning to see that now.  One less-active lady we visit has these birds that keep her company.  She lets them roam freely in her house so they fly around and perch on whatever.  One bird came on Sister Nield's shoulder and was biting at her necklace.  When she was moving her necklace away the bird began to bite her finger.  It's only a nibble, but I still don't want a bird biting me with their beaks.  One eventually came on my shoulder and thank goodness didn't do anything drastic to me.

We had transfers this week and received three new Elders into our zone.  We had a service project which involved moving boxes into trucks for the Boy Scouts Association.  We had some down time in between truck loads where we passed around a football or played hackie sack.  Our zone is pretty awesome and it is going to be a fun six weeks together.

Mary and Lizzy had their baptism !!!!!!! 

This week we were preparing last minute things to pull it all together.  I wanted us to do the programs especially since I love doing things like that.  We have a family history center in our church building so we used those computers to do it, but the computers did not have Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.  All it had was this WordPad which is basically a crippled version of Word.  Something that can take me 20 minutes to do took over an hour to just do the front cover.  There is no way to move pictures around so I figured out how to indent it over to the side I wanted it on.  After all that work we talked to Brother Miner who said we could use their school computer to work on it since we aren't allowed to use members' computers.  The baptism was fantastic.  There were so many people who came.  We had two investigators come and a couple less-active members came as well.  I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.  Bishop Beames said that we had the missionary glow that day and we sure did.  Sister Nield spoke on the Gift of the Holy Ghost and I sang an arrangement of "Our Savior's Love".  Everything couldn't have gone more perfectly.  I am so thankful we have the gospel in our lives to allow us to be happy.  One of my friends told me that when she is filled with the Spirit, she is extremely happy to the point of skipping in the temple.  I am beginning to have similar sensations.

One last thing:  We stopped by to visit a member and her son is learning to play the clarinet.  I, of course, was excited for him but apparently he had a deadline to learn how to make a sound with it or they are going to have to give the instrument back.  I know I have been blessed to have learned how to play when I was young because it taught me a lot of discipline and helped me to have confidence in myself.  I was able that night to teach him how to make a sound just by using the mouth piece.  It was something I learned from the first day in band class and I was thankful I was able to teach him.  He can now continue on practicing and getting better at playing the clarinet.  I never really had an opportunity to teach anyone how to play or sing music so it was a great experience to learn that it is possible for me to teach people music.  I am so grateful for the talents and abilities The Lord has blessed me with and that I am serving here in Alaska.  I know this is where I am supposed to be bringing people to Christ.  I so badly want everyone to have the Gospel in their lives and know that Christ really did pay for our debt so we don't have to.  All He asks is for us to follow Him.

Many Thanks!!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, September 5, 2016

It has been so hot this past week.   Apparently for at least three days in a row were record-breaking heat days when no one thought there would be.  I guess the heat followed me from Texas.  They say that the Fair weather is always rainy but it has not rained this week until yesterday and it was only a drizzle. For P-Day last week we went to the State Fair, of course. Everyone in this town is so focused on the Fair that many people aren't home. 

We always perform service to everyone, so this past week we did a district service project of two things:  weeding out of top soil and moving logs.  The first member's home we were at, we pulled the grass out where they want to start planting with rakes and put it in the huge tractor they have to transport the remains.  At least for Sister Nield and I, we ate lunch prior to the service but then an hour into it we stopped and they fed us lunch so we had a double lunch that day.  Sister Nield said on occasion you'll have a double dinner because investigators will call wanting to feed you that day.  Thank goodness that hasn't happened yet.  Later we then went to another member's house to move logs.  He had a lumber jack come and teach us the technique of how to cut down a tree.  We then took an ax and begin to cut them into smaller pieces which is easier said than done. I apparently was using the heavier ax the whole time till one of the Elders switched with me.  That was really fun and we bonded as a district.

So the first of the month = money + miles.  Our allowance is then renewed and we start back over with zero miles out of the allotted 1600 we can use in a month.  So in celebration of this we ate at DQ.  Well mainly to turn in our mileage reports so they can be handed into our vehicle coordinator.  We were first last month to turn them in so we got cookies.  It is easy for us since Brother LaVoie lives in our zone.  

Another moose story: We were getting ready in the morning and saw two moose right outside our window. They get so close to humans and don't care about us. We just need to make sure we keep our distance and don't appear to be a threat. They apparently kill people so frequently around here.
We had transfer calls this week but we knew we were staying because I'm still in training. The Colony sisters called us saying they were going to be white washing a new area in Anchorage because of the great job they did in Colony.  It turned out to be a prank but their whole district and our Zone Leaders believed them.  We were all told that this transfer was going to be the craziest ever.  It makes sense why they were gullible into believing it.  What is crazy about it is that the two STLs (Sister Training Leaders) are being split up to each train new sisters while they are being single STLs in different areas.  That apparently doesn't happen.  This mission is just so young with so many greenies (new missionaries) that there aren't enough people to train - well at least not for the sisters.  President Robinson asked Salt Lake for more sisters and he got what he asked for. There were (8) when I came out and another (5) come out tomorrow.  
Mary and Lizzy had their baptismal interview on Friday and everything is ready to go.  I am so excited for them. As we were planning for their lesson yesterday we got caught up in what to teach them still before baptism. They should have been baptized this past week, but oh well. They are even more excited than we are.  We are pushing Timothy's baptism back a few weeks because of General Conference, so hopefully he will be ready by then to be baptized.

Miracle of the week:  I am not big on tracting (knocking door to door) or OYMing (opening your mouth in which we basically walk and talk).  We do so anyway to fulfill our purpose as missionaries.  I find that we always have some kind of miracle that happens when we do this. This week we met one man named Glen who seemed interested in the Church but wouldn't give us an address or a phone number.  We invited him to come to church at 9:30am, but how many people actually come? Well he showed up!!!  He apparently participated in choir practice before church started and bore his testimony up at the pulpit like everyone else.  He came to Gospel Principles class and there we realized who he was and we got his address so we could go visit him.  It is so cool how The Lord prepares His children to receive the gospel.

Many Thanks!!!

Sister Shelley Willden