Monday, January 16, 2017

Missionary In Training

I received my new trainee this week!  Tuesday we drove down to Anchorage in the morning and got there super fast.  I had plans to write in my journal, write in Sister Williams' journal, and write letters back to my previous companions, but we talked most of the way there.  The drive is just gorgeous from Soldotna to Anchorage, and I figured I should take more pictures since I won't have the opportunity to in the dark driving back.

When we got there we were supposed to have lunch with the Huffman sisters, but they were stuck at the airport waiting to pick up sisters from Fairbanks who flew down.  Their flight was delayed a lot.  We got to the Strawberry chapel and everyone was trying to figure everything out for logistics. We weren't allowed into the mission office because they had new trainees in there.  It was crazy to think that my daughter (in the mission) was just inside.  The Huffman sisters finally just came back and then we went to lunch with them.  It was cool to be back in my previous area with them going around trying to get in touch with less actives.  I'm surprised I remembered so much.  They have a new apartment they are staying at. Well, they are living with members from the O'Malley ward which it is super nice. They have the nicest kitchen I've seen and two bathrooms, but the best part, I think, is the heated floors!
Wednesday was the day!  Sister Jewel and Sister Anderson dropped me off at the Brayton chapel which is the church that shares a parking lot with the Anchorage Temple.  We were there early and it was giving me anxiety waiting to get our trainees. Because I am the only sister training this transfer when we walked in I knew exactly who my companion was:  Sister Randall.  Elder Ashton Hymas from my home stake was

in this group of new missionaries.  He is going to be serving in Fairbanks. After all the training and having lunch we went to do a session at the temple which was awesome. We then grabbed dinner at Subway before driving the 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive back to Soldotna.  We talked the whole way home since Sister Randall had the opportunity to take a nap yesterday which our batch of missionaries weren't allotted. She is amazing. She is from The Dalles, Oregon, and likes to play video games, archery, go shooting, and likes boxing.  We get along super well and having her as my companion makes me more excited to train.  We've already had many adventures.
Thursday we did a whole butt load of service.  We did service at the food bank helping sort and stock Valentine's candy.  There were so many sweethearts and the fact is no one likes to eat them.  They are just cute because of the sayings on them.  Afterwards we went grocery shopping and then headed to help Jen's sister move who lives in the K-Beach area.  We had all the elders and other people helping to move all this stuff into Jen's car, someone else's car, and the U-Haul.  It didn't take us too much time to do that but then we drove to Sterlings's area to unload all of the stuff.  They fed us pizza afterwards, but we then had to race to our dinner appointment who live our in Kasilof which is a far part of our area.  Miracle that had happened was that the family half gave us a referral without us even asking.  We are going to need to follow up with the husband on how things are progressing with his friend.
Friday we had weekly planning which normally your first couple as a new companionship take longer since one of both doesn't know the people yet.  After lunch we drove out to Nikiski in Kenai's area for our usual service out there with the guy who had us slaughter rabbits, but when we got there there was no one home and neither of the elders were there.  We called the elders and when they got there we drove back to our area to do service at bishop's attic.  Sister Randall and I organized men's jeans; their sizing is completely different than how women size their clothes. Danny fed us on both Friday and Saturday.  I am so excited that Dominic is still attending the lessons and he is paying attention. 
Saturday was probably one of the worst days to where you just want to go home and sleep the stress away.  The morning started off great but we were late to meeting up for district tracting in Kenais area.  So ... we got in a car accident.
On our way to Kenai's area, which was forever away, one of the elders said he'd point out the window to show us the street we needed to turn on but instead of pointing a little before the street he pointed right on the street.  Because we were following close behind each other the first car slid on the snow a little while quickly turning right and then we skidded a lot while we turned crashing the side of the car into a stop sign. Apparently we would have rolled if we didn't get stopped by the stop sign. We are both okay and the elders all pulled over and started helping us.  The other tender mercy with this is that we went to lunch after pulling the car out of the snow to a restaurant owned by members so we got a free lunch which was definitely needed. After all was said and done we went to get Sister Randall's winter gear.  The first store she got snow boots, thermals, and wool socks.  The next store we went to she was in the process of buying a coat and gloves but her card kept declining - she knew she had money on there for this.  Come to find out that the bank probably cut off the card because of charges in Alaska.  She told her bank when she would be in Alaska but because she was in Utah first for the MTC the bank probably thought the card was stolen.  Today she is getting things straightened out.  We went back and bought just the coat with cash and a different card and I helped her pay for the rest with my Christmas money so she could stay warm while it is snowing up here.  Thank goodness the weather has been as high as 20 degrees lately though.  We are having fun training and Sister Randall has a lot of great ideas to incorporate into our area and mission and has a lot of gumption to get to work.  She even wants to track.   She was meant to be my daughter.

Sent from ALASKA !

Sister Shelley Willden     

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

6 Months Already .... And I'm Training ???

The transfer is coming to an end.  This week was our last full week together but it feels like we have been companions for a really long time.  It helps when you get to know each other really quick.

Our P-Day fund was first playing a game of bastketball then watching our music videos.  I feel like each companionship's video was a winner, just in different categories.  Ours for sure was the Most Creative.  Sterling's was the Best Lip Sync, K-Beach's was the Funniest because they lip synced to Wicked, and Kenai's was the Most Approved because they lip synced to a primary song.  We then played Tips, the basketball game, and I won :)  Never that happened with this game.
Tuesday our district helped these two ladies move out of their house and put their stuff into storage.  Because there were 8 of us we just created an assembly line andmoved them out really fast.  They started crying when we finished thanking us for all of our help.  Tuesday we also visited a lot of people seeing who we could teach and one of the less-active members is crazy. We were talking about Jesus Christ and she kept comparing Him to Mother Teresa.  She feels that He just has "tools" to allow Him to do all the things He did just as Mother Teresa had limited tools.  It was a good thing we had to get going to make our dinner appointment.
Wednesday is "Farm Day" and we were able to be alone with this girl named Caroline again to talk to her about the gospel.  I basically word vomited the first three lessons to her and after talking for over an hour she committed to read the Book of Mormon! She felt that we believe in a lot of the same things she believes in but there are a few differences.  While we have no investigators at this moment, besides two kids whose read dad won't allow them to get baptized, we've been working with these potentials and hopefully they can become new investigators soon.  While working at the farm we received a text from our zone leaders who were in Anchorage for MLC (Mission Leadership Council) asking us to give a training at zone meeting whic, mind you, is on Friday.  Later we met up with them getting the notes about the training they wanted us to give.  While there they told us news about some changes that were about to happen telling us that our P-Days are going to be cut meaning that they would end at 2pm.  We were freaking out but then they called us not even an hour later saying they were kidding.  Oh, it was revenge time to prank them back.  I was tossing and turning all night thinking about how to do the training and how to prank them back.
Thursday we were to receive our transfer calls.  I came up with an idea to tell the Elders that Sister Williams got the call to be sent home.  She liked that idea and helped come up with the plan on how to go about this.  Thursday mornings we help out at the food bank with the Sterling Elders, so we decided to tell them President called us earlier that morning chewing Sister out for something.  Talking to them later they said they completely bought that, but when we called them after receiving our calls telling them the news they thought we were lying.  We kept it going the entire phone call but then Sister Williams said we needed to tell them so we called them right back and told them.  They were so mad at us which their anger lingered on until the next day.  So transfer calls.  So the whole transfer we guess on where the sisters are going in the mission.  This is the first time I've done it like this but Sister Williams puts up everyone's name up on the wall and as the transfer continues we change where we think people are going.  We guessed what both our calls were.  Sister Williams has been in Soldotna a total of 6 months so we figured she was leaving.  She got her call to go to Wasilia in the Memory Lake Ward.  (For those who don't know Sarah Palin - she lives in Wasilla, so we joke that she needs to go convert her :D)  I received my call to train a new missionary.  I don't feel ready to train, but the more I think about it, my excitement grows.  There is only one sister coming out this transfer so I am the only sister training.  We head down to Anchorage tomorrow and I pick up my daughter (in the mission) on Wednesday.
Friday we had our zone meeting and we were given the best news ever.  We are now having a new daily schedule !!!  Normally we get up at 6:30am, exercise for 30 minutes, shower, get ready, and eat breakfast, all before 8am when studies begin.  All studying is usually done by 10am (an hour each for study).  Now it's better:  we still arive at 6:30am, but have until 10am to exercise, shower, get ready, eat breakfast, plan, and do only personal study in any order we would like.  Before, we planned at night from 9-9:30pm, but of course, no one is focused so we do it now in the mornings.  You'll notice that our companionship study is not included in that.  From 10am to 9pm, we can choose when to do our comp. study, and as of this next transfer, when I'm training, do 12 week for only 30 minutes each intermixed with proselyting.  This is fantastic!!!  But wait, there's more.  For our P-Days, normally we are to follow the normal study schedule and then begin our preparation day at 10am and finish by 6pm.  We now don't exercise in the morning (because we can "exercise" during recreation time), and we only study for 30 minutes of personal; no companionship study.  This means we start our P-Day at 8am giving us 2 extra hours to get things done!  Before we did laundry and emailing this morning we already went grocery shopping :)  This is to be world wide for missionaries everywhere, but apparently this is to go in effect starting after January 25th when the missionary broadcast is announced.  Though our mission president felt we needed to start this now; I am truly excited !!!  I now don't feel so rushed to get ready in the mornings.
Back to Friday.  Sister Williams and I spent all day Thursday planning our training for Friday.  We were showing a Reality Model and how it can help us overcome our tendency to not ask for referrals (other people giving us names of people we can teach).  I felt that we needed this training more than anyone else because we struggle asking for referrals.  To show how this model worked, we did an example ofhow it can be applied to finding people to date.  We did an activity having our zone act out dates found on Tinder applying the steps we talked about.  We have a senior couple in our zone so we had Sister Smith as as the girl and all the Elders were the bad dates.  It was hilarious.  We had them do things that we felt matched their personalities and because of that they did their part very well.
Friday and Saturday night we were teaching Raevin the new member lessons (which are the missionary lessons taught again to re-enforce their understanding), but her brother Dominic was there, so we ended up teaching the Ten Commandments using the hand signs to keep his focus and desire to stay in the room.  The next day we asked them if they remembered them and Dominic, who is not a member, knew most of them and even the correct phrasing like "do not commit adultery".  Hopefully we can continue to teach him even after Sister Williams is gone.
This entry is aready too long, so I'll just end with my testimony:  I know this church is the restored church of Jesus Christ, and that it is being lead by a living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God and we read it along side of the Bible.  I love my Heavenly Father and am thankful He sent His son to be our Redeemer.

Sent from ALASKA !
Sister Shelley Willden       

Happy New Year ... Renewed Hope

Happy New Year !  This week went by faster than I thought it would.  It was slow up until Christ so I thought it would be the same before New Years, but the service around here keeps us busy.  Last Monday for P-Day we did our own White Elephant gift exchange but the only requirement for the gifts was that it had to be funny.  I ended up getting a shirt with the poop emoji with the Snapchat rainbow mouth effect.
Tuesday leading up to our zone conference we practice twice that day.  Our duet is turning out much better than how it started which made me less stressed to perform it Friday.  We went finding after district lunch and then had a lesson with a less active. She has been a member for 5 years and says she doesn't know a lot but when we were teaching her aspects of the Restoration she seems to understand it fairly well.
Wednesday will forever be service day for me.  Even though we have service here everyday it is the day we spend almost all day doing it.  Over the weekend I talked with Jen, one of the ladies who does service for the farm too, about her believes and she had mentioned that she just believes differently than us.  While at the farm I asked her specifically what beliefs she had that differ from what she understood what we believe.  She had mentioned the Trinity (that she says we don't believe in) and that doesn't believe the Book of Mormon.  I asked her if she would read some articles about that she said she would.  So for studies this week, I had printed off the two-part talk by Holland, "The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent" and "My Words ... Never Cease"  talking about the Godhead being three distinct beings and about the Book of Mormon.  I printed them off and highlighted portions and added my own notes to them.  She is big into research so it is great that Jeffery R. Holland give a lot of scriptural sources.  I also want her to read one of my favorite talks called The Book of Moron--a Word of God by Tad R. Callister.  Hopefully she can at least understand more of what we believe and how they aren't really that different from what she believes.
Thursday our day was pretty packed.  I wanted to have things scheduled in advance so a couple of days prior we texted people if we could come visit them and then have members come too, if needed, and it worked out great.  We met with our Relieve Society President on how we can help, met with a less active who is a single male so we brought a member with us and then had a lesson with a member who lives pretty far away down a road called Funny River.  We usually do "Funny River" trips where we try to spend as much time there when we are there because it is a big part of our area that takes ti,me to drive to and from.
Friday was our zone conference.  We had two sets of missionaries in our zone go home Wednesday (because they completed their missions and needed to get home for schooling) so we were down in number of missionaries at the conference.  This conference lasts from 10:30am to 5:30pm.  We are provided lunch which we had pizza and salad and really good cookies that we tried our hardest not to go home with because we have so much sweets still from Christmas.  Elder Cook and I sang our duet and while it wasn't perfect, it was still pretty good.  I am just glad that is now over.
Though what we are to do at nights when no one wants to see us and it is dark outside now?  We'll find out.  The conference went really well.  There is an elder in our district that is only a transfer behind me and is pretty short and has a baby face.  We all think it but I was the biggest crack-up when President Robinson asked if he even shaves yet and that he looks like a twelve-year-old.  If only we had recorded that moment.  The training's were pretty great and, as always, there is something brought up that comes to mind that we need to work on.  I think that it is a universal thing for our zone or any missionary about waking up on time.  We are struggling with this but are in the process of getting up earlier.  It is hard to wake up right at 6:30am, so we are working the clock backwards to get our habit again waking up on time.  It is definitely one of my New Year's Resolutions.
Saturday for our New Year's Eve celebration we were all invited to a member's house in the Sterling Ward who made us dinner and we played the game Signs.  We had to be in our apartments by 7:30pm, so we went in and Sister Williams and I played Pug-opoly.  She loves pugs so a member got her the monopoly game for Christmas.  We also were given the challenge to make a lip sync video for our P-Day for today so we'll see who wins that out of the companionships.  With the past Mission President missionaries created an Album called AAM with missionaries making up songs.  We have some that talk about mission life and they are funny because they are true.  Sister Williams and I did our lip sync to a song called Companionship Inventory where it talks about elders recalling a hard time in their missions when they served together as zone leader in Chugach (an area in Alaska).  
We each played a part and it turned out very well but due to the lack of apps we can use we don't have access to apps that make music videos so they are just email video clips for each scene.  We can play it all together with the slideshow feature in the photos app.  I'm pretty sure we will win.
Sunday was different because we have 9:00am church again.  It makes it a bit harder on a mission because we have to attend Ward Council in the morning at 7:30am.  We got there on time to find out that they weren't having the meeting this morning.  The rest of the day went pretty well.  We had this awesome fried Halibut for dinner at Danny's which was to die for.

Sent from ALASKA !

Sister Shelley Willden

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Reason for The Season

This week was long just because of Christmas.  In the winter time here, a lot of people live down in the states and comes back in the summertime.  More people aren't here on top of that because of Christmas.  We have a lot of service to keep up busy though.
Our district meeting this week was not that bad.  Our district leader had us speak more than him lecturing on a topic.  We also played a game for a Christmas lesson called find Jesus so they hid a statuette of baby Jesus for us to find around the room and than talked about how we can spiritually find Jesus this Christmas.  This week we started a district weigh-in where we are competing to see who can lose the most weight by the end of the transfer.  We are really starting this because one of the elders goes home in 6 months and the phrase coined in this mission is "6 months to sexy" meaning the last 6 months of your mission is a time where you need to start getting back into shape before going home.  The average weight gain in this mission is 40 points so it really might have to take 6 months to lose it.  We didn't set a prize and not everyone is really participating but it is enough motivation for me to RUN almost every night this week.  I absolutely abhor running but I am motivated now than I have ever in my entire life.  Imagine getting the best meal where this is multiple entrees and sides and your favorite dessert is to follow.  Now imagine getting that meal every single night.  Missionaries are addicted to sugar.  Getting dessert every night creates the habit and the night you don't get it you crave it so bad.  With this weigh-in I was surprised I didn't gain more weight than I did.  Most people talk about gaining between 20 and 30 pounds in their first area but I only gained a fraction of that!  I have two more week left and I might not lose too much weight, but if anything I am trying to start an exercise habit that will last since I wasn't exercising too much before my mission.
Service on Wednesday was fun.  I had made one of my favorite desserts:  Tres Leches cake.  I made it last Saturday while we were making the cookies for the Secret Santa bags to be dropped off at member's doors.  It was to die for but I'm glad I had only the one piece but then was sent home two more slices ... that is okay.  I'll just run it off.
Thursday's service we went to the food bank, did 30 minutes of service and they said didn't need our service that day.  So later after lunch we did service at the Bishop's attic.  Found out that if we do service for them we get to take some clothes home for free.  Most of the stuff is old and used but my companion found some clothes she used at our next service opportunity.  Friday was the day that had been on my mind all week.  We had the opportunity to slaughter rabbits.  I had Sister Williams go before me and I took a whole bunch of pictures.  Because you have to hit the rabbit over the head to stun them first so they don't feel anything a couple of the bunnies had their eyes bulging out.  It was gross.  It eventually was my turn and I only was doing it to say that I did it but that is definitely the last rabbit I slaughter.  The body was still warm and felt really weird to be cutting.
Christmas Eve we went Christmas caroling for some members and then had district lunch at his restaurant called Buckets.  It was like a Buffalo Wild Wings.  Afterwards we went to a non-member's house and helped her wrap presents for her family and was able to talk about some aspects of the gospel.  She is a volunteer at Abby's farm we work at on Wednesdays.  Later that night we attended a Christmas Eve party and had a gift exchange.  Sister Williams and I were one of the last people to go and ended up with the best stuff.  I got Bluetooth headphones and she got a Bluetooth speaker.  I was able to use my headphones while FaceTiming home on Christmas.  Christmas was so fun.  Both my comp and I got a lot of presents, went to church for an hour and a half and then had lunch at a member's home before we got to talk to our families.  I am glad we have the opportunity to talk to our family twice a year because some things are hard to get across in an email.  Later that night we got together with our district and acted out the Nativity and we drew names on which character we would play.  It was a lot of fun.  I am grateful we have a time to celebrate His life and being a missionary at this time of year helps me see Christ in a different perspective.  I love my Savior and am thankful for His love He has for me.

Sent from ALASKA !
Sister Shelley Willden