Monday, December 19, 2016

'Tis the Season to Serve

This week feels like I have spent more time in service clothes than in proselyting clothes.  All I remember is all the service we did because we had service everyday this week besides on our P-Day and Sunday.  This has probably been one of the longest weeks on the mission, but it always feels like that your first week in a new area.  For P-Day we went shopping last week. Soldotna is like a little Anchorage but more expensive.  We changed into P-Day clothes for sports afterwards.
Tuesday for our district meeting our District Leader brought donuts for an activity we were to do.  We had a couple of elders blindfolded and I was the guide to guide them to the donuts.  One of the elders rolled across the high council table and bolted for the donuts when they said go so I helped the other one at that point.  There were two others meant to be the adversary to lead him astray but we came out victorious and all got donuts.  After lunch we went to do service helping people cut the thorns off of roses.  I managed to only prick myself a few times and only bled twice.  Hopefully doing this every week I'll master the art in no time.
Wednesday we helped out with another service opportunity that our whole district was apart of.  We each were helping to clean out the green house to prepare for Spring.  We got fed pizza and our District presented an idea to do for P-Day that required us to make cookies for members of each of our wards we are over like a Secret Santa that is to be passed on by doing it to others in the neighborhood.  We felt that it would be best to do that on a Saturday and do something else for our P-Day. The lady we help to do the service offered to pay for us doing it and her friend who helps with the green house as well offered to help us make them at her house and that she had a lot of stuff to make them already.  That was so nice of them to do that for us.
Thursday we did more service helping out at the food bank.  The guy giving us tasks to do said we were working ourselves out of a job by how fast we were getting the work accomplished.  Later that day we had our exchange.  Because of the slick roads and the fact that we live three hours away from Anchorage, we had our exchange happen over FaceTime.  It was a bit awkward.  This happened at my week mark being in Soldotna so there wasn't much to talk about.  Both Sister Williams and I were chatting with the STLs in Anchorage so it was like a virtual hangout.  One of our zone Leaders walked in while we were at the church and saw us.  After we told him what we were doing I hope he doesn't still think we are piles (the term "Pile" in this mission means you are a missionary doing things you shouldn't be doing).  Our dinner for that night was probably one of the weirdest dinners ever.  The member gave us our own vegetable trays each with bell pepper, celery, broccoli, and this weird cold salmon thing.  I eventually had the courage to ask her what the salmon thing was and if it was meant to be cold.  She said it was like a salmon jerky skin and all.  I ate it and it wasn't actually that bad.  Then we were brought more fish but you could taste that they were canned.  There were little things of cheese that we ate too.  After we said that we were full she said, "oh we're not done".  She then brought out dessert which consisted of chilled canned apricots still in the syrup.  This was all we ate while she was telling us about her abusive childhood and crazy stories of how she became converted to the gospel.
Friday we did service at another farm.  This farm tasks involved us moving stuff from one storage-like place to another.  After we were done they gave us hot chocolate. Before we left they asked if we had some more time and if we would be willing to help them slaughter some rabbits.  UH...SLAUGHTER RABBITS !?!  Yeah, so just for that day we watched the husband hit the bunny on the head to stun it as he then slit the rabbit's throat and then observed the whole process of how to take the hide off and take the guts out.  The whole time my face was plastered with disgust. The craziest part is that next week we are to do it!
Saturday we spent all day doing the service activity of making cookies, brownies, and no bake cookies.  The house was in so much activity that at times I didn't know what to look at.  After about a few hours we each took a couple of bags to deliver to members' homes in different areas.  We ding-dong ditched and left the cookies with the note to pass it on.  

Later that night we were told of a member slaughtering a pig for for us to come watch.  I took some videos of that but thank goodness we showed up after they had already killed the pig and it was already hanging upside down.  With these two slaughterings this week I had nightmares the following night that I survived a human slaughtering and was able to escape with minimal blood loss.  Man, the crazy things people do in Alaska 

Sunday was chill enough and we watched, "17 Miracles" with one of the recent converts. We are still trying to find people to teach in this area so hopefully we will be blessed with investigators soon.  With all these service activities we stay pretty busy.

Sent from ALASKA!!!

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, December 12, 2016

I'll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord

So this week by far has been the craziest!  Monday we had a sub-par P-Day because, while it took us what seemed to be a year to put up the volleyball net, hardly anyone wanted to play, but rather talk in separate groups.  Finally someone brought out a game that the majority of us began playing, but when more people showed up then people started a game of volleyball.  Monday night though we had a tender mercy happen to us.  Sister Jewel and I were emailing and doing laundry at the STL's (Sister Training Leader) apartment and thought they had clothes in the washer, but once we realized they didn't, it was about time for our emailing to be over. So long story short, we didn't get our laundry done in the allotted time. We planned on coming back but when we did it was really close to curfew. We asked the Mayhue's (office couple missionaries) for their key and found out the STLs already switched our laundry out for us :)

It has taken me a week but I finally began understanding the area and how to drive it. Tuesday was a very long day of just driving around trying to talk to less actives and former investigators.  Not much success.  Dinner was awesome because Sister Best made noodles with zucchini which made it healthy and delicious still.  
Wednesday we spent most of the day inside because Sister Jewel was so sick, so I spent a lot of time making Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Temple cut outs.

Thursday was the craziest !!  I get out of the shower at 7:30am and Sister Jewel said President Robinson called and wants to speak to me.  President Robinson usually only calls when there is a problem. I took my time getting dressed thinking of all the scenarios of why President was calling.  The worse has happened:  I was getting emergency transferred (ET).  I had two and a half hours to pack up all my stuff and get to the church to take the 3-hour drive down to Soldotna.  Something went wrong in Soldotna where they needed missionaries ET so I was asked to go and serve with
Sister Williams. (her name is Shellie Rae Williams - very similar to me, Shelley Renae Willden).  Sister Jewel is to finish training Sister Anderson.  I was in Anchorage for a week and now to spend at least a transfer or two here in Soldotna. I've heard so much about Soldotna from my trainer and other missionaries who have served there. It has been two of my companions' favorite area. I've heard it is better in the summer but the white snow in the winter time doesn't make it really pretty, just cold. All of our investigators are now baptized so we are in the finding stage which is not that fun, but it's necessary.  It is so much easier to have members give us people to teach, but being a member missionary is harder than it sounds.  I will go anywhere The Lord will send me, and this I believe, is to help me grow.  "There is no growth in your comfort zone."  This is so true and I'm going to be living proof of this throughout my time here in Soldotna. 
Zone meeting the second day I was in Soldotna. 

Sent from ALASKA!

Sister Shelley Willden
The red thing on the ice is a person ice fishing in a tent. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Life in the frozen tundra !

Last pic with Palmer
District Sisters
Transfers happened this week.  The time leading up to Wednesday was just very weird. We went around to a lot of the members to say goodbye and have them sign my transfer journal.  Packing in our apartment was chaotic, but was able to get it all done in a timely manner.  For our last p-day in our zone we played Headbands and Apples to Apples Disney version and of course signed journals.  The next day we had zone lunch eating Taco Bell one last time.  Our transfer logistics had us leaving at 1pm from President La Voie's house in a spare truck. Looking at the truck we were not going to fit four sister missionaries' stuff all in the bed of the truck, but we managed.  We left a little late, well a lot late to the point where we just dropped off Sister Gardner at the temple to run inside before the session started and we took care of her luggage. It was freezing cold on Wednesday.

I met Sister Jewel there and we bonded fairly quickly.  We had a lesson to get to soon afterwards so there was no time to mess around.  I met Amanda and Mike, a couple with two kids.  Amanda has been investigating the church for quite a while. We extended the baptismal challenge and they accepted!!!  We then committed them to pray about a date they can work towards getting baptized.
The next day it snowed.  We were making sure to drive extra careful.  We went to the mission office to drop off our mileage report.  Elder Mayhue gave me an update on my broken IPad.  He said it was still under warranty so he had us go to Downtown Anchorage to the Apple Store to have them replace it.  While there we told them what the problem was and they were able to fix it not having to erase any of the memory ! Such a blessing.  Later that day Sister Jewel had me meet the members of the ward council. Shortly after talking with the Young Women's President, we went back to Amanda's house to help her with a cake she was making for a birthday party.  We were cutting out fondant snowflakes to make a Frozen birthday cake.  It was very fun but fondant really is not good to eat.
On Friday we had weekly planning which seemed to take all day since there is just so much stuff I need to get filled in on.  We had lunch with the Oceanview Sisters.  We did French Toast Friday.  Later that day we had French dipped sandwiches so it worked out perfectly as apparently that was our theme for the day.  In the past the Huffman Sisters (us) have lunch with the Oceanview Sisters at their place so that should be fun.  One of the less active ladies we visit on Friday's goes off on long rants about experiences she has had.  Even though they weren't necessarily problems she was having I have just learned for myself that I don't want to be a counselor.
Saturday was one of our busiest days.  We were just so productive and doing a lot of things that by the end of the night we are just exhausted.  We helped out with the decorations for the ward's Christmas party before lunch.  Afterwards we had district tracting in our area.  There is ice under the snow so I stepped in one wrong place and it seemed as if I just sat down really quickly. :)  At least I'm not hurt.  One of the ward council members asked if we could make desserts for the party that night since they were afraid there weren't going to be enough.  We made these delicious cookies but it turned out there was no need.  There was dessert for days.  The party was a success. We spent the time introducing myself to many members of the ward including less-active members who come only to social events.
Sunday we went to church at 9am.  It was fast and testimony meeting so I bore my testimony and introduced myself to the ward as a whole.  After church Sister Jewel and I hit the sack; we were so tired.  Our dinner appointment couldn't do dinner so they made us lunch instead.  The member found out that I sang so she asked if I would sing the solo part in "Oh, Holy Night" for the Christmas program at church.  It turned out that the whole song is basically a solo with choir accompaniment.  I sang it for her and told her I could do it.  We had practice later that day before the Christmas Devotional.  I have been out of practice but I think it sounds okay.  We perform the song in Church on the 18th.  The Christmas Devotional was great.  We came home and had a late dinner before having a brainstorm session about ideas for finding people to teach.

Sister Jewel and I are getting along so great and the members in the ward are fantastic!  I am so excited to be here serving and hopefully I can contribute something to this work with the Lord's help.
Members of our ward stocked us up on food !!

Sent from ALASKA !

Sister Shelley Willden
Nativity at the Alaska Temple